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Monday, December 17, 2007

William Hanbidge, Discountenancer of Vice

The extract I quoted from Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter lately put me in mind of an equally rough and ready folk autobiography, that of William Hanbidge, a native of Tinnahinch in the Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow, who lived from 1813 to 1909. He belonged to a society for the ‘discountenancing’ of vice, which always conjured images, for me, of a nonagenarian Quaker dropping into his local pub to gurn threateningly at the local drunk. Anyway, here is Hanbidge’s account of the descent into sin of the village of Stratford (Stratford, Co. Wicklow that is). Blogger isn’t too hot on mid-sentence gaps, quite a few of which occur in the original text, and which I’ve had to remove here. Please supply mentally, mindful of the high regard in which the early twentieth-century Projectivist community of West Wicklow held Hanbidge’s writing (his use of the full stop is also somewhat fitful):

Straford was a prosperous little place but it was also a most abominable wicked place

The scenes to be seen of a Saturday night and on Sundays were awful.

Drunkneness, prostitution, cursing and fighting.

There were always a wordy warfare carried on between the country and town lads for the country lads when they saw the weavers would shout A dish of kailcannon and an iron spoon would make any calico weaver jump over his loom with other scurrilous epithets which the others resented very much.

All used to meet at a low public house about half a mile from the town on Saturday evenings and Sundays the sights which followed I cannot describe.

After a time the downfall of the town began.

Mr Orr found out that he could buy the calico ready wo much cheaper than it cost him to have it woven so he dismissed all his weavers who were scattered over many parts of England and Scotland

The slated houses which they lived in soon fell into ruin.

Mr Orr still continued the bleaching and printing business for a short time till his correspondent in South America failed by which he lost thousands of pounds and he turned bankrupt and could not continue the business

All the remaining employers had to seek work in England or Scotland and others such as shoemarks &c.

Thus fell Stratford no more markets.

{Quotation ends}

Those in the mood for more will be pleased to know that W.J. McCormack edited Hanbidge's memoirs for UCD Press a few years back (scroll down a bit). The above picture, which I found here, is not of Stratford but nearby Valleymount. The combination of Wicklow place-names and water reminds me of a bridge I encountered there once called Pennycomequick Bridge. Or am I making that up? I can't be sure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The area next to the train station in Plymouth is called Pennycomequick. Some link there, maybe?