Diaries of John and Arthur Oram

John and Arthur Oram were farmers and land agents in Burrishoole, County Mayo. Their diaries hold a wealth of information on farming life and estate management, covering 1854–1907 and 1887–1919. In addition to documenting day to day rural life, the Orams record the weather for each day and refer to significant national and international events.

Born in Somerset in 1824, John Oram moved with his young family to the West of Ireland in 1853 to become the land agent for the estate of Captain Wyndam at Burrishoole. He died on 14 April 1907. His son, Arthur, took over his father’s business and remained at Burrishoole for the rest of his life. He died on 6 August 1919.

In addition to their land agency work, both John and Arthur farmed land in the areas surrounding Burrishoole. Their diaries record many details of farming life such as the planting and harvesting of crops, trips to livestock markets, and repairs to farm buildings. As land agents, the Orams’ duties included collecting rents and negotiating tenants’ arrears. Growing tensions between landlords and tenants impinged directly on their personal lives when John was shot in 1872. The influence of the weather on their lives is also evident: both men record daily weather observations and note the impact of droughts, wind storms, and major snow falls.

The diaries refer to events of national and international importance: a famine in 1879; the foundation of the Land League in 1879; the 1882 Phoenix Park murders; the death of Queen Victoria in 1901; the sinking of the Titanic in 1912; news of a Rising in Dublin in 1916; and the 1918 influenza epidemic.

They have now been digitised by UCD Digital Library and can be viewed online.

Website created and maintained by Carolyn Sturdy and Christopher Oram on the Orams at Burrishoole.

UCDA P258 Papers of John and Arthur Oram.


 P258/2 Diary of John Oram: 1 January 1858–31 October 1864

Wet as 1860 was 1861 was still wetter as regards the harvest months - now at the end of the year a famine of fuel exists and the potatoes being very bad great distress is anticipated. This year will be long remembered as the year of the venerated and noble Prince Albert's Death.


P258/3 Diary of John Oram : 1 November 1864–31 December 1878

2–6 October 1872   2: … shot at returning to Mulranny a mile beyond Dughill. Ball went through clothes but by the Good providence of God I escaped 3: Went to point out the place to Country Inspector 4: To Westport & Clogher - Great congratulations on my escape 5: To Bellacroy - investigation by magistrates 6: Sunday. Church ... Public thanks to Almighty God for escape from the Assassin.



P258/5 Diary of John Oram: 11 July 1888–8 August 1898

20 June 1897 Sixty years ago this day our Queen began her Reign. I remember hearing the bell tolling at the death of the King William.