The Clarkes of Graiguenoe Park

The Nationalist, December 9th 1908

Fight For The Ranches

Great Demonstration in HolyCross

The Archbishop's message

Spirited speeches

The Fight to be Continued

Prospects of a Settlement on Clarke's Ranch

(from our special correspondent)

On Sunday one of the largest and most enthusiastic demonstrations over held in Mid-Tipperary took place at Beakstown near the village of Holycross. The meeting took place on Mr E. Butler's farm which is situate about a mile and a half from Mr Clarke's mansion and demesne. It was called together ostensibly with the object of pressing forward the demands of the people to have the grass ranches and demesne land in the locality secured for distribution amongst deserving parties. With this object in view, the sturdy nationalists of Holycross and surrounding parishes are fighting a determined and bitter battle as has been proved in connection with the recent agrarian disturbances on the Clarke property which led to the prosecution and imprisonment of many men. The enthusiasm of the thousands who attended Sunday's splendid meeting show plainly that the claims of the people must be conceded and that they will not withdraw from the struggle until victory is theirs

In anticipation of a renewal of the recent disturbances over four hundred policemen were drafted into the village. They took up position on the approaches leading to Mr Clatrke's mansion, which is one and a half miles distant from the meeting place.

For days it was freely rumoured that police and people would come into conflict and the authorities accordingly had made preparations. The Crown ordered the compulsory closing of the public houses in the village. The people however acted prudently and elected to hold their Meeting one and a half miles from the village. Not a policeman was to be seen during the proceedings which were of a very harmonious nature. Bands with contingents attended from the following centres:-  Holycross, Ballycahill, Inch, Borrisoleigh, Rossmore, Killea, Drom, Moyaliffe, Moyne, Loughmore, NewBirmingham and Castleiney.

On the motion of Mr Finn, seconded by Dr Ryan, Rev M. Bannon, Adm.. Thurles, was called on to preside.

The Rev Chairman was loudly received on rising to address the people. He expressed  regret that the revered and venerable pastor of Holycross was unable to be present to occupy the Chair of that meeting, more especially because he had always been in thorough sympathy with the agrarian agitation (Cheers) He had been 63 years a priest and he was now as true in  heart to the cause which they all favoured as he was when a young priest of 25 years. (Cheers) They were bound to ask themselves the question how it was that they were assembled there  that day in such large numbers: Were they assembled there to do an injustice to any man? (No No) Were they there to inflict ill-treatment on any man? (No No) They were not assembled to do any of these things, and if they were, they would not have the clergy there on the platform nor would they have him as their chairman. They dare not come on the platform under such circumstances. (hear hear)  He said they had not come there to do an injustice to any man or offer an insult to any man ( hear hear). There was a gentleman in the locality; a man of culture, of high education, a Sportsmen: Mr Clarke. (groans). He, (Father Bannon), had been present in Cork when the recent trials were on, and there he gathered that Mr Clarke would not give over his 200 acres of land because he could not get the money for what he had already sold. An astute gentleman of the name of Mr Jackson sold his estate at Fertiana  some years ago and he acted so cleverly that he got two prices for the land: he got a fine and afterwards sold to the Estates' Commissioners and got doubly paid. He (Father Bannon) understood Mr Clarke wanted to act similarly. (shame on him). Mr Clarke some time ago so two farms to Flanagan and Shanahan. They paid up to the hilt for the land and now Mr Clarke complains that the Estates' Commissioners will not advance the money and that is the reason why he will not part with the two hundred acres.

At the trial of the prisoners in Cork, the judge said "I know very well that these boys either in the day or in the night would not Injure a hair of Mr or Mrs Clarke head". That was what they all said. (applause) They were not going to do an injustice to Mr Clarke or they were not going to offer him an insult. They were not fighting against an individual; they were fighting for a principle (hear hear) He spoke that day on the authority of the archbishop and they knew there was no man in Ireland sympathised more with the people in this agrarian movement than does the Archbishop of Cashel. (Cheers). He (Father  Bannon) asked them to hearken to what the Archbishop desired when he spoke with that authority he would ask them persevere, but persevere consistently in season and out of season to effect an alteration of the laws of the country and at the same time not offer any personal insults to Mr Clarke or anyone else and to do nothing outside the law. They could have the country replanted without outstepping the law. He asked the committees of the various branches to keep the people in hand and then there would be no disturbances and the young men of the country would not suffer. He hoped as result of that meeting that there would be no disturbances, as they knew that the  'carrion crows' wanted such disturbances in this country (hear hear) They exaggerate  every incident in England as an outrage when it was only a petty thing or a joke. He would ask them to be on their guard and not put themselves within the pale of the police. They had great power within the law, they had the power  to break up the ranches. (Cheers) Within the last few days, the Estates' Commissioners had sent down their inspector and he had prophesied that, in the near future, there would be a change for the better. (Cheers) He drew attention to one of the resolutions to be proposed. It concerned the support of the Irish Parliamentary party. (hear hear) He did so for he felt that, at  such a splendid gathering  as that a great deal of good could be done; and if good is to be done, if the people are to be put back on the land, they must support those soldiers who were fighting for them in parliament. (Cheers) He trusted that they would all live to see the day when Ireland shall be a free nation and when Irish people would make their own laws in their own Parliament (Cheers)

Mr James Dwyer, President of the  local branch UIL, then read the following resolutions.

  1. "Resolved that this monster meeting of Tipperary Nationalists, assembled at historic Holycross, desires to  place on record our unalterable adhesion to the principle of home-rule for Ireland and to express our firm conviction that there can be no real peace or  prosperity in Ireland until the people of this country achieve the rights of making their own laws"

  2. That we pledge ourselves to continue to fight the redistribution of the grazing ranches, until the people are again planted on the land from which they were ruthlessly evicted in the past .

  3. That we strongly protest against the action of Dublin Castle in sending numbers of men from this district to prison without giving them any semblance of a trial, and we think that this action is quite at variance with the past record of the Liberal Government.  We pledge these men our moral and material support in the brave fight which they are making for the distribution of the grass lands.

  4. We pledge ourselves to support the national organisation and the Irish Parliamentary party who are so bravely fighting our battles in the House of Commons and in the country.

  5. That we think the Land Act Amendment Bill before parliament will go a long way to settle the land  question, subject to some necessary amendments. We call on the Irish Parliament to insist on having clauses inserted that will give compulsory powers to the Estates Commissioners to acquire grass ranches for redistribution outside what is known as the congested districts, and compel recalcitrant landlords to sell to their tenants at a fair price.

  6.  We welcome the spread of the movement for the betterment of the conditions of our own tenants, as we are  convinced that thousands of them are paying exorbitant rents and others are living in hovels not fit for pigs.

  7. We strongly condemn the action of those farmers and landlords who oppose the erection of labourers  cottages as we believe the labourers of the country of the County  are fully entitled to a decent home and plot of ground in the land of their birth seeing the many sacrifices which they have made in the interest of the national cause.

  8.  That we pledge ourselves to support the Gaelic League and to purchase, as far as possible, only goods of Irish manufacture.

  9. That we  demand the readjustment of our financial relations with England aswe consider it a terrible grievance for a poor country like Ireland to have to pay  millions of pounds annually into the British Treasury; more than we are legally entitled to pay.