Poor Inquiry (Ireland), 1836

Transcriber's note:
   
The first segment in each of these volumes details the testimony given by landlords, agents, clergymen, farmers, &c., at baronial examinations. However, only a sampling of parishes and baronies were included in these examinations. The nearest parish or barony to that of Kilcolman (Clanmorris) included was the Barony of Murrisk—the village of Murrisk measuring about 45 km distant from the town of Claremorris. The next nearest was the parish of Aughrim, in county Galway, lying 100 km southeast of Claremorris.
   The second segment, the Supplement, outlined the responses to set questions, answered by a single parish representative. The Rev. Joseph D'Arcy Sirr answered the questions for the parish of Kilcolman (Clanmorris), as follows:

Source: House of Commons, United Kingdom. First Report from His Majesty's Commissioners for inquiring into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland, with Appendix (A.) and Supplement. Vol. XLVII, Part I. Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed, 8 July 1835. Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

Appendix (A).
Answers to Questions circulated by the Commissioners relative to the Relief of the Destitute Classes in Ireland.

  1. What number of deserted children are there in your parish, and how are they supported?——None.
  2. What number of bastard children are there in your parish, of the age of three years or under, who are not supported by their reputed fathers?——Eight.
  3. What number of widows and children are there in your parish, who have no relations able to support them, and how are they supported?——111 widows were reported by the population enumerator in 1831, who were heads of families. These either lived on the farms of their deceased husbands, or, residing in hovels by the road side, lived by begging, or were supported by the labour of their sons.
  4. What number of persons are there ordinarily resident in your parish, who, from old age or infirmity, are incapable of work, and how are they usually supported?——Between 30 and 40; this year 39. They are either by their children, which is the usual practice, or else, and but rarely, by begging. It is deemed a privilege and obligation to attend to them, if at all capable, by their families. There are some fine instances of this feeling.
  5. What number of labourers are in the habit of leaving their dwellings periodically, to obtain employment, and what proportion of them go to England?——Fifty-six went to England this year. None elsewhere. A greater number have gone, I believe, in former years; but the system does not prevail to the same extent in this parish as it does in others.
  6. Are any of them married men, and if so, how are their wives or children supported in their absence?——Yes; the adult boys generally accompany their sires, and the families support themselves by begging during their absence.
  7. What number of persons in your parish subsist by begging? and are alms usually given in money or provisions?——There are 26 beggars. Alms are generally given in provisions.
  8. What number of householders are in the habit of letting lodgings for strolling beggars, and what is the price usually paid for a night's lodging?——None. All the cottiers and small farmers give lodging freely to beggars without charge.
  9. Are any persons known to have died from actual destitution in your parish, within the last three years?——None.

Source: House of Commons, United Kingdom. "Poor Inquiry (Ireland): Appendix (D.) containing Baronial Examinations relative to Earnings of Labourers, Cottier Tenants, Employment of Women and Children, Expenditure; and Supplement, containing Answers to Questions 1 to 12, circulated by the Commissioners." Reports from Commissioners: Fifteen Volumes. (10.) Poor Laws (Ireland): Appendix (D.) Session 4 February – 20 August 1836. Vol. XXXII. Transcribed by A. Kilpatrick.

  1. How many labourers are there in your parish? How many in constant? how many in occasional employment.——396 labourers, according to the return of the population enumerator in 1831. Very few of these have constant employment: I have no way of arriving at the proportion.
  2. How are they maintained when out of employment?——By the produce of their own holdings, the liberality of their neighbours, the sale of a pig, and sometimes by thieving.
  3. What is the ordinary diet, and condition with respect to clothing, of the labouring classes in your parish?——Potatoes, cabbages, sometimes oatmeal, and an odd egg; an occasional slice of bacon, if at all comfortable.
  4. What are the daily wages of labourers, with or without diet, (specify winter and summer,) in your parish?——
    6d. in winter, 8d. in summer, without diet, where the employment is pretty constant; in seed-time and harvest, when there is a press of labour, they get, for occasional days, 1s. without diet, and 8d. with.
  5. At what periods of the year are they least employed?——About Christmas and the middle of summer.
  6. Are women and children usually employed in labour, and at what rate of wages?——No; women when employed get 4d. a day; children are only employed by their parents to aid them in the culture of their holdings, in the footing of turf, and in road-making.
  7. Is task-work general in your neighbourhood?——It is only occasional.
  8. What is the whole might an average labourer, obtaining an average amount of employment, both in day-work and task-work, earn in the year, including harvest-work and the value of all his other advantages and means of living?——Not above £8 per annum in wages; in general they have a potato-garden, with a cabin annexed.
  9. What in the whole might his wife and four children, all of an age to work (the eldest not more than 16 years of age) earn within the year, obtaining, as in the preceding case, an average amount of employment?——Not above £2, with the exception of the eldest son, who could earn as much as his father, or nearly so.
  10. What would be the yearly expense of food for an able-bodied labourer in full work, at the average price of provisions, during each of the last three years?——Taking potatoes at 1s. 3d. per week, valuing them at 2-1/2d. per stone, £3 4s.; buttermilk, at 1d. per day, £1 10s. 5d.; would exhibit the amount of his total expenses for food per year, £4 14s. 5d.
  11. Are wages for labour usually paid in money, or provisions, or by con acres? or in what other way?——
    In cash, con acre, and allowance for rent.
  12. Upon what terms are herds usually hired in your parish?——They are remunerated by what is called a herd's garden, consisting of from one to three acres of land, according to the size of the farm, together with an allowance of free pasture of from one to three head of cattle, according to the same rule.

Source: House of Commons, United Kingdom. "Poor Inquiry (Ireland): Appendix (E.) containing Baronial Examinations relative to Food, Cottages and Cabins, Clothing and Furniture, Pawnbroking and Savings Banks, Drinking; and Supplement, containing Answers to Questions 13 to 22, circulated by the Commissioners." Reports from Commissioners: Fifteen Volumes. (11.) Poor Laws (Ireland): Appendix (E.) Session 4 February – 20 August 1836. Vol. XXXII. Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.

  1. Of what class of persons, generally, are the landlords of cottages or cabins?——The landlords generally; there are very few sub-tenants in this parish, with the exception of the town of Claremorris.
  2. What is the usual rent of cabins with, and of cabins without, land?——A cabin, with one rood of ground, generally rents at £1 per annum, which is paid in labour.
  3. Of what description of buildings are those cabins, and how furnished? Are they supplied with bedsteads and comfortable bedding?——Loose stone or bog-sods dashed with clay. It can scarcely be said they have furniture, seldom a bedstead, the place of one being supplied with a few sticks covered with straw, and having one sheet and one blanket; a ricketty stool or two complete the equipment.
  4. Upon what conditions, exclusive of rent, do labourers or cottiers hold their cabins and land? Is it usual to require duty-labour, in addition to, or in lieu of rent?——They are generally tenants-at-will. There is no duty-labour; day-labour, as before stated, is commonly accepted for rent.
  5. In how many instances, within your parish, are two or more families resident in the same cabin?——In general they have separate cabins; in 1831 there were 67 cabins in which there were two families resident. This practice, which is rare in rural districts, prevails chiefly with us in and near the town of Claremorris, where there are now 23 cabins of this description.
  6. Is the general condition of the poorer classes in your parish, improved, deteriorated, or stationary, since the Peace, in the year 1815, and in what respects? Is the population of the parish increasing or diminishing?——Poverty is greater from the scarcity of employment and the high price of land as compared with the value of crops.
  7. Has your parish been disturbed or peaceable during that period?——Peaceable in general, excepting market affrays and rescue of tithe seizures.
  8. Is there any savings' bank or benefit society, in your parish? In what state of prosperity is it, in respect of the contributions made thereto, and of what description of persons are the contributors?——No.
  9. Are there any pawnbrokers' shops in your parish? if so, is it with the lowest class of poor that their dealings are principally carried on?——No.
  10. What is the number of public houses, or houses where spirituous liquors are retailed, within your parish? Does illicit distillation prevail in it?——There were upwards of 42 licensed houses; but the unlicensed houses have carried on a successful competition. Illicit distillation prevails to a great extent, and keeps up the price of corn generally through the county.*

* Compare with:

  In the parish of Kilcolman, county Mayo, of which parish the population is 8200, is the village of Claremorris, a post town containing 1800 inhabitants: in this village there are 50 shops in which whiskey is sold; there are also a number of shebeen houses in the smaller villages or hamlets through the parish. Source: Essays on Intemperance, addressed to the benevolent inhabitants of cities, and especially Dublin (Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1830), pg. 48.

Return to Claremorris and the parish of Kilcolman index page.
Return to Ireland - Local history notes index page.

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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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