In April of 1852 Charles Crotty purchased 1808 acres in the townlands of Kennury, Mawmeem and Tawnygarry, in what was called ‘a very wild district’ of the Partry Mountains, from John Blake, for the sum of £1,025.
By September of the same year 44 of his tenant families had been forcibly evicted from their homes.
A constabulary report followed, which stated, in part, ‘Since he has been in possession a very bad feeling exists against him and the petty and quarterly sessions are continuously occupied in settling their disputes… the tenants are very unruly… Mr Crotty’s farm is the field of constant trespass… His life and that of his steward have been threatened and a reward offered.’
Crotty turned up the heat and harassed his tenants, some of whom retaliated by burning his crops and committing various acts of vandalism.
In 1854 he received a ‘Rockite notice’ directing him to be more partial to his tenants and further that he ‘not on any account disturb them or deprive them of any portion of their land’ lest he meet ‘an untimely death’. (The Rockites were a secret society of revolutionaries headed by a mysterious 'Captain Rock'.)
Refusing to be intimidated, in the following year, 1855, Crotty had 22 families evicted from his estate, 13 of whom were subsequently allowed back into their homes. 9 other houses were leveled to the ground.
In August 1855 Crotty issued 600 suits for trespass against his tenants. At least one responded in kind, and Crotty was fined 7/6d for allowing his sheep to stray.
During this dispute the number of policemen stationed in the RIC barracks at Ayle was increased from 4 to 6.
In 1858 a gunman was commissioned to take Crotty’s life. An ambush was laid and as Crotty passed by in a horse-drawn sidecar (also called a jaunting car) he was shot and wounded. He survived, minus the sight of one eye. His driver also lost the use of one eye.
When Crotty died his house was ransacked. Nobody reported his death for a week. He was found with potatoes stuffed into his mouth.