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Inhabitants of Scattery Island, Shannon Estuary, Co. Clare by Senan Scanlan

3.2 Inhabitants after 1840: Background of Families who Settled on the Island

Why did these families come to the island?
We can only speculate on the reasons why these families settled on the island but the most important probably was that the landlord wanted them to become tenants as he knew that they had money to pay the annual rent on the land which in 1843 had a rateable valuation of over £1 per acre. In addition at that time it would appear that the revenue/customs officials had moved from the island and there was fifty eight acres of land and vacant houses available to let. These families came from the Barony of Moyarta in West Clare where in 1841 five out of every seven houses were one-roomed mud cabins
[26] and no doubt the families would be glad to get away from these conditions. These families were almost exclusively piloting families and as such would have been very familiar with using canoes which would be essential for living on an island. Finally it would appear as reported above in the Clare Journal that the pilots in protecting the ship had to fend off assailants and as a result would probably have made some local enemies. It should also be remembered that at this time, in the 1840s, steamships were starting to replace sailing ships and these in most instances would only require pilots from Scattery rather than further downriver near Loop Head where the pilots boarded the sailing ships. Safety reasons could also be a factor as Scattery is more sheltered than the waters off Kilbaha and further west in the estuary. The following extract from the Clare Journal of Thursday 22nd December 1842 shows the extent of the dangers involved in piloting at this time,

“On Friday last, five men,from the Bay of Kilbaha in the west of this County, put off in a canoe to board a vessel on her way up to Limerick. One of the party went on board to pilot the vessel and we regret to say the four other men when endeavouring to return to land were lost the boat having swamped from the violence of the storm. The poor men have all left large families who are now completely penniless-within a short space of three years fourteen men have been drowned off that coast.”
(See also Western Pilots Newspapers Extracts 21st December 1842)

It appears they had good reasons to settle on Scattery as the majority of the pilots remained based around Kilbaha and Carrigaholt and up to 1875 both sets of pilots would have competed with each other for the piloting of ships. From 1875 all the Western Pilots were formed into a cooperative and based at the decommissioned Kilcredaun Battery near Carrigaholt and as such each pilot would have to be stationed there for at least his two week tour of duty. However during this period the pilots used a two masted ketch rather than the more flimsy canoes to service the ships. This arrangement remained until 1930 when a pilot station was built on Scattery and the ketch was discontinued in favour of the four-man canoes.

Origins of the inhabitants that came to the island
The 1659
[27] census for the full Barony of Moyarta shows that only two of the families the McMahons numbering 9 and the Scanlans (Scanlane) numbering 12 are listed as principal names out of a total population of 31 English and 993 Irish.

The first six families that settled on the island resided in the coastal parishes of Kilballyowen and Moyarta within the Barony of Moyarta in West Clare. A detailed examination of the Tithe Applotment Books[28] (TAB) for both parishes shows the following statistics:

The Griffin’s had twenty one names located in these parishes which equated to 30% of the total Griffins for County Clare as listed in the TAB's. The McMahons numbered fifty five or 8% and the Brennans numbered five or 17% of the Clare total. Hanrahans numbered fourteen or 25% and Scanlans numbered eleven or 14% of the Clare total. No Melicans were listed for the two parishes. However the lack of detail in the Tithe Applotment Books prohibits the positive identification of these named families in any event it is unlikely that they would have owned any significant amount of land during the years that the Tithe's applied from 1823 to 1837.

A manuscript[29] in the National Archives provided details of wages paid to labourers involved in the construction of Kilbaha pier in 1822. This pier is located between both parishes and one would expect the names associated with seafaring activities to be employed by Office of Public Works in assisting with the building of this pier as per the following wages return.

Week ending 13th July 1822 out of the 61 employed at 8d per day there were five Brennans - Michael, Daniel, Daniel Jnr., Stephen Snr. and Stephen Jnr., and three Griffins - John, Martin, Michael and one Costello - John. Week ending 31st August 1822 out of 83 employed there were now six Costellos - Two Johns, Edmond, Patrick, Tim and Patrick, four Brennans as above but without Daniel and three Griffins - Two Martins and John and one Hanrahan - John. Week ending 5th October 1822 out of 59 employed we have the same names as at 31st August but without John Hanrahan.

Another manuscript[30] detailing wages paid to workers building the pier at Carrigaholt, about nine miles east of Kilbaha Pier, in the parish of Moyarta had the following names again at 8d per day: Week ending 16/10/1824 Owen Scanlan and Denis McMahon w/e 13/11/1824 Denis McMahon and Peter Hanrahan, w/e 6/12/1824 Morgan McMahon, w/e 30/04/1825 Denis and Thomas McMahon, Thomas and John Scanlan w/e 28/05/1825 John Scanlan and Patt Corbett, w/e 04/06/1825 John Scanlan and w/e 18/06/1825 Owen Scanlan.

All these names are associated with Scattery either directly as inhabitants or as spouses of inhabitants.

The following extract from the Annual Register for 1817[31] gives an outline of what life was like for the inhabitants in these areas.

Annual Register, 1817
From Captain Miller of the Police to Mr. Spaight, Merchant, Limerick, Kilrush, Feb 24th.
Dear Spaight, - As I am now in possession of most of the particulars of the wreck of the Inverness, I shall detail them to you, as follows:

She went on shore on Wednesday night, the 19th instant, mistaking Rhinevella for Carrigaholt,and would have got off by the next spring-tide, had the peasantry not boarded and rendered her not sea-worthy, by scuttling her, and tearing away all her rigging: they then robbed the crew of all their clothes, tore their shirts, which they made bags of, to carry away the plunder: and then broached the tierces of pork and distributed the contents to people on shore, who waited to convey them up the country. The alarm having reached this on Thursday a sergeant and 12 of the police were sent down, driving the mob from the wreck. The police kept possession of what they had got during the night: but very early on Friday morning the people collected in some thousands, and went down to the beach, where they formed into three bodies, and cheered each other with hats off, advancing with threats, declaring that they had been taken from them, and of the arms of the police: the police formed into one body, and showing three fronts, endeavoured to keep them at bay, but in vain: they assailed them with stones, sticks, scythes and axes: and gave some of our men some severe blows, which exasperated them so much, that they were under the necessity of firing in self-defence, and four of the assistants fell victims, two of whom were buried yesterday. During the skirmishing, which began about 7 o’clock, one of the men, mounted was dispatched to this town for a reinforcement, when Major Warburton, in half an hour, with 20 cavalry and a few infantry mounted behind them, left this, and in one hour and a half were on board the wreck, and took 12 men in the act of cutting up the wreck: one of them made a blow of a hatchet at Major Warburton, which he warded off, and snapped a pistol at him: the fellow immediately threw himself overboard, when ---Troy charged him on horseback up to the horse's knees in water, and cut him down. The fellows then flew in every direction pursued by our men. Who took many of them, and wounded several. Nine tierces of pork had been saved. Her bowsprit, gaff, and spars, are all gone, with every stitch of canvas, and all the running rigging. The shrouds are still left: two anchors and their cables are gone, and even the ship's pump. A more complete plunder has seldom been witnessed. Yesterday the revenue-wherry went down to Rhinevella, and received thirty-five prisoners, who now are all lodged in Bridewell. The women, in multitudes, assembled to supply the men with whisky to encourage them. Nothing could exceed the coolness of ----Baltic and his party, who certainly made a masterly retreat to the slated store at Carrigaholt, where I found them. He and Fitzgerald were wounded, but not severely: Fitzgerald had a miraculous escape, and would have been murdered, but was preserved by a man he knew from Kerry, who put him under his bed &c &c, (Signed) J Miller.

Origins of the Surnames that settled on the island in the 1840s[32]
Brennan the name of four unrelated septs located in Ossory, east Galway, Kerry and Westmeath. In modern Ireland the names comes twenty-eight in the statistical list of Irish surnames.
Costelloe a surname of Cambro-Norman origin, in 1890 was found in Limerick, Galway and Clare.
Griffin the main sept is in Thomond with another located near Kenmare, some Irish Griffins may be of Welsh origin, i.e. Griffith. However there is no doubt that the majority of Irish Griffins are really O'Griffys of Gaelic stock and not descendants of Welsh settlers. The name stands seventy fifth in a list of Irish surnames.
Hanrahan are a noble Dalcassian sept located in Clare and in Tipperary where the name is spelt Handrahan. In 1890 the surname was principally found in Clare and Limerick with an estimated number of bearers was 2420.
McMahon the name of two septs one in Thomond descended from Brian Ború making it the most numerous name in Clare. Their ancient territory was Corcabaskin in West Clare and the last inaugurated Chief of the name fell at the battle of Kinsale in 1602. The other located in Monaghan became Lords of Oriel on the decline of the O'Carrolls the name still holds third in that county list of surnames.
Melican is an attenuated form of Ó Maolachain a West Clare name.
Scanlan from Ó Scannláin there were several septs the most important being of west Munster and Mac Scanláin of Oriel (Louth).Neither of which has retained the prefix O or Mac in modern times. In 1890 Scanlon was numerous in Sligo, it was also found in Kerry, Clare, Limerick and Cork. The estimated number of bearers for Scanlon was 2419 and for Scanlan was 1881.

All the surnames have strong Clare connections except Brennan. It seems likely that they arrived in West Clare from Kerry or Galway where they were numerous. Forenames derived from Senan such as Sinon, Simon, Synon was used by most of these families during their time on Scattery as follows, Brennans (1), Griffins (4), Hanrahans (2), McMahons (3), Morans (2) and Scanlans (6). In addition the forename Felix was used four times by the Brennans and Jeremiah was used three times by the Hehirs and finally Austin was used three times by the McMahons.

A list of licensed pilots for the Shannon in 1825[33] include the following located in the parishes of Kilballyowen and Moyarta: Patrick Brennan, Stephen Brennan, James Hanrahan, Owen Hanrahan and Stephen Melican all from Kilbaha. Barnaby McMahon and Patrick McMahon from Carrigaholt. Daniel Melican, Patrick Melican and John Scanlan from Reinvilla Bay. All the individuals that settled on Scattery in 1840s are listed as pilots however there are no Griffins or Costelloes in the above listing despite their extensive numbers in West Clare. A full listing of all pilots for this period is detailed in Appendix II, where the above pilots are highlighted in bold italics.

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