Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, empathic, inspiring and inspired, scholarly, erudite, a historian supreme, of an intelligence far in excess of Einstein, a wit, a raconteur, a trainor of hurling teams, a marathon runner, uses big words, a florist with my dahlias finally coming into magnificent bloom blessed among the women, humble, self-effacing, the most devious and wily of them all—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. If is true it ain’t bragging.
My blog on the Clonroche history is clonrochehistorypages.ie or clonrochehistorypages.blogspot.ie or Google “Lord Bob Carew” I think that will get it. I researched the Clonroche district maybe twenty years ago; I have left the material as I wrote it then but I will add more sophisticated analysis in the near future.
Back in 1762 Robert Leigh of Rosegarland was very angry, so angry that he sent a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant, The Earl of Halifax, at Dublin Castle; it is all a long time ago and I hope that I am not stirring up any unpleasant feelings. A point of explanation: the Leigh estate comprised some lands in Newbawn.
“The humble memorial of Robert Leigh
That your memorialist is owner (among other lands in the County of Wexford) of the towns and lands of Brownstown [Newbawn] which has been for many years in the occupation of several Popish tenants and your memorialist intending to plant Protestants there, agreed to demise the said grounds to William Cotton and his sons Samuel and Richard, to commence from the 1 May next. But in order the said persons from settling on the said lands, several unlawful threats and menaces have been offered to them by Edward Commerford, Matthew Murphy, John Byrne and Thomas Byrne, the present occupiers of said lands.
That on 1st January inst., in the dead time of the night, several persons unknown entered upon the lands of Newbawn in the tenancy of Newbawn in the tenancy of the said William Cotton and barbarously and feloniously houghed and killed a gelding, the property of the said William Cotton and as your memorialist has good reason to apprehend that the same was committed with a view to deter the said Cotton or any other Protestant from becoming tenants to the said lands, he humbly submits it to your Excellency whether the shewing of a publick resentment to such practices would not be the most effectual means to prevent the same for the future and of supporting Protestants against such unlawful attempts
Prays for a Proclamation to be issued, &c, &c
County of Wexford to wit/ Examination of William Cotton of Newbawn in County Wexford, farmer, who being sworn &c saith that about the beginning of November last Robert Leigh of Rossgarland (sic) in said county, Esq., agreed with examinant to set him that part of the lands of Brownstown, whereon Edward Commerford, Mat Murphy, Jno (sic) Byrne and Thos Byrne now live, to commence next May. That about three weeks ago examinant went to the bogg (sic) of Brownstown aforesaid in order to shoot wild fowl and on his return home on the high way between Brownstown aforesaid and examinant’s house he was followed for upwards of 100 yards by the said Edward Commerford all which way the said Edward Commerford continued to abuse this examinant without any provocation except that of having taken said farm from said Mr Leigh. That this examinant having a dog with him, he, the said Commerford asked him if the dog killed sheep, to which examinant replied he believed not, for that dog belonged to one Francis Cullen and not to him. “That is well for you” replied said Commerford, “for had he been your dog I would make pieces of him.” That since this time, he, this examinant has been credibly informed and believes and doubts not but he can prove that the said Commerford has declared he was sorry he did not break examinant’s gun when he met him on the road aforesaid and also declared that if ever Examinant’s son, Samuel Cotton, should set his foot on the said lands of Brownstown he would hough him, which examinant apprehends is calculated to terrify Examinant’s son from going to live on said lands, for which purpose and to make examinant’s said son Samuel and Richard freeholders, said Mr Leigh set the said lands of Brownstown to examinant. The examinant saith that on the night of 1 January inst., a gelding, his property, worth upwards of £4 4 shillings was barbarously houghed and killed on the said lands of Newbawn, about three fields distant from that part of said lands of Brownstown whereon said Commerford dwells, &c, &c
(signed) William Cotton
Sworn before me 2 January 1762
Charles Tottenham [Magistrate presumably of Taghmon].
A Proclamation ordered. Dublin C. C. 11 February 1762.”
While I deplore the cruelty to the gelding the wrongs done by Mr Leigh of Rosegarland to the Catholic tenants named in this memorial were appalling and grotesquely sectarian. A freeholder, holding his or her lease for a life or lives was entitled to the franchise, that is to vote. Mr Leigh may have reasoned that Protestant voters would vote for his type of politics and religious views. There were no possible justification for what Mr Leigh did.
The procedure outlined above involved Willy Cotton going to the magistrate Charles Tottenham who had an estate in Taghmon and making his accusatory statement. Mr Leigh then put that statement with his covering statement and sent it all to the Lord Lieutenant at Dublin Castle. I am not sure that Willy Cotton had any real proof that Ned Commerford had houghed his gelding; that was a reasonable surmise on his part but not proved and in that era, anybody giving evidence against a defendant in such a case in court would face retribution.
The Past in 1972 carried the above memorial; this Journal is published by the Ui Cinnsealaigh Historical Society. New members of that Society are always welcome. Another issue of The Past is coming out in the autumn of this year; it usually has a contribution from the boy from Barrystown.
From The People the 2nd of July 1887:–
….June 25th at Danescastle, after a lingering illness, borne with patience and resignation, Nicholas, second son of Andrew Devereux, aged 21 years. R. I. P.”
The Free Press on the 14th of January 1933 carried this obituary:–
“MRS KATHLEEN DALY, BALLOUGHTON
We regret to announce the death of Mrs Kathleen Daly which sad event occurred at her residence, Balloughton, Bannow, on Wednesday of last week. Her death at an early age occasioned profound regret amongst all classes to whom she had endeared herself by her gentle and kindly disposition and inoffensive manner. The deceased belonged to a well-known and respected South Wexford family, with whom and her sorrowing husband the greatest sympathy is felt in their sad bereavement. The large and representative funeral cortege which accompanied the remains to their lasting resting place in Kilcavan Cemetery testified to the esteem in which deceased was held. The Rev. Father Hoyne O. S. A. Grantstown, recited the prayers at the graveside.
Solemn High Mass and Office for the repose of the soul of the deceased were celebrated in Bannow Church, Very Rev. Canon Doyle P. P. presiding….”
The Parish Priest of Carrig-on-Bannow in 1933 was Fr Matthew Keating—the reference to Canon Doyle P. P. puzzles me; there was a curate of that name but not yet come to Carrig-on-Bannow.
From The People on the 13th of July 1917:–
Mr Ffrench had an interview with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions on Friday March 30th , respecting the Barrystown lead and silver mines, South Wexford. He placed before him copious information, including the percentage of the ore as testified by experts and suggested that the Government might employ a drill and a small number of men to test the real value of the ore. He was kindly received and the Secretary promised that the matter would receive the most serious attention.”
I doubt very much if the Secretary had any real intention of giving all that serious consideration to the Barrystown mines: to profess such interest was part of the conventional political protocol; conversely Mr Ffrench was unlikely to be ablaze with excited expectations of the rejuvenation of the Barrystown mines: raising the issue of the Barrystown mines might heighten his profile in his South Co. Wexford constituency, whatever about raising lead and silver ore. The probing of the commercial potentialities of the Barrystown mines went on intermittently and interminably—it could be going on still, you would never know!
From The Free Press the 12th of May 1923:–
“Co. Health Board Vacancies
The Rev. W. F. Hanton C. C., Carrig-on-Bannow and Mr J. Murphy, South Street, New Ross, were appointed to vacancies on the Co. Health Board created by the resignation of Messrs J. Mc Cormack, Ballymitty and J. M. Roche, Talbot Hall.”
From The Wexford Independent the 111th of March 1868:–
February 28th, at Heathfield Hants. Cecilia, wife of General Hore R. F. and daughter of the late Francis Leigh of Rosegarland, Co. Wexford.”
The query that springs to mind is how did Miss Leigh, if she lived in Rosegarland, meet the General Hore, give the distance separating them?
Maybe, these marriages were arranged.
From The Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press on February 18th 1933:–
“Confirmation—His Lordship the Most Rev. Dr [William] Codd will visit the parish of Bannow on February 28th and the parish of Rathangan on March 2nd for the purpose of administering the Sacrament of Confirmation.”
It would seem very early in the year to administer Confirmation: the horrible weather seasonal at that time of year would surely make matters uncomfortable for all concerned and ruin new clothes especially bought for the Confirming ceremony to be worn by the children—if it rained or snowed, as it quite likely would.
In February of 1933, a form of employment opportunity had arisen in Cullenstown but as its initial auguries indicated, it would prove troublesome in an era when men were desperate for work and the meagre wages that went with work:–
“Concrete Block Making—Work on the making of concrete blocks for the new cottages being built by the Health Board has been started at Cullenstown (Bannow). Dissatisfaction is felt over the allocation of the work, some unemployed married men holding that they should have been included.”
Previously the walls of the labourers’ cottages were built of stones, obtained in conveniently close quarries. Using concrete blocks represented innovation and progress.
On March 4th 1933 The Free Press reported on Confirmations:–
“On Tuesday, his Lordship Most Rev. Dr Codd paid his triennial visitation to the parish of Bannow. His Lordship also paid his triennial visit to the parish of Rathangan on Thursday last and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a large number of children in both parishes. The answering of the children and their knowledge of Christian Doctrine were very good and reflected much credit on their teachers and the clergy. His Lordship administered the Total Abstinence Pledge in both parish churches.”
Confirmation took place in each parish every three years. The children memorised the answers to a series of questions in a catechism without necessarily understanding the meaning of what was stated in these answers; although the knowledge of the Catholic faith amongst ordinary people in that era was high enough to prove that many of them did understand the catechism that they memorised at school. Some teachers became very agitated as Confirmation approached: the notion was always put abroad that the Bishop and the priests helping him to examine the children before the Sacrament of Confirmation was administered could refuse the Sacrament to any child who failed to correctly answer the question posed to him or her—but that never happened. As I remember it at my own confirmation in 1961 the formal examination by Dr Staunton the Bishop and the priests was a formality: anyway it did not bother me as I was always a whiz at legal matters, civil law, canon law, etc, et al. At the conclusion of the ceremony Dr Staunton had us recite after him a pledge not to touch alcoholic drinks until twenty one years of age. I did not break the pledge but in the summer of 1973 I began to drink small amounts of alcohol and continued to do so until a former schoolmate, then a medical student, reprimanded me for being in the College bar in the afternoon, maybe in 1974. I subsequently stayed away from alcohol, altogether. There was not in those times, a consciousness of alcohol as a medical and health hazard; lack of money was the main impediment then to a drinking career—the financial argument was, also, the main reason for the discouragement of drinking alcohol. Some joined the Pioneers—The Total Abstinence Association—and wore a pin to prove to the world that they were members. Alcoholism could financial calamity on a family. I think that in 1961 when we took the pledge at the Confirmation ceremony that we were registered as Pioneers or aspirant Pioneers; we were certainly given the Sacred Heart badges, that Pioneers attached to their coats.
From The People July 11, 1883:–
THE TINTERN AND BALLYMITTY BANDS
The St Martin’s (Tintern) Fife and Drum Band visited by invitation, Ballymitty, on Sunday the 1st inst. On arriving at Wellingtonbridge, the bandsmen were met by members of the Ballymitty Band, when a circle was formed and immediately the strains of national music—“God Save Ireland”—followed by “Let Erin Remember”—resounded, making vale and wood and Bannow’s banks echo with melodious strains. After a short stay both bands proceeded towards Ballymitty, accompanied by a large concourse, who were attracted and moved with “concord of sweet sounds”. On arrival at Ballymitty a sumptuous luncheon was prepared, to which ample justice was done, after which music was resumed—music that
“Came o’er the ear like the sweet south wind
That breathes upon a bunch of violets
Stealing and giving odour.”
During the evening a choice selection of national music was given, which with song and “tripping on the light fantastic toe” at intervals, made up a most and pleasurable evening. The Ballymitty Band will pay a return visit to Taylorstown on the 22nd inst.”
In the nineteenth century people were intoxicated by music, song and dancing—any band out playing national airs were sure to be followed by wildly enthusiastic crowds. Bands were formed in half-parishes. Tom Boyse bought a set of instruments for the band in Carrig village. This and later variants of it played on the strand of Cullenstown in summer time especially on Sunday afternoons. Fr Philip Doyle O. S. A. of Maudlintown, wrote a poem on the band leading the parade from Carrig village down to Cullenstown strand on the 15th of August, a special feast day. Each band had a uniform but I do not know what happened to these uniforms if it rained! Also, dust could blow off the dirt roads of those times and begrime the uniforms.
The Forth and Bargy notes on March 22 1947 in The People had this item:–
“Gales, Storms and Floods—The weather during last week-end was the worst experienced for very many years. With gales, rain, and at times, snow on Sunday made quite a record in the history of bad weather. The floods were the highest ever seen. Traffic in general was held up. Many people were prevented from going to Mass. On the main road from Tullicanna to Taghmon, a huge flood blocked the road at Coolraheen Bridge. There is a sharp decline at both sides of this bridge and a young man from the Aughermon locality was cycling towards Taghmon and before he could pull up went into the flood up to his arm-pits. Trees were blown down all over the district and many houses were badly damaged.”
The winter of 1947 was truly appalling and apocalyptic (a Biblical type calamity) with ongoing snows and consequent floods—the snow remained in residual form in the ditches into May in some parts of the county. It is proof that climate, in times gone by—circa 70 years ago— was as erratic, irrational, tending to extremes and unpredictable as it is now. The nineteenth century was even worse. The log book kept by the Christian Brothers at Enniscorthy recorded that it snowed every week from the beginning of January 1947 to the end of March of that year. In late March 1947 the roofs of thatched houses in Kilmore were blown away. The Taghmon notes in The People on August 12th 1912 had this dismal news:–
“Agriculturalists are now in a very pitiable position. Hopelessness seems to be depicted upon their crops. In some cases the hay has been saved, but the majority of it, that is upland hay, is in a very bad state; all hope of saving it has now been abandoned….The spring sowing is now in a bad state, lodged to the ground. It will be almost impossible for it to ripen, the straw, too, will be rotting. The potato crop is feared to be a failure….”
With weather like that it was fun to be farming! Set the myth persists that the weather then was blissful, with a perfect symmetry of the seasons. We don’t have that grand weather now, the winter in the winter, the summer in the summer, the steam coming up out of the tarmacadam on the road after a May shower, the strand at Cullenstown crowded on successive summer Sundays with a blazing sun, blah, blah, etc., et al.
Chief Constable Bracken had glad tidings (I speak in jest) to report on the 19th of September 1836 to his superiors in Dublin:–
“On the night of the 15th instant part of the roof of a house building at Coolbrooke or Wellingtonbridge, parish of Ballymitty, Barony of Bargy in this county was maliciously pulled down and broken, the slates broken and scattered about, the scaffolding pulled down and the whole of the timber thrown into the river. The house was the property of Mr Annesley and was built by Mr Sweeney, his agent. I ordered four policemen to patrol about these premises from sunset to sunrise and as this duty can be taken in turn by four adjoining stations I intend, if approved by the Sub-Inspector to continue it for ten nights when the house will be covered in.”
This missive was written from Arthurstown police barracks. I have no doubt that somebody was evicted by Mr Sweeney from his holding. Mr Sweeney would be a foolish man to make enemies of that enormity. The Whitefeet may have been involved although their justice usually involved lethal injuries or even death to those involved in evictions.