Thursday 12 December 2019

Gravedigger uncovers relic

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A 140-YEAR-old bottle found in an old graveyard has unlocked the key to a part of social history.

The bottle which bears the inscription 'JJ Harrington Steam Factory Tralee' was found by gravedigger John Dennehy as he was tending his parents' grave at Kilbonane, Beaufort, Co Kerry.

Mr Dennehy said he knew immediately it was very old and something special.

It is now on display at Kerry County Museum.

The bottle can be traced directly to the JJ Harrington factory in Tralee, which produced gases for mineral waters.

Historian Maurice O'Keeffe said although the find wasn't valuable in monetary terms, it did open a door on the town's history.

"The bottle dates back to 1875 to 1880 so even in those days Tralee was an industrial town," Mr O'Keeffe said.

"It tells us that if there was such a thing as a mineral water factory that it was unique. There were not too many of them in the country."

The bottle came to be in the cemetery because of a local tradition of bringing holy water to the grave and leaving it there so that the grave could be blessed each time it was visited.

"It's a real piece of social history and probably the first bottle of this era to come into the museum," said Griffin Murray, curator at Kerry County Museum.

Irish Independent

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