Information sought on the Emmet Family.



The Cumann Staire received the following letter from Hugo MacGuinness, Dublin. Hugo is looking for information regarding the family of Robert Emmet. If you have information regarding the Emmet family please contact Peter O’Leary, Derryvane, Inchigeela, Co. Cork ( ) who will pass it on to Mr. MacGuinness)


Dear Editor,

I've just come across your article on the Emmets at Inchigeela c.1790s in the Ballingeary Cumann Staire Journal No. 2 from 1994. As this is roughly the period when Emmet contracted smallpox, and from which he took nearly a year to recover, I'm rather curious. Some time ago I was looking into the finances of the Emmet family, particularly the speculations of Dr.Robert Emmet in property. The following is an abstract I made from a memorial in the Register of Deeds in Dublin.

"Deed of lease 18 Jan. 1770. between Robert Emmet of Cork, Doctor of Physicks and Thomas Weston, of Cork, Gent. ..the lands and farm of Doonenys, Derneenenvealnasela, in the parish of Iveleary, Barony of Muskery. 800 acres at a rent of £50 str. For the lives of Robert Emmet, Thomas Addis Emmet, and Temple Emmet.

"16th Aug. 1765 [Reg. 16th Aug 1775] Indentured deed of release between Robert Emmet, city of Dublin, gent and Michael Goole of Jamesbrook, Co. Cork, on the petition of Jemmeth, Bishop of Cork and Ross and Edward Brown his son, did by deed of release on 3rd April 1766 demise lands unto Robert Emmet of Dooneenet and Dureen in the Barony of Muskery at a yearly rent of £20. [Emmet let them to Gool.]"

I'm assuming that this is the same property being an 18th century interpretation of Dooneen. It was obviously a substantial property. I haven't checked too closely into "proper" names as my main interest was in various Dublin properties especially around Kevin Street which were used extensively for United Irish activities.

Around 1790 Robert Emmet contracted smallpox which left its unmistakable mark on his face, a fact noted in various descriptions distributed by Government agencies when they attempted to capture him following the failure of the rebellion in 1803.

Emmet, according to one source, spent almost a year living in the house of a family friend Dr. Fisher-Hammond on Rogerson's Quay Dublin, undergoing a form of quarantine. However, with Dr. Emmet's obsession with fresh, clean, air, it would seem natural to send his son for a time to family lands in Cork as can be seen in his add in the Cork Evening post of 2nd Sept 1776;

"The advantage of this little spot in point of air, water, situation, prospect, vicinity, to town, and access to it, are so obviously striking as to make it unnecessary to expatiate on it."

Among the many traditions surrounding Robert Emmet, is one current in the early 1900s that he spoke Irish. This is apparently based on the reminiscence of Emmet using a "cupla focail" to some workmen in the Thomas Street area of Dublin. The story would seem to have little foundation. William Henry Monk Mason, a fluent Irish Speaker, compiler of a "rather poor" Gaelic Dictionary, and many translations from English to Irish, as well as undertaking work for the first Irish Manuscript Commission, entered Trinity College the same day as Robert Emmet. Mason took an instant dislike to him, and claimed that their paths never crossed in the college outside of opposing sides in the Debating Society. As the Rev. Matthew Younge had begun to organise the Gaelic Manuscripts in the college at this time in order to further Gaelic Studies at Trinity, it would seem unlikely that Emmet and Mason's paths would not have crossed, if Emmet had studied Gaelic at university.

However, it's worth noting that Emmet had a good ear for languages, his fluency in French was so good for example, that he was entrusted as translator to Malachy Delaney, during the latter's mission to Napoleon in1801. Writers such as Jonah Barrington, Maria Edgeworth, and Lady Morgan, all suggest that the knowledge of a "cupla focail" was necessary in late 18th and early 19th century Rural Ireland. If Emmet spent time on the family lands at Inchigeela, it would seem reasonable to assume that he picked up some knowledge of Irish locally.
This is why I'm interested in any further information on the tradition.


Hugo MacGuinness, Dublin.