1776 Election to the Irish Parliament for Mayo

The election manifesto of Arthur Browne, Viscount Westport and James Cuffe MP of Ballinrobe was published in the Freeman’s Journal on six occasions from May 9 to May 21 for the May 23 election in Castlebar. The two candidates appeared irritated by having to endure an electoral contest having been nominated to represent Mayo by the gentlemen of the county on September 4, 1775.

To the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders of the County of Mayo.
Gentlemen, Having had the Honour to be called upon to stand joint Candidates to represent the County of Mayo in the next Parliament, by the unanimous voice of the Gentlemen of our County at the County Meeting, held at Castlebar on Monday the 4th September last, by Advertisement in the public Papers, the High Sheriff in the Chair, We thought that the Sense of that Meeting would show the Sentiments of the County, and prevent the unnecessary Trouble to Gentlemen removed from Castlebar of attending at the Election; but as we find that an Opposition is intended, we beg Leave to call upon you for the Honour of your Suffrages on that Occasion; and as the High Sheriff has fixed on Thursday the 23rd Day of this inst. May, at the County Courthouse in Castlebar, in said County, at eight o’Clock in the Forenoon of said Day, to proceed to the Election; and as it is probable (as two polls are by the late Law to go on together) the Election will not hold many Days, the early Appearances of our friends will lay a lasting Obligation on,
Your most obliged, and most obedient humble Servants,
Castlebar May 7, 1776.

When the votes were counted over two days, Browne (709) and Cuffe (613) were re-elected despite opposition from George Fitzgerald Esq (245), and Charles Fitzgerald Esq (149) who were eliminated. The total votes cast for the four candidates were 1716 as recorded in Finn’s Leinster Journal and in the Freeman’s Journal, Sat 1 Jun 1776.

James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, elected Member of Parliament for Mayo in 1776.

James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, elected Member of Parliament for Mayo in 1776.

Bishop murdered at Lough Conn

When I wrote about the abduction of Anne O’Donel to Glass Island, Lough Conn in 1785, I was unaware of the story of the Bishop who was reputedly murdered there. Josie Kilduff, a student at nearby Lisaniska National School, describes how the Franciscan monks invited the Bishop of the diocese to Glass Island to elect a new Abbot to their Monastery. The monks also invited the Bishop to remain on the island for a while, but not long after, they found him murdered there.

Further distress afflicted the monks after a monster reputedly came in from the lake and destroyed their crops. They eventually abandoned the island. Josie also states that the monster appears in the lake before a drowning.

Josie’s story was recorded as part of the recently digitized School’s Collection in the National Folklore Collection of the late 1930s under the title, “The Franciscan Monastery of Glass Island in Lough Conn.” The only other reference I found to a monastic settlement in Lough Conn is to the nearby Errew Abbey at Crossmolina.

"The Abduction of Anne O'Donel" by Paul B McNulty is published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is also available on Amazon.

“The Abduction of Anne O’Donel” by Paul B McNulty is published by Club Lighthouse CLP, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is also available on Amazon.

The Lynch Clan of Galway and their Famous Associations

You can read and listen to my podcast which links the Anglo-Norman Lynches of Galway to the Michel Lynch wine label, to Che Guevara and Bram Stoker. My contribution starts at the conclusion of a previous item (lasting 1.50 minutes) on The History Show, RTE radio, http://www.rte.ie/radio1/the-history-show/programmes/2014/0511/615538-the-history-show-sunday-11-may-2014/

A more detailed exposition on The Lynch Clan of Galway and their Famous Associations is included in the Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway available on Amazon UK and on Amazon.com.

Lynch’s castle, Galway, c.1500 built of limestone in the Irish gothic style and noted for its elaborate decorative style. Bearing the arms of Henry VII and the Lynch family, it is now occupied by the AIB bank at the junction of Shop and Abbeygate Streets.

Lynch’s castle, Galway, c.1500 built of limestone in the Irish gothic style and noted for its elaborate decorative style. Bearing the arms of Henry VII and the Lynch family, it is now occupied by the AIB bank at the junction of Shop and Abbeygate Streets.

Anne O’Donel: Author’s Note

The reputed abduction of Anne O’Donel by Timothy Brecknock in 1785 was first referenced by Matthew Archdeacon in Legends of Connaught in 1839. Thomas Patrick Faulkner wrote a more concise version of the story in The career of George Robert Fitzgeraldin 1893. Further reference to her abduction appeared in the 1916 play The Spancel of Death by T H Nally where Anne O’Donel is described as the godchild of Sir Harry Lynch-Blosse.

While Archdeacon claimed that “almost every incident…is founded on fact,” Mary MacCarthy doubted its veracity in Fighting Fitzgerald and other papers in 1930. Her doubt is underscored by the lack of primary sources to confirm the existence of Anne O’Donel, her father, Judge O’Donel, and her betrothed, Hyacinth Martin (portrayed as Jasper Martin in my novel).

While the colourful career of Timothy Brecknock is well documented, his reputed abduction of Anne O’Donel has not been discovered in any primary source. The son of a Northamptonshire farmer, Brecknock matriculated to Pembroke College, Oxford aged seventeen on 10 June 1736. Having left Oxford without a degree, he was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on 19 May 1738. Thereafter, he practised as a lawyer and writer in London. The publication of Droit le Roy (a Digest of the Rights and Prerogatives of the Imperial Crown of Great Britain) in 1764 incensed The House of Lords to such an extent that his pamphlet was burned outside the gate of Westminster Hall. Towards the end of his career, he was appointed as the law agent to George Robert Fitzgerald of Turlough, County Mayo, a post that ultimately led to his demise.  On 12 June 1786, Brecknock aged sixty seven was hanged in Castlebar, County Mayo, along with Fitzgerald, for complicity in the murder of Pat Randal McDonnell, Colonel of the Mayo Volunteers.

When Timothy Brecknock reputedly abducted Anne O’Donel in 1785, he imprisoned her on Glass Island (also known as Islannaglashy), Lough Conn in Co Mayo. Conscious of the public mood that described abduction as “a remnant of barbarity” and “a savage practice,” he may have sought to win her heart initially rather than violate her. My novel deals with this story and its aftermath.

According to Archdeacon, the reputed locations of the O’Donel residence were either in Mossvale, Moynafallen or Moyvale. None of these locations are known today apart from Moyvale, the name of a modern housing estate in Ballina, Co Mayo. Moyvale was chosen as the location of the O’Donel residence due to its proximity to the valley of the Moy River, near the village of Straide, Co Mayo, where the O’Donel family vault is located. A location was also assumed for Grousehall, the residence of Anne’s lover, Jasper Martin, about midway between Westport and Castlebar, based on informed speculation by local historians, Brian Hoban and Adrian Martyn.

Some minor license has been applied to Archdeacon’s storyline. He refers to Anne’s father as Mr O’Donel whereas Faulkner refers to “old O’Donel who had been presiding at the bench,” when George Robert Fitzgerald was accused of complicity in the abduction of Anne O’Donel. I have therefore assumed Anne’s father to be “Judge O’Donel.” I have also assumed first names for Anne’s mother, “Mary” O’Donel, and for Mr Mitchell (namely, “John” Mitchell) of Glass Island. The name of the housekeeper of the O’Donel residence at Moyvale has been fictionalised as “Bridget” Mullen rather than Mary Mullen to avoid confusion with Mary O’Donel. The old courthouse in Castlebar is assumed to have been colonnaded like its successor which was built in the early 1830s.

I am greatly indebted to Claire Chilton, Eileen Gormley, Nicola Jennings, Caroline McCall, Anita Morris and Kathryn Suttle, members of a writers group, the-corner-table.com, who reviewed drafts of individual chapters of my novel; and to expert reviews on my first 5000 words from the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

I am also indebted to Deirdre Cunningham, Heritage Officer, Mayo County Council; Sylvia Davitt and her children, who showed me the location of the souterrain where George Robert Fitzgerald reputedly imprisoned his father at Rockfield, Turlough, Co Mayo; Ivor Hamrock, Mayo County Library; Brian Hoban, local historian, Castlebar; Jo Hutchings, Archivist, Lincoln’s Inn Library, London; Adrian Martyn, local historian, Galway; Patricia O’Reilly, writer and lecturer, patriciaoreilly.net; Darragh Shaw of Turlough Nursery/Garden Centre, Co Mayo; and members of my extended family.

I would greatly appreciate comments on my novel at paul.mcnulty@ucd.ie.