Notice to Quit Scenes of eviction—Ireland 1886–1890 opens in the National Museum of Ireland Country Life

Published in 18th-19th Century Social Perspectives, 18th–19th - Century History, Issue 3 (Autumn 2004), News, Volume 12

An evicted family on the Hill estate, Gweedore, Co. Donegal, c. 1887. The few belongings scattered outside include a skillet pot, a chair, a stave-built water vessel, a child’s cradle, a child’s chair and the hub of a cart-wheel.

An evicted family on the Hill estate, Gweedore, Co. Donegal, c. 1887. The few belongings scattered outside include a skillet pot, a chair, a stave-built water vessel, a child’s cradle, a child’s chair and the hub of a cart-wheel.

The National Photographic Archive’s exhibition Notice to Quit, a unique record of tenant evictions during the Plan of Campaign,1886–90, opened recently at the National Museum of Ireland—Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, and will run until the end of October 2004.

 
The tactics of the Plan of Campaign were outlined in the United Ireland newspaper in October 1886 by Timothy Harrington, secretary of the National League. Under the Plan, tenants on certain estates, mainly in the south and west of Ireland, collectively asked landlords to reduce rents to more affordable levels. On some estates landlords settled on agreed rents with their tenants. Elsewhere, landlords refused and disruption and violence were the result. On the tenants’ part, rents were withheld and the money was paid into a central fund to be managed by a group of locally elected trustees. The landlords who were affected responded with evictions, actively supported by both the militia and the Royal Irish Constabulary. The central fund was used to support those who had been evicted.

 
The eviction scenes depicted in this exhibition were photographed in counties Clare, Kerry, Donegal, Wexford, Galway and Kildare by the Dublin-based Lawrence Studios. They are early examples of photo-journalism and Maud Gonne used them as a political propaganda tool by arranging public displays of some eviction images during Queen Victoria’s jubilee celebrations in 1897.

 

 

Right: The same family standing outside a sod-built hut also at Gweedore, Co. Donegal, c. 1887. (National Photographic Archive)

Right: The same family standing outside a sod-built hut also at Gweedore, Co. Donegal, c. 1887. (National Photographic Archive)

The William Lawrence Photograph Collection consists of some 40,000 glass plate negatives and was purchased by the National Library of Ireland in 1943. The Lawrence Studio had opened in Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street) in 1865 and by the late 1860s had begun selling postcards and viewbooks of selected images. While the views in the collection were primarily aimed at tourists, they also provide a great deal of information on social history and architecture. The scenes in this exhibition contain examples of furniture and furnishings removed from the homes of the evicted. Similar examples can be viewed in the museum itself.
Enquiries: www.museum.ie

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