Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, back like the good weather—as ever charming, charismatic, ebullient, eloquent, poetic, challenging, inspired and inspiring, like Finn Mac Cumhail and his warriors getting younger and gifted with extraordinary wisdom; a historian supreme, modest, humble, self-effacing, uses big words (appropriately), a prophet, a trainor of hurling teams, a marathon runner and above all else, the most devious and wily of them all: that wily boy from beside the mine pits. It has, always, been gold and silver for the Barrystown childre—as St Kevin of Kilkaven prophesised.
On next Wednesday night, October 12, I will give a lecture on the genesis of the first Co. Wexford Strawberry Fair in Enniscorthy in 1968 plus an account of the early Fairs at Clonroche Community Centre at 8.30pm. Many will thoroughly enjoy and be uplifted by this lecture— while the rest do not know what they are missing….
W. H. Flood and Laurence F. Reneghan stated in their history of the diocese of Ferns a long time ago of the Rev. Edward Murphy Parish Priest of Carrig-on-Bannow:–
“He built a thatched chapel at Ballymitty in 1806, replacing the former chapel of Tullicanna. His Curate, the Rev. John Sutton, died on June 16th, 1821 and was replaced by Rev. James Harpur. Father Murphy died on July 23rd 1830, aged 80.”
“The Late Thomas Boyse Esq., of Bannow
To the Editor
Hilltown, Bannow April 11th, 1854
Dear Sir—Will you kindly let me acknowledge through your esteemed and widely circulating press, a legacy of £50 left to me by the late Thomas Boyse, Esq., of Bannow House, for the benefit of the poor on his estate and which I this day received by check from his agent, Thomas Dillon, Esq., minus £2 10 shillings 3 pence for expenses. This munificent legacy of Mr Boyse to the poor is not wonderful in our eyes who were acquainted with the generosity of his character. It is a perpetuation of his noble and disinterested acts of philanthropy during life. Few of the high order in which he ranked thought less about money.—Even to his independent tenantry he was generous—After giving them a receipt in full for their rent charge, many a pound and pounds he returned to them as presents. His exalted generosity in raising the fine and spacious Catholic Church of Danescastle is before the public. The plan of that Church was drawn up as the work proceeded; and when some fears were expressed about the means of finishing it, on as extensive and expensive a plan as that adopted, Mr Boyse said, “Go on, go on”. I think nothing about a few hundred pounds.” These expressions were not vox et preterea nihil. He gave the most solid proofs of their sincerity. When the Church was in progress he gave for several weeks £20 a week to pay the tradesmen and labourers. After its completion he deposited in my hands two checks (sic), one for £100 to purchase three stained-glass windows to be placed over the three altars; and a second, for £200 to buy tiles for the flooring. In short about £1,000 of his money was expanded on the Church erected to the worship of the living God in Danescastle. Semper nomen honosque, luadesque manebunt,
I am, dear Sir, yours respectfully,
P. Corish P. P.”
Tom Boyse never cared about a few hundred pounds: a score of men could have counted it for weeks and still not have it all added up. His philanthropy was matched only by his means!
Fr Peter Corish was addressing his remarks to the Editor of the Wexford Independent, who was variously either Jack Greene, (also its proprietor) or Edmund Hore—the latter was a gifted writer.
The first remarkable thing about Fr Corish’s missive is his address, Hilltown, Ballymitty”. When Fr Corish was appointed Parish Priest of Bannow in August 1830, the parishioners of Carrig-of-Bannow opposed him—not for a personal reason but because they wanted the Curate who served under Fr Edward Murphy in the closing years of his pastorate, Fr John Barry, appointed as Parish Priest of Bannow. I can get no details of this Fr John Barry in the usually minutely detailed “Secular Priest of the Diocese of Ferns” by Canon John V. Gahan. I suspect that he was a native of Bannow or, perhaps, connected to the Barry family there. Because of this controversy Fr Corish lived at Hilltown, Ballymitty; Fr Barry was transferred and succeeded as Curate in the Bannow parish by Fr Martin Moran. While a curate in Gorey, Fr Corish was involved in an ugly controversy with the Rev. Mr Webb who accused him of putting pressure on a dying servant girl to pay him for attending her during a serious illness. The charges made by the Rev. Webb did not seem credible to me..
I am puzzled why there should have been expenses charged on the £50 left by Tom Boyse to the poor of Bannow—I presume that he left it as a bequest; maybe the £2 was a legal charge of some kind. I assume that when Fr Corish used the word “check” that he meant “cheque”.
I think that a sister of Tom Boyse, also, donated money to the building of Carrig Chapel.
From The Wexford Independent January 26, 1839:–
“Sir—I would wish to have I it known to you that Sir Francis Hamilton Loftus, Bart., of Mount Loftus, County Kilkenny (who is proprietor of a large portion of the lands in the barony of Bargy) has not on the last rent day demanded of his tenantry the rent charge imposed on landholders by a recent Act of Parliament in lieu of tithes. Such goodness and disinterestedness (which are proverbial in his family) should not for a moment be passed by, without some public notice; and not only deserve the gratitude of his tenantry but also of the country at large. He has heartily joined the Bannow Patriot in the good work of his country’s regeneration; and you will find his name attached to every public requisition tending to benefit the people in his own county.”
To translate the above, in 1838 the odious Tithes or payments levied on all—for the benefit of the Established Church (or Protestant) clergy—was replaced by a charge on the rent of lands. Some landlords did not impose this charge on their tenants but paid it themselves rather than raise the rents on tenants. Naturally Tom Boyse of Bannow opted to pay the rent charge out of his own resources. In the above letter the appellation “Bannow Patriot” is used in a letter that approves of Mr Boyse: the editor of the sectarian Wexford Conservative coined the sobriquet “the Patriot of Bannow” in scorn at Mr Thomas Boyse.
From The Wexford Independent the 19th of April 1854:–
“The Barristown Lead Mines
History fails to inform at what period these mines (from the vicinity to which, the ancient town of Clonmines in this County took its name) were first worked. The local tradition is that they were worked by the Danes during their sway in these parts, some thousand years ago. Certain it is, however, that they have been worked to considerable extent and, perhaps, at various periods, as the shafts and galleries fallen in with during the resumption of the works a few years ago show that the miners could not have had a perfect knowledge of what had been done by those who preceded them. The consequence, to the last workers, was that the abrupt falling in with the old shafts and accumulations of pent-up waters, so impeded progress as to cause very great discouragement and led, finally, to the abandonment of the works entirely. We understand that lately some Cornish miners have been brought over on what the Americans call a “prospecting” visit and that in a place hitherto untried and some distance from the old sites, an unusually rich vein has been discovered, at a very small depth, from the surface, which promises such a percentage of silver as is likely to lead to the resumption of the works again, with encreased (sic) spirit.”
It is a mistake to conclude that Clonmines is named after the mines! It is a Gaelic phrase and appellation meaning pasture land of some kind, maybe the finer kind of pasture.
Henry Kelly, Auctioneer 8 Lombard-Street, Dublin had an extraordinary public auction to perform in the spring of 1854. This auctioneer was “honored by the representatives of the late Thomas Boyse of Bannow House, County Wexford, with instructions to
“SELL BY AUCTION
On Tuesday the 11th of April, 1854
The entire of the Household Furniture and other effects, all of which are of the best description, the Furniture and other effects, all of which are of the best description, the furniture having been manufactured by Messrs Williams and Gibton of Dublin..
To enumerate the contents of Bannow House would be impracticable in an advertisement….”
It is, likewise, impracticable to list all the items, belonging to Bannow House, in a single Blog!
I will quote the—
consists of about 1500 volumes of rare, valuable, and richly bound books amongst which will be found the Delphin Classics, 142 vols, Encyclopoedia Britannica, 20 vols, Waverey Novels, 48 vols; the works of Bacon, Boyle, Johnson, Shakespeare, Robinson, Hume, Gibbon, Locke, Dryden, Young, Congreve, Byron, T. Moore, S. C. Hall and nearly all the ancient and modern authors of note which will not be offered for sale until the furniture is disposed of.”
One could obtain catalogues of all the items for sale at various places including Bannow House at a charge of three pence per catalogue which would be returned to purchasers of goods at the auction.
This quotation comes from a story by Anna Maria Hall, published in the Dublin University Magazine in 1835; it is, supposedly, an unedited letter by a young Bannow man in London writing home to his mother:–
“I am sorry enough to hear that the times are bad with the Bannow postman. Sure the gentry shouldn’t forget that he as good as walked twice round the world and not for sport either, but to bring them conveniences, before Carrick was turned grand into a post town. My duty to the priest; and, mother, Heaven’s blessing on you, mother, and don’t let Kathleen forget yours and hers ever constant and affectionate to command.
Terence became enamoured of an English girl, of a saucy disposition, who pronounced his native place as “Ban-No”; presumably he pronounced it as “Banna”. In latter day upper class accent, it may be pronounced as “Bonnow”. The English girl dismissed him contemptuously and Terence, while confessing his indiscretion to his mother, entreated her not to tell his girl-friend who lived at Blackhall, Bannow, Kathleen Carey, about his attempted liaison with the English beauty. It is hard to imagine that any girl anywhere else would equal the beauty of the Bannow girls! Terence would not be the last Bannow man to find the girls attractive. The lack of religious belief among the working English people puzzled him—on that he was historically correct. But all of that discussion is digression from the real issue raised by the above quotation: the phrase “before Carrick was turned grand into a post town” indicates that by 1835 there was a Post Office in the village of Carrig-on-Bannow. As I related before a woman from Carrig village asked me in the Library at Wexford how far back was there a Post Office at Carrig; I did not know but promised to investigate so there is my answer many years later. Some of Tom Boyse’s earlier letters cited Taghmon as his post town.
There is no need for me to tell any of my readers that the Bannow Postman was John Williams, the man that Mrs Hall wrote so much about in her short stories and descriptions of Bannow. The Post Office at Carrig would make him redundant as he carried the letters from the post town of Wexford to the Bannow district. Mrs Hall is pitching to the gentry and landlords to provide for the needs of John Williams in his unemployed condition—and growing old.
The People on the 1st of July 1899 reported:–
“The Venerable Archdeacon of Ferns
The death after a brief illness of the Venerable Patrick Charles Sheridan, Archdeacon and pastor of Bannow has occasioned universal sorrow in the county; for the Archdeacon was widely known and much beloved. He contracted cold about a fortnight since, congestion of the lungs supervened, to which he succumbed on Thursday morning. Archdeacon Sheridan was born in Askamore 71 years ago. He was educated at St Peter’s College and afterwards at Maynooth. In 1854, he was ordained and appointed C. C. of Bannow. Two years later, he was transferred to St Peter’s College as professor and a little later on the appointment of the president, Dean Kirwan to the pastoral charge of Piercestown, Father Sheridan became president of St Peter’s, an office the duties of which he discharged with great success. Never had this excellent institution a more prosperous career than under his wise and able administration. On the death of the Very Rev. Peter Corish P. P. Bannow and Chancellor of Ferns in 1873, Father Sheridan succeeded him in both offices. About a year ago he was appointed Archdeacon of Ferns. Archdeacon Sheridan was a remarkable, holy and exemplary priest. He was of a most retiring disposition and seldom took part in public affairs. When, however, his services were required by his people he was ready to lend them his counsel and assistance. He was a warm but unostentatious patriot but he was a priest before everything. His parishioners fully appreciated his holiness of life and held him in the very highest esteem and warmest affection. He was truly a father to them and none repaired to him for counsel or guidance in vain. They feel his death as a severe blow and deeply mourn his great loss. The Archdeacon was brother of the late Very Rev. Thomas Sheridan P. P. Oylegate and of Dr Sheridan J. P., Wexford, with whom there is great sympathy in the bereavement of an attached brother. He is, also, uncle of Rev. N. T. Sheridan, president of St Peter’s College. The funeral obsequies will take place this (Saturday) morning after which the remains will be interred in Bannow Church. R. I. P.”
Obituaries of priests in that era were lengthy but largely filled with adulation of the deceased clergyman: there is invariably an absence of practical details of the priest’s life or any descriptive account of him, physically, psychologically and emotionally. The listing of ecclesiastical titles and attainments takes a fair bit of space in itself! As a general rule, priests came from families, which in the parlance of the era, supplied sons and daughters to the Church. A deceased brother of Fr Sheridan was a priest plus a nephew who was the current president of St Peter’s College. Fr Sheridan does not seem to have been politically involved. In accordance with a prevailing custom, Fr Sheridan was buried in Carrig chapel.