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November 9th, A Date Synonymous With German History

Lest We Forget

November 9th is a date forever synonymous with German history; same never to be forgotten.

Today and in recent years the fall of the Berlin Wall, which occurred, this day, (on Thursday November 9th 1989), has somewhat overshadowed the events of Wednesday November 9th, 1938, latter which should have been a warning and a strong indication of the future Jewish Holocaust; latter also known as the Shoah, or the World War II extermination and genocide of 6 million European Jews and others, carried out between 1941 and 1945, in extermination camps and gas chambers.

Companies such as BMW, Deutsche Bank, Ford, Opel, Siemens and Volkswagen would later face lawsuits for their use of forced labor during World War II.

The French State owned National Railway Company (SNCF), agreed, as late as 2014, to pay $60 million to Jewish-American survivors, (around $100,000 each), for their role in the transporting of some 76,000 Jews from France to extermination camps, between the years 1942 and 1944.

Emaciated dead Jewish bodies in a concentration camp, piled up awaiting disposal, which had then just been relieved by Allied troops.

On November 9th, 1938, German Nazis launched a campaign of terror against Jewish people and their homes and businesses throughout Germany and Austria. The violence, which continued through until Thursday November 10th was later labelled “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of Broken Glass,” following the countless smashed windows and other vandalism systematically carried out on some 7,500 Jewish businesses. Same deliberate, orchestrated and senseless activity would leave that night approximately 100 Jewish people dead and hundreds of synagogues, private homes, educational centres and graveyards, vandalized and pillaged.

Today is the anniversary of a peaceful revolution

However, for today at least, let us commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall [German: Mauerfall – English: Fall of the Wall), which happened this day, 30 years ago, November 9th 1989. Same event was widely regarded as a pivotal event in the history of our world, soon to mark the fall of the “Iron Curtain”, latter a political, military, and ideological barrier, erected by the Soviet Union, following World War II; thus sealing off other non-communist countries.

Two pieces, each from both sides of the Berlin Wall, on display previously here in Thurles. Note: The graffiti paint on the top piece, is from the western side.

Following the earlier dismantling of an electric fence (April 1989), latter which had stretched along the border between Hungary and Austria; refugees were finding their way into Hungary via Czechoslovakia.

This emigration was initially tolerated because of long-standing agreements with the communist Czechoslovak government, which had allowed for free travel across their common boundary.

This permitted movement of people now grew so large that it caused great difficulties for both countries. To further add to this, East Germany was struggling to meet loan payments on foreign borrowings.

Former East German politician, who was the last communist leader of East Germany, Egon Krenz had sent Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski to unsuccessfully negotiate a short-term loan from West Germany, to enable East Germany to make their interest payments.

It was at a Politburo meeting on November 7th of that year, that it was decided to enact a portion of the draft travel regulations addressing permanent emigration immediately. At the start, the Politburo planned simply to create a special border crossing near Schirnding, Bavaria, specifically for this current emigration. Personnel at the Ministry for State Security (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD or Stasi) had been charged with fashioning new document text for these intended changes. The latter had concluded same changes were not feasible and had produced instead new text relating to emigration and temporary travel details.

This new text now stipulated that East German citizens could apply for permission to travel abroad without having to meet the previous requirements then in vogue for similar journeys.

To ease the obvious difficulties, the Politburo, led by Egon Krenz, decided on November 9th to allow refugees to exit directly through crossing points between East Germany and West Germany, including between East and West Berlin. Later that same day, the ministerial administration modified this proposal to include private and round-trip travel. The new regulations were to take effect the next day.

An end to the Cold War was declared at the Malta Summit, on December 2nd–3rd, 1989, some three weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall; latter which comprised a meeting between US President George H. W. Bush and the Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The reunification of Germany would take place during the following year.

The actual announcement of these new regulations, which saw the wall taken down, took place during an hour-long press conference. Same led by Günter Schabowski, (latter an official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany; the party boss in East Berlin; and the spokesman for the Socialist Unity Party (SED) Politburo). The press conference began at 18:00hrs Central European Time on November 9th and was broadcast live on East German television and radio, both then the state television and broadcaster in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

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Thurles – Double Ditch

The world outside your private home is not your personal dump.

Last week I had the privilege, for two days, to show a number of American & Canadian persons around the town of Thurles, all intent on combining together to write a Great Famine TV script. Not having recently visited the “Double Ditch”, on the Mill Road, once a Great Famine project initiated for those starving here in Thurles; imagine my embarrassment on discovering the state of this National Monument.

A National Monument in the Republic of Ireland is a structure or site, the preservation of which has been deemed to be of national importance and therefore worthy of state protection.

Proud people just don’t litter.

This 174 year-old-old famine project has had its Mill Road entrance firstly destroyed by the very contractors employed by Tipperary Co. Council to erect fencing and a short concrete footpath, but now someone has erected posts and barbed wire on this public-right-of-way and once pedestrian Mass Path. It has also been turned into a graveyard for unwanted supermarket trollies. Observe it yourself as I viewed it last week.

“Double Ditch” at Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

A ditch is a narrow channel dug at the side of a road or in a field. Its purpose to either hold or carry away flood water.
In Anglo-Saxon, the word ‘dïc’ was pronounced ‘deek’ or ‘deetch’. In digging such a water trench the upcast soil will form into a bank alongside it. This banked soil thus means that the word ‘dïc’ included not just the excavation itself, but also the bank of soil derived from such effort. Later word would later evolve into the words we more commonly use today, e.g. ‘dyke’ and ‘ditch’.

The idea of this Thurles “Double Ditch” was firstly to provide work for those unemployed and starving, but was it also possibly erected to provide a dry shortcut for Dr. J.Knaggs himself, when he was wont to cross from his home, (today’s Ulster Bank premises, in Liberty Square, then known as Main Street); travelling via College Lane, The Pike, (today Kickham Street), to visit family relatives in Knaggs Mill, Brewery and Bakery at Archerstown watermill, same later to become Brady’s Mill?

The Double Ditch featured in our video was built in 1846 and remains a well-worn public right-of-way and also later became a Mass Path to the ‘Lady’s Well’ area. During the 19th and early 20th century same naturally became a short cut for all pupils attending schools in Thurles coming from outlying areas and villages e.g. Littleton.

With next year commemorating the 175th year of the Great Famine, [Same officially began on September 13th, 1845 – 1849], today this video must surely bring a blush of shame, not just to the faces of those we have elected locally to represent us, but also to Tipperary Co. Council officials, who have failed to provide a Recycling Depot in Thurles.
Same depots are readily available in the towns of Cashel, Nenagh, Clonmel, Donohill and Roscrea, but Thurles local councillors have once again failed us in every way, except on their social media pages.
For the few who hold a driving licence to tow a trailer, a rough costing for those who wish to clean up such litter can be found HERE.

Meanwhile, those of our starving ancestors, must surely be turning in their graves due to the disrespect shown in their efforts to feed their children / families.

The gift to the town of fruit bearing crab-apple trees, once secretly sowed by these people bounding on this double ditch, are now set on fire; the existing young shutes of Japanese knotweed, which featured in many a “Spring rhubarb tart” during two world wars, are now forced to emerge through filth and grime. [Yes, we should be controlling Japanese knotweed by eating it, instead of Tipperary Co. Council inviting specialist companies to destroy is using poisonous chemicals and at considerable cost to rate payers.]

The “Double Ditch” featured in the above video gets mentioned for the first time in the “Minutes of the Thurles Famine Food Committee”, on Monday, April 20th, 1846.

Those attending that 1846 meeting included Venerable Archdeacon Rev. Henry Cotton [Chairperson [(C. of I.)]. Present also were Dr. O’Connor, Very Rev. Fr. Barron, [(R.C.) St. Patrick’s College, Thurles], Rev. Mr Baker, Rev. Mr Lanigan, Mr O’Brien [Treasurer], Dr. Joshua Knaggs [Medical Doctor] and Mr James B. Kennedy [Secretary].

From these same minutes we learn that the Famine Relief Committee have already begun creating work for those unemployed, ensuring that money in the form of wages, will enable those starving to purchase food. Dr. Knaggs reports his having inspected the works to be undertaken at College Lane and the proposed “Double Ditch”; calculating the expense for the works at College Lane at £20, latter sum today the equivalent of £20,000.

It was agreed that barrows should be purchased from Mr Patrick McGrath [½doz @ 9 shillings]; Mr Daniel Carroll [½doz @ 9/6] and also Mr Dan Dwyer; latter if he wishes to make them. It was further agreed that, when necessary, the Committee have the power to hire asses’ carts at 15 pence per day.

The previous day, April 19th 1846, Mr J. B. Kennedy Esq had informed relief commissioners of the state of Thurles: –
243 families containing 739 men, women and children unable to work and almost totally destitute; and 525 families containing 2625 individuals totally depending on the heads and sons to the number of 790 who cannot procure employment; thus, making in the town, 3364 persons to be relieved”. With regards to the immediate environs [referred to as ‘country parts’] of the town he states: – “The country parts of our District are divided into wards and similar enquiries are in progress, the result of which I have reason to believe will be painful in the extreme”.

On the same day we learn from further written communication sent to the Trustees appointed for the distribution of Indian Meal, quote: – “In the town of Thurles alone there are at this moment 768 families containing 3364 inhabitants in actual want; of these 739 are old men, women and children, unable to work and who have no one to labour for them; and the remaining 2625 are depending on the daily hire of the sons and heads of the families to the number of 790 able to work and now out of employment”.

The following rules for labourers employed to work on this ‘Double Ditch were adopted: –
(1) Hours of labour to be from 7.00am to 7.00pm with 2 hours for meals.
(2) Any labourer found to shirk from reasonable and fair work or refusing to follow the directions of his overseer shall forthwith be discharged and not admitted to the works again.
(3) That the persons employed shall be paid every evening.
(4) That in case a greater number of labourers shall offer themselves than the funds will enable the committee to pay, a preference shall be given to those who have the largest and most necessitous families”.

Work was ordered to commence on the following Tuesday and quote; “Iron is to be purchased to make 20 crow bars, and 6 picks are also to be purchased”.

It was further agreed that, quote: – “Henceforth there be two rates of payment; 8 pence and 5 pence, and that no boy under 12 years old be employed. That tickets of the form now agreed on, should be printed to admit labourers to work – those for men in black ink and those for boys in red ink; Ordered that 500 red and 500 black tickets be printed. Families containing 7 members and over and having 2 men over 17 shall at the discretion of Committee be entitled to 2 black tickets; Families having a less number shall, if the Committee wish, get 2 tickets, one red and one black”.

Yes, expect tourists and visiting footfall to flood Liberty Square soon, but in what century I do not know.

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Halloween Ghosts Specific To Ériu

No, our H1 heading does not denote a spelling mistake to which we admit to being often prone. Our modern Irish ‘Éire’ initially evolved from an old Irish word ‘Ériu’. Ériu was the name of a Gaelic goddess, same believed to have been the matron goddess of a sovereign Ireland, or possibly a goddess of the land.

Have you ever observed a ghost?

Which brings me to news emanating from our sister town of Cashel, Co. Tipperary, (latter just a 20 minute drive from Thurles via the M8 or the R639 [22.3 km] ). We travel next to Cashel Library, situated at St. Francis Abbey, Friar St, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, which will host a number of events over Halloween for both adults and children, thus celebrating this age-old tradition.

Adult Event

It is here that a resident historian and well known designated “Witch”, (latter in day light possibly better known as Ms Maura Barrett), will give a lecture on ‘Halloween Traditions’ and discuss in detail “ghosts” that are specific to Ériu (Ireland).

This event takes will take place on Tuesday 29th of October at 7:00pm and is for adults only. Patrons and other interested parties are invited to come by for a “spell”, and dressing up is both optional and acceptable. This event promises to be a fun but a scary occasion and refreshments will be served.

Children’s Events

Mum and Dad please note: Children will not be forgotten in the same venue with “Halloween Storytime”, all thanks to Children Services Manager Ms Aoife Moore. This latter event will take place on Thursday 31st of October, beginning at 3.30pm sharp. Dressing up as your favourite ghost is suggested.

In addition, they are showing the film “Casper” on Tuesday 29th of October, at 2:30pm and fancy dress is also optional for this most enjoyable of events.

Bookings are essential for all events and can be made by simply calling Cashel Library on Tel: 062 63825, during official opening hours.

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Thurles Auction Of Local Carrigan Family Heirlooms

Empress Josephine’s Bed

Thurles auction of local Carrigan Family heirlooms, will take place on Tuesday next.

More than 500 auction lots, including heirlooms from the country house of the Carrigan family of Glengarriff, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, together with items from other private clients, will be auctioned off by Fonsie Mealy’s Auction House, at the Anner Hotel, Thurles on Tuesday next, October 1st, at 11:00am.

The auction will comprise of furniture, equestrian and other paintings, miniatures, prints, silver, Chinese porcelain, sporting guns, garden furniture, books, and maps. A 4ft 6in, 18th-century rosewood, French bed, latter understood to have belonged to the Empress Joséphine (1763 – 1814), first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, is included in the items expected to go on sale.

Note: A short 4ft 6in bed does not necessarily mean that people were shorter in the 17th/18th century. Rather people often chose to slept sitting up, in the real belief that for health reasons this was a safer option. By sleeping lying flat out, evil spirits could more easily enter your body as you slept, and your soul could more easily escape from your body.

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my Soul to keep,
If I should die before I ‘wake, I pray the Lord my Soul to take.”

Lots can be viewed at Glengarriff, Thurles, from 10am-5pm tomorrow Monday, September 30th and as already stated the auction will be held in the Anner Hotel at 11:00am the following day.

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What Colour Is Your Bedroom Wallpaper?

Earlier this month (August 3rd 2019) the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) moved to remove implicated batches of own brand bottled water, supplied by Co. Monaghan company ‘Celtic Pure’, which were on sale and display, in stores and food outlets nationally. Arsenic (chemical symbol As), a heavy metal, had been detected at levels above the prescribed legal limit in several branded ‘still’ and ‘sparkling’ bottled waters.

A more serious Arsenic contamination was discovered during the late 18th and early 19th century, in the form of ‘Paris Green’; also known as ‘Schloss Green’; ‘Scheele’s Green’ ; ‘Schweinfurt Green’; ‘Emerald Green‘; ‘Patent Green’, and ‘New Green’; latter compound invented in 1775 by pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, himself the initial true discoverer of the gas ‘oxygen’.

The long list of different names associated with this same compound over future years would suggests that manufacturers were anxious to continue selling their product. By ignoring known associated health issues, they simply changed its name in an effort to disguise and mislead consumers.

This product was further improved, in 1814, by chemists working at the Wilhelm Dye and White Lead Company of Schweinfurt, in the Lower Franconia region of Bavaria in Germany.

‘Paris Green’, came into use as a colourant for many household products, e.g. wallpapers and paper hangings; in paints; wax candles; artificial flowers; gloves; sweets; confectionery, particularly cake decorations; medicine; glass; dye in clothing; as a colourant in the painting of children’s toys and the product was ground down more finely, for inclusion in watercolour paints and inks.

Women were passionate about this yellowish-green pigment, same being much sought for being brighter and longer-lasting than other green colours then available in the market place. It became a particular hit amongst the then existing social elite; from the French Emperor Napoleon III’s wife, (the Empress Eugénie de Montijo), to Queen Victoria’s wallpaper decorating bedrooms Buckingham Palace.

On June 4th 1849, Dr. H. Letheby, M.B., Ph.D., a renowned chemist working at a London Hospital, confirmed that the cause of death for a female child was arsenic poisoning. The press of the time were quick to publicize that the arsenic paint used in wallpapers in that family’s home, had killed the child. Dr. Letheby further claimed that to kill any child, it did not need to eat this wallpaper paint, nor even to sleep in a room so decorated. Just a few hours of exposure breathing the dust of such wallpaper; especially flocked wallpaper, was all that was needed to bring about the death of an infant.

A French medical hygienist, known for his work in the field of occupational health and safety, one Maxime Vernois observed ten years later in 1859 that many male workers working with Scheele’s Green dye were found to have ulcerations on their green dyed hands, yellow nails, and crater-like scars on their legs. Their genital area also displayed painful lesions stretching along their inner thighs. Female cloth shapers were found to have poor appetites and suffered constant headaches, while displaying an anaemic skin pallor. His ongoing studies ended in the full knowledge that less than 1/8th of a teaspoon of arsenic, could signify a fatal dose, and this same group of employees were coming into contact with gallons of the dye substance.

Paris Green was also to become a popular colour expended by English romantic painter, printmaker and watercolour artist William Turner, and Impressionist artists like Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, together with Post-Impressionist painters such as Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cézanne.

At the turn of the 20th century this product was further blended and used as an insecticide by fruit and tobacco producers. During 1944 and 1945 in order to control malaria it was scattered by flying crop sprayers in Italy, Sardinia and Corsica, and further used as a rodent poison in Paris underground sewers.

When Maxime Vernois reported his concluded findings, Sweden, Germany and eventually France recognized the problem and banned the product. England, now its largest consumer and producer, however did not.

It was not until the 1960’s, despite all known and long proven scientific evidence on the highly toxic nature of this product, that the manufacture of emerald green paint was finally banned.

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