News from Times Past with Brian Gabriel, Blarney & District Historical Society

Blarney Sessions – Bread Prosecutions 1915 (Before Messrs. F.N. Down (presiding), J.C. Scanlon, D. Ross and Col. McCartie). Lizzie O’Brien, Coolymurrahue, was summoned by Sergeant Deeny for having sold bread otherwise than by weight, and for having no scales with proper weights, displayed in a conspicuous part of her shop. Complainant said that that case and the other cases following were cases for the selling of bread otherwise than by weight. Before taking out the summonses under the Act, he cautioned every seller or his representative to comply, within the Act, and explained to them its purpose, but not one of them took any notice of the warning. Some five years ago, the police were directed to caution all bakers that that Act would be enforced and the Master Bakers Association approached Mr. L.L. Brown, B.L., and asked him to explain their responsibility under the Act, and Mr. Brown told them, amongst other things, “that Section 4 of the Act implies that a baker or seller of the bread must inform a purchaser who does not ask for a loaf of a specified weight, the weight of the loaf he is selling him, and if the purchaser so desires he can have the loaf weighed in his presence, and can reject it if it is under the declared weight.” In order, therefore, Mr. Brown continued, to comply with the statute, a baker or seller of bread must (1) charge for the loaf according to its real weight, and (2) must weight each loaf after it is baked and before sale. The sellers of bread in the district have an erroneous idea of what ‘fancy bread’ is. Fancy bread may be sold otherwise than by weight, unless it is asked for by weight, in which case it must be sold by weight. The question of ‘fancy bread’ does not arise in the present cases. The four defendants were each charged (1) with selling bread otherwise than by weight, under Section 4, and (2) for not providing scales with proper weights, under Section 6 of the Act. By a recent order, the police have been ordered to enforce the Act in the same way as any other Act of Parliament and on the seventh of the present month, he entered the defendant’s shop and asked for a loaf of household bread. The defendant said she had not got any household bread but she had a white loaf. He then bought the white loaf for 41/2d. When the purchase was completed, he asked what weight was the loaf, and she had only a hazy idea of the weight, saying that she thought a pair of white bread would weigh 4lbs. The complainant subsequently weighed the loaf and found that it was 1 ounce and 12 drams short of the 2lbs. The complainant said he did not wish for a heavy penalty in the case. The defendant did not bake the bread herself, she got it from the bakers. No evidence was offered on behalf of the defendant. The magistrates said that as that was the first case of its kind before the court they would only impose a nominal penalty of 6d and costs in the first offence, and the same in the second offence. They wished to warn the defendant that if again brought up on a like offence, the fine would be much heavier. For similar offences, Mary Lucey, Coolflugh, and Margaret Reardon, Shanakiel, were also fined 6d and cost for both offences. Similar charges were preferred against Thomas Burke, Rathpeacon and he was fined 2s 6d and costs for each offence. The increased fine was imposed because the defendant did not appear. The above appeared in the Cork Examiner of Friday April 16th 1915. The Price of Bread in Cork – Further Change Proposed Household Loaf to Disappear. For the past week the master bakers of Cork City have had again under consideration the bread question, and it is believed that in a few days’ time an announcement dealing with a change in the sale of that important food will be made. A few meetings have been held and discussions have taken place with regard to the prices charged at the present time and the difficulty experienced in procuring a certain quality of flour – the flour used in the baking of what is known as household bread. Inquiries made yesterday from the principal master bakers elicited the information that the matter was still under consideration but that the general opinion amongst the trade was that the sale of household bread should be abolished during the war and that only white bread should be baked during that period. A suggestion was made at the opening meeting that the prices of bread should again be advanced by one half-penny per 4lb loaf, but this suggestion did not meet with favour from the majority of the members present, and then it was proposed that in order to meet the difficulty of getting the quality of flour already mentioned, that household bread should not be baked during the continuance of the war. This proposal was laid before each master baker and the majority of the replies received to it have been in its favour. One or two members of the trade, who transact a large business in household bread throughout the city and county have not yet finally dealt with the proposal, but it is felt that at the next meeting their replies will also be favourable to the proposal and that early next week an announcement will be made of the suspension of the sale of household bread during the war. Such a decision will mean that only white bread will be sold, and that household bread, which is largely used by the working classes will disappear for some time. Needless to say, this change will inflict great hardship, not alone on the working classes, but on large numbers of people who have been consuming this bread since the price of food-stuffs in general increased, but the master bakers maintain that owing to the difficulty in getting the flour, it is impossible for them to continue baking household bread. The above appeared in the Cork Examiner of Friday 30th April 1915. Blarney Petty Sessions Wednesday 17th December 1870 Before Messrs. Wall, M.D. Dunscombe and Dennehy R.M. John Shea and his son Denis Shea of Gurt, were charged with having a gun and ammunition in their possession without having a magistrate’s warrant. Mr. Alfred Blake appeared for the defendants and said his clients had a licence from the Excise for having a gun, for which they paid 10 shillings. They were in ignorance of the law which obliged them to have a magistrate’s licence also. If anyone was to blame it was the Excise who gave the licence without the magistrate’s order. A Constable was sworn, and deposed that on the 28th November he went to the defendant’s house, and there found a quantity of shot, powder and wads. He asked where the gun was and the defendants informed him that it lent to a man, whose name he mentioned. Mr. Dennehy said the defendants were not so much to blame. It arose from the neglect of the authorities in not sending a circular to the Excise directing them not to issue the 10 shilling licence unless the applicant had a magistrate’s warrant to have a gun. Dr. Wall – Are you sure that’s the case? Mr. Dennehy – Oh yes. The same has occurred in my own immediate district, and I had to go to the Excise officer and direct him not to give a licence for a gun without the magistrate’s order. Now, properly speaking, the man should not have got this licence unless he had the magistrate’s authority to have a gun. Even we, as magistrates, who are empowered to carry arms can’t carry them off our own land unless we take out this 10 shilling licence. Dr. Wall – That is important information. Mr. Dennehy – The police, too, are obliged to have the 10 shilling licence, unless they are actually on duty. Mr. Dunscombe – I think there ought to be an intimation on this 10 shilling licence that it does not exempt the holder from the provisions of the Peace Preservation Act. I certainly think it is hard to hold this poor man responsible for a document calculated to mislead him. Dr. Wall – Evidently he had no intention of breaking the law. Mr. Dennehy – This case ought to be dismissed. The old man ought to get a licence. Mr. Blake – I don’t think the old man wants a licence, but his son would, to keep the crows off his land. Mr. Townsend, the defendant’s landlord, said he would object to the young man getting a licence, because he was shooting all over the country. Mr. Milling, S.I. – They are lending these guns from one to the other. There is a case coming on now where the young man lent the gun to another. It is the same gun. The case of Francis Kiely, charged with having a gun without a licence, was then called. The constable stated that the younger defendant in the last case lent his gun to the present defendant. Mr. Dunscombe – Have you a licence? Defendant – No, sir. Mr. Blake – He only got a loan of the gun to scare crows. Mr. Dunscombe – I don’t think people who lend guns in this way should have a licence at all. Mr. Blake – The poor man was ignorant of the law, but he will take care not to have the gun again. Mr. Dunscombe – This is quite a different case. This man has distinctly brought himself within the provision of the Peace preservation Act. In reply to Mr. Blake: The Court stated that the defendant made no effort at concealing the gun. After some deliberation, Dr. Wall said, as they believed, the defendant had the gun in ignorance of the law, they would dismiss the case. Constable – What will I do with the gun and ammunition, gentlemen? Mr. Dunscombe – Oh, keep them for the present. The Court soon after adjourned.

To commemorate the official founding of Blarney Village 250 years ago, in 1765, all lectures presented during 2015 by Blarney & District Historical Society will have a high Blarney & District content. The illustrated lecture for Thursday 7th May 2015 at 8pm in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál is titled; ‘Early Industries of Blarney’. The speaker is Dr. Colin Rynne. Everyone is welcome to attend these excellent lectures and learn a little about the history of this famous little village. Enquiries to Brian Gabriel 087 2153216.

Limited back numbers of the Blarney & District Historical Society publications, ‘Old Blarney’ Journals, issues 1 to 9, and ‘Old Blarney’ Photo-journals, issues 1 to 4, are available by contacting Brian Gabriel on 087 2153216 or at the monthly lectures.