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“An Irish Journey” by Sean O’Faolain in 1940s Thurles, Continued.

Sean O’Faolain

Cork born, John Francis Whelan [1900 -1991] possibly better known by all as Sean O’Faolain was one of the most influential figures in 20th-century Irish culture. A short-story writer of international repute; he was also a leading commentator and critic.

In his book “An Irish Journey” (from the Liffey to the Lee), latter published first in 1940, (Published in America in 1943), he reflects on his visit to Liberty Square, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. 

For those who may have missed Part 1 of his story regarding his sojourn in Thurles, Co. Tipperary; same can be read HERE

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PART 2(Final part continues)Sean O’Faolain writes as follows,

“The old man on the bridge remembered all the famous people I associate with Thurles, such as the famous Archbishop Croke, Smith O’Brien and the Fenians, Parnell, John Dillon and especially William O’Brien, that fiery particle from Cork who with Tim Healy was the most gallant and the wildest fighter of the Irish parliamentary party and who alone continued the best traditions (as well as some of the worst) of that party into the modern Sinn Fein revival.

He showed me where the old Market House used to stand in the square with its little tower and it’s frontal terrace, stepped at each side and he talks so well I could see the vast political meetings there, of nights, with the tar-barrels smoking and spluttering in the wind, their flames leaping in the reflecting windows about, the police lined along the opposite walls or grouped in side streets, fingering their carbines or batons in case there should be a clash between rival parties.

The great Archbishop would stand there tall and impressive; with him another big clerical figure – with apparently much more suave and evasive, Canon Cantwell; Dillon slightly stooped; O’Brien bearded like a prophet and Parnell ready to tear the hearts of the crowd with some clinching phrase.

Later, I looked up at Croke’s fine statue in the square and went to the Cathedral (Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles), to see his bust in its niche – a square jawed firm mouthed man, much what one would expect from his life story, all solid and all of a piece. He was one of the last great nationalist prelates, for the Parnell split struck a deadly blow at a priest in politics, and though the hierarchy has manfully stood by the people several times since then, especially during the Revolution, they almost always act in cautious and deliberate concert and the freelance fighting Bishop has since died out.

The Archbishop Thomas William Croke statue situated on Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

There is something fabular (having the form of a fable or story) about Croke. He destroyed all his papers after reading Purcell’s “Life of Cardinal Manning and little positive remains.

It is said that he fought at the barricades in Paris in the revolutionary troubles of 1848, [“Springtime of the Peoples”]. One can, after looking at his portraits and reading his life, well believe William O’Brien who vouches for it; see the young priest of twenty-four caught by the excitement of the times, the rattle of Cavignac’s musketry, the flutter of the Red flag, the barricades of furniture, carts, wagons, dead horses, the cries of the demagogues.

There is another like story which maintains that when he was a student either in Paris or in that pleasant college of the little Rue de Irlandais, behind the Pantheon orat Menin, he horrified a class by denying in a syllogism, (Latter a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed propositions), was expelled, put his pack on his back and tramped across Europe to the Irish college at Rome and was admitted there. (The rector was John Paul Cullen, later Cardinal, a friend of Pope Leo, one of the most influential men in the whole European church, the man who defined for the Catholic world the precise formula of Papal Infallibility.)

I should like to believe the stories, they are such an excellent prologue to a life during which, as curate, professor, college president at Fermoy, chancellor, parish priest, bishop in New Zealand, archbishop of Cashel, he was in every station, the most outspoken, forward driving, irrepressible, warm-hearted, affectable, and sympathetic figure, in the entire history of the Irish episcopacy.

When he was appointed Bishop, it is said that the appointment was most unpopular in his diocese and if I made believe my old man at the bridge, (Barry’s Bridge Thurles), who kept on remembering local lore about him – on his first Sunday he got up in the pulpit and told the people that he knew it, that he now had the post and that he “was, thank God, under no compliment to the priests and people of Tipperary for it”.

He gave dinner in celebration of his appointment. Only one of his opponent’s dared to stay away, a professor in the Diocesan Seminary, father Dan Ryan. The murmur went round the table before the meal ended that Ryan had been suspended, an unheard of punishment for what was merely a social gaffe. But it was true. Croke had suspended him for twenty-four hours, “just to show him who was the boss”.

William Smith O’Brien

He was as generous as he was stern. In the great days of the Irish parliamentary party, William (Smith) O’Brien used to stay at the Palace. One night, after O’Brien had gone to bed the Archbishop paused outside his door and for some idle reason apparently looked at O’Brien’s boots. They were in tatters. He sent out into the town early next morning for a new pair of boots. O’Brien soon afterwards received the cheque for €200.

Those must have been great days and nights in that Palace in Thurles and Croke has always seemed to me an epitome (perfect example) of the Irish priest at his best, sitting there among the Irish political leaders of the day Biggar, Davitt, Parnell, O’Brien and the rest. Outside are the Tipperary farmers and their wives, down from the rich hills, up from the Golden Vale. The great square is dense with chaffers and bargainers by day; by night with crowds waiting to hear him. It is splendid to see his statue today in that same square (Liberty Square, Thurles) with the market surging around it, like a navy moored to his pedestal.

And he was no mere political priest. At the Parnell divorce he took Parnell’s bust, which he had in his hall, and kicked it out of the door, he was heartbroken. “Ireland” he moaned “is no fitting place for any decent man today. The warmth that used to gladden my heart has disappeared. There is nothing to cheer me in church or state”.
He wished even to fly from Thurles and Tipperary and Ireland, back to New Zealand.

I naturally have a warm corner for Croke; he was a Cork man and they say he never lost his Cork accent and even to the end of his days, ordered his food and other needs from Cork city, rather than give Tipperary, which had not wanted him, the benefit of his custom. A curious thing is that his mother was a Protestant. She remained a Protestant to within a few years, I think only four, of her death.

History, as all over Ireland, is an odd medley in the popular mind of this modern Tipperary – if one may judge by its chance projections in Thurles. They have, for example, lost their old market hall, with its many associations. The one castle which remains is only part of what once stood there.
There were once seven castles in Thurles. In the backyards any good antiquary, like, I imagine, the local Archdeacon Seymour or Dr Callanan, could point you out the remains of the old walls in the town’s backyards. On the other hand on the wall of Hayes hotel there is a neat plaque to commemorate the founding there, of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884, with Croke as the first patron. While the modern Gaelic revival having permitted the castles to disappear, records a group of new terrace houses beyond Kickham Street, heroes and heroines nobody can possibly visualise or know anything about – Oisin Terrace, Oscar Terrace, Dalcassian Terrace, Emer Terrace, Banba Terrace and so on.
It is a typical experience of the confused and ambiguous, mingled nature of this modern Ireland to go from that end of the town to the other, to the great Beet Factory, pulsing and hammering away inside its impressive buildings, with its rows and rows of railway sidings and it’s rows and rows of windows shining at night across the Tipperary fields”.

Story Ends

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Padraic Maher To Launch Thurles Sarsfields GAA Story Volume II, on Friday Next.

The essential and most perfect Christmas gift for lovers of all things GAA.

The launch of Thurles Sarsfields GAA Story Volume II, 1960-2019, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic; but gladly as restrictions are easing, the launch of this much awaited book will now take place on next Friday, November 5th, in the Thurles Sarsfields Social Centre at 8.00 p.m.

Performing the launch, to which all are welcome, is Tipperary hurling star, Padraic Maher, Sarsfields most decorated hurler of the modern era.

Volume 2 of the book continues the epic story of this club, which is as old as the GAA itself. It takes the reader through its peaks and troughs from the heady days of the sixties, through the barren years that followed, to the club’s return to the glory days of the last decade.

The opening of the Social Centre, the inclusion of Ladies Football and Camogie and the club’s development of new grounds on the Racecourse Road, are all highlighted, as are many of the developments in Thurles during the period.

This hardback book, which runs to 752 pages, has an amazing array of photographs and a detailed statistical section.

Books, costing €25, will be on sale in the centre from 6.00p.m. and copies will be available later at: –
Bookworm, Parnell Street, Thurles. Tel: 0504-22257.
Email: info@bookworm.ie
and at
Eason in Thurles Shopping Centre, Tel: 0504-24588.
Email: thurles@easonfranchise.com

NB: For those who missed out on Volume 1, copies will be available on the night, at a bargain price of €40 for both volumes.

All are welcome to attend this Book Launch.

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A Once Irish Tradition On All Souls’ Night, November 2nd.


In Latin America – “Día de los Muertos” (Spanish – Day of the Dead).

Celtic nations firmly believed that at certain times of the year the boundaries between the mortal and unearthly realms briefly thinned or broke down. It was further accepted, as being true, that this veil between the two worlds was at it’s thinnest at this time of year; on Halloween (Samhain), All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.

“All Souls’ Day”, a painting by Czech artist Jakub Schikaneder, 1888

All Souls’ Day is a day to honour and pray for the dead, especially those who are believed to be in purgatory. It is believed that Saint Odilo, Benedictine Abbot of Cluny, France, (son of Berald de Mercoeur and Gerberga) first designated a specific day for remembering and praying for those in the process of purification or temporary punishment in which, according to medieval Christian and Roman Catholic belief, the souls of those who die, in a state of grace, are made ready for acceptance into heaven.

On All Souls’ Day, those who have left us can come back for a brief visit on this night. As they pass through your home, they leave their love and blessings, and take away your troubles. Your personal energy and love for them is the path which attracts them back amongst the living.

Ancient Irish people believed that the souls of the dead would return to their family home. The dead were believed to be repositories of wisdom and lore and that during this blessed period they would return to speak to their descendants here on earth.

Great care was taken, therefore, on All Souls’ Night to ensure they felt welcome. Returning ancestors, it was believed, would bestow two main gifts; (1) the ability to remember old days and traditions and (2) the ability to hold a deeper understanding of how we are forever linked to our bloodline.

To this end, earlier in the day graves would be visited and cleaned, with a candle left to burn. At home, to prepare for the arrival of the dead, Irish families would light a warm fire, sweep the floor, put a place setting of available cutlery on the kitchen table for each current generation deceased relative. A bowl of spring water and a container of salt was also present, latter representing the meal you would have prepared for them, when they were on this side.

With the door to the house left unlocked for the night, a candle, for each of those who had passed over, was lit and placed in the window that faced in the direction of the cemetery. When evening prayers were said before bed, these candles would be extinguished, with possibly one allowed to burn out.

Many of these traditions have now died out in Ireland, but today on our island, All Souls’ Day still remains a day of commemoration when prayers and Masses are said for those dearly beloved who have passed on.

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Capt. E. S. Fogarty Fegen VC – A Forgotten Tipperary Hero.

During WWII, between early May 1940 and the end of July 1941, British cargo ships were being sunk by German U-boats and battle ship surface raiders, at an average rate of some 66 per month. Before WWII finished in 1945, the British would lose 2,426 merchant ships and 19,180 seamen in the North Atlantic. Between June and October 1940 alone, more than 270 allied ships had been sunk in the North Atlantic.

One such incident, which happened on the 5th November 1940, on the North Atlantic route, involved Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, latter commanding HMS Jervis Bay, which was escorting a convoy of 38 ships carrying merchandise, (merchantmen), Convoy HX.84.

Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, was the son of Mary Catherine (née Crewse) and Vice Admiral Frederick Fogarty Fegen of Ballinlonty, Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Born on October 8th 1891, in Knightsbridge, London; Edward Fegen came from a strong naval tradition, with both his father and grand-father being naval officers. His Fogarty Irish family history, indeed, can easily be traced back to the 5th century, to one Fergus Cearbhall, latter the 133rd monarch of Ireland.

We first get to hear about Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen on March 24th 1918 (end of WWI), when a British Merchant steamer the ‘SS War Knight‘; on route from New York to Britain with supplies, led by ‘HMS Syringa’, accidentally collided with the ‘SS O.B. Jennings‘ off St. Catherine’s head, at the southern tip of the Isle of Wight. This collision resulted in the release of naphtha cargo (a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture) being carried by ‘SS O.B. Jennings‘, which then flowed across the deck of the ‘SS War Knight‘. A fire now began on both ships, but also on the surface of the water surrounding both ships.

The ‘SS War Knight’ had an international crew, on board, made up of Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, Norwegian, Swedish, Belgian, Newfoundlanders, Jamaican, American and Australian.

‘H.M.S. Garland’, under the command of Lieutenant Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, with other destroyers, were proceeding to the spot to render assistance, when it was seen that one boat which had been lowered from the ‘O.B. Jennings’ had been swamped. The H.M.S. Garland closed in on the O.B. Jennings, rescued the men from the swamped boat, and then proceeded alongside the ship, which was still blazing, rescuing those who were still on board. She afterwards proceeded to pick up the others who had left the ship in boats; rescuing in all four officers and twenty-two men. Lieutenant Fegen handled his ship in a very able manner under difficult conditions during the rescue of the survivors, while Quartermaster Driscoll worked the helm and saw that all orders to the engine-room were correctly carried out. Lieutenant Fogarty Fegen actions during this rescue resulted in both men being awarded Silver Sea Gallantry Medals, latter medal first struck in 1855 for saving life at sea.

Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen’s Service Record: –
1922. Jan. – promoted to Lt. Cmdr. Seniority 15/10/1921, serving in HMS WHITLEY.
1922. Dec. – appointed to HMS SOMME.
1924. Jan. – appointed to HMS VOLUNTEER.
1925. Jun. – appointed to HMS COLOSSUS Accommodation ship, 20,000 tons, Boys training ship.
1926. Jul. – appointed to HMS FORRES as Lt/Cmdr in command.
1927. Nov. – on S.O.T.C (Senior Officer`s Technical Course) at Portsmouth.
1927. Dec – appointed to R. A. N. – ( R A N C at Captains Point, Jervis Bay ) on Naval staff.
1928. Jan – believed promoted to Cmdr on 20/1/1928.
1929. Dec. – still at R. A. N.
1932/1934HMS OSPREY.
1934 – on S O W C (Senior Office`s War Course) at R.N. College at Greenwich from 15/10/34 to February 1935
1935. Mar. – HMS DAUNTLESS to June 1935.
1935. Aug – HM Dockyard, Chatham to August 1938. HMS CURLEW – Reserve Fleet, and HMS DRAGON – Reserve Fleet.
1939. Jul – HMS EMERALD, Cruiser, 7,550 tons, Reserve Fleet at the Nore. [Interesting to note that the Capt. of HMS EMERALD was Capt. A.W.S.Agar, VC, DSO.]
1940. Feb. – appointed Acting Capt. of Armed Merchant Cruiser, HMS JERVIS BAY.

History of HMS JERVIS BAY.
The HMS Jervis Bay was built originally as a passenger ship; its purpose, to carry emigrants to Australia. With WWII beaconing, it was taken over by the Admiralty in August 1939. She was fitted with seven 6-inch guns, dating from the turn of the century, which were distributed around her decks and was repainted grey. Now, lightly armed and riding high in the water, her crew would refer to her as so many other such refurbished ships, as an “Admiralty-made coffin.”.

Her role was designated as that of an ocean escort ship, to guard Atlantic convoys. The British Admiralty were well aware that Germany in the First World War, had frequently employed armed liners, for raiding allied ships and in the Second World War, against such similar liners the HMS Jervis Bay would have had an equal chance of a successful defence, but was no match against an armoured ship.

On the November 5th 1940 in the Atlantic, Captain Fogarty Fegen, was commanding the HMS Jervis Bay, while escorting 38 merchantmen, when they were attacked by the German Pocket Battleship ‘Admiral Scheer‘, commanded by Admiral Captain Theodor Krancke; latter commanding all German naval forces in Western Europe.

History of ADMIRAL SCHEER.

The Admiral Scheer was a Deutschland-class heavy cruiser (often termed a pocket battleship) which served with the Kriegsmarine (War Navy) of Nazi Germany, during World War II. [The vessel was named after Admiral Reinhard Scheer, German commander in the Battle of Jutland.]
She was built at the Reichsmarinewerft shipyard in Wilhelmshaven, in June 1931 and was completed by November 1934. Originally classified as an armoured ship (Panzerschiff) by the Reichsmarine, in February 1940 the Germans reclassified the remaining two other ships of this class as ‘heavy cruisers’.

The ‘Admiral Scheer’ had slipped through the Denmark Strait and into the open Atlantic on the night of October 31st, on her first combat offensive of WWII. Now hunting in the North Atlantic, her radio intercept equipment quickly identified convoy HX-84, as being in the surrounding sea area. An on board seaplane (Heinkel He 60) launched from a catapult on the ‘Admiral Scheer’, eventually located the HX-84 convoy on the morning of November 5th, some 144 km, (90 mls) from their then North Atlantic position.

Sometime in the late afternoon a lookout on board the ‘SS Rangitiki’, latter the tallest of the convoy ships, observed the mast of the Admiral Scheer on the horizon. At about 4:45pm Capt. Fogarty Fegen sounded action stations and began accelerating his ship out of its convoy position; to head toward the Admiral Scheer, firing the ship’s 6-inch guns, while aware he was well out of range of the enemy craft.

It was only Admiral Scheer’s third salvo that struck the Jervis Bay’s bridge, knocking out her rangefinder, wireless, and fire-control equipment, while also killing several officers and crewmen in the blast. Captain Fegen’s left arm was very badly injured in the strike.

Darkness was falling as Admiral Krancke continued to train his big guns on the Jervis Bay, with each salvo launching two and a half tons of ordnance at the stricken vessel. Admiral Krancke knew he needed to quickly sink Jervis Bay in order that he would have sufficient time to attack the rest of the convoy.

However, Jervis Bay continued steaming towards Admiral Scheer while firing her guns, until her steering gear was knocked out. Nevertheless, the heroic actions of the Jervis Bay had now saved most of the convoy, but Capt. Fegen’s actions would cost him his life and that of his ship.

With Captain Fegen now dead, Lt. Cmdr. George Roe, in assumed command, ordered the remaining crew members to abandon ship. Most of the surviving Jervis Bay crew simply jumped into the icy, sub-Arctic sea, some making it to existing rafts, while others made do with what debris they could find floating on the water’s surface.

Captain Olander of the Stureholm, impressed by the courage shown by Captain Fegen and Jervis Bay, called his ship’s crew together and proposed they return to the scene to search for possible survivors. The crew of this Swedish ship agreed, and the freighter returned to the battle scene, where it was able to pull just 68 men of Jervis Bay’s crew (of the 266 man crew) from the freezing sea, (three of same died after being rescued and were buried at sea that night).

Stureholm then returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, considering it the safer of two options; arriving back there on November 12th.

The remaining 38 ships of the convoy, which had taken advantage of the time the Jervis Bay had bought for them, had scattered. With Jervis Bay sunk the ‘Admiral Scheer’ continued in search of the now scattered convoy ships managed to sink only five of them.

Note: – Names of Officers of ‘H.M.S. Jervis Bay’, are hereunder coloured in Purple denoting those known ‘Killed’, while names coloured in Red denote those as ‘Missing, Presumed Killed’.
Back row left to rightGunner E.R. Stannard, Lieut. Richard Shackleton, Surgeon-Lieut. H.St.J. Hiley, Paymaster Lieut. A.W. Stott, Lieut. Hugh Williamson (chief radio officer), Lieut. A.H.W. Bartle, Lieut. Norman E. Wood, Lieut. Walter Hill, Lieut.-Commdr. George L. Roe, Lieut. H.G.B. Moss, Paymaster Lieut. J.G. Sargeant.
Middle row left to rightPaymaster Commdr. E.W. White, Lieut. Commdr. K.M. Morrison, Commdr. J.A.P. Blackburn, D.S.C., Capt. E.S. Fogarty Fegen , V.C., Engineer Commdr. J.H.G. Chappell, Lieut. Commdr. A.W. Driscoll.
Front rowleft to right – Wireless Operator Donald Curry, Midshn. Owens, Midshn. Ronald A.G. Butler, Midshn. C.C.T. Latch, Midshn. W.B. Thistleton.

Other senior officers of the vessel, including Surgeon Lieut. Commdr. T.G. Evans, Lieut. Dudlet J.H. Bigg, and Sub-Lt. Guy Byam-Corstiaens, are not shown in the picture on the above video.

In one of Winston Churchill’s War Time Speeches entitled. “Forward, Till the Whole Task is Done”,communicated on May 13th, 1945. he states: –
“When I think of these days I think also of other episodes and personalities. I think of Lieutenant-Commander Esmonde, VC, or Lance-Corporal Connally, VC, and Captain Fegen, VC, and other Irish heroes that I could easily recite, and then I must confess that bitterness by Britain against the Irish race dies in my heart.”

The war ended for the Admiral Scheer in April 1945, when she was capsized in about 50 feet of water during a 300-plane air raid at Kiel harbour, on the southwestern coast of the Baltic Sea.

Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen was recommended for the Victoria Cross by Britain’s King George VI, who was said to be “stirred deeply” by Fegen’s sacrifice. “When [Captain Fegen] attacked by the Admiral Scheer,” wrote King George VI in his diary, “he knew he was going to certain death.” The medal was awarded to Fegen’s sister, Miss M.C. Fegen, by His Majesty King George VI, at an investiture at Buckingham Palace, in June of 1941.

A citation for Capt. Fegen’s Victoria Cross was published in the London Gazette on November 22nd 1940.

It read: – “The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross to the late Commander (acting Captain) Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, Royal Navy, for valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect”.

Memorials can be found to Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen at; Chatham Naval Memorial, Chatham, Kent, UK (Marker: 34. 1); on a sundial, at Hamilton, Bermuda; on a 4 meter high Column in the Hospital grounds at St John, New Brunswick, Canada, the Seaman’s Institute, Wellington, New Zealand and on a little known Naval Memorial headstone the walled-in old graveyard, beside the ivy covered, ancient ruins of a Church in Drom, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. His body was lost at sea never to be located and thus he remains listed as ‘Missing, Presumed Killed’.

A Certificate from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) archives, can be downloaded directly from HERE.

In ár gcroíthe go deo.

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“An Irish Journey” – By Sean O’Faolain

Cork born, John Francis Whelan [1900 -1991] possibly better known as Sean O’Faolain was one of the most influential figures in 20th-century Irish culture. A short-story writer of international repute; he was also a leading commentator and critic.

Sean O’Faolain

In his book “An Irish Journey” (from the Liffey to the Lee), latter published first in 1940, he reflects on his visit to Liberty Square, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. 

Sean O’Faolain writes,

“Wild or not, these Thurles people have much more edge to them than the easy-going Clonmel folk. Their town shows it. The great wide square, concrete from pavement to pavement, the bright shops, every one of them well-dressed, the busy air of the streets even on an ordinary afternoon and the almost total absence of antiquities, marks this out as a modern business-town, “with no nonsense about it.”

And it has gone on improving every year. Old residents tell me that their fathers have handed to them a very different picture of an older Thurles, when as one of them said to me, “you could step from dung-heap to dung-heap in the square”. Hovels surrounded the centre of the town. The elder Dr. Callanan, the father of the present Dispensary doctor, told me he once handled 175 cases of fever in a single epidemic and he had handled typhus as well as typhoid.

Older traditions can revive the famine days, when people died in the fields by the ditches, their mouths green from eating nettles, even as Spencer records from an earlier period; while, in those unions which Dan O’Connell opposed so inexplicably, the dying were laid in rows upon rows on the floor.

An old man I met on the bridge told me he recalls the time when the town might have been thought of as composed of six shopkeepers, who made “pots of money” out of the Big Houses all about, and who were so many Gombeen-men, or tight-fisted, hard-screwing middle-men to the farmers. But he said they are gone now with the froth of the river.

(The River, by the way, is still the Suir: it rises not that much more than a mile away from the Nore up near the Devil’s Bit).

They’re gone with the big houses on which they relied”, and he waved his hand over the river, past the old 12th century castle, the town’s only relique, down towards Fethard and up the river towards Templemore. “Archerstown House, Lanespark House, Killeen House, Ballysheehan, New Park, Mobarnane, Coolmore, Derryluskan, Brownstown House, Ballyronan , Lloydsboro, Inch…. How many of them are left now?. Ah, ‘tis a pity. For they were fine houses and gave great employment.”

“But surely the beet factory“, I protested, “must employ as many as the whole lot of them put together.”
“Tisn’t alike”, he insisted, morosely. “Tisn’t alike, what’s a factory? Here to-day, gone tomorrow. What am I to a factory? No more than that shtone”, as he slapped the bridge parapet as if he wanted to crack his hand.

“They were dacent people – or the most of them were – and they attinded to the min that was working for ‘um. If a man got sick they’d give him the besht of the attention. If you get sick in the factory, what happens you, only to lie up and lose your wages, or maybe your job. Ah, tisn’t alike! There’s no nature in a factory.”

Nobody regrets more than the artist the passing of that old hierarchical form of society, so complete in its gradations of human order, still humanized in Ireland by contact with the natural life for the land, long after it had become dehumanized in England by the industrial revolution.
But it had many faults even here. Its fatal weakness was that the Big House people felt themselves here, not merely of a different class to the worker and the farmer – which was natural since it happened to be true – but of a different race or religion or life mode and they took their political philosophy from England, whose problems were of a quite different nature. Master and man were not one entity, with right and proper distinctions between them, but two separate entities. And that does not work”.

To Be Continued. [Note: Part 2, the final part can be read HERE.

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