A Parnellite, James Joyce and a Quid of Tullamore. Michael Byrne

Today, Bloomsday, 16 June 2018, let’s take a look at Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and his use of Tullamore tobacco in the opening chapter.

The Tullamore based businessman Daniel E. Williams took the side of Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-91) in the great divide in Irish politics in 1890-91. Parnell had been the greatest leader in Irish politics in the nineteenth century bringing Home Rule centre stage in 1886. Although a quiet and reserved man he could always put in a commanding performance in the House of Commons. Gladstone said of him that he had the rarest of qualities in a speaker – measure. He brought about a ‘Union of Hearts’ between the Liberals and Ireland, a union that was shattered in 1890 when Parnell was cited as co-respondent in the Katharine O’Shea divorce case. Parnell died a year later, a broken man. Nonetheless he had brought to Ireland a sense of Irish statehood, Ireland was a nation.

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Flour and fire: the rise and fall of Robert Perry & Co, Belmont Mills

The Perrys originated with Henry Perry, a Quaker from Shanderry, near Mountmellick in Co. Laois. He had five sons, many of whom became successful industrialists. Robert Perry, the eldest, founded Rathdowney Brewery, of Perry’s Ale fame,  and was father to the Perry Brothers who founded Belmont Mills. Another of his sons, James Perry, was a visionary in terms of transport development. He was a director of the Grand Canal Company and then turned his attentions to railway advancement. With the Pims, another Quaker family, he promoted the first railway line in Ireland, the Dublin to Kingstown line. He made a sizeable fortune investing in that company, and then became director of the Great Southern and Western Railway before leading a new group to form the Midland Great Western railway, and the two companies battled it out to win routes west of the country, finally managing to get a train line through Clara in 1859. Continue reading

The closure of Alesburys timber factory in Edenderry, by Dr Ciarán Reilly

The extension and building of the railway line to Edenderry in the 1870s gave much needed employment to the area which was further bolstered by the arrival of two Quaker entrepreneurs from Bristol, England namely Daniel and John Alesbury. There had been a large Quaker community in Edenderry since the end of the seventeenth century and Daniel Alesbury commenced working with one such family, Williams, who owned a timber factory located in the towns market square. He subsequently married into the family and quickly commenced his own business before these premises were burned by fire in 1888. From here the factory moved to its location along the Grand Canal opposite New Row Corner at the junction which leads to the village of Rhode. Continue reading

Tullamore from the Famine to 1916: the recollections of Thomas Prittie (1833-1916), by Michael Byrne

Thomas Prittie’s recollections of Tullamore from the Famine to the Easter Rising serve to confirm how much the town had improved both physically and in civility in that narrator’s own time. Thomas Prittie died on 29 April 1916 just at the close of Easter Week and was described by the Tullamore and King’s County Independent as ‘one of the oldest inhabitants of the town’ who helped in ‘our historical sketch of Tullamore published some months ago’. He was aged 83 according to his death certificate, but the reporter put him at ninety.[1] He lived, unmarried, in Henry/O’Carroll Street, Tullamore and, said the local press, left considerable house property. Continue reading

Memories of brick-making in Pullough, by Marie Regazzoli

As part of Heritage Week on the 27th August 2017 our local Heritage Group, who came together just a couple of years ago, gave a brief history of Pullough brick-making. Around eighty people some of them the fourth generation of the same family, returned for the talk and met old acquaintances. It was a great day.

I was born and reared right beside where my grandfather, James Buckley, owned a brickyard. I live in the house next to the brickyard and all the chimneys and some of the walls were constructed with Pullough brick.  I would have heard my mother, Bridget McLoughlin, talk about the making of the bricks, and the hard work it entailed. When she was just eight years old the woman in question and her nine other brothers and sisters all worked alongside their father in the making of the bricks. Continue reading