|Lloyd's Tour of Clare, 1780|
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Clare County Library
John Lloyd, the author of this curious book, lived in the latter half of the last century, and was by profession a country schoolmaster. Canon Dwyer (‘The Diocese of Killaloe,’ p. 537) speaks of him as a teacher or tutor at the house of Mr. Austin Fitzgerald of Toureen, and adds, “Poor Lloyd’s weakness lay in potations. He was found dead on the road.”
Part of this statement is confirmed by the advertisement printed on the back of p. 59 below, in which “Mr. John Lloyd (the Author thereof) at Tureen” is mentioned among his agents for the sale of his book; the remainder of it agrees with the following traditional account of Lloyd which has been communicated to me by Mr. John Daly of Ennis.
John Lloyd was born and educated in the County of Limerick. At the age of thirty years he migrated into Clare, and settling at Furroor in the parish of Dunaha, about four miles south-west of Kilkee, he opened a Hedge School, which he conducted for eight or nine years. At the end of that time he moved to Kilrush, where he became indebted to publicans, and soon afterwards to Kilmihil. Here he engaged in a literary controversy with Denis Mahony, a poet dwelling in the adjoining parish of Inagh, who had spoken disparagingly of an Irish poem composed by Lloyd. After this controversy, which was scurrilous and personal in tone, Lloyd proceeded to Ennis, and became intimate with Thomas Meehan, a respectable schoolmaster in that town. He was probably associated for a time with Meehan in educational work; but this arrangement, if it existed, was soon terminated on account of Lloyd’s intemperate habits. Leaving Ennis he betook himself to Tulla, and spent most of the rest of his life in the neighbourhood of that village and of Newmarket. We have seen that in 1780, when his book was published, Lloyd was living at Toureen; and as his dead body was found by the roadside a quarter of a mile from that place, it may be inferred that he continued to live there until his death, the date of which is uncertain.
In addition to the ‘Short Tour’ Lloyd is known to have produced an English translation of the ‘Life of Saint Senan of Scattery Island,’ a MS. of which, transcribed by Anthony O’Brien in Dunaha Chapel, Aug. 23, 1780, is in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. (With regard to this translation Eugene O’Curry, who was himself born in the parish of Dunaha, says in his Catalogue of MSS., H. & S. Collection, Vol. I. p. 28, “ This translation was made by John Lloyd, who was also a teacher in the parish of Dunaha. He lived at the time of transcribing this volume , and was well known to the father of the compiler of this catalogue.”) In the same library another MS. volume (marked 23/B 37) contains four lines in Irish composed by John Lloyd “for Pat O’Connor’s Block, a Wigmaker in Kilrush.” Lloyd is said to have been put on his trial for writing some seditious verses, which were translated into English by Michael Comyn of Milltown, under the title of ‘The Flowers of Edenborough,’ and sung to the tune of an Irish reel.
The initials “T. M—n” appended to the verses printed on pages ii—iv, 24—5, are those of Thomas Meehan, the schoolmaster above referred to. He was the son of a tailor with a taste for poetry, on whose tombstone at Quin Abbey he wrote—
“Here lies three in one,—
That the disagreement between Lloyd and Meehan had to come to an end before the publication of the ‘Short Tour’ is evident from the tone of Meehan’s verses printed on p. ii. It also appears from the advertisement on the back of p. 59 that “Mr. Tho. Meehan, Teacher of Accompts and Mathematics in Ennis,” interested himself in extending the sale of the book; and this was not unnatural if (as Mr. Daly supposes) he had borne the cost of its publication.
Meehan is said to have composed some songs in English, and a good deal of Irish poetry.
Of Lloyd’s ‘Short Tour’ two copies are known to be in existence. One of them is in the possession of Mr. T. R. Henn, of Paradise Hill, having been given to him more than thirty years ago by Dr. Geo. Petrie; the other, which also belonged to Dr. Petrie, has passed into the Joly Collection in the Dublin National Library. There is a curious difference between these copies. In the former the back of p. 59 is blank; in the latter there has been added an advertisement, in which are given the names and dwelling-places of the persons from whom the book could be bought. Mr. Henn’s copy, having been for some time out of his keeping, has lost those pages which precede p. 3; but by the kindness of Mr. Archer, the Librarian of the National Library, I have been enabled to supply the defect from the perfect copy under his care.
My thanks are due to Mr. Edward Blackburne, Q.C., for transcribing from the copy in the Joly Collection the pages which are wanting in the Paradise copy; to Mr. John Daly for his account of Lloyd and Meehan; and to Mr. Thomas Westropp for some references, and for an interesting collection of historical notes, with which I should have been glad to illustrate this volume if I had not confined myself to the task of making it an exact literal reproduction of the original work.
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