100 years ago ….

Taking from the pages of Roscommon Journal Decorated cattle driven  through Roscommon ‘At two o’clock on Monday the Sub-Sheriff (Mr. Dignan) sold by auction the five head of cattle seized from Messrs Malachy Fallon and Naughton, Knockcroghery, on the 2nd inst. The sale, which was held in a yard at the rear of the Courthouse, attracted much attention and was well attended – large numbers coming from various parts of the county, especially from Knockcroghery, to be present at an auction at which it was anticipated there would be some ‘fun’.   The sheriff noted that the cattle would not be sold under the required price of €73, 15 s 0d. After bidding by a number of parties, bidding stopped at that exact price and the cattle were bought by Mr. Moran.   ‘The sale over, Mr. O’Brien and some other gentlemen proceeded to claim the cattle. No sooner had they been released from the sheriff’s custody when they were decorated with green ribbons and laurel.   ‘When the cattle were adorned they were brought through the Courthouse yard and out through the gates into Abbey Street where a procession was formed. After having been photographed by an enterprising photographer the procession began to move and to the accompaniment of some spiriting selections of the fife and drum band, the released cattle followed by a large crowd slowly wended their way round Abbey Street corner into Church Street and then round into the Main Street where the procession separated.’   Dancing on the Messenger There were unusual scenes as a meeting of the UIL Roscommon branch in the Courthouse had to be abandoned.   At the outset, the Chairman, Mr. J M Hayden, having noticed the presence of Mr. John McGreevy and several non-members of the UI League asked non-members to leave. Mr. McGreevy replied saying that it was a meeting of the Nationalists of the town to protest against the scurrilous attacks of the ‘Messenger’. They refused to leave and the UIL members left.   Mr. Michael Finlay TC then took the chair and was enthusiastically received. He said that members of the Roscommon branch of the UIL condemned the scandalous acts of John Hayden MP and John Fitzgibbon, Chairman of Roscommon County Council, because of their vile and futile efforts to prevent liberty of speech on the occasion of the unveiling of the picture of Michael Davitt, the persecuted patriot.   In his address, Mr. John McGreevy said that the Messenger newspaper ‘preaches about the necessity of keeping members of Parliament in the House of Commons to do nothing but drink champagne and to hob nob with English members.’   ‘Mr. McGreevy concluded by applying a match to a copy of the ‘Messenger’ which immediately went in flame and amid much enthusiasm and groans for the paper, Mr. McGreevy threw the ashes to the ground and danced on them. The meeting then adjourned.’   ‘In the meantime another meeting was held in the ‘Messenger’ office, Mr. JM Hayden in the chair. The Chairman said he was sure all the members of the League were aware of the disgraceful scene in the courthouse.’   A resolution was passed which expelled Mr. M. Finlay from membership of the Roscommon Branch of the UIL, a move which was condemned in the editorial of The Roscommon Journal.   Our thirst for drink ‘We promised to give a sketch of that veteran temperance pioneer Canon Casey, the poet-priest of Athleague, Co. Roscommon facetiously called by some of his brethren, ‘The Bard of the Suck’, and by his friend Fr. Russell, SJ in the Irish Monthly’, ‘the Laureate of Water Drinkers’. We learn from DJ O’Donoghue’s book on Irish Ability that Canon Casey was born at Riverstown, County of Sligo, I September 1824 and that he entered Maynooth College in 1851.   ‘We learn also from the ‘Poets of Ireland’ by the same author, that Canon Casey was ordained in 1857 and that his first mission was Ballygar, in the County of Galway, in which, for two years and six months, he had a hard fight with Souperism, as may be seen in the Appendix to ‘Paddy Blake’s Sojourn Among the Soupers,’ whom, by song and sermon, he routed.   ‘He was eventually (1873) appointed Parish Priest of the small depopulated parish of Athleague, without a helper for eight years, until it became united with Fuerty and it was during those eight years he published, under the initials JKC, his philosophical poem on ‘Tyndall and Materialism’ and his didactic poems, ‘Intemperance’ and ‘Our Thirst for Drink; its Cause and Cure’.