IT IS probably fair to say no-one has heard of Daniel Winn today - but in the 19th Century he was know throughout Otley, where he had his own claim to fame.

Mr Winn, a greengrocer with a “stentorian” voice, was reputed to be the first Irishman to settle in the town.

His putative place in Otley’s history was recorded in the Wharfedale Observer in December 1893 when he died at the venerable old age of 95.

The newspaper reported that Mr Winn had moved into the town some fifty or sixty years previously. If this was the case his arrival would have pre-dated the potato famine which began in 1845 and which brought hundreds of his compatriots to the town.

Certainly Mr Winn’s constitution did nothing to suggest that he had endured the tragedy that befell his countrymen.

The Observer reported: “Notwithstanding his great age Mr Winn was possessed of a marvellously robust constitution, and he might well be described as “one who never had a day’s illness, or took a dose of medicine in his life,” so excellent was his health.

His robust constitution was in stark contrast to the desperately poor and sick people who sought refuge from The Great Hunger, which is estimated to have killed at least one million people.

A number of those seeking sanctuary in Otley, particularly children, were so weak and ill that they died shortly after arriving.

But hundreds went on to build new lives for themselves and many of their descendants still live in the area today.

Around 500 refugees settled in the town - saved by Otley lawyer Thomas Constable and his sister Mary, who arranged passage, jobs and homes for them.

Thomas, who lived in the Manor House, also commissioned the building of the town’s Catholic church,Our Lady and All Saints.

Today his part in helping the Irish refugees is recorded on the church’s website, which says he even turned his dining room into a ward with ten beds for them.

It records: “Hundreds of Irish immigrants came to Otley and settled into a refugee camp on the east side of the town known as the Irish Fields.”

“During the 1840s, a number of Irish families were invited by Constable to live in Otley to escape the ravages of the Irish Potato Famine. They initially were settled in tents on what has become known as Irish Fields. With the increase in the number of Roman Catholic people in Otley, the church was built to eliminate the seven mile trek to Middleton Lodge, Ilkley every Sunday to celebrate Mass.

“A number of the Irish people arrived starving , with famine related diseases and the young particularly suffered with a number dying soon after their arrival in Otley. In 2001, a memorial stone was positioned in the outside of the south wall of the church to commemorate the burial of some 50 people in the grounds of the Parish Church. At that time, there was no consecrated ground in Otley for Roman Catholic burials.”

The Our Lady and All Saints website says: “In 1847 Joshua Hart the Vicar of Otley wrote as follows in his parish register: ‘A great famine in Ireland in 1845, England, especially Otley was inundated by poor starving Irish and a great number of children died’. “

The website says: “There is evidence that Thomas Constable gave practical help to the Irish who came to Otley.”

It adds: “Stories have passed down of his kindness in assisting people who were ill; of finding people work and in supporting those out of work. Certainly there is concrete evidence of his support for education. Thomas Constable and his sister Mary were responsible for funding the building of St Joseph’s school in Otley.”

In 2016 a fund was launched to pay for a memorial statue to Thomas Constable.

All photographs are courtesy of Our Lady and All Saints church.