Aidan Feerick B.A., M.A.G.I & Tony Hennessy M.A.G.I.

Where the rent was collected

Our farming ancestors paid their rents twice a year on what were known as Gale Days. One was Lady Day (25 March) and the other was Michaelmas (29 September). This practice of the periodic payment of rents varied between estates.

Payment could be in cash or in kind; turf, oats, barley, or animals were sometimes accepted in lieu of rent. Sometimes, tenants paid a part or all their rent by working for the landlord.

At other times, agents traveled around the estate collecting the rent; in some places, the tenants would present themselves at the agent’s office in the local town.

In the 19th century and into the 20th century, many estates had a live-in estate manager who handled both wages and rent. The Lough Rynne Estate of Lord Leitrim was one such estate.

In 1833, Robert Clements built a two storey, Tudor Revival house with sloping gables and tall chimneys overlooking Lough Rynn outside Mohill, Co. Leitrim. The house became the focal point of his estates in Leitrim and Cavan. In 1975, it was sold by the Clements family and is now a luxury hotel.

The Estate Manager’s house lies between the main house and the farm buildings. It is a substantial house with many rooms both upstairs and downstairs. The office of the Estate Manager has a ground floor window containing twenty four small panes of glass. Interestingly one single glass pane is designed to open outwards and this is where rent was collected and wages paid.

Standing outside the window, the tenant or estate worker would have had to look upwards to the Manager, probably with his cap in his hand, as he received his wages or paid his rent. Some of the staff in the Hotel today remember working there as young boys and being paid out of that window.

Robert Clements’s brother William Sydney Clements, 3rd Lord Leitrim, (1805 – 1878) took over the management of the family estates on the death of Robert in 1839. William was a cruel and tyrannical landlord who was hated by his tenants and loathed by many of his peers.

On 2 April 1878, following his most recent heartless evictions of men, women and children during particularly cold weather, Lord Leitrim was assassinated in Co. Donegal. The news was received with unbridled joy and celebration by his tenants and many others. His subsequent funeral cortege, as it made its way along the Quay in Dublin for interment in the family vault in St. Michan’s church, was attacked by a large mob who heckled and hurled abuse at the coffin and the mourners and then attempted to remove the coffin from the hearse to throw it in the river Liffey. The arrival of a large number of police gave rise to a series of running battles with the crowds until eventually the undertakers managed to remove the body.