State of Louisburgh, County of Mayo
We have received a letter from the respected Catholic rector of Louisburgh, which will, we trust, excite the sympathy of those in authority in favour of a poor, remote, and unfriended portion of the country. This letter will be found below, and will be perused with painful interest. Of 12,000 souls, the population of a parish which includes an extent of country not less than fifty miles in circumference, not fewer than between 4,000 and 5,000 are in absolute want. In the years of greatest abundance this population is dependent upon the potato crop. We need not say how poor a dependence that was in the season that has passed. Considerable quantities of wheat are grown on the shores of Clew Bay, along with Louisburgh is situate. Oats is abundantly grown upon the higher grounds, but these are always sold to pay the rents, and fortunate are they who are able to procure a little fish to render the potatoes palatable. The population in that district is peaceful and industrious. Frugal of habit, the people subsist on scanty means. Patient of privation, they seldom make their sufferings known to the body of their countrymen, with whom they have, little communication. The landlords of Louisburgh are, unhappily, absentees; even their agents are not resident among the tenantry. The affliction of such a people, wholly dependent upon the produce of the land, is peculiarly affecting, and we will add peculiarly deserving of alleviation. The few public works granted to Louisburgh are totally inadequate to the relief of the distress. We have again earnestly to express our hope that the attention of the authorities may be arrested by the letter of the Rev. Mr McManus, and the relief may be given to his patient flock ere relief in this world shall cease to be service to them:-
Louisburgh, July14, 1846.
Dear Sir. It would be impossible to describe the wretched destitute condition of the poor people of this parish. It is truly painful to see starving men and women, boys and girls of every age, seeking employment, and turned off every morning without ceremony. There are two short lines of road in process of construction; and though there are at present 4000, or to come nearer the truth, there are 5000 persons in absolute want, still no more than 300 labourers will be taken every day. Let me explain our condition without exaggeration. The population of this parish is twelve thousand souls. The circumference is about fifty miles. It is an exclusively agricultural district. With such a population scattered over an area of such extent, it is clear that there must be a great deal of misery on the mountain side, as well as along the sea coast, measuring at least thirty miles. The late occupants of the Castle have been some time promising us employment. Only think of them, after repeated promises of relief, turning upon us with a flat denial that there was any want, and with the mannerly assurance that we were all liars. But the gang of surly functionaries are gone, and all the filth of the “Augean”, be along with them. It is thus, we in the far west have been treated by these Saxons and by the Irish wasps of office. Owing to the interference of Sir Robert Peel (whom may God bless for his benevolence and for repealing the Corn Laws) two short lines of road are in process of construction. But those are not adequate sources of employment. Those roads are no more than a mile asunder. What will become of the poor creatures that reside twenty miles from either of them? In the presence of angles and men I assert that there are hundreds of God’s creatures in this parish who had not each a full meal in every four-and-twenty hours during the past five weeks. Thanks to the charity of the poor themselves we have not yet witnessed the frightful spectacle – a human being dying of starvation. Let me be taunted with having employed strong language. But witnessing daily the misery of a patient, charitable people – seeing daily the hues of death on the countenances of many of my parishioners – their wasted and scarcely living forms, I hope that strong expressions will be readily pardoned. How can any man, possessed of human feeling, be a silent spectator amidst such daily scenes? These creatures ask employment. They come is crowds every morning, and many of them having worked half the day are then turned off. Think you, if religion had not great control over these men, would they bear this patiently? The county surveyor or his deputies should look to this, and prevent this unjust limitation as to numbers. We also want more works. If the government wish to relieve the people, the money to be expended on the two roads will not exceed a thousand pounds, and how will this employ and feed five thousand destitute persons, some of those living twenty and twenty five miles from the roads? Are we to expect justice from the new government? I fear there are some hostile local influences pointed against the virtuous people of this parish. I am forced to suspect that the last contest in this county had generated angry feelings, that still rankle and exhibit symptoms of vindictiveness.
The FREEMAN is the friend and organ of the poor. I am, therefore, sure that you will pardon the length and faults of this communication.
I have the honour to be, &c.,
PP. of Louisburgh.
Mayo Telegraph 1846
Relief of The Poor Mayo Landlords
We have it from undoubted authority that at the meeting of the Castlebar relief committee, held yesterday (Tuesday) at the poor house, Andrew Crean Lynch, Esq., stated that he had received an official document, which stated that the “private subscriptions of the landlords and gentry of the County of Cork amounted 19,000! That for the County of Clare to 6,000! That the County of Mayo was six hundred pounds!!! This is most creditable to the high-minded and aristocratic landlords of Mayo. What will the people of England say to this? Nay, what will the world think of the Mayo gentry? Surely, surely, they deserve to be gazetted over the globe for such liberality: and we doubt not such philanthropies liberality will find for them a corner in every newspaper.