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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Mikie Webster

Lock-Keeper

Nationalist and Leinster Times. March 2004.

Mikie Webster

The death recently of former lock-keeper Mikie Webster brought to an end a tradition stretching back several generations. The tradition led to the creation of a placename for one of the best known locations in the town - Webster's Lock.

A well known character around town Mikie recently lost his hard fought battle with illness.

Born and reared at the lock, Mikie proudly carried on a noble tradition first started by his grandfather and continued by his father before he took on the responsibility.

It is indeed fitting that all three men now lie at peace, together with their spouses in the same plot at St. Mary's Cemetery.

In his younger years, Mikie was well known on his bicycle travelling the track line between Maganey Lock and Bagenalstown as this stretch of the waterway was his personal territory.

Mikie thought it no inconvenience to travel, with his bike on board, with any boatman on his way up or down the river.

When the boat had left his waters the affable Carlowman would then cycle back to base, no matter what the weather was like.

On one occasion he was even known to travel as far as Bagenalstown with a nervous boatman to see him safely on his way.

Following his marriage to Essie, Mikie had a strong ally in his care of the waterways. Essie lent her skills to improving the overall appearance of the lock by maintaining one of the most colourful floral displays seen in the locality, so much so that they won many awards for best lock and best garden on the River Barrow, during their long tenure in charge of the lock.

As well as flowers Essie looked after each and every caller to the lock house, with endless cups of tea and home-made delicacies.

Long before it became fashionable Mikie also established a reputation for recycling, first collecting offal from local businesses to feed his pigs but later to collecting waste cardboard and tin cans, right up to the time of his death.

Wearing his trademark anorak and knitted cap he was a familiar sight crossing over and back Graigue bridge with his bike laden with recycled items.

Many stories could be told of Mikie's kindness over the years to young and old alike, but none better than the care he gave to his wife during her failing health until her death three years ago -- and also the love and support he gave to his daughter, Vonnie, and her young family following the untimely death in 1991 of her husband at a young age.

He will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him. - M.M.

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Note added July 2011.

[I knew Mikie Webster for much of my early life, he was a regular, several times a week,  visitor to our little shop in Coal Market, collecting offal and vegetable waste in his ass and cart, (a picture of which was published in Volume 2 of "Carlow in Old Picture Postcards").

Mikie was always on the go, rarely would he have time to have a cup of tea or to engage in idle chat but whenever he did so he always had interesting stories of the Barges and the boatmen who travelled the River Barrow delivering goods to businesses in various towns along the Barrow.

Mikie and Essie dealt in our shop, obtaining their household needs "on the book", the account was settled promptly every Friday. They had one of the early televisions in the area and I became a regular visitor to Webster's Lock to look at some selected programmes on their tele; Essie would always have something nice cooked for me, I think the food became as much an attraction as the tele!

During one of my visits I was amazed to see hanging on the wall of their home the framed 1897 Citation from the Royal Humane Society awarded to Mikie's grandfather for saving 29 people from drowning in the river.

In business at that time customers often became friends with the shop owner and the family, I am happy to state that Mikie and Essie were friends of mine; it is my privilege to place on the Carlow site this tribute to three generations of the Webster family. M.P.]

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Source: Michael Purcell 2011


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