On 27 November outgoing President of the Society, Mr Robert Marshall, delivered his presidential discourse. His paper, entitled ‘Lisnafanna: A Townland in Turmoil on the Cavan Headford Estate 1870-1900’, was based on a close study of the Headford estate papers. The paper provided some fascinating insights into the existence and operation of subversive or subaltern law on a Cavan estate in the late nineteenth century. It looked specifically at the National League’s boycotting campaign and how this operated at a local and personal level. Interestingly, even on an estate where the Plan was in place, roughly two thirds of rent was still paid.
Mr Marshall went on to consider the legal procedures and processes which followed the fatal shooting of one of the boycotters. The coroner’s inquest saw the apportionment of some blame to the constabulary. Although a verdict of murder was returned by the coroner’s jury, the grand jury, by contrast, found ‘no true bill’, and the case did not proceed to trial.
All of this illustrates the role of the community in policing and sanctioning certain behaviours, and it the paper also explored the complex relationship between the ‘official’ law and the subaltern code.
A full text of the paper will be published in one of the Society’s upcoming collections of essays.