Stories of the Shanny family
The Shanny name is a peculiar one that was mostly associated with the Park area of Limerick. It is not certain when the name came into Limerick but the family hold a Roman Catholic plot in St.Mary’s Cathedral which would indicate that they were in the city in pre-reformation times. Another clue to the family’s heritage comes from their homes in the Park area of the city and the title of Park Danes, which may hark back to a Norse ancestry. There is an interesting podcast on the Park Danes here.
Many of the men of this family were part of the Abbey Fishermen Guild. While others were Park Farmers (most of the fishermen were also farmers), whose crops would feed many families in Limerick. The Shanny farmers would send their children into the arbitrators in the city to fetch pigs blood which they would use to fertilise their vegetables, giving them their uniquely delicious flavour (This information was given to us by one of those children who would cycle out of the city with his bucket).
Many of the Shanny children attended St. Patrick’s School on the Dublin Road and they are on the registry as the first children enrolled there. They were also in many of the early photographs in both the girls and boys schools.
Finally the name was associated with the famed Pub in on the banks of the Shannon at Plassey whose access was by the river. During the 1860s a fisherman by the name of John Shanny (1821-1877), opened a pub on the banks of the Shannon at Plassey. He had won favour with many local gentry while they were out angling. He purchased an old farmhouse located on the edge of the river at Gurrane, a few hundred yards above Plassey Bridge on the Clare side. This was the favoured watering hole of gentry and laymen, with fishing poles often propped against the walls and boats secured by the gate. After the death of John in 1877, the pub passed to his wife Catherine and daughters, who all died without children. This pub has been recorded in poems many times over, with the local historian, poet, fisherman Kevin Hannan the most notable author of these.
The case of Infanticide in 1893:
On the night of 8 August 1893 at ten o’clock, in Augustinian Lane off Roches Street there a shocking discovery was made by fourteen year old William O’Neill. William was described as a ‘poorly-clad lad’ of King’s Lane, Carey’s Road. On noticing something suspicious on the night in question in Augustinian Lane, he went to investigate only to discover in a pool of blood, ash and seaweed the body of a new born girl. The discovery was reported immediately to Sergeant Michael O’Shea of the William Street police barracks.
Following an investigation it was discovered that the child was that of the Margaret O’Connor. Margaret who was twenty years old stood five foot one inch tall and was originally from Adare. She was a servant in the home of Patrick Shanny a Fishmonger on Roches Street. Patrick, who was sixty five years old at the time was described as of slight build and with grey hair. His wife Mary though only four years his junior was described as having the appearance of a much younger woman.
In the days that followed the Shannys and Margaret were questioned by the police and the sad tale of how the infant was discovered came to light. Margaret was unaware that she was expecting a child and felt ill so used the bucket in her room that was set aside as a toilet. It was here that she gave birth to the child and did not remove the child from the bucket. IT was the job of sixteen year old Edward Donegan who lived next door to the Shannys to removing the slop buckets from the house, which he would empty into Augustinian Lane. Unaware of what was in the bucket in Margaret’s room he removed it and emptied it into the gulley where it was later discovered.
Although all three were being questioned about the case two days later Margaret was taken to Dr. Holmes who examined her and after concluding that she had recently given birth. Patrick Shanny attempted to bribe the doctor offering him £20 to say that she had not and that all was well. The doctor immediately reported this to the police who arrested both Parick Shanny, his wife Mary Shanny and Margaret O’Connor. It was revealed during the trial that Patrick was the father of the child.
At the trial on the 19th of August Mrs. Shanny was released without charge. Margaret O’Connor was charged with infanticide while Patrick Shanny was charged with conspiracy to conceal the birth of an infant. Patrick was released on bail of £100 that day while Margaret was released on bail on the 5 September. On the 14 December 1893 both prisoners were acquitted.
The court case of the 19 August was reported in great detail in the Limerick Chronicle .