Anita McMahon makes a case to bring the Achill Railway to Keel

In February 1920 Anita McMahon wrote to three national newspapers making a good case for why the Achill Railway should have been extended as far as Keel. It make a lot of sense at the time, “motor services” were thin on the ground, with few cars and lorries on the road. Goods were transported locally by horse and cart. Times were changing even then.

The fishing industry on Achill could flourish and provide more local employment was not flourishing as it could. The fish caught on the island was going to waste as there was no way to transport it inland while fresh. There were other industries on the island that could benefit from a better goods transport system too.

Anita explained that Achill had a very large population, about 6000 at the time, who were very intelligent and industrious. A extension to the railway at Achill Sound would not be wasted as there would surely be developments in the industries already on Achill, should the extension be built. She also pointed out that “the Congested Districts Board would of course welcome any project to develop the Island.” The reply:

The railway was never extended to Keel. Years later in 1937 the railway closed for good. The reason at the time was that the roads were to be developed and the railway was no longer required.

Sources

Dublin Evening Telegraph 26 February 192026 February 1920

27 February 1920 – Irish Times – Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

07 July 1951 – The Sphere – London, London, England

Derry Journal 15 September 1909

Turbulent Twenties

It was almost a year since the first shots of the War of Independence were fired. The conflict which was ratcheting up all over the country at the dawn of 1920. The country was heading fast into one of the most turbulent times in Irish history. The attacks and ambushes that typifies guerilla warfare were commonplace. There was no knowing when a brutal attack would occur.

Burnt out buildings during the War of Independence

Emily who was no stranger to violence. As a daughter of convert priest, brutal attacks on her and her family were all too frequent. She was more equipped than most to deal with the turmoil that was unfolding in her country. She traveled between Dublin and her home in Achill. Her financial situation which fell on hard times in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917, when her shares in Russian industry were wiped, forced her to return to her old profession of nursing to keep her house in Keel. She was living at an address in Ranelagh, Dublin in the early 1920’s and was working as a nurse in the old Meath Hospital at the time. There was evidence by the way of the local Gaelic League that she spent time in Achill.

Sources

Dublin Evening Telegraph 03 January 1920

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 27 November 1920

A Quiet Resting Place

Dr. William Henry Emeris Burke was buried on December 3rd 1889 in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight. His death was announced by his solicitor, Mr. John Carrington.

Forename(s): William Henry Emeris

Surname: BURKE   Convict

Date of birth: 1845 (approx., calculated)

Date of death: 1889

Date of burial: 3 Dec 1889

Age at death: 44 years

Address: Parkhurst Prison, Parish of Carisbrooke

The church is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Probably begun by William Fitz-Osbert, it was originally attached to the Priory of St Mary the Virgin, which was occupied by monks from the Abbey of Lyra (now Lire) in Normandy.

Although reported in some papers, he was not brought back to Yorkshire but interred on the Isle of Wight. Sadly in the church records his last address was Parkhurst Prison and his status a convict. It may have been true of his last days but, long before his life took a turn for the worst, he was; “not a few recollect him in the old days, a happy, clever, handsome man.”

Dr Burke in happier times

Sources

Sheffield Independent 03 December 1889

https://www.foncc.org.uk/burials/grave-search/record.php?rec=14653

Carlisle Patriot 06 December 1889

06 February 1888 – Sheffield Evening Telegraph – Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

The Death of Dr. William Henry Emeris Burke

The following announcement was made to the press in early December 1889:

“Mr. John Carrington solicitor, of Barnsley, who defended William Emeris Burke, surgeon of Monk Bretton, near Barnsley, at his trial, yesterday afternoon received a telegram from the Governor of her Majesty’s Convict Prison, Isle of Wight, announcing that Dr. Burke, who was confined there during her Majesty’s pleasure, died at half-past four o’clock on Saturday afternoon.”

Sources

Sheffield Independent 03 December 1889

Illustrated London News 10 December 1892