Mayo’s role in saving the uilleann pipes

Fri, Jun 16, 2017

Happy first birthday to Old Mayo. The first article appeared on June 17 last year. This week’s offering, the 52nd article in the series, focuses on Mayo’s role in aiding the survival of the uilleann pipes. This not particularly old but peculiarly Irish suited instrument with its smooth, haunting, sounds has drifted from popularity to a precarious state and back.

Read more ...

The long road from the Bloody Code

Fri, Jun 02, 2017

‘No person shall suffer death for any offence’ - no, it is not a medieval monarchical decree, it is in fact the first order of the Criminal Justice Act 1990. The Act prohibited capital punishment under all circumstances within the Republic for the first time. The death penalty had remained on the Irish statute books exclusively for the offences of treason and murder, but from 1990 onward those crimes would carry a sentence of life imprisonment. To say the 1990 Act ended centuries of capital punishment in Ireland would be telling only half the story.

Read more ...

Advertisement


Who fears to speak of Ernie O’Malley?

Fri, May 26, 2017

This week’s title borrows from John Kells Ingram’s famous 1843 political ballad, "The Memory of the Dead". In his poem, Ingram posits that later generations turned their fattened backs on the memory of the rebels of 1798, "Who Fears to Speak of '98?" Ingram was not a republican, but he penned his piece for the nationalist paper The Nation because he sympathised with what the United Irishmen had attempted to do and he had always pledged to defend brave men who opposed tyranny.

Read more ...

How Mayo prepared for D-Day

Fri, May 12, 2017

Following the painful birth of the Irish Free State and the semi-severing of political ties with London, British currency remained the economic elephant in the proudly independent room. Though apparently ideologically irreconcilable, the Free State retained the use of Britain’s sterling until 1928 when the Saorstát pound (punt) was introduced on a one to one ratio value with sterling. This attachment to the British pound continued after the introduction of the Irish punt in 1938.

Read more ...

Mayo Day celebrates our past, present and future

Fri, May 05, 2017

The multi-purpose Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology’s Castlebar campus staged the energetic opening ceremony of Mayo Day 2017 last Friday evening. The bank holiday weekend events were long billed to be a celebration of Mayo - past, present and future - and with no little amount of imagination and obvious hard graft, the organisers over-performed in achieving their aim. In his Mayo Day promotional video, director Lorcan Hynes beautifully wove an emotional message around the cliffs of Mayo and the skyscrapers of the world. The message invited the Mayo diaspora to return to a future Mayo, where prosperity will once again create opportunity. Our diaspora was to the fore during Mayo Day and for good reason as Peter Hynes, Mayo County Council’s chief executive, informed the opening ceremony that the global dispersion with Mayo heritage stands at 3.5 million people. Their affinity with their home county has led to Mayo associations growing up in the world’s biggest cities. Just as Mayo currently fits into current global themes of emigration and identity, so it did in the past when the international themes were revolution and republicanism. Those earlier themes, and in particular the political relationship they spawned between Ireland and France, were discussed at the fascinating Mayo Day La L’Arbre de la Liberté - Liberty Tree Conference on Friday and Saturday. The two-day conference offered an impressive line-up of historians and authors.

Read more ...

The Mayo member and the maid

Fri, Apr 21, 2017

John Deasy was on one of his regular trips to London. While carrying out his duties as the member of parliament for the constituency of Mayo West, Deasy was a frequent lodger at Mrs Postlethwaite’s boarding house at 75 Warwick Street, Pimlico, where he occupied a back room on the top floor. After a busy weekend, the tired 37-year-old MP returned to his room on the evening of Sunday, 4 June, 1893. One candle burned on the table by his bed, emitting limited light. It being a late hour, Deasy rang the service bell in order to request his supper. He walked on to the landing to meet his familiar servant girl, Ellen Lewis. Lewis was a girl of 16 years of age and by his own account, Deasy had always considered her a virtuous and modest girl. But, whether through boredom or through more corrupt thoughts, Lewis’ angelical qualities had not prevented the married Deasy from flirting with the young maid during previous stays.

Read more ...

Congreve’s Balsamic Elixir will cure what ails you

Fri, Apr 14, 2017

If you are of a certain age you will no doubt still be able to rhyme off several natural remedies from your childhood. I recall the use of mud to ease aching feet, and of course the use of a dock leaf on a nettle sting. Although, whatever properties were in the leaf we negated by our vigorous rubbing on the wound that probably created an aggravation far worse than the initial sting.

Those remedies were largely unnecessary and were applied mainly as part of childhood play. But there was a time when local folk medicine was the only accessible cure. Traditionally, the absence of medical knowledge and medical means necessitated a close observation of the natural world. Nature’s complex balances were noticed by early humans and from that a dependence on natural flora and fauna extracted remedies existed. Each Mayo area had its own variation of a widely known cure for the most common physical and mental complaints. Herbs mixed with butter and goose grease were identified in the Louisburgh area as being cures for running sores, boils, and erysipelas (skin infection). The district of Cross had its own cure for skin infection. Nettle juice taken about three times during the month of March was said to be a defence against all skin diseases for the year. Toothache was cured by smoking a clay pipe of tobacco, and for a swelling from a toothache in the face they would pull some chickenweed and apply to the inflammation as a dressing. Chickenweed is still used for its cooling effect. In some cases the remedies grew in time to become part ritual and were often fused with each locality’s Christian practices and became accepted locally as magic. A sprain was treated in Belcarra by the local weaver who would supply the injured with wool thread from his loom. The thread would be tied around the hurt limb and all would be fixed. The weaver enjoyed quite a reputation as a fixer and pieces of his thread would often be sent to England for boys from the district.

Read more ...

RMS Titanic outcome was bigger than we think

Fri, Apr 14, 2017

In 1912, the county of Mayo had been through seven challenging decades of continuous population decline. The reasons for such a plummet in numbers were multiple. High infant mortality, disease brought on by poor diet, a demanding lifestyle, and high emigration tested the people of Mayo’s strength to the limit.

Read more ...

Congreve’s Balsamic Elixir will cure what ails you

Fri, Apr 07, 2017

If you are of a certain age you will no doubt still be able to rhyme off several natural remedies from your childhood. I recall the use of mud to ease aching feet, and of course the use of a dock leaf on a nettle sting. Although, whatever properties were in the leaf we negated by our vigorous rubbing on the wound that probably created an aggravation far worse than the initial sting.

Those remedies were largely unnecessary and were applied mainly as part of childhood play. But there was a time when local folk medicine was the only accessible cure. Traditionally, the absence of medical knowledge and medical means necessitated a close observation of the natural world. Nature’s complex balances were noticed by early humans and from that a dependence on natural flora and fauna extracted remedies existed. Each Mayo area had its own variation of a widely known cure for the most common physical and mental complaints. Herbs mixed with butter and goose grease were identified in the Louisburgh area as being cures for running sores, boils, and erysipelas (skin infection). The district of Cross had its own cure for skin infection. Nettle juice taken about three times during the month of March was said to be a defence against all skin diseases for the year. Toothache was cured by smoking a clay pipe of tobacco, and for a swelling from a toothache in the face they would pull some chickenweed and apply to the inflammation as a dressing. Chickenweed is still used for its cooling effect. In some cases the remedies grew in time to become part ritual and were often fused with each locality’s Christian practices and became accepted locally as magic. A sprain was treated in Belcarra by the local weaver who would supply the injured with wool thread from his loom. The thread would be tied around the hurt limb and all would be fixed. The weaver enjoyed quite a reputation as a fixer and pieces of his thread would often be sent to England for boys from the district.

Read more ...

Preparing for the invasion of Mayo

Fri, Mar 31, 2017

"People in the country in a position to know have stated that a national emergency may arise any moment, and an attack on the country may be imminent", so warned MJ Egan, County Commissioner for Mayo at a public meeting in Ballyhaunis in August 1940. An official state of emergency had already been in place since being proclaimed in the Dáil on September 2 1939, the day after Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Egan was principally Mayo County Secretary, but as County Commissioner his role was to create a network of parish councils that would maintain services in the event of an invasion and the possible incapacitation of central government. The Ballyhaunis meeting created its own council, bringing the figure to over 100 councils formed in 76 Mayo parishes. Since the fall of France to the Nazis in mid-1940, Britain was forced to tighten its own rationing programme. This had knock-on effects for Ireland. A key function of the parish councils would be the securing and distribution of food in a post-invasion scenario. Egan reported to, and received instruction from the new Department of Supplies under Minister Seán Lemass. It was through Egan as County Commissioner that a series of emergency precautions and directions were issued to the Mayo public.

Read more ...

The practical patriotism of the ICA

Fri, Mar 31, 2017

I was fortunate to have been invited this week to give a talk on the history of Castlebar to the local branch of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA). The evening went well, and my thanks to Maura McGuinness, Patricia Larkin, and all the membership for their hospitality. It was in preparing for that talk to an all-female audience that I was reminded of how devoid our local history is of women and women's groups, when compared to their male counterparts. In the 400 years I covered, only five women featured publicly and briefly. We know the reason for this was because a male dominated society had structured a degraded role for women which was almost impossible to break from. For those women who wanted to express themselves, the ICA was and remains an important outlet since its inception in 1910.

Read more ...

Temperance, teanga and throw-ins

Thu, Mar 16, 2017

Though a feast day on the Catholic calendar since the 1600s, St. Patrick's Day only became a public holiday in Ireland in 1903. Prior to the early 20th century and a structured national approach to honouring the saint, the Briton was resurrected from time to time and pushed to the front of many campaigns. The feast day's events, which drew large crowds, were always managed either directly, or were heavily influenced, by the local Catholic church. That is not surprising, Patrick was a Christian after all. Many pre-Famine St Patrick's Day events were organised by the temperance movement, headed by Fr Theobald Mathew. The movement encouraged the Irish nation to pledge to abstain from alcohol for corporal and spiritual betterment, but sometimes with mixed results. The St Patrick's Day teetotallers procession through Castlebar in 1841 was not one of that organisation's high points. The march was to be a show of strength, an opportunity for the Rev Gibbons to display his and his members' accomplishments. Frustratingly for Gibbons, a large number of the group arrived to take up their places in the parade’s ranks while under the influence, having soundly violated their pledges. The non-teetotaller band abandoned the depleted parade midway through to join the town’s festivities, causing the temperance leaders to consider organising a teetotal band of their own that they could depend on.

Read more ...

E-paper

Read this weeks E-paper. Past editions also available from within this weeks digital copy.

 

Page generated in 0.1626 seconds.