Between 1937 and 1939, 740,000 pages of folklore and local tradition were compiled by pupils from 5,000 Irish primary schools. This collection which came to be known as The Schools’ Collection was part of an innovative project which was overseen by the Irish Folklore Commission and received assistance from the INTO and Department of Education. With the help of their teachers, senior primary school children across the 26 counties of the Irish Free State collected folklore in their local area. This included oral history, topographical information, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, trades and crafts. The children recorded this material from their parents, grandparents and neighbours. This collection is a wonderful resource for anybody with an interest in history and folklore and is now available at www.duchas.ie. Below is a selection of excerpts from Carrick-on-Suir and the surrounding areas.
Historical events and figures – Part 1
Below is an account of faction fighting in the local area. Faction fighting were mass brawls that involved large groups of men and women organised into groups and meetings at venues such as fairs, markets, weddings, funerals or any other large gathering. The phenomenon was particularly common in rural Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries and occurred predominately in Munster and in particular County Tipperary. The most common form of combat was bataireach (stick fighting) but stones and guns were also used. Unsurprisingly, faction fighting often resulted in serious injuries or in some cases even death.
Despite the heightened religious tension at the time, religion was not seen as a contributing factor to faction fighting. Most of the faction quarrels erupted out of bitter family rivalries going back several generations, which has led some historians to suggest that the fights were purely recreational. By the 1840s faction fighting had largely died out as national sports like hurling began to grow in popularity. (Although some may some that our national sport can at times resemble faction fighting!)
Faction Fighting by Unknown Author
Two local ones were the Holdens and the Longs.
“Where are you from? I’m from the mountains.
‘Who will you join? I’ll join the Holdens.
‘Where are you from? I’m from the bogs.
Who will you join I’ll join the Longs.”
Above parties often fought each other and there seems to be one famous fight remembered locally. It was fought about 1820 on ‘Scough hill’. The above fighters fought side by side against the Badoírs (faction fighters) from Carrick-on Suir. The Badoírs were joined by the quarry miners as a fierce battle ensued. The Holdens and Longs won the fight as they maneuvered the Badoírs to the lower side of them and got them down the hill below Maloneys pub. The hero of the fight was ‘Whaley’ from the quarries (with the Badoírs). He kept a ‘Sheabeen’ at the stone bridge in the quarries.
Another section of fights were the ‘Shay-a-Varts’ and the ‘Con-a-Barts’ (Corabhath) little is known of them; they probably belonged to an earlier period.
There were two sections of the ‘Whiteboys’. Shay-a-Varts Curraheen, Co. Tipp. Con-a-Barts Kilmacoliver, Co Kilkenny, they fought at Whaleys shebeen in quarry before 1800.
THE FENIAN UPRISING
The below poem is dedicated to the Carrick-on-Suir Fenian, John F. Meagher who was imprisoned for his participation in the failed Fenian uprising against British rule in 1867. The Fenian cause was a family one as his father, who was aged 70 at the time of the rising, was also imprisoned for his involvement. As well as being a dedicated Fenian, John F Meagher was devoted to the revival of Irish folklore and wrote the book, The Legends and Stories of Southern Ireland. He also ran the News Depot newsagent and bookstore at No. 28 Lough Street, (now Kickham Street) in Carrick where he sold nationalist publications such as The Irishman, The Flag and Shamrock.
Interesting note: The Fenian Uprising is often noted for being a complete military failure yet one often ignored dimension of this failed coup was the Proclamation published by the Fenian leaders. The Proclamation demanded the separation of Church and State and called for the end of divisions between social classes. Many historians believe, then, it was much more visionary and radical than the more famous Proclamation of the Easter Rising in 1916.
He’s Dead, Another Soldier – By a Drangan Boy
Collected by Teresa Walshe, Magowry, Co. Tipperary
A little tribute of affection to the memory of an old friend, the late John F Meagher, of Carrick on Suir.
He’s dead, another soldier, weep him
not with tears and sighs
Wrap his mother’s flag around him-
in life it was his prize;
In darksome days he wore it as the
fetters jingled near,
In filthy dungeons wore it, be it is
He’d dead, another soldier, like many
Who fought his country’s battle when angry tempests tore,like hungry lions roaring before a guarded fold-
He’ll rise, with heroes soaring, when Erin’s story’s told
He’s dead, another soldier, in the conflict pass’d away.
Who march’d in our forlorn hope
when suffering was the pay;
Weep him not. Unstain’d, unsullied,
the angels bore him home
Lightly, friendly and unhurried to
the Father’s heavenly dome.
THE HISTORY OF BESSBOROUGH ESTATE
The Local Landlord
Collected by Maggie Nolan
The ancestry of the local landlord dates back to the ruthless Cromwellian invasion in the year sixteen hundred and fifty. The Earl of Bessborough is now in possession of this demense. The estate formerly belonged to the Daltons of Kildalton, which was the name of the estate until it was taken over by Cromwell.
In Cromwell’s journey through Carrick-on-Suir he became suddenly ill and left his officer Ponsonby in command. Ponsonby took over the Kildalton estate and Cromwell gave it to him in return. The name of the estate was immediately changed to Bessborough in honour of Ponsonby’s wife who was called Bess.
The landlords were both tolerant and humane and evictions seldom occurred except when the people made themselves prominent in the Young Ireland and Fenian movements. What sometimes helped to cause evictions was the collecting of the tithes. When people were granted Catholic Emancipation, they became bolder and refused to pay the tithes, and skirmishes were fought here and there. “Carrickshock” about seven miles from Owning is famous for its battle between the pheasants and the police.
A SNOW STORM
Told by Mrs Quinlan, Clonmoyle, Co. Waterford
In the year 1916 we had very heavy snow. My father said that a funeral left the work-house of Carrick-on-Suir to come to Mothel. The corpse had to be brought by Mill Vale in a cart. People had to go before the horse and cart with shovels to make room for it. The snow was as high as themselves. It was a sight to see and especially as he was an old resident of Rathgormack. The wind blew the snow in drifts as high as the house.