From: Clare Roots Society
On: Ennis At Work in the 19th Century by Lucille Ellis.
Issued By: John Bradley P.R.O. Clare Roots Society.
Thursday Night the 15th May at 8.00 p.m. in the Old Ground Hotel Clare Roots Society will launch its latest book "Ennis at Work in the 19th Century". The book will be launched by CIlr. Mary Coote Ryan, Mayor, Ennis Town Council, The book looks at the trades and occupations of milling, building and printing, the drapers and grocers and wine merchants, and the doctors and lawyers, as they developed and changed throughout the course of the 19th century. Researched and edited by Lucille Ellis, the book looks at the trades through the lives of certain families who were prominent in these areas, and their stories tell of life as it was lived in Ennis. Families researched include Bannatyne, Carroll, Cullinan, Gallery, Gibson, Knox, McBeath, O'Brien, Parsons, Russell and Shaw. To those who walk old Drumcliff these names will be familiar and linked to a number of family tombs.
Ennis was large enough to have its own milling business and because it was the capital of the County, there was a demand for infrastructure and public building as well as private housing. These trades serviced a fairly large and populous hinterland so both the shopkeepers and the professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, had a wide clientele. In addition the population of the county was sufficiently educated and literate to support at least two local newspapers throughout the century.
A thread common to all of the families that are written about is their involvement in the civic life of the town. All at some stage in their lives were members of the Poor Law Guardians, the Town Commissioners or Committees for local charitable groups. They were also usually involved with their Church, be it Catholic or Church of Ireland. We also learn how a number of these families coped after bankrupcy.
In her research Lucille has matched with examples for each trade one or two prominent families and woven their personal histories into the history of their given occupations. When it comes to the printing trades we read about the Knox and Parsons families who were the clear leaders in their field.
The final chapter in her book takes us back to an evening in June 1868 when a huge part of the population of Ennis attended a musical evening on the River Fergus with up to 20 boats taking part.
The research includes the standard building blocks in family research, state birth, marriage and death records and the parallel church records, the Griffith's land valuation records along with the Valuation books which document the ownership of the land records up to the mid-twentieth century. Use was also made of the 1901 and 1911 censuses. She has also drawn on some new sources such as leases of lands, and marriage settlements. Some of the best sources of information came from the newspapers of the day.
The book is illustrated throughout with old photographs, contemporary maps and newspaper advertisements.
Lucile Ellis was born and is living in Dublin but has two grandparents from Clare. Twenty years of family history research have established that related families are still living in West Clare and East Clare on the same lands, since the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries respectively, with one branch having Ennis connections.
While teaching the senior classes in primary school, she was fortunate that the curriculum encouraged involvement in local history, in her case, the Dún Laoghaire/Dalkey area. When she retired she decided to combine the two interests of family and local history and did a local history course at NUI Maynooth, writing the final paper on some business families in Ennis (this paper is in the Local Studies Centre). Then with the backing and encouragement of the Clare Roots Society, and in particular Larry Brennan and Eric Shaw, this paper developed into the book "Ennis at Work in the 19th Century".
In the early 1970s when she did her degree in History researching primary sources wasn't the norm; now this is encouraged, even at primary school level. The past can really come alive to us now through old newspapers, photographs and maps, many of which can be accessed online or in places like the Clare Library Local Studies Centre which is a treasure trove of the past. Ennis is fortunate in having so many people, both in the Local Authorities and in the general population, who have a deep interest in the history of their town and wish to retain and record as much of it as possible. Lucille hopes that this book adds a little more to this effort, and she hopes to continue researching the past of this wonderful town.