Frank Quirke: the boy who was abandoned to drown on Charleville Lake near Tullamore at Christmas 1901. Retold now by Cosney Molloy

145 Hanly - Charleville Lake winter scene
Skating at Charleville Lake in 1962

I was glad to get out of Dublin before Christmas and get down to see my friends in Tullamore, Killoughy and Banagher for a pre-Christmas visit and bask in the mildest winter for many years. Dublin is mad at this time of year and what with one restaurant telling us about steaks at €120 I had to get down to the nice butchers in Tullamore – old Tormey’s is still going strong and now you have Grennan’s, Hanlon’s and a few more I would not know. I miss Paddy Mac’s, Cleary’s and Joe ‘the Butch’ Kearney of course. All old friends gone to the heavenly pastures.
I can remember the desperate cold of December 2010 when it was as low as -20 and I can recall the winters of 1982 and 1962 when we could skate on Charleville Lake near the town of Tullamore and to the east of Colonel Bury’s Charleville Demesne. I have only a hazy memory of the long winter of 1947 when the Grand Canal was frozen over for months and some of the Egan boys of the Tullamore merchant family are said to have made it to Dublin skating on the canal for some lark or wager. All good simple fun it was. I understand that Dr Boediccker who worked at Birr Castle until the First World War kept weather records from about 1872 and was able to state that 1909, 1896, 1893 and 1890 were also very cold. Another very cold year was in 1901 when a young boy drowned at Charleville Lake, trapped by the ice, while up to 200 people looked on and did nothing.

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Health is cheap at any price

Health is cheap at any price wrote Dr George Moorhead to the Tullamore Town Council in 1930. This letter is of interest on the background to the adoption of the water scheme for Tullamore in 1895  and the shortfalls thirty years and more later. The Tullamore Town Council was established in 1900 and followed on the Town Commissioners in 1860. 156 years ago we had only a candle in O’Connor Square to serve as public lighting, no piped water and no sewerage. We did have a town clock and bell (now in the Tullamore DEW Visitor Centre).

Letter from Dr G. A. Moorhead M.O.H. to Tullamore Town Council, 4 Feb 1930 from the minute books of the council, now housed in the Tullamore Central Library archives room.

“As you will have under discussion this evening various schemes for improving the supply of water to the town, I wish to make a few remarks on the subject, nearly thirty years of age as M.O.H. it became my duty in the interest of the public health to take an active part in the establishment of a public water supply to the town, and I may say I was largely responsible for the adoption of the present scheme now in force. Continue reading