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The succession by the infamous Marcella Netterville to a large estate near Mount Bellew, Co Galway, in the 1820s owed as much to chance as it was to her unlikely mother-in-law, with the wonderful name, Kitty Cut-a-Dash. The Nettervilles were an ancient Norman family, who came to Galway from County Meath after purchasing land from the Bellew family. A judicious marriage with the Trenchs of Garbally, Ballinasloe, increased their holdings. It appears that for a time both the Nettervilles and their tenants lived at peace and in some prosperity, at least until Frederick Netterville began to spread his wild oats somewhat wide of the field.
In the midst of our miserable weather, and dire financial troubles the series of ‘unfortunate’, or at least most unusual, events continued last year. Stringing them all together, as Dr Kieran Hickey does in his interesting book* reminds us that little old Ireland, blessed and loved by the saints, a ‘nation cradled in the arms of St Patrick’ (as I was taught in national school), is, alas, not excluded from strange geophysical events such as extreme weather conditions, including volcanoes and earthquakes, as we may have once believed. Although it was extremely rare for all these events to happen in the same year, I am sorry to say that having spoken to Dr Hickey this week, we’d better batten down the hatches, and prepare for a worse walloping to come. Just over 200 years ago the weather gave Mary Shelley monstrous dreams...but more of that in a moment.