The Misses' Curtin Testimonial Fund, 1886
Agrarian agitation, coupled with a demand for Home Rule from England, resulted in turbulent conditions across Ireland during the 1880s. Secretive, shadowy, bands of raiders, known as Moonlighters, frequently carried out operations in rural areas at night against landlords and other members of the establishment.
In County Kerry a group of Moonlighters raided the home of John O’Connell Curtain of
Firies, for arms, on the night of Friday 13 November 1885. John was a law-abiding
farmer from a
nationalist background. However, he was fatally injured in the raid, as was one of
During the fracas one of John’s sons, Dan, also apparently struggled violently with
Moonlighter, ably assisted by his sisters Lizzie and Nora. A second son, George, was
quickly alerting the Royal Irish Constabulary and they conducted an extensive search
The activities of the police resulted in widespread antagonism and resentment towards the O’Connell Curtin family.
The Moonlighters were very influential locally and the O’Connell Curtins were
victims of a relentless campaign of boycotting. Powerless to work the land or sell
its produce Agnes,
John’s widow, departed Castlefarm in 1888 to live with her daughter Nora, in
Killorglin. When Nora’s
husband, Robert Dodd, later died Nora emigrated to Canada c. 1910. She
appears to have brought with her this scrap book. It contains many newspaper
accounts of the raid.
More importantly, it details subscriptions donated to a
One hundred years after the raid at Castlefarm two of Nora’s Canadian descendants, Joanne and Donna Maria Claridge found the scrapbook. They were astonished to uncover this long forgotten episode in their family history. Later, Joanne and Donna made contact with yet another O’Connell Curtin descendant, Gay MacCarron from Dublin. The decision was subsequently taken to return the scrapbook to Ireland and so it came into Gay’s possession. He very kindly donated it to Muckross House Research Library.
McCarron, Gay, ‘The Murder of John O’Connell Curtin: A 19 th Century Tragedy at Castlefarm, Firies,’
The Kerry Magazine, Issue 27, 2017,
McCarron, ‘A Vicious Boycott, Firies, January 1886-April 1888,’
The Kerry Magazine, Issue 28, 2018.