RACA Journal Shamus Rennie 60years - Page 4

LESSON A pre-history: William and James Rennie By Ryan Rennie (May 2019) A visit to Southern Ireland in 1997 was the beginning of a long process of piecing together information about our family. Not much was known about James Rennie (Shamus’s father) and Shamus had died young. His birth certificate was found in the Civil Registrar in Dublin in 1997 and this contained information of his birthplace in Newry, Northern Ireland. WILLIAM RENNIE A further visit to Ireland in 2011, this time to the north, unlocked more information and it was discovered that James’s father, William Rennie, was proprietor of the Newry Foundry prior to 1900. Newry is roughly 39 miles away from Belfast and is a predominantly Catholic area. The city itself lies in the most south-eastern part of both Ulster and Northern Ireland. William was an engineer and his foundry produced many interesting engines. The foundry was part of the boom of industrial and engineering in Northern Ireland this time. We have found a copy of a letter that he wrote to a customer, dated 1880*, the content of which is not too different to something that I might write to one of our current customers, except maybe for the imperial units. JAMES RENNIE James Rennie was born on Monday, 20 June 1881, to William and Mary Rennie, who lived in Canal Street at the time. He volunteered to join the Imperial Yeomanry on Sunday, 18 February 1900. The Imperial Yeomanry was the name given to a volunteer mounted force of the British Army that saw action during the Second Boer War which began on Wednesday, 11 October 1899 and ended on Saturday, 31 May 1902. The Imperial Yeomanry was born out of a week of disasters suffered by the British Army at Stormberg on Sunday, 10 December 1899, at Magersfontein on Monday, 11 December 1899 and at Colenso on Friday, 15 December 1899, dates that became known as ‘Black Week’. After these setbacks, it became obvious that mounted infantry were needed in large numbers to counter the fast moving, hard-hitting Boers. At the beginning of the war, there had been many offers from Drawings of the interesting engines that William Rennie’s foundry produced. 2 • SHAMUS RENNIE • 60 YEARS • A THIRD GENERATION FAMILY BUSINESS  0860 SHAMUS • www.shamusrennie.co.za