An article by Paul J. Mc Geady
In 1980, Liam Dolan, after extensive, exhaustive research, published his epic work entitled, “Land War and Evictions in Derryveagh” (1).This present effort is a Review of that Book, primarily for the benefit of those who are descendants or relatives of the 47 families cruelly evicted over a period of three days in April of 1861 in Derryveagh, Electoral District of Gartan, Donegal, Ireland. Our purpose is to acquaint them with the existence of this work wherein they can read the full tragic story. Many of these descendants are in Australia, others in New Zealand, some still in Ireland and a few in America.
Mr Dolan begins his book with a note that perhaps the complete story of this episode may not be known because of the dispersion to Australia (The Derryveagh Diaspora) of the descendants of these 47 families. Hopefully, any such descendants will contact this website to recite the traditions in their families that have been related from generation to generation and supply the information that eluded the author. The author of this book has, in that work, painted a vivid word picture of the setting and the terror, agony and sorrow so well that the reader is transported back in time to the shores of Lough Barra and the mountains of Derryveagh to become a witness to these events described by one eye witness as “indescribable”.
Early in the work Mr. Dillon introduces John George Adair, the principal protagonist in this dramatic tragedy. Adair, of Scottish descent, was a well to do land speculator from Queen’s County, who, on visiting the District in 1857, observed that “He was enchanted by the surpassing beauty of the scenery”(2) In August of that year, we learn that he made his first purchase of property in the Glenveagh area. He later acquired over 28000 acres to create the Adair Estate. This included Gartan, Glenbeagh and Derryveagh. After the initial purchase in the Glenveagh area, Adair began building up his estate gradually and in doing so he purchased what is termed “fee-farm” rights to Derryveagh. This gave him the right to receive from the grantor all the rents collected from the Derryveagh tenants, but not ownership of the land or the so called “sporting” (hunting and fowling) rights.(3)