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  • News

Ballinlass remembers worst eviction of the Famine

Wednesday, 25th May, 2011 11:34am

By TONY GALVIN

A COMMEMORATIVE plaque and monument was officially unveiled in Ballinlass, Mountbellew, on Sunday to mark the largest recorded mass eviction in 19th century Ireland when 61 families, a total of 270 people, were turned out of their homes on March 13, 1846 by the local landlord Mrs Gerrard because she wanted to turn the site of the village into a grazing farm.[private]

The names of those evicted have been carved into an impressive stone monument in the shape of tumbled cottage.

A display board outlines the history of the terrible event. The monument was unveiled by local historian Tom Crehan.

Direct descendants

Those attending the ceremony were reminded of how the unfortunate families were spread to the four winds but consolation was taken from the fact that some direct descendants were traced and attended the ceremony.

The eviction of the entire village received wide publicity at the time and was investigated by Lord Londonderry, who, in a statement to the House of Lords on March 30, 1846 noted that not only had the people been driven out of their homes but also from the ditches where they took shelter. It was forbidden in the area to offer any shelter.

One of the more telling points regarding this eviction was that the tenants had their rents ready to pay but the landlord refused to accept them.

The event forever besmirched the name of Irish landlordism in Britain and the notoriety gained led eventually to land reform and the Land Acts.

Organising committee member Michael John Kilgannon told the well attended gathering on Sunday that Ballinlass was being commemorated because if we did not know where we came from we could never know who we were or where we were going.

A social event to mark the occasion was held in Mountbellew Community Hall on Sunday evening. A booklet on the history of Ballinlass has been published and is available locally.

The Herald will deal with the subject in more detail in the coming weeks.[/private]

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