The Caseys of Lispole

BILLY CASEY AT HOME IN LISPOLE PICKING POTATOES Nov 19, 2010 Bill was part of the victorious Kerry team of 1937. Photo courtesy of Riobaird Casey.

Nov 19, 2010
Bill was part of the victorious Kerry team of 1937.
Photo courtesy of Riobaird Casey.

 by Matt Leen


Lispole lies in the heart of the Dingle Peninsula among the Kerry Hills. It was here in the church field under the shadow of “an Stricin” that the great Bill Casey was born. Attending school at Dingle CBS to which he cycled every day, Bill first showed interest in Gaelic football. In that period the school won the Dunloe Cup on 4 occasions and these players were to form the backbone of that fabulous Dingle team during the golden era, when they captured 6 Kerry Co. Senior Football championships. Names like Sean Brosnan, Bill Dillon, Paddy Ban and Gega which would later blossom into household names in the 30’s and 40’s were among his team mates. Bill first wore the Kerry jersey as a minor in 1936 but was defeated by Louth in the AlI Ireland final. His first game at senior level for Kerry was in 1937, when he lined out at full back against Mayo in Tralee. From 1937 until 1949, Bill played 29 championship games for Kerry. Centre half back was the position in which the lron Man from Lispole excelled. Unlucky to lose to Galway after a replay in the 1938 AII Ireland final, Bill went on to win 3 Senior AlI Ireland Medals in a row: 1939, 40 and 41, the feature being the same 6 backs fronting the great Danno Keeffe in all 3 successes. Bill was playing the best football of his career now, and came up against the best forwards in the county but with the Lispole man’s great athletic ability combined with positional sense, he lorded over all corners. He won his 4th senior medal in 1946 after a replay with Roscommon, he played in corners.

He played in the famous Polo Grounds AII Ireland in 1947 which Kerry lost to Cavan. Bill captained the Kerry team in 1949, which was his last year in the county colours but they lost out in the Munster semi final of that year. In the club scene, Bill Casey’s enormous contribution to the fantastic Dingle team of the late 30’s up to the early 50’s was exceptional. Ever present at centre half back in the 10 county finals that Dingle contested winning 6, Bill rarely missed a game. Through his playing career he never put on weight, he played the game hard but fair, was a wonderful sportsman and his preferred style of play was catch and kick. Holder of 4 AIl Ireland Senior Medals, 1 Railway Cup medal and 6 Co. championship medals, Bill Casey ranks up with the greatest to wear the famous number 6 shirt for Kerry. Bill’s sister Nancy married Paddy Mullins and their son Brian, the great Dublin midfielder of the 70’s and 80’s, won 4 Senior AII Ireland medals. Bill and Kathleen Casey reared a large family of 12; 6 girls and 6 boys and in true Kerry tradition the boys carried on where their father left off. From the early 70’s to the late 90’s, the Casey brothers were the backbone of the great Lispole side who won 7 West Kerry championships. Centenary Year 1984 was something special. Gabriel, Riobard and Gearoid starred with the Lispole team that won the Kerry Junior Co. Championship, and on the 7th of October when West Kerry won the Kerry Senior Championship, Gabriel captained the team, Robaird played in defence and Gearoid was a member of the panel, so 3 of the Casey brothers collected 3 Senior medals on the same day. The proudest man in Austin Stack park on that day was Bill Casey. There was a tear in his eye, as the watched his son Gabriel accept the Bishop Moynihan Cup, the link had been forged, as it was 36 years before that Bill had won his last senior championship in 1948.

The 3 brothers lined out together when West Kerry retained the championship in 1985. Gearoid won his 3rd co. championship medal with West Kerry in 1990. Gabriel Casey wore the Kerry jersey with distinction, winning AlI Ireland medals in Minor, under 21 and Junior, several college medals with St. Brendans Killarney, 7 West Kerry Championship medals with Lispole, 1 Kerry Junior with West Kerry, Gearoid Casey won 3 Senior Co. Championship medals with West Kerry, 1 Junior Kerry Co. Champions with Lispole and 5 West Kerry Championships with Lispole. Riobaird Casey won 2 senior Co. Championship medals with West Kerry. 1 Junior Kerry Co. Championship with Lispole and 7 West Kerry championship with Lispole and last but not least Sean Casey won 4 West Kerry championships with Lispole.

The Caseys of Lispole hold an honoured place in the annals of Kerry football, for sportsmanship, commitment and loyalty to club – and their “never say die” spirit on the field of play.


A tribute to Bill Casey

Bill Casey (191?–1999) was an Irish sportsperson. He played Gaelic football with his local club Dingle and later Lispole and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from 1938 until 1949. His nephew Brian Mullins played with Dublin in the 70’s and 80’s winning 4 All Ireland titles. Both his sons Gabriel and Riobard played with Kerry at all levels.


BILLY CASEY AT HOME IN LISPOLE PICKING POTATOES Nov 19, 2010 Bill was part of the victorious Kerry team of 1937. Photo courtesy of Riobaird Casey.

Nov 19, 2010
Bill was part of the victorious Kerry team of 1937.
Photo courtesy of Riobaird Casey.

Bill Casey
Personal information
Sport Gaelic football
Position Centre Back
Born DingleCounty Kerry
Occupation Farmer
Years Club
1930s-1950s Dingle Lispole
Club Titles
Kerry titles 6
Years County Apps (scores)  
1938-1949 Kerry 29 (0-00)  
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 5
All Irelands 5




Clubs: Lispole , Dingle
Senior Career: 1938 – 1949
Championship Appearances: 29
League Appearances: 1
Munster Senior Finals: Played in 5 Munster Finals. Won 5. 
All Ireland Senior Finals: Played in 6 All-Ireland Finals. Won 4. Lost 2.

29 full Championship appearances.

1938 Championship

1939 Championship

1940 Championship

1941 Championship

1942 Championship

1943 Championship

1946 Championship

1947 Championship

1948 Championship

1949 Championship

  • Game 1 :: Clare (3-7) Vs Kerry (1-8)
    Center Back
  • Clubs: Lispole , Dingle
    Senior Career: 1938 – 1949
    Championship Appearances: 29
    League Appearances: 1
    Munster Senior Finals: Played in 5 Munster Finals. Won 5. 
    All Ireland Senior Finals: Played in 6 All-Ireland Finals. Won 4. Lost 2.

    1 full League appearances.

    1950 League


A tribute to Liam Higgins

Liam Higgins (1945–2006) was an Irish sportsperson. He played Gaelic football with his local club Lispole and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from 1969 until 1973.[1] After retiring he managed Lispole, West Kerry, he managed the Kerry junior team to Munster and All Ireland Championships in 1983. He also trained Dingle CBS to Two All Ireland Championships in 1996 and 2001. During his school days he trained some of the biggest names in Gaelic football including Darragh, Tomás & Marc Ó Sé, Dara Ó Cinnéide, Tommy Griffin & Diarmuid Murphy to name just a few. He is a brother of Socialist Party TD and a former MEP for the Dublin constituency Joe Higgins. He taught Business Studies and Accounting in Dingle CBS.

The Life and Times of Liam Higgins Part 1

The Life and Times of Liam Higgins. Part 2

Weeshie Fogarty recounts the day when Liam lost the cool commentating on a Kerry County Championship game between An Gaeltacht and Austin Stacks in 2002. Darragh O’Se got a straight red and Liam as a consequence also saw red! “A Corkman wouldn’t even do that!”

Liam Higgins
Irish name Liam Ó hUiginn
Sport Gaelic football
Position Full-back
Born Lispole, County Kerry
Occupation Secondary teacher
Club: 1950s-1980s Lispole
Inter-county(ies) 1969-1973 Kerry 16 (2-20) 
Munster titles 3
All Irelands 2
All Stars 0

Higgins, Liam
22 November 2006
The late Liam Higgins

An impeccable one minute’s silence was observed at the recent county final to honour the memory of Liam Higgins who died in his sleep that Sunday morning, November 12th, 2006 after a six-month battle with cancer. Typical of the man he donated his body for medical research.

That gesture encapsulated everything we knew about the former Kerry footballer and radio broadcaster. He was a big man in every sense of the word and he saw well beyond the world of everyday living where according to award-winning novelist John McGahern “the best day of life is lived quietly where nothing happens beyond our calm journey through the day”.

Liam’s journey was not always calm or placid and, for sure, it was never boring or uneventful but one thing can be said with absolute certainty. He loved life and he lived it to the full of as long as he could. Family, friends and football meant everything to him.

It was sad to observe his leave-taking at the comparatively young age of 61. By normal chronological expectations he should have had much more time ahead of him but, sadly, it was not to be. The riper years of old age were not his to enjoy and he must have felt cheated because of that but he was not one to complain – at least not outwardly. After being diagnosed with cancer he remarked to a friend: “It’s an awful way to go”. Beyond that, there was no further dissent.

If you want to measure human fortitude it is sufficient to think of how he coped during his last days. He faced death with much more certainty than a soldier going into battle and his stoicism and acceptance of that situation were awe-inspiring. He took it on the chin and made the best of what time he had left. We met briefly at the All Ireland football final and having been warned in advance how fast he was sinking I was prepared to be shocked. And yes, it was a shock to see him looking so thin and drawn, just a shadow of his former self. His parting words were “I’m going to keep on fighting”.

That weekend he came to Dublin insistent on performing his normal duties and doing his usual commentary on the match for Radio Kerry. This meant having a morphine pump strapped to his body which gave him occasional release form the pain. Johnny Culloty summed it all up so well when he said: “If Kerry have the same spirit today as Liam Higgins we won’t be beaten.”

He continued to lead as normal a life as possible right up to the end. This meant attending matches and doing his usual commentary on radio until his health went into serious decline.

He was a natural communicator and this made his job as a sports broadcaster relatively easy. Speaking about football, a sport he clearly loved, was second nature to somebody who knew what he was talking about. Every nuance that surrounded the players was part of the canvass that he painted. His deep knowledge of the game shone through in every syllable that he uttered. But it wasn’t just the big occasions. He had an equal facility to go to remote venues and with minimal research handle the needs of the day to perfection. A consummate professional he made few if any mistakes. He did this for 16 years.

Along with his close friend and colleagues, Weeshie Fogarty, be became the authentic voice of Kerry football. Together they travelled the length and breadth of the country without ever having an argument or ever exchanging a harsh word. He was an easy man to get on with. Weeshie, on his own admission, will be “lost without him”.

The President of the GAA, Nickey Brennan, said of Liam that he was the ’embodiment of the traditional Kerry footballer, tall, athletic, skillful and brave”. He was all of those things.

He came to the Kerry team as a young man in 1969 after the county had languished in the doldrums for seven years and he made an immediate impact at full forward. Jackie Lyne provided the coaching for the role he wanted him to fill and he blended seamlessly with corner forwards Mick Gleeson and Mick O’Dwyer who did most of the scoring with Higgins acting mainly as facilitator. 
You could say the Lispole native was the original trendsetter and prototype for Eoin Listona and, more recently, Kieran Donaghy. he was a big man, 6 feet 2 inches in height, who stood tall on the fringe of the square and he knew football was – and still is – a simple game that should be played without irritating complications. He had the basics of his trade, good fielding ability, unselfishness on the ball and an eye for an opening. Two All-Ireland senior medals, four National League Medals and three Munster championships were his reward.

From a young age the GAA became the consuming passion of his life. He continued to play club football with Lispole into this early 40s and he was a key figure on the team that own six successive West Kerry championships. He trained Kerry to win a Junior All-Ireland B colleges competition.

Up until the time of his death he had served for 20 years as Lispole delegate to the county board. As a Kerry selector he sat impassively through many tension filled games without showing the slightest outward sign of emotion. This ability to detach himself from the tumult around him was astonishing. He was a clam voice in the dugout who knew how the flow of play could be altered by swift and decisive action from the line. That was an area of operation in which he excelled.

A teacher by profession, he shaped the lives of a younger generation who came to know him as guide, philosopher and friend. While, on occasion, he could be a hard taskmaster he was never over-bearing or confrontational in his work. He had a reputation for being a gifted teacher.

Pride of place meant everything it Liam Higgins and he remained a proud West Kerry man throughout his life without ever wavering in his loyalty. He revelled in the sporting exploits of men from his own area and he trumpeted their virtues unashamedly on radio whenever and where ever possible. If some people thought this was a bit extreme at times, then so be it. Liam never found it necessary to apologise for the way he felt about issues that were important in his life. Where West Kerry, its people and traditions were concerned he nailed his colours to the mast and he never retreated from that position.

A hard competitor on the field, he didn’t take suspects never mind prisoners and if some opponents felt the brunt of those broad shoulders or even, on occasion, a clip around the ear, then that was the way it had to be because he was not one to stand back. By the same token he shipped many a knock himself without complaining.

In private life Liam was a most engaging companion, full of fun and with a love of friendship and conviviality that brought him into the ambit of a huge circle of friends. These were people who had come to know and appreciate his many fine and endearing qualities.

For the most part he was too busy to enjoying himself to be bothered with unpleasantness or frivolity. Pettiness or small-mindedness did not interest him. He was a good man.

Ar dheis lamh De go raibh a anam uasal.

Courtesy of The Kerryman
22 November 2006

Desperate Haven – The Famine in Dungarvan 3. Action And Reaction

Desperate Haven – The Famine in Dungarvan 3. Action And Reaction

Dungarvan Relief Committee

The Relief Commission was established by the Government in November 1845. The Commission was directly responsible to the Lord Lieutenant. The brief of the Commission was to collect information concerning the availability of food and the level of distress among the poor and to give relief. Local relief committees were established and usually included the landlord, magistrate, parish clergy, and Poor Law Guardians of the locality. The list of local subscribers to the relief funds was required to be published. The Relief Commission added between one-third to a half to the money raised locally. The Commissioners set up food depots around the country to store imported American corn. If the price of food rose, the local relief committees could purchase this corn and sell it at cost price. The committees were not supposed to distribute free food except to those unfit for work who could not gain entry to the Workhouse. The Dungarvan Relief Committee was established in January 1846. Andrew Carbery was Treasurer and the parish priest, Jeremiah Halley, was chairman. Beresford Boate was secretary of the Abbeyside Relief Committee and Robert Longan was chairman. In July 1846 the Dungarvan committee reported that they had sold 1,420 sacks of Indian-meal (of 20 stone each) at reduced prices from March to July inclusive. 977 poor families (consisting of about five persons on average) were supplied daily with one-seventh of meal at one shilling per stone of 14 lbs. [1]
On 24 February 1846 Arthur Quin, the Medical Officer of Dungarvan Dispensary, compiled the following report on the health of the people: ‘Bowel complaint very prevalent, from the use of unsound potatoes. Diarrhoea and dysentery prevalent from the same causes. The number of patients at the dispensary has considerably increased.’ At Dungarvan Fever Hospital he noted that fever was more prevalent than usual and that the number of patients had increased by 20% as a result of eating unsound food.

Bonmahon Village

Bonmahon Village

On 26 February Dr. George Walker reported on Bonmahon Dispensary: ‘A great increase in fever in the district. From 150 to 200 unemployed in the village of Bonmahon. A considerable increase of fever apprehended from the scarcity and high price of food.’ On 4 March the Guardians complained that the Master was giving food to paupers residing in the town and insisted that food should only be given to those living in the Workhouse. In April Andrew Carbery proposed that Union funds‘lying idle in the bank’ be used to purchase Indian-meal for the use of the ten relief committees which had been set up in the Union. On 2 May Andrew Carbery sent a printed subscription list to the Commissioners. The money was collected between 19 January 1846 and 2 May and amounted to £349.12.6. The list was printed by a Dungarvan printer, George Hill. The Duke of Devonshire contributed the largest sum of £100. Other contributors included the local gentry, merchants, clergy and professional people. On 25 July Carbery sent an additional list which amounted to £183. The subscribers included Lord Waterford, Sir Nugent Humble, John Kiely of Strancally and Richard Lalor Shiel M.P. [2]
In early May James Power, secretary of the Bonmahon and Kilmacthomas Relief Committee, sent a resolution to the Commissioners. He informed them that Lorenzo Power and Richard Purdy would visit them to apply for aid for the Ballylaneen district. Ballylaneen was part of the Bonmahon and Kilmacthomas relief district. He noted that there was ‘a mining population of about 3,000 souls, who principally live in the parish of Ballylaneen though the mine works are situate in Kill parish – some of these are in a state of great destitution in consequence of which the representatives of the parishes of Kill and Newtown have withdrawn themselves from our committee, thus throwing the whole burthen on the small parish of Ballylaneen.’  [3]

On 25 May Robert Longan, chairman of the rural relief sub-district No.1 of Dungarvan and Kilrush sent a subscription list of £97 to the Commissioners. He asked the Lord Lieutenant to give them ‘as large a grant as possible’ as great distress existed in the area and no public works were in operation. Clement Carroll was secretary to the committee. [4] Pierce Marcus Barron, chairman of the Stradbally/Clonea Relief Committee informed the Commissioners in June that there was £149.12.6 to the credit of the committee. 105 families had been given relief the previous week.

Barron noted:

‘great destitution exists in this district, in which are comprised the village of Stradbally and Faha and the village and townland of Ballyvoile, containing a population of upwards of 5,300 persons among whom there are a very great number of destitute…and the distress is hourly increasing, and likely to be so, by not having any public works in progress.’  [5]

On 4 June Richard Power Ronayne sent a resolution and subscription lists to the Commissioners from Ardmore, Ring, Clashmore, Kinsalebeg and Villierstown amounting to £597.10.11. He referred to the‘numerous and helpless families’ which amounted to several thousand people who were in a state of utter destitution. [6] 
On 18 June the Parish Priest of Kilgobnet, Michael O’Connor, wrote to the Commissioners as chairman of the ‘Kilgobnet, Colligan and Seskinane sub-relief committee.’ He enclosed a list of subscribers and referred to the meal which they had been selling at two depots, at a reduced price. He noted that over the previous five weeks they had helped 336 families who comprised of 1,680 individuals.
We apprehend the number will greatly increase, in consequence of a great proportion of the district being mountain on which are located a vast population, principally small cottiers, who, having lost all their potatoes are from their impoverished condition quite unable to purchase food in the Markets and all of whom must be supplied in future by the committee with food at a reduced price. [7]

The subscription list of three pages amounted to £186.10s. However, Father O’Connor stated that the committee had only £49.0.6 to their credit and asked for as large a grant as possible.The necessity for continuing the relief can seen from the condition of the harvest in the Workhouse. Early in August 1846 the Master ordered that the potatoes grown on the Workhouse grounds should be dug up and given to the inmates. However, by 29 August the Master and Medical Officer reported that the potatoes were unfit for human consumption. On 3 September it was ordered that ‘a dozen ridges of potatoes should be preserved, for the purpose of trying the experiment of stirring the earth about them with a three-prong fork.’ The remainder were to be sold off and the ground cleared and planted with winter vegetables.

Andrew Carbery wrote to Sir Randolph Routh on 1 September concerning oatmeal and biscuits:
‘The oatmeal shop here opened by the D.C.G. Dobree for the sale of oatmeal sent here from Clonmel depot is now ordered to be shut up…The state and number of persons here in this locality at present unemployed with large families, that cheap food – heretofore their support, is entirely lost to them…there never was for the last year any period so necessary to apply Government aid to those people as at present. We have a large fishing population here that will require the Biscuit to take to sea to fish – in place of potatoes. We have no mills here – Our bakers day and night at work cannot keep up supply. Our Indian-meal and all others are to be brought by land carriage from Waterford, Portlaw and Clonmel. Our car-men often obliged to wait a day for their orders.’

Carbery added that he and his two clerks had spent all of the previous year looking after the poor and it seemed as if they would have to continue to do so. [8] Carbery sent a further letter to Routh on 14 September enclosing a resolution which contained the following points: It noted that the price of Indian-meal had increased by 50% to £12.10s per ton (1/6½ d. per stone) and was retailing in Dungarvan at one shilling and eight pence per stone. Wages for able-bodied men on the public works schemes should not be less than one shilling a day ‘to enable them to support a miserable existence at the present enormous high price of food.’ Carbery warned that if the men were made to accept lower pay it would be ‘dangerous to the state and peace of Society.’ Routh replied to Carbery’s letter suggesting that his committee promote the importation of Indian-corn. [9]

The Public Works schemes were meant to cease in August 1846, but the potato blight forced the government to continue with the schemes. In 1846 the finances to run these schemes had to be raised locally, unlike the previous year when the Government paid half the cost. A public meeting was held in Dungarvan courthouse on 17 September to consider setting up public works schemes. On 16 September the constabulary were ordered by the Government to submit occasional confidential reports on the progress of the blight. The following answers were returned:

Q. Is the acreage of potatoes planted in 1846 the same as the previous year?
A. One quarter less.
Q. What proportion of the 1846 crop is affected by the blight?
A. All.
Q. Is the early or late crop affected?
A. Both.
Q. Is the surviving crop fit for food?
A. Very little of it.

The same sad state of the potato crop was no doubt evident to the general populace. Their reaction could only be awaited. On 24 September several thousand people marched to Fisher’s Mill at Pilltown, County Waterford. They demanded that the Indian-meal should be sold for one shilling per stone from the mill. It was reported that the crowd later proceeded to the Ferry Point, opposite Youghal, with‘sticks, stones, spades and hammers.’ [10] About the same period it was reported that people in Clashmore were living on blackberries. [11] Some days later there was a serious disturbance at Clashmore. A stone-throwing mob of 3,000 attacked the magistrates leaving the courthouse. Their anger was directed against Lord Stuart de Decies over comments he had made at the Sessions:

With some difficulty he got into his carriage, when immediately his servant put the horses into a gallop and flogged them most violently to keep them at the fullest pace. the mob followed in numbers, many of them by a short route, to stop his departure and proceed to extremities, which sir Richard Musgrave, perceiving, a party of Hussars were dispatched for escort and protection. With difficulty they were enabled to keep the mob back and his Lordship fled to Dromana at high speed. On the Hussars return the mob gathered in the churchyard…armed with stones and with most violent yells and execrations against the military they immediately commenced an attack on them. A ringleader named Power from the parish of Grange, was severely sabred, but was carried off by the populace…Several of the horsemen were dangerously hurt, and the force being small, they had to retreat for their lives to Lord Huntingdon’s farmyard at Clashmore House which was immediately barricaded.

The Cork Examiner expressed surprise at this attack on Stuart:

‘He is a kind and very indulgent landlord, and sets his ground for the value to the occupiers and has 60 men employed at Ballyheeny, draining at which they earn one shilling and six pence a day, besides employing about 300 men on other parts of his estate.’ [12]

The Dungarvan Riots

Rices Street, Dungarvan

Rices Street, Dungarvan Engraving depicting people, chickens, a cart, etc., at Rices Street, Dungarvan during the time of the food riots. The riots took place on the 28th of September, 1846 and 51 people were later charged with rioting. Mr. Fleming of Kilmacthomas and Mr. Power were wounded. Fleming was shot in the knee and died some time later of his injuries. Mr. Power of Grange was described as a ring leader and sentenced to one year in jail with hard labour. No: UK2696


Rices Street, Dungarvan

In the minutes of the Dungarvan Board of Guardians of 1 October 1846 there is a reference to two wounded men who had been admitted to the Workhouse. One of them was Michael Fleming from Kilmacthomas. They were among the casualties of a riot which took place on Monday 28 September 1846. [13] A large mob of several thousand had attempted to break into the grain stores on the quay and also demanded employment on public works schemes. The ringleaders, including Patrick Power of Killongford, were arrested and placed in the Bridewell. Later in the day a more militant section of the crowd demanded the release of the prisoners. When their demand was refused they looted a number of bakery shops in the town. The Pictorial Times for 10 October carried an engraving of a crowd breaking into a bread shop in Dungarvan. 

The 1st Royal Dragoons were called out and chased the crowd up William Street (now St. Mary Street). Events came to a climax at Old Chapel Lane (now Rice’s Street, Youghal Road). After repeated verbal attempts by the magistrate to disperse the crowd, the riot act was read. The officer in charge, Captain Sibthorp, gave orders to fire and 26 shots were fired into the crowd. Fleming and Power were seriously wounded. [14]

Four companies of the 47th Foot (The Lancashire Regt.) were sent to keep order in the town. In spite of this ships were prevented from leaving Dungarvan Quay on 1 October because the men hired to load the ships were afraid to do so for fear of reprisals from the crowd. On 5 November the Medical Officer of Dungarvan Workhouse reported that Michael Fleming, one of the men wounded in the riot of 29 September, had died.

On 7 November the Illustrated London News [15] carried a further report on the riot. The article is titled – ‘The Late Food Riots in Ireland’ and is accompanied by an illustration of the scene of the riot at Old Chapel Lane. The article states that one of the men shot was standing behind the cart featured in the sketch.

‘The distress, both in Youghal and Dungarvan, is truly appalling in the streets; for, without entering the houses, the miserable spectacle of haggard looks, crouching attitudes, sunken eyes and colourless lips and cheeks, unmistakably bespeaks the sufferings of the people.’

Article From The Illustrated London News, November 7th, 1848 on the Dungarvan Food Riots (External Link)

Further Reaction

On 7 October a large crowd tried to stop the transport of corn, the property of Mary O’Keeffe and Richard Talbot of Tallow, at Strancally on the river Blackwater. The crowd threatened to throw stones at the boatmen if they did not return to Janeville Quay at Tallow. As a result the boatmen were unable to deliver their cargo to Youghal. Some days later Sir Richard Musgrave, who lived nearby at Tourin House, took the unusual step of writing to the Cork Constitution defending the actions of those involved. He felt that they had been forced into attacking the boatmen as a result of starvation. [16]

Riots were also taking place around the country and the Government reacted by arranging for 2,000 troops, formed into mobile columns, to be sent to the trouble spots. The Waterford Chronicle reported that 16 people had been arrested in the Dromana/Villierstown area ‘for intimidating the farmers and others to pay back con-acre rent received by them this year. Those who were committed reached here (Dungarvan) at 7 o’clock this night, escorted by 40 cavalry and about 100 infantry.’ [17]

In October a Dungarvan writer to the Cork Examiner asked why the public works schemes which had been passed a month previously had not yet started. The writer praised the local clergy and stated that most of the public works schemes in operation were due to their efforts. He particularly singled out the Parish Priest of Kilgobnet, Father Michael O’Connor: ‘Every day regardless of the inclemency of the weather he worked harder, both in town and parish…and now has the satisfaction of having got employment for a large portion of his people.’ [18]

The following account titled – ‘Benevolence of Lord Stuart de Decies’ was published in the Cork Examiner in October:

‘We are glad to learn that in promoting the benevolence of his Lordship, the clergymen of the district, both Protestant and Catholic, have been most indefatigable. The exertions of the gentlemen have been devoted to selecting the most worthy recipients of his Lordship’s generosity, and, so far as they have proceeded, their efforts have been completely successful. The Rev. William Mackasy, curate of Clashmore and the Rev. Michael Purcell P.P., visited the tenantry on Slievegrine mountain, and after patiently investigating the circumstances…made such a distribution of his Lordship’s generosity as completely satisfied the poor people of this locality. In their laudable exertions these Rev. Gentlemen have been zealously seconded by the Rev. Mr. Hickey and the Rev. Mr. Hurley, Roman Catholic curates of this district.’ [19]

In November conditions were getting worse in Dungarvan: ‘Indian-meal is now two shillings and three pence per stone, and will, it is apprehended, be three shillings per stone before a fortnight elapses, it was but one shilling per stone this time last year, when the labouring man’s wages was a shilling per day.’ Many of the starving and undernourished people were complaining of severe stomach disorders: ‘The complaint is attended by a racking pain in the bowels and a violent discharging of the stomach…so violent was the attack that it reduced them to perfect skeletons in less than 24 hours.’ Meanwhile it was reported that Richard Ussher of Cappagh had been selling seed bere and barley to poor farmers at the ‘unprecedented low price of two shillings and nine pence per stone.’ [20]

In Ardmore people had been working on the public works for over three weeks without receiving any pay. In spite of this they remained calm and it was said that people helped each other by sharing food. There was a new Parish Priest, Father Garrett Prendergast. ‘The people are full of joy and begging every blessing for him and his two active assistants, the Rev. Messrs O’Donnell and O’Connor.’ The Ardmore Relief Committee expected the government to provide a relief scheme to construct a pier in Ardmore. Up to this period the fishermen had to drag their boats on to the land and it was said that they would not venture out to sea unless the weather was calm. [21]
By early December it was reported that fever had spread at an alarming rate in the Dungarvan area. ‘Out of one house in the Old Parish, three persons (of the Lyons family) died in one fortnight – the father, the son and the mother, leaving after them, six orphans who are also lying in fever.’ [22]

A meeting was called by the farmers of Ardmore and Grange to try and do something to alleviate the distress in the area. It was held in Grange church. One person commented that: ‘the sufferings of the poor in this locality is terrible! Some, who, only a month since, appeared pretty comfortable, are at this moment walking skeletons.’ At the meeting Father Prendergast warned that if action was not taken immediately he could not guarantee the peace of the locality. [23]

By 19 December 1846 there were 650 inmates in Dungarvan Workhouse and the numbers were increasing daily. On 21 December the ‘Ladies of Dungarvan’ started a subscription list to set up a soup depot. The meeting was held in the Courthouse and was attended by the clergy and influential citizens. It was addressed by Father Halley, Mr. Hudson the Seneschal, The Rev. Morgan Crofton the rector, Andrew Carbery, Rev. John O’Gorman of Abbeyside, Doctor Christian, Edward Boate J.P., Father Mooney and Dr. O’Farrell of Dublin. [24] Thirty-six pounds was collected at the meeting ‘from the few gentlemen present.’ £240.12.0 was eventually raised. Subscribers included the Duke of Devonshire, the Marquis of Waterford, local gentry, merchants and some donations from England. [25]

The Waterford Freeman of 21 December referred to the ‘extraordinary exertions’ of Andrew Carbery, a Dungarvan merchant, in his efforts to help the poor people of the town: ‘Through his exertions the turnpike grievance is likely to be removed, which will be of great benefit to the trade and commerce of the town.’ [26] Andrew Carbery had previously reported the following:

‘The whole receipt of oats in the town, from September last to the present March did not exceed 1,500 barrels and the receipts of barley do not exceed 900 barrels…I have laid out my money in improving the town and numbers of persons have followed my example. We have 34 vessels from 120 to 140 tons burden, and that for want of corn in the Dungarvan market they are only employed in carrying coals or copper ore.’


  1. N.A./R.P. 4762.
  2. N.A./R.P. 5219/4762.
  3. N.A./R.P. 2277.
  4. N.A./R.P. 2594.
  5. N.A./R.P. 2897.
  6. N.A./R.P. 2938.
  7. N.A./R.P. 3471. ‘Rev. Michael O’Connor appears to have built the present parochial residence at Coolnasmear. He had some little reputation as a poet. His efforts generally taking the form of impromptu rhymes in English or Irish.’ Parochial History of Waterford & Lismore, 1912. p.138.
  8. N.A./R.P. 5627.
  9. N.A./R.P. 5765.
  10. Field, W.G., The Handbook for Youghal 1896, reprinted by T.C. Field 1973, p.94.
  11. Woodham-Smith, Cecil, The Great Hunger, p.125.
  12. Cork Examiner, 26 September 1846, Cork Constitution 26 September 1846. For a more detailed account of this riot see: William Fraher, ‘The Dungarvan disturbances of 1846 and sequels’, in Brady and Cowman eds., The Famine in Waterford, pp. 137-152.
  13. Cork Examiner, 2 October 1846.
  14. Illustrated London News ix, 7 November 1846 p.293.
  15. Kennefick, J.,’The Famine in the Parish of Lismore and Ballysaggart’, unpublished thesis, 1983. p.84.
  16. Waterford Chronicle, 19 October 1846.
  17. Cork Examiner, 24 October 1846.
  18. Cork Examiner , 9 October 1846.
  19. Cork Examiner, 4 November 1846.
  20. Cork Examiner, 11 November 1846. Concerning Father Prendergast Canon Power had the following comments: ‘Rev. Garret Prendergast, whose practical sympathy with the poor Famine-stricken people is still a living memory, was appointed Parish Priest in the miserable year 1847. During the ‘bad times’ he distributed food on Sundays to two hundred persons. He was spared only ten years – dying in 1857, and lies buried in Ardmore Church.’
  21. Parochial History of Waterford & Lismore, Harvey, Waterford 1912. p.15.
  22. Cork Examiner, 11 December 1846.
  23. Cork Examiner, 12 December 1846.
  24. N.A./R.P. 15606.
  25. Cork Examiner, 28 December 1846.
  26. This was a toll levied on farmers who wished to sell their produce at the Dungarvan markets. The toll was paid at the turnpikes situated on the out-skirts of the town. 

Author: William Fraher


Desperate Haven – The Famine in Dungarvan 2. Overture to Disaster 1845

Desperate Haven – The Famine in Dungarvan 2. Overture to Disaster 1845

The Fateful Dependence 
In the late 17th century and early 18th century the diet of the Irish peasant consisted of potatoes from August to May and oatmeal for Spring and Summer. The potato had become an established part of the peasant’s diet by the mid-18th century.
Dungarvan was notable as a potato-growing area. Charles Smith commented in 1746 that: ‘The lands at Kilrush…afford great plenty of potatoes, with which the markets of Dublin are yearly supplied, upwards of 18,000 barrels having been sent thither in one season from this place.’ [1] In 1752 Dr. Pococke noted that Dungarvan was ‘famous for the export of potatoes to many parts of Ireland.’ [2] In 1836 Beresford Boate gave an interesting insight into the diet of the tradesmen and artisans:

Bread is much more used as food in the town and neighbourhood…35 years ago there were only two bakers in the town of Dungarvan, there are now nearly 50…The tradesmen and artisans of the town generally eat bread at least at one meal in the day …Small farmers, as well as labourers, eat potatoes because they cannot afford to eat bread. [3]

 In the 1830s several varieties of potatoes were being set which did not last as long in storage as the old varieties. As a result the period between the end of the old crop and the availability of the new potatoes became longer. This caused increased distress amongst the poor because their food supply was limited. From 1832 to 1836 a disease attacked the potato crop in Ireland. Many new varieties were grown in an attempt to develop a disease-resistant crop. This experiment was unsuccessful and a new stock of potatoes was imported to Europe from South America. Austin Bourke [4] has suggested that this may have been the original source of the potato blight in Ireland.

The First Appearance Of Blight 
The potato harvest of 1845 appeared promising until the appearance of blight. It was first noticed in Belgium in June 1845 and by August it had appeared in Southern England. The arrival of the potato blight in Ireland was first reported on 6 September 1845 in the Dublin Evening Post and the Waterford Freeman:

We regret to learn that the blight of the potato crop, so much complained of in Belgium and several of the English counties has affected the crop, and that to a considerable extent, in our own immediate locality…We are assured by a gentleman of vast experience that the injury sustained by potatoes from blight on his domain is very serious – that they are entirely unfit for use; and he suggests potatoes so injured should be immediately dug out for the use of the pigs.
The earliest surviving minute-book for Dungarvan Union begins on 1 November 1845. The first entry shows that there were 197 inmates in the Workhouse. [5] At a meeting of the Dungarvan Board of Guardians on 20 November Lord Stuart de Decies [6] proposed that the Guardians of each division form a committee to report to the Board of Guardians every second week on the stock of potatoes in their districts. He also suggested that they have a contact person living in each district to inform them of the peasants’ diet. 1,000 copies of a questionnaire on the state of the potato crop were printed and fifty copies were given to each guardian for the East Divisions of Dungarvan, Kilgobnet, Whitechurch, Kilrossanty, Ballylaneen, and Aglish. On 18 December the Master was ordered to have the ground at the front and back of the Workhouse ‘dug up and formed into drills, three feet wide, which will improve the soil and afford employment to the male inmates.’ The Rev. James Alcock sent the answers to a set of queries to Lord Cloncurry, concerning the state of the potato crop in Ring. Alcock cautioned against giving relief to those whose potato crop had partially failed as he felt that they would use up their existing stock, leaving them with nothing for the Summer months.

A practice is beginning to prevail to a very considerable extent in our neighbouring market towns, where persons are daily purchasing diseased potatoes at about 1d per stone, and selecting the best of those they dispose of them at 3d or 4d, while they give the refuse to cattle and pigs. Thus a market is at once opened to those who are disposed to sell at mere nominal prices and who perhaps are calculating upon pecuniary aid from your committees at the close of the season.

Answers to queries:

1. There has been a decided change for the better, the progress of the disease has arrested.   
2. Not as many people were ill after eating diseased potatoes.
3. The general custom in this locality being to consume the diseased potatoes first and reserve the others for summer use, at present the supply is most abundant; and on no former year have I observed the farmers’ haggards so well supplied with grain of every description…and the rents paid.
4. Half the crop is diseased in this parish, but still it is used for human food. [7]

In January 1846 the Lismore Guardians reported a deterioration in the potato crop and that there was a shortage at the various markets. As a result the Workhouse inmates had to be given bread instead. [8]On 22 January 1846 the Dungarvan Guardians ordered that 200 yards of limestone at one shilling a yard, be acquired to give employment to the Workhouse inmates. Stone was to be broken and sold for road repairs. On 29 January the Guardians decided that they would have to take steps to reduce the numbers in the Workhouse. They ordered the Clerk to prepare a notice stating that there were several boys and girls aged 12 to 15 years in the Workhouse who could be taken into service by farmers and others. In March the Lismore Guardians reported that the potato crop of the ‘labouring classes’ in the Lismore Union would soon be gone and a committee was appointed to find a substitute for potatoes. This committee recommended that the Guardians adopt soup No.1 from Count Rumford’s book on the best and cheapest method of feeding the poor. [9] It should be noted that the occurrence of blight in 1845, while serious, did not give rise to a desperate situation. The potato crop had failed before, notably in 1832. It was commonly assumed that blight would not reappear in 1846. This was to prove a vain delusion.


  1. Smith, Charles, The Antient & Present State of the County & City of Waterford, Dublin 1746 p.91.
  2. Pococke, Rev. Nicholas, Pococke’s Tour in Ireland 1752, ed. by George T. Stokes, Dublin 1891.
  3. Poor Inquiry (Irl.) Appendix E.(37) H.C. 1838 xxvii p.31.
  4. Bourke, Austin, The Visitation of God – The Potato & the Great Irish Famine, Lilliput Press 1993.
  5. Dungarvan Union Minute Book 1/11/1845 – 20/8/1846.
  6. The Right Hon. Henry Villiers Stuart (1803-1874), chairman of the Board of Guardians. He was born on 8 June 1803. Educated at Eton. Married Theresie Pauline Ott of Vienna in 1826. Had a famous victory in the Waterford election of the same year. Created a Baron in 1839 as Lord Stuart de Decies. Had an only son, Henry Windsor Villiers Stuart.
  7. Cork Examiner, 22 December 1845.
  8. Lismore Union Minute Book, Co. Library archives, Lismore.
  9. ibid.


Author: William Fraher

Desperate Haven – The Famine in Dungarvan 1. The Union And The Workhouse

Desperate Haven – The Famine in Dungarvan 1. The Union And The Workhouse

Origin of the Poor Law System
The Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601 imposed the obligation of providing assistance to the poor on the Parish in which they resided. This method was retained by the Speenhamland System of 1785, a system of out-door relief devised by the Berkshire Justices of the Peace meeting at Speenhamland near Newbury. This provided a sliding scale of allowances, varying with the size of family concerned and the price of bread, to be paid from the rates to supplement the wages of agricultural workers. The system was an honest attempt to deal humanely with the rising problem of pauperism. The Speenhamland System was never authorised by legislation but was adopted by most English Counties except those in the North. After the Napoleonic Wars pauperism was exacerbated by a number of factors including the collapse in agricultural prices. In 1834 the Poor Law Report proposed to transfer the burden of relief to Boards of Guardians representing a ‘Union’ of parishes and elected by the ratepayers. The funds for such relief were to be raised via the Poor Law Rate (see appendices). No able-bodied man would receive relief unless he entered a workhouse, so ending the system of out-door relief. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 did not apply to Ireland. 

Formation of Dungarvan Poor Law Union


In 1838 the ‘Act for the Effectual Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland’ was passed. By this Act the country was to be divided into 130 administrative units known as Unions. A Union was an amalgamation of adjacent parishes to form one administrative unit. Each Union was to have a Workhouse run by a Board of Guardians which comprised of elected Guardians and local Justices of the Peace. The Workhouses were to be financed from the Poor Rate. The Boards of Guardians were answerable to the Poor Law Commissioners in Dublin. Before the introduction of the Poor Law the government did not become involved in poor-relief schemes unless there was a serious crisis. Therefore, it was left to the local authorities such as the Grand Juries in the counties, and the corporations in the cities and boroughs to assist the poor.

The Dungarvan Union was declared on 28 March 1839. It comprised an area of 163,826 acres and had a population of 57,640 in 1831. Its electoral divisions, with the population of each, were: Dungarvan East & West (16,028); Ardmore (7,407); Grange (1,874); Kinsalebeg (3,170); Clashmore (3,386); Aglish (4,762); Whitechurch (3,176); East Modeligo (592); Colligan (1,009); Seskinane (2,162); Kilgobnet (2,364); Kilrossanty (3,119); Fews (1,247); Stradbally (3,398); Ballylaneen (3,835).

The number of ex-officio Guardians (the Justices of the Peace) was 10, with 30 elected Guardians. Of this 30, eight were chosen from the Dungarvan division, three from Ardmore, with two each from Clashmore, Aglish, Whitechurch, Kilrossanty, Stradbally, Ballylaneen and one from each of the other divisions.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland (1844) noted that: The whole Union is destitute of infirmary advantages; and at least 30,000 of its population are beyond the reach of dispensary relief. The medical charities are, a fever hospital in Dungarvan, dispensaries at Dungarvan, Ardmore, Bonmahon, Clashmore and Ringville.


The Building of the Workhouse

Once the Unions had been formed the government set about building the Workhouses. The poor were obliged to reside in these institutions in order to avail of the only relief obtainable. It was intended that the staff of the Office of Public Works would provide designs and build the Workhouses. However, for various legal reasons this did not happen. Therefore, plans were sought from a number of English architects. The architect chosen was George Wilkinson of Oxford who was appointed in February 1839. He had already designed a number of Workhouses in England. The Commissioners made it clear that the design should be economical and plain, with the minimum of decoration. The majority of the Workhouses designed by him were in the Tudor/Elizabethan style.


The contract for the construction of the Dungarvan Workhouse was issued in December 1839 and was intended for completion by June 1841. The building was to cost £6,480, with £1,600 to be spent on fitting it out. It occupied an area of 4 acres, three roods and twenty-nine perches. The land was situated at the Spring, to the West of the town. It was leased from the Duke of Devonshire at £24.13.0 per annum. The occupying tenant was bought out for £220. The Workhouse was built to house 600 inmates. The Workhouse consisted of three sections. The entrance building was situated about 150 yards from the main block. It housed the Board room and clerk’s office on the top floor, with a waiting room and porter’s room on the ground floor. Also located within this building were the probationary, vagrant and refractory wards. At the rear of the building were the privies and fumigation closets. Behind these was a narrow garden (with the boys’ and girls’ yards on either side, separated by a wall) which led to the main block. The main section had a long facade of two storeys with double gabled three storey blocks at either end. A stone tower with mullioned windows and pointed roofs adjoined these end blocks. The central rooms contained the apartments of the Master and Matron. On the ground floor, to the left, was the girls’ school with the boys’ school on the right. The three-storey blocks contained the wards for the old and infirm. The children’s dormitory was situated over the schoolrooms.

Beyond this section were the laundry, kitchen and a long narrow building which housed the dining hall and chapel. The men’s and women’s yards were situated on either side of the dining hall. The latter led to the final section of the complex, the infirmary. This included male and female wards, surgery, nurses’ room and ‘idiot’ and ‘lunatic’ cells.

The entrance building was of cut sandstone, the main block of rubble stone and the infirmary had plain rendering. A number of drawings for Dungarvan Workhouse survive and are now in the Irish Architectural Archive. [1] There are about twenty-five drawings by George Wilkinson. These include elevations for the entrance front and main block dated August 1839. The original metal diamond-paned mullioned windows were later replaced with sliding sash windows and the carved barge boards were also removed from the gables. In the drawing the two towers of the main block are depicted with pointed roofs topped by oak finials. These roofs were removed in the late 19th century and replaced by a flat roof with cement crenellations. In February 1846 the Guardians had a wooden gate-keeper’s lodge built. Michael Shelly was appointed gate-keeper ‘to be employed 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to prevent people from bringing in tobacco or spirits to the inmates of the house.’


  1. Irish Architectural Archive, Bin. 48, Roll 13.

Author: William Fraher


Stepping back in time in Lismore and Cappoquin

The South Door of Saint Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, Co Waterford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012

The South Door of Saint Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, Co Waterford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012

The South Door of Saint Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, Co Waterford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

On the way back from Cork to Dublin yesterday afternoon, we drove out along the shore of the estuary and the harbour and on to Midleton and then north through Tallow to Lismore on the banks of the River Blackwater in West Waterford. 

In Lismore, we had lunch in Foley’s on the Mall, a landmark Victorian pub that has become a gastropub, with a modern restaurant beside the “old-world” bar. It was first built around 1870 and has been in the ownership of the Foley family since 1880. Our choices were baked goat’s cheese and red onion tartlets, with mixed salad leaves and pesto, a crab and prawn bake, and house white wine. 

Around the corner in the Mall, it was pleasant surprise to find a cathedral open on a Sunday afternoon. Lismore is tiny when you compare it with an average English cathedral city, and the cathedral is slightly off the beaten track. But there was a constant flow of tourists and visitors through the south porch to see this ecclesiastical gem which is open every day. 

Saint Carthage’s Cathedral has been described on the Buildings of Ireland website as an “elaborate, monumental cathedral of national importance.” 

The cathedral was founded in 635 by Saint Mochuda or Cartagh and was once at the centre of one of the great Irish monasteries, whose students included Saint Malachy, a 12th century Archbishop of Armagh. 

The chancel and choir have been screened off and now serve as the parish church for Church of Ireland parish. The chancel ceiling was elaborately decorated during the 19th century and has been restored in its original colours. 

The North Transept has been screened off and as Saint Columba’s Chapel it is reserved for private prayer and weekday Communions. The North Transept has a stained glass window by the pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne Jones (1833-1898). It is only window of its kind in Ireland and shows Justice (a man with a sword and scales) and Humility (a woman holding a lamb). 

The McGrath altar tomb in Lismore Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

The McGrath altar tomb in Lismore Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Walking around the cathedral, it is impossible not to feel the former grandeur and majesty of this once-great centre of learning and church life. 

The altar tomb of John and Catherine McGrath in the north-west corner of the nave dates from 1548 and is a fine example of 16th century stone carving, with the 12 apostles around the sides, each with his name in Latin. The inside frame of the west door is a Gothic riot – something you never imagine looking at it from the outside. 

Beside it, five inscribed grave slabs are set in the south-west wall behind fencing, date from the ninth to the eleventh centuries. 

The south transept monuments include one to Archdeacon Henry Cotton, whose Fasti Ecclesiae Hibenriae makes him one of the founding figures of Church of Ireland historical studies. 

Lismore Castle, towering over the banks of the Blackwater (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Lismore Castle, towering over the banks of the Blackwater (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

From the cathedral, we walked down Deanery Hill to the entrance to Lady Louisa’s Walk and the fountain in the castle walls, and then stood on the bridge over the River Blakckwater, admiring the broad stretch of river west towards Tallow and east towards Cappoquin, with the massive Gothic pile of Lismore Castle towering above us. 

We walked back up Saint Carthage’s Well to the main castle entrance. Robert Boyle, 14th son of the Earl of Cork and the father of chemistry who has given his name to Boyle’s Law, was born in the castle and baptised in the cathedral. Today, the castle is one of the many homes of the Duke of Devonshire. 

We returned to the town for another stroll through the Square and the Main Street, reading the poetry on posters in the shop windows, before heading on east to Cappoquin.

Little has changed on the streets of Cappoquin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Little has changed on the streets of Cappoquin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Little has changed in Cappoquin since I was a child in the 1950s … the rowing club and the boathouse are still there, so too are the clock in the tower of Saint Anne’s, the Toby Jug, Barron’s Bakery, the name over Uniacke’s, the arches of Kelleher’s SuperValu which I knew in my childhood as Russell’s, and the petrol pumps on the footpath outside Lehane’s Garage. 

Sargent’s Garage, one of the first car dealerships in Co Waterford, and the Blakckwater Inn are closed, and so too is Lonergan’s, where the tailor brothers, the late Thomas and Noel Lonergan, once worked together in their shop window on the Main Street. 

We enjoyed a brief stroll through the grounds of Cappoquin House, the home of Sir Charles Keane, whose father, Major Sir Richard Keane, died two years ago just a month short of his 102nd birthday. 

From Cappoquin, we drove north towards Mount Melleray, stopping briefly at the Cats, and taking a look at the field across the road, where “The Stage” was the venue for summer dances and music in the 1950s and even in the early 1960s.

We then drove down the bohereen to Moonwee, for another sentimental visit to what had been my grandmother’s farm. It was three years since I was last there .

This time Cindy and Steve O’Shea and their daughters were on hand to welcome us, and to show us how they have worked on restoring the old Hallinan homestead. It was step back in time to step up the stairs to what had once been my bedroom. In my mind’s eye I could see everything in the house as it was when I was a boy of eight or ten. 

Back on the road over the Knockmealdown Mountains, we stopped to look at Bay Lough. As a child I was told this was a bottomless lake and the home of a witch known as ‘Petticoat Loose,’ who was condemned to empty the lake with a thimble.

We drove on past the monument where Samuel Grubb is said to have been buried standing upright on the side of Sugarloaf Hill in 1921, and on the Vee Road, in a gap in the mountains. Below us, the Golden Vale of Co Tipperary was spread like a carpet of green and gold as far as our eyes could see.