Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Ulster Divison

There are hearts to-day in Ulster
   Distraught with pain and fears;
There are eyes to-day in Ulster
   That are dim with many tears;
For soon our best and dearest
   On the battlefield will be.
We would, therefore, "God of Battle,"
   Commend our men to Thee.

Oh, give them strength and courage
   And steadfastness of heart,
When in the hour of trial
   To bravely act their part,
And succour and defend them,
   Their Leader ever be,
And make them bold in life or death
   To put their trust in Thee.

To those who tend the wounded
   Give wisdom, love, and skill;
Be ever present with them
   To guard them from all ill.
And keep far death and sickness
   From those who spend their zeal,
And ever bless their efforts
   And give them power to heal.

To Thou who art the Author
   Of concord, love, and peace,
We pray, if it may be Thy will,
   Bid war and tumult cease,
And bring our men in safety back,
   Led by Thy mighty hand;
And grant us peace with victory,
   And bless our Fatherland,

Belfast. M. M'KAY.

Text: The Witness, 29th October 1915.
Image:  Group of the Royal Irish Rifles, 36th Ulster Division, before parading for the trenches. Near Bertincourt, 20 November 1917. © IWM (Q 3175).

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Dangerfield Ghost

IN the reign of George II., the head of the house, Sir Hugh Horsingham, married a young wife, and brought her home to Dangerfield, with the usual demonstrations and rejoicings peculiar to such an event. Sir Hugh was a dark, morose man, considerably older than his bride. Stern and forbidding in his manners, but possessing deep feelings under a reserved exterior, and a courage and determination not to be daunted or subdued. Such a man was capable of great things, for good or for evil; and each was the very nature on which a woman's influence might have produced the most beneficial results. But, unfortunately, young lady Horsingham had but one feeling for her lord, and that was intense terror of his anger. She never sought to win his confidence, and never entered into his political schemes, his deeper studies, or even his country amusements and pursuits; all she thought of was how to avoid offending Sir Hugh; and, ere long, this one idea grew to such a pitch, that she quite trembled in his presence, could scarcely answer distinctly when he spoke to her, and seemed hardly to draw breath in freedom save when out of his sight. Such a state of things could have but one ending — distrust and suspicion on one side, unqualified aversion on the other. A marriage, never of inclination — as, indeed, in those days amongst great families few marriages were — became an insupportable slavery ere the first year of wedded life had elapsed; and by the time an heir was born to the house of Horsingham, probably them was no unhappier couple within fifty niles of Dangerfield, than dark Sir Hugh, and his pretty, fair-haired, gentle wife. No! she ought never to have married him at all. It was but the night before her wedding that she walked in the garden of her father's old manor-house with a bright, open-hearted, handsome youth, whose brow wore that expression of acute agony which it is so pitiable to witness on a young countenances — that look almost of physical pain, which betokens how the iron has, indeed, "entered the sufferer's soul." "Ah! you may plead. 'Cousin Edward;' but we women are of a strange mixture, and the weakest of us may possess obstinacy such as no earthly consideration can overcome." "Lucy! Lucy! for the last time, think of it — for the love of Heaven, do out drive me mad — think of it once more — it is the last, last chance." — The speaker was white as a sheet, and his hollow voice came in hoarse, inarticulate whispers, as he looked almost fiercely into that dear face to read his doom. Too well he knew the set, filed expression of her delicate profile. She did not dare turn towards him; she could not have looked him in the face and persevered, but she kept her eyes fastened on the horizon, at though she saw her future in the fading sunset; and whilst her heart seemed turning to very stone, she kept her lips firmly closed; she repressed the tears that would have choked her, and so, for that time, she conquered.

Lucy had a great idea of duty; hers was no high-principled love of duty from the noblest motives, but a morbid dread of self-reproach. She had not character enough to do anything out of her own notions of the beaten track. She had promised her father she would marry Sir Hugh Horsingham — not that he had the slightest right to exact such a promise — and she felt bound to fulfil it. She never remembered the injury she was doing "Cousin Edward," the right which such devotion as his ought to have given him. She knew she loved him better than any one in the world; She knew she was about to commit an act of the greatest injustice towards Sir Hugh; but she had "promised papa;" and though she would have given worlds to avoid fulfilling her compact, she had not strength of mind to break the chain and be free.

Cousin Edward! Cousin Edward! you should have carried her off then and there; she would have been truly grateful for the rest of her life, but she would have died sooner than open her lips. He was hurt — reckless — almost savage. He thought her sullen. "Once more, Lucy," he said, and his eye glared fiercely in the waning light, "once more, will you give me one word, or never set eyes on me again?" Her lip never moved. "I give you till we pass that tree" — he looked dangerous now — "and than" — he swore a great oath — "I leave you for ever." Lucy thought the tree looked strange and ghastly in the rising moon; she even remarked a knot up in its smooth white stem, but she held out whilst one might have counted ten; and when she turned round, poor girl! Cousin Edward was gone.

At this period, there was set on foot one of those determined plots, which during the first two reigns of the House of Hanover, so constantly harassed that dynasty.
Sir Hugh, of course, was a prime mover of the conspiracy, and was much in London and elsewhere, gathering intelligence, raising funds, and making converts to his opinions. Ned Meredith, having, it is to be presumed, all his energies occupied in his own private intrigues, had somewhat withdrawn of late from the Jacobite party; and Sir Hugh heard, with his grim, unmoved smile, many a jest and innuendo levelled at the absentee.

One stormy winter's evening, the baronet, well armed, cloaked, and booted, left his own house for the metropolis, accompanied by one trusty servant. He was bearing papers of importance, and was hurrying on to lay them, with the greatest despatch, before his fellow conspirators. As night was drawing on, Sir Hugh's horse shied away from a wild figure, looming like some spectre in the fading light; and ere he had forced the animal back into the path, his bridle was caught by a half naked lad, whom the rider at once recognised as an emissary he had often before employed to be the bearer of secret intelligence, and who, under an affectation of being half-witted, concealed much shrewdness of observation, and unimpeachable fidelity to the cause.

"Whip and spur. Sir Hugh — whip and spur," said the lad, who seemed flustered and confused with drink; "you may burst your best horse betwixt this and London, and all to get there before you're wanted. A dollar to drink, Sir Hugh, like handsome Ned gave me this morning — a dollar to drink, and I'll save you a journey for the sake of the 'Bonny While Rose,' and the 'Bird with the Yellow Bill.'"

Sir Hugh scrutinised the lad with a piercing eye, flung him a crown from him purse, and bid him "out with what he had to say, for that he himself was hurried, and must push on to further the good cause." The lad was sobered in an instant.

"Look ye here, Sir Hugh," he said, eagerly; "Handsome Ned went down the road at a gallop this morning. There's something brewing in London, you may trust me, Sir Hugh, and I tried to stop him to learn his errand; but he tossed me a crown and galloped on. He took the hill-road, Sir Hugh, and you came up the vale; but he's bound for Dangerfield, I know, and mayhap he's got papers that will save your journey to London: no offence, Sir Hugh," added the lad, for the baronet's face was blank as midnight.

"None, my good boy," was the reply, in a hoarse, thick voice. "Hold, there's another crown for you — drink it every farthing, you villain! or I never give you a sixpence again;" and Sir Hugh rode on, as though bound for London, but stopped a mile farther forward, at a place where two roads met; and entrusting his papers to his servant, bade him hasten on with them, whilst he galloped back through the darkness in the direction of his home.

He can let himself in by the garden gate with his own pass key. Ere he is aware, he is tramping up the corridor in his heavy horsemen's boots — his hand is on the door — there ia a woman's shriek — and Sir Hugh's tall, dark figure fills the doorway of Lucy's sitting-room, where, alas! she is not alone, for the stern, angry husband is confronted by Ned Meredith!

Lucy cowers down in a corner of the room, with her face buried in her hands. Cousin Edward draws him-self up to his full height, and looks his antagonist steadily in the face, but with an expression of calm despair, that seems to say fate has now done her worst. Sir Hugh is cool, collected, and polite; nay, he can even smile, but he speaks strangely, almost in a whisper, and hisses through his set teeth. He has double-locked the door behind him, and turns to Cousin Edward with a grave, courteous bow.

"You have done me the honour of an unexpected visit, Mr. Meredith," he says; "I trust Lady Horsingham has entertained you hospitably! Pray do not stir, madam. Mr. Meredith, we are now quits; you saved my life when you encountered Colonel Bludyer; I forbore from taking yours, when I had proofs that it was in my right. We have now entered on a fresh account, but the game shall be fairly played. Mr. Meredith, you are a man of honour — yes, it shall be fairly played." Ned's lip quivered, but he bowed, and stood perfectly still. "Lady Horsingham," continued Sir Hugh, "be good enough to hand me those tables, they contain a dice-box. Nay, Mr. Meredith," seeing Ned about to assist the helpless frightened woman; "when present, at least, I expect my wife to obey me." Lucy was forced to rise, and trembling in every limb, to present the tables to her lord. Sir Hugh placed the dice-box on the table, laid his pistols beside it, and, taking a seat, motioned to Cousin Edward to do the same. "You are a man of honour, Mr. Meredith," he repeated; "we will throw three times, and the highest caster shall blow the other's brains out." Lucy shrieked, and rushed to the door: it was fast, and her husband forced her to sit down and watch the ghastly game.

"Good God, Sir Hugh!" exclaimed Cousin Edward, "this is too horrible — for your wife's sake — any reparation I can make, I will; but this is murder, deliberate murder."

"You are a man of honour, Mr. Meredith," reiterated Sir Hugh; "I ask for no reparation but this — the chances are equal if the stakes are high. You are my guest, or rather, I should say, Lady Horsingham's guest. Begin." Cousin Edward's face turned ghastly pale: he took the box, shook it, hesitated, but the immovable eye was fixed on him; the stern lips repeated once more — "You are a man of honour," and he threw — "Four." It was now Sir Hugh's turn. With a courteous bow he received the box, and threw — "Seven." Again the adversaries cast, the one a six, the other a three; and now they were even in the ghastly match. Once more Cousin Edward shook the box, and the leaping dice turned up — "Eleven." Lucy's white face stood out in the lamp-light, as she watched with stony eyes that seemed to have lost the very power of sight.

"For God's sake, forego this frightful determination, Sir Hugh," pleaded Cousin Edward; "take my life in a fair field. I will offer no resistance; but you can hardly expect to outdo my throw, and nothing shall induce me to take advantage of it: think better or it, Sir Hugh, I entreat you."

"You are a man of honour, Mr. Meredith, and so am I," was the only reply, as Sir Hugh brandished the box aloft, and thundered it down on the table — "Sixes!" "Good casting," he remarked, and at the same instant, cocking the pistol nearest to him, discharged it full into his antagonist's bosom. The bullet sped through a delicate lace handkerchief, which he always wore there, straight and true into Cousin Edward's heart. As he fell forward across the table, a dark stream flowed slowly, slowly along the carpet, till it dyed the border of Lucy's white dress with a crimson stain. She was on her knees, apparently insensible; but one small hand felt the cold, wet contact, and she looked at it, and saw that it was blood. Once more she uttered a shriek that rang through those vast buildings, and rushed again to the door to find it locked. In sheer despair she made for the window, threw open the casement, and ere Sir Hugh could sieze or stop her, flung herself headlong into the court below. When the horrified husband looked down into the darkness, a wisp of while garments, a bruised and lifeless body, was all that remained of Lady Horsingham.

That night one-half of Dangerfield Hall was consumed by fire. Its mistress was said to have perished in the flames. The good neighbours, the honest country people, pitied poor Sir Hugh galloping back from London, to find his home in ruins, and his wife a corpse. His gay companions missed "Ned Meredith" from his usual haunts; but it was generally supposed he had obtained a mission to the Court of St. Germains, and there was a rumour that he had perished in a duel with a French marquis. A certain half-witted lad, who had followed Sir Hugh back to Dangerfield on that fearful night, might have elucidated the mystery; but he had been kidnapped, and sent to the plantations. After many years he returned to England, and on his death-bed left a written statement, implicating Sir Hugh in the double crime of arson and murder. But long ere this the culprit had appeared before a tribunal which admits of no prevarication, and the pretty boy with the golden curls had become lord of Dangerfield Hall. The long corridor had been but partially destroyed. It was repaired and refurnished by successive generations; but guests and servants alike refused to sleep again in that dreary wing, after the first trial. Every night, so surely as the old clock tolled out the hour of twelve, a rush of feet was heard along the passage — a window looking into the court was thrown open — a piercing scream from a woman's voice rang through the building — and those who were bold enough to look out, averred that they beheld a white figure leap wildly into the air and disappear. Some even went so far as to affirm that drops of blood, freshly sprinkled, were found every morning on the pavement of the court. But no one ever doubted the Dangerfield ghost to be the nightly apparition of Lucy, Lady Horsingham. — "Kate Coventry."

From The Northern Whig, 7th September 1859.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Thoughts in Verse

Thoughts that great hearts once broke for, we
Breathe cheaply in the common air;
The dust we trample heedlessly
Throbbed once in saints and heroes rare
Who perished, opening for the race
New pathways to the common place.
— Lowell.

I live for those who love me,
For those who hold me true,
For the heaven that lies above me
And awaits my spirit, too.
For the cause that needs assistance,
For the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance.
And the good that I can do.
— Mrs. Linnaeus Banks

Text from The Witness,  17th September 1915
Image: An edit of Lost in Thought by Susan Harrison-Tustain

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Stolen Sheep

Our readers are all familiar with Sir Walter Scott's "Heart of Mid Lothian," and will recollect the truly touching scene where Jeanie Deans cannot and will not utter what she knows to be false, to save the life of a sister whom she loves as her own soul. It is one of the most masterly of the descriptions of the great "magician of the north," and if a single individual can read it without having every sympathy of his heart aroused, he must be dull if not dead to the finer sensibilities of the soul. But at the same time, we think the "Stolen Sheep," which appeared in the annual for last year called "Friendship's Offering," not unworthy of being placed side by side with the scene in the "Heart of Mid Lothian." There is not an Irishman, at least, who will not feel a strong desire to give the preference to this story, of which we here present an abstract.

Michaul Carroll was a poor and honest peasant, whose family were visited with famine and typhus fever at a time when the wide-spread misery of the country rendered assistance from the neighbours nearly hopeless. His wife and a young child died — he himself was attacked by the disease, and on recovering, his weak state and sallow look totally prevented even the possibility of him getting employment. His old father and infant son are starving at home, in their wretched cabin — Michaul, desperate, and broken down, steals a sheep, which he kills, and conceals in an out house. It was discovered — Michaul was arrested — and his poor old father was taken as a witness against his son!

The assizes soon came on. Michaul was arraigned; and, during his plea of "not guilty," his father appeared, unseen by him, in the gaoler's custody, at the back of the dock, or rather in an inner dock. The trial excited a keen and painful interest in the court, the bar, the jury-box, and the crowd of spectators. It was universally known that a son had stolen a sheep, partly to feed a starving father; and that out of the mouth of that father it was now sought to condemn him. "What will the old man do?" was the general question which ran through the assembly; and while few of the lower orders could contemplate the possibility of his swearing to the truth, many of their betters scarce hesitated to make for him a case of actual necessity to swear falsely.

The trial began. The first witness, the herdsman, proved the loss of the sheep, and the finding the dismembered carcass in the old barn. The policemen and steward followed to the same effect, and the latter added the allusions which he had heard the father make to the son, upon the morning of the arrest of the latter. The steward went down from the table, There was a pause, and complete silence, which the attorney for the prosecution broke by saying to the crier, deliberately, "Call Peery Carroll."

"Here, sir," immediately answered Peery, as the gaoler led him by a side-door, out of the back dock to the table. The prisoner started round; but the new witness against him had passed for an instant into the crowd.

The next instant, old Peery was seen ascending the table, assisted by the gaoler, and by many other commiserating hands, near him. Every glance was fixed on his face. The barristers looked wistfully up from their seats round the table; the judge put a glass to his eye, and seemed to study his features attentively. Among the audience, there ran a low but expressive murmur of pity and interest.

Though much emaciated by confinement, anguish, and suspense, Peery's cheeks had a flush, and his weak blue eyes glittered. The half-gaping expression of his parched and haggard lips was miserable to see. And yet, he did not tremble much, nor appear so confounded as upon the day of his visit to the magistrate.

The moment he stood upright on the table he turned himself fully to the judge, without a glance towards the dock.

"Sit down, sit down, poor man," said the judge,

"Thanks to you, my lord, I will," answered Peery, "only, first, I'd ax you to let me kneel, for a little start;" and he accordingly did kneel, and after bowing his head, and forming the sign of the cross on his forehead, he looked up and said — "My Judge in heaven above, 'tis you I pray to keep me in my duty, afore my earthly judge, this day; — amen:" — and then repeating the sign of the cross, he seated himself.

The examination of the witness commenced, and humanely proceeded as follows — (the council for the prosecution taking no notice of the superfluity of Peery's answers.)

"Do you know Michaul, or Michael, Carroll, the prisoner, at the bar?"

"Afore that night, Sir, I believe I knew him well; every thought of his mind, every bit of the heart of his body: afore that night, no living cratur could throw a word at Michaul Carroll, or say he ever forgot his father's renown, or his love of his good God; — an' sure the people are after telling you by tins time how it came about that night — an' you, my lord, — an' ye gintlemen, — an' all good Christians that hear me; — here I am to help to hang him — my own boy, and my only one — but, for all that, gintlemen, ye ought to think of it: it was for the weenock aud the old father that he done it; indeed, an' deed we had'nt a pyratee in the place; an the sickness was amongst us, a start afore; it took the wife from him, and another babby; an' id had himself down a week or so beforehand; an' all that day he was looking for work but could'nt get a hand's turn to do; an' that's the way it was; not a mouthful for me an' little Peery; an', more betoken, he grew sorry for id, in the mornin', an' promised me not to touch a scrap of what was in the barn, — ay, long afore the steward an the peelers came on us, — but was willin' to go among the neighbours an' beg our breakfast, along wid myself, sooner than touch it.

"It is my painful duty," resumed the barrister, when Peery would at length cease, — "to ask you for further information. You saw Michael Carroll in the barn that night? —"

"Musha — The Lord pity him and me — I did, Sir."

"Doing what?" —

"The sheep between his hands," answered Peery, dropping his head, and speaking inaudibly.

"I must still give you pain, I fear; stand up; take the crier's rod; and if you see Michael Carroll in court, lay it on his head."

"Och, musha, musha, Sir, don't ax me to do that!" pleaded Peery, rising, wringing his hands, and, for the first time, weeping — "och, don't my lord, don't, and may your own judgment be favourable, the last day."

"I am sorry to command you to do it, witness, but you must take the rod," answered the judge, bending his head close to his own notes, to hide his own tears; and at the same time many a veteran barrister rested his forehead on the table. In the body of the court were heard sobs.

"Michael, avich, Michael, a corra-ma-chree!" exclaimed Peery, when at length he took the rod, and faced round to his son, — "is id your father they make to do it, ma-bouchal.

"My father does what is right," answered Michaul, in Irish. The judge immediately asked to have his words translated; and when he learned their import regarded the prisoner with satisfaction.

"We rest here," my lords, said the counsel, with the air of a man free from a painful task.

The judge instantly turned to the jury-box.

"Gentlemen of the jury. That the prisoner at the bar stole the sheep in question, there can be no shade of moral doubt. But you have a very peculiar case to consider. A son steals a sheep that his own famishing father, and his own famishing son may have food. His aged parent is compelled to give evidence against him here for the act. The old man virtuously tells the truth, and the whole truth, before you, and me. He sacrifices his natural feelings — and we have seen that they are lively — to his honesty, and to his religious sense of the sacred obligations of an oath. Gentlemen, I will pause to observe, that the old man's conduct is strikingly exemplary and even noble. It teaches all of us a lesson. Gentlemen it is not within the province of a judge to censure the rigour of the proceedings which have sent him before us. But I venture to anticipate your pleasure that, notwithstanding all the evidence given, you will be enabled to acquit that old man's son, the prisoner at the bar. I have said there cannot be the shade of a moral doubt that he has stolen the sheep, and I repeat the words. But, gentlemen, there is a legal doubt, to the full benefit of which he is entitled. The sheep has not been identified. The herdsman could not venture to identify it (and it would have been strange if he could) from the dismembered limbs found in the barn. To his mark on its skin, indeed, he might have positively spoken; but no skin has been discovered. Therefore, according to the evidence, and yon have sworn to decide by that alone, the prisoner is entitled to your acquittal. Possibly, now that the prosecutor sees the case in its full bearing, he may be pleased with the result."

While the jury, in evident satisfaction, prepared to return their verdict, Michael's landlord who had but a moment before returned home, entered the court, and becoming aware of the concluding words of the judge, expressed his sorrow aloud, that the prosecution had ever been undertaken; that circumstances had kept him uninformed of it, though it had gone on in his name; and he begged leave to assure his lordship that it would be his future effort to keep Michael Carroll in his former path of honesty, by finding him honest and ample employment, and as far as in him lay, to reward the virtue of the old father.

While Peery Carroll was laughing and crying in one breath in the arms of his delivered son, a subscription, commenced by the bar, was mounting into a considerable sum for his advantage.

From The Dublin Penny Journal, 11th August, 1832.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Royal College of Surgeons (1832)

Of the institutions for public instruction in Ireland, accidental circumstances happen to direct our attention first to the Royal College of Surgeons: an institution which, without meaning to disparage any other, we venture to assert, has attained a higher degree of celebrity, and secured a greater portion of public confidence, than any similar one in these kingdoms. This college was established by Royal Charter in 1784, and in 1796 was entrusted by the legislature with the duty of inquiring into the qualifications of surgeons, seeking to be appointed to the care of County Infirmaries. In 1806, the college buildings in Stephen's Green were erected at the public expense, and in 1825, the front was remodelled, enlarged, and improved, and the present museum and examination-hall built, at an expense of seven thousand pounds, the accumulated surplus income of several years. On this occasion, the foundation stone was laid by the Marquis of Wellesley, accompanied by the Commander of the Forces, and many other persons of distinction. In 1828, a new charter was granted to the college, for the purpose of enabling it to adapt its system of education and government to those changes which had taken place in the state of the country, and of society, in half a century. The system of education adopted by the college is distinguished from that of London and other places by the extent of the exercises, the long period of study enjoined, and the severe public examination to which the candidates are subjected.

One of the earliest acts of the college, was the establishment of its school of surgery, a department of the institution which has been eminently successful, and to which Dublin is principally indebted for the advantages the inhabitants enjoy from an annual expenditure by students resorting to the schools for instruction, amounting to a sum little less than one hundred thousand pounds.

In this school every branch of medical science is taught by the respective professors, except botany, the funds not being at present sufficient to support the expense of a garden. This is, however, an object to which the in embers look forward with every hope of its attainment. The buildings appropriated by the college to the accommodation of the school, are, a theatre capable of containing four hundred persons, a chemical laboratory and smaller theatre attached to it, a museum for the illustration of the daily lectures, and a theatre for anatomical demonstrations, with extensive apartments for the study of practical anatomy. A new chemical laboratory has just been erected to accommodate the great increase of students in this department, and it is proposed to devote the present chemical laboratory and theatre to the accommodation of the professors of materia medica aud medical jurisprudence.

The apartments appropriated to other purposes in the college, are contained in that part of the building which fronts Stephen's Green. They consist of a large room in which the meetings of the college are held, a library, a museum, examination-hall, and various apartments for the accommodation of the officers of the college. The meeting-room is a finely proportioned apartment: it contains a portrait of Dr. Renny, a memorial of the gratitude of the college for his most disinterested exertions in forwarding the interests of the institution; and also one of the venerable secretary, Mr. Henthorn, who, for nearly half a century, has devoted his time and efforts to the service of the college. The library, which was greatly enlarged a few years ago, by the expenditure of two thousand pounds from the funds of the college, consists of a valuable collection of books in every department of medical science, and the collateral branches of knowledge; it is particularly rich in books on natural history, and in transactions of learned societies. The museum is a beautiful room, and the collection one of great value. The compartments in the gallery are occupied by a regular series of beautiful preparations illustrative of the different organs subservient to vital existence, with another series, illustrative of the changes to which these organs are liable from disease. The lower compartments are occupied by an excellent collection of skeletons. This museum, which has been created within the last twelve years, is highly creditable, as well to the college as to the two gentlemen, by whose exertions it has been brought to its present state of perfection. In the museum there is a bust of Mr. Shekleton, the late curator, who lost his life in the discharge of his duty, which he executed with unexampled zeal, perseverance, and industry. He died from the consequences of a wound inflicted in dissection. In a smaller adjoining museum is a collection of admirably executed anatomical models in wax, procured in Paris, at an expense of five hundred pounds; the munificent present of the Duke of Northumberland, who frequently visited the museum of the college, and took great pleasure in examining the preparations, respecting which he possessed a degree of information seldom to be met with among persons not educated to the profession.

We regret that our limits do not permit us to give a fuller account of this valuable institution than the above hasty sketch, but we hope that it will have the effect of inducing our readers to visit it, and learn what may and has been done in Ireland by steady perseverance, judicious arrangements, public spirit, and an honest application of funds to the purposes for which they were destined.


From The Dublin Penny Journal, 3rd November 1832.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Potato Bread

Passion... you can't do genealogy and family history without meeting people with a passion. Whether it be for a family, a place or period their passion borders on the obsessive – like Mary Lennon, whose passion has put many a street directory online, or Davy McCallion, whose passion has enabled one of the biggest collections of WW1 and WW2 memorabilia, dress and equipment.

But having a passion for something is not just limited to the realms of history. Specify any topic and you'll find someone with a passion for it and this was proven to me recently when I came across a facebook page for Potato Bread Girl NI. As the name suggests PBG-NI has a passion for one of the essential parts of any Ulster Fry, potato bread, and travels around Northern Ireland looking for the best and rates them on her page. (If you have any recommendations in your locality I'm sure she'd like to hear from you.)

There are many forms of potato bread available today and while we all (OK... mostly all) enjoy a good piece of 'tattie' bread [pronounced "taytee" for thems that don't spake rite] in our frys – or perhaps toasted – the idea of adding potato to bread wasn't always so welcome. In fact, it was once deemed so reprehensible that a reward was offered to find the culprits.

In 1782 the claims that potato flour was being added to bread caused the bakers of Dublin to issue a proclamation condemning the practice. Saunders News Letter in Dublin reported that:
"The Bakers of the City of Dublin, observing... the unmerited Reflections that are daily cast upon the Baking Trade... are anxious to justify themselves to the candid Part of their Fellow Citizens, and wipe away the Aspersions which Malevolence and Falsehood dictate, submit the following Oath... [and] they hereby offer a Reward of Twenty Guineas, to any Person who will inform against, and bring sufficient Proofs before the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, of a Baker having contrary to the Oath above recited..." 1

The content of this proclamation by the baker's of Dublin has to be understood in the context of the time, however, as it wasn't the making of potato bread itself that was the target of their 'concern'.

In that year, there had been one of the many bad harvests that have continually afflicted Ireland throughout the centuries and, as is always the case when flour becomes scarce, the price of bread had risen. The bakers were being accused of profiteering and of adulterating the flour used to make the bread. Indeed, the ability to make potato bread at all was called into question in the reported proclamation:
"The Charge of mixing Potato Flour in Bread, is too ridiculous to merit a serious investigation, as if there is a Possibility of reducing Potatoes to a flour that would mix with Wheaten Flour, it must be by Process so Expensive, as to destroy every Advantage that might arise from such a Fraud..."2

Fourteen years later however, the situation regarding the making of potato bread had changed somewhat as the Dublin Evening Post reported:
"Last week was held in Bath, the anniversary meeting of the West of England Agricultural Society.
"The following method of making potato bread, of which a specimen was produced to the Society met with general approbation:
'To any given weight of flour put half that weight of potatoes. Let the potatoes be well boiled, peeled, and mashed. Mix them up with flour, whilst warm – then add the yeast, and proceed as in the common method of making bread, observing to make the bread up as dry as possible.'
"Twelve months use of this bread in one family had proved it to be both wholesome and palatable."3

Now, I don't know about you, but I think it's clear from these two reports that we can put a time frame for the beginnings of the humble 'tattie' bread.

By the mid 19th century, the making of potato bread appears to have become more widely recognised. One reader of the Ulster Gazette and Armagh Weekly Journal, who replied to "a subscriber" seeking "as to what proportion to use Potatoes with flour in making bread" gave their recipe and expressed an opinion akin to PBG-NI when they said,
"This plan I have followed for some years, finding that bread made according to it is very superior to that made with flour only, and on this ground alone I would recommend its adoption, even if the potatoes were the same price as flour..."4

When the world became embroiled in the Great War of 1914-1919 the making of potato bread came under the scrutiny of the Government food agencies. These had contradictory results when in 1917 experiments in making potato bread were made by the governments in both Britain and France.

In Britain, a loaf made of 10% potatoes, 20% maize flour and the rest wheaten flour was produced. The results, according the the Birmingham Daily Post, where "found to be both palatable and good to look upon, which is more than can be said of most of the potatoless war bread. It is understood that steps may be taken to secure the general baking of such bread..."5

The scarcities caused by the war leading to an increasing interest in people growing their own food appears to have in given an impetus in this direction when, in November of that year, the Yorkshire Telegraph published a letter from a reader who asked for a way to use potatoes in bread for his friends "especially seeing that for the first time their gardens have grown potatoes." The papers response was to publish a 'standard' recipe for potato bread from a publication called Ration Recipes.6

In France, however, the situation was rather different. The Minister of Revictualling had a potato bread prepared and in August 1917 circulated all prefects with its recommendation. The experiment undertaken in the city of Lyons, said the Bath Chronicle, was declared a failure. While the bread was "found to be of excellent quality", it was reportedly "difficult to make and consequently expensive." "There was a danger," continued the report (quoted from the Morning Post), that "there was...a danger of establishing two different qualities of bread, and bringing about a scarcity of potatoes. The city has now decided to drop the experiments and to recommend the use of boiled potatoes rather than potatoes in the form of bread."7

The experiments in France and the utilization of potatoes in bread-making were even discussed in the French National Académie de Médecine. Examples of the nutritional values of various mixtures where presented along with their calorific values. These discussions "of great practical importance" according to The Lancet, had a mixed reaction.8 The breads were "found to be well risen and elastic... kept fresh a considerable time... and, even with 50% potato pulp, retained a satisfactory odour of wheaten bread." The criticism was made that increasing the amount of potatoes in the mixture reduced the nutritive value but this was countered by the suggestion of adding 10% bean flour to an admixture of 60% wheat and 30% potato. It was deemed "impracticable for small private bakers, but both possible and desirable in State, communal, and army bakeries, as well as in families that make their own bread." One participant believed that "it would be better to reduce the bread ration rather than to further dilute the official loaf with substitutes for wheat" while another stated the "important advantage associated with the use of potatoes in bread rather than in their natural state."

The report concluded with the comments that the Ministry of Food had taken up the subject (as alluded to by the Birmingham Daily Post earlier) and that:
"If other bakers are able to reach the Ministry's standard, the potato bread should be in great demand, and...its use is very desirable on account of the superior biological value of potato protein in comparison with that of wheat. The public should be urged to try the new bread at once, and we understand that the use of a certain percentage of potatoes in bread-making is about to be made compulsory.9

Whatever its origins and history, potato bread has become an integral part of the Ulster fry and as far back as 1938 a 'famous' Irish staple as highlighted below in this image from the Portsmouth Evening News of 23rd December.

1.  Saunders News Letter, Dublin 20th November 1782.
2.  Ibid.
3.  Dublin Evening Post, 2nd January 1796.
4.  Ulster Gazette and Armagh Weekly Journal, 29th December 1855.
5.  Birmingham Daily Post, 30th August 1917.
6.  Yorkshire Telegraph and Star, 23rd November 1917.
7. Bath Chronicle, 1st September 1917.
8.  The Lancet (the British Medical Journal), 19th January 1918,
9.  Ibid.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Carlingford (1832)

We think our wood-cut well calculated to catch the eye of a Dublinian. For lives there man, woman or child, in our good city, that has not heard of Carlingford, though but few have seen it. Carlingford — so renowned for its delicious oysters — oysters known as well to the poor mendicant who is tasked to crush their shells, as to the rich merchant who gobbles down their delicious insides — oysters as far superior to every other testaceous creature that open its bivalve to the tide, as to an Englishman is plum-pudding when compared with flummery — oysters, that give luxurious suppers to man, and open his heart as the knife opens the shell! In vain may the Parisian boast of his Carcale, the Londoner of his Colchester, or even our western shores of their green-finned Burrin, exquisite Pooldoody, or delicious Lisadill — who dare compare them to a rale Carlingford? Ye Aldermen of Dublin, and all who have experienced night after night the indescribable delights of a feast of oysters, and a flow of punch, come and give us all due credit for presenting you with a picture of that dear spot from whence your delights do come, and for giving "a local habitation and a name" to the birth-place of what your souls desire!

But Carlingford is not only worthy of regard as contributing to our creature-comforts, and causing us to rejoice both at snack and supper, but it is also noted for its scenic beauties and recollections. In all Ireland there is not (oh! we beg pardon, there is at Glengariff,) a bay so beautiful as Carlingford. Reader, if you were sitting on a fine soft sunny evening on one of the towers of that ancient castle built by King John, and looking westward and northward, you would enjoy a prospect which, if you pretended to taste, would cause you to cry out, "Magnificent," but if you really possessed it, would make you hold your tongue, and be all eyes. Under you the noble land-locked bay — before you and a few miles across the water, a distance which owing to the translucency of the atmosphere peculiar to the western wind, is only calculated to make objects more softly picturesque — yes — before you is the loveliest village in Ireland — Rostrevor. Its cottages embosomed in trees, its sun-lit villas, its pretty church, its obelisk, the honoured cenotaph of a brave soldier, who fell in his country's cause, leading Irishmen to victory. Then above the village, the wood-covered hills, swelling upwards until the green slopes mingle in the dark gorges of the Mourne mountains, over which Slieve Donald rises as lord of the range in pyramidal majesty. The western sun is gilding its crest; a feathery cloud all on fire with the sun's rays has rested on its topmost peak, and turbanned it with glory. Eastward, the mountain masses of shade flung upon the sleeping sea! Oh! for such a splendid scene, happy season, and felicitous atmosphere, — it would almost be well to be a Carlingford fisherman or even a Carlingford oyster, provided that as an oyster one could see through the sea and be susceptible of the picturesque, without the consciousness of being liable to be dredged for and gobbled up by voracious Dublinians.

But Carlingford is not alone remarkable for its oysters and its scenery, it is also worthy of an Irishman's regard, as the retreat, and its mountain country the fastness of the notorious Redmond O'Hanlon, the far-famed Rapparee, who about 120 years ago, played the part of Rob Roy in Ireland. The Irish gatherer of black-rent was quite a match for the Scotch rogue; as valiant in fight, as expert in flight, as terrible to the oppressor, as generous to the oppressed, as the Caledonian Kiltander. But poor Ireland has not got a Sir Walter Scott to cast a halo of renown about his name — "vate caret." She wants a poet to immortalize a cow stealer; and poor Redmond sleeps without his glory! Alas, that notable record of his exploits is out of print — the History of the Irish Rogues and Rapparees. Worthy Mr. Cross of Cook-street is now no more, a coffin maker occupies the shop where, in days gone by, we used to purchase these admirable effusions of the Irish press — "The Life of Captain James Freney, the Robber," "Laugh and be Fat," "The History of Moll Flanders," but above all, the most spirit-stirring, the one best calculated to teach the young Hibernian idea how to shoot in rale earnest, the "Irish Rogues and Rapparees," a book which has had as great an effect in Ireland as Schiller's play of the Robbers in Germany, namely, leading many a bold youth to take freedoms with others too often tending to the abridgment of his own — but we are rambling: we beg leave to drop our sportive strain, and introduce the "Annals of Cavlingford," furnished by a gentleman to whom not only we, but Ireland, lies under many obligations. — ED.

This little town is situated in the barony of Dundalk and county of Louth, near the foot of an extensive range of mountains, and on the S.E. side of a spacious bay. It was a station of considerable importance during the early ages of the English ascendancy in Ireland, and its first formation was consequent to the erection of a castle, which tradition attributes to the policy of King John. The town was never relguarly walled or fortified, but as it was exposed to continual dangers by being situated on the frontiers of the Pale, every principal domestic building was designed on the model of a fortress or castle. The remains of such structures were very numerous there not more than "sixty years since," and even at the present day three very interesting remains of that character invite the attention of the antiquarian. That pre-eminently termed King John's castle is an extensive and imposing ruin, "moored on a rifted rock," the sides of which are laved at the east by the sea, while to the inland is a narrow pass overhung by wild and lofty mountains. To command this pass the building appears to have been erected, and its form was necessarily adapted to the natural circumstances of its site, enclosing various baronial halls and apartments, a court-yard surrounded with traces of galleries and recesses, &c. The walls are in some places eleven feet in thickness, while the prospect from its summit over the hay, the Cooley, the mountains of Mourne, &c. is grand beyond description.

On the southern side of the town are the ruins of the Dominican Monastery. This still extensive and picturesque ruin exhibits in the long aisle and central belfry, traces of the pointed architecture of the fourteenth century. About midway between it and King John's castle are the ruins of a square building, with windows of an ecclesiastical character, curiously ornamented with carvings of animals, human heads, and sundry fancy wreathings. Near this on an adjoining eminence is a church of ancient foundation, with a large burial ground, in which may be seen a curiously carved stone and several monuments to the families of Moore and Millar. There is a glebe of about three acres lying about a mile from this church. The benefice is a vicarage in the archdiocese of Armagh, and patronage of the Primate. A small portion of the eastern part of the parish is all that has been preserved in the Down survey.

Carlingford formerly gave the title of Earl to the family of Taaffe, but the honour becoming, as it is supposed, extinct in the person of Theobald, the fourth earl of that name without issue, in 1738, his late Majesty George III. conferred the title of Viscount Cariingford on the family of Carpenter, together with the Earldom of Tyrconnel. The population of this ancient town is estimated at upwards of 1300. The bay is spacious, and the water deep; but unfortunately the navigation is rendered dangerous by hidden rocks. The scenery that surrounds it is of the most enchanting description, its shores being decorated with the most attractive villages, numerous bathing lodges ami agreeable cottages, behind which some mountains rise infinitely varied through all their elevation, here waving with ornamental woods, there glowing with heath or verdure, on the one side battlemented with a grey expanse of rocks, on the other exhibiting the industrious extensions of cultivation.

The mountain already alluded to as overhanging King John's castle, rises in height about 1850 feet, and is for more than two-thirds of its elevation composed of a succession of stairs formed of trap, passing towards the summit from a homogeneous, to a porphorytic texture. From the position and height of this eminence the inhabitants of Carlingford, during a great part of the summer season lose sight of the sun several hours before he sets in the horizon.

The following are a few of the more interesting annals connected with this town.

A.D. 432. St. Patrick's second landing in Ireland was according to some authorities effected here.
1184. John de Courcy granted the ferry of Carlingford to the Abbey of Downpatrick.
1210. The castle called King John's was erected.
1301. Matilda de Lacy, widow of David, baron of Naas, granted the advowson of the church of Carlingford to the priory of Kilmainham.
1305. Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, founded a monastery for Dominicians here, under the invocation of St. Malachy.
1326. The king committed the custody of the castle of Carlingford to Geoffry le Blound, to hold during the royal pleasure. And in the same year the bailiffs, &c. of this town had letters patent, conferring certain privileges and allowances for six years as an aid towards walling and otherwise strengthening their town.
1332. William de Burgh was found seized, amongst other possessions, of the castle of Drogheda, the town of Cooley appertaining thereto, the manor of Rath, &c.
1346. The prior of Kilmainham was found seized, and his successors so continued, of the tithes of Carlingford.
1357. The king granted to his son Lionel, Earl of Ulster, license to hold a weekly market, and one yearly fair in his town of Carlingford. From this Lionel the property descended to Edward de Mortimer.
1388. Edmund Loundres was appointed constable of the castle of Carlingford, with certain allowances for its repairs, as it was stated to be then much out of order and unsafe.
1400. The king granted to Stephen Gernon, constable of the castles of Green Castle aud Carlingford, licence to take the corn and tithes within the lordship of Cooley for the victualling of said castles.
1404. The manor of Carlingford and town of Irish Grange, which had previously belonged to the abbey and convent of Newry, vested by forfeiture in the king, who thereupon granted it in fee to Richard Sedgrave.
1408. Lord Thomas of Lancaster, the king's son, landed here as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
1425. By a record of this date it appears that certain rights in the fishery of the bay appertained to the castle of Curlingford.
1467. A mint was established here by act of Parliament.
1495. It was enacted that only able and sufficient persons of the realm of England should be henceforward constables of the castle of Carlingford.
1501. In consequence of this town having been repeatedly burned by the Scots and Irish, the king granted to its provost, bailiffs, and commonalty; certain tolls and customs towards enclosing it with a stone wall.
1538. The inhabitants of Clontarf, near Dublin, had licence to fish, without charge or toll, within the bay of Carlingford.
1539. This vicarage was valued to the First Fruits at £3. 13s. 8d.
1548. The king granted to Sir Nicholas Bagnal, Knight, the manors of Omee and Carlingford, with the Lordship of Cooley, &c.
1560. Sir Henry Raddiffe and John Neill were members for the borough of Carlingford in this year.
1596. Henry Oge, the son-in-law of Tyrone, made incursions into the English pale, and endeavoured to surprise the castle of Carlingford.
1642. Sir Henry Fishburn took possession of the town, not however till it had suffered considerable injury by fire from the adherents of Sir Phelim O'Neill.
1646. Perfect freedom of trade conferred on Carlingford.
1649. The castle surrendered to Lord Inchiquin.
1650. The castle was delivered to Sir Charles Coote and Colonel Venables.
1669. The tithes of this parish, which had been vested in the crown, were granted to the incumbent and his successors for ever.
1689. Some of the Duke of Berwick's party set fire to this town, soon after which the sick soldiers of Schomberg's army were removed thither. In king James's parliament of this year, Christopher Peppard and Bryan Dermod, Esq. were the sitting members for Carlingford.
1750. The celebrated Thurot passed this year here, and during that iuterval acquired his knowledge of the English language.

Source: The Dublin Penny Journal, 21st July 1832.