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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
“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.”
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 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 (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 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 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 gives an outline of what life was like for the inhabitants in these areas.
Annual Register, 1817
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
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 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.