Smith's Island

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darrenoconaill
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:48 pm

Smith's Island

Post by darrenoconaill » Thu Apr 01, 2021 2:51 pm

Hi Folks,

I've come across some references in the newspaper archives (1840s) to a Smith's Island in the River Fergus.

I know some islands were often named after those families living there at the time (eg. Melican's Island, Nix's Island) but Smith's has me stumped.

One suggestion is that it's not an island at all but a spot called Boorland Rock which appears on the old OS maps. Can anyone confirm if this is the case or if not where Smith's Island might be?

Many thanks,

Darren

Sduddy
Posts: 1159
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Re: Smith's Island

Post by Sduddy » Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:35 am

Hi Darren

I think Smith's Island might be an anglicisation of Inishmacowney. MacGabhan is Irish for the surname Smith (Gabha - pronounced "Gawa" is Irish for blacksmith). But I suppose I should say "pseudo" anglicisation (i.e. a guess by someone in the early 19th century as to what the name meant in English), as I see here that the accepted name in Irish is Inis Mhic Uaithne: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inishmacowney.

Sheila

darrenoconaill
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Re: Smith's Island

Post by darrenoconaill » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:32 pm

Thanks Sheila,

I hadn't considered that translation. I will investigate further.

Regards,

Darren

deegrif
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Re: Smith's Island

Post by deegrif » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:19 pm

Hi Darren

I haven't heard of Smith's, Inishmacowney is known as Horse Island colloquially. The population of Horse in 1841 was 142. In my experience, the islands that were known by surnames as well such as Nix's and Melican's only had one family living on them. I know some of the smaller islands off Kildysart changed names depending on their ownership but again, mostly only had one family farming there.

Boarlands Rock is the area where Aidan O'Sullivan did some of his intertidal surveys a while back. https://excavations.ie/report/2004/Clare/0011288/

John O'Donovan's Name Books of the Rivers Shannon and Fergus are interesting, 1839-40, at http://www.limerickcity.ie/media/132%20 ... x%20II.pdf

Dolores

Sduddy
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Re: Smith's Island

Post by Sduddy » Thu Apr 08, 2021 3:17 pm

Hi Dolores and Darren

Thank you, Dolores, for that list from John O’Donovan’s Name Books, which was a good find by you.
I noticed one place is called Illaunagowan Point: “(Oileán na nGamhain, island of the yearling calves). On the north side of the R. Shannon, about 3 miles west from Buntratty Castle. Was formerly an island when the river was in its natural state before embankment.”

I’m still clinging to my anglicisation theory, but I’m switching from Inishmacowney to this Illaunagowan Point, as the place that was anglicized to Smith’s Island (for a while) in the 1840s.

Sheila

Sduddy
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Re: Smith's Island

Post by Sduddy » Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:20 am

Hi Dolores and Darren

Well, I’ve abandoned my theory about the Anglicisation (although I still think it would be understandable if someone reckoned that “Gabhan” was “Smith:” for instance the Irish for Smithstown in Kilshanny parish is Baile Átha an Gabhann).

I think now that the “Smith” in “Smith’s Island” is simply the surname.
The Tithe Applotment books for Kilmaleery Parish (1825) show a Smith (without a first name) living in Island Smiths – a subdivision of Clenagh townland: https://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/cocla ... ry_tab.htm
The Smyths may have lived in Clonloghan parish previously: Clonloghan graveyard has a headstone inscribed: Here lies the body of George Smyth who departed this life 30 October 1815, aged 41 years. Erected by his wife Eliza Smyth alias Quin for her and posterity: https://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/cocla ... veyard.htm
Griffith’s valuation shows George Smith leasing Lot 17a from Mary O’Grady. Lot 17 (see the askaboutireland map) is a bit away from the coastline, but it’s interesting to note that Mary O’Grady is the owner of Coonagh Islands, Deenish Island, Big Venture Island and Little Venture Island. Maybe, at some point, she let one of these islands to George Smith? I notice that Venture Island (under that name) does not appear in O’Donovan’s list. Regarding Coonagh Islands, he says, “About threequarter of a mile to the west of Clenagh Castle ruins. This castle is used for a bearing, to keep the Channel course. The islands are two small ones, of 12 and 29 perches, just showing above high water mark. They lie about half a mile in the slob from the Channel, on the east side of the Fergus.”
I wonder if one of these small islands was called Smith’s Island.
Clenagh civil parish lies in the Catholic parish of Newmarket and the baptisms show that the Smiths lived in Clenagh for some time, but they are not there in 1901. Here is the death of a George Smith,in 1873, aged 30: https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/ ... 257891.pdf

Sheila

P.S. Darren, I've just noticed that the Newmarket baptisms show the baptism of Michael Gorman to Michael Gorman and Catherine Smyth, Smyth's Island, on 24 Sep 1838. And maybe this reference to Smith's Island, along with the one in Tithes, are the references you had come across yourself, and which prompted your question as to where that island was situated. In which case all of the above is just bringing you back to where you were!

P.P.S Now I have a new idea. I’m noticing that George Smith’s farm (Lot 17) takes in some of Clenagh Lough. Looking at the lake on the 1842 6 inch map, I don’t see any island in it, but, nevertheless, Smith’s Island might refer to the part of Clenagh townland where Smith’s farm lay. I wanted to look at the later 25” map, which used to be available on Geohive public viewer, but that site seems to be out of order these days.

Sheila

Sduddy
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Re: Smith's Island

Post by Sduddy » Mon Apr 12, 2021 2:05 pm

Hi Darren

I've come upon another mention of Smith's Island, but still can't say where Smith's Island is. In the will made in 1868 by one James Greene, Smith's Island is given as his address. Also interesting is that James's occupation is Pilot - see Calendar of Wills: http://www.willcalendars.nationalarchiv ... _00111.pdf. Note that the location of Greene's Island is given as Cratloe.
The actual will is available here: http://census.nationalarchives.ie/search/wr/home.jsp
This is my transcription: This is the last Will and Testament of James Greene of Smithsisland in the County of Clare. I hereby direct that all my debts funeral and testamentary expenses shall be paid by my executors hereinafter named within one month after my decease and as to all the rest residue and remainder of my property of every nature and kind whatsoever and wheresoever I give and devise the same unto my mother, Judith Greene, alias Connellan. And I hereby appoint my said mother sole executrix of this my last Will and Testament. Signed sealed and delivered by the said Testator as and for his last Will and Testament in our presence and in his presence and at his request and in presence of each other have hereunto signed our names as witnesses. George Hewson, Thomas O’Neill.
The last will and testament of James Greene formerly of Smith’s Island and late of Greenes Island in the County of Clare pilot deceased was proved in common form of law and probate thereof granted by Her Majesty’s Court of Probate in Ireland and the District of Registry at Limerick to Judith Greene of Greene’s Island in the County of Clare widow, mother of the said Testator and the sole Executrix named in the said Will. Date of grant 25 March 1868. Extracted by John O’Donnell solic[?].

James died in 1868 and the death records from 1864 to 1870 are not available to view online (yet), so I don't know if a more helpful address is given in that record. My guess is that he is James Greene who died aged 40 and whose death was registered in Limerick. I looked for the death of his mother, Judith Greene, and found her as Johana Greene (Johana is the same name as Judith). She died 10 Jul 1876, aged 82, and her address is Greene's Island; informant: Honora Greene, Greens Island: https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/ ... 218537.pdf. The death was registered in the Cooley Casey district of Limerick Union.

Sheila

Sduddy
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Re: Smith's Island

Post by Sduddy » Mon Apr 12, 2021 4:27 pm

Hi Darren

I looked at Griffith's Valuation for Kilmaleery Parish again and see that James Greene is leasing Deenish Island, Big Venture Island and Little Venture Island, from Mary O'Grady. Deenish Island is 43 acres and he has a house there as well. I think this must be Smith's Island.

Sheila

darrenoconaill
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:48 pm

Re: Smith's Island

Post by darrenoconaill » Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:00 pm

Hi Sheila,

That’s some incredible investigative work you have done there!

I’ve found some more references to a John Greene living on Smith’s Island in 1867 in the Petty Sessions and two references to a John Smith living on Smith’s Island in 1841 and 1843!

I also found this from the Clare Journal of 1850:
“From Clare to Ennis the river is uniformly about 120 feet wide. Vessels of any size or tonnage have at all times of tide sufficient water to come up the Shannon and up the Fergus, as far Smith’s Island, which is four miles from the junction (of the two rivers) Here there is good anchorage ground...”

Deenish is four miles from the junction of the two rivers and is also adjacent to what’s called the ‘third anchorage’ marked on the old OS map.

I think you’ve solved this one Sheila! Thanks so much for all your efforts.

The reason i wanted to know is that I’ve been writing a piece about acts of plunder that took place on the Fergus during the 1840s. One in particular took place at or near Smith’s Island so it was really bugging me to find out where that is.

Thanks again,

Darren

Sduddy
Posts: 1159
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:07 am

Re: Smith's Island

Post by Sduddy » Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:53 pm

Hi Darren

You are welcome - it was a pleasure. I went “all around the houses” with that query and found the answer by a pure fluke when I was looking at a few of those on-line wills.
You mention the reference to Smith’s Island in the Clare Journal of 1850 and I’m giving the context below* because I found it an interesting example of one of the many engineering projects presented to the Clare Grand Jury, but never fully realised: the navigation of that part of the river Fergus between Clarecastle and Ennis was destined to remain a gleam in the eye of the engineer.

I mentioned Green Island at one point, and just want to say that I found Green Island in the river Shannon. It belongs to the townland of Moyhill in the parish of Kilfintinan, and the Green family continued to live there for many years. Kilfintinan civil parish lies in the Catholic parish of Cratloe. The 1901 census for Green Island shows Honoria Green aged 50, a widow, and her son James aged 19, a Fisherman, and her daughter Mary aged 23. This James was born in Green’s Island in 1882 to John Green and Honora Molony. I think John must be a brother of "our" James. John died in 1899, aged 75. The Cratloe baptisms show the baptism, on 28 Jun 1831, of a Margaret Green of James Green and Julia Connellan. Margaret must be a sister of James and John (Julia is the same name as Judith and Johana).

Darren, your article on the acts of plunder sounds interesting (I associate plundering with the middle ages!), and I wish you well with it.

Sheila

* Clare Journal, Thur 4 Apr 1850:
Navigation of the River Fergus up to the Town of Ennis.
This project has been so long in contemplation […..]. We advert to the subject now in order to induce the people of Ennis to raise themselves from their apathy and make one prompt and united effort for attaining the end desired, and we have little doubt but they shall succeed.
A very able and lucid report on the subject, accompanied with plans, has been already drawn up by J. W. Kelly, Esq., the very intelligent engineer at present in charge of the Fergus Drainage in this district, and in which he describes the practicability of improving the Navigation of the Fergus from the Shannon up to the village of Clare, and extending it thence to Ennis, at a probable cost of about £25,000. Reference is made in this report to the great advantages which the undertaking would confer on every part of County Clare, as well as on a portion of the County Galway; and it is to us a matter of astonishment as well as regret, that (to use the words of Mr. Kelly) “notwithstanding the great importance to the town and adjoining country of making Ennis a seaport, and the trade and industrial enterprise that may be expected to follow, as in the case of several of the English and Scotch, as well as Irish towns, which were likewise comparatively insignificant, until navigations were improved or opened up to them, yet the fine river and estuary of the Fergus remain up to the present time in almost a state of nature.”
Mr Kelly states that the only obstacle of importance to the improvement of this fine estuary is a ledge of limestone rock, called the “crow-bar,” crossing it about three miles below the town (immediately above the quay of Clare,) with deep water above and below it sufficient for all purposes of maritime commerce. Through this ledge of rock Mr. Kelly proposes to cut a channel of 80 feet in width in the narrowest part, and to the level of low-water of spring tides, by which would be afforded a depth of 13 feet of water at neaps, and 18 feet at high water of ordinary spring tides, the cost of which he estimates at somewhat less than £16,000. But as a depth of five foot of the crown of this shoal will be removed under the drainage operations now in progress, the expense for which (about £2,200) will be charged upon the lands drained, the cost of this part of the work would be consequently reduced to £13,800. There are but two other parts of the work which would incur any great amount of expenditure. First – the erection of a new bridge at Clare, consisting of two stone arches of 40 feet waterway each, and a cast iron swivel arch of similar waterway for the passage of vessels. This could be effected at a cost of about £3,600, and would effect a great and needful improvement in the line and level of the roadway at the village of Clare; the present bridge at that village (which Mr. Kelly justly terms “a public nuisance,”) to be removed, on the completion of the new one. The cost of raising the two 40 feet stone arches and appurtenances – about £, 800 (one-half of the entire expense) – would be chargeable to the county at large. Secondly – the Quay wall at Ennis, including the formation of wharf, &c. It is proposed to make the Quay wall and basin for the greater part in a new channel, through the point of land stretching from the Ennis Brewery towards the Currovaurin stream, and to fill up the old channel on either side. The Quay wall to be 600 feet in length, and the basin in front of it 200 feet wide. This part of the work could be effected for about £3,000. All the other expenses connected with the project, including cost of superintendence, would not amount to more than £5,000.
The river Fergus, at its line of junction with the Shannon, (about 43 miles above the junction of that river with the Atlantic,) is four statute miles in breadth at high water, and continues so, interspersed with several islands for about 6 miles upwards, thence it gradually contracts, and about five miles farther up becomes diminished to half a mile, and at the village of Clare, about 3 miles still farther up, its principle channel is 200 feet in width. At low water, the channel of the Fergus is about a mile wide at the junction with the Shannon. From Clare to Ennis, (3 miles) the river is uniformly about 120 feet wide. Vessels of any size or tonnage have at all times of tide sufficient water to come up the Shannon and up the Fergus, as far as Smith’s Island, which is four miles from the junction. Here there is good anchorage ground, and if the navigation were extended, vessels could easily proceed thence and arrive at Ennis with the flowing tide.
The large space on either side of the channel up to the line of high water, being a deep mud bank or “slob,” the level of which is generally about that of half-tide, offers peculiar facilities for being embanked and reclaimed from the sea. The extent of land that could with facility be enclosed, amounts to 3,870 statute acres. Mr. Kelly describes in his report the manner in which the embankments could be effected, and the probable cost, and states that he has not the least doubt, eight years’ net produce of the lands would pay off the whole outlay. If the embankment were undertaken in conjunction with the navigation, the rock cutting at Clare would furnish a sufficient quantity of stones, which, in excavating, could be thrown into flat-bottomed barges, “dropped down” by the tide, and discharged along the seat of the embankments, thus effecting a saving of nearly £4,000.
The unfinished metal bridge at present erected over the river on the new but unfinished road to Quin, should of course be removed, and being public property, might be made useful in some other part of the County. The removal of this bridge would be no loss whatever, as another road to Quin, branching from the already formed new road, and with a better entrance into the town, can be made for the sum which would be required to finish the metal bridge; and it would not increase the distance to the centre of the town more than an eighth of a statute mile, while it would make the distance even less that by the present metal bridge to the Poor-house, the New Court-house and the County Club House, as well as to the proposed terminus of the navigation. It is quite clear, therefore, that the expenditure already incurred by this metal bridge and new road, cannot be urged as any objection to the proposed extension of the navigation of the river. We are glad that the Grand Jury, at last Assizes, declined to present any sum for completing this bridge, and we fervently hope that it may never be completed on its present site.
The manner in which it is at present sought to carry out this desirable project, is through the powers conferred by the Drainage Acts, particularly by the 32d and 33rd sections of the 9th Victoria c, 4. The 32d section provides, that if it be found, after the commencement or completion of works of drainage, that by some additional works a useful navigation can be made, &c; and the 33d section enacts that in cases where a moiety or more of the expense is granted under the authority of Parliament, the other moiety or residue will be charged over the district declared by the Commissioners of Public Works to be benefitted by such navigation, and that thenceforth the port shall be open to the public, FREE OF TOLLS OR DUES, excepting such as may be required for the maintenance of the works.
We would suggest that a public meeting of the inhabitants of the town of Ennis should be convened at the earliest opportunity in order to take such steps as may be judged best calculated to effect the object in view. The matter should certainly be pressed upon the attention of Parliament by our representatives; and it might be well also to adopt a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant on the subject, and appoint a deputation to present it. We have every reason to think His Excellency would favour the undertaking, and that it only requires suitable exertion on the part of the people of Ennis, in order to have this reproductive and permanent improvement effected.

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