The story of the O’Halloran sisters who fended off the officers evicting their family during the Irish Land War, 1887

This incredible photo was taken in 188 and shows Boddie, Claire's O'Halloran sisters, who were fighting when their home was threatened with eviction.

The O'Halloran sisters - Annie, Honoria, and Sarah - lived with their parents and their brothers, Patrick and Frank, in the townland of Lisberen, southwest of the village of Boddeke. He was a tenant of Colonel John O'Callaghan, who would become infamous by the end of the Irish Land War.

The Second Irish Land Act of 1881 attempted to give tenants more protection by paving the way for rent reductions, guaranteeing equal rents for a period of 15 years, and, in some cases, eventual ownership.

O'Callaghan charged the O'Hallorans £31, which was ordered by the court to be reduced to £22-10s – an amount the family retained was still unreasonable, as the rent before he raised it was £ was 13-10.

A few years ago, the rent was raised to £33, but it was later reduced when the tenants took the matter to land court. Despite this shortcoming, the O'Hallorans were owed two years of rent in large part due to the construction of a new two-story slated house and outhouse.

In the weeks before the eviction, the family made necessary defensive adjustments to the home: building earthworks in the vicinity of the house, digging a moat around its perimeter, barricading windows and doors, and at strategic points. Making small holes There are flaws in the walls. They also collected pitchforks, wooden poles and sand bags.

A large crowd (8,000 according to the 'Freeman's Journal') used to gather daily in the village during the last week of May, in anticipation of the evictions to begin.

The eviction party finally arrived on 2 June, consisting of the acting sheriff, O'Callaghan agent, a resident magistrate, RIC, 2nd Royal Welsh fusiliers, bailiffs and 14 emergency men.

The family was busy boiling a mixture of dirty water and food, and when the bailiffs carefully approached the house, the O'Halloran sisters threw the boiling substance at them through the loopholes. The police threatened to shoot but the family held on to the enthusiasm of the onlookers.

The three O'Halloran sisters, Honoria, Annie and Sarah, throw cans of boiling water from windows to keep bailiffs away. Police used stairs to climb into the windows on the second floor, and Honoria grabbed a police officer's bayonet while her brother Frank knocked her over.

Armed with a rifle bayonet, Honoria forced the bailiffs to retreat while her siblings fought the men who had made it to the house. Eventually, the family was overrun.

In the days following the expulsion, the incident garnered much media attention with detailed accounts broadcasting 'exciting' and 'extraordinary' scenes in all national and regional newspapers.

The Cork Examiner (11 June 1887), referring to the opposing party as the 'indomitable O'Halloran family', remarked on the day that showed the humility, courage and defiance in many publications.

Following the eviction, a public meeting was held locally by DeWitt and Cox, where they commended the strength of the O'Halloran family, and in particular Harriet's heroic defense of their home. I

The case was heard at Ennis Courthouse on 20 June 1887. Following statements from plaintiffs and witnesses, Frank and Patrick were sentenced to three months' imprisonment and hard labor, while Honoria and Annie received one month's imprisonment with hard labor; Sarah and Harriet were not sentenced.

Within four years, Colonel O'Callaghan found himself in financial difficulties, so he increased rents and confiscated livestock from those who could or could not, in violation of the Land Act.

In 1909, the Land Commission confiscated the Bodykey section of the O'Callaghan Estate, and tenants were given the right to purchase their own land.

By the time of the 1911 census, some members of the O'Halloran family were still living in Lisberen, including Harriet, who was the landowner at the time.

Frank's first-hand account
A direct account of the day of his brother Frank's eviction was published in the Irish Times on June 15, 1887. The following excerpt highlights the dramatic events.

This holding has been given to us for generations; We built the house ourselves with our own labor, it cost us £220. As far as the land is concerned, no one has worked hard to improve it. When the time for eviction came, we were determined to defend it with our lives. We closed the doors with formidable wood and treated the windows the same way.

On the morning of the eviction, we were up at the break of the day and laid out our plans, each defending a certain point and no leeway, whatever might come. We boiled plenty of water and food, and when everything was ready, we looked for bailiffs.

It didn't take us long to wait, as the assault party showed up at 10:30 and looked formidable too - the police, the soldiers and the bailiffs, all behind a large crowd of tenants.

We had two portholes commanding the eastern rear corner and plenty of pitchforks and poles to meet with rifles and bayonets when they would attempt to scale the windows. However, Mr. DeWitt denied us the pitchfork. I think he thought blood would spill if they were there

When the bailiffs arrived with picks and axes we waited until they came close enough to ignite the hot liquid.

The police shouted at us to go inside through the porthole or they would shoot, but we did not pay heed to them. I remember when they raised their rifles, I thought it was a strange country where the sons of the people are the biggest enemy.

The bailiff attacked the corner and the sisters threw cans of boiling water at them, prompting them to retire quickly while the girls waited with water ready to fire.

The crowd outside got very excited, because they saw that we did not mean surrender. I had a long pole guarding the corner, and I found that I could not use it effectively with a porthole because I was left-handed; So I broke a hole in the roof, slate showers falling on the men outside.

Then we saw that we made it impossible for them to stay on the corner. The struggle continued for three-quarters of an hour, and in the end, the defeated emergency men gave in, some of them badly scorched.

Then they went to the end of the house and the police climbed the stairs to go through the window on the second story, so I changed places with my brother and went to the porthole he was defending.

There was some unfortunate delay in handing over the water at this time. My brother went to see what had happened, and when he was so busy a policeman broke through the window.

He met Honoria who grabbed his bayonet. He was just in the act of jerking off her and I knew he would bite her fingers if he pulled her. I jumped off the stage and hit my fist under his chin and propelled him to the other end of the room.

My sister then had a rifle, bayonet and all, and sure enough she used it. She ran towards the window and scattered the police outside right and left and cleared the ladder outside. My brother had now returned with water, and I went to help Honoria.

I found a big pole: there was a policeman at the top of the ladder; I hooked him to his chest, pushing him into an upright position. The policeman behind pressed him while the crowd was shouting with joy. I shouted loudly and he fell to the ground amidst shouting and shouting.

Others pressed on to meet the same fate. Now we thought it was time to take out the policeman inside us. We brought him near the window to throw him out. The police outside attacked with their bayonets and injured us several times, so instead of throwing him out, we had to throw him back again.

The fight started well now. We attacked them with all our might and the fight was so fierce that we broke the bayonet of the sword and injured many people outside.

Finally, we cleared the window again and the victory was greeted with thunderous applause. The forces outside were dismayed, as if they did not know what to do next.

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