Thursday, March 17, 2016

Irish Rebels Handkerchief; My Irish Roots

The Irish harp and shamrocks are a give-a-way to its Irish connection. It is a large silk handkerchief, ivory in color, with deep hems. It looks remarkably like one I found in a greeting card with a note of dating from 1906. Five portraits appear.

When this handkerchief appeared on eBay I knew it was 'something' and placed my bid. No one bid against me.
Lord Edward FitzGerald
The date 1798 and name Lord Ed. Fitzgerald soon brought up 'google' hits. He was a trained soldier who assumed leadership of the United Irishmen, whose goal was independence from England. They planned an insurrection in March 1798 but he was arrested and died in prison in June 1798.
 Robert Emmet in 1802 wanted to renew the Irish struggle for independence. He was eventually arrested and tried for high treason. He was hung and decapitated, only 24 years old. He had asked, "When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written."
General Edward Roche was involved in the battle of New Ross in the 1798 rebellion. 
 Henry Joy McCracken helped to form the first United Irishmen in Belfast and fought in 1798. He was arrested and hanged at age 31.
Theobald Wolfe Tone  envisioned an Ireland formed on the ideals of the French Revolution, a country where Protestants and Catholics could live in harmony. He was defeated in the Rebellion of 1798. Upon capture he was 34 years old. He died of a self-inflicted wound.  He was said to have been "brave, adventurous, sanguine, fertile in resource, buoyant under misfortune, warm-hearted...[and] near being almost as fatal an enemy to England as Hannibal was to Rome."

I really need to learn more about Irish history! I have Irish ancestors; my great-great-grandfather father John Smith was born in Ireland. Smith is the fifth most common name in Ireland. Smith was the Anglicization of the Irish surname Mac an Ghabhain, "son of the smith." Early Smiths were MacGowan, with variations McGowen and McGowin. John's daughter Delia (or sometimes Della) Victoria Smith was my great-grandmother.

Family lore has it that John's father bred horses in Ireland and sent John to sell some horses in England. Instead, he kept the horses (or money from their sale) and started a new life. I have also been told that my great-grandmother and siblings could 'ride before they could walk'. John and his wife Bridget Allen, of Scottish background, lived on Irlam-on-Barton at Chat Moss far m in Lancashire.

John was killed by a train in 1901; his wife had died in 1898. My great-grandmother would have been twelve years old at the time of her father's death, one of eleven children. The next I know of my grandmother was in 1906; she was a domestic servant coming to join her future husband in America. On the passenger list her age was given as 20 years old, not her actual age of 17. She married Cropper Greenwood of Bacup, England. I never had figured out how they met, but I expect they were both working in the Manchester area as servants. Cropper was mechanically trained as a quarry worker and later became a chauffeur.
Eccles & Patricroft JournalFriday 13th December 1901
Killed on the railway at IrlamAn inquest was held on Wednesday evening at the Ship Hotel, Irlam by Mr E Birch, deputy coroner, touching the death of John Smith of Moss Farm who was killed at the railway station last Monday. Mr J Mayall was foreman of the jury, Mr F Simpson was present of behalf of the Cheshire Lines Railway Co. Philip Smith said the deceased, his father was about 50 years of age. He last saw him a fortnight at home when he was in good health, he was unaware of this father habitually crossing the railway when returning from Manchester. Deceased was in no trouble and had not threatened to commit suicide, he sometimes got drunk – By a juryman: He did not know if it was a nearer way home to cross the line – several jurymen said it was three-quarters of a mile nearer at least. William Herbert Holland, booking clerk, said on Monday he was collecting tickets from the passengers travelling by train from Manchester, due at 20:03. It was a rough and dark night. Deceased came to him from the north end of the platform and had lost his ticket and paid 8d. He was sober and did not appear strange. He must have come back on to the platform while witness was engaged with other passengers. He had a right to go under the subway. After collecting all the tickets he saw deceased beyond the entrance to the subway apparently intending to cross the line, he called him back but deceased took no notice. Witness followed him and saw the headlight of an engine coming along the loop-line. The engine whistled. The train from Manchester returned from Irlam, and was being reversed. The engine stopped before getting into its usual place and the stoker came into the Station master’s office for assistance to deceased, who had been run over. His legs were cut off. Witness had not before seen deceased attempt to cross the line, though the stationmaster had cautioned him about doing so. There were notice boards at each end of the platform, warning passengers to cross the lines by the subway - Juryman: It is not fact that so many Moss people cross the lines? – Witness: No they cross by the subway and go by the end of the wall. – By the Coroner: He had seen deceased drunk many a time but he did not think he was on Monday night. He often travelled without a ticked, and paid his fare without demur, - Enoch Johnson, Fireman on the train, deposed to seeing the deceased at the end of the platform. The engine which was running tender first was about 12 yards off. Witness sounded the whistle, and when he saw the deceased attempt to cross the line told the driver to stop, and applied the hand brake. Deceased was lying face downwards in the four foot. The engine and tender has passed over him. Deceased died almost immediately – By a juryman: Instead of crossing the line he expected deceased intended to go through the goods yard – the coroner said it was a fatal short cut, deceased having come to his death by his own folly, - A verdict of “accidental death” was returned. The jury passed a recommendation that a public mortuary was desirable.The Warrington Guardian - Saturday 14th Dec 1901Railway Fatality On Monday night about 8 o'clk John Smith - commonly know as "Pigeon Jack" was killed on the Cheshire Lines Railway near Irlam Station. The deceased lived for many years at the end of the new road, Cadishead. The inquest was held on Thursday afternoon and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.
What a sad ending. Was 'Pigeon Jack' drunk? And why 'Pigeon"? Did he race pigeons? Our ancestors are so elusive.

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