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 8th August 1893 there occurred the grim discovery of an infant’s body in Augustinian Lane off Roches Street. The discovery was made by 14 year old William O’Neill of King’s Lane, Carey’s Road. The female child was found naked in a pool of blood, ash and also seaweed. The child was that of the Margaret O’Connor, a 20 year old, five foot 1 inch servant of Patrick Shanny, Fishmonger, Roches Street. On the 10th of August, Margaret O’Connor was taken to Dr. Holmes who examined her and after concluding that she had recently given birth to a child.
Patrick Shanny offered the doctor £20 to say that she had not and that all was well. Margaret O’Connor was unaware that she was expecting a child and had given birth in a bucket in her bedroom. The Shannys had another servant, local boy Edward Donegan (16), who was responsible for removing the slop buckets from the house, which he did into Augustinian Lane. He did this on the night of the 8th of August, not realising that the bucket from Margeret’s room contained a child.
Both Parick Shanny (65) and his wife Mary Shanny (61) were arrested along with Margaret O’Connor on the 10th of August. At the trial on the 19th of August Mrs. Shanny was released and Margaret O’Connor was charged with infanticide while Patrick Shanny was charged with conspiracy to conceal the birth of an infant. They were both released on bail.
The court case which followed was reported in great detail in the Limerick Chronicle .