Kilmorey Estate Rentals get a new lease of life

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Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Community, What's On
Newry and Mourne Museum has recently facilitated the treatment and conservation of a number of important Kilmorey Estate Rentals.

Anthony Russell, Historical Geographer (middle) who is currently researching the rentals to chart the impact of the Famine in the Newry area. Pictured at Newry and Mourne Museum with Dr. Ken Abraham (left) Assistant Curator, and Shane McGivern (right) Collections Research Assistant.

This will allow public access to a set of invaluable documents which shed light on the social history of 19th century Newry and its surrounding area. The conservation has been made possible thanks to funding from Newry and Mourne’s Landfill communities Fund administered by Ulster Wildlife. Until the early 20th century Ireland was a country made up of large estates. The town of Newry and its surrounding area was no different, with the principal landlord being Lord Kilmorey. Evidence of this history can still be seen around Newry in the name ‘Kilmorey Street’ and Newry and Mourne Museum itself is the former residence of the Bagenal family from whom the Kilmorey’s were descended. With these large estates there also came a significant amount of administration in the form of rental volumes, leases, maps and other miscellaneous items. These documents serve as a reminder of the vast expanse of what were once the landed estates of Ireland. The Museum’s Reside Collection contains a significant amount of Kilmorey Estate material in the form of rental books, title deeds, maps and estate surveys. These records date from as early as 1715 and go up to as far as the early 20th century. The earliest Kilmorey rental dates from 1802 and contains lists of people who leased land from Lord Kilmorey. Among the list of names is James Maxwell, father of William Hamilton Maxwell a renowned 19th century novelist. His father is listed as having land leased in Ballynacraig and Market Street. Also included in the collection is a complete run of rentals from 1844 to 1851 which is the period covering the Great Famine. Newry and Warrenpoint are known as being ports of emigration for these populations wishing to make a better life. Little research however has been done on the direct impact of the Famine in the locality. These rentals offer a tantalising glimpse into the hardships that tenants often experienced during that period of Irish history and provide details of the social conditions of that time. A notation for one such tenant in Lisdrumliska in 1847 explains how the ‘tenant after disposing of his crop abandoned his wife and four children and fled to America’. In Drumalane in the same year the rental tells of how the rent was lost after the ‘tenant died of fever leaving no property’. Shane McGivern, Collections Research Assistant at the Museum said, “The real significance of the Kilmorey Rentals is in the fact that they serve as pre-census substitutes providing us with a list of the heads of households in Newry as far back as 1802.” The following areas are covered in the rentals: Altnaveigh, Ballinlare, Ballyholland Upper, Ballyholland Lower, Ballynacraig, Boat St, Buttercrane, Croreagh, Commons Upper, Commons Lower Carnbane, Church St, Castle St, Chapel St, Cloghogue, Crownmount, Drumcashellone, Drumalane, Derrybeg, Fathom, Gransha, High St, Edenmore, Lisdrumliska, Lisdrumgullion, Low Ground, Mill St, Market St, North St, Ouley, Public Markets, Ryan, Strand, Turmore and William St. Noreen Cunningham, Museum Curator explained, “Due to their age some of the rentals had become too fragile to allow access by the public. Thanks to funding from Landfill Community Trust, the required treatment was carried out to clean and stabilise the rentals. “This has allowed the Museum to facilitate access to this invaluable source of social and family history.” To book an appointment to view the rentals or the Reside Collection call the Museum by telephone on 028 3031 3173 or email
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