Gleninchaquin Park closed due to Weater

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Describing the farm at Gleninchaquin

The farm at Gleninchaquin looks considerably different today (2005) than the holding which was occupied by the original Corkery family some one hundred and thirty or so years ago.  The farm has grown in acreage; many of the fields are a different size or shape, where they have been reclaimed, drained or amalgamated.  Old walls have been knocked and removed to create bigger fields.  Over time, the rubble from the ruins of old houses or hovels have often been recycled into new walls or fences.  While this may be a testament to the frugality and practicality of our ancestors, it does mean that even the ruins of many of the dwellings we know once existed in the valley are no longer there.  Therefore the names of the fields may assume an even greater significance, as they are often our main link or only clue to the story of yesterday.  The accompanying map shows the field system as it exists today

Clearly marked on the accompanying map (the double dotted lines ) is the “Famine Road”.  At the time of the Great Famine (1846-50), the property was owned by the Marquis of Lansdowne, but occupied by a number of families who both farmed their patch of rented ground to feed their own families and livestock, and also offset part of their rent by providing the labour needed to meet the landlord’s requirements.  Many of the then landlords or middlemen considered themselves ‘gentry’ and, as such, did not believe they were required to undertake any form of manual labour themselves.  This belief meant they were heavily reliant on their tenants to carry out all their farming and household tasks.   Most of these sub-tenant families were heavily dependent on their potato crop to provide their daily sustenance.  Any other crop they might have, together with money raised by selling an animal or spare eggs, for instance, would usually go towards paying the landlord his due.  When the potato blight struck, people were left starving and destitute.
This ‘Famine Road’ is one example of the Relief Works created by the then Lord Lansdowne in 1846 / 7 /8.  He provided schemes  which enabled poverty stricken and starving people earn sufficient to feed their families at least.  This road was intended to be wide enough to accommodate a horse and carriage and to run all the way up to the waterfall.  Lord Lansdowne was very proud of the scenery in the Gleninchaquin Valley, and wanted to be able to share the amazing views with friends visiting his Kerry estate.  However, the project came to a full stop when they reached a fence beyond which was a very large bog hole.  The road never went any further and was never finished, but the road base is still there.

Below this road are a number of fields, including :

The Island Field  :  so called because it is surrounded by water (streams).  There is a dry patch in mid-field called a Cnocan, or little hill.  Ridges found  in this field would indicate that it was used for growing potatoes in pre famine times.

Old potato ridges have also been found in the field under the waterfall, and further up the hillside – evidence of a people struggling to make use of every scrap of land available to them

One local legend has it that the people of the Gleninchaquin valley were far less affected by the famine, as the potato survived, unaffected by the blight, in a field by the Waterfall.  We have not been able to ascertain the truth or not of this story.  What we do know, and can verify is that the population of Gleninchaquin Valley, and that of the larger Cloonee Valley were severely decimated, especially in the  years from 1841 to 1851, and on to 1861.

The Big Inch      :  The Big Meadow

Inse a Crothur   :  (Con’s Inch) –This field is named for the man who once farmed it over a hundred years ago .  Con Corkery, a brother of the original Paddy Corkery, was also a noted stone mason, whose work was much admired by Lord Lansdowne

Rough Pasture I  :  This is an unnamed land area just above the famine road.  field.  The ground here  was previously rough, wet & unusable.  In the olden days people didn’t have JCB’s  or Diggers needed for drainage and reclamation.  If they were lucky, they had a shovel and plenty of helpful neighbours to lend the sweat of their brow.  This land has now been drained and reclaimed, providing good grazing for Donal’s sheep.

Above the ‘Famine Road’ are the following fields:

Rough Pasture  II : Another area which was previously unusable, which the present occupier has drained and reclaimed.  It is now good pasture.

The Middle Inch : A flat meadow;  good pasture

The ‘Bog’ Fields :  There are two of these plus the Small Bog.  Many years ago, a stream used to run through the center of the Small Bog field.  This stream now runs underground, and the land here is no longer boggy.

Cnocan na Muice : Small hill of the Pigs – so called because the raised area in the middle of the field looks like a humpbacked pig.

A Fulacht Fiadh was discovered years ago in this field, on the side where it adjoins the Bog field.  There is evidence of many more Fulachta Fiadh in the fields here, especially those which lie in the path where the now underground stream would once have flowed.

The South Field : probably once marked the southern most boundary of a single farm unit within the Gleninchaquin valley.   We know that, although today only the one family resides in the area, it was not always so devoid of inhabitants.

The Big Field : The single largest field on the Corkery farm.  It wasn’t always this big, but has been created over the years by removing some of the ditches and amalgamating several smaller fields into one.

The Field of the Old House :  A house stood in this field a long time ago.  Donal Corkery  never saw the ruins of this house himself, but was told about it by his father.  Donal’s father was born in 1914; at that time the house was already in ruins.  It had been occupied up to the time of the famine.  When the family were evicted from there, the roof was knocked in and the walls leveled.  When Donal’s father started farming in Maulagowna, the stones from the house were still lying in a pile in a corner of this field.  He recycled the stones, using them to build walls and fortify fences on the farm.

In about the year 2000, a lady came to visit the Park.  In conversation with Donal, she told him the story she had heard from her grandmother, whose own mother had been born at Gleninchaquin,  on a farm facing the waterfall.  She had handed down stories of her life in Kerry as a child  She told them that one of her farm chores as a young girl in the late 1840’s, was to chase the sheep down from the hillside every evening, and to tie them up close to their house nightly.  This was to prevent the sheep rustlers stealing the animals.

From these stories, we can but surmise that the above ruins were once the family home of this girl.  This family probably emigrated shortly after the Famine, perhaps as part of Trench’s Assisted Emigration Scheme.  The house was evidently tumbled down on their departure by the landlord, as this field would shortly afterwards form part of the original farm leased to Patrick Corkery  by the Marquis of Lansdowne, some time around 1875.

The Garden Field  :  This field is located in front of, and attached to the original Corkery dwelling house.  This field was used, not as a garden in today’s sense, but as a means to provide for the family.  Vegetables – potatoes, turnips, onions, cabbage, carrots etc were grown here; the chickens ran around here scrapping for food and laying their eggs.  Perhaps a cow, calf or pig, rambled & foraged here.  This house, today still owned by a Corkery, was where Patrick Corkery and his new bride set up home eventually after they were granted a lease on the farm by the Marquis of Lansdowne.  The date Patrick first took up residence is not yet clear, but probably was around 1870 or 1875.

Four generations of Corkery’s were raised in this house; the current guardian of the land, Donal, built a new house just up the road when he married Peggy, as both his parents were still alive then and living in the old house.