Friday, May 29, 2015

Athenry Agriculutral College: The Goodbodys.

If we go back in time just before the Athenry Agricultural College was built in the early 20th century.  The Goodbody’s  held an estate in Athenry were a Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) family who came to distinction in the nineteenth century when they started flour milling, later branching out into the tobacco and the tea trade, as well as stockbroking and the law.
Marcus Goodbody who married Rev. James Perry daughter inherited Rev. Perry’s Athenry estate during the mid-nineteenth century.
According to the Griffith’s Valuation (A land valuation) Rev. James Perry held land at Ballygurrane West, today the site of the Agricultural  College. The land comprised of 102 acres, 3 roods and 33 perches, valued at £73.
Rev. Perry also purchased the former Oranmore and Browne family estates at Athenry from the Encumbered Estates court in 1850. He was a wealthy Quaker who had successfully backed the builders of the Irish railways and invested in the coalmines in the Ruhr district of Germany.
According to a report from the Tuam Herald in 22nd October 1904 the ‘Goodbody estate at Athenry has been purchased by migration and division purposes by the Congested Districts Board at a cost of £24000. It comprises of 518 acres of tenanted land and 1,790 untenanted land.’
In the month of November5th 1904 the Western People  under the heading ‘GOODBODY ESTATE , ATHENRY’ gave details that  ‘The purchase of this large grazing property , containing over 1,600 acres, has been completed. We learn on very good authority that it is intended to make it the home of the proposed Agricultural college for the Province of Connaught, it is situated near the important railway junction of Athenry being considered a most desirable and convenient one.’

Other Sources:  The Goodbodys, Millers, Merchants, and Manufacturers:  The Story of an Irish Quaker Family  by Michael Goodbody which is available in Galway City Library and Patrick Melvin’s book Estates and Landed Society in Galway.

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