Tag Archives: famine

Important topics in Ireland 1845–1850

I thought it would be interesting to ask the British Newspaper Archive what people were reading about in newspapers published in Dublin between 1 January 1845 and 31 December 1850. The BNA has scans of two Dublin newspapers for that period, the Freeman’s Journal and the Dublin Evening Mail. I used the archive to search for four different words in those newspapers in that period; I then counted the numbers of results.

On the first round, I included ads and family notices.

Newspaper terms incl ads 1845–1850

Terms in Dublin newspapers (incl ads) 1845–1850

I guessed that the numbers for steam and railway might be exaggerated by their inclusion in ads so, on the second round, I excluded both ads and family notices. The result was as expected.

Newspaper terms excl ads 1845–1850

Terms in Dublin newspapers (excl ads) 1845–1850

I then asked Google’s Ngram machine to count the numbers of occurrences of four pairs of words between 1845 and 1850. I asked it to do a case-insentitive search, but it can’t do that for “compositions” (combinations of words), so it counted:

Ireland+potato
Ireland+steam
Ireland+famine
Ireland+railway.

Here is what it came up with, but whence I know not, other than that it searched the corpus English. The embedding process doesn’t seem to be working, so I’ve left the code here but also cut and pasted the output.

Google Ngram

Google Ngram

I suspect that, in recent times, the amount written about steam and railways of the period 1845–1850 in Ireland has been rather less than that about potatoes and the famine.

 

Money from the bog

To a small extent reclamation is now going on in Ireland; Mr M’Nab, of Castle Connell, county Limerick, has reclaimed 80 acres of the worst red bog, devoid of vegetation and 20 feet deep. It was drained, then coated with the subsoil, and the land which was not worth 2s 6d per acre is now worth 30s per acre.

Thus Robert Montgomery Martin in his Ireland before and after the Union with Great Britain third edition with additions; J D Nichols and Son, London; James McGlashen, Dublin 1848.

I have written here about Mr Macnab (that was how the spelling settled down) and his talent for extracting money from the bog at Portcrusha, which is between Castleconnell and Montpelier, Co Limerick. It seems that his achievements are still remembered — and emulated.

Incidentally, in the same work, published in 1848, Mr Martin refers to the

… large practical mind, great experience,  and Christian philosophy …

of Sir Charles Trevelyan.

Lough Derg Regatta 1849

The Dublin Evening Mail of 19 September 1849 has come to hand.

LOUGH DERG REGATTA

The Regatta on the above-named beautiful lake came off last week. Monday, the 10th of September commenced the annual aquatic sports: the day was tolerably fine, and at two o’clock, PM, the Commodore, the Right Hon Lord Viscount Avonmore, started four yachts for a 30 Guinea Challenge Cup, with £12 added. After a drifting match (for it fell flat calm shortly after three o’clock), they came in as under:—

Gem, 12 tons, James Spaight, Esq
Hero, 8 tons, Dash Gainor, Esq
Iris, 19 tons, Wills C Gason, Esq
Foam, 24 tons, Lord Avonmore.

This was a time race.

While the yachts were absent several cot races came off.

On Tuesday, the 11th, the yachts sailed down in fleet to Killaloe, but the following day it blew a whole gale of wind, and the match that was to have been sailed for on that day was put off till the next; however, in the evening there were some well contested cot races.

The course was as usual — start from the Jetty, over the diagonal wall (built by the Shannon Commissioners to keep the water to a proper level in summer), under the bridge, round Friar’s Island, and back: to a stranger, it is astonishing to see a boat go down an incline nearly four feet high, which they are obliged to do in the race, and what is more extraordinary, any cot that is not rowed at it pretty fast, is almost certain of being upset.

Thursday, the 12th, at the Commodore’s signal, all the yachts got under weigh, and came to anchor off Derry, and at two o’clock, PM, five yachts started for a Silver Cup, valued at £15, witn £5 added. This was a time race for yachts under twelve tons. The wind was WNW, and blew a fine gaff-topsail breeze; at half-past four o’clock the yachts came in as under:—

Hero, 8 tons, Dash Gainor, Esq
Gem, 12 tons, James Spaight, Esq
Willy Wa, 9 tons, Captain Hon F Yelverton
Vampire, 9 tons, Arthur Vincent, Esq
Midge, 7 tons, Bassett W Holmes, Esq.

This was a beautiful race, all the yachts coming in almost together: the Hero only winning by 27 seconds — indeed she may thank the Midge for winning the prize, as going free the first round she got the Gem under her lee, and kept her back some minutes. Shortly after the signal was given to weigh anchor, and start for Portumna, where the fleet arrived at a late hour. In passing Scilly Island the Foam carried away her rudder head, and was near going ashore.

Next day, Friday the 14th, the yachts assembled off Portumna Castle, and at three o’clock, PM, the Commodore started the following boats for a 40 Guinea Challenge Cup, with a purse of Sovereigns added, for all yachts. A handicap race.

Novice, 4 tons, Dash Ryan, Esq
Midge, 7 tons, Bassett W Holmes, Esq
Vampire, 9 tons, Arthur Vincent, Esq
Gem, 12 tons, James Spaight, Esq
Foam, 24 tons, Lord Avonmore
Iris, 18 tons, Wills C Gason, Esq.

This was a most exciting race, and during the first hour it was difficult to tell which would be the winner. Before rounding the second flag boat the Novice put about and gave up the race, and off Church Island, the Midge carried away the jaws of her gaff, and was obliged to give up the race, which she was almost sure of winning — having gained two minutes the first round. The course was a long one, and the race was not over till after eight o’clock, when the four boats came in as follows:—

Iris
Foam
Gem
Vampire.

During each day of the Regatta, the City of Dublin Steam Company placed one of their fine steamers at the disposal of the Sailing Committee, who took out all their friends, and accompanied the yachts each day during the race.

In the evening, after several cot races and other amusements too numerous to relate. The ladies and gentlemen present were entertained at Belle Isle, the beautiful seat and hospitable mansion of Lord Avonmore; and at a later hour assembled some 120 of the elite of Tipperary, Galway, and King’s County, at the Clanricarde Arms, Portumna, where dancing was kept up with spirit until morning.

The population of the Portumna DED declined by 30.46% between 1841 and 1851.

Mark Twain and the Cammoge drownings of 1849

Mark Twain wrote:

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

I have indulged in just such conjecture about the design of the ferry boat in use at Cammoge in 1849, crossing the outlet from Poulnasherry Bay, west of Kilrush on the Shannon estuary. The news reports of the time give very little information about the design of the boat, and the reliability of that information is questionable, which makes my speculation even more dangerous. Nonetheless, I thought it might be useful to set out some thoughts on the subject in the hope that other folk, who know more about the background, the location or naval architecture than I do, might be able to help to clarify the design.

Not at all boring

A Shannon Commissioners quay that is not at all boring. Shipbuilding,
barges, mud: what’s not to like?