Ballyshannon Herald 1846.


January 9th – 1846, Two Fitzpatrick brothers have been lodged in Enniskillen Jail on suspicion of the shooting of Mr, Barton J,P, One of them, James Fitzpatrick is now dead of fever in jail and the other protesting their innocence. The newspaper believes that they had always been thought to be loyal Protestants and according to them they just happened to be on the road when the shooting happened, [Whether guilty or not-being jailed in those times could be the equivalent of a death sentence].


January 23, 1846. In reference to the Barton shooting, two men named Burnside and a husband and wife named Irvine, were now in jail in connection with the crime.


March 6th, 1846. The famine gets a brief mention but only to say that people are flocking to a certain priest in County Cavan to fill bottles at a holy well. It is believed, by these people, that sprinkling their potatoes with this water will stop them rotting. [Despite the dearth of information in the paper about the famine it is obvious that it is raging locally and confirmation appears in the shape of recipes for cooking Indian Meal in the next issue. [Maize meal or Indian meal was detested by the Irish even though they were starving. Constitutions used to dealing with vast quantities of potatoes could not easily absorb this alien type of food. Potatoes for breakfast, dinner and supper was the usual diet of the poor and a labourer might eat up to nine pounds of potatoes per day.]


May 28th, 1846. A major disturbance is reported in Enniskillen because of a forestaller “was buying up potatoes to take them into Cavan, The people objected to the potatoes being sold out of the area and the potato sacks were slashed,[a forestaller was a type of profiteer who bought up local food for sale elsewhere].


July 24th, 1846, The trial is reported of those accused of the attempted murder of Folliott W. Barton, the Pettigo J,P. Robert Burnside was accused of the shooting and James and Margaret Irvine of harbouring the accused. Barton had been coming on horseback towards his house at Clonelly and had been shot at Crummer’s gate near Pettigo, He was wounded in the right breast but rode on to the house of John Chute where he obtained assistance. A witness, James Armstrong, gave evidence of seeing Burnside with a gun and following him to Irvine’s house where he overheard him tell about the shooting. Despite the apparent strength of this evidence the jury retired for an hour and a half and returned a verdict of not guilty.


August 21st, 1846, Despite the famine the social chit chat continues with the news that Coburn’s Hotel Ballyshannon is doing very well this season and that Bundoran and Donegal are packed with visitors. The only indication that all is not well appears in a statement that there were many outrages reported and that many people were being beaten up and robbed especially on the road between Ballyshannon and Donegal.


August 28th, 1846, There are complaints of a very scarce season and many disturbances in the locality, Employees of Messers Bradshaw of Donegal were beaten up near Pettigo after leaving coal to the Waterfoot Barton’s estate, Their assailants rushed out of the bog with blackened faces.


September 4th, 1846, There are more and more outrages being reported and men have been beaten up on the Pettigo-Laghey road.A man named Jenkins only saved his life by leaving his horse and cart and running away.


September 11th, 1846. Finally the gross tragedy of the famine forces it’s way into the the Ballyshannon Herald and there is a two and a half column report of a meeting in Donegal courthouse concerning the plight of the poor, The meeting craves loans and grants from the government to employ the poor of the badly affected baronies of Tyrhugh, Bannagh and Boylagh. There is also an advertisement on behalf of the Ballyshannon Destitute Sick Society which seeks help in alleviating the situation locally.


September 25th, 1846, This paper which has taken little or no interest in the appaling situation suddendly discovers the famine, “The poor of this town and vicinity are in a wretched state of destitution . . . . . potatoes are too dear at 6 pence to 8 pence per stone and not a plateful sound ……     Indian meal is now 1 shilling and 5 pence a peck . , . , How are they to live.? …. People are not able to raise enough money from working as the price of food is so high , . , A family [obviously not suffering from the famine] bought a ton of Indian meal in Sligo last week for £12 and could now make £15 profit on it if they wished …. A poor honest tradesman with 12 children is applying for aid .., No one in his house has eaten for forty eight hours … Something must be done. [It is hard to imagine the mentality of the newspaper which, without comment, suddenly finds a crisis of this dimension all round it.] A procession of the starving poor is held through Ballyshannon—they follow a man carrying a loaf speared on top of a pole.



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