Friday, February 27, 2009

The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 3

Day three of Malcolm's fill-space meanderings, and still trapped in the A's.

Atmospheric Road

This is a relic of a noble experiment. Brunel had suggested the use of a stationary engine, to create a partial vacuum in a cylinder. In the cylinder a piston, attached to a vehicle, would be propelled along by atmospheric pressure. The weakness of the system was the leather gaskets which were supposed to seal the slot along the top of the cylinder: they needed constant greasing, and were palatable to every passing rat.

However, one James Pim of Dublin ran a puff campaign; and when an extension to the Kingstown line was mooted, the atmospheric system was adopted. For a decade, between 1844 and 1854, trains between Kingstown pier and Dalkey, some 1¾miles, ran under this arrangement. The line is still there, as part of the DART. All that remains of the experiment is the street name.

If there is a villain of the piece (apart from the marauding rodents) it has to be whoever concocted that ludicrous hibernicising on the road sign.

Atty Hayes's Goat

This is the Corkonian simile for antiquity, "as old as Atty Hayes's goat".

Attiwell Hayes was a miller, brewer and glass-maker (obviously a vertically-integrated business plan) in the City of Cork, in the eighteenth century. His house still exists on Cork's North Mall. He died in 1799; and is buried in the crypt of Christchurch Cathedral. His reputation as an eccentric was established by arriving at a masquerade in a cart pulled by the goat. That eccentricity may also be evident in naming his daughter "Mary Smary Hayes". The goat lived to an extraordinary old age. That's it for Atty Hayes. So let Malcolm move on.

His son was Sir Henry Browne Hayes, a prominent citizen, whose knighthood in 1790 rewarded his public services, including being Sheriff of Cork. Around 1786 he built himself a fine villa, Vernon Mount, overlooking Cork and the River Lee. The house was named in honour of George Washington, which tells us that Hayes was a nationalist, at least to the extent of admiring the way the Americans had rid themselves of the hated Navigation Acts.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a widower with several children must be in need of a wife. On 21st July 1797 Hayes kidnapped Mary Pike, a wealthy Quaker heiress, from Woodhill, the home of the Penrose family in Tivoli, and forced her into marriage. The Penroses and others rescued her; and Hayes went into hiding. When he surrendered in 1800 there followed a sensational trial, and in 1801 Hayes was sentenced to transportation.

He became a celebrity in New South Wales as the convict-knight, and is credited with establishing the first Masonic Lodge in the colony. Again he built himself a fine residence, Vaucluse House near South Head (right). He discovered this was in an area infested with snakes. Hayes's solution was importing soil from Ireland, and building a defensive bank: it apparently worked. He was implicated in various acts of dissidence: for taking sides against Governor King and in sympathy with deposed Governor Bligh (yes, that Bligh) he was sent to the coal mines at Newcastle. Bligh issued a pardon, which was endorsed by Governor Macquarie in 1812. Hayes returned to Cork, dying at home at Vernon Mount in 1832.

In passing, Malcolm notes that the Penroses also sheltered Sarah Curran (who was the daughter of John Philpott Curran, the prosecutor at Hayes's trial). Sarah Cullen came to Woodhill after the execution of her lover, Robert Emmet in 1803; and in 1805 from Woodhill she was married to Captain Henry Sturgeon.

Small place, Ireland. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Dewi Harries said...

Excellent stuff as always Malcolm - but this is going to take you till 2026!!

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