With the advent of the twenty-four hour news cycle, and news available online from every possible outlet, sometimes it is easy to forget that at one time people got their news only from a newspaper made of actual paper, imprinted by the typesetter's hand. Rather than focus on the moon landing, an event which some may have seen as an early mark of a whole new world, I have decided to go another way, and present a few unusual articles from an old Irish newspaper called The Freeman's Journal.
Many of us use newspaper archives when conducting family history research. Within the pages of old newspapers you might find information about family members not only in birth, marriage, and death notices, but also on social pages, and in articles about certain 'incidents'. Generally, I find reading old Irish newspapers very entertaining, particularly The Freeman's Journal, Ireland's oldest national newspaper which was in continuous publication from 1763 until 1924. Sometimes the stories bear archaic words or phrasing no longer familiar to the modern eye, or subject matter is included which you might not see in a newspaper these days.
Here are three stories which caught my eye, including one entitled Knocked Down By A Lady Cyclist, which speaks of a family member on my maternal tree who tangled with a lady and her bicycle, and came away somewhat worse for wear. I've used artistic licence in adding the images, since they did not appear with the original articles, but I think they fit the bill.
Knocked Down By A Lady Cyclist
It appears as though the incident may have been a hit and run, since the boy was "found lying on the ground" by a gentleman driving past. I wonder which one of Mr. Kettle's sons it was who had his ankle broken, and was thus "removed...to his father's house". Also, was the lady cyclist a scofflaw, and did she hot-foot it away from the scene?
A Fiery Meteor
From The Freeman's Journal, 9 December 1841.
This story originally appeared in the Whitehaven Herald, and was 'picked up' by The Freeman's Journal. It is interesting to think about how they would have shared stories in 1841, long before the advent of the internet and share buttons. The description of the size of the meteor at "about one foot in breadth" says something about distance and perception, and the explanation given to chronicle its demise —the shape of a serpent, beautiful spiral curves, the letter Z — leaves you wondering about exactly what was seen. Was this in fact a fiery meteor, or was it instead a 19th century encounter with a UFO?
Death from Laughing
From The Freeman's Journal, Tuesday, 7 March 1843.
Click on images to view larger versions.
Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the image of the lady with the bicycle.
Reference: The Freeman's Journal, 1763-1924, as sourced via the Newspaper Database, National Library of Ireland.
(Some editions of The Freeman's Journal are available online from the Irish Newspaper Archive, and the British Newspaper Archive.)