“Mr. Joseph Tatlow, at the Dinner in aid of the Institution held in Dublin on October 23rd, 1902, said: ’It is now 30 years since I first became a collector for this Institution, and when I look back on the past, if there is one matter in my life which contains no grain of regret, it is my connection with the Institution, as in regard to it I can feel nothing but honest pride and gratification.’”
I am still a member of the Irish Committee, as well as of the London Board of Management, and those words, spoken sixteen years ago, express my feelings to-day.
Whilst writing the final words of this chapter the news reaches me of the death of Mr. Mills, at the fine old age of eighty-seven. He had a long and useful life, and the railway service owes him much. He it was whose zeal and enthusiasm firmly established the Railway Benevolent as a great institution. When, in 1861, he became its secretary, the income was only 1,500 pounds, and on his retirement in 1897, at the age of sixty-five, it had grown to 53,000 pounds. His mantle fell upon his son, Mr. A. E. Mills, who inherits his father’s enthusiasm and carries on the good work with great success, as attested by the fact that for the year 1917 the income reached 106,000 pounds. The invested funds of the society to-day amount to upwards of a million, and in 1897 they were 476,000 pounds.
Mr. Mills senior I knew for forty years; and I often thought that, search the world over, it would be hard to find his equal for the work to which his life was devoted, and for which his talents were so specially adapted.
A few days before the battle of Waterloo, during the journey to Brussels, partly by canal and partly by road, of Amelia and her party, Mrs. Major O’Dowd said to Jos Sedley: “Talk about kenal boats, my dear! Ye should see the kenal boats between Dublin and Ballinasloe. It’s there the rapid travelling is; and the beautiful cattle.” “The rapid travelling” was by what was called the fly boat, which was towed by three horses at a jog trot, and as to cattle, the good-humoured eccentric lady, who Thackeray tells us came from County Kildare, was thinking perhaps of the great Ballinasloe Fair where cattle and sheep assemble in greater numbers, I believe, than at any other live stock fair in the United Kingdom.
On the first Monday in October, 1891, to a special train of empty carriages run by the Midland from Dublin for the purposes of this fair, a vehicle, called the directors’ saloon was attached, and in it the chairman of the company, most of the directors and the principal officers travelled to Ballinasloe, there to remain until the conclusion of the fair at the end of the week. It was my first introduction to Ballinasloe.
[William Dargan: dargan.jpg]