‘Uncertain Times’ – The Goodbody Family’s Experiences in Clara 1914–24.

A Decade of Centenaries special lecture

Uncertain Times’ – The Goodbody Family’s Experiences in Clara 1914–24 is the subject of an illustrated talk by Michael Goodbody on Monday 17 October at 7. 30 p.m. This talk by Zoom will be on the Goodbody family’s experiences in Clara during a turbulent period for individuals and businesses. The talk will cover the Great War, the 1916 rebellion, Independence and the ensuing Civil war and how the family coped with the changes and uncertainties during these events. You can also come to Offaly History Centre at Bury Quay, Tullamore and look at the talk on the big screen with friends. Tea served after the lecture. Admission is free . For the Zoom link email us at info@offalyhistory.com.

In a wide-ranging and important article on this subject Michael Goodbody wrote:

Michael Goodbody

‘This account of the Independence and Civil War years in Clara is based on the recollections of three members of the Goodbody family; Joseph Harold (‘Harold’) Goodbody (1880-1947), Catherine Ellis Williamson (1896-1977) and Llewellyn Marcus Goodbody (1913-89). These three individuals, representing different generations of the family, provide a varied but fairly wide-ranging account of how the five years embracing Ireland’s transition to independence affected the lives of the family in Clara.

The Clashawaun works illustrated on this elaborate receipt

Most of what we know about this period is from an account of Clara and the Goodbody family’s involvement there which was written by Harold shortly before his death. Harold had by then taken over the running of the jute factory, J. & L.F. Goodbody, from his cousin Robert Goodbody, who was born in 1850 and had been the driving force behind its development and growth. He was also heavily involved in dealing with the affairs of his aging father, James Perry Goodbody, who was the principal partner in M., J. & L. Goodbody, the milling business which was the source of the family’s original wealth. There were two other partners in the mills; Frederick Robert Goodbody, who now lived in Wales and would shortly be bought out, and Robert’s brother, Richard who lived at Clara House. These three members of the previous generation, Perry, Richard and Robert, had effectively run the two businesses since the 1870s.

Published almost one year ago and some copies still available in soft back. That in hardcover is out of print.

Harold was a good businessman, probably not very emotional – outwardly at any rate – but he was generally respected in Clara and carried considerable weight in Irish business circles. He was not afraid to take difficult decisions and gained a reputation – particularly within the family – for facing up to and dealing with awkward problems. His writings are brief and to the point and can probably be relied upon for factual accuracy, although his opinions were those of his class, and he saw life through the eyes of a manager and property owner. He had little respect for the political classes, especially those who came after independence, and clearly thought times were better when the country was part of the United Kingdom.’

Clara railway station

Michael Goodbody has written a number of books and articles relating to Clara, the most recent being 100 Years of Clara History – A Goodbody Family Perspective published by Offaly History in 2021. His principal work on the history of the Goodbody family was published in 2011. He also has an extensive knowledge of Irish Quaker families.

This is an opportunity to hear this distinguished author on Clara’s post 1825 history and to put your questions at the end of the meeting.

We welcome articles on Offaly history and publish twice weekly. Info@offalyhistorycom