Posted in Posts and podcasts

A Fortnight in Lisdoonvarna – 1887

Supplement to the Cork Examiner 8th October, 1887

Lisdoonvarna - c 1903 Robert French
Lisdoonvarna – c 1903
Robert French

This beautiful and favourite health resort, which deserves to be better known than it really is, has, since the opening of the West Clare Railway, become much more easy of access, as the station at Ennistymon is only seven miles from the Spa. In the old days the long car journey from Ennis, a distance of twenty miles, was very fatiguing and was enough to deter persons of weakly or delicate constitutions from undertaking it at all.

I arrived in the height of the season and only that I took the precaution of telegraphing from Ennis, I could scarcely have got quarters at the comfortable hostelry where I had sojourned on a former occasion. I had the good fortune to fall in with pleasant and companionable society, including a large sprinkling of the softer sex and, If I had not long ago received my baptism of fire from a pair of Southern blue eyes, and so was armour proof against the shafts of the winged god, I certainly should have not returned heart whole.

I found Biddy at the celebrated sulphur well as youthful looking and full of ready repartee as ever, while her faith in the healing virtues of the spring seems to grow stronger as the years roll by. Our time was mainly spent in drinking the waters, climbing the neighbouring hills, or following the courses of the tortuous ravings, which the mountain torrents have worn, here there and everywhere through the beds of shale. The monotony of this style of existence was occasionally broken by excursions through the various places of interest round the Spa, and two of these outings deserve at least more than passing reference.

Ballinalackin Castle Bogman Wikimedia Commons
Ballinalackin Castle
Wikimedia Commons

We arranged on one day to go by Ballinalacken and Black head to Ballyvaughan, and returned by the famous Crokscrew road, a piece of engineering that would do credit to the genius of the first Napoleon. The road from Ballinalacken to Ballyvaughan runs along the Southern shore of Galway Bay. The country to the right forms portion of the Barony of Burren and presents a chain of rocky and barren looking hills. Yet we were assured by our driver that succulent grasses grew in the interstices of the rocks and that splendid sheep were raised on these hills.

The day was beautifully fine, the blue sky being perfectly cloudless, while Galway bay was a calm as an inland lake. Here and there a hare-legged, sunburned child peered out from some fisherman’s cabin; anon a startled hare fled away from a wayside clump of rare ferns. Ivy clad ruins of ancient abbeys and churches formed a prominent feature in the landscape and bore eloquent testimony to the piety and faith of our Celtic ancestors.Of the old castles, Ballinalacken, once a stronghold of a sept of the O’Briens, claimed most attention and reminded me forcibly of Blarney. Altogether it was a day worth living for and although I have spent many pleasant days in various nooks and corners of our Island, the memory of this golden one shall abide with me forever.

A few days before my departure, I visited Galway.  Galway – quaint, old and decaying! Galway still redolent of the days when dark-eyed Spaniards promenaded its streets and quays, intent on selling their precious cargoes of rare wines! I was very much struck with a curious mixture of the ancient and the modern. In one of the principal streets stands a battlemented castle of the date 1473, with curiously carved escutcheons and leering griffins; the basement being devoted to the utilitarian purposes of a tallow-chandler’s shop!

The other places of interest to the visitor or tourist within easy reach of Lisdoonvarna are the Cliffs of Moher, which rise perpendicularly from the ocean to a height of 800 feet; St. Bridget’s well, near Liscannor, the subject of Petrie’s famous picture of “The Blind Girl at the Holy Well”; Corcomroe Abbey and Inchiquin Lake.

When the holiday season comes round again and tired citizens are asking themselves the question, “Where shall we go to?”, I would strongly advise a visit to Lisdoonvarna and West Clare, where pure mountain air, natural scenery, and, to those who may require them, healing springs, cannot fail to please and charm the most fastidious.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Every comfort and convenience – 1887

Supplement to the Cork Examiner 8th October, 1887 (abridged)

The Cottage Acrylic on Canvas EO'D
The Cottage
Acrylic on Canvas

Cornelius and William K. Vanderbilt have decided to commence a rather curious business enterprise. They propose to build a large number of small houses in the suburbs of New York city, with every comfort and convenience, and sell them to working people at cost.

The houses will be sold on an installment plan, in monthly or yearly payments.
Payments will not amount to more than fair rental.
The life of the purchaser will be insured to the extent of the unpaid amount of the purchase price.
The policy will be held as mortgage. If the purchaser dies the policy pays off what is owing on the house.
The purchaser will be insured against the loss of property, if he meets with some misfortune before the whole amount is paid up.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

A dangerous association – 1919

The Sun, 13th September, 1919

Rain on the wind EO'D
Rain on the wind

Special cable despatch to The Sun from the London Times Services;
Whereas by our special proclamation dated July 3, 1918, in pursuance and by virtue of the criminal law and procedure of Ireland, Act of 1887, we declared from the date thereof certain associations in Ireland known by the names of Sinn Fein organization, Sinn Fein clubs, Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and Gaelic League to be dangerous, and whereas the association known by the name of Dail Eireann appears to us to be a dangerous association and to have been after the date of said special proclamation employed for all purposes of the associations known by the names of Sinn Fein organization, Sinn Fein clubs, Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan, now we the Lord Lieutenant-General and General-Governor of Ireland, by and with the advice of the Privy Council in Ireland, by virtue of the criminal law and procedure of Ireland Act of 1887, and of every power and authority in this behalf, do hereby, by this our order prohibit and suppress within the several districts specified and named in the schedule, and association known by the name of Dail Eireann.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

One morning – 1887

Cork Examiner 8th October, 1887

Forget-me-not Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

One morning when the earth was new
And rainbow-tinted lay the dew,
The Father came.
Upon his waiting flows he cast
A gentle glance, and as he passed,
Gave each a name.

The twilight deepening as before
He walked among his flowers once more
And asked each one
What name apart from all the rest
He gave, its faithfulness to test
When day begun.

The aster, columbine and rose
All answered – every flower that grows
In field or wood,
Save one wee blossom from whose eyes
Shone back the colour of the skies,
That silent stood.

The flowers were still, “I love thee so!”
She said, then trembling, withered low,
“Yet I forget!”
“Dear child, thy name thou may’st forget
And be forgiven – only yet
Forget “Me Not.”

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Loughrea – 1887

New Zealand Tabled 22nd April 1887 p19

Photo: Norma Scheibe
Photo: Norma Scheibe

On January 15 placards were posted in Loughrea and neighbourhood calling upon the tenants on the estates of Lord Clonbrock and other landlords to meet at four o’clock on the following day at the Cross roads, Holyhill. A strong force of police was consequently despatched to the place, but no meeting was held, and after remaining until a late hour the police discovered that the notices were intended to hoax them. The actual meeting was held at a place three miles distant and the tenants paid to the trustees considerable sums under the rules of the plan of campaign.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Ennis – 1887

Elyria Democrat, Ohio

Ennis.  Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

1st December, 1887

Dennis McNamara, a shopkeeper at Ennis, Ireland, has been sentenced to twenty weeks’ imprisonment for selling copies of United Ireland, William O’Brien’s paper, the selling of which has been proclaimed. This is the first instance in which a person has been prosecuted for selling papers.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Kinvara – 1887

Wuilliam O'Brien MP. (1852–1928), Irish politician, journalist, social revolutionary, author and Member of Parliament in the Parliament of the United Kingdom United States Library of Congress Wikimedia Commons
Wuilliam O’Brien MP. (1852–1928), Irish politician, journalist, social revolutionary, author and Member of Parliament in the Parliament of the United Kingdom
United States Library of Congress
Wikimedia Commons
New Zealand Tablet, Volume XV, I 18, 26th August 1887, P 21
The demonstrations of delight at Mr. O’Brien’s safe return were by no means confined to the large towns, or those on the immediate line of route from Cork to Dublin. Amongst those places which were illuminated and en fete over the event were the towns of Rathkeale, County Limerick, and Kinvara, County Galway. Nearly every house in these towns was lit up, bonfires blazed in their streets, and crowds of people, with the local bands, turned out in processional order to do honour to the occasion. In Kinvara the burning of Lord Salisbury in effigy at the small hours of the morning brought the proceedings to an appropriate close.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

The Scold’s Bridle – 1887

The scold's bridle Artist: Frank Hazenplug from 'Curious Punishments of Bygone Days (Project Gutenberg) Alice Morse Earle.  Originally published Chicago.  H.S. Stone 1896 Wikimedia Commons
The scold’s bridle
Artist: Frank Hazenplug
from ‘Curious Punishments of Bygone Days (Project Gutenberg)
Alice Morse Earle. Originally published Chicago. H.S. Stone 1896
Wikimedia Commons

Amongst the instruments of punishment introduced to Ireland was a kind of helmet formed of rods, a cage in fact, within which the heads of incorrigible scolding viragos were incased. Provision was made to stop any oral whirlwind of the patient by a counter tongue of metal extending inwardly from a frontal bar, and nicely adjusted to fit an average female mouth.
A fine and well-preserved specimen of a peace-maker of the kind in question, long used in Kiilkenny, at present forms an interesting and suggestive object amongst the antiquities preserved in the museum of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland.
Professor Ball, of the science and art department, Dublin, has had this tangible evidence reproduced in excellent work for exhibition in the national museum.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Women of Miltown Malbay – fair play to them – 1887

Photo: J Tracy
Photo: John Treacy
Freeman’s Journal – 8 January 1887
Two hundred and fifty women at Miltown Malbay, County Clare, lately baffled a force of police, bailiffs, and sheriffs. The posse came to seize cattle for rent. The women made prisoners of the peelers and bailiffs, while their husbands drove the cattle away.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Fairy Music – 1887

16th century Irish missal - the Bodleian Library
16th century Irish missal – the Bodleian Library
Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland
Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde (1887)

Fairy Music (abridged)
A fairy glance does not kill, but it throws the person into a death-like trance. Their body is carried off to some fairy mansion, while a log of wood, or some ugly, deformed creature is left in its place, clothed with the shadow of the stolen form. Young women, remarkable for beauty, young men, and handsome children, are the chief victims of the fairy stroke. The girls are wedded to fairy chiefs, and the young men to fairy queens; and if the mortal children do not turn out well, they are sent back, and others carried off in their place.

It is sometimes possible, by the spells of a powerful fairy-man, to bring back a living being from Fairy-land. But they are never quite the same after. They have always a spirit-look, especially if they have listened to the fairy music. For the fairy music is soft and low and plaintive, with a fatal charm for mortal ears.

One day a gentleman entered a cabin in the County Clare, and saw a young girl about twenty seated by the fire, chanting a melancholy song, without settled words or music. On inquiry he was told she had once heard the fairy harp, and those who hear it lose all memory of love or hate, and forget all things, and never more have any other sound in their ears save the soft music of the fairy harp, and when the spell is broken, they die.

It is remarkable that the Irish national airs–plaintive, beautiful, and unutterably pathetic–should so perfectly express the spirit of the Céol-Sidhe (the fairy music), as it haunts the fancy of the people and mingles with all their traditions of the spirit world. Wild and capricious as the fairy nature, these delicate harmonies, with their mystic, mournful rhythm, seem to touch the deepest chords of feeling, or to fill the sunshine with laughter, according to the mood of the players.
Above all things, Irish music is the utterance of a Divine sorrow; not stormy or passionate, but like that of an exiled spirit, yearning and wistful, vague and unresting; ever seeking the unattainable, ever shadowed, as it were, with memories of some lost good, or some dim foreboding of a coming fate–emotions that seem to find their truest expression in the sweet, sad, lingering wail of the pathetic minor in a genuine Irish air.

There is a beautiful phrase in one of the ancient manuscripts descriptive of the wonderful power of Irish music over the sensitive human organization: “Wounded men were soothed when they heard it, and slept; and women in travail forgot their pains.”