Category Archives: Irish History

300 evicted, Strokestown Massacre.

A list of 300 people evicted from Strokestown Estate.
Co. Roscommon

Mass Eviction

This list of 300 names was published by the Bishop of Elphin.

“The Strokestown Massacre Developed” A few years ago I was over in Strokestown house with some friends and being me I was photographing everything.  I have never published this list before it was hanging on the wall.  I am now loading these photographs at full size so that any whose families were evicted can see that this list was published in the Freeman’s Journal 29th April 1847.  The editorial was entitled “The Strokestown Massacre Developed”


Penal Times: Charter Schools

From: ‘The Penal Laws, 1691-1760, by Maureen Wall. Irish History Series, No. 1 published by the Dublin Historical Association, c/o Department of History, University College, Dublin.

The Charter Schools –
But since all of them paid lip service to the policy of promoting the Protestant interest, they did agree to provide financial assistance for one such scheme. Primate Boulter, an Englishman, and virtual governor of Ireland for a considerable period, showed more enthusiasm than the members of the Irish parliament for the spread of Protestantism. In 1731, finding as he said, that “instead of converting those that are adults, we are daily losing many of our meaner people, who go off to popery,” he founded a society for establishing a system of primary schools for “instructing and converting the younger generation,” throughout Ireland, and applied for a royal charter, which was granted in 1733. The objects of the scheme, according to the charter, were “that the children of the popish and other poor natives … may be instructed in the English tongue and in the principles of true religion and loyalty in all succeeding generations.” The scheme was at first financed by a royal bounty of £1000 a year and by benefactions of land and money from interested persons in Ireland and England, but in 1745 the Irish parliament agreed to vote it, as an additional income, the proceeds of a tax on hawkers and pedlars. From 1757 on the parliamentary grants were considerably increased. Finding that the conversion through day schools of Catholic children living with their parents was impossible, it was decided that they should be removed to schools remote from their homes and afterwards apprenticed to Protestants. On marriage to a Protestant they were to receive a gift of £5. Apart from promoting Protestantism, the schools had a second aim which was the training of the children “in labour and industry in order to cure that habitual laziness and idleness which is too common among the poor of this country.” Special attention was to be paid to training them in the linen manufacture and in agriculture with a view to promoting the prosperity of the country in general. The children admitted were to be between the ages of six and ten years, but since there was no law for removing children forcibly from their homes, and since few Catholic parents could be induced to send their children to the schools, nurseries were set up which took in infants between the ages of two and six -many of them orphans and foundlings- and these nurseries served as feeders for the charter schools. There were nurseries in York Street in Dublin and in Monasterevan in Kildare to supply children to the Leinster schools; one in Shannon Grove in Limerick for Munster, and one in Monivea in Galway for Connacht. Because of lack of supervision and the neglect and peculation of those placed in charge of the schools, the children were ill-treated, dirty, overworked, badly fed and clothed, and the mortality rate was exceedingly high. Although up to fifty of these schools were established throughout the country their success in carrying out their aim can be gauged from the report of the royal commission on Irish education in 1825, which states that in the ninety years during which the scheme had been in operation, 12,745 was the total number of charter school children apprenticed, and 1,555 had received the marriage portion of £5 given to those who married Protestants. By no means all of these had been the children of Catholic parents, for the supply of Catholic children not being enough, children of Protestants had been freely admitted to the schools. However, the charter schools salved the consciences of those who regarded the conversion of Irish Catholics to Protestantism as a desirable objective, and session after session the Lord Lieutenant’s speech from the throne called on parliament to pay due attention to these schools. Nevertheless, Prirnate Boulter’ scheme can hardly be deemed to have been an unqualified success.

Tractors, Threshing, Knock, Co. Laois, 2015

The advertisement read “Knock Threshing & Road Run – on Josie Dayton’s farm” and it was run in aid of Knock School Building fund. : 13th September, 2015

There were a lot of tractors on display at the ‘Threshing’

I have labelled this post as ‘Tractors’, as you look through these photos though you’ll see more than tractors.  There are jaunting cars and agricultural machinery which were standing with the tractors.  You’ll have to excuse the fact that some of these photos have a few blurry spots, that was the rain that decided to come on and no matter how much I tried to keep my lens dry it was impossible!

Vintage, Ploughing, Co. Laois, 2015

There is not an awful lot that I can say about vintage at the 2015 Ploughing Championships, there was so much of it all around the place.  Here are some of the general photographs that I took.


Butter At Threshing, Co. Laois

What can I say when I have just put up images of a donkey churning butter?

We all know that butter has been churned by man and sold ‘forever’ don’t we?  The different ‘containers’ to churn butter, the shapes of the butter, the milk bottles, the cream containers.  It is a fine art in itself and is now recognised as being so.

There was a stall at the Threshing festival over in Knock the other day.  One of the men at the stall had come from Co. Clare, another from Co. Limerick and they go to festivals all over.

They were selling the butter they had made.  I didn’t buy any, it would have made it impossible to take photos if I had!  I bet it was lovely.

Donkey Churning Butter, Threshing, Co. Laois

Did you ever see a donkey churning butter? I never did before I went to the Threshing day at Knock, Laois last Sunday.  The day of Threshing and everything that went with it was organised to support Knock National School and it’s re-development.  A really wonderful day for all who attended!

There is little can be said about a donkey churning butter, except it involved work for the men who organised the exhibition and I wonder does anyone think of that?  I’d like to thank them for the please I got in watching this ‘event’ and for the education I received.

Blog: A Man, His Dog and Lord Castletown

It’s funny and if you don’t write, you’ll not understand this- you have to be in the mood to write.  The thoughts have to be with you, the feeling has to be there.

I wrote a bit about this incident on Facebook, just a bit.  The thing is between this meeting and the ten days or so after I have had some fantastic days.  I have met wonderful people.
On 27th August, 2015, I received an email from a man who is working in University College Dublin asking me if I had ever photographed the grave of Lord Castletown.  I checked and replied on the Friday telling him that I had his name in my index but would check my folders on Monday.

On the Sunday, I was driving down the road and slowed down to pass a man who had a dog walking in front of him. Just after I had passed the man, the dog stepped out in the road, turned himself round to face my car and I stopped driving.  The man caught up to me, I rolled down my window, said “Lovely dog” and he laughed and asked me what was wrong with my arm.  I was wearing a brace, so I told him.  We laughed – he asked if I was in a hurry and suggested I could pull over so we could have a chat.  Can’t say why – just in our few words, this man was very interesting.  I pulled over, we chatted.


Oscar the dog

Then, he says “Your mother” and I say “but I never gave you my name” – he replies “Your mother was Dr. Lyons” – and so she was.  As our conversation progressed, I told him that I transcribe gravestones and Mam used to tell me I was mad.  He said “You know about the Lord Castletown gravestones then don’t you?” I laughed and said “A man contacted me about them this week” isn’t that a coincidence?

I gave him my phone number and went off where I was on my way to.  Coming back later that evening I was thinking I hadn’t asked him his name – and then – there he was on the road again and I pulled up again.  This time, I got into his jeep and he drove me to the graveyard showed me exactly where the gravestone is, and I finally photographed Lord Castletown’s grave.

In the few weeks that followed, thanks to the meeting of this man and his dog, I was introduced to some information on the Second Baron Castletown (by another man I met in the last few weeks).  I had known nothing about Lord Castletown other than he had lived in this area and I have photographed Granstown Castle which belonged to him.  He was actually a very interesting man. Some of the following comes from an article published(18th–19th – Century History, 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2007), News, Volume 15.)

Lord Castletown kept a 14ft python in his rooms until it nearly killed a chambermaid!  He served as an ambulance worker for the Red Cross society in the Franco German war and working in a Typhus hospital.

The most interesting thing to me, is that he married Ursula Clare Emily St Leger (d. 1927), only child of the fourth Viscount Doneraile, in 1874.  She had an ancestor who was the only Irish Lady Freemason Mrs. Elizabeth Aldworth (nee St. Leger).

Years ago, I had ‘chased’ a box of books at an auction because in that box was a book all about the only lady Freemason!  I did manage to buy the box of books and have to say that while the ‘story’ was very interesting the book was not an antique or old book, it was a reasonably modern booklet.  I had been really very interested in Freemasonry.

Lord Castletown served in the 4th Battalion, Leinster Regiment, as lieutenant-colonel and honorary colonel.  He was decorated for his heroism in the Egyptian campaign and was a vigorous army recruiter for the first world war, for which he was too old to fight in.  He was High Sheriff of Queen’ County (Laois) in 1876, had a good relationship with his tenantry.

A friend of Douglas Hyde he gave financial assistance to the Gaelic League and formed the short-lived Celtic Association to foster Celtic culture.  Conversant with Irish, he learned the language on holidays in Connemara.

He died on the 29th May 1937, aged 88 and is buried in Killermogh, Ballacolla, Co. Laois.

The man who wrote making the enquiry about the gravestone wrote the following to me:
“this description in his autobiography Ego, describing his involvement with the Celtic League:

Mr. Fournier evolved the idea of having a granite stone divided into six nationalities, with the idea that wherever a meeting was held the stone should be put up, and when standing was emblematical of peaceful proceedings. Each piece had the initial letter of the country it belonged to. The stone now stands in front of my house at home, and will, I hope, be placed by my grave in Killermoogh churchyard.”

The ‘stone’ was made up of six blocks, however there are only 5 there now. The six members of the Celtic Association were Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Isle of Man and Cornwall. There is a letter to represent each country on each block and then on the side of each block there is ogham script.

This article while it is about Lord Castletown, it is probably more about the man and the dog because if I had not met that man I would simply have written back to the man who made the enquiry telling him that I did not have a photograph of this gravestone.  I knew nothing about Lord Castletown and the significance of these blocks would not have dawned on me.

Oughavale (Aughaval) Graveyard Photographs, Westport, Co. Mayo

These photographs are not here because I have transcribed the stones, no, this time they are here just to show you the size of this graveyard and a bit of the difference between the old and new sections.  The numbers of stones we have in the new area compared to the older area.  It’s so hard to imagine that the older section was probably once as ‘populated’ with stones as the new section.

Also, there is a bleakness about this graveyard. I have a book which deals with the Clew Bay archaeological Train and in that book it says that this graveyard is unusual because it has Protestant and Catholic burials. That statement is incorrect, you will find Catholics buried in most Protestant graveyards and it is always very hard to try and explain this to people.

Boheh Stone Photographs, Co. Mayo

Out the Leenane road from Westport in Mayo at a place called Boheh there is a large outcrop of rock almost totally covered in carvings or ‘rock art’.  This stone is called the ‘Boheh stone’ and is considered one of the finest examples of neolithic rock art in Ireland and Britain.  It actually lies a few feet from the back of a house, you have to walk down the side of the house and round the back of it to get to the stone!

Many of the carvings consist of cupmarks, enclosed by one or two circles.  There are also a few keyhole motifs. The light was not great the day I was there so I didn’t catch all of these in my photos.

The Boheh stone was later Christianised and called St. Patrick’s Chair.

Bunlahinch Clapperbridge, Co. Mayo

The Bunlahinch Clapperbridge is located about 7k southwest of Louisburgh on the Bunleemshough river.  Needless to say I happened across it one day as I wandered along the road wondering where it would take me.  There is nothing in the Ordnance Survey maps to tell you what to expect.  I was fascinated

The Clapperbridge is a footbridge designed to cross wide flat streams and rivers,  Water can rise up easily over it and can wash away through the holes between the stone piers without doing any damage to the bridge.  The structure of a Clapperbridge consists of stones or pillars which are spanned by flat stone slabs or planks.  I’ve tired catching shots of the stones and planks and the structure of the Clapperbridge, also one shot just of the water to show how clean it is.

This particular bridge was most likely built in the late 1840s or ’50s by the Irish Church Mission, a Protestant community led by Hugh Gordon.  Hugh Gordon was known as a ‘jumper’, that is a person who changed his religion.