and White ‘47
Several sections of this work appear in the prestigious 'Atlas of the Great Irish Famine'.
prejudice and agenda are particular enemies of historiography and many a
great work is rendered less great when one or all of these bedfellows
befriends the historian. No period in Irish history has been as
difficult to approach ‘sans bias’ as the years 1845-1850 not least
because they have been labelled ‘An Gorta Mor’, ‘The Great
Hunger’ or more commonly ‘The Great Famine’.
Almost everything that has been written about the period in the
past decade has, understandably, been concerned with the adverse impact
and diverse consequences of the potato blight on the poorer classes who
died in cabin, workhouse or ditch from starvation and fever, or who
emigrated to England, Australia and the United States of America.
The reduction of Ireland’s population by 2,000,000 through
death and emigration over a ten year period has been seared into the
Irish psyche and is not easily laid to one side when researching those
acknowledging that - just as two wrongs don’t make a right - two
biases do not make a balance, it is the intention of this dissertation
to produce a biased account of 1846/1847 as gleaned from the pages of
the Tipperary Free Press and The Cork Examiner –
newspapers which, as is the norm, also had their own bias and prejudice.
In both cases that bias was Nationalist/Liberal.
Material from other sources will be used as appropriate. With the
same sense of agenda as this student unwittingly approached writing a
Famine report from those pages some years ago - an agenda that
accompanies most ‘local’ Great Famine reports - it is here intended
to trawl through the newsprint with eyes trained to ignore anything that
smacks of potato blight, workhouse, pauper or Indian meal.
It is hoped that this approach will not be seen as attempting to
minimize the devastation and horror of those years or detract from the
memory of the suffering that existed but will, rather, provide a
framework through which we can better view and understand that
devastation and horror.
Ó hAodha suggests that the first half of the nineteenth century was a
black and dreary period in the annals of drama in Great Britain.
A few obligatory references to Boucicault and Edmund Keane are all that
seem necessary in a treatment of Irish theatre until Yeats and Lady
Gregory burst on the scene in a blaze of Celtic Revival at the end of
that century. However, a
perusal of the pages of the newspapers from 1846-47 shows that, in spite
of this paucity of theatre, in those years at least, the ‘middle
classes’ and the ‘gentry’ knew how to enjoy themselves.
indeed we may say never,
have we witnessed a more splendid Ball in Nenagh…’ asserted
the report in the Tipperary Free Press on Tuesday, 13
January, 1846. The ball was given by the officers of the 1st
Royals. The report
early as nine o’clock the rank and beauty of the country poured in and
arrivals were continuous up to twelve… Several rooms handsomely
decorated were thrown open, and refreshments abundantly provided.
The ballroom was magnificently decorated …[as the] graceful
figures… floated on “the light fantastic toe” . The splendid
Quadrille band of the 831
regiment, from Limerick, was in attendance, and during the evening
performed, amongst other airs, The Canadian Sleigh Waltz …[with bells]
in imitation of sleighs travelling over the snow.
that evening consisted of ‘every delicacy that the season could afford
or the most fastidious appetite desire’ with the ‘old Baronial
Boar’s Head’ decorating the table. The tables were laid for 200
people. The report finished
by lavishing praise on the officers of the Royal First and stated ‘we
can only echo the sentiments of all, when we say, long may such gallant
fellows be quartered among us.’
notice that ‘Cards of Invitation’ had been sent out to the gentry of
Birr in Co. Offaly for the ball on 15 January
appears on the same page as this report.
The Nenagh invitations included the aristocracy and ‘many
families of the respectable portion [emphasis added] of the
residents of Nenagh.’ One can get some idea of the fashion worn at
these balls by a perusal of the ‘Fashions for January’ column in The
Tipperary Free Press on 3 January, 1846.
‘The damas fashionable this season is the veloutes, the broad
velvet stripe contrasting well with this description of silk.
These dresses require no trimming, but are made extremely full
and very long behind; on
other materials flounces of Alencon, or point lace are worn.
Taffetas d’Italie are fashionable for petites soirees…’
followers of fashion were well catered for 16 months later - July 1847 -
as Peter McSwiney and Co.’s ‘Victoria House’, and Laurence McGrath
- both of Clonmel - vied for their custom.
McSwiney’s departments included a ‘millinery’ where every
favourite style of the West End was available, a ‘fur department’
where the discerning buyer could save 20 per cent on sable, ermine,
chinchilla, boas, capes and cuffs; a silk department with French and
Oriental manufactures; as well as plaid, French cashmere, fancy dress,
shawl and mantle, and woollen departments.
McGrath’s emporium boasted a similar range of departments, with his
millinery department offering ‘Real Genoa Silk Velvet Bonnets, Fully
Trimmed, with Superb Rich Feather’ for a mere 12s. to 16s. 
slightly more downmarket evening out in January 1846 – compared to the
Nenagh Ball - but one that was nonetheless sponsored by ‘Twelve
Families of first rate distinction’, was the appearance of ‘Bateman,
“The Great Versatile Comedian of the Age” in Clonmel’s Theatre
‘opposite the Barracks’.
Bateman was advertised ‘for one night only’ in what was to be
the ‘greatest treat ever given in Clonmel’.
Also in January two letters to The Tipperary Free Press from
Nicholas Maher and R.A. Fitzgerald respectively, announced those
gentlemen’s great pleasure
in accepting an invitation to a Repeal Banquet in Limerick City on the
21st of the month.
The Repeal movement that dominated the political scene during the first
half of the 1840s was to undergo change in 1847 with the death of
O’Connell, but in August 1846 it was still very active.
During that month, the priests of the diocese of Cashel and Emly
in County Tipperary held a repeal banquet at Ryall’s Hotel in Cashel.
‘The tables contained every delicacy of the season and the wines were
the village of Cloneen, County Tipperary, in January 1846, a
festival of a different kind was held. A temperance festival in the
‘Teetotallers’ room’ continued, after tea, coffee, and cake, with
dancing until the early hours of the morning.
The night ended with three hearty cheers for Fr. Mathew, the
Apostle of Temperence.
entertainment continued at the ‘New Theatre Opposite the Barracks’
in February with the appearance of ‘the Celebrated Dramatic
Ventriloquist’ Gallaher. Many
diverse characters were listed for the evening with each one being
played by Mr. Gallaher. Doors were open at 7.30, show commenced at 8 pm
precisely. Carriages could be ordered at ten o’clock. Boxes 2s., Pit
1s., Gallery 6d. ;
1846 progressed the entertainment appears to have become even more
lavish. In August the Royal
Agricultural Improvement Society of Ireland held their show in Limerick
where cattle were exhibited and agricultural implements displayed.
Banquet, ball and suppers brought the week to a close, a week in
which the city was thronged.
The report from the ‘General Banquet’ at the Theatre
stated that ‘About 400 people sat down to an excellent dinner,
provided, as on the former day, by Mr. John Goggin…The wines…were…
as on the previous night, of the very best quality.’ Toasts were drunk
to The Queen, The Queen Dowager, Prince Albert and the Royal Family.
The toasts were acknowledged with loud cheers, applause, and
drunk with the ‘usual honours’.
The company stood and ‘cheered vehemently’ for several
minutes when the president’s health was proposed.
only apparent discordant note was when a Captain Kennedy stood and
suggested that things were not all well in the country but such were the
‘expressions of dissatisfaction’, loudly and frequently repeated,
that Captain Kennedy was forced to sit down. 
entertainment for the week in Limerick was brought to a close when a
‘ball upon an unprecedented scale of magnificence and splendour was
given’ in an enormous gas-illuminated marquee, attached to the
Philosophical Society House in Glentworth Street. Eight hundred tickets
had been sold for this spectacular event. Mr. Murray’s excellent
Quadrille band supplied the music, together with the full band of the 85th.
one month later – September 19, 1846 - a public dinner was given at
the Imperial Hotel in Cork city by the citizens of Cork for their
‘distinguished townsman and late representative’, Mr. Sergeant
Murphy. It was attended by nearly three hundred gentlemen. ‘The dinner
was served in the great room of the Imperial Hotel, whose ample
proportions left nothing to be wished for in accommodation or effect…
The gallery facing the chair was crowded with a party of elegantly
dressed ladies, who listened with the deepest attention to the eloquent
speech of the guest.’ Brilliant
chandeliers and numerous
satin banners gave a
striking brilliance to the festive scene.
To a ‘melody of sweet sounds’ from
the musicians, Mr. McDowell, the proprietor of the Imperial, on that
occasion ‘surpassed himself’. The dinner comprised every delicacy of
the season with a profusion of champagne and other wines.
Never was a company more gratified at the richly loaded board.
November and December 1846, Lord Lismore of Shanbally Castle, Clogheen,
Co. Tipperary, received news of the birth of his first two
grandchildren. On both
occasions 200 of his tenants and employees were entertained at Shanbally
Castle to sumptuous dinners of roast beef and plum pudding.
The music for the after-dinner revelry was supplied by the
Clogheen Amateur Band. Bonfires
illuminated the neighbourhood from the Knockmealdowns across the valley
to the Galtees and dancing was kept up to a late hour.
1 January 1847 a column headline on the front page of the Cork
d’s Greatest Difficulty.
d’s Greatest Difficulty.
Public will readily admit that the greatest difficulty in Ireland is
that of getting good tea. To remove “the difficulty” buy at Harman
Dilis’s, Prince’s Street, Cork.’
Presumably, having purchased one of the many teas on offer in
Dilis’s, thus removing the ‘difficulty’, the discerning host or
hostess could then proceed to Bowden’s Established Piano-Forte
Warehouse at 51, South Mall in Cork and purchase a piano from London or
one of the many and varied musical instruments on offer. ‘Flutes,
Cornopeans… Guitars, Harps, Violins, Violas’ were all available
‘in great and well chosen variety.’ For the convenience of customers
Bowden’s had a ‘spring van’ available for conveyance of
instruments ‘always ready’.
along the South Mall, to number 13, one came to Mr. Brennan’s Dancing
Academy. Mr. Brennan
advertised private classes every day for the ‘VALSE a CINQ TEMPS, the
rage at present in London at all the Nobility Balls…The Mazourka
Quadrilles arranged for any number of couples…Families and schools
attended to. Lessons in
Kalesthenic and Carthygean exercises as usual.’
number 17 Grand Parade, ‘For a Few Days Longer’, C. Pollard was
showing, in two large and extensive rooms, his ‘Royal Mechanical
Waxworks’. Models and figures of the Royal Family, ‘Moses in the
bull rushes’, and ‘Androcles removing a thorn from the lion’s
paw’ made up part of the exhibition which went on twice daily.
Prices: 1s. Morning, and
6d. Evening. Children - half
advertised on the front page of the 1 January, 1847 Cork Examiner
was a cornucopia of reading material.
Fraser’s Magazine for January was available for
6d. while at John O’Brien’s, Patrick Street one could pick up a copy
of The Dublin Review. The
Minerva Circulating Library at 106 Patrick Street, Cork boasted
thousands of books in stock. Among
the Kings of England, Count De Monte Christo and many
travel books advertised one could pick up titillating titles like Life
of a Beauty, Confessions of a Pretty Woman, or Memoirs of a Femme
Imperial Hotel was the scene for yet more entertainment on 18 January,
1847 when Mr. Forde’s
took place, while the same venue was used for ‘The Grand Concert’
under distinguished patronage on 6 April.
‘Antient Concerts’ was how the concert of 23 March
was advertised where selections from Handel and Mozart were to be
Later that year, in Clonmel, Colonel Ricketts kindly consented to
allow the band of the Scots Greys Regiment to perform every Thursday
evening at Fairy Hill. The Tipperary Free Press suggested that
this would be a rich treat for the fair townswomen who could enjoy the
beauties of Fairy Hill, ‘the witchery of the summer’s eve, and the
delightful strains of one of the sweetest Bands in her Majesty’s
In nearby Cahir, in July, ‘a picnic on a very elegant scale
took place at Caher Cottage. There were over fifty persons present,
chiefly from the neighbourhoods of Clonmel and Caher. An amateur band
attended, and after the dinner, which presented all the delicacies of
the season, dancing was commenced and kept up much spirits until a late
1847 saw a banquet being given by the Repealers of Dungarvan in honour
of their ‘late candidate’ John F. Maguire who had
apparently been beaten in a recent election.
The banquet took place at the ‘Franchise Club Rooms’ on a
Sunday evening. ‘The
rooms, which were opened into one immense salon, were most tastefully
decorated; and Mr. William Sheehan and his lady gave as splendid an
entertainment as was ever yet seen in the borough.’ The evening was
conducted by P. Landers, John Cleary, John O’Brien, Jeremiah
Morrissey, Christopher O’Brien, James Boland and Richard Kelly.
February 1848 edition of the Freeman’s Journal gives an idea of
the entertainment in the Dublin Theatres during that season. At the
Theatre Royal, ‘Bohemian Girl’ was
being performed with a concluding programme of a farce called ‘How to
settle accounts with your Laundress’, while at the Queen’s Theatre
another farce was playing - ‘My Young Wife and my old Umbrella’. 
‘Rotundo – Round Room’ saw the opening, that week, of an upcoming
nationwide tour entitled
‘Demonstration of the Heavens and Earth’. This was a travelling
planetarium show which also included slides of abbeys, castles,
landscapes, avalanches, alpine scenery and waterfalls, with a display of
Chinese fireworks. First,
second and third class seats available. Family tickets on sale. Mr.
Henry was soon to bring his show to Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and
W.E Mills – manager - informed the nobility, gentry, officers of the
garrison, and the general public of Cork on 27 April 1848
that the Theatre Royal, in Cork City
was to open on Monday, 1 May.
A highly talented company selected from the ‘Principal Theatres
of the United Kingdom’ was to perform on opening night. Mr. D.
Leonard, ‘the celebrated Irish Comedian’ was scheduled to appear in
May while fans of ‘Miss Jarman’ could catch her performance at a
date to be announced.
introduction of gas light into private houses had many obvious
advantages but the ladies had, according to the Tipperary Free Press
in September 1847 , taken advantage - under pretence of the ‘dazzling
uncomfortableness’ of the bright lights - and taken to opening
parasols at the evening soiree. ‘A
pink parasol, judiciously held between a lady’s face and a gas burner,
throws a tender rosette hue over the complexion.’ The parasol could
also be ‘dexterously manoeuvred’ as an aid if the ladies decided to
favour someone with sidelong glances out of the glare of the lights.
summer gave way to autumn the
weather was still fine enough for outdoor activities. September was the
month for the 1847 Killarney Lakes Regatta and Grand Stag Hunt.
Six races per day were on the card for the two day event, with
six-oar boats, four-oar boats, two-oar boats and gigs taking part.
For less energetic souls who wished to take to the water The Star
Steamer plied between Cappoquin on the Blackwater and Youghal - at the
mouth of that great river – on a daily basis; two trips daily with
times scheduled to take advantage of tides.
Special attention was drawn to the times of boats on ‘Flower
The River Steamers Office in Cork city announced that evening trips were
now discontinued (presumably owing to the darkening evenings) while
other times for the Cork-Cove return trip remained the same.
heralded the first meetings of the season for some of Cork’s societies
and clubs. Cork Historical
Society held its first meeting of the session at The Lecture Room of the
Royal Cork Institution. The
President – Mr. M. J. Barry. Esq., (Barrister) was billed to deliver
the opening address.
The members and subscribers of the Cork Scientific and Literary
Society were informed of a meeting to be held on 7 October :
to be read – On Comedy and its tendencies – Ought the ‘School
for Scandal’ be performed in this moral age? – by Wm. Keleher.
for Discussion – On Oxygen
and its compounds, illustrated with experiments – by Geo. Coleby.’
of the Royal Yacht Club in Cove were requested to take notice of the
second general meeting of the season on Thursday,
7 October. .
Presumably, a recent invention in Cork by Robert Buckley was the
talking point of the evening. Mr.
Buckley had invented a ‘cork-stuffed life preserving mattress’ and
tested same on the River Lee in June 1847. His letter to the Cork
Examiner expressed concern that an English company to whom he had
shown his device was trying to patent what The Examiner called a
Mr. Buckley stated that he had fitted out the Cork Steam Ships
Company’s vessels with the life preserver.
December of that year – 1847 – it was time for evenings out again
and the members of the Loyal Munster Lodge of Odd Fellows announced the
date – 14 December – for their Anniversary Soiree at the Confederate
Rooms in Cork (formerly ‘Peoples’ Hall’).
The venue was kindly given by the Desmond Club.
A Full Quadrille Band was to be in Attendance.
Tickets at 1s. 6d were
available at several outlets in the city including the Odd Fellows’
Arms and the Odd Fellows’ Hotel.
That week was particularly busy if one proposed attending the Odd
Fellows’ Soiree and the ‘Grand Evening Concert’ at the
Imperial. Mr. Patton,
‘late violincellist at the Paris, London and Dublin concerts’ was
presenting an evening of ‘Vocal and Instrumental Music’ on the 13th.
was just around the corner and the annual chore of Christmas shopping
had to be dealt with. Thomas
Carey of Carey’s Lane and Church Street in Cork brought to the
attention of the public the
fact that he had just imported,
via steamer, a ‘Large Assortment of Raised Christmas
Pie-Dishes…representing the most beautiful and accurate devices in
Poultry, Game etc.’ ‘Rich Dinner, Tea, and Dessert services’ were
available along with ‘Rich Cut Glass, Bohemian Glass and French
China’. Goods for the country would be packed with the greatest of
care by experienced packers. 
organised and discerning shoppers would possibly have restocked their
cellars and presses in September when the ships from Cadiz and Oporto
arrived. W.J. Tomkins gave
notice that he had just received - direct from Cadiz - 12 Butts, 30
Hogsheads and 32 Quarter Casks of ‘most superior Sherry Wines,
precisely similar to his late importations … which gave such general
Smith at 5 Prince’s Street was offering the ‘Finest Old Malt
Whiskey’ at eight shillings per gallon.
He also had an extensive assortment of ‘Pale, Golden and Brown
Sherries’ available and offered ‘Full Flavoured Pale Sherry’ at
24s per ‘long dozen’. Parcels of ‘Five Dozen of Wine’ sent
carriage free to any part of County Cork. 
the ‘Magasin’ 83 Patrick Street, Ms. E.McAuliffe offered to the
public a large and varied stock of fruits, foreign preserves, conserves,
liquor, crystallised brandy, bottled fruits, jams and jellies, pickles
and sauces, bottled meats, dessert and wine biscuits, and British wines.
From her warehouse she could supply Malaga and Palermo lemons,
oranges, Lisbon grapes, New Turkey figs, Muscatel raisins, currants,
nuts, foreign fruits and lozenges. Ms.
McAulife’s miscellaneous stock was ‘too large for the limits of an
William Agar of Great Georges Street could supply original water
colours of cattle, seascapes and landscapes and figures,
while J.O’Brien of Patrick Street was advertising ‘likenesses of
Once Christmas was over thoughts would have turned to the
upcoming ‘Grand Masonic Fancy Dress Charity Ball’ which was
scheduled for 3 February 1848, and advertised in January by ‘The
Worshipful Master, Wardens, and Brethren of the First Lodge of
Ireland.’ Again the venue
was the Imperial Clarence Rooms. A
list of over 100 of the patrons of the event reads like a veritable
‘Who’s Who’ of Cork society.
The committee trusted that all would adopt ‘Fancy Dress’
while the brethren were requested ‘to assemble in the Full Habiliments
of their respective orders at half-past nine
on the above night, at the Imperial Hotel, for the purpose of
forming the Procession to open the Ball.’ No masks or objectionable
characters would be admitted and it was requested that, as the ball was
for charity, no private assemblies or parties be organised on the same
of the most extraordinary advertisements in 1848 was one for an
‘Extraordinary Exhibition of Aborigines’ at Theatre Royal, Cook
Street in Cork.
It consisted of ‘Two women, two men,
and a baby
The Bush Tribe, from the interior of South Africa, belonging to a
race that, from their wild habits, could never before be induced to
visit a place of civilisation.’ Admission was 2s to boxes, Gallery 6d.
Children under ten – half price. ‘Private interviews…2s. 6d.’
is surely safe to speculate that these were the same Bush People who
were on exhibition in Dublin earlier in the month.
A report in the Freeman’s Journal stated that when they were in
London they were shown at the Royal property where their keeper had to
restrain them due to their excitement and terror at the band-playing and
the fireworks. Vauxhall
Gardens were crowded for the visit and many of the leading aristocracy
following month, March 1848, Mrs.
Cotton announced, in the public notices of the Cork Examiner,
that having been encouraged by many families of distinction she wished
to announce that a ‘Grand Full Dress Ball’ was to take place at the
Imperial Clarence Rooms on 26 April.
small selection of the goods that were on offer through the
advertisements in The Cork Examiner and the Tipperary Free
Press has been referred to in this chapter.
A longer chapter could dwell at length on this particular aspect
of 1846-47. For now it just
remains to outline briefly some of the other goods that were on offer in
the newspapers in South Tipperary and Cork in those years.
Wines, coffee, cocoa, cider, silk and wool products, shower bath
and curtains, hats, brandy, plated goods, marine paintings, clocks and
watches, fine arts, groceries, tartan and clan, boots and slippers,
sugar and jewellery. An ‘Immense stock of Valentines’ was available
in 1848 from Guy Brothers, Patrick Street, Cork.
(For those with more money than they needed for shopping the pages
carried an abundance of life insurance, assurance and investments
schemes.) For Christmas 1848
Woodford Bourne in Cork advertised their quality teas while A.P.Dillon
offered Christmas Presents
and supplies, including coffee, port, whiskey, rum, cigars, ‘Prime
Wicklow Hams’, sugar, spices and candles.
first recorded game of golf in Ireland was on the Curragh plains in
1851-2 and so falls just outside the scope of this dissertation. This
was four years prior to the establishment of the Curragh Camp and the
above mentioned game was probably played by army officers from Kildare
or by some of the Scottish immigrants who had come to Ireland in those
had been played in Ireland since around 1792, this being the recorded
date of a game near the Viceroy’s residence at the Phoenix Park in
The Freeman’s Journal stated that the game of cricket
was to England what the game of hurling was to Ireland.
Arthur Young expressed a more jaundiced view when he recorded - during
his famous tour - that ‘hurling was the cricket of savages’. 
It is reasonable to deduce from an advertised cricket match of 16
June 1846 that cricket was popular enough among the gentlemen of Cahir,
County Tipperary, to warrant the setting up of a cricket club. One of
their matches was Cahir Cricket Club versus The Garrison.
Class doesn’t appear to have been any problem on the Garrison
side as the officers took to the field with the mere privates.
In spite of the best efforts of Pt. Dangate, who appears to have
had a splendid game, Cahir Club was victorious.
angling has been popular for many centuries if we are to judge by Isaac
Walton’s seventeenth century The Compleat Angler and the
thought of mid-nineteenth century rivers teeming with trout and salmon
can cause an increase in the heart-rate of modern anglers. George
Markham felt compelled to put pen to paper on 27 February 1846 regarding
the number of fine salmon taken by anglers in the river Suir in Clonmel
in the first three weeks of February.
Mr. Markham was advocating that because these salmon had yet to
spawn the Commissioners of Fisheries should delay the opening of the
angling season until March and that it should close on the last day of
October. This action, he
reckoned, could have the desired effect of increasing the number of
salmon in the locality by many thousands each year.
The opening date of the season for trout angling was dealt with
in a notice in The Cork Examiner in January 1848.
It stated that ‘it would be lawful to angle for trout’ from 1
February, that year.
more dashing and adventurous water-based sport that was gaining in
popularity in the 1840s was yachting. The Royal Cork Yacht Club had been
founded as early 1720
and over a century later -
in 1846 - it was decided to
put the sport on a national level. Accordingly, The Royal Irish Yacht
Club was founded in Kingstown in that year.
The commodore was Herbert Dodgeon, and sloops, cutters, yawls and
ketches from 2 to 25 tons were listed as club yachts. 
the sports that stood out among the rest in 1840s Ireland, if one is to
judge by the number of meetings and reports, were horse racing and fox
hunting. Colonel Wyndham-Quin, writing in 1919, stated that the Ormond
and King’s County pack of fox hounds was supposed to be the oldest in
the country, and a Mr. Henry Wilson of Ballygiblin (east Cork) was
showing good sport with the Duhallows as far back as 1745. 
Referring to the death of a Mr. Fosberg in Dungarvan in July
1847, Col. Wyndham-Quin shows
some glimpses of hunting in ‘those days’.
The November and February meetings of the Kilkenny hunt were for two
weeks duration and the dinners held at night were famous for good wine
and good fellowship. ‘Sneyd’s claret largely fortified with
Hermitage and Old Port were the liquids…’
The Duhallows come in for further mention, this time from Muriel Bowen
when she refers to Mr. John Courtenay of Ballyedmond becoming the master
of that pack in 1849. It was
the same Mr. Courtenay, she states, who brought the Grand National to
Ireland in 1848.
of the names that was synonymous with racing and hunting in Ireland at
that period was that of Lord Waterford.
He ensured the quality of his hunting with an outlay of £4,000
per year. (This figure did
not include the money spent on horses.)
‘The most brilliant runs of their time’ is how his exploits
were remembered when recalling the four famous runs he had from the same
fox into woodstock in the 1848-49 season.
In March 1846 the ‘Tipperary Fox Hounds’ met at Thomastown,
at Knockelly Castle, and at Marlfield.
The Kilkenny Hunt met – during the same month – at Dunmore
Park; Clonmanto Mills; Farmley Gate and at Kilmaganny. 
years later in January 1848 meetings for hounds in Tipperary for the
second half of that month were advertised:
14th - Graystown
14th - Turtulla
17th - Killoran
17th - Glenconnor
20th - Kenilworth
21st - Inch Gate
24th - Race Course, Thurles. 
Castlemartyr Hounds in County Cork gave notice of meetings for February
1st, Newtown Gate
3rd, Watergrass Hill
10th Watergrass Hill
12th Castletown House.
December 1847, The Castle Frake Hounds caused excitement when they put
up 50 or 60 partridges which was considered to be an unusual sight at
that time of year as they are a migratory bird.
the racing front the Irish Turf Appointments for 1846 were 26 in number
and were scheduled from April to November.
Venues listed chronologically were:
Curragh; Tullow; Castletown Park; Curragh,
Lusk; Wicklow; Bellewstown; Carlow; Heath; Killarney; Down Royal;
Ennis; Phoenix Park; Cork; Kilcock; Navanstown; Curragh; Tuam;
Ballinrobe; Fermoy; Cashel; Curragh; Kilkenny; Maze; and finally,
course named New Melton was constructed near New Inn in Cahir in the
1830s. Following the Cashel
races on 12 September 1846, a meet was held at New Melton towards the
end of October.
Apparently a handsome course, it was all grass, three miles long,
and had thirty two fences.. 
Mr. Power’s ‘Saucepan’ beat Lord Waterford’s ‘Firefly’ into
second place in the first race. The
second race was won by Mr. Clutterbuck’s ‘Little Jem’ and the
third by Mr. Curran’s ‘Wonder’ The final race of the day was a
‘Farmers’ Race’, Mr. Dunn’s ‘Little Moll’ taking the money
from ‘Lady Agnes’, ‘Colleen Bawn’ and ‘Moonspike’.
Williams has written that
the fences at Liverpool, though different from Irish fences, did not
deter the Irish from ‘returning again and again’.
A point in favour of Liverpool was the easy access from Irish
ports. The 1847 Aintree
Grand National was won by an Irish horse, ‘Mathew’, ridden by Denny
to that victory, Col. S.J. Watson states, ‘his victory was celebrated
on both sides of the Irish Sea in a manner that may well have
disconcerted the worthy Apostle of Temperance in whose honour he had
It is impossible to assess the numbers who attended these race meetings in Ireland in 1847 from advertisements and race reports alone. One is fortunate then to get an insight into the popularity of the sport from an unlikely source. A report carried in the Tipperary Free Press on 12 May 1847 on the progress of the new Irish railways is revealing. It stated that the largest train ‘that had ever been started’ on the Great Southern and Western Railway since its inception had been to convey passengers to the Steeple Chase at Lucan in the previous week. On that occasion 23 carriages conveyed 1,500 racegoers to their destination. Travelling on that line a few months earlier – January 1847 – Alexander Somerville recorded that the Irish trains were so steady that passengers would think they were sitting in a parlour. Kevin O’Connor writes that the carriages were revolutionary in terms of comfort with upholstered seats and arm rests and ‘ a décor similar to a Victorian drawing room, the whole lit by suspended oil lamps.’ Foot warmers were available for hire in the colder months and picnic hampers in summer. As the Cork Dublin line wasn’t completed until October 1849 the above report from the GS&WR must have referred to a train from Carlow to Lucan. This line had opened during the summer of 1846.
mid to late 1840s were wonderfully innovative years in the field of
health and medicine in Ireland. On
New Year’s Day 1847, a mere eleven days after Europe’s first
painless amputation, John McDonnell performed Ireland’s first ever
amputation under anaesthetic.
The operation, which saw the removal of the arm of a young girl,
took place at the Richmond Hospital in Dublin.
McDonnell was so concerned for the safety of the young patient
that he used the ether on himself the previous day.
Afterwards he wrote, ‘I regard this operation as one of the
most important of this century. It
will rank with vaccination and other of the greatest benefits that
medical science has bestowed on man.’
A medical book which
became a classic of surgical literature, Treatise on Fractures in the
Vicinity of Joints by Robert Smith - complete with 200 illustrations
- was published in Dublin in 1847. Smith
was one of the first joint secretaries of the Pathological Society of
Dublin which brought together surgeons and physicians thus encouraging
‘mutual co-operation in the pursuit of knowledge.
Smith’s output was so prolific that this was only one of the books
which he published in that year.
Wilde, father of Oscar, made significant contributions to medicine,
literature and archaeology. Among
other titles his Treatise on Inflammation was noteworthy. 
Wilde was an ‘eye and ear specialist’ and for a while his Dublin
hospital was the only one in Britain and Ireland where aural surgery was
taught. Graduates came from
as far away as America. Pressed
for space as the hospital expanded he moved to a larger building in 1848
and then had room for twenty public patients and boasted three private
rooms, an operating theatre and outpatient department.
breakthrough in Ireland during those years was the first ever injection
of medication beneath the skin performed by the famous Dublin surgeon
Francis Rynd in 1849. He was
educated at the Meath Hospital in Dublin. He also published a book on
disease of the urinary tract.
acknowledging the importance and impact of these inventions, innovations
and publications, they were not the medical issues that grabbed the
minds of the readers of the Tipperary Free Press and the Cork
Examiner in 1846 and 1847. Illnesses
that were ‘closer to home’
had to be dealt with and the mind-boggling range of disabilities
and the medicines and cures being advertised to cater for such illnesses
in the provincial press is instructive.
In January 1846
(and again in November 1847
and at intervals) a publication entitled ‘The Silent Friend on Human
Frailty’ was being advertised in the Tipperary Free Press as:
MEDICAL WORK on the INFIRMITIES OF THE GENERATIVE SYSTEM, in both sexes,
being an Enquiry into concealed cause that destroys physical energy, and
the ability of manhood, ere vigour has stabilised her [e]mpire:- with
Observations on the baneful effects of SOLITARY INDULGENCE…
help was at hand for Irish readers. Perrys, the publishers of the book,
had a remedy - several remedies in fact - to counter the worst excesses
of human frailty. Their ‘Cordial Balm of Syriacum’ – like some
nineteenth century Viagra - was intended for those who suffered from
a multitude of afflictions including ‘weakness’, ‘total
impotence’ and ‘barrenness’. The balm was particularly recommended
for those about to enter matrimony ‘…lest in the event of
procreation occurring, the innocent offspring should bear enstamped upon
it the physical characters derivable from parental debility.’
By contrast, the claims in the advertisement for ‘Lord Eldon’s
Aperient Pills’ were much more modest but customers could be assured
of the efficacy of the pills in cases ‘arising from obstruction in the
liver, spleen and billary ducts, and from morbid or disordered
secretions of the Stomach and Bowels…’
was possibly not the primary pre-voyage concern or anxiety that occupied
the minds of those contemplating ocean travel in the nineteenth century;
only those who have suffered from that particular ailment will
appreciate just how it does occupy the mind when it strikes.
Happy then the voyagers who had the foresight to purchase a
supply of Thompson’s guaranteed Sea-Sickness Remedy which allowed them
indulge in their maritime
adventures in comparative comfort and freedom from illness. Thompson’s
Remedy, it was claimed, had, in extensive trials, cured or prevented
sea-sickness in 98 cases out of 100. 
on ‘terra firma’ those concerned about the improvement and
preservation of their eyesight most likely took advantage of the visit
of Mr. Cowan Solomon - Optician
to the Royal Family – to Clonmel in April 1846.
Mr. Solomon was concerned for his customers and announced through
the columns of the Tipperary Free Press that he had been induced
to prolong his stay in Clonmel by the increasing demand for his
services. If failing eyesight wasn’t a problem, perhaps deafness was,
and Mr. Solomon could also assist in such cases. For the benefit of his
customers, he had imported such things as magic lanterns and
spirit levels as well as his new improved hearing apparatus.
problem of toothache was also of concern to the newspaper-reading public
of 1846-47. Those suffering from toothache
could follow the example of ‘families of distinction’ and
acquire ‘Bullock’s Original Camphor Tooth Paste’ which preserved
the teeth, strengthened the gums and prevented tooth ache.
As a bonus it sweetened the breath.
Those who ignored the advice in that particular September 1846
advert could make amends in February 1847 when, not one, but two surgeon
dentists advertised their services in Clonmel.
Irish parents were, no doubt, gratified to find that both
gentlemen regulated and arranged children’s teeth while Mr. Jones also
announced that, due to improvements, ‘persons can now enjoy the
comforts of well adjusted Artificial Teeth’, and further, that the
‘Silician Teeth’ invented by
Messrs. Jones ‘are most effective in restoring articulation and
patent medicines were advertised in the pages perused for this work, and
the claims and testimonials made for and on behalf of the various
products is worthy of greater research than this dissertation allows.
However, the most dramatic claim from an April 1847 advertisement
and a testimonial supporting it, gleaned from the pages of the Cork
product in question was Holloway’s Ointment and the testimonial from
Charles Tully – the editor and proprietor of the Roscommon Herald
– stated that Mr. Ryan, the
well known proprietor of an hotel in Roscommon had two very bad legs,
one with eight ulcers on it, the other with three. They were in such a
fearful state that the ‘effluvis’ from them was very great.
Mr. Ryan was given professional opinion in Dublin that he had to
have both legs amputated or face certain death but on his way home from
Dublin someone offered him ‘Holloway’s Pills and Ointment’ and Mr.
Ryan was, thankfully, perfectly cured.
was everything in the sale of patent medicines.
The makers of ‘Paul’s Every Man’s Friend’ understood very
well the value of being able to claim the Royal Family among their
customers. The advertisers
were careful not to specify which royal family offered their patronage
but to the readers of the Irish press it certainly seemed that THE royal
family were using the ‘Corn Plasters’ which produced ‘an instant
and delightful relief from torture.’
Another tortuous complaint, the nature of which - according to
the manufacturer - made it impossible to invite testimonials, was
‘Abernethy’s Pile Ointment’. According to the advertisement the
‘Abernethian’ prescription had been the means of healing a vast
number of desperate cases.
frequency of insertion and prominence given to the 1846-47
advertisements regarding the above illnesses
and medicines would indicate that they were of concern to the readers of
the nationalist newspapers and profitable for the advertisers.
In an age before advertising standards had been established it
was possible to claim that ‘Parrs Life Pills’ would indeed
invigorate and restore the health and appetite of the entire family,
or that Dr. Locock’s Pulmonic Wafers would cure asthma and coughs and
give instant relief in all disorders of breath and lungs.
What is more, it was possible - without the benefit of the awareness and
education that is taken for granted in the 21st century - to
believe such claims and perhaps the combination of herbal preparations
and placebo-effect really did make them work.
the research for this dissertation was undertaken with a stated bias the
results of that research have been presented without any moral judgement
and in as value-free a style as possible.
It is expected that much of the irony of the material will be
obvious to the reader. For
instance, it wasn’t felt necessary to show the contrast between the
clothes advertised in McSwiney’s and McGrath’s of Clonmel and the
clothes of the peasants and labourers.
Neither was it felt appropriate to highlight the difference
between the ‘Fashions for January 1846’ and the workhouse uniform,
or the difference in the fare of the soup-kitchens and the banquets of
the gentry and middle classes. Freshly
imported Malaga and Palermo lemons, oranges and grapes being offered for
sale in Patrick Street in Cork in December 1847 while hundreds of
thousands were affected by scurvy caused by vitamin C deficiency tells
its own story.
It is impossible not to mention here the differing modes of
travel for rich and poor during the Great Famine and the intended
destinations. For some it
was the famine march to the workhouse or to the ports to take them away
from hunger and death, for
others it was the first class carriage on the Great Southern and Western
Railway with a day at the
races at the end of the journey. If
one was a customer and user of Abernethy’s Pile Ointment, the
upholstered seats in the carriages must have provided wonderful comfort.
It would be comforting to think that the 1,500 train passengers
were all gout-ridden landlords but that was hardly the case.
asserts that the railways, in part, were built through famine relief,
with night shifts working by the light of paraffin burning in tar
However, Woodham Smith
asserts that the Cork-Dublin line was the only line in a position to
offer, and avail of, famine
In the early 1840s investors in Ireland
realised that with cheaper land prices and cheaper labour than in
England there was potential for investment in an Irish rail system and
the years 1845 – 1850 saw the construction of most of
Ireland’s rail network. 1842
saw Ireland with 31 miles of rail track; this had grown to 700 miles by
The fact that the organisers of the ‘Grand Masonic Fancy Dress
Ball’ in Cork on 3 February 1848 felt it necessary to request that
‘no private assemblies or parties be organised on the same date’
would seem to indicate that they expected private assemblies and parties
to be held if they did not make such a request. Lord Bessborough
reported from Dublin, in 1847, to Lord John Russell, that it was the
‘balls and drawing rooms’ that ‘were knocking him up’.
thought-provoking to realise that in January 1847, around the same time
that the Cork Examiner carried an advertisement claiming
‘the greatest difficulty in Ireland is that of getting good
tea.’, it carried an article about a man and woman being arrested in
Youghal for attempting to sell the body of a seven year old boy so that
they could buy food. A jury
of twelve men, an apothecary, a doctor and
a sub-constable all sat and listened to the evidence.
It would appear that the institutions of state were functioning
adequately on that date.
That some profited from the Famine is not disputed.
Certainly some landlords lost their estates during those years
but many of this group would probably have lost their estates anyway.
Antiquarians collecting gold and silver were well served by the
Famine as families sold off the pieces that had become family heirlooms.
J.F. Maguire asserted ‘The
potato-rot stripped the side-board of its gorgeous ornaments’ and
‘…the late crowning disaster glutted the shops of Dublin, Cork,
Limerick, and other large towns, with the first sad offering to the evil
genius of the hour.’ 
Was it because of a fashion-conscious, race-going,
banquet-attending, rail-travelling, sherry-drinking section of Irish
society that England handed the problem of Irish poverty over to Irish
property in 1847? Was it because of this same section of society that
Punch so viciously caricatured the Irish hungry?
Was it callous indifference or congenital inability to be
concerned for the poorer classes that made the 400 diners at the
Limerick banquet in autumn 1846 shout down the warning voice of Captain
Kennedy? Was there, after
all, some truth in Mitchel’s claim that ‘they died in the midst of
Micháel Ó hAodha, Theatre in Ireland
(Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1974),
T.F.P., 14 January, 1846.
January 1846. (This regular column in the Tipperary Free Press
was taken from the
London and Paris Ladies’ Magazine.)
T.F.P., 3 January
1846. (Clonmel’s modern Regal Theatre stands at the site of the
theatre mentioned here.)
T.F.P. January 10, 1846.
E O’Riordan, Famine
in the Valley, (Clogheen,
Co. Tipperary, 1995), p.51.
T.F.P. January 17, 1846.
T.F.P. August 19, 1846.
O’Riordan, Famine in the Valley,
(1995) pp. 51-2.
Cork Examiner, 1 January, 1847.
Cork Examiner, 8 January, 1847.
T.F.P., 14 July
T.F.P., 17 July 1847.
T.F.P., 27 November 1847
Freeman’s Journal, 1 February
Cork Examiner, April
Cork Examiner, 10
Cork Examiner, 4 October
Cork Examiner, 4 October
Cork Examiner, 17 January
Cork Examiner, 6
Cork Examiner, 24
Cork Examiner, 24 September 1847.
Ibid., 22 November 1847.
Ibid., November 15 1847.
Ibid. 25 January 1848.
Cork Examiner, 23
Freeman’s Journal, 1February
Cork Examiner, 27 March 1848.
Cork Examiner, 8
Cork Examiner, 15 December
W. H. Gibson, Early
Irish Golf (Oakleaf
Publications, Kildare, 1988), pp.17 – 23.
W.P. Hone, Cricket in
Kerryman Ltd., Tralee, 1955) p.1.
Arthur Young, A Tour
in Ireland with General Observations on The Present State of that
T.F.P., 20 June 1846.
T.F.P., 28 February 1846.
Cork Examiner, 24 January 1848.
E. MacNally, Irish
Yachting, ( The
Parkside Press, Dublin, 1946), p.
Colonel Wyndham-Quin, , The Fox Hound in County Limerick,
and Company, Dublin, 1919), p.
Muriel Bowen, Irish Hunting,
(The Kerryman, Tralee, N.D.), p. 59.
T.F.P., 12 January
Cork Examiner, 1 February
Cork Examiner, 6
T.F.P., 28 February
T.F.P., 24 October 1846.
J. Williams, Irish
Horse Racing – An Illustrated History,
(Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1982), p.31.
Colonel S.J. Watson, A
History of Irish Steeplechasing, (Allen Figgis, Dublin, 1969),
T.F.P,. 12 May 1847.
K. O’Connor, Ironing the Land, (Gill
and Macmillan, Dublin, 1999), p.51.
D. Coakley, The Irish School of Medicine,
Outstanding Practitioners of the 19th Century.
House, Dublin, 1988), p.66
Tipperary Free Press, 3 November 1847.
Tipperary Free Press, 7
January 7 1846.
T.F.P. 28 February 1846.
T.F.P. 8 April 1846.
T.F.P. 19 September 1846.
T.F.P. 17 February 1847.
Cork Examiner, 14 April 1847.
T.F.P., 19 September 1846.
T.F.P., 3 July 1847.
Cork Examiner, 1
O’Connor, K., Ironing the Land. p.58.
Cecil Woodham Smith, The Great Hunger, (London, 1962),
S. J. Connolly, (ed) The Oxford Companion to Irish History.
University Press, Oxford, 1998)
Asa Briggs, ‘Poverty
and Plenty: The Victorian Contrast’ in J. Hill and C. Lennon
Austerity, (Dublin, 1997), p. 199.
Cork Examiner, 3 February 1847.
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