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Sir Joseph Barrington, Bart., a name inseparably interwoven with the history of these times in Limerick undertook in 1829, with his sons Matthew (afterwards Sir Matthew), Daniel, Croker, and Samuel to found a charitable institution for the relief of the poor of their native city. An Act of the legislature was obtained in the year after, (11th Geo. IT. c. 72), constituting the Hospital for the County and City of Limerick. By this Act the Mayor is an ex-omcio governor of the hospital, which is otherwise unconnected with the Corporation, though for a period commencing in 1854, a certain number of the Corporation were appointed on the Committee or board of Directors, the Corporation at this time and afterwards until 1864, contributing to its funds; but as the Corporators could not vote at any of the meetings of the Committee or Board, they declined to act on the Committee; they deemed their presence at the Board useless and nugatory. The hospital was opened for the reception of patients on the 5th of November, 1831. It is situated on Gcorge's-cjuay, on the site of the old main guard house, is of cut stone, presenting a handsome front, surmounted by an illuminated clock, and for a long time the only one of the kind to be seen the south of Ireland.—The Barrington family expended £10,000 on it. By the Act of
names to it. On the day appointed they all set oat well armed, and provided with the best means they could travel by. The journey being then performed in five days, (the same horses being used all through), unless the weather proved very unfavourable. About this time a stage coach was started which left weekly, taking its departure from what was called the Head Inn in Cornwallis street. This house is still standing, and is situated at the left band side as one walks from William street to John's Church, about midways in the street, and will be easily known from its having a hall door in the centre and windows at either sides of it, and it was here as already stated that Mrs. Siddons and the actresses and actors who, frequented Limerick, lodged. The coach then proceeded by .John's.square, through the Irish town, over Ball's bridge, through the English town, over Thomond bridge, and thence by Killaloc, passing over port of Keeperhill in its route to Dublin.
This Coach which was called the Fly accomplished the journey with punctuality in four days. In some years after the travelling was greatly improved by using a lighter built coach, and having the relays of horses ready harnessed when it arrived at the different stages, instead of using the same set of harness all through, which was attended with great loss of time and inconvenience ; with these and other improvements the journey was made in three days, the coach that performed it being called the Balloon, from what was then considered its rapid movement. An experience of twenty years having pointed ont much that was wrong with both the Fly and Balloon, resulted in further alterations and improvements amongst them the route was changed, and the road newly constructed. Instead of going over Thomond bridge and by Killaloe, the coach proceeded by Clare-street, and direct to the town of Nenagh, changes so happy in the result that the journey to Dublin was then performed in two days, and ultimately in one, but to accomplish this, there was an early start and a late arrival. In the present days of comfortable and expeditious travelling by rail this sketch of the past may appear exaggerated, but this is not the case; about the period referred to, 1760, the roads in Ireland were very few and badly engineered (if this term be at all applicable) no care having been taken to avoid hills or cut through them; they were also indifferently constructed and so ill cared that in bad weather parts of them were almost impassable.
The coach first started (the Fly) was very large and heavy in construction, great strength being necessary for tke work it had to go through. The horses too were harnessed after the same style, many unnecessary straps and buckles being used, which were afterwards dispensed with. When stage coaches were first established, and for some years after, the mails were conveyed from Limerick to Dublin three times a week, being small (usually letters only and comparatively few) ; they were carried in saddle bags placed at either side of a horse which was ridden by a courier who travelled a fixed distance, usually ten miles; the charge was then handed over to a fresh man and horse, and so on until they reach their destination, which however could not always be relied on, as highwaymen sometimes interfered, the great preventative to which was avoiding to enclose anything of value that could be made available. The application of steam power for propelling ships being at this time unknown, the mails between England and Ireland were conveyed in sloops, the sailing of which being controlled by the wind made their arrival very irregular. The gentleman who started the Fly between Limerick and Dublin was a Mr. Bucksunan of Thomond Gate.
I have already given in Chapter XLVIII. some particulars relative to the rise and progress of the great car establishment of Charles Bianconi, Esq., D.L. The further and fuller particulars of the state of that establishment, which had its first connection with Limerick, have been furnished to me by Mr. Bianconi, cannot fail to be of deep interest to the readers of this History:—
Longford & Ballina
The total number of miles traversed daily, was 6524.
This mark shows where the cars or coaches continue to ply in 1865.
Parliament all donors of a sum not less than twenty guineas are constituted Governors for life; and every person who shall subscribe and pay any sum not less than three guineas annually, to be an annual Governor. Subscribers of two guineas to have power to recommend two patients, and of five guineas, five patients annually. The hospital contains in 1865, 45 beds; patients are only admitted on the ticket of a Governor, unless in case of persons accidentally injured, who are always immediately received. A Committee of Management is elected annually from among the Governors, on the second Monday in the month of January.
The Hospital is capable of containing 120 beds; it has an annual income of £100 from rents of houses in Mary-street, from the city Dispensary, which is accommodated with a portion of the hospital, and from the Mont de Piete,1 Subscriptions from Government, and others, £45 a year; Anne Bankes's Bequest £30 a year; the Bequest of the late Marquis of Lansdowne, the interest of £3000: in all about £300 a year.
In seasons of severe epidemic, as at the outbreak of the cholera morbus in 1832, the hospital was of incalculable benefit to the citizens, as it has been also in all cases of accidents, whenever immediate relief is demanded by the sufferer. It is supplied with a large broad room in which there is a well painted portrait of the founder, surrounded by his sons, projecting the charity. The Board Room is furnished with surgical apparatus, a library for medical reference, and a remarkably well-executed picture of the Barrington family, founders of the Hospital, which was painted by Cregan, President of the Royal Hibernian Academy. There are two other pictures in the Hospital, one, of the Good Samaritan, and the other, of Christ healing the Sick, which were painted by John Murphy, a young Limerick artist, and protege of Sir Matthew Barrington, in London. It would be a great pity that so deserving an institution should decay or fail from want of spirited support. In addition to the hospital, the late Sir Matthew Barrington projected, and in 1837, built a Mont de Piete or charitable Pawn office, which while it existed gave relief by way of loan or pledge at a very moderate rate of interest. The Mont de Pie'te which was founded on the plan of those of the same name in Italy, France, Belgium, &c, has ceased since 1845, to have an existence as such; it is built in close proximity to the hospital, and is an object of architectural ornament to the city. Since 1847 it has been converted into a police barrack. Sir Matthew Barrington's intention in building the Mont de Piete was that the profits which he anticipated would arise from it, should be allocated to the exigencies of the hospital, which even in its incipiency did not meet with the support which it merited. He placed an active manager over the Mont de Pie'te, but though debentures varying from £5 to £500, bearing interest at the rate of six per cent were freely taken, by which its capital was created; it did not realise the sanguine expectations of its benevolent and enterprising founder. From 1837 to 1840, the gross profit was £3940 10s. 2£d. The total number of pledges received since the opening of the establishment up to March 19th, 1841, was 460,895; the amount lent on pledges in the four years above stated was £78,595 9s. Jd.—the amount received for released articles, £71,005 8s. N. Sir Matthew Barrington had another design in establishing this institution, namely that the humbler classes who have been in the habit of frequenting pawn offices should not pay the higher rate of interest on loans which are charged in private establishments. In the palmiest days, however, of the Mont de Pie'te there
1 Now and since November, 1847, George's Quay Police Barrack.
were twenty licensed pawn offices in Limerick, and the business in such establishments has not declined, nor has the number of them lessened, on the contrary it has gone on increasing since then. The Mont de Piete like other useful local institutes, fell from its original purposes in consequence of gross neglect. It forms rather a remarkable object, even yet, with its cupola, pillars, railing, and small grass enclosure.
THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION.—THE CLARE ELECTION.—EMANCIPATION.—REMARKABLE EVENTS.—GUNPOWDER EXPLOSION.—PARLIAMENTARY REFORM—MUNICIPAL REFORM.—DEATH OF WILLIAM IV.—PROCLAMATION OF QUEEN VICTORIA.—A GENERAL ELECTION.
The limits to which we are necessarily confined will not permit us to do more than take a rapid glance over a wide field of events, commencing with 1825, in the last month of which year the Right Rev. Dr. John Ryan was consecrated Catholic Bishop of Limerick in St. John's old chapel, by the Most Rev. Dr. Laffan, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly; and passing on through the struggle for Catholic Emancipation—the glorious victory in Clare in 1828—the remarkable contemporaneous events, and those which followed—the agitation for a repeal of the denationalising act of Union, for Parliamentary and for Corporate reform—the triumph of the popular cause, the temperance movement, the growth of manufactures, &c, until we arrive at the last portion of our work, intended to illustrate the civil and military history of Limerick. In a subsequent part of the History, devoted to the Bishops, the Churches, the Religious Houses, the list of Mayors, and the enumeration of the charters, &c, granted to the Corporation, we shall supply what may possibly be omitted in these chapters. It is true that the history of the three great movements for Emancipation, Eeform, and Free Trade, is still to be written in formal book shape, but the leading circumstances connected with these movements are so much identified with the general history of Ireland, that a mere passing reference to them is all that will be expected in this History.
There was no city in Ireland for which O'Connell had entertained more affection than for Limerick: it was in Limerick, in 1821, that he issued two of his most remarkable letters in reference to the controversy which he then had with Mr. Sheil on the subject of Mr. Plunket's Bill in reference to the Catholic Clergy. These letters appeared in a local journal, which has long since ceased to exist.1 It was in Limerick that he ordered the waiter of the bar mess to take the shoes of Mr. M'Mahon (afterwards Sir William M'Mahon, Master of the Rolls,) from the fire-place, where they had been put inside the fender to air by an obsequious barrister, O'Connell stating, in the presence of M'Mahon,1 that they ought to be kicked out of the room, an expression for which M'Mahon applauded him.2 Some of his best speeches were delivered at Catholic meetings held in Limerick,8 and at the Court House in the defence of prisoners. He lodged, during his periodical visits, at the house No. 6, Patrick-street, then occupied by Mr. Sheehan, a saddler, where he was constantly besieged by attorneys and clients; and his appearance, as he walked with a thorough air of complete independence, "kicking the world before him,"4 to and from Court, or through the city, always attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd of admirers. Going to or returning from his beloved mountain home in Kerry, he usually rested for a night in Limerick ; and it was his usual habit on these occasions to address the throngs by whom his carriage was ever surrounded, when he never beiran a speech without, in the first place, attacking the local Tory journal, and asking, "How is Andy Watson?" its proprietor. He retained a strong hold on the affections of the citizens up to the very last visit which he paid to Limerick, which was towards the close of the summer of 1846, when, breaking down in health, and sorely disappointed in hope, he was no longer the eloquent and enthusiastic orator that he had been. During the Clare election, in 1828, Limerick was as it were the centre of operations of O'Connell and his friends. The citizens were absolutely wild with excitement. As O'Connell proceeded to Clare, to open that great country, and strike the final blow for Catholic freedom, the entire population of Limerick became well nigh frantic in their demonstrations in favor of the cause in which the nation and its avowed leader had embarked.
'The Limerick Herald.
The return of O'Connell for Clare was an achievement hitherto unparalleled in history—it was the cutting of the gordian knot which could not be untied, and the cutting of that knot with the sword of the constitution. The immense military force with which Limerick had been filled, and which occupied every village and hamlet in Clare, had no effect in controlling the feelings of the people : it no more overawed them than did the frowns and threats of a baffled and beaten aristocracy. Every barony in Clare gave a majority to the Man of the People, over the nominee of the aristocracy, Mr. Vcsey Fitzgerald; and when, at the close of the poll on the 2nd of July, 1828, the High Sheriff declared that there were 2027 votes recorded for Daniel O'Connell, and only 936 votes for his opponent, giving to the former
1 The late Sir William McMahon, Master of the Rolls, was brother of Major-General Sir Thomas M'Mahon, Bart. K.C.D. commanding at Portsmouth. Sir William was born 12sh July, 177C, and married in May 1807, Frances, daughter of Beresford Burston, Esq. King's Counsel, by whom he had issue two sons, and having married again in 1814, Charlotte, sister of Sir Robert Shaw, Bart, has had issue four sons and three daughters. He was created a Baronet, 0th May, 1815, with the rank of Privy Councillor, and the office of Master of the Rolls, in which he succeeded John Philpot Curran. The deceased Baronet was succeeded in his title and estates by his eldest son, Sir Beresford Burston M'Mahon, Bart. The father of Sir William M'Mahon was Comptroller of the port of Limerick,
* Fagan's Life of O'Connell. s See O'Connell's life, by his Son, John O'Connell
* Grattan's Sketch of O'Connell.
* Comptroller of Cuttoma of Limerick.
James I.—Samuel Johnson. Jas. I—Francis Cave.
Charles I Pierce Arthur. Chas II Mountiford Westropp.
Will. III.—Humphrey May. Anne—Benjamin Chetwode.
Geo. I.—William Westby. Geo. II.—Daniel Carrington.
Geo. II.—John M'Mahon, Sen. and Jan. Geo. Ill Wm. M'Mahon, 23rd Sept. 1801.
Elgar Pagden was the last Comptroller of the Customs of Limerick, the office having been established in 1858.