Sunday, 14 October 2012

A letter concerning the work of my g-g-grandfather in 1899

January 1899 - A letter to the Editor of The Blind Advocate citing our g-g-grandfather John McDonnell (grandfather of Nan Lawlor):

Mr J. McDonnell, a basket manufacturer of Dublin, also a member of the local body, is doing good work through the Dublin press in the raising of questions appertaining to the employment of the blind. The present is a very opportune moment for the mooting of such questions, as the Irish Local Government Board Elections are at hand. We believe that much good will result from his efforts and take this opportunity of urging the blind of Belfast and Cork to follow the example of their brethren n Dublin. Let us have a few men who still dare to sacrifice something for their principles; men such as Miller, McDonnell, Churchill, Marks, Rooke and many others whom we could mention ; let us have but a few more of these men and the victory will soon be achieved. But, while we are prepared to lick the dust at the feet of our oppressors, while we are curiously slavish enough to worship those who are living luxuriously upon our afflictions, so long shall we be obliged to live unnatural, stunted and altogether undeveloped lives, without an opportunity even to justify our existence by doing useful work for the society to which we belong".

The Blind Advocate March 1899
Dublin Poor Law Elections

The following address has been issued by Mr John McDonnell to the Poor Law electors of the North City Ward. North City Basket Factory, 78 Chancery Street.

Ladies and Gentleman, There will be five representative put before you for election. I am selected by the National League of the Blind for Dublin, to represent them on the Board of the North Dublin Union. I beg to place myself before you as a candidate to plead the cause of those poor men. For the last 40 years the overtaxed ratepayers had to bear the expense of the training and educating of the blind of Dublin. I see by the yearly returns of 1897 that this has cost the ratepayers over £600 in the North Dublin Union. The National League of the Blind, now in existence over the Three Kingdoms, is agitating for State aid for the blind, as all other European Governments take the blind under their special care. It is on the Poor Law Board that the interest of those poor men and the ratepayers can be best served. We believe if there is proper representation made to Parliament they will legislate upon it this Session. We have the approval of his Grace the Most Rev. Dr Walsh, and of many other eminent men in the city, that the expense of the training of the deaf and dumb and blind should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. That is now costing the ratepayers of Dublin up to £2,000 a year. As I have been a resident over a quarter of a century in this Ward, most of the inhabitants know me personally. I promise to further their interest in every ease that comes before me. I am, ladies and gentlemen, your obedient servant, JOHN MCDONNELL

Errors, like straw, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below.

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