The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

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CHAPTER XIV.

LABOUR RATE ACT—DIGGING HOLES—ENGLAND BEGS FOR US—OUT-DOOR RELIEF—"FAST AND HUMILIATION"—QUARTER-ACRE CLAUSE—THE CALCULATIONS OF "POLITICAL CIRCLES"—TWO MILLIONS OF CELTIC CORPSES—AMERICA BAFFLED—PARISH COFFINS—REPUDIATION OF ALMS BY THE "NATION."

THE winter of 1846-7, and the succeeding spring, were employed in a series of utterly unavailing attempts to use the "Labour Rate Act," so as to afford some sensible relief to the famishing people. Sessions were held, as provided by the Act, and the landed proprietors liberally imposed rates to repay such government advances as they thought needful;but the unintelligible directions constantly interrupted them, and, in the meantime, the peasantry, in the wild, blind hope of public relief, were abandoning their farms and letting the land lie idle. For this I shall give a few authorities out of the mouth of the Conservative or British party. From Limerick we learn, through the Dublin Evening Mail:

"There is not a labourer employed in the county, except on public works; and there is every prospect of the lands remaining untilled and unsown for the next year."

In Cork, writes the Cork Constitution:

"The good intentions of the government are frustrated by the worst regulations—regulations which, diverting labour from its legitimate channels, left the fields without hands to prepare them for the harvest."

At a Presentment Session in Shanagolden, after a hopeless discussion as to what possible meaning could be latent in the Castle "instructions," and "supplemental instructions," the Knight of Glin, a landlord of those parts, said that, "While on the subject of mistakes," he might as well mention—

"On the Glin road some people are filling up the original cutting of a hill with the stuff they had taken out of it. That's another slice out of our £450."

Which he, poor knight, and the other proprietors of that barony had to pay. For you must bear in mind that all the advances under this Act were to be strictly loans, repayable by the rates secured by the whole value of the land—and at higher interest than the government borrowed the money so advanced,

The innocent knight of Glin ascribed the perversions of ...continue reading »

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Page 122

The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

by John Mitchel


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