Marcella Netterville (aka Mrs Gerrard of the infamous Ballinlass Incident) was descended from the 1st Viscount Netterville who established an estate at Lecarrow, parish of Killosolan, near Mountbellew, county Galway, in the early 18th century. Marcella Gerrard was descended from Nicholas Netterville of Lecarrow's first marriage to Mary Burke of Glinsk. The process whereby Marcella Gerrard eventually came to inherit the Netterville estate in county Galway is well recorded by Charles Synnott.
In 1822 Marcella Netterville (1777-1865) who eventually came to inherit a large estate in county Galway, married John Gerrard of Gibbstown (1766-1858).
Since the late 17th century, the Gerrard family were resident at Gibbstown aka Baile Ghib near Navan, county Meath. The estate passed from Thomas Gerrard Esq. (1643 - 1719) to his son, John Gerrard, to his son Thomas Gerrard (1715 - 1784) and to his son John Gerrard of Gibbstown (1766-1858) who died without issue.
She was the owner of Netterville Lodge, situated 3 miles north-east of Mount Bellew in an area called Windfield. Her marriage to John Gerrard heralded a different approach to the management of the Netterville estate. Efforts to convert it to a grazing operation rendered large numbers of tillage-based tenants surplus to requirements.
The merciless Gerrard evictions at Ballinlass in 1846 were met with universal condemnation throughout the British Empire. The tenants’ perspective of the clearances and the public defence which the landlord felt compelled to offer, received widespread publicity.
Mr Gerrard had been advised by some of his landlord neighbours that he give a sum of money to his Ballinlass tenants to facilitate their emigration to America. Gerrard replied that he "would not give them a farthing." [Col. McGregor; Belfast Newsletter]
At the time of her husband's death, Marcella Gerrard was perhaps Ireland's richest woman. She died intestate in 1865 and her personal estate alone was estimated at £300,000. Naturally, there were many claimants to her substantial real and personal estate (including members of the Davies, Netterville, Lawrence and Fallon families who were all related). Her county Galway estate eventually passed to the descendants of the three sisters of Edmond Netterville: Arthur James Netterville (8th Viscount), John Fallon and Sir Samuel Bradstreet.
In 1937, The Baile Ghib (formerly Gibbstown) Gaeltacht was founded. Irish-speaking families were moved from Gaeltachts on the west coast of Ireland under the Land Commission. Each family received a house, 22 acres, farm animals and farm implements in exchange for land and property in their native county. Since 1967, Baile Ghib and Ráth Cairn (near Athboy) have enjoyed official Gaeltacht status.