Posts Tagged With: Midleton

The “47th Sheep Stealers” of Thomas Street, Midleton

During the era of the Famine detachments of British units were to be found throughout the country providing aid to the civil power. In 1847, a Company of the 47th (The Lancashire) Regiment were quartered at Thomas Street, the first reference we have come across to troops being stationed on the street at this time. Apparently the sight of a prize ram in a nearby field was too much for some of the soldier’s to resist– but their deeds were exposed thanks to the testimony of one of the town butchers. The irony that the troops were based in Midleton in order to protect property was not lost on the local correspondent who related the story:

MILITARY SHEEP STEALERS

In the course of the last week a gentleman residing in the vicinity of Midleton, near Killea, (Mr. Welland) engaged a prize ram for breeding purposes for £20 which, with two sheep, was left our at night to pasture in a field about a mile distant from Middleton. On missing them one morning, information was conveyed to the police, who made every effort to discover their whereabouts, but with no success. The secret, however, soon transpired. A knife, lost by the depredators, was found, and on its being shown by the police to a butcher resident in Middleton he instantly identified it as his property which on the previous evening he lent to a few of the soldiers of the 47th Regt., a company of which is at present stationed in Middleton, with a view to the protection of property, as well as the preservation of the peace of the country. The constabulary instantly proceeded to Thomas Street, Middleton, where the military are quartered, and on examination discovered portions of the carcasses of the slaughtered animals safely deposited in a coal hole. Suspicion strongly attaching to three of the gallant corps, they were arrested and taken before the sitting magistrates, who decided on receiving informations against them; and they now await their trial at the ensuing sessions in durance.

It is to be regretted that the conduct of a few scoundrels should have the effect of bringing into disrepute a gallant body of men, such as unquestionably is the 47th Regt., who, since the unhappy occurrence, are denominated by the people here– “the 47th sheep stealers.”– Middleton Correspondent. (1)

A Prize Ram (The Mark Lane Express, Wikimedia)

A Prize Ram (The Mark Lane Express, Wikimedia)

A postscript to the incident was reported in the Cork Examiner of 8th January:

THE MILITARY SHEEP-STEALERS

It is said that Capt. Armstrong, lately commanding the party of soldiers stationed at Midleton, has left the regiment in consequence of the disgrace incurred by the recent conviction of three privates of the party at the Fermoy Sessions. At the same time, the gallant detachment have got the route, “for the protection of life and property.” (2)

It would be interested to discover what became of both the soldiers and Captain Armstrong, and also to discover if the coal-hole used to conceal their misdeeds on Thomas Street still exists.

(1) Cork Examiner 1st January 1847; (2) Cork Examiner 8th January 1847;

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

Portraits of Midleton People in New York Poorhouses, 1875-1915

The topic of Midleton people who emigrated away from the town and parish is one we have returned to a number of times. Many of those who left succeeded in improving their lot in life, uncovering opportunities that were unavailable to them at home. However, such was not the case for everyone. Many Midleton people faced times of struggle at some point after their departure. For some it would prove only a temporary setback, but for others it represented a permanent reduction in fortunes. In order to capture vignettes of some of these people’s lives, we have been looking at the records of residents in New York Poor Houses and Alms Houses, the State that likely took more 19th century Midleton emigrants than any other location on the planet. Below you will find details on almost 50 Midleton natives for whom hardship lay in store after their departure from Ireland. 

Underground lodgings for the poor of New York around 1869. Many people who ultimately ended up in Poor Houses would have been familiar with such scenes (Library of Congress)

Underground lodgings for the poor of New York around 1869. Many Midleton people who ultimately ended up in Poor Houses would have been familiar with such scenes (Library of Congress)

The topic of Irish dependents in New York Poor Houses has previously been examined on another site (see here). From 1875, these institutions were required to record details about those in their care, filling out forms that provide information on things such as age, marital status, emigration date, literacy, employment and cause of dependency. They also offered an opinion on whether or not individuals might escape dependency in the future. These records have been used to compile the brief biographical portraits you see below.

What is immediately apparent when reviewing the records is how easy it was to become dependent in 19th century New York. An inability to be able to earn a living was highly likely to leave individuals reliant on charity. Many of those below– such as men like Michael Humphrey– had suffered injuries which prevented them from working. Others, like Margaret Barry, were suffering from degenerative conditions such as the onset of blindness, which was a common physical reason for admission to Poor Houses.

The records not only tell us of hardship but also allow us to look at the trades of those admitted, and in many cases those of their fathers in Midleton. Many are typical of the working classes– laborers like John Colbert and John Hyde, or domestics like Mary Buckley and Mary Murphy. Some were tradesmen, like carpenter Patrick Brown, or worked as seamstresses, like Eliza Mead[e]. But there are also those who you might think less likely to find themselves in such straightened circumstances, such as John D. O’Brien, an engineer. Aside from trades, we can also gain an insight into differing literacy levels, which ranged from those who were able to read and write, like Michael Pomfrey, to people who could only read, like Hannah Mahony, or were completely illiterate, like Mary Collins.

As noted above, the onset of old age was a major factor leading to the dependence of many working-class people. Even where elderly individuals had adult children, those children often had families of their own or were too poor to be able to help with their parent’s support, resulting in their reliance on institutions. The reality for some– like William Ronan– was that they simply did not know where their children were. We often associate emigration with youth, but that was not always the case in the 19th century. Necessity often forced older people to uproot themselves from the place they had lived all their lives to cross the Atlantic. Thus we meet people like Ann Corcoran, who emigrated aged 50; Eliza Maher who left Midleton at 53; and Mary Welsh who left Cork forever at 60. Mary Keefe, who was 65-years-old, had only been in New York for a year and three months when she found herself in the Poor House.

The institutions were careful to note whether those in their care were of intemperate character, and went so far as to explore if that had been the case with their parents. In most instances where intemperance was recorded, it refers to alcohol abuse. The morality of the time also played a role on admittance. A number of young Midleton women were forced to seek aid in the Poor Houses for having children out of wedlock. It is in this context that we encounter the sad stories of 24-year-old Mary Ahearn, 23-year-old Mary Buckley and 26-year-old Mary Hayes. In their cases they had their children with them in the Poor Houses, and they were far from alone. It was not uncommon to have entire families admitted; for example all of Hannah Daley’s three children were in the Alms House with her.

It is important to recognise that going to the Poor House did not mean the end of the road for everyone. Some, like William Anderson, were there because of sickness or short-term/seasonal employment difficulties, and were expected to leave soon. But prospects of escape reduced for the elderly, the permanently disabled or the gravely ill. The record of Daniel Keller stated bluntly that the 30 year-old “will die here.” Each of these portraits has its own story to tell, and it is often a sad one. They serve to remind us that many thousands of Midleton people through history lived out their lives not in East Cork, but formed part of Irish emigrant communities around the globe, just as they continue to do today. You can explore each of the individuals researched in more detail below, where they arranged in alphabetical order by surname.

The New York Alms House Buildings on Blackwell’s Island (New York Public Library Record ID 706081)

The New York Alms House Buildings on Blackwell’s Island, where a number of the Midleton emigrants discussed below found themselves (New York Public Library Record ID 706081)

Mary Ahearn, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester County Poor House on 3rd March 1892. 

Mary was a 24-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York from Ireland four years previously. Both her parents were from Midleton, where her father had been a laborer. Mary was a domestic, and could read and write. The cause of her dependence was that she was pregnant. It was felt that she may recover from her dependency.

William Anderson, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 13th December 1880.

William was a 37-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland ten years previously and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, and William, like his father, was a laborer. He was able to read and write. William was admitted due to chills and a fever, but was able to carry out light work. He was expected to leave the institution soon.

James Barry, Midleton. Admitted to Seneca County Poor House on 8th January 1891.

James was a 51-year-old single man on his admission. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 24 years previously, and was now naturalized. He worked as a laborer, as had his father- both his parents were also Midleton natives. He had a common school education. The cause of his dependence was “intemperance.” He was deemed capable of light work, but not to a great extent, and it was noted that he “should take care of himself and probably will soon.”

Margaret Barry, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 25th August 1875.

Margaret was a 30-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York 22 years previously from Ireland. Both her parents had also been born in Midleton; her father had worked as a tailor. Margaret herself worked as a domestic, and was unable to read or write. The cause of her dependence was near blindness. Unable to perform work of any kind, it was determined that she would remain permanently dependent.

Patrick Barry, Midleton. Admitted to Wayne County Poor House on 11th December 1884.

Patrick was a 50-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived into Canada from Ireland 37 years before, and had been in New York for 20 years. He was a naturalized citizen and worked as a laborer; his father had been a carpenter. He had four children still living. The reason for his dependence was that he had injured one of his eyes, but he was able to carry out light work. It was expected that he would recover.

Patrick Barry, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 14th January 1887.

Patrick was a 71-year-old married man when he was admitted. He was a naturalized citizen of the United States, having emigrated 44 years previously, landing in New York. Both his parents were also from Midleton; his father had been a tailor. Patrick himself worked as a stevedore. He had one brother and one sister, both of whom still lived in Ireland. Patrick also had a son of his own in New York. The cause of his dependence was given as homelessness and destitution. He was deemed able to carry out light labor, but it was deemed doubtful that he would ever recover from his dependency.

Michael Barry, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 7th January 1889.

Michael was a 43-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 20 years previously and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, where his father had been a laborer. Michael himself was a shoemaker; he was able to read and could “write a little.” Of his siblings, one brother was dead and one was still in Ireland, while he had four sisters in Ireland and one in New York. Michael also had three sons of his own. He had spent time in an institution before, in Mount Loretto on Staten Island. The reason for his dependency was given as paralysis, homelessness and destitution. He was deemed incapable of pursuing any labor, and it was thought doubtful he would ever recover from his dependency.

Patrick Brown, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 1st April 1886.

Patrick was a 70-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 30 years previously, and was now naturalized. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where Patrick’s father had been a laborer. Patrick was himself a carpenter, and was able to read and write. He had three children still living. The reason for Patrick’s dependence was old age and infirmity. Two year prior to his admission he had spent time with the Little Sisters of the Poor, but was discharged from there because of his “disobedience of orders.” It was thought probable that he would remain dependent.

Mary Buckley, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 16th November 1885.

Mary was a 23-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had landed in New York three years before. Both her parents were also from Midleton, where her father had been a father. Mary worked as a domestic. She had one child, who was with her in the Alms House; the child was the reason for her admission, which was given as “bastardy.” She was able to carry out chamber work while in the Alms House. She had previously spent time in Kings County Hospital, and it was noted that “this young woman has stated particulars of her case to the Commissioners.” It was felt that she may recover from her dependence.

Margaret Carroll, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 10th April 1882.

Margaret was a 50-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia from Ireland some 33 years before. Her parents, who were both described as having been “intemperate”, had been from Carrigtohill. Her father had worked as a laborer- Margaret was a peddler. The cause of her dependence was given as an old fracture of the left arm, being nearly blind in the left eye, and “disorderly conduct.” Her habits were also described as intemperate. She had previously relied on charity twice and been admitted to Bellevue Hospital once. Her future was deemed “doubtful.”

Charles M. Carter, Midleton. Admitted to St. Lawrence County Poor House on 10th January 1878.

Charles was a 65-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had landed in Boston 31 years before, and was now naturalized. His father had been a farmer in Ireland. Charles was able to read, but apparently not to write. No further information was provided.

John Coleburt (Colbert), Midleton. Admitted to Chemung County Poor House on 5th November 1879.

John was a 63-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 20 years before, and was naturalized. He was a laborer like his father before him, and like his father was also described as intemperate. The cause of his dependence was having no work. He had received three weeks of Out-Door Relief. It was felt he had a good chance of recovery- as he was a state charge he was going to be sent to the state Alms House.

Mary Collins, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 24th September 1895.

Mary was a 60-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had landed in New York 43 years previously. Her father had been a laborer in Ireland, Mary worked as domestic in New York. Mary had no education, and had two children still living. No reason was given for her dependence; her daughter’s address was given as 128 Cherry St.

John Connell, Midleton. Admitted to Orange County Poor House on 2nd December 1886.

John was a 47-year-old married man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 25 years before from Ireland, and was a naturalized citizen. John worked as a laborer, as his father had before him. The reason for his dependence was given as destitution; he had been in the Poor House the previous winter for the same reason. He was deemed to be unable to undertake any labour, but it was though probable that he would be able to leave again once the spring had arrived.

John Conners, Midleton. Admitted to Orange County Poor House on 7th October 1879.

John was a 41-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 26 years before and was now naturalized. He had a common school education, and like his father worked as a laborer. The cause of his dependence was his inability to get work. It was determined that he would recover.

Ann Corcoran, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 24th July 1883.

Ann was 70-years-old on her admission. She was married, and had arrived in New York 20 years before from Ireland. Both Ann’s parents had been born in Midleton, where her father had been a farmer. Ann was able to read but not to write. She had no children but did have a brother in Boston. The cause of her dependence was homelessness, destitution, and bruising to her face caused by a fall. She had already been in an institution three times previously, and she was deemed as having little prospect of recovering from her dependence.

Hannah Daley, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 29th December 1885.

Hannah was a 37-year-old married woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York 7 1/2 years previously. Her parents had both been from Midleton, where her father was a farmer. Hannah could read and write, and was a housewife. She had three children, all of whom were with her in the Alms House. The cause of her dependence was destitution due to her husband being out of work. It was thought that she may recover.

Jeremiah Daly, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 15th December 1880.

Jeremiah was a 32-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York 11 years previously. Both his parents were from Midleton; like his father, Jeremiah was a laborer. He was able to read and write. The cause of his dependency was rheumatism, and he was able to undertake light work. It was expected that he would soon be able to leave.

Cath Donnovan, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 25th September 1877.

Cath was 26-years-old when she was admitted. She was married, and had arrived in New York 13 years previously from Ireland. Her father had been a laborer, Cath herself was a servant. She could read, but not write. Cath had two children, one of whom was in the hospital and the other who was with her in the Alms House. She was dependent because her husband had deserted the family. She had previously spent four weeks in hospital in 1877. Cath was able to contribute towards her own support in the Alms House through nursing, and it was deemed probable that she would recover from her dependency.

John Donovan, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 22nd September 1884.

John was a 64-year-old widower when admitted. He had been in the United States for 30 years. Both his parents had been from Midleton, and John, like his father, was a laborer. He could read and write and had two living children. The reason for his dependency was old age and infirmity- he had spent time in Kings County Hospital four years previously. His prospects for leaving were classed as “doubtful.”

Michael Fitzgerald, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester County Poor House on 17th November 1896.

Michael was a 43-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 17 years before and was naturalized. He was able to read, and worked as a Rock Man. His father had been a laborer. His mother was still alive, and he had three brothers. The cause of his dependence was sickness, and at the time he was not able to work. It was thought that he may recover from his dependence.

William Foley, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 26th December 1883.

William was 60-years-old when he was admitted. He was a widower, who had arrived in New York 16 years previously and was now naturalized. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, where his father had worked as a laborer. WIlliam was a shoemaker, and was able to read and write. He had sisters who lived in New York, and one son, William, who was 24-years-old and was then at sea. The cause of his dependence was homelessness, destitution and having no work. He was able to pursue shoemaking while in the Almshouse, and it was thought likely that he would recover from his dependence.

Mary Hayes, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 20th April 1877.

Mary was a 26-year-old single woman when she was admitted. She had arrived in New York from Ireland 12 years previously. Bother her parents were from Midleton, and her father had worked as a blacksmith. Mary was a servant who was able to read and write. She had one child living, who was with her in the Alms House. The cause of her dependence was given as “bastardy”, and during her time there she was able to work at nursing. She had previously spent three months in hospital in 1877, and it was felt that she would recover from her dependency.

James Herin, Midleton. Admitted to Putnam County Poor House on 5th February 1885.

James was a 70-year-old married man when admitted. He had landed in New York 50 years previously, and was a naturalized citizen. His father had also been from Midleton, and like James had been a laborer. He had no education, and also like his father, James was described as intemperate. He had seven children still living. The cause of his dependency was old age and lack of employment, and he was unable to do much work. It was felt he would probably not recover, and the following was added: “This man was brought here from Phillips town is quite feeble has worked in the west point foundry for nearly fifty years the probability is that he will remain a county charge as long as he lives.”

Michael Humphrey, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 11th December 1877.

Michael was a 38-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 25 years previously, and was now naturalized. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, and his father had worked as a blacksmith. Michael was also a blacksmith, and was able to read and write. The cause of his dependence was a sore leg, and at the time he was unable to work. It was felt that he would likely recover.

John Hyde, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 2nd January 1885.

John was a 56-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 35 years before, and was a naturalized citizen. His parents were both from Midleton, where his father had been a farmer. John was a laborer, and was described as intemperate. He had no education and had three living children. The reason for his dependence was given as intemperance. He was able to work, and it was felt that he may be able to recover.

Mary C Keefe, Midleton. Admitted to Saratoga County Poor House on 26th November 1889.

Mary was a 65-year-old widow when admitted. She had only been in the United States for a year and three months. Although she was born in Midleton, her parents were from Co. Waterford (her mother from Newtown). Her father had been a steward. Mary had no education, and was engaged in housework. She had two children living. The reason for her dependence was destitution. She was unable to do any work, and had previously received a few days of relief. No opinion was offered on her prospects for recovery.

Daniel Keller, Midleton. Admitted to Greene County Poor House on 10th August 1915.

Daniel was a 30-year-old single man when admitted. He had been born on Christmas Day 1884. Daniel had arrived in New York 8 years before, but was not naturalized. Both his parents were from Midleton, and he had a common school education. He worked as a laborer. The cause of his dependence was sickness. He had previously been to hospital and was a county charge. With respect to his probable destiny, it was noted that he “will die here.”

Ellen Kelley, Midleton. Admitted to Saratoga County Poor House on 25th January 1887.

Ellen was a 70-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had arrived in Quebec from Ireland 55 years before, and had made her way straight to New York. Her parents were both from Cork, and her father was from Midleton. He had worked as a shoemaker. Ellen had carried out housework, and she had no education. The reasons given for her dependence was destitution. It was thought probable that she would remain dependent.

Daniel Leahey, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 18th January 1883.

Daniel was a 50-year-old married man on his admission. He emigrated to New York 30 years previously. Both his parents and been from Midleton, where his father was a peddler. Daniel was a tanner, and was able to read and write. He had two sons still living. The reason for Daniel’s dependency was destitution, and a fracture of the hip which left him lame. He was able to carry out light labour. Daniel had previously spent time in Bellevue Hospital- it was felt that he would likely recover from his dependence.

Michael Leahy, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester County Poor House on 11th September 1894.

Michael was a 53-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had emigrated to New York 27 years before, and was now naturalized. He was a laborer like his father before him, and was able to read and write. The cause of his dependency was sickness, and at that time he was unable to work. He had spent some time in an institution before, and it was felt that he “may recover.”

George Lee, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 2nd December 1880.

George was a 38-year-old single man when admitted. He had emigrated to New York 6 years before, and was naturalized. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a boot and shoe maker. George was a laborer, and was able to read and write. The cause of his dependence was “fever and ague” and George was able to undertake light work. He had previously spent 10 days in hospital. It was expected that he would recover from his dependency and be able to leave the Alms House soon.

James Lenden, Midleton. Admitted to Yates County Poor House on 2nd November 1885.

James was a 45-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had been in the United States for 20 years, and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents were from Midleton, where James had received a common school education. His father had been a laborer, as was James. He had two brothers. The cause of James’s dependence was intemperance. He was able to work, but his outlook was bleak, as it was anticipated that he would remain dependent.

Eliza Maher, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 16th July 1883.

Eliza was a 70-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had emigrated to New York 17 years before. Both her parents had been born in Midleton, where her father had been a steward. Eliza had no occupation and no education and did not have any living children. The cause of her dependence was destitution, and four years prior to her 1883 admission she had relied on the charity of the Little Sisters of the Poor. She was given no chance of recovering her independence, with it deemed probable she would remain dependent.

Hannah Mahony, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 28th June 1876.

Hannah was a 60-year-old widow on admission. She had emigrated to New York from Ireland 43 years previously. Both her parents were from Midleton, where her father had been a Master Hostler. Hannah was a servant, and was able to read but could not write. The cause of her dependence was old age and rheumatism. Hannah was able to carry out needle work. She had been in and out of the Alms House for 8 years, and in and out of hospital over the same period. It was anticipated that she would remain dependent.

Charles McCarthy, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 18th August 1894.

Charles was 51-years-old when he was admitted. He was married, and had emigrated to New York 47 years before. Now a naturalized citizen, both his parents had also been born in Midleton. His father had been a farmer, Charles himself worked as a peddler. He had at least one child, but was now dependent as a result of blindness. He had previously received $37 from the City, and had spent time in Bellevue and Presbyterian Hospitals. The probability of him ever escaping from dependency was described as “hopeless.”

Michael McCarthy, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 6th January 1899.

Michael was a 59-year-old widower on admission. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 33 years previously, and was now a naturalized citizen. Michael followed his father’s profession of tailoring, and he was able to read and write. He had two brothers living in the United States and one sister in Ireland. He also had two sons still living, both of whom worked as laborers and lived at 371 Broome St; James, who was single, and Charles, who was married. The cause of his dependence was destitution. He was able to carry out ordinary work, and had spent time in hospital the previous November. It was thought that he would probably recover.

Eliza Mead, Midleton. Admitted to Kingston City Alms House on 22nd November 1886.

Eliza was a single woman of about 46 when she was admitted. She had been in the United States some 28 years. Her parents had both been from Midleton, where her father was a farmer. Eliza was a seamstress who could read but not write. The reason for her dependence was that she had no home. She was able to carry out sewing work, but despite that it was deemed likely that she would probably remain dependent.

Mary Murphy, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 3rd November 1887.

Mary was a 60-year-old widow on her admission. She had landed in New York from Ireland 35 years previously. Both her parents were from Midleton, where her father had been a farmer. Mary had no education and worked as a domestic. Her brothers (who lived in the U.S.) and sisters (who lived in Ireland) were all dead. The cause of her dependence was debility, homelessness and destitution. She was unable to work, and had spent time in Bellevue Hospital. It was deemed likely she would remain permanently dependent.

John Murray, Midleton. Admitted to Westchester Alms House on 8th November 1890.

John was a 60-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in the United States 30 years before. His parents were also from Midleton; John, like his father before him was a laborer. The cause of his dependence was that he had been a vagrant for the previous 6 months. He was capable of light work, but it was thought he would likely not recover from his dependency.

Richard Nugent, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 31st October 1878.

Richard was a 69-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had come to New York 50 years before, and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been born in Midleton, where his father had been a laborer. Richard had no education, and worked as a carman. The reason for his admission was given as heart disease and destitution. unable to work, his potential for escaping dependency in the future was described as “doubtful.”

John D. O’Brien, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 4th December 1894.

John was a 42-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had emigrated to New York 25 years previously, and was now a naturalized citizen. His parents had been from Cork, where his father had been a laborer. John had a school education and had risen to become an engineer. He had three brothers and three sisters. The cause of his dependence was paralysis and destitution. He had previously spent time in Randall’s Island Hospital and it was thought that he may recover.

Michael Pomfrey, Midleton. Admitted to Kings County Alms House on 28th January 1881.

Michael was a 42-year-old single man when he was admitted. He had landed in New York 20 years before and was now a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a horse shoer, the same trade that Michael followed. Michael was able to read and write. The cause of his dependence was a sore leg, as a result of which he was unable to work. He had previously spent three weeks in hospital, and he expected to leave the Alms House as soon as his leg was well.

William Ronan, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 13th December 1881.

William was a 59-year-old married man when he was admitted. He had emigrated from Ireland 16 years previously. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a fisherman. William, who could read and write, worked as a laborer. His brothers and sisters were still in Ireland. He had four living children but did not know where they were. The reasons for his dependence were paralysis of the right side and destitution. He was unable to work, and had spent time more than four months and 9 days in various homes and in Bellevue Hospital. His future was deemed doubtful.

John Shanahan, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 19th April 1895.

John was a 65-year-old widower when he was admitted. He had arrived in New York from Ireland 45 years before, and was now a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, where his father had been a shoemaker. John, who could read and write, followed in the same trade as his father. He had one daughter living, who was in the Home of the Good Shepherd. Te reason for John’s dependence was destitution. He was able for only light work, but his future prospects were deemed favourable.

Thomas Sullivan, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 14th November 1887.

Thomas was a 43-year-old married man on admission. He arrived in New York 20 years previously and was a naturalized citizen. Both his parents had been from Midleton, and Thomas, like his father before him, was a laborer. He had two sons a daughter, who were apparently living in Pennsylvania. The reason for his admission was homelessness, destitution and partial blindness. He was unable to work, and had previously spent time in Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. It was thought that he would recover from his dependence.

Mary Welsh, Midleton. Admitted to New York City Alms House on 1st May 1888.

Mary was a 90-year-old widow when she was admitted. She had emigrated from Ireland 30 years before. Her parents had both been from Midleton, where her father had been a farmer. Mary had no education, and worked as a housekeeper. The cause of her dependence was debility, homelessness and destitution. She could do no work, and had previously been in a Charity Hospital, from where she had been taken to the Alms House. It was considered likely she would remain permanently dependent.

These are far from the only people with Midleton connections who ended up in these institutions; indeed it is likely only a small sample. Others who are known but for whom records were not accessible include Daniel Cunningham, who was around 49 years-old when he was admitted in 1897, and Maggie Ford, who was 38 when she was admitted in 1897. Many more people with a parent from Midleton ultimately found themselves reliant on charity.

Inmates of the Poor House on Randall’s Island, East River, New York, forming in line for dinner, 1875 (New York Public Library Record ID 692408)

Inmates of the Poor House on Randall’s Island, East River, New York, forming in line for dinner, 1875 (New York Public Library Record ID 692408)

References

New York. State Bord of Charities. Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses, 1835-1921. series A1978. Microfilm 225 rolls. New York State Archives, Albany, New York. Accessed via ancestry.com

NYPL Digital Gallery Record ID 692408

NYPL Digital Gallery Record ID 706081

Categories: Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

Categories: War of Independence | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Midleton and the 1867 Fenian Rising

In 1867 the Fenian movement attempted an armed rising in Ireland in an effort to wrest the country from British rule. However, poor planning and successful Government infiltration of the organisation meant that the effort was doomed to failure. The rising was sporadic and quickly fizzled out. However, the London Times of 8 March 1867 illustrates that Fenian members in Midleton were determined to take part:

A formidable insurrection has broken out in this county [Cork], and is, probably, simultaneous with a similar movement in other places. Last night, at about 11 o’clock, the telegraph wires belonging to the two companies having stations at Cork were cut, the Magnetic Company’s wires being destroyed a little way beyond Charleville, about 36 miles from Cork and the Electric Company at Midleton, whence they radiate to several quarters. At an apparently preconcerted hour bands of armed insurgents assembled at Midleton, at Carrignavar, in the neighbourhood of Cork, at Kilmallock, Knocklong, and Rathduff…

The rising began in Midleton- that is, the assembly there seems to have been the earliest. The Fenians collected on the fair green  to the number of about 50, and marched through the town in military order. They were all armed, and had haversacks of provisions. At the end of the town, near Copinger’s-bridge, they were met by an armed police patrol of four men. The Fenian leader called on the patrol to surrender, and the demand was followed up by a volley, by which one of the four constables were killed and another slightly wounded. The uninjured men returned the fire, with what effect is not known, and made their escape hastily into an adjoining house, whence they afterwards regained the barracks. The Fenians marched from Midleton to Castlemartyr, leaving the police barrack at the former town unmolested. On the route they were joined by several parties of armed men, and arrived in Castlemartyr with a force about 200 strong. Daly, the Fenian leader, drew up his men in front of the police-barrack, which had been closed and barricaded on their approach, and called on its occupants to surrender. The policemen, who did not exceed six or seven in number, replied by a well-directed fire, killing Daly and wounding several of his band. The remainder then retired in the direction of Killeagh, to which place small parties of men were seen making their way from Cloyne, Youghal and several other places during the night. 

Mugshots of Fenians taken in Mountjoy Prison in 1866. The Fenians were some of the first people in Ireland to have mugshots taken, as it was a relatively new practice at the time (New York Public Library)

Mugshots of Fenians taken in Mountjoy Prison in 1866. The Fenians were some of the first people in Ireland to have mugshots taken, as it was a relatively new practice at the time (New York Public Library)

The Cork Examiner of 7 March 1867 added further detail regarding the particulars of the incident at the bridge in Midleton:

The precise circumstances of the occurrence in Midleton are these:- A few minutes before eleven o clock, the Fenians assembled in the Main-street of the town, as already stated, and after the interview with the gentleman who mistook them for police, they moved down to the bridge close by the National Bank and here they drew up on the left side of the approach to the bridge. The patrol, consisting of Acting Constables Greany, Sub-constables O Donnell, Sheedy, and O Brien, passed on towards the bridge, at the other side of the road. When they had passed slightly beyond the Fenians, they were challenged by, it is believed, Daly, their leader, and called upon to surrender in the name of the Irish Republic. The police were then close to Mr. Green’s gate, and the Fenians were but a few yards away from them, assembled four deep. When the police did not obey the call, Daly seized Sub-Constable O Donnell’s rifle, and presenting a revolver at his head, fired. O Donnell at the same time pushed Daly slightly from him, and thus caused the pistol ball to glance around the back of his head, the powder singeing his hair. At the same moment, the party of Fenians fired a volley. A ball entered Sub-Constable Sheedy’s breast, low down near the stomach on the right side, and after running a short distance up the chapel road, he fell and bled probably to death. The other policemen fled in the same direction, and O Donnell, who was wounded in the head, took shelter in a house. As the others fled, the Fenians fired after them, and the Acting-Constable had a number of extraordinary escapes. Bullets grazed the back of his hand, passed through his cap, touched his knee, and cut the edge of his ammunition pouch. He, with Sub-constable O Brien, got round by Mr. Green’s house, and having taken shelter there till morning, got back to the station, escorted by Mr. Green, who had great influence and popularity in the town. After Sheedy fell he was stripped of his rifle and accoutrements. Daly took Sub-constable O Donnell’s rifle with him. Greany and O Brien retained theirs. The gate and wall in front of Mr. Green’s residence were thickly marked with the volleys of bullets fired by the insurgents, and subsequently, a dozen revolver cartridges were found on the foot path there, as well as two large hand grenades with fuses attached. The cartridges were patent make, manufactured by Gladstone and Co. of London. It is also said that the first assembly of the Midleton Fenians was at the Cork road, where they were formed in three divisions, but being there surprised by the police they scattered and subsequently met at the house of a person of some position in the town, at the door of which a sentry was posted, and all persons entering closely scanned. Thence they are believed to have proceeded to the Bank Bridge. The police say they were only armed with pistols, but a gentleman who passed close to them, says that they had rifles and swords. After the encounter of the bridge, they are said to have gone by Ballinacurra towards Castlemartyr. The firing in Midleton is described as being as regular as that of disciplined troops. Another circumstance stated is that suspicious looking strangers wearing cloaks were seen in Midleton early in the evening, and they are believed to have come from the direction of Cork. Cars heavily laden are also known to have passed through the town about one o clock. Constable Greany found, near the bridge, a pike ten feet long, this morning.

References

London Times 8 March 1867

Fenian Rising Pages on Corkgen.org

Mountjoy Prison Portaits of Irish Independence: Photograph Albums in Thomas A. Larcom Collection

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

The Hilltop Enclosure at Curragh Woods

Rubicon were very fortunate last week to have Transition Year student Ruth Murphy working with us. Ruth spent much of her week examining a hilltop enclosure in Curragh Woods, as part of the Midleton Archaeology & Heritage Project. Ruth researched the enclosure, conducted a site visit, and wrote up her findings to share on the blog (she even produced the accompanying graphics!). She tells us below what was discovered regarding the site.

Louise Baker of Rubicon Heritage, and TY student Ruth Murphy recently paid a visit to a hilltop enclosure situated in the beautiful Curragh Woods, just north of the busy market town of Midleton, Co. Cork, as part of the Midleton Archaeology and Heritage Project.

Location of the Curragh Woods enclosure

Location of the Curragh Woods enclosure

The woods are situated between the townlands of Curragh, Ballynaclashy, Ballyedmond, Ballycurranny and Ballyleary, on either side of a valley of the Owennacurra and Leamlara rivers. The nearby Ballyedmond Estate was once home to the Courtenays and Barrys, but the house no longer exists. This valley is a popular area for recreational activities, such as hiking and mountain biking, due to its woodland paths, steep terrain, scenic views and proximity to Midleton. Various archaeological sites have been discovered in the vicinity, such as ringforts, fulachtaí fiadh, and souterrains, but we decided to focus on the hilltop enclosure in the south-western section of the woods.

Aerial view of the enclosure in Curragh Woods

Aerial view of the enclosure in Curragh Woods

This enclosure is too large to be described as a ringfort, but “the area enclosed falls well short of an average hillfort, and  bivallate defences are not typical of Irish hillforts”, according to Professor Barry Raftery, so this feature is very difficult to date, although hilltop enclosures generally date to the Iron or Bronze Ages. The inner bank has an interior height of 0.55m, exterior height 1.7m, while the outer bank has interior height 1.2m, exterior 1.6m, and these are separated by a fosse, with an outer fosse 0.5m deep also. These walls surround an area about 75 metres in diameter, mainly covered by bracken and brambles, with the entrance to the north-west.  It is skirted by coniferous plantation from west to north-east. Situated on a prominent site, with ground falling away steeply to the south and east, it commands a sweeping view of the surrounding countryside to the south and south-east, as well as Midleton town and glimpses of Cork Harbour. The location of the site is probably due to the ease of access to the river, and its view of the countryside. The openness of the enclosure may also have been used to display the wealth of those who owned it, or to communicate with (or keep an eye on!)  the nearby ringforts.

View of the outer bank of the hilltop enclosure at Curragh Woods

View of the outer bank of the hilltop enclosure at Curragh Woods

A similar, smaller enclosure, with just one bank can be found in the south-eastern section of the woods, on a slope facing the Ballyedmond Estate, while a number of raths exist to the north and east. Two fulachtaí fiadh are visible as mounds of burnt  material in the north-western leg of the woods and in the east. On a hillside above the Leamlara-Carrigtwohill Road there is a burial ground and holy well to the east, the holy well still being used for religious ceremonies on August 15th.

Ruth stands between the inner and outer banks of the enclosure at Curragh Woods

Ruth stands between the inner and outer banks of the enclosure at Curragh Woods

If you want to check out this fantastic area for yourself, you should take the R626 out of Midleton, continue for about 6km until you reach the smaller Leamlara-Carrigtwohill Road through the wooded valley, where you will find a gravel parking area. From here, you can visit the enclosures, holy well and raths, hike through Curragh Woods (or if you’re really adventurous, bike or horseride!) or simply wander around and view the picturesque Cork countryside!

We would like to thank Ruth for her work on this site- and her superb description of it- we hope that you take her advice to visit!

The ruins of a vernacular building present on the north slope of the Curragh Woods enclosure

The ruins of a vernacular building present on the north slope of the Curragh Woods enclosure

Categories: Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The 1920 Midleton Ambush- Battle on the Main Street

One of the aims of this project will be to share information about the town and the environs. To kick off we are going to look at a remarkable account of an event that took place right in the centre of the town during the War of Independence. It forms one of the statements in the Bureau of Military History, which collected reminiscences from those involved in the 1916 Rebellion and the War of Independence. One of the accounts was provided by Commandant Patrick J. Whelan, who had served with ‘B’ (Midleton) Company, 4th Battalion, Cork No.1 Brigade and the 4th Battalion Flying Column during the War of Independence.

The burnt cottage at Clonmult, where 12 members of the local Flying Column were killed (a further two were executed later). Many of these men had participated in the Midleton Ambush.

The burnt cottage at Clonmult, where 12 members of the local Flying Column were killed (two more were later executed). Many of these men had participated in the Midleton Ambush.

Patrick Whelan was born in Co. Wexford on 10 February 1896, but moved to Cobh with his family at an early age. He was later one of a number of members of ‘B’ Company who worked at Pat Hallinan’s Engineering Works in Midleton. On the night of 29 December 1920 he was one of the members of the Column who decided to launch an attack on a patrol of R.I.C. (Royal Irish Constabulary) and Black and Tans in the town. Patrick has left a remarkable account of events that evening, when the Main Street of Midleton was briefly transformed into a battleground:

The whole column, including Jack Aherne and myself, moved into Midleton under cover of darkness, and assembled at a saw-mills in Charles Street [now Connolly Street]. From the saw-mills, Jack and I continued on to the main street. We arranged that I would take up position at the corner of Charles Street which is situated about midway in the main street, and at right-angles to it. Jack posted himself further down the main street, in the vicinity of the Midleton Arms Hotel.

We were armed with .45 Webley revolvers and wore trench coats and capes. I was only about five minutes at my post when I saw a patrol of Black and Tans, marching slowly towards me. They move in pairs, about six paces apart and on both sides of the street, four pairs on my side and two pairs on the opposite side, together with an old R.I.C. man named Mullins. All were armed with rifles and revolvers, with the rifles slung on their shoulders.

In the last pair on my side was a Constable Gordon with whom I was well acquainted before I joined the column. When passing, he noticed me and, evidently surprised at seeing me, shouted, “Hello, Paddy!”. I said, “Hello, Gordie!”, which was my usual way of addressing him. For a moment, I thought he would leave the ranks and come over to me, but fortunately he carried on with the patrol. I am sure my heart missed a beat or two. Gordon knew me well. He had not seen me for the previous few months, and now he was looking at me wearing a trench coat and cap, items of apparel which I had never previously worn in his presence. I remember wondering if he suspected something was afoot. If he did, he kept his suspicions to himself, as the patrol continued sedately down the street. I waited until he had passed Jack Aherne, when I went and collected him, and reported back to Diarmuid Hurley, comparing notes on our way. We had a perfect picture of the whole patrol, and lost no time in describing their disposition to Hurley. He immediately issued his orders.

There were sixteen of us, all intimate with the lay-out, knowing every house and doorway in the main street. Ten of us took positions in doorways between Charles Street and along about forty yards of the main street up to the Midleton Arms Hotel. The remainder did likewise on the opposite side of the street. I was at the corner of Charles Street and Main Street, and Diarmuid Hurley was at the Midleton Arms Hotel end of Main Street, on the same side as I was. It was decided that, when the patrol was between our two positions on the return journey, Hurley would open fire, and this was to be the signal for all of us to go into action. Each one of our party was armed with a revolver.

We were only about five minutes in position when the patrol returned- still in the same order as I had seen it earlier. Hurley judged his shot to perfection, and at once all of us opened fire. The patrol was taken completely by surprise and, in comparatively short time, the attack was over. Some of the Tans did fire back at us, and there were a few narrow escapes on our side. Dan Cashman of Midleton was fortunate to be carrying a cigarette case in his vest pocket- it was badly dented by a bullet, but it probably saved his life. Jim McCarthy of Midleton, although not a member of the column, took part in the attack, and was wounded in the wrist. Otherwise, we escaped unscathed.

But what of the patrol? Constable Mullins was shot dead, and about six other Tans wounded, some of whom died later from their wounds. Some of the patrol threw their rifles on the street and ran away. “Gordie” escaped uninjured, and somehow I was glad of this as I still think he was not of an evil nature. Two of the Black and Tans were lying on the footpath near me, bleeding profusely.

Sergeant Moloney of the Midleton R.I.C. had been sent earlier to the house of a British ex officer, to collect the latter’s uniform. The sergeant was returning to barracks with the uniform, and as his return coincided with the attack, he came under our fire, was shot in the foot, and dropped the uniform convenient to where I was, and only a few yards from one of the wounded Black and Tans. I knelt down beside the Tan and spoke to him. He told me his name, which I have now forgotten, and said he was from Liverpool. He said he would resign if he recovered from his wounds. He then offered me his wallet. I took it from his hand and put it back in the breast pocket of his tunic, and told him I was doing so. I then got the uniform which Sergeant Moloney had dropped, folded it and placed it under the Tan’s head. The poor fellow lost a lot of blood, and I expect he was one of those who eventually died of wounds.

I cannot say with any certainty now what number of rifles and revolvers we captured that night. I do know I secured one rifle and one revolver, and I’m sure the rest of our lads were just as successful. This attack took place only a few hundred yards from the R.I.C. barracks and about five hundred yards from the military post. The whole affair lasted about twenty minutes. We withdrew by the same route as we had arrived. All the boys were in great form, and they had every right to be, but I recall having mixed feelings, due to my intimate contact with the wounded Black and Tan.

Patrick’s account is a fascinating insight into the main incident of the War of Independence in Midleton. Three R.I.C. and Black and Tan patrol men died as a result of the nights actions. These were Constable Martin Mullen, twenty-one year old Constable Ernest Dray and twenty-three year old Constable Arthur Thorp.

The Flying Column’s attack in Midleton led to the first official reprisals carried out by the British military during the War of Independence. Brigadier-General Higginson, commanding in the area, had leaflets distributed around the town (one of which survives in the National Museum of Ireland) informing residents that a number of houses would be burned in response to the attack. Those targeted were the houses of John O’Shea, Paul McCarthy and Edmond Carey of Midleton as well as a number of homes in Ballyrichard and Ballyadam. Extraordinary British Pathe film survives of the aftermath of this reprisal, showing the damage it caused to the town. To see the video click here.

The ambush and its consequences were undoubtedly some of the most dramatic episodes in Midleton’s history, when just over 90 years ago the busiest part of the town was suddenly transformed into a warzone.

References

Bureau of Military History Witness Statement 1449. 1956. Statement of Commandant Patrick J. Whelan, Vice Commandant, 4th Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade

Hart, Peter (Ed.) 2009. Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story 1916-21

Categories: War of Independence | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Midleton Archaeology and Heritage Project

Hi and welcome to our new blog! The Midleton Archaeology and Heritage Project is a not for profit group that has been established to explore the history and heritage of the town of Midleton, Co. Cork and it’s environs. We are a partnership between local archaeology and heritage businesses Rubicon Heritage Services, Know Thy Place and Midleton Tidy Towns Association. We hope to use these social media platforms to highlight different aspects of Midleton’s fascinating story, and to raise awareness of the stories that surround us. We hope that you will follow us as we try to find out more!

Main Street, Midleton, Co. Cork

Main Street, Midleton, Co. Cork

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