to Quit’ Exhibition, De Valera Library, 9th-21st February 2004
Photographic Archive’s exhibition, 'Notice to Quit', featuring
photographs of Irish evictions during the late 1880s, is on display
at the DeValera Library, Ennis, from 9th to 21st of February 2004.
Locations in counties Clare, Kildare, Donegal, Galway and Wexford
are included. The County Clare photographs were taken on the estates
of Colonel John O’Callaghan in Bodyke and the Vandeleur
Estate in Kilrush.
images, which were taken between 1886 and 1890 by photographers
from the Dublin-based Lawrence Studios, are among the first examples
of photojournalism in Ireland. They provide a unique record of the
Plan of Campaign, a tenants’ rent protest that subsequently
led to hundreds of evictions. A selection of the Clare
eviction photographs can be viewed in the library's online collection.
campaign, which was organised by leading nationalists, received
widespread coverage in British and Irish press during the late 1880s.
On some estates, where rents were withheld, the landlords evicted
tenants with the active support of members of both the militia and
the Royal Irish Constabulary. Many of the eviction scenes featured
in the exhibition depict the use of force against the protesters.
Lantern slides of these eviction scenes were used as a political
propaganda tool against Queen Victoria. During the Queen’s
Jubilee celebrations in 1897, Maud Gonne orchestrated public displays
of images of evictions and deaths from starvation by projecting
them on to the exterior of a building in Parnell Square in Dublin
Plan of Campaign was first brought to public attention by John Dillon
in a speech to tenants on the Woodford estate in County Galway on
17 October 1886. Dillon, and other prominent nationalists William
O’Brien and Willie Redmond were the leading figures in the
organisation, which was principally focused on gaining more favourable
rents through a programme of collective bargaining. Some members
of the Catholic clergy also participated actively in the Plan of
Campaign which took place from 1886 to 1891 against a background
where agricultural prices generally had fallen. Fr. Murphy and Fr.
Hannon were prominent organisers of the Plan of Campaign in the
Bodyke area. The Campaign was concentrated principally in the south
and west of Ireland.
Campaign leaders selected estates where landlords were asked to
reduce rents to a more acceptable level. If the landlord refused
or if the tenants didn’t agree with the offer, they withheld
payment. The rents, at the agreed ‘fair level’, were
then paid into a central fund to provide support to tenants who
were evicted as a result of their actions. The evictions of protesting
tenants are among the many scenes that feature in this exhibition.
William Lawrence Photograph Collection is one of the most heavily
used collections in the National Photographic Archive. The National
Library purchased the collection, comprising 40,000 glass plate
negatives, in 1943. Clare County Library's Local
Studies Centre in Ennis holds copies of the Clare photographs
from the collection. A
selection of these can be seen in the library's online photographic
The Lawrence Studio opened on Sackville Street (now O’Connell
Street) in Dublin in 1865. Its founder, William Lawrence, had a
thriving portrait business but it is the studio’s topographical
views that are best known today.
most prolific photographer, Robert French, travelled around Ireland
capturing images of almost every small village and town in the country.
The Lawrence Studios began selling postcards, souvenirs and viewbooks
of his photographs from the late-1860s onwards. While the views
were primarily aimed at tourists, they provide a huge amount of
information on Irish architecture and social history to the modern
Official exhibition launch: 6.00pm, Monday, 16th February.
Library Events 2004