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Ireland Under Coercion (2nd ed.) (2 of 2) (1888)

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ROSSBEHY, Feb. 21.—We are here on the eve of battle! An “eviction” is to be made to-morrow on the Glenbehy estate of Mr. Winn, an uncle of Lord Headley, so upon the invitation of Colonel Turner, who has come to see that all is done decently and in order, I left Ennis with him at 7.40 A.M. for Limerick; the “city of the Liberator” for “the city of the Broken Treaty.” There we breakfasted at the Artillery Barracks.

The officers showed us there the new twelve-pounder gun with its elaborately scientific machinery, its Scotch sight, and its four-mile range. I compared notes about the Trafalgar Square riots of February 1886 with an Irish officer who happened to have been on the opposite side of Pall Mall from me at the moment when the mob, getting out of the hand of my socialistic friend Mr. Hyndman, and advancing towards St. James’ Street and Piccadilly was broken by a skilful and very spirited charge of the police. He gave a most humorous account of his own sensations when he first came into contact with the multitude after emerging from St. Paul’s, where, as he put it, he had left the people “all singing away like devils.” But I found he quite agreed with me in thinking that there was a visible nucleus of something like military organisation in the mob of that day, which was overborne and, as it were, smothered by the mere mob element before it came to trying conclusions with the police.

On our way to Limerick, Colonel Turner caught sight, at a station, of Father Little, the parish priest of Six Mile Bridge, in County Clare, and jumping out of the carriage invited him to get in and pursue his journey with us, which he very politely did. Father Little is a tall fine-looking man of a Saxon rather than a Celtic type, and I daresay comes of the Cromwellian stock. He is a staunch and outspoken Nationalist, and has been made rather prominent of late by his championship of certain of his parishioners in their contest with their landlord, Mr. H.V. D’Esterre, who lives chiefly at Bournemouth in England, but owns 2833 acres in County Clare at Rosmanagher, valued at £1625 a year. More than a year ago one of Father Little’s parishioners, Mr. Frost, successfully resisted a large force of the constabulary bent on executing a process of ejectment against him obtained by Mr. D’Esterre.

Frost’s holding was of 33 Irish, or, in round numbers, about 50 English, acres, at a rental of £117, 10s., on which he had asked but had not obtained an abatement. The Poor-Law valuation of the holding was £78, and Frost estimated the value of his and his father’s improvements, including the homestead and the offices, or in other words his tenant-right, at £400. The authorities sent a stronger body of constables and ejected Frost. But as soon as they had left the place Frost came back with his family, on the 28th Jan. 1887, and reoccupied it. Of course proceedings were taken against him immediately, and a small war was waged over the Frost farm until the 5th of September last, when an expedition was sent against it, and it was finally captured, and Frost evicted with his family....