Edward Maher & Owen M'Enroe - joint tenants of the Duke of Buckingham Toney Owen (Upper) Foyran, Westmeath
Edward Maher and Owen M'Enroe were joint tenants on land owned by the Duke of Buckingham on the townland of Toney Owen (Upper). According to the Tithe and Applotment books they had 99 acres, 1 rood and 21 perches in total - made up of 14 acres, 3 roods and 19 perches of Class A land, 19 acres, 2 roods and 2 perches of Class B land and 65 acres of Class C land. The other occupants at Toney Owen were John Gibney, The Widow McCormick, Condy Lynch, Owen Gilliran and John Lynch who shared the holding of the other 122 acres.
Maher and M'Enroe had endless squabbles about the boundary markings which continued until the 26th February 1834 when the sherriff arrived ( accompanied by Marcus Magrath the Chief Police Constable) with dispossession notices for several of the Duke of Buckingham tenants including M'Enroe and Maher and another family called Kearney.
The following news article was published in the Westmeath Journal - 13 March 1834
The following notice was left at the house of Owen M'Enroe, in the parish of Foyran, in this county, last week, while he was attending the assizes in Mullingar, to obtain remuneration for the malicious burning of his house, offices and haggard. A gun and pistol were at the same time taken by the party; consisting of four persons, who entered M'Enroe's house in open day. Nothing can exceed the lawless state of that part of the county, where notwithstanding the vigilance of the neighbouring magistrates all authority is set at defiance, "Take notice, Owen M'Enroe, if you have anything to do with Edward Maher's land, that we will come and blow your brains out, and if he does not get his land back you shall get the same wages, for you are the instigation of all this and if you want to follow any person for this look for "Captain Rock".
The dispute worsened as the land agent apparently told M'Enroe he could stay on as a tenant but on the condition that he also took over Maher's half of the land which effectively signed his death warrant. A Report from Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry Into the State of The Law and Practice in Respect to the Occupation of Land in Ireland Volume 3 reports the following:
Testimony of William Ford Esquire 16th January 1845 (p879)
On the very borders of the county there had been some arrangements on the Duke of Buckingham's estate in the county of Westmeath and I believe several had been turned out. I heard at the time that the Reverend Mr. Burke, of Castlepollard, went over to the Marquess of Chandos (i.e. The Duke of Buckingham (ed.)), but without effect. There were two tenants on the estate who were always fighting. They held, I believe, jointly, or at least their farm was was granted jointly but they held it separately. There was a dispute about the mearings; an ejectment was brought. The Mahers were a very savage, untutored race - they lived on the soil and were turned out. The agent would not grant what had been the co-partner's land unless he took the land from which the Mahers had been turned out. He took it, and ultimately he came into the county of Meath on some business and was murdered about a fortnight before the assizes. I saw Maher (the father), his sons and daughter tried for that offence. I saw three of them found guilty - two sons and the daughter - and the father was acquitted. That was all arising out of this agrarian dispute. There were a great many notices to quit,I know, served in the county about that time,and it would appear that that these horrible murders had the effect of having them withdrawn.
Edward Maher was charged as an accessory and for inciting the murder but he was found not guilty. His three children William, Patrick and Ellen were sentenced to hang. William and Patrick were hanged at Trim Gaol and Ellen was reprieved on the day and a month later her sentence was commuted to transportation for life to NSW. She arrived in Sydney in February 1836 where she soon married Hugh Tunney an ex-convict from County Mayo. They had three daughters.