Captain rock

"In Ireland the whole policy of the Government was to repress the people and to maintain the ascendancy of a privileged and corrupt minority." Daniel O’Connell

Bad harvests between the years 1819 and 1822, coupled with an international depression in agricultural prices, precipitated a period of severe and widespread social unrest bordering in outright rebellion. The economic depression had the effect of levelling class divides whilst exorbitant tithes and taxes became an unbearable burden for the wider population.

In 1821 on the estate of William Courtenay in Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick, disgruntled tenants attacked the bailiffs of the Landlord’s agent, Alexander Hoskins, and so the powder keg was ignited.  

It quickly spread and it permeated all levels of society. The eponym ‘Captain Rock’ was used to denote leaders of this movement and the name was to be seen on anonymous notices posted in towns all over the country from Clare and Kerry in the West to Kilkenny and Waterford in the East.

Conacre ground will not be let, while captain Rock is abroad at night
A rabble crowd has gathered where
An agent’s life was left despaired
And redcoats flooded from the towns, to root out rock and crush him down