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The Connaught Smuggler (Part 1) – 1881

Cork Examiner, Supplement 23rd July, 1881Raillway bridge g
(abridged)
About the commencement of the present century, the Connaught gentry, who seldom thought of going to Dublin, used, besides rigging themselves out at Ballinasloe Fair, to have their common and occasional wants in the way of raiment, jewellery, and spicery, supplied by pedlars.  These pedlars went about the country with large and strong chests stowed on carts, and which contained often valuable assortments of goods of all kinds. They were of such respectability, that some of them dined at the tables of the gentry, and giving, as they generally did, credit, they were very acceptable, and were treated with all possible consideration. In fact, there was a considerable smuggling trade carried on along the whole western coast.  In return for our Irish wool, the French silks and jewellery, and the Flanders goods, came in without the intervention of a custom house. In promoting this traffic, many of the western proprietors were concerned, and it is said that families who wear coronets became right wealthy by the export of wool, and the import of claret and French fabrics.
Be this as it may, the itinerant pedlars I have just alluded to were the convenient purveyors of this contraband, and their good offices were on all hands acknowledged. Of these, Mrs Bridget Bodkin was not the last active, or ingenious. She sprang from one of the tribes of Galway, and though the gentry of the west looked down on regular traders and shopkeepers,  Biddy Bod, as she was called, was considered honourable, for she was very useful.  Many a wedding as well as wedding gear, was the result of her providence.  More...

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