The King and Queen of Ireland, 1838


From the Times, June 6, 1838:

“On the 22nd ult, an ancient tumulus, traditionally known by the name of “Cnoc Math Righ,” or “The Hill of the Good King,” was opened in the Phoenix-park, in presence of Sir W. Hamilton, the President of the Royal Irish Academy, Sir W Betham, Ulster King at Arms, Mr George Petrie, the Rev Matthew Horgan, of Blarney, near Cork, several fellows and professors of Trinity College, and other distinguished individuals. 

The first object uncovered by the workmen was a perfect cromlech, or altar tomb, deep within the centre of the mound, consisting of a rough unchiselled incumbent slab, 6 1/2 feet in length and 3 1/2 in breadth, resting on five pillar stones, 3 1/2 feet high each, two at either side and one at the foot, the whole forming a small chamber within, and the openings further secured by additional flag-stones, making the enclosure perfect, whilst covering the whole structure above and around it was a considerable collection of rubble or field stones…

On opening the small chamber above described two human skeletons were found in high preservation, in such a position as to seem to have been buried in a sitting posture; one of them was pronounced to be that of a male, the other a female, the latter being also of lesser stature.  Beside them were found portions of two earthen urns, evidently of a remote antiquity, and a quantity of small white periwinkle shells, the points or extremities removed so as to form holes by which they could be strung together, and thus form an ornament for the neck, doubtless of the female.  The situation of the tomb is a fine eminence, commanding an extensive view over the park, the city and neighbouring coast.  Tradition states that a King and Queen of Ireland were buried here, whose tomb would some time or other be discovered.”

Picture credit: Dublin City Council


A Love Letter, Kingstown, 1842


From the Freeman’s Journal, July 27, 1842:-

“The gossips residing in and about the neighbourhood of Kingstown have had ample materials furnished them for tea-table talk for the next three months, by the explosion of an affair of a very delicate character which has been in some measure revealed to the public within the last few days…

A gentleman residing at G___ Terrace, in the above fashionable locality, and who writes Sir Bart. before his name… and who is blessed with a beautiful young wife, had a servant man named John Smith, who for some fault or other was discharged from the service a short time since without a written character.  The servant at length made use of threats, at the same time alleging he had in his possession such a document as would compel the gentleman to grant his request whether he liked it or not. 

On making inquiry of Smith the gentleman ascertained that a letter had been given to him about five weeks ago by Lady __ (his mistress) with directions to deliver it to Captain R __ in person.  The servant suspecting all was not right, detained and opened the letter, and on perusal of its contents he was convinced that a very improper intimacy existed between his lady and the gallant son of Mars.  On stating this fact to his master (from whom he still sought the discharge) the latter became enraged at the imputation cast on the honour of his wife, and in no wise doubting her fidelity, he charged the servant with opening a letter entrusted to his care by Lady __.  Smith was accordingly taken into custody by the police on Saturday, and brought before Mr O’Callaghan, the presiding magistrate at the police court…

Smith had, int he meantime, produced the letter to his master, who was not only horrified at its contents, but at once acknowledge it to be the handwriting of his lady… It is said the infuriated husband has dismissed his spouse from his domicile… the lady is a mother, and some years younger than her ‘lord and master’.  The ‘happy’ captain is a ‘very find young man’ with remarkably black whiskers and hair, and lately held and important employment in the viceregal court.  The charge against John Smith was withdrawn, in consequence of Sir _ not wishing to have the letter in question put in evidence.  Our reporter has been favoured with a copy of the letter.  It is a curious document enough in its way – Morning Register.

[We have been authorised to give the most unqualified contradiction to the material facts stated in the above paragraph.  The knight alluded to is Sir William Leeson, and though circumstances have occurred that may give rise to a prosecution for a conspiracy against the honour of Lady Leeson, so far is the worthy knight from being convinced of “his own dishonour” that he and his lady are at this moment living on the happiest terms… This contradiction of circumstances, the truth of which would have placed an interesting and aimable family, together with a large circle of connexions, in the most painful position, will, we are sure, prove gratifying to the public. – Ed. F. J]

Picture credit: Fragonard ‘The Love Letter’ via Fine Art America

Music Hall Drama in Dublin, 1847


From the Irish Examiner, June 14, 1847, comes this account of goings-on at the Dublin Music Hall:-

Dublin Police, Henry Street Office – One of the Ethiopians concluded his engagement in Dublin with an extraordinary police embranglement.  He was the paymaster of the company, and on receiving the last payment (£44) for disbursement, he speedily accused the Irish public with having associated in its circles a person capable of perpetrating a robbery on unsuspecting strangers.   He demanded the aid of the police to trace the evil one, but, after a sharp scrutiny of the audience in the theatre, where he was supposed to be, nothing like a thief was seen. 

The constable employed was not, however, slow in suspecting a feint, and to the astonishment of the Ethiopian he proposed to search himself and his room in the hotel where the company lodged.  Amidst indignant denunciations the search went on, and the daring police officer appeared completely at fault, until he came to the folds of the bed curtains, in one of these, under the roof of the bed, a small hole was at length observed, and there the stolen money was discovered.   All was up – the Ethiopian first rushed to a case of pistols, and attempted to shoot himself, then he grasped a razor to cut the throat by whose strains he lived.  

Frustrated in both attempts, he was led off in custody, and when charged at the station house, gave his name as Franklin Fuller, a travelling one no doubt, and by this name was he called up before one of the justices of Henry-Street Office.  he escaped however through the difficulty of determining to whom the money belonged.  Mr Mackintosh, a respected and enterprising manager of the Music Hall, had paid the money to Fuller, as the usual paymaster of the company, but whether this would have been sufficient to have exonerated him from all claim would require a higher tribunal to decide… Fuller therefore escaped, but the case, so far as he was personally jeopardized, was most fully established.”

Picture credit: Antiqua Print Gallery

A Clerical Criminal, Milltown, 1886


From the Dundee Courier, October 20, 1886:-

“An extraordinary affair has come to light in Dublin, which has created much commotion in religious and clerical circles.  A pseudo-minister, known as the Rev Dr Keatinge, about June last year commenced to officiate temporarily in Milltown Church, near Dublin, and soon became very popular as an impressive and eloquent preacher. 

On the occasion of his leaving, about a month ago, a move was initiated to present him with a testimonial and address, and a cheque for one hundred dollars was to have been handed to him on Sunday night. However, when he was announced to preach at old Molyneux Church an announcement was made that Lord Plunket, the Archbishop, had withdrawn the licence for Dr Keatinge to use the pulpit, due to circumstances which had come to his knowledge. 

The same evening the stranger disappeared and, it is stated, left Kingstown by mail steamer.  it is alleged that Keatinge, alias Arthur H Moreton, had been several times convicted at Shrewsbury in 1878 of obtaining money by false pretences, at Guilford the same year, and at Worcester Assizes he was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for forging documents and clerical credentials.”

Picture credit: Joseph Highmore “Pamela Shows Mr Williams a Hiding-Place for her Letters” via the Fitzwilliam Museum

Making a Pig’s Eye of It, Dublin, 1897

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From the Daily Nation, November 11, 1897:-

An extraordinary surgical operation, of a character quite unique in this country, was performed yesterday by three members of the medical staff of the Eye and Ear Hospital, Molesworth Street.  It consisted of the cutting off of an eyelid from a dying pig and attaching it to the eye of a man who has suffered for some time from its loss.  

The experiment was carried out in the Garden Lane stores of the well-known bacon curing establishment of P Kehoe, Francis Street, of which Mr Michael Roche is the proprietor.  The eyelid when taken from the pig, just at the moment of death, was quickly transferred to the patient, and it is hoped the operation will prove a successful one.  

Similar operations have been, ere this, performed in Germany, but this is the first of its kind performed in Ireland.  The patient is aged 45 years, and is an army man, named John Ryan.  He was in the Clonmel Union Hospital for some time and was sent to the Ear and Eye Hospital for treatment for ophthalmia, from which he had been suffering for some time owing to the absence of the eyelid.  

As it was found impossible that his eye could be cured or that if it were exposed to light without the protection of a lid the disease would not return, Dr Maxwell, who had him in charge, determined to make the operation.  He obtained the assistance of Dr Mooney and Dr Large.  Having obtained the permission of Mr Roche he visited the premises and a healthy pig was selected.  

At a quarter to eleven the three medical men arrived at the premises with the patient in a cab.  A screen was erected which enclosed a chamber open to the direct light from the sky.  The pig was stuck in the usual way and as it poured out its blood at the throat Dr Maxwell with a swift stroke of the lancet cut off its eyelid.  The patient was at the moment in charge of Drs Mooney and Large, and a line of the eyelid where the attachment was to be made had been cut.  Quick as thought, Dr Maxwell wheeled around, and whilst the little piece of pig was still living, attached it to the man’s eyelid.  The piece was instantly made fast by stitches.

 The patient endured the operation bravely.  He was detained in Mr Kehoe’s for a little time to recover after the eye was bandaged, and he was then removed back to the hospital. The operation so far as been completely successful, but it will take three or four days before the newly-attached eyelid will adhere.”

Picture credit: Dublin Surgery’ (1817) via wikimedia commons

A Young Artist, Rathmines, 1888


From the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, January 14, 1888:-

“In a fashionable part of Rathmines, Dublin, says the Freeman’s Journal, there resides a family consisting of a mother, who is a widow, two or three sons and three young ladies, sisters – at all events they were supposed to be so.  The family were held in the highest respect and esteem, and until this incident occurred the household was undisturbed by any out-of-the-way occurrence.  

Two of the young ladies were very prepossessing in appearance, and gifted with some accomplishments.  The third – the eldest, we believe, was not devoid of good looks either, and possessed a certain amount of musical culture, which was displayed effectively at numerous reunions, parties and evening assemblies about the neighbourhood.  She also developed a remarkable talent for drawing.  She was frequently met with at social assemblies and places of entertainment, and was admired everywhere for her good looks and accomplishments.  She was an admirable tennis player, and was altogether and agreeable figure in the set in which she moved.  

About a couple of months ago it was announced that she was about to proceed to London to complete her studies in the South Kensington School of Art, and, naturally, the news caused some interest among her acquaintances.  She came back at Christmas, and many ladies who were acquainted with the family called at their house to see her.  What was the astonishment of the visitors when the mother calmly announced that her “daughter” was a boy, and then the quondam miss entered the room dressed in masculine attire, having completely abandoned the character in which she, or he (as we must now call him) had been so long assuming of a girl.  The incident gave rise to great perturbation amongst the acquaintances of the family and, as a result, no little unpleasantness has occurred.  

Those who knew the young gentleman as Miss are extremely astonished at the turn affairs have taken.  They find it hard to believe that such a deception could have gone on for years without any suspicion of the real circumstances being entertained.  The young man has been regarded as a girl from his infancy.  He went to school as a girl, entered society as a girl, dressed as a girl and behaved as a girl, so that the sudden announcement of his true position in society has naturally caused some commotion among the acquaintances of the young man.”

Picture credit: William Powell Frith, “The Artist’s Model” via Pinterest.

House Collapse, Grafton Street, 1879

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From the Glasgow Evening Post, September 24, 1879:-

“An extraordinary scene was witnessed in Dublin’s Grafton Street last night.  A house of five storeys, No. 111 Grafton Street, occupied as a jeweller’s establishment by Mr John Brunker, fell with a crash.  The house adjoining had been taken down, and was in the process of being rebuilt. Mr Brunker’s house showed signs of giving way yesterday, and chains were placed across the footpath.  Four men had been engaged during the day in removing the valuable property from the shop. At nine o’clock last night the whole building came down with a crash, and the whole neighbourhood was enveloped in a cloud of dust.  When this was cleared away it was discovered that a tramway-car passing at the moment had been caught and blocked.  No lives were lost, nor was any person injured.”

Picture credit: Illustrated London News (1853) via ebay

The Roscommon Gold Rush, 1906


From the London Evening Standard, August 2, 1906:-

“The Boyle correspondent of the Central News states that much interest has been aroused in Roscommon by a discovery made in a quarry at Boho, near Castlerea, where some workmen belonging to the Congested Districts Board, during quarrying operations, found between two layers of rock a lump of virgin gold about the size of a goose’s egg.

The fact that the nugget is composed of the precious metal has been confirmed by a Dublin analyst.  The discovery has caused quite a sensation, and people are flocking to the place from all parts.”

Picture credit: National Museum of Australia