John Edward Walsh.

Ireland one hundred and twenty years ago, being a new and revised edition of Ireland sixty years ago online

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Online LibraryJohn Edward WalshIreland one hundred and twenty years ago, being a new and revised edition of Ireland sixty years ago → online text (page 1 of 14)
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John Edward Walsh, whose name, as author of
this book, first appears in this edition, was bom
at Tolka, near Finglas, Co. Dubhn, the residence
of his mother's family, on the 12th of November,
1816. Akeady other members of his family had
become known by their writings. His uncle,
Edward Walsh (1756-1832), eldest son of John
Walsh, merchant, of Ballymountain House, Co.
Waterford, made several contributions to the
miscellaneous literature of his time. A poem of
his gained a silver medal offered by a Waterford
literary society, and aftervrards, being appropriated
by another person, gained the medal of the Trinity
College Historical Society.

But Robert Walsh, the father of John Edward
Walsh, has stronger claims to be mentioned in
this memoir, for the author of this interesting
work derived a great part of the information
contained in its subject-matter from his father.
The many valuable sketches of life in the city
and county of Waterford and the detailed and
minute description of the Hfe of a student of
Trinity College in the last decade of the eighteenth
century seem to have come from Robert Walsh.
He was bom in Waterford in 1772, entered Trinity
College on the 2nd of November, 1789 ; was
elected scholar in 1794, and graduated B.A. in
1796. Having been ordained a clergyman of the
Protestant Church, then established in Ireland,
he was curate of Finglas, near Dublin, from 1806
to 1820. Here he married Anne, daughter of
John Bayl}^ of Tolka, and here his distinguished
son was bom. Another notable event of his
residence here illustrates his devotion to those
pursuits for which three generations of his family
have now become known. This was his discovery



of a celebrated ancient cross called the Cross ot
Nethercross. There was a tradition in the village
that it had been buried in a certain place, still
known to an old man who had heard it from his
father. It had been interred to protect it from
the fanatical zeal of Cromwell's soldiers. Robert
Walsh had an excavation made at the spot indi-
cated, and the cross was disinterred and set up in
Finglas churchyard, where it may still be seen.
Robert Walsh published in 1815, in conjunction
with John Warburton and the Rev. James White-
law, a History of the City of Dublin in two volumes,
which may still be consulted with advantage.
He became chaplain to the British Embassy in
Constantinople in 1820, acquired a medical degree,
and practised for some time as a physician. He
returned to Ireland in 1835, obtained the living
of Kilbride, Co. Wicklow, and exchanged it for
that of his earlier residence at Finglas in 1839,
and died there in 1852.

His more celebrated son was educated at Bective
College, and matriculated at Trinity College,
Dublin, in July, 1832. He graduated B.A. in
1836, obtaining a senior moderatorship in ethics
and logics and gaining a gold medal. He was
a distinguished speaker also at the College
Historical Society. Walsh was called to the Irish
Bar in 1839, graduated LL.D. in his University
in 1845, and became known in his profession, first
as an industrious member of the Leinster Circuit,
and afterwards as one of the soundest and most
learned lawyers at the Equity Bar. He published,
in collaboration with Richard Nun, Q.C., a work on
The Powers and Duties of fustices of the Peace in
Ireland, which was long a standard text-book on
this subject. He was a reporter in the Court of
Chancery from 1843 to 1852 ; was appointed
Queen's Counsel in 1857, and Crown Prosecutor
for Dublin in 1859.


On the advent to power of Lord Derby's third
administration in 1866 John Edward Walsh was
appointed Attorney-General for Ireland and sworn
of the Privy Council. He was elected Member
of Parliament for Dubhn University in July of
that year, the vacancy having been caused by
the promotion of James WTiiteside to be Lord
Chief Justice of Ireland. Walsh spoke only once
in Parliament, for his career in the House of
Commons was very brief. On the 13th of August,
a few weeks after the election of Walsh, Thomas
Berry Cusac Smith, the Irish Master of the Rolls,
died, and Walsh was appointed his successor on
the 27th of October. His too short tenure of
this high office was signalised by important changes
due to his zeal and ability. The Irish Public Record
Office was reorganised by Mr., afterw^ards Sir
Samuel, Ferguson, the distinguished poet and
archaeologist, but the initiative of this good w^ork
was largely owing to Walsh. As a judge he was
remarkable for his profound know^ledge of the law
and his patient and upright character. It seemed
probable that a long and distinguished career
lay before him, but this was not to be. In the
autumn of i86g he went on a tour to Italy, his
health not being very robust. He contracted
fever in the Roman Campagna and died at Paris
on his way home on the 20th of October in his
fifty-third year. Walsh is said to have been as
beloved in private life as he was eminent in public.
He was engaged on a biography of John Fitzgibbon,
Earl of Clare, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland in
the Union period, but had attained only, at the
time of his death, to the acquisition of the materials.
John Edward W^alsh married on the ist of October,
1841, Blair Belinda, daughter of Captain Gordon
M'Neill, of the 77th Regiment, and aunt of Mr.
J. G. Swift M'Xeill, M.P., who is well-knowm also
for his knowledge of the history of Ireland in the


days of Grattan's Parliament. One of John
Edward Walsh's sons, the Ven. Archdeacon Walsh,
has published an interesting and valuable work
on Fingal and its Churches.

The little book, of which a new edition is now
offered to the public, first appeared in 1847 ^^
Ireland Sixty Years Ago, having been published
originally as a series of articles in the Dublin
University Magazine. It was afterwards re-issued,
without note or comment, in 1877 as Ireland
Ninety Years Ago. It appears now for the first
time as the acknowledged work of John Edward
Walsh. The typography has been carefully
revised, and new notes have been added which
seemed necessary, but the text has, of course,
remained sacred. Such a graphic and vivid
delineation of life in the wild Ireland of the last
half of the eighteenth century and the days of
Grattan's Parliament can be found nowhere else
in fact, although the novels of Charles Lever supply,
perhaps, much such a picture in fiction. Walsh's
view of the Ireland of that time may seem some-
what more pessimistic than that of Lever, but this
may be accounted for by the circumstance that
Walsh has plumbed lower depths in Irish life.
The prison, the gallows, the bull-baiting, the
highwaymen and the feuds between the Dublin
butchers and weavers are in a somewhat lower
sphere than Lever's Irish life. But the chapters
on duelling, abduction, conviviality, gambling,
the troubles of '98 in Dublin and life in Trinity
College recall the author of Charles O'M alley and
Tom Burke. To every Irishman, and especially to
those interested in the history and antiquities
of the capital of Ireland, this work of John Edward
Walsh should be a source of perennial interest.

Dillon Cosgrave.

Notes added by Editor are indicated by square brackets [..•]•

\ ^ ^(




State of Society and the City of Dublin— Liberty Boys and
Ormond Boys — Collegians— Police — Bucks and Bullies
— Chalkers ...... 7


Duelling — Judicial and Legal Duellists — Duelling Clubs
and Rules — Hayes — Pat Power — Bryan Maguire —
Trials for Duels . . . . .21


Abduction — ^Abduction Clubs— The Misses Kennedy — Miss

Knox 3^


Ciyic Processions — Riding the Franchises — The Liberties

— The Lord Mayor's Penance , , . .49

Drunkenness — ^Notions of Conriyiality . . .68

Gbmhlmg — ^Lotteries • . . . j 63


ShoeblacTcs— The Streets— Public Vehicles . . 66





81ang Songs— Prison Usages — The jS'ight before Larry was
Stretched — The Kilmainham Minit — Executioners —
Bull-baiting— Lord Altham's Bull— The Bush . 75


Rapparees and Robbers — Hedge Schools — Freney — North-
ern Robbers— Shawn Crossach — William Crotty —
Crotty's Lament — Felons' Bodies— Frederick Caulfield 02

Tiger Roche . . . . . .108


The Kingdom of Dalkey — The " Dalkey Gazette" —

T. O'Meara . . . . . .120


The Visitation of 1798 — United Irishmen— James Farrell
— Expulsion of Power and Ardagh — Cause of the Visita-
tion — Its Proceedings— Lord dare — Dr. Browne — Dr.
Stokes— Its Effects— Sketch of Farrell ; of Corbett . 135


The Gibs' Parliamentary Privileges— Fire in the House of

Commons ...... 167




|HE Character of Ireland ninety or one hundred
i ^^^?, "F ^^^ "" anomaly in the moral
I world. Though united to EnVand for Teu
. centm-ies, and erery effort made durins that

period to assimilate the people to their neighhour at
the her sido of the channel, little progresf seems to
have been made in engrafting English habits manTers
and modes of thinking, on the Iri!* stock. ir^Twere

n,l ITr^ '/^* ^"""'^ ^"^ apparently no change in

h Pat orin t^'"™' 1-f' ^■'9^''- ^^^^ ^^^^^
-ne raie, or in the immediate v cinity of the mpt™

fn hV^^^'^^l^"*^^^ -^^^ly «^ much dhreg^-ded
Zl ".'S\'r"*'? '""*'"'y' "^ ^^'"^ Maguire of Ferma-
^Uriw'V^l sixteenth, deman:>d the price of The

TmL So liH? \^°"P«'^^^«°^ to the Castle of
feelin? „f+K /-^ "t"^^ ^^^ "^"^^ i° the moral
teelmg of the nation, that laws were inoperative.
A characteristic sample of the spirit of the times U


afforded by the career of the well-known George
Robert Fitzgerald, popularly called "Fighting Fitz-
gerald,"* in the strange and almost incompatible traits
of character he displayed; his alternate gentleness
and ferocity, love of justice and violation of all law;
his lenity and cruelty, patient endurance of wrong, yet
perpetration of foul and atrocious murders. The scene
of his outrages was, however, confined to a portion of
Ireland, separated from the rest by its local position on
the remote shores of the Atlantic, seldom visited by
strangers, having little intercourse with England, and
either generally ignorant of its laws, or, from long im-
punity, setting them altogether at defiance. Still more
striking are the examples of a kindred spirit existing
among persons born and living within the pale of civili-
zation, brought up among Ireland's best inhabitants,
iuixing with intelligent strangers, and having no ex-
cuse, from ignorance or seclusion, for violations of law
and justice.

At»the period we refer to, any approach to the habits
of the industrious classes by an application to trade or
business, or even a profession, was considered a degra-
dation to a gentleman, and the upper orders of society
affected a most rigid exclusiveness. There was, how-
ever, one most singular pursuit in which the highest
and lowest seemed alike to participate with an astonish-
ing relish, viz., fighting, which all classes in Ireland
appear to have enjoyed with a keenness now hardly
credible even to a native of Kentucky. The passion for
brawls and quarrels was as rife in the metropolis as
elsewhere, and led to scenes in Dublin, a hundred and
twenty years ago, ^^hiJh present a most extraordinary
contrast to the state of society there at the present

Among the lower orders, a feud and deadly hostility
had grown up between the Liberty boys, or tailors and
weavers of the Coombe, and the Ormond boys, or

* A Mayo gentleman of property. Executed for murder at Castlebar on
the 12tli of June, 1786.


batchers who lived in Ormond-market, on Ormond-
qaay, which caused frequent conflicts ; and it is
now a matter of history that the streets, and parti-
cularly the quays and bridges, were impassable in con-
sequence of the battles of these parties. The weavers,
descending from the upper regions beyond Thomas-
street, poured down on their opponents below ; they
were opposed by the butchers, and a contest commenced
on the quays which extended from Essex to Island-
bridge. The shops were closed ; all business suspended ;
the sober and peaceable compelled to keep their houses;
and those whose occasions led them through the streets
where the belligerents were engaged, were stopped,
while the war of stones and other missiles was
carried on across the river, and the bridges were taken
and retaken by the hostile parties. It will hardly be
believed that for whole days the intercourse of the city
was interrupted by the feuds ot these factions. The
few miserable watchmen, inefficient for any purpose of
protection, looked on in terror, and thought them-
selves well acquitted of their duty if they escaped from
stick and stone. A friend of ours has told us that he
has gone down to Essex (now Grattan) bridge, when
he had been informed that one of those battles was
raging, and stood quietly on the battlements for a
whole day looking at the combat, in which above a
thousand men were engaged. At one time, the Or-
mond boys drove those of the Liberty up to Thomas-
gtreet, where, rallying, they repulsed their assailants^
and drove them back as far as the Broadstone, whiU
the bridges and quays were strewed with the maimed
and wounded. On May 11, 1790, one of those frightful
riots raged for an entire Saturday on Ormond-quay,
the contending parties struggling for the mastery of
the bridge ; and nightfall having separated them be-
fore the victory was decided, the battle was renewe(?
on the Monday following. It was reported of Alder-



man Emerson, when Lord Mayor, * on one of those
occasions, that he declined to interfere when applied
to, asserting that " it was as much as his life was
worth to go among them."

These feuds terminated sometimes in frightful ex-
cesses. The butchers used their knives, not to stab
their opponents, but for a purpose then common in the
barbarous state of Irish society, to hough or cut the
tendon of the leg, thereby rendering the person incu-
rably lame for life. On one occasion, after a defeat
of the Ormond boys, those of the Liberty retaliated in
a manner still more barbarous and revolting. They
dragged the persons they seized to their market, and,
dislodging the meat they found there, hooked the men
by the jaws, and retired, leaving the butchers hanging
on their own stalls.

The spirit of the times led men of the highest grade
and respectability to join with the dregs of the market
in these outrages, entirely forgetful of the feelings of
their order, then immeasurably more exclusive in their
ideas of a gentleman than now ; and the young aristo-
crat, who would have felt it an intolerable degradation
to associate, or even be soen with an honest merchant,
however respectable, with a singular inconsistency
made a boast of his intimate acquaintance with the
lawless excesses of butchers and coal-porters. The
students of Trinity College were particularly prone to
join in the affrays between the belligerents, and gener-
ally united their forces to those of the Liberty boys
against the butchers. On one occasion several of them
were seized by the latter, and, to the great terror of
their friends, it was reported they were hanged up in
the stalls, in retaliation for the cruelty of the weavers.
A party of watchmen sufficiently strong was at length
collected by the authorities, and they proceeded to
Ormond-market ; there they saw a frightful spectacle
— a number of college lads in their gowns and caps



hanging to the hooks. On examination, however, it
was found that the butchers, pitying their youth and
respecting their rank, had only hung them by the
waistbands of their breeches, where they remained as
helpless, indeed, as if they were suspended by the

The gownsmen were then a formidable body, and,
from a strong esprit de corps, were ready, on short
notice, to issue forth in a mass to avenge any insult
offered to an individual of their party who complained
of it. They converted the keys of their rooms into
formidable weapons. They procured them as large and
heavy as possible, and slinging them in the sleeves or
tails of their gowns, or pocket-handkerchiefs, gave
with them mortal blows. Even the fellows partici-
pated in this esprit de corps. The interior of the college
was considered a sanctuary for debtors; and woe to the
unfortunate bailiff who violated its precincts. There
stood, at that time, a wooden pump in the centre of
the front court, to which delinquents in this way were
dragged the moment they were detected, and all but
smothered. One of the then fellows, Dr. Wilder,* was a
man of very eccentric habits, and possessed little of the
gravity and decorum that distinguish the exemplary fel-
lows of Trinity at the present day. He once met a young
lady in one of the crossings, where she could not pass
him without walking in the mud. He stopped opposite
her ; and, gazing for a moment on her face, he laid liis
hands on each side and kissed her. He then nodded
familiarly at the astonished and offended girl, and say-
ing, *' Take that, miss, for being so handsome," stepped
out of the way. and let her pass. He was going through
the college courts on one occasion when a bailiff was
under discipliuQ ; he pretended to interfere for the man,
and called out — " Gentlemen, gentlemen, for the love
of God, don't he so cruel as to nail his ears to the
pump." The hint was immediately taker. ; a hammer

* Rev. Theaker Wilder, a good mathematical scholar, was tutor to Oliver
Goldsmith, He was elected Fellow in 1744, and died in 1777.



and nails were sent for, and an ear was fastened with a
tenpenny nail; the lads dispersed, and the wretched
man remained for a considerable time bleeding, and
shrieking with pain, before he was released,

Another striking instance of this laxity of discipline
in the University occurred in the case of a printer of
the name of Mills. He was publisher of the Hiher-
nian Journal, and had incurred the anger of the
students by some severe strictures on certain members
of the college which appeared in his paper. On the
11th of February, 1775, some scholars drove in a coach
to his door, and called him out on pretence of bargain-
ing for some books. He was suddenly seized, thrust
into the coach, and held down by the party within,
with pistols to his head, and threats of being shot if
he made any noise. In this way he was conveyed to
the pump ; and, after being nearly trampled to death, he
was held there till he was almost suffocated — indeed
he would have expired under the discipline but for the
prompt interference of some of the fellows. Tliis gross
outrage in the very courts, and under the fellows' eyes,
which ought to have been visited by the immediate ex-
pulsion of all concerned, was noticed only by a mild ad-
monition of the Board to a single individual ; the rest
enjoyed a perfect impunity, and openly exulted in the
deed. The form of admonition actually excused the
act. It was drawn up by the celebrated Dr. Lelaud,
the historian of Ireland. It commenced in these
words : — '* Cum constet scholarium ignotorum coetum
injuriam admisisse in typographum quendam nomine
Mills, qui nefariis flagitiis nobiliora quaeque collegii
membra in chartis suis lacessivit," &c.*

The theatre was the scene of many outrages of the
college students. One of them is on legal record, and

• " since it appears that a body of unknown scholars committee! an os-
«a\jlt against a certain printer, named Mills, who wickedly attacked in Uii
laptr ctrtain nohl« members of the college," &o.


presents a striking picture of the then state of society.
On the evening of the 19th of January, 1746, a young
man of the name of Kelly, a student ot the university,
entered the pit much intoxicated, and, climbing over
the spikes of the orchestra, got upon the stage, from
whence he made his way to the green-room, and in-
sulted some of the females there in the most gross and
indecent manner. As the play could not proceed from
his interruption, he was taken away, and civilly con-
ducted back to the pit; here he seized a basket of
oranges, and amused himself with pelting the perfor-
mers. Mr. Sheridan was then manager ; * and he was
the particular object of his abuse and attack. He was
suffered to retire with impunity, alter interrupting the
performance, and disturbing the whole house. Un-
satisfied by this attack, he returned a few nights after
with fifty of his associates, gownsmen and others.
They rushed towards the stage, to which they made
their way thi'ough the orchestra and across the lights.
Here they drew their swords, and then marched into
the dressing-rooms in search of Mr. Sheridan, to sacri-
fice him to their resentment. Not finding him, they
thrust the points of their weapons through chests and
ciothes-presses, and every place where a man might be
concealed — and this they facetiously called feeling for
him. He had fortunately escaped ; but the party pro-
ceeded in a body to his house in Dorset-street, with
the murderous determination of stabbing him, declar-
ing, with the conspirator in Venice Preserved, "each
man might kill his share." For several nights they
assembled at the theatre, exciting riots, and acting
scenes of the same kind, till the patience of the mana-
ger and the public was exhausted. He then^ with
spirit and determination, proceeded legally against
them. Sach was the ascendency of rank, pnd the
terror those " Bucks " inspired, that the general opinion
was, it would be impossible that any jury could find p

• Thomas Sheridan, father of Richard Brlngley Sheridan-


genileman guilty of an assault upon a player. A bar-
rister in court had remarked, with a sneer, that he
had never seen a " gentleman player." " Then, sir,"
said Sheridan, " I hope you see one now." Kelly was
found guilty of a violent assault, sentenced to pay a fine
of five hundred pounds, and, to the surprise and dis-
may of all his gentlemen associates, sent to Newgate.
Sometimes students, in other respects most amiable,
and on other occasions most gentle, were hurried into
those outrages by th& overruling spirit of the times
and a compliance with its barbarous usages. Among
tlie lads at that time was a young man named
M'Allister, whose fate excited as much pity as execra-
tion. He was a native of Waterford, and one of the
young members of the university most distinguished
tor talent and conduct. He supped one night at a
tavern, ^ith a companion named Vandeleur ; and they
amused themselves by cutting their names on the table,
with the motto, qm's separabit (who shall separate us).
Issuing from thence in a state of ebriety, they quar-
relled with a man in the street, and, haviug the points
of their swords left bare through the ends of the scab-
bards (a custom then common with men inclined for a
brawl), ran him through the body in the course of the
fray. They were not personally recognised at the
time ; but the circumstance of carving their names on
the table was adverted to, so they were discovered and
pursued. M'Allister had gained his rooms in collei^e,
where he was speedily followed. He hastily concealed
himself behind a surplice which was hanging against
the wall, and his pursuers, entering the instant after,
searched every spot except the one he had cliosen for
his superficial concealment. They tore open chests

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Online LibraryJohn Edward WalshIreland one hundred and twenty years ago, being a new and revised edition of Ireland sixty years ago → online text (page 1 of 14)