A Galway Landlord during the Great Famine
Ulick John de Burgh (1802-74), first marquis and 14th earl of Clanricarde was a major Irish landed magnate with a seat at Portumna in east Galway. He belonged to one of the most influential aristocratic families in Ireland and possessed all the necessary pedigree, political connections and status to secure high political office. He was one of three Irish landowners to serve in Lord John Russell’s cabinet (1846-52). The purpose of this work is to examine the role Clanricarde, as a cabinet minister and major Galway landowner, with emphasis on his contribution to, and attitude towards, government policies on Ireland in the years prior to, and during, the Great Famine. When he entered the Brittish cabinet he was presented with an opportunity to influence government policy on Ireland during the Famine. This thesis sets out to analyse his performance. The study also endeavours to examine the immediate and long-term effects of the Famine on his 52,000-acre estate in County Galway. Clanricarde is an interesting subject for research as, to date, no detailed study has been undertaken on this wealthy Irish landed magnate and politician.
The crisis precipitated by the Famine brought into sharp focus the political beliefs and philosophies of contemporary political figures and crystallised their attitudes on a range of issues such as poor law, Famine relief measures, religion, estate management, land tenure and evictions. An assessment of Clanricarde’s performance in relation to these themes contributes to the historiography of Famine period.
The book briefly examines the Clanricarde family background, its long association with County Galway, and Ulick John de Burgh’s extensive estate there. Clanricarde is profiled in his personal relations, as a politician and as a landowner. It investigates his attitude to the poor law system in Ireland in the years following its introduction in 1838 and concludes with a discussion on the early months of the Famine at local level. It also analyses the various political factions comprising Lord John Russell’s administration and Clanricarde’s role and contribution to cabinet and House of Lords debates, focusing on government Famine policies and land tenure. His relationship with Irish Catholics and his role in the 1847 general election are also discussed. It considers the management of his estate in County Galway during the Famine period, concentrating on the state of Loughrea union, its workhouse and the deterioration of the town of Loughrea. The work also probes Clanricarde’s approach to evictions and examines the long-term impact of the Famine locally by considering the demographic change which occurred on his estate in the three decades between 1841 and 1871.
As a politician and landowner Clanricarde moved in two distinct and separate worlds, straddling two different countries and cultures. In examining his career during the Famine period, it is important to establish if contradictions existed between his public rhetoric as a national figure and the implementation of government policies at local level in east Galway.
The book can also be obtained by contacting the author at 09097 41342, Mobile 087 2963803, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Softback copy of the book A Galway Landlord during the Great Famine written by John Joe Conwell.
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