penal laws. Luckily, William's parents had converted before his birth so he was not subject to the harsh rules held over the Irish Catholics. His early landholdings were approximately 15,000 acres, but by the time of his death that number had increased to over 100,000 acres.
|A Striking Contrast|
But who would farm this land that William was quickly accruing? The very people from whom it was taken. The Irish Catholics who had forfeited the land were forced to rent or work the land they had so recently owned. There were many types of tenants, or renters, but one of the most memorable in my opinion is those who worked not for money, but for land to grow their food.
|Compensation for a Hard Day's Work|
The economy and markets in a place as tumultuous as Ireland at that time created inconsistent food supplies. The inhabitants realized that the safest way to ensure that they could feed their families was to produce the food themselves, and so they did. Men would work a lord's land in exchange for use of a plot to produce food for their families. These families lived almost entirely on potatoes, but it was better than nothing at all.
There were a few exceptions to common conditions for tenants, but sadly, many were living in less than ideal conditions. One can hope that Castletown House and the Connolly family were one of those exceptions. Do you think you could live on potatoes for a year? (Given infinite ketchup, of course.)