Lord Palmerston, an Absentee Landlord

@ John McKeon

Lord Palmerston, an Absentee Landlord

by John McKeon

This book tells the controversial story of how Lord Palmerston managed his Irish estates, especially his more impoverished Sligo estate. It tells of the schools, roads, harbours, and other structures he built; his efforts to improve farming methods and the structure of farm holdings; and of the food reliefs, estate works and the assisted emigration actions he took during the Great Famine.  

It also tells of his treatment of Catholics, the scale of evictions on his holdings, the rents he charged tenants, the costs he funded, and the gross income he earned annually, from his Irish estates. It concludes that history has been unduly harsh in its criticism of him as an absentee landlord.

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Short Bio John McKeon grew up in south Sligo and after his undergraduate and post graduate studies he spent part of the 1970s and ‘80s with IDA, Ireland. Afterwards he set up his own business and worked nationally and internationally on company and Government assignments for two and a half decades. Economic development issues dominated his work life, and this continued in retirement with his work to unearth and publish the story of Lord Palmerston’s time as an absentee landlord in Sligo. Palmerston was also a well-known politician in London, serving in many senior government positions including twice as PM. Serving at the height of the British empire, his actions impacted not alone his Sligo tenants, but many world events.  Irish history has largely ignored his support for Catholic emancipation, and his improvements on the Sligo estate, but has heavily criticised his Famine assisted emigration programme. A balanced evaluation of these events is important, some of which are closely linked to his life as a politician.  As politician he was a member of a government which largely ignored Ireland’s needs during the Great Famine. But he also participated in the fight against slavery, the breakup of European empires, the independence of the US, India’s incorporation into the empire, and the Crimean and Opium wars. These were all individually important events and gave rise to outcomes still important in Sligo and in many places internationally. His Famine assisted emigration, means that countless Canadian citizens have Sligo roots unknown to them, and some of these will wish to visit, and learn about, their ancestral homes.  Palmerston’s actions, as politician and as landlord, are all tied directly or indirectly to Sligo’s history. Overtime, this reality hopefully can provide new links and opportunities for Sligo’s economic and cultural development.

Shipping Countries: Ireland, United Kingdom (UK)


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Lord Palmerston, an Absentee Landlord

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