1793. Pipers and Fiddlers for Tenant Gala on Kerry Estates of the Earl of Bandon 1793.
From Gibson’s History of Cork p 496:
These grants were shortly after purchased by the first Earl of Cork, who may be justly styled the founder of the town. Through him, the Earls of Cork and Shannon, and the Duke of Devonshire, possess property in the town and neighbourhood. The Earl of Bandon is also a proprietor, but the principal part of his property is in Kerry and in the western part of the county. The Bernard family have always been esteemed good landlords and kind to their tenantry. The following extract from an original letter written by his agent to the Lord Bandon, of April 23rd, 1793, preserved among the papers of Wm. T. Crosbie, Esq., of Ardfert Abbey, county Kerry, will afford a good idea of what an ” Irish tenant gala ” was at the close of the last century :
” None who were not tenants did I invite, except those named by you, viz., Father Morgan Flaherty, Tim M’Carthy, Charles Casey, Doctor Leyne, and Father Nelan, son to Old John. These I asked as Catholics particularly attached to you. Had I gone further I must either Lave excited jealousy, or summoned half the country. We had a company of 22 in the parlour, of whom I will send you a list next post. In the breakfast-parlour there was another company of second rate, and the third rate dined in the tent pitched in the avenue near the abbey. In the parlour your claret was made free with, as Stephen tells me he opened 34 bottles. In the breakfast-parlour port wine and rum-punch were supplied in abundance, and abroad large libations of whiskey-punch. We had two quarter casks (above 80 gallons) of that beverage, made the day before, which was drawn off unsparingly for those abroad, and plenty of beer besides. Two patteraroes, borrowed from Jack Collis, and placed on the top of the abbey tower, announced our dinner, toasts, and our exultation. Pipers and fiddlers enlivened the intervals between the peals of the ordnance. The May-men and maids, with their hobby horse, danced most cheerfully, and were all entertained at dinner, and with drink in abundance. An ox was roasted whole at one end of the turf house, on a large ash beam, by way of a spit, and turned with a wheel well contrived by Tom O’Brien. It was cut up from thence, and divided as wanting. The name of its being roasted entire was more than if two oxen had been served piecemeal. Six sheep were also sacrificed on the occasion, and, in short, plenty and hospitality graced both your board and your sod ; and a fine serene evening favoured happily the glee and hilarity of the meeting. All was happiness, mirth, and good humour. God save great George our king was cheered within and abroad, accompanied with fiddles, pipes, &c., &c.”
The Bandonians would admit of no piping or fiddling like this. ” In this town,” says Dr. Smith, writing of Bandon, in 1749, ” there is not a Popish inhabitant, nor will the townsmen suffer one to dwell in it, nor a BANDON, CASTLE-BERNARD. 497 piper to play in the place, that being the music used formerly by the Irish in their wars.” The town, at this time, could raise 1,000 men fit for arms. The woollen manufacture, an Irish trade which William III. was petitioned to suppress, and which he faithfully promised to discourage, once flourished here. The trade has now altogether left our shores, while the manufacture of linen has departed to the north, and with it the growth of flax. There are two parish churches in this town Kilbrogan and Ballymodan. The latter contains a fine old monument, erected to Francis Bernard, Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, with this inscription : FRANCIS BERNARD, ESQUIRE, OBIIT JUNE 29ra, 1731, JE 68.