Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Stories from Old Newspapers

Waterford News 30 April 1869

California at Kilminnion -or the Miser’s Treasure

‘It appears that four brothers and one sister, known by the name of ‘Villies’, the derivation of which I am at a loss to understand, lived in the same locality for a period of 60 or 70 years.  They generally cultivated con-acre land by planting potatoes, grazed a few sheep…Neither of these parties ever married, fearing the wives might be extravagant, and the offspring, if any, spend their hard earnings.  In time, three of the brothers with their sisters paid the debt of nature, and the means acquired dropped to the surviving party, who is the subject of this report.

Brother Michael followed the same avocation, but it never transpired from his lips that he was worth one penny in the world.  From his emaciated appearance and skeleton frame, many commiserated his deplorable and wretched condition; a respectable farmer, named Casey, gave him the use of a house rent free…He lived by himself, reared a pig, which dined with him at the same table.  On Saturdays he was sure to visit Dungarvan market to purchase the worst description of fish, skate and scalpeen…with a week's provision of yellow meal of the cheapest kind.  As to the washing of his face and hands, they only got an annual scouring, and as to the cleanliness of his linen, it never saw the washerwoman’s hands from the day it was purchased…His outside garments were so patched that it was actually impossible to discover the original texture.  As to the caubeen, it covered many heads previous to its coming into his possession’.

One day Michael fell asleep in the ditch and fell ill and died some days later.  Mr Casey his landlord looked after his internment.  He directed two of his unnamed servant boys to demolish the old house.  One of the boys found ‘some silver in an old saucepan’ and a five-pound note in the thatch.  The other boy did much better – he found a cart-wheel box which contained a ‘large number of old guineas’. He went into Dungarvan purchased a new suit and boots and then bought a ticket to America.

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