A Part of History
corey says…Today, I was a part of history. I had heard about something going on in the Tipperary village of Loughmore (lock-mor) where they asked anyone attending to wear turn-of-the-century clothing or black. This caught my attention.
The village was celebrating a very important Tipperary tale, the 150th anniversary of the Cormack brothers’ hanging.
In 1858, they were convicted of murder and not only did they insist they were innocent.
However, the evidence, which was later found to be fabricated by the police, was damning. They were hung outside Nenagh Gaol (Jail) on May 11, 1858.
Later, a man confessed to the murder, and the entire trial was labeled a miscarriage of justice…and held up as an example of how the Catholics of the day were discriminated against by the police, politicians and the justice system.
52 YEARS LATER
In 1910, 2,357 local residents signed a petition pleading for their release…including the jurors from their trial.the brothers’ innocence. That year their innocencewas officially recognized and their bodies were returned to their hometown to be buried in the cemetery there.
According to a special cable to the New York Times (displayed at the end of this post), the procession was “headed by fifty clergy, a procession of about 10,000 persons, 600 jaunting cars, and 20 bands of music…All shops were shut/blinds were drawn and everyone was dressed in black or wore crepe armlets tied with green ribbon. Many old persons sobbed as the hearses passed.”
150 YEARS LATER
Today is the 150th anniversary of their death, and the little village of Loughmore staged an enormous pageant to celebrate the day the bodies were returned home after resting on the grounds of Nenagh Gaol.
When I arrived, I parked in the field as directed and walked passed the cemetery into the village. Cars weren’t allowed through town, so everyone was on foot, old-fashioned bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. It was quite exciting to watch as the crowd began to gather. Everyone was in the spirit, and it truly felt like the “old days” were alive and well.
I had some time, so I wandered around. There is a large castle and an abandoned mill along the river, as well as a few pubs, a church, community centre and several houses.
The wail of the bagpipes could be heard first, even before the procession was visible. Then they appeared down the road coming around a corner. Lead by bagpipers and drummers; then followed by two men carrying a banner stating, “Pray for the Martyrs;” then dignitaries on foot and in antique cars and jaunting cars; then the ornate, horse-drawn hearses; then a parade of wagons and jaunting cars; and finally, a long line of mourners.
I stayed back and watched the procession grow as it collected onlookers as it worked its way to the church. By the time I reached the top of the hill, the town centre was packed with people.
Then suddenly, behind me there was another wail of bagpipes. An entire band appeared in the distance and slowly approached the church, bookending the procession. Their unexpected appearance and mournful sound, put a dramatic exclamation point to the end of the procession.
The coffins were removed from the hearses and carried into the church for a full Latin Mass, just as in 1910. For the homily, the priest eulogized the Cormack’s and talked about the period in which they lived.
Once the police had their sights set on the Cormack’s, there was no hope. According to the homily, witness statements were forced and bribed…including a 12-year-old girl who was imprisoned from October to December in attempt to get her to state that she overhead a confession.
The church was filled with people and chairs were set up outside. However, most people made themselves comfortable among the tombstones. A sound system was set up outside, so everyone was able to follow along.
Toward the end of mass, a woman appeared with two trays of sandwiches, which were quickly distributed. Then, as if it were the story of the loaves and fishes, more trays appeared. Then a two groups circled the crowd with cups and a bucket of water. The Irish sun got brighter as the day went on, and the water was a welcome sight.
After Mass, the caskets were taken into the mausoleum and the original speeches from 1910 were reenacted. Afterwards, in the spot were the crowds had gathered, there was food cart selling hotdogs and hamburgers…and near the pub, there was an entire stage with musicians getting ready for an evening of entertainment. It was a full-on celebration now.
I have to say, this was one event I was pleased to be a part of. It was clear how important this bit of history was to the people in the area, and the organization of the event was impeccable.
I saw one other group of Americans in the crowd, and it was fun to see how they took in the experience. They stayed back and observed and clearly enjoyed what they saw. I think they were quite surprised when the sandwiches were passed around…which would be an unfamiliar custom to most Americans, as the help-yourself buffet-style is more common in the States.
I didn’t stop to talk to the group, but I was very happy they took time out of their holiday to experience a local event. It just goes to show what kind of activities you might find by asking a local or reading a local paper.
JIM O’ THE MILL
At the pageant, I spotted my friend Jim from Upperchurch standing along the wall. We chatted a bit. He told me Liza, another American with a home in the area, had her shed broken into. They took her strimmer (weed-whacker). We both agreed it was good they only went off with that, but that it was horrible to have the place messed with.
I updated him about me and Liam and Tony, and let him know Tony would probably be bringing his parents to the session Jim has at his home each Thursday…that is another local experience few tourists will ever catch.
BACK TO WORK
On the way home, I stopped by Tony’s and got some work done on his website www.Glenculoo.com.
On my way home, I met up with one of the neighbors. Then a little further on, I met up with another. Then ahead of me another neighbor was taking his horse and carriage out for a ride. The horse was ornery though and was giving him quite a bit of grief.
I slowed passed him, and about ten minutes later, I saw him pass by the house. The horse seemed to straighten out.