‘I Have Secured Your Name & Address Off An Egg’: A Midleton Woman’s Letter From An Aussie Wounded in Gallipoli

100 years ago the Gallipoli campaign was in full swing. Many Midleton men were there, and the local newspapers were keen to keep those on the home front informed. For example the Examiner reported details when Lieutenant T.D. Hallinan of Avoncore and Second Lieutenant Michael Moloney– the son of well-known Midleton lawyer John Moloney– were wounded. Not all of these men would come home. Private Patrick Egan from Park Street, a member of the 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers, was killed in Turkey on 14th August 1915. He has no known grave, and is today remembered on the Helles Memorial. But the men at the front proved not to be Midleton’s only link with the soldiers of Gallipoli. On Saturday, 11th September 1915, the Examiner carried an extraordinary story of how one ‘Australian bushman’, wounded at Gallipoli, came to write a letter to Mrs. Fitzgerald of Ballyannan, Midleton– a woman he had never met. The reason behind the correspondence all boiled down to one thing– an egg…

WW1 National Egg Collection (Library of Congress)

WW1 National Egg Collection (Library of Congress)


Midleton, Friday.

The following very interesting letter, written by Melrose Mailer, a Lancashire Fusilier, wounded in the Gallipoli, and now in Stepping Hill Military Hospital, Hazel Grove, near Stockport, Lancashire, has been received by Mrs. Fitzgerald, of Ballyanon, Midleton, wife of an agricultural labourer, in the employment of Mr. Michael Buckley, J.P. The letter has come to be written by the wounded soldier to Mrs. Fitzgerald under extraordinary circumstance, and the incident is one worthy of mention. For months past Mrs. Fitzgerald has been giving regularly every week a small contribution of eggs for wounded soldiers in hospitals to the Ladies Committee of Midleton in charge of the collection of such welcome gifts. In common with other donors of eggs Mrs. Fitzgerald’s name and address are usually written on the eggs so given by her, as her humble war contribution. In this peculiar way the wounded soldier in the Lancashire Hospital got the name and address of Mrs. Fitzgerald, which were written on the shell of an egg that happened to form an item in the rations served to him on a morning recently. The letter, which speaks for itself, is as follows:-

“Dear Mrs. Fitzgerald- These few lines to you are from an Australian Bushman, who has travelled 13,000 miles to do his duty to the mother country. After arriving here in February last, I enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers, and went to the Dardanelles, where we fought side by side with the famous Irish regiments, the Dublins and Munster Fusiliers. God bless them. I, as one soldier, will never forget the bravery displayed by these dear Irish boys. I have, indeed, something to long remember. I was myself wounded in a bayonet charge on the 4th June last, and that day I shall never forget. All the boys fighting for their lives, and we had a splendid gain on the day, killing many Turks. After two operations I have had two fingers and half the palm of my left hand removed. I was also hit in the breast, but luckily that was not serious. I have no regrets for my sacrifice– many are worse off. I am only glad to be on Australian, serving as I am in an English regiment. I have no friends here in this part of the world, but my people are always thinking of me, and that is some satisfaction. I have secured your name and address off an egg, so excuse me for writing you these few lines. I enjoyed eating that egg, and I thought it only right that you should know it. If you feel disposed to write back to me, I shall be only too pleased to receive a line from you. Believe me, yours faithfully,

Melrose Mailer.

WW1 Poster for the National Egg Collection (Copyright Imperial War Museum)

WW1 Poster for the National Egg Collection (Copyright Imperial War Museum)

Mrs. Fitzgerald had been giving her eggs as part of a campaign drive across the UK and Ireland– the National Egg Collection– which sought to provide eggs for the wounded. The grateful recipient of her charitable efforts, Private James Melrose Mailer, appears to have initially enlisted on 11th May 1904. He was discharged from the Lancashire Fusiliers due to his Gallipoli wounds on 20th April 1916. It is not clear if Mrs. Fitzgerald ever did decide to enter into correspondence with the wounded Aussie.

Medal Index Card James Melrose Mailer of the Lancashire Fusiliers (National Archives)

Medal Index Card James Melrose Mailer of the Lancashire Fusiliers (National Archives)


Examiner 11th September 1915

Imperial War Museum Image: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30089

Library of Congress

Categories: World War One | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Midleton Emigrants in 1940s America

After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941 the United States mobilised for war. In 1942 men had to register for the draft, including those who were deemed to old for active service. The ‘Old man’ draft was targeted at men aged between 45 and 64 who were capable of providing assistance to the war effort on the Home Front. Those registered were born on or after 28th April 1877 and on or before 16th February 1897. Their official registration day for the draft was 27th April 1942. A number of the men who presented to provide their details were from Midleton, so we took a look at ten of them. You can find out who they were, and what information was recorded for them, below. 

Vincent John Egan

Vincent lived at 5324 Greenway Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was recorded as 59 years old, having been born on 22nd July 1882. His telephone was PH12A and he listed Mrs. Margaret Egan, 5324 Greenway, Philadelphia as the person who would always know his address. He was employed at the Pennsylvania Railroad Park Shop in Philadelphia. His height was recorded as 5 feet 6 1/2 inches, with a weight of 145 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a ruddy complexion.

Christopher Francis Collins

Christopher lived at 30 Lancaster St., Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts. He was 61 years old and had been born on 28th May 1880. His telephone was 2252M, and the person who would always know his address was Mrs. Florence E. Collins of 30 Lancaster St., Leominster. He was employed by the Northern Chair Company, 221 Lancaster Street, Leominster, Massachusetts. Christopher was 5 feet 10 1/2 inches tall and weighted 145 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a sallow complexion.

William Casey

William lived in Lincoln, New Hampshire. He was 60 years old and had been born on 23rd December 1881. The person who would always know his address was given as Sherman Adams of Lincoln, New Hampshire. He was employed by the Parker Young Company of Lincoln. William was 6 feet tall and 195 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

James Patrick Moore

James lived at 20 Clantoy, Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts. He was 53 years old and had been born on 6th June 1888. His telephone was 3-0662.The person who would always know his address was Mrs. J. Moore. He was employed at Gilbert & Barker on Union Street in West Springfield. James was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown eyes, gray hair and a ruddy complexion.

Michael John Murphy

Michael lived at 20 Linwood Square, Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was 59 years old having been born on 29th September 1883. The person who would always know his address was Mrs. Katherine Murphy of the same address. Michael worked for himself at 1260 Columbus Avenue in Roxbury. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 140 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

No. 1 Wall Street in New York, where William Edward Charles Perrott from Midleton worked in 1942 (Gryffindor via Wikipedia)

No. 1 Wall Street in New York, where William Edward Charles Perrott from Midleton worked in 1942 (Gryffindor via Wikipedia)

William John Cotter

William lived at 20 Tower St., East Bolton in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was born on 14th November 1895 and was 46 years old. His telephone was East Bolton 1762W. The person who would always know his address was his wife Margaret Cotter. William worked for the First National Bank of Boston at 67 Milk Street in Boston. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 195 lbs. He had blue eyes, grayish hair and a light complexion.

Michael Moore

Michael lived at R.F.D.L. Keyport in Monmouth, New Jersey. He was born on 8th June 1882 and was 59 years old. The person who would always know his address was his sister Mrs. Annie Eustace. He was described as self-employed, working on farms in Middletown Township. He was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 148 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

William Mansfield

William lived at 444 East 145th Street in the Bronx, New York. He was 48 years old and had been born on 11th May 1893. The person who would always know his address was Mrs. Nora Blackburn of 426 East 26th Street in New York. He worked for Mr. Redner at the United Fruit Company at Pier 9 in New York. He was 5 feet 9 inches in height and weighed 140 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a sallow complexion.

William Edward Charles Perrott

William lived at 148-02 Sutter Avenue, South Ozone Park, New York. He was 53, having been born on 11th February 1889. The person who would always know his address was his aunt, Mrs. E.C. Babcock of 145 95th Street in Brooklyn. William worked for the Irving Trust Company, at the notable address of 1 Wall Street in New York. He was 5 feet 9 1/2 inches in height, and weighed 145 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

James J. O’Brien

James lived at 418 Fifth Street in Brooklyn. He was 55 years old having been born on 1st January 1886. The name of the person who would always know his address was Anna O’Brien who shared his address. James worked for United Parcel at 338 East 38th Street in New York. He was 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 165 lbs. He had gray eyes, black hair and a light complexion.

Categories: 20th Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hanoverian Riflemen & Black Brunswickers: Midleton Barracks During the Napoleonic Wars

As this year is the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, our previous post looked at some Midleton men who served during the Peninsular War and at Waterloo. One of the reasons that many locals enlisted was the fact that they had a military barracks on their doorstep. During the Napoleonic Wars Midleton was teeming with soldiers of different nationalities, many stopping off on their way to and from the Iberian Peninsula where they were taking on French forces. We are very fortunate that the building these men were housed in still survives today- and forms a key part of what is now the Jameson Distillery. We have spent some time looking into the history of this Barracks, and some of the very interesting units that spent time there. 

The Barracks in Midleton with later attached waterwheel http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/34083)

The Barracks in Midleton with later attached waterwheel http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/34083

The barrack building within the Midleton complex did not spend long in army use. In fact it had already become a distillery by 1825, when it was purchased by the Murphy Family. It still forms a major part of the Jameson Experience tour, where visitors can view the impressive cast-iron waterwheel that dates to 1852. Neither did this building start life as a purpose-built army structure. It was constructed in 1793 to serve as a woollen mill, run by the Lynch family. With the renewed outbreak of war with France in 1803, and the army’s need for more accommodation around Cork Harbour, the mill was sold to the military. So began its brief but fascinating life as a military barracks. Remarkably, during the course of research, we discovered the original advertisement for the sale of the equipment from the Mill building, which you can see below. (1)

The Advertisement in the Cork Mercantile Chronicle of September 21st 1803 Announcing the Sale of Lynch's Equipment

The Advertisement in the Cork Mercantile Chronicle of September 21st 1803, announcing the sale of Lynch’s Equipment

We were interested in exploring just who served in Midleton during the conflict. In order to ascertain this with some degree of surety it would become necessary to travel to archives in locations such as the Public Record Office in Kew, to extract details concerning the British garrison in Ireland. This is (unfortunately!) currently beyond the scope of the project, but as an alternative we took to contemporary newspapers and a number of online sources to see if we could discover references to the types of troops stationed in the town. Although newspaper accounts have to be treated with caution, they nonetheless do give us an insight into the important military hub that Midleton became during this period. Indeed the first references to troops we come across relate to increased militarisation as a result of the 1798 Rebellion. To give a flavour of this information, we have created a table which chronologically lists the references we have uncovered:

Unit Date Details
Carlow Militia 1798 Stationed in Midleton (2)
Caithness Highlanders 1798 Public Meeting, 12 March, to express thanks to Regt for 2 years quartered there (3)
Barrymore Legion 1803 Entertained at Midleton’s Globe Inn following manoeuvres in the Deerpark of Castlemartyr (4)
96th Regiment 1804 No details (5)
62nd Regiment 1805 The regiment, quartered in Midleton, was to embark for foreign service. Convoy of HMS Narcissus, Sloops of War Favourite and Argus (6)
8th Regiment 1805 Marched from Cobh to Midleton, and embarked on transports at East Ferry (7)
50th Regiment 1805 Understood to be marching to Midleton from Clonmel (8)
German Regiments 1806 15 transports arrived in Cobh to take some of the German Regts, 2 battalions understood to be in Midleton, for embarkation to Gibraltar (9)
Hanoverian Rifle Corps 1806 The 2 battalions of Hanoverian Rifle Corps who had been at Tullamore are marching for Midleton where they will be quartered until transports arrive to take them with the 59th and 82nd Regiments, presently in Cork, for foreign service (10)
Donegal Regiment 1807 The remainder of the Donegal Regiment marched into Cork from Midleton (11)
26th Regiment, 3rd Battalion 1808 The 3rd Battalion of the 27th Regiment arrived at Midleton (12)
71st Regiment 1808 Quartered in Midleton (13)
27th Regiment 1808 3rd Battalion of 27th Regiment embarked at East Ferry from Midleton (14)
German Corps, Duke of Brunswick Oels 1810 Arrived from Jersey and Guernsey, light troops landed at Cobh and proceeded to Midleton (15)
Kerry Militia 1811 Earmarked to replace Longford Militia at Midleton (16)
Longford Militia 1811 To be replaced by Kerry Militia at Midleton (17)
Roscommon Militia 1813 Arrived in Cobh in ten transports from Plymouth, disembarked and marched to Midleton (18)
Londonderry Militia 1813 Marched into Cobh from Midleton to head for Ramsgate (19)
28th Regiment 1814 Reports 28th are ordered from Birr to Midleton preparatory to sailing for service in America (20)
34th Regiment, 2nd Battalion 1814 No details (21)
3rd West York Militia 1814 Marched into Cobh from Midleton to go to England (22)
26th Foot 1822 Stationed in Midleton (23)
Members of the King's German Legion, who were in Midleton in 1806, by Charles Hamilton Smith

Members of the King’s German Legion, who were in Midleton in 1806, by Charles Hamilton Smith

Some of the men station in Midleton even left an account of their views on the barracks and the town. Lieutenant Francis Simcoe of the 27th Regiment recorded in 1808 that ‘Middleton Barracks are much larger & handsomer than Enniskillen, the town very small & neat about 7 m. from Kilworth.’ (24)

The Totenkopf badge of the Brunswickers (Wikipedia)

The Totenkopf badge of the Brunswickers (Wikipedia)

Two of the units that stand out among those we know to have been quartered in Midleton are the Hanoverian Rifle Corps in 1806 and the Brunswick Corps of the Duke of Brunswick Oels in 1810. The Hanoverian Rifle Corps (who are the same unit as the ‘German units’ in the previous table entry) were better known as the King’s German Legion, an expatriate force of Germans who fought throughout the Napoleonic Wars and at Waterloo. The Brunswick men had fought in Germany from where they had fled in 1809, and were known as the ‘Black Brunswickers‘. They were passing through on their way to service in the Peninsula and ultimately Waterloo. Many of the other regiments of foot would later develop names that are familiar to us today- the 71st Foot were known as the Highland Regiment, while the 50th Regiment of Foot would become known as the ‘Queen’s Own’ later in the 19th century.

Brunswick Infantry in Action at Quatre Bras, 1815 by Richard Knötel

Brunswick Infantry in Action at Quatre Bras, 1815 by Richard Knötel

It is interesting to note that troops used Midleton as a staging area while heading to or returning from theatres such as the Peninsula. Also of note is that a number embarked from East Ferry; one can imagine the bustling route from Midleton to the Ferry, via the busy port at Ballinacurra- surely quite a sight during the Napoleonic Wars. This quick newspaper review offers us just a glimpse of the hidden history of the brief period when Midleton served as an important military base. There is little doubt that many other units were stationed here during this period, and that much historical detail remains to be uncovered. We hope to carry out more much more work on this in the future, and in the meantime would like to hear from any readers who can add to the story of Midleton’s Napoleonic Barracks. Although, as the table shows, military units would continue to use Midleton both before and after the Napoleonic Wars, the town would never again see the cosmopolitan military traffic that it grew accustomed to during the wars with France. Shortly after Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo, the British Army sought to reduce the number of barracks it held around the country. Although there is some evidence to suggest they may have initially considered keeping Midleton, ultimately it appears they decided to offload it, as the advertisement below suggests. By the 1820s it would become part of a new story, one that it still shares with locals and tourists alike today, as part of what would ultimately become one of the world’s major whiskey distilleries.

The Freemans Journal of 24th December 1816 which lists the intended sale of Midleton Barracks

The Freemans Journal ad of 24th December 1816, which lists the intended sale of Midleton Barracks


(1) National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Record; (2) Online History of Carlow Militia; (3) Aberdeen Journal 24th March 1800; (4) Cork Mercantile Chronicle 17th October 1803; (5) 96th Regiment of Foot, Wikipedia, drawing on National Archives records; (6) Belfast Newsletter 25th April 1805; (7) Finns Leinster Journal 11th May 1805; (8) Hibernian Journal 24th December 1805; (9) Belfast Newsletter 15th May 1806; (10) Caledonian Mercury 13th October 1806; (11) Hibernian Journal 8th July 1807; (12) Finns Leinster Journal 16th August 1808; (13) Online Record of Service of 71st Foot; (14) Mary Beacock Fryer 1996 “Our Young Soldier”: Lieutenant Francis Simcoe, 6 June 1791- 6 April 1812, pp. 95-6; (15) Freemans Journal 5th June 1810; (16) Freemans Journal 20th November 1811; (17) Ibid.; (18) Freemans Journal 30th April 1813; (19) Freemans Journal 3rd November 1813; (20) Centinel of Freedom 11th October 1814; (21) Online Record of Service of 34th Foot; (22) Freemans Journal 12th May 1814; (23) The Naval and Military Magazine, Volume 4, 1828, p. 56; (24) Fryer, op. cit.;

Categories: Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stories of Midleton Veterans of the Peninsular Campaign & Waterloo

We are currently in the midst of the 100th anniversary of World War One, but recent years have also marked the 200th anniversary of the Napoleonic Wars, a conflict in which tens of thousands of Irishmen fought. As anyone who has been on the tour of Midleton Distillery will be aware, part of that site was in use as a military barracks around this time. Unsurprisingly many men from Midleton and the surrounding parish ended up in the army- it is likely that recruiting parties were a regular sight around the town during the wars with France. Those that joined up embarked on lives that took them from East Cork to far flung locations, like the West and East Indies, to battles in Portugal and Spain, and even to Waterloo. After their service some went through soldier’s homes, such as the (still famous) Royal Hospital in Chelsea or the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham. The records of these institutions allow us to have a look at the service of some of these local men, many of whom were born well over 200 years ago. Here are the stories of 21 of them; some enlisted as young as 13; some were wounded multiple times, often in one of the great battles of the 19th century; some served in famous regiments, like the 95th Rifles (made even more famous by the fictional character Richard Sharpe); some stood in square while being charged by French cavalry at Waterloo. All had extremely hard lives. You can find out more about them below.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea (Wikipedia)

The Royal Hospital Chelsea (Wikipedia)

Private John Condon, Kilmainham Pensioner

John was born in the parish of Midleton around the year 1790. On the 9th February 1806, at the age of 15, the shoemaker enlisted in the 50th (West Kent) Regiment of Foot in Midleton, for unlimited service. He remained in the regiment for the next 12 years. In 1808 the regiment went to Portugal with Arthur Wellesley and fought the Battle of Vimeiro on 21st August that year, where the 50th participated in a number of bayonet charges which helped to win the engagement. During the fighting John was shot in the right leg. He recovered but suffered another gunshot wound in the Pyrennes on 25th July 1813. He was discharged in 1818 at the age of 27, when he was described as 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall, with dark brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.

Private David Glissane, Kilmainham Pensioner

David was born in the parish of Midleton around the year 1790. The butcher enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the 1st Royal Scots Regiment in Killarney, Co. Kerry on 11th September 1810, for life. He served for a total of 8 years and 55 days. At the Battle of Vitoria, Spain on 21st June 1813 he was hit in the right leg by a musket ball, and he was again shot at the Battle of the Nive, France on 10th December 1813. During Napoleon’s Hundred Days he fought at Quatre Bras, and at Waterloo stood in square formation with his regiment as they repulsed French cavalry attacks. He was discharged on 4th November 1818 and travelled to Kilmainham with his wife and child. He was then 28 years old, 5 feet 9 inches in height, with fair hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.

Private Pat Leonard, Kilmainham Pensioner

Pat was born around 1795 in Midleton parish. On 14th July 1808, the 13-year-old laborer enlisted in the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) at Maldon, Sussex. He signed on for life and would ultimately serve for more than 14 years. During the Peninsular War in Portugal and Spain he was a drummer/trumpeter, and was a private for the last two years of his service. He also served in Canada, and participated in the march to Paris with the army of occupation, where the regiment served until 1817. He spent 12 years as a drummer/trumpeter and two years as a private. He was 27 years of age when he was discharged, having suffered an injury to his elbow. He was described as 5 feet 6 1/4 inches tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.

Private John Mullany, Kilmainham Pensioner

John was born in Midleton parish around 1791. Like John Condon he enlisted in the 50th (West Kent) Regiment of Foot in Midleton. The 15-year-old carpenter signed on for unlimited service on 12th February 1806. He would spend the next 12 years in the army. Like John he was wounded at the Battle of Vimeiro on 21st August 1808, when he was shot in the left leg. He was again shot, this time in the right leg, during the Battle of Corunna on 16th January 1809. He received a third wound at the Battle of Vitoria on 21st June 1813 when he was hit in the cheek. Along the way he found time to get married, and when he was eventually discharged he was 27-years-old. He was described as 5 feet 2 inches in height, with sandy hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.

Sergeant John Ring, Kilmainham Pensioner

John was born in Midleton parish in 1781. On 7th January 1800 the laborer enlisted in the 68th Foot, better known as the Durham Light Infantry. He served with them in the West Indies between 1801 and 1806, and was present when it was converted to a Light Infantry unit in 1808. He participated in the 1809 Walcheren Expedition in the Netherlands and then served through the Peninsular War, a campaign in which they lost 364 men dead. John spent 7 years as a Sergeant in the 68th, and was wounded at the Siege of San Sebastián in Spain on 31st August 1813, when a musket ball entered his right cheek, before exiting his head behind the right ear. John recovered, and stayed with the regiment until 24th January 1820, when he was discharged due to disbandment. He joined the 3rd Regiment of Royal veterans on the 25th January 1820, staying with them until the 1st June 1821. John had spent 7 years as a Sergeant in the 68th Foot and was discharged due to disbandment. When he was discharged he was 40-years-old and was descried as 5 feet 7 inches in height, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He had been released as he had suffered a paralytic stroke, as a result of which he was described as being in a ‘state of insanity’. His submission went on to state that ‘his truly deplorable situation (which is easier felt than described)’ would lead to him being admitted into a ‘public asylum for lunatics’ as he was unable to care for himself.

A British square defends against French cavalry at Waterloo (Wikipedia)

A British square defends against French cavalry at Waterloo (Wikipedia)

Private Michael Walsh, Kilmainham Pensioner

Michael was born in the parish of Midleton around 1781. The weaver enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd (The Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot in the mid 1790s. After 10 years service he was discharged on 9th May 1806 as a result of bad sight and general bad health. He was given a bounty of 19 shillings and ten pence so he could get home from England.

Private John Crottie, Chelsea Pensioner

John was born in Midleton around 1791. The laborer enlisted in the 71st (Glasgow Highland Light Infantry) Regiment when they were stationed at Midleton on 11th May 1812. He was then 21, and signed on for unlimited service. The 71st left Ireland for the Peninsula in 1808 and served throughout that conflict. They were also present at the Battle of Waterloo, where they lost 16 officers and 198 men killed and wounded. They remained in France until 1818. John served the regiment for 17 years and 294 days until his discharge on 7th August 1829 at the age of 39. He had contracted pulmonary disease two years previously and it had now become too severe for him to continue in service. He was described as 5 feet 11 1/2 inches tall, with brown hair, brown eyes and a brown complexion. He had pulmonary disease of two years standing by the 7th August 1829.

Private Dennis Donovan, Chelsea Pensioner

Dennis was born in Midleton around 1772. He enlisted for unlimited service in the 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot in Midleton on 14th August 1803. He was then a 31-year-old laborer. They sailed for Portugal in July 1808 and later participated in the Netherlands expedition in 1809 before returning to the Peninsula where they fought in various battles and sieges until their return to Ireland in 1814. During their campaigns in Spain Dennis contract rheumatism, which was the cause of his ultimate discharge. In 1815 he transferred to the 3rd Garrison Battalion where he remained for 1 year and 119 days before his final release on 20th September 1816, at the age of 44. He was 5 feet 5 inches in height, with brown hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion

Private Frans Edborough, Chelsea Pensioner

Born in Midleton around 1791. The laborer enlisted in the 85th (Bucks Volunteers) Light Infantry Regiment in Ennis, Co. Clare at the age of 19 on 2nd May 1809, for unlimited service. He may have participated in the 1809 Walcheren Campaign in the  Netherlands but would certainly have gone with the regiment to the Peninsula in 1811, where they first saw action at Fuentes de Oñoro. They suffered severe casualties in the assault on Fort San Christobal and were sent home to recruit, returning to the Peninsula in 1813. They headed for North America in 1814. Edborough was transferred to the 3rd Garrison Company in 1815, until he was discharged on 24th August 1816 suffering from chronic asthma. He was then 25 years of age, and was described as 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall, with light hair, grey eyes and a pale complexion.

Walcheren, Netherlands (Wikipedia)

Walcheren, Netherlands (Wikipedia)

Private David Farrell, Chelsea Pensioner

David was born in Midleton around 1791. He also enlisted in the 85th (Bucks Volunteers) Light Infantry in Ennis, Co. Clare on 2nd May 1809- the same day as Frans Edborough. David spent a total of 18 years in the service, leaving the regiment on 31st July 1831.

Private Owen Farrell, Chelsea Pensioner

Born in Midleton around 1788. The 18-year-old laborer enlisted in the 16th Regiment of Lancers at Castlmartyr on 10th May 1806, for unlimited service.He served throughout the Peninsula Campaign and was also present when the regiment charged at the Battle of Waterloo to cover the withdrawal of the Heavy Brigade. He spent 16 years and 138 days in the army, eventually being discharged due to pulmonic disease on 10th April 1822 at the age of 34. He was described as 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall, with sandy hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.

Private John Foley, Chelsea Pensioner

Born in Midleton around 1781. The laborer enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the 88th Foot (Connaught Rangers) at the age of 27 on 28th September 1808. He served for 2 years 255 days, and would have at the Battle of Busaco where the 88th charged the French with bayonets. His spine became diseased as a result of an accident while on duty in Portugal, forcing his discharge from the army on 6th June 1811. He was then 30 years old and was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall, with sandy hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.

Private Edward Gallaghue, Chelsea Pensioner

Born in Midleton around 1797. He enlisted in the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot in Midleton in on 15th December 1815. He was then an 18-year-old laborer. The regiment arrived in the Peninsula in 1810 and he may have served at Waterloo. He eventually went with the regiment to the East Indies. He was discharged on 26th February at the age of 29 after 10 years and 94 days service. The reason given was amputation of his left forearm which resulted from a gunshot wound in action. This may have occurred during the First Anglo-Burmese War. He was 5 feet 6 inches tall, with brown hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion.

The Battle of Vimeiro (Wikipedia)

The Battle of Vimeiro (Wikipedia)

Private John Hennessy, Chelsea Pensioner

John was born in Midleton around 1795. He enlisted in the 88th Foot (Connaught Rangers) at Fermoy on 12th January 1814, when he was 19 years old. He served for 12 years and 335 days but was described as an ‘indifferent’ soldier. He was discharged due to pulmonary problems and a liver complaint on 20th July 1826. He was then 32, was 5 feet 7 1/4 inches in height, with brown hair, hazel eyes and fresh complexion.

Private Richard Long, Chelsea Pensioner

Richard was born in Midleton around 1790. The tailor enlisted in the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot at Portsmouth on 7th September 1811 at the age of 21. Shortly after his arrival in Portugal in 1812 he had an attack of rheumatism while at Abrantes. This would eventually result in his discharge years later, on 8th November 1818, after he had spent 7 years and 120 days in the army. He was then 28, 5 feet 4 inches tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion, by occupation a tailor.

Private Michael Nash, Chelsea Pensioner

Michael was born in Midleton in 1775. The 25-year-old laborer enlisted in Captain Darling’s company of the 68th Regiment of Foot (later the Durham Light Infantry) around 1800. He served 5 years and 5 months with the regiment and had previously served 4 years and 7 months in the Meath Militia. He was discharged on 31st May 1805, as he was incapable of further service due to lameness in the left foot.

Corporal William O’Brian, Chelsea Pensioner

Born in Imokilly, Midleton around 1776. He was a 24-year-old laborer when he enlisted as a private in the 95th Rifles, the green-jacketed regiment that would become famous (and in which the fictional character Richard Sharpe served). He was a member of the regiment from the 25th December 1802 until the 27th July 1813, serving throughout the Peninsula Campaign. While back home as part of a recruiting party he deserted on 14th June 1810, but surrendered himself on 4th May 1811 and returned to service in the unit. While on campaign in Spain in 1808 he contracted a disease of the heart which was what ultimately led to his discharge.He ended his service with 294 days a Corporal in the 2nd Royal Veteran Battalion before leaving the military on 14th May 1816.

Reenactors of the 95th Rifles from the Napoleonic Era (Wikipedia)

Reenactors of the 95th Rifles from the Napoleonic Era (Wikipedia)

Private Richard Quinlan, Chelsea Pensioner

Richard was born in Midleton around 1782.He enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the 43rd (Monmouthshire Light Infantry) Regiment on 7th May 1804. They went to the Peninsula in 1808 and took part in the retreat to Corunna, and then the Walcheren Campaign in the Netherlands before returning to the Peninsula. Richard left the regiment on 21st July 1810, joining the 4th Garrison Battalion on 22nd July 1810. When he was discharged on 12th December 1810 he was nearly blind. Now 38 years old, he was 5 feet 3 inches tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a pale complexion.

Private Thomas Sage, Chelsea Pensioner

Thomas was born in Midleton around 1766. The 28-year-old served in 1st Battalion of the 82nd (The Prince of Wale’s Volunteers) Foot for only 9 months. Aged 28. He caught cold while on the march to Shrewsbury, which brought on consumption and made him unfit to earn a livelihood. He was discharged on 15th September 1794.

Private Jacob Towell, Chelsea Pensioner

Jacob was born in Midleton around 1764.He served in the 85th (Buck Volunteers) Foot from January 1792 to December 1794, before joining the 60th (Royal American) Foot in December 1794 and staying with them through to June 1804. Jacob joined the 4th Royal Veteran Regiment in August 1807, staying with them until August 1810, before serving in the 12th Royal Veteran Regiment until June 1814.

Private Thomas Vanston, Chelsea Pensioner

Thomas was described as being born in Glouthaune near Midleton around 1787. The weaver enlisted for life in the 37th (North Hampshire) Foot at Boyle, Roscommon on 5th May 1812, at the age of 25. He served in the regiment for 10 years and 227 days, before his discharge on 24th October 1822 as the result of a fractured arm.

The Storming of San Sebastian on the Peninsula (Wikipedia)

The Storming of San Sebastian on the Peninsula (Wikipedia)


Royal Hospital Kilmainham and Royal Hospital Chelsea records (original document scans viewed on FindMyPast)

Fletcher, Ian 2005. Wellington’s Regiments: The Men and their Battles 1808-1815

Categories: Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Midleton’s Most Famous Forgotten Son? General John Joseph Coppinger

Many of Midleton’s men and women have emigrated down through the years, settling all over the globe and becoming part of the Irish diaspora. Some went on to become relatively famous abroad- for example Nellie Cashman– a woman who will be the topic a future post. However one man, although his family name remains closely associated with Midleton, is not well-known in the town of his birth. This is despite the fact that he is undoubtedly one of the town’s most successful and colourful emigrants. His name was John Joseph Coppinger.

Coppinger was born in Midleton on 11th October 1834, into the powerful Catholic landowning family. He was one of six children of William Joseph Coppinger and Margaret O’Brien. We don’t know much about John’s early life, until he begins his first associations with the military- associations that would continue across more than half a century. He first tested out the military in the 1st Regiment of the Warwickshire Militia- The London Gazette of 12th October 1855 recorded that ‘John Joseph Coppinger Gent.’ was to be an Ensign from the 29th September. However, his life of adventure really started in 1860 when he became a Captain in the Papal Battalion, a group of Irishmen which travelled to Italy to defend the Papal States from the ongoing efforts to reunify Italy. During the fighting there the young Midleton man performed well- his defence of the La Rocca gateway that September earned him the position of Chevalier and two Papal decorations. (1)

Medaglia di Pro Petri Sede (For the Chair of Peter) awarded to members of the Papal Battalion, including John Joseph Coppinger (Robert Doyle)

Medaglia di Pro Petri Sede (For the Chair of Peter) awarded to members of the Papal Battalion, including John Joseph Coppinger (Robert Doyle)

When the Papal War was lost, John Joseph Coppinger was one of a number of men in the Battalion who elected not to return home permanently. Instead he travelled to the United States. According to one account, upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, Archbishop Hughes of New York sought advice from clergy in Ireland as to young Irishmen of influence who might come to America to become officers: …’Bishop Keane, the patriotic prelate of Cloyne, who had been parish priest of Midleton, recommended [Coppinger]…and he was one of six young Irishmen who came to the United States as commissioned officers.‘ (2)

So began John Joseph Coppinger’s long an extremely successful career in the United States military. In September 1861 he was appointed to the rank of Captain in the 14th United States Infantry. Joining the Union Army of the Potomac in July of 1862, he was severely wounded when he was shot through the neck at the Second Battle of Bull Run on 30th August. Lucky to survive, it took him six months to recuperate. John returned to active duty and in 1863 participated in the Battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. (3)

General Torbert and his staff during the American Civil War. John Joseph Coppinger is seated at the front left (Library of Congress)

General Torbert and his staff during the American Civil War. John Joseph Coppinger is seated at the front left (Library of Congress)

During the Civil War Coppinger was brevetted a Major for gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Trevilian Station on 12th June 1864, and brevetted Lieutenant-Colonel for the same reason after the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19th October that year. At the time he had been serving on the staff of Cavalry General Alfred Torbert. Recommended for promotion by men such as George Armstrong Custer and Phil Sheridan, Coppinger was appointed Colonel of the 15th New York Cavalry on 19th January 1865, a position he held until the close of the war. (4)

Detail of the Civil War photograph showing Midleton's John Joseph Coppinger (Library of Congress)

Detail of the Civil War photograph showing Midleton’s John Joseph Coppinger (Library of Congress)

After the war Coppinger returned to the rank of Captain in the regular army and was transferred to the 23rd United States Infantry, with whom he served on the Western Plains. He earned another brevet, this time to Colonel in 1868, for ‘energy and zeal while in command of troops operating against hostile Indians in 1866, 1867 and 1868.’  In 1871 he returned to Cork to attend to family business resulting from a bereavement, and took the opportunity to visit Egypt. However, it was always his intention to return to the United States, and he was soon back in the American West. The Midleton man had a reputation as a dashing officer, and after his return to America he landed in hot water, when he was accused of seducing another man’s wife in California. Described by his accuser as ‘a gay Lothario in epaulettes…a…bold, unprincipled adventurer …a serpent’, Coppinger was outraged by what he described as ‘infamous falsehoods’, but whoever was in the right, the incident eventually died down. It did not hurt his military career, as John was promoted to Major in 10th United States Infantry in 1879 and Lieutenant-Colonel in the 18th United States Infantry in 1883. 1883 was also the year he finally married, tying the knot with Alice Stanwood Blaine (25 years his junior) in Washington D.C. on 6th February. The wedding was attended by President Arthur and his cabinet, a mark of how high Coppinger had risen. The couple would go on to have two sons, Blaine and Conor, but Alice would die tragically young just seven years later, during an influenza epidemic. (5)

John’s march through the ranks of the army continued. He was promoted to  Colonel as a result of service rendered against hostile Native Americans between 1886-1888, and took command of the 23rd United States Infantry in 1891. He finally became a Brigadier-General on 25th April 1895. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, the Cork native took charge of the 1st Independent Division in Mobile, Alabama. He later served as Major-General of Volunteers commanding the IV Corps. John Joseph Coppinger retired from his 36 year career in the U.S. military on 11th October 1898. The Midleton man died in Washington D.C. on 4th November 1909, where he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (6)

General Coppinger during the Spanish-American War, 1898 (National Archives)

General Coppinger during the Spanish-American War, 1898 (National Archives)

Today John Joseph Coppinger is all but forgotten in his home town. Indeed he is one of the many hundreds if not thousands of men from around Midleton and East Cork who fought in the American Civil War and who are no longer remembered at home. Surely one of Midleton’s most successful and noteworthy emigrants, remembering John Joseph Coppinger’s life is hopefully something that will improve in the future.

The grave of General John Joseph Coppinger in Arlington National Cemetery (Brian C. Pohanka via Find A Grave)

The grave of General John Joseph Coppinger in Arlington National Cemetery (Brian C. Pohanka via Find A Grave)

*The most comprehensive research on John Joseph Coppinger to date has been carried out by the late Brian C. Pohanka, who’s work is referenced in this article and should be rightfully acknowledged.

(1) Pohanka 2013, London Gazette 1855, Tucker 2009: 135, Irish Nation 1883; (2) Irish Nation 1883; (3) Foreman 1943: 125, Tucker 2009: 135; (4) Foreman 1943: 125, Hunt 2003: 84; (5) Foreman 1943: 125, Pohanka 2013, Irish Nation 1883; (6) Foreman 1943: 125, Tucker 2009: 135;


The Irish Nation 17th February 1883. Colonel Coppinger.

The London Gazette 12th October 1855. Commissions signed by the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Warwick.

Foreman, Carolyn Thomas 1943. ‘General John Joseph Coppinger Commandant Fort Gibson’ in Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 21, No. 2.

Hunt, Roger D. 2003. Colonels in Blue: Union Army Colonels of the Civil War: New York.

Pohanka, Brian 2013. Defender of the Faith and the Union Cork Born John Joseph Coppinger 

Tucker, Spencer 2005 (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars

John Joseph Coppinger Find A Grave Memorial

Categories: Famous Links, Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Midleton Women in Cumann na mBan: A Complete List

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of Cumann na mBan, a women’s nationalist organization founded  to ‘advance the cause of Irish liberty.’ We here at Rubicon Heritage thought it would be a good time to share a table we have been working on that lists the Midleton members of the organisation in 1921 and 1922. We have had Sorcha Corcoran diligently making her way through the Cumann na mBan nominal rolls for the area, transcribing the names of all those who were remembered as being in the organisation. This includes those from places such as Aghada, Carrigtwohill, Churchtown and Cobh, which we will share on the site in the near future. These rolls are part of the treasure trove of primary material to be found on the Military Archives website. The rolls are handwritten documents that chart the membership in different areas on the 11th July 1921 (pre-Truce service) and on 1st July 1922 (post-Truce service). They are based on the recollection of a number of local Cumann na mBan officers, so the amount of details provided on individuals can differ depending on memory. Cumann na mBan members became eligible for pensions from 1934 and it was for this reason that these lists were drawn up- the majority were compiled in 1935.

The Midleton Branch of Cumann na mBan came under the jurisdiction of the Midleton District Council, 4th battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade Area. Aside from Midleton there were also branches in Cobh, Carrigtwohill, Aghada, Churchtown and Cloyne who came under this umbrella. The President of Midleton Distict Council in both 1921 and 1922 was Anna O’Keeffe of Ardraha, who had passed away by the time of the pensions in the 1930. The Adjutant/Secretary of the District Council (again in both 1921 and 1922) was Peg Harty of Churchtown, who subsequently emigrated to America. No Treasurer was recorded for the district, as it was said they had ‘no money.’

Below are the two lists for the Midleton Branch for 11th July 1921 and 1st July 1922. Columns have been created to record name, maiden name, role, where they lived (if recorded) and any notes (e.g. death, emigration). If you would like to see the original handwritten lists, you can do so here. Do you have any ancestors who are among the women listed?

Members of Cumann na mBan protest outside Mountjoy Prison, July 1921 (Image via Wikipedia)

Members of Cumann na mBan protest outside Mountjoy Prison, July 1921 (Image via Wikipedia)


Name Maiden Name Role Lived Notes
Murphy, May Murnane, May Captain
Kelleher, Nelly Hickey, Nelly Adjt./Sec. Went to USA
Collins, Mrs. Dennis, — Treasurer
Murphy, May Murnane, May Captain
Kelleher, Nell Hickey, Nell Secretary
Collins, Nan Dennis, Nan Treasurer
O’Brien, May Deasy, May Committee
O’Shea, Kathleen Committee RIP
Brady, Mrs. J. Committee
Ahern, Mrs. Ciss Committee
Carroll, Agnes Committee
Lawton, Josie Committee USA
Ring, Maggie
Ring, Nellie
Ramsel?, Lizzie
Donogan, Mary
Glavin, Lillie
Buckley, Bridget Murnane, Bridget
Murnane, Nan RIP
Greene, Georgina RIP
Ahern, Bridie Charles Street
Desmond, Mary E.
McCarthy, Rose
McArdle, Mrs.
Rice, Patty
O’Neil, Margaret
O’Neil, Bridie
Joyce, Ciss
Murphy, Belinda
Ahern, Mary K.
McCarthy, K.
Hennessey, Mollie
Mulcahy, Nellie
Cremins, M.
Barry, Mary
Ahern, Joan
Ahern, Bridie St. Mary’s Road
Brennan, Maureen Burke, Maureen
Burke, Eileen?
McCarthy, Rose
McCarthy, Vera
Ahern, Kate
Ahern, Agnes



Name Maiden Name Role Lived Notes
Murphy, May Murnane, May Captain
Kelleher, Nelly Hickey, Nelly Adjt./Sec. Went to USA
Murphy, Mrs. M.
Kelleher, Mrs. N.
Collins, Mrs. Nan
O’Brien, Mrs. May
Ahern, Mrs. Ciss
Lawton, Josie
Ring, Maggie
Ramsel?, Lizzie
Donovan, Mary
Desmond, Mary E.
Buckley, Mrs. Bridget
Murnane, Nan RIP
Greene, Georginia RIP
Ahern, Bridie
Joyce, Ciss
Hennessey, Mollie
Mulcahy, Nellie
Ahern, Joan
Ahern, Jean
Ahern, Kate
Ahern, May K.
Ahern, Agnes
O’Neil, Bridie
Ring, Maggie
Ring, Nellie
Glavin, Nellie
Carroll, Agnes

*Special thanks are due to Sorcha Corcoran, who compiled this data from the original lists.


Irish Military Archives. Guide to the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection.

Irish Military Archives. CMB/12 Midleton District Council Cumann na mBan Nominal Rolls.

Membership rolls for Cumann na mBan contain the ranks of officers, the names, postal addresses and maiden names where applicable of the membership at District, Branch and Squad level with the strengths on 11 July 1921 and 1 July 1922. Rolls are signed and dated by the Officers concerned. Deceased members are named and location of surviving members, if abroad, given. – See more at: http://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection/search-the-collection/organisation-and-membership/cumann-na-mban-series#sthash.QTeNcor6.dpuf
Categories: War of Independence | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Who Lived on Midleton’s Main Street in 1901?

We decided to have a look at the 1901 Census to see who was living along Midleton’s Main Street in 1901. Our Transition Year student Rob Mitchell took up the challenge, and picked out some of the well known businesses on the street today to see what was going there over 100 years ago. The results are fascinating- read on to find out about the Australian, Tasmanian and Americans living on Main Street, as well as the ‘Fowl Fanciers’ and ‘Fancy Tobacconists’ who worked there. From new born baby’s to immigrant German jewellers, there was a lot happening on the Main Street in 1901. Rob takes up the story:

I have researched the buildings and inhabitants of the Main Street of Midleton from this era and compared this to the present day. Many of the buildings remain largely intact and unchanged. Some questions addressed are;

Who lived in the buildings of the Main Street?

What was the function of the building?

Is there any connection to today’s tenants?

I have selected some of the findings and detailed them below.

Main Street, Midleton, Co. Cork

Main Street, Midleton, Co. Cork

McDaid’s, 55 Main Street, Midleton

This is presently one of the most popular pubs in Midleton. 112 years ago an old shop keeper named Mary Ann Blansfield (80) who sold provisions, along with her daughter Mary Margaret Blansfield (44). The same architect who designed the Palace of Westminster, A.W. Pugin also designed McDaid’s in 1852 at the request from Lord Midleton. Originally designed as two buildings, by 1901 it had become one.

Shanghai House, 25 Main Street, Midleton

This was home to one the O’Brien families. John O’Brien (42) was a shop keeper as was his wife Kate (42). They had five sons Daniel Joseph (16), Thomas (14), Paul (12), Michael (10) and Maurice (9). Two servants were also present on the night of the census, Fanny Morrison (22) and Michael O’Dwyer (24), as well as Kate’s mother Kate Lisk (84).

Boots, 26-27 Main Street, Midleton

As this was once two buildings it was home to two separate families. In No. 26 lived the Barrys. Head of the family was Patrick Barry (49). a shop keeper who lived with his Limerick-born wife Johanna (50). He also had three apprentices- Bridget Barry (16), Kate Colbert (23) and Katie Draddy 16), one servant- Ellie Gearey (18) and one boarder, shoemaker Patrick Lane (23). No.27 was home to a small collection of the Daltons. Robert Richard Dalton (58), born in Derry, was a baker by trade. He lived with his wife Annie (57) and his daughter Queenie (17) who was a scholar.

Cummins Sports, 41 Main Street, Midleton

This was lived in by the Kelleher family. John Kelleher (58) was an accountant in the distillery, his wife Bridget Kelleher (56) was a vintner. They had two daughters Josephine (21) and Mary Ellen (15).

Wallis’s, 74 Main Street, Midleton

Today the site of another popular pub, in 1901 it was home to Richard Fitzgerald (56) a shopkeeper and draper who was the Head of the Family and led a very large household.. Also in residence were his wife Ellen (46), his brother and business-partner Michael (50), children Norah (13), Michael (15) and William (5) (all scholars) and brother and sister-in-law William Walsh (39) and Kate Fitzgerald (43). They had two servants, Hannah Higgins (24) and Kate Keeffe (16) as well as five boarders- Shop Assistant Michael Desmond (27), Dress-Maker Norah Higgins (26), Milliner Margaret Power (26) and Apprentices William Lane (15) and Michael Manning (15).

Leonardo’s Restaurant, 83 Main Street, Midleton

This was the home of William Deasy (33) who was a tailor and his wife Mary (33). Also present was Timothy Riordan (17) who doubled up as their servant and as a second tailor. They had three sons, Thomas (3), Francis (1) and William who had not yet reached a year old.

Muckley’s Jewellers, 85 Main Street, Midleton

Victualler and vintner Daniel Gilmartin (32) was the head of the family here, with his wife Katie (34) from Kilkenny running the business with him. They had four children, Christopher (6), Erin (5), Bartholomew (3) and May who was under one. Daniel’s 21-year-old nephew Michael Allen also resided there as a butcher, as did a servant/butcher Michael Spillane, also 21. The family also had a waiting maid, Lizzie Dunlea (28) and a cook Bridget Burke (24).

It is interesting to note that at the time of the 1901 Census two German brothers had taken rooms in No.28 Main Street. These were Albert (30) and Edward (25)- both were jewellers by trade and were surely the originators of the family and shop which retains a presence in Midleton over a century later.

123 Main Street, Midleton

Some of the more unusual residents of the Main Street resided in this house in 1901. Richard Walton Long (41) was the head of the family, He was a physician and surgeon and must have been an important man in the town. His wife Maria Long was 30-years-old and was described as a ‘Fowl Fancier.’ In addition she had been born a long way from Midleton- she came originally from Tasmania. They had a three-year-old daughter Iris Maria Walton Long. Also in the house was 27-year-old Marian Lilla Clockie, from Australia. The family clearly had strong connections to the other side of the World. Sisters Elizabeth Deacon (a 27-year-old nurse) and Edith Deacon (a 26-year-old scholar) were visiting on the night of the census. Another nurse, Mary Jugh (26) lived in the house with domestic servants Minnie Curtin (29) and Kate McCarthy (28).
The Maple Bar, 5 Main Street, Midleton

This building has been a pub for more than one hundred years as in 1901 this was owned by licensed publican John P. Barry (45) who was originally from Whitegate. He lived with his wife Marie (36), a native of Ballinacurra, and their five children James (10)  Louise (8), Lillie (5),  Margaritte (3) and ‘Ez O C’ who was only two days old. The family had recently returned from living in America, as eldest three children had had been born there, Also in residence were two domestic servants- Hannah Meade, an 18-year-old domestic servant from Ballincurrig, and Elizabeth Riordan, a 16-year-old from Thomas Street in the town.

O’Farrell’s Butchers, 19 Main Street, Midleton

This was occupied by May O’Keeffe (66), a widow who ran a grocery shop from here. Working with her were her son Eugene (40) and his wife Hannah (33). They also had a domestic servant, 18-year-old Hannah Brien who lived with them.

Ballycotton Seafood, 46 Main Street, Midleton

In 1901 Denis Desmond (52), who worked as an accountant at the distillery but also had a business as a ‘Fancy Tobacconist’. He lived with his wife Christine (51), who was from the city, and their 24 year-old daughter Ellen, a shop-keeper, and their son Michael (19) who was a medical student. Denis’s older brother James (60) who had been a mariner and was an invalid.

Paddy Power, 14 Main Street, Midleton

This was originally home to the Days. David Day (40) the head of the family was a merchant tailor, married to his wife Ellie (40). They had three daughters Winifred (6), Johanna (4) and Margaret (2). David’s mother Hannah (60) also lived with them in 1901.

101 Main Street, Midleton

In 1901 this was occupied by the Fishbournes. This family is interesting in that they were all born outside Cork. John G (45) was the head of the family and was a bank agent born in Carlow, His wife Sarah (40) was born in Co. Kildare, It seems likely that John had travelled around the country working with the bank, as the couple’s daughter Dorah (10) had been born in Laois (Queen’s County) and their son Derrick (4) in Waterford City. They employed a 25-year-old governess, Mable Shaw, who was born in Dublin. The family cook, Hannah Holsour (21) was from Co. Kilkenny; their house maid, 26-year-old Annie Ryng [Ring?] and groom, 24-year-old Denis Murphy were both from Co. Cork.

We intend to put all the families from the 1901 Census up on the site, but if you are interested in finding out more you can see a full list of the occupants of Main Street in 1901 on the National Archives site here. We intend to expand our search to look at other streets in the town, as well as the 1911 Census to see what changes had taken place.

*Please see the comment of Kathryn Walsh below regarding an error in the census information which throws out some of the house numbers (Thanks Kathryn!)

Categories: Midleton Census | Tags: , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Lord Broghill, Ballymaloe and Oliver Cromwell

Today Rob Mitchell explores Lord Broghill, one of the area’s most notable past residents and former owner of Ballymaloe House. 

Lord Broghill

Lord Broghill

Roger Boyle, the 1st Earl of Orrery was born 25th April 1621 in Lismore, Co. Waterford. Boyle was the third surviving son of the famous Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork. His mother was Catherine Fenton daughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton of Dublin. Roger was named after his parents’ first son who died at the age of nine. He was created Baron Broghill on 28th February 1628.

Roger Boyle became best known as a soldier, making his reputation during the Eleven Years War of 1641-52. He was also a dramatist and politician, and he regularly sat in the House of Commons between 1654 and 1679. When war erupted in Ireland in 1641 Boyle returned to Ireland from his travels in Europe to help suppress the rebellion. It was in the same year that Ballymaloe passed to Boyle, part of an association which lasted for thirty-eight years and saw the construction of the west wing.

In 1642 Boyle fought with his brothers for the Government forces in their victory of the Confederates at Liscarroll in north Cork. The outbreak of the English Civil War left men like Broghill with a choice to make- King or Parliament. Broghill elected to side with Parliament, and he served publicly until the execution of King Charles I in 1649. After this he retired from public affairs and settled in one of his residences at Marston, Somersetshire.

Broghill appears to have been uncomfortable with the execution of the King and was suspected of trying to bring about the restoration. However Oliver Cromwell offered him a command in Ireland to help bring about the end of the war there, and Broghill accepted. During the ultimately successful Irish campaign Cromwell stayed in Ballymaloe, and Broghill played a key role in crushing the Confederate cause.

Broghill helped to secure Ireland for the King on the Restoration in 1660, and was rewarded by being created the Earl of Orrery. He also became a Lord Justice of Ireland and drew up the Act of Settlement. He spent most of his time at his estate in Broghill, near the town of Charleville, which he founded in 1661. He died 16th October 1679.

Categories: Famous Links | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

William Penn: Quaker, Founder of Pennsylvania and Occasional Resident of East Cork

Rob Mitchell has been continuing his great work each week in the Rubicon Office’s on the Midleton Heritage Project. Having compiled a database of references in the witness statements to the IRA in Midleton during the War of Independence, he has also been looking at local castles in the area, and is currently compiling information on those who lived on Midleton’s Main Street during the 1901 Census. In his latest post Rob looks at local connections with the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

William Penn was born on October 14th 1644. He was the son of Sir William Penn, an English admiral and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1670. The younger William was educated first at Chigwell School, by private tutors whilst in Ireland, and later at Christ Church, Oxford. After a failed mission to the Caribbean, Admiral Penn and his family were exiled to his lands in Ireland. It was during this period, when Penn was about fifteen, that he met Thomas Loe, a Quaker missionary, who was maligned by both Catholics and Protestants. Loe was admitted to the Penn household and during his discourses on the “Inner Light”, young Penn recalled later that “the Lord visited me and gave me divine Impressions of Himself.” After many years, the free-minded William Penn announced publicly that he was a Quaker. He did so in an attempt to slip past charges stating that since Quakers had no political agenda they could not be subject to laws that restricted political action by minority religions and other groups.

Penn Castle, Shanagarry (www.buildingsofireland.ie)

Penn Castle, Shanagarry (www.buildingsofireland.ie)

In 1669 Penn travelled to Ireland to deal with many of his father’s estates. Whilst there he attended meetings and stayed with leading Quaker families. He became great friends with William Morris, a leading Quaker figure in Cork, and often stayed with Morris at Castle Salem near Rosscarbery. He also owned a castle and estate which he inherited through his family in Shanagarry. Known as ‘Penn Castle’ it still stands today and offers a permanent reminder of East Cork’s links with Pennsylvania.

As the prosecution of Quakers began to accelerate rapidly and with religious conditions deteriorating, Penn decided to appeal directly to the King. Penn proposed a solution which would solve the dilemma—a mass emigration of English Quakers. Some Quakers had already moved to North America, but the New England Puritans, especially, were as hostile towards Quakers as Anglicans in England. Some had even been banished to the Caribbean. In 1677, a group of prominent Quakers that included Penn purchased the colonial province of West Jersey (half of the current state of New Jersey). That same year, two hundred settlers from the towns of Chorleywood and Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire and other towns in nearby Buckinghamshire arrived, and founded the town of Burlington. In 1682, East Jersey was also purchased by Quakers.

With the New Jersey foothold in place, Penn pressed his case to extend the Quaker region. Whether from personal sympathy or political expediency, to Penn’s surprise, the King granted an extraordinarily generous charter which made Penn the world’s largest private (non-royal) landowner. In possession of over 45,000 square miles, Penn became the sole proprietor of a huge tract of land west of New Jersey and north of Maryland (which belonged to Lord Baltimore), and gained sovereign rule of the territory with all rights and privileges (except the power to declare war). The land of Pennsylvania had belonged to the Duke of York, who acquiesced in the transfer, but he retained New York and the area around New Castle and the eastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. In return, one-fifth of all gold and silver mined in the province (which had virtually none) was to be remitted to the King, and the Crown was freed of a debt to Admiral Penn of £16,000, equal to £2,120,595 today.

Penn first called the area “New Wales”, then “Sylvania” (Latin for “forests or woods'”), which King Charles II changed to “Pennsylvania” in honor of the elder Penn. On March 4, 1681, the King signed the charter and the following day Penn jubilantly wrote, “It is a clear and just thing, and my God who has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.” In 1682 in England, he drew up a Frame of Government for the Pennsylvania colony. Freedom of worship in the colony was to be absolute, and all the traditional rights of Englishmen were carefully safeguarded. Penn drafted a charter of liberties for the settlement creating a political utopia guaranteeing free and fair trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment and free elections.

East Cork’s connections with William Penn are being celebrated as part of the The Gathering. The William Penn Symposium will be held in The Kilkenny Shop, Shanagarry on 25th August 2013. For more details on the event see here.

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The Attack on Cloyne RIC Barracks, 8th May 1920

As part of the ongoing project Transition Year student Rob Mitchell has been working one day a week in the Rubicon office, exploring the history of the local area. Rob’s first task was to compile all the witness statements available in the Bureau of Military History that refer to Midleton, allowing us to gain a broad view of the War of Independence as seen through the eyes of the local men who participated. As a result Rob has been able to focus in on a number of events which involved the Midleton volunteers, one of which was the 1920 attack on the RIC Barracks in Cloyne. Rob has described the action for us.

The period between 9th February 1920 and 8th May 1920 was an uneventful one for the IRA around Midleton, except for the organisation of companies in every town in the 4th Battalion area. Although the amount of arms and ammunition available was scarce, the local volunteers were alert for opportunities to supplement their stock of weapons.

In April 1920 plans were made to attack and capture the barracks in Cloyne. Every volunteer around Cloyne was to be on the job, but the main brunt of the attack was borne by men from Cobh and Midleton. Even with the large numbers of men available success was not guaranteed, as the Barracks had been strengthened to resist attack with steel shutters put on all the buildings windows, front and rear, and the garrison had been increased. This was to be expected, as the RIC had already lost the barracks in Castlemartyr and Carrigtwohill to IRA attacks. The RIC Barracks in Cloyne would now be more cautious and alert, and the IRA plan therefore envisaged a determined defence.

'Hair Kutz' on Church Street, Cloyne, where the RIC Barracks was located in 1920

‘Hair Kutz’ on Church Street, Cloyne, where the RIC Barracks was located in 1920

Volunteer Michael Leahy traveled to Brigade HQ in Cork and obtained additional rifles and grenades for the operation, which was planned for 8th May. It was a Saturday. Some members of the Midleton company were also members of the Gaelic League, and were taking part in a play that was going to be staged the following night in Cloyne Technical School. During the day men from the Midleton company began to ‘drift’ into the school carrying arms and ammunition, which were then hidden under the props that were to be used in the play.

From about 8pm onwards, parties of volunteers were set to work blocking roads and cutting telephone and telegraph wires, thereby completely isolating the town. Men from the Cobh company arrived having crossed the harbour at East Ferry. They stood guard armed with rifles and revolvers at East Ferry to prevent British reinforcements from Cobh crossing to Cloyne via that route. Volunteers from Aghada blocked the roads from Fort Carlisle and the Coastguard Station at Rochestown Point. All other roads to Cloyne were blocked with felled trees and boulders, making the roads impassable.

The RIC Barracks in Cloyne was located on Church Street, where ‘Hair Kutz’ is today. The plan was for the IRA to enter the two public houses on either side of the Barracks after closing time (10pm). Three of the men, Patrick Whelan, Jack Ahern and Donal Leahy, were sent into the corn stores directly opposite the Barracks. Whelan and Ahern were armed with rifles, but Leahy carried only a hatchet. Their job was to lay down covering fire- a difficult job for a man armed only with a hatchet!

The corn stores opposite the RIC Barrracks on Church Street, Cloyne

The corn stores opposite the RIC Barrracks on Church Street, Cloyne from which Whelan, Ahern and Leahy laid down covering fire during the attack

A small number of men were sent into Meade’s and Powers pubs on either side of the Barracks shortly before 10pm, so they could open the doors for other volunteers when the operation was due to commence, at 10.30. The plan hit a snag when Mrs. Meade refused to let the men in. After a few moments Diarmuid Hurley decided to break the glass on the door with an iron bar to gain entry; this alerted the Barracks to what was going on, and they began to open fire. Hurley and his party of Manly, Joseph Ahern, D. King, Kelleher and Mick Desmond got into the pub and Mrs. Meade and her maid were removed to a place of safety in the town. Whelan in the corn stores shouted “Now Jack!” and Whelan and Jack Ahern began to fire down at the Barracks doors and windows. The RIC returned fire and fired verey lights into the sky to call for assistance.

Inside Meade’s pub, Ring, Desmond and Kelleher went into the sitting room and began to lay gelignite onto the wall that adjoined the Barracks. Hurley and a few others went upstairs and began banging on the wall to distract the RIC, and draw their attention away from the shenanigans downstairs. The sitting room was evacuated and the gelignite exploded, but the breach created was too small. The RIC now began to fire back into Meade’s pub through the hole in the wall. Hurley had some gelignite left over, so the lit the fuse on it and threw it through the breach, causing the RIC to scatter into separate rooms to avoid the explosion. They next got a tin of petrol and poured its contents into a ewer, which they chucked through the hole, to be followed by a cloth lit by Kelleher. A blanket of flames soon began to engulf the Barracks. The blaze spread to Meade’s pub, where curtains caught fire, making the room untenable.

The RIC Barracks ('Hair Kutz', the yellow building) was flanked by two pubs, Meade's (the red building to the left) and Power's (to the right of 'Hair Kutz')

The RIC Barracks (‘Hair Kutz’, the yellow building) was flanked by two pubs, Meade’s (the red building, now Cuddigans, to the left) and Power’s (now The Tower, to the right of ‘Hair Kutz’)

While the volunteers in Meade’s evacuated the room, heavy rifle fire was still being exchanged on the street outside. The IRA men in Power’s pub, on the other side of the Barracks, succeeded in blowing open another hole in the wall with gelignite, but found that the raging fire prevented them from entering the building. At this point the garrison threw what looked like a white pillow case or a white piece of cloth out the window as a token of surrender. The RIC evacuated the building and were lined up on the street. Patrick Whelan ran into the Barracks in search of equipment, and discovered a large box of arms and ammunition which he managed to get outside.

Flushed with victory, the volunteers began to sing ‘The Soldiers Song’, while the boys from Ballymacoda, who were in ‘great form’ began to shout ‘Up Ballymacoda!’. Mick Leahy, aware that identifying themselves was perhaps not the smartest move, quickly ordered them to stop. The victory at Cloyne RIC Barracks was elating for the volunteers of the 4th Battalion, filling them with confidence. It was one of the last attacks possible before the disastrous events at Clonmult, which would follow in 1921.

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