Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Pat Purcell Papers
Fenianism c.1868

Transcribed by Mr Michael Purcell

Sure Aren't We All Irish Anyhow in 1868

Denis William Pack-Beresford married Annette Clayton-Browne in 1863 in Carlow.

A Fenian Rising took place in 1867.

I believe the event recorded below dates from circa 1868.

It does appear that the "Catholic Elector's Son" took part in the "jigs and reels"  and had a sup of the wines and whiskies on offer, which may account for his " blood-shedding and crutches throwing" rhetoric regarding the Fenagh tenantry if they should be called upon to fight for His Nibs . (this calls to mind a comment made to me by my Uncle Tom regarding a well known I.R.A. leader  "sure he would fight for Ireland to the last drop of everyone else's blood")

Pictures of the Pack-Beresford / Browne-Clayton wedding in 1863 appear elsewhere on this Carlow site.

"Little Phil" was the family Irish Wolfhound.

Undated handbill in the Pat Purcell Papers.


During the last seven centuries here in Ireland seldom has there been witnessed such a scene as that which presented itself in the laurel-wreathed halls of Fenagh House, as the clock struck twelve at night, to seal forever the fate of the old Fenian year, while upwards of thirty couples in full guise, dancing an Irish jig under the mistletoe, smiled "a happy new year" to each other, as well as to the true Irish lady to whose princely hospitality they were indebted for the night's amusement.

Mrs Annette Carloine Clayton-Browne-Pack-Beresford , whose name is a household word amongst the peasantry for miles around the base of Mount Leinster, conceived the idea of giving a ball on the last night of the old year, not however, to the Ladies and Gentlemen of the county, but to the respectable farmer's sons and daughters in her own immediate neighbourhood, intermixed with a sprinkling of the villagers, and accordingly directed by Mr. Simpson, who stands at the head of her household staff to issue invitations to the number of about one hundred.

About nine o'clock the party began to assemble and it did not break up until five in the morning. Never before did a happier party meet upon the plains of Leinster. Catholic and Protestant danced side by side, united in the closest bond of friendship; never before did such a party meet with such attention, courtesy, kindness, and hospitality in the halls of a resident gentleman --- in the Irish home of an Irish prince.

The choicest wines, the oldest whiskies -- every luxury was there in profusion. The supper was such as a party of princes might sit down to; and Mr Simpson, Mrs White and Miss Hyland aided by Mr Palmer, Mr Hitchman, and all the rest of Captain Beresford's household staff spared no pains to make the party comfortable and happy. In fact the only grievance the sons and daughters of Captain Beresford's tenantry laboured under on the first day of the new year after giving the old year a decent send-off  was having "stamped out" Fenianism" for ever in the County Carlow to the tune of a real Irish jig -- the grievance they laboured under as they separated for their respective homes in the morning was the great difficulty they were placed in as to whether they are more indebted to the lady who spread such a costly banquet before them, or to the extraordinary kindness and attention they received during the night from all the members of her household staff.





I consider should be ever memorable in the annals of the County Carlow.

I am not one of those who would wish to attach any importance to an isolated fact. But when I see in that happy group the grand result of Captain Beresford's labours for a number of years; when I see all classes united in comfort and happiness around him, when I find the peasantry well-housed, well-fed and warmly clothed, his baths thrown open, his doors and windows neither bolted nor barred, while neither a red coat, nor a policeman come within sight -- and this at a time when the country was thought to be on the eve of an insurrection -- at a time when the gentry in other parts of Ireland were crying out for armies to defend them, afraid of their own shadows or rather of their guilty conscience within. When I see Captain and Mrs Beresford retiring to rest in their Irish home at Fenagh House after smiling upon their subjects and not even placing  little Phil as a sentinel without to ward off the much dreaded Fenian host. I say sir, when I find all these circumstances united at such a time and in such a place, Captain Pack-Beresford has not laboured in vain. He has lived to reap the fruit of his labours.

There is a gentleman who had confidence in the people; nor shall he ever find that confidence betrayed. Captain and Mrs Pack-Beresford have made themselves known to the people by their unremitting kindness and attention to them. The people will always know them. Not a man within miles round who would not shed the last drop of his life's blood in their defence in the event of a Fenian "rising". They require none of the Queen's Life Guards to protect them, because they are enshrined in the hearts of the people. Even the old men and women would  abandon their crutches to fight for them; and so long as Mrs Beresford wishes to send the Captain into Parliament,  so long he shall go there, and no man dare oppose him in the county Carlow.

God Save Her Most Gracious Majesty The Queen,
Mr and Mrs Pack-Beresford of Fenagh House, Carlow.

The above is a true and accurate transcript of the original document.

Transcribed by M. Purcell c2008.
Nationalist and Leinster Times newspapers in the PPP.

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