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among the several cultivators; but rules were established that enforced certain modes of cultivation, without regard to individual activity or progress in knowledge. Every tenant in sisted upon his claim to a portion of each various quality of land in the common occupancy; and thus the peculium of each occupier often came to consist of twenty or thirty patches in as many different places, divided by marks from the possessions of his colleagues, but unprotected- as, indeed, their smallness rendered it impossible to protect them-by fence of any kind. A town. land, containing 205 statute acres, and occupied originally by one family, was, in the course of two generations, subdivided into 422 separate and scattered lots, held by twenty-nine families. The tenancy of these was common, but the right and duty of cultivation belonged to each separately. If any man was fortunate enough to find bis patches, and strong enough to hold them, he might till them in the two-shift course of potatoes and oats; but in sowing and in-gathering, his labours were of necessity regulated by the fixed laws of the community. On a certain day in autumn, the cattle were brought from the common mountain-pasture, and allowed to roam at will over the tilled fields of the townland; on a certain day in spring, they were relegated to the place from whence they cane. Between the latter and the former periods only could any crop be safely sown or left upon the ground.
" Why don't you drive those cows out of your bit of oats, Denis O'Donnell ?"
“The day is come for lettin' out the cattle, your honour, and I daren't lay an unmodest hand on one o' them."
" Then why don't you cut your oats out of their way, Denis ?”
"Sure, didn't your honour hear that Ferigal Coyle is waking a wean?”
Nor was the communistic principle limited in its operation to real pro. perty only. Animals were also subjected to the same mode of ownership; and then again nature broke forth, and in the practice of those simple savages, demonstrated the ingrained folly of the philosophic theories of Fourrier and Leblanc. A phalanx of three Gweedore communists possessed
one horse, of which each shod a foot, but having vainly endeavoured, arte et marte, to arrange a common plan of dealing with the fourth hoof, and the horse having consequently become lame, they found themselves under the necessity of appealing to a magistrate in a neighbouring district to decide the knotty case. Though you drive out nature with a fork, still she will return; and the point in man's moral fabric to which her attachment is, perhaps, the most faithful, is the passion for private appropriation and enjoyment of her gifts, upon which mainly the common advancement and prosperity, in fact the whole social system, depend. This passion was, no doubt, as strong in the hearts of individual Gweedorians ás among other men, but the col. lective mind, as happens often in more cultivated communities, sét its artifi. cial fetters upon the natural and whole. some desires of the individual. If ever an enterprising spirit, and the strong necessity of eating, prompted any one of them to reclaim a portion of the common bog or mountain, as soon as the result was shown in the gathering of one crop, the improved ground was taken from its subduer, and rateably divided among his co-tenants of the townland, in fragments proportioned to the rent for which each was liable. No very lively fancy is needed to create a picture of the necessary results of such a system as this, acting upon the excitable temperament and vindictive spirit of a Celiic population, “ Fights, trespass. es, confusion, disputes, and assaults were the natural and unavoidable consequences; these evils, in their various forms, were endless, and caused great loss of time and expense; and, of course, continued disunion amongst neighbours was perpetuated."* Tribal wars were waged between the tenants of neighbouring estates, whose cattle mutually trespassed upon their extensive unfenced tracts of mountain pasture. Civil discord never ceased among the joint occupiers in rundale, whose various skibberlins of tillage land it was physically im. possible to preserve distinct and intact. Lawful authority was not at hand to compose these broils. Resident magistrate or gentleman there was none; and, so, as the Anglo-Saxon tendency to self-government did not exist, to suggest the expedient of a vigilance committee, the Celts of the parish of West Tulloghobegley even followed out their instinct, and, like their kindred of la Grande Nation, when under a similar emergency, they succumbed to a strong-handed president, and the law of the bludgeon. “ The country was ruled by a few bullies, lawless distillers, who acknowledged neither landlord nor agent ;" * and Mickey More, a giant of the lineage of Gallagher, still survives to awaken recollections of the time when he main tained an absolute sovereignty over the entire district, when all disputes on field or mountain, all quarrels at fair or gathering, were submitted to his autocratic judgment, and the decisions of his will, now said to have been generally just, were promptly executed by his own powerful hand. Mickey More has long since surrendered his sceptre into the hands of Lord George Hill, whose mode of wielding it we shall take another opportunity to consider.
• " Facts from Gwreedore."
It is a curious and instructive fact, that in no part of Ireland was the custom of tenant-right clung to with great er tenacity than in this district, where neither occupier nor landlord had made any outlay in improvements, and where the smallest possible amount of labour was expended in the extraction of the produce of the soil.
“The good-will or tenant-right of a farm is generally very high, often amounting to forty or fifty years' purchase. Land being the thing most coveted, every penny was carefully put by, with a view of being one day employed in the purchase of a bit of land. This took all their little capital, and very often left them in debt to some moneylender, who had made up the required sum, and at an enormous rate of interest. It has been so high as five shillings for a pound per annuin, paid in advance on receiving it. By this means, nothing was left for the purchase of cattle or seed ; indeed many never contemplate anything beyond potatoes sufficient to feed their families for the greater part of the year.”+
The whole theory of tenant-right, in its origin, its working, and its results, is here exposed. These poor, ignorant people required standing.
room, because they knew not that it was possible for them to inove off the narrow ledge on which evil custom had placed ibem: they were willing to buy the privilege of living and multiplying at the cost of a life of prolonged starvation, and by the sacrifice of all means of improving their condition. The analogy of their case we have seen on the face of the cliffs of Horn Head in the breeding season, when the score of perches emptied by the random dis. charge of a gun were instantly occupied, and the tenant-right fiercely contended for by many more scores of stupid puffins, in utter disregard of the fate of their predecessors.
The land thus eagerly coveted was dealt with in the thickest ignorance of every principle of agriculture. When a bountiful storm cast in a supply of sea-weed, it was carefully exposed to the rain, to free it from the sand and shells, which it was feared might hurt the bog, and then spread over un. drained and half-dry fields. Potatoes were sown the first year and oats the next, and again the process was ré. peated. Farming implements there were scarcely any. Throughout the whole parish of West Tullaghobegley, in the year 1837 (says Patrick M.Kye, a National School teacher, in a touching memorial to the Lord Lieutenant), there were, among a population of 9,000, but one cart, one plough, sixteen harrows, twenty shovels, thirtytwo rakes, and ten iron grapes ; standard weights and measures were unknown; when a bargain was made, it was usually subject to the condition of abiding by the capacity of Mickey More's pot, or the weight of Ferigal Beg's round beach-stone. There were no inore than six cow-houses and two stables in the entire parish. The stun. ted cattle, which roanied upon the mountains in summer, in winter wandered where they listed over the homo farms. The sheep, in addition to their annual general shearing, were clipped now and then, here and there, whenever a bit of wool was wanting to make up a batch of stockings for an approach. ing fair, giving the “poor animals a very strange and ridiculous, yet pitiable appearance. A forequarter would be bare to the skin, while the hind was clad and comfortable; or the
• "Facts from Gweedore."
† "Facts from Gweedore."
vantage of the wind), a small aperture in the wall, to be called, in courtesy, a window, but having no glass in it, a dried sheepskin being its substitute. One or two wooden stools, an iron potato-pot, soinetimes an old, crazy bedstead, filled up with heather or potatoes, and little or no bedclothes, with a churn, two or three piggins, a spade, a shovel, and a pipe, are the contents of the cabin."*
whole neck would be shorn to the shoulders, where the spoliation generally terminated abruptly.” The stock of poultry in the parish, in Patrick M•Kye's time, consisted of twenty-se. ven geese and three turkeys. Pigs there were none then, nor are there any now. Yet each family usually possess. ed three residences, from one to the other of which they moved, according to the season, as regularly as the fashionable world vibrates between town and country mansions and marine vil. la. On a certain fixed day in the commencement of summer, the town house on the shore was deserted, and the cattle accompanied to the mountains, from whence, in the heat of autumn, they were transported to an island, and when the inexorable day arrived, were again led back to the comforts of the urban abode. A pressing necessity for this migration existed in the want of food; but a causal explana. tion that could be picked off the surface of a phenomenon or custom was of no more value in the eyes of the Gweedorians than if they had been professors of metaphysics or political economy, or commentators on Shakspeare, and so they learnedly alleged their periodical movements to be mea. sures of precaution against certain diseases likely to affect the cattle, and for which antidotes were to be found in the peculiar herbage of each different pasture. We must make room for the following graphic description of the course of transit, and of the several establishments :
We have already alluded to the commerce of these remote parts. It was, in fact, limited, so far as exports were concerned, to whiskey, oats, and small ventures of knitted woollen stockings; but the facilities afforded for the manu. facture of the first-named article made it the real staple of the country. The greater part of the grain grown at home, and considerable quantities brought in from the counties of Sligo and Mayo, were converted into poteen. Owing to the want of roads, there was practically no market for oats in its crude state, and so it was a main object of industry to lessen its bulk and render it as portable as possible. The business of distilling was, indeed, in a high degree congenial to the tastes and babits of such a population as we have endeavoured to describe ; but it was no less injurious to their real prosperity and happiness. Destroying the corn produced, by wholesale, and preventing an increased production by the waste of time it occasioned, poteen whiskey-making was a burning of the candle at both ends, and was an immediate cause of the many famines that, from time to time, and long before the potato-rot was known, demanded and obtained public relief. Yet no preventive police had, or could have, the slightest effect in diminishing the prac. tice of illicit distillation, so long as bad roads and distant markets made the traffic in whiskey more remunerative than that in raw grain. Government after Government blundered on, fining, imprisoning, and utterly ruining individual distillers, but striking no blow at the root of the evil, until the district, overrun with guagers and revenue police, and contributing not a farthing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, became a standing monument of fiscal
“The junior branches of the family generally perform the land journey on the top of the household goods, with which the pony may often be seen so loaded, and at the same time so obscured that little more than the head can be observed; and thus the chair or two, the creels, and the iron pot, the piggin, and the various selected et ceteramas if invested with a sort of dull locomotive power -creep along the roads. The little churn is slung on one side of the animal, into which the youngest child is often thrust, its head being the only part visible. Owing to the people's Arab mode of life, not having a fixed residence, no pains are taken to make any one of their habitations at all comfortable : each consists of four walls, built of large, rough stones, put together without mortar ; no chimney, a front and back door (a contrivance or arrangement for taking ad
I n another financial relation, too, the former circumstances of Gweedore
• "Facts from Gweedore."
might teach a useful lesson. The rental of a tract of twenty-three thousand acres, upon which three thousand per. sons subsisted, and of whom nearly seven hundred contracted to pay rent, Fas under £600 a year, and yet there were “arrears of eight, ten, and even twenty years standing." Many per. sons lived on the estates who were altogether unknown to and unvexed by landlords. When rent was paid, it was rather as a social courtesy than as an obligation, and the compliment was returned in a treat of whiskey. “As to coercing the people, it was never thought of or feared. When an at. tempt of the kind was once made by a proprietor, he had to bring with him the whole yeomanry corps he com. manded, simply to protect his bailiff,” and was, we may add, ultimately forced to retreat without the honours of war. The so-called tenants, in fact, fixed the rent for themselves, and paid it when and how they pleased. They would not tolerate agent or bailiff ex. cept of their own choosing, and few were hardy enough to attempt to con travene their choice. “About the year 1822, a gentleman, to whom a small portion of the district belonged, thinking it desirable to place the property under respectable and efficient management, appointed as his agent a neighbouring magistrate. The proprietor, accompanied by his new agent, went to the property, with a view of entering upon improved or improving arrangements, but the people became so violent and outrageous at this intrusion on the part of their landlord, that both he and his intended agent were obliged at once to go away, and leave the property in the hands of the former agent, a person that could scarcely read or write, in whose care it remained until purchased by Lord G. Hill."* Here was a very paradise of tenant-right-rent at the lowest possible figure, or none at all, unlimited power to sell improvements, and abso. lute fixity of tenure - yet the result was, that social, moral and industrial condition of society we have endeavoured imperfectly to describe, and of which the consummation was a cyclical famine and pestilence every five or six years.
But there is light as well as shade in
every picture, and if the Gweedorians be endowed with a large heritage of the vices, and weaknesses, and misfor. tunes of their race, they are not unprovided with Celtic qualities of a more amiable and happy kind. Though wrathful and violent, they are sociable, droll, neighbourly and hospitable; though jealous, avaricious, and very Jews in bargain-making, they are compassionate, honest, and, upon occasion, gallant. Appreciating the luxury of doing nothing, with the gusto of Lazzaroni, they are also patient and self-denying, and, when excited, capable of extraordinary irregular exertion. In the old time no fair or gathering was without its battle and bloodshed, no vicinage in rundale free from its fierce feud; nevertheless, one of the stiffest obstacles in the way of the introduction of an improved cultivation was their propensity to dwell together in hamlets where sympathising tongues were ever near, where the nights could be whiled away in chat and story-telling, and the morning's toil postponed in sage discussion of such signs in the clouds as should forbid to sow, or such setting of the wind as might make it unwise yet to reap. Seedtime and harvest are, in their estimation, the only seasons of labour, and an hour or two before noon the proper time to begin the daily task; yet the young men take long journeys, often to Scotland, in search of work, and a wreck upon the coast never fails to call forth a burst of energy-often, too, it must not be concealed, in the cause of hu. manity. There are two ends to each agency in man's moral nature, and this truth was as often demonstrated in the parish of West Tullaghobegley as elsewhere. Patience and self denial sank into vices, when they sustained men in coolly saying, in a season of famine, "we can go back to our cockles," and in keeping their word, rather than accept relief in food, upon condition of working for it on a public road.t The same qualities rose into heroic virtues, when they prompted ignorant peasants to actions so noble as those which we shall make no excuse for introducing, in the following words of "one, who having lived among them for twenty years, knew them well, and loved them in proportion to
• "Facts from Gweedore." VOL. XLI.-10. CCXLI.
+ “Facts from Gweedore."
his knowledge of their many excellent traits :"
attempt was made providentially without an accident occurring. Each corragh received its guest, and the gallant fellows succeeded, as it by the intervention of a miracle, in landing each his charge in safety on the island.'*
. "A dreadful famine prevailed here in 1831. Two of the poorer description of the peasantry came to the writer's cottage, craving a little food to carry home to their wives and fifteen children, none of whom, or themselves, had tasted a morsel for fortyeight hours. They were requested to take each as much as would suffice for a supper and breakfast for their families ; but when they saw that the writer had scarcely a week's potatoes left, and although they knew that no provisions of any kind could be obtained even for money, in any other place within their reach, with a generous forbearance they absolutely refused to take even a single potato, and actually went away without any, saying that there was little enough for the writer's own family."
“In the winter of 1832–3, in the bleak month of February, a schooner, with a crew of four men, in the middle of the night, and during a tremendous gale from the N.W., was dashed against the rocks of Innis-Irrir, and very soon sunk. One man was lost, the other three were thrown upon the top of a high and perpendicular rock, within a stone's throw of the island, in which situation they were discovered when day appeared. Attempts were made to throw them coals of fire and potatoes, but in vain ; their fate seemed sealed, for to attempt to rescue them, through such a terrible sea as was breaking between the rock and the island, was a forlorn hope indeed, and appeared almost impossible. What was to be done? If the unfortunate men were to spend another night on that horrid rock, it would doubtless be their last. To the honour of human nature be it told, that six of these poor islanders manned three corraglas, two in each, and watching a favourable interval between two waves, gallantly shot across the foam in their little cots, and gained a nook in the rock. Here a new difficulty of fered itself; high over their heads, prostrate on the rock, benumbed with cold, wet, bruised, and nearly paralysed from the combined effects of fear and the dreadful sufferings of the preceding night, lay the poor objects of their solicitude ; and (the rock being perfectly perpendicular at its sides) there was no other way of gaining access to the corraghs but by dropping into them, at the imminent risk of either upsetting or staving them. One of the three, the captain, was upwards of fourteen stone weight. The noble fellows paused but for a moment Such hearts are not easily daunted. The
Laying all these various facts one against another, the inference seems to flow easily enough, that here is an apt illustration of the felicity of Thomas Carlyle's idea of regimenting the Irish difficulty. It would seem to need dis. cipline alone to bring those unruly passions and gentle emotions into happy balance, to direct that wild energy and capacity of endurance into a single channel of steady industry. And it was, probably, a perception of this truth that induced Lord George Hill, in the year 1838, to begin the purchase of those small estates, the aggregate of which now constitutes his principality of Gweedore, At all events, undeterred by the many lions in the way, be did then set himself seriously to the work of practically testing it, and a brief sketch of his operations and their results will not, we are convinced, be uninteresting to our readers.
We have confessed, sorrowing, to an acquaintance, nearly a quarter of a century old, with the locality, the manners, and the customs of the remote districts of the county of Donegal, and it was not without some degree of misbelieving curiosity, that, in the autumn of the present year, we read in the pages of a French periodicalf that chanced to fall in our way, a Frenchman's account of the marvels effected in one of the most unpromising of those wilds:
" Comment un seul homme par le perseverance de sa raison et de son courage, a peu dompter tous les mauvais vouloirs, battre en ruine les préjugés héréditaires, discipliner les esprits les plus prevenus et les plus obstinés, substituer enfin sa règle unique à une routine anarchique.".
We had heard much from time to time of what was doing in Gweedore, but the words of M. Amédée Pichot bore testimony to more than a re-division of farms, or improvements, however great, in the cultivation and use of the soil. They told of an experi. ment in the art of civilising a people,
* “Facts from Gweedore."
† Revue Britannique, Mars, 1847.