Oatlands House and the RIC

 In History

Oatlands House was built in 1859 by Charles Downing a Justice of the Peace who bought the O Dowda Estate in 1854 after it was declared bankrupt under the Encumbered Estates Act of 1849.  Downing also built Bonniconlon Lodge and he was ejected from the village by the Land League in December 1880 and then the estate passed to Geoffrey Downing.

The next occupant of the residence was a member of the RIC Francis Barbour from Sligo who had been a constable and sergeant in the RIC in Bonniconlon and more than likely protected Downing when he was surrounded by the tenants in 1880. Barbour was a name found in Sligo in the 19th Century.  In 1897 Frank Barbour assumed charge of the Bonniconlon Station for one Sergeant William Burke while he holidayed in the south – he was acting Sergeant in Bonniconlon and Doocastle from 1897 – 1901 and he gave evidence at a court case in 1902.  Kate Barbour held lands in Drumsheen, Rathreedane and Bonniconlon in October 1910 when tenants on her estate applied for sites on which to build labourers cottages.  He lived there in 1911 when he was aged 50 and most likely retired from the RIC at this point, his wife was Charlotte Kate Beatty from Carnaglough cross or Beatty’s Cross and they had no family.

Barbour was an RIC man in Bonniconlon in 1898 and he was promoted to Sergeant in April 1899 and is mentioned in a case in 1905.   He was stationed as acting Sergeant in Doocastle RIC Barracks in 1901 and as living in Oatlands with his wife Charlotte Kate and two others Francis Collins and Patrick Howley a farmer and farm labourer in 1911 both from Mayo and he was aged 50 at the time and his wife Kate Beatty was aged 33.    There is a reference to him in December 1923 when he made a claim under the Malicious Injuries Act when he claimed £30 for damages his house was often the target for the IRA in 1920 and 1922 – 1923 when the Free State army was barracked there and the place came under sniping attacks. The IRA took sheep and cattle from his lands in July and August 1922 and he claimed £15 damages and costs for this.   

Paddy Ruane RIP the local historian of Bonniconlon wrote that Frank Barbour lived there in 1935/36 and they had no family.  After the Estate was striped Francis Barber moved to Ardnaree where he died in late March 1939 aged around 88, his wife Kate outlived him by almost 20 years passing away on the Church Road Ardnaree in late July 1958 also aged 88.   The property was in the ownership of John T. MacAndrew a shopkeeper and publican and former member of the IRA in Bonniconlon and it was a guest house listed by the Irish Tourist Association in the 1940’s and they had a bed and Breakfast there.  The older people would refer to the place as Barbour’s even after the couple had died and left the place.  One lady in Bofield told this writer that if Kate Barbour was standing at the gate then Frank would come along and bring her by the hand and bring her in so that she would not talk to the people in the locality and that was a measure of his bitterness coming from the 1916 to 1923 days when the people tried to defy him.  His lands and farm and house were taken over by the Land Commission in 1935 and this was the end of the ascendancy and its representatives in the Bonniconlon area.  The O’ Kane family who were linked to the Land Commission lived there for the following decades and recently the house changed hands and is still in  very good condition after all those years since 1859.

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