Scarriff union. Blind Pauper Girls. Mr. Bourke, in pursuance of notice of motion, moved that the blind girls, who are now supported and trained at an Institution in Dublin, under the care of the nuns, at the expense of the union, should be removed from that Institution to the workhouse, in every case where the guardians and ratepayers of every electoral division to which these blind girls are charged, may require it on the ground of economy. Mr. Bourke said there were two of them from his division, and the ratepayers objected to pay £10 a year each for them when their cost in the workhouse would amount to only £6 a year. He ridiculed the idea of these girls being taught music, and inquired if the guardians intended to pay £50 for a piano for them when they returned ? They were now three years in the Institution, and he contended that was a sufficient time for teaching them the branches really useful to them, viz: - Knitting, netting and basket-making. But he found that the ladies of this Institution were making money by the musical attainments of those girls, in hiring them at £5 per night, or so, to sing a Hallelujah chorus or a Te Deum in chapel choirs.
The Chairman [Robert Studdert, Esq, V.C., J.P.] asked whether it was not very likely that the girls, after receiving such a training, would be able to support themselves, without continuing a burden on the rates.
Mr. Bourke was of the opinion they could not.
Mr. Reede thought the Board would not be justified in bringing home those children who had lost their eyesight in this house, and had, therefore, a strong claim upon the union. Let them remain until their education was finished, and they would then be able to earn their bread at some of the branches which they were taught. He found that there were only three from this union learning music. It was sacred music, and was taught to them, not as an accomplishment, but as a means of livelihood; and it was well known that the services of such persons were much wanted in both Protestant and Roman Catholic places of worship in this country, where the music had now to be performed by ladies in many cases, in consequence of not being able to obtain professional musicians of this kind. He also contended that it would be ruinous to those young girls of 16, 17, or 18 years of age, to bring them back again to become inmates of a workhouse, where they would be likely to fall victims to vice.
Mr. Walnutt said it should also be borne in mind that some of those were sickly girls – one of them was epileptic, who would cost the union £10 a year in the infirmary; and even those not on the sick list would cost the union £7 a year each; and would a saving of £3 a year for each compensate for the loss these poor creatures would sustain by removing them?
After some further discussion, Mr. Walnutt moved that those girls be left in the Institution.
Mr. W. Molony seconded the motion.
On a division, Mr. Walnutt’s motion was carried by a majority of 14 to 6.
I think that Institution must be St. Marys Asylum for the Industrious Female Blind, Portobello, Dublin: the following year (1864), the Board of Guardians of the Ennis Poor Law Union wrote to St Marys inquiring about Margaret Crehan, a blind girl:
Clare Journal, Mon 17 Oct 1864:
Clare Journal, Thur 10 Nov 1864:Ennis Union. A blind girl. It was ordered that the clerk be directed to write to the manager of St. Mary’s Blind Institution, Portobello, Dublin, to ascertain if the blind girl Margaret Crehan is now in a position to earn her livelihood, with a view to having her removed from the institution, and thereby relieving the division of her further chargeability.
Ennis Union. [correspondence]. “ Portobello, Dublin, 26th Oct., 1864. Dear Sir, I have been from home on urgent business, or I should have sent an earlier reply to your letter enquiring if Margaret Crehan is now in a position to earn a livelihood, and whether she can be removed from the Blind Asylum. With regard to earning a livelihood, it is a very difficult thing for any blind person to do. I can only say that nothing has been omitted to render her capable of doing so. In answer to the second question, there is not the least difficulty in the child being removed whenever the Guardians wish. I shall feel much pleasure in giving the Guardians any further information they may require. I am, dear sir, yours truly, Elizabeth Telford.”
The Clerk having stated that her mother was anxious to get her home, the Guardians gave an order for her removal.
Clare Journal, Thur 2 Feb 1865:
It seems Margaret remained in the Institution. The 1901 census shows a Marg. Crehan, aged 54, living at 95, Merrion Road, Dublin; occupation: Knitting; birthplace: Ennis. She (Margaret Crean*) died on 20 Jun 1903, aged 53: https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/ ... 594651.pdfEnnis Union. The Blind Asylum. The following letter was addressed to the board from the superioress of the Roman Catholic Blind Institution of Dublin: St. Mary’s Catholic Asylum, Richmond-street, Dublin. 27th January, 1865. Dear Sir, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of a post-office order for 15s, for Margaret Crehan’s travelling expenses. Her time in the Institution will expire on Wednesday, February 1st; but as she has been so often threatened with deafness, and the least cold exposes her to it, I fear there might be danger to the poor child in a change of clothing, lodging, &c., during such severe weather. I therefore consider it a charity to keep her on a visit in the Institution for a few months. It will also give her an opportunity of improving herself. When she is about leaving, her mother will receive due notice. I am, Sir, yours truly, Elizabeth Telford.
The chairman (Mr Green) said this was very kind of the managers of this institution.
Mr Talbot said their proposing to keep the poor girl in the institution free of expense, when the state of the weather would not permit her to return to the house, was exceedingly kind.
It was ordered that the thanks of the board should be sent to Miss Telford for this act of kindness.
At a meeting of the Ennis Board of Guardians in October 1865, a Margaret Crehen applied for assistance to go to Dublin and I wonder if she was Margaret’s mother - but of course we will never know:
Clare Journal, Thur 26 October. 1865:
*Crean is a variant of Crehan.Ennis Union. Margaret Crehan, an elderly female who had been five years an inmate in the house, was allowed, on the application of the master, a sum of £1 6s to provide clothes for herself and her child to enable her to go to Dublin to service.