Ralahine is a townland located about three miles south east of Newmarket on Fergus village. It was the location for an extraordinary experiment in communism in 1831, long before communism as we have come to know it, became a reality.
This was a very turbulent time in Clare. The population of the country had trebled in less than a century and over 240,000 people lived in Clare. Two thirds of these people had little or no land and were dependant on the landowning classes for work as farm labourers. During the latter part of the 1700s and the early 1800s there was a growth in labour intensive tillage and from 1790 until the defeat of Napoleon, the European wars gave rise to a buoyant market and high prices. With Napoleon’s defeat, prices stagnated, and it became more profitable for the large landowners to use their land for raising livestock rather than growing crops. This meant less manual work for the labouring class. To make matters worse, there were minor famines in 1816, 1822 and 1830. This all lead to agrarian unrest, and secret societies such as the Terry Alts and Lady Clare’s Boys carried out a campaign of violence, intimidation and damage to livestock and machinery on the estates. In Ralahine, this violence culminated in the murder of the steward at the Vandeleur estate. John Scott Vandeleur and his family fled for their safety to Limerick.
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