Skibbereen and West Carbery Eagle
January 10, 1880
The usual weekly meeting of the Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday, the Earl of Bandon in the chair. Other guardians present -- T. Foley, J. Heron, R. Clear, G. Falvey, J. Ahern, P. Dinneen, W. C. Sullivan J.P.; T. Wren, W. Longfield, J.P.; and M. Denehy, J.P.
<Various reports on State of the House, Sanitary, etc.)
THE PREVAILING DISTRESS
The Master stated that there was a number of men outside, who wished to come before the board for the purpose of applying for work. Mr. Wren said he understood that a large contingent had come from Castletown. The Chairman said that if they were from Castletown, they should have gone to the Dunmanway Union and not come to Bandon, as the townland of Castletown was not in the Bandon Union. Mr. Ahern said that he understood that most of them belonged to the Bandon Union.
Chairman -- Let the relieving-officer ask them if they wish to come before the board as a deputation.
The relieving officer went outside the door and was accosted by about twenty five men, fine specimens of the Irish peasantry, but many of them bearing on their countenances the impress of hunger. They were men of ages varying from eighteen to sixty, and had travelled from Castletown to Bandon, a distance of ten miles, breakfastless. Three men were selected to lay their grievances before the guardians -- an old man, nearly sixty years of age, and two middle-aged men.
Mr. Sullivan said before the deputation was heard he wished to say that the gentlemen and inhabitants of Bandon were endeavoring to do their best for the poor. The Waterworks Committee and the Sewerage Committee were meeting day after day for the purpose of pushing forward those works, but matters could not be brought to a close all in a hurry (hear, hear).
The Chairman (addressing the deputation) -- Why do you come here?
An old man (the spokesman) -- We are very destitute and don't know what to do.
Chairman -- Why did you not go to Dunmanway?
Spokesman -- We were told that we could get no employment by the landlords. We are ready to work and don't want to be paid a farthing until the work is done. If you don't give us work we will have to remain here.
Mr. Sullivan -- In whose employment were you?
Spokesman -- Mr. Hosford, of Castletown, was my employer, but he has left the place now; we are only working from day to day, wherever we can get it.
Mr. Sullivan said that if what these men stated was true, things must have been in a very bad state, indeed, in that locality.
Spokesman -- If you gave any help to the farmers, gentlemen, they would give us work. It is very hard to let a poor man die when he is willing to work. We thought if we saw Lord Bandon he would do something for us, because he is a just man.
Mr. Berwick -- Are they going on with any drainage works there.
Spokesman -- There are old marshes there that are not worth a penny, gentlemen, and if they were drained we would get work and the land would be some good. We came this morning from Castletown, travelling the road without anything in our pockets to buy bread with. I have laboured with Mr. Ben Hosford, but he is gone now. If he was there now I would not be coming here and I fifty-six years old.
The Chairman -- Did you apply at the Dunmanway Union at all?
Spokesman -- No, my lord; we were advised to come before the Board here. Your lordship is the landlord of the place.
Mr. Dennehy said they would be very glad to do anything for them that they could, but they were not in the right union. They had no power to do it.
Mr. Sullivan (to spokesman) -- Is there not a great deal of land in Castletown that would pay well if improved? There is, sir. Well, if Mr. Hosford thought proper to ask for money for drainage from the Government, he would get it for a very trifling charge on the land.
Spokesman -- All we came here for is to try to live in the land as long as God Almighty will leave us. We don't want to beg a farthing as long as we are able to work. It's only right to give a man fair play. If you don't give us work, let us be put into gaol, or let us die.
In answer to Mr. Denehy, Mr. Berwick said that the Duke of Devonshire intended to undertake some drainage works, but he would employ his own people.
The Chairman said they should find out from the tenants about Castletown the state of affairs. He would be only too glad to give labour to the poor, but he never heard a word of the condition of things until that moment. He thought if this destitution did exist in Castletown he should have heard about it.
Mr. Heron -- Let some person from your lordship take the matter up.
The Chairman -- I will make it my business to see my agent to-day. He might tell them that he was shooting around Castletown lately, and he never heard a word about the distress, although he was speaking to several of the tenantry.
Mr. Dennehy was sure that Lord Bandon would be most anxious to do everything he could.
Mr. Foley -- That is very serious business.
Mr. Clear -- I suggest that we leave the matter in Lord Bandon's hands.
The Chairman -- I will ask my agent to go out to-morrow, or the very first day possible, to inquire into the whole state of affairs and see if he could do anything for them. (Addressing the man) -- Let you three men go to Mr. Doherty's office, and I will be there.
The deputation then retired.
Mr. Foley - You see, my lord, that distress does exist in the country.
Mr. Wren - And there is no credit in the country.
With reference to the waterworks and sewerage scheme, it was decided to borrow 3,500 pounds from the Board of Works. The clerk was directed to send forward Mr. Jackson's plans to the Board of Works, and ask to have an engineer sent down to report upon the scheme. -- Adjourned