1848, Michael Doheny Young Irelander On the Run, Dunmanway, Gougane Barra, Probably Borlin Valley, Bantry, Supper of Trout, Bedding of Fresh Hay on a Settle, Breakfast Included a Slice of Fried Badger


Title: The Felon's Track
       History Of The Attempted Outbreak In Ireland, Embracing The Leading
       Events In The Irish Struggle From The Year 1843 To The Close
       Of 1848

Author: Michael Doheny

Release Date: December 26, 2004 

Chapter 9 deals with his wanderings in West Cork


companion’s flight down the slope with the best speed my stiffened limbs could be forced to. Arriving over a valley which is called, I think, Branlieu, situated in a western direction from Gougane Barra, he pointed to a lone house at the extremity of the valley, as my destination. It was about four o’clock, but the rays of the sun had ceased to irradiate this gloomy valley, over which hung the shades of night. At the western side the mountain was steep as a wall, and down from the summit dashed headlong torrents, swelled by the morning’s rain. The waters gleamed like sheeted ice through the haze, and their roar fell upon the ear with a dull sense of loneliness and pain. On the eastern slope wound a new road, one of those heartless experiments which the inventive genius of the Board of Works in Ireland substituted for the exploded trial of prolonging beggars’ lives by Soyer soup and chained spoons. On these roads the people were to perform the greatest possible amount of work, and live on the least possible quantity of food. But, although these operations cost much waste of blood, the roads opened no new and fruitful sources of industry in these mountain valleys, only frequented by the footsteps of the sportsman, or scanned by the eye of the votaries of pleasure. The house where I called was intended for my guide. However, I found my claim for hospitality at once recognised on pronouncing the password of my host by the sea. The cabin—it was literally such—was in the most filthy state. The dung of the cattle had not been removed for days, and half-naked children squatted in it as joyously as if they rolled on richest carpets. The housewife merely replied to my question in the affirmative. But she immediately proceeded, with the help of two little girls, to remove the filth. I was so fatigued and hungry that I could willingly postpone the process of cleaning for the sake of providing any sort of food. I was doomed to disappointment. No appearance of supper interrupted the busy operation, until the dung was removed, and the floor drained. I retired, and endeavoured to ascend the eastern hill, to a point where I could catch a glimpse of the setting sun.

On my return I found the owner of the house, a man of giant frame and noble features. His dress bespoke a taste or pursuit incompatible with the wild mountain destiny stamped upon the external aspect of his home and family. His wife spoke a few words in Irish, explaining my presence, to which he answered that I was welcome. Supper was at length prepared, when he drew from a basket a few of the finest trout I ever saw. He cleaned and fried them with his own hands, as if the operation were above the capacity of his wife, who performed the other culinary duties with silent assiduity. It might be owing to hunger, it might be owing to the actual superiority of the fish, or it might be owing to the mode of cooking, but it seemed to me as if I never tasted anything of equal flavour to those trout. The entertainment was ended with some boiled new milk, slightly curdled, a delicacy little known in the circle of fashion, but never surpassed either in that or any other. Some fresh hay was procured and strewn on an article of furniture common in the houses of the Kerry peasantry, called a “settle.” It is a sort of a rude sofa, made of common deal timber. On this “settle” my host prepared my bed of new-mown hay, barricaded with old chairs and a table against the assaults of the hungry animals. I had not long lain down when a man entered (the door consisted of a pair of tongs, so placed as to prevent the egress of the cattle), lay at full length on the table, and fell fast asleep. In an hour or so afterwards, there came another, who groped his way over the cattle, and, sweeping the fire from the hearth, lay down to sleep in peace. This man slept uneasily, and groaned heavily, as if some terrible sense of guilt or fear pressed against his heart.

I had a vague feeling of uneasiness, not free from alarm, but the hearty snoring of the one, and the fitful complaints of the other of my bedfellows died away on my ear, and I, too, shared their unconsciousness in deep sleep. The man who brought my baggage arrived early next morning. My host soon provided a good substantial breakfast—excellent new potatoes, which had escaped the blight, butter, new milk, and a slice of the flesh of fried badger. He then proposed to accompany us with his son, aged about thirteen, who by some inexplicable privilege seemed exempt from any portion of the drudgery which was the lot of the family. The other man who brought the baggage was persuaded to leave his horse and car, and accompany us with my bundle, as far as the summit of the hill. To climb the steepest mountain side had become an amusement to me, and we ascended the one then before us, merrily, our host relating many anecdotes of sportsmanship, and detailing the startling incidents and wild rapture of badger-hunting. From the summit we commanded a view of the country for miles around. “Here we are,” said our host, “higher than the proudest of your enemies.” He then traced the route of the man with the bundle, through the open plain, and by the nearest way; and turning to me, he said: “You must not go in the same direction, for every yard of it is set. Follow my son,” he said, and turning to the boy, he named several points in the path whereby he should conduct me. “Lead Mr. Doheny safely,” he concluded, “and remember you are the son of —-.” In utter astonishment I inquired how he knew me, and he answered by waving his hand in the direction of the boy, who had bounded off and was scarcely perceptible above the tall heath. I soon overtook him, and as we went along, I learned that my two companions during the night were also evading the law’s pursuit. One of them he described as having killed a man by accident, and ever after leading, the life of a “poor wild goose.” I made no doubt but this was he whose spirit seemed so heavily laden. We had a couple of terriers of the truest breed, whose sudden discovery of a badger interrupted our conversation and impeded our journey. The young hunter became delirious with joy. His encouraging cries to the dogs were broken outbursts of wildest rapture; and when the game took shelter in his inaccessible den, he would dash himself against the rocks with the same reckless vehemence as his dogs, who, in their rage, attempted to bite away the hard mountain stones.

He left the spot with the utmost reluctance, after venting an oath of vengeance against the head of the poor badger, to which he promised sure destruction on the occasion of their next meeting. We quickly descended in the direction of Gougane Barra, where he parted from me, indignantly refusing a half-crown which I offered him.

Once more I found myself on the slopes of Shehigh, in sight of Lough Lua. My immediate object was to place myself in communication with my lady friend at Dunmanway. I was extremely anxious to see her. I wanted to procure through her some things to complete my costume as a disguised priest, and finally I expected to learn through her some news of my family. With the view of seeing her in the safest retreat, I determined to conceal myself in a wood belonging to a Mr. O’Leary, at a place called Coolmountain. I endeavoured to gain the friendship of a man in the neighbourhood, of whom I had learned the highest character for probity. It was necessary to confide in him fully; for his fidelity to his employer might induce him to betray me, if he suspected that my flight was occasioned by moral guilt. He did not disappoint me. At once he entered into all my plans, and immediately sent his wife with a message to Dunmanway. The distance was about six miles; and the utmost caution was necessary, for the police authorities, baffled in all their calculations, concerning my retreat, and deceived in every word of the information they were able to purchase, had determined on making simultaneous searches in all quarters of the country, so that scarcely a house remained in this vicinity that had not the honour of a domicilary visit.

Re Dunmanway Father Doheny was the parish Priest. He alone with Father Quin, Durrus, Dore,Caheragh, Ryan, Drimoleague were incardated from the Dioceses of Tipperary to Cork. All were highly able building churches schools introducing parish registers. The were involved in anti tithe agitation and highlt politicas

Doheneys observation on the filth of the house is echoed in 1900 by Father Tim O’Mahony visiting relations around Bandon and Dunmanway many quite prosperous

West Cork Clergy and letter from Fr. Tim Mahony, Brasher, New York, October, 1901 after Cork Visit to Inchigeela, Caheragh, Droumdeegy, Coolmountain, Ballyvilone, KIlmurray, Researching his Lantry/Lanktree family, Tánaiste of the O’Mahonys living in wretched hut, outside Ballineen, healthy children thriving in filthy house with pigs and hens in kitchen relatives going to Argentine Republic, New Zealand.