Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, devious, manipulative, humble, self-effacing, eloquent, grandiloquent, a sheer genius, of extraordinary intellect, a prophet, a seer, a visionary, an innovative personality, a right boyo, blessed among the women and above of all else, the most wily of them all—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. My recollection is of a photographer taking a photograph of the children in the old (as distinct from the present one) Clonroche National School sometime in the early 1960ies but I did not know what the purpose of this exercise was. Maybe the recently formed Guild of Muintir Na Tire had organised it; we all stood by—or on— a low stone wall in the playground fronting out to the road. In recent days the photograph has appeared in a photographer’s window in Enniscorthy, where I viewed it this morning; I failed to recognise my childish self in it but I must be there. A copy of it costs 13 Euro: whoever organised this photo taking surely had astonishing foresight: just imagine a photograph of the boy from Barrystown back in 1963! In the time before they had mirrors in Co. Kerry a man from there bought what he thought was a picture of his father in Dublin town; his wife found it in his pocket and thought it was the picture of a haggard girlfriend that he had found and asked the Parish Priest to investigate. The latter strode into their house and demanded to see the offending photograph and then exclaimed in wild surprise that this was a picture of the long deceased Parish Priest who was there before him. They were looking at a mirror and I should get a job in the circus. As a child I listened to the charming and comical stories of Eamonn Kelly, the Kerry Seanachai.
My lecture on “Patrick Pearse and the Easter Rebellion in the context of World War I” is at 8.30 pm in Clonroche Community Centre on the coming Tuesday night May 3rd. The story that I have to tell is exceedingly
complex and complicated—a complexity not previously addressed or
recognised. The scholarship in the lecture is vast and of the innovative genre. My birthday celebrations will end that night.
On September 12th 1931, the Free Press carried this poetic tribute to Bannow:
“Bannow—An Exile’s Song
Though my home to me is pleasant
And though happy I may be
Yet in dreams I see thee, Bannow;
Bannow, ever dear to me,
Bannow, where so oft I’ve wandered
Through the wild wood—by the sea—
Thinking not of past or future
Drooping trees and fields so verdant,
Towering cliffs and bright, bright sea,
Ringing laughter, beaming faces,
Vividly come back to me;
Festive throngs and friendly glances;
Oh, the lively jig and reel,
Gay quadrille and country dances
And the music’s magic peal.
I could view those scenes for ever
Still unwearied of those dreams,
As long ago before me flitted,
Faces dear, with once loved themes.
Oh ye dreams, though false ye be, come
Bring to me the joys of yore,
The kind friends I loved so well and
Bannow’s wild and lonely shore”.
I do not know who wrote this poem but as Fr Paul Kehoe of Moortown, Ballymitty had lived in America for a period I conjecture that he wrote it.
At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in September 1897 it was reported:–
“Patrick Dunne, Barrystown, was summoned for allowing a goat to trespass on the road. Acting-Sergeant Hally prosecuted and said that the defendant had been cautioned before and a caution had, also, been given to his daughter. Fined 1 shilling.”
In 1870 a book with a very long title, and edited from the originals in the Public Record Office in London, by Herbert J. Hore and Reverend James Graves was published—the title was:–“The Social State of the Southern and Eastern Counties of Ireland in the 18th century being the Presentments of the Gentlemen, Commonalty and Citizens made in the reign of Henry VIII and Elizabeth”. I quote from the introduction:–
“the river which rises in the valley on the west side of the Forth Mountain, passes by the town of Taghmon and enters the sea near Bannow, hence taking its name from that ancient town, was at one time considered the boundary between the English and Irish baronies of the county. By patent dated Waterford 22nd November, 10 Henry IV, the office of custodier and bailiff of the water between the towns of Ross and Wexford was granted
The river, which rises in the valley on the west side of the Forth mountain, passes by the town of Taghmon, and enters the sea near Bannow, hence taking its name from that ancient town, was at one time considered the
boundary between the English and Irish baronies of the county. By patent, dated Waterford, 22nd November, 10 Henry IV., the office of custodier and bailiff of the water between the towns of Ross and Wexford was granted to [ ] be held during his life. In the reign of Henry the Sixth an Act of Parliament was passed “for building towers upon ye water or river of Tamon and another enactment was made in the thirty-second year of the same reign (1453):–“That none shall breake the fortifications or strength of the water of Thamon in the county of Wexford; nor shall make no waies on the same river from the wood of Bannow to the Pill adjoining to the river of Slane; saving soe much waies as shall be made by the commandment and view of the Bishop and Deane of Ferns, the Seneschall of the Libertie and Sherrif of the Crosse in the same countye, or anye three of them.” In 1463 (3 Edward IV), an order was made by Parliament “for building a castle at Coule upon ye frontiers of Shirebyrne.” Owing the circumstances that the tide flows up the Bannow river for some miles, the lower portion was formerly termed a Pill; a term derived from the opposite shores of the Bristol Channel where it designates numerous tidal inlets. Under this name it is alluded to by Stanihurst as marking the boundary of the district in which the Gaelic language was not spoken. After writing of the district called Fingal, in the metropolitan county, he continues:–“But of all other places, Weisford, with the territorie baied and perclosed within the river, called the Pill was so quite estranged from Irishrie, as if a traveller of the Irish (which was rare in those daies) had pitcht his foot within the Pill and spoken Irish, the Weisfordians would command him forthwith to turne the other end of his toong and speake English or els bring his trouchman with him.”
My translation of the above is that in that era, the people of the baronies of Forth and Bargy spoke English while those of the rest of the county Wexford spoke Gaelic or Irish.
The same book contains “The Verdict of Ye Commons for Ye Body of Ye County of Wexford, dated October 1537; I take this item:–
“Item, they present that Richard Baron, servant and horseman came in to the towne of Banoo an there feloniously did robbe and steale 6 plough horses out of ye said towne and more they know not.” The Editors added this note:
“whether “towne” here is to be taken in the usual sense or for “townland or villa” is doubtful; if the former, it would serve to show that Bannow long obliterated was, at this period, in existence.”
This is certainly an example of how ambiguous historical evidence may be.
From The People July 12th 1890; a report of the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League:–
“Met on Sunday. Mr Patrick Wade, Bannow in the chair. Mrs Murphy handed in her usual list, Clonmines as usual taking the lead in supporting Curran at Wellingtonbridge, in the house built by her ancestors or those of her late husband, without assistance from the landlord, who confiscated all their property and handed it to Curran. With reference to the last report of Tintern League, we do not think the abuse of Tintern League hurts anyone. “That we know that Dr Cardiff and Messrs Doyle and Walsh have never tried to rule the county, but at the same time have never hesitated to speak out their opinions. And, also, that we have never known any insolence or truculence on the part of Dr Cardiff, but we know he will not allow anyone to attack him with impunity, unless he thinks the attacking party beneath notice. We brand the statement that he is a self-seeking renegade as a falsehood. Self-grabbers grab all they can and we know Dr Cardiff refuses anti-Nationalists’ fees and sacrifices them to principle. We invite Tintern League to point out any rule of the League that Dr Cardiff has ever broken and if unable to do this to direct their secretary to be more careful in his choice of words hereafter.” The following were appointed to attend the Co. Convention on the 23rd instant at Wexford: Messrs Patrick Wade, John Kehoe, Nicholas O’Hanlon-Walsh and Nicholas Moore. Next meeting on the first Sunday of August.”
I do not know what the row over Dr Cardiff was about; it was most envenomed and further illustration that great movements in history were people by fractious men and women. The first item on every agenda at the meeting of any organisation, the famous writer Brendan Behan said, was the split. The split between Clonmines and Tintern generally and Bannow was interminable and maybe going on still! In fairness to Mr Curran, as I have related in previous blogs, he later paid a significant amount of money to Mrs Murphy and she put a letter in the newspapers indicating her satisfaction in the matter.
The People on February 22nd 1947 carried this charming article:–
“A very enjoyable entertainment was given at Ballymitty Hall last Sunday night by members of the local dramatic society. It was in aid of parochial funds. There was an over-flow attendance, not withstanding many counter-attractions in the locality. The principal part of the programme was the production of Lynn Doyle’s 4 act comedy, “Love and Land”. The cast was: Pat Murphy (farmer), Sean Mc Cormack; Widow Dougherty, his housekeeper, Miss B. Mc Cormack; Thomas Dorrian (farmer), Willie Carthy; Rose Dorrian (his daughter), Miss Tess Mc Cormack; Brian O’Connor (publican), Paddy Whitty; Mary O’Connor, (his daughter), Miss Betty O’Neill; Peter O’Hare (farmer), Andy White; Billie Rourke (Postman), Wat Neville; Huey Rogan (carter), John Bardin.
All the parts were well sustained, those of the Widow Dougherty and Mary O’Connor being particularly good. The play was well received. When the final curtain fell the players received rounds of applause.
In a first class supporting concert which followed the following was the programme:–Song, “The Little Four-Leaved Shamrock from Glenore”, Mr Aidan Hayes, Ardinagh; dance 3 hand reel, Missis Stafford, Hillis and Quigley, Kenny Dancing Troupe; song “Eily Mc Manus”, Miss M. Keane, Ballymitty; dance, Miss K. Hillis, (Kenny Troupe); song “Galway Bay”, Mr C. Hannon, Wellingtonbridge; hornpipe, Miss B. Quigley (Kenny Troupe); song, “The Old House” Miss M. Molloy, Ballymitty; chorus, members of the dramatic class, “Cockles and Mussels” and “What shall we do with the drunken sailor?”; duet, “What Would You Do, Love?”, Miss M. Keane and Mr W. Carty; songs “Cabin with the roses round the door” and “Why did she leave me?”, Mr M. Molloy, Ballymitty; dance, reel, Missis Quigley, Hillis and Ferguson (Kenny Troupe); duet, “Two Eyes of Blue” Missis Keane and Molloy; song “Willie Reilly” by Mr A. Hayes; song “Rose of Tralee”, Mr C. Hannon; song “Bless This House”, Mr Sean Mc Cormack.
At the conclusion of the performance, Rev. T. Power thanked the audience for attending in such great numbers and for their attention during the progress of the entertainment which showed that they thoroughly appreciated the play and concert in general. He also paid tribute to the dramatic class for their fine performance, as they had met many difficulties. They were deserving of much credit. He also thanked the various artists for their splendid concert performance. The programme concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.
Mr M. Donnell was a most efficient stage manager.”
At the meeting of the Wexford District Council in February 1913, it was reported:–
“John C– applied for the tenancy of a cottage at Balloughton. The Clerk said Culleton had been tenant of the cottage but possession was taken from him as he did not pay the rent. He agreed to pay the rent now as he was anxious to get back to the cottage. Expenses had since been incurred with the arrears brought the amount up to 45 shillings. His application was granted subject to his getting a surety for the rent and expenses.”
It was not a disgrace to fail the rent on a labourer’s cottage: the puzzle is why anyone would have expected such men on measly and irregular earnings to pay rent on their homes.
The People on Saturday September 12th 1885 reported grim stories at the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League meeting:–
“Met on Sunday Sept. 6th. There was a large attendance of members.
John Martin of Tullicanna, an evicted tenant, came before the meeting and stated that himself and his old mother-in-law Mary Kinsella, had been flung out of their home in Tullicanna Bog by Mrs Louisa M—H—of Tullicanna. The report of Mary Kinsella’s eviction had already appeared in the Press. It was decided to take legal proceedings for disturbance and an order was made to that effect, the evicted tenant consenting.
A long discussion ensued on the conduct of those Bannow farmers who demeaned themselves by still keeping up the servile system of duty days and worse by going in on objectionable lands and drawing landlords’ hay off said lands. It was thought that such servility was a thing of the past, but it seems there are still some who are still in the old groove and cannot shake the shackles off their limbs. Such men seem to sigh for the good old days and their labourers are no better than themselves.”
One man was accused of shouting at the door of the evicted woman, Mary Kinsella.
The Free Press on June 3rd 1950 carried an obituary on Mr James Cullen, Coolishal:–
“The passing of Mr James Cullen of Coolishal, Carrig-on-Bannow on Tuesday removed one of the fine old stock whose name was famous in football and handball circles half a century ago. One of the outstanding players of the Ballymitty teams of the old days, Mr Cullen was a popular and well known figure in the district and his demise at 74 years after a long illness is keenly regretted by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Known to many as “Buller” Cullen, his name was a watchword among his football opponents who had reason to respect his abilities in the football art. He was, also, a keen exponent of bowling and a famous match in which he took part with Mr J. Wallace at Bridgetown was related in the Free Press on April 1 last. His funeral to Carrig Cemetery testified to the general esteem in which he was held.”
I calculate that the “Buller” was born in 1876; in which case he was 37 when Ballymitty-Bannow won the 1912 Co. Junior A Football Championship Final at Campile in 1913. Due to injury he did not play in that match. He was most famous in those years. I have no doubt that he had a massive funeral.