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Annual Report 1881

Annual report, accounts and rental for year ending June 1881. Reports that the financial condition of the estate had disimproved, outstanding arrears remaining due and abandoned arrears considerably increased. Profit remitted was £8500, a decrease on previous years, although there was a net increase in the overall rental income. Also reports that the Roskeen lease was surrendered by the reps of Mr. Bailey, and that the farm at Ballydownan was surrendered by Mr Adams and now in Lord Digby's hands and set for grazing with newly purchased cattle.

In terms of land improvement, Digby reports on the completion of a number of Board of Works projects including the draining and squaring of the moors under Scrubb Wood, the deepening of the boundary stream at Cappancur and the sinking of a large main drain in Balinvally bog. Construction works included new offices for Mr Arthur of Killurin and Patrick Nugent of Ballycollin; new cottages completed at Killeigh; new cottage commenced in Geashill Village and assistance give to William Mathews to erect substantial new dwelling house in Killurin. Also reports on the thinning and replanting of Derrygunnigan Wood.

Warns that agrarian agitation is increasing encouraged by the Land League. Blames the Government for slow response to agitation. Reports on a 'monster meeting' held in Tullamore by the Land League prior to the winter collection of rents (1880) where the Geashill tenantry requested en masse Griffith's Valuation as a fair rent which was subsequently refused by Lord Digby, but who abated the rent by 10% on the half year's rent payable. Identifies William Adams as the leader of the agitation and describes the court proceedings taken against him individually. With the result of being faced with bankruptcy, Adams paid his rent and then surrendered farm at Ballydownan, with the result that all other agitation on the estate ceased and rents were collected within three weeks. Also refers to 'boycotting' occurring throughout the estate but that no acts of violence or outrages took place. A further attempt at withholding rent in May 1881 was similarly short-lived.

Leases, papers and a probate related to Clonoghill, barony of Ballybritt

Box of leases of Clonoghill, barony of Ballybritt, on the outskirts of Birr, and adjoining Newbridge, to which some of the leases refer [see Q/84]. Also mentioned are the 2 substantial houses situated in the townland of Clonoghill,
Elmgrove and Syngefield. A number of papers, ending in 1946, relate to the former property. Because of Clonoghill’s proximity to Birr, an unusually high proportion of the leases also include holdings in the town. One interesting component of the box is the probate of a local land surveyor, Maurice Downer, 1786, whose estate included part of the lands of Clonoghill; this will is of interest as giving some indication of the degree of affluence enjoyed by a member of his profession. The box also includes papers relating to the sale of a fee farm grant of Elmgrove Bridge to Offaly County Council in 1989.

Leases of and papers related to premises in or near Main Street, Birr

Half-box of leases of premises in or near Main Street, also called ‘the street of Birr’ or ‘the town street’. This sub-section also includes papers relating to the sale of fee farm grants of Bowes’ Shop (purchased by Mary McLoughlin)
and Griffin’s Bakery (purchased by John and Arthur Joyce), both on Main Street.

Leases of premises in Castle Street

Box of leases of premises in Castle Street, including a lease and counterpart lease of ‘Crotty’s Church’, 1837 [see E/11], and papers relating to the sale of a Castle Street fee farm grant to the personal representatives of Claude Corcoran. The box also includes a large folder of correspondence about the Birr Trustee Company’s proposed purchase of Spinner’s
Bistro in Castle Street, which was eventually bought by another party.

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