Adverse or favourable, discussion about the elements is part of our daily lives. Our literature abounds with tales about weather-related events and their effect on people and the environment.
In times gone by, before the improvement of roads and bridges, people in everyday situations were often caught out by freak weather conditions. In Castleisland, three men and a horse were swept into 20 feet of water while trying to cross the river near Kilsarcon. On this occasion, the men were rescued but it was forewarned that ‘unless a bridge is built life and property will be lost’.1
Destruction caused by nature remains long in the public mind, such as the Moving Bog Disaster of late December 1896 when the Donnelly family of Knocknageeha was engulfed in the landslide at Quarry Lodge near Rathmore, where Cornelius Donnelly worked as a steward.2
Cornelius and his wife Johanna and their six children, the youngest about 18 months, perished. Only one child, Katie, aged 14, who was visiting friends in Cork, survived.3 The cause of the ‘slipping mountain with the force of an avalanche’ was attributed to unusually heavy rainfall.
A sudden and violent torrent termed a ‘waterspout’ fell over the Cordal mountains in the summer of 1885 and carried away all in its path including the houses and dairies of two farmers named Garr and Brosnan at Cloun, many acres of potatoes and other crops, and a few bridges near Monteagle.
The storm however, did not equal that which occurred in the Clydagh Valley on the afternoon of Thursday 4th August 1831. At least eight people lost their lives, with reports of up to 38 deaths. The storm was described as ‘unprecedented in the memory of man’.
Initial reports claimed that the storm struck at midnight, drowning many poor people in their sleep ‘without a second’s notice’. It would seem, however, from an account given by a man named Connor, a sportsman living and working in the valley, that the storm struck in the afternoon. This is how Connor described the scene:
Between the hours of two and three o’clock in the afternoon, a few distant claps of thunder were heard which were soon followed by a dense darkness. The thunder rolled with increased fury, clap followed clap. Previous to its raining there appeared a great increase of water in the river. Shortly afterwards it commenced raining – not raining, but cascading – from the heavens, and before one hour elapsed, we could neither see a rock nor a bush but sheets of water rolling down from the mountain with irresistible fury.
Connor’s residence near the base of the Clydagh mountains joined that of James Lehane and his family. A third house belonged to John Lucey, who was in conversation with a journeyman tailor as the storm struck. The men saw a 20 ft wave, ‘an arm of the sea’ careering towards them. The tailor escaped but Lucey and his family were washed away.
The wife of James Lehane and two of his children took refuge in the loft of their house but the roof was soon lifted and all were washed to their deaths. Another two of Lehane’s children were saved by Connor. He recalled rushing to their assistance:
I put one of them on the window stool of the cottage, while I was carrying the other to a place of safety. When I returned back for the second child, she had water up to her chin and I had it up to my arm pits. The child and I were tossed about for some time but succeeded in reaching a spot beyond the level of the flood.
At the Flesk Bridge in Killarney, people gathered in stunned silence to witness the scene of life and livestock being dashed along under the arches ‘without the slightest possibility of saving either life or property’.4
It is not known if there are descendants of those who perished on that fateful day. Some years later, however, the name of James Lehane of Clydagh Valley appeared on a register of applicants to vote. It is a useful document, and is given in full at the foot of this page.5
1 Freeman’s Journal, 28 December 1901. 2 Tringham sketched Quarry Lodge as part of a series of illustrations of the disaster which were published in the Illustrated London News in January 1897. Joseph Holland Tringham, son of John Andrew and Emily Tringham, was born in Hammersmith, London in 1861. He was a Civil Engineer and artist and was described as one of the greatest artists of his time; Sir Hubert Herkomer rated him as ‘a master of tree life’. He married Beatrice, daughter of solicitor William Champain Hall in 1886 and had two children, Gordon Leslie Tringham (who seems to have died in Cornwall in 1957) and Kathleen Queenie Tringham. Tringham was a philanderer and fathered an illegitimate son with his lover, Annie Austin, in July 1897. Beatrice petitioned for divorce in 1901. Tringham, who accompanied King Edward VII on a tour of India and China and was a well-known artist on the principal pictorial papers in America, died at the Isle of Man Lunatic Asylum, Ballamona, Braddan on 26 March 1908 (Beatrice died the month before). Tringham’s friend was Thomas Edwin Park, a butcher of Thornton Heath, where Tringham spent many hours painting. Park collected about 200 of his friend’s oils, watercolours and black and white sketches. He exhibited them at the Modern Gallery, New Bond Street, London in 1911 including an oil painting, A View of the Lake Killarney, measuring some 8.5 x 6.5 ft. It was reported that an American buyer had interest in the collection and also that a Frenchman had offered to buy it for £20,000 after the First World War. However, they were still in Park’s thoughts if not in his possession in 1939 when in the King’s Bench he sued Herbert John Jackman of Cobham, Surrey for return of the artwork. It seems that Mr Park had suffered an accident in 1935, been confined to bed and had incurred debts. He sold his butcher business to Jackson on the proviso the artwork remain in an upstairs room until he could reclaim them. However, Jackman subsequently claimed they had been included in the sale. The judge, after listening to the opinion of John G Day, art valuer, concluded the collection was of little value and ruled in Jackman’s favour. Tringham was the author of A Ramble through Sandwich (1890). Examples of his work can be seen in Marlborough House and its Occupants (1896) by Arthur H Beavan. The Cathedral Pilgrimage (1934) by F Irving Taylor contains a number of his architectural sketches. My thanks to Marie Wilson, Tralee, for genealogical research of Tringham. 3 The bodies of Cornelius and Johanna were soon recovered and buried in Knockacappul (otherwise Knocknagappul) at the end of December 1896. An account of the children is given in Arm of the Sea (2018), www.lulu.com. 4 A fuller account of the tragedy is contained in Arm of the Sea (2018), as above. 5 Application lodged in September 1839. Edited from list published in Kerry Evening Post, 28 September 1839. Agar, James W, Killarney Almon, John jnr, farmer, Faha, formerly of Rockfield Barry, Garrett of Coolbane, lands at Sheans, Aglis Blennerhassett, Sir Arthur, Churchtown Bonane, James, farmer, Carregeenkelty, Killarney Bonane, James, farmer, Scart Bourke, John, farmer, Scart Bourke, Patrick, farmer, Caherdean Breen, Daniel, farmer, Gortnascary, Knockane Breen, David, farmer, Cooleanig Breen, John, farmer, Kilbonane Breen, Malachy, farmer, Kilbonane Breen, Patrick, farmer, Droumreage Breen, Patrick, farmer, Droumreague, Kilnanear Brenan, John Esq, Belville Esq, formerly of Coolbane, lands of Gearah Brennan, James, Goulanes Burke, Patrick, farmer, Kellugh Callaghan, Daniel, architect, Killarney Casey, Denis, farmer, Glaunvoughenagerah Casey, John, farmer, Coolroe Clifford, Daniel, farmer, Coolaorheen, Kilbonane Clifford, Thomas, farmer, Kilbonane Cluvane, James, farmer, Barleymount Coffey, Darby John, farmer, Coolmagort, Knockane Coffey, Darby Tim, farrier, Keel Coffey, Michael Darby, farmer, Coolmagort Collins, John, cartmaker, Killarney Connell, Denis, farmer, Ballymalis Connell, Patrick, farmer, Droumreague Connor, Cornelius, farmer, Rockfield, Knockane Connor, Daniel, farmer, Milleenbane Connor, David, farmer, Dromin Connor, James, farmer, Derryreague Conyers, Rev Edward Fitzgerald, Knockane Cooper, Clement, farmer, Droum Cooper, Florence, farmer, Droum Cooper, Giles, gentleman, Droum Cooper, James, farmer, Droum Cooper, Thomas Giles, farmer, Droum Cooper, Thomas, farmer, Droum Counihan, Edmond, carpenter, Killarney Counihan, James, farmer, West Faha Cronin, Daniel, Esq, The Park, Killarney Curtayne, John, gentleman, Knockanearoulty and Moulikivane Curtayne, Timothy, farmer, Ballynamona Daly, Charles, farmer, Doneen Daly, Patrick, farmer, Reanasup Decourcey, Maurice Esq, Molahiffe Castle Denahy, Timothy, farmer, Annagarry Dodd, James, gentleman, Cove, Co Cork Doherty, Cornelius, farmer, Annymore Doherty, John, farmer, Droumcarbur Donoghue, James, farmer, Rusheenbeg Donoghue, John, farmer, Gortlickie Donoghue, John, farmer, Killaha Donoghue, Michael, farmer, Annymore Donoghue, Patrick, farmer, Killaha Donoghue, Roger, farmer, Gortlickie Donoghue, Roger, farmer, Killaha Donohue, John, farmer, Coolavhorheen Doody, Thomas, farmer, Lisroe Downing, Francis Henry, attorney, Killarney and formerly Kenmare Drew, Rev Browning, Churchtown Glebe Drew, Rev Samuel Browning Dwyer, Bartholomew, farmer, Killeenbeg Eagar, Rev Edward Charles of same place Eagar, Rev Edward, Kilronan Glebe, Co Roscommon (rent charges Killeen, Gortacouse, Kealmore) Eagar, William, gentleman, Groinmore Egan, The Right Rev Doctor Cornelius, Roman Catholic bishop, Killarney Fitzgerald, Garrett, farmer, Clahane Fleming, David, farmer, Aglish Fleming, James, farmer, Ardmoniel Fogarty, John, farmer, Cappagoneen Foley, John Malachy, farmer, Barleymount Foley, John, farmer, Barleymount Foulue, John J, farmer, Barleymount Gallivan, Patrick, farmer, Ballymalis Gloster, James, farmer, Clounmelane Gloster, Maurice, farmer, Clounmelane Glyn, Andrew E, gentleman, Clasheens Goggin, James, shopkeeper, Killarney (Main St and New St) Healy, Cornelius, farmer, Amybeg Healy, Jeremiah, farmer, Ballymakera, Co Cork Healy, John, farmer, Garrihees Healy, Timothy, farmer, Coolick Hegarty, John, farmer, Fileadown Herehy, John, farmer, Gullane Holihan (Houlihan?), Jeremiah, shopkeeper, Killarney Horgan, Daniel, farmer, Keelcoloughty Horgan, Darby, farmer, Maul Horgan, Patrick, farmer, Carhuebeg Houlehan, Denis, farmer, Stagmount Howard, Edmond, gentleman, Doon Huggard, Abraham, farmer, Milltown Huggard, Abraham, farmer, Rathpogue Joy, Martin, farmer, Droumavally Joy, Maurice, farmer, Killeenmore Kealiher, Michael jnr, farmer,Kilgobnett Kealiher, Thomas, farmer, Kilgobnett Kealiher, Thomas, farmer, Roseborough Kelly, Thomas, gentleman, Droumtahilly Kenna, John, farmer, Aunagarry Kerisk, Daniel, farmer, Nauntenane Leary, Daniel, farmer, Knockacoppul Leary, Daniel, farmer, Knockaneiery Leary, Daniel, farmer, Knockaneriry Leary, Darby, farmer, West Faha Leary, Denis, farmer, Killeen Leary, Eneas, farmer, Leamaglissane Lehane, James, Clashacormick, commonly called Clydagh Leslie, Thomas, farmer, Kellcloherane Leyne (or Lyne), Daniel, farmer, Rockfield Lucy, Cornelius, farmer, Cummeenavrick Lucy, Cornelius, farmer, Derrinafina Lucy, Cornelius, farmer, Derryreague Lynch, Denis, farmer, Annymore Lynch, John, Esq, Dromin Lynch, John, gentleman, Dromin Lyne, Denis M, shopkeeper, Milltown Mahony, Arthur, gentleman, The Point Killarney Mahony, John, gentleman, Killorglin Mahony, John, gentleman, Gunsborough, formerly of Killarney Mahony, Patrick, gentleman, Cahirciveen Mahony, William, Esq, Killarney Mangan, Patrick, farmer, Dromin Mangan, Timothy, farmer, Dromin Mangan, Timothy, farmer, Dromin Mara, Daniel, farmer, Killelee Mara, John, farmer, Rosnagoril McCarthy, Charles, gentleman, Knocknamucklagh, formerly of Mounthenry McCarthy, Daniel, gentleman, Inchilaughney McCarthy, Darby, farmer, West Stagmount McCarthy, Darby, Meentogues McCarthy, Florence, gentleman, Inchilaughney McCarthy, Florence, gentleman, Shronederragh McCarthy, James, Esq, Killarney McCarthy, Markham, gentleman, Shronederragh McCarthy, William, farmer, Baune McCartie, Denis, Esq, Headfort McCartie, John, Esq, Killaha House McDonagh, Francis, medical doctor, Killarney McGillycuddy, Patrick, farmer, Lisnaneal McKenna, Denis, merchant, city of Cork (lands of Annagerry) McKenna, Martin, farmer, Aunagarry McSheehy, John, gentleman, Killarney (lands Ballycasheen) McSweeney, Edmond, shopkeeper, Killarney McSweeny, Daniel, gentleman, Killarney formerly of Maulearkane McSweeny, Edmond, gentleman, Dromin Meara, Daniel, farmer, Killalee Moriarty, Eugene, gentleman, Gneeves Moriarty, Owen, gentleman, Gneeves Moriarty, Thade, gentleman, Gneeves Morphy, Richard, Esq Killarney Moynehan, Denis Daniel, farmer, Rathbeg Moynehan, Francis, farmer, Behenegh Moynehan, John, farmer, Stagmount Moynehan, Malachy, farmer, Behenegh Moynehan, Maurice, farmer, Shronederragh Moynehan, Michael, farmer, Milleen Moynihan, Alexander, farmer, Islanduagh Moynihan, Daniel, farmer, Islanduagh Moynihan, Daniel, farmer, Readrinagh Moynihan, Darby, farmer, Knockduragh Moynihan, Denis, farmer, Baunard Moynihan, Patrick John, farmer, Knockduragh Moynihan, Patrick Owen, farmer, Mulleenbane Murnane, Michael, farmer, Annymore Murphy, John, farmer, Coolmagart Murphy, Martin, gentleman, Aghadoe Murphy, Martin, gentleman, Kenmare Murphy, Martin, gentleman, Killarney & Inchicullane Murphy, Thadee William, Esq, Kenmare Place Killarney Murphy, Timothy, farmer, Knockanes Murphy, William, carpenter, Gortnaglaught Murrogh, James, gentleman, Cudena, formerly of Ardmoniel Nash, William, Esq, Mallow, Cork (land at Sunday’s Well) O’Donoghue, Francis, druggist, Killarney O’Leary, Arthur, farmer, Leamaglissane O’Leary, Cornelius, farmer, Knockamencrush (Knockanimerish?) O’Leary, Richard, farmer, Corrigeenkilly O’Leary, Richard, farmer, Knockanimerish O’Sullivan, Daniel J, Esq, Tomies O’Sullivan, Daniel senior gentleman, Tomies O’Sullivan, Daniel, Esq, Shinagh O’Sullivan, Rev Sylvester, parish priest Rathmore Pickett, William, farmer, Ballymalis Pierce, Michael, farmer, Annagarry Rahilly, Owen, hatter, Killarney Reilly, James, farmer, Keilleigh Riordan, Daniel, farmer, Ballydaly Riordan, John, painter and glazier, Killarney Roche, Edward, gardener, Cloghereen Roche, John A, gentleman, Killarney Saunders, Arthur H, Esq, formerly of London now of Flesk Cottage Esq Scanlon, Edmond, gentleman, Ardshanavoly Scanlon, Michael, gentleman, Fossa Scully, Denis, farmer, Dunloe Shea, James, farmer, Keelohane Sheahan, Rev Timothy, parish priest, Hermitage Sheehan, Daniel, farmer, East Toureencahill Sheehan, William, farmer, East Toureencahill Smith, John, farmer, Knockaderry Spillane, Jeremiah, carrier, Killarney Sugrue, Darby, farmer, Aglish Sugrue, Robert, Killarney Sullivan, Daniel, farmer, Barleymount Sullivan, Daniel, farmer, East Toureencahill Sullivan, Humphrey, farmer, Stagmount Sullivan, John, farmer, Droumbrick Sullivan, John, farmer, Lahard Sullivan, John, farmer, Pallace Sullivan, Mark, farmer, Gurtnaglough Sullivan, Morto, farmer, Rathcommane Sullivan, Morty, farmer, Lahard Sullivan, Owen, farmer, Maul Sullivan, Patrick, farmer, Corrobally Sullivan, Patrick, farmer, Ightereaugh Sullivan, Thomas, farmer, Banlandmerish Sullivan, Timothy, farmer, Rosnacartin Sweeney, Eugene, farmer, Kileigh Thompson, John, gentleman, Droumadesart, formerly of Rockfield Thompson, William senior, gentleman, Rockfield Tuohy, James, farmer, Knockanadough Tuomy, Cornelius, farmer, Derryreague Tuomy, Daniel, Reanasup