Michael Davitt

(An Irishman above many)

Michael Davitt was born in Straide, Co. Mayo during the Great Famine. At the age of six years, his family were evicted from their lands and were forced to emigrate to England. Michael went to work in a cotton mill in Lancashire and lost his right arm in an accident there at the age of twelve years. When he returned to Ireland many years later, he saw that little had changed -- the landlords were still evicting people from their ancestral homes. He and others set up the Land League in 1879 to fight for the rights of his countrymen. His work saw the power of the landlords broken. Michael died in 1906.

Tourists travelling from Foxford to Castlebar in Co. Mayo often stop to view the roadside monument at Straide which features an aristocratic-looking gentleman whose right sleeve hangs empty and limp.

Figure of Michael Davitt outside the museum at Straide


Martin (5th) set about the task of building a mill with conveyor belt and gear-train. Gears in mills are engaged by sliding a shaft with gears on it to mesh with the main drive gear; the gears crash in and out with a jerky movement. This meant that shafts in a mill could suddenly and unexpectedly begin to rotate because of the careless action of a worker, and cause injury to a worker in another part of the mill. Michael Davitt is shown wearing the yellow cap, and leaning over a part of the mechanism as it suddenly started to rotate. A battering ram is shown top left; it's just demolished the house with the blue roof. A motor attached to a gear rack shot a ram forward to perform the task; the motor then retracted the ram. Note the battery box top right -- it shows that one does not need the expensive RCX to have fun building machines.

Martin demonstrated this model at the Digital Hub, Thomas St., Dublin in May 2005, and was only too happy to tell the story behind it.

The model of an area of the mill in Lancashire where Michael Davitt lost his right arm

(Click image to zoom)