Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, your favourite historian and historian supreme, a big hit with the girls, a towering genius, of enduring greatness, charismatic, charming, a right boyo, modest, humble, self-effacing, obliging, original, innovative and above all else—wily, that wily boy from beside the mine pits. St Kevin of Kilkevan prophesised that gold and silver would always pursue the Barrystown children, as symbols of victory. Bank notes may always be recycled as paper or alternatively used as bedding for cattle. In some places people bury the money in the clay and maybe that has something to do with the inflation in land prices.

It was proposed, inter alia, at the Presenting Sessions (courts to provide contracts for road repairs) in Duncormack in November 1864:–

“3. To build two gullets on the road from Bannow to New Ross between Andrew’s Bridge in Kiltra and the bridge of Pall, and between Bryan Doyle’s gate and Nicholas Harpur’s gate in Maudlintown—not to exceed £5 10 shillings. Passed.”

“Bannow, Taghmon, County of Wexford

June 22, 1828.


Referring to my letter of yestrday’s date, I wish to mention to you the grounds on which the opinion I therein gave you rests.

I had not time to do so before the departure of yestrday’s post.

It is now, as you will recollect, only one years since a pretty general failure in the potatoe crop produced suffering and privation of the most distressing kind, among our peasantry; their then inability to procure a sufficiency of wholesome sustenance brought with it, as of course, sickness and depression of mind which was quite deplorable. Extraordinary exertions were made by individual benevolence to arrest the course of the wide wasting evil, without which, I cannot help thinking that, in several districts, instances of actual starvation would have been by no means uncommon.

I ought to observe, that at the time I speak of, corn was not dear; there was plenty of it within this county,  but the labouring classes had not the wherewithal to purchase; having no equivalent to offer but their labour, for which unfortunately there was no demand.

Now it has happened this year, that the crop of potatoes has been profusely luxurious and productive: insomuch that they are now selling at the rate, in many places of ten pence per barrel; the average price and that which is conventionally considered a remunerating one to the grower, being five shillings.

Now I have no doubt that this temporary and accidental redudancy of food has been the source from which some persons in Parliament, as well as out of it—but both certainly uniformed on the subject—have ventured to deduce the flattering but fallacious inference of some general and permanent improvement in the condition of our peasantry. For I feel a perfect conviction that a recurrence of a similar deficiency of food to that which we witnesses last year, would sadly, but satisfactorily confirm and illustrate the truth of my position.

Much has been inconsiderately assumed, (and plausibly enough advanced) respecting the habitual improvidence of our labouring classed being the main cause of their physical degradation.

It is most true, that, generally speaking, they do not anticiapte the dangers and difficulties on the brink of which they at all times stand. But I beg to submit that, even if they did exercise more of a forethougth, economy and thrift, the general want of a demand for their labour and its very incompetent remuneration, when they are so fortunate as to find employment precludes the possibility of their providing against contingent wants; all their faculties, all their ingenuity, I may truly say, being devoted to satisfying the urgency and importunity of their every-day necessities. I have resided uninterrruptedly in this place for the last thirteen years and during that time have been pretty much a daily visitor of the peasant’s cabin; indeed I may say I live with him and have been a not unobservant spectator of his habits, opinions, &. The unequiocal result of the local information I have thus obtained and which is, by the way, thus only to be obtained, is, that any actual, general permanent diminution of pauperism or progress of improvement amongst us, is of all posible assuptions the most gratuitous and unfounded in fact.

In this parish (Bannow) it has by chance suited the purposes of the resident proprietor to employ regularly its whole labouring population in agriculture. And he done so with great advantage to himself. It has consequently never been desolated by those lamentable irritations so commonly occurring in other parts of the country; but the population is very dense. And should it at any time be deprived of the sources of employment now afforded by the profitable and spirited system of improvement in process of execution by the landlord, (either by his absence or change of purpose) I could anticipate for it no other destiny, than a participation in the general misery of Ireland, attributable, unquestioanbly, in a very large degree, indeed, to the want of capital. But sad bugbears are conjured up by the imaginary fears of capitalists on your side of the channel, with respect to the insecurity of investments in Ireland.

Yet with the exception of a few, very few districts, badly managed by authoritaive and influential residents, I know no portion of Europe where British capital would find so profitable or safe an asylum.

Believe me, Sir, I do not indulge in the language of hyperbole, in advancing what may appear to be a somewhat startling and hazardous hypothesis: I speak advisedly—practically. And if our people are not irritated by abusive attacks on their religious faith, they are in all things else, the most manageable of all human beings.

I should not fear to incur any concievable responsibility, with a view to encouraging the introduction of some of your plethoric, superfluity of capital into our poverty stricken island. It would prove the greatest of all charities and, like charity, would at once, per saltum, cover a multitude of our and your sins

But the panic with which English capitalists are seized when Irish investment is proposed proves the existence of one only out of the thousand devices which are resorted to for the purpose of depressing the true interests of us poor Patlanders. A most destructive industry is, as I too well know, used to represent the state of Ireland generally, such as to render the transference to it of English capital an insane speculation. But an English manufacturer or agriculturist, located in the neighbourhood of this place and giving employment to its inhabitants, would be treated with boundless gratitude and veneration, for “giving them leave to toil”, (as Burns has it).

I have said that this parish is in a state of plenty and comfort, flowing from the regular and constant employment of its labouring classes.

I would beg you to bear in mind, that here nothing is looked upon as pauperism, short of the imminence of actual starvation; so that what in England you would denominate pauperism, might here be considered comparative competence, nay, affluence: for it is too true, that, to speak generally, we are so familiarised with privation and suffering, that their mere absence is quasi, LUXURY.

It so happened that I received your letter when I was in company with eight or nine of our neighbouring country gentlemen who, viva voce, agreed with the opinion I yesterday transmitted. This county, Wexford, is admittedly, in an especial manner, and very broadly distinguishable from other counties, by the habits of superior cleanliness, order and industry amongst its inhabitants. It was my fortunate lot, some few years ago, to have proposed to the resident gentry of the southern half of the county, the formation of an association directed to the object of improving the agriculture of the district and the general condition of the people. I have been the secretary of this association, which, I am happy to say has done wonders and remains in very flourishing circumstances, in consequence of a very noble annual subscription of the landlowners. This fund is disposed of chiefly in the shape of premiums for merit in the several different departments of rural economics. This stimulus has excited an extraordinary degree of industry and improvement; but, whether, in the event of its withdrawal, the effects would remain, I am not competent to say, except in one respect, in which the benefit must be permanent. I mean the improvement of out farming implements and of our plouhgman’s performance. And a great change has taken place in the general countenance and appearance of the district.

I have thrown together very hastily these desultory observations, which, however, I hope will be found to bear on the objects which your query embraces.

I shall be most happy, as accurately and candidly, as I can, to elucidate any of the statistics of this country, about which you may desire and my local expeience may have supplied me with information.

I have the honour to remain, Sir,

Your most obedient servant

Thomas Boyse”

After his death in January 1854 Tom Boyse was succeeded by his brother the Rev. Richard Boyse, who continued the benign management of the estate that his brother Tom Boyse became iconic for. The Rev. Boyse believed passionately in freedom of religious belief as this letter to Fr Roche in Wexford indicates:–

“Letter of the Rev. R. Boyse

Bannow House, 9th September 1856

Rev. and Dear Sir—In reply to your letter of the 6th instant, I beg to enclose the sum of one pound, towards the New Parochial Churches, now building in the town of Wexford.

It is the happy privilege of this county, that every individual may worship God according to his conscience and are all equally interesting in rendering the places devoted to that worship, worthy of the high purpose for which they are set apart.

I remain, dear Sir,

Very truly your’s

R. Boyse”

From The Wexford Independent January 30th 1856:–


January the 28th at Barristown, in this county, the wife of Jonas King Esq., J. P. of a son.”

The People on April 26th 1882 carried a list of ejectments secured by Captian H. A. Boyse at the Assizes in Wexford; this is a lovely extract:–

“Same v John White for the lands of Vernegly, at the yearly rent of £60, which was now due. Decree.

Same v William Stafford and another for the lands of Vernegly, at the rent of £10, 17 shillings, one year’s rent being due. Decree. Mr Huggard said that the remainder of the ejectments were served through the post and by being posted on the Wexford courthouse. Daly, the process server, was then sworn and gave an exparte statement; he said he was afraid to go to Bannow to serve the ejectemnts. He was told to do nothing more for Mr Boyse with respect to rent and not to go there any more or to mark the consequnce. He was afraid to go there though he was always armed.”

Joe Daly came from the Taghmon area and had a most dangerous job. He probability of Captain Boyse getting new tenants on these farms would be microscopic! One would prefer an offer of a tenancy in Hell: the big difference between the attitude of famers to evicted lands in the Land League era was their adoption of the trade union principle of solidarity; previously once a tenant was evicted, another man would take the evicted land and premises—but in the Land League era, it became taboo to take land from which another person was evicted. The Land League was professedly non-violent but the threat of violence, as a surreptious last resort was there. There were still men who would take evicted lands or graze cattle and sheep on them if they thougth they could do so without reprisal. They were in every parish but in writing about the Land League I have refrained from naming them.

My theory of the Land League is that it represented the emergence of a rudimentary democratic ethos amongs the ordinary Irish people: up to 1860 both farmers and labourers looked to the landlords as a superior type of persons, intended by providence to control the land—hopefully in a paternalist and benign manner. The second Lord Carew to (and son of the first Lord Carew of Castelboro—the first cousin of Tom Boyse) said in 1839 that the relationship of tenant and landlord was an axis of nature; he was that day replying to an address from the tenantry at a banquet in Clonroche for his twenty-first birthday. The tenantry had organised the banquet in his honour and cheered his speech in which he asserted that a landlord had his responsibilities as well as his rights.

In the time of the Land League the ordinary farmers and labourers seemed uneasy with the model of the landlord as a kind father type ruler: they were influenced by egalitarian ideas of their equality, as human beings, with all others. Hence they wanted the land for themselves in their ownership. I suspect that there was an undercurrent of religious feeling involved, also—they undoubtedly felt that the land of Ireland should return to Catholic ownership but the Land League had no objection to tenants of the Church of Ireland, also, becoming owners of their farms.

Return of Judicial Rents, March/April 1896

2624. John Quigley & Another, Sheastown. Landlord—Mrs Mary E. King & Another.

2625. John Quigley and another, Sheastown. Landlord—James Howlin.

At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in June 1915 Mr Francis A. Leigh J. P. Rosegarland wrote thanking the magistrates for their kind vote of condolence, passed by them, regarding his brother’s death at the front [in World War I].

From The People October 19th 1878:–


October 15th at her residence Bannow and fortified by the Sacraments in the 76th year of her age, Bridget, widow of the late Mr Peter Barry and mother of the late Rev. John Barry C. C. Kilrane.”