In April 1852 Charles Crotty purchased an 1808-acre estate for the sum of £1025 (Michigan State University, 2009). Crotty was a Dublin grocer by occupation (Lane, 1993). Mary B. Conway recounts in her (n.d.) article ‘Crotty as a Landlord,’ that the name of the estate that Crotty bought was “Kinnewry, Maumeen and Tawnynagry (Previously called Barnagregory).” Crotty proceeded to be landlord over the estate, which was previously owned by John Blake (Conway, n.d. P 28). Crotty was reputed to be a merciless character, and by September 1852, forty-four families on his estate were evicted under his direction (Conway, n.d. P 28). Conway (n.d. P 28) recounts Brighid Ni Conmhuigh stating that, “many of these people had to go on the road to beg. Some of them went to England or America to earn a living.” Needless to say, Crotty was much disliked by many of the locals as a result (Conway, n.d., p 28). The forty-four families which were evicted, equalled two hundred and twenty-five individual people (Lane, 1993). Although Crotty did level some houses, these houses were not levelled, and when Crotty was absent the holders moved back into the properties. Crotty threatened legal action, but he was met with death threats in response. In fact, the land holders harassed Crotty to such an extent (by burning the land and driving trespassing cattle onto his land) that he [Crotty] made a list of troublemakers. However, no witnesses would give evidence in a legal setting for fear of reprisal. Crotty himself even admitted that the parish priest at Killawalla twice denounced him from the alter saying that Crotty has 'sowed the seed and he reaped it’ (Lane, 1993).
The injustice of it all
Can you imagine a patch of land so small that in order for a farmer to milk his cow, he had to back her out of the patch? Well, that was reportedly just how small Crotty divided his parcels of land, making it difficult for tenant farmers to make a living off of the land (Michigan State University, 2009). In the incidence that an animal wandered on to Crotty’s land, he would hold the animal in his pound, and demand a large sum of money from the owner to get his animal back. That pound was burned to the ground in 1856 (Michigan State University, 2009).
Attempts on Crotty’s life
On many occasions people tried to take Crotty’s life, and on one occasion the assassin was nearly successful. On that occasion Crotty was a passenger in a sidecar and was shot in his eye. A man from Newport is said to have been commissioned to commit the murder (Michigan State University, 2009). Mary B. Conway (n.d. P 28) recounts that the driver of the side car was a man named Michael Mitchell and he also lost an eye in the attack. Conway goes on to say in her (n.d.) article ‘Crotty as a Landlord’ that “When compensation was paid, Charles Crotty got £3,000 for the loss of his eye, Michael Mitchell got £300.”
Crotty- unliked by all?
A Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.) barracks were built near Crotty’s house in 1858 to protect his life, and it is said that even the police did not like Crotty (Michigan State University, 2009). Mary B. Conway writes in her article (n.d., P 18) ‘Kinuary R.I.C. Barricks’ that prior to the police moving to Kinuary (to protect Crotty) the barracks was located at Ayle, and she says that they “were constantly at his beck and call.” But perhaps what speaks to Crotty’s character and reputation more than anything else is the following story recounted by Mary B. Conway in her article, ‘Crotty as a Landlord’ (n.d., P 28). In it she says, “Prior to Crotty’s untimely death in 1883, Eddie Hallinan (R.I.P.) has told that Crotty went into the Convent in Westport with a donation of £1,000, but that the nuns refused to take it, having heard that he acquired it by unfair means, from impoverished tenants.”
Crotty’s death- Crotty’s ghost
After Crotty’s untimely death, it is said that his body laid there for a week, before the locals told anyone. Added to that, the local stuffed potatoes in his mouth and ransacked his home. Since then, it is believed that the house has become haunted with Crotty’s ghost (Michigan State University, 2009). Mary B. Conway writes in her (n.d., P 99) article ‘Crottys: Haunted house?’ that reports of Crotty’s house being haunted were so widespread, that she asks, “Could so many people have imagined it?” Conway goes on to report that, “Many people were said to have left employment there because of the place being haunted.”
Conway, Mary B., (n.d). Crotty as a Landlord. In: Killawalla: The Road to our Hearts (2001). Name of compiling author not known, P28.
Conway, Mary B., (n.d). Crottys: Haunted House? In: Killawalla: The Road to our Hearts (2001). Name of compiling author not known. P99.
Conway, Mary B., (n.d). Kinuary R.I.C. Barricks. In: Killawalla: The Road to our Hearts. (2001). Name of compiling author not known. P18.
Lane, Padraig G. (1993). Some Galway and Mayo Landlords of the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25535614?read-now=1&seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents Accessed 31st of May, 2023.
Michigan State University, Study Abroad Programme. (2009). Crotty’s House. Internal Report: Folder 3, Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail—Clogher Environmental Group Ltd. Unpublished.