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The Landlord Influence in the Development of an Irish Estate Town: Strokestown, County Roscommon

Susan Hood


The aim of this paper is to explore the role of the Mahon family, resident landlords at Strokestown. County Roscommon for over three hundred years, in the evolution, growth and development of the town. Using evidence from a variety of documentary sources, it investigates the range of factors which motivated sustained landlord patronage of urban development from the late seventeenth century until the early part of this century. It also examines the distinctive morphological features which resulted from this patronage. It argues that, whilst the family's involvement in directing improvement of the urban infrastructure was significant, the degree to which it was involved was subject to prevailing economic, social and political conditions. Changing circumstances, both at a local and national level, determined the family's commitment to urban planning on the estate. Whilst overall control of urban planning belonged to the Mahons as ground landlords, they were not the only agents affecting its spatial transformation and growth. To ensure the success of the urban project as a whole, the family relied on tenants with the capital to invest in the development of individual holdings, in order to spread the cost of building, and thus contribute to the uniform appearance of the landlord-planned nexus as a whole. Ultimately the involvement of other parties in the process of urban improvement was to undermine the family's direct input, leading to the decline of landlord influence by the latter half of the nineteenth century.

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