Castleisland House League

Gentlemen, what will I do when the bailiff will come and take my little pig? ... Thade, we'll dress her in green ribbons and carry her home to you upon our shoulders1


The suggestion of a House League was made during a meeting of the Land League in Dublin in 1880, presided by Michael Davitt.


A Castleisland branch was formed in September 1885 following the appointment of Ven Archdeacon Irwin to the parish and, in August of that year, to the presidency of the Castleisland branch of the Irish National League.


‘A staunch nationalist’: Rev James Irwin from Fr Kieran O’Shea’s Castleisland Church and People


A report of the foundation of the Castleisland branch, which outlined its objectives, was published in the Kerry Weekly Reporter of 19 September 1885:


A preliminary meeting of some of the inhabitants of Castleisland was held at the here last night at eight o’clock for the purpose of taking steps to organise a branch of the House League in this town, which is sorely needed, or some means whereby the poor people may get an abatement of the rack rents imposed on them for miserable dwellings, also shopkeepers who are not doing near the business they were some years ago, consequently their houses are not near as valuable to them.  The rules were drawn up and are to be presented to the Ven Archdeacon Irwin, PP, for approval


‘In manner, affable, gentle and unobtrusive’: from one of the many obituaries to Rev Irwin


Documents in the collection, in which Michael O’Donohoe sought to identify members of the local league, relate to the period 1885 to 1887.


Material includes a dispute about rent between Dr Richard Harold and Mr C D O’Connor, both of Castleisland.2


See links below for a selection of material in this series.


Archdeacon Irwin, founder of the Castleisland branch of the House League, ‘endeared himself so quickly to the people of Castleisland’.  180 school-girls dressed in black attended his funeral


Alphabetical list (Ahern to Williams) of members of the House League in Castleisland.  The names have been extracted from reports of meetings of the House League in the Kerry Sentinel during the period 1885 to 1887; columns indicate duration of involvement


Page 1 (of 3) contains details of cases heard before the House League extracted from newspaper reports of same for the period February to June 1886. Information includes names of tenant, landlord, and details/outcome of case


Page 2 (of 3) continuation of above for the month of June 1886


Page 3 (of 3) contains note that a House League was formed in Castleisland in August 1899, but no names given: ‘Recognizing the value of agitation for the purpose of redressing long-felt grievances, the people of Castleisland who have long had reason to complain of high house rentals have now formed an organisation for the purpose of watching the course of legislation in respect of small dwellings … a very representative committee has been appointed’


One A4 print of a letter to the editor of the Kerry Sentinel of 25 June 1886 from Richard Harold in response to the article below, which appeared in that publication on 21 June 1886:


The following are the resolutions which were adopted at the last meeting of the Castleisland House League – “That we, the members of the Castleisland House League strongly condemn the action of Dr Harold for serving Mr C D O’Connor with a writ for the £30 amount due for, whereas Mr O’Connor clearly proves there is only one gales rent due, £15.  Mr O’Connor also proves that Doctor Harold owes him the sum of £60 10s which can be clearly proved, we hereby pledge ourselves to assist Mr O’Connor in every way we can in his resistance of the tyrannical treatment of Doctor Harold.”  “That we condemn the unmanly and ridiculous refusal of Doctor Harold in the settlement which was arrived at unanimously on Saturday between the committee and Ven Archdeacon Irwin, as Doctor Harold agreed to leave it to those who arranged.”


Dr Harold described the above as ‘a tissue of falsehood from beginning to end … all must be in the imagination of this self-constituted committee’.


Letter to the editor of the Kerry Sentinel of June 1886 from C D O’Connor countering Dr Harold’s letter and alluding to an earlier dispute heard in the Dublin court


1 A member of the House League to Timothy Cullinane, who complained about his landlady, Mrs Pembroke of Woodview, in 1886.
2 Dr Richard Harold was a Justice of the Peace, and married at Milltown in 1865 to Ellen, daughter of Cornelius Murphy Esq, merchant of that town. Dr Harold died at his residence, Castle View, in August 1904 aged 84. His widow died on 3 June 1913 at 3 Clanwilliam Place, Dublin.  Both were buried at Killeentierna.  Notes on Dr Harold and some genealogical work on his family including his son St John found in IE MOD/55/55.1/55.1.26 and IE Mod/58/58.16/58.16.4.  Notes on Mr C D O'Connor (Cornelius Denis), auctioneer, publican and general grocer in IE MOD/55/55.1/55.1.67 (5) and IE MOD/58/58.16/58.16.4.