April 3rd, 1896


FROM THE ARCHIVES:A public meeting in Bandon, Co Cork welcomed the plans of Sir John Arnott, the Cork-based founder of Arnotts department store and then owner of The Irish Times, to buy the Duke of Devonshire’s estate, which included the town and surrounding farms, although their rural neighbours were not so pleased about the deal. – JOE JOYCE

Mr T W Dawson next proposed – That we regard the action of some of the Duke of Devonshire’s agricultural tenants in endeavouring to place an obstacle in the way of this transfer as being short-sighted and unreasonable, and not calculated to benefit themselves, while it may tend to materially injure the future prosperity of the town and district.

(Applause). He really thought that there was no need for that resolution after the plain and straightforward statement that had been made in behalf of Sir John Arnott by his representative that evening . (Hear, hear.)

He knew that for some weeks past there had been some little friction between the country people and the town people, which in face of that statement had been scattered to the winds. (Hear, hear.) He remembered the industries that flourished in the town when he was a boy, but which had since died out. They might ask what was the cause of that? He believed that a great deal of it was attributable to the little interest that the Duke and his agents had taken in the town. (Hear, hear.)

The town had for centuries been in the hands of the Cavendish family, and he regretted to say that they had done very little for its welfare; and this much he would certainly say, that they would not dare to treat the country tenants as they had treated the town tenants. They had little to thank the Cavendish family for. He thought it would be for the material advantage of the town if the town property passed into the hands of a man of wealth and position who would revive industry and give employment to the idle men that congregate at their street corners.

Well, the proper man to do that was Sir John Arnott of Cork (hear, hear). Therefore, he thought it was very shortsighted on the part of the country or town people to oppose the purchase. He hoped the day was not too far distant when they would look upon Sir John Arnott as the owner of the estate (applause) for he was a man that the humblest among them could approach and put his troubles before him. (Renewed applause.)

Mr John Walsh, TC, said it gave him great pleasure to second the resolution, and endorse everything that had been said with regard to the kindness and generosity of Sir John Arnott, not only to the poor of Cork, but all over Ireland. In the past, when they wanted a subscription to a football match or anything of that sort, they had been met with a refusal, but he hoped they would soon have a man who would give them a fair field, a town park, and other matters that they needed.