Owen Gray’s Farm House

Artist(s) : Jonathan Binns (Draughtsman), Louis Haghe (Lithographer), William Day (Lithographer)

Three decrepit stone-built thatched cabins, built close to one another, seen from the back. The building in the middle of the image has a chimney, with smoke coming out of it. The rough poles supporting the thatch are seen protruding from the roof on the left. The cabins stand on open ground, in a barren landscape.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – Sketched by Jonathan Binns. / Day and Haghe, Lith.rs to the Queen.
  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Owen Gray’s Farm House.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Lithographs
Subject(s) Architecture, Manners and customs, Rural life
Geographical Location
  • Bellananagh - Village
  • Cavan - County
Keywords(s) Cabins, Lands
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 9.2 cm x 13.8 cm
Published / created 1837

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. p. 316
Source copy National Library of Ireland J 9141
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.

Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

The soil of Upper Loughtee is, for the most part, weak and light, upon a greenstone or basaltic rock. In Lower Loughtee it is rather shallow, upon clay and limestone gravel. The usual rotation is very scourging and impoverishing; and when the land has been deprived of its productive powers, it is left to nature and time, till ready for a repetition of the former operations. Some of the large proprietors, we were informed, had dislodged their Roman Catholic tenantry, because they were Roman Catholics. "Twenty families," said a witness, "are under notice to quit to-morrow. In 1826, a hundred and sixty persons were turned out in this parish; some lay in sheds, and outhouses, and road sides; others went to America. But the people, notwithstanding, are peaceably disposed, and have no idea of avenging their injuries." "Nothing," said another witness, "but the greatest oppression will induce the people to commit murder." Owen Gray, one of the witnesses, said that // he farmed, at a rent of £2. 15s. 7d., about 6 acres of poor stony land, considerable part of the surface being rock, on a hill above Ballinaught, called the Deer Park of Belvin, belonging to Major Fleming, and that "he had no peace till it was under the care of the Court of Chancery; before that, they used to be always driving." We visited, among others, the residence of the last witness. A drawing of it is given on the opposite page; and let me beg the reader, whilst inspecting it, to remember, that it is a correct representation of the dwelling of a man and his wife and their seven children! The whole length inside was 20 feet, the width eight, and the mud and sod walls were 3 1/2 feet high. The principal apartment in the centre was used as a day room. Two small places, entirely dark, one at each end of the house, formed the sleeping apartments. They were five feet six inches wide. The only light that cheered the dwelling of Owen Gray was admitted through the door-way, an aperture nearly four feet high. The whole of the furniture consisted of four old broken stools, about a foot in height; as for a chair, it // was out of the question. Their stock was one pig, and a miserable cat; for they were possessed of neither cow, goat, nor sheep. The children were all but naked; the shoulder and breast only of one boy, nine years old, who came to us outside, were partially covered with a portion of a ragged shirt. Upon my remarking to his mother that they must suffer in winter for want of clothes, she replied, that they were obliged to go without, and were as fond of running out in frost and snow as if they had plenty of clothes, for they were used to it. This, indeed, the colour and deep wrinkles of their legs and feet abundantly testified. Owen Gray and his wife had been blessed with fifteen children, "and she had been so fruitful," (to use her own words) "that she had chanced them double three times." Eleven were living. "Bare backs," said the poor woman, "would not fret me, if we had plenty to eat. I would be a proud woman if we had potatoes and a grain of salt in times, but we cannot get the salt itself, nor even the bare potatoes, and we are lost for want of beds. Nine sleep in the two we have, which // are nothing but a bit of straw, covered with an old blanket." The rick yard was furnished with two small ricks or stacks, from which the morsel of grain had been nearly all thrashed out, and the straw piled up again. This dwelling was not particularly selected on account of its meanness. It was the first we came to in the barony; and while I sketched it, my companion visited others which he reported to be, if possible, worse; and I was subsequently told that many in the country were decidedly inferior to Owen Gray's. [pp. 315-318]
Owen Gray’s Farm House