of a Country Family
This book is both a Family History, over seven generations and a mixture of Genealogy & Children's imagination to view the past and see how their ancestors lived. Various Family Trees are illustrated.
Contained are family research records from various sources for the 1800's. Also are accounts of cousins who with their families, emigrated to the USA and Australia in the mid 1800's.
Anecdotal family history and records are combined with general history to give a feeling of what life was like. There are historical references to Celtic Mythology, The Williamite War, Hangings, Evictions, Landlordism, The Famine, Emigration, Australian Gold-rush, King George the Fifth, the War of Independence and the Vietnam War.
The book would be an aid for others interested in researching their own ancestry.
I started tracing my ancestors and cousins 18 months ago, out of curiosity with no experience of genealogical research. Firstly I recorded the results as a family tree and now by this book.
Special thanks to family members who made this book possible by freely giving information and to those who through words and letters of encouragement urged me on to write this book.
Written, Published & Printed by David H. Moloney.
Limited edition published 9th Dec. 2000, by DaMol Press. Copyright :- David H. Moloney. Carron, Tipperary Town. Damol@iol.ie
Family Motto : - "In God, and not in my bow, I will hope."
Surname : - Moloney is English for Maoldomnaig and its derivation is: Maol -meaning- a servant or devotee.& Domnaig - meaning - of the Church
Moloney ranks 154 in the
list of most common Irish Surnames, its origins are in the Territory of Thomond,
which covered county Clare, and adjacent parts of counties Tipperary and
Chapter 1: Emigrants Ship.
The Moloney sisters live outside Tipperary Town. One Spring evening they waited for their mother to return from town with the shopping. Their father wasn't home as he was working away, that week. For want of something to do, the eldest sister Laura suggested that as a distant Australian cousin, Luke Moloney who was due the following month with his mother for a weeks holidays, they should check out the Family Tree which their father was compiling, to see exactly how Luke was related. Sarah the second eldest went to the cupboard where their father kept his family records and brought back the family tree. Elaine the youngest who had her seventh birthday party the previous week, knew that Luke was also seven years old and looked forward to meeting him.
Sarah remembered that her mother told her that Luke's father was a farmer in New South Wales Australia and his ancestor had left the village of Hospital in County Limerick after the Famine. Laura who was studying the family tree had found Luke's name and worked out that it was Luke's great great great grandfather Thomas who left Hospital in County Limerick in 1853 which is three miles from the Moloney's ancestral home known as Bridge House outside Knocklong in east County Limerick adjacent to the Tipperary county border and close to the County Cork border.
Elaine thought that it would be great if they could go back in time and be there at the dockside when Luke's great great great grandfather left Ireland. Sarah proclaimed "But we can, hold hands in a ring and if we close our eyes and imagine we will be there". As Elaine was eager, she was the first to stretch out her hands. Laura hesitantly completed the handholding ring. The three sisters sat with their eyes shut. They slowly became aware of the sounds and smells of the sea and found themselves beside the dock looking at a sailing ship with three towering masts.
The crew were loading provisions: biscuits, flour, oatmeal, rice, potatoes, salted pork and beef, and coal for cooking on deck. Sarah looked around and noticed that the people were dressed strangely. People with suitcases walked up the gangway whilst older people and women on the dock were crying. Elaine noticed a small girl with red hair like her sister Laura's, was clutching a dirty rag doll and walking towards her. Elaine inquired from the girl, what the doll's name was. The girl didn't answer. Laura noticed that no one seemed to see either herself or her sisters. Sarah reckoned that as they had travelled back in time, they were looking at how people lived just as if they were looking at television. Laura added that it was different as the people were all around them and they could smell the sea and feel the sea wind.
Suddenly Elaine exclaimed, " Look at that family!" She taught she knew them. Laura and Sarah looked. The captain was standing at the foot of the gangway checking the names of the people boarding against a list he held in his hand. They heard the father say "We are the Moloneys from Hospital in Co. Limerick". On hearing this Sarah shouted, "We are Moloneys too!" expecting to get the family's attention. But no one noticed. Elaine began to cry being frightened, and wanted to go home. Unaware of what was happening they found themselves back in the familiar surroundings of their home.
Elaine and Sarah looked to Laura, as she was the oldest to explain what had happened. Laura suggested that they should keep it secret until they figured out what they had experienced.
The sisters heard a car pull up outside and knew it was their mother by the sound made, when only she abruptly pulls the hand-break. Elaine wanted to know if there was an ice cream for her. That night the sisters went to bed but did not speak of their adventure.
The following night when their father returned home Elaine was anxious to talk about the Family Tree, wanting to know who the family were whom she had seen boarding the sailing ship. Elaine asked her father if he knew of a Moloney family who went to Australia a long time ago. Elaine's father took out the family tree and pointed out Thomas Moloney, his wife and their five children who emigrated to Moree in New South Wales. Thomas purchased a farm and this was where their cousin Luke lived with his parents. Elaine remembered that Luke, with his mother Alice was coming on holidays.
Laura wanted to know why Thomas emigrated with his family never to return home. Laura's father explained that Thomas Moloney was an Innkeeper in the village of Hospital in County Limerick just 12 miles away. Even though the family survived the famine it was clear that a better life could be had in Australia, which was being settled. Also the lease on the Inn had expired. Thomas had kept in touch with his siblings by post and Thomas's descendants have visited and correspond regularly with family members in Ireland.
That night when the sisters went to bed they found it hard to get to sleep. Their minds were filled with what they learned from their father coupled, with what they had experienced at the dockside in the past.
The next morning the sisters woke late. As their mother was busily preparing breakfast in the kitchen, the sisters discussed their thoughts. Laura felt it would be best to keep their secret and the others agreed.
Laura asked her father for a copy of the family tree that she could put on her bedroom wall beside her favourite pop group. She could study it carefully in her own time. Her father had a spare copy which he gave her.
At school Sarah learned about the famine in her history lesson and was able to tell her teacher how her distant cousin, Luke's great great great grandfather Thomas Moloney with his family, immigrated to Australia after the famine.
That night the sisters examined the family tree to see if they could identify the family members they saw boarding the sailing boat. On the family tree were three photographs that were posted from Australia by Luke's father. One of these photos was of Thomas Moloney, who had a long rough beard covering half his face and chest. Sarah remembered that Thomas Moloney had a big bushy red beard when she saw him boarding the ship.
Laura counted the number of generations. There were seven generations. The first person at the top of the tree was John Moloney 1775-1829 who was a farmer. John was married to Moll Russell who died in 1830 and they lived in Knocklong. According to family oral tradition, the Moloneys came to Knocklong from the Cratloe and Sixmilebridge area of Co. Clare in the 1700's.
The next generation which was John's children and included Thomas who was married to Ellen Madden and had five children.
Three of the six children of Thomas' brother John Russell Moloney emigrated from Garriencoona, Effin, Co. Limerick in 1863 to the goldfields of Victoria, Australia. Their descendants through the female line continue to live in Victoria, although the Moloney surname has died out.
Chapter 2: Family Tree & Research.
The sister's father had been compiling the family tree for over a year. Distant cousins from America, Australia and other parts of the world had contributed information on their families. The family tree had snowballed into a list of over five hundred individual names, one hundred and five family groups and one hundred and twenty three surnames, covering seven generations located around the world. On receipt of new information their father would update the tree on his computer and either e-mail or post the revised copy to those family members that contributed details.
The sisters had in the previous year visited relatives and met distant relatives at family funerals they attended with their parents and heard their father quiz people about long dead relatives to ascertain where they lived and who they married and if they had children. Sometimes the people would give the sisters money for sweets.
One Sunday afternoon the sisters were asked by their parents if they would like to come for a drive. They responded with great enthusiasm until they realised that their drive was to Ballingarry graveyard near Glenbrohane. They could not imagine that such an outing could be of any interest to them. They reluctantly agreed only when a visiting child neighbour, Maria was also allowed to go. The journey was pleasant owing to Maria's presence and the whole thing was viewed as an adventure.
The graveyard was difficult to find, set on the side of a hill on a high spot along a very narrow winding road overlooking Knocklong in the distance. On their arrival the children were in a playful mood and began to play hide-and-seek among the tombstones. Their father had work to do and quickly enlisted their help in finding Moloney graves. The children rose to the challenge and wanted to outdo the adults in their speed at finding them. They were delighted when they were first to find the graves, but their work had only began. The old headstones now had to be read and so began the difficult task of trying to decipher the information on lichen and moss covered headstones. Sarah's keen eye was quick to pick out each letter and Maria urged her on. This was to be their first real history lesson in learning to find information from sources of the past. They were thrilled with what they achieved.
It is possible to see from the tree how everyone is related. Generally the following information is given for each Moloney member, their year of birth and death, their occupation, their siblings, parents and offspring, their childhood and adult address and their spouse. For the spouses the following details are given their year of birth and death, their occupation, and their childhood address. This information is orientated vertically.
The family tree is designed as a chart, so all the information can be viewed at once and the relationship between persons can be identified. Surnames are colour coded. The information is presented in an easily read and understood format and because of this relatives would study it, and suggest corrections and additions. Also shown are old photographs of family members and homes with notes. A computer spreadsheet software package is used to design the tree chart, which is unique.
Relatives both young and old, who saw the family tree, sent the most complimentary of letters or e-mails expressing their great satisfaction and joy at learning new facts about their family history. The family tree is a treasured keepsake.
Living descendants of families who emigrated discovered, through the family trees, cousins living in the same part of the world as themselves. Memories of long forgotten family members, stories and events were rekindled and family connections learned.
The Moloneys are recorded in both the Tithe records of 1830 and Griffith's Valuation for 1850. These were records of property for assessing taxes. There are baptismal & marriage records dating back to 1810 for the family and old photographs of family and places from 150 years ago. The Bridge House Moloneys are listed as gentry in the 1886 Directory of Munster.
The following record repositories were visited in the search for family information:
General Register Office, Dublin. National Archives, Dublin. National Library of Ireland. Registry of Deeds, Dublin. Valuation Office, Dublin. Tipperary Heritage Unit. Tipperary and Limerick County Libraries.
However, the best source of relevant family information is living relatives, who tell anecdotal stories that they heard in their youth, from previous generation, and revealed family papers in the form of family Bibles, Newspaper cuttings, memorials, photographs and letters from relatives.
We learned the Moloneys were Irish Catholic farmers and horse breeders. The family can trace its origin back to John Moloney 1775-1825 and Moll Russell. John's gravestone is to be seen in Ballingarry graveyard near Glenbrohane. Family history, has it, that Moll was a matriarchal figure who through her encouragement and support, saw her sons succeed and prosper.
The Moloney's of Bridge House bred, trained thoroughbred racehorses and raced them in Ireland and England. A stallion, mares and racehorses were kept in the stables, which formed part of the courtyard at the back of the house. The head groom also had his accommodation in the courtyard. Amongst horse breeders Bridge House had a reputation of having top stallions, who through their thoroughbred pedigree and having won races would produce foals likely to prove themselves as winners. The Moloneys were regarded as "Good Horsemen and decent people" Yearlings were sold at the Doncaster and Newmarket sales in England. Racehorses were transported to race meetings by train from the local rail station in Knocklong, which is on the main Dublin Cork line. Money was also earned by stud fees received for the champion racing stallion to sire foals. There was also the prizemoney when the racehorses won races.
Bridge House had a farm of two hundred and sixty five acres along with one hundred and forty four acres at Coologue House, near Pallas, an outside farm giving over four hundred acres. The dairy yard was on the Effin road. Hay was saved at Coologue and transported to Bridge House to feed the horses and cattle in winter. Oats were also grown for the horses.
There was always plenty of activity around the house and farm with, sowing crops in the spring, harvesting in the late summer and autumn, breeders coming with their mares to have them covered, horses going to races, yearling going to the sales and family occasions; marriages, births and get togethers. Neighbours, friends and relatives spoke with fond memories of always been welcomed, and enjoying time spent at Bridge House, which they referred too as "The Bridge".
We learned from Daniel Moloney's will of 1877 that he left an estate of £9,000 and the executors were his brothers John and Michael, and his wife's brother Patrick O'Brien of Barthoose, Emly.
In common with similar large tenant farmers in the area, the Moloneys were reasonably prosperous and affluent, and enjoyed a relatively high standard of living. They were substantial employers of labour, as farming was labour-intensive in the days prior to mechanisation. In the house there was a cook and servant girls to help out with the hand washing, cleaning, and general housekeeping. The present Bridge House was built in the 1850's.
The boys were sent to good Irish schools and the girls to boarding schools in England and France. Tragedy struck in 1916 when Daniel Moloney died at the age of 51, leaving 13 children the eldest aged 22, and his widow Margaret pregnant. His heir Daniel never married and died aged 59, in 1955. Bridge House was sold in 1991 to the Corrigan family.
There was a strong tradition in breeding, training and racing horses by the farmers around Knocklong, who took great delight in winning money from the bookies. It is common for farmers to keep a mare for the purpose to breed foals hoping one day to strike it rich with a famous racehorse of their own. Also in the area is the famous pack of foxhounds known as the Black and Tans owned by the Ryans of Scarteen for over two hundred years. The fox-hunt plays a large part in the community with locals taking part or spectating.
The good mineral balance in the soils, which has a high calcium concentrate owing to the limestone bed rock is said to give the lust green grass, that produces strong bones, vital for racehorses.
Richard Moloney whose farm was on the Hill of Knocklong bred and sold horses in England to the cavalry. His descendants to this day breed and sell thoroughbred horses, and are involved in the horse racing industry.
Chapter 3 Luke's Visit
Luke Moloney with his mother was due the following day and it had been arranged to meet them at the railway station in the morning. The sisters wondered what Luke would be like. The sisters referred to The Lough Gur & District Historical Society Journal, which contained an article on Thomas Moloney and his descendants. Laura read it aloud. It told the story of how Thomas with his wife and four of their five children immigrated to Sydney in 1853 via Plymouth in England and how the family set up home in Gurley near Moree, in the North East of New South Wales. Also how the Moloney family acquired land and were graziers and that, the family has retained the land. The sisters studied a family tree for the Australian branch of the Moloneys which Luke's father had compiled along with old photographs.
Thomas built an Accommodation House on his farm in Gurley village, which he called The Limerick Hotel ( shown on cover ). It was a low single-story timber building with a verandah along the front. On the gable end was a protruding brick chimney stack. Adjacent to the building was a corral for patron's horses. It proved to be a popular meeting place for the farmers of the district to enjoy a drink and catch up with local news. Thomas also acted as post-master. Gurley was a staging post for coaches on the road between Moree and Narrabri.
Mother called time for the sisters to go to bed. The following morning Elaine was the first to wake and ran to her parent's room to wake her father. The three sisters went with their father to the rail station. They waited anxiously on the platform for the arrival of the train. The train was on time and the cousins met in person for the first time.
The sisters had so many questions for Luke. Elaine found it hard to understand Luke's accent and turn of phase, and wanted to play games instead of talk.
That evening the adults went out to dinner, the children stayed at home and watched television and talked. The sisters told Luke their secret that they had travelled back in time and were at the dockside when Luke's ancestors boarded the emigrant's ship to Australia.
Luke wanted to experience a similar time-travel. He suggested that he would like to witness the Farewell Party held at Bridge House, prior to his ancestors emigration, which he was told about by his grandfather before he died.
Luke's grandfather said that the party, known as a "Live Wake" was more sorrowful than a real wake as a whole family was leaving never to return home again.
Laura had worked out Thomas Moloney's family ages, Thomas 47 years, Ellen his wife 42 years, John 13 years, Dan 7 years, Ellen 5 years, Thomas Jn. 3 years and Elizabeth the youngest was 2 years.
Luke and the sisters formed a hand holding ring, closed their eyes and wished they found themselves in the entrance hall of Bridge house. Daniel with his wife Sarah were welcoming guests at the door. Musicians were playing instruments in the dining room. Through the window at the back of the hall, the groom was seen stabling the guest's horses in the courtyard.
Thomas was telling his brother Daniel that he was looking forward to starting a new life in Australia with his family. He foresaw opportunities not available in Ireland and said that he never wanted to live through another famine and witness wretched poverty. He spoke of owning his own land and not having to pay rent and taxes, and living without fear of eviction by a landlord. He wanted to bring up he children in a country free from sectarian violence. Newspapers promised "Come to a quiet and happy life in a fine climate and a beautiful country where want is unknown".
Thomas spoke of a neighbour's son who emigrated two years earlier in 1851, when he jointed the first Australian gold-rush, he wrote the previous week to his parents saying that if he had not gone he would be in rags working in dirt and mud with nothing to show for it. The son had included a large sum of money and presents for his sisters and brothers and offered to pay their passage to Australia. He had sent a photograph of himself in a three-piece suit in front of his grand home.
In the kitchen Thomas' wife Ellen was talking to another woman as they prepared food for the party. Ellen spoke of her sadness at leaving her friends and neighbours and how she felt homesick already. The other woman, to console Ellen, said that her son and his family, who immigrated to America seven years earlier, had returned on holidays the previous August and said that he would never return to Ireland to live for any money. Ellen replied that as Australia was fifteen thousand miles away and took three to four months to sail there and the passage cost twenty pounds per adult and six pounds for a child under fourteen, she felt that she would never see Ireland or her friends again and would be heart-broken. Tears welled up in her eyes and she excused herself to go to the powder room.
In the dining room the musicians were playing fiddles, tin whistles and the flute as the children danced full of enthusiasm for the adventures that lay ahead of them.
On the table was a copy of the "The Limerick Reporter & Tipperary Vindicator" newspaper dated Tuesday Nov. 2nd 1852 it had the following advertisement for the Australia, the ship which the family were going to sail on.
The Liverpool Line of Packets
Our ships are first class and carry experienced Surgeons. They have been fitted up regardless of expense, and the entire arrangements are subject to the approval of her Majesty's Emigration Officer. Their between decks are lofty and the accommodations for passengers are unsurpassed for comfort and convenience so requisite on the voyage. Each compartment is separated by substantial bulkheads and particular attention has been paid to the lighting and ventilation.
The Rates of Passage, including provisions of the best kind are from 14 to 45 pounds for adults.
The men talked politics and the prices of cattle at the fairs and butter at the markets. There was a heated discussion on the social inequities of landlordism.
The sisters and Luke then agreed to return to their own time as they felt uncomfortable and out of place.
Chapter 4: Williamite Confiscation's
In 1685 James 11 who was a convert to Catholicism, succeeded his brother Charles 11 as King of England. This was bad news for the Protestants in Ireland as James 11 was pro-Catholic.
Between 1689-91 a war was fought in Ireland, between James 11 with the support of the French and William 111. It ended with the Treaty of Limerick. Limerick was the last stronghold in Ireland of James' and the French forces.
The first siege of Limerick by William was a failure, as Patrick Sarsfield who was a military commander for James 11, and regarded as a hero, daringly entered the Williamite camp at Ballyneety. He blew up the one hundred and fifty five wagons of stores and ammunitions including eight heavy cannons intended to breach the wall around Limerick city. The Irish took the Williamites five hundred horses. A contemporary described him as "a man of huge stature, without sense, very good natured and very brave".
Sarsfield had learned though his intelligence that the password into the camp was his name "Sarsfield". On entering the camp he was asked by the sentry for the password and replied with a delighted roar that "Sarsfield is the word and Sarsfield is the man"
Sarsfield was accompanied by 600 cavalrymen and the local raparee (outlaw or bandit) Galloping Hogan as guide. Ballyneety is just seven miles north east of Knocklong.
Sarsfield became the first Earl of Lucan and is an ancestor of the infamous Lord Lucan who disappeared from his London home in 1974 after his nanny had been battered to death. Sarsfield was killed at the battle of Landen, in Flanders, in 1693.
Daniel Moloney of Sixmilebridge, County Clare had his estate confiscated. Daniel was found guilty of supporting James 11 and for this was charged with being an "Irish Papist". Daniel's estate was sold to Thomas St.John of Ballymulcastle, Sixmilebridge.
There were a large number of confiscation's in County Clare. The locals had fought for James and lost all they possessed. The confiscation's were sold mainly by " Public cant"; the highest bidder was declared the purchaser. The proceeds were used to pay the soldiers and the adventurers who advanced their money on the faith of being rewarded by the green acres of Ireland.
Chapter 5: Priest Hanging & Beheading.
Fr. Nicholas Sheehy 1728-1766. Related through Grand Mother Bride Bresnan
Luke wanted to know why anyone would hang a priest and set his head on a spike and leave it over a jail for twenty years. Luke had read this on the family tree.
Sarah explained that in 1766 Father Nicholas Sheehy, an ancestor, was executed after been found guilty of accessory to murder, on evidence trumped-up by local Landlords, and the Rector of Clogheen in south County Tipperary. He was hung on a scaffold in Clonmel opposite St. Peters and Paul's Church, where there is a plaque to commemorate his death. His head was severed and set on a spike over Clonmel jail as a warning against agrarian violence.
Father Sheehy was educated in France and became the parish priest for Clogheen. He was described in his lifetime as a man with a passionate sense of justice. The Protestants landlords of south Tipperary feared another French invasion like the one during the Williamite War, seventy-five years earlier. They feared been massacred and distrusted Catholics who were associated with the French. Furthermore the landlords feared him as he campaigned against landlord evictions, the enclosure of common land and the Tithe taxes. These taxes were for the protestant church. Fr Sheehy saw the tithes that had to be paid by half starved Catholics to Protestant ministers as wrong.
To this day, Father Sheehy is regarded as a martyr and there are moves to have him canonised. His trial and hanging outraged nationalist opinion. People visited his grave at Shanrahan cemetery outside Clogheen to take clay, because it was said to have healing powers. It is claimed that out of respect birds didn't peck his head for the twenty years it was left on the spike. His sister Catherine, regularly called over the years, looking for his head which she was eventually given. She took it home in a bag under her arm and had it buried with the rest of his body.
Prior to his trial for murder, Fr. Sheehy was tried and acquitted in Dublin for treason for his part in the levelling of a wall by the Whiteboys, who were protesting against the enclosure of common land, by a landlord near Clogheen.
At his murder trial in Clonmel Father Sheehy said, in his final speech, after he was sentenced to death, that he was being put to death for a crime, which had never been committed. As John Bridge, the man, said to have been murdered, was seen in Cork after the date of the crime, and it is thought that he emigrated. John Bridge was described as a "drivelling begging idiot".
Fr. Sheehy's cousin Buck (Edm.) Sheehy of Lodge who appeared as a witness, was hanged two months later at 33yrs. He left a son Robert.
Father Sheehy's attorney on hearing the sentence of death turned to the jurors and said, " If there is any justice in heaven you will die roaring ".
This is how the jurors, who were mainly protestant landlords and bitterly anti-Catholic, died:
Thomas Maude of Dundrum House, died a raving manic uttering blasphemies and screaming that Father Sheehy was dragging him down to Hell.
John Bagwell of Kilmore near Clonmel, became an idiot incapable of speech and rationality.
William Bagnell of Marlhill near Ardfinnan, shot himself.
Mathew Jacob of Mobarnane, died from a violent epileptic fit.
William Barker of Kilcooley Abbey, dropped dead on the street.
Shaw, choked himself to death.
Ferris of Main Street Clonmel, went mad.
John Dunville, was kicked to death by his horse.
Alexander Hoops, drowned in a stream after he went berserk.
Minchin, died a destitute beggar, ridden with disease.
Another, dropped dead grinning inanely.
Osborn Tothall of Clonmel, cutting his own throat.
The last, died in his lavatory.
This is how the witnesses for the prosecution died.
Moll Dunlea, (ill-repute) fell down into a cellar and cracked her skull. Lonergan (tinker) contracted a disease and died an agonising death. Toohey (horse-thief), contracted leprosy.
The rector of Clogheen, Parson John Hewitson produced the three witnesses for the prosecution, described by the magistrate as dubious specimens of society.
The hangman Darby Brahan was some time later stoned to death by an outraged crowd at Philipstown for having hung Fr Nicholas Sheehy.
It is said that on Thomas Maude death, the horses refused to pull the hearse with his coffin, the horses had to be unyoked and estate workers pulled the hearse to the graveyard. The Maudes were soldiers who received vast estates in the Cromwellian settlement.
Fr Nicholas Sheehy was brought up by his mother's people the Powers of Bawnfune near Newcastle on the Tipperary and Waterford border. "The Gorgeous Countess of Blessington" was a daughter of this family. His father was Francis son of John of Drumcollogher. His sister Catherine Burke nee Sheehy had his gravestone erected. His brother William of Baunefoune died in 1775. The burial place of the Sheehy's was in the old church of Kilronan.
Chapter 6: Farm life in the 1850's
The Golden Vale, which is acknowledged as the best grazing land in the world, is an area that covers west Tipperary, east Limerick and north Cork. The lush grass is a product of the fertile soil, the high rainfall and the moderate temperatures owing to the Gulf Stream. The Galtee Mountains stand dominant over this area. The richness of the dairy produce of the Golden Vale is second to none. Tipperary town is central to this area and in the 1800's was one of the best market towns in the south of Ireland.
Butter was produced on farms and sold in firkins, oak barrels 500mm high by 400mm in diameter that held 70 pounds weight of butter. It would take the daily milk of seventy cows to fill a firkin. Firkin butter as it was called was sold at markets. Tipperary town had the second largest butter market in the British Isles. Michael and Patrick Moloney ( Sons of John Moloney & Moll Russell ) were Butter Merchants in the town. Michael's butter store was off James Street. Michael's daughter Ellen of Arravale Hse. donated a colourful stained glass window in the Convent Chapel which depicts St. Ailbe and St. Catherine, in memory of her parents. Patrick's business premises was in O'Brien Str. He was reputed to be the best butter-taster in Munster. Butter was transported from the town to England by rail and boat. The importance of butter to the farming economy at this time is hard to believe. Butter was Irelands largest agricultural export. In 1848, forty percent of the butter on the London market was Irish.
Jeremiah Dowling wrote in 1955 his childhood memories of the Tipperary butter market as follows.
On four days of each week from farms all over the surrounding country. Many of them more than twenty miles distant, some hundreds of firkins were brought to the butter market. Here they were bought by six local merchants and afterwards removed to their stores and prepared for dispatch to England. The butter trade gave considerable amount of local employment and brought a great deal of business to the town. When the market was over, farmers, who were often accompanied by their wives, purchased what they required in the shops. In the evening on the roads leading out of the town, horse-drawn carts could be seen on their homeward journey laden with provisions.
Farmers ran the risk of been robbed by highwaymen on there way home from fairs and markets as they would be carrying money and provisions. As happened to John Moloney when returning home to Knocklong with his pony and trap, after a fair in Mitchelstown, on a stretch of road that passes through a wooded valley.
Butter was made by placing milk in shallow basins and letting the cream separate to the top. The cream was skimmed off and churned, salt was added for flavour and as a preservative. Churning involved pouring the cream into a wooden churn mounted on a stand that had a handle. Rotating the handle stirred the contents turning the butterfat in the cream into butter. Before churning the cream was kept in storage in a cold place as this made the cream easier to churn.
The book "The Farm by Lough Gur" is an account of Sissy O'Brien's childhood days on her parent's farm. Lough Gur is four miles north of Knocklong. Her circumstances were similar to that of the children of Daniel and Richard Moloney in Knocklong, who were born between 1849 and 1868. There is a relationship between the O'Brien and Moloney families.
The O'Brien's farm was mainly dairying with some tillage. Milking cows and butter making formed a major part of the work on the farm.
Between 1845 and 1848, The Great Famine struck Ireland. It was caused by the destruction of the potato crop, by the blight. Blight is a fungus disease that rots the potato plant.
Four hundred years ago, Mrs Nancy Moloney nee Raleigh, ancestor Sir Walter Raleigh 1584-1618, introduced the potato to Ireland.
The potato a rich source of vitamins was easily grown. It is suited to Ireland's cool climate and wet soils and yielded from 6 to 8 tonnes per acre. It was the staple diet of one third of the population on the eve of the Famine. Therefore famine was inevitable when the crop failed. The population of Ireland prior to the famine was twice what it is today.
During the famine, destitute and starving people wandered around the country begging for food. It was a common sight to see dead people at the side of roads who died from starvation or one of its associated diseases: typhus, dysentery and scurvy.
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