Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Most Unusual Legal Case Ever in Ballyshannon

Wrack versus Wreck

    The wreck directly reached the rock
And wronged the Rector’s wrack,
       The Rector rushed to wreak the wrongs
Of wrack upon the wreck:
Can rectitude direct the Rector,
Recklessly to wreak
     Upon the wretched wreck, the wrongs
Of Rector’s wracky rock?

 A trading vessel called “The Henrietta Charlotte” was wrecked on the shore  near Ballyshannon  sandbar. The Rector (Minister), who lived not far from Wardtown Castle, claimed the right to the seaweed on that part of the shore where the ship had run aground. He sued the ship-owner for damage to his seaweed! His claim was unsuccessful. The case was humorously known as - Wrack versus Wreck. William Allingham captured the mood of the times in his humorous poem above called  “The Wreck of the”Henrietta Charlotte.”  Like myself when you know the background you can read the poem again and get a better understanding. (Wrack refers to the seaweed found along the shoreline).

The ruined residence of the rector is still identifiable on the way to Kildoney and is recognisable from the roadway as there is a very extensive walled enclosure still standing. Kildoney Glebe was the residence of the minister who served at St. Anne’s Church in Ballyshannon. A coloured aerial photograph of the remains of Kildoney Glebe are contained in my book “Ballyshannon Genealogy and History” page 256.  (see below for details).

Famous Pickpocket operated in Ballyshannon 1771

George Barrington whose real name was Waldron was born in Maynooth Co. Kildare in 1755. He joined a troop of strolling players managed by a man called Price. They put on performances for the garrisons and the gentry in large towns in Ireland. In 1771 they arrived in Derry but their funds were exhausted and despite performing plays there, Barrington resorted to a new source of income. Barrington was a good looking fellow, very plausible, so he engaged in pick pocketing from the merchant and shopmen in Derry. 

They moved on to Ballyshannon where they spent the autumn and winter of 1771. On Tuesdays and Saturdays they performed plays but for the remainder of the week they engaged in pick pocketing. During their stay Barrington was attacked by a violent fever and the company of strolling players moved on without him. However a young actress with the group called Miss Egerton was smitten by Barrington and stayed with him until he recuperated. They then moved on but she was drowned while crossing the Boyne. Barrington later in life went to London to carry on his illegal business and was eventually arrested and sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. He died near Sydney in 1804.

 A Narrow Escape for a Ballyshannon Lady in 1833

A poor Ballyshannon woman was looking out of a two-pair of stairs window, when her opposite neighbour offered her a glass of whiskey. Unfortunately she leaned out too far across to reach it and fell down into the street. Luckily she fell on a gentleman who was passing at the time who broke her fall. He enquired as to whether she was dead or not and she replied that she believed that she was not dead but speechless. He had her conveyed to the hospital where she has made a speedy recovery. She had shown great female presence of mind as she had held on firmly to her glass of whiskey and had not spilled one drop during her fall!

This story from Ballyshannon was recorded in a book of comic stories in 1833.

Ballyshannon Musings:  Good to hear that people from the Ballyshannon area are enjoying the blog worldwide. 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 on Ballyshannon Musings during 2013, the year of “The Gathering”. 

Below is an extract from an email received this week from a young Ballyshannon man following the blog in Australia .
It's great to have an account of the history of Ballyshannon in such an easy to read and access way. I'm currently out in Australia and I can easily see how it's so popular in many countries. It's nice to keep in touch with back home and read the history of the area.

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 The Novel Idea Bookshop Ballyshannon, Ballyshannon and District Museum, The Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town or Anthony Begley West Rock Ballyshannon.  Enquiries welcome for postal and other details.

The blogs are original and are not taken from the book above.

Lots Happening for Ballyshannon 400 Gathering Events

Check a recent blog to read about  what happened in Ballyshannon  400 years ago. Ballyshannon will have lots of interesting events to commemorate this event and it would be an ideal time for our diaspora to be here for some or all of Ballyshannon 400 from 5th-11th August when there will be daily events of a historic, cultural and community nature. 

In the lead up to Ballyshannon 400 visitors will be in town for the Ballyshannon Folk Festival which takes place from the 1st to the 4th August also for a Dedication Service and weekend events to commemorate the Erne Fishery Case  on 3rd and 4th of August. A future blog will discuss the victory in 1933 won by the people in what has become known as The Erne  Fishery Case .

Check out the events you might like to attend later in the year including Ballyshannon 400 on  Lots happening in Ballyshannon in the summertime including Rory Gallagher Festival in June 
Ballyshannon Folk Festival

Welcome New Attractions for Visitors to Ballyshannon in 2013
  1. Dicey Reilly's Micro-Brewery Market Street, the first established in County Donegal. Good to see an old Ballyshannon industry enjoying a new lease of life. Ballyshannon in the 19th century had a distillery and a brewery overlooking the modern footbridge on the Erne close to the Mall Quay. Mulligans also had a successful business on the Mall in recent times
  2. The Ballyshannon and District Museum, with coffee shop available, is newly opened  in Slevin's Department Store. 
  3. "Local Hands"  Arts and Crafts Gallery  newly opened in Main Street Ballyshannon.

 Next Blog posted Saturday 8th  June is called The Conversion of Ballyshannon

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