President Abraham Lincoln died the day after he was shot, but it took more than two weeks for news of to reach Ireland. The story was duly reported in the Limerick Chronicle
THE summer of 1847, at the height of the famine period a year that became known as “Black 47”, the front page of the Chronicle of July 17 highlighted the relief effort by the Society of Friends.
Among their donations were four sacks of Indian meal, two bags of rice, one bag of peas, one bag of biscuits and white-wash brushes to Ballingarry; eight sacks of Indian meal, three bags of rice and two bags of biscuits to Knockaderry; four sacks of Indian meal, two bags of rice, two bags of peas and two bags of biscuits to Croom; four sacks of Indian meal, two bags of rice and white-wash brushes to Crecora.
This same issue also tells of 2,614 passengers who sailed from Limerick port to Quebec and Montreal, 58 of whom died on the voyage. At the same time, a house in Castletroy was put on the market.
This house contained two sitting rooms, five bedrooms, kitchen, laundry and servants room. Surrounded by over an acre of ornate gardens and orchards with a twelve-foot high boundary wall. Another advert tells of an olive coloured chariot which could be seen at 78 George Street, now O’Connell Street, which was on sale for £50, while a ton of Indian meal cost £11 that same week.
This shows the juxtaposition between the haves and have nots in Limerick at the time.
On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close, John Wilkes Booth entered the Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. Here he shot the sitting United States of America President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln died the following day.
This news came a year before the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid, news travelled slowly. A letter leaving New York would take 12 days before it reached London; it was then dispatched to Ireland.
It is not surprising that it took until May 4, before the news of the assassination attempt reached Limerick. That day the Chronicle printed a letter from a correspondent of the New York Tribune stating: “I have just visited the dying couch of Abraham Lincoln. He is now in the agonies of death, and his physicians say he cannot live more than one hour. He is surrounded by the members of his cabinet, all of whom are bathed in tears…”
In the same issue, statements from both the House of Commons and House of Lords announced the death of Abraham Lincoln.
The Civil War period in the city, described in the Chronicle as the fifth Siege of Limerick; and covered so efficiently that, reading it, one almost re-lives the days of Ireland's greatest modern tragedy.
Photographs of a barricade in O'Connell Street, premises damaged by gunfire, the shell-shattered facade of the old Strand Barracks and the burned-out shells of the Ordnance Barracks and New Barracks as they appeared after their evacuation, convey a vivid impression of the time of travail.
The Castle Barracks, was completely destroyed, and almost nothing remains but the outer towers and grey old walls flanking the river which withstood the Williamite guns in 1690 and 1691.
Social housing was later built on the grounds of the Castle using some of the old Castle Barracks builds.
- The Limerick Chronicle is now a free publication distributed with the Limerick Leader.
The Chronicle, Ireland’s oldest continuously published paper, dates to 1768. It recently received a new lease of life with a strong focus on local history. Our archive files are full of fascinating stories that help reveal how our predecessors lived in Limerick over the past few hundred years and the new-look Chronicle is a terrific read and a real keepsake.
We are delighted that historian and researcher Sharon Slater has joined our team and will produce some fascinating historical stories and provide expert commentary on many great old pictures.
Limerick Leader editor Eugene Phelan