Evictions in Dunfanaghy

12th July 1884
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"Sad Scenes in Dunfanaghy" [Report from Dublin Weekly Nation pub. Saturday 12 July 1884]

The correspondent of the Freeman, writing from Dunfanaghy on Monday, tells the following sad story of the sequel to the Gweedore evictions:

The saddest sight that eye ever witnessed was the procession to-day the Dunfanaghy union workhouse the poor victims of the Gweedore evictions. They waited, sad, disconsolate, and miserable, for the past week for relief and aid from those whose first duty it was come to their assistance; but they waited in vain. This evening, in the midst of a dreadful downpour of rain, the evicted assembled at a central spot, where transport had been ordered by the priest to be in waiting to bear the poor creatures the only shelter left for them, hated and abominated though it is by them all. At ten o’clock the priest came on the scene, and the sad procession formed rapidly.

Five sickly old women were unprovided for with conveyance, and put them up his own car and walked himself foot to the cross roads, a distance of six miles. There another cart was provided by the relieving officer. The deepest sympathy was manifested by everyone the procession passed along. There were 19 conveyances freighted heavily with old men and women and children, the number them being about 150. the cross roads Rev Mr. M'Fadden provided some refreshment in the shape of bread, and the company rested by the wall of the demesne of Mr. Olpherts, the evicting landlord. Mrs. M‘Sweeney, of Carrowcannon, and her family, as well as Mrs. O’Gorman, were prompt in their attention to the poor people with milk and bread and gooseberries. The innocent little babes and children laughed and smiled the unusual luxuries and kindness they received.

After short delay the procession reformed and slowly moved towards Dunfanaghy. The heavy and continuous rainfall made the journey most unpleasant, and particularly severe on the sparely clad men, women, and children. All who witnessed the scene were visibly moved. On arrival the workhouse it was found that considerable preparation had been made through the instruction of the Local Government inspector, who had been in attendance all day, and had convened an informal meeting of the guardians during the day, at which order was made that the master would admit all that presented themselves for admission without examination inquiry. The poor creatures were taken down from the carts, and then one could see the wretchedness and poverty of those people. They were mainly without shoes, and their clothes were torn and tattered and wretched; but as the substitutes for shawls and head-dresses were taken off the women, the shocking poverty of their clothing was most striking.

The officials, feel bound to say, were most courteous and civil, and did everything in their power to make the poor arrivals comfortable. Several the evicted tenants are still loitering around the homesteads and farms from which they were turned out. The crops are growing promisingly, the lands are unprotected, and they still hope to redeem them before the period for doing so has elapsed. It is to be hoped that the guardians will allow those at least outdoor relief. On the other estates, too, where tenants were readmitted caretakers, the same difficulty exists with many of them. Their sole means of subsistence during the Summer months is credit, but their credit is now gone. No one will give them a cent’s worth. The relieving officer himself must be well aware of the poverty of those people. To-day I have learned that he has given on trust over two tons of meal and as much more potatoes to those very people on the Olphert property that have been evicted.’

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