Memorial to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 1837

Memorial to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1837. Tullaghobegly, Co. Donegal

The 1845/6/ Famine in Ireland proved to be a terrible catastrophe for its inhabitants. Millions died from starvation and many more emigrated to foreign lands. It is a fact that 1846 was only one of the famines to hit this country between the early years of the century right up to the 1880’s. The Coastguards were involved in many efforts during these years to alleviate the hunger of the fishing communities and to improve fishery conditions along the coast. Sir James Dombrain, (1783-1871) founder and comptroller General of the Coastguard in Ireland from 1819-1849, owned Dunlewy House, which he sold in 1845 to James Russell. He had a big connection with Gweedore and brought the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland there in 1837, Lord Lombardy. A National school teacher, Paddy McKye of Tullaghobegly presented him with a very interesting Memorial –

To his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland


That the parishioners of this parish of Tullaghobegly, in the Barony of Kilmacrenan, are in the most, needy, hungry, and naked condition of any people that ever came within the precincts of my knowledge, although I have traveled a part of nine counties in Ireland, also a part of England and Scotland, together with a part of British America. I have likewise perambulated 2,253 miles through some of the United States, and never witnessed the tenth part of such hunger, hardships, and nakedness. Now, my lord, if the causes which I now lay before your excellency were not of very extraordinary importance, I would never presume that it should be laid before you. But I consider myself bound in duty to relieve distressed and hungry fellow men; although I am sorry to state that my charity cannot extend further than to explain to the rich where hunger and hardships exist in almost the greatest degree that nature can achieve.

There is about 4,000 persons in this parish [this is understated, the population was 9,049 in 1841, the people were not so easily counted as their furniture], and all Catholics, and as poor as I shall describe, having among them no more than-

  • One cart
  • No wheel car
  • No coach or any public vehicle
  • One plough
  • Sixteen harrows
  • Eight saddles
  • Two pillions
  • Eleven hurdles
  • Twenty shovels
  • Thirty-two rakes
  • Seven table forks
  • Ninety-three chairs
  • Two hundred and forty-three stools
  • Ten iron grapes
  • No swine, hogs or pigs
  • Twenty-seven geese
  • Three turkeys
  • Two feather beds
  • Eight chaff beds
  • Two stables
  • Six cowhouses
  • One National school, No other school
  • One priest
  • No other resident gentleman
  • No bonnet
  • No clock
  • Three watches
  • Eight brass candlesticks
  • No looking glasses, above 3d in price
  • No boots, no spurs,
  • No fruit trees, No turnips, carrots or clover

No other garden vegetables, but potatoes and cabbage; and not more than ten square feet of glass in windows in the whole, with the exception of the chapel, the schoolhouse, Mr. Dombrains house, and the constabulary barracks

None of their either married or unmarried women can afford more than one shift, and the fewest number cannot afford any, and more than half of both men and women cannot afford shoes to their feet; nor can many of them afford a second bed, but whole families of sons and daughters of mature age indiscriminately lying together with their parents, and all in the bare buff.

Their beds are straw, green and dried rushes; their bed clothes are either coarse sheets or no sheets, and ragged, filthy blankets.----In general the peasantry are on the small allowance of one meal a day, many families one meal in two or three days. Also in addition to all, their cattle and sheep are dying with hunger, and their owner forced by hunger to eat the flesh of such.-----.

One mark before I conclude. I refer your noble Excellency for the authenticity of the above statement to the Rev.-, Parish Priest, and to Mr.-, Chief Constable stationed at Gweedore, and Mr. -, Chief Officer of Coastguard in same district.

Your most obedient and humble servant, PATRICK McKYE.

Kindly sent by Joe Kelly, Co. Donegal

1 Comment · 14661 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on September 06 2007


#1 | Kalilileth on 01/08/2009 23:03:57
Please would you advise if date of 1837 is correct? If so, it cannot relate to Famine in 1845/6.

Post Comment

Please Login to Post a Comment.