Saturday, 7 June 2014

Rambles in Gaultier Revisited 26. Leperstown and Leckaun

This is an example from a  series of articles by Ray McGrath and published in the, Waterford  News & Star newspaper covering the Matthew Butler book 'The History of the Barony of Gaultier'

This extract is from Matthew Butler’s book ‘The History of the Barony of Gaultier which was published 100 years ago and the centenary of which we are celebrating with this series.
Edmond Payne had a school here in a thatched mud cabin which cost £2 10s to build, and in which 19 pupils found accommodation.   He derived an annual income of £4 for his labours.  There was another scholastic establishment conducted here by J. Barry, which had an attendance of 70 pupils, for teaching whom Mr Barry received about  £2 10s yearly.  The school was usually conducted under a shed or in a ditch, the state of the weather probably deciding its location.  Here (Leperstown) also lived another flax  and wool spinner named Judith English. She was 60 years of age at this time (Census of 1821).  Then there was John McCarthy  who describes himself as a ‘dog teacher’, but the enumerator (Census of 1821) has a note to the effect that he met him some time before at Jeffrey Murphy’s in Dunmore and that he is much better known as a ‘dog stealer.’ The latter is a more usual occupation, but it is possible that in order to induce the dogs to come to him for their instruction it was necessary to use a little compulsion.  This may have given the idea that he was stealing them. Mary Power, 65, was also a flax and wool spinner, while John McCarthy ( not the one mentioned already), 54,  was a piper.

City Infirmary built  as the  Leper Hospital in 1785
This replaced the old Leper House in Stephen Street

Leckaun  ( Butler spells it Likcane)  It is a neighbouring townland between Leperstown and Killea and Butler is referring to the census of 1821.    There was a school here, with an attendance of 32,  and Bridget English, aged 30, as  teacher.  Among the other inhabitants was Eleanor McNamara, a spinner.


 This is all Butler says of Leperstown in his History.  The townland lies on either side of the Dunmore road on the high ground starting just  beyond the Creamery Crossroads and about 2 miles from Dunmore.    In the Civil Survey of 1654 which followed the Cromwellian confiscation the owner of the townland  at that time was  given as ‘the poor of Waterford’.  The townland which measured 419 acres in 1641, all of which was profitable, was named Loopartstown in the Survey and it was given to Lazar’s Land.  The Lazar was the St Stephen’s Leper Hospital in  Waterford.  Leperstown was a source of income to maintain the hospital and in an inquisition ( enquiry) held in Waterford in 1666 there is confirmation that the Leper Hospital owned the townland.  The revenue from the ‘ploughlands’  ( a variable measure of profitable land common in the 17th century and earlier) was considerable-  valued at £106.   The original grant by charter from King John  and subsequent construction of the Hospital  dates from 1210 but it  was not clear to the Inquisition by what charter the lands at Leperstown were attached but  it was nonetheless acknowledged that in 1641 they were owned by ‘the poor of Waterford’.   It is very interesting to read in the report of the Inquisition which was discovered in the Franciscan monastery in Clonmel that leprosy was present in the city and surrounding countryside  at that time and if a leper did not get a licence  ‘to go abroad’  the victim’s lands could be confiscated and given to the Leper Hospital.  Moving to another area of interest,   an interesting book about the Sheehan family of Leperstown was publishedt in British Columbia in 2004 written by an emigrant to Canada in the 1950s Catherine Sheehan.  It is a fascinating account of life and especially farming in Leperstown in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 The series is a contribution of the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society and the Waterford News and Star and is  edited by  Ray McGrath.  .

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