More on Francis Sheehan of Dungarvan

The Waterford County Museum web site has a harrowing account of the famine in the Dungarvan area. The name Francis Sheehan pops up, surprisingly enough, as the local bank manager:

On 10 June, Francis Sheehan, the manager of the National Bank in Dungarvan, wrote to the Guardians informing them that their loan of £500 had been sanctioned. This was on condition that the chairman and two of the Guardians act as securities. The Clerk was directed to reply that the Guardians would not become individually responsible for the loan.

The problem was that the number of people seeking relief from the local poorhouse had far outstripped the town’s resources, given that the funds used to help the poor came from taxes on local farmers, whose crops had failed catastrophically. The ‘Guardians’, as the trustees of the poorhouse were called, were unwilling to provide security for a loan to keep the poorhouse open, and therefore called for it to be closed.

The fact that this Francis Sheehan was the manager of the local bank makes it plausible that he’s the Francis who owned 179 acres in Dungarvan in the 1870’s. Whether he’s related to us is another question!

It is likely, at least, that he was a Catholic, since he is listed as a contributor to a monument honoring Daniel O’Connell, the early 19th century campaigner for Catholic Emancipation.

Francis is also listed in 1858 as a shareholder in a new gas works for the town. This reference is contained in a lengthy collection of Dungarvan town documents hosted at the Waterford County Council web site. The same document mentions another local Sheehan: Patrick Sheehan, shipowner, is among the signers of a letter to the town council in 1896, and in 1899 he was one of the members of a committee whose goal was the erection of a monument to Edmond Power, local hero in the rebellion of 1798.

The index to the collection also lists a reference to a Cornelius Sheehan, but I was unable to find the name on the page listed. The page was still interesting, though, as it gives an idea of the atmosphere in the town in 1889, just a few years before Grandfather and Grandmother Sheehan emigrated. It contains the response of the town commissioners to a petition from J.T. Hudson, asking that they “induce the Government to provide additional barrack accomdation for troops in Dungarvan, for the benefit of the town & its trade, etc.”

The commissioners declined, stating that they felt they

could use their energies in a better cause than in asking a coercive Government to import military into a town remarkable for the peacefulness and morality of its inhabitants. Had Mr. Hudson, who according to his letter feels interested in the prosperity of Dungarvan, suggested some means to them whereby the tide of emigration at present so much to be deplored in this district could be prevented & which in their opinion is due to the harsh and cruel action of the present Government in aiding bad landlords and imprisoning the leaders of the people, they would be prepared to give such suggestion their best consideration. They can however view the proposal of the sub-sheriff Hudson in no other light than as an impertinent intrusion, considering that he himself is one of the executive officers of the Eviction Campaign.

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