Rental of Cloncurry Estate in Limerick in 1818.

Small Sources No. 44. This is a list of 69 tenants on the Cloncurry estate  in the Civil Parish of Abington (Barony of Owneybeg) directly east of the City of Limerick. The original document is a rental in the National Library of Ireland (NLI Ms. 8183).    Rentals are the records of the landlord on tenants, their holdings,  and their payments.  Although these might appear to be purely business records,  many contain rich family information.  A full description of rental formats and practices,  and on the useful family information they can provide is in our blog Rentals as a resource for Irish family history.

The tenants are a mix of large and small tenants who together paid a total of £5,193 in rent,  but the individual holdings range in rental amounts from £1.15 shillings to £965. The size of holdings is not provided.  The record does provide the rent due and paid and any arrears.  The notes in brackets provide some additional information on local townland names.   The Abington estate comprised 1,796 acres and belonged to Lord Cloncurry, whose main estates and residence was in County Kildare.  Further information on his Limerick estate is available here.  An account of the great divide in lifestyles between landlords and their tenants is in our blog entitled ‘Eye-witnesses to our ancestors‘ which summarises contemporary accounts of travellers to Ireland.

Lord Cloncurry was a controversial figure in the Ireland of his time.  He was associated with the rebel group, the United Irishmen,  and was imprisoned on suspicion of treason in 1798.  However, he gained greater prominence after suing a friend for having an affair with his wife.  The court case proved one of the great scandals of the time.     A detailed account of the life of Lord Cloncurry and his attempts to introduce reforms to his Abington and other estates is in a Maynooth University PhD thesis available here.   This is of particular interest because it describes his efforts to ‘improve’ his estates, i.e. to provide assistance to his tenants by developing their farms and the local infrastructure.   As an ‘improving’ landlord, he gradually eliminated the ‘middle men’ on his estates.  These were large tenants who did not themselves  till the land,  but rented it in smaller lots to sub-tenants. They often charged very high rents and provided no support to their tenants.    Cloncurry got rid of these middle-men (where he legally could) so that he could deal directly with those tenants who worked the land.   It is interesting to note, for instance that in 1818 there are only 4 tenants in the townland of Mongfune below,  whereas in the Griffith Valuation (1851) he has 24 tenants in this townland.   Only one of the 1818 tenants,  Matthew Duhy,  is still present and he is himself a large farmer.   Henry White, a tenant in Knockanerry, seems  also to be a middle-man and appears in the Valuation Books of 1850 as a holder of 31 properties in this townland.

Some other points of interest among those listed include the use of nicknames.  As identical names were very common in many areas, individuals would be locally distinguished by nickames, which often found their way into records. Two examples occur:  we have Patrick Hayes – big, and Patrick Hayes 2nd. The reason for Patrick Hayes big is presumably his physical size, but why the other Patrick has been named  ‘second’  is lost in the banter of time.  The other example,  from a less politically-correct era,  is  Denis O’Brien ‘Hill’, and Denis O’Brien ‘Lame’.    The names Hayes, Ryan and O’Brien are all relatively common names in this area. The name Humphrys, spelt in this way (rather than the more common Humphreys) is also mainly found in this part of East Limerick. Some  family history of one of these Humphrys families is here.

If you are interested in information on specific families,  our e-book title ‘Sources for Irish Family History 2021  lists 6,500  books and articles on over 2,500  Irish families.  The sources listed contain a wealth of information on the history and genealogy of the listed families. The full details are described in one of our blogs.

Ancestor Network will offer 1 free hour of research by a professional researcher to conduct further research on these individuals, or on other tenants of this estate. We can also obtain images of the original documents. Click here and quote ‘Limerick SS43’ in the subject line. We also publish ‘A Guide to Tracing your Limerick Ancestors‘ by local historian Margaret Franklin.

Fig. 1. Extract from the rental showing Denominations (holding location etc), tenant, arrears due and current rent

The tenants in the property are listed within the townland in which their holding was located.  Further information on the location of each townland can be obtained at  (but only by using the currently accepted spelling of the townland name – shown in brackets).

Tenant(s)  name                             Townland  (author comments)

Benjamin Keys                                                            Drumela and Lickhill Mill part    (now spelled Dromeliagh)
Patrick McNamara repr. of D Ryan                        Rath
Henry White now John Keane Esq.                        Knockenery                (now spelled Knockanerry)
E. Lloyd                                                                          Drumela and Silver Grove              (now spelled Dromeliagh)
Jeremiah Ryan Esq                                                     Colelistrim
Mr Daniel Costello                                                     Aghacore and Rosebrook
Misses Bourke                                                             Moher
Denis O’Brien Esq                                                       Gurtav….             (Gortavacoosh)
Robert Smithwick                                                       Liscraigh
Edward Bourk and Rev. D.O’Brien                           Farnane
John Houragan                                                           Tubbergarif     (Now spelled Tuberagarriff)
John Harty                                                                          “
Patrick Hayes, Big                                                             “
Denis Molony now widow                                             “
Daniel Hayes                                                                      “
Mathew Shinner                                                               “
Patrick Hennessy                                                             “
Patrick Hayes 2nd.                                                           “
John Humphrys now Christr. Hayes                     Brittas
Patrick Ryan                                                                       “
James Merrigan’s widow                                                 “
Edmund Gallivan                                                              “
Lowery widow                                                                   “
John Humphrys                                                                “
Mathew Duhy                                                               Mongfune
David Humphrys                                                               “
James Boyle                                                                         “
Patrick Boyle                                                                       “
George Gleeson                                                            House in chapel yard of Moroe on lands of Liscaragh
James Boyle                                                                    Loughill
Messrs Shomboy?, Roche and Massey                  Abington and part of Graige
No tenants, grazing cattle                                         Fortreal Mountain
Denis and Thomas Ryan                                            Rathwood
William Mulcahy                                                                 “
Wm Ward, Widow Ward and Danl. Barry                   “
Edmond and John Kina Brothers                                 “
Edmond Kina and son                                                     “
Patrick Cosgrave                                                                “
William Nicholson                                                              “
William Ryan                                                                        “
Patrick O’Brien                                                                    “
John O’Brien jnr Hill and widow                                    “
John and Darby O’Mara                                                   “
John O’Brien Lame                                                            “

Some of the articles in our series on Irish Family History sources: