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THE STATE OF IRELAND.

- Ireland has now suffered from three bad years in succession. The distress this winter will be so great that the unfortunate peasantry will have neither fuel nor food. The turf is as dear as coal, and the latter is about 255. per ton when delivered. In the Vest the turf is three tin.es, and in - some instances four times, the price it was in ’7B ; and the state of the country in general is thus described by the “ Dublin Freeman,” the leading Irish daily paper : —“ The hopes and well-earned treasures of the year are now irretrievably ruined ; the whole face of the country is sodden or flooded. Here the ripened corn is lying in reeking, rotting masses, on the soaked ground ; there it is standing up to its neck in water. The half-dried turf is slowly dissolving away into the black slime, and in many places the potatoes just show the tops of their blackened stunted stalks over the water. There seems no hope of change. Literally the flood gates of Heaven have been opened, and down on the land with persistent maligmity the rain has poured itself in torrents. Ho part of the country has been spared. Even where nature has lavished her richest treasures there is pitching poverty in the present, and God only knows what in the future. Take Tipperary, for instance. What finer land 1 Luxurious in its richness, it may be said to have been up to the present the Eden of Ireland. , . “Buttermaking has been, ana still is, the most important item in Tipperary farming. The dairy farmers lose this season LBO per 20 cows. Butter went for 935. per cwt., which, in 1878, brought 120 s. and 1265. per cwt. The butter market is the barometer with whose rise or fall the prosperity of Tipperary is to he guaged. Some landlords are very good, but the exceptions more than neutralise the rule. And to show the desperate state of things even where the landlord is not exacting, take one case. Captain Massey Dawson has the highest reputation for his kindness, hut let the testimony of one speak, as to •the condition of other tenants on his estate, his own open way, hesays, “He, Captain never raised a man’s rent; aiid never quenched a man ; s hearth. He did np£ fleece us for our bit of prosperity, and wp are almost ashampd to’ go hogging to him now that we are down. But whatarp we to dp i We are simply on the high roa.d to ruin, and in a season or two, if we clpn’t starve, will he paupers squatting on his land. It is no fault of ours that our pattlcj our cprn, our hotter, opr potatoes

—every blessed thing we lived by, and paid rent by—have turned dead against us all in a heap. We have no money ; wo can borrow none. Forgive us a half-year, leave ns our morsel of crops to keep the wolf from the door, and we will try to struggle through—like men—till better days.’ Crowds of farmers who had for years emancipated themselves from field labor now have to return to the spade and reaping hook, through inability to pay for hired labor ; and the struggle is the same for the strong farmer of 100 acres and upwards as with the weak. The fattening of stock i; as unproductive as dairy farming. The struggle seems to be not who shall make the most gains, but who shall suffer the least losses. In one case the balancesheet of a farmer of 40 acres showed on the Dr. side L 136 145., on the Or. LlO7 135., leaving the year’s profit minus L 29 Is., and he was a thrifty man. In this state of things the rent? must be lowered ; if not, they'will lower themselves, for that insane earth hunger which was so strong a few years ago, is clean gone ; and hunger of a different kind takes its place. Individual instances of suffering and hardship might be given, but one or two will suffice There were two old men who lived all their lives on a farm of four acres. The Poor Law valuation was L 3, the rent L 4 4s. sd. Last year the lease expired, and they were ordered to quit. They offered 355. per acre, nearly 100 per cent extra. The offer was refused, and out they had to go. A few days afterwards they were allowed to rent the farm at Is. Bd. per week, that is, L 4 6s. Bd. a year ; so that for the luxury of starving in their cabin they paid more than they had before paid for cabin and land. The family of one of the most extensive dairy farmers in Aberloe have been living upon Indian meal stirabout, mixed with wheaten meal, since Ist December last. And to sum up the condition of the poorer class of Tipperary farmers —as Indian meal, Indian meal and flour, varied with an occasional banquet of bread and tea—the farmer of five acres to the farmer of thirty-five acres. This gives some idea of the state of things in Tipperary, the premier county in Ireland. “ In the north a few facts may be given to indicate how matters stand there. As to the root crops : A prize-winner of a series of years, the present included, of the Newtownards Horticultural Society, stated that some prize mangel last year turned the scale at 561 b. ; this year his best would not weigh Gib. Turnips last year weighed 241 b. ; this year at most 41b. A farmet in the barony of Lecale dug six stalks of potatoes in different parts of a six-acre field. He got but two good potatoes out of the lot. A poor woman on a farm of five acres was reduced to a sustenance of nettle broth. Of about 50,000 acres of potatoes in the County Down, two-thirds are called ‘Zulus.’ Unfortunately there are moi’e ‘ Zulus ’ in Ireland now than in Zululand. The oats here has fared better —it is green and upright—but it is feared the night frosts will ripen it into rottenness, and as a shrewd northerner said, ‘ chaff won’t make stirabout.’ In Armagh and Monaghan the elements have made fearful havoc of the hay, corn, and potatoes, and in the firstnamed county—called ‘ the orchard of Ireland ’ —the blossoms of the fruit trees have been scattered by wind and rain.” “But when we leave the rich soil of the north and south, and turn into Connaught, the prospect presented is truly appalling. On September 1, the chances even of a harvest were all gone. Everywhere was the cry raised of bad or blighted potatoes. Prices are sinking bottomlessly down. And the wretched peasant! This is bow an eye-witness writes of him :—Thundered at by the heavens, driven from the fairs, rejected from the banks, crawling from meal shop to meal shop for credit, bested even out of the English harvest market—turn where ho will, the Irish peasant, the most uncomplaining drudge that ever bowed his back to labor, finds himself imprisoned in a cage of debt, whose walls, like those of the mediaeval torture chamber, seem to be closing in to strangle him. Nearly every man in the parish of Ballyhauris owes his L2O or L3O, and you couldn’t squeeze a sovereign in coin out of the lot of them. ” A priest of a country parish missed 200 of his flock from mass. They failed to attend not for want of faith, but of clothes. To get stirabout for their children some of the wretched people had to appease the shopkeepers by giving them mortgages over their crops. In fat Roscommon even, L 40,000 worth of Indian meal had been distributed on credit to people who were not able to pay back one-fifth of their last year’s (1878) advances. As to paying the rent, it is an absolute impossibility in many, many instances. To give one —A property bought in 1878 at a rental of L2OO, up to September, ’79, brought in L 6 in rents ! The decrees at quarter session may be numbered by the thousand. This is a terrible state of things, and a subject for our deepest pity and commiseration. And when one thinks that there are many landlords who are absentees from the soil, and care little whether the people starve or not so long as they get their rents, the thought makes the blood burn with indignation at such heartlessness and indifferentism. In Mayo four great absentee proprietors own 315,000 acres. The greater part they farm for their own profit, or graze with their own cattle ; or the remainder—and it is the worst, being the mountains and the morasses—they got LIOO,OOO a year from the peasants, to adorn their English summer gardens and drawing-rooms. These are facts, the accuracy of which are vouched for by eye-witnesses, amongst them the special commissioners of the Dublin Freeman’s Land Commission. And besides, that the distress in Ireland is wide spread and threatens a famine there can be no doubt, for the columns of the home papers teem with reports of meetings on the subject held all over the country, in which the people cry out with all their might, and plainly show that unless Government comes to their assistance there is nothing for them but the workhouse. A sister of charity appeals from Clifden, county Galway ; the nun of Kenmare appeals from the south ; the archbishops 'and bishops of Ireland met together after the obsequies for the repose of the soul of the late Cardinal Cullen had concluded, and they declared the ‘ ‘ existence of deep distress called for a revision and reform of the land laws, and made a strong appeal to the Government to undertake remunerative public works, with a view to providing employment for the people.” The priests of Clonfprt forwarded a series of resplutipns to the Lofd £ievspxi{int, stating ‘ * that in some oases as many as 50 per cent, and varying down to 10 per cent of the inhabitants will be in a state of destitution unless aid be afforded them.” The clergy say that this is from their own knowledge. And from late issues of the “ Tablet,” we learn that the bishop and clergy of Cavan have declared themselves in a similar manner. They conclude a series of resolutions by— ‘ ‘ That our parliamentary representatives, municipal and electoral bodies, and men of influence and position in the county, be reqrrested to urge on the Government the immediate necessity of providing some employment for the laboring classes. Without money, with credit, and without work, they must, if not soon and generously aided, become victims of famine, pestilence, and death. ” Meetings of the people have been also held at Carlow, Tullow, Maryborough, Cork, Castlebar, and all over Ireland, in fact, at pdricli similar declarations were made. These facts will suffice to show that Ireland stands in need of assistance from all who have hearts to feel for suffering want, and to whom the cause of a suffering community will not be narrowed by consideration of class, creed or country. I To the generous and warm-hearted, it

only requires that this plain statement of facts should be brought under their notice to elicit a generous sympathy and an active help. We appeal to them on behalf of unfortunate countrymen, against whom the elements have waged a pitiless war for three years. Wo beg of them, for the sake of God and our common humanity, to come to the aid of the poor peasantry. Their help will be ever remembered by Irishmen and by Irish Australians, and the prayer of many in Ireland will ascend as incense to Heaven for them, in petition to the Almighty, that they and those who come after them may be blessed a hundred fold for the charitable assistance now so urgently needed, and as freely granted.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18800210.2.17

Bibliographic details

THE STATE OF IRELAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 59, 10 February 1880

Word Count
1,991

THE STATE OF IRELAND. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 59, 10 February 1880

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