Garret Mac Eniry
A Tale of the Munster Peasantry

From The Wonders of Ireland by P. W. Joyce, 1911

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Garret Mac Eniry was the occupant of the little tenement at the period of which we speak. His locks were whitened by the frost of seventy winters, but age had not deprived him of the firm tread and the erect gait of his youth. Although of humble position and accustomed to daily labour on his little farm, there was a certain dignity stamped on his countenance that spoke descent from a distinguished race, and gained for him the respect of all who knew him. He had married young the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, and had seen a family spring up around him; but he had scarcely begun to enjoy his happiness when it vanished from his grasp. His children died one after another; and now, with the exception of his aged partner, all that his heart had ever prized slept in the lonely churchyard of Ardpatrick.

His disposition was once buoyant and cheerful; but the death of his children and the consciousness that he was the last of an expiring race had long marked his face with a settled expression of pensiveness. Mary his wife was old and feeble, for grief had done its work; she was devotedly attached to Garret, and this alone prevented her from wishing to sleep with her children in Ardpatrick; and so they lived on from year to year. Garret still rose with the lark and worked on his little farm; and Mary was still able to manage all their domestic affairs. Their attachment to each other had become, if possible, more deep as time advanced—Mary's increasing helplessness calling forth from Garret all those latent affections that lie sleeping in the depths of every human heart till wakened into life and strength by the sufferings of some beloved object.

The solitude of their mountain home was at length broken. The Right Hon. Silver Oliver brought twelve Palatine families from Rathkeale to reside in Glenosheen, giving each, at some trifling rent, a house and a small farm of land. The houses were built just under Seefin, six on each side of the road, forming a little street which ran straight up against the hill—the germ from which gradually arose the pleasant little village of Glenosheen. On each side of the village the trees were cut down, and the cleared land was parcelled out in small lots of about three acres each, one of which was appropriated to each Palatine family. In a few months from the commencement of the work the strangers were settled down in their new abode, and the valley exhibited the cheerful signs of industry. Garret's cottage lay a few perches to the west of the village, and he was left in undisturbed possession.

His prying Palatine neighbours were not long in winning his acquaintance, and in discovering from the other inhabitants of the valley, his whole history.

He neither courted nor repelled their advances, but was uniformly quiet and obliging, and he soon gained their esteem and confidence. Only on very rare occasions did he enter any of their cottages, but when he did they were really rejoiced to welcome him, and he was sure to be offered a plate of plum pudding or some of those other delicacies for the manufacture of which some of the Palatine women are to this day famed. The children too though they were silent in his presence, yet loved to steal near him in hopes that he would rub their heads, for he was gentle and kind to them. Mary was equally a favourite among the women, and when Garret was out at work during the day she was hardly ever alone, for they came and sat with her while they knitted. Though Garret had at first regretted to see the quiet of his home disturbed by these strangers, and though there were many peculiarities in their manners that appeared to him harsh and rude, yet on the whole he was not displeased with his altered circumstances, and two or three years passed away agreeably enough.

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