Saying Goodbye

If the truth be told, I did not actually know my grandfather, the previous Richard Phillips. I met him twice when I was a child, once at his home and once in his final days. He was ill with prostate cancer and was home from the hospital the first time. I do not know why I was kept out of the house until he was ready to see me, but I had to be allowed in. He was a man with presence, you might say, for though his face was carved with the lines of a hard life, there was still a vital energy there. He was more familiar with my cousin, Jean, the oldest granddaughter and called me that. He was swiftly corrected by my grandmother; “no, this is Londa, Sheila’s girl”. Though, my brother and I were given French names after our father’s ancestry, they had maintained the British way and called us Andy instead of Andre and Londa instead of Yolanda. My mother, as I stated before, was the youngest of their seven children.

Grandpa sat there in his chair in the familiar cardigan and trousers, the smell of Amphora tobacco in the air. He asked if I liked his pipe, of course I said yes.He asked if I could read the writing on the pouch. No.Then he asked me to go get some tobacco for him out of the cupboard which sent my grandmother into a tizzy do not ask why, perhaps something to do with his health. And that really is all I remember.

Grandpa as I Remember Him

Grandpa as I Remember Him

The next time, he was in hospital, the three of us, my sister, brother and I were shuttled in. Andre was put up on his bed where he was quietly told to “look after the women” among other things. My mother, 6 months pregnant with my youngest brother was so stricken she held back in the hallway. Shortly after that, she ended up in the hospital losing one of the twins she was carrying. The rest of the scene was harrowing to say the least. That was the last I saw of him. I think that my mom had a special relationship with him because she was the youngest and he had more time for her. This is a lovely picture of them.

Richard and Sheila 1943

Richard and Sheila 1943

Richard “Dick” Phillips died June 25, 1964. He is buried alongside George and Jane in the Magnet Cemetery in Manitoba. Rest in peace, Grandpa.

Headstone, Richard Phillips, Magnet, MB. 2007

I will talk more about his life later on.


One of the very first thoughts I had when starting this venture was about the Great Famine in Ireland and of how my family survived it. We now know that William was in England during the famine but his family was probably still in Down. My grandfather did not emigrate until 1907 nor did most of the family. This ran in opposition to what I knew of Ireland. So immediately I began to think of how they could have survived those times. The answer of course was money. The money that the family here talked about for years.

There is no doubt that William did well. Below a report from the House of Commons citing Lord Derby’s tilery as providing the best in Tipperary.

Report on Tile Quality

Report on Tile Quality

In later years William secured the contract for the Tipperary Army Barracks which made him quite well off.  In the end , he owned the farm at Lisheenamalausa, a row of houses on Nelson Street in Tipperary Town and 2 houses at Galtee View, this according to his will.

Also, William was Presbyterian, not Catholic, making me further wonder how he survived the civil unrest that surrounded him. He was in the employ of Lord Derby, that in itself could be a blessing and a threat.

Was it just luck or had William cultivated friendships with people in the area so that they bypassed his property?  It could also be that the tenants received fair treatment from Lord Derby and there were fewer evictions if any on his land. This civil unrest became known as the Irish Land Wars. To add to the irony of the situation, I have discovered that my grandfathers immediate family, including his father were land agents. You know, the ones that did the evicting? So, there I have my answer, my family was basically on the “other” side! I have heard from many people though that for the main part the different people in and around Tipperary Town managed to dwell together in relative peace.

In 1867, Sarah presented William with his 6th and final daughter, Sophia.  They had a house full of girls and would live through the joy, sorrow and loss of watching them grow into bright and beautiful women.



As I stated previously, William was able to secure the contract for making tiles on land owned by Lord Stanley.  Again, here we are speaking of “drainage tiles” much like the “culverts” of today except for being made of clay. The productivity of land has much to do with drainage and most landlords set about this task not only for their own profit but as part of the political scheme of the times.

The Stanley family had a very long history in Lancashire, England and also a long involvement with the governance of Ireland through the first Thomas Stanley . His son, Thomas the first Earl of Derby became ” one of the most powerful landed magnates in England whose authority went almost unchallenged even by the Crown.” Moving forward in time, Edward Henry Stanley who owned the land in Tipperary was a British politician and brother to Frederick Arthur Stanley who moved to Canada and whom the Stanley Cup is named after.

From the Landed Estates Database, which I have to say is one of my favourites, we find that the land in Solloghodmore did belong to Edward Stanley ; “In the mid 19th century Lord Stanley’s county Tipperary estate was in the parishes of Railstown, St Johnbaptist and St Patricksrock, barony of Middlethird and Emly, Kilfeakle, Shronell and Tipperary but mainly in the parish of Solloghodmore, all in the barony of Clanwilliam.”

Map showing Solloghodmore, Tipperary

Map showing Solloghodmore, Tipperary

So, Will and Sarah left Northumberland and settled in Solloghodmore  with the 5 children, presumably on the Stanley estate, in the townland of Lisheenamalausa.  Whether the tilery was already there or whether William saw to its building we don’t know but the granddaughters definitely had memories of playing on the beehive shaped kilns when they were young;    “…and when I was there, aged about 5 or 6, we played on top of the old kilns, spending hours making daisy chains to hang around the neck of our playmate, an old goat.”  Soon, Sarah was pregnant again and had another girl, Agnes, born in 1861, bringing the total to 5. I imagine William got a lot of good-natured ribbing about the number of girls he was producing!

In 1863, tragedy struck when James who was then 10 years old, fell from a hayloft and was injured very badly. The injuries included damage to his eyes. The type of father William was is shown by another memory of a great-granddaughter, “Granny remembered him (James)  not being able to walk, and being pulled around in a go-cart which his father made for him.” James was taken to the famed oculist, Sir William Wilde (Oscar’s father) but he could do nothing for the little boy. He eventually died from his injuries. From other writings, we are told that Sarah suffered a breakdown after this which she did not fully recover from. A matter of conjecture since she did recover enough to have another daughter, Sophie, in 1867.