Carving from base of doorway at Portumna Priory
The W. A. Record (Perth W.A) 5th August, 1905 p. 12
Accompanying a recent contribution to the “Irish World’s” Gaelic Language Fund from a subscriber to that paper was the following terse poetic sentiment of the donor :
I’m just a plain hard-working man.
I was born in the village of Ardrahan,
And I like to do the best I can
To help dear Mother Erin.
For I spent many a happy day
In Galway, Tuam and Monivea,
Kinvarra, Gort and sweet Loughrea,
Athenry and old Kilclairin.
My hands are just as tough as leather,
My face is bronzed with wind and weather,
My heart is just as light as a feather,
As I mingle with the throng.
When times are bad I never holler,
Thank the Lord I can spare, a dollar
To help the cause along.
The Catholic Press Sydney, NSQ 21st April 1921 p.16 (abridged)
A sensational story of the burning of the house of a widow and the stripping and ill treatment of seven young men who were inside at the time comes from Caheroncen (sic.) Kinvarra.
Mrs Bridget Quinn was visited in the evening by 14 men, supposed to be members of one of the divisions of Crown forces. They were dressed in civilian clothes and wore false moustaches. They arrived in a motor lorry, and declared that they were looking for the murderers of policemen. To seven men who were playing cards in the house they shouted ‘hands up,’ and, covering them with rifles and revolvers, took them outside where they were kept under guard while the house was searched.
Then the men were compelled to strip and lie flat on the ground. They declare that all that was in their clothes was taken and the clothes burned. The house of Mrs Quinn was burned to the ground, and, having implored the raiders, she was permitted to free a team of horses in a stable.
The naked men were told to sing ‘God Save the King.’ They stated that they did not know the words, and the National Anthem was then sung for them, and they were compelled to repeat it, and then told to clear off, shots being discharged after them.
A doctor who attended them subsequently told me their bodies bore marks, and although they had not been seriously hurt, they were in a very nervous condition.
No member of the Crown forces has ever been attacked in the district.
Irish Times 8th October 1904, p9 (abridged)
We drove through a rocky defile for about three miles, where large boulders on either side of the roadway were apparently so lightly poised it seemed as if a strong puff of wind might dislodge them and send them down on our path.
“Now, we must get out here. I believe the oratory is somewhere there,” and my friend waved her hand to include a three mile circuit.
“Let us have tea first,” I mildly suggested. So we sat on the grassy fence and produced our tea pasket. Then we rose like giants refreshed, first giving the old man a cup of powerful tea to “cut the drouth.” We made for the nearest Galway wall, and patiently made a gap to get through, my conscientious friend building it up when we had got through. You see galway walls are made of large loose stones with the daylight visible through them; this is done purposely so that the wind can pass through them, an ordinary wall would offer too much resistance to the winds from sea and mountain which alternate and prevail in these parts. I have heard the “Galway Blazers,” when pursuing the crafty fox, take the fences at a flying leap, but I do not believe any one else could perform such a feat. Crossing the extensive field of “praties,” we came to the conclusion there was no church or ruin within two miles, so back we plodded, took down and re-built the wall again, but when this was repeated in a wheat field, and once more in a field of turnips my ardour began to abate and I even murmured “some other day perhaps.” Just then we heard a man’s voice, “If ’tis lookin’ for St. Colman’s Church, yez are all wrong. You’d never find it. Hould on a bit and I’ll show ye the way,” and putting the scythe with which he was at work against a wall, he told us to follow him. We coinjointly deprecated taking him from his work, but he replied with Irish politeness, “I am only working for myself so ’tis no odds.” Leading the way we followed through fields of tangled mountain grass and bog myrtle, through purple heather and rushes; it was slow work, as the growth hid the stones, which were truly a trap to the unwary. After slips and stumbles, we stopped to take breath in a hazel coppice; on emerging from thence our guide, pointing to the slop of the mountain, said “There it is before you now,” but it was some time ere we could distinguish the tiny grey ruined church from the back ground of the limestone rock.
“Here we are,” we exclaimed simultaneously. Such an out of the world spot even in these days of hurry and bustle and sight seeing; not a sound but the murmur of a mountain stream; here indeed it might truly be said, “Grim silence held her solitary sway.” We stopped at the stone covered holy well of the old-world saint; in a niche placed by some pilgrims we found two scallop shells. On a hot August day one need not be reminded to “drink deep of the wave.” Hanging down in luxuriance from the roof were flourishing fronds of the Asplenium Tricomanes and Scolopendrium Vulgare ferns.
The present day followers of the saintly St. Colman Macduagh who carry away stones and plants from his hermitage, and who marvel at the legendary powers of fasting credited to the ascetic, seem to overlook entirely his abstemiousness from all drink save that of his mountain well. We climbed about amongst the fallen masonry till we stood in the oratory itself, which consists of one side wall and the two gables.
The Reverend J. Fahey in his interesting work on the ruins in the Diocese of Kilmacduagh says:-
It must have been previous to A.D. 597 when St. Colman entered on his seven years’ retirement here. At this time the now treeless Burrin hills were clothed with dense forests, so that the spot chosen by the Saint for solitude and contemplation was doubly more different of discovery than at present.
The existing ruin shows signs of restoration, as is supposed in the eleventh century, which is indicated by the difference in the masonry. Like all those of that period, the church is very small, being only 16 feet long, by 12 broad. Dr. Petrie has observed that these tiny churches were merely erected for the private devotion of the founders, for in the immediate vicinity of these oratories is usually found a cave or cell which served as habitation for the hermit. We saw St. Colman’s grotto about 30 feet above the church in the mountain side. We can hardly fancy this being the above for seven years of the recluse, for the grotto is only 15 feet by 5; it is, however high enough for a tall man to stand upright in, and doubtless the hermit’s contemplation was chiefly out of doors where his eyes would wander to the blue heavens, where his spirit loved to soar, and at night-fall would gaze on “the ocean hung on high, bespangled with those isles of light so wildly, beautifully bright.” Ah, if that old rugged peak of Ceanaille could tell us all it saw of the good man’s life at its foot, how much more interesting would it be than the stories invented by later day monks, and accredited to him as showing the miraculous powers they supposed St. Colman to be possessed of. Here is one:-
The saint lived here quite alone save for one youthful disciple, and the story is, that after the long Lenten fast – which, doubtless, the mountain air must have aggravated – there was nothing to be found in the scanty larder of the hermitage save a little wild fowl and the usual herbs wherewith to celebrate the approaching high festival. The Saint urged that God could provide a dinner if He thought fit. Now, it came to pass that the King of Connaught was staying at his palace at Kinvarra for the Easter festivities, but he had no idea that his saintly kinsman was only five miles distant in his retreat. So the legend goes on to tell that as his Majesty King Quain (sic.) was about to seat himself at his sumptuous repast, his aspiration was that so rich a banquet might be set before some true servants of God who needed it.
With this thought, the dishes were speedily whipped off the table by invisible hands! King Quain and his followers mounted their steeds and followed the dinner, when lo! it was placed before St. Colman and his hungry disciple. The arrival of the King of Connaught and his cortege caused considerable alarm to the hermit and his disciple. Then St. Colman, raising his hand, commanded the horsemen to remain where they were, and move they could not till the Saint had finished his repast, and prayed for their release.
The smooth limestone plateau upon which the horsemen’s progress was stayed is full of small round holes which the faithful believe to be the hoof marks of King Quain’s (sic.) horses. This spot was from its appearance at one time the bottom of the lake, and the supposed hoof marks are apparently water-worn holes, but of this we did not hint to our simple guide.
Connacht Tribune 24th December 1910 p5
On Monday morning the Kinvara cattle drivers, Ml. Donohue, Gortnaclogh, T. Gorman, John Hynes, P. Healy, Bartly Quinn, Moy, and John Smith, Kinvara were released from Galway Jail after undergoing a term of six months’ imprisonment. They were tried at the Summer Assizes and sentenced by Judge Kenny for driving the cattle of Patrick J. Flatley off the lands of Funshinbeg. The severity of the sentence and the respectability of the prisoners evoked the greatest sympathy at the time, and the Nationalists of the district vied with one another in doing the farm work and harvesting for their families ever since.
They were met at the door of the prison as they emerged, by Mr Ml O’Donohue J.P., Co. C. and seven cars, laden with members of the Kinvara hurling club. They were sumptuously entertained by Mr. O’Donohoe, and started from Eyre square after “doing” Salthill, about 3 p.m. for Kinvara.
They were loudly cheered passing through Oranmore and Clarenbridge, and on reaching Kilcolgan they were greeted with illuminations. They were met outside Kilcolgan by a big contingent with cars and horses, from the Kinvara and Duras branches U.I.L., consisting of Messrs. T.P.Corless, D.D., president; Ml Curtin, B. Quinn, M. Melia, Pat Hanlon, Bryan Kilkelly, T. Keane, Joe Forde, Pat Halvey, P. Callanan, P. Whelan, Ml Carty (Secretary), Michael Huban, A. Conners, C. O’Loughlin, P. Noone, J. Moylan, John Glynn etc., who cheered them loudly. As Ballindereen was approached it was seen that every house was illuminated, bonfires were ablaze on every hill, and lighted torches lit up the horizon.
A noticeable feature in Ballindereen was a big force of police under arms on the outskirts of the crowd. A hurriedly convened meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Michael O’Donohoe, Co. C. J.P., who thanked the sterling Gaels and fearless Nationalists of Ballinderreen for the great reception they had given the prisoners(cheers). He would never forget it to them (sic.) He reminded them of the early days of the Land League Movement and of the proclaimed meeting in 1879, and said he was glad to see the same spirit animating them today.
Mr. T.P.Corless, D.C., also addressed the meeting.
Amidst a scene of great enthusiasm the procession, which had now assumed enormous dimensions, started for Kinvara. The houses along the route were illuminated and bonfires and torches blazed at Pollough and Toreen. At Ballyclera the whole village turned out and the procession passed with great difficulty through a virtual sea of fire. Dungora Castle presented a grand appearand with its many and various coloured lights. Overlooking the town and harbour, the lights could be seen for miles. The turrets on the top were beautifully lighted and arranged in such a way as to resemble a huge harp. A bonfire was ablaze in frong of the Castle as the prisoners were passing.
Kinvara was brilliantly illuminated and an immense bonfire was lighted in a field opposite the Convent of Mercy.
In Moy and Gortnaclogh, the homes of the prisoners, bonfires and illuminations were kept up until morning.
Mr. Cruise, D.I., and a number of extra police were drafted into Kinvara, but notwithstanding the greatest excitement, everything passed off quietly.
The Irish Times 1st August, 1871 p 3.
Lisdoonvarna Spas and Sea Side Places of Clare, by E. D. Mapother, M.D. Price 1s, Dublin: Fannin and Co., 1871
Is there any of our readers who desires a short sojourn amid beautiful scenery, with the briny breezes of the Atlantic for his lungs, and the choice of a great variety of mineral waters for his digestive system? He can effect this purpose conveniently and economically by a visit to the places, the names of which stand at the head of this notice. Leaving the Broadstone station at 8.50 a.m., he can reach Athenry at 1.40, and Gort an hour later. From Gort station, a well-appointed two-horse car will take him to Lisdoonvarna at about 8 p.m., for a 4s fare. The traveller who has no objection to linger on the way will find enough to interest him for a few hours’ in both the former places. At Gort he will be charmed with the beautiful Lough Cooter, the bold outlines of the Burren and Derrybrian mountains, and the fantastic course of the river alternately subterranean, and revealed to view which flows from Lough Cooter into the Bay of Kinvarra, forming the Ladle, the Punchbowl, the Beggarman’s Hole and the Churn on the way. Athenry is celebrated for its extensive and interesting ruins, attesting the ancient importance of the town as the seat of the presidency of Connaught in the days of Elizabeth and her successors, down to Cromwell. From Gort the car takes him along the southern coast of Galway by Kinvarra, New Quay (a pretty bathing place) and Ballyvaghan, the most picturesque view being had from the Corkscrew road which winds upwards from a point three miles beyond Ballyvaghan. The barony of Burren, in which Lisdoonvarna is situated, was described by Cromwell’s General, Ludlow, in terms suggestive of the business which brought him there. He says; “This is a country in which there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hand a man, nor earth enough to bury a man.” There is earth enough, however, to feed some of the best mutton in Ireland, as those who dine at either of the two hostelries of Lisdoonvarna will allow.
The mineral springs are five in number; one of them, called by Dr. Mapother the Double-Arch Iron Spa, is now disused. Of the others, two are sulphur springs, and one of those is the Gowlaun, sufficiently copious to supply baths. A third spring, the Rathbaun, is a chalybeate, and contains as much iron in ten pints as Newbridge Spa contains in seven. The remaining spa is magnesian, but Dr. Mapother says that “it scarcely deserves the name.”
The first medical writer who gave an account of the mineral springs of Lisdoonvarna was the famous Dr. Lucas, M.P. for Dublin, whose statue adorns the City Hall. His analysis was made in 1840 and is quoted seventeen years later by Dr. Rutty, in a work now hard to get, entitled the “Mineral Waters of Ireland.” The barony of Burren, in which Lisdoonvarna is situated is, says Dr. Rutty, “remarkably rocky and dry, the air, wholesome, and the herbage between the rocks which lie very close together very sweet and nourishing, so that the farmers send their cattle in winter thither and it fattens them better than hay would do.”
There can be no doubt about the rocks nor the wholesomeness of the air, nor the sweetness of the pasture; but if Lisdoonvarna was remarkably dry in Rutty’s time the climate must have undergone a considerable change in the hundred and odd years that have elapsed since he wrote. Dr. Mapother’s little book, gives a far more correct and complete account of the mineral springs of the County Clare than any previously published. Dr. Apjohn’s pamphlet is out of print. Dr. Mapother quotes from it, however, the analyses made by that eminent chemist Dr. Apjohn, who wrote in 1853, adds:
“This consideration indicated by science is amply confirmed by experience, for the numerous invalids who visit annually these waters bear the strongest testimony to their curative powers; and the Chalybeate springs of Lisdoonvarna are now recommended with confidence to their patients by the most eminent members of the faculty in the metropolis and other parts of Ireland.” Dr. Mapother seems to rank the principal sulphur spring quite as highly as the chalybeate for its special purpose. His testimony ought to be conclusive on the subject for he is known to have made a careful study of the spas of England and of the United States as well as of his own country. The visitor will be at no lack for splendid coast scenery. The far-famed cliffs of Moher, Galway Bay, on the one hand, and the Shannon on the other, with the islands which fringe the coast, are all within easy reach by car or boat. The cars are well horsed and always to be had, the tariff being 6d per Irish mile, the cheapest travelling, perhaps in the world. Dr. Mapother makes an admirable suggestion which we give in his own words (p page 46)
“The greatest benefit to the poor labourers and artisans would arise from the establishment of an Infirmary at Lisdoonvarna, where the victims of rheumatic gout, a disease more prevalent in Ireland than in any other country, could be lodged, and inexpensively fed. The cost of a plain building, to contain twenty beds, need not exceed £300; and allowing each patient from two to three weeks’ residence, about 200 would be relieved in the season, from May 1st to October 31st. The maintenance and attendance of the patients would cost from £200 to £260 for these six months, and much of it would be readily subscribed by the proprietors, who would profit by the proven value of the spas, by the wealthier visitors, and by public bodies who sent patients there. Such institutions, similarly supported, exist on a large scale at Buxton and many other famous health resorts, which I feel are in no degree superior to that which I have now inadequately described.”
The Irish Times 6th April, 1905 p10
Malicious Injury claims at Galway
The following is the list of claims for criminal injury to be tried before His Honor Judge Anderson at Gort on Thursday next, 23th April, amounting to nearly £250.
James St. George, of Newtown, Kilcolgan;
A boat maliciously and wantonly taken away from her moorings at the pier of Tarrea, and which was used on the oyster bank of Pollough for the purpose of dredging oysters, and containing the necessary gear, on the morning of 22nd January, 1905, between the hours of 2 o’clock a.m and 8 a.m. Compensation claimed £20.
Michael Keane of Killuneen, Craughwell;
A double stone wall about 220 yards in length unlawfully, wantonly and maliciously damaged and knocked down between 7th and 10th February, on the lands of Lavalley. Compensation claimed, £10.
Michael Finnegan, of Shanganaugh, Kinvarra;
One cock of hay containing six tons maliciously set on fire and totally destroyed on the 24th of January on the lands of Gortnasteal. Compensation claimed, £12.
Thomas J. Tully, of Crallagh;
one cock of hay containing 13 tons destroyed on 29th January on the lands of Grallagh, Loughrea. Compensation claimed, £33.
Robert R. O’Hara, of Derryfoyle, Craughwell;
The tails of three cows and one bullock maliciously cut on the night of 23rd February on the lands of Derryhoyle, Loughrea. Compansation claimed, £8.
Patrick Sheehan, of Dennacoo;
600 yards of a single stone wall on the lands of Killeenamunterland South, 50 yards wall at Newtown, 28 yards wall at Caroncreggaun knocked down. Compensation claimed, £80.
Florimond L. Quinn;
162 perches of a wall thrown down on the lands of Caherglissane, Compensation claimed, £12.
John Bermingham, of Killenavara;
A seat or pew maliciously, wilfully, and wantonly thrown out of the Chapel on the night of the 18th March or early in the morning following, whereby same was broken and destroyed at Ballinderreen. Compensation claimed, £6.
George C. Stapleton;
465 yards of double stone wall knocked down on the night of 23rd February on the lands of Moyvilla, otherwise Ballinellaun. Compensation claimed, £40.
Freeman’s Journal 5th, January 1846 p2.
We subjoin a notice of motion given in the Board of Guardians of the Gort Union by Daniel MacNevin, Esq., one of the guardians. The facts which appear in the notice illustrate wonderfully the beauty of the new centralizing poor law. It appears that one of the assistant commissioners, a Mr. Handcok (sic.), who represents the Scotch autocracy of Somerset House, and whose sovereign will overrules and supersedes the discretion of the resident gentlemen and ratepayers, chose to apply an outrageously offensive expression to one of the guardians, Mr. Lahiff, a gentleman of very extensive landed property and great influence in the neighbourhood of Gort.
But it is not alone for the personal insult that Mr. Handcock will have to answer to the public and to his employers. On the face of Mr. MacNevin’s notice of motion it is alleged, that on a late inquiry into the conduct of an official in the local pest house (or poorhouse), this worthy assistant-commissioner refused to examine a material witness because she could not speak English. Can anything be more monstrous than this conduct? We trust that the matter will be fairly discussed on the motion, and that, if Mr. MacNevin can substantiate his charges – can prove that, personally, this gentleman is rude, aggressive, and insulting, and that, acting in a quasi-judicial character, he excluded testimony because the witness could only speak her native language – the result will be the exemplary punishment of the party so offending. The following is from the Galway Vindicator:-
GORT UNION – MEETING OF GUARDIANS
At a full Board of Guardians of the Gort Union, on Friday, the 26th of December instant, the following notice was given by D. McNevin, Esq, one of the guardians of said union;-
“I hereby give notice that on the 9th day of January next, I will move for a vote of censure on Mr. Handcock, the Assistant Commissioner of this Union, for insolence and gross misconduct towards this board. In the first instance, for having told one of our chairmen, James Lahiff, Esq., that he (is) a perfect nuisance; in the second place, for having, by his report, misrepresented to the Board of Commissioners, the conduct of these magistrates, members of our Board, two of them being ex-officio Guardians, and for having finally, refused, upon a late inquiry into the conduct of the master of this house, to examine a material witness for said master, inconsequence of her being unable to give her evidence in English, though three gentlemen of our board (perfectly competent to do so) offered to act as interpreters on the occasion, which after the said assistant-commissioner refused, and made his report against the said master, discarding such material witness, and thereby inducing the commissioners to dismiss said master contrary to the unanimous opinion of our board.
The board adjourned until Friday, 9th January next.
Tuam Herald 13th November, 1869 p.1
The Land Question (abridged)
Gort, Sunday Night
This patriotic little town may well take credit to itself for the support which it has this day given to the cause of tenant right in this country. It afforded not only to the people on this side of the extensive county of Galway, but to thousands in the northern districts of the county Clare, an opportunity of expressing their opinions on the present unsatisfactory state of the land laws in Ireland, and of pointing out the mode in which the tenant farmers of the country desire that they should be altered. Some influential gentlemen residing in the town and neighbourhood were anxious that the people should, in the form of resolutions, express their grievances with a view to their redress by a Ministry and by a Parliament which have already manifested an anxious wish to remove those evils which have been a source of misery and discontent to the country.
The notice by which the meeting was called was given only a few days back, and yet the meeting of today was a great success, keeping in view the fact that it was not a county meeting, but was composed mostly of people within a circuit of ten miles of the town. The Athenry and Ennis Junction Railway, however, ran special trains, and brought large numbers of people from longer distances. The train which left Ennis at eleven o’clock arrived in Gort at twelve o’clock bringing people from Ennis, Crusheen and Tubber, and the train from Athenry, which arrived shortly after, carried large number of tenant farmers from that station, from Oranmore, Crughwell (sic.) and Ardrahan. The traffic arrangements were under the direction of Mr. Thomas O’Malley, the manager, and were admirably carried out by Mr William Lawlor, the efficient station master of Gort.
Many of the farmers came in on horseback heading bodies of 400 or 500 people. Ardrahan furnished a contingent of about 400, and the united parishes of Ballymena and Crughwell sent by rail about 300 persons, who were accompanied by the Rev. Francis Arthur, P.P. and the Rev. M O’Flanagan, C.C. This body on entering the unfurled their banner, which had inscribed on it the mottoes, “Fixity of Tenure” and “Tenant Right,” and the Rev. M. Nagle, P.P., Kilbeaconty, accompanied a body of his parishioners, numbering, perhaps, five hundred. The Rev. John Barry, P.P., Behagh, and the Rev. Michael Killeen, C.C., accompanied about 800 from their parish, with banners bearing the words, “Fixity of Tenure” and “Tenant Right.” Numbers also came from Corofin, Ballyvaughan, Kilkeely, New Quay, Feakle, Derrybrian, Loughrea, and Kinvara.
A very large body of tenantry came on horseback from Kinvara, accompanied by their landlord, Isaac B. Daly, and Mrs Daly, who drove in their carriage, and who were loudly cheered. By one o’clock there could not have been less than from 10,000 to 12,000 people in the town, all evidently interested in the cause which brought them together. Previous to the commencement of the proceedings a procession was formed, headed by a number of young girls, some of whom were entirely dressed in green, and these were followed by well-dressed young men carrying green banners, having inscribed on them the words, “God save Ireland,” “fixity of tenure,” “tenant right,” and “Cead mille failthe,” (sic.) and the harp in gold was on several of them. There was scarcely a person in the whole procession, which walked round the market-square, accompanied by music, who was not in some way ornamented with green.
They cheered on passing the houses which by some patriotic device attracted attention. An excellent cast of the face of O’Connell was placed in one of the windows of Forrest’s Hotel, and beneath was a saying of the Liberator’s, “He who commits a crime gives strength to the enemy.” At Glynn’s Hotel, there was a sign on a green ground, and the words “Prosperity to Ireland.” These received respectful attention on the part of the people who, as the hour approached for the commencement of the meeting, assembled in front and around the platform which was erected in the middle of the square, and was so spacious as to accommodate about one hundred and fifty persons. On the motion of Mr. L. S. Mangan, Gort, seconded by Mr. Thomas Boland, the chair was taken amidst loud applause by the Very Rev. T. Shannon, P.P., V.G.
Weekly Irish Times
Saturday, April 14, 1906 p.4
The Children’s page – Prize Letters
This week I will tell you all I know about the town of Gort. It is built on the River Blackwater. The population is 1,339. The railway station is situated close to the town, through which the railway runs. The principal streets are The Square, George’s street, Bridge street, and the principal buildings are the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, the Convent of Mercy, the National Bank, the Post Office, Courthouse, Workhouse, Polic Barrack, and National School. There is also in the town a Military Barrack, but there are no soldiers in Gort at present, and the apartments are occupied by private families. Saturday is market day, when the Square is crowded with carts of turf, potatoes, turnips, hay etc. Fish is also sold in The Square, which is brought in from Kinvarra, which is about seven miles distant. There are two postal deliveries in Gort – one in the morning, and one at noon. There is a good deal of employment given to girls in the Convent, where they make flannel, linen, lace, crochet, etc. Some of the work is beautiful and brings a high price.
I remain, dear Granny,
your loving grandchild,
My Dear Elizabeth,
I was much interested in your nicely-written letter, and I hope you will enjoy your prize.
Your affectionate Granny.