A plaque in Carrick-on-Shannon, county Leitrim commemorating Séamas Gralton, a man who did not quite fit in with the new Ireland. His story was recently made into a film by Ken Loach called "Jimmy's Hall" (2014). As sad and bizarre tale.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Sunday, June 11, 2017
I recently visited Tarbert, county Kerry and stopped off at the local museum. It is a great little place and I feel they do a good job, providing plenty of information and great reenacted scenes. The staff there are great and really enjoy what they do. Below are a few photos. Well worth the visit.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Jerpoint, county Kilkenny contains the grave of St Nicolas Of Myra, otherwise known as Santa Claus. The saint died in the 3rd century and when his grave was threatened by Muslim occupation of Myra during the crusades, it was taken to Italy. To further ensure its safety, it was brought to County Kilkenny as Ireland was then at the edge of the world and relatively free of conflict at the time. It soon became one of many places of pilgrimage in Ireland.
The inscription reads as follows:On 5th May 1799 the United Irishmen of Mallow and sympathizers in the Royal Meath Militia proposed to take over the town by razing St Anne's Church while the militia officers and congregation were attending divine service therein. The event was aborted when Fr Thomas Barry P.P. and others discovered the plans and acquainted the local military authorities of them.For their parts in the affair Fr.Barry was given a government pension for life. Corporal Peter Reily of the militia was hanged at The Gallows Green, Cork on 16th May, 1799 and the United Irish Leader Walter Baker(an Anglican) was hanged near here on 17th May, 1799.
Monday, May 1, 2017
The above building was built as a jail in Roscommon town in the early half of the 19th century. It was from here that Lady Betty operated as a hang woman. Her tale is a good one and I wrote about her in Fadó Tales of Lesser Known Irish history. However, she may have never existed, but it makes for a good yarn to tell the tourists.The building was later a mental asylum and is today a shopping centre.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
The following monument was erected outside the old graveyard in Killester, Dublin. It commemorates an IRA man, shot by Free State troops during the Civil War.
I found more information on the murder on the irishmedals.org site:
On the 22nd of September 1922 the body of Anti-Treaty Volunteer Michael Neville, a native of Lisdoonvarna County Clare, was found in a disused graveyard in Killester County Dublin. He was a member of the Dublin City Brigade and had been killed while in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.) of the Civic Guard in Oriel House. The C.I.D. were better known as the Oriel House Gang. Three men entered Mooney’s Public House Eden Quay Dublin and abducted the barman Michael Nevill aged 23. Mooney’s body was found the next day in a disused graveyard in Killester . Witnesses told the inquest that three men had entered the public house and ‘arrested’ Nevill, witnesses for the Civic Guard told the inquest that no one connected with the Civic Guard had anything to do with the shooting and Nevill was not arrested by them. Doctor G. Meldon told the inquest he found a number of bullet wounds on the victim including lacerations to the lungs, liver and brain and the victim also had a fractured skull, death was due to shock and haemorrhage.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Introduced in 1872, it was popular among undercover agents as it's extremely short barrel (only 2.5 inches) made it easy to conceal. It is said that the IRA found one on Thomas Morris (see Gone the Way of Truth, page 208) before they executed him in Kinvara in 1921.
"The End" by Ray Bateson. A very small but extremely well researched book. A handy size means it can be easily be carried about. Unfortunately, as it is self-published, it is not readily available in shops. A must for anyone interested in the final resting places if Irish writers.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017
Not very far from Dublin airport is an old graveyard known as Clochran. Although the earliest burial there is from 1732, the site was used as a burial ground long before this. It is a mixed graveyard i.e both Catholics and Protestants are interred there. The above gravestone dated from 1813. The hand chiseled inscriptions were done to last.
The Galway market is a special and intimate place. It does not try to be something that is not and the prices of the quality goods are reasonable. It has been a firm fixture for Saturday morning in Galway for several generations.The above plaque is a poem by Máire Holmes in homage to the market.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Every American president seems to have Irish roots and if they don't, they will be created. The above drawing is of Falmouth Kearney (1831-78) of Moneygall, county Offaly, a very distant relative of Barrack Obama. I am open to correction but I would question how much Obama cherishes his Irish heritage. The Obama plaza was however a brilliant and highly successful business idea.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Men of the Roads
Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill
Men of the roads who walked country roads at their leisure, were a common sight in this country and existed very much in living memory but Irish society has changed so much since that it might as well have been a different age. There was long tradition of people rambling this country. For centuries the bards and poets travelled the land regaling the nobility and later, when they lost their status, the peasantry. In the aftermath of the Great Famine, thousands took to the roads in a desperate attempt to survive. For much of the 20th century, the tramp was fondly regarded in popular culture and figures such as Charlie Chaplin were popular. The man of the road lived outside of society and was his own boss. He was unconcerned by such things as mortgages, taxes or laws. His only concern was to keep out of the workhouse or poor house, where strict rules and lack of freedom would threaten his way of life. Very often they came from normal middle class families but at some stage in their lives decided to drop out. One of the most famous Irish writers of the 20th century, Pádraig Ó Conaire from Galway left his wife and family to become a man of the roads and gain inspiration for his writings. When he died in Dublin in 1928, all he had on him was an apple and his pipe. Men of the roads knew where they were welcome and where they were not. While some houses never let them stay, others would never turn them away and it the woman of the house who decided whether or not they could stay. If there was no welcome there or if they was an angry dog which might injure their fellow travellers, a sign, decipherable only to those in the know, was left for the next man of the road. In times gone by when people did travel very far, a traveller turning up at a farm had news of what was happening in faraway villages, summed up in the Irish proverb bíonn an siúlach scéalach, the traveller has tales to tell. John B Keane portrayed this quite well in his famous 1959 play Sive, where two travellers, Pats Bocock and his son Carthalawn, proclaim the local news. Many of them were regarded as eccentric and some of them had black skin because they used to rub engine oil on themselves to keep warm. The Fureys had a great song called Old Joe, written by Allan Taylor, the text of which I have provided at the end of this article. It deals with an old man who tramped around South West England, but his description would match many a man of the roads here and I am sure many readers will know of such men. I remember one man who used to come to my grandparents’ farm in North East Galway in the eighties. Like many men of the roads he had left a normal life behind for a solitary life of wandering the roads and was quiet content with his own company and spoke very little. He must have walked the roads of Connaught for thirty years and followed a definite circuit of over a hundred miles. He slept in the cart house where he stored his few possessions, though on severely cold winter nights he would sleep on the kitchen floor. He was always gone before the family stirred and never ate with them. Nor indeed would he ever accept a lift if you met him on the road. He had been coming to the locality for as long as anyone could remember and grown on people to the extent that his appearance was welcomed by many. By the nineties more cars were coming on the roads and unlit country roads had become dangerous. One night a car ran him down and though he survived, it put a stop to his days of rambling the county. By this time however, social attitudes had changed and the man of the roads was no longer looked upon with the same fondness and they began to fade from the landscape and became little more than a memory.
And if nobody wants to talk to him
Well that's okay
'Cause he's not too keen on talking anyway
Old Joe is a man who just wanders around
He says he moves much better when he's on his own
He walks the lonely roads from town to town
He pushes his home around in a broken cart
And he wears his ragged clothes and he plays the part
Old Joe is the man who'll fix the door
When the hinges break and it catches the floor
Then he'll spend the night in the barn on a bed of straw
In the morning he'll be gone when you try to find him
Some flowers by the door is all he leaves behind him
And when it's winter time and the wind blows cold
And the sheep are settled in the fold
People wonder where the old man goes
'Cause he disappears for two or three months or more
But he'll be back on the road in spring just like before
When I was a boy he was an old man then
And the old folks knew him when they were young
And now I'm grown and he's still around
I wonder if he's one of many that look the same
Or maybe he's just a small part of the game