in the 1800's, the majority of land in Ireland was held by
Landlord, owning estates of substantial size. These Landlords
could be resident, or more often absentee. Spending most of
their time in England, and rarely if ever returning to examine
their estates. Their estate was left in the charge of managers.
The estate might lease a piece of land to a middle man or
well-to-do large farmer. He in turn would sub-let a portion.
This process would continue ultimately down to an individual
tenant farmer. You could have a situation where 5 people were
in a chain of subletting between landlord and tenant.
Some estates were huge
in size stretching to many thousands of acres. For 150 to
200 years in some cases little changed in the ownership
of land. But in the aftermath of the Famine
many tenants were unable to pay their rents and Landlords
and estates were building up massive debts and could no longer
maintain their Holdings. In 1849 the Government introduced
The Encumbered Estate Act which allowed Landlords
to sell off their estates without having to pay their debts.
This gave a chance for many Irish to finally buy into Land
and change the System of Land Ownership.
At the turn of the
Century the Conservatives came to power, and in these
years they followed a 'Plan of Campaign' that would attempt
to improve key issues for the poorest Irish in terms of land
rights in the hope that they would feel Home Rule (a separate
Parliament in Ireland to have control of local issues) was
of no practical value. These reforms did have a dramatic effect
upon the transfer of land in these years from a relatively
small group of landlords to small tenant farmers.