By Paul Greaney
The majority of the principal sources for Irish genealogy have been appearing as online databases over the past ten years or so, and it is now possible to conduct much, if not most, genealogical research from the comfort of one’s own home. One of the more colourful sets of records to appear has been the Petty Sessions record books, of which the Headford and Galway collections relate to incidents in the Annaghdown area. The Petty Sessions were the lowest rung of the courts system, roughly equivalent to today’s district court in some respects, with the Quarter Sessions and Assizes dealing with more serious matters. Most of the Petty Sessions records for Annaghdown relate to incidents of minor significance: road contractors frequently summoned farmers for allowing their stock to wander on the public road, for example. However, there are some more unusual, and some humourous incidents which provide a rich insight into life at the time. The following are a few interesting examples.
On 6 September 1852, before G. Staunton Lynch, E.L. Hunt, and Pierce Joyce. Martin Forde, bailiff, Gardenham, summoned Pat Browne, George Browne, yeomen, of Creggduff; Thomas Scully, Pat Lee, servants, Creggduff; Pat Tierney, William Cavanagh, yeomen, Ballinduff; Thomas Malley, William Malley, yeomen, Shanbally. Cause of complaint: Rescue of twenty heifers on the 25th day of August 1852 at Creggduff siezed for rent due to Walter Joyce, Esqr., out of said lands of Creggduff. No appearance.
On 7 February 1853, before G. Staunton Lynch and E. L. Hunt. Mark Keeneen, pound keeper, Aughlogin, summoned Bartly Wall, yeoman, of Carraruane, and Thomas Grealy, yeoman, of Racollough or Corbally. Cause of complaint: for that on the 27th day of January 1853 the defendants did enter complainants land at Aughlogin, then and there did forcibly & illegally take and carry away five sheep which were in compts care and impounded for Poor Rates by Matthew Creavin, Poor Rate Collector. Fined 10s. and costs each or one month’s imprisonment in the County Jail.
On 13 November 1854, before E.L. Hunt. Winefred Newall, alias, Flynn, Rhinaharney, summoned Mary Flynn, spinster, Rhinaharney. Cause of complaint: Breaking open complainant’s house at Rhinaharney on Saturday the 3rd November 1854 and feloniously stealing and carrying away thereout a quantity of potatoes, a small pig, bed clothes, dresser, and a box (complainant’s property). John Dillon, yeoman, Rhinaharney, called to give evidence on behalf of complainant. No appearance.
On 28 February 1859, before William Joseph Burke. Michael Doran, Carrowbeg, summoned William Burke, Michael Burke, Michael Graney, Ardgeeneen; Michael Cunningham, Kilgill; James Graney, Bunnatubber; Patrick Graney, Glanrevagh. Cause of complaint: For having been engaged in a riot and having been rioting on the 13th day of February instant at Gortroe on the public road in said County, at the same time and place, William Burke of Ardgeeneen having assaulted complainant in the execution of his duty.
On 19 June 1871, Michael Ruane, Rhinaharney, summoned Stephen Donnellan, Rhinaharney. Cause of complaint: suffering and allowing your cow to trespass in complainant’s potatoes and cabbage and injuring his shirt, all value to the amount of six shillings, on the 9th of June 1871 at Rhinaharney. No appearance.
These records are available on the subscription site findmypast.ie.
This article first appeared in our Winter 2017 Newsletter.