Kilkenny August 1914


Patrick Neary

The last week of July 1914, the local papers were reporting that there was nothing in the air but War and rumours of War. The rumours soon became a reality as by Tuesday August 4th War was declared. There was much weeping at Kilkenny Station on the Wednesday night as a huge crowd gathered to send off a body of reservists. St Patricks brass band attended and played National airs, loud cheers were given as the train steamed out. On Thursday evening, the Kilkenny Militia left by special train under orders, again several thousand assembled to see them off.
To add to the situation, the Military authorities were around all day Wednesday and Thursday, vans and floats were held up, the horses unharnessed, measured and if found suitable were commandeered for active service. Seventeen horses were forcibly taken from St Francis Abbey Brewery, and nine taken from James Street Brewery. While several private owners were forced to surrender their steeds. The prices paid were generally regarded as satisfactory.
One seller when queried on the price, replied I got £35, if you asked me a half hour ago you could have had her for £15 and welcome. The farmers were put on notice to expect a visit from the authorities and to put the best appearance on their stock.
In the Social and Personal column under the heading Mars and Venus, it was announced owning to the outbreak of War the marriage arranged for the 8th inst. between Miss Connellan and Capt. Solly Flood as unavoidably postponed. The Kilkenny Horticultural Show cancelled their annual show and made a donation of £5 for the relief of distress. The Singer Sewing Machine Co. were prepared to rent their machines by the week or month to the Red Cross workers.
By the middle of the month the City business’ were feeling the effects of War. The Kilkenny People regretted reducing the paper by four pages due to the shortage of paper. They also stated the size of the Dublin papers was curtailed by more than half. Employees at the Kilkenny Woollen Mills were on short time as a result of lack of orders and cancellation of some orders in hand. The Monster House who earlier in July were advertising the Great Summer Sale, were now declaring that due to the War, they were selling at the very lowest prices, and could not announce the date of the Winter Sale due to the uncertainty of production with the English manufacturers.
In an editorial the Kilkenny People remarked of some of the wealthy scaremongers who laid in vast supplies of food thereby causing artificial prices. They thought nothing of the wives and children of the men who have been called up. It was suggested a list be made of these people who had stored up food and be compelled to distribute the food to the hungry of the City. News from the Continent mentioned three priests from St Kierans College, marooned in Germany were now safe in Genoa, through the efforts of our local M.P. Mr Pat O Brien, Mrs O Keeffe of Johns Quay received a letter from her daughter, living in Douai, mentioning the great battle been raged at Mons 60 miles distance, between the Germans and the British Army. The French Allies been forced to retreat with a loss of two thousand casualties. She assured her family I am safe here as long as the War is in Belgium. So by the end of August, Belgium had been overrun, and the French City of Lille taken by the German Army. The Great War was truly under way, a War to end all Wars. A war which the troops were told would be over by Christmas. On the eve of war been declared the British Prime Minister Asquith said the lights are going out all over Europe, and they would be, for over four years. A war in which three thousand Kilkenny citizens took part, from which an estimated five hundred would never come home.