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Pages from the past

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 22nd September, 2010 4:45pm


Australian circus to parade through Athlone

An advert in the Westmeath Independent of September 1860 promoted the visit of The Great Australian Circus and Californian Exhibition of Miraculous Wonders.

The circus was making one day trips to Ballymahon, Moate, Athlone, Ferbane, Ballinasloe among other towns.

The advertisement read: "Go and see Joe Miller and Barney the Clown at the Great Australian Circus in a mock illustration of the recent Great Fight for the Championship of the World.

The funniest, most laughable, and amusing scene ever witnessed anywhere. Roars of laughter and merriment never fail to greet the inimitably comic burlesque manoeuvres of these pair of humorous individuals.

The circus was to parade through the town as the advert made clear.

"The grand and magnificent procession headed by the splendid band in their band carriage, the juvenile artistes in their Lilliputian equipages and the whole of the other elegant vehicles and horses will promenade the principal streets of the above towns at 12 o'clock precisely.

"The rere will be brought up by the most wonderful invention of the present age called the velocipede; it consists of a conveyance for two persons and runs at the rate of 40 miles an hour, without the last dancer, as it has been proved impossibe to upset."


Over 3,000 attend Curraghboy land league meeting

Over 3,000 people attended a public meeting at Curraghboy aimed at crushing the last vestiges of landlordism.

"The earnestness that prevails in this district to put an end to the grazing system which is now the last prop of landlordism can be estimated when it's stated at the public held in this rather out of the way little place last Sunday, there were upwards of three thousand nationals assembled.

"The immediate purpose of the gathering was to protest against any part of the grazing lands on the St George state at Cam passing into the hands of a local gentleman Mr Martin JP who recently succeeded in having a fairer rent fixed on about 270 acres of these lands, which, according to an agreement signed by him, and read at the meeting by one of the speakers, he only held as a temporary letting until such time as the property would be sold to the Estates Commissioners or alternatively until the expiry of a period mentioned in the agreement.

Amongst those on the platform were Rev Father Hughes, PP; Messrs JP Hayden MP; John Fitzgibbon, Chairman County Council; John Galvin, vice chair county council; DJ Kelly, County Council chairman Timothy Lynch, Vice President Cam Branch of United Irish League, DJ Egan, honourary secretary Cam Branch UIL.

"From noon out contingents began to arrive and by the time the meeting started there was assembled one of the finest national gatherings seen in Roscommon county for many years. Contingents were present in great number from practically every townland and parish between Athlone and Roscommon.

"The tone of the meeting all through was one of quiet resolve to recover the lands in dispute for the people. Notwithstanding that such a dispute might easily lend itself to inflammatory outbursts of passion on the part of those who were such concerned in the result, the demeanour preserved throughout was quiet and orderly."


No extensions permitted for Ballinasloe publicans

Applications by thirty Ballinasloe publicans for exemptions to permit extended hours of night trading during the town's October show week were refused by Justice O'Callaghan at the local court.

It means that they must conform to the new licensing laws which provides that they close their premises at 11pm on these nights.

Applications by two licensed hotels in the town for exemptions were also refused.

During the hearing of the application it was stated that a quarter of a million pounds changed hands in Ballinasloe during that week.

The publicans had applied for extensions to 11.30pm during the famous October Fair week, with the exception of the opening night of the fair, when they asked that the closing hour be extended to midnight.

The state solicitor said he was objecting to any extension after 11pm.

The justice asked what extensions were granted in the past. Supt. Deeney said that on some dates they were granted up to midnight and to 1am on the opening night of the show.

A solicitor representing some of the applicants said that the publicans were seeking reduced hours on these granted last year, because the bona fide law permitting travellers to drink up to midnight had been abolished since.

The proprietor of the Coolnagreenia Hotel at Dunlo Hill also applied for extended hours of trading during the same week.

There was also a similar application by Hayden's Hotel.

Mr Scannell told the court that he applied for an extension from 11pm to 1am on October 3, the same extension as granted to his hotel last year.

If the hours were not granted, it would create difficulties.

Witness said it would be very difficult to keep the law if these extensions were not granted.