Yet, once the side stories were weeded out, I learned many intriguing bits of information. He described some of the backbreaking Penal Laws of the eighteenth century:
- Catholic farmers of substance were required to split their land among all children, creating smaller and smaller plots.
- They could not own a horse worth more than five pounds Sterling.
- Tithes had to be paid to the state church in addition to their own Catholic parish.
- Curiously, Catholics could not erect tombstones to their dead.
- But most devastating of all, common areas were fenced in by the gentry, eliminating grazing land for the poor.
|Cornelius O'Callaghan mausoleum|
According to Tuohy, these unbearable laws were designed to push the native Irish out to the mountains and bogs. As a push back, large gangs of men known as Levellers, or Whiteboys, rode at night in white tunics, knocking down (leveling) the offending fences put up by the landowners.
Father Sheehy said that everyone had a right to commonage. John Tuohy told me, “He believed that natural law overrode man’s law.” Nor did he object to the practice of leveling fences, although Tuohy said he did not direct Levellers to do so.
|Adjacent farmhouse--the Griffiths?|
At night, he came out to be cared for by the Griffiths, a Protestant family living in a nearby farmhouse.
I felt a connection to the place. It was not déjà vu; it was a sense of being where I was supposed to be and one to which I would return.
|Shanrahan Cemetery. Father Sheehy's grave is at |
the base of the tower.