Land war and Land Acts.
His early years in Doneraile coincided with the last stages of the Land War and the introduction of the Land Acts. He was the ideal man for this because his integrity was never in question and all sides respected him, even those of different persuasions. He was involved in bringing all the negotiations with the landlords to a successful conclusion.
The following is an excerpt from a record kept by a John O Leary of Carrigeen about the part played by Canon Sheehan in the acquisition of his land. ” In 1904 a few of us (tenants) put our heads together and decided to ask Canon Sheehan to come with us to meet our agent( A.G. Creagh of Mallow) in order to put before our demands to purchase our farms. I shall never forget that hour , 12 noon of 17th Sept. 1904 when Canon Sheehan cut the first link of that chain which has bound generations of tenants on the Creagh estates to the chariot of landlordism. He went on to describe the negotiations and the calm dignity of Canon Sheehan in the face of surly and insulting remarks made by the agent’s son. On Canon Sheehan’s advice the tenants refused to pay rent and after two and a half years the landlord was forced to re-open negotiations and with a bit of face saving give and take, a deal was concluded and the tenants purchased their farms “at twenty and half years purchase of 6 shillings & 9d in the pound on the existing rents”. All the considerable arrears were wiped out. This agreement was finalised and signed on 14th July 1907, and the record conclude ” The wisdom of his counsel I shall ever treasure and I was ready at all times, any hour night or day. May his saintly spirit watch over the parish where his remains lie, is the prayer of O Leary”.
Improvements for Doneraile.
Following the satisfactory conclusion of the land purchase, he used his influence in getting as many improvements as possible for Doneraile. He was influential in getting an electrical plant to provide light for the town and Doneraile Court. The power plant also supplied electricity to pump water to the houses, which was an enormous benefit. Lady Castletown was Ursula Clare Emily St Leger of Doneraile Court and Lord Castletown held Canon Sheehan in the highest regard. His success as a writer turned him into a celebrity and when the Castletowns had important guests, he was frequently invited to meet them. In 1903, the Canon met an American, Justice Oliver Wendall Homes who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, and it was a meeting of two intellectual minds. They became firm friends and engaged in a ten year correspondence, which only ended on the Canon’s death.