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sonal assistance could be obtained from them. The resident gentry were few and scattered. The other inhabitants were paupers, or pretended to be so. There was no middle class. Applications to the central relief committees for assistance, almost invariably referred to the small number of residents capable of taking any part in giving relief; stating that the whole, or almost the whole, of the distressed district belonged to absentees; often varying the statement by adding, that the property was under the care of the court of chancery. There are whole parishes without a single educated resident, except the Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy. Even these could not always be counted on, as the union of several parishes into a single benefice deprived many places of their assistance. The machinery for relieving distress did not exist, it could not be created with sufficient rapidity, and therefore the people suffered. No human power, nor any amount of expenditure, could have wholly averted starvation, or prevented the loss of many lives. *
on their property, whether they live in Ireland, in England, or in a foreign country, the injurious effects of non-residence being, in general, equally perceptible in any of these cases.
* From among the many statements of this nature made to the Relief Committee of the Society of Friends, a few have been selected :
County of CAVAN.—“ This district is especially desolate, from there “ being no resident gentry in the parish. The principal estate is in the
Two other causes greatly impeded the administration of relief. The want of dealers in food throughout a large part of the west ; and the extreme difficulty of discriminating between the absolutely destitute, and those who pretended to be
“ hands of a trustee who cannot give any relief. The remainder of the “ parish is subdivided amongst many small landlords, who are all absen“ tees, and none of whom contribute any thing ; all complaining that “ they have lost their rents. Extent about 12 square miles. Population “ about 6,000.”
QUEEN's County—“We have not one resident landlord in the dis“trict : applications have been made to each non-resident, and up to the “ present time we have received but £44. Extent, eighteen thousand “ acres. Population upwards of 10,000.”
COUNTY OF ROSCOMMON.-“ All the landed proprietors are non“ resident, excepting the chairman of the committee. The rents of “ three of the largest townlands of the parish have been received for the “ last thirty years by a receiver under the court of chancery; during “ which time there being no landlord to interest himself about them, “ the land has been divided and subdivided into very small holdings, “ and an immense population has sprung up, who are reduced to the “ deepest want by the failure of their usual food. Extent, one thousand “ three hundred acres. Population 5,810.”
County OF MAYO _“There are fifteen absentee landlords : their “ agents do not live in the parish, and seldom come near it: no non“resident landlord has sent any subscription. The resident landlords “in some cases are giving assistance to those around them, but no gene“ral subscription has been entered into. I, as vicar of the parish, “ called a meeting, but no one attended, as they said there was no one “ to represent who is the principal landlord and an absentee. “ Extent, fourteen miles by twelve miles. Population about 16,000.”
County of GALWAY.—“ The landed proprietors are all absentees, “ nor have they contributed a penny towards relieving their tenants “ since the distress commenced. We have neither gentry nor a second “ person in the character of a large farmer within the parish. Popula“ tion 4000."
Ditto.--" The district with which I am principally connected con“ tains a population of near 4000 souls, of whom a full third are in
so. The agricultural population, whether farmers or labourers, had heretofore supplied their wants from their own holdings ; now it became necessary to import food, and to create a trade where none had previously existed. The silent streams of
“ actual destitution, another third in deep distress, and not above a “ sixth able to support themselves. In this district I am almost the only “ resident proprietor; and though the absentee properties are crowded “ with paupers, afflicted by fever and prostrated by famine, their con“ tributions are small and their personal assistance nought. There is “ besides much property in the hands of receivers under the courts, “ where the usual indulgence cannot be given, where contribution is out “ of the question, and where the utmost misery consequently prevails. “ We have now on the works close on 500 persons, and perhaps over it; “ but the poor, the sick, the aged, the infirm constitute a vast number ; " and though amongst these every thing we can do is done to the « utmost of our ability, much remains undone."
COUNTY OF CLARE.—“I have to say (in answer to the remark made “ in your letter, that in the distribution of a public fund it is desirable « in all cases, as far as possible, that it be done through a regular organ“ization of the benevolent and intelligent inhabitants of the district " claiming relief that, alas, in the district for which my daughter is ex“erting herself, there is not one person above the rank of a peasant “ residing; that the greater part is inhabited by very poor people, and “ that it all belongs to absentees, who have not contributed a shilling “ for relief, or to persons over whose properties receivers of the courts “ are appointed."
COUNTY OF LONGFORD.-" This district labours under peculiar dis“ advantages, and is one of the poorest localities in Ireland. The por“perty belongs entirely to absentee proprietors, and has but one “ resident gentleman within a circumference of eight miles. It is also “ deprived of the residence of either the Protestant clergyman or his “ curate. For this reason, the vice-lieutenant was obliged to call on “ the resident magistrate to act as chairman, who lives twelve miles “ from many parts of the district. It is occupied by small tenants, “ holding from four to ten acres, and very few upwards. The land is “ bad and ill cultiv ted; and the inhabitants, never looking forward to
commerce, which feed the 2,000,000 inhabitants of London with unerring regularity, have grown with the growth of the city ; but scatter the same number of persons over a wide extent of country, covered with mountain and bog, and
“ anything better than potatoes, and having lost them, are totally “ destitute.”
County of Galway.-" This district has been one of the most “ severely visited in Ireland ; last year the potato crop almost univer“sally failed, so that this is the second year of scarcity. It is painful “ to see the alteration in the people's appearance, and too much credit “ cannot be given them for their patience under this visitation of the “ Almighty. No outrages have occurred in the district, and the viola“tions of property have been trifling. The position of a country “ gentleman left single-handed, as I am, to deal with such a calamity, “and doomed daily to hear tales of woe which he cannot alleviate, is “ truly miserable. I pray, however, that I may be sustained through it, “and am truly thankful to the Almighty for the many kind aids he has “ provided for us." .
County Of RoscoMMON.-" Our electoral division is so destitute at “ present, that there is no poor law guardian. We have never received “any government grant, and all the societies refuse us aid except “ yours, from our not having a committee; there is no gentleman in “ the neighbourhood to form one."
County OF DONEGAL,“ This parish contains upwards of 10,000 “ inhabitants, of whom about 8,500 are Roman Catholics, 1050 Church “of England, and 500 Presbyterians; of the fourteen landlords to “ whom the ground belongs, there are but two resident, of whom one “ holds a small property, and the other is much encumbered; the conse“quence is much neglect and wretchedness among the people, especially “ the cottiers, who are generally regarded by the landlords as a great “ injury to their properties, and are therefore discountenanced in every “ possible manner. Of these cottier or pauper families there may be “ about 600 or 700, comprising about 3000 individuals.”
County OF MAYO_Extract of a letter from the chairman of a board of guardians, dated 28th of Dec. 1846:—“In this unhappy union there is “ scarcely one resident proprietor, scarcely a merchant, nor any of the “ affluent classes who could assist to relieve human misery in any degree.
without sufficient roads, and how are they to be supplied ? To become acquainted with the circumstances of each applicant, so as to prevent imposition, was a great difficulty. Where all were wretched, it was hard to select the most destitute. It required an efficient machinery, which existed in but few places. Many gave up at once, and attempted no selection ; others selected their own immediate dependants, and seeing they could not assist all, endeavoured to preserve those in whom they had the most interest. Nothing could have overcome this difficulty, but a large number of residents of education and property, well acquainted with their several localities. The want of such a resident body, of an intelligent middle class, must greatly impede the execution of the poor-laws, and of every measure for relief of distress in Ireland.
“ In almost all the parishes, the Catholic clergyman is the only one to “ give consolation.”
From the same, dated 1st of May, 1847 :— The state of the union as “ a whole is alarming. There are no resident gentry. There are four “ members of the finance committee. The chairman resides about 18 “ miles from the place of meeting, another member about 30, another “ about 15, and the other about 7. The government inspecting“ officer, Captain does all any man can do to expedite the law, but “ there are no elements existing in the various electoral divisions, for “ effective local committees to carry out the provisions of the 10 Vict. “ch. 7. A highly wrought organization is in part necessary. The cler“ gymen are almost all constantly employed; farmers too; then there “ are no persons to assist others in turn."