The 'doctor' who fought the tyranny of landlordism
This south-east Galway property was home to a famed activist in the 19th century Land Wars
Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30
Thirty years prior to the 1916 Easter Rising, this house on 23ac at Looscaun near Woodford in Co Galway was at the centre of fierce land agitation during the Land War.
While the Rising centenary celebrations have focussed the attention of the nation on events that went on to shape the political face of Ireland, at the time of the Rising the rural face of the country had been shaped by the Land War that had rumbled on for five decades prior to the events of April 1916.
The Land War and the Land Acts led to the emergence of a strong farming middle class based in small and middle-sized farms that were hewn out of the great estates. The agrarian struggle that brought this about was often characterised by mass demonstrations, evictions, boycotts and violence.
Nowhere was the Land War fought more bitterly than in East Galway where one of the more colourful and militant local land agitators, 'Doctor' Francis Tully made a name for himself.
Francis Tully wasn't a medical doctor, nor did he hold a PhD. He was nicknamed 'Doctor' in 1882 when he publicly prescribed 'leaden pills' as the best medicine for landlords.
In 1886 his house at Looscaun was the scene of particularly fierce resistance when Crown forces sought to assist the local landlord in an attempt to evict Tully.
A boat builder by trade, Tully also farmed a smallholding. His house was a big slated construction, unusual in those times and was much more easily defended than the mud-walled cabins occupied by most of the population. When the bailiffs came to call they brought with them a large force of police and military. Tully and his supporters withstood the siege for several hours, however.
According to records, the occupants of the house, which included 13 men and two girls, were arrested and subsequently imprisoned.