Irish Examiner 31st December, 1881 p.3
Yesterday the County Galway Hunt was to have its meet at Kilcornan Castle at ten o’clock. Long before that hour horns were sounded in all directions for miles around. As early as nine o’clock no less than five thousand persons had assembled at the entrance gate to the Castle. A pile of stones were placed before the gate, and it was evident by the demeanour of the crowd that the hunt would be stopped at any cost. At ten o’clock Mr. Burton Persse, the master of the hounds, together with several gentlemen and the pack, arrived. The crowd moved in front of the gate.
The master asked what had they against him. A young man stepped forward and said, “No hunting will be allowed until the suspects are released (great cheering). Mr Persse said they could not release them. The young man said they had done their best to bring about coercion. Mr Persse denied that they did. The young man;
“You cannot deny the evidence you gave before the Bessborough Commission.”
Just then fifty soldiers and about seventy policemen, under the command of sub-inspectors and a resident magistrate arrived. The officers had a brief interview with Mr Persse and the young man again came forward and asked,
“Why did you bring police and military?”
Mr.Persse denied having any knowledge of their coming and said that he was always anxious to have the goodwill of the people.
The resident magistrate, addressing the crowd, said if they did no disperse he would give an order to cut them down.
The crowd was about to move when a young man, a stranger to all, rushed and in a loud voice said, “Halt! Death or glory.”
The crowd halted, and two policemen placed him under arrest and threatened to fire. He retorted and said that they would lose their lives or stop the hunt. With a desperate effort he shook off the two policemen, one of them falling over a low wall, and was soon lost in the crowd. All the efforts of the police failed to recapture him.
The huntsmen then rode off in the direction of Oranmore, but were met by another immense crowd, who hooted, groaned, and pelted mud at them. A gentleman was apparently looking for something in his pocket and a report went out that he was searching for his revolver, whereupon sticks and stones were freely flung at him, and he escaped by riding off at full speed. The master was informed if he let the hounds into any of the coverts not one of them would be allowed out alive. A report has just arrived that three gentlemen were more or less injured. In consequence of the opposition to the hunt the following circular has been sent to all the members; Ballinderry, Dec29th Sir, In consequence of the opposition to the hunting on Wednesday at Kilcornan, I am requested by the master of the hounds to call a meeting of the members of the hunt for Saturday next, 31st instant, at the Railway Hotel, Athenry, at two o’clock, where you attendance is particularly requested. Yours truly, J. W. Comyn, Hon. Sec.
The Connaught Smuggler (Part 2) (abridged)
A large fleet of East Indiamen, unable to beat up channel, due to north-easterly winds, was obliged to put into Galway Bay for water and provisions, and there these huge merchantmen lay at anchor, freighted not only with tea and indigo, but with those delicate muslins which Manchester had not yet learned to imitate.
Now, it was known to Biddy Bod that each officer and sailor, might have a supply of such valuable goods as a private venture, and to make her own market, she went on board. Expert as she was in smuggling, she knew how and where about her own ample person to stow away soft goods. She, by nature large and was also ‘prone’ to dropsy. The swelling of her legs and body was sometimes awful. What medicine she used to get down the enlargement, whether belladonna or digitalis, is not recorded, but she did now and then keep down her dropsical dispositions and “became small by degrees and beautifully less.”
On her return from the India fleet, Biddy Bod had a full fit of ‘dropsy’. Her body was like a rhinoceros;s, her legs like those of the largest elephant of the King of Siam; she might have got the elephantiasis from being so near, (while on board the fleet), the elephant which the Nabob of Arcot was sending as a present to Queen Charlotte. So she landed, in all her amphoteric, west of Claddagh. When she did she (as I may say) tapped herself. She unrolled all the gold and silver muslin, the wonders of the India loom; Cashmere shawls from her person. These she stuffed into the hollow of an immense pillion fastened on her large black button tailed mare. By help of a convenient granite stone she mounted, her man Luke before her, with her arm confidingly placed around said Luke’s waist. They departed, slow paced and sure, away from the town of Galway and the custom house, the dreaded custom house. They took the road to Athenry and all seemed safe. All of a sudden, at the turning of the road, out bounced a smart, dapper, active eyed, but rather diminutive man, and caught hold of the rein of her bridle. More…
Cork Examiner, Supplement 23rd July, 1881
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...