Dublin, John Holohan, Robert French, Society members, Donnybrook, IWAI, Kurt Kullmann, Grand Canal Company, Colin Becker, Trinity College, Ballsbridge, William Lawrence, Lawrence Collection, canal, Ballsbridge College, Jim Sherlock, Church of Ireland, Grand Canal, Bob Montgomery, Ireland, Parsons, John A Costello, Mary King, Samuel Beckett, Inland Waterways News, Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, Taoiseach Anthony Jordan, Parsons Bookshop, Mount Street Bridge, College, David Neary David Neary, National Print Museum, Anglican Order of the Sisters of St Mary the Virgin, Donnybrook Graveyard, College of Surgeons, College Hall, St Andrew's College, The College, Jack B Yeats, Sarah Purser, John Killaly, Elizabeth Bowen, Royal College of Surgeons, Brendan Lynch, Percy French, Donnybrook & Sandymount Historical Society Annual Record, Sandymount, Irish Automobile Club, Dr John Colohan, National Library, Sir Sidney Herbert, Christian churches, Royal Irish Automobile Club Archive, Ireland Bob Montgomery, Roman Catholic Church, parish church, Catholic Church, Catholic parish church, the new parish church of St Mary's Donnybrook, John Fortune Lawrence, William French, Anthony Jordan, Angela O'Connell, Brian Siggins, Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan, James Joyce, The Hon Treasurer, Brian Siggins Parsons, William Mervyn Lawrence, Early Photographs of Dublin Brian Siggins, Colin Becker John, Sandymount Historical Society, Michael Pegum Brian Siggins, Baggot Street Bridge
Robert French and the Lawrence Collection Early Photographs of Dublin Brian Siggins
A History of Some Places of Worship in Dublin 4 Kurt Kullmann
Early Motoring in Ireland Bob Montgomery
Mills, Ancient and Modern Norman Campion
A Walking Tour of Ballsbridge John Holohan
A Visit to the Royal College of Surgeons Michael Pegum
An Update on Donnybrook Graveyard David Neary
A Visit to the National Print Museum Brian Siggins
Parsons Bookshop Brendan Lynch
The History of the Grand Canal Colin Becker
John A Costello Compromise Taoiseach Anthony Jordan
Editor: Photographs :
Gail Wolfe www.lawrencecollection.com www.gordonbennettroute.com www.nationalprintmuseum.ie www.brendanlynchbooks.com Kurt Kullmann, Bob Montgomery, Angela O'Connell, Michael Pegum, David Neary, Colin Becker, Anthony Jordan.
Ballsbridge, Donnybrook & Sandymount Historical Society Annual Record 2009
Hon Secretary's Report The Hon Secretary reported that the Society had 120 individual and 59 family members
hips for the year, giving a total of 178 members or a combined total of 236 members, if the family memberships are counted as a minimum of two people. It was decided by the Committee that membership subscription rates for 2010 would be kept at the same rates as the previous year. However, in order to try to reduce costs to the Society, particularly in the area of postage, members were being asked for the coming year to indicate if they wished to receive the spring and autumn circulars via email instead of via the postal service. The Annual Record will continue to be sent out by post. The Hon Secretary recorded many thanks to Gay O' Callaghan of Ballsbridge College who has kindly continued to maintain the Society's website. Hon Treasurer's Report The Hon Treasurer reported on the finances of the Society and handed around a copy of the accounts for all members who attended the AGM. Election of Officers and Members of the Committee The Officers of the Society, John Holohan, Chairman, Gail Wolfe, Hon Secretary and Kurt Kullmann, Hon Treasurer were re-elected for 2010. The remaining members of the committee were all also re-elected.
Following the AGM, a Members' Evening was held giving members the opportunity to give a short talk on an item of historical interest. Thank you to those below who presented papers on the following subjects:
"A 1916 Memoir"
Kurt Kullmann "Two Riddles"
Ursula O'Donovan "Koizumi Yakumo who?"
"1649 Document on Baggotrath Castle"
Victor Armstrong "St. Helen's the Radisson Hotel"
"Gill's Dublin Map, 1907 - its earlier beginnings?"
After the presentations, seasonal refreshments were served which helped to finish a very enjoyable and interesting evening. ---oo0oo--- BALLSBRIDGE, DONNYBROOK & SANDYMOUNT HISTORICAL SOCIETY Pembroke Library, Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 Website: www.bdshistory.org
To all our Members:
2009 proved to be yet another historically interesting year for the Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount Historical Society with several lectures and outings enjoyed by all who attended. The 2008 Annual Record doubled in size from the 2007 issue, which was the Society's first publication. The 2009 Record is bigger and even more detailed with summaries of the various talks, walks and tours held during the year.
At the Annual General Meeting in December, the Society's Officers and Committee were re-elected for the year 2010. The Committee, therefore, is as follows:
Chairman Honorary Secretary Honorary Treasurer Committee Members
John Holohan Gail Wolfe Kurt Kullmann Dan Bradley Angela O'Connell Michael Pegum Brian Siggins
As usual thanks are due to many for their valuable contribution to the Society. First of all, I would like to thank the above committee members for all their hard work during 2009 and our various lecturers and tour guides who delivered such interesting lectures and walks.
Grateful thanks are also due to Ballsbridge College of Further Education and Pembroke Library for their valuable support and assistance throughout the year and to St. Mary's National School
for the use of the school as a venue for our lectures. To you, our members thank you for your support, interest and enthusiasm, which have made the Society the success that it is.
John Holohan Chairman 2009 Lectures and Tours
Robert French and the Lawrence Collection Early Photographs of Dublin Brian Siggins
The new lecture season began in January with a very interesting talk by Brian Siggins on Robert French and the Lawrence Collection of photographs, currently held by the National Library of Ireland.
It was in 1839 with the invention by Louis Daguerre of a process which gave a permanent clear picture, that the art of photography could be said to have begun. The commercial possibilities were obvious of this new art form and many studios opened in Dublin, beginning with the first studio, which opened over the entrance to the Rotunda Assembly Rooms in 1841. By the 1880s there were 15 or 16 photographic establishments in what could be called the `photographic mile', which stretched, from the Rotunda to the top of Grafton Street.
One of those photographic galleries, as they came to be called, was that of William Mervyn Lawrence. Lawrence was born in the GPO on 5 July 1840 when photography was just one year old. His mother opened a shop in 18 Upper Sackville Street in 1844 a Chandlers. By 1850 the shop was at 7 Upper Sackville Street and would remain there, in one form or another, for a further 66 years. The shop prospered and developed into a toyshop, which became famous in Dublin. By 1857 the firm was `by appointment' to the Lord Lieutenant a useful cachet in such an important shopping street. William's brother, John Fortune Lawrence, opened a toy warehouse in Grafton Street and
William Mervyn Lawrence
this soon came to include a photographic gallery. The first entry of William Mervyn Lawrence into the photographic business at 7 Upper Sackville Street was in 1864. He was then 24 years old and he was making a very shrewd choice of business. It seems to have been well organised from the start perhaps based on the groundwork of his brother's firm in Grafton Street. The clients from the portrait studio on the premises were offered every comfort in the dressing rooms and studio en-suite on the first floor. There they would prepare to pose for those formal and stylised Victorian Portrait
s we all know. If they brought children to be photographed, as of course they did, the kids had to pass through the toyshop on the ground floor, which must seldom have failed to trap them into buying! The business was obviously very successful as it expanded into three shops 5, 6, and 7 Upper Sackville Street. New services were included out-of-door photography, residences, landscapes, military groups and regiments, wedding parties, horses, carriages and schools. By 1872, the year of the Dublin Exhibition, Lawrence's was so well established that the firm was appointed as the official photographer to the Exhibition, where they had a very large stand in a prominent position in the Exhibition Hall. Lawrence had grown up in the first exciting quarter of a century of photography's existence. It would be impossible not to be attracted and stimulated by the opportunities it offered. It was the age of the single-minded entrepreneur who, if he was clever enough and hard-working enough, could succeed in dominating an expanding market. Reputation was by name not brand name as it is nowadays but the name of the proprietor the name being the guarantee of quality. Lawrence was the type of businessman very much a product of his era and his business thrived. Such dominance of a single personality was bound to obscure everyone he employed the anonymity must have almost been a condition of employment in the Lawrence firm. The man who took all the photographs other than studio portraits for the firm of William Lawrence from the late 1870s to 1914 was Robert French. Born in Dublin in 1841, he was the son of William French, a court messenger. He married in 1863 and seems to have worked for Lawrence's all his life. I say "seems" because, as an employee there would be no particular importance attached to him as an individual and no way of ascribing work to him specifically.
French had 11 children and lived at 11 Ashfield Road, Ranelagh. His family has some charming domestic stories of him, which make him out to be goodhumoured, whimsical, patient, fond of children and a tiresome perfectionist when he came to take family snapshots. At the peak of his career he earned about Ј3 per week. He took at least 40,000 photographs over approximately 30 years. As Lawrence's employee, his job was to deliver a first class product to his boss, who with his business acumen
, would market it successfully under his own name and make a profit. This kept French's name off his photographs during his lifetime. The irony is that after his death and the eventful closure of the Lawrence firm, nobody knew who had taken the photographs and nobody even cared to ask. The invention of dry plate photography about 1878 was an opportunity to replace, with more topical pictures, the stock of stereoscopic views which was the basis of Lawrence's photographic sales and which was becoming dated. The country was developing with railways criss-crossing the land and the cities, in particular, were being transformed. Alongside these developments, political events were reaching a watershed as one century came to an end and another one began. It was a vivid and exciting time and as an adjunct to history the photographs taken by Robert French at that time are invaluable. Taking any aspect of them you can see what Ireland looked like in the Home Rule period of 1880-1914. This was what Lawrence commissioned French to do to photograph Ireland. To be the monopolist in one country, as William Lawrence was in Ireland, was to be assured of world market
s for the photographs in their many forms. There were photographic sets covering each city, county and beauty spot, portraits of priests, prelates and politicians, churches, jails and prisons, scenes of Irish life and character alongside comic sketches of Irish life and character. One cigarette firm had an agreement with Lawrence to issue some of the views as cigarette cards, selling views of Ireland to the world. As a result, Lawrence became one of the city's most prominent businessmen. For one man to be entrusted with providing the material on which the success of the Lawrence firm was based was a considerable responsibility. If there is some temptation to see William Lawrence as an exploiter of Robert French's talents, paying him very little but growing rich on the work he produced, it is worth remembering that French was given every freedom and facility in his work. French worked without supervision and the result is breathtaking.
Even if the quality were not so impressive, in quantity alone the collection would be formidable.
Dublin, French's native city, is the most photographed area doubtlessly because he lived there and because it was most subject to rapid change so the views had to retain their topicality. His aim seemed to have been to capture the urban personality of the city in an unprecedented way and in this he was completely successful.
French's method of work was
to set off with his camera and a
generous supply of glass plates
to whatever region he was
assigned to cover. He waited
until the light and weather
landscape, railways, shipping,
transport, people, public
buildings, statues all were
photographed, some perhaps
by special commission. The
sidecar in which he travelled is
often visible in the picture, as
also is his camera case. This
sidecar came to be recognised
as distinctive in a Lawrence
view. When he was satisfied
with the work, he turned to
Dublin to premises in Rathmines where the negatives were stored and the
pictures developed and printed. The staff there must have viewed him with
His work reached its peak about 1910 when he was aged about 70. After that the output declines. The only interruption to the routine of his work occurred each Christmas when he was forced, much against his wishes, to act as store detective in the Lawrence shops. With his long Father Christmas-like beard he can't have been very intimidating to would-be shoplifters!
French retired, aged 73, in 1914 and was presented with an elaborately framed reproduction of one of his own photographs. The Lawrence firm was beginning its rapid decline as business began to change. Lawrence himself was in his 70s and his wares at this stage were less popular. Photography was commonplace the Box Brownie was in everybody's hands. Motion
pictures in the cinema were the new medium of popular entertainment. With the outbreak of the First World War, Lawrence could no longer travel to the Continent to buy the toys for his shops. Lawrence still presided over the shop from a pulpit-like desk, an irascible old man, one-armed and domineering until April 1916 when he reluctantly retired and handed the failing business over to his youngest son. It was a poor inheritance. Within a couple of weeks the Rebellion had broken out and Sackville Street and the GPO were the first casualties. Amidst the shooting, the looters moved in. Lawrence's toyshop was ransacked and a subsequent fire burnt it to the ground. A large hobbyhorse from the shop was seen to delight slum kids for a few weeks afterwards! The shop was reopened elsewhere but the portrait studio and its negatives of two generations of Dubliners were destroyed in the 1916 fire. The other negatives, the views, were safe in Rathmines. Some attempts were made to keep the picture-postcard business up to date, but the replacement photographs were very poor. Lawrence continued to interfere unhelpfully in his son's business until 1932 when he died at the age of 92. He left nearly Ј10,000. The firm survived until 1943 when it was auctioned and the collection of 50,000 glass negatives was bought by the National Library for the bargain price of Ј300, about one penny apiece. They are now priceless. No one ever thought to ask who had taken the photographs that have now been laboriously catalogued by the National Library and transferred onto modern negative film. That they are the work of one man is obvious to any critical eye. That the man could not have been Lawrence is easily deduced. That the photographer deserves recognition is something that any other country would hasten to acknowledge. Robert French lived to see the destruction of Sackville Street, which he had so often photographed. He died in 1917 and left nothing. Bibliography French, Robert, The Light of Other Days - Irish Life at the turn of the Century in the photographs of Robert French, Hickey, Kieran (ed), (London, 1973). Hickey, Kieran, Faithful Departed :The Dublin of James Joyce
's Ulysses, (Dublin, 1982). Chandler, Edward, Photography in Dublin During the Victorian Era, (Dublin, 1982). MacDonald, Gus, Camera A Victorian Eyewitness, (London, 1979).
Kissane, Noel (ed), Ex Camera 1860-1960, Photographs from the Collections of the National Library, (Dublin, 1990). ---oo0oo--- A History of Some Places of Worship in Dublin 4 Kurt Kullmann
February's talk by Kurt Kullmann was illustrated with photographs of the places of worship in the area of the old Pembroke Township and, in most cases, their history was touched on.
St Broc's Well, Donnybrook
After mentioning St. Broc's Well as a possible pre-Christian place of worship, the main part of the talk was concerned with Christian church
es, starting with the oldest Christian settlement in this area, St. Nathi's, a 7th century monastic centre in what is now Dundrum. This first parish then was split when the population started growing. The AngloNorman invasion led to new arrangements and affiliations with Donnybrook parish, for instance, becoming part of the Corps of the Archdeacon of Dublin to which it belonged after the Reformation as well.
After the Reformation different Christian churches have to be mentioned: Church of Ireland, other Protestant Church
es and the Roman Catholic
Church. Even though the Church of Ireland was the established church and Catholics were officially subject to the Penal Laws, those laws did not really apply in our area as the landlords, the Viscounts Fitzwilliam were Catholics until 1710 and even after conforming they still lent towards Catholicism. Their heirs, the Earls of Pembroke, continued the tolerant practice of their forebears.
That meant, for example, that in Donnybrook the Church of Ireland Church and the Roman Catholic Church stood side by side in the old graveyard during the 18th century, both being dedicated to St. Mary. Attached to the Catholic parish church was the Fitzwilliam chapel, the burial ground of the
Fitzwilliams since around 1595. Not much remains of either church. The only remnant of the Protestant church is a piece of wall, while the Fitzwilliam chapel has disappeared completely. Various Church of Ireland churches were mentioned in the talk, such as, the new parish church of St Mary's Donnybrook which was erected in 1827 at the corner of Anglesea Road and Simmonscourt Road with a spire that was damaged by storm in 1839. This spire was later taken down and never re-erected. The church was enlarged by chancel and transept by 1859. The baptismal font was transferred from the old church and in 1865 William Butler Yeats was baptized in it.
Ringsend had quite a high percentage
of members of the established church
among its inhabitants who, due to
flooding of the Dodder, frequently
could not reach their parish church in
Donnybrook. For that reason the
St. Mary's, Donnybrook
Royal Chapel of St. Matthew was
erected in Irishtown in the beginning of the 18th century (the church 1704
1706, the tower 1713) as a chapel in Donnybrook parish for the parishioners
who otherwise would not have been able to attend divine services.
In Sandymount the Church of St. John the Evangelist was opened for divine service as a Trustee Church on Sunday, 24th March 1850. It was built by Sidney Herbert at the request of his wife as a replica of a 13th century church in Normandy, making it the only example of a Neo-Norman building in Dublin at a time when Neo-Gothic was the norm.
On 23rd Dec 1867 St. Bartholomew's in Clyde Road, Ballsbridge was consecrated as the parish church of a new parish the best part of which was cut out of Donnybrook parish in 1864. This church was commissioned by Sir Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron of Lea, the same man who had commissioned St. John the Evangelist in Sandymount.
The established church experienced, like the Catholic Church some time later, the splitting of the erstwhile only parish of Donnybrook into several parishes,
only to have to merge or at least "group" parishes again in the 20th century and even close churches.
Apart from the Church of Ireland and its parish churches, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches were mentioned as well as the Church of Christ, Scientists in Herbert Park and the Metropolitan Church in the building that earlier had housed the meeting place of the Christian Brethren (also known as Plymouth Brethren
The earliest Roman Catholic Churches in Donnybrook and Irishtown have not survived. There is just a rather vague memory of where they have been. After Catholic Emancipation, more and more churches were built in our area and the old parish of Donnybrook, which had grown to around 30,000 souls, was split in 1876 into three parishes.
St. Mary's, Haddington Road, after a lengthy period of negotiation and collecting subscriptions, was finally blessed and opened on 4th November 1839 as the new parish church of Donnybrook parish. The foundation stone of the church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Sandymount was laid on 7th May 1851. In Christmas week 1852 a terrific storm raged in and around Dublin when the front and rear gables of the new church ready to be roofed were blown down. It was finally dedicated on 15th August 1853.
On 12th June 1863 the foundation stone for the Church of the Sacred Heart
was laid in Donnybrook. The architects were Pugin (the younger) and Ashlin. It was dedicated on 26th August 1866 - the old Fair Day by Ireland's first Cardinal, the Most Reverend Dr. Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin.
St. Mary's Church, Haddington Road
By the second half of the 20th century there were five parishes as Clonskeagh, originally a part of Donnybrook parish, became a separate parish in 1964 and
earlier Our Lady Queen of Peace on Merrion Road was opened in 1955 as a parish church for a new parish constituted out of the parishes of Sandymount, Donnybrook and Booterstown. At the end of the talk, non-Christian places of worship at the edge of the area, but still within the borders of the old Pembroke Township were mentioned, such as the Sunna Mosque in Roebuck, on Burlington Road, Ballsbridge the National Centre of the Baha'i in Ireland and, finally, on Serpentine Avenue, Sandymount the only gurdwara in the Republic, which is a place of worship for the Sikhs and called the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar. Islamic Cultural Centre and Mosque, Clonskeagh ---oo0oo--- Early Motoring in Ireland Bob Montgomery During a visit to the RIAC in Dawson Street in March, Bob Montgomery, the curator of the Royal Irish Automobile Club Archive, revealed some of the wonderfully detailed history of early motoring in Ireland dispelling many of the myths, and in particular, just who were the first motorists on Irish roads. The history of early motoring in Ireland began in earnest in the spring of 1896 with the importation by John Brown from Dunmurray, near Belfast, of a Serpollett steam car into the country. Brown had seen the car in France and prevailed upon owner, Monsieur Dozan, to sell it to him. Predating the
arrival in Ireland of Dr John Colohan's 4 Ѕ hp Benz Comfortable by some seven months, the Serpollett was Ireland's first car. However, as things turned out, the car was something of a failure in Ireland, partly because of the great difference in the quality and condition of Irish roads compared to those in France and, in addition, the elaborate process of starting the Serpollett which took about an hour, and hence no doubt added to it's impracticality! Dr John Colohan has often been credited with the first car imported into Ireland. However, it is more correct to acknowledge that his was the first petrol-engined car to be brought into the country. With the arrival of the first cars in Ireland and unlike in Britain, a police force who were bemused rather than antagonistic towards this new form of transport more cars and drivers soon began to appear on Irish roads. The early motorists were an adventurous lot touring over roads that were unsuitable to such vehicles. Bob related the often humorous experiences of early motorists and the adventures they faced on a daily basis as they sought to pioneer motoring in Ireland. Irish motoring took a giant step forward on 25 January 1898 when an intrepid group of travellers set out from St. Stephen's Green on a journey that was to end the following day in Belfast, making this almost certainly the first longdistance journey undertaken by car in Ireland. Luckily, J C Percy, editor of the cycling magazine, The Irish Wheelman, wrote a first-hand account of the journey. The Great Horseless Carriage Company car, which became known as the `God-send', set out from Dublin travelling northwards via Santry, Swords, Balbriggan, Julianstown and Drogheda where the crew dined at The White Horse Hotel. However, when the journey was resumed, the engine failed within 100 yards! It was subsequently discovered that the yardman of The White Horse Hotel had thrown a few pails of water over the engine just to "wash it down" as was customary with horse-drawn vehicles! As a result the asbestos on the valves got wet and the engine lost compression. It took two hours before they were able to resume their journey! Having spent the night in Dundalk, the car reached Belfast at 4.00pm the following afternoon. On the day that Queen Victoria
died, 22 January 1901, several of the leading motorists in Ireland met in Dublin's Metropole Hotel to form the Irish Automobile Club (IAC) to further motoring in Ireland. The IAC was to have an enormous influence on the early development of Irish motoring and its benevolent influence is to be found today in its conduct of Irish Motor Sport affairs which, as Ireland's National Motor Club, it governs.
Three of the key founding members were Waterford business man, William G D Goff, who was elected as the IAC's first Chairman, Dr J F Colohan who was then a director of John Hutton & Sons and R J Mecredy, a well-known journalist who was elected it's first Honorary Secretary and who had founded The Irish Cyclist in 1886. R J, as Mecredy was known to one and all, had also founded the Motor News in 1900 to cater for the rapidly developing interest in the automobile and he is often referred to as the `Father of Irish Motoring'. Founding a motor journal was a brave step considering that there were probably no more than between 30 and 40 automobiles in Ireland at the time of the magazine's founding! The club soon began to make an impact and two notable events it was involved in during 1901 were the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Parade and the IAC Tour.
The RDS Parade occurred when the Society issued an invitation to all
motorists in Ireland to take part in a parade of automobiles to be held during
R J Mecredy
the annual cattle show at the RDS at Ballsbridge on 10th and 12th April 1901.
There was an excellent response and no less than 27 motorists responded the
first day, while on the second day 16 assembled. This parade was regarded as
highly successful and afforded Dublin citizens their first opportunity to see a
variety of automobiles as they paraded to the show and displayed in the RDS
The IAC Tour held in August 1901 provided a similar opportunity for many of the population in the south and west of the country. The Tour came about through the far-sightedness of Mecredy and Goff who perceived an opportunity for the IAC and Irish motoring following the public annoyance and opposition that the 1900 one thousand mile Tour throughout England had generated the previous year. Realising that the Tour could not be repeated in Britain because of this opposition, Mecredy and Goff succeeded in gaining the approval of the Automobile Club of GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND
(ACGB&I) later to become the Royal Automobile Club for a 1901 Tour organised by the IAC over a route in Ireland.
The Tour commenced on 8 August from the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin and 16 cars took part in the first stage to Waterford. Over the next two weeks, this hardy group of motorists travelled to some of the remoter regions of Cork, Kerry, Clare and Connemara before returning to Dublin. Only two cars, Mecredy's Daimler and the MMC of M H Buckea, completed the entire route. The IAC Tour of 1901 was a tremendous success and the daily progress of the cars was reported in all the newspapers in response to great public interest
. In 1902 Selwyn F Edge won the Gordon Bennett Race driving an English Napier and set in train a series of events that had a profound effect on the development of motoring in Ireland. The proprietor of the Paris-based New York Herald Tribune, James Gordon Bennett Jr., had presented a cup to the Automobile Club de France to be awarded to the winner of an annual race for teams of three cars with each team representing their country of origin and manufacture. This was the very start of international motor sport. The first two events in 1900 and 1901 were relative failures, being contested almost exclusively by a small number of French contestants. Edge's 1902 win was a huge shock to the prestige of the French motor industry. As a result of Edge's win, it fell to the ACGB&I to organize the 1903 event. Due to the open hostility that existed in Britain between motorists James Gordon Bennett Jr and Parliament, it was decided to hold the race in Ireland. A suitable figure-of-eight course based around Athy was found. The 1903 event attracted a truly representative field with teams participating from the national motor clubs of Britain, France, Germany and the USA. For the first time, it was agreed that each country's cars would be painted in a national colour. France wore blue, Germany white, the USA red. (After the Irish race the USA withdrew from international competition and red was reallocated to Italy). In honour of Ireland, where the race was to be run, Britain decided to choose emerald green as its national colour. Through time the colour of green was deepened to become the British racing green we know today! In Ireland interest in the race was immense and was supplemented by an extraordinary influx of motorists and their vehicles for the race and the other events of Irish Speed Fortnight. The winner of the race was Camille Jenatzy, a
Belgian, representing Germany and driving a Mercedes. Following the race, there was widespread and wholehearted praise for how the whole event had been organised and conducted in Ireland. Over the next several years, the Gordon Bennett Race went from strength to strength. Indeed, so much so, that in 1906 the French abandoned the race in favour of the Grand Prix. Thus, as a result of the Irish race, true international motor sport was born which, in turn, gave way in time to the modern Grand Prix series with which we are familiar today and ensuring the place of the Irish Gordon Bennett Race in the annals of motoring history. At the beginning of 1904 registration numbers and driving licences were introduced into Ireland and within a few more short years, the pioneering age of the motor car in Ireland was already giving way to an age of growth as the numbers of motorized vehicles of all kinds grew dramatically year by year. Following the lecture, Bob Montgomery showed the group the Guinness Seagrave Library and Archive of the Royal Irish Automobile Club. This important collection contains many rare volumes including `runs' of Mecredy's The Irish Cyclist and the Motor News. ---oo0oo--- Mills, Ancient and Modern Norman Campion The April lecture was given by Norman Campion on the milling industry in Ireland. Since man first gathered the seeds of certain grasses as a food source and, in particular, that of wheat, the role of milling was established. Initially, the technology was a simple crushing action between a round-sided stone, about the size of a man's fist, against a rocky surface. Our Bullian stones are a good example. The pounding action of subsequent pestles was succeeded later by the rubbing action of the saddle Stone. The quern was reputed to have been developed in Italy. By about 200 BC, Cato was talking of a quern driven by an ass, which brought the milling system to a state of mechanisation and, no doubt, established the role of the miller. The rotary action of the quern evolved into the millstone age and this was to develop and last for almost 4,000 years. The roller milling process slowly evolved in the 1800's and became a serious competitor for the millstone.
Hungary was the birthplace of the system that employed pairs of steel rolls (and for a while porcelain rolls). It was a more efficient system than millstones producing a greater percentage of flour from wheat and using less power. To sum up, the history of flour milling can be expressed in periods:
The hand stone or quern The slave and cattle driven millstone The Greek single water wheel The Roman geared water wheel with several stone Windmills Steam driven mills Roller mill system
4000 BC 2000 B 450 BC 350 BC 600 AD 1784 AD 1800 AD
As can be seen, the choice of power and the development of its technology had a major bearing on the milling system employed. For example, the introduction of steam power increased the capacity of mills but also influenced the location of mills which were no longer confined to rivers.
Corn Mill, Kells, Kilkenny (restored) driving two pairs of stones c. 1700-1800's.
The majority of Irish watermills were 4 to 6 storey buildings with 7ft pitched floors. The basement/ground floor accommodated the power transmission from usually the outside-located water wheel with its large gear wheels driving the millstones on the first floor. A power shaft extending to the top floor would drive a chain hoist to facilitate the raising of bags of grain from the ground floor either for storage in bags or loose on the floor.
Dry grain would be stored on the middle floors and fed up into a hopper bringing the grain into the millstones. The ground wheat, barley and sometimes oats would be packed on the ground floor.
The wet grain was spread into a flat head kiln housed in an adjacent building. The kiln consisted of a floor of perforated tiles, usually brick, though sometimes metal. Heat underneath was provided by an anthracite fire. The
grain was spread to an even 5 inch layer, heated to approximately 130°F and turned over by a hand shovel until its moisture was reduced to approximately 14% when it would be shovelled down to a lower floor of the mill to cool. Then it was ready to be stored. Grain has to be dry to be stored. The introduction of windmills in Ireland was mainly concentrated towards the east coast, one of the reasons being that the rivers are shorter than the west.
William Hogg's marathon exercise in looking at the Griffith valuation etc. gives a count of 3,693 mills (water driven) in Ireland during the period 1800 to 1860. 2,108 of these were corn and flourmills, the rest being breweries, textile mills and 33 spade mills. There are a few mills still producing stone ground wheat-meal for both the domestic and bakery market.
The feature of bread-making wheat is that the flour has a unique blend of proteins (10-12%) called gluten and this provides the elastic structure in the dough which can contain the rising agent (COІ) produced by either yeast or by rising agents bread soda/buttermilk or baking powder in the case of soda bread. Soda bread played a significant part in the Irish rural economy for many years and is well established in our folklore, often being called cake in some parts.
Wheat is a seed with a deep crease (heart shaped in cross section) and consists of the outer skin layers (bran) 13%, the inner endosperm (flour) 85% and the young plant (germ) 2%.
Bolands Mills, early 1900s. Steam driven. Originally had 56 pairs of mill stones. Converted to Roller Mills 1890s.
In commercial milling only approximately 72% of the endosperm (flour) is extracted and this is done by opening out the grain and gradually scraping the flour off the bran skins. To get more off would run the risk of discolouring the flour with bran particles. This is done by using steel rolls with grooves with one roll holding the wheat and the other scraping the flour off at a higher speed (2Ѕ times the speed of the slow roll).
The old mill stone method gave less flour because of its more severe action. This gradual reduction process could be up to 12 to 20 stages with numerous sieving and sifting operations. Before milling into flour, the wheat has to be thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt, dust - seeds and rubble - which might have been picked up during harvesting.
The development of motive power-water, steam, electricity etc. greatly provided the means to invent machines to carry out these tasks. The old principal of winnowing was replaced by passing the grain through a moving curtain of air, thus removing the chaff and lighter material (difference in specific gravity).
The different sized particles were sieved out on shaking perforated sieves and small seeds by a rotating drum, or discs with pockets on the surface. Washing in stream water was also done, when any stones the same size as a grain of wheat would sink to the bottom while the wheat floated on top.
The introduction of the roller milling process to Ireland gathered great momentum in the 1880's. Bolands Mills, Dublin led the way in 1880 replacing their 56 pairs of millstones, the motive power being steam. This was the inspiration at technical level by John Mooney, their Manager. He was later to be part of the Johnston Mooney & O'Brien trio. By the mid-1890's all the major milling companies had changed over.
The Dublin Port Milling Company built a new mill in 1924 (part of the Odlums Group). In the later 1920's, the availability of cheap imported flour from the UK and the US forced the closure of a number of mills.
The protection introduced under Sean Lemass's direction in 1932 facilitated the reopening of some of the closed mills, for example the Dock Milling Company in Barrow Street and the building of new mills in Waterford, Ballina and Milford, Co. Donegal and the replacement of two existing mills in Limerick with a new dockside mill.
Odlums 1920's flour bag
In 1945 there were 44 modern flourmills in production in Ireland (32 counties). In 2006, there were five. Flour consumption has dropped from over 300 lbs per head to 40% of that in the same period.
---oo0oo--- A Walking Tour of Ballsbridge John Holohan
In May, John Holohan, Chairman of the Society, conducted a very interesting walkabout of some of the roads of Ballsbridge incorporating a visit to the grounds of the American Embassy. It was the Pembroke Estate that had laid out the wide tree-lined roads from the 1840's onwards. Building plots were planned and let out on leases to developers, amongst who were Patrick Cranny and William Caldbeck, Architect.
The tour began at St. Bartholomew's Church on Clyde Road, which was designed by Thomas Wyatt, built from 1864 and consecrated in 1867.
In the piazza of the US Embassy at 42 Elgin Road, Sheila Paskman of the Embassy welcomed the group of Society members. The round three storey building, with influences from early Celtic forms of construction, was designed by the American architect, John MacL Johansen in 1962
Society Members at the American Embassy
and built, under the supervision of Michael Scott
by Ballsbridge contractors, G & T Crampton. There are five floors, three
above ground level and two below. Irish materials were used in its
construction whenever possible, for example the base of the building is of
Irish granite and the floors throughout are terrazzo of Connemara marble. It
was completed in 1964 and in 1969 won an An Taisce award for its sympathy
of scale with the existing environment and interest of character and for
integration with existing trees and street setting.
Along Elgin Road the group looked at the fine high Victorian architecture of the redbrick and granite-fronted houses with their generous front gardens bounded by iron cast railings on stone plinths. The terrace of three storeys
over basement houses was built by Patrick Cranny in the 1850s. Opposite, the three fine semi-detached two storeys over basement houses were designed by William Caldbeck. Elgin Road was named in 1863 after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and British Governor General
in India. The tour turned into Raglan Road, named in 1857 after another British colonist, Fitzroy Raglan, general in the Crimean War and aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington. Raglan was the man responsible for the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. Raglan Road also has high Victorian terraced semi-detached and detached villas where member, Connie Dowling, who lives in a house on the road, gave a lovely account of the history of her family home. Raglan Road has been immortalised in the poem put to song by Patrick Kavanagh, a one-time resident of the road and a plaque marks his house at No. 19. Inspired by the road, a group of members broke into Brian and David Siggins singing On Raglan Road a version of Kavanagh's `On Raglan Road'! Another late resident, Lelia Cremins, in the 1940s brought an action for breach of promise of marriage, the respondent being the Marquis de Malacrida. On Raglan Road On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue; I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way, And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day. On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge. The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay O I loved too much and by such, by such, is happiness thrown away. I gave her gifts of the mind, I gave her the secret sign that's known To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May. On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay When the angel woos the clay he'd lose his wings at the dawn of day. At the corner of the road with Clyde Road stands the spacious turreted building, now Raglan Court apartments, but formerly De Wyndesore, the long-time residence of Mrs Maria Georgina Eustace-Duckett, a reclusive lady who lived there with her cats and housemaids. On her death in 1937 she left an estate of Ј97,000 but bequeathed to her only daughter, Olive Thompson, the sum of one shilling in her will. This was contested over a week in the courts by Olive on the basis of unsound mind on the part of her mother when making her will. The courts allowed the claim and Olive was awarded an income of part of the estate for her life with capital sums eventually distributed amongst charities. Clyde Road is a majestic tree-lined avenue with again, fine large semidetached and detached high Victorian houses. St. John's House, now headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of Malta, was built as a vicarage for the adjoining church. Built from the 1850s the houses have, in many cases, been made over to institutional schools, embassies or apartment development. The Institute of Engineers No 19 Raglan Road where Patrick Kavanagh lived from occupies a house where an 1940 to 1943 underground lecture hall has been incorporated in the rear garden. The Rehab Institute occupies a house where extensions run back to Clyde Lane. Two houses have been demolished, Aberdeen House and Ashley House, to make way for apartment development. St. Conleth's College was open by Mr Sheppard in the week of the outbreak of the Second World War on 11 September 1939. It is still run by his descendants as a boys' Secondary School
with girls admitted in the two final years.
Running off Clyde Road is Pembroke Park, built from 1900 in the upcoming Edwardian style with redbrick fronted bay windowed houses. Many wellknown figures from the 20th century have lived on this road, including Bertie Smyllie, editor of The Irish Times in the war years. Residents also included Judge Gardiner Budd, Senator Michael Ryan, KC, the Brownes of Westport House and Mrs O'Cuiv, a daughter of Eamon de Valera who still lives there. St Mary's Home was built as a school and convent of St John the Evangelist by the Anglican Order of the Sisters of St Mary the Virgin. Building started in 1891 with two extensions since the original entrance was from Clyde Lane, where there is also a Chaplain's House. The gardens once extended over the land now occupied by the apartment block, Ardoyne House. A residential home for retired ladies is now run at St Mary's by a Board of Governors
, whilst a few sisters of the founding Order of St Mary the Virgin still live on in the home. Wellington Place, with its long three and two storey terraced frontage, was built in the Georgian style in the mid-19th century. A group of houses, now demolished but rebuilt as apartments, once formed St Andrew's College, which is now sited in Booterstown. At the junction with Morehampton Road stand the fine pillars and cast iron gates leading into The Grove Bird Sanctuary. Miss Kathleen Goodfellow lived in the Second House
on Morehampton Road in a group built by her family building firm about 1875. On her death in the 1970s she left The Grove to An Taisce to be kept as a sanctuary. It is maintained by a group of volunteers who ensure privacy for the bird life to flourish. John Holohan, Chairman with Society members on Clyde Road
---oo0oo--- A Visit to the Royal College of Surgeons Michael Pegum
Members of the Society visited the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, at St. Stephen's Green on 6 June, by kind permission of the President, Professor Frank Keane, and were shown around by Jim Sherlock, Head Porter.
The College was founded in 1784, and the original College building of 1810 was on the corner site, which it still occupies. It was extended in 1828, the original front door now being the second window from the left.
Mr. Sherlock began with a
poster showing that the original
rules of hurling had been
Front Facade of the Royal College of Surgeons on St. Stephen's Green
drawn up in a meeting in the College called by Dr. Hugh Auchinleck, a College lecturer
in January 1883, a year before the founding of the G.A.A. He then took us
through the rooms of the College, beginning with the Council Chamber
An interesting link with the past was seen in two poles with red and white spiral stripes - barber's poles. These date from the former association of surgeons in a guild with barbers, an association that was broken when the College was founded. On ceremonial occasions, these poles are carried by the two most junior members of the Council.
Mr. Sherlock told us that, in the near future, a new episode of historical importance would occur with the appointment of the first woman President of the College, Ms. Eilis McGovern.
The Board Room, which overlooks
St. Stephen's Green at first floor
level, is used for the conferring of
honorary Fellowships and social
The pattern of the
fine plasterwork on the ceiling is
mirrored in the Donegal carpet,
soon sadly, to be removed.
A deep indentation in a fingerplate on the door to the landing outside show
s where it was struck by a bullet, and is a reminder that the College was occupied by rebels under the command of Constance Markievicz during the Easter Rising of 1916.
Board Room Door with bullet imprint in the fingerplate during that week.
Bullet holes on the pillars at the front of the building show how heavily the college was attacked
The adjacent College Hall was used by the rebels for shelter during Easter Week, as it has no windows. It contains the oldest item of furniture in the College, a chair dating from the time of Henry VIII. Going down the magnificent staircase to the ground floor, we passed boards recording all the presidents of the College from its foundation, with names that are famous throughout the surgical world such as Colles and Millin, and then came to the Entrance Hall. To one side is the Smith Room, College Hall, with chair dating from the time of Henry VIII
the entrance hall of the original building, where there is a fine collection of silver and on the other side the Colles Room, now used by the President as an office.
From there we entered the Albert Theatre, where there is a startling modern stained glass window in memory of graduates of the College.
We were told that, as well as
being a College of Surgeons,
responsible for overseeing the
post-graduate training of
accreditation, the College also
runs an undergraduate
medical school in Dublin,
with clinical facilities in
Beaumont Hospital. In
addition, it administers
colleges in Dubai, Bahrain
Jim Sherlock in the Albert Theatre with Society members
From there we were taken into the lecture theatre of the Anatomy Department, and on into the Dissecting Room, where there were some cadavers, donated for medical science, under discreet plastic sheeting. Models and illustrations around the walls illustrated where the undergraduate medical students
begin their studies of the structure of the human body. Finally, we were entertained in the Atrium with very welcome tea and biscuits to end a most interesting visit.
---oo0oo--- An Update on Donnybrook Graveyard David Neary
David Neary very kindly conducted tours on behalf of the Society of Donnybrook Graveyard during the month of August. Below, he has penned an update of his experiences during the summer.
A cemetery is not a place where
you imagine that friendships can
be made and good-feeling
abound, but this is what I have
Graveyard, to give it the name
by which it is locally known.
There is a great curiosity about it
in the district. Many of those
who come for the tours say that
they have been passing it by
from childhood and always
wondered what it looked like
Each tour is for me a new experience. Usually I visit the cemetery on the previous day and plan the presentation. Shall I take the left hand path or go directly towards the grave of Dr Madden? If it is the left hand one then the first grave we reach is that of William Ashford (1746-1824), painter of landscapes whose View of Dublin from Chapelizod is clearly recognisable even today. Then we come to the Tobins' graves, grocers of Bishop St and Kevin St, father and son died in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The cemetery is not so much about death as life. The tour is A celebration
of all those busy and vibrant people who populated the city of Dublin two hundred years ago. In telling of their lives we give them life again.
The mothers, children, manservants, lawyers, doctors, fellows of Trinity College all had their lively moments in time and re-emerge when they are spoken about. "Speak my name and I live again" has its unexpected truth.
On the Saturdays I arrive well in advance and it's always a pleasure to see the visitors arrive. Some are on a return visit, having been on previous tours but
the majority are arriving for the first time. You know things are going well when the visitors begin to discuss the topics amongst themselves! I feel that a sense of community develops as we walk together. I remember one man from this summer, tattoos running up each arm who asked the most sensible questions as we walked along. Then there was the distinguished looking man who interjected "Ranke" as I got as far as the "Von" of Leopold Von Ranke's name. Von Ranke in the early 19th century founded the modern study of history and whose father-in-law, John Crosbie Graves, is buried at Donnybrook.
I am indebted to my visitors, some who have given me useful information and who always end my tours by giving me a strong sense of personal fulfilment. Who ever thought that a place of death could give one a renewed sense of life but that is what Donnybrook Cemetery does for me.
Of course for a tour to be interesting it has to stay of interest to the tour-giver. Donnybrook provides questions, which ensures that this is the case. In the grave where the last burial took place in 1936 rests the Rev Arthur Gore Ryder, Rector of St.Mary's who died in 1888. Amongst his publications was one entitled Theology and Evolution. I searched for it without success in several libraries, including Trinity College and the National Library. Last summer, not long before a tour, I tried Marsh's Library and found it. It could have been written today so precise and scientific is its expression. Set against the Dublin of the time with its political, religious and social divisions it surprises with its clarity concerning a topic which even today causes conflict.
This is the burial place of Jeremiah D'olier and his family. The street was named after him. He was one of the Wide Street Commissioners and died in 1817
My last tour of the
season was highly
enjoyable. A lovely
group of people,
between fifteen and
twenty strong, arrived
to visit the Cemetery,
together with the
much valued support
and contributions of
Chairman of the
Those bygone Dubliners refuse to be forgotten they will insist on being listened to and talked about still!
---oo0oo--- A Visit to the National Print Museum Brian Siggins
On Saturday morning, 12 September a small number of Society members visited the National Print Museum, which is located in the old Garrison Chapel of Beggars Bush Barracks on Haddington Road.
The National Print Museum collects, documents, preserves, exhibits, interprets and makes accessible the material evidence of printing craft and fosters associated skills of the craft in Ireland.
Opened in 1996, the National Print Museum is a place for printers, historians, students and the general public to see and hear how printing developed and brought information, in all its forms, to the world.
Few inventions have had as much of an effect on the world as the invention of the printing press. As the main vehicle of the conveyance of ideas of the last 500 years, the printing press has had an influence on every sphere of human activity, on politics and government, on literature and education, on business and economic affairs and on the development of sociey as a whole.
Before the advent of printing, the ability to read was a skill known only to the elite and highly trained scribes. Books were the first mass produced and mass consumed items. This 500 year old revolution continues today with the invention of computers and the Internet.
Along with the permanent
exhibition, the National Print
Museum exhibits a wide
exhibitions from all over the
world in many areas related
to the collections of the
Albion hand printing press
While visiting the temporary exhibition at the National Print Museum, the group saw how books were composed entirely by hand for centuries, how mechanical typesetting machines such as the Linotype and Intertype were operated in the newspaper industry and how historical hand presses such as the Columbian and the Albion made the wooden presses of Gutenberg's time redundant.
A recent addition to the Museum collection is a 1916 Proclamatin of the Irish Republic and the 1922 Oglaigh na hEireann Proclamation, both on loan from a private lender.
1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic
The 1916 Proclamation is regarded as Ireland's most famous piece of printed ephemera, having been printed secretly on a Columbian printing press in Liberty Hall, Dublin. A replica of the Columbian printing press is on display at the National Print Museum.
The one and a half hours that we spent at the National Print Museum was most enjoyable, mainly because our guide for the morning, Maeve Hynes, was so welcoming and gave us an expert description of the machinery on show.
Many of the exhibits were donated and can, in many cases, be operated. From time to time, retired printers come in to operate these machines. Workshops for children are also occasionally held at the Museum.
Parsons Bookshop Brendan Lynch
To start the autumn season of lectures, in September Brendan Lynch, author of Parsons Bookshop, At the Heart of Bohemian Dublin 1949-1989, gave a very interesting talk on this Baggot Street Bridge institution, which sadly is no more. Situated on the crest of Baggot Street's Grand Canal Bridge, Parsons Bookshop was a Dublin literary landmark and meeting place from 1949 to 1989.
Second home to Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan, it defined the Bohemian quarter of writers and artists known as `Baggotonia' and played a major role in Ireland's literary and cultural development
. Mary Lavin wrote; "In Parsons there are often more writers on the floor than on the walls."
Parsons Bookshop cover by Brendan Lynch
Its customers included Flann O'Brien, Liam O'Flaherty, Frank O'Connor, Mary Lavin, Maeve Binchy, Thomas Kinsella, John Broderick, David Krause, Mary Lavin, Hugh Leonard, James Liddy, Brendan Kennelly, Charles Lysaght, Adrian Kenny, Ben Kiely, Paul Durcan and Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney. Also prominent architects, clergymen; such political figures as Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald and Jack Lynch and artists from Bunch Moran and Noel Lewis to Brian Lalor and Michael Kane. Parsons was also a clearing house for local gossip, a place where lonely and genteel old ladies could sit and talk about times long gone.
"But it was all an accident!" Proprietor May O'Flaherty explained. "I was looking around for businesses for sale in 1947. As soon as I saw Parsons, sitting in that lovely corner, with a commanding view of Baggot Street and its broad window sloping up to the bridge, it was love at first sight. The red bricks also seemed so warm and homely, I felt that there was something special about the area of Baggot Street and the canal." Parsons was then a General Store
with a newspaper round. May O'Flaherty recalled; "A year later, more to clear the clutter of my flat, than anything else, I brought in a few volumes and put them on a table. When I came back from lunch, I couldn't see the books. That was the start of Parson's Bookshop!"
The adjacent canal's literary habituйs also mirrored the progress of modern Irish writing. By Mount Street Bridge, James Joyce explained his theories of Art to an uncomprehending Lynch. Elizabeth Bowen was born near Baggot Street Bridge, which George Moore
remembered in Salve; "Gill and I leaned over Baggot Street Bridge, watching the canal-boat rising up in the lock, the opening of the gates to allow the boat to go through, and the hitching on of the rope to the cross-bar."
Mary King who worked in Parsons from 1954 recalled; "Samuel Beckett
regularly walked here when going to visit Jack B Yeats. Percy French captured the canal's moonlit atmosphere in haunting watercolour. Micheal MacLiammoir declaimed as he walked from his home in Harcourt Terrace, where Sarah Purser had the studio in which she once painted Brendan Behan's mother, Kathleen. And where Alan and Caroline Simpson of the Pike Theatre lived during the eventful 1950s, when their production of `The Quare Fellow' catapulted the same Brendan to fame."
But it was with Patrick Kavanagh that both the canal and Parsons are most associated. The poet inscribed the shop's Guest Book; "A man has no right to talk of himself, only as a by-product of his work. It is a June day, 1959. Profundity keeps coming up. Patrick Kavanagh for Miss O'Flaherty of Parsons' bookshop."
Surveying the rush-hour traffic across the unpainted counter and creaking floorboards, May O'Flaherty observed on the day Parsons closed; "One could look out the window then and see the locals strolling past and the messenger boys stopping for a look over the bridge. And Patrick, striding up leisurely from Pembroke Road, his arms folded, his hat at its usual quizzical angle. With his one lung, he wouldn't have lasted long in this bedlam and we would never have had those lovely canal poems!
Author, Brendan Lynch and Artist, Owen Walsh with May O'Flaherty and the ladies from Parsons Bookshop just before it was vacated.
In Parsons, we never had a dull moment. Wasn't I lucky to have done something I enjoyed so much and to have met so many interesting and entertaining people?"
The History of the Grand Canal Colin Becker
In October, the Society was visited by Colin Becker, who gave a very interesting talk on the history of Grand Canal. Colin is a telecommunications engineer by training and has served in a variety of roles with the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) including as President from 1999 to 2002. He now acts as editor of IWAI's in house magazine Inland Waterways News. He is a member of the Inland Waterways committee of the Heritage Council Work on the Grand Canal began at Clondalkin in 1756 and the canal opened to traffic from Sallins into Dublin in 1779 at the original terminus in St James Street. By 1785 the canal was connected to the River Barrow at Monasterevin. Because of problems navigating the river, this connection was replaced in 1791 by a still water canal linking Monasterevin to Athy. The section westward to Tullamore caused considerable difficulties because of the need to traverse extensive sections of bog and even today that section is prone to problems. Tullamore was reached in 1798.
Lock House by Thomas Omer at "12th Lock"
At the Dublin end, the original intention was to connect the canal to the Liffey via a flight of locks from James Street but this scheme was replaced by a more ambitious one involving the four mile long Circular Line, terminating in the basin in Ringsend with its huge graving docks and three sealocks. This opened in 1796.
The line to Naas from just outside Sallins was built between 1786 and 1789, not by the Grand Canal Company (GCC) itself but by a consortium of local landowners. That company failed and the line was taken over by the GCC. The line fell derelict for a number of years but campaigns by IWAI resulted in it being re-opened in 1987.
The Branch Line to Edenderry was built from 1797 to 1802 financed by Lord Downshire and is still in use.
Beyond Tullamore, there was much debate about the best route through the bog sections. In the end, the engineer John Killaly, decided to follow the valley of the river Brosna in a still-water canal and the line arrived at Shannon Harbour in 1804, just over 200 years ago.
There had been talk, even before the main line reached the Shannon about an
extension to Ballinasloe and some surveys and exploratory works were
carried out. Consideration
was given to bringing the
traffic up the Shannon as
far as Shannonbridge and
then turning left up the
River Suck to Ballinasloe.
This was rejected because
of the cost of making
decent towing paths
along the riverbanks and
it was ultimately decided
to build a still-water canal
parallel to the river. That
was completed in 1828.
That line was closed in
1961 and most of it has
disappeared in Bord-NaMona bog workings.
Double Lock at Belmont
When the decision was made a few years ago to re-instate the navigation to Ballinasloe, it was actually done using the old route in the river.
The idea of a link from Monasterevin to Mountmellick via the town of Portarlington had been discussed over the years and a separate company formed to build it but THE PROJECT
had come to nothing. The line was finally built by the GCC between 1827 and 1831. That line was closed in the 1960s and partly filled in.
The last extension to be built to the Grand Canal was the Kilbeggan line completed in 1835. This line was never very successful and for much of its life, boats arriving at Ballycommon to go to Kilbeggan, had to stop and tranship some of their cargo into what was known as a lightening boat. This practice continued more or less up until the line was closed in 1961. There is a very active campaign in IWAI to re-open this line. The belief is that with modern materials and methods, the problem of leaks can be overcome. Most of the original features of the canal, locks, aqueducts, weirs, siphons, bridges and dry-docks remain intact and most of those are still in service. The canal is still supplied by the original supply at the summit level near Robertstown, though this is now augmented by pumping from the Liffey when required. Commercial traffic declined very sharply after the Second World War with competition from the roads and the Grand Canal Company was merged with Coras Iompair Eireann. The last of the bye-traders ceased operating in 1957 and the final boatload of Guinness left Dublin for Limerick in May of 1960. The canals were transferred to the Office of Public Works in 1986 and ten years later to the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. In 1999, Waterways Ireland was established as one of the implementation bodies under the Good Friday Agreement and their remit is to manage the waterways of the island, mainly for amenity and leisure purposes. ---oo0oo--- John A Costello, Compromise Taoiseach Anthony Jordan In November, author Anthony Jordan gave a lecture to Society members about several aspects of John A Costello's tenure as Taoiseach during his time in government in the late 1940s and 1950s paying particular attention to an incident concerning Church and State and a certain third level institution. John A Costello was Taoiseach of Inter-Party governments from 1948-1951 and 1954-1957. He was responsible for the Declaration of the Republic and the decision to remain outside NATO. While it is often argued that the `Mother and Child' controversy was an example of the State `capitulating' to the Church, little attention has been
given to occasions when the State, under John A Costello, confronted and rebuffed the Church.
One such example happened in the case of the establishment of the Agricultural Institute, to which the bishops objected vociferously, both privately and publicly. Bishops Browne and Lucey told Costello in 1955 that their National University
of Ireland (NUI) `must not be impaired and that Trinity College must not have a say in the teaching of agriculture in the new Institute'. Costello rejected their stance saying that the government "would not do anything, which would give material for unfriendly persons to make charges against us of intolerance or unfairness towards the Protestant minority".
In April 1955 Bishop Lucey
said; "The church was not just
Bookcover of Anthony Jordan's, John A Costello Compromise Taoiseach
one group among the many groups making up the State, they were the
final arbiters of right and wrong,
even in political matters". In September he said the plan was "socialism of a
gradual, hidden and underhand type". He described Trinity College as, "if not
wholly Protestant, is free thinking or indifferent as regards religion".
The Bishops formally wrote to the Taoiseach on 18 October 1955 from Maynooth, attacking the Institute as "another incursion of the State into the sphere of higher education... the Institute would transfer Catholic students to a purely secular institute...it was a serious setback to the historical efforts of the Catholic people to secure higher education".
Costello's reply on 4 November rejected the bishops' charges and inaccuracies, particularly their assertions that this was "another state incursion" and that Trinity College was "an injection of external and hostile elements". He added, "Broad conditions of the national interest
could not close their eyes to the
fact that Protestants amount to 24% of the population of Ireland as a whole, and that the ending of partition is a primary aim of national policy". In a reply dated 19 January 1956, Bishop Fergus wrote that the Hierarchy "expresses its deep regret at the tone and contents of the document which the Government thought well to address to it. The Standing Committee is satisfied that none of its main objections put forward by the Bishops have been answered". A note in the Taoiseach's file, dated 25 January 1956, records the cabinet's decision: "The view was taken that the letter does not call for any reply". ---oo0oo--- Other Activities Annual General Meeting The Society's third Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on 3 December at 8.00 p.m. in St. Mary's National School, Belmont Avenue. Chairman `s Report Chairman, John Holohan outlined the lectures and events held during the Society's successful third year in his report at the AGM. He thanked the Hon. Secretary and Hon. Treasurer and the other members of the Committee for their hard work during the year. Thanks were also recorded to Pembroke Library and the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Library for their kind and helpful assistance. Grateful thanks were also extended to Dan Bradley of Ballsbridge College of Further Education for the use of their Power Point Projector and to Rita Kinsella of St Mary's National School for the use of the school hall as the venue for our lectures. During the year, the Irish International exhibition
of 1907 continued to travel around the country with the latest venue being Rothe House in Kilkenny where Brian Siggins gave his noted talk on the subject and where the display remained over the summer. Our connection with the RDS enabled members to attend a number of lectures and exhibitions, which added to our scope of interest.
M Pegum, B Siggins