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.