A History of the City and County of Cork, Ireland

There are two parties to agricultural development the landlord and tenant. The one represents capital, the other labour; and the commercial status of a country depends upon the equitable adjustment of the rights of both. The landlord who impoverishes his tenants by the exaction of a usurious return for the capital which he holds in the form of land, does an injustice to himself and to his country. He will lose more by the deterioration of badly cultivated land, by ejectments, by the loss of locked-up capital on the part of his tenant, than he can gain by temporary pressure. If men were to deal in commercial affairs as they do in land, there would be no commerce, because there would be no confidence. The dealings between landlord and tenant is an affair of commerce, with this advantage to the capitalist, that if the results are by no means so great as on 'Change, the risk is infinitely less; for the landlord does not risk shares. If a man was constantly demanding a higher rate of interest for his commercial ventures, and threatening withdrawal of his capital, what result could he expect? What misery has been seen what crime has been committed, even in our time, by unjust pressure on the poor. It may be said that recent legislative enactments give the tenant compensation. Some cases are certainly provided for; but the act has been very far from giving all the relief that is needed. The speeches given, from which extracts are quoted at the end of this volume, speak more eloquently than we can do, for the feelings of the poor.' It is certainly an installment of justice to give a man pecuniary compensation for ejecting him from his home; but it may well be questioned whether any pecuniary gift can compensate for the disruption of all social ties for casting a whole family adrift on the world, to begin life under new conditions: it may be impossible, even for the most industrious, ever to retrieve their former position.

All transactions between a man of capital and a man of business are necessarily on a pertinent basis. But the man of business has the capitalist at his mercy, while too frequently in the transactions between capital and labour, in agricultural commerce, the reverse is the rule.

The utter and reckless disregard of all the rights of property, and of all the justice due to labour, which this History records, should be a lesson for the present and the future. Such times are, happily, past; and those who try to stir up political or religious strife on such subjects, whether they be historians or statesmen, are deserving of the highest reprobation, and are simply enemies to their country.

It is not, however, altogether unnecessary to observe, that the relations between landlord and tenant in the present day would be vastly improved if placed upon a sound commercial basis. If the landlord is likely to value his land too much, and the tenant to value his labour too little, a court of equity (we use the expression in a general sense) should step in and place the contract on equitable terms. If the value of land is increased by the tenant, he should obtain the reward of his labour; if the land is wasted by the tenant, or if he fails in his contract, the landlord should be able to obtain redress. As it is human to endeavor to increase our possessions, and as both landlord and tenant are human, it is very evident that differences of opinion must occur.

In the meantime it must be said, that labour, even where labour is not impeded by undue restraint, is not always what it might be.

The incubus of centuries, during which trade was steadily repressed, still hangs over this country. The great work of removing this lies in the hands of those who have the education of the young. If those who have the training of the young people of the middle and lower classes would educate them for their stations in life, and for advancement in that station, a new era of prosperity would dawn upon us. But common sense in education seems to be receding from us, with a hopelessness which is at once rapid and appalling.

When the daughters of farmers are educated so as to be carefully unfitted for the duties of farmers' wives, and when the sons of farmers have been carefully and superficially taught what is unnecessary for their advancement in their stations of life, the advocates of educating the people in a perfunctory knowledge of all the ologies wiU perhaps be satisfied. The result will scarcely be the commercial, or what is of more consequence, the moral advancement of the country.

The Irish are a people of intellectual tastes, and eminently desirous of mental cultivation. They take what is given them; and a great responsibility rests on those who have the direction of education, if they are not given what will contribute to their solid advancement.

Abstract theories of political economy compressed into a vaguely worded treatise in a class book are simple nonsense. They may be learned, but when learned they are forgotton, because they are not practical.

The fact, thoroughly explained, that we are at present importing food to the value of over 50 millions, a considerable part of which could be raised at homo, would excite intelligent minds to add to our own industrial resources. Simple practical explanations, devoid of all unnecessary technicality, on the subject of agricultural duties, would teach our youth how to assist in supplying the demand; and would give them that intelligent interest in their labour, which is as necessary for its success as the hope of a pecuniary reward.

Through the obliging courtesy of the Secretary, Mr. Egan, I am able to give an account of the Cork Butter Market.


Table of Contents

Chap. I. - The Pre-Christian Period 1
Chap. II. - Early Christian Period 12
Chap. III. - St. Finbar, Founder of Cork 31
Chap. IV. - The Danish Invasion 48
Chap. V. - The Danish Period 64
Chap. VI. - Early Ecclesiastical Foundations 85
Chap. VII. - English Invasion 102
Chap. VIII. - The Normans in Ireland 126
Chap. IX. - History of the Desmonds 151
Chap. X. - Reign of Henry VIII 172
Chap. XI. - Elizabethian Era 219
Chap. XII. - Elizabethian Era 276
Chap. XIII. - Elizabethian Era 299
Chap. XIV. - Elizabethian Era 315
Chap. XV. - Temp. Fames I., Charles I., and Cromwell 336
Chap. XVI. - William of Orange 370
Chap. XVII. - Eighteenth Century 385
Chap. XVIII. - "Ninty-Eight" 404



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According to the best and earliest traditions, Ireland was first peopled in Munster. If such traditions are to be altogether rejected because they stretch away into a dim and and misty past, we must give up a great deal of pre-Christian history. Why should not the Irish Celt have as ancient and respected traditions as the Assyrian or the Indian? Does ancient Irish history fail to interest because it can be studied nearer home, or because it is the history of a people for whom there is less sympathy? Dates in the pre-Christian periods may be doubtful, but this by no means invalidates facts: Facts may be handed down with a halo of romance, but the fact none the less underlies the halo. Yet. when all is said, there is nothing very romantic or incredible in the chief details of the old annalists. We pm-y not date back the colonization of Cork 80 far as pre-Noahacian times, but the record which does 80 must be of interest from its bold antiquity, and from the, at least, fair probability that it is a record of some very early immigration.