Pages From The Past

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 10th March, 2010 5:00pm


Farmer's death after Kiltoom wedding

A fight at a South Roscommon wedding in February 1860 resulted in the death some three weeks later of a Kiltoom farmer, the Westmeath Independent reported in March 1860.

The fight took place during a wedding in the house of a man named Gately whose sister had got married. A farmer named William Fehilly died on the March 4, from "the effect of the injuries he received on the occasion."

The paper said: "His skull was fractured by a blow of an iron instrument, given him by a fellow named Michael Moore."

A jury returned a verdict finding that the death of the deceased was accelerated by his skull being fractured with the instrument in question.


Should Athlone pubs close on St Patrick's Day?

The issue of whether public houses should open in Limerick on Good Friday is currently a matter of controversy.

100 years ago in Athlone, the question of whether pubs would open on St Patrick's Day was also a matter of A meeting of the main public bodies and national organisations in Athlone, designed to plan for the annual national festivities on March 17.

The gathering decided to ask the traders and publicans of the town to close once again.

The matter was due to the decision of the British Government to designate Patrick's Day as a state holiday only, and did not direct the public house to be kept closed.

In an editorial, the Westmeath Independent said before the revival of national spirit and cultural reawakening of the Irish race in recent years, the national holiday had become

"Our people, abased by degradation, governed their observance of the national festival by the standard of Drowning The Shamrock and what should have been the occasion of a national display of religion and patriotism, the realisation for the day of the watchword of Ireland - Faith and Fatherland - was not infrequently converted to a drunken carnival that found expression in wretched excesses.

The meeting already referred to also heard 14 reasons outlined the vintners trade as to why pubs should be allowed open on St Patrick's Day.

Among them was the the duplication of many pubs as grocery outlets; the impact such closures would have on individual liberty; the fact that people would drink at home in front of their children if not allowed enter public houses and the fact that the closure of pubs on St Patrick's Day would not help temperance.

There was also the Irish tendency to do the opposite as that intended by the authorities.

In this regard, the publicans cited the example of the Sunday closures which now only encouraged illegal drinking.

"We can't refuse people a drink although the law prohibits it and the priests condemn it.

"In fact, if instead of preaching against drink the priests recommended drinking, our people would be all teetotallers in a short tmte."


Athlone tenor releases first LP

Another milestone on the road to success in the world of song is how the Westmeath Independent portrayed the release by Athlone-born tenor Louis Browne of his first long-playing record in Mach 1960.

The album, the report said, featured "a really delightful selection of popular Irish songs with orchestra, directed by Kitty O'Callaghan".

The paper said in the magnificence of his voice and in his general boyhood circumstances, Louis Browne had quite a lot in common with his townsfellow and illustrious predecessor John McCormack.

The report said Browne was born in Athlone 25 years previously and received his early singing training from the Marist Brothers, where he distinguished himself as a very exceptional boy soprano in the school choir and in the operattas and other musical presentations.

Before leaving to take up employment in Dublin, Louis played some leading roles in the Athlone Musical Society.

He won gold medal for tenor solo at the Feis Ceoil, precisely the same award won by John McCormack a half century before.

Later, Louis gave up a employment in Dublin to devote his entire time to singing and went to London to stay at the Guildhall School of Music, the paper said.

Triple basketball glory for local St Mary's teams

St Mary's Basketball club reached the Leinster finals in all three grades, minor, junior and senior, after an historic day, March 13, the Westmeath Independent reported.

The club carried the Westmeath banner in the championship semi-finals, all of which took place in Custume Barracks.

They also overcame Kilkenny 26-16 in the minor semi-final.

They defeated the same county 29-26 in the junior grade and just overcame Kildare by a point (23-22) in the senior grade.

The respective squads were: Minor: B. Gahan (captain), E. Moran, S. Neville, S. Kelly, MS Moran, B. Gillooly, P. Gough and P. Johnston.

Junior: P. Ryan (captain), M. Burke, P. Geraghty, S. O'Connor, P. Russell, J. Finan, F. McCrea and S. Taylor.

Senior: O. Berry, D. Fletcher, D. Dunning, S. Fallon, W. Doyle, M. Kelly, B. Gahan and K. O'Neill.

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