” The Patriotic Fund was raised to assist the widows and children of those killed in action or dying on active service during the Crimean War. ” – Hansard (HC Deb 26 February 1901 vol 89 cc1187-8). The idea of fundraising seems to be fairly forward looking, given that the Allied invasion of the Crimea had only begun on the 14th of September 1854. Having said that, by the time of the meeting in Cobh there had already been three battles [Alma, Balaclava, and Inkerman] and British casualties were approaching 8,000 with approximately 1,500 dead.
There is a gaggle of family at the meeting, though it’s unclear how many O’Bryens are there. Henry H. O’Bryen is definitely there because of the reference to Capt. O’Bryen. But the reference to R. H. H. O’Bryen confuses things a little. Robert is R.H. O’Bryen, and Henry is H.H O’Bryen so they could well both have been there. Both were in Cobh at the time, aged forty, and thirty-nine respectively. Dr. Verling, R.N. is James Roche Verling who is their rather older [aged 67] first cousin once removed. His first cousin James Ronayne is there, who is also their second cousin.
MEETING AT QUEENSTOWN—THIS DAY. ( FROM OUR REPORTER.)
A meeting of the inhabitants of Queenstown was held in the Court-house, at 12 o’clock to-day,(13th November 1854) for the purpose of receiving subscriptions in aid of the ” Patriotic Fund,” and appointing a committee to collect subscriptions through the town. The attendance was rather thin, and amongst those present were :- Rear Admiral Sir Wm. F. Carroll; W. M. Drew, J.P.; Captain Purvis, R.N.; Rev. Mr. Lombard; Wm. Cronin, M.D.; Lieutenant Williams, R.N.; John Cronin, M.D.; James Seymour; Horace T. N. Meade, M.D.; S. Harman; Dr. Verling, R.N.; Rev. Mr. Conner, Michael Graham, Dr. Scott, Mr. Sheppard, Rev. Mr. Pounce, James Ronayne, Hugh Cole, R. H. H. O’Bryen, James Hammond.
On the motion of Dr. Meade, seconded by Capt. O’Bryen, the chair was taken by Rear Admiral Wm. F. Carroll.
Mr. S. T. French and Dr. Meade were requested to act as secretaries to the fund, and Mr. Hammond consented to act as treasurer.
The Chairman said, on such an occasion as the present it was unnecessary for him to address the meeting at any length. They all knew the purpose for which they had assembled – to assist the widows and orphans of those who had perished gallantly fighting for the cause of their country (hear, hear).
A committee was then appointed, consisting of the magistrates of Queenstown Petty Sessions, the local clergymen of all denominations, together with Capt. H. H. O’Bryen, Capt. de Courcey, Dr. Scott, and Dr. Meade.
The Chairman begged to observe that, wherever the committee might happen to go throughout the town, he hoped even the smallest subscriptions would be thankfully received ; for such sums would, from persons in humble circumstances, as expressively show the feeling that existed abroad in the cause of those who were suffering from the loss of their husbands, and the poverty of their fatherless children, as larger sums received from wealthier people (hear, hear).
A subscription list was then opened, and in the course of few minutes a sum amounting to £87 was collected ; but it expected when the returns from the committee of solicitation are received, that a large sum will be realised.
Cork Examiner Monday 13th November 1854 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.