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Distress at Castletown-Kinneigh
West Carbery Eagle
January 31, 1880


The inhabitants of Castletown-Kinneigh and the surrounding districts crept on Tuesday, the 20th inst., as half-starved and emaciated beings, to assist at a meeting, held at Castletown village having for its object the proposing of some resolutions, or instructing some means to alleviate their present more direful distress. Half-starved they rose, and cast aside their inactivity at last, hunger pinching them, and pronounced emphatically (of which I am an every-day witness), that starvation was knocking unmercifully at their cabin doors.

Up to this they sustained, unostentatiously with Christian fortitude, modesty, and charity, their sufferings, miseries, and too true, trials, continually expecting that the clouds would not always be, that to the dark and dreary nights, a day, at length of sunshine and bliss would dawn upon them--but alas! their fervent expectations were doomed to disappointment, and as day after day rolled on, bringing fresh misfortune and evil-forebodings to their doors, as a ball of snow prognosticates its increasing corpulency on its onward progress, they determined to remain no longer inactive, and hit or miss, they decided in putting before the public their sad condition and unheard of situation.

The meeting was characteristic of perfect peace and calmness as, indeed, some of them from debility of stomach, could scarcely create a disturbance should their intentions be thus inclined, and from the expressions of most reliable and confidential speakers, evidently confirmed by the hollowed and beggarly features of some present, it was manifest that distress was intense as starvation, and will be widespread.

There were 300 present at six o'clock on Tuesday evening, and I am aware from most authentic sources, that many came with famished stomachs, having partaken of nothing since the preceding evening. It was proposed by the chairman, Mr. P. Harrington, P.L.G., Kenneigh, seconded by Mr. P. Foley at Ballivilone, and unanimously adopted that a deputation of the unemployed labourers present themselves at the Dunmanway Union on Wednesday last, a report of which has already appeared in your columns, with the exception that your reporter forgot to state that they went to the union in a hungry condition, and had to be relieved by over 50 loaves of bread at the workhouse in order to enable them to walk to their respective homes.

On last Thursday last still larger number united at the same place to know the result and decision of the board, and many came and stated to myself that they had no work these last two months, and many that they were actually trying to live on one meal a day. Some more had a little employment just then, but don't expect it to hold on long. There was one thing noticeable that excited the attention and disgust of many and just so, viz: -- That many farmers of the locality, the would-be friends of the poor and champions of their rights, were absent.  Some on very trivial reasons indeed; some on none at all.

It was decided that they go to the Rev. Father Delay, P.P., Enniskeane and to the Rev. Mr. Hains, Rector of Kenneigh, on Sunday, the 25th asking them to exert themselves in obtaining immediate relief from the Mansion House funds to keep them from starting until such time as many can be got from the Board of Public Works to afford employment.

Now, Mr. Editor, there is one more very important fact I wish to bring under public notification. It may be asked by many of your readers what? Unemployed labourers at Castletown-Kinneigh. Did not Lord Bandon, the noble Earl, give prompt employment to a gang of unemployed labourers from Castletown on his property there? Did not the noble lord give immediate work to those who gave so distressing an account of the trials and sufferings they were passing through? Did not the noble Earl, who was manifestly startled at the representations made to him by the poor men, about which he was up to then ignorant, did not he direct his popular and respected agent to make diligent enquiry with the view of providing employment as far as circumstances justified?

It is with the greatest reluctance I should answer these questions, and with all due respect to the reports of Cork papers, I find myself bound in justice towards those poor famishing people whose rights I defend, and in charity towards all to allow the unemployed labourers answer the queries. He may have directed his popular and respected agent to make diligent enquiry, but I will leave the famishing populace answer what good has come to them.

In the name of charity -- in the name of justice --- let something be done to prevent starvation from entering the miserable hovels of those who kept it at bay up to this.

Excusing for trespassing so long on your valuable space, I am, Mr. Editor, yours,