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January 29, 2007

BALLYMORE EUSTACE-An article on the story of the Ballymore Eustace woollen mills

Leinster Leader
(from our special reporter)
          A wish to find Irish work for local hands was the beginning of the once flourishing woollen mills situated in the sequestered town of Ballymore Eustace. But alas! in common with many other industries of the kind in Ireland, of later years those mills have fallen into decay and the story of their prosperity is fast becoming but a memory. With the object of placing before the readers of the “Leinster Leader” some facts in connection with this diminishing industry, at a time when an effort is being made to resuscitate the industries of the country, a representative of this paper visited the mills at Ballymore Eustace on Saturday last. Ballymore Eustace, with its wealth of scenic beauty, is prettily situated on the Liffey about five miles from Naas, and eighteen miles south-west from Dublin. Situated in a deep vale, shut out from the rude world by gently-sloping hills, the scenery surrounding this pretty little hamlet is of as diversified a character as can be found anywhere in Ireland. All round can be seen a stretch of beautiful valley net-worked with beautiful hedgerows, deep blue groves of palm, white homesteads, leaping cascades, and rustic bridges, while over all prevails that deep silence and even melancholy which seems to come and grow out of the very soil of Ireland. Away in the distance the hills of Wicklow tower to an altitude of close on 1,000 feet, and as their craggy sides stand out in bold relief, specked with white houses, they form a truly picturesque background to the valleys beneath. Through this smiling land flows the winding Liffey, giving to the fairy picture all of perfection it could have required. According to Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, Ballymore or Ballymore Eustace, is situated in the barony of Upper Cross, County of Dublin. The town, which signifies the “great town of Eustace,” derived its name from that family, a branch of the Fitzgeralds. It is situated on the River Liffey, over which is a handsome stone bridge of six arches, and consists of one principal and three smaller streets. The great southern road formerly passed through it, but it has been diverted through the parish of Kilcullen by the construction of a new line to the town. A market granted by James I. to the Archbishop of Dublin has fallen into disuse. The parish, according to Lewis “was the head of a Lordship and Manor belonging to the Archbishop of Dublin, and comprising the parishes of Ballymore, Ballybough and Ballybut; Coughlanstown, Yague, Tipperkevin, and Tubber in the County of Dublin; and of Milltown, Tornant, and part of Rathsalla in the County of Wicklow. The system of agriculture is improving. Mount Cashel Lodge, the property of the Earl of Mount Cashel, is pleasantly situated, and is now in the occupation of Mr. Drumgolle.” (The ruins of Mount Drumgolle are still to be seen.) “The other principal residences are Ardenadoe, the residence of E. Hornan, Esq., of Mrs. O’Brien, Season, and P. Doyle. Esq., of Wellfield. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. The tithes amount to £145, 11s. 1d., of which £87 10s. 7d. is payable to the lessee of the dean and chapter; £39 2s. 7d. to the vicar, and the gross tithes to the benefice amount to £137 2s. 3d. The church is a plain building with an embattled tower, surmounted in pinnacles, erected in 1820, by the late Board of First Fruits. The churchyard is of great extent, and contains the remains of the old church and numerous ancient tombstones. In the Roman Catholic division this parish comprises also the parishes of Ballybut, Coughlanstown, and Tipperkevin. The chapel of Ballymore is a substantial and commodious building, and there is another in Hollywood. The parochial school is supported by subscriptions, and there is another school, for which a schoolhouse was erected by subscriptions in 1835 at an expense of about £400. About a mile from the town the River Liffey forms the celebrated cascade of Phoulaphuca, or “the demon’s hole,” consisting of three successive waterfalls 300 feet in height. The chasm is only 40 feet wide, and is skirted on each side by perpendicular masses of rock, and when the river is swollen by heavy rains the water rushes down with tumultuous impetuosity into the circular basins of the rock.”
The woollen mills of Ballymore Eustace were built by Mr. Christopher Drumgollee in the year 1802, and when in full swing employed 700 hands. They are situated at the lower end of the town, overlooking the Liffey, which river supplies the water power for the working of the mills. The pioneer of the movement, as we have said, was Mr. Drumgollee, who began the work in a small way, but in a comparatively short space of time the industry went ahead very rapidly, and on Mr. Drumgollee’s death the mills were a source of employment for practically everyone in the town. Ballymore was then one of the most prosperous towns in Ireland, and the woollen mills were famous throughout Leinster. But her prosperity has of late passed away; the only industry of which the pretty little town could boast has all but vanished, and her population is fast diminishing. When the mills came into the possession of the late Mr. H. L. Copeland, brother of the present proprietress, whose hands were as open as the day melting in charity towards his neighbours, the history of this woollen industry in Ballymore was still one of progress. A large number of hands were still employed, and although Mr. Copeland’s enterprise was not recognised in Ballymore in the manner it might have been, yet for many years the mills continued to give a large amount of employment to the people of the neighbourhood. The woollen industry at Clane and Celbridge became extinct about 11 years ago, but, mainly owing to the splendid business capacity of Mt. Copeland, and his manager, Mr. P. Mc Grath, the mills at Ballymore still continued working, and notwithstanding the fact that the mills were in later years being worked at a dead loss, yet Mr. Copeland still continued to fight the apathy which began to prevail amongst the people towards the support of home industry, and the mills continued to go on working up to his death in 1903. But there were too many destructive influences at work, and the Ballymore woollen mills were not immortal, and so we find that a short time before Mr. Copeland’s death the manufacture of tweeds dropped, and blankets were the only goods turned out for a few years after. About half a dozen hands were at this time only employed in the mill, and it really looked as if the industry would disappear in the same manner as the woollen industries of Clane and Celbridge had disappeared a few years before. The people were not vigilant as to the enterprise in their midst, and the once prosperous industry was decaving in a manner that might well appall those who were solicitous for the future welfare of Ballymore. The drifting process was proceeding rapidly, and to the people of the neighbourhood it looked as if the woollen industry in their midst would soon be numbered amongst the things that were. But there was one in Ballymore who saw that the prosperity of the town would fade with its industry. He had seen the mills in the days of their prosperity, when employment was given to close on 100 hands, and it was mainly owing to the excellent business capacity and energy of Mr. P. Mc Grath, the present manager, that the mills were saved from complete extinction. On the death of Mr. Copeland, Mr. Mc Grath obtained permission from the present owner, through her solicitor, to carry on the working of the mills provided he could make it pay; and that he succeeded in doing this may be judged from the fact that, although when he again set the machinery in motion last July, wool, owing to a variety of circumstances, was scarce in the country, yet, despite all these obstacles, he never flagged in his determination to show that the industry could be made pay, and that those wishes of his have been realised can be proved when it is shown that the mill is not only now paying its way, but is being worked at a profit, which even though small, is still a proof that there is room for such an industry in the country. Miss Copeland, the present owner of the place, whose charitable and pious disposition is well known, also takes a deep interest in the working of the mill, as she does in everything connected with the welfare of those with whom her family have for generations lived in perfect amity. Since Mr. Mc Grath took over the management of the mills in June last ten hands have been employed, and in the coming spring it is hoped that employment will be given to double that number.
The mills are at present in a remarkably good state of preservation, and all the machinery is in perfect order. Our representative was shown over the factory by Mr. Mc Grath, who explained to him the several processes through which the wool went before being converted into flannels, blankets, rugs, and horse sheeting, all of which are now turned out in the factory. The wool is first put into the willowing machine in a raw state, where it is thoroughly cleansed, after which it goes to the carding machine, which converts it into a very fine rope. The ropes are then conveyed by self-acting threads into the second carding machine, and it is then removed to the condenser, where it is turned out in fine robbing for the spinner. This robbing is then removed to the spinning-room, and spun into yarn by a self-acting mule. This latter process is a very interesting one, the spindles being driven by a cotton band, and when the wool has here been converted into yarn it goes to the warping machine, where it is warped for the looms. It then goes to the looms to be woven into cloth. The cloth is carried to an immense scouring machine, and there scoured, and afterwards carried to the milling machine to be tucked into cloth by two rollers. It now goes back to the scouring machine to be finished off. The tenzle gig is then brought into requisition, where the wool is raised on the cloth. The shearing machine next shears off the wool to show the pattern of the piece; it is then brushed on the brush mill, and then carried to the press shop to be pressed. The friezes then go to the napping engine to be napped. There is also a special machine for making the friezes waterproof. The wool has, in all, to go through fifteen processes, and if the industry were in a flourishing state at least 150 hands could be employed in the factory. There is no questioning the superiority of the woollen goods turned out in the mills, as can be judged from the fact that in the years 1865, 1872, 1865, and 1866 four medals were obtained at the Dublin Shows for the tweeds and friezes turned out at Ballymore.
The history of this industry, short and incomplete as it must be in a sketch of this kind, should give an object lesson on what the people of the county might hope to gain by self-reliance, and suggests the prosperity that might be increased by patronage of the products of local manufacture in preference to those of the foreigner. As we stated before, there is no questioning the superiority of these products or the reasonableness of their price, and both quality and price compare favourably with those imported. Surely, therefore, the patronage of the people of Kildare and surrounding counties should be given to this local manufacture in preference to others. The industrial revival movement is now strong in the country, and the apathy that prevailed amongst the people, towards the support of home industry is departing. Apathy in the past has been the principal obstruction to the development of Irish industries, and out of it has sprung many destructive influences. If the people were vigilant to internal enterprise in their own country, there would be loss of the decadence that exists. Importation will increase as long as it is permitted to go unchecked, and as importation increases, necessarily home products decreases. The farmers of the country should recognise that in sending their wool to the mills at Ballymore they are encouraging Irish manufacture, and giving employment to Irish hands, who would otherwise have to leave the country to find that work which was denied them at home.

An Article from the Leinster Leader of January 1906, encouraging local support of the woollen mills.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]


January 24, 2007

Kildare Town Local History Group Schedule 2007

Cill Dara
Historical Society
- Kildare Town's Local History Group -
Series of Talks & Walks
Talks Begin at 8pm
In    The Education Centre Kildare
(Old Parochial House)
Friary Road, Kildare Town.
Wednesday 3rd January
Visit to Clongowes Wood College
~ with Brendan Cullen ~
Wednesday 7th February
'Final Witness' My Journey from The Holocaust to Kildare
~ with Zoltan Zinn-Collis ~
Wednesday 7th March
'The Forgotten Heritage of Kildare'
~ with Ger McCarthy ~
Wednesday 4th   April
'Lifting the Veil on the Nuns' Story' - Enterprising Irish Women Abroad -
~ with Dr. Barbara Walsh ~
Wednesday 2nd   May
'MacLiammóir - Kildare - Theatre'
~ with Tom Madden ~
Saturday 9th June
Annual Outing to Birr & Roscrea
~~~   Details will follow
Wednesday 4th July
'The Hayden Lecture'
in association with Kildare Derby Festival
'The Curragh - A Land Divided'
~ with Guy Williams ~
Wednesday 1st   August
Wednesday 5th September
'The Hill of Allen'
~ with Sean Byrne ~
Wednesday 3rd October
' Preserving The Heritage of Kildare Town'
~ with Adrian J. Mullowney ~
Wednesday 7th November
'The Hoystead Family of Nurney' - and their present circumstances
~ with Paud O'Connor ~
Wednesday 5th December
'Kildare 1907' - What they said in the Papers
~ with Stephen Talbot ~
Further Information:
Contact Joe @   086 168 62 36

Another busy year for Cill Dara Historical Society

January 17, 2007

County Kildare Heritage Seminar 2007 - Sat. 27 January 2007

County Kildare Heritage Seminar - Saturday 27th January 2007

Kilcullen Town Hall & Heritage Centre
Main Street

This is an action of the County Kildare Heritage Plan 2005-2009.

The aim of this seminar is to provide an opportunity for those interested in heritage to receive an update on the implementation of the heritage plan.


  • 9.30-10.00 Registration

  • 10.00-10.10 Opening Address Ger Smith Chairman of Heritage Forum,

  • 10.00-10.15 Heritage Plan update on heritage Plan projects completed to date. Bridget Loughlin, Heritage Officer

  • 10.15-10.45 The Hedgerows of County Kildare Neil Foulkes, Consultant

  • 11.00-11.20 Tea/coffee

  • 11.20-11-50 "A Road on the Long Ridge" – The Slí Mór Hermann Geissel, Author

  • 11-50-12.15 "The Hundred Acres- Kildare Town Heritage Trail" Mario Corrigan, Author

  • 12.15-12.45 Thatched Cottages of County Kildare Charles Duggan, Architectural Historian

  • 12.45-13.00 Launch of "Thatched Cottages of Kildare" Cllr. Fionnuala Dukes, Mayor of County Kildare

Contact: Bridget Loughlin, Heritage Officer

Heritage Officer,

Kildare County Council, Áras Chill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, Co. Kildare.

Tel: 045 980791 email: heritageofficer@kildarecoco.ie

There is no charge for this seminar but places are limited so booking is essential.

Launch of "Thatched Cottages of County Kildare"

Kildare County Council, in conjunction with the Kildare Heritage Forum, will launch a booklet on Thatched Cottages in County Kildare at the Heritage Seminar at 9.30am on Saturday 27th January in the Kilcullen Heritage Centre. The booklet will be launched by the mayor of County Kildare, Cllr Fionnuala Dukes.

The "Thatched Cottages of Kildare" booklet recognises the importance of thatched cottages as part of out National Heritage and integral part of our irishness. It looks at the development of thatched cottages in the County and gives details of particular features of thatch and their significance.

The aim of this seminar will give those with an interest in heritage on the county an update on the implementation of the County Kildare Heritage Plan and projects completed to date. The presentations on the day will include topics such as the "Hedgerows of County Kildare" by Neil Foulkes, "A road on the Long Ridge- Slí Mór" Herman Geissel "The Hundred Acres- Kildare Town Heritage Trail" by Mario Corrigan and "Thatched Cottages of County Kildare" by Charles Duggan.

For more information contact Bridget Loughlin, Heritage Officer, Kildare County Council at 045 980791 or heritageofficer@kildarecoco.ie
contact Bridget Loughlin, Heritage Officer, Kildare County Council at 045 980791 or

Commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the death of Maurice Davin

The G.A.A. Museum will commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the death of Maurice Davin with an evening event in Croke Park

on Tuesday 30th January at 7.00pm.


The event entitled Maurice Davin- The First President will mark the 80th anniversary of the death of one of the founders of the G.A.A., a world class athlete as well as the man who served as the association’s first president. Today his memory lives on in Croke Park with the renaming of the Canal Stand to the Davin Stand in April 2006.

To mark the occasion Dr. Paul Rouse (UCD) will give a talk on Davin and his contribution to the formative years of the G.A.A. The event will also include a special floodlit tour of Croke Park incorporating the Davin Stand.



To book

Tickets priced at € (adult), € (concession) are available to purchase from the GAA Museum, Croke Park.

Early booking is advised.


The GAA Museum, Croke Park, St Joseph’s Avenue, Dublin 3.

Further information available from Selina O’ Regan, Education Officer at the G.A.A Museum Tel (01) 8192361/8192323


or visit


Note by Brian McCabe: Special event planned for the G.A.A Museum in Coke Park on Tuesday 30th January to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the death of Maurice Davin, the Gaelic Athletic Association's first president.

January 15, 2007

THE GHOST OF THE MAILED HAND. A legend by T.M. O'Reilly recorded in the Kildare Observer of 1906.

The Kildare Observer,
          The old servitor, on arousing the younger Fitz-Harris, was surprised to see him fully dressed, after exchanging the fancy dress, reclining on his bed. On the servants summons he sprang, wild and dazed looking, from the couch, and leaning his head against his arm in an angle of the wall seemed almost insensible to his surroundings. At length he rushed to the window, and gazing out at the landscape found the whole country draped with snow to a depth of fully two feet. Apparently relieved by this, he proceeded, followed by the servant, to his father’s apartment. Everything there was much the same as usual. A large octavo bible lay open on the table, with the colonel’s spectacles resting on its pages, whilst the candles in the magnificently carved silver candelabra which adorned the room had burned down to their sockets. The old man observed that except a number of tiger skins spread here and there over the floor, which Fitz-Harris had brought from India, and which had hitherto lain unnoticed in a corner, the room presented its usual appearance. All clue to the missing man was, however, gone, except that a bag containing a large sum of money in notes and gold and the hooded cloak which he wore in his nightly walk were also missing. Inquiries were instituted in every direction, but in vain. The ponds in the neighbourhood were examined, the canal even being frozen, there could be no question of suicide
Fitz-Harris himself accompanied by his forester Fergus visited the nearest railway station, where he learned from the stationmaster that a gentleman wearing a hooded cloak and carrying a black bag had taken a first-class ticket on the early train that morning for Cork. “As far as I could see from the closeness of the hood he wore,” added the stationmaster, “he bore a strong likeness to you.”
“Alas! It must be he, Fergus,” said Fitz-Harris. “My father,” he explained, turning to the stationmaster, “mysteriously disappeared last night, and your intelligence is the first we have got as to his whereabouts. The resemblance to which you refer between my father and myself, in spite of the disparity in our ages was indeed striking.”
“With the arrival of the Cork train, sir,” replied the stationmaster, “we may have some news. It is now almost due.”
Scarcely had he spoken when the train steamed into the station, and judging from the agitated appearance of the guard, as he hurried to the stationmaster, something momentous must have occurred. Fitz-Harris appeared terribly agitated as the guard stated that the gentleman who had taken a first-class ticket there had disappeared, and no trace of him was to be found. At the first station reached the down guard, Forbes, had gone to the carriage to see could he do anything for its occupant, but he was not there. The alarm was immediately given, but there was no indication of how the gentleman had vanished, as both doors of the carriage were closed, and what precluded any supposition of its being an accident was obvious by the fact that the black bag, as well as its owner were both missing. Men were, however, sent back along the line, but in vain, the heavy falling snow had obliterated every trace as to any accident, if there had been one. The guard concluded by stating to the stationmaster that he had been ordered to inform him about the gentleman’s strange disappearance, and to tell him to inform his friends, if any, in the neighbourhood, about the affair.
The stationmaster motioned to Fitz-Harris, who having put a few questions to the guard, which elicited no further particulars, presented him with a sovereign and returned moodily to the castle. Detectives were employed, and neither money nor expense were spared to discover the missing man, but in vain. In the meantime the younger Fitz-Harris had become almost an anchorite. Field sports and other amusements were almost abandoned, even the advances of his friends were politely declined, Fergus alone being his sole companion. Only stirring abroad at night, accompanied by his faithful retainer, his existence became almost forgotten, when a curious incident which occurred on the anniversary of the colonel’s disappearance once again attracted public attention to the strange situation at the castle. A belated sportsman returning home from a hunt dinner by the road passing by the castle was suddenly terrified by the most tearful screams of agony and despair proceeding from it. Glancing at a lighted window, from which the appalling sounds appeared, he saw the shadow of two men apparently in mortal combat. At length one of the combatants seemed to fall, whilst the other disappeared with a shriek so blood-curdling that it almost froze the listener’s blood in his veins, in spite of the wine he had drank, and he never forgot it to his dying day.
Supplement to the Kildare Observer, 13/01/1906
The terrible shrieks which the belated sportsman had heard caused abject terror and dismay to the old couple in charge of the kitchen who hurried to Fitz-Harris’s apartments for safety and protection. What was their horror, however, to discover the sitting-room empty, the young master gone, and Fergus lying either dead or in a swoon on the carpet. On examination it was discovered, however, that the latter was the case, and he was with difficulty removed to a lounge, where the old woman bathed his temples with water, whilst her husband tried to force some brandy down his throat. At length he revived, and passing his hand across his brow gazed in a dazed and horror-stricken manner around.
“My beloved Master! Oh God! speak! Where is he?” he exclaimed, as he wrung the old servitor’s hand in his, with anguish in his face.
“Be calm,” was the reply; “we know nothing about him. But for Heaven’s sake, tell us what has happened?”
The fosterer again dashed his hand across his brow, and said: “I scarcely know. We were sitting on either side of the fire; he as usual in moody silence. I in a sad reverie at his melancholy, when something shadowy appeared to glide by me. I thought I had been dozing, when a fearful shriek from the master brought me to my feet. Shriek succeeded shriek, and on my recovering my bewildered senses I observed an iron gauntlet grasped around his right wrist, which was gradually dragging him from his chair. I sprang to his assistance, and clasped him around the body, but in vain. We were dragged towards the door, which appeared to open of its own volition, and I fell senseless on the floor, and remember no more. But at all costs we must seek him, come what will, and in spite of all the powers of darkness”-and seizing a light he dashed into the corridor, followed by the now panic-stricken old couple. No trace could be discovered in the inhabited part of the castle, but when they came to the deserted hallway they discovered traces of footsteps in the deep dust which had accumulated, as well as imprints resembling those that would be made by the talons of an eagle or of some huge bird of prey. With trembling fingers the old man pointed out those marks to Fergus.
“For the love of God and the Virgin Mother. Fergus,” he implored, “let us return. This is no place for us.”
“Never,” was the fierce rejoinder. “Nothing either in this world or the next shall bar my way to my master.”
Scarcely had he spoken, when the object they sought appeared coming slowly and weakly down the wide staircase. But how changed. His face could scarcely be considered that of a human being, so distorted was it with horror, agony and the most hopeless despair. Handing the light to the old woman, Fergus, accompanied by the old man, hurried to his assistance, and between them he was conveyed to the apartment which he had quitted under such tragic circumstances. Here it was discovered that his right wrist was bruised and torn to such an extent as to be almost unrecognisable. No word escaped the injured man whilst the old woman tenderly dressed the injured limb, and on its completion he motioned the old couple to leave the room. Staggering to his feet, he helped himself to a tumbler of brandy, and again resumed his seat. After a long silence he spoke in a hollow, trembling voice, so hoarse, as to be almost indistinct.
“Fergus, we leave this to-morrow.”
“But it is Christmas Eve to-morrow, sir” expostulated the fosterer.
“No matter,” replied his master, whose face was convulsed with agony. “All eves are alike to me for evermore. Do not leave me, but ring for the old man to pack up and make all necessary arrangements.”
During the night Fitz-Harris dozed in his armchair, tenderly watched over by his fosterer. Occasionally he sprang to his feet with a wild cry, only to be soothed and calmed again by his faithful attendant. Morning came, and with it the conveyance that was to take them to the neighbouring town. Here Fitz-Harris was for a long time closeted with his solicitor, after which, accompanied by Fergus he travelled to Dublin, and from thence to the continent, no words ever passing between them as to the fearsome events of that fated night. Wandering about the continent in a desultory manner from city to city the opportunity he long sought for at length came with the declaration of war between Prussia and Austria. Hastening to Berlin he applied for permission to join a Uhlan regiment. His reputation as a soldier before misfortune had overtaken him on the Indian frontier was well known, and he had no difficulty in obtaining a commission in a crack corps which Fergus, in spite of his master’s protestations also joined. The war was but of short duration. At the famous cavalry charge at the battle of Sotava, led by the Crown Prince of Prussia, afterwards Frederick the noble German Emperor, and which humbled the proud Austrian Empire to the dust, Fitz-Harris fell, shot through the lungs, whilst Fergus was unhorsed by a sabre cut at the same time. When the fierce tide of that desperate charge had passed, Fergus crawled to his master, whom he found dying and unconscious. He supported in his arms, unconscious of his own wound, the expiring man, who at length opened his eyes, glazed with the film of fast approaching dissolution. On looking at Fergus a gleam of joy crossed his features. “Father,” he muttered in the hollow voice of death, “forgive me; I have retrieved my honour as a soldier. Fergus I have deceived you. Oh God, who art infinitely merciful and compassionate, forgive the parra—.” The sentence was never completed. A rush of blood from the mouth, a convulsive straightening of the limbs, and Fitz-Harris had passed away. Later on the parties searching the field for the wounded came on Fergus, wild and delirious, still clasping the dead body of his master to his breast. The remainder of the narrative was found amongst Fergus’ papers, who died a lowly monk at an advanced age in a monastic institution, in the south of Ireland. The papers, after referring to the many incidents already narrated, continue as follows:-
“When I recovered consciousness I found myself lying in a military hospital, where I was told that I had been dangerously ill, not alone from my wound, but from brain fever for over six weeks. My recovery was slow, but eventually I was discharged as cured, and returned to Ireland almost broken-hearted at the loss of my master. On reaching the castle I found that the heir at law, a Captain Weimar, had already taken possession. He was a kindly sort of man, and received me most cordially. He told me that he had heard of all my kindnesses to his kinsman, and that he would be glad if I entered his service, not as a dependent, but rather as a friend. “Of course,” he continued, “you may not be aware that my poor cousin has left you and the other domestics not alone considerable annuities, but also substantial sums of money in hand. I intend travelling abroad, and you would, I am sure make a desirable companion in my wanderings.” I declined his offer, but thanked him all the same for his generous proposal. “But, sir, I thought you would become resident and restore all the honour and prestige of the old house”? “Such was my intention, Fergus,” he replied with some embarrassment. “I have hired several sets of servants, but neither bribes not threats would induce one of them to spend a second night in the castle; so you see I have no option in the matter. They all stated that the terrible shrieks and groans they heard had completely unnerved them. Some of them went so far as to say that they had met something that looked like a steel hand dragging something after it in one of the corridors, and the fact that more than one of the maids being found in a fainting condition in the same corridor deepens the mystery. Strange, however, that neither myself or the old servants have been troubled with those noises. I shrewdly suspect, though, that the old couple could throw some light on the subject if they only wished to do so. Perhaps you can, Fergus”?
Pale as death, I replied that it was a subject that I did not wish to touch.
“Well,” he answered cheerily, “I do not wish to press you, and we wont be the worse friends. I have taken steps to sell the effects in the castle, and the auctioneer’s men will be here to-morrow, and I want you to help me in superintending the removal of the furniture to the best place for its display.”
To this proposition I readily acquiesced, and for the present we parted.
For the next few days everything was bustle at the castle, whilst the various rooms were dismantled of their rich furniture and valuable pictures. The colonel’s rooms were the last to be cleared out. The splendid collection of weapons and many of the articles of vertu were retained by Captain Weimer as heirlooms, and everything had been removed to an adjacent corridor, and nothing now remained but the grotesquely carved oak press already referred to. To the astonishment of everybody, all the efforts of the auctioneer’s men to dislodge it from its position were unavailing, and it had to be abandoned. The captain called me one side, and whispered, “Fergus, there is some mystery here which must be solved. I shall send to Dublin for an expert.” I heard him, whilst some vague and inexplicable terror seemed to congeal my very blood. The next day the expert arrived- a man who had solved the mysteries of many an ancient cabinet. His investigation was conducted in private, only the captain and myself and the old servant being present. After a long and patient investigation amongst the carvings, the man at length exclaimed triumphantly, “I have got the secret, sir; shall I proceed”? The captain nodded, and the expert pressing a small button which formed the eye of a dragon, the press slowly rolled back, disclosing a small closet built in one of the buttresses of the castle, and which was lighted by a small lancet window invisible from the outside. We pressed forward eagerly to examine its contents, but there was nothing there but a mummified body, which I observed with terror and dismay wore a gauntlet on its right hand. Suddenly the old servitor, bursting through us, and throwing himself on his knees beside the corpse, cried out in accents choked with emotion: “My master! My honoured and revered master! have we found thee at last!” Then springing to his feet almost berefit of reason, he pointed to the breast of the dead man. There, sure enough, in the dim light could be seen the gold hilt of a dagger, the blade of which was buried in the dead man’s heart. The younger Fitz-Harris was indeed a parracide, and the secret only known to father and son was used to conceal his crime.
Everything was hushed up, and that night a few confidential friends placed the colonel’s remains in a rough shell and interred it in consecrated ground. From that moment the noises in the castle ceased, though the place was still looked upon as accursed. Perhaps the unhappy father and the still more unhappy parracide may have found rest. Let us hope so.
Only the extinction by death of Captain Weimar of the Fitz-Harris branch would have induced me to write about this curious and saddening family history.


An interesting tale from the Kildare Observer!

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

January 11, 2007


Brooke Prosperous Pamphlet 1783 72dpi.jpg
By the late FREEDOMS we have OBTAINED
An account of the MANCHESTER
By a Friend of his in the County of


D U B L I N:
Printed by P. Highly, No. I, Henry Street,



To the Man whose Charities and Humanity are extended and invigorated with the encrease of his Years; who has long lamented the forlorn State of the Poor of Ireland, and whose Purse so liberally poured forth to their Relief, the Writer presumes to dedicate the following Pages. As their Tendency is to promote Industry, and as they describe the first great Efforts which have been made to realize the Expectations and Wishes of those who rejoiced at the Attainment of our commercial Liberties, he is confident the Subject, however indifferently handled, cannot be unpleasing to old Mr. LATOUCHE
PERHAPS the first rise of the Emancipation of Ireland was the new and spirited idea started by Mr. BURGH (1), in the House of Commons, "That nothing but a Free Trade could "effectually relieve the Kingdom," and this idea has since been pursued even to the attainment of our political Liberty.---The First grant of a Free Trade created a general ferment in the imagination of all thinking People in the Kingdom; many flattered themselves that the various Arts and Businesses in which England excels, would be immediately introduced and established here, and some Gentlemen of landed property went so far as to invite Weavers, Dyers, and others from Manchester, under the notion that providing them with an eligible situation was all that was requisite. --These theorists were so ignorant of the nature of manufacturing, as to suppose the businesses could be established by collecting a number of ingenious artists together, not adverting that even where manufacture is conducted distinctly in its different departments of spinning, weaving, dying, bleaching, printing, &c. &c. the heads of each require a capital. But men possessed of capital and in a regular line of business are never easily induced to remove to another country, whatever advantages are held forth; the idle and drunken workmen who are out of employment, or ambitious of becoming masters, are fond of emigrating, and Ireland speedily swarmed with the scum of the English manufacturing towns.
            MANY schemers were induced by these emigrants to make attempts in different manufactures, which necessarily fell to the ground where want of capital was on one side, and knavery or drunkenness, though united with skill, on the other.
            THE few men in this kingdom who have acquired a property by trade or business are cautious, and know well the trouble it cost them, and are not inclined to risque it in what bears the appearance of scheming; and again, those to whom a property had fallen by descent, were in general too warm in the pursuit of pleasure, and despised trade too much, to think of embarking in manufactures.—Besides, experience had shewn the danger of attempting any thing out of the common beaten path, as we have scarcely an example of a fortune made in Ireland by any manufacturers except those concerned in the linen business, wherein an export trade had been encouraged: indeed the narrow limits of home consumption, and the distressing consequences of an over-stocked market, rendered it impossible for any manufacture to flourish in Ireland, whilst similar fabrics, the redundance perhaps of the English market, were admitted at a moderate duty, and our own redundancies had no foreign vent.
            THUS, former attempts in manufactures having proved in a great measure abortive whilst the restrictions lay on our trade, and recent attempts having miscarried from the causes already mentioned, the laudable spirit of enterprize naturally excited on the attainment of our liberty, might have died away had not some notable example been exhibited to prove that a well founded plan, pursued with unremitting attention and steady perseverance, would finally conquer all difficulties.
            MR. BROOKE was one of those who on the grant of a free trade looked about for a little time in hopes of encouraging manufacturers to settle on his lands in the County of Kildare; without being himself engaged in trade; but he soon discovered his error, and accident threw in his way a set of Manchester artists who had been just disappointed of employment by some gentlemen by whom they were invited hither, and Mr. Brooke, after some little conversation, engaged the whole party.
            Thus he embarked in a business of which he was totally ignorant, it was therefore the more necessary, as he justly observed to me, to recur to first principles, and lay a solid foundation for an undertaking of such magnitude.---The general and leading ideas were, first, to establish the same prices for workmanship as in England; the second, to be supplied with such machinery as enabled the English to work at low prices, and at the same time make perfect goods; the third, was to guard against the ruinous consequences of drunkenness and combinations; and the fourth, to erect the factories in a plentiful country, not far distant from the capital, and where firing was cheap---It was in vain on these principles to attempt the establishment in Dublin, and to graft the manufacture on a country town would have incurred most of the difficulties---He therefore determined to build on his lands in the County of Kildare adjoining the Bog, and convenient to the Grand Canal, and immediately began a Factory for spinning and weaving, and a few houses for weavers: whilst these were in hands he cleared out some out offices and set to work a carding machine, a spinning jenny, and a loom with the fly shuttle, all of which one of the party had brought over, and he dispatched another of the party to Manchester for machinery, and a few hands yet wanting in some departments of the business. The principal he placed in an extensive concern at Dolphin’s-Barn where there was the convenience of water, and here all necessary preparations were made for executing the cutting, drying, bleaching, and finishing branches.--- Thus all commenced with spirit, and in a few weeks one piece was produced which from its quality, proved that the same hands, with the same apparatus, could execute as good work in Ireland as in England, notwithstanding the common opinion to the contrary.
            THE public soon reaped the advantages of the dying factory in Dublin, as cotton goods before this period were neither cut, dyed, dressed or finished as in England, a number of looms were therefore quickly set to work on different cotton fabrics by manufacturers in Dublin, and the corporation of Weavers, sensible of these advantages, presented Mr. Brooke with his freedom, expressing their thanks in very strong terms --- he has also been complimented in a similar manner since by the Guild of Merchants and the Corporation of the City.--- Had Mr. Brooke confined his dying factory to the execution of his own goods it is probable the cotton manufacture would not have extended for some years so rapidly as it did in a few months.--- But indeed from what I can find out he never entertained an idea of monopoly, but rather held it subversive of the public interest, and ultimately of private interest also.
             THE person he had sent to England for machinery and workmen spent his time in his own private affairs, squandered the money he was entrusted with, brought over unskilful hands and a variety of machines, which, after expending four fold their original cost in putting to work, altering and repairing, were finally broken up as totally useless, and so was twelve months work of a machine-maker this man had brought over at high wages. These miscarriages with respect to machinery incurred various difficulties, the most embarrassing of which was that of being unable to furnish the weavers with a due supply of weft; however early measures were taken to obtain good machines, for as soon as it was discovered that that first messenger had betrayed his trust another of the workmen was dispatched to England, and he executed his commission faithfully. But, Mr. Brooke, at length perceived that a much greater number of machines were requisite more than he at first imagined, and that the delays and expence of procuring them from England was an insuperable bar to speedy extension. He therefore encouraged Mr. Kirchhoffer, a noted Cabinet-maker in Dublin, to undertake machine making, and he afterwards found that this was one of the earliest steps he should have taken: But notwithstanding he supplied his best models, yet it was with infinite labour and expence Mr. Kirchhoffer arrived at perfection, as making any part of these machines is a trade in itself, and any one part ill-made or imperfect, rendered the whole useless. At length he collected the different artists under his own eye, and the difficulties with respect to machinery were surmounted, which had impeded Mr. Brooke’s progress as well as many others in the cotton business.
             DURING this period, a number of houses were built and filled with weavers, most of whom Mr. Brooke was afterwards obliged to discharge, being idlers or drunkards; indeed few others would attempt removing to a new establishment the success of which must appear doubtful: sober and diligent workmen naturally fall into constant employment under masters who know their value, and such workmen, as I before observed, are seldom willing to change. However, though very great losses were incurred in discharging from time to time such numbers from the factory, yet as most of them were ingenious workmen, the sober and diligent country weavers who still were taken in to fill the vacancies, acquired in a short time the knowledge of the different works, and skill with sobriety became united in the settlement.--- This fixed determination so frequently exerted, of at once discharging any man who appeared a leader of cabals, a drunkard or an idler, without shewing any respect to his superior skill, or any fear of losing what had been advanced to him, operated most effectually towards the establishment of due subordination and order.
             BUT it is necessary now to mention the reception the goods met with in Dublin market.--- At first they found a ready sale, and several dealers in Manchester goods seemed pleased at the attempt, and as Mr. Brooke had determined within himself to confine his sales to people in the trade, he withstood every solicitation of the numerous friends to the undertaking to admit the manufactures to be sold by retail on his account, but referred them to those shops who had bought them.
            BUT the goods coming fast into market and not having a proper place or agent for the disposal of them, it was judged advisable to appoint factors for the sales, and a very respectable house in a central situation was chosen for this purpose.--- But though the small parcels at first manufactured found a ready sale, yet when large quantities were brought to market the jealousy of the importers became awakened, and whether the Manchester merchants apprehended rivalship in this kingdom, and entered into a subscription as some affirm, or whether it was owing to a decline of trade in consequence of the war, yet the fact was that numbers of people were constantly employed in bringing Manchester goods to Dublin, most part of which they smuggled in the packets from Liverpool, and these they sold at reduced prices, gave greater length of credit than usual, and for fifteen months continued with every appearance of determined perseverance in a plan which it was hard indeed for an infant undertaking to withstand. But Mr. Breresford and the other commissioners with the truest patriotism took measures which tended to support our manufacturers against this attack, and but for the illicit imports would have had a perfect operation: they ordered the full duties to be levied on the entry of such goods as passed through the Custom-house, which full duties had been hitherto evaded by entering them under false denominations, and here it should be mentioned that the manufacturers of Ireland are peculiarly indebted to Mr. North, one of the land waiters, for his having executed the orders of the board with uncommon zeal.--- A zeal of such a nature is seldom liberally rewarded. ---but why are fees admitted in theses departments at the Custom-house? Why are not the salaries adequate to the employment and trust?--- Is not human nature already too prone to deviate from duty and rectitude without being needlessly exposed to temptation.
            To return---the stock of goods in some time began to accumulate as the market became glutted with English fabrics, and application was repeatedly made by Mr. Brooke’s factors to the ware-houses and to the retailing shops. These frequent solicitations, as the factors informed me, induced in eight or ten months rather more than half a dozen of the numerous retailers in Dublin, and three or four of the wholesale dealers to come and look at the goods: Their patronage thus deceasing in proportion as the manufacture extended, and the stock having accumulated to the amount of many thousand pounds, and some low artifices having been practised to injure the character of the goods, Mr. Brooke was at length compelled in his own defence to have recourse to a temporary expedient, and permitted his factors to sell by retail: The effect of this measure soon convinced him that the public tide was in his favour, and inclined him to believe that the Dublin shop-keepers had not seen clearly their own interest by compelling him to a measure inconsistent with the established rules of trade, but this perhaps may be of but short continuance, and indeed ‘tis matter of surprize that the Dublin retailers do not endeavour to come upon some footing with Mr. Brooke, as I cannot see, provided they had due profit on Irish goods, that it could do them any service to prefer the sale of English.
            IT is absurd to suppose that the importing merchants, as long as they continue to consider an import trade as the only mode of employing their capital, should wish to promote what might render importation unnecessary, and of course turn the trade from them into other channels. Yet into other channels it will surely fall, therefore these gentlemen should arrange their system in conformity to the recent revolution in our trade, and drop in with the general current instead of attempting to stem it. Without entering into refined disquisitions on the nature of trade which frequently betray one into salacious theories, I should conceive we should study and pursue the methods practiced in England, and which experience has proved to be successful, the similarity of our constitution will now admit of our following her example, which we could not do heretofore--- There, the interests of the merchant of London are one with the interests of the manufacturers in the country; the industry and ingenuity of the one become a source of wealth to the other, the merchant supports by his credit and capital the exertions of the manufacturer, and enables him to extend with spirit.--- The capitals of each are thus doubled, and trade flourishes in proportion.
            DURING the long period wherein Mr. Brooke wanted sale for his goods, it was a fortunate circumstance that he steadily persevered in making such articles as might be deemed staple, and not liable to remain in hands by any variation of fashion.--- The happy consequences of this were immediately experienced on the peace, as several merchants and gentlemen, sanguine friends of the manufacture, subscribed and purchased goods to a considerable amount, which were shipped for America. On this occasion Messrs. Cope and Binns were particularly active, and Sir William Gleadowe Newcomen, Bart. and Co. shewed their zeal to forward the manufactures of Ireland. From this period the business took a favourable turn, private merchants made considerable purchases for the American market, a most promising trade was opened with the Portugueze, and a flattering prospect as Ostend---It is here but justice to mention what I have frequently heard Mr. Brooke declare, that were it not for that steady support he experienced from Messrs. Latouche in discounting bills at long dates, particularly at times when the mercantile world were most distressed, it would have been impossible for him to have extended himself, or brought the business to its present state. I have heard him also express in warm terms the sense he entertained of the frequent civilities shewed him by Messrs. Finlay and Co. but he was happy in having had the general good wishes of the public, and such a property as obtained him confidence.
            IT is rather singular that an export should be opened of a manufacture introduced only about three years since, but such is the effect of a spirited pursuance of the same means, and introduction of the same machinery by which the manufacture flourishes in England, and happy were it for the kingdom if other manufacturers, particularly the woollen, would adopt this mode, we should not then remain much longer an object of ridicule in the eyes of Europe for having neglected to avail ourselves of that freedom for which we so gloriously struggled.(2)--- It is yet more singular, that whilst we are able to meet our neighbours on equal ground at a foreign market, that we should maintain an import trade, for home consumption, of the same commodities loaded with a duty of 10l. per Cent besides other charges.--- I should conceive this to be owing to some uncommon peculiarity in the disposition of my countrymen.
            MR. BROOKE’S undertaking attracted in its early infancy the kind notice of the Duke of Leinster and many of the neighbouring gentlemen, who have since steadily continued their patronage and granted roads to the settlement, which prove of the utmost utility.--- The Grand Jury of the county paid Mr. Brooke the flattering compliment of visiting the factory, and mentioning it in their address to the Earl of Temple.(3)---The Lord Primate granted money for a church.--- The Dublin Society with their usual zeal to assist infant undertakings, lent their aid by forming premiums calculated to assist the cotton works. But Mr. Brooke’s great inducement to persevere was the favourable manner in which his petition to parliament was received through the now Lord Chief Baron’s representation;--- this opened a prospect of public support, suited to the extent of the plan; the buildings were therefore (on the parliamentary grant) prosecuted with new vigour, the place soon became more populous, a weekly market was naturally formed, public houses were permitted for the sale of malt liquors, but the proprietors prohibited, on pain of instant dismission, to vend spirits of any denomination, and I will venture to affirm that this regulation, which has been religiously maintained, has contributed essentially to the rapid success of the establishment, and that Ireland will never arrive at a state of respectability till malt liquors become the beverage of the poor, and spirits for home consumption so taxed as to give malt liquors a decided preference---Gardens were formed behind each of the houses, which tend to keep the weavers healthful, and supply them with potatoes and other vegetables. Every family that had been industrious was provided with a milch cow, the rents were regulated in weekly stoppages, numbers of apprentices were taken in by the weavers and spinners---But here I must observe a very unexpected, and almost unaccountable circumstance, viz. that it was with the utmost difficulty, and after the factory was nearly two years established, before any of the children of Mr. Brooke’s former tenants or labourers could, as he informed me, be prevailed upon to learn any branch of the business, yet now ‘tis quite the reverse.
            IN 1782, there was an unfortunate rise in the price of cotton to nearly treble its usual price, and its long continuance at this exorbitant rate bore very hard on the young settlement, and had nearly put a stop to most of the manufacturers in this line,---here perseverance was indeed necessary, and the temptation to draw back very powerful, where a number of people were kept constantly employed at a certain loss. But about this period, Mr. Foster, by whom the interests of this kingdom are perhaps best understood and most widely promoted (4), was instrumental with several other members of the linen board in obtaining the patronage of that body to the mixed linen and cotton manufacture, a patronage of such importance again determined Mr. Brooke to persevere.---It may not be improper here to observe the intimate connexion subsisting between the linen and cotton manufactures, and the superior advantages this kingdom must have in foreign markets over others in all fabrics wherein linen yarn is used in warp, for as we may be supposed to stand now on nearly equal ground with respect to the raw cotton, machinery and the prices of workmanship, the chief hope of meeting our neighbours at an advantage abroad and where they have established connexions is by bending our attention to those goods which are of mixed linen and cotton, as our having the linen yarn on better terms, turns the scale in our favour, and a very small matter in point of price opens a door for their reception. During the period in which cotton bore such a high price, Mr. Brooke finding there was little employment at his dying factory in Dublin but for his own goods, judged it eligible for this reason and others which are unnecessary to mention, to concentrate the whole of the business in the country, and accordingly began to build houses for the different workmen who were to be removed; but just as a competent number had been finished, the Earl of Temple sent for Mr. Brooke and informed him that a party of skilful hands from Manchester had come hither in their way to America, and that it was wished their emigration should be prevented by their being taken into employment here, and pointed out to Mr. Brooke that his endeavours to engage them would be agreeable, which he did immediately, and brought several of their families from one of the most distant parts in the kingdom; but Mr. Brooke’s trouble and expence was amply repaid on this occasion by the kind attention of the matter to Government in England obtained his Majesty’s letter, which was couched in terms highly flattering.
            BUT now fresh buildings became necessary, as those prepared for the dyers and other workmen belonging to that department were occupied by these emigrants, and Mr. Brooke commenced again vigorously and acquired new spirits to proceed by a handsome grant made him for machinery, &c. by the linen board, who had previously sent to Mr. Arbuthnot, their Inspector General, to view and report on the state of the works.
            MR. BROOKE has now very nearly compleated and united the whole of his undertakings at his new town. An adequate idea of the manner in which the business is there conducted, and of its nature and extent is only to be formed by viewing it,--a gratification from which no one is prohibited. Indeed it must be delightful to see a little Manchester which has sprung up in three years space, to see the various improvements concentrated at one spot which have wrecked the invention of thousands of the most ingenious mechanics to discover, to see one of those great manufactures, the pride, the boast, and endless source of riches to England, at once established and firmly rooted amongst us---Extension now is alone required---the demand for goods is without limit---the unemployed of Ireland numberless---But how can a single capital supply houses and employment to every one?
            TO conclude, those gentlemen who are acquainted with the general state of the lower orders of people in this kingdom know well that nearly two thirds of the peasantry are in a most wretched state. Without adverting to the cause they are called idle and slothful---I acknowledge they are so, and the meaner vices, lying, flattery and theft are naturally predominant amongst slaves; in vain then do we look for the virtues of a free people amongst our peasantry.---But supply the means of industry before we condemn our poor as unconquerably idle, and when they become independent by their labour the virtues of a free people will gradually ex(….)tirpate the vices attendant on flattery, and the penal laws may then be enforced, when circumstances so alter as to render the plea of necessity, not as at present, too often well grounded and unanswerable.
            O! thou once oppressed and enslaved nation, little did the most sanguine hopes of thy warmest friends expect the day of thy present emancipation!---Thou art free, but it is time, patience and labour, that must precede the enjoyment of the fruits of thy liberty. When shall that industry thy poor may now freely exert, become universally diffused, that thy children may remain no longer naked, thy dwellings no longer shock the eye of humanity, and thy only portion in the cattle around thee be the toil of tending, or driving them to market. We shall indeed have reason to boast the liberty we have so happily acquired, when the major part of the natives of this kingdom are cloathed, fed and housed, as the peasantry in our sister kingdom.---
HOW pleasing then must it be to every true friend of Ireland, to see the strides Mr. Brooke has made at his new town towards this desirable object, to see cleanliness instead of filth, order instead of confusion, diligence and sobriety instead of sloth and intoxication, comfortable dwellings instead of wretched hovels; to see plenty and health instead of want and rags, to see a place where the number of a man’s children constitutes his riches, instead of dividing the scanty meal into yet smaller portions, and from feeble age to childhood there are suitable employments: Finally, where an idler cannot exist, and where the industrious cannot want---A place, which to the neighbouring country is like the heart to the human body, extending a secret but warm principle of life, which may yet serve to animate the remotest parts of the kingdom.
(1).Now Lord Chief Baron.
(2). (Extracts of Lettes from Messrs. EDDYS SYKES and Co. dated New-York, 8th and 24th May, to Messrs. COPE and BINNS, of Dublin.
By the Darragh we are favoured with your esteemed, 9th March, inclosing invoice sundry cottons. The Corduroys are better and cheaper than we expected, and we have the pleasure of informing you that they are approved of equal to Manchester manufactory. The colours of your Corduroys are good, being of the proper Olive.
We sold a number of pieces of Corduroys at Auction, which will leave a good profit."
(3). Report of the COMMITTEE appointed by the GRAND JURY of the County of Kildare to inquire into the state of the Buildings and Manufactures at the Town of Prosperous.
1st. That the situation of the town is particularly eligible, as well in respect of fuel as water, close to the bog and near the Grand Canal.
2nd. That the buildings are in general of brick and slated, safe, comfortable and convenient.
3rd. That there are factories of very great extent, fully occupied by carding, spinning, and various other machines, and considerable additional buildings, almost completed to contain greater works, and a bleach-green covered with cotton goods.
4th. That we perceived with real pleasure, an appearance of order and regularity in the conduct of every department, uncommon cleanliness throughout the town, and the inhabitants in general comfortably clad; all of which happy circumstances we must chiefly attribute to the spirit of industry and sobriety, which the establishment of this manufacture has so suddenly introduced.
5th. We are further pleased with seeing about seventy-five boys and girls, who are apprentices, cloathed in a regular uniform, and daily learning arts hitherto almost unknown in this kingdom.
6th. Our curiosity was highly gratified by tracing the progress of the cotton through the various operations, and the number of ingenious machines thro’ which it passes, in the processes of carding, spinning, weaving, bleaching, and printing; the apparatus for these last mentioned stages of the business, is but recently established here, but appears to us in respect to the machinery used, the convenience of the buildings, and the management of the water, to be admirably calculated for the most enlarged and perfect business.
7th. In addition to the great range of buildings in which the printing and bleaching works are carried on, there are a number of dye and work-houses almost completed for the finishing branches of this comprehensive undertaking, and these we understand, are all that remain undone to concentrate the whole of the business at this spot, where three years since, there was not even a house to be seen.
8th. We received singular pleasure from the appearance of universal industry which pervades this settlement, the sound of the loom, and the noise of machinery, were heard throughout, and the healthful and happy countenances of the inhabitants, afford a striking proof, that it is the establishment of a proper system, and supplying the means of industry, which alone are wanting to render the lower order of people in this kingdom happy, and we must necessarily conclude, that establishments like this would be the only certain means to prevent emigrations, by affording employment to every age and description.
9th. We perceive that a manufactory of such magnitude and extend as Mr. Brooke’s, would necessarily furnish bread to an infinite number of people, more than the actual artists employed in it, and we therefore lament that the appearance of this town as yet resembles, too much that of a body without proportionable members, and for want of a sufficient extension of buildings, that hundreds are thus deprived of enjoying that bread which might be afforded here to the lower, and more common kinds of industry. And we presume that were these circumstances universally known, private persons who now look forward from their native country to a settlement in the Western world would prefer employing the capital required to transport them thither in settling in a situation where every species of industry must necessarily thrive under the regulations which are here maintained for the preservation of good order and sobriety.
10th. At the same time that we must express our admiration at the exertions and spirit of an individual, in persevering and bringing to such a state of maturity, an undertaking to which the united efforts of a company should seem necessary; we must express our earnest wishes, that it may proceed to such a degree of extensions as to give supply to all foreign markets, as well as home consumption, there being now demand infinitely beyond what could be executed in the number of buildings hitherto erected.
Resolved unanimously, That the enterprizing yet well regulated exertions of Capt. Brooke, merit our highest approbation, and that we deem it incumbent in us thus publicly to testify our sentiments of this spirited undertaking.
MAT. AYLMER, Sheriff.
ROB. POWER, Foreman.
May it please your Excellency,
WE the High Sheriff and Grand Jury of the County of Kildare beg leave to assure your Excellency that we feel the highest satisfaction in the appropriation that your Excellency’s conduct as Chief Governor, has so universally met with.
We heartily concur in applauding your Excellency’s exertions for this country’s prosperity, of which we have a strong instance in our county, by your kind and well judged assistance to the manufactory established by Capt. Brooke.
It is with sincere concern that we perceive great reason to believe, that a Viceroy so capable and so willing to assist our welfare and establish our constitution, is shortly to resign the government of this kingdom.
MICH. AYLMER, Sheriff.
ROB. POWER, Foreman.
His EXCELLENCY’s Answer.
I return you my best thanks for the satisfaction which you express of my conduct in this Government, which from unavoidable circumstances I am obliged to quit, and for your assurances of regard and of esteem.
I felt a real pleasure, upon principles of public duty, in giving every encouragement to the manufacture established by Capt. Brooke, to whose merit I am happy to bear this testimony in words very inadequate to the sense I entertain of the obligations which this kingdom owes to his activity, zeal, and public spirit).
(4). "What we have hitherto said of the means by which a nation may acquire a superiority over another in point of perfection in workmanship, proves that manufactures cannot support themselves in a flourishing state without some assistance. They are indebted for that state, partly to the concourse of several various causes, always collected in one point of view by the legislature, whose wisdom and vigilance direct them equally towards the same end.
Whatever care the preservation of so rich a mine requires, the greatest difficulty of all lies in the first finding out and opening of it: the strongest efforts are never too great then. Rude and ignorant men are to be instructed, and their hands taught to have more intelligence than their heads are susceptible of; and those novices are to be made not only to equal foreign rivals consummate in their art, but even to influence and seduce those who are to judge between them.
The means generally made use of in France to encourage the establishment of manufactories, are to purchase at the public expence, the particular secrets, either for preparing or dying materials, or the engines, whether new, or not known there before; and to grant rewards proportioned to the importance of such new undertakings. Those rewards, always judged necessary, are personal distinctions and prerogatives granted to the directors of the undertaking; funds advanced; proper places allotted to save expence at first, till the profits became certain; the purchasing of what is manufactured, or wrought, at a fixed price during a certain time; a thing by no means to be slighted, and of which great advantage has been and may be made; or lastly, a bounty on the exportation of those productions, until they are able to compete with foreign productions of the same kind at their proper market.
No part of the state, but the stakeholders, can find fault with those expences; because they are the only men, who would not be repaid their disbursements with usurious interest. That remark alone sufficiently shews that states have not any more certain way to increase their riches.
A last way to encourage manufactories, is to annex an idea of merit and distinction to the profession of manufacturers, or of those who by their extensive correspondences procure a vent for their productions abroad. That is but just; since those men, the merchants, are the dispensers of employment and food to the industrious workman, and of the cultivator’s reward. The state is in a manner partner in the merchant’s profits, without sharing the hazard he runs, or the fatigues he undergoes; and, therefore, ought never to slight him, but cherish, caress, and honour him. The productions of labour and ingenuity may, in general, be compared to a piece of clock-work; the springs of which relax and spoil, when not taken care of, and which at length stop if not wound up in time. The men who keep those springs in order, who compose, connect, and put them in motion, ought to be distinguished by their country and by every citizen who is a friend to it."---See POSTLETHWAYT’S Commercial Interest explained.
Just published by PAT. HIGLY, Printer and Bookseller, No.1, Henry –street, and Corner of Liffey-street, Price 6s 6d.
THE HISTORY of the REIGN of PHILIP the THIRD, KING of SPAIN. By ROBERT WATSON,LL.D. Principal of the United College, and Professor of Philosophy and Rhetoric in the University of Saint Andrews.
*** The universal Reputation acquired by Doctor WATSON in his HISTORY of the REIGN of PHILIP the SECOND, KING of SPAIN, leaves no Doubt but that the above Work will meet the Approbation of the Curious.
LETTERS on USURY and INTEREST, shewing the ADVANTAGE of LOANS for the BENEFIT of TRADE and COMMERCE. Price bound 2s. 8 ½ d.
The FAIR NUN, 2s 8 ½ d.
ANNA, a Sentimental NOVEL, 2s 8 ½ d.
BURTON WOOD, 2s 8 ½ d.
LETTERS Written by the late

A pamphlet by 'a friend' of Mr. Brooke's on the establishment of his cotton manufacture in Co. Kildare at Prosperous. The pamphlet is an original from the local collection in the Local Studies Dept. of Kildare County Library and is dated 1783.

[Compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; edited and typed by Niamh McCabe; all spellings and grammar of the original retained; formatting retained as much as possible - original notes appear as footnotes but appear here in transcription as endnotes]

January 09, 2007

How the 'Race of the Black Pig' got it's name!

Leinster Leader 24/12/1910, p. 7.
Our Christmas Story.
The Black Pig’s Run.
A Story Of Christmastide
And The Curragh.
By Dick Doyle.
It was a blue evening in October when we stood on Walsh’s Hill and gazed on the dreary plain around. The wind had the bite of approaching winter in it, and the sheep were glad of the shelter afforded by the numerous furze bushes. We were on the point of separating for our homes, when a voice behind us remarked: “Its’ a cool evening, boys,” and on looking around we beheld Darby Corrigan, the shepherd. We agreed with Darby regarding the weather and turning up the collars of our coats we lingered for further char, and from talking about the weather we came to talk about the Curragh.
Yes’ remarked Darby, “the Curragh is a quare place, an quare stories could be tould about it. I suppose everyone of ye heard the story of the Black Pig’s Run”.
“Oh never”, we answered in chorus.
“Then come down here to the shelter of the bunch of furze and I’ll tell yez the quarest fine story yez ever heard in all your born days.
We followed Darby to the friendly shelter, and taking a long pull at his pipe he began:--
“Well boys a few days before Christmas ----- Bartle Dunnigan (God rest him!) came up here to the very spot we’re standin’ one evening to look after his sheep, as it was severe weather with nearly three foot of snow on the ground. Bartle was meditatin on bygone times, when he hears his dog givin a sharp bark some little distance away. That’s one of the sheep stuck in the snow, sez he to himself and I’ll have to go an’ release him.’ When he came to where the dog was barkin’ however instead of a sheep he sees a little fellow standin’ on his head on a great mound of snow an kickin’ right an’ left for all he was worth. Dunnigan looked at him for some time in silence an’ then remarked. Well now, aren’t you the divil’s quare fellow to be goin’ on with these antics an the life nearly freezed out of man an’ baste!’
The little man at once jumped down an commenced to mop his face with a red handkerchief. That’s hot work I was at says he seatin’ himself on the snowdrift. ‘Musha Bartle Dunnigan where were ye this month of Sundays an I strainin’ me eyes in all directions looking out for ye?’ Bartle rubbed his eyes an stared the little man straight in the face. “I think me gay fellow sez he you’re makin a bit of a mistake, as I never set eyes on ye before.” ‘I know that replied the stranger init all the same I had dalins with people of yours an I have very important business with you now.’
All manner of things began to pass through Dunnigan’s mind an’ he was puzzled to make out what business on earth the little fellow could have with him. The stranger was the first to break the silence that followed his last remark. ‘Dunnigan,’ sez he, the same as if he knew him all the days of his life, ‘before I tell ye my business give me a blast out of your pipe, for its fifty years since I got a pull.’ Dunnigan gave him the pipe, an I tell ye it wasn’t long till the little bloke emptied it. That’s good tobacco Bartle sez he handing back the pipe. ‘God be with ould times,’ he went on, ‘when a fellow could sit in peace an comfort on Walsh’s Hill an’ enjoy a good smoke---aye, an back the winner of the Scurrys or Derby too. God be with the ould times, I say again.’ ‘Musha,’ says he, suddenly changing the conversation, ‘did Billy Finnegan get married that time to ould Fogarty’s daughter?’ Dunnigan just remembered the people he mentioned, so he says, ‘Bedad, you’re hard on me, neighbour, as I was only a slip of a gossoon the time you mention, an’ just barely remember them people.’ ‘That’ll do ye,” replied the little fellow, ‘tell that to someone else. Weren’t you spooney yourselfon the Fogarty girl? Phsat man alive, there’s no use hiding things on me, for I could tell ye everything that happened about these parts years ago.’ Then he grew very serious, an goin closer to Bartle said, ‘Bartle, you found me standin on my head a few minutes ago, an’ that’s my penance for a wrong I done when in this life; an’ unless you come across me this evenin’ I’d have to stand on my head for five hours every three days before Christmas until the last trumpet sounded.’ When Dunnigan heard him sayin this he moved back a step or two an’ crossed himself devoutly. ‘Glory be to God,’ he exclaimed, ‘but ye must have been an awful sinner in your time.’ The little man made no answer but kept rubbin’ his chin an lookin’ at the ground. After some time he looked up. ‘Dunnigan,’ says he, ‘its’ little ye know the penances that has to be performed in the other world by the people that was looked upon as saints in this life. I may have been a terrible sinner in my time; it doesn’t matter a bullrush to anyone but myself. What good I done life I’m getting credit for it, an’ what bad I done I’m sufferin for it an that’s the short an’ the long of it. But tell me,’ he went on, ‘waving his arm, what sort of a life must ould Jack Brannigan have led, when he has to rub his nose for two hours an’ a half against a nettle every fair of French Furze, an’ that till the end of time? Why has Coogan, the gombeen man, to walk stark naked around the Curragh while there’s a dust of snow on the ground until he finds a thousand pounds? Why has ould Darby Dudkins, that everyone thought was a saint, to balance himself on the horns of a puckawn the first Wednesday in every month-eh? Pshat, man alive, I could relate stories that would make your flesh creep, but I won’t. My penance is for a wrong I done your great grandfather an’ what is it, d’ye think?’ ‘Musha,’ then answered, Bartle, ‘I haven’t the laist idea.’ ‘Well I bought a suckin’ pig from him one fair day,’ replied the stranger, ‘an’ while he was in havin’ a drop to keep out the cowld, I went off with the pig an never paid for it from that day to this. Everyone belongin’ to him is dead now but yourself, so it’s to you that I must make reparation.’
“Bedad, boys, when Dunnigan heard this he says to himself it’s not every day that I’ll come across this playboy, so I may as well knock as much out of him as I can, an’ besides I think that he’s a clever boyo.’ ‘Begorra, then honest man,’ says Bartle ‘in that case you’ll have to be giving me a gay penny for the sucks is now sellin’ like blazes. Why, the Widow Brogan, I’m tould got twenty-five apiece for the two ruts of the clutch an’ Slobbers Deegan refused thirty-two an’ six for ones not much bigger than your brogue. Besides if the pig you bought was fed on till now what would it be worth? That’s the way to look at it.’ The little fellow smiled at these remarks, an’ then said, ‘Money I can’t give ye, for it’s not in circulation in the country I come from, but I can give ye back the pig the very same as the day that I took it out of your great-grandfather’s creel. To-morrow come to that clump of furze you see beyant there, poke them with your stick, an’ the pig will walk out; then you an’ me is quits, and my penance comes to an end. But listen here, Dunnigan,’ says he, taking him by the collar of the coat, ‘if ye ever tell a human bein’ except your wife of yer chat with me or how ye came by the pig, by the mortial frost I’ll make hawk o’ meat of ye the first time I see ye up here again.’ An’ shakin’ his clenched fist the little fellow disappeared.
Well the next morning bright an’ early Bartle sails up to the clump of furze before there’d be anyone about, with the ass’s spancil in his hand to put on the pig’s leg, an begins poking for all he was worth, but dickens a sign of a pig was there. He was about givin’ up in despair when he thought that he heard a rustle in the middle of the clump, an’ getting down on his knees he called in a sootherin’ voice. ‘Suckie, suckie, suckie; dockie, dockie, dockie.’ Sure enough the pig answered by givin’ three grunts as if he was after wakenin’ out of a sleep. For ever so long Dunnigan stopped there coaxin’ an enticin,’ but all the wit in his head couldn’t get him out of the furze. ‘I must go home for the dogs,’ says he aloud, ‘an’ them is the boys that will soon bowlt him.’ ‘What is it that you want to bowlt?’ says a voice at his elbow, an’ lookin’ round he sees Jack Joyce, a scamp of a lad he didn’t much care about. ‘Oh nothin,’ replied Dunnigan, quite civilly, afraid of givin’ the game away. ‘I was just sayin that it would be hard to bowlt if he was in it, a rabbit or a hare.’ ‘An’ what were you proddin the furze for the last hour for?’ asks Joyce. This was a hobbler for Bartle, so after a little consideration he says quite careless. ‘Well to tell you the truth, I thought that I ketched sight of a weasel runnin’ into to them, and I was tryin’ to frighten him out.’ With this the pig gives three tremendous grunts an’ Joyce looking suspiciously at Dunnigan says, ‘That must be a quare weasel, eh?’ ‘It might be a hedgehog for all I know that I saw glidin’ in,’ replied Bartle, still tryin’ to throw Joyce off the scent. ‘Well, rabbit or weasel, or hedgehog let him take this,’ says Joyce, lightin’ a match agin’ his thigh an stickin’ it in the furze. Off they went in blazes while you’d be sayin’ trapstick, an’ it wasn’t many seconds until a fine slip of a black pig bowlts out at the far end.
Then the sport commenced. Both the lads made a rush to seize it. Dunnigan just had its hind leg when he fell over a bunch of thistles; then Joyce was certain of becomin’ its owner but missed his grab. ‘Ye couldn’t have better luck,’ says Dunnigan, getting’ on his feet agin. ‘Ye ould schemer,’ shouts back Joyce, wid yer weasel an’ yer hedghog-bad luck to ye.’ Away went the pig, an’ away raced the two lads after it; now one had it, now the other had it; in through furze an’ out through them, an’ the curses of Joyce would light candles. ‘Well boys, after close on an hour’s chasin’ the two lads began to tire an’ the pig began to gain on them an’ as much as they could do was to keep in sight of it makin’ like hell in the direction of Pollardstown. All of a sudden the pig stopped an’ commenced to turn up the ground with its nose. ‘Take it aisy now an’ we have a chance,’ says Dunnigan but Joyce paid no attention to this only kept racin’ on, so when they were within a few yards off goes the pig agin, an’ straight through Con Donegan’s yard an’ into an empty stable. Dan’s missus happened to be in the yard at the time an’ she shut the door an’ turned the key in the lock. It wasn’t very long till the two lads came puffin’ and blowin’ into the yard. “Where’s my pig?’ demanded Joyce. ‘He’s not yours, he’s mine,’ says Dunnigan. ‘You’re a liar, he’s not,’ answers Joyce. ‘Oh, the breedin’ is brakin’ out in ye,’ says Bartle. There they kept arguin’ an’ fightin’ until Mrs. Donegan interfered. ‘The pig is in the house,’ says she, ‘an’ the key is in my pocket an out it wont get until the rightful owner is found.’ ‘An’ here,’ she went on, looking out at the gate, ‘is two polismen, as luck has it, so we’ll soon know who’s tellin’ the truth.’
“One of the polismen, boys, happened to be a sargint, so when he hears the story, he says to the woman of the house, ‘Give me the key of the door,’ and then turnin’ to his companion he says, ‘You stay here on guard. Don’t let man or mortial open that door until we return.’ Then he says to Joyce and Dunnigan, “Come on with me now, for this is a case that requires to be settled immediately. An’ says he to the woman of the house, ‘you’ll be paid for your trouble.’ The Assizes happened to be goin’ on at the time, so the sargint took the two lads to the court an ups an’ tells the whole case to the judge. ‘It’s a bit late in the evening to take up the case now,’ remarked the judge, ‘but we’ll tackle it first thing in the mornin.’ ‘In the meantime, sargint, put four more constables on duty around the house where the pig is, an’ keep them there night an’ day if necessary until this court gives its verdict.’ The news spread like wildfire through the country durin’ the night an’ that the case was to be heard the first thing in the mornin.’ Everyone was askin’ everyone, ‘Who’ll win in the morning’?’ an’ when the judge took his seat on the bench next day, the court was packed to the door. Dunnigan was beginnin’ to get a bit shaky about winnin’ for he remembered the little man’s warnin’ to say nothing about his chat with him; an’ to say the pig was in the furze would be to acknowledge Joyce’s right to him as much as his own. Besides, he knew Joyce would swear a hole through an iron pot, so I can tell ye poor Bartle was in a tight corner.
Well after the jury was sworn, the judge addressin’ Bartle says, ‘Dunnigan you claim this pig as your’s?’ ‘I do,’ says Bartle. ‘Have you any witnesses to corroborate that statement?’ asked the judge. ‘No, my lord,’ answered Bartle, ‘for I got the pig from a man I never seen since or before, an’ I don’t know from Adam where he is now or where he was bred, born, or reared.’ ‘That’s a bit strange,’ remarked the judge. ‘Well, Joyce,’ says he, ‘would you state briefly to the bench an’ jury your right an’ title to the pig.’ ‘Well, my lord and gentlemen of the jury,’ began Joyce, who was a divil with the tongue, ‘I’m not much good at spakin’ when gentlemen is present, ‘but havin’ right on my side today I feel that I could go on talking forever.’ There was a bit of a laugh at these remarks, an’ the judge looked sour but said nothin.’ ‘I claim the pig,’ went on Joyce in a loud voice, ‘because I bought it honest an’ fair from a widow woman after one of the hardest bargains, an’- ‘Wait a moment,’ interrupted the judge, ‘if you can produce this widow woman there is no necessity for makin’ a speech an’ it will save the time of the court.’ ‘I can’t do that, my lord,’ answers Joyce, ‘for the widow woman has since gone to Australia. She was an orphan, too, my lord, an’ there’s neither chic or child alive belongin’ to her. Her husband was killed by a thunderbowlt. Her brother was carried off by a tiger that got out of a menagerie; her sister was gored to death by a mad bull, her uncle died of the yalla janders; and her first cousin was-’ ‘Stop,’ shouted the judge, ‘we have enough of this woman’s family history. You have no witness then to produce?’ ‘No, my lord,’ replied Joyce. The judge rubbed his chin an’ looked perplexed. ‘This,’ he says, ‘is the most remarkable case that has come before a court of justice for a great number of years. I feel oppressed by the weight of the task imposed upon me an’ you, gentlemen of the jury, I know feel the same. The court now adjourns for luncheon an’ when we resume I hope the case may become clearer.’
“By the tare of fortune, boys there was the divil’s excitement an’ speculation durin’ the luncheon hour among the hundreds of people in an’ around the court as to which of them would win the case.” ‘Dunnigan will be bet as sure as there’s cotton in Cork,’ says one. ‘The divil nor Docthor Foster could tell which of them owns the pig,’ says another. Bedad when the judge took his seat again on the bench, I tell ye that he was in a tearin’ bad humour for news was after reachin’ him that Captain Sharpshot that he thought was dyin’ after Johanna, his eldest daughter, had thrown her up; an as he had four more on the market, the news wasn’t of a very nourishin’ description. ‘I was thinking over this case,’ says he putting on his specs, ‘durin’ luncheon time (this was a lie for it was about the Captain an’ Johanna he was thinkin’) an’ if no fresh evidence is forthcoming I think that I must advise the jury to act as Solomon was about to act in the case of the two mothers an the child--find a verdict that the pig be cut in halves an’ one half given to Joyce an’ the other to Dunnigan.’ At these remarks there was an awful scream in court an’ an old lady fainted. When she come to she screeches out, ‘Oh, if any in-human monster does that, I’ll have him tried for his life—oh, what is the world comin’ to at all?’ She was pacified after some time, an’ it was found out that she belonged to the Society for the prevention of cruelty to children. It was drawin’ near evenin,’ all the law books had been looked through an’ the case was no nearer to bein’ decided, an’ the jury was becoming impatient. One juryman said he had to go home to fodder a few cattle; an’ another said his daughter was getting married in the morning.’ This reference to marriage nettled the judge, for he thought it was givin’ him a snig. I tell you, boys, with an’ angry judge an’ an impatient jury the atmosphere of the court wasn’t very pleasant.
“All of a sudden the judge stands up an’ says in a loud voice, ‘Put Dunnigan out of court.’ Everyone began to wonder at this an’ took it for a sign that Joyce had won. When Bartle was outside the judge says to Joyce, ‘Now, on the virtue of your oath, what gender was this pig that you claim as your property?’ Everyone then saw the judge’s point, an’ Joyce seein’ he had to say something, answers, ‘Feminine gender--a sow, my lord. ‘Shure, it’s for breed I wanted her, an’ a rattlin’ one she’d make, for the widow woman tould me that her dam took first prize at a horse show an’-- ‘That’s sufficient, you’ve said enough,’ says the judge waving his arm, ‘an’ now bring in Dunnigan.’ ‘Bartle was scarcely in on the floor when the judge snaps out the same question to him. ‘Dunnigan, what gender was the pig you claim as yours?’ Poor Bartle was thunderstruck at the question. He didn’t know the divil what to say, so to gain time to consider he pretended not to understand the question, an’ says, ‘My lord, ‘twas as black as the ace of spades.’ ‘Come, come,’ shouts the judge, givin’ the desk a terrific blow of his clenched fist, ‘don’t be triflin’ with this court. Answer the question at one.’ Short as the time was to consider Dunnigan run the whole thing over in his mind, and came to the conclusion that the little bloke took the best pig in the car when he got the chance, an’ wasn’t likely to choose a sow. ‘Oh, forgive me my lord,’ he says, ‘I didn’t properly understand the question at first. My pig was a hog--a darlin fine hog. Sure, the ould woman would have nothing else about the place. I bought a sow once from a dalin’ man an’ after feedin’ her for five months I sold--’ “Stop,’ says the judge interrupting him, ‘you’ve said enough, an’ the court has enough of speech-makin.’ ‘This remarkable case is now drawing to a close. Joyce has said that his pig was a sow an’ you have declared that yours was a hog. Myself an’ the gentlemen of the jury will now repair to the house where the pig is, an’ have the case decided there an’ then. But listen here,’ says he in a voice of thunder risin’ from his seat, it is plain there has been wilful an’ corrupt perjury in this case; the court has been trifled with, an’ whoever is found in the wrong,’ says he, thumping the desk before him, ‘will have cause to remember this day.’
So away goes the judge, surrounded by the jurymen an’ they guarded by polismen, afraid anyone would tamper with them, an’ the whole countryside on foot an’ horseback after them. Boy, oh boys, it was a quare sight. Divil such a crowd was seen together since the risin’ in ’98. Well when they arrived at the house where the pig was, there was full as big a crowd there that took a short cut across the fields an’ the polis with drawn swords keeping them back. A space was cleared before the door when the judge and jury arrived; those in the back stood on their tippy toes, an’ the youngsters climbed the trees to see what was going on. The woman of the house brought out a sup of skim milk in a pan, an’ remarked to the judge that it would be wise to let her bring it in, as the pig was sure to be wild in a strange place. The judge thanked her, an’ said it was very thoughtful; an’ then turning to the sargint who had the key, said, ‘In the name of the majesty of the law, I command you to open the door. Wait a moment,’ he added, ‘let Dunnigan an’ Joyce enter directly after myself an’ the jury.’ Poor Bartle elbowed his way to the front, tremblin’ in his breeches, an’ just as he passed his friend Kithogue Doolan he whispered, ‘Kithogue, if I’m hung or transported over this case, remember it’s the branded heifer Biddy is to get for her fortune.’ When everythin’ was in order the sargint opened the door, but divil a haporth was in the house but ould Betty Connolly’s black tom cat sittin’ on the manger rubbin’ his whiskers! There’s where it took place. There was silence like the grave for a few moments, then the judge went frantic, an’ the jurymen swore like troopers. One of the Allen boys struck a Brownstown lad for laughin’ an’ for a time it looked as if there was goin’ to be one of the biggest faction fights ever known. The polis charged the crowd, however, an’ the priest happenin’ to arrive, order was restored. Then the judge had the two lads arrested, an was on the point of transportin’ them for ten years to the Cannibal Islands for contempt of court, when the woman of the house declared she saw the pig goin’ in the evenin’ before with her own eyes, an one of the polismen on guard said he could swear he heard the pig gruntin’ several times durin’ the night. This calmed the temper of the judge a bit, so he let them out under the First Offenders Act to come up for judgement when called upon.
“Well, when all was over Bartle was makin’ the best of his way home across the Curragh, wonderin’ at all that had happened an’ the close shave he had of bein’ transported. When within a few hundred yards of his own house he heard a whistle to his right, an’ lookin’ he sees the little boyo that tould him about the pig the evening before, an’ he singin’ like a mayboy. Bartle’s temper was up at the sight of him, an’ no wonder, so he gripped his stick an determined if he got the chance to give him a wallopin.’ The little bloke came over an’ when within speakin’ distance shouts out,  ‘Arrah, Bartle, me sound man, are you getting home?’ Dunnigan for reply made a wipe of the stick at him, but he dodged it, an’ when out of danger says, ‘Oho, is that the game yer up to! Bow, wow. Now, I want to have a straight chat with ye,’ he went on, edgin’ nearer to Bartle. ‘I wanted to do ye a good turn--to give back what didn’t belong to me, an that’s more nor many in this world is inclined to do. I towld ye to keep yer mouth shut, but instead of doin’ that you have the whole country in an uproar, so take that, ye infernal ould prate-box.’ An he hits Dunnigan a welt of a snowball right between the two eyes an’ knocked him senseless. When Bartle came to his senses he crawled home as best he could, an after getting’ a hot drink or two, he ups and tells the wife all he had gone through, but she only smiled and turned her head away. It’s the divil boys to convince some women. There was a hollow next day where the pig went an ever since its know as ‘The Black Pig’s Run.’
“They say,” concluded our storyteller, “that every seven years since that day, on the Wednesday night before Christmas, on the stroke of twelve, the black pig can be seen racin’ along an’ the little boyo on his back, ridin for all he’s worth.”

One interpretation of how 'The Race of the Black Pig' or 'The Black Pig's Run,' on the Curragh of Kildare got it's name.


[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed by Breid and Maria; all original spellings and grammar retained]

Tale of the POOKA on the Curragh of Kildare

Leinster Leader, 28/12/1940, p.2.
Little by little that Christmas Eve party gathered around Tim Brannigan’s fire, recked of the elemented warfare outside. Truly it did blow a fierce gale, and at times the winds heaved and moaned like the despairing cries of souls of centuries ago.
     “That’s a terrible night to be caught on the Curragh,” remarked one of the party. “It seems as if all the evil spirits in the world are abroad to-night.”
     “I wonder,” queried another of the party, “if there is such a thing as ghosts at all?”
     At this remark Brannigan shifted uneasily in his chair, as if pained by the doubt existing in the mind of the enquirer. “Look here” he ejaculated with emphasis, “there’s not a furze bush or thistle growin’ on the Curragh outside but has its sperrit av some kind behind it, be the same good or bad. I ought to know” he went on meditatively, “after trampin’ the big plains for seventy long years, summer an’ winter, night an’ day, at all times and places. Ah, lads, ‘tis I that know it well-the quare people that do be abroad when other folk sleep soundly in bed. Pshat, man alive, half o’ yeh are only fools to what goes on when night falls an’ the Curragh is supposed to be deserted.”
     “You must have met the good people, Tim, at some time or other on your rambles then,” suggested the man in the corner seat.
     “Good people!” retorted Brannigan. “Why my dear fellah, I met more fairies an’ leprechauns in my time than you have fingers an’ toes. Meeting them, however was only clod peggin’ to an adventure I had once wud a devil called the Pookha. That was the only time the win’ was put up me; an’ altho’ it’s a good many years ago now, the memory av it gives me the shakes still.”
     Some of the “knowing ones” present winked at this admission of Brannigan’s and one amongst them remarked:-
     “Badad, Tim,” if it’s not too distressing upon you, tell us about the whole thing.”
Brannigan gazed into the fire for some time before replying to this invitation.
     “Well lads” he said at length, “I’ll try to master me feelings’ an’ relate the story agin, but first let us have another little drop, an’ afore I start me story,” he continued holding his tumbler of punch in his hand, “ let me say no matter how it is condemned, I owe me life to this same stuff, an’ you’ll all agree wid me when my story is finished.”
     Brannigan emptied his glass, and assuming an air of gravity, began his story.
     “It happened one Christmas Eve, lads, when I was comin’ from Finnegan’s christenin’ just below the far end av the Long Hollow, midway between Walsh’s Hill an’ the Beggarman’s Pole, I felt a bit av tired like, an’ down I sat to aise me limbs a bit. I must have dozed off for some time, for I wakened up wid a start to see standin’ afore me the quarest lookin’ boyo that ever a mortal man set his eyes on. Yeh couldn’t call him a man an’ yeh couldn’t call him a baste. He stood well over six foot high wid ears as long as Jack Pender’s ass an’ had the devil’s own excuse for a face.
     After gazin at him for some time in silence, I couldn’t help breakin’ into a fit av laughter, he was such a funny looking boyo. But me merriment soon ended I can tell yez, for the divil stepped over me, an, gev me a welt on the ribs from a stump av a tail he had about two foot long. The clout, lads, doubled me in two for the time bein’ and when I recovered the lad gav a shout at the top of his voice— “Down on yer knees before his majesty the Pookha.”
     “I can tell you,” went on Brannigan, “ I was in no humour av disobeyin’ orders after the clout I got on the ribs, so down I went on me knees. The divil walked around me for some time, eyin’ me from all angles, an’ then satin’ himself some distance away, sez to me, Get up an’ sate yourself as I want to come to business an’ the time I have at me disposal is not too long. My power down here ends when day brakes, an’ it’s within an’ hour or so av that now.’
     “That last remark av the divil, lads, stuck in me mind at once, an’ av I could manage to keep him engaged until the day broke I knew that I was safe. I was turning, over in me mind how best to do this, when the boyo sez – Brannigan I’m goin’ to take you back wid me, altho’ the devil a much use you’ll be in our country. I’m out for youngsters, but as I couldn’t ketch any to-night, sooner than go back empty handed, I’ll bring you along wid me.
     “Musha, sez I, tryin’ to soften him a bit. ‘what use on earth would a poor auld man like me be to yeh, an’ besides think av the state me poor wife wid be in at me loss.’
     The lad gev a cackle av a laugh at this remark av mine. ‘Brannigan,’ he sez, risin’to his feet, ‘yer not so feeble as yeh let on. Yer not too ould to go gallavantin’ to races an’ dances an’ weddins – bow wow! An, as for your poor wife, the divil a much loss she’ll be at for losin’ yeh. How did she do without yeh the week yeh spent drinkin’ an goin’ from one public house to another after yeh backed the winner av the Derby?   Will yeh answer me that ? Who looked after the few little cattle while yeh were stravagin’ after cock fights an’ the like? Wasn’t the white heifer ye had nearly dead wid the murrain, until some av the neighbours mentioned it to yeh?
     “Divil a hands turn I done for years past but he could tell about’ an’ deny any av them I couldn’t.
     “Still tryin’ to delay the time sez I to him—‘An what joy will yeh have me at?’ He scratched his ugly head for some time afore replyin’ to me question. ‘Oh, I suppose,’ sez he, ‘we’ll give yeh a bit as a soft job. You’ll be in the fowl house sortin’ the feathers.’ An’ sez I, “what’ll the pay be for that?’ Pay!’ he shouts; ‘there’s no such thing as money in the country yer comin’ to.’ ‘Well then I suppose,’ sez I, ‘the grub at least is tip top.’ ‘You’ll be lucky av yeh get a slice or two av Indha buck every day,’ was the answer I got.’ An’ lads, to see the leer on the face av the devil when he said this. ‘It won’t be rashers an’ eggs every morning wid yeh, Brannigan,’ he went on. ‘That’s what has discontent an’ fightin’ in your world to-day-too much money an’ too good grub- bow wow!’
     “There was the position I was in,’ went on Brannigan, knocking the ashes from his pipe on the toe of his brogue, ‘alone an helpness in the hands av the divil, waitin’ to be taken away be him, an’ the outlook av where I was bein’ taken to anything but a rosy one.’
Whiskey to the Rescue
     “Still hopin’ to dally the time until daylight, sez I to him- ‘Musha but yeh must meet some quare fellas in yer rambles around in lonely places in the nightime. Did yeh ever comer across a lad named Fan McCool in yer travels. I’m hearin’ about him since I was a foot high.’ ‘Well I should say I did,’ he replied wid an air av great importance, an’ why shouldn’t I? His second wife was a foster sister av me third cousin’s aunt.’ ‘An’ what relation,’ sez I, doin me best to keep on the conversation, ‘would that lave him to you?’ ‘Well,’ replies the boyo, ‘I can’t say for certain, as I’m not worth a rush at tracin’ families,’ but it brings us purty close together at any rate. ‘I tell yeh wan thing,’ he went on, satin’ himself, ‘he has a litter av pups put av his grate bitch Bran that’ll make things hot for the best av them later on the track.’ ‘An’ what names did he give them,’ sez I, thinkin’ I had the divil off his guard, an’ watchin the sky at the same time for a strake av the daun.
     “ ‘Griddle Bread, Hot Pancake an’ Roast Spud,’ sez the laddo getting’ to his legs. ‘Now look here, Brannigan, he went on, I’m beginning’ to find out that yer a prime boy. Yeh think I don’t know what in yer mind tryin’ to kill time until the brakes. Yeh didn’t care a rap this minit av Fan called his pups cawshapooka, but I’m up to yer tricks.’
     ‘Get ready now,’ sez he, producin’ a big sack that would hould 50 stone av whate at the laist. Placin’ the bottom av it on the ground, it stood straight up like a barrel, wid the mouth av it gapin’ open.
     ‘In wid yeh,’ he commanded, ‘afore I toss you into it –ay head foremost.’ Twas then, lads, the bottle av whiskey I had in my pocket kem into play.
     “Well, sez I producin’ it, ‘no matter how we may fight or disagree at other times we should all be friendly at Christmas. Won’t yeh have swig out av this,’ sez I, offerin’ him the bottle. ‘Have a go yerself first,’ sez he, ‘for I’m not takin’ any chances an’ it may contain poison for all I know.’
     ‘I had a good pull at the bottle I can tell yez, and after waitin’ a considerable time, an’ findin’ nothing had happened to me, he raiced over an’ took the bottle.
     ‘Begob, Brannigan,’ sez he after the first swig, ‘that’s toppin’ stuff,’ an’ he had another go at it.
     ‘At this moment I got on me feet, an’ whatever put it into me head I can’t tell to this moment, I took a runnin’ race at the sack an’ jumped right over it.
     ‘Bravo,’ shouts the boyo layin’ down the bottle an’ doin’ the very same thing. Yer a bully man to be able to do what yer after doin, but I’d bate yeh at it every time.’
     ‘I don’t know about that,’ sez I. ‘You took off nearer the sack than I did. Let us try the best out av three.’ I could notice the whiskey was getting’ to his head be this time, but still the divil kep’ his sinses.
     ‘Wait till I see,’ sez he, ‘have we time to decide the matter.’ An’ he looked along what appeared a long goold bar. ‘Only a few minits left,’ sez he, ‘about ten at the most. So let us hurry up.’
     ‘Well let it be a fair do, then,’ sez I placin’ the hazel stick I had in me hand for a trig mark. I went first lads, an’ done the three jumps in fine style.
     ‘Then the boyo kim on an’ over the first time he went all right, but at the second attempt I could see it put him to the pin av his collar to clear the sack clane. He was pullin’ himself together for the last jump, when sez I to him – ‘You better finish the drop that’s in the bottle afore yeh try, as there’s no use in lavin’ it there behind us.
     ‘Bedad,’ sez he, ‘I was near forgettin’ that,’ puttin’ the bottle to his head, an’ while I got his back turned, I slipped back the trig strick about a foot.
     ‘Back he went for a good long run, an’ kem for the sack like a mad bull. As I thought, he jumped right into the sack, an’ afore yeh could scut a duck I was on him, an’ had me belt tied around the mouth av the sack.
     ‘There I had the divil, an’ it wasn’t long until mornin’ broke, an’ to hear the pitiful appeals for mercy comin’ from the inside av the sack.
     ‘So home I lugged him, an’ next mornin’ knowin’ he was powerless in the daylight, I opened the sack to have a good look at him, when what bowls out but a big black cat. Sooner than give in he was baten, he turned himself into a cat.
     ‘So now lads’, concluded our host, ‘yeh can see how the drop av whiskey stood me in good stead on that terrible night, an’ as it lost none of its power, I suppose since then, we’ll have another little drain av it now.
                                                               “D.D.,” Kildare.

A tale of how Brannigan outwitted the POOKA on the Curragh of Kildare.

[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed by Breid and Maria; all spellings and grammar retained from original article]

Christmas snippets

Leinster Leader, 16/1/1904, p. 8.
Children’s Christmas Party At The Curragh.
On Friday, the 8th inst., a very successful children’s party was held in Brownstown House, Curragh Camp, where the children from the Athgarvan and Ballysax Schools were entertained to tea. A large staff of willing workers was engaged during the earlier part of the day cutting up bread and cake, and preparing tables for the accommodation of some 300 children. When the little ones arrived at 3 p.m., they found everything ready for them, and each of them was provided with a hot cup of tea and plenty of cake, bread and jam. Opposite each child was placed a bon-bon and the merriment was great when the children commenced pulling these crackers, and decorating themselves with all sorts of coloured paper hats, etc. Tea was finished about 4 p.m., and then the children were kept amused for a considerable time listening to tuneful selections from a splendid gramaphone, kindly lent for the occasion and worked by Mr. Kennedy, of Baronrath. An exhibition of amusing lantern slides also helped to add variety to the entertainment. The children from Athgarvan School went through some physical drill exercises, with dumb bells, in excellent time, and danced some four-handed and eight-handed Irish reels with much grace and precision. A comic song in character by two Athgarvan boys was immensely enjoyed and caused great laughter. About 6 p.m., the children were assembled on the lawn and witnessed a pretty display of fireworks, which lasted about 20 minutes. Amongst those present during the day assisting at the treat were:-Captain and Mrs. Green, Rev. Monsignor Tynan, P.P., Mrs Hutchinson, Mrs Pallin, Mrs Graham, Mr and Mrs T. G. Gordon, Mr and Mrs Weller, Mr Browne, Mr Brennan, Miss Walshe, Miss Ward, Miss Gilbert, etc., etc. As the children were going home they received cake and fruit, and gave three lusty cheers for Mrs Green for having organized such an excellent evening’s enjoyment for them. It should be added that the children were all neatly dressed, and extremely well-conducted.
Leinster Leader, 1/12/1906.
The Town Hall, Newbridge, was crowded on Monday and Tuesday evenings, when the Children of Mary treated appreciative audiences to a dramatic performance, preceded each evening by a concert, which in its every individual item was charmingly rendered and rewarded with applause. The entertainment was under the patronage of the Right Rev. Mons Tunan, P.P., and the arrangements were superintended by Fr. Cullen and Fr. Murray.
* * *
The good Nuns deserve much credit for the care and attention which must have been bestowed in the training of the young ladies and in bringing them to that state of perfection which secured the success attending their efforts on both evenings, while providing such pleasant entertainment for the people of the town.
* * *
The concert opened with the chorus, “Hail, Smiling Morn,” after which Miss May showed her close acquaintance with the violin in a well rendered solo. This was followed by a nicely executed duet on the piano by Miss Murphy and Miss Nolan. Miss B. Murphy sang in splendid voice “Asthore,” and received much applause. A most amusing feature was a comic duet, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Naglebone,” by the Misses Margaret and Tessie May, which kept the house throughout in merry mood.
* * *
Some beautifully rendered selections on the violin by Miss Murphy were much appreciated. Miss Babs Kelly gave evidence of a very pretty voice when she sang “Good-night”, Dear Heart,” after which she danced very nicely. In very fine voice Miss Turner recited “The Fireman,” and at its conclusion met with much applause. In a comic duet, Miss B. Murphy and Miss B. Moynihan moved the audience to an almost continuous peal of laughter. The former took the part of the husband, “Zachariah,” and the latter the wife, “Sophia.” The singing throughout, as well as the side play, was very good. Sophia is of the impression that her lord and master spends too much of his time and money at his club, and is constantly requesting the wherewithal to renow her ward-robe, but when she says she is going “to go back to her uncle,” and Zachariah favours the idea, she gets frightened and relents, whey they promise to love each other until “December comes in May.”
* * *
The beautiful words of “Carrigdhoun” were sympathetically rendered by Miss Mulrooney in splendid voice, and were much applauded, after which the Misses Mary and J. Moynihan and Miss K. Conlan acted the parts of “Three Modest Quakeresses,” and the singing was very good and much enjoyed.
* * *
The concert was a decided success, and was enjoyed throughout. Still, if there had been a few additional Irish songs, and perhaps and Irish dance, on the programme, it would have been an attraction. All the members took part in the closing chorus, “In the Dusk of the Twilight,” the different voices blending very nicely in a harmony of which the audience showed their ward appreciation.
* * *
“The Hard-hearted Man” was the play selected, and was staged immediately after the concert. The selection of the representatives for the different parts seemed to have been very carefully made, with the result that the play ran very smoothly in every detail. The character of “Maurice Reddy, the hard-hearted man,” was splendidly pourtrayed by Miss K. Meaney, and her treating of this difficult part was warmly appreciated, and the sarcasm of “Maurice” at the expense of “William Breslin” was much enjoyed. The latter part fell to Miss Turner, who acted Eamon’s son very well, and appeared at her best in the role of the “returned Yank,” Miss Murphy’s “make up” as Eamon was a most natural one, and in voice and movement she did the old man to perfection. The part of Neil Meehan was in very good hands when in those of Miss J. Moynihan, while Miss K. Conlan made a typical housewife when playing as Sheila (Noil’s wife). Miss B. Donnelly as Paddy was very good, and the course of instruction given by him to his two sisters was laughingly enjoyed. The part of Mollie was taken by Miss E. Mulrooney, and that of Peggie by Miss E. Johnson, both of whom showed much brightness as well as knowledge of their parts.
* * *
During the play Miss J. Moynihan san with a very pleasing voice “The Country I’m Leaving Behind,” the refrain being warmly caught up by a large portion of the audience. The play was followed with much interest, the pathos as well as the humour of the different situations being fully appreciated by the large and representative gathering which filled the room each evening.
Leinster Leader 27/12/1913
The Wren Boys
A St. Stephen’s Day Custom.
(By Brian O’Higgins.)
In many country districts Christmas would be shorn of half its charm and its memories without the wren boys. On St. Stephen’s Day, when all the members of the household are gathered together by the family heart, and the great festival has just slipped by another mile stone a clatter of feet is heard outside somebody stands up suddenly and cries, “the wren boys” a move is made for the door and there they are, with what is supposed to be the dead body of a wren, encased in a box which is strapped to a stick or “bearer” and decorated with moss and ivy leaves and holly, and carried proudly and triumphantly by the “mourners” who shuffle about for a few moments, clear their throats, and them deliver themselves of the following poetic chant:-
“The wran, the wran, the king of all birds,
St.Stephen’s day he was caught in the furze.
Although he is small, his family is great,
So help us, good lady, to lay him to state.”
And the good lady – the woman of the house –thus eloquently appealed to, seldom fails to respond, and the wren boys depart in high good humour, the happy possessors of another coin or two added to their burial fund.
            How the fund is administered it is not for us to say. It is to be devoutly hoped that ass wren boys are not exactly like those presented to us by Canon Sheehan in “My New Curate,” who were found by the latter on St. Stephen’s night, in a tavern, enveloped in tabacco smoke, with certain “refreshments” in front of them, while at the top of their voices they chanted with feeling the beautiful Christmas hymns he had taken so much pains to teach them. The mention of a writer and wren boys reminds us that other Irish authors have introduced them and given them a prominent place in their books. Almost our first glimpse of the great genial lovable, “Mat the Thrasher” in Kickham’s “Knocnagow” is afforded us as he rushes along the big hedge on St. Stephen’s Day, in a wild chase after an elusive wren. And we have to laugh, no matter what humour we may happen to be in, when Mat exclaims: “I hot her, I hot her, an’ knocked the full o’ me hat o’ feathers out of her!” In the best of all his books: “A Lad of the O’Friels”- Seumas MacManus gives us a thrilling story of a little girl’s fight on behalf of the poor, hunted wren that wins our sympathy for the tiny fugitive. One of the sweetest of the Munster folksongs is “An Dreoilin” (“The Wren”); and a Western legend beloved of the old storytellers gives us the reason why the wren is hunted in Ireland. So that this strange St. Stephen’s Day custom is known from end to end of the land.
            The Western legend (which was a favourite with Father O’Growney) has it that when the Holy Family were fleeing into Egypt, pursued by Herod’s minions, they passed by a field where a number of men were sowing corn, St. Joseph paused, and asked the men to say if they happened to be questioned as to the passing by that road of a party such as his. “Yes, they passed when we were sowing the corn.” Next day the soldiers of Herod reached the field, and asked the men if they had seen any persons answering to a description which they gave pass by that way, and the men replied – “Yes, they passed when we were sowing this corn,” and they pointed to the tall green corn which had grown miraculously during the night. This is where the wren comes into the story. The legend says that a wren was sitting on a branch close by, heard the question put by the soldiers, and squeaked out – “Inde inde” (Yesterday, yesterday.”) And that, the old people will assure you, is why the wren has been hated and hunted ever since in Ireland. What a wonderful wealth of delightful legends we are losing with the passing of the old men and women of the Gael!
            One vivid recollection comes to mind at the mention of the wren and the wren boys. A certain Peter, whose surname need not be mentioned was the crankiest crustiest, old bachelor that ever was known in a certain parish in the Midlands. Not very many years ago the wren boys paid a visit to Peter’s house on St.Stephen’s Day, but of course, were repulsed, and their subsequent remarks riled the old fellow to a pitch bordering on madness. About a week later, one evening, three canvassers came up the boreen to Peter’s house to ask his vote for a certain candidate for the County Councillorship of the division in which he lived. They paused for a moment or two in the yard for a brief consultation as to how they would approach the vitriolic voter, but even as they did, they were rudely disturbed. Peter himself made a dash through the doorway, armed with a mighty stick, and seeming twice his height in the gathering darkness, and blows fell thick upon their innocent shoulders as they ran for safety down the boreen, with Peter’s angry shouts ringing in their ears; “Is it agin, is it agin?   Do you want to torment the life out of me, yourself an’ your wran?”    There’s wran money, an there! And there! And there.” He thought the wren boys had come back to annoy him! And his vote was not solicited again by the canvassers of that particular candidate.
            Whatever may be said against the hunting of the wren on St. Stephen’s Day it is a custom as old as the Irish hills, and like many an other old custom, is dying out steadily and surely. And it is a pity that the customs of our race, the customs which have always served to give an added charm and delight to the great festivals in our midst should be allowed to lapse into decay: - B.O’H.   
Leinster Leader 1/2/1924.
Apart from the religious observances of February 2nd, the Feast of the Purification or as it called – Candlemas Day, amongst country folk it is in some parts recognised as a weather indication and curiously enough it is averred that unless bad weather prevail in this day the outlook for the year is bad, and many old weather “saws” (sayings) exists. Thus-
“if it neither rains nor snows on Candlemas Day
You may straddle your horse and go buy hay.”
* * *
The following rhyme is oft quoted in Scotland:-
“If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o’ winter’s to come, an’ mair
If Candlemas Day be wet an’ foul
The half o’ winter’s gone at Yule.
Old superstitions die-hard, for at one time Candlemas was the occasion on which all the Xmas decorations in the home were taken down, and it was considered most unlucky were the festive garlands removed before that day. Yet, all should be removed by the end of Candlemas Day.
Leinster Leader 3/1/1942, p. 3.
Toys For Poor Children.
The Woodwork Class pupils of Athy Technical School made a number of wooden toys which they presented to the local St. Vincent de Paul Society for distribution to the poor children of the town at Christmas.

Some articles from the Leinster Leader relating to Christmas in County Kildare

[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed by Breid and Maria; all spellings and grammar retained from original article]

Christmas In The Country, Fadó, Fadó.

Irelands Own 2005
Christmas In The Country, Fadó, Fadó.
 Colette McCormack
Crisp cold frosty air, a full moon filling the sky, the scattering of stars faintly glowing, Christmas Eve in the country.
Growing up in the ‘country‘ as distinct from the ‘city’ had its disadvantages, or had it? We did not know what we were missing, so we survived very well. Our cousins in Dublin pities us tucked away in a tiny village, no cinemas, no museums, no swimming pool, no trips to the seaside….What a life! Strange though, - they loved to come to us for their summer holidays, loved to roam through the fields, to go snaring rabbits with my big brothers, bring home the cows for the milking, a ritual which fascinated them.
They would stand around watching as my mother washed the cows’ spins before settling the bucket between her knees to begin the ‘milking’. The ‘swish’ of the foaming white liquid splashing into the bucket, my mother contentedly resting her head against the warm body of the cud chewing cow, the rhythm went on. They would beg for a ‘go’ if it was the ‘blue’ cow. She was a calm, placid creature, who did not mind who ‘milked’ her as long as the weight was taken away from her. She was one of those animals who was classed as a ‘good milker’. She would fill the biggest bucket in the shed at her ease. We children used pity her she walked home from the field her enormous udder swaying to and fro, anxious to be relieved of her burden. ‘Good old girl’ ‘Come on, we’re nearly there’. Encouragement for the ‘blue’ cow, as she trundled along.
My mother would demonstrate the art of getting milk from the spins into the bucket to the watchers, making it look so easy. Not so easy when you were on the stool and trying to hold onto the spins and follow her order to ‘squeeze gently, alannah’ ‘into the bucket now’ Many is the time the milk would slosh into your shoes, splash your face, or go the sleeve of your jumper, anywhere except where you were vainly trying to direct the stream of white. There is no doubt that there is an art attached to hand milking, all that is needed is plenty of practise and a quiet cow. Our ‘blue’ cow was perfect in that regard.
The lighting of the lamps in the evening time was another fascinating ritual for the cousins. It was my father’s job to clean the globes, which he did using yesterday’s newspaper. Globes were delicate things and required a neat and steady hand for the cleaning process. He would roll up a sheet of paper into a cylinder shape, and proceed to work it gently into the globe. He would then move it around the inside to remove the smoky dullness from the glass, breathing into it to help in the cleaning. The wick would then be lit and time allowed for it to ‘catch’ properly before the gleaming globe would be set into place.
The rosary was always said after the tea, the chairs ranged around the fireplace, my father taking –pride of place next to the heat, my mother on the other side. I do not remember ever feeling cold in our kitchen, flagstoned and all as it was. There was always an old jumper, a cushion, or a magazine to kneel on. The Rosary beads were kept on a nail beside the fireplace. My father’s was a shiny black set, my Mother’s a gleaming blue, and little gleams of light would sprinkle the room as she moved them through her fingers. Ours were plain brown or dark red, and now and then we would have to resort to our fingers, if the beads were mislaid, to help the count the Hail Mary’s. Our cousins always got their chance to say a ‘mystery’, and whoever would lose out their place to the cousin would be let say the ‘prayer for emigrants’, among the rest of the ‘trimmings’.
No street lights was another ‘wonder’ for them. They were inclined to fall over things which were very obvious to us. They would hold on grimly to whoever was their companion on a ‘walk’ on the narrow road and lanes. Early morning Mass was not something they enjoyed, but, if you wanted to receive Holy Communion you had to go to First Mass. There was no heat in the church, the kneelers were solid wood and the priest was inclined to drone on an on and you dying for your breakfast.
‘Came the year when they stayed with us for the Christmas holidays. Our Aunt was in hospital having a new baby. There was much talk and a lot of worrying as to whether Santy would know where the younger ones were so that he could fill their stockings on Christmas Eve. Would he think to check the house in Dublin? Of course he would, my parents assured them. In the cold dark hours of Christmas Day there was much noise and carryon when they discovered that Santa Claus did know that they were staying in the country and had filled the stockings right up to the top…
Cold crisp air, the full moon lighting the sky, a scattering of stars faintly glowing, Christmas Eve in the country. Walking to Midnight Mass, all of us together, little ones and all, our shoes noisy on the frosty road. Neighbours greeting each other, voices loud in the still air. The gloom of the church lifted slightly by the wavering candle light, holly festooning the altar, and the Holy pictures, before which the stations of the cross were ‘said’ during Lent. The Priest being pleasant and cheerful, us nudging each other as the altar boys went through the Christmas rituals, we knew them to be ‘villains’ in their other lives. The choir was always lovely, even though the harmonium squeeked and squawked despite the best efforts of Mrs. O’ Brien to keep it on the straight and narrow for this very special Mass.
Speaking to one of my cousins who had returned to Ireland after many years away I was amazed to head him say how much he had enjoyed ‘going down the country’ year after year. The memories he had were of halcyon days, the sun always shining, and how kind and loving our parent, God rest them, had been to them always. Bathing in front of the fire in the big tin bath, and then being dried before leaning over my Mother’s knees to have their hair dried in the heat, which was generated by the black turf which they had helped to ‘save’. The outside toilet, and the Po, or Chamber pot, depending on how grand you were, under the bed. Floury potatoes, ‘hairy’ bacon, eggs collected from right under the hens. Hay bogies, threshings, playing in the chaff, so many memories….and his memory of Midnight Mass, the Christmas when they had all stayed with their cousins ‘in the country’, ….’I think of that Christmas every year, he said, no matter what part of the world I happen to be in,,……….
[Colette McCormack was doing research in the library and generously donated the article when I told her I was trying to find material on Christmas in Kildare. She was originally from Clonbullogue]

An article from Ireland's Own by Colette McCormack about childhood memories at Christmas in Clonbullogue.

[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; tre-yped by Breid and Maria; all spellings and grammar retained from original article]

THE EARL OF MAYO-Death in London. A newspaper article on the death of the Earl on 31 Dec. 1927.

Leinster Leader: 07/01/1928
The Earl of Mayo-Death in London
           The death took place at a London Nursing Home on Saturday of the Earl of Mayo, K.P. Deceased had been in failing health for some time past, and as a result of a recent change for the worse a surgical operation was found necessary. Deceased passed away shortly after the operation. Born on July 2nd, 1851, the Earl of Mayo was the son of the sixth Earl and Blanche, daughter of the first Lord Leconfield, a descendent of the historic family which, with that of Clanrichards, derives from the common ancestor William Fitzadelm de Burgo, who succeeded Strongbow, was Chief Governor of Ireland in 1177. Educated at Eton, Dermot Robert Wyndham Bourke, or Viscount Mayo, as he then was, entered the Army as a cornet in the 10th Hussars in his nineteenth year, and but two years later succeeded his father as seventh Earl under well-remembered tragic circumstances. The New Earl continued to fulfil his military duties for four ensuing years, and retired from the Army in 1876 as a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards.
Prior to this time, in December 1874, Lord Mayo had undertaken a trip to Abyssinia with a small party of fellow sportsmen in quest of big game. Though full of stirring adventure, the expedition was comparatively short, for its leading member was obliged to return home in ill health during the late spring of 1875, having suffered severely from dysentry during the latter stages of the tour. During the next few years Lord Mayo travelled extensively, visiting many lands, and making special studies of their political, economical and social conditions. He became somewhat of an authority upon such topics and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. On November 3rd, 1885, Lord Mayo married Geraldine Sarah, eldest daughter of the Hon. Gerald Henry Brabason and Lady Maria Ponsonby, and in 1890 he was elected a representative peer for Ireland in succession to the sixth Earl of Milltown.
It was from this period that Lord Mayo’s deep interest in the social and industrial well-being of his native country began to take a practical form. His ambition was to promote a widespread and more intelligent knowledge of Irish history and antiquities, to create a truer appreciation of art as applied to crafts, and generally to raise the level both of labour and of social life. With such objects in view, he in the first place founded the County Kildare Archaeological Association. The organisation established at Palmerstown on April 25th, 1891, on the same basis as similar societies in other Irish counties and in England.
But a movement of still wider scope, designed to benefit the industrial classes at large, was instigated a little later. In April 1894, Lord Mayo, issued a circular letter in which he recommended the formation of an “Arts and Crafts Society,” the main purpose of which would be “to improve the craftsman, to raise the artistic level of his work, and to make the worker less of a machine producing many objects from one pattern.” He further proposed to hold a small exhibition in Dublin during the autumn of 1895, and to raise a guarantee fund of at least £15,000 in order to carry the design into full effect. The scheme met with universal approval and prospered from its inception
The first Exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Society of Ireland was opened at the Royal University Buildings by His Excellency Lord Cadogan on November 26th, 1895. the Exhibition attracted a large number of visitors, and was closed on December 28, when Lord Roberts spoke in commendation of the work that had so far been achieved. The second Exhibition, held in 1899, was opened by Lord Mayo as President of the Society, in the absence of Lord Cadogan. The Exhibition closed on Dec. 23rd, but throughout its course, as was regretfully noted in the society’s publication the attendance was lamentably small, “and testified to the lack of a civilised interest in art industry which notoriously prevails in Ireland.” After this, unhappily the movement languished and ultimately died out due to the great disappointment of its patriotic promoter, but not, at any rate, until it had accomplished some beneficial results.
During the visit to Dublin in February, 1905, of His present Majesty, then Prince of Wales, Lord Mayo became a conspicuous figure. He was one of those who accompanied the Prince to the National Museum, Kildare Street, in order to inspect the exhibitions of paintings from the Forbes collection, which, as the newspapers of the day recorded, “Mr. Hugh Lane and an influential local committee hope to acquire permanently for the citizens of Dublin,” and his investiture as a Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick was the last and most public function, in which the Royal visitor took part during his stay. From the outset he exhibited the liveliest interest in the generous offer made by Sir Hugh Lane to present the citizens of Dublin with an unrivalled collection of modern paintings, and took a prominent part in the public discussions to which it gave rise. As Vice-Chairman for the Provision of a Permanent Art Gallery, “he lost no opportunity of emphasising the importance of acquiring the great national placed within reach. While a chance remained of securing the donation he earnestly advocated its acceptance both by voice and pen, but for reasons which might easily be imagined found himself unable to attend the final meeting of the committee held on October 30, 1915, when a resolution in accord with his sentiments was unanimously adopted, expressing regret at the “unwise and unreasonable action of the Municipal Council in rejecting the conditions of Sir Hugh Lane’s gift, and depriving the city of a unique and most valuable Gallery of Modern Art.”
The services which Lord Mayo rendered from time to time in the general interests of Irish art were many, and will be gratefully remembered. His efforts devoted to its encouragement, especially in connection with its application to industrial methods were inspired by motives at one patriotic and practical, which none ever misunderstood or failed to appreciate. His personal attributes won for him high esteem alike in private and in public life, and his presence will greatly be missed in social circles both at home and in England. He is succeeded in title by his brother, the Hon. Algernon Henry Bourke, born December 31st 1854.
The Earl of Mayo was nominated by President Cosgrave to the first Senate of the Irish Free State and took a great interest in the proceedings of that body. The methods of extremists in the disturbances of 1922 and early part of 1923 to intimidate senators and members of the Dail did not deter him in the pursuit of his duties; but on the contrary, seemed to stimulate him to constant attendance at meetings of the Senate, where he took part in the debates on matters of importance before the Chamber. Even the destruction of his own beautiful house at Palmerstown did not shake his faith in the destiny of the country, and he carried out his determination to reside in his home when it had been partly restored, and to take his place in the Senate to which he had been nominated.
The meets of the Kildare Hounds have been postponed until after Lord Mayo’s funeral.
The Funeral
The Remains of Senator the Earl of Mayo, K.P., P.C., were laid to rest on Thursday in the family burial place, Johnstown Cemetery, County Kildare. Arriving at Kingstown by the morning mail boat, they were taken by motor hearse to Kill Church and thence to the ancient little cemetery two miles distant. There was a very representative attendance of members of the Senate, the Dail, the learned professions, county families, sportsmen and farmers.
A large number of people walked behind the hearse the entire distance from the church to the graveyard, while motor cars extended over half a mile along the road.
The Service in the church was brief and simple, there being no music. The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. Dr. Gregg, officiated, assisted by the Ven. Gerald W. Peacocke, Archdeacon of Kildare and the Ven. Archdeacon James Adams.
At the graveside the final prayers were said, and the Benediction pronounced by the Archbishop.
The grave was lined with moss and flowers, and the breastplate on the unpolished oak coffin bore the following inscription-“Dermot Robert Wyndham, 7th Earl of Mayo. Born 7th July, 1851. Died 31st December, 1927.” The Countess of Mayo stood at the foot of the grave during the Burial Service. At its conclusion she dropped a bunch of flowers on the coffin, and then left with some friends.
The chief mourners were-The Countess of Mayo (widow); the Earl and Countess of Dunraven, Lord Adare, Commander the Hon. Valentine Wyndham Quin, R.N., the lady Olein Whndham Quin, Lady Alfreda Bourke and Mrs. Bevan.
The Attendance
The general public present included-Baron de Robeck, Capr. R.H. Fowler, M.F.H.; Capt. J.F. Tuthill, Col. Guilfoyle (representing the Goverbor-General), Senator Sir Bryan Mahon, Lieut.-Col. and Mrs. Harrison, the Earl of Dunraven, Lieut. Commander the Hon. V. Wyndham Quin, R.N., Mr. Geo Wolfe, T.D.; Mr. Donal O’Sullivan, Clerk of the Senate; Senator O. St. John Gogarty, M.D.; Major J.W. O’Reilly; Mr. Henry Mansfield, Miss de Robeck, Mr. and Mrs. Algernon Aylmer, Major R.M. Aylmer, Major Mainguy, Rev. Lionel Fletcher, Major E.M. Connolly, Mr. R.A. Faulkner, Mr. G. Leycester, Fenrhyn, Capt. Gerald Dunne, Sir John Milbanke, Sir F. Brooke, Capt. H. de Burgh, Col. F. Blacker, Major C. Mitchell, Captain Harding, Col T.J. de Burgh, Capt. A.B.W. Higginson, C.B., Hon. Secretary, Kildare Hunt Club; Mr. Charles de Robeck, Mr. J.M. Sweetman, the Rev. Canon Craig, Mr. Claude Odlum, Major H. de Courcy Wheeler, Mr. G.A. Fanshawe, Mr. E. Mc Loughlin, Miss Tuthill, Mrs. Dansey, Mr. J. Barry Brown, Mr. E.I. Gray, Mr. Peter Nettlefold, Mr. Thos. Ritchie, Miss Culshaw, Miss Mona Peacocke, Mrs. Jackson, Miss Rea, Mr. A. K. Sergeant, Mr. Stamer Roberts, Mrs. and Mrs. T.M. Sadher, the Rev. Chancellor Clover, Mr. S. J. Brown, Mr. W.T. Kirkpatrick, Mr. H.C. Gillespie, Mr. W. Smith, Mr. C.Pratt, Mr. S.H. Barker, Mr. J.C. Eacret, Mr. E.K. Simpson, Miss Houghton, Mr. J. White, Mr. W.G. Jameson, Mr. B. J. O’ Kelly, Mr. T. R. Gibson, Mr. Cecil Pratt, Mrs. E. Kennedy, Mr. Edward Kennedy, Mrs. W. J. Gill.
The Palmerstown estate staff were represented by Messrs. J. Neale (steward), S. Doyle (head gardener), J. O’Connor (gamekeeper), P. Carroll, W. Tapper, C. Lacy, M. Burchill, T. Burke, J. Mitchell, D.Connor, J. Mc Cormack, J. Burchill, J. Leavy, J. Mc Garr, Mr and Mrs M. Davis, P. Kenny, P. Hart, Miss R. Murphy, Mr. T. Mc Cormack and Miss Kate Walsh.
Mr. Derek Burton, Straffan House was unavoidably absent from the funeral.
Wreaths were placed on the grave from the Countess of Mayo, “Marjorie”, “Dick and Helen”, Captain J. F. Tuthill, Sir Anthony and Lady Weldon, Lt. Col. J F. Higginson, “Madeline and Howard,” Employees Palmerstown Estate, Mrs. Bevan, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Sadler, “From Olive”, Mr and Mrs Algernon Aylmer, “Abee,” (In remembrance of happy Palmerstown days), Mr and Mrs Winter Bourke, Mr and Mrs F.G. Burroughes, Miss May Culshaw, Lt. Col. and Mrs Harrison, “Eve and Wyndham,” “Valentine and Marjorie,” Archdeacon and the Misses Adams, T. O’Connor Gamekeeper.

An article from the Leinster Leader on the death of the Earl of Mayo in December 1927, telling of his achievements and reporting on details of his funeral.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

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