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Kilrush, County Clare: Notes from c 1760 to 1960 by Senan Scanlan

Introduction & Acknowledgements

This book attempts to give an outline of newsworthy events that occurred in Kilrush Town and its environs during the years 1760 to 1960.These events have been taken primarily from newspapers and other written sources. Where possible I have tried to select events and notes that contained names, addresses and occupations of residents even where some of these involved minor breaches of the law. I would like to assure any living descendants of people mentioned in these events that my only reason for including these is to try to add new information on local activities. As the effects of the Great Famine and the First World War on Kilrush have already been extensively written about I have only included a few notes on these events. While newspapers are a primary source of information it should be remembered that some reports were biased towards the landlords and as such some extracts praising the landlords especially during famine times should be treated with caution.

The book is divided into eleven chapters and while some of the notes may relate to more than one of the chapter headings I hope that I have only included them once under the following chapter headings. Kilrush Notes contains events mainly about Kilrush as does Births, Marriages and Deaths both taken principally from newspapers. Chapters with notes on the Board of Guardians, Court Sessions and the Councils give some ideas on the governance of Kilrush. Next there are chapters with notes on Passenger and Cargo Services on the Lower Shannon and one on the West Clare Railway. This is followed by a chapter on Scattery Island, Cappa and the estuary ports and a chapter of Advertisements and finally a chapter on Miscellaneous information about Kilrush usually taken from annual reports. All sources used are listed at the end of the book and it is hoped that these notes will be of some assistance to others researching the history of Kilrush.

As can be seen from these notes a number of individuals had significant influence on the development of Kilrush during these two hundred years including various Vandeleurs, Paterson, Glynn, Ryan and O’Doherty. The development of Cappa Pier and the Creek also played an important part in the growth of the town and the following is a brief summary of some of the notes included.

In 1806 Kilrush was granted permission from The Crown for holding markets on every day in the week, except Sunday. In 1810 Messrs. Paterson and Spaight of the port of Kilrush are appointed agents for supplying his Majesty's ships and vessels on the Shannon with rum and by 1811 they were exporting barrels of oats.

In 1816 Mr. Leyden's School Kilrush reduced his terms for board and tuition to twenty pounds a year and three pounds entrance and the Right Hon. John. Ormsby Vandeleur made very liberal abatements to his tenants and John Dwyer is appointed distributor of Stamps in Kilrush. The first passenger service on the Lower Shannon started in 1816 and continued for approximately one hundred years until the end of the First World War.

The streets of Kilrush were planted with old masts and spars from which floated flags and ribbons to signify the entry of Mr. Daniel O'Connell in 1829. By 1832 cholera had arrived in Kilrush and in 1839 the first stone was laid for both the Fever Hospital and the Catholic Church. The Kilrush Workhouse was completed in December 1841 to accommodate 800 people and the first to seek shelter there entered its gates on the 9th of July 1842. Merchants from Kilrush and surrounding areas competed for contracts to supply the workhouse inmates with food and clothing over the next eighty years until 1923.

After the famine emigration continued at a fast pace and by 1853 this had created a shortage of labourers especially during the spring to autumn time. By 1859 Colonel Vandeleur was elected an M.P., for Clare and in 1864 Lady Grace Vandeleur attended the Kilrush Agricultural Show.

By 1876 Kilrush Gas Works were seeking a manager at a salary of £60 per annum together with a dwelling house, gas and coal. In 1885 the first meeting of the newly-constituted Kilrush Town Commissioners was held at the Court House. In July 1888 the Vandeleur evictions began and in December 1892 the South Clare Railway opened for regular service and continued until it was closed in 1961. In 1897 Kilrush House, the Vandeleur residence was destroyed by fire.

In 1905 the Sisters of Mercy of the Kilrush (Co. Clare) Convent celebrated their Golden Jubilee. In 1915 Canon Armstrong, the Rectory, Kilrush had four sons serving in his Majesty’s Forces. In 1920 Constable John O'Hanlon, R I C, a native of Kerry, of the Kilrush detective department, was shot dead in Walshe’s public house in Moore Street, Kilrush and in 1924 the Christian Brothers celebrated their golden jubilee in Kilrush.

In 1931 work started on the rebuilding of the Market House, after it had been burned by the Crown forces as a reprisal in 1921. The Technical School was completed in 1938. In1950 tenders were invited by the Kilrush Urban District Council for the erection of 41 houses at Burton Street, Chapel Street and Pound Street.

I am indebted to the Staff of the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives for their help and assistance. Mick McGrath, Kilrush read corrected and added a significant number of relevant comments all of which I have included. Rachel Scanlan Dublin also read and corrected errors. Any remaining errors are my responsibility. Warren Buckley supplied photographs, arranged the layout and covers of this book. Andrew Scanlan, Dublin arranged the printing of this book.

Senan Scanlan 2012

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Kilrush Notes