When searching for your Kerry ancestors who emigrated, whether to England, Canada, America or the New World countries of Australia and New Zealand, always take into account the cost of the fare and who might have paid it. Would your Great Great grandfather have had the money to pay the passage or would a family relative have sent the necessary fare? Or maybe the entire family was ’emigrated’ by a landlord. All these questions and the possible answers will help you in searching for and finding your ancestors or even the location from which they left.
For example in the early nineteenth century Kerry labourers or cottiers didn’t earn cash. A cottier or a labourer might have half an acre and he would pay his landlord usually with his labour during the year so the only way he could have emigrated would be if a relative sent the fare.The average tenant farmer who had between 5 and 30 acres was living at subsistence level. He might also have benefited from a relative’s generosity for the journey. We had a number of Landlords who wanted to consolidate their holdings and regain possession, they were willing to pay the minimum to get families off the land. In North Kerry, Sir John Benn Walsh in a statement to the British House of Commons in 1849 said ‘Then to induce the larger farmer to surrender their holdings when they become insolvent, I emigrated several, either with their whole families or in part. [The Journals of Sir John Benn Walsh, James S. Donnelly Jnr.ed., Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaelogical Socy, July -Dec 1974.}
In South Kerry we have the Landsdowne emigration. William Steurt Trench, Lord Landsdownes’ agent put the proposition to his boss that it would be cheaper to ’emigrate’ a large number of his tenants, rather than continue to keep them in the workhouse at the expense of the estate. He explained that he had been ‘in communication with an Emigration Agent, who had offered to contract to take them to whatever port in America each pleased, at a reasonable rate per head. That even supposing they all accepted this offer, the total, together with a small sum per head for outfit and a few shillings on landing would not exceed from £13,000 to £14,000, a sum less than it would cost to support them in the Kenmare Workhouse for a single year.’ Gerard Lyne in his publication The Landsdowne Estate in Kerry, under W.S. Trench 1849-1870 is an invaluable source of information on this scheme where between 1850 and 1855, 4000 of the population were shipped to America.