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A harsh penalty – 1888

Newark Daily Advocate 29th January, 1888

MyViolin  Arent  Wikimedia Commons -
Wikimedia Commons –

Yesterday at Galway, as some musicians were returning from serenading the bishop at his house, the police seized their instruments and arrested the musicians. There is intense excitement over this matter.

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A man of considerable stature – 1821

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 24th March 1821 p2 (abridged)

The skeleton of the 7.5 feet (230 cm) tall Byrne displayed at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London image by:StoneColdCrazy Wikimedia Commons
The skeleton of the 7.5 feet (230 cm) tall Byrne displayed at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London
image by:StoneColdCrazy
Wikimedia Commons

That there exist men of a stature considerably above the ordinary standard, our own time has afforded ocular demonstration. In the year 1780 a gigantic youth named Byrne, was within two inches of eight feet at his death, and it is thought that the continuance of his growth proved fatal to him, as he had not then attained his twentieth year.

The most remarkable instance of extraordinary stature in the present age was O’Brien. He was born in the year 1761 in the county of Kinsale, Ireland, of parents of middling stature. He was brought up to the trade of a bricklayer but his growth was so rapid that when he had attained the age of eighteen years his uncommon size attracted the notice of a showman, who obtained permission of the youth to exhibit him three years in England, for which he was to pay him fifty pounds per annum. Not contented with his bargain, the showman agreed to underlet the liberty of showing him to another speculator. O’Brien resisted this intended transfer of his person and was saddled with a fictitious debt for which he was arrested at Bristol but was soon released.

He now commenced and continued a regular exhibition of his person. His stature increased till he arrived at the age of twenty-five, when his growth somewhat abated, but he continued growing after that period till he attained the height of eight feet seven inches.

At times he used to walk about the streets for air and exercise at two or three o’clock in the morning. Proceeding along the more level pavement his body appeared more erect and had he not paid attention to avoid the lamps his head would have struck against many of them.

The following anecdote is related on the authority of those with whom he was most familiar. Being on a journey in his own carriage he was one day stopped by a highwayman. He put his head forward to discover the cause that interrupted his progress. The highwayman, at the sigh of so prodigious a figure was struck with such a panic that he clapped spurs to his horse and made a precipitate retreat.

in 1801, having realised an independence sufficient to keep a carriage and to secure the conveniences of life, he declined the public exhibition of his person – which was always extremely irksome to his feelings. He died at Bristol in September, 1806 in the 46th year of his age.

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Late for work – 1827

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 2nd January, 1827 p3

The Doctor  Luke Fildes  1891  Wikimedia Commons
The Doctor
Luke Fildes 1891
Wikimedia Commons

SATURDAY, DEC. 23. (abridged)
James H was charged that he was disobedient, lazy, and insubordinate; he pretended to be sick and went to the hospital, a distance of 4 miles, where they gave him “a dose of stuff”. They would not exempt him. He did not return until 11 o’clock at night.

The district constable proved on oath, that he saw him in a public house, and that he heard him say whilst therein, that his master and all the people in the house talked nothing but Irish, and he could not bear it.

The prisoner was admonished very patiently, but he stood in a sullen uncouth posture, entirely forgetting the respect due to his superiors. Sentence, 25 lashes.

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Irish homes and Irish hearts p4 – 1868

Freemans Journal 28th March, 1868 p11 (abridged)

The Burren Photo: EO'D
The Burren
Photo: EO’D

It is a long dreary drive of nineteen miles to Ennis, through an open limestone country, with low craggy hills. In all this part of Ireland the eye wearies for the pretty villages and comfortable farm-houses which give life and variety to the flat counties of England. The station at Ennis is a wretched one, the platform being of earth, and it was not improved by recent rain and trampling of a crowd of emigrants. Although this is the terminus of the Ennis and Limerick line, the train was in no hurry to start. Everybody took their time, and just half an hour after the one named in the time bills the train set out.

It progressed very slowly on its way, and I was not sorry, for it gave us the opportunity of an excellent view of Clare Abbey — close by which the line passes — one of the loveliest ruins I had ever seen, a graceful church in the form of a cross, with east window almost perfect, and a lofty tower, and the ivy twining round about the broken arches, and covering the walls with a rich green mantle.

On reaching Limerick, I implored a porter to get my luggage quickly, as I wanted to catch the next train for Charleville. “But sure she’s been gone this ten minutes. She was an hour after her time. Your train was so late she could wait no longer.” As I expressed my vexation he said in a tone of deep sympathy, “There’ll be a train tomorrow.” On making further inquiries at the station it turned out that the trains do not profess to fit in with each other. As one of the officials expressed it, “The great lines try to eat up the little ones.”

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Irish homes and Irish hearts p3 – 1868

Freeman’s Journal 28th March, 1868 p11 (abridged)

News from America 1875 James Brenan (1837-1907) Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
News from America
James Brenan (1837-1907)
Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Lough Cooter is the largest lake in the south of county Galway, with many wooded islands lying in its bosom, and lovely views between them. The ‘Castle,’ belonging to the Gough family is a modern erection, in the castellated style, standing on the west bank of the lake, and commanding a most exquisite view, while the lawn slopes down to the water’s edge. Beautiful grounds, richly supplied with trees, surround the house, part of them planted and laid out, part left for the deer to wander about. A gateway and lodge stand at each end of the grounds ; and after passing through the whole length, we returned by another route to Gort in time for the quiet benediction in the little convent chapel.

Travellers from Galway and its neighbourhood proceed by coach via Gort to Ennis, and as there are many emigrants, the coach is often full. This was the case on the morning on which I left Gort, and accordingly two ‘long cars’ were furnished from the coach office, which were rapidly filled with emigrants from Gort. The whole cortege, started from the office in the main street and it was a strange and sorrowful sight to see the partings. A crowd of people collected round the passengers: mothers and brothers and sisters were saying good-bye, weeping, wailing and sometimes howling; kisses were given, last greetings exchanged; promises to write soon, to send money over, and ‘bring the others out’ were uttered and, at last, away they went.

I noticed that the best were going — the young, strong, and vigorous — the old, the feeble, and children were left behind.

By my side sat two young girls, strong, healthy, and active. They were going into the world, and had discarded the blue cloak and stuck on their heads showy bonnets much too small for them, profusely decorated with tulle and artificial flowers and with broad strings of white ribbon. When we were fairly out of town, passing through the solitary monotonous country and admiring friends were left behind, out came the large shawls, in which head, bonnet, and all were fully enveloped.

They became confidential and told me they were going to America to get places. On my suggesting that they could find such at home, they shook their heads and said not with such wages as in America. When they were tired of talking they took out their books and began to read, and, peeping over the shoulder of the one next me, perceived the volume carried with her was a prayer-book.

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Irish homes and Irish hearts p2 – 1868

Freeman’s Journal 28th March, 1868 p11

Kilmacduagh Abbey Photo: Borvan53  Wikimedia Commons
Kilmacduagh Abbey
Photo: Borvan53
Wikimedia Commons

The See of Kilmacduagh was founded by St Colman in the seventh century. Here the cathedral was built, close behind a round tower and surrounded by six other churches. We explored the ruins well and I was fortunate in having a cicerone who had often visited them before, and took a vivid interest in them. It was irritating to see cattle and sheep grazing in the area, more especially as the place is held sacred by the people who bring their dead for burial in its precincts. The former owner of the place was proud of the ruins and took pains to preserve them. It has now unfortunately, passed into younger and more careless hands. It is supposed that one of these seven churches was a college chapel, another a monastery and a third a convent – the other three being probably smaller churches or oratories dedicated to some favourite saints. The convent chapel is the most perfect and the east window and several arches with their corbels show it to have been one of great beauty.

The round tower is especially remarkable from its leaning seventeen feet out of the perpendicular and it is certainly a most singular object. Tradition says it was built by Gobhan Saor, the architect of Glendalough and Antrim.

On leaving this interesting spot I drove through some pretty country, with distant views of “the lonely hills of Clare,” all radiant with the sunshine, to Lough Couter. It was pleasant to see all along the way how the people greeted the priest; they came out from their cabin doors and children ran from their play to get a word from him.

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Irish Homes and Irish Hearts p1 – 1868

Freeman’s Journal 28th March, 1868 p11peat


As the sun disappeared it became extremely cold, and I was very thankful when the car drew up at a large house in the main street at Gort, which, proved to be the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, There I had such a welcome as one only meets with in Irelaiad, and cold and fatigue were soon forgotten under the genial influence of affectionate hospitality.

Gort is a neat, clean, but wonderfully quiet little town, and the visitor is involuntarily reminded of the author of the ‘Irish Sketch Book,’ who describes Gort as a town which ‘seemed to bore itself considerably, and had nothing to do.’ There is a little stir of life, however, twice a day, on tlie arrival of the mail coach from Galway and Ennis, for at present this old-fashioned mode of conveyance is the only available one between the two towns. A railroad is in course of construction, which is to join the Midland Great Western line at Athenry and which will be a graat boon to the traveller.

Through the town of Gort runs a broad clear river, oh the banks of which stands the convent. It is a large country house, which haa been transformed into a convent, while schools have been built adjoining it. Behind the house are good sized grounds, planted with some of the finest oak trees I ever saw through which the river wends its way. On a rising ground at the end of the grounds is the little quiet cemetery of the nuns.

The schools here struck me as particularly good, the buildings well adapted for the purpose, and the children thouroughly trained and well taught.There are infant schoools for boys and girls, another for elder girls, and a small model school. This latter is an absolute necessity in Gort, and the children of this class could not otherwise obtain any education, there being no other convent of any kind within miles. The chapel is only a large room, fitted up for the purpose, but it is very pretty, and has an air of devotion about it. It was pleasing to see the Sisters, when the labors of the day, were over, assembling in their stalls to say their latin office forestalling thus by prayer and praise the cares and troubles of the coming day.

There is an old fashioned, but clean and comfortable hotel at Gort, almost facing a large plain building which forms the Catholic chapel. A large stone cross stands in the churchyard, and several people were kneeling round it in prayer, when, on the Sunday after my arrival in Gort, I went to the Chapel for nine o’clock Mass. It was like a little bit out of a foreign county suddenly set down before my eyes but on entering within the chapel the scene as contemplated from the gallery was stranger still. The whole floor of the church was given up to the poor, and there are no benches or chairs of any kind. There they stood or knelt, grouped in various attitudes, and in a variety of costumes.

The women in their red petticoats and blue cloaks, when standing together in groups, formed a subject for an artist; here and there were those not rich enough to possess the valued cloak, some of whom had tied bright coloured handkerchiefs over their heads, and others had arranged their poor clothing as best they could. The occasional intrusion of a straw bonnet, or worse, still, a hat, was a painful eyesore to the spectator. There were quite as many men as women, and of all ages, some grey headed fathers with their little ones clinging to them, smart looking youths, and numerous boys.

When the consecration bell sounded the whole mass bent low, many almost prostrate on the ground; it was like an Italian picture, save and except that instead of sculptured marbles or Gothic arches surrounding the multitudes, there rose the plain whitewashed walls of a poor Irish chapel. These whitewashed chapels of Ireland, they jar upon the sight of those accustomed to see all that is noble and beautiful adorning the sanctuary! Yet what shrines they have been of faith and devotion – what witnesses they are to the persevering, unconquerable faith of the Irish!

There were a great many communicants at this Mass, and when it was ended the priest took off his chasuble and advanced to the front of the altar. There was a sudden rush. Up got every body from the floor, and the multitude packed themselves in a compact mass round the altar. The sermon was in Irish; every eye was bent on the preacher, every ear strained to listen, and it was evident, from the gestures of the people, that their whole attention was given to the discourse, and that every point went home.

The eloquent preachers in crowded city churches would often rejoice to have an audience so hanging on their words. I declared afterwards that I understood the sermon very well ; for it was the festival of the Seven Dolours which formed the subject of the discourse; and the gestures of the priest, and the answering emotion of the people plainly told that they were bidden to endure patiently, and to suffer bravely after the example of her whose sorrows no mortal can ever equal.

That Sunday was a cloudless summer’s day, and after the last Mass was over, the kind old parish priest took me to see the great lion of the neighbourhood, Kilmacduagh, some three miles distant. The diocese in which Gort stands rejoices in the poetical names of Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

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A Patriot’s Grave – 1850

Freeman’s Journal 5th December, 1850

Photo: EO'D
Photo: EO’D

A PATRIOT’S GRAVE.(abridged)

Mr. William Davis departed this life on the 17th of August, 1843, aged 78 years. He was one of the last survivors of those who were exiled without the formality of a trial, for the Irish Political Movement of 1798. He was an upright and honest man — zealous in the cause of Religion, and a generous benefactor to its Institutions. He ended his days in sentiments of true piety. May he rest in peace, Amen. — Epitaph.

Within this damp, contracted, silent cell,
The relics of a patriot Exile lie;
His faults amid its depths of darkness dwell
His virtues live — they could not with him die.

And when the moon just risen flings her gleam,
As if a smile from Heaven on his tomb,
The burnish’d epitaph, heart-rending theme,
To me’s a history of my country’s doom!

He lov’d his native land — and this was sin
He rose to save that land — and this was crime
He fought — but happened not the prize to win
Hence must he lose the Patriot’s name sublime.

Though ’twas not thine to break the fatal chain
That rankles in old Erin’s wounds so long,
To unfurl her *”Sun-burst” banner once again,
And waken in her glens blest Freedom’s song,

Yet thou didst strive and strain and fling away
Thy youthful vigour in her sacred cause;
If e’er she springs a phœnix from decay,
Thou shalt obtain thy prize, her full applause.

For us poor wanderers from that Isle of Love
Must now suffice a prayer, a tear, a sigh,
Oh, happy! if such worthless offerings prove
Thy memory lives — can never never die?

FOYRAN. Geneva Bower, November 1850. * The “Sun-burst of Battles” was the highly imaginative national standard of the ancient Irish.

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The Piper and the Pooka

The Capricornian 17th May, 1890

Domestic Goose Photo: Noodle snacks  Wikimedia Commons
Domestic Goose
Photo: Noodle snacks
Wikimedia Commons

Folk-tales for Little Folk by Uncle Will (abridged)

Long ago, out of a hill in Leinster there used to emerge, as far as his middle, a plump, sleek, terrible steed, a Pooka, who spoke in human voice to each person about November day, and he was accustomed to give intelligent and proper answers to such as consulted him concerning all that would befall them, until the November of next year. And the people used to leave gifts and presents at the hill until the coming of Patrick and the holy clergy.’

In some places the Pooka came out in the form of the Neck of Scandinavia, or Water-Kelpie of Scotland. About the Martinmas time the Pooka used to appear near the sea or a fresh water lough in the form of a horse. He went tearing about at a great rate. If any one were bold enough to go between him and the water, be could be caught and bridled, and then made a splendid steed. If at any time, however, he came in sight of water, he made for it. Were any one on his back, then it was all the worse for the rider, for the Pooka would plunge in, and tear him to pieces at the bottom.

As a man riding on a Pooka horse could not go far in Ireland without seeing deep water, not many would use them. A boundary rider out west might: have one for some considerable time without seeing as much water as would drown him.

Here is a story about the Pooka, translated literally from the Irish of the Leabhar Sgeulaiyheachta, by Douglas Hyde.


In the old times there was a half fool living in Dunmore, in the county Galway, and although he was excessively fond of music, he was unable to learn more than one tune, and that was the ‘Black Rogue.’ He used to get a good deal of money from the gentlemen, for they used to get sport out of him.

One night the piper was coming home from a house where there had been a dance, and he half drunk, when he came to a little bridge that was up by his mother’s house he squeezed the pipes on, and began playing the ‘* Black Rogue’ (an rogaire dubh). The Pooka came behind him, and flung him up on his own back. There were long horns on the Pooka, and the piper got a good grip of them, and then he said

‘Destruction on you, you nasty beast, let me home. I have a ten-penny piece in my pocket for my mother, and she wants snuff.’
‘Never mind your mother,’ said the Pooka,
‘But keep your hold. If you fall, you will break your neck and your pipes.’
Then the Pooka said to him,
‘Play up for me the Shan Van Vocht’ (an tsean bhean bhocht).’
‘I don’t know it,’ said the piper.
‘Never mind whether you do or you don’t, said the Pooka.’
‘Play up, and i’ll make you know.’
The piper put wind in his bag, and he played such music as made himself wonder.
‘Upon my word, you’re a fine music master,’ says the piper/
‘But tell me where you’re bringing me.’
‘There’s a great feast in the house of the Banshee, on the top of Croagh Patrick to-night,’ says the Pooka,
‘I’m bringing you there to play music, and, take my word, you’ll get the price of your trouble.’
‘By my word, you’ll save me a journey then,’ says the piper.
‘Father William put a journey to Croagh Patrick on me, because I stole tbe white gander from him last Martinmass.’

The Pooka rushed him across hills and bogs and rough places, till he brought him to the top of Croagh Patrick. Then the Pooka struck three blows with his foot, and a great door opened, and they passed in together, into a fine room. The piper saw a golden table in the middle of the room, and hundreds of old women (cailleacha) sitting round about it. The old women rose up, and. said,
‘A hundred thousand welcomes to you, you Pooka of November (na Samhna). Who is this you have with you ?’’
‘The best piper in Ireland,’ says the Pooka.
One of the old women struck a blow on the ground, and a door opened in the side of the wall, and what should the piper see coming out but the white gander which he had stolen from Father William.
‘Myself and my mother ate every taste of that gander, only one wing, and I gave that to Moy-rua. It was she told the priest I stole his gander.’ The gander cleaned the table, and carried it away, and the Pooka said,

‘Play up music for these ladies.’ The piper flayed up, and the old women began dancing, and they were dancing till they wore tired. Then the Pooka said to pay the piper, and every old woman drew out a gold piece, and gave it to him.
‘By the tooth of Patrick,’ said he,
‘I’m as rich as the son of a lord.
‘Come with me,’ says the Pooka,
‘And I’ll bring you home.’

They went out. then, and just as he was going to ride on the Pooka, the gander came up to him, and gave him a new set of pipes. The Pooka was not long until he brought him to Dunmore, and he threw the piper off at the little bridge, and then be told him to go home, and says to him,
‘You have two things now that you have never had before, you have sense and music (ciall agus ceol).’

The piper went home and knocked at his mother’s door, saying,
‘Let me in, I’m as rich as a lord, and I’m the best piper in Ireland.’
‘You’re drunk,’ said the mother.
‘No, indeed,’ said the piper,
‘I haven’t drunk a drop.’
The mother let him in and he gave her the the gold pieces.
‘Wait now,’ says he,
’Til you hear the music i’ll play.’
He buckled on the new pipes, but instead of music, there came a sound as if all the geese and ganders in Ireland were screeching together. He wakened the neighbours, and they were all mocking him until he put on the old pipes, and then he played melodious music for them. After that he told them all he had gone through that night.

The next morning when his mother went to look at the gold pieces, there was nothing there but the leaves of a plant. The piper went to the priest, and told him his story, but the priest would not believe a word from him, until he put the new pipes on him, and then the screeching of the geese and ganders began.
‘Leave my sight, you thief’ says the priest. But nothing would do the piper till he would put the pipes on him to show the priest that his story was true. He buckled on the old pipes, and he played melodious music, and from that day till the day of his death, there was never a piper in the county Galway as good as he.