Patrick Barrett (1814–1878) leader of the Irish Liberal Party in Carrick on Shannon and founder of “P. Barrett & Co.” was born in Finnor House, near Croghan. He was the son of John Barrett (1790–1844) and Mary Hanly (1791–1856) who were substantial tenant farmers in Finnor (holding the lease for the full townland). This family, to include the Barretts of Carrick-on-Shannon, are all interred at Killappoge Cemetery.
Patrick Barrett’s eldest brother was Rev. Fr. Matthew Barrett, who was a parish priest in Croghan during the famine. His brother Michael Barrett Esq. of Finnor House was a bailiff in the parish of Killummod, and a member of the Carrick on Shannon Board of Guardians. Stiofán Bairéad, founding member of Conradh na Gaeilge, was his nephew (son of Stephen Barrett of Meelick, Barony Constable for Co. Leitrim). Patrick Barrett Esq., being the third son, was named in the Irish tradition, after his father's eldest brother – Patrick Barrett of Ballinvilla.
What this young Patrick of Finnor did before, or during, the famine is unknown. Commercial directories for Carrick on Shannon show no listing for a Barrett prior to 1846. It is highly likely he was in some sort of business apprenticeship, perhaps accounting or merchandising. It was not uncommon for substantial farmers of this time to set up shop in town (to profit even further by extending credit to tenants and labourers in lieu of payment for work or goods). Patrick was age 32 and unmarried when he established “P. Barrett & Co” in Carrick on Shannon in 1846. (To whom the “& Co.” refers to, in terms of investment perhaps, has yet to be investigated). In July 1848, Patrick Barrett of Carrick donated £1 to the Mitchell Fund. By 1850 P. Barrett & Co. was the shipping agent for goods from Dublin to the West and running ads in the Sligo Champion newspaper.
At the same time Patrick was developing business in Carrick, the Dillons set up a big department store in Ballaghdereen (known later as the infamous Monica Duffs). The Barretts of Finnor would have been viewed as a good match and two sisters from this household – Anne and Celia Dillon, were matched with Patrick and his brother, Michael Barrett Esq., of Finnor House. In the case of both of these Barrett unions, “Dillon” was retained as a middle name in the christening of their descendents.
On Oct 12, 1850, Patrick Barrett Esq. of Carrick-on-Shannon married Anne Dillon (c.1819–1896) of Cloonavullaun, Ballaghdereen (parish of Castlerea). Witnessed by John Molloy & Anna Duff. [Roscommon Messenger Dec 14, 1850].
John Dillon Barrett 23/12/1852 – 14/4/1880
Celia Barrett 8/4/1853 (gp. Charles Dillon & Mary Barrett) RIP in infancy
Charles Barrett b.1854 RIP in infancy
Mary Jane Imelda Barrett 1855–1904
Anne Dillon Barrett b.1857 - 1889 aka Mrs. Nannie Pettit
Patrick Mathew Barrett 1858–1860
Bridget Barrett 22/6/1860 (gp. John & Cecilia Barrett) RIP in infancy
Belinda Barrett 1861–1873
Agnes Barrett 1862–1938
Matthew Joseph Barrett 6/1/1862 (gp. Rev. Matt & Cecilia Barrett)
Patrick Barrett 2/11/1865 -5/8/1866 (gp. Matt Gately) RIP age 9 months
Tragically, all but one of these Dillon-Barrett children died young. Patrick Mathew died age 15 months. Celia, Charles, Bridget and Patrick II are also presumed to have died in infancy (as they have no grave-stones and did not survive their mother). Belinda died at the age of 12. Anne Dillon Pettit was the only one to wed, but she too died prematurely, leaving 3 young children. Mrs Anne Barrett buried 8 of her eleven children in Killapogue Cemetery.
The Griffiths’ Valuation books reveal that Pat Barrett got his start, leasing #108 Main Street (now Bridge Street) from John Browne Esq. (County Inspector of the Constabulary Police and owner of a row of properties from 106-110). This building, built c.1820, had some land to the rear, a garden, and out-houses (including an open shed for drying timber). The annual rates were substantial @ £21 p.a. (compared to Finnor House valued @ £8 p.a. or his cousins’ farmhouses in Ballinvilla valued @ £1.50 p.a.)
In 1851, P. Barrett appears in the Wexford Independent as the agent for George Mark’s Excellent Coffee. By 1855 we begin to see “Pat Barrett, merchant, Carrick on Shannon” appearing frequently in the Leitrim Journal and in Petty Court records. His annual applications for Spirit Licence renewal record him under various titles such as “publican”, “grocer” and “general dealer”. He was also a merchant for wine and spirits. In time, P. Barrett & Co sold groceries wholesale and added a bakery. Hardware, timber, iron and coal were also sold here.
Around this time, Pat Barrett took on, as an apprentice, Edward J. Barrett of Ballinvilla (age 14) who was the son of his first cousin. Later, this Edward Barrett opened up his own shop in Carrick on Shannon, later emigrating to Louisiana USA.
In 1857, Pat Barrett made news again in when he was appointed Post Master of Carrick-on-Shannon. He was a member of the Leitrim Independent Liberal Club that year (and moved to the second chair in 1866). By 1858 he was placing newspaper ads as the agent for Guinness Porter, Castle Bellingham Ale, Perry Clara Flour Mills and the British and Irish Transatlantic Steam Company. He was also agent for the International Life Assurance Society (London).
At a time when emigration was at its peak in Ireland, being a Travel Agent in Carrick-on-Shannon, was big business (Roscommon being the county to suffer the greatest loss of rural population). By 1868 P. Barrett & Co. was also agent for “Canadian Mail Steamers”. By 1872, he added the “Allen Line short sea passage”. Patrick Barrett was also a contracted supplier to Carrick on Shannon Union and sat on the Board.
The O’Connell Monument, Dublin
In 1862, the appeal for subscriptions to fund a monument to Daniel O’Connell (d.1847) began. On on 8 August 1864, with £8,362 already banked, the two-ton Dalkey granite foundation stone was laid in Sackville Street by the Lord Mayor. The occasion brought thousands on to the streets of the capital for the first stage in what was to become an overt political statement. Following that, on 13 August 1864, Mr P Barrett, TC, Carrick on Shannon attended the O’Connell Monument Committee Banquet in the Rotunda Rooms, Dublin. The Rt. Hon. Lord Mayor presided. Toasts were raised to the good health of Queen Victoria, the Prince and Princess of Wales and of Lord Lieutenant Morpeth (none present). He followed with a speech praising the qualities of the Great Liberator, Daniel O’Connell, and quoting him vis. “Youth of Ireland, never live slaves”. Pointing out that in the past 20 years Ireland’s population had dropped from 8.5 million to 5.5 million, he noted that the only thing advancing in Ireland in recent years was taxation which he estimated was £20,000,000 a year. “Oh for an hour of the Great Liberator to unite us once more, so that the voice of all Ireland may be heard, her provincial degradation arrested, her resources developed and her people made happy and prosperous” said he. (Air – ‘Oh son of O’Connell’) He then toasted the clergy who were there to celebrate ‘the man who set their altars free’. The very Rev. Dean O’Connell, responding to the toast, declared expatriation ‘an emigration that should not be encouraged’.
(Catholic Telegraph 13 Aug 1864)
Business was going so well that, by the time of the next Valuation in 1864, Patrick Barrett had purchased a property in Carrick-on Shannon. When John Browne died, Patrick embarked upon the purchase of adjoining properties from Major Brown’s widow, Martha. He bought #107 next-door in 1864 and four years later, the butchers at #106 Main Street (previously leased by James Boyd of Ballinvilla) both of which he continued to let as he made plans to extend the shop. Today these adjoining properties are occupied by “Bank of Ireland” (aka 107 & 108 – “P. Barrett & Co.” extended) and “Beirne’s Meats” (aka 106 – always a butchers) on Bridge Street. By 1877 Patrick owned 5 properties in Carrick. For a Catholic to own this amount of property, in those times, was some achievement.
In 1867 his brother, Thomas Barrett, began trading just 4 doors away from P Barrett & Co at #112 Main Street. This house (the yellow building opposite the Town Hall) was purchased by Charles Peyton in 1867 and rented to Thomas Barrett of Finnor, who traded as a grocer and freight agent here, from 1867 until 1873.
On 12 February 1878, Patrick Barrett died, age 64. His gravestone, erected by his wife in Killapoge, is also dedicated to their daughter Belinda who, 5 years earlier (on 7 Jan 1873) had passed away age 12. The will of Patrick Barrett late of Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Merchant who died 2 Sep 1878, at same place, was proved at principal registry by oath of Anne Barrett, widow, effects under £9,000.
DEATH OF PATRICK BARRETT ESQ.,
CARRICK ON SHANNON
Obituary: ROSCOMMON HERALD
There are few announcements which have been heard of with such widespread or with such general feelings of regret as that of the death of the above-named gentleman, which melancholy event took place at 9am on Monday 2nd September. Deceased, though not attaining the limit which the Psalmist has assigned as the extent of human life, had reached the ripe old age of 64 years, and up to the period of his last and fatal illness, was in the enjoyment of excellent health. He was the son of John Barrett Esq., Finner, a well-to-do and respectable gentleman farmer up to the time of his death. Deceased commenced business as a trader in Carrick on Shannon in 1846, and since then his career had been one of continued prosperity, till at length he became one of the mose extensive merchants in the West. Never did man amass wealth with greater honesty, or more deservedly, for he was throughout life a sterling and sincere friend, always ready to help with his purse as well as with his advice; he was a fond and loving husband, a kind and indulgent parent, a pius and fervent Roman Catholic. Holding Liberal opinions, and discountenancing unlawful combinations, his purse was at all times open to the calls made upon it in occasions of national emergencies, while his singularly unobtrusive and unassuming manner won for him the respect and esteem of persons of all classes and creeds, and together, with his other good qualities, will cause his memory to be long cherished. Indeed, from his demise to the day of his funeral, the houses in Carrick were all but closed – a gloom seemed to have settled over everything, and in the faces of all one could read sorrow and regret. His loss, indeed will be sadly felt; for to the labouring classes he gave a constant employment and good wages, and the actual poor never left his door unsupplied. In this town and vicinity his death was heard of with undisguised feelings of regret.
Obituary: THE FREEMAN’S JOURNAL
A figure long and pleasantly familiar in the politics of County Leitrim disappears from the stage by the death of the respected gentelman whose name heads these few sentences. Since the Conservative grip of the county was first broken in 1852, Mr Patrick Barrett has been one of the staunchest, wisest and most powerful chiefs of the ranks of the Leitrim Liberals. His voice, his influence, and purse were, throughout every alternation of triumph or disaster, often to his own personal disadvantage, steadily devoted to the popular cause. Through the lower baronies of the county he was as popular a politician as he was a generous friend, an enterprising merchant,good father, and a liberal dispenser of the fortune amassed by his industry and capacity.6 He leaves a widow and a large family. Their grief will be shared throughout the length and breath of Leitrim, wherever a good cause needs a ready friend, an open-handed helper, or a stout defender.
The Freemans’ Journal, of 7 Sept 1878, reported on Patrick’s High Requiem Funeral Mass (with no less than 30 parish priests assisting in the choir including Very Rev. Monsignor Tucker and Pat’s nephew Rev J. Barrett).
FREEMANS JOURNAL 15 Oct 1878
The Carrick on Shannon Guardians have a desire to sacrifice themselves for the good of their Union, which would be edifying were it called for, which it happily is not. A vacancy has occurred, at the board, caused by the death of Mr Patrick Barrett, and they seem in no particular hurry to fill it up. Their attention having been called to the matter by somebody interested in the unrepresented electoral division, they kept on never-minding.
Owen McCann replaced him as president of the Carrick on Shannon National League.
The shop continued trading as “P. Barrett & Co”, under the stewardship of various family members, until it was sold, as a going concern, to the Campbells in 1923.