Monday, December 27, 2010

Athenry: Samuel Lewis and the Corporation Book Of Athenry by Ronan Killeen

First some of you  may ask "Who was Samuel Lewis?".  It is unSamuel Lewis was a topographer which comes from the word topography. Topography is were the configuration of a surface and the relations of man-made and natural features are recorded by someone. The reader will probably get a better understanding by reading the next piece of the article...

Here is what Samuel Lewis wrote about Athenry in 1837;

I have to explain two words first

Portreeve - A portreeve, or 'port warden' is a historical British political appointment with a fluctuating role which evolved over time.

Burgess - Burgess is a word in English that originally meant a freeman of a borough (England) or burgh (Scotland). It later came to mean an elected or un-elected official of a municipality, or the representative of a borough in the English House of Commons.

"The Portreeve, Brugesses, and Freemen of the corporation," and consisted of a "a portreeve and an unlimited number of burgesses and freemen; the above [Elizabeth's I] grant empowers  them to appoint a common clerk and "all other nessary tenants as Trim used", but only inferior officers are a serjeant-at-mace, craner, pound-keeper, two appraisers, and, a bellman, who are appointed by portreeve".
The portreeve and about twenty burgesses were elected  annually while the limits of the borough comprehended the town and a surrounding the agricultural, called the "Liberties".
The town returned two members to the Irish Parliment until Act of Union  came into  effect on 1 January 1801. £15,000 was paid in compensation to the trustees of the marriage settlement of Theophilous Blakeney... (see previous article).

The Corporation Book of Athenry, which one volume of it, was in the possession of Rev P.Delaney parish priest of Carna, in  October 1988. This lists the proceedings of the corporation from 1781 to 1840.

In 1837 Lewis wrote that the portreeve;

...who has the power to appoint a deputy, is a justice of the peace within the borough and its liberties, clerk of the market, and sole judge of the borough court. The town or portreeve's court shield is held for all please, real and personal, to an unlimited amount, as often as business requires, which of late has been but seldom, and generally on a Monday, not in any fixed court-house or place, but in different parts of the town...
The market, with a fair in October, was granted  to Sir W.Parsons, Bart., in 1629, and is on a Friday, but is only indifferently attended; and fairs for sheep and cattle are held onMay 5th, July 2nd, and Oct 20th, of which that in July is the largest. A constabulary police force is stationed here (This is obviously the Royal Irish Constabluary of Athenry) - Samuel Lewis.

This system of agriculture in the parish of Athenry, which comprised of 1,954 statue acres, was then somewhat improved and there was a considerable quantity of unreclaimed bog. The Catholic parish was co-existence with that of the established church and the town cotained a Catholic church, a plain slated building. About 330 children were educated between the parochial school and four private pay schools in Athenry , while another 170, or so, were educated in three schools at Monivea and Newcaste.
In 1831 1,319 people lived in 250 houses in Athenry. By 1986 the town  could boast a population of 1,642,   790 males and 852 females.

Theophilous Blakeney of Abbert by Ronan Killeen

Theophilous Blakeney of Abbert served as a member of parliament for Athenry from 1766-1776 and from 1783-1799. During the intervening period he became M.P. for Carlingford. As a captain in the Royal Sussex Regiment he saw service in Quebec and Staten Island in 1761; in 1772 he was a Surveyor General for Connaught; and in 1773 was appointed High Sheriff .
He married Margaret Stafford of Gillstown, County Roscommon in 1782. Theophilus died in 1813 and was succeeded by his son, John Henry Blakeney. The Blakeney's replaced the Bermingham's as Athenry's premier family when Thomas, Lord Athenry, the first and only Earl of Louth, who died in 1798.

Something short pre- New year 2011 eh?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Special: Athenry Concert in 1901 by Ronan Killeen

Christmas Special...

This month I am quite happy to set a lighter tone to Athenry Local History. Northgate street nowadays is a street of stores and pubs but I bet not everyone from Athenry knew that there was actually a hall on Northgate Street (I certainly didn't!). We will begin...
   On the 10th of January 1902 The Tuam News reported about a concert that took place on December the 26th and 27th 1901. An annual concert for a charitable cause (The article does not state what the charity was for!)

"The very spacious hall at Northgate Street, was suitabily prepared for the occasion, and, as a variety of entertainment aswell as (a?) concert was part of the programme, stage and scenery were to suit were tastefully arranged.
   As benefiting the move in preservation of Mother Tongue, the boys of the Athenry National School rendered as opening item "An Chruit re scar," the Harp, harmonized in our own language an astonished as well as pleased the audience. The precision in pronunciation of our own Gaelic, aswell as the thorough harmony throughout was most gratifying, the audience showed their appreciation by repeated encores.
   "Through the Last Glimpse of Erin" was very sweetly song by Miss.Dolan. That splendid son "Bantry Bay" was done justice by Mr.P. Kelly, and Miss Ryan, whose sweet singing has been heard at local concerts rendered "Killarney" in admirable style. "When shall day break in Erin," that favourite new song was sung by Mr.T.Higgins in splendid style and loudly applauded.

The comic element was well kept up with the "Galway Militia", (local Comic), John F. Kelly and "Crockery Ware" by W.P. Higgins. Both acquitted themselves well . Miss Barbra Leonard, Miss Delia McDonagh and Miss Alice Nolan rendered their songs with taste and after duets with Misses Mahon and Nolan, and Mr and Mrs Graham, the singing with glee by female school children was rendered in the very taking style.
   Variety entertainment was opened by (a?) stump speech by John F.Kelly and indeed Athenry audiences know how inimitable he is in this role. With a blend of local monstrosities he fairly convulsed those present.
A feature of the night entertainment very much appreciated was the stepdancing of Messrs. W.P Higgins, T.Monaghan, and P.Keane. The Irish jig was certainly tipped in style of the highest praise.
The entertainment was brought to a close with the laughable farce "The Irish Doctor," in which the leading parts were taken by Messrs.Kelly, Mahon, Lardner and Nolan, must successfully. Altogether the entertainment was most enjoyable. The pinaforte of accompaniments of various songs were tastefully executed by Miss May Kelly, Mrs. Broderick and Miss Dolan.

- Correspondent.

Well Readers that it is it until sometime in January so..............


                               Mr.Ronan Killeen

List of Publicans and Hotel Owners/Managers 1856-1936 by Ronan Killeen (Merry Christmas!)

1846 [1] Margaret Barrett, (Hotel and Posting House); Matthias Cannon; John Dunleavy; John Holleran; John Whelan. 1856 [...