Picture shows Elkin family at Lecamy House c. 1920. Edward Elkin and his wife Sara Irwin from Castleroe Mills stand outside the front door with their children to the right. Note that at this time there is no porch to the front. When a porch was first built, it had the door to the south away from the road for shelter purposes. Later the door was bricked up and a new door was installed facing the road. Edward was a JP and a noted farmer who won prizes regularly at Carndonagh Show. He owned a famous bull called Cuilin Count which won an award for the best shorthorn bull in 1906. The bull was of pedigree stock and was reared at Glasnevin Model Farm in Dublin. The Congested Districts Board supplied bulls to farmers who were permitted to supply the bull’s services to local farmers for a small fee. Only well regarded “strong” farmers would be given such animals. The small group at the side are Sara Elkin (nee McCandless) and the child is Elsie McCandless (Gamble). Others along the wall are James Elkin, Bob Scott, father of Charlie Scott and Annie Elkin. Jack Scott is absent and may have emigrated to the USA. Bob Elkin became a teacher. He married but his wife died one month later of TB. William joined the Customs and Excise in Manchester. Harry went to Edinburgh and Sandy went to South Africa. There were several doctors in the family. One whom I knew was a nephew of James, who had a practice in London and was a regular visitor. He had a daily drink in Tremone Bar and usually sat in the kitchen with my mother. I met him in London in the 1960s. Bob is buried in Glacknadrummond Methodist graveyard near Culdaff. The family owned a corn mill below the house but the wheel was removed. James Elkin was a member of the Carn Show committee in 1906.
Other Elkin family members lived at Turmone (not Turmone) and there was an Isaac Elkin in Leitrim, Falmore. James won a prize for a brood mare at the show in 1906. The prize winners list for 1906 clearly shows the east-west divide in the peninsula. In 1906 there are only a handful of winners from Moville parish and W. T Baird bagged most of them. Gleneely and Clinmany are well represented. In the honey section, Gleneely district pulled in the largest number of awards. The McColgans of Crora were noted honey producers and although the family left the area half a century ago, their one acre flower garden still continues to bloom every Spring and is a joy to behold. The abundance of honey reveals a lot about the diet of the population, traditionally represented as living on potatoes and porridge.
Jim McCarroll has just published “Inishowen Agricultural Show 1863-1941″ which provides a fascinating cross section of Inishowen rural life in this period. Lord Shaftesbury was a patron for many years. All sections of the community participated. Jim has provided excellent photos, programmes, prize lists, and minutes. In 1902 the show was held at Hollymount but later in Scott’s field. The Congested Districts Board regularly provided prizes. The first ploughing match took place in 1906. Carn ladies held a dance in the courthouse to raise funds for the show. Philip Doherty of Glebe, Clonmany won a prize in 1905 for the best filly. This is a typical entry and the book has some wonderful details about individuals who lived in the peninsula. The book will be of great interest to historians, genealogists, and researchers because of the wealth of personal detail. The show had its share of celebrity visitors including Augustine Birrell, Chief Secretary and Sir John B Dougherty, Secretary of the Dept. of Agriculture. They called by in 1908, the year before the famous Birrell Land Act was passed. (See my book DONEGAL IN TRANSITION for more information on Birrell, one of our best Chief Secretaries).
The show faced difficulties generated by the political situation. For example in 1922, it was suspended. but returned to Tulnaree in 1928 when 4,600 people attended. Reflecting the new politics, the Garda Band played free of charge. As the force was just a few years old, many of the musicians were very young. Music was always a part of the show. St. MacCartan’s Band played regularly. Surprisingly in 1915 the Fourth Inniskillings from Clonmany attended with fife, drum and pipes while their colleagues were on the battlefield. Even in July 1916, the Inniskillings and the Royal Irish Fusiliers entertained the crowds. Obviously the Rebellion of 1916 and the executions had not generated any bitterness against the local army presence. In 1917, the Royal Irish Fusiliers from Leenan Fort were present but by 1918, an invitation went out to St. Columb’s Brass and Reed Band from Derry (but they did not attend). In 1920 the band could not attend because of riots in Derry when many people were killed.
The class distinction that was a feature of rural life is evident but membership of the Show Society was open to all including farmers under £5 valuation. The vice-presidents included Sir John Johnston, Surgeon McVittie, Col Tynte, Philip O’Doherty, MP ( who collapsed in the House of Commons and died at the age of 35), JGM Harvey (who carried out the Carrowmena evictions in 1881) and James E. O’Doherty, a Derry solicitor who employed Philip O’Doherty. The Congested Districts Board offered prizes for sheep and all of the prize winners came from Coolcross, Clonmany. Today, Clonmany has its own agricultural show which attracts huge numbers.
This is an important resource for local historians and will be widely consulted. The content is enlivened with anecdotes, photos, illustrations, and stories about problems associated with operating a country show. By publishing old programmes, railway timetables, and prize lists, Jim McCarroll has offered readers an insight into the social life of the peninsula. The book is a welcome addition to our knowledge of the peninsula, and especially the market town of Carndonagh and its rich hinterland with its home industries, well-bred farm animals and hard-working population. Jim’s mother, Sheila and Maura Harkin have already produced the best-selling book on the town which has a fine collection of photographs and is still in print. Jim’s book is great value for ten euro and runs to 288 pages. Well done Jim and many thanks for your dedication to this task and bringing it into the public domain.