No Stopping Stopford!
You are standing before Stopford’s house, reputed to be the oldest house in the village. The older residents of Blarney remember it as the Emerald Isle Guest House and it has a very interesting history. It was built as the home of the Reverend Mr. Stopford who was the rector of the parish.
In 1798, a fairly evocative year in Irish history, this house was raided by a gang of disgruntled catholic tithe (tax) payers.
It is unclear as to whether they were looking for money or weapons but they took away all of the Reverend’s tithe papers. At the time, the income for the rector was one-tenth of all the produce from the land. When the crops were growing, the reverend would go out and get IOU’s from the farmers which he would cash in when the harvest was gathered. On the night in question, the aforementioned gang stole all his promissory notes, took the parish registers and burnt them, wiping out all records of who owed what!
The Reverend Stopford barely escaped with his life. He jumped out of the window in his nightshirt. It being a moonlit night and his nightshirt being very visible he actually took it off and threw it into a ditch and ran away naked to the Castle where he raised the alarm. Armed guards were sent out but the gang were long gone. Twelve months later a group of people were arrested, brought to the Gaol in Cork and tried for the robbery of Mr. Stopford’s house. The ringleader, John Buckley, was sentenced to death by hanging, a number of others to transportation and the rest to a hundred lashes – pretty awful punishments for those days!!
They brought John Buckley out here in front of the house, erected a gallows on the green and executed him in 1799. They then threw his body into a cart and took it to be buried in a ‘croppy hole’ in Cork. A ‘croppy hole’ was the name used for the burial place of those who were executed in 1798. The Irish who sympathized with the French Revolution cut their hair short as a symbol of protest. They were known as ‘Croppy Boys’ and John Buckley shared their fate.
The names of all the people involved are in the records.
1803 – The Stopford’s went on to build a new house in Garrycloyne.
- 1803 – Stopford’s House may have been used as a dispensary. There are records about the Blarney dispensary but they are not very impressive in that whoever was the doctor didn’t take his duties very seriously! However there is a very extensive report on local dispensaries in the 1820s.
- 1922-23 – Stopford’s House became a civil war barracks for the Free State Army – Blarney Barracks was burnt in 1920 during the time of the infamous ‘Black and Tans’. The Free State troops came in during the Civil War and Stopford’s House became a temporary barracks and an army barracks after that.
- Stopford’s House was also the first depot for the newly established Garda Síochána.
- In more recent years Stopford’s House was known as ‘The Emerald Isle’ guest house.
- Today it is owned by Michael Murphy and was an integral part of Blarney’s Heritage Day re-enactment on 10th June, 2017.
Our next stop shows us the old handball alley.