Friday, February 26, 2021

A Deaf Blind Workhouse Inmate, sentenced to a month's imprisonment in Galway

A story about Michael Curley - a Deaf-Blind man - sentenced to 1 month in prison - for disorderly conduct in Galway workhouse.
"At Galway Petty Sessions, Michael Curley, a blind man, was charged by the Galway Board of Guardians with disorderly conduct in the Workhouse on the 4th October. Mr. O’Toole, Master of the Workhouse, stated that Curley had gone into the workhouse 25 times since last January. On the 4th ult., witness saw the windows broken, but did not see the defendant do it. Defendant was a great nuisance. Cross-examined, witness said he was aware that defendant was both blind and deaf. Mr. Hanley, porter of the workhouse, deposed that on the night in question, he heard knocking at the door and the noise of windows being broken. When he opened the door, he found the defendant there, having climbed the outer gate. Defendant was a very great nuisance; came in under the influence of drink often, and kicked up rows. The Chairman inquired how it was that the defendant’s people managed to communicate with him, or how he got on if he went into a shop. Mr. Daly (defending) contended that the case could not be maintained, as the defendant was deaf and blind, and, therefore, unable to plead. It was a case in which the defendant ought to be sent to a suitable institution for the deaf and dumb. Sergt. Cunningham said the man had a very significant manner of making known his wants when in a shop, by tapping on the counter a certain number of times with his stick (laughter). He had already done a month in jail for begging at Salthill. The Chairman said the only place to which they could send the defendant was the prison, as they had no power to send him elsewhere. He would be sentenced to a month’s imprisonment." Source: Connacht Tribune, 14 Nov 1914 - see also

Monday, August 3, 2020

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Kerry, 1860s: was there a Deaf school (or class?) in Tralee - in the Convent of Mercy?

An ISL Deaf history vlog (with English voiceover and subtitles) where I look at some evidence of Deaf education in the 1860s in Tralee, Co Kerry. A Sisters of Mercy convent school apparently had some Deaf pupils educated through sign language...

Mercy Convent, Tralee. Source:
Advertisement for first appeal in aid of Convent of Mercy orphanage in Tralee, including reference to "Four Deaf Mutes" being educated there. Source: Tralee Chronicle, 11 December 1868, p. 2.

 Description of deaf children signing along to songs, at ceremony of reception and profession at the Convent of Mercy, Tralee. Source: Tralee Chronicle, 24 November 1868, p. 3.
The Poor Law Commissioners reject the removal of Mary Foley from Cabra to the Tralee Convent of Mercy. Source: Kerry Evening Post, 15 November 1865, p. 2.

The school at Cabra also protest at the proposed removal of Mary Foley from Cabra to the Tralee Convent of Mercy. Source: Tralee Chronicle, 17 November 1865.
Patrick Foley returns from Cabra to the Tralee workhouse having been educated "in a very satisfactory manner" - but the Board of Guardians continues to press for Mary to be brought to the Tralee Convent of Mercy. Source: Kerry Evening Post, 13 December 1865, p. 2.
The Poor Law Commissioners insist that that the Tralee Convent of Mercy cannot be recognised as suitable as it is not "wholly devoted" to deaf education, but the Board of Guardians point out that they have a teacher "devoted exclusive" to teaching deaf children. Source: Tralee Chronicle, 15 December 1865.

The Poor Law Commission dig in their heels, and Mary Foley remains in Cabra. Source: Kerry Evening Post, 20 December 1865, p. 2.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

'Another Silent Individual': a Deaf Interpreter in Foynes, Co Limerick in 1867?

ISL video with English (voice), automatic subtitles - proper subtitles soon.
Another possible Deaf interpreter in Ireland! This time - 1867 in Foynes, Co. Limerick... but is the evidence strong enough to say Cornelius McMahon was a Deaf interpreter?
Source: Munster News, 5 January 1867, p. 3.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Ireland's First Deaf Interpreter in Court - 1863 in Cork?

ISL video, English voice and CC closed captions

Did the first recorded example of a Deaf interpreter in court happen in 1863 in Cork? Timothy Donovan is in court for theft. An interpreter named John Good is brought in to interpret for him. But John Good interprets 'through another mute', according to a different newspaper. Does this mean a Deaf interpreter?

I reference Graham O'Shea's MA thesis on Cork's Deaf history in this vlog: Graham O’Shea, ‘A History of Deaf in Cork: Perspectives on Education, Language, Religion and Community’ (Unpublished M.Phil. Thesis, University College Cork, 2010).

Source: Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier, 7 March 1863
Source: Cork Constitution, 7 March 1863, p. 4

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Ryan Tubridy with Fin Dwyer on Irish Deaf History (extract) - RTE Radio

I was surprised to hear that I was mentioned on Ryan Tubridy on RTE radio this morning!
He was interviewing the brilliant Fin Dwyer, who interviewed me two weeks ago for the 'Irish History Podcast'. Ryan was very interested to hear more about Irish history.

I did a short ISL version of what Ryan and Fin talked about. English voiceover and English closed captions.


[Ryan Tubridy] .... It's fascinating, and just to remind people, we’re walking to Fin Dwyer the man behind – it’s Irish History Podcast, is where you need to go, this is just a flavour of where your stories go, because it's so broad as a church. In fact the other one I was listening to the other morning was the history of the Deaf community in Ireland - and I had no idea that people at one time thought that Deaf people were considered to be psychics!?

[Fin Dwyer] Yeah the actual back story to this is interesting; I lie yourself had no idea, never really thought about the history of the deaf community, and then Cormac Leonard a researcher from Trinity College contacted me about signing a podcast I'd made on the Aran islands, and it was just through that - I was looking at Cormac’s website and I just started to think about this, I'd never really thought of the deaf community and their role in Irish history. So I asked Cormac would he do an interview, and it was one of the most eye opening interviews I'd ever done! It brings to the fore all these - first of all, the way deaf people were viewed before the 19th century, in this role as mystics, maybe, and fortune tellers. And then the 19th century where you get the emergence of sign language in deaf schools, but he also talks about really interesting stuff like, people for example from the deaf community involved in the IRA, involved in the Unionist movement in the early 20th century; and then just things lie how do Deaf people navigate the workhouses and particularly prisons. Because we've a tendency - even today - to maybe infantilise deaf people and think that they don't have the same experiences as hearing people, but definitely Cormac on the Podcast really brought out how essentially, deaf people have all the same experiences, but then often face the barriers, because people dismiss them.

[Ryan Tubridy] Absolutely, and that's, as I say, just one that jumped out recently ....

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Two Deaf-Brothers Fear a Return to the Workhouse: Bow Street Court, London, 1869

 Two deaf-blind brothers, David and Thomas Bowen, are arrested for begging in 1869 in London.

The Rev. Smith interprets for them with some difficulty, having to use tactile manual alphabet.

They are from Llandudno in Wales, and their father had died. They had stayed in the Llandudno workhouse but were not happy there, and went to London instead to beg. While in London, they were robbed of their money while staying at a lodging-house.

The magistrate orders them to be sent back to Llandudno, which upsets the two brothers greatly, as they disliked the workhouse so much.
Source: London Evening Standard, 20 February 1869