Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, inspirational and inspired, erudite, scholarly, renowned far and near, historian supreme, marathon runner, trainor of hurling teams, florist with superb sun-flowers, and fabulous hollyhocks, uses big words (appropriately) blessed among women, and the most devious and wily of them all! It has ever been gold and silver for the Barrystown childre (to use Mrs Hall’s word).
I had many teachers and most of them are now departed to the heavenly mansions. But the puzzle to most people is what would anybody teach to the boy from Barrystown? A good question, well worth asking! They certainly made an impact on me and they certainly meant well, my memories of them are equalled only by my recollections of the girls that I knew in those times.
John O’Donovan made out notes to accompany the Ordnance Survey in circa 1839 and these are quotes from that:–
“There is in the townland of Ballymitty a spot of ground planted with white thorns, on which the people say there was formerly a Church; it is called the “Church Field” and part of the foundation of the old Church is traceable. In the same field about two hundred (?) to the west is St Peter’s Well, a good spring. Speaking in full, the people call this spot “Ballymitty Old Church Field” . There was a Pattern held here about forty years ago on St Peter’s Day (29th June).”
“About a quarter of a mile to the south of this Church [old Church of Kilkaven] is a well dedicated to St Coemhan, at which “Patterns” are still held on the 12th of June, from which it can be safely inferred that the Coemhan of this Parish is the same as Coemhan of Airdne Choemhain, la taebh Locha Garman, i.e., by the side of Wexford Lough or Harbour.”
I am not completely convinced; O’Donovan was too quick to state certainties of his own imagination.
The Wexford Herald reported on March 12 1831 on a case at the Assizes in Wexford town:–
“Eliza Jones for stealing £2 and several articles of female apparel.
John Furlong, sworn—Lives at the Grange of Kilcavan in Bargy—lost in October £2, a black fur tipper, a gown, stockings etc, belonging to his daughter Mary Furlong. They could not have been taken by anyone only prisoner, as there was no other person in the house. He heard she had taken the road to Enniscorthy and pursued her and with the assistance of Sergeant Cummins found her out. Found his property along with her. Part of the cloathes (sic) were on her and found the two pound notes in the silk bag.
The Prisoner here by way of accounting for having the money and cloathes said he had given them to her under certain conditions and had promised to give her £2 more. This, the prosecutor denied and said she had only been two days in his employment and he had never seen her before.
Sergeant Cummins corroborated the case of the prosecution and the prisoner was found guilty.”
It is unlikely that John Furlong of Kilkaven has a motor car so the query arises: how did he overtake the woman on the road to Enniscorthy? He would, also, have to contact Sergeant Cummins. There may have been sightings of her along the road but it is not clear how these would be communicated to Sergeant Cummins. Mr Furlong and Sergeant Cummins may have gone on horse drawn transport. The Jones woman may have stopped at houses along the road but she certainly was amiss in not getting rid of the clothes and pound notes. She was possibly well known as a scam artist. The fact that she was wearing some of the clothes is informative in itself: criminals in that era—while they mainly opted to live that kind of life as distinct from working which they considered beneath their dignity—were severely pinched for the necessities of life, with little money, possessions, and often short of food and sufficient clothing. Their mode of transport was invariably “shanks mare” or walking and this slow mobility made it easier to catch them. They were, however, a nuisance to the ordinary people who sometimes were intimidated by them into paying them levies or face retaliation such as the burning of their homes.
On September 19th 1835 the biliously sectarian Wexford Conservative related what it had heard about Cullenstown strand, reflecting the conviction of its editor James Ryan, the mathematician that Sunday should be a sombre and humourless time:–
“Desecration of the Sabbath
We have been informed that Cullinstown (sic) strand is the scene of all manner of vice and debauchery on Sabbath days—Tents are erected and horse racing, and all manner of gambling are shamefully and openly carried out—when their Reverences, the priests who should watch strictly over the morals of their flocks are so immoral themselves as to countenance these bad practices, the magistrates should enforce the laws and put a stop to them.”
Some years ago in the old Wexford Library, a woman from Carrig village who had been to Danescastle National School in Paddy Garvey’s time and had been taught by him asked me when the post office was introduced to Carrig village. At that time I did not know but promised her that I would endeavour to do my utmost to find out. At this long remove, I have kind of found out! Anna Maria Hall writing in 1835, in a British magazine, stated that Carrig-on-Bannow had become a post town; she seemed to argue that this development had left the famous postman of old, John Williams, without work and in a bad way.
From The Free Press, July 12th 1913:
“May I draw attention to the renewed desecration of the old Church at Bannow, which is being used as a ball court? Some time ago a complaint of such desecration appeared in your paper and was, also, considered by the authorities—the Rural District Council—when a resolution was passed saying that the practice of playing ball within the ruins had been discontinued but evidently only for the winter. Some action should be taken the proper authorities to prevent a continuation of such unseemly desecration.
On Thursday evening last a very sensational incident occurred at a pretty little seaside resort of Cullenstown whereby a splendid motor car, the property of Dr J. B. Keogh Carrigbyrne was rendered almost useless by falling over the cliff there. It appears that on the evening in question Dr Keogh motored to Cullenstown accompanied by the Rev. T. Scallan C. C., Ballymitty. They drove along the extreme end of a bank at a place known as “the lake” where turning the car Dr Keogh brought it to a stand still on the bank. At this place there is a slight decline towards the edge of the cliff and it is thought that the brakes may not have “gripped” sufficiently for when Dr Keogh and Fr Scallan alighted from the car, it moved backwards towards the banks and down grade, increasing its motion; it toppled over before anything could be done. Dr Keogh caught the car and attempted to save it but part of it was already over and he had to let go as there was a danger of himself being dragged over with it. Luckily the cliff at this point is not so steep, the distance the car fell being only about 14 feet.”
I wonder did Dr Keogh and Fr Scallan have to get a taxi home?
From The Free Press October 5th 1912:–
“A man named Walter Cullen of Ballyfrory near Carrig, was the victim of what easily might have been a very serious accident on Saturday last whilst engaged in carting home straw in company with another man named Cleary. While in the act of straining the rope on top of the load, the rope broke and he was precipitated to the ground. He, however, came into contact with Cleary in the fall and this made the effect less serious. As it was, the poor man was rendered unconscious and had to be carried home where he was attended by Dr O’Brien, Bannow. The injured man received a severe shaking and up to the time of writing was not fit to be moved.”
The identity of the person who wrote these accounts of events in Carrig-on-Bannow parish is not ever hinted at but I venture the conjecture that it was Jack Breen, the school teacher in Danescastle National School
From the Enniscorthy Guardian the 26th of June 1935:–
Big Programme for Ballymadder
The public will be treated to a great day’s racing at Ballymadder on Thursday, the 4th July. The committee are fortunate in having such an experienced, energetic and popular official for secretary as Mr J. Cousins, Carrig-on-Bannow and in securing such an ideal racing course for the day. The programme of five events for horses and ponies is certainly very creditable to the promoters and a perfect guarantee to the public of a capital day’s racing. There are good prizes all round and there is sure to be a big entry. The public, near and far, are looking forward with interest to this big racing carnival. There will be refreshments on the field. Entries close on June the 29th. See advertisement.”
Many years ago in the National Library I copied out portions of a missive from Tom Boyse dated July 1 1823 and using the address “The Grange, Taghmon, Wexford-shire”. It was sent to “The Society for improving the condition of the Irish peasantry”. The address proves that there was not as yet a post office in Carrig village. At the outset of his letter Tom Boyse referred to the task “of appropriating the grant of £30; the distribution of which sum had been confided to my superintendence by the committee of “The Society for improving the condition of the Irish peasantry”. He added—
“The Parochial Committee [of Bannow] having yesterday accomplished their judicial labours [deciding how to spend the £30 on prizes to local people] I have not to state that my earnest expectations relative to effects likely to be produced in this place by the munificent interest which the society has evinced in the well-being of Irishmen has been largely realised. Indeed the minute neatness with which the details recommended by the Society’s Committee have in some instances been acted upon has, perhaps, exceeded that measure of decent embellishment which might be fairly deemed to appertain to the dwelling of a labouring peasant.”
Mr Boyse noted the “bona fide and zealous co-operation of the Parish Pastor of that persuasion [the Catholic Parish Priest Fr Edward Murphy]. In compliance with the suggestion of the Committee, we have in several instances effected the removal of the pig sty and the dung heap from the front of the house and I have no doubt it will follow in many more…” Mr Boyse suggested the “substitution of a little grass-plot, flower-bed on gravelled walk in front…”
Tom Boyse then boasted—a boast unlikely to be contested or proved untrue!—
“during the five years that I have acted as magistrate of this county I have not had occasion to take cognizance of a complaint for a common assault in Bannow or indeed of any other infraction of the peace…”
Tom Boyse then advised the Society of the necessity of “The inculcation in their [the Society’s] future proceedings of the expediency of discouraging in Ireland all intercourse with itinerant beggars; in their train invariably follows a complication of evils—Idleness—Filth—Disease—and profligacy of every species.” He demanded their expulsion as “a standing qualification” “for any district to which henceforth the Society may be pleased to extend pecuniary assistance.”
Tom Boyse was focussed on the physical sciences them coming into prominence and feared dirt and related lack of hygiene as likely to bring disease. Dung heaps at the front door certainly invited disease especially if containing human waste, as was likely to be the case.
He noted “the constitutionally mercurial temperament of my countrymen” and described them as “a valuable and most interesting peasantry.”
I think that I know the ordinary identity of the “Bannow Parochial Committee”; they were:–
Sam Boyse and his wife Dorothy Boyse, the Rev. William Hickey, Mrs William Hickey, the Rev. Edward Murphy P. P. Carrig-on-Bannow, George Carr of Graigue House the Counsellor and step father (I think) of the mother of Anna Maria Hall, Jonas King of Barriestown, John Carroll, doctor or surgeon and his wife Mrs Carroll, Tom Boyse, Samuel Elly and (this one I don’t know), Nicholas Tottenham, the Misses Boyse (sisters of Tom Boyse), Nathaniel Radford (a tenant of Tom Boyse who had a lease of part of the sea weed), John Radford, Mrs Fitzhenry (don’t know her) and Mrs St–, (I cannot read my own handwriting!).
From The Wexford Conservative July 25th 1835:–
“As a sign of the early harvest which may be expected and as an objection to the general application of the above remarks on the oat crop, Mr Lett of Balloughton had a large field of that grain reaped on Monday last which was found to be abundant and of an excellent description.”
Anna Maria Hall’s story “Lilly O’Brien” is, I presume, both a window on the culture of her childhood era and a model of what life might ideally be like in peasant society around Bannow and the barony of Bargy generally.
The aunt of Lilly, Mrs Cassidy (“now a very old woman”) was the expert “as to the proper mode of making mead [a drink with honey in it], potato cakes, and stirabout [oatmeal boiled]; and always decides who are the best spinners and knitters in the county; nay her opinion, given after long deliberation, established the superiority of the barrel, over the hand churn. But a Mrs Cassidy believed that a quern, a hand mill of stone, “still patronised by “the ancient Irish”—grinds wheat better than a mill and produces finer flour. Mrs Hall described Mrs Cassidy’s dwelling thus:–
“it is perfectly hidden—absolutely wooded in; but it is a rare specimen of neatness. The farmyard is stocked with ricks of corn, hay and furze; with a puddle like pond for ducks and geese and a sty for a little grunting animal who thinks it a very unjust sentence that consigns a free born Irish pig to such confinement. How beautiful is the hawthorn hedge!—one sheet of snowy blossom—and such a row of bee-hives!—while the white walls of the cottage are gemmed over with the delicate green, half budded leaves of the noble rose-tree, that mounts even to the chimney top; the bees will banquet there, by-and-bye. A parlour in an Irish cabin!—yes, in good truth, and a very pretty one; the floor strewed with the ocean’s own sparkling sand; pictures of half the head saints of the calendar, in black frames and bright green, scarlet and orange draperies; a corner cupboard, displaying china and glass for use and show, the broken parts carefully turned to the wall; the inside of the chimney lined with square tiles of blue earthenware and over it an ivory crucifix and a small white chalice full of holy water; six high backed chairs, like those called “education” of modern days; a well polished round oak table and a looking glass of antique form, complete the furniture. The window—forget the window!—oh, that would be unpardonable! It consists of six unbroken panes of glass….”
At that time Tom Boyse was engaged in persuading the poorer people of Bannow to remove the dung heap from close to their front door and to desist from having pigs in their cabins.
I am sure that she had a picture of St Kevin of Kilkaven among those on the walls.
According to my fragmentary notes a lease of Danescastle National School(s) for 99 years was granted on the 26th of August 1892, under the Leases for Schools Act 1881 to the Trustees—James Brown the bishop of Ferns, Canon Sheridan P. P., Bannow (by then deceased) and Arthur Keating of Carrig Hill. The average attendance was 200 children and the teachers were—William Murphy, Michael O’Gorman and Thomas Flynn; the latter two were monitors or trainee teachers of a sort.. According to the Commissioners’ Records on 11 of January 1894, “the Christmas vacation lengthened by a week but no notice given to inspector.” I again remind readers that boys were taught in one room and this was called the Boys National School and likewise the girls were taught in another room and this was called, predictably, the Girls National School.
On the 11th of December 1898, the Commissioners Orders noted or warned—“Teacher must discontinue practice of going home to dinner and must remain in charge whole school day.”
On the 31st of December 1899 Fr Mortimer Sullivan submitted a certificate of William Murphy’s resignation and it was ordered that he was entitled to “pension of £60 from 1. 1. ‘00” [the first of January 1900]. I am simply unsure if the £60 was an annual pension or the entirety of his pension entitlements—I am inclined that it was a lump sum and all that he would get.
On the 24th of July 1900 it was ordered that the Manager (Rev. Mortimer Sullivan) be “advised that the cost of the requisites (clock and blackboard) alleged to have been removed from school by late teacher cannot be deducted from moneys due to him by Commissioners at the time of his death. M. O’Gorman admonished for writing directly to this office.”
While Mr Murphy might have some use for a clock—even if on retirement he would not need an alarm to call him in the morning to get up and go to school—I do not know why he brought the blackboard with him; maybe as a momento! I am astonished at the lengths Fr Sullivan was prepared to go to extract payment from Mr Murphy, or from his estate, for these two trivial items. I think that Fr Mortimer Sullivan was a difficult and confrontational personality.
On the 25th of July 1902 the Commissioners ordered/recorded that “Manager informed that applicant is generally of a very unfavourable character. Unless a decided improvement takes place before next annual Examination, it will be necessary to dispense with Mr O’Gorman’s services.”
On the 7th of August 1902 the Commissioners noted that the “Manager [was] informed that Mr O’Gorman intends to resign from 31. 12. 02 [31st of December 1902] –has been noted in this office.”