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Updated October 2010
Highway Robbery
There have been reports of motorists being tricked into pulling up on motorways by robbers who drive alongside and indicate that there is something wrong with their car. In 'The Times' of 18 May 1870, a gentleman told a court how his watch and chain were stolen as he was driving a pair of ponies in Waterloo Rd. " Some one called out that his wheel was breaking and as he pulled up his watch and chain were stolen by violence". It seems that the modern day robbers can read and learn from the old days. This was part of a case in which Catherine Hayes' mother gave evidence about a diamond ring being stolen from her home.
The LOST IRISH of Duffy's Cut
I've been reading a lot recently about a handful of Irish immigrants who died in 1832 in Philadelphia while working as labourers on the railroad at a place known as Duffy's Cut. A 'cut' was a chunk taken out of a hill so that the railway could run flat between the two banks created. If the hill was too high then a tunnel would be dug instead. The Irish Mail on Sunday 19/8/2007 and the Irish Echo,NY 23 Oct.07 both carried articles on the fate of the 57 men. Far more were lost in the building of the trans-Panama so let's hear it for them as well. I sent the following article to the Irish Echo but received no answer so here it is now for the world to see sooner or later.

Elementary, my dear Watson!

As an Irish researcher, may I comment on the current fixation with the fate of 57 Irish migrant workers at Duffy's Cut, Philadelphia in 1832? An article in the "Irish mail on Sunday" of Aug. 19. 2007 assured us that Dr.
Watson had all but solved the problem by at last finding some old bones under a slab of rock. Sounds like a decent burial to me under the circumstances. We must remember that all or most of these men died of
cholera, a deadly disease which was not understood in 1832. In fact, most likely they brought a new virulent strain of Asiatic Cholera with them from Ireland. It had reached Irish ports by late 1831 and ravaged the packet ships carrying the poor migrants. (See Water for Gotham: A History by Gerard T. Koeppel Princeton U. Press 2000 ) There was an epidemic in America in 1832 which began in New York.

Until 1849, it was not known that cholera was a waterborne disease spread orally. Those poor men living in the woods probably had a latrine upstream from where they got their drinking water. It only needed one of them to be carrying the bacteria and excrete it for it to multiply and affect the others. They may well have been quarantined and shot if they tried to get away. This was a practice used for centuries during the plague epidemics in Europe. Houses and villages were cordoned off and any person trying to get out was killed in an effort to stop the spread. Ignorance and fear were to blame for their deaths. I daresay nobody wanted to kill them but just felt they had no other way to protect their families.

In any case, the number that died at Duffy's Cut was of no significance when compared to the thousands who lost their lives in the 'coffin' ships en route to America. The early migrant ships didn't even carry enough food and water on board to sustain life. It was virtual genocide which forced the belated introduction of a law to make shipowners provide a minimum ration for each passenger.
What of the multi-thousands who died building the trans Panama Railway? One shipload (c.300) of Irish from Cork were all but wiped out within 3 weeks of arriving in Panama in 1853. A handful of survivors were sent to New York where most of them soon died from the diseases they had picked up.

Finally, what about the trade in pickled corpses in barrels from Panama to European medical schools. If Burke and Hare were retailers of fresh corpses then the Trans -Panama were wholesalers of preserved ones of all nationalities. They should have started a business " Aspinwall, Burke and Hare, Purveyors of Specimens to the Medical Profession".
Back in 1846, when the famine was at its height, the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches fought the "Soup War" for the souls of the starving. There were many more Catholics than Protestants in Ireland then but the money was largely in the hands of the Protestants. The latter ran soup kitchens and, at first, Catholics could join the queues but then, as the numbers grew, a rule was introduced that Catholics could not be served unless they agreed to convert and many did. Seeing that they were losing the immortal souls of their parishioners, the Catholic Church belatedly found the money to provide soup for their own faithful. They cared little for their lives but the souls had to be saved. This general principle manifests itself in the treatment of the remains of the dead who are consigned to a grave and then forgotten and lost officially.
My uncle was buried in Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny in 1959 (48 years ago) but no monument exists. It might have been destroyed by vandals or maybe none was placed there by the family. It seems that no other family member chose to be buried there since 1959 but my grandfather was also interred there in the 1930's.
I was told by Fr. O'Connor that there is no plan of the 'old graveyard' and indeed that graves have been opened which contained remains which were not expected to be there. The same applies in Ferrybank I believe. I asked the undertaker if they knew where they had buried my uncle but they had no records 'going back that far'. A disgraceful situation in which graves are being disturbed and goodness knows who is being buried where.
St. Mary's, Knockboy (otherwise known locally as Ballygunner Church) was the subject of a planning application to demolish the 19c structure and rebuild on the site. This would have entailed moving some graves from their exalted position near the church presumably to the new graveyard where the nearest space is 100 or more metres away. Fortunately, the application was turned down on appeal because the Church is a 19c building of architectural merit etc. (It seems that a revised application was approved and the work is now going ahead. Sep. 2010)
14 March. Costs in Ireland
I'm glad to note that it's not just me who thinks that costs in Ireland are too high. On TV last night, the problem was discussed with Eddie Hobbs and others whose names I didn't get. The Government says the job losses are being offset by new ones and that Ireland's future is as a high tech, high paid economy with R & D projects. People will be encouraged to get 3rd and 4th level qualifications. It seems to me that they need to write proper English for a start. Don't they bother to edit the papers any more? Word 2007 has a pretty good spell checker but that doesn't work if you don't know the right words to use in the first place.
7 March. UK Home Sec. announces a new measure to deal with illegal immigants. Send them text messages to leave. Litlle child runs in crying and clutching a mobile phone: "Mummy,mummy, a nice foreign man gave me his old phone and now it says I've to leave the country".
23 February, 2007 is when Suir Vista received its first ISBN numbers. These book ID's are needed to ensure that our millions of customers around the world can find our titles easily.
  • We will soon start to pay to have this site listed on the search engines as one must nowadays. We need a business net to cater for the serious users where people can find what they want without wading thru all the irrelevant stuff.
    • Dita Von Teese has kindly given me permission to use one of her photos which you can see on the Victorian Costume page.

    • I'm listed in UptheDeise ( see below) but don't try to learn that slang!


  • Printer identified with the right price and good reputation.
    • New Irish Marriage Laws?
      A local paper is carrying a front page picture of a young single mum who has had two sets of twins a year apart with no husband or father in sight. Not a word of criticism. Only praise for all the hard work she does herself because the state won't pay for a nanny or two baby sitters when she has to go out. Some one should collect clothes for her children instead of sending them abroad. Charity begins at home.
      Now I know of Irish farmers who have tried for years to get an Irish wife but can't. Young Irish girls don't want to live and work on a farm. Why should they when they can live in town in a Council house
      as soon as they have a baby? They can go to a night club, find a partner for sex and become pregnant if they want to. The poor Irish men are forced to look abroad in countries such as Thailand in the hope of finding a wife.
      Now the Minister for Justice wants to put a stop to this by requiring Irish bred and born men to apply for his permission to marry a foreigner at least three months before the wedding. The majority of the immigrants are males who encourage women of their own nationality to come here and have a child so they can stay. They don't bother to get married. The State should instead stop supporting single mothers and encourage marriage.
      The Catholic Church has certainly lost its grip but one rule is being followed it seems i.e. no contraception. The one about no sex before marriage became redundant a long time ago. Now it seems heterosexual marriage and a family unit as we used to know it is frowned on. The Church is going to be forced to allow same sex couples to adopt a child. What is our future generation going to be like?
      Ships full of waste paper including copies of Playboy from Germany used to come in regularly for the paper mills at Grannagh. Such magazines were banned and the censorship until the late 20th c. was so stringent and silly that the page 3 models had to be blacked out or the paper could not be sold. Needless to say, there was a black market and many magazines didn't get pulped right away. Bales got broken on the docks and even we kids helped ourselves sometimes. We wanted to see what all the fuss was about but we were more interested in finding comics really. Uncensored papers from the North were in demand and circulated in the pubs.
  • Today, the paper mills are gone and there is a printer based there. However, they cater for the 'vanity authors' and so are no use to us unfortunately.
    I'm not sure just what they're called but, when used in supermarket aisles or shopping malls, they're a menace. Twice one evening, I narrowly avoided the same girl tearing down an aisle in Tesco's. Clearly, she was a beginner as earlier she'd been hanging on to her mum's trolley for a bit of support. I exercised great restraint in not saying anything as, after all, I'd not been hit -- just put in fear of it and had my leisurely shopping spoiled. I should have let her bang into me and put in a claim for compensation against the store. Next time!!
    Don't let them get away with it. Someone will be seriously injured one day if they haven't already. There are notices in English forbidding it but many can't read that. As for the staff, they were playing wise monkeys or out on a ciggy break/coffee break/just a break/gi'us a break.

    • To prove that we've moved from the dark ages, we now have a lap dancing venue in town and a plethora of night clubs. All the newsagents sell the girlie mags so the black market is in drugs. Progress! or is it?
    • If you are a man over 40, you may get turned away by the club bouncers even if you're sober and accompanied by your wife. This happened to the editor of a local paper not too long ago and I can vouch for that couple's respectability. The fact is that the clientele are mainly teen and 20's and they don't like anyone resembling a parent being around.

      Waterford Slang

      For those expatriates feeling homesick and the simply curious, there is a website where you can indulge yourselves.

      I remember the 'gallybander' . That was the season when the girls knickers fell down because we'd taken the elastic for the catapults!

      I always thought a 'stawl' meant more than a kiss in the hedge but that was all I got anyway.

      Oh yes, you can also buy a dictionary of slang.