All I want for Christmas is… Daniel O’Connell’s toothpick!

History

Posted on: 1st December, 2015

Category: The History Corner

Contributor: Patrick J. Mahoney

Patrick J. Mahoney studied cultural history at NUI Galway's Centre for Irish Studies, and now teaches in the department of history at Sacred Heart University, Connecticut. He is interested in the study of emigrant narratives, and the Irish historical experience as it relates to those in the United States and Britain. This column will highlight the stories of significant people and places with West Cork connections, throughout the world.

Above: Offices of The Irish People 1865.

 

The holiday season is upon us, and while for many, this means family gatherings, mulled wine, Christmas markets and, if we’re lucky, tins of roses; there is no denying the increasing commercialisation of the season, which seems to begin earlier and earlier each year. While shops will undoubtedly be busy selling various bits and bobs this holiday season, many consumers have turned to the Internet to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones.

Thinking about the commercial element of the Christmas season in the digital age, as well as the wide variety of gifts available at the click of mouse and the great distances they travel to reach consumers worldwide brings to mind a bizarre incident that took place in the winter of 1863, long before the days of online shopping.

Seeking to raise funds to advance their nationalist activities, the Fenian Brotherhood announced in December of that year that they would be holding a week long ‘Irish National Fair’ in Chicago’s Bryan Hall, beginning on Easter Monday, 1864. Following their initial announcement, the writers of the ‘Irish People’ appealed to their readership to contribute items and artefacts that might be of interest to the many prospective Irish-American consumers in attendance. In the weeks and months that followed, unique and unusual pieces from all over Ireland poured in to the offices of the ‘Irish People’ in Dublin. Included in the lot were a number of curiosities from West Cork, including many from one Ellen Callanan, of Clonakilty, who contributed early and often in the months leading up to the event. Amongst the wide-range of items sent by Callanan were a number books, articles, and pictures, a ‘curious bone’ found on Inchydoney Island, the crowbar of a repentant bailiff who had used it during tenant evictions in the 1840s, and a pike that was said to have been used by one of the rebels in 1798. Donations that were of historical significance and family heirlooms with revolutionary connections were especially popular. Possibly the most unusual of such donations were a collection of two-dozen arrows that were claimed to have belonged to Fionn MacCumhaill, clay taken from the graves of Robert Emmett and Wolfe Tone, a bottle of poitín that had supposedly belonged to the rebel forces on Vinegar Hill and a griddle that they had used to bake bread, a piece of the Atlantic cable connecting the United States and Ireland, and one of Daniel O’Connell’s toothpicks. After a sufficient amount of treasures had been collected, an inventory of the various goods was taken and they were appropriately packaged for the transatlantic journey. In total, three large loads each containing thirty cases, were sent on to their final destination of Chicago. Although the goods arrived four days into the weeklong festival, they proved wildly popular with their target audience, who looked upon the cultural oddities and historical artefacts with wonder and awe. The success was also reflected in the final sale figures from the week, which in total had raised $54,000 for the Fenian cause.

So there you have it, some wonderful gift ideas for the holiday season or perhaps a starting point if you are interested in making a bit of extra cash on Ebay. Who wouldn’t be interested in a curious bone, a bottle of rebel poitín, or the Liberator’s toothpick?

However you choose to celebrate the season, happiest of Christmases to you and yours from the History Corner!

Latest News Articles:

Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat
Clonakilty town aims to get snowed under with the return of the Clonakilty Christmas Express
On call for Christmas
Have your say in shaping the future of Clonakilty
Dursey Island project passes first phase in Failte Ireland’s Grant Scheme

Join us on Facebook

Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
... See MoreSee Less

8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to www.cope-foundation.ie/donate. We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
... See MoreSee Less

15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

28th November, 2017  ·  

Jump to:

Top