We had four milch cows and sent milk and butter
to Enniscorthy; several dry cattle and plenty of pigs and poultry, in particular we had a
great number of geese, for a beautiful trout stream ran through our ground. Besides
working horses, we had two very excellent ones, one which was thought good enough
afterwards to mount a rebel General. We kept but one servant girl, for both my mother and
myself were both active and hardy; and we had one labourer in constant employment - poor
faithful Martin. Our kitchen was always open to the poor travellers and many a handful of
meal and boiling potatoes has my dear father encouraged me to bestow on those that wanted.
It was not in this world to meet a return for it.
Our farm, though productive, would hardly have
supported us in the content and respectability we enjoyed, but that my father was also a
clothier. He bought the fleece from the sheeps back and manufactured it into middling fine
clothes and friezes, which he disposed of at the neighbouring fairs. He thus gave bread to
six men and four women, besides those he employed in harvest time, and no one, gentle or
simple, had every reason to complain of Sam Barber. Although all our neighbours of the
better class were Protestants (for we lived in the midst of twenty-two families of our own
persuasion) yet all those we employed were Roman Catholics, and we met with as much
honesty and gratitude from them as we could possibly have desired.
My father was advanced in life when he married,
indeed upwards of forty, but my mother was much younger and I was their second child. He
had five more at the time I speak of, the oldest William, was a fine, well grown boy of
sixteen or upwards; I was eleven months younger, not much above fifteen, but I was
considered a cute and sensible girl for my years. I had two sisters, one eleven, the other
six, a brother of four, and my mother had lain-in of another little boy only six weeks
before the fearful times which I am now endeavouring to describe.
During the entire Winter of 1798, when my father
would return from Enniscorthy, he would mention the rumours he had heard of the discontent
of the Roman Catholics, and the hopes they cherished that the French would assist them,
but we never had time to think on such things, much less to grieve about them. We never
imagined that anyone on earth would injure us, for we had never injured anyone, and we
relied on the strength of the Government and, in particular, on the bravery of the
Enniscorthy yeomanry for putting down any disturbances or even for repelling the French,
let them come in what force they might.
My brother, William, though so young, was one of
the yeomen. In the preceding February, Colonel Pounden of that Corps came to ask my father
to join his men, but his advanced age, and constant occupations, obliged him to decline
doing so. Colonel Pounden then cast his eyes on my brother who, with his shirt collar open
and his fair hair curling about his forehead and cheeks, looked more like a fine shame
faced girl than a boy. "This handsome lad" said he " is the very stuff of a
soldier ", but, my mother wept and said she could not part from her son, `til my
father said he thought no danger could possibly come near him, and I hung about her neck
persuading her to let him go, for I longed to see how handsome he would look in his
uniform. In less than a month he was put on his first active service - to escort a party
of prisoners (taken on suspicion of being rebels) to Duncannon Fort. He returned to us in
a couple of days and this short absence was followed by several others, but, still though
the rumours brought home by him were far more alarming than any ever told us by my father
we never thought danger would reach our neighbourhood, so little did we suspect the storm
that was seen to burst over us.