The House of Ussher: Histories and Heritages of Improvement, Conspicuous Consumption, and Eviction on an Early Nineteenth-Century Irish Estate
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- Whelan, D.A. & O’Keeffe, T. Int J Histor Archaeol (2014) 18: 700. doi:10.1007/s10761-014-0276-z
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Arthur Ussher, owner of the Ballysaggartmore estate in west County Waterford in the early 1800s, was one among many notorious landlords in Ireland during the Great Famine of 1847–52. He is remembered to this day in the locality for evicting hungry tenants and demolishing their houses for the non-payment of rents on his small estate, having earlier secured some improvement of land-quality through their labor. Buildings and designed-landscape features of Ussher’s demesne remain today, and are capable of an archaeological reading. They speak eloquently, even spectacularly, of the self-aggrandizing values of his social class. Relatively little “tenant archaeology” survives above-ground on the former estate, and most of the sites of eviction before and during the Famine are unidentified, but the story of their removal, and of tenant resistance—or non-resistance, more accurately—to it, is of some interest to students of the historical archaeology of the period. This paper documents the rise and fall of the Ussher project, illuminating the social violence that was often unleashed from landlord culture through the agency of Improvement.