Boherlahan-Dualla Historical Journal – a superb publication

On Friday night, 27th October, a milestone was reached by the Boherlahan-Dualla Historical Journal Society with the launch of the 20th issue of the journal.

It contains twenty-one articles with plenty of photographs and accompanying maps and sketches. To a full house, Maura O’Brien, a native of the parish, had the honour of addressing the crowd and launching the journal. She is steeped in the history and folklore of both sides of the parish and is most generous with her vast store of knowledge. A great community person over the years, she is still very active in parish affairs, especially in church related matters. She is no stranger to the readers of the journal where she has made her own unique contribution with her record of the religious who worked on the home and foreign missions. She passionately believes in acknowledging the selfless work of so many people in bringing a ray of hope to the downtrodden, underprivileged and powerless people across all five continents of the world, a contribution that can easily be forgotten and overlooked in the secular and affluent world of the 21st century.

Being the 20th issue, there is a review of the Journal Society, dealing with its origins, outlook and development. Besides a continuation of a series of articles in the journal, the 2017 issue brings its own surprises. In the modern world of rapid travel, what must it have been like for a family to spend 135 days cooped up in a sailing ship on its way to New Zealand? That story is told in ‘In search of a better way of life’. The descendants of that family have renewed contact with their long lost cousins back in Boherlahan-Dualla. A stimulating article on the post box, which enriches the villages and crossroads of rural Ireland, is a reminder that it is not just a functional piece of furniture but a part of the cultural landscape, reflecting our history and national image.

No historical journal based on a rural parish can escape the interaction between the land and its people. Part two of ‘The Murder at Ardmayle’ records a violent time in the history of land occupation, which resulted in murder, trials, execution and a narrow escape from the hangman’s rope. The series on the Smith-Barry Cashel Estate resumes with the trial of Thomas Walsh, proprietor of the Cashel Sentinel, for his publication of a report on a land meeting that may or may not have taken place. A much more tranquil article concerns the management of the Synone Estate, with special reference to local families that spent a lifetime of service working there. In particular, it captures the extraordinary bond between the horseman and his equine friend, best seen on the ploughing field. Valuable information on occupiers and landowners relating to the development of the Cashel branch line through the parish has been unearthed in documents recorded at the turn of the 20th century. The trend towards tenant proprietorship can be gauged. In an article on Kilballyherberry, the traces of ancient settlement are documented, together with an examination of the socio-economic state of the townland on the eve of the Great Famine. A similar type article on the Furry Hill focuses on the post-famine years, concentrating on the struggle for survival, the relationship between landlord and tenant and the changing demographics. In the Camus article, the foundations have been laid for further development. Here, the focus is on the involvement of the Catholic and Protestant Archbishops in the townland with reference to the ‘notorious’ Miler McGrath.

Two articles lie within the ‘Centenary decade of commemorations’. One deals with the quiet revolution which took place in the political outlook of the people of the parish in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising and their positive response to the humanitarian efforts to alleviate the misery of those affected by the fall-out from the events of Easter Week while the second article concentrates on the work of an upper-class lady’s involvement in the Home Front during the Great War.

One article specifically deals with genealogy. The final part of the ‘Mannin Records’ is reproduced, which contains the births, marriages and deaths in Ardmayle and Ballysheehan in the late 1730s. Other articles in the journal can also be helpful to the genealogist in search of ancestry.

Memory plays an important part in the story of any parish. A number of articles stem from personal memory or on the recollections of others. The simplicity of growing up in the 1940s and ’50s is recounted in ‘Childhood memories of Ardmayle’. Recreational pursuits, neighbourliness, earning a few schillings, managing without electricity and an awareness of the riches of the countryside are found in this article. Fond memories of a local farm labourer, thatcher, clock-mender and musician are woven together in ‘Dick Cantwell: An interesting and varied life’. It was this man’s ability to teach music and inspire a love of same that will be his lasting legacy. The old N8, forming ‘The Great Divide’ between the two halves of the parish, provided a parish exile with a starting point to recount his memories of the families residing along it and its environs. Making a living to provide for one’s family was no easy task in the early years of the 20th century. Such a story is recalled in ‘What’s in a name?’ through the medium of verse. What was it like to work in the fire brigade before motorisation, the development of suitable equipment and high tech training? Personal experience with the North Tipperary Fire Brigade is recalled and apt photographs add to the story. Note in particular the tools that were in readiness to deal with an air-raid attack during the Emergency.

Being a faith people, three articles cover matters of religion. One reminds the reader of a place of worship in medieval times. All that remains are the icy-clad walls of a ruined church on the crest of a hill, surrounded by a graveyard sacred to the dead of distant years and also in later times. In another article, the people’s respect, appreciation and gratitude for a curate who spent less than two years in the parish can be judged from their presentation to him of a trap, harness and an illuminated address in the very early years of the 20th century. Finally, not every parish can boast of a prelate from its community. The story of the first bishop of Salt Lake, Utah, is told by a great-grandnephew who visited the diocese in pursuit of getting an insight into a man renowned for stamina, determination and dedication.

The cover photograph depicts the type of house constructed by the Board of Guardians for the agricultural labourer in the late 19th century and early 20th century. There are numerous photographs within the journal, which are independent of the articles but add considerably to the historical value of the journal.

The journal was dedicated to Fr Joe Egan PP in recognition of his goodwill, support and patronage of the history, heritage and culture of the parish. His arrival in the parish in 1998 coincided with the launch of the first journal and ever since he has endowed the patrons with words of wisdom.

The formalities of the night, overseen by the chairperson of the society, Tom Ryan, began and ended with some of the children from the Little Flower NS, Ballytarsna, playing a jig and a reel under the guidance of their principal, Siobhán McGrath, which were based on the hand-written music sheets of the Dick Cantwell mentioned above. With the official part of the night over, there were refreshments, followed by the usual camaraderie, friendship and anticipation of the next volume of the journal. Go leanfaidh an dea-obair le blianta fada.

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