Vol. 7 No. 1 - 1995
Jack Redmond was seven years old when his grandfather Johnston Redmond died. This article is based on Johnston Redmond's memoirs, written out by him in 1933 in a loose leaf binder, at the request of his grown-up children Joe and Peggy. At the time of writing they all lived at Grange House and Johnston was 90 years old. He had been educated in a hedge school, and left it to work at home when aged about 13 or 14 years. The script has been copied exactly as written as this was also how he spoke.
A brief family tree is given for the assistance of readers
"In the Name of God, through Jesus Christ, I will try to give my life journey from two years old up to the present, namely 1932, Nov. 15th. My birthday December 16th. 1843".
My Father bought 7 acres of land opposite our, or my, old home [i.e. Bridge House, Jack R.] from Curran Tegget at £30. (The tenant right, that is.) At or after such a sale you had to let the Landlord or land agent know all about the purchase both vendor and buyer. The rent of the above 7 acres was 10 shillings per acre. Before going to the rent office the money was paid to Curran Tegget. When both appeared to the agent, the latter refused Father as tenant except he would agree to £1 per acre, double the rent in that awful year of starvation. Poor Curran died of starvation was not able to use the money.
His family got it. Maxwell the agent then should have used the words "I am dam'd if I give it any cheaper, as the ********'s [name deleted as descendants are still living] want £1 an acre if a snipe could not light on it". Such was and is the order of British plunder & is up to the present, the annuities being fixed on the farmers' reclamations solely & not on their help in any way to redeem the land from the wild state. If you were proved to have more help or more cattle then your rent was raised. No mercy in any way.
Thos. Proctor, a servant man of my Father's, John Redmond, often took me up on his left arm over the Bridge and over the present stile into the Near Wood that never was reclaimed of ruff bushes & timber from the wild to find the cows for to milk them, this continued until the terrible famine set in 1847. My Father set the clearing of this wood to Joshua & John Smith, two brothers at the sum of £5, one and a half acres. They only cut about half of the brambles to the root and it cost my Father double the amount to clear out the roots.
As soon as this was seen by the Landlord £1 per acre was charged against my Father and raised up in my day to 32/6 per acre [£1.625] the whole rent of the farm was raised to above 32/6, namely 19 acres. As the farmers reclaimed their own land British law and power robbed the Irish farmers of their reclaimed property [failure to pay the rent increased as a result of improving the farm resulted in eviction, Jack R], and it was said a land agent from Dublin sold half the townland of Drumannon to an Atkinson.
A Mr Mitchell a Dubliner sent his agent down with a lease to the Redman family at 14/= per acre and the agent sold the lease to the Atkinson family for £200 and was turned out of his agency for doing so. Such was the treatment of British Plunder of the Irish settlers or Plantationers. This family died out, leaving no heirs and the lands fell into a Captain Douglas by marriage, and by threats the latter turned out 6 of the small tenants allowing 2 of them a few pounds reduced the rent about 15%, leaving myself or Father to pay £25 yearly, having the farm all reclaimed & drained. The better condition the farmer had his farm & housing in the higher the rent.
(Joe Redman, the uncle of Johnston Redmond, was born in 1783 and lived to be 100 years bar a few days).
After the French war with Britain and England the soldiers who got blood money or a pention of 1/- [one shilling or 5p] per day got the liberty through landlord power to examine any poor farmer's home and peace of land, no matter how long the tenant or his generation lived on the same peace of land, and thought it would suit him in future and would give him more rent, the tennant got notice and the latter refused the rise of rent he was turned out by the sheriff and the pentioner put in. -- such was the treatment of British rule in Ireland specially in the North to a Protestant people. My uncle Joseph Redman got information that the bailiff, Robt. Dill, and a pentioner was to view a small farm of his Father's namely Kildarah 6 acres there was a cotter tennant on same for a generation, Thos. Smith.
The bailiff and pentioner was and did view the farm my uncle told me he prepared his gun, a Queen Anne, got up at 5am, no sign of the men put the gun back on the chimney brace. Went bock again in a short time and saw two men the bailiff and pentioner coming up from the river and leaned his Queen Anne on the corner of the bridge and took steady aim at the two and fired, my uncle took me over and showed me where the ball stuck in an ash tree between the two men.
There was no timber between the bridge wall and the tree that the ball hit and the smoke of the gun could be plainly seen by the 2 men. They both ran back down the hill and down the Bog parth and went to Capt. Atkinson, Crowhill, certifying they were shot at from Redmond's bridge. My uncle when he saw the men run for their lives took his gun and filled the flint pan with sutt and also threw a handful into the muzzle -- In a very short time about 2 hours 2 yewmen arrived examined the gun and questioned uncle and the rest of the family about the shooting and uncle Joe was a yewman himself and was in the Crowhill force, the captain told the bailiff and pentioner ''go home I know Joe Redman hes a terrible man he would shoot you in God's daylight" -- this put an end to the rise of rent and pentioners and searching after their neighbours homes and houses. I say now if the Redmonds of the present tribe would not act accordingly they would be no men. I hope Devela (sic) will win because the Irish farmer and his generations have been plundered by British Rule up to the present date.
a) I have typed this out accurately and exactly as far as I can, copying the words, spelling and punctuation grandfather used.
b) The "Queen Anne" he refers to is the famous long Brown Bess musket used for 150 years by the British Army. It was a flintlock weapon, with detachable bayonet. Several of the Crowhill yeomanry weapons have been found in recent years in old houses. Some were simply sold to dealers for a few pounds, some were "broken up and thrown down the well''. A good specimen is rare, and likely to be worth £100 to £400 if in collector's condition.
The Crowhill Infantry guns had Atkinson's initials "J.A.'' stamped in big letters into the stock in front of the trigger-guard. The pity is that those who got rid of the old guns did so because at one time they needed to be on certificate to be legal. Ironically that had never been the least problem with muzzle-loaders, and in 1995 it has long been unnecessary to have a certificate for one. The guns were allowed to stay with the men after the disbandment of the force, and nearly all were converted to cap firing for civilian use, by a conversion kit.
c) The shooting described must have happened between Waterloo and the disbanding of the yeomanry, shall we say 1820/30 plus or minus a year or two. If we accept the date as being the 1820/30 period, the cotter farm concerned should show up on the 1832/35 6" O.S. map. A suitable one offers itself as a choice. It had to be approached by a walk which lay within musket shot, say 300 yards maximum. In 1949 at Bisley range, with a slightly improved Army .303 rifle I was (just) able to put 8 shots out of 10 into a 15'' "bull''; the other two were inners. This was at 500 yds -- sling support of the arm was allowed. Joe's musket at 300 yds with a round lead ball would have been likely to hit either man just as surely as the trees if all were even as far as 3 feet apart. I expect there were several trees at the spot, all close together, and suspect that Joe was trying NOT to hit anyone, since (as the sequel showed) he was bound to be found out. I do believe he did shoot deliberately and near the men, and did aim at and hit a tree, not necessarily the one he was trying for.
The 1832/35 map shows a house and orchard between and below the figures 0 34, they being part of 326-0-34 acres, roods and perches, all below the ''MM'' of Drumannon at the top left of Sheet 9 of the 1832 Co Armagh survey. The house has a path off the Kildarragh lane, which is probably ''The Bog parth" Johnston describes. That lane used to continue what is now the ''Long Level'' and up into the Redmond fields of Mullaghboy Hill and that area. The 1790 Atkinson/Forbes map of the Mullaghboy part of ''Drumurry, Drumannon and Kildarragh'' as the whole townland was known in 1739 and 1740 leases, shows the lane leading out of the lower left corner of Mullaghboy field marked "Road to Crowhill" passing where Walter Dunlop used to live on to the road to Crowhill. The same farm-house is shown on the 1862 6'' map, but has gone in the 1905 edition. The house Joe lived in, his father William too, (W'm died 1844) is shown on the same map in the South West angle of road and Redmond Is bridge.
d) My grandfather Johnston received a hedge-school education until he was 13 or 14, when he went home to work. In his youth and later he suffered the grinding by the landlords like all other tenants, and helped others to hide away harvested crops, animals and chattels when about to be evicted by the bailiffs. He devoted much time to hounding the landlords using the "Fair Rent etc" legislation, using solicitor or writ-server as necessary. Finally the injustice of the landlord system drove him to join the Home Rule Liberal group which promised to end the system and allow the farmer to buy out his holding once and for all. This would put an end to eviction of those poor tenants unable to pay the rent after bad harvests.
In 1933 De Valera was campaigning to stop the payment to the British Government of the outstanding "hire-purchase" debt incurred by the farmers to the Government of the U.K. when they bought the land from the landlord and gave him 3% Land Stock, while the tenants paid out the government over many years.
With Johnston's view of the landlords and the Government establishment of which they were part, it is not surprising that he hoped De Valera would get away with it -- he felt the farmers should not have had to pay anything, having been rack rented for years while constantly improving the farms.