Not entirely sure why Tom got the nickname The Horn. And not entirely sure that we want to know.
Actually, we went and checked, and it turns out our boy had some powerful lungs on him – which gave Tom something of an advantage when it came to shouting the odds at Bray’s monthly first Wednesday fair.
Up until 1911, Tom ‘The Horn’ Thumb lived at Templecarrig Lodge in Windgates, later moving to a new labourer’s cottage at 52 Lower Windgates. That’s Tom, above, with his wife, outside Templecarrig back in 1880. A stonemason who worked extensively in the area – helping build the boundary wall around Lord Meath’s estate on the Little Sugar Loaf, for example – with a wall on Tom Sutton’s farm at Lower Calary named after him; Horner’s Wall.
Claiming to descend from the same Ballymanus family that gave the world Irish rebel Billy Byrne – hanged in Wicklow gaol for his part in the 1798 rebellion – Tom certainly had the Fighting Irish blood in his veins.
One much-loved party trick saw Tom trailing his coat behind him, daring anyone to tread on it – thus ensuring themselves a major barney.
This was a man who could tell the time of day by the position of the sun, or, if indoors, the shadows on the wall. Favouring his own particular ‘twist’ of tobacco in his clay pipe, Tom [just like his son, Tommy, right] was also fond of a drink of an evenin’, taking his donkey and cart on a regular basis into a Bray town hall pub. Always returning a few hours later without anything even remotely resembling road sense, or sense of direction, Tom would famously flop himself onto the back of the cart, and let his trusty donkey do the rest. Once home, his wife – affectionately known in the area as Granny Byrne – would have to haul her husband from the cart and into the bed.
Tom ‘The Horn’ Byrne died on January 9th, 1926, his body buried in the old graveyard in Kilcoole. His exit from this world needed that trademark twist, of course, Tom’s coffin having to be taken out through his bedroom window after the angle of the door proved too sharp.
Daughter Mary Ann Janes [1871-1947]
Nellie – wife of Tom’s son, Larry – and her daughter, Mary
Sister Miss Mary Ann Byrne
Mrs Lizzie Byrne and Miss Mary Ann Byrne
Thanks to the mighty Derek Paine for the pics and the info. Now, go check out the life of fisherman Michael Fields here.
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