PagesPast: from the archive

1890: Collinstown men defeat Loughegar in cricket match

Historian Tom Hunt has noted how parishes where hurling has thrived in Westmeath once had very active cricket clubs, and this was in evidence in September 1890, when the sporting forerunners of Lough Lene Gaels and Clonkill, Collinstown and Loughegar Cricket Clubs, met for a match.

At Collinstown’s grounds, the home team prevailed after a “spirited contest”

“The men of Collinstown won the toss, took the bats, and from the close bowling and fielding which was exceptionally performed by the visitors, their total score on going out was only 25.

“The visitors, sanguine of success, then began to play, but at the first innings’ ending they had but 20 to their credit.”

After the second innings, Collinstown led 39-28. At the close, the piece stated, they had 16 runs recorded in their favour.

“There was exceptionally fine weather, and everything ended in a harmonious and satisfactory manner.”

(Westmeath Examiner, September 13, 1890)

1900: Stone launched at train leaving Mullingar station

“On Tuesday morning,” the Westmeath Examiner of September 15, 1900 reported, “as the train which leaves Mullingar Station at 9.40am, for Clara, was passing at Belmont Bridge [near Ballinea], a stone was flung at it from overhead.

“It struck the fanlight of the guard’s van, which at the time was occupied by Guard Burke, and the glass was smashed in. The guard had a narrow escape from the debris being dashed into his face.

“The Mullingar police were at once apprised of the occurrence, and Sergeant Parke and Constable McDermott went to the scene.

“After making a thorough investigation, they arrested a young lad from the neighbourhood named Joe Nunan on suspicion.

“Nunan, who is the son of a farmer living in the district and is aged about 17 years, was brought before Mr Sullivan, R M, and remanded till Saturday, bail for his appearance being accepted.”

(Westmeath Examiner, September 15, 1900)

1910: A new Catholic hall for Mullingar

The Westmeath Examiner reported in September 1910 that the Fr J L Magee, Adm., Mullingar Parish, announced at Mass in Mullingar Cathedral that a project was under way for a new Catholic hall in the town.

Fr Magee said that not only would it be something for parishioners to have and use, but it would also be “useful for protecting and safeguarding Catholic interests in Mullingar”.

The Bishop of Meath offered to “go halves” on the work. In his sermon, Fr Magee “gave a general idea of the plan on which the project was to be carried out, the idea being to secure a practically new Hall meeting all the requirements of the Catholics of the town but yet at the minimum of outlay”.

(Westmeath Examiner, September 17, 1910)

1920: Protestants in Castlepollard deny religious perscution

In September 1920, the rector of Castlepollard’s Church of Ireland parish wrote to the Westmeath Examiner taking issue with claims in English papers that Protestants were being “intolerably treated in the South and West of Ireland”, which had become convulsed by revolution.

“We did not think that this report would be believed or taken seriously, especially as such a large number of letters were immediately published from Protestants in the South and West bearing witness to the toleration with which the co-religionists of the writer were, and had always been, treated,” said the Rev. Anthony Drought, in a letter co-signed by two of his local synodsmen.

The Rev. Drought said that Protestants had always been treated “with the greatest courtesy, kindness and toleration” in Castlepollard. He condemned “political or religious intolerance or reprisals”, and condemned Protestant shipyard workers in Belfast for refusing to work with and evicting their Catholic/Sinn Féin colleagues.

Citing “common Christianity”, the Rev. Drought said that the Church of Ireland’s position on violence against the police was the same as that expressed by the Catholic Hierarchy.

(Westmeath Examiner, September 11, 1920)

1930: Chamber to find industrial use for military barracks

Two questions which are often asked in 2020 – when is Mullingar going to get some industry, and what new use can be found for the military barracks – were on the minds of members of Mullingar Chamber of Commerce as far back as September 1930.

At a meeting of the local business body, reported on in the Westmeath Examiner, members resolved unanimously to address the “industry problem” by sending a deputation to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Patrick McGilligan TD.

Messrs Shaw, L Hutchinson and Dr P J Keelan (president) proposed “having an industry started in the Military Barracks”.

(Westmeath Examiner, September 13, 1930)

1940: Fire breaks out at pencil factory

Mullingar Fire Brigade were called into action in September 1940, when a fire broke out close to Mullingar Pencil Factory.

The blaze took off in a dump attached to the premises. It was not known for a fact how sawdust and shavings – which the dump consisted of – ignited, but officials surmised that a spark from a nearby boiler caused the outbreak.

Fire brigade personnel had the fire, which was of a “slight nature”, under control in a short time. Some weeks before, a fire broke out at the same dump, which was located near the military barracks.

(Westmeath Examiner, September 14, 1940)

1950: GAA suspends Brownstown club for a year

War erupted between hurling clubs in Delvin and Brownstown in 1950 after the former brought an objection to the latter’s qualification for the final of the 1950 Westmeath senior hurling championship.

Delvin lost the semi-final to Brownstown, but objected to their local rivals’ qualification for the final on the grounds that they had fielded two illegal players – Sean Quinlan and Tommy O’Flaherty – in the semi-final.

Delvin maintained that both players were registered with the Baldonnell Airport Club and were therefore ineligible to play for Brownstown. The case put forward by their delegates Tommy Lenihan and Paddy O’Shaughnessy was well prepared, and the county board, chaired by Rev. Fr P J Bartley, awarded the semi-final to Delvin and suspended Brownstown from hurling for 12 months.

Delvin went on to beat Collinstown in the SHC final and repeated the feat in 1951, before Brownstown regained the title in 1952.

(Westmeath Examiner, September 16, 1950)

1960: Used hand as ‘make-believe gun’ in court

A man who appeared before Judge McGrath at Mullingar District Court in September 1960 charged with being “drunk and incapable” in Mullingar on the same day responded to questions with vague claims that he was in the IRA.

The man, of no fixed abode, was charged with public order offences. He had been breaking bottles on the street, and singing while doing so.

“When he entered the court the defendant using his hand as a make-believe gun pointed it towards the bench. He kept speaking in a low tone,” said the Westmeath Examiner report.

“When asked by the Justice if he had anything to say he answer in Irish – Níl.”

When asked his name, the defendant responded with the Irish translation of his name, stating that he was in the “Republican Army”.

The judge imposed a fine of £2, or 14 days imprisonment in default, and after all that, the defendant said he would pay the fine the next week.

(Westmeath Examiner, September 17, 1960)

1970: Church grounds in Castletown the ‘nicest in Ireland’

“The many tourists and visitors who stop to admire the well kept Church Grounds,” read the Castletown-Geoghegan notes in a September 1970 edition of the Westmeath Examiner, “will appreciate the improved view they have of the area.

“The road wall was lowered considerably and branches were lobbed off some of the trees. The iron railing has been moved back some yards and this will increase the already spacious lawns.

“Suitable shrubs will be planted in this area and seating accommodation will be provided.

“The work, when completed, will no doubt further enhance the beauty of the grounds and lend volume to the widely held opinion that they are the nicest church grounds in Ireland.”

(Westmeath Examiner, September 12, 1970)