Landlordism in Castleisland

‘Forfeitures of Kerry lands have been taking place since 1200’, observed Jeremiah King in his History of Kerry, describing the occurrences as ‘systems of robbery’.1


Who owned what: Michael O’Donohoe’s depiction of the Seigniory


Within the ‘systems of robbery’, King identified the period of landlordism as 1710 to 1921.


Michael O’Donohoe took a particular interest in this period.  The collection contains considerable research papers on proprietors of the Castleisland district, in which material from standard published sources was synthesised with his own research.


The Seigniory 1733 to 1903


Proprietors studied include Bateman, Blennerhasset, Browne, Chute, Coltsmann, Crosbie, Crumpe, Denny, Drew, Drummond, Fairfield, Godfrey, Harold, Hartnett, Headley (Winn), Hussey, Marshall, Leeson, Meredith, Morris, Powell, Roper, Sandes, Saunders, Spring, Stack, Stokes, Thompson, Trant, Ventry (De Moleyns), Wren.2


The material plots their association to Castleisland and, in many cases, their disassociation.  For example, on his death in 1958, St John Aloysius Harold was described as ‘the last surviving member in the district of an old local family’.3


Headley: ‘View of Glenbegh Towers’ (in ruin today) in 1871 and plan of house and stables.  See collection for notes on  Glenbeigh Towers (Winn’s Folly) and Aghadoe House


The O’Donohoe Collection is an essential starting point for researchers of landlordism in Castleisland and outlying districts.


1 IE MOD/58/58.3/58.3.7. 'By the clan Cashel and clan Gerald; by the favourites of Elizabeth and James in 1580-1612; by the Cromwellians in 1651-66; by Williamites in 1688-1710; by landlords 1710-1921; the tuath sen Eran have repurchased most of the land now ... In 1924 the farmers are purchasing their holdings, and becoming freeholders.'
2 IE MOD/58. The families of the Seigniory of Castleisland are identified as Crosbie, Herbert, Fitzgerald, Blennerhassett and Meredith: 'By a survey taken in 1729, the Seignory of Castle Island was found to contain no less than 37,128 acres of which only 14,211 were then profitable ... Four years after the survey the whole Seignory was leased for ever at a yearly rent to Sir Maurice Crosbie, William Crosbie, Edward Herbert, John Fitzgerald, John Blennerhassett and, in 1734, Richard Meredith  ... Sir Maurice Crosbie's descendants afterwards sold their portion to the ancestors of the Rt Hon Lord Ventry and John Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry sold his to Chute. William Crosbie's portion was inherited by the widow of General Berkely Drummond and John Blennerhassett by his descendant, the Rt Hon Lord Headley (IE MOD/58/58.3/58.3.1)'.
3 St John died at Bons Secours Hospital Tralee on 10 March 1958.  His widow Minette St John Harold died at the same place on 12 August 1961. Minette St John Harold was the daughter of C D (Cornelius Denis) O'Connor.  Collection contains note on O'Connor and Duarigle/Dhuarigle Castle.