Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, in fine fettle, charming, charismatic, ebullient, scholarly, erudite, historian supreme and above all else—wily. As I tend to say, it is ever a case of gold and silver for the Barrystown Children and they will always prosper. In June 1963 in one of those imaginative exercises in reality bending that he was accustomed to do, Jack Kennedy told a crowd in Galway that if the day was clear enough and you could see far enough you would see Boston; you would see there the descendants of the emigrants from the west of Ireland and he added—“They are all doing fine.” It was Jack Kennedy’s picturesque and slightly poetic way of saying that the Irish will work and prosper wherever they go plus contributing to the common good. May I paraphrase him and say that wherever the people of Carrig-on-Bannow go they too, will work and prosper and be model citizens? They are a special people. Many of the Carrig-on-Bannow people who have ventured abroad and throve have hankered to return to Bannow, often, to repose there. In a wider context my former teacher Pat O’Farrell of Sydney in one his later books quoted an Irish emigrant in Australia as writing in a letter that he always longed to see again “the old shamreoig shore”; the motif of the sea shore (perhaps, the scene of embarkation on the journey to a foreign country or shore was poignant in the emigrant memory) is a constant of such nostalgia. On January 3rd 1942 an emigrant from Bannow using the pseudonym T. M. (New Zealand) published this poem in the Echo (Enniscorthy):–
“On the green cliffs of Bannow
Where I often chanced to roam
Above the buried city I will build a little home
Nearby a ruined chapel that is open to the sky
In the middle of the graveyard where my old friends lie
The lonely shore of Bannow is four thousand leagues away
But I can hear the crying of the curlews at the bay
And see in dreams at evening when the sun is in the west
The brown sails moving homeward like crows that go to rest
In the sunken spires of Bannow still the old bells ring
And fishermen will tell you they often hear them ring;
When a storm stirs the waters and angry billows roar
Till they spread themselves in fury and die along the shore.
In my heart bells of memory are ringing soft and low
Like the bells of that old city drowned so long ago;
They will lure me back to Bannow and above its lonely strand
I hope to build a little home in my own dear native land.
From its’ door to the seashore a pathway will go
And in a little garden in summer flowers will grow;
From my window I shall see all day the tides rise and fall
And there will be a sunny seat against the southern wall.
The straw roof will shelter me from the rain and wind
And there, if God spares me, some years of rest I’ll find;
I will kneel in the chapel that is roofed by the sky
And pray in that graveyard where one day I shall lie.”
On May 8th 1916 T. and P. Chapman, Ballymitty and Tom Devereux of Danescastle, Bannow were transported to Stafford Prison on account of connection with the Sinn Fein movement. A group of men from Carrig-on-Bannow parish went to Wexford on Easter Monday 1916; Bob Brennan in his book refers to that.
The Free Press on January 20th 1912 reported that Mr James Doyle, sold by auction, a farm at Tullicanna of nine and a half statute acres, subject to £5 rent, to Mr Robert Walsh, Tullicanna, for £140, regarded as a record price. In latter times Governments, invariably as a stimulus to the economy, effectively print money in the form of bonds to the banks: this money inevitably finds its way into speculation, in shares and property as it is difficult to find a legal route to get it into the economy. Frank Aiken who was Minister for Finance in one of Mr de Valera’s earliest governments, was attracted to the strategy of printing money telling a group of businessmen that money could be created by the stroke of a pen; he wanted a miraculous means of driving on the totally stagnant Irish economy. Mr de Valera rightly did not want to try that particular miracle.
A return of the various lands held by Established Church diocese of Ferns was made to the House of Commons in 1824; I take these two details from it:
(1) The representative of the late Charles Tottenham Esq., held from the See of Ferns, [the Protestant bishop of Ferns] in the county of Wexford
Knocktorton…121 acres arable and generally cultivated.
(2) Mrs Margaret Sheppard held under the See of Ferns
938 acres of the lands of Ballingly, Coolcal, Ardanagh all arable pasture
and 179 acres of Aghermon, all arable pasture.
Those were Irish plantation measure acres, considerably bigger that a modern statute acre. Tottenham’s land in Knocktarton held from the Protestant bishop of Ferns were in later times leased to the O’Hanlon-Walsh family and there is no need for me to remind a Carrig-on-Bannow readership of the controversy over the eviction of the Widow O’Hanlon-Walsh and the exploits of her famous son, the Land League priest Fr Davey O’Hanlon-Walsh.
I am almost sure that Mrs Sheppard lived at Ballymitty.
A mining study of the mines of Wicklow and Wexford published in 1858 published a rather technical but detailed and informative account of the Barrystown mines; I take the liberty of quoting from it (and hope that some gifted student of geology and/or geography/ metallurgy is reading it):
“More remarkable in many respects is the Barrystown lead mine, in the extreme south of Wexford, a place worked evidently at a very early period; even according to the common traditions of the country by the Danes. The lode had been followed only 12 fathoms deep; and since on examination, a few years ago, it was found that ore was visible at that depth, it was assumed that the old miners had been baffled by water, although it was afterwards proved that the total interruption of the lode by a slide had been the cause of its abandonment.
The mine which has been for a few years past idle, was about 1846 attracting considerable attention, from the unusually large proportion of silver, 60 to 70 ounces, per ton of lead, contained in its ores. In a geological and mining point of view it is also interesting from its low angel of inclination and the peculiar heaves by which the Northern or principal of the three lodes is frequently dislocated.
The clay slate of the neighbourhood dips at an angle of 45 degrees by East and South South East whilst the vein courses about E. S. E. and W. N. W., with an inclination to the North, which is very variable, although averaging 40 degrees to 50 degrees. It is generally about three feet wide, and composed principally of ribs of quartz with sparry iron ore, galena and zinc blende, the sparry iron adhering to the walls or sides and often crystallized towards the interior whilst the other ores occupy the central part. Parallel in strike but dipping oppositely to the lode are several slides or faults generally accompanied by an inch or two of flucan or soft clay, which dislocate the lode and that too, it would appear, always in an opposite direction from what it would be expected according to the law which commonly holds good in such cases.
Thus in the old shallow workings east of the “footway shaft” the lode dips at the low angle of 22 degrees N. E. by N., whilst the slide falls nearly opposite to it at 25 degrees to 40 degrees W., and the lode is heaved 6 or 8 feet on the side of the acute angle, whilst it would ordinarily be looked for on the side of the obtuse angle, formed between the intersecting planes. Phenomena of a similar character are seen also in the “Danes Shaft” close below the 18 fathom level on the west of the “Flat Rod Shaft” and elsewhere; whilst after the lode in its descent has several times been thus dislocated reversely, it abuts at last against the face of a set of beds of black slate rock, which appear to act a very similar part to the “slides”, with exception that no farther trace of the lode has yet been met with.
Since examining these heaves underground I have had to regret that no detailed section of the mine at that time existed and that I was, by the early abandonment of the mine, disappointed in the expectation of examining them more minutely on a future visit; it thus became impossible closely to inquire into the nature of a phenomenon, highly interesting both the miner and the geologist and I must rest contented with pointing out that there exists in the Barristown mine a succession of reversed faults similar to those which we occasionally observe in coal measures and to those on a small scale described by etc etc…
In 1846 a steam-engine, with a cylinder of 30 inches diameter, was employed to pump at the principal shaft to a depth of 30 fathoms and to work horizontal rods in the western shafts to 18 fathoms, besides driving a crushing machine for the dressing of the ores.”
A priest, who was a student in a seminary, presumably Maynooth, when Tom Moore the poet visited Bannow in August 1835 wrote of that time in The Irish Monthly in November 1904; I give this extract:–
“In replying to the address presented to him by the people of Wexford, he [Tom Moore] said:–“It is peculiarly gratifying for me to receive this mark of regard from the town of Wexford, because it is to me more than my native place as having been the birthplace of my beloved mother. I was, indeed, delighted with the thought during my triumphal entry into Bannow (for triumphal it was in the best sense of the word), that so many of the Wexfordians were present to whom it gave pleasure to witness the honourable eminence to which the grandson of their humble but honest fellow-townsmen, old Tom Codd, of the Corn Market, had been exalted by his kind countrymen.”
The present writer was not at Bannow that day. What then were the pathetic circumstances under which he got sight of Thomas Moore? When the poet’s visit to The Grange was over he drove to Wexford in order to travel to Dublin by the night mail coach. Hearing that the coach was to stop in the Bull Ring to take up this illustrious passenger, I mounted to the box-seat just before the coach started. This gave me a good view of Moore when he came to take his place, passing over from the Corn Market where he had just visited the house in which his mother was born. He stood for a few minutes in the Bull Ring, bidding good bye to his friend Mr Boyse. He had a bright, pleasing face, I well remember, and wore a high shirt collar and a cloak such as is associated with O’Connell. He was small of stature and this was often alluded to by his friends as when Mr Boyse, said in one of his speeches: “He is every inch an Irishman, though, to be sure his inches may not be very many.”
Tom Boyse had made the reference to Moore’s lack of stature when he welcomed him to The Grange in August 1835—I am not sure if the priestly writer has quoted Boyse correctly in terms of the word arrangement used by Boyse. Who the priest was I am unable to say: the future Parish Priest of Taghmon Dean Murphy was a student in Maynooth at the time and Tom Boyse and the Parish Priest of Rathangan Fr John Barry—an olde world priest who had been assaulted by the Yeomanry and British forces in 1798—prevailed upon the young clerical student to write the address of welcome for Tom Moore. However, Dean Murphy had died before the turn of the century. The Irish Monthly was published by the Jesuits (I am nearly sure).
From The People on September 24th 1913:
“Lost at Cullenstown (between White’s and the Strand, in the direction of the lake) on Thursday the 26th of August a Lady’s Gold Watch. Finder will be rewarded on leaving it at Duncormack Police Barracks.”
The People on August 8th 1891 had this article:–
“Eviction at Bannow
On Monday last some evictions were carried out in Bannow on the estate of Major Boyse. It appears the leases under which the tenants on a certain townland held their holdings expired in the beginning of 1890. Ejectments for over holding were served by the landlord on all the tenants and with one exception they allowed judgement to go by default. Major Boyse then entered into new agreements with the tenants, raising their rents in nearly all cases. The one exception mentioned was Mr William Rochford who defended the ejectment brought against him. Mr Rochford’s holding contained ten acres held under a lease for 90 years, at a yearly rent of £5. When the first rent became due after the extirpation of the lease Mr Rochford tendered it as usual but it would not be accepted. Major Boyse wanted possession of the land, though not a penny was due by the tenant. The ejectment came before the County Court Judge and afterwards before Judge O’Brien at Assize, the result being that as there was an under-tenant who held a house and about an acre of the land for many years the judge decided it was not a present tenancy and the ejectment decree was put in force on Monday last. None of the public were present. No one knew what time the eviction would be carried out. Mr Walker, the agent Pierse, his clerk, and Daly the Taghmon bailiff, with an assistant, put in an appearance and evicted Mr Rochford, Michael Colfer and wife Mary Kearns, Thomas Keane with four in family and John Wallace, his wife and two children, all cottiers. The latter two were re-admitted as caretakers. Wallace and his family have been evicted twice in six months, first by Mr Sheppard of Ballygow, from a holding that was reclaimed from a knock into a state of cultivation by Wallace who paid for over fifty years four times the valuation. He offered double the valuation or to leave the matter to arbitration which was proposed by Mr Sharpe who afterwards went back off it. This appears to be an opportune time for landlords to vent their vengeance on those who took an active part in the agitation. A– W– of Carrig is caretaker over the farm. There is no branch of the Federation in Bannow.”
Major Boyse intended in the above cases to have the tenants agree to new leases with higher rents when the term of the old leases expired in 1890. Leases were usually for a term of years, say fifty years and sometimes for lives, say the life of the King of England. If he renewed the old leases the rents would remain as they were but a tenant usually paid a fine (essentially a charge) on the renewal of his lease. The landlord could not evict a tenant before the expiry of the lease. Some leases were yearly or even weekly. The reference to sub-tenant indicates a person or persons who held a piece of ground plus a cabin from the farmer who held the farm from the landlord. The sub-tenants were not recognised as proper occupiers by the Land Legislation which transferred the land from the landlords to the farmers in the early years of the twentieth century. The landlords (and especially the Hunt Boyses) did not like the sub-tenants; indeed the farmers were barely tolerant of them, also. They were piteously poor. It was a condition of most leases that a tenant should not take on under-tenants. While the lease lasted a tenant could not be evicted under law unless he got into arrears with his rent. On mature reflection I am not sure if the evictions described above were evictions in the ordinary sense with the connotations of sheer inability to pay one’s rent and accumulated arrears: the issue was essentially a legal one, the desire of Major Boyse to arrange new leases instead of renewing the old one—an arrangement to which the tenants involved (perhaps with misgivings) were prepared to acquiesce in. William Rochford was, also, (I am not sure if the evictions described above were evictions in the ordinary sense with the connotations of sheer inability to pay one’s rent and accumulated arrears: the issue was essentially a legal one, the desire of Major Boyse to arrange new leases instead of renewing the old one—an arrangement to which the tenants involved (perhaps with misgivings) were prepared to acquiesce in. William Rochford was, also, (I think) a builder who did extensive work at Carrig chapel and Danescastle schools; his eviction became a celebrated one but I think that it was a different category of eviction to most of the others. If he had agreed to pay an increased rent then his eviction would be merely a legal device of a totally technical nature. No doubt he had good reasons for refusing to pay an increased rent.
The Land League found it difficult to organise a membership in Bannow on account of the tradition of amity between the Boyses (going back to Sam and Tom Boyse) and the tenants on the Boyse estate. A landlord had to go to the courts to get a decree to evict; he could not do so without recourse to the courts. The evictions in Ireland were abhorred by the upper echelons of the British political establishment: the great Prime Minister, Mr Gladstone, called eviction a form of death. The British newspapers reported on the Land League struggle in Ireland.
On September 21st 1889 the New Ross Standard published this beautiful report:
“The neat little village of Ballymitty was on last Sunday the scene of an impressive ceremony in this locality. On the invitation of the Rev. Thomas Meehan C. C., a former old school-fellow, the Right Rev. Dr Reville, an native of this county, but now Coadjutor Bishop of Sandhurst, Australia presided at last Mass, after which he preached a most practical and moving sermon on the “Dolours of Mary” which was listened to with rapt attention by a crowded congregation. The altars of this unpretentious but neat little Church were most tastefully decorated with choice flowers and ornaments which reflected the highest credit on the lady who had charge of them. The music and singing during Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament were also excellent. Mrs Murphy of Carrig presided at the harmonium and was ably assisted by the other talented girls of the parish. On the whole the day’s proceedings passed over most successfully and the occasion of the visit of the most Rev. Dr Reville to Ballymitty will be long remembered. His Lordship was entertained in the evening along with some priests and laity at the hospitable board of the Rev. Father Meehan, the much respected and patriotic curate of the parish.”
Emigration to Australia was a pronounced feature of modern Irish history. My former teacher, Professor Patrick O’Farrell (of Sydney), dedicated his book on modern Irish history (Ireland’s English Question) to the memory of his parents who were emigrants from Co. Tipperary and expressed the hope that they would have enjoyed it. The radical and brazen interpretation might have discomfited them, however! Martin Crane of Barrystown at another time became a bishop in Australia. Pat O’Farrell later wrote a book on the Irish in Australia but I struggled to get a deep coherent meaning from the work. In a focus on petty rivalries and jealousies among the different groups of the Irish there Professor O’Farrell imagined some of the possible excuses for not attending one’s another functions: one man might say that he would go to a particular meeting except that the chairman came from Cork. The criticism of Professor O’Farrell in U. C. D. was that his account of modern Irish history was too influenced by an unconscious need on his part to defer to the colonial atmosphere of Australia; Australia was a British colony and its predominant disposition was British. I think however that time has vindicated many of Pat O’Farrell’s conclusions. My mother recalled Fr Galway at the Convent Chapel in Grantstown telling of his time in Australia and of the unbearable sunshine. He was at Grantstown during the time of the second World War 1939-45, that era of rationing of certain products such as tea.
The Forth and Bargy notes on May 11th 1946 in the Free Press had this item:–
“Going to the Bogs—A number of youths have gone from the Ballymitty district to Newbridge on work on the turf bogs, amongst them being Mr W. Kelly, the popular captain of the local football team.” The “spider Kelly” was a prominent member of the Wexford senior football team but fancy jobs were rare enough in 1946.
A. Colfer of Kiltra Mills Bannow advertised in The People on January 3 1883: he had Traction and Portable Engines for Threshing and further advised:–“A machine for Threshing Beans may also be had.”
Mr William Sheridan advertised his compact holding at Vernegly, Bannow of 25 acres 1 rood and 16 perches for auction on the lands on the 23rd of February 1933. Significantly the auction notice stated that it had been purchased under the Land Purchases Acts and was subject to an annuity of £19 6 shillings and 4 pence. The holding was conveniently situated adjoining the public road near Bannow schoolhouse and it had a substantially thatched dwelling house. Under the Land Legislation and in particular Wyndham’s Act of 1903 the British Government invited (or rather directed) the landlords to sell their estates to the Land Commission and the Commission was then required to transfer ownership of each tenancy to the tenant: the tenant was to pay a charge called an annuity (per annum to use the Latin) over a term of many years as the purchase price of his or her farm; the Land Commission would collect these annuities and transfer them to the British Exchequer. When Mr de Valera and his Fianna Fail Party came to power circa 1933 they refused on principle to allow the Irish Land Commision to transfer these annuities to the British Exchequer and the British retaliated by barring the import of agricultural products from Ireland. In 1938 the British Prime Minister Mr Neville Chamberlain accepted a lump sum of ten million pounds as a resolution of the annuities issue. I assume that from details of the annuities on Mr Sheridan’s farm proves that Boyse’s estate was by 1930 sold via the Land Commission to the former tenants.