Valentine O'Connor Blake: A Landlord in County Mayo, Ireland in the 19th Century

Valentine O'Connor Blake was one of the primary landlords in Touaghty Civil Parish and Burriscarra Civil Parish, Carra Barony, when the Griffith's Valuation was conducted in 1857. Of the l8 Townlands in Touaghty Civil Parish, he was the primary landlord in 14 of them including Ballyglass, Ballynaglea, Carrowlisdooaun, Carrownahaltore, Clooneencarra, Clooneenkillew, Cloonnagoppoge, Deerpark, Drumrud, Dilskeagh, Stonepark, Stuckeen, Towerhill Demesne and Whitepark. In Burriscarra Civil Parish he was the primary landlord in 4 of the 21 Townlands including Carrownagreggaun, Drumnashinnagh, Knockacurreen, Rinaneel. (Griffith, 1847-1864; 2003, Touaghty and Burriscarra Civil Parish).

He was born on January 1, 1801 to Maurice Blake and Maria O'Connor and married Margaret Mary Ffrench in 1836.

He was elected Chairman of the Ballinrobe Board of Guardians in 1839. (Quinn, Vol 4, Ch 7, p. 224). He was High Sheriff of County Mayo that same year. He was listed as a subscriber in Castlebar with 2 copies (Lord Lucan had three). (Quinn, Vol 1, Ch 2, p. 11).

I found him listed among the "Gentry and Clergy" in several sections of J F Quinn's "History of Mayo" and he was acknowledged as residing at Tower Hill. (Quinn, Vol 2, Ch 28, p. 368). Tower Hill Demesne was in Touaghty Civil Parish (as noted above in the Townlands he represented in the Griffith's Valuation).

Valentine O'Connor Blake is documented as residing at Towerhill House, Ballyglass in County Mayo and holding 4198 acres in that county in the "Return of Owners of Land of One Acre and Upwards in the several Counties, Counties of Cities, and Counties of Towns in Ireland". (Local Government Board, 1876, p. 307). He also held land in County Galway.

It appears that the Blake Family remained in Towerhill House through at least the first half of the 19th century. I didn't see any notations of the sale of the Valentine O'Connor Blake properties in the Quinn's "History of Mayo". More research needs to be done on how his estates were handled by the Congested Estates Board. It appears that part of his Mayo holdings were sold off to the Congested Estates Board in 1914, long after his death. I have found numerous inquiries into Valentine O' Connor Blake's Estates in online transcriptions of debates between the head of the "Land Commission and Mayo Estates" and others such as the minister of finance and the minister of industry and commerce. One such debate described the lands of Cloongaullaune; improvements made by tenants and how that should be considered in determining how the tenants would be vested. This debate took place in 1932. Clongullaun is a Townland in Kilconduff Civil Parish, Gallen Barony. Valentine O' Connor Blake was the primary Landlord in this Townland when the Griffith's Valuation. It was interesting to note that he wasn't the primary landlord in any other Townlands in Kilconduff Civil Parish.

The National Library of Ireland in Dublin has a Collection of the "Blake Papers" that might yield further clues as to Valentine O' Connor Blake's Estate activities. There were two manuscripts I thought might be of particular interest: "Miscellaneous papers in legal cases, late 18th -19th c., mainly involving estates in which members of the family of Blake had an interest, including land in Mayo," and "Twenty-seven letters to Valentine O'Connor Blake 1827-1869."

I will add more information to Valentine O'Connor Blake's page as I uncover more specific details on how his Mayo Estates were handled in the late 19th and early 20th century.