Sunday, 3 June 2012

14th May - Dundee weavers and others past

I’m back in the Ship Inn (or was on 14th May), waiting for dinner again, but dithering between menu items. Yellowfin sole gougons, or North Sea cod tail fillet?  Or an Arbroath haddock? All too good – this place comes highly recommended. The sole gougons won this time though.

I will remember this pub for the next time I’m in the Ferry.

I’d an interesting day looking at newer-build houses in Dundee, and still being amazed by changes in the city in the years since I left. I ended up at a new development in Donald’s Lane, adjacent to some listed buildings which were part of the Pitalpin Mill complex, so a piece of 19th century industrial history even possibly with origins in the 18th. Pitalpin now comes under ‘Lochee West’. This area is likely to have been part of the industrial expansion which gave jobs and homes to the folk from the north and from Ireland, the linen weaving becoming the jute industry. I’ll need to read up on the Pitalpin mills. Whether any of ‘my’ folks ever worked there is unknown and maybe doubtful – ‘my’ Irish Dundee people, as far as I can ascertain, were not in Lochee’s Little Tipperary, but in the east-central areas, in King Street and Crescent Lane. Others, though, descendants, may have been there, sometime, some time… And earlier there were those from Angus and Fife who found their way to Dundee.

When Janet Kermack came to Dundee, we don’t know. She may have been a lass from a little further north, from around Airlie – or she may have been raised or even born in Dundee. The most likely scenario has her coming at a time of changing agricultural practices, possibly with siblings or to stay with siblings or cousins, in the years around 1765. She may have been a spinner or weaver, or she may have come as a domestic servant. In any case, her marriage to Robert Philp, carpenter in Dairsie, Fife, was registered in Dundee in 1774.

Then, a generation later, boys James and Michael Lynch were born in Ireland – apparently of different families, in different counties, each to come to Dundee in the first wave of immigration, and die there in the 1830s. Michael Lynch was married to Margaret Haughey or Haray or maybe Haggart, or even McTaggart, and at least two children were born to them according to the Catholic records, James and Thomas. But census record show James, George, Thomas and Ann, separated and ‘farmed out’ to Auchterhouse by ‘the parish’ presumably after their parents’ death – and later marriages of George and James give that father’s name as James, not Michael. In Howff burial records, a James is shown coming from country Cavan, Michael from Drogheda. Whoever they were, they were drawn by the growth of Dundee, the early expansion of weaving and its associated industries. Their lives are part of the woven story of Dundee, its houses and weaving sheds, its building and demolition, present in the stone, brick and earth today.

(I have elsewhere told the story of this Lynch family in some detail, and should that be published I’ll alert the blog…)

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