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Ireland – 1644


Burren Spring Photo: EO'D
Burren Spring
Photo: EO’D

The Irish in 1644 as described by a Frenchman of that period (from the Irish Penny Journal) translated by Crofton Croker. the French traveller was M. De la Boulfaye Le Gouz

“Ireland, or Hibernia, has always been called the Island of Saints, owing to the number of great men who have been born there. The natives are known to the English under the name of Iriche, to the French under that of Hibernois, which they take from the Latin, or Irois, from the English, or Irlandois from the name of the island, because land signifies ground. They call themselves Ayrenake, in their own language, a tongue which you must learn by practice, because they do not write it; they learn Latin in English characters, with which characters they also write their own language; and so I have seen a monk write, but in such a way as no one but himself could read it.
Saint Patrick was the apostle of this island, who according to the natives blessed the land, and gave his malediction to all venomous things; and it cannot be denied that the earth and the timber of Ireland, being transported, will contain neither serpents, worms, spiders, nor rats, as one sees in the west of England and Scotland, where all particular persons have their trunks and the boards of their floors in Irish wood; and in all Ireland there is not to be found a serpent or toad.

Burren beauties Photo: EO'D
Burren beauties
Photo: EO’D

The Irish of the southern and eastern coasts follow the customs of the English; those of the north, the Scotch. The other are not very published, and are called by the English savages. The English colonists were of the English church, and the Scotch were Calvinists, but at present they are all Puritans. The native Irish are very good Catholics, though knowing little of their religion those of the Hebrides and of the North acknowledge only Jesus and St. Columbo (Columbkill), but their faith is great in the church of Rome. Before the English revolution, when an Irish gentleman died, his Britannic majesty became seized of the property and tutelage of the children of the deceased, whom they usually brought up in the English Protestant religion. Lord Insiquin (Inchiquin) was educated in this manner, to whom the Irish have given the name of plague or pest of this country.
The Irish gentlemen eat a great deal of meat and butter, and but little bread. They drink milk and beer, into which they put laurel leaves, and eat bread baked in the English manner. The poor grind barley and peas between two stones, and make it into bread, which they cook upon a small iron table heated on a tripod; they put into it some oats, and this bread, which is the form of cakes they call harann, they eat with great draughts of buttermilk. Their beer is very good and the eau de vie, which they call brandovin [brandy] excellent. The butter, the beef, and the mutton, are better than in England.
The towns are built in the English fashion, but the houses in the country are in this manner: – Two stakes are fixed in the ground, across which is a transverse pole to support two rows of rafters on the two sides, which are covered with straw and leaves. They are without chimneys and make the fire in the middle of the hut, which greatly incommodes those who are not fond of smoke. The castles or houses of the nobility consist of four walls extremely high, thatched with straw; but to tell the truth, they are nothing but square towers without windows, or at least having such small apertures as to give more light than there is in a prison. They have little furniture, and cover their rooms with rushes, of which they make their beds in summer, and of straw in winter. They put the rushes a foot deep on their floors, and on their windows, and many of them ornament the ceilings with branches.

Burren light Photo: EO'D
Burren light
Photo: EO’D

They are fond of the harp, on which nearly all play, as the English do on the fiddle, the French on the lute, the Italians on the guitar, the Spaniards on its castanets, the Scotch on the bagpipe, the Swiss on the fife, the Germans on the trumpet, the Dutch on the tambourine, and the Turks on the flageolet.
The Irish carry a sequine [skein] or Turkish dagger, which they dart very adroitly at fifteen paces distance; and have this advantage, then if they remain masters of the field of battle, there remains no enemy; and if they are routed, they fly in such a manner that it is impossible to catch them. I have seen an Irishman, with ease accomplish twenty-five leagues a day. They march to battle with the bagpipes instead of fifes; but they have few drums, and they use the musket and cannon as we do. They are better soldiers abroad than at home.
The red-haired are considered the most handsome in Ireland. The women have hanging breasts; and those who are freckled, like a trout, are esteemed the most beautiful. The trade of Ireland consists in salmon and herrings, which they take in great numbers. You have one hundred and twenty herrings for an English penny, equal to a carolus of France, in the fishing time. They import wine and salt from France, and sell there strong frize cloths at good prices.
The Irish are fond of strangers, and it costs little to travel amongst them. When a traveller of good address enters their houses with assurance, he has but to draw a box of sinisine, or snuff, and offer it to them; then these people receive him with admiration, and give him the best they have to eat. They love the Spaniards as their brothers, the French as their friends, the Italians as their allies, the Germans as their relatives, the English and Scotch as their irreconcileable enemies. I was surrounded on my journey from Kilkinik [Kilkenny] to Cachel [Cashel] by a detachment of twenty Irish soldiers; and when they learned I was a Frankard (it is thus they call us) they did not molest me in the least, but made me offers of service seeing that I was neither Sezanach [Saxon] nor English.
The Irish, whom the English call savages, have for their head-dress a little blue bonnet, raised two fingers-breadth in front and behind covering their head and ears. Their doublet has a long body and four skirts; and their breeches are a pantaloon of white frieze, which they call sers. Their shoes, which are pointed, they call brogues, with a single sole. They often told me of a proverb in English, ‘ Airische borgues for English dugues’ [Irish brogues for English dogs] ‘ the shoes of Ireland for the dogs of England’, meaning that their shoes are worth more than the English.
For cloaks they have five or six yards of frieze drawn around the neck, the body, and over the head, and they never quit this mantle, either in sleeping, working or eating. The generality of them have no shirts, and about as many lice as hairs on their heads, which they kill before each other without any ceremony.
The northern Irish have for their only dress a breeches, a covering for the back, without bonnets, shoes, or stockings. The women of the north have a double rug, girded round their middle and fastened to the throat. Those bordering on Scotland have not more clothing.- The girls of Ireland, even those living in towns, have for their head dress only a ribbon, and if married, they have a napkin on the head in the matter of Egyptians. The body of their gowns comes only to their breasts, and when they are engaged in work, they gird their petticoat with their sash about the abdomen. They wear a hat and mantle very large, of a brown colour [ coleur minime] of which the cape is of course woollen frieze., in the fashion of the women of Lower Normandy.”

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Ghost Castle – 1862

Belfast Newsletter 8th September, 1862 p.4

Photo: EO'D
Photo: EO’D

An islander of the British Isles, and possibly a Highlander, purchased some time ago in the Landed Estates Court, a property in a maritime Irish County, upon which stood what might be described in the words of one of your illustrious bards;
“An old, old monastery once, and now
Still older mansion, of a rich and rare
Mixed Gothic, such as artists all allow
Few precedents are left us to compare

The building did not satisfy the taste of the new proprietor. He scarcely got possession of his title deeds before he commenced improving at once the land and the mansion. The improvements made rapid progress under the special superintendence of the new lord of the soil, who planned and directed early and late. It is his semi-nocturnal predilection for business that raised him to the dignity of a ghost story here.

He was in the habit of remaining about the mansion and grounds long after everyone else had retired, contemplating the progress of improvements or devising fresh ones. While engaged in this manner one evening shortly after twilight, he beheld upon the site of what had been an old out office a luminous figure. It first bore resemblance to the human shape, then gradually assumed the form more and more as twilight deepened. Finally it presented to the gaze of the astonished proprietor the perfect outline of a man, formed of light of a bluish tinge and subdued brilliancy.

Mr—— stood contemplating the apparition till it vanished from his view, owing, as he thought, to some change in the atmosphere, for he felt the air very much colder about the time of the disappearance. He said nothing about the apparition to anyone as he mistrusted his judgement and thought a vivid imagination might have played a trick on him. He resolved however, to discover if possible whether the phantom were reality or illusion. Accordingly he wandered about the scene of the vision every evening after twilight and occasionally his watchfulness was rewarded by a sight of the figure. It sometimes appeared an indistinct mass of still flame, and sometimes presented some outlines of a human form. Seldom did it appear in the complete human shape in which it first presented itself.

Having satisfied himself that his imagination was not trifling with him, the gentleman began to make inquiries of the people about his demesne as to whether any former proprietor of the property or any other person in any way connected with the castle had met an untimely end or disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from the mansion, or, if there were any tale of mystery connected with the place. None was forthcoming.

The lord of the Castle set a considerable number of them to search the spot, the site of the old out offices, where he had so frequently seen the apparitions. At a considerable depth before the surface a skeleton of a man was found. By all appearances he had been a warrior and the place of repose was the cause of the troubled times led by the spirit. The remains were respectfully and decently removed

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The tide of emigration – 1897

New Zealand Tablet 6th August, 1897 (abridged)

Between the showers Photo: EO'D
Between the showers
Photo: EO’D

The correspondent of an Irish-American exchange writing from New York says: From Ireland the tide of emigration has again set toward our shores. At Ellis Island the other day there passed through the Gate of Freedom, as the exit of the little picketed lane is called, 723 Irish lassies— the best clothed, neatest and most cheerful immigrants this country has seen for years. They ranged in age from 18 to 25 and without exception, passed every requirement as to morality and cleanliness, and satisfied the commissioners that there was no danger of their becoming charges on the public for future support.

Sixty-five per cent of the entire number were what is known as “pre-paid”‘ passengers. Their tickets had been sent them from this side. Two hundred and fifty of them will go into domestic service in the metropolitan district. Nearly three hundred went to Boston, The others are scheduled for destinations in the Middle and Western States.

Last month there were to come more than 1,000 other girls from Irish villages. The cause for this invasion is the demand for Irish girls for housemaids. The Labour Employment Bureau can place more than 2,000 of proper character and fitness. The scene on Ellis Island before they were put on board the ferries was strongly suggestive of a country fair. About a thousand of their friends, brothers and sisters of some and sweethearts and friends of others had all got permission to greet them. They just swarmed over the island. Other immigrants looked on in wonder, and listened to the rare, rich brogue which filled the air. The girls had presents of blackthorns for their, brothers and lovers and bits of lace or knittings of woollen for their sisters and long before the first hundred had passed inspection each one was wearing some taken from the other.

The immigrants all had pocket money, and they who had least had friends in waiting. They had substantial wardrobes, too, some in woollen chests, and some in large tin boxes that were written all over with the names and addresses of their owners.

When they got on the mainland and saw the elevated trains, the lovely park, the tall buildings and the crowds rushing for the ferries and heard the din of traffic, these girls from the little inland villages stood in amazement and gossiped among themselves as to what kind of a place New York must be and how soon they would be swallowed up and lost in the hundreds of thousands. They were given their first lesson in the immensity of metropolitan life, and shrank off with their friends, glad not to be alone. Those whose friends had not called for them up to sundown were cared for in the Mission of the Holy Rosary. Deputy Commissioner M’Sweeney, of the Immigration Bureau, said that this season would see ten thousand Irish girls landed in this city.

All told there were fourteen hundred immigrants landed at the island the other day.

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A shrinking land – 1903

Southland Times, Issue 19179 17th October, 1903 p8

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

Ireland is smaller than it was, only to an inappreciable extent, it is true, and apart from any action of the waves or weather which may have a tendency to affect its size by natural means. The truth is that some Ireland has been shipped to America in barrels.

Turf from Connaught and Clare, soil from Limerick and Mayo, heather from Croagh Patrick, shamrocks from Donegal, peats from the bogs of Ulster, turf from every county in Ireland, have been sent to Chicago to be used in building a miniature Ireland in the Coliseum. The soil will carpet the floor of the big building during an Irish fair which is to be held in that city. There were thirty-two casks of the soil, and it will be arranged in the shape of the counties from which it waa dug. There were eight great crates of peat, which will supply fuel for the miniature shops, stores, and houses that will be erected in each county.

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Tug of war – 1892

New Zealand Tablet Vol XX Issue 22, 18th March 1892 p27

1904 tug of war  Wikimedia Commons
1904 tug of war
Wikimedia Commons


(Sydney Freeman’s Journal.)

The Irish team, under Captain M. Ryan, have in the International Tug-of-War at Adelaide, South Australia, followed the example of their countrymen in Melbourne. In Melbourne Captain Flannagan carried the boys through without defeat, and secured the first prize of £100. In Adelaide the stout-hearted Irish also came through the tournament with an unbroken record against 17 competing teams, and carried off the bag of 100 sovereigns.

(Details on In the News at

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Leaving Ireland – 1907

The Catholic Press 13th June, 1907 p6IMG_20150116_191121
Father Fitzgerald OFM (abridged)
At the very period of the year when travellers from other lands are trooping to the beauty spots, of Ireland, her own sons and daughters are bidding farewell for ever to her shores. The column of the morning papers devoted to fashionable intelligence relates daily that various honorables with their ladies and retinue have arrived from abroad at Kingstown, but the emigrant ship may bear away her freight of the young and strong unnoticed and unchronicled save by widows wails and the ruined fireside. The emigration season sets in now in Ireland as regularly and as surely as the fishing or the shooting seasons.

To accommodate the thousands, or rather the scores of thousands, who depart yearly, excursion trains are run to the seaports, and large steamers compete with each other in speed and cheapness of transit to America. Indeed, it is a sad thing to meet one of those American excursion trains, still worse to occupy a place in the train even for a short journey, for scenes of great affliction occur at every station.

A bird of ill-omen appeared in Galway Bay on the 27th of the present month of April. This was an emigrant steamer the first of the season. Another will call in ten days more and take up her own portion and those who were left behind through over-crowding on Friday morning. About a fortnight ago a large poster, printed in red lettering, appeared on the dead-walls and gate-piers of Galway, announcing the fact that the Salmatian of the Allan Line would call at Galway on the above date. Details followed concerning the superior accommodation, and the lowness of the fare across. The news was carried through the hills of Connemara and out to the Isles of Aran and along the coast to Inishbaffin, and in answer to the call, like to the beacon-fires of old, many a youth and maiden was up and doing. Many a one humped the last Irish of seaweed up the barren hillside or spent the last dark night watching the phosphorescent gleam on the dark waters that tells of the herring shoal, or walked six miles, if not more, to the town and back to sell a quart or two of milk.

In almost every townland in the surrounding country there are celebrated several American wakes. Your readers may not know that this is the title given to the domestic celebration that is held in every home, however humble it may be. On the eve of the departure of one of its inmates to America, A quarter-cask of porter is provided, or some good poteen, and the neighbours get word, and music is supplied by a piper or an expert on a melodeon or a flute, or a concertina, or all in turn. The boys, and the girls take the floor, and the rinca fada, the curcaher, or the Curuckther are faithfully performed, until day breaks. Then, weeping takes the place of laughter, and the whole house turns out to accompany the parting one to the station, except the old grandfather or grandmother, who rocks the cradle with their foot and minds the house.

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Sell or return – 1766

April 24, 1766

Wikimedia Commons

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Lancaster, April 15, 1766. (abridged)
WAS committed to my Custody, on suspicion of being a runaway servant, a Girl, who calls herself Isabel Beard.

She was born in Ireland, and came in the Snow Pitt above two Years ago.  She is about 4 Feet 8 Inches high, had on  a blue Stuff Gown, striped Linsey Petticoat and Bed Gown, old Shoes and Stockings.  She says she belongs to a certain William Grimes, a Jobber, and late of York County, where she says she left him.

Her Master therefore is hereby desired to come, pay her Charges, and take her away, otherwise she will be sold for her Fees, by MATTHIAS BOOGH, Goaler.


October 12, 1769
The Pennsylvania Gazette

New Castle County, October 3, 1769.
WAS committed to the goal of this county, upon suspicion of being runaway servants;

JOHN MONEY, born in Ireland, about 5 feet 6 inches high, black hair, pale complexion, by trade a weaver.  When committed he had on a light coloured homespun cloth coat, linsey waistcoat, and coarse tow trousers.

ELIZABETH MOORE, a native Irish woman, about 30 years of age, fair complexion, brown hair.  When committed, she had on a stampt cotton gown of a purple colour, a linsey petticoat, shoes, and stockings.

Their masters (if any they have) are desired to come, pay their cost, and take them away, in 6 weeks from this date, or they will be sold for the same by THOMAS PUSEY, Goaler.

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Collecting the Rates – Kinvarra, Doorus – 1848

The British Colonist 12th December, 1848 p2

Population of Ireland and Europe 1750 to 2005CC BY-SA 3.0 Ben Moore - Own work Wikimedia Commons
Population of Ireland and Europe 1750 to 2005CC BY-SA 3.0
Ben Moore – Own work
Wikimedia Commons


The Limerick Chronicle of yesterday contains the following extract of a letter from Kinvarra.
“On Tuesday morning, at eight o’clock a large military force, about 300 strong, of cavalry and infantry, including 4th Light Dragoons, 69th and 89th detachments, under Colonel Sir Michael Creagh, with 56 of the constabulary under Mr Macmahon, S.I., accompanied by two stipendiary magistrates, Messrs Davys and Kelly, marched from here to the district of Kinvarra and Doorus, where the collection of poor rates was successfully resisted on a former occasion.

On arrival at Doorus this force was joined by 100 rank and file of the 68th under Major Smith and officers from Galway. Having crossed the bay in man-of-war boats, the entire party then traversed the county in different directions for eight or nine hours, presenting a formidable array, and meeting with no resistance or obstruction while the poor rate collector and his men were busily engaged collecting the rates, and received a large sum, although the doors in almost every village and hamlet were closed: however all who could pay, paid their rates, and the people themselves had removed the barricades some days before.

About thirty of the principals concerned in the former riots have been arrested by the police and lodged in Gort Bridewell.

On Monday last the military and constabulary were again out collecting poor rates, under Sir Michael Creagh, accompanied by two resident magistrates, and after traversing a considerable extent of barren country and visiting many a desolate village, the troops returned to Gort, having experienced no resistance.”
Dublin, Wednesday evening.


The Poor Rate was a form of taxation arising from the Irish Poor Law enacted by the British Government in 1837.

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Go to Ireland – 1849

Ballybranigan EJO'D

The Sydney Morning Herald 25th October, 1849 page 3


(From the Times, June 15. – abridged)

A SEASON comes in every year when English- men are converted into a nation of tourists.

The high-pressure Parliamentary, professional, and commercial occupation is taken off, and the enjoyment of the holiday-making is in proportion to the irksomeness of the previous confinement. We are a good deal laughed at by foreigners for our roving propensities—they are never at the pains to consider the true explanation of the fact. It is because we work so hard that, when we find an opportunity, we travel so fast and so far. We are but changing our occupation after all, and making a business of our amusement.

An English traveller does his work as conscientiously as the most trustworthy bagman. He purchases one of Mr. Murray’s handbooks for a particular district, and verifies the indications it contains. He checks off the mountains, ruins, and galleries, and is very careful in communicating to Mr. Murray any information he may practically glean as to the qualities of inns and the peculiarity of diet. ” Tourism” is, in fact, a duty of annual recurrence, and must be discharged.

Ballybranigan  EJO'D

This year, unfortunately, the continent is sealed to pleasure-seekers. To which of the old remembered spots shall a tourist convey himself and his family? To be sure, if he has a taste for Dutch pictures there is the Hague, and the flat plains of the peaceful lHollanders. Between this and Turkey a traveller must make his election if he desire to travel in continental parts. In Paris a man’a dressing-case and the bonnet-boxes of his helpmate might at any moment be converted into the topmost ornaments of a tasty barricade. If a summer party should try the Rhine, this is but another word for offering themselves as targets to the Trans Rhenane marksmen. A corpulent merchant or a dust conveyancer who should adventure his person at Baden would, as a matter of course, in twenty-four hours find his head decorated with a gaily-plumed hat, and himself marching under the greenwood tree to various Republican airs of an exciting character. Prussia won’t do. Saxony with its beautiful capital is still worse. Who would willingly try the Danube and Austria ? The Italian peninsula is out of the question. From desecrated Venice to that city which has been so rashly styled Eternal, and thence to Naples, all is trouble, disorder, or actual warfare. For this year the Continent is hermetically sealed to all but the most adventurous and irresponsible tourists.

We are so far happy in the British isles, that it is rather an advantage to those amongst us who love beautiful scenery for its own sake to be turned back upon our own country. The impulse to “take a run upon the continent” when we have a month to spare is too strong to contend against. Now, whether we will or no, we must fall back upon our own resources. There are the Scotch Highlands and the English lakes; there are North and South Wales-Snowden and the Vale of Festiniog ; Chepstow and the Wye ; there is Devonshire with the Dart and the Exe ; there are the southern counties with all their beautiful home scenery. All these points are more or less visited by all wanderers.


There is one portion of the British isles, however, which, as far as beauty and variety of scenery are concerned, yields to no other, but yet remains comparatively unknown. How few are the persons who, except for business purposes, have visited the southern and western districts of Ireland? One occasionally meets a stray sportsman who has gone salmon-fishing in the Shannon, or spent a season in Connemara, but these are rare exceptions to the rule.

Ireland, by mere tourists, not being natives of the country, is rather less frequented than the Spanish Peninsula, and yet it would be easy to point out in it districts which, once seen, would hang in the recollection for ever as spectacles of natural beauty. There is the Bay of Dublin; nearly the whole of the county of Wicklow; the counties of Waterford and Cork; Kerry with the Killarney Lakes; the South Riding of Tipperary with the Golden Vale; portions of Limerick; Clare with the Mohir Cliffs and its fine coast scenery; Galway with its magnificent bay; Connemera with the Killeries, and districts of Mayo,

If a tourist should visit the spots we have just indicated he would return with the conviction, that beautiful as continental scenery may be, there are points in Ireland which may stand competition with the show districts of any other country.

In the advertising columns of The Times of this day will be found an advertisement to which we wish to give every support in our power. An agreement has been come to between the London and North-Western Railway Company, the Chester and Holyhead Railway Company, and the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, by which tourists can be transported from London to Killarney and back for £6 in the first, and £4 in the second class.

They will have an opportunity given them of visiting the Cove of Cork and the beautiful scenery of the south of Ireland. Other advantages are offered, particulars of which will be found in the advertisement. There is no way in which a fortnight could be more profitably or ” enjoyably” spent than in such a trip; but, independently of this, we wish to recommend the scheme to public attention for other considerations.