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During the 1830s cholera pandemic, a report of mass hysteria was sent to Dublin Castle.
The Virgin Mary was reported to have appeared in Charleville church on Saturday 9th of June, leaving certain ashes, which she warned were the only protection against cholera. These were to be delivered to four houses, and then these four householders were to proceed to four more homes to spread the message.
By the following Tuesday evening, the message had reached the borders of Ulster. The message changed on its travels; ashes, turf and stones were used in the east, while straws were used further west.
By Friday 15th June, the message had crossed into Derry.
Many believed the 'Day of the Straws' was started by Daniel O'Connell, so that he could find out how quickly he could spread a message through the country.
Cholera and Popular Panic in Ireland, June 1832