Skip navigation

Donegal (County) - Aranmore (Page 1)

Overview

Population - the rate of increase in Ireland as a whole 1841 (really '45) to 1851 was 20%, but in Donegal only 14%. From '51-'61 12% in Ireland & less than 10% in Donegal. This in spite of the fact that it was rated a "congested area."

In 1879-80 there was near famine in West Mayo & Galway.

In 1890 - the potato crop of the whole western sea board was only 1/4 to 1/2.

In 1891 the Congested Districts Board was formed:

A Congested District - one where the ratable valuation was less than 5€ 10sh ($7.50)

per head. The Board reported that in Donegal the gap between income from farms & the income needed was met by seasonal laboring in Britain & domestic industry (knitting,

weaving, embroidering). The density of population reaches its highest limit in the barren

west, with over 400 per sq. mi. in northwest Donegal & 200, 400 in SW Donegal & West

Connaught, in all of which farm houses are often so close together that those on the road

resemble a village street ( -chapter on population).

Aranmore has about 500 persons per sq. mile of cultivated land. The remainder of the island consists of heather moor, heavily grazed. The type of life is similar to the Rosses, but fishing is a more important resource.

The report to the Cong. Dis. Board on the Rosses showed: only 3% of the holdings were

valued at more than €4 ($11.20), & 84% at less than €2 ($5.60); yet only 4% of the people were described as "very poor." The holdings consisted of about 2 1/2 A[cre], of which 1A or a little more was devoted to potatoes, 1/2A to oats, & 1 rood each to green crops or meadow.

Less well-endowed with natural resources than almost any other part of Donegal, the

inhabitants could not possibly exist on the produce of their holdings alone. The valuation per

head of population of the town land is 4 sh, 1 penny (51¢). Yet owing to the wages earned in

migratory labor, the people are in ordinary years well-fed, according to the standards of the

district, & also comfortably housed & clad.

The women cared for the home & farm for the summer, knitting & sewing at all possible

times, while almost all the able-bodied men, girls, & even children went away as migratory

laborers. The men went to Scotland, the girls & women went to farms in east Donegal &

Tyrone. More than half the annual cash income of 43€ ($120) came [from] migratory labor

& knitting & sewing by the women.

- T. W. Freeman, Ireland (1950), (Mil. Lib.)1

 

Agriculture, Land, & Houses

"In Donegal gangs of villagers threw down the landlords' fences as quickly as they were erected, in some parts of the county they are still kept in repair only in the summer." (so livestock can pasture freely - in summer gardens protected) --Evans, Irish Folkways, p. 20

"It is clear that in many parts of the country 'the cow's grass' was the effective unit of measurement. Of Donegal about 1840 we read, 'the land is never let, sold, or devised by the acre, but by 'a cow's grass.' This is a complement of land well understood by the people, being in fact the general standard; and they judge the dimension of a holding by its being to the extent, as the case may be, of one, two, or three 'cow's grass.' They have divided not only into the fourth part of a cow's grass, called a 'foot,' but into the eighth part, or half a foot, denominated 'a cleet'" (ibid., p. 29, quoting from Lord George Hill's "Gweedore").

"Spring is the only season without excessive rain, & plowing or digging in autumn or winter even if possible is unprofitable. Winter wheat is a risky crop in most parts, & the emphasis is on spring corn (crops), especially oats. This meant that the arable land was free of crops from October until April & it allowed pasturing & manuring by livestock for rather more than half the year. So deep-rooted is this communal pasturing that there are districts in Donegal where to this day the livestock of the whole townland has the run of all the farms (ibid., p. 33).

 

"A house to be 'lucky' must not be more than one room wide. 'Widen the house,' I have heard it said in Donegal, 'and the family will get smaller'" (ibid., p. 41).

 

"In one Donegal parish in 1837 according to a petition sent by the school teacher to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, there was 'not more than 10 sq. ft. of glass in windows in the whole (some 1,500 houses) with the exception of the chapel, the school house, the priest's house, Mr. Dombrain's home, & the constabulatory barrack.' (a wattle frame, a handful or straw or dried sheepskin served as windows)" (ibid., p. 49, from Lord George Hill's "Gweendore").

 

"The custom on such occasions" (building a house), wrote Lord George Hill - he is speaking of Donegal in the years before the Great Famine - "is for the person who has the work to be done to hire a fiddler, upon which all the neighbors joyously assemble & carry, in an incredibly short time, the stones & timbers upon their backs to the site, men, women, & children alternately dancing & singing while the daylight lasts, when they adjourn to some dwelling where they finish the night, often prolonging the dance to the dawn of day. Like all work done in common, the thatching too was regarded as a sort of festival" (ibid., p. 57). [Apparently see also CecilWoodham-Smith, The Great Hunger , p. 24, for this same quote. ]

"What is the present social condition of Donegal? Very poor, as may be expected when nature & society conspire against industy. Agriculturally this co. is the poorest in the island; & the relations established by law & politics, between landlord & tenant in Ireland have made Gweedore & other districts in the west of Donegal the scene of social incongruities which have within the last 2 years, shocked the civil society within the circle of the British press. The valleys however are fertile, & the rivers abound in salmon, the salmon fisheries of the Foyle & Erne being among the 1 st in the country, while the herring fisheries of the coast employ many vessels & many hands. The take of salmon has averaged for many years 2,814 CWT or 315,168 lbs. per anum & the open sea fisheries of Donegal employed in 1849, 2,810 registered vessels & 12,188 men & boys. ...Kelp-gathering & salt works employ great numbers of the poor peasantry on the coasts and adjacent islands, where the gover. schools lately introduced to teach the English language appear to be a decided failure, so completely Celtic & Irish-speaking are these people.

In percentage of arable land to total acreage, Donegal ranked last among the counties of Ireland - 32.9%.

- John H. Greene, A Catechism of Irish Geography (1859); published in

Cincinnati

 

 

Agriculture & Land - Rundale

Rundale, which is a most mischievous way of occupying land, was, till of late years, the common practice of north Ireland. It is this: three or four persons become tenants to a farm, holding it jointly, on which there is land of different qualities & values; they divide it into fields, & then divide each field into as many shares as there are tenants; which they occupy without division or fence, being marked off in parcels by stones or other landmarks; which each occupies with such crops as his necessities or means of procuring manure enable him; so there are, at the same time, several kinds of crops in one field.

- Report of the Irish Society, 1836, Halls, Vol. III, p. 261 (note)

Rundale, a state of things which paralyzes all improvement. It consists not in merely subdividing the farm into a given number of detached farms, but every quality of land is subdivided so that a holding of 4 or 5 acres was frequently to be found scattered into fifteen or twenty different lots, at considerable distances from each other, & interlaced with similar lots of other occupiers, precluding all possibility of enclosing the holdings. He (Capt. John Pitt Kennedy, in 1837) found tenants congregated in villages, which from the incessant & unavoidable trespass of cattle on each other's lands, were the seats of incessant warfare - many of the villages & towns being without any means of ingress or egress by road.

- Halls, p. 261-62

This consideration involves an analysis of the habits of the poor. They are exclusively agriculturalists. They imagine that their duties are limited to the spring sowing & the harvesting of their crops. The judicious preparation of his land for receiving the ordinary operations of tillage, do not enter into the calculations of the small Irish farmer. And during the winter season, which ought to be passed in draining & deepening his soil, irrigating his land, collecting manure, etc.., he lays himself up in absolute idleness. His Lilliputian farm thus produces but a Lilliputian crop, not equal to 1/3 of its natural capacity. His provisions become exhausted about May. Unable to get day labor to support his family through the summer, which is likewise a season when he thinks his farm has no claim upon him, he borrows at usurious interest for their support, and for the following year brings an additional burden upon his shoulders, already too heavily laden for his strength. Having thus commenced his downfall, he adds on debt over debt, each successive year until he is obliged to sell his interest in the land, & turned out a pauper.

- Ibid., p. 264

 

One man, a tailor in Donegal, "had his land in 42 different places and gave it up in despair." In Co. Mayo the land valuator cited the case of the townland of Liscananown, where 167 acres of land, of 3 qualities, were divided into 330 portions, the 110 inhabitants having 3 portions each.

- Great Hunger, p. 33

 

 

Agriculture - Technology

The improved wooden plough did not reach remote hill regions until roads were built after the middle of the 18 th cent.. Even in the 19 th cent. it is described as a newcomer in Co. Donegal, where spade labor had previously been supplemented only by a "crooked stick armed with a bit of iron, with a second stick grafted to it to give two handles"... It was so light that when the improved wooden plough with the mould-board was introduced into Donegal the ponies were not equal to the task of pulling it.

- Evans, Irish Folkways, p. 130

It is clear that with the introduction of the potato in the 17 th cent. it was the spade that facilitated the breaking of the rough pasture...& so made possible the great expansion of cultivation & population in the century before the Great Famine.

- Ibid., p. 133

Agriculture, as system, is not much practiced except among the resident gentry, by whom great improvements are made.

The iron plough is in general use among the gentry & larger farmers, but the old cumbersome wooden plough is still in use in many parts. A light one-horse cart has nearly superseded the old wheel-car, & the slide cart is seldom seen out of the mountain districts, in which implements are still rude in construction & few in number, consisting on many farms merely of a loy (a spade with a rest for the foot on one side only), the steveen (a pointed stake for setting potatoes), & sickle.

- [Topographical] Dict[ionary of Ireland?]

 

 

Booleying

Lord George Hill in "Gweedore," 1846, says:

"It often happens that a man has 3 dwellings - one in the mountains, another upon the shore, & the third upon an island, he & his family flitting from one to another of these habitations... This change usually takes place upon a fixed day, the junior branches of the family generally perform the land journey on top of the household goods, with which the pony may often be seen so loaded, & at the same time so obscured, that little more than the head can be observed; & thus the chair or two, the creels & the iron pot, the piggin & the various selected etc... creep along the roads." The author goes on to comment on the restrictions imposed on the comfort & possessions of the peasants by their "Arab mode of life." "In Achill Island, too, the movements were complicated, involving the entire population which, having moved to the summer pastures & sowed their corn, returned to the permanent coastal village for the high summer to fish & went back to gather the harvest at the booley in the autumn."

- E. Estyn Evans, Irish Folkways, p. 35

"So deep-rooted is commercial pasturing that there are districts in Donegal where to this day (1957) the livestock of the whole townland has the run of all the farm lands through the winter."

- Ibid., p. 33 (on B.I.)

In the summer those who stayed with the cattle at the booley made butter, which they brought back with them.

 

 

St. Columba

"That St. Columba was born at Garten in Donegal in 521 [A.D.] seems beyond doubt, & that he once lived in Glencolumcille is accepted by many but rejected by others as a late tradition."

- Irish Pictures, Richard Lovett (1888), p. 1902

He was born in the north of Ireland, near Lough Garten, on a hill that overlooks the water. A slab of rock is called Ethne's Bed & it is believed to be the very place on which his mother bore him. They say that those who sleep on this bed will be proof against homesickness forever. Many an emigrant has spent his last night in Ireland upon it. He built his oratory in the lonely valley of Glencolumsille. The glen is now thought to have been a center of Druid worship & the 12 crosses called the "Stations of the Saints" are probably monuments of Druids, converted by the Saint.

- Olivia Manning, The Dreaming Shore, p. 178 (1950) (Mil. Lib.)

 

 

Curraghs

In an account of the Rosses in the 1750s we read of the funeral processions to the island of Aranmore in Donegal which comprised as many as 60 or 80 curraghs3 covered with seal skins (from the Rosses in 1753)... Cattle were transported on them (curraghs). There is an account in this book of "the reckless daring of these islanders. A man & his wife coming out of island of Aranmore, in a little boat filled with turf, had a horse standing on top of it; with the roll of the sea the animal was thrown out, and as they were a long __ll from land, must have been drowned, had not the man cleverly succeeded in getting him into the boat again!"

  • Evans, Irish Folkways, p. 237

 

Donegal - Town of

Pop.:

Parish - 6,260

Town - 830 (150 houses)

Castle built in 12 th cent.

1474 - Franciscan monastery founded

1587 - Donell defied English government & refused to allow any sheriff in his district; not

having force to overcome him, the English kidnapped his son & held him

prisoner (this was Hugh Roe).

1592 - English took possession of convent & surrounding territory, but quickly expelled by

Hugh Roe.

1600 - Planned rebellion with O'Neil & Spaniards. Flight of the Earls.

1612 - (Feb. 27) The borough was incorporated in pursuance of forming the new plantation

of Ulster. Since Union the corporation has ceased to exist.

1631 - Annals of the 4 Masters

1639 - Hewy Brook was granted the manor which comprehended the town, at 13 shillings,

4 pence per year. Although the remains of the castle & the other property granted

to the patentee have passed to other families, one of his descendents still pays a

a rent to the crown for it.

1651 - Castle taken by Marquess of Clanricarde[?], who soon had to surrender to a superior

force.

1798 - A French frigate of 30 guns & 2 more anchored in the Bay, but the local militia

deterred a landing.

 

Here is a constabulatory police station & a small bridewell. A good harbor - small vessels may ride in 2 or 3 fathoms about 1/2 cable's length from shore. Good herring fishing in the bay in summer. Within 3 miles of the town is The Hall, the residence of the Conyngham family. Donegal gives the title of Marquess & Earl to the Chichester family.

[- no citation is listed for this entry]

 

 

Fishing - Boats

"Plenty of the yawls which the fishermen of these parts (Bunbeg - in other words, the Rosses) lie by the quay, but no bigger boats; the local opinion is that fishing in these waters must be confined closely to shore, or nothing except a really large vessel can hope to ride out all weathers, & there is a plentiful lack of shelter to run to."

- Stephen Gwynne, Highways & Byways of Donegal & Antrim (1903) (Mil. Lib.)

 

 

Fishing - Early Nineteenth Century

The northeast coast fisheries are chiefly confined to Donegal (this must mean commercial fishing). They had declined for many years in consequence of the herring, the chief object of capture, having deserted the coast. In 1830 it was ascertained that the schools had returned & the fishery consequently revived, in so much as the value of the take in 1834 exceeded 50,000 pounds ($250,000), & in the two succeeding seasons has been still greater. The coast everywhere affords the means of abundant summer fishing, but the want of proper boats & tackle deters the fisherman from venturing to struggle against the stormy seas that break upon the shores during the winter. The white fishing for cod, ling, haddock, & glassen, & that of the turbot & other flat fish, all of which are in inexhaustible abundance, is little attended to beyond the supply of the neighborhood. The sun fish resorts thither & is sometime taken.

- [Samuel Lewis,Topographical] Dict[ionary of Ireland]

 

 

Fishing - Mid-Nineteenth Century

In late summer the sprat came ashore in vast numbers on the west & south coasts, so that in Donegal "they constitute the chief food of the peasantry during 3 or 4 months of the year" (from "The Cliff Scenery of S.W. Dongal," 1867). They were taken from the water in buckets & sieves, and the mackerel pursuing their prey close against the rocks might be caught almost as easily. ...About hay-harvest the ballan wrasse is at its best. ...Known as bavin, byan, morran, & by other names, it is now despised almost everywhere, as is the coalfish which was salted & dried & which has different Gaelic names for every stage of its growth to demonstrate its former importance & popularity. "Glassan" oil was the luminant for the crusie lamps in Rathlin Island (ibid., p. 226).

We are not concerned here with the commercial off-shore fisheries, but something must be said of the inshore fishing because it has been characteristically combined with farming all around the coast. This type of fishing was well-suited to the Irish crofter economy, so that the comment frequently made by improving visitors & despairing Government officials was that the Irish would not go out to fish, but waited for the fish to come inshore. The shore-dwelling farmer is knowledgeable about the ways of fish and knows all "the signs"...

(ibid., p. 250-51).

 

Old customs die hard on isolated islands... Fishermen in the north to this day avoid direct mention of many words such as pig, priest, & rat, & similar taboos are found in fishing communities as far away as Malaya. Formerly when starting on fishing expeditions the crews of Irish boats were very careful that their craft should leave the shore in a direction sunways, & even yet this superstition directs the course of many a fishing boat, & we may add, controls the casting of a net. A boat should always be entered on the right side (ibid., p. 303).

 

 

Geography - General

Donegal comprises an area of 1,197,154 acres, of which 247,281 are under tillage, 411,966 in pasture, 9,308 in plantations, 505,719 waste, bog, mountains, etc.., & 22,860 under water... The islands are numerous, 17 inhabited; the principal, N. Arran, containing 4,355 [acres], population 1,220. There is a lighthouse on Aran... The climate is moist, potatoes, oats, & flax are the chief crops; spade husbandry is practiced on the west coast... The occupations are chiefly agricultural, fisheries, & the making of kelp from seaweed, an article which is largely exported to Scotland... The county is divided into 6 baronies, 51 parishes, & 2,627 town lands; a population of 218,334 persons, or 41,944 families, inhabiting 40,854 houses; also 1,393 uninhabited & 89 buildings.

[- no citation given]

 

N. Aran (Aranmore):

[Land area] 4,355 A[cres] pop. 1,220 [in 1880?]

- Peter T. Sherlock, The Case of Ireland Stated Historically, 1880

 

From the Halls (1840):

According to an Ordinance Survey -

1,165,107 statute acres

520,736 cultivated

644,371 mountain & unimproved bog

 

Population:

1821 - 248,270

1831 - 294,104

1841 - 296,448

 

Aranmore - largest of the Rosses:

3 mi. from Rutland

3 mi. in length & 3 mi. in breadth

About 9 mi. from the mainland

4,355 statute A[cres]; only 650 under cultivation & in pasture, rest mountains (figures to

about 15% in cultivation)

Population in 1834 - 1,141

This means -

The whole island: 6.8 sq. mi.

Arable land a little over __ sq. mi. (sq. mi. = 640A)

Population 168 people per sq. mi.; all 1,141 on 1 sq. mi. of land in cultivation & pasture

- Top. Dict.

 

 

Geography - Rosses

The district of the Rosses presents mostly a desolate waste. On its western side is a region of scattered rocks and hills, some on the mainland, others insulated; the larger of these rocks are thinly covered with peat & moss; a few admit of some degree of cultivation, while almost all the innumerable smaller rocks are entirely bare. Collectively this group is known by the name of the islands of the Rosses. Aranmore, the largest, containing about 600A[cres], is about 2 mi. from the mainland; on Innis Mac Durn is the little town of Rutland.

The county is very bare of wood.

-- [Topographical] Dic[tionary of Ireland?], Vol. I, p. 473

 

 

Hardships of the People

Hardship has made the Donegal people what they are. It seems a paradox, but the curse of poor land, the scourge of bad landlords, and recurrent famine shape a near perfect community.

A wealthy midlander named John George Adair once went to Donegal on a sporting holiday. He resolved to become proprietor of a mountainous part called Glenveih. In 1858 he purchased the interest of the coveted district. He was quick to discover to his own satisfaction that the peasantry were "a lawless, violent, thieving, & murderous gang." A police barracks was erected & a pound set up. He manned his property with Scotch shepards & stocked it with Scotch sheep. In 1859 he purchased an additional 11,956 A[cres]. In 1860 he gave his tenantry notice to quit. He chose to believe that the Donegal people were stealing his sheep & had murdered his steward. Priest & Parson begged for mercy, but Adair went personally to Dublin Castle for help. Glenveih was invaded by 200 constabulary & several detachments of military with tents & baggage. A Presbyterian newspaper gives a harrowing description of the eviction scenes when the hovels were leveled - throwing themselves on the ground & bursting out in an old Irish wail, their terrifying cries resounded along the mountainside for many miles. As night set in the spectator might have observed near each house its former inmates crouching around a turf fire, close by a hedge; & as a drizzling rain poured upon them they found no cover. An Irish society in Australia paid their passage to that country. Those homeless people of all ages, more than a thousand in number, traveled together. In Dublin they marched together to the boat for Liverpool. A Dublin newspaper said, "A finer body of men & women never left any country. In stature tall, with handsome features full of kindly expression, they filled the breast of every spectator with regret that such a people should be lost to us forever."

- Stephen Rynne, All Ireland, p. 186-87 (1956) (Milw.)

In this country there is a survival of the old order, the clan system. The clusters of houses, which are in no wise villages in the English sense of the word, are frequently inhabited by relations; there are never more than two or three sirnames in any group. The little planless settlements of homes are truly typical of the Donegal way of life.

- Ibid., p. 187

From Red Hugh O'Donnell's return to Donegal in 1592 stems the tragic story of the last attempts of the Irish chiefs to hold Gaelic Ireland for the Irish by organized force of arms. Red Hugh led various expeditions into Connaught between 1595 & 1597 & he was present at the Irish victory of the Yellow Ford in 1598. Then came the defeat of the Irish & Spanish at Kinsale in 1601 that meant the end of Irish hopes & the beginning of the great plantations of Ulster.

Red Hugh fled to Spain in 1602, where he died at Valladolid the same year. A Franciscan from Donegal attended his deathbed, and Donegal is indeed closely associated with the Franciscan Order. In the ruin following Kinsale, it was the Franciscan initiative that set about trying to collect all the surviving Irish M.S.S. [manuscripts] to preserve Irish history & literature for posterity. It is the Donegal friary that is associated with the names of the Four Masters who carried out this work: M . O'Clery, C. O'Clery, O'Mulconry, & O'Drugnan[?]. Michael O'Clery tirelessly traveled Ireland, copying, always copying, every Irish manuscript that he could find.

[- no citation included here, but may be the same as above]

 

 

History

"Tirconaill was made into a county in 1585 by Lord Deputy Perrott. The name Donegal, "Fortress of the Foreigners," refers to a settlement of Danes. A region of mountains, bogs, and moorland, difficult to invade, with poor communications & few natural resources, roadless, and very wild, it remained through the centuries practically unconquered. When Cromwell tried to force the native Irish into Connaught, he could not get the Donegal people out of their remote hills, so he handed the area over to those of his veterans who cared to occupy it. They were intimidated by the wildness & fierceness of the inhabitants, & in the end retreated to more comfortable country [and] left Donegal to its inhabitants.

Here is to be found the purest Gaelic blood in Ireland & here the ancient qualities of simplicity, chivalry, & honesty are uncorrupted.

Until the 19 th century when Lord George Hill attempted to develop it, Donegal was practically unknown to the outside world.

In the 4 years [from] 1632-1636 the Annals was compiled by the 4 Masters: O'Mulconry & 3 O'Clerys.

The castle - the Earl of Tirconaill fled in 1607 & the castle was presented to a certain Sir Basil Brooke, who reconstructed it. It is now the property of the Earl of Arran.

It is a region (the Rosses - includes Burton Port) of bogland so rock-ridden & laden with great grey granite boulders & peppered with little loughs, that they say there is not earth enough to dig a grave. Unwanted for centuries before the "plantation of Ulster," it later became crowded with little homesteads. No other area of such infertility in the world can house so many. Most of the men hire themselves out for the summer months to landowners in Scotland & England. The women & children clear patches the size of pocket-handkerchiefs & grow potatoes. Emigrants have gone in hundreds from these parts.

- "The time when the Marquis of Conyngham was opening up the Burton Port herring-curing industry, & Lord George Hill created his hotel."

- Olivia Manning, The Dreaming Shore, 1950,4 Mil. Lib.

 

Lower down, not far from the mouth of the Lake Earne, stands Donegall, a monastery & towne, which gave its name to this co. when it was first made one. This territory was governed for many ages by those of the family of O'Donell, who are of the same extraction with the O'Neals; without other title than O'Donell, & Lords of Tir-Conell. For the obtaining of which, and of their popular election & inauguration with accustomed ceremonies, at a certain stone near Kilmacrenar, they used to contend with great heat & bloodshed; till King James (the 1 st) by his Letters Patent conferred the honour, title, & stile of Earl of Tir-Conell, upon Roderick O'Donell, brother to Hugh the Rebel, who being banished, fled to Spain & there died. The title of Earl of Tyrconell was conferred by King James the Second on Colonel Richard Talbot, a most zealous Papist; & since the accession of King George to the throne, the title of Viscount Tyrconell hath been conferred on a noted family of England of the name of Brownlow; but that of Earl of Donegall is vested in the honourable family of Chichester; as to the territories hereabouts (formerly part of the inheritance of O'Donell), they are now enjoyed by the families of Gore, Hamilton, Connolly, etc...

But now take the observations of Mr. Good (J. Good, a priest educated at Oxford & schoolmaster of Limerick, describes their customs about the year 1566): "These people are generally strong-bodied, nimble, bold, haughty, quick-witted, warlike, venturous, inured to cold & hunger, lustful, hospitable, consistent in their love, implacably malicious, credulous, vainglorious, resenting, and, according to their old character, violent in all their affections; the bad not to be matched, the good not to be excelled.

They commonly baptize their children by prophane names, adding somewhat from one accident or another; from some old-wives tale; or from colors, as red, white, black, etc..; from distempers, as scabbed, bald, etc.., or else from some vice, as Robber or Proud; and, though they cannot bear reproach, yet the greatest among them, such as have the letter O prefixed to their names, are not ashamed of these appellations. It is looked upon as foreboding a speedy death to the parents or others of the family then living, to give his or their names to any of the children. When the father dies the son takes his name lest it be forgotten; & if any of the ancestors have been famous for their achievements, the like bravery is expected from him."

[Then comes a long paragraph on the Irish system of fosterage, saying the tie is much greater than the blood tie.]

"The people are strangely given to idleness, thinking it the greatest wealth to want business, and the greatest happiness to have liberty. They love music mightily, & above all instruments are particularly taken with the harp, strung with brass wire, and played on with their crooked nails. They are religious, mortify with wonderful austerity, by watching, praying, & fasting; so that the Relations which we find of their monks heretofore are not to be looked on as incredible.

...Robberies are here not looked on as infamous, but are committed with great barbarity in all parts of the country. When they are upon such design they pray to God to bring booty in their way. They are of the opinion that neither violence, robbery, nor murder is displeasing to God. If it were, they say, God would not tempt them with the opportunity; 'nay, it would be a sin not to lay hold of it.'"

[A long section on the viciousness of the clergy. Whores & bastards follow wherever they go, & sons succeed fathers in churches. "Absolute strangers to learning." "The sons of the priests become notorious robbers. For those who are called MacDecon, MacPherson, etc.., the son of the Dean & the Parson, are the greatest robbers."]

..."They seldom marry out of their town." He goes on that they are prone to divorce & incest.

Superstitious - "Whether or not they worship the moon, I know not; but when they first see her after the change, they commonly bow the knee & say the Lord's Prayer."

Their armies - "consist of horsemen, & of veteran soldiers reserved for the rear (whom they call Galloglaffes, & who fight with sharp hatchets), & of light armed foot [soldiers] (whom they call Kernes), armed with darts & daggers. They use the bagpipe in their wars instead of trumpets.

As to their diets, they delight in herbs, especially cresses, mushrooms, & roots. They love butter mixed with oatmeal, milk, whey, beef broth, & flesh oft times without bread."5

- Ibid., p. 1417-22

 

 

1 Thomas Walter Freeman, Ireland:A General and Regional Geography. London: Methuen, 1969. (First published in 1950 under title Ireland: Its Physical, Historical, Social, and Economic Geography.)

2 Richard Lovett, Irish Pictures, Drawn with Pen and Pencil. London : London Religious Tract Society, 1888.

3 A small boat made by covering a frame with hide or leather; also called a currach or coracle.

 

4 Olivia Manning, The Dreaming Shore. London : Evans Bros., 1950.

5 All brackets in this entry appear in original.