Crotty’s Wood

Situated just before the Old Mill is a forested area known as Crotty’s Wood, or Rory’s Wood (Michigan State University, 2009).

Charles Crotty operated as a landlord in County Mayo from 1852 until his death in 1883 (Michigan State University, 2009). Crotty bought the Mayo section of his estate from the Blakes of Belmont, Co. Galway for 1025 pounds in the Encumbered Estates’ Court. Crotty’s new estate was in the parish of Ballintuber, in the barony of Carra. Padraig G. Lane writes that Crotty was a ‘Dublin grocer.’ “In 1876, Charles Crotty of Kinewry House owned 1739 acres in County Mayo” (Landed Estates, 2011-2024).

Crotty’s poor treatment of his tenants

Crotty was notorious for his poor treatment of his tenants in the Kinewry Valley (Michigan State University, 2009). An article named “The Attempt to Murder Mr. Crotty” (Newspapers.com, 2024) appeared in the Irish Times on March 24th, 1871. The article gives a window into the character and personality of Charles Crotty. It chronicles two particularly vivid—and true-- stories from the life and times of Charles Crotty. The first story is from a time when Crotty put in progress the termination of his tenant’s tenure on his property. At that time the parish priest named Rev. James Browne came to hold a religious station. The Rev. arrived to find every man, woman and child put out of their house on a snowy day. It was reported that the women and children were screaming as the hail pelted down on them. Crotty, it appears, had locked all the houses, and when the priest approached Crotty for a key to open one of the houses to say mass, the request was quickly refused. This was true even though Crotty was a professing Catholic. The Irish Times article (Newspapers.com, 2024) goes on to say, “The valley of Kinury is now a lonely waste, but exhibiting still the traces of a former life in the ruined habitations of strong men” (Newspapers.com, 2024).

The second character revealing situation laid out in the same Irish Times article (Newspapers.com, 2024) tells of a young man named Corkill, who was “of very favorable appearance and intelligence” who was prosecuted by Crotty for the offence of ‘assault’. It materialized that the young Corkill aimed to take a short cut through the mountains, and crossed a road that Crotty has “stopped up.” Crotty rushed over in his slippers to apprehend the young man and a fight broke out. Crotty complained of Corkill biting his finger, pulling out his beard, and stamping on his toes, while Corkill maintained that Crotty and his entourage almost strangled him. Corkill was sentenced to a month in jail, but the judge wisely noted that given the feeling that existed between Crotty and his underlings, it would have been better if Crotty had not pressed the case against Corkill at all. But Crotty did. And that somehow seems to sum up the man Charles Crotty—​bitter and defiant ‘till the end (Newspapers.com, 2024).

Attempts on Crotty’s life

One noteworthy part of Crotty’s life story is that throughout his time as a landlord, there were many attempts made on his life. Crotty was notorious for his poor treatment of his tenants in the Kinewry Valley. During a trip through Rory’s Wood while travelling in a sidecar, Crotty was shot. Although Crotty and his driver Michael Mitchell escaped alive, both men lost an eye. And although the shooter was never officially caught, it is thought that the man commissioned to kill Crotty came from Newport, Co. Mayo. Somewhat tellingly, when compensation was paid, Crotty received 3,000 while his driver only received 300—both having lost an eye. Fearing for his safety after the shooting, Crotty ordered that an R.I.C. barracks (the local police force) be put next to his home. Both Crotty’s home and the barracks can be found further down the trail (Michigan State University, 2009).

Crotty’s death

Charles Crotty was found dead in his bed at 71 years old—on the 2nd of April, 1883. It is said that his tenants, who suffered greatly at his hands, waited for about a week to announce his death publicly. Also, according to local stories, the local people actually celebrated his death. It is said that they gathered around his body and played games such as tossing small potatoes into his mouth. Crotty is buried in the famous Ballintubber Abbey (Michigan State University, 2009). Crotty’s daughter was known to be a very kind and charitable woman, rather unlike her father. She donated a house in the Kinewry Valley to a missionary order that helped sick and old priests returning from Africa (Michigan State University, 2009).

References:

  1. Landed Estates (2011-2024). Crotty. Available at: https://landedestates.ie/family/596 Accessed 29th of May, 2024.

  2. Michigan State University, Study Abroad Programme. (2009). Crotty’s Wood. Internal Report: Folder 2, Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail—Clogher Environmental Group Ltd. Unpublished.

  3. Newspapers.com (2024). Assault on Crotty & details of his reign in Kinnury. Available at: https://chicagotribune.newspapers.com/article/the-irish-times-assault-on-crotty-deta/69309912/ Accessed 29th of May, 2024.