Saturday, 27 April 2013

Masters, Murders, American Wakes and a Local Link to Florence Nightingale

Local Link to Florence Nightingale

A Ballyshannon lady Mrs. Coane was one of those who volunteered and went with Florence Nightingale to the front in the Crimean War (1853-1856). She was married to William Coane a tailor on East Port and was the mother of Ms. Mary Coane who at one time also lived on East Port in the town. In 1938 Ms. Mary Coane had letters and photos received from Florence Nightingale- “The Lady with the Lamp.” Whatever became of those valuable memorabilia one may never know? Perhaps they are in an attic somewhere in the area? 

Mary Coane remembered her mother talking about pilgrimages she made in the 19th century to Tobarshannon a holy well which was rediscovered recently during the  By-Pass excavations at Ballyhanna. Holy wells like St. Patrick's Well in the Abbey were once very popular places of devotion. The Abbey Well  is in a scenic location which is well worth a visit as the grotto and stations are still intact.

Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing and it is interesting that a Ballyshannon lady was with her during her humanitarian work, tending to the sick and the dying in the Crimean War.

Military Murders in Ballyshannon

A Coane family lived on the Port as far back as 1786 when there were was an atrocity committed by the army from the Barracks at the bridge, resulting in the shooting dead of two innocent women named as Elinor Madden and Mary Mountain. One was shot adjacent to the barracks and the other near the Diamond in the town. These random shootings followed on from an army raid for poteen at the tavern of Denis McGowan on the Port. The soldiers were chased back across the bridge from the Port and the soldiers opened fire killing both women in what was a crowded Ballyshannon with the Fair Day in progress. In the shootings which followed a bullet lodged in a chest of drawers in Coane’s house in the Port.
There was also a very well known Coane family who were extensive landowners at Higginstown House, the ruins of which stand on the high ground overlooking the town of Ballyshannon about a mile or so above the Fr. Tierney Gaelic football park.

Master McIntyre’s School

“We remember him, perched on his seat and bringing us around him, and imparting that knowledge which we wish we could have remembered. We sometimes, in our fancy, think we are back again in the days when we mimicked his manner and voice. And most of us remember, too, his jibes and jokes, the brand of snuff he was so fond of, and the stern lecture he used to give to the messenger who purchased the cane for him at P.B.’s (Stephens), the fierce scowl on his face when anything was done to lower the dignity or reputation of the School, and the joyful feeling reflected in his countenance when examination results were satisfactory”. 

A past pupil described Master McIntyre above and remembered the school with its old press full of books, the antique clock on the wall, the little bell on the desk. Happy days!  Master McIntyre was from Creevy and was known as “The Latin Master” as he prepared boys for Maynooth and the priesthood. Master John McIntyre’s School in College Street closed in September 1922. It was located where the Sister of Mercy later had their Music rooms and the building still survives just past the entrance to Coláiste Cholmcille.

An American Wake in Tírconaill Street

On July 4th 1923 a group of young ladies were given a farewell dance as they prepared to emigrate to the United States. The date was very appropriate as it was also Independence Day in America. The event was held in Tirconaill Street Ballyshannon with dancing and singing including “When the Ebb Tide Flows”. An accordion player and a flute player performed in this American Wake and this was followed by friends and neighbours bidding farewell at the GNR railway station. Perhaps someone knows of their descendants who could be located for the Gathering?

Ballyshannon Musings:  Please let people with an interest in Ballyshannon and surrounding areas know about this site, particularly people who are not living locally and those who are abroad. The site is called Ballyshannon Musings and there are a number of back issues available on the internet. Copy this link and it can be googled at The site can be located on the internet (or by connecting to my Facebook page). New items will be posted every week or two on Ballyshannon Musings during 2013the year of “The Gathering”. The blogs are not taken from the book below.

A New Local History suitable for those at Home and Away 

Anthony Begley, local historian, published a new book entitled: "Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" which reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene.
The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before.

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Book Available from Anthony Begley West Rock Ballyshannon. tel. 0872351044. Enquiries welcome for postal and other details, also available from The Novel Idea Bookshop Ballyshannon and The Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. 

The Gathering in Ballyshannon: Google “The Gathering in Ballyshannon” for more details of special events you might like to attend later in the year. Lots happening in Ballyshannon in the summertime including Rory Gallagher Festival,  Ballyshannon Folk Festival also Ballyshannon 400 celebrating the granting of a town charter in 1613 and there will also be a commemoration of the Kildoney Fishermen’s victory in 1933. Check out Town Council or for further details. The Ballyshannon and District Museum, with coffee shop available, newly opened  in Slevin's Department Store. Well worth a visit Monday to Saturday.

Next Blog "Coolmore Centenary Ballad 1952" will be posted on Saturday next 4th May. Many local families are named in this ballad remembering the school built in 1852 which celebrated its centenary in 1952.

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