Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, eloquent, grandiloquent, original, thought provoking, a historian supreme, a right boyo, blessed among women, a genius, of stellar aspect and unique intellect, modest and self-effacing—if it is true it ain’t bragging! Do read my two articles “Red Tom White” and  ”The Opening of St.Peters Chapel”  in the Kilmore Parish Journal. My article in the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society deals with crime in the Co. Wexford after 1800, especially in the feral White Mountain area of Templeudigan, above Rathnure. Once you start reading them you will not leave them down, blah, blah. Both publications are excellent.

The Free Press carried an obituary on the 17th of February 1961 on Mr Thomas Walsh, Inversuaid, St John’s Road, Wexford. A native of Templeorum, Co. Kilkenny he was aged 71 years. Up to his retirement three years before [in 1958, I presume], he taught in BannowNationalSchool for twenty-one years and had previously taught in Ballyfoyle, Co. Kilkenny. After his retirement, he lived in Wexford town. He was an ardent supporter of Gaelic games all his life and was one time Chairman of the Co. Kilkenny G. A. A. Board. He was, also, a noted referee in his day. He was survived by his wife Mrs Mary Walsh; by his daughters Rev. Mother Agnes, Loreto Convent, George Street, Dublin; Mrs Mc Donnell, Dublin; Miss Eileen Walsh, do; Mrs O’Donovan and Miss S. Walsh, Salisbury, Rhodesia; by his brother Mr John Walsh, Kilkenny and by his sisters, Mrs Tobin and Mrs Grace. “The funeral took place on Monday after Requiem Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception to Templeorum, the large attendance reflecting the high esteem in which the deceased was held.”

When Tom Walsh was appointed principal of Bannow National School, there was an expectation that he would stir an upsurge of hurling in the locality. I was unable to trace any progress that he might have made in that regard but there was some hurling going on in Bannow in the 1950s and thereafter. Maybe some of my millions of readers will tell me more on that matter.

From The Free Press the 14th of November 1960:

“Harvest Thanksgiving—The annual Harvest Thanksgiving Service was held in BalloughtonChurch on Friday evening of last week. The sermon was preached by Rev. Canon E. F. Grant B. A. Rector of Castlebridge. Prayers and lessons were read by Rev. Chancellor M. W. Talbot M. A. Horetown. Mrs E. W. Talbot, Bannow, presided at the organ. The church was tastefully decorated with flowers, fruit, vegetables and sheaves of corn.

Accident—Mr Michael Murphy, Wellingtonbridge, was admitted to Wexford Co. Hospital on Monday with head injuries sustained when he fell from his scooter on his way to visit relatives. His many friends in musical circles wish him a speedy recovery”

From The Free Press, the 18th of November 1960:–

“Twin Calves—A shorthorn cow, the property of Mr Patrick Byrne, Ballyknock, has given birth to twin calves, which are doing well.”

From The Free Press, the 25th of November 1960:–

“Wellingtonbridge Boys’ Tug-of-War Team

Winners at Taghmon Carnival, 1960

(Air: “The Red River Valley)

The tug-of-war season is over,

All the trophies and  tournaments won;

It all started in Longraigue last April

And concluded last month in Taghmon.

Loughnageer all the year were consistent,

Though Redmoor sometimes gave them a drop;

And on towards the end of the season,

The Bryanstown men were on top.


But when ‘tis all argued and debated

And each team is given its due,

Remember the juvenile champions

Jimmy Smith and his gallant ‘Bridge crew.

The tug-of-war fever this summer

Surpassed anything ever yet known;

For breakfast, dinner and supper,

There was one conversation alone.

The “disease” did hit the bridge very early.

Soon the chaps’ powerful heaving did show,

To win glory they all were determined,

Just like Nacey’s great team long ago.

“In Taghmon in the month of October

The championship struggle did start

And soon it was known that the Bridge lads

For the rest of those teams were too smart

Smith grasped the rope like a gorilla

Willie Finn hammered away, tooth and nail

There was Stafford, the Whitty’s Hill wizard

In the anchor was bulldozer Neill.

That was Mullins, the Foulkesmills fury,

Stonewall Walsh to that rope he did cleave,

Also Sinnott, the Kilcavan Tarzan,

And Quirke with the hurricane heave.

Patsy Farrell, a strong man like Sampson,

Like “Young Atlas” was Pat from Clongeen.

Sure they all got their medals from Margaret

That beautiful Carnival Queen.

Brendan Smyth was their ten year old trainor,

Like a cool-headed veteran, he coached

And his bright eyes with joy they did glitter

As the moment of victory did approach;

All those lads are all “chips off the old block”,

More success I do wish them next year—

Fresh glory to bring to that village,

Where the Corock flows crystal and clear.

“Ballyowen Magpie”


I am not sure if the above could be sung to the air of “The Red River Valley”. Invariably in that era, anybody writing a poem or ballad set it to some popular air but I am not sure how they could achieve this.

The “Ballyowen Magpie” was, of course, Jack Mc Cutcheon, then resident in London but I think that he moved elsewhere in England later on. He wrote of writing his ballad to the Wexford hurlers after their shock win over Tipperary in September 1960 in or on the roof of a building in London. The structure of his poem on the boys’ tug-of-war team in Wellingtonbridge is a trifle confused as he relates an account of the adult tug-of-war competition at the Taghmon carnival in the first stanza before chronicling the boys and their success. Committing the deeds of sporting heroes to poetic and better still ballad form was intended to give longevity to the folk memory of their deeds: there were no videos then to record these feats on film and even photographs were scarce enough. The Carnival in Taghmon was an enormous community event in the autumn of the year. The selection of the Queen of the Carnival gave glamour to the proceedings but I am not sure if such an event would not attract feminist reservations in latter times.

In October 1959 I was at the Carnival in Taghmon but left before the controversial final of the tug-of-war. Tomcoole were disqualified for seeking to bring in a substitute and Loughnageer declared winners; maybe not a satisfactory way to win. Uncle Paddy was the anchor man for Loughnageer that afternoon and a series of ballads later recounted his—and his brothers’—fame at this sport. It was written that uncle Paddy pulled with panache and the crowds clearly loved to see him perform. Bryanstown won the tug-of-war competition at the Taghmon carnival in 1960.

Some writers on Mrs Hall’s work may, perhaps, assume too readily that Mr Barry of Barrystown of the story “Hospitality” is identical with Jonas King (who died in 1832). My own view is that there are bound to be many similarities between the fictional Mr Barry and Jonas but I also, think that there is artistic license and some of the details about Mr Barry may differ from those appropriate to Jonas King. I think that she has exaggerated the meekness of Mr Barry and may have over stated the previous grandeur of the house. Mr. Bernard Browne has written an article on John Barry born in Bannow in 1845 in the New Journal of the Wexford Historical Society. My readers may let me know their views.

Jack Kennedy said in the Dail in June 1963 that the inadvertently embarrassing story about Leinster House told by him happened a long time ago! I presume that 1855 is, also, a long time ago so I am free, without fear of offending anybody to tell of the case at Wexford Spring Assizes in March 1855 when Anastatia W– was indicted for breaking into John Colfer’s house at Balloughton and taking therefrom £145 in money, two boxes and a brooch. Mr Edward Johnson defended the prisoner.

Mary Colfer said that she lived at Balloughton and was wife of John Colfer. In March 1854 she had two servant girls, Mary Blanch and Anastatia Crowley and four or five servant boys. The house was two stories high; she and her husband slept over the hall. They left on the 25th of March for Foulkesmills at nine o’clock in the evening and came back the next day at two o’clock. Her husband had money in the bedroom in a tin box which was enclosed in a wooden box. On the Saturday when they left there was £145 in it, a promissory note for £30 and a brooch. She identified the brooch now produced; it was given to witness by a Miss Tottenham. The window was secured by a nail in place of a screw; the morning she left she opened the tin box to get some money to pay the boys. She met her father when she came back the next day and from what he said she went to examine the bed-room; found it open; the window was down and a pane of glass broken; both boxes were gone; there was a portico under the window. The defendant was in service with Mrs Colfer about two or three months before and she was often in the bedroom—once in particular Mrs Colfer remembered giving money to the defendant out of the box. The defendant lived with her father after leaving the service of Mrs Colfer. She was six or seven months in the service of Mrs Colfer. The money had not been recovered. Mrs Colfer got the brooch from Miss Tottenham, now Mrs Lizard, nine years ago.

She said that the window stool rested on the portico and that the defendant could get up that portico if she tried; she knew the defendant for six or seven years and never found fault with her—she had left of her own accord.

Mary Lizard told the court that Mrs Colfer’s maiden name was Mary Connors and that she had given her a present of a small brooch—the one mow produced in court. Mrs Lizard who had travelled from ToryIsland, Donegal, became distressed in court and expressed anger at been summoned there.

John Colfer corroborated the evidence of his wife and said that he did not accuse anyone of the crime.

Anastatia Crowley said that was living with the Colfers in March 1854. The house was robbed on a Saturday night; she slept with Mary Blanch and sometime after going to bed heard a noise of glass breaking; thought it was in the parlour; it lasted about a quarter of an hour. She saw the window broken on Sunday morning. She saw the defendant at the Convent of Grantstown at Mass on Saturday morning; she said she would come over to Mr Colfer’s when the Master and Mistress would be gone; she knew they were leaving home; she asked witness what time would they be back; witness replied some time before day on Sunday; she said if her mother did not go to Taghmon to expect her over about five; she did not come afterwards.

She said that she had succeeded the defendant in the service of Mrs Colfer and the defendant was in the habit of visiting the house. She saw the glass broken on Sunday.

The puzzle is why she did not get up to investigate the strange noise at the time it occurred—maybe she was afraid.

Mary Blanch said that she was in the service of Mrs Colfer on the 25th of March 1854 and went to bed at nine o’clock. The rest of her evidence is confounding:–

“heard noise of glass breaking; thought it was below stairs in the parlour; heard chairs moving; heard something spoken in  a low voice; it was about ten o’clock; did not get up until half-past five, made an examination and saw nothing disturbed till about eleven or twelve o’clock; saw a pane of glass broken in Mrs Colfer’s bed-room and the dressing table pushed back; the window was down; witness did not know any money was kept in the room; she and the other girl were the only persons that slept in the house.” She did not know of the defendant intending to come on the Saturday. She was twelve months in the service and slept in the next room to the master’s.

Jim Walsh of Kilkavan recollected meeting the defendant and her brother going the way of Colfer’s house after nightfall on the 25th March.

Constable Moloney, stationed at Wellingtonbridge, said that Colfer’s house was about two miles from that. He went of the 26th of March 1854 to the premises and found Anastatia Crowley, Mary Blanch, James Waters, Michael Ryan and John Davey, servants and workmen of Mr Colfer; he arrested and searched all of them. He was at the house before the Colfers returned—he continued:–

“the bed-room window was down; it was close to the portico which was about eight feet; a pane of glass was broken, there was broken glass on window stool and inside; there was, also, a piece of timber extending along the front of the house to the window; Mr Colfer when he came back forced in the bed-room door; witness went into the room with him; saw a dressing table apparently displaced; knows the prisoner; she lived in Ballinglee last October; in that month witness went to her father’s house; saw the prisoner there; her father was in gaol at the time; his name is William; there were also present other members of the family; witness had a warrant and made a search; found a small brooch and a half a crown in a small work-bag at the head of a bed; prisoner said it was her father’s room; witness showed her the brooch; she said it belonged to her and that she had got it a good while, four years or more; she said she got it from the sister who got it from Mary French who was dead in America, and that Mary French got it from Miss Tottenham; she said the half-crown bag belonged to the family; she subsequently said all the things belonged to her father; witness showed the brooch to Mrs Colfer, who said it was her’s; witness arrested prisoner and her mother; also James W—and Michael W–.

He did not know the defendant before that day but saw her before; she had previously told this story and it was substantially the same. She had not hesitated in giving information. Constable Moloney had first suspected the servants and did not go the W—house till October.

The Constable Moloney spoke in a mincing tone, perhaps, to sound sophisticated and Counsel advised him to speak in his natural accent “which he good humouredly said he would endeavour to do.” I presume the Counsel was Mr Johnson who defended Anastatia W–. His remark may have been a jibe at the Constable—a ploy to diminish his credibility.

The defence of Anastatia W—by Mr Johnson was most pertinent and effective. He, initially, referred unfavourably to the zeal of Constable Molony: this zeal, given its exaggerated nature plus his inappropriately pitched urge to impress the court by speaking in a phoney accent, raised the obvious risk: his determination to pursue the case to a conviction could lead him to wrong conclusions; he could bring the wrong person or, perhaps, any person to court to face trial. Mr Johnson brought up the issue of the police forcing Mrs Lizard, to testify in court, while her husband was in bad health and she, herself, with an infant child but I disagree with the learned Counsel on that issue: I think that Mrs Lizard, from a minority denomination, was loath to give evidence that might send a neighbour to gaol and therefore exaggerated her difficulties in coming to the court; besides, the brooch was of such little value and really not worth sending anybody to gaol for. Mr Johnson continued:–

“The evidence against the prisoner was quite circumstantial; and it was quite absurd to bring charges of burglary and robbery of £145 against her. As to the brooch she made no attempt to conceal it and her father might just as reasonably have been indicted on account of same.”

“The learned Judge, in charging the jury, intimated that the unlawful taking or possession of the brooch, would be the principal consideration; and on this point they returned a verdict of guilty. Sentence—Twelve calendar months imprisonment.”

The learned Judge obviously accepted Mr Johnson’s assertion that there was no proof at all that Anastatia W—had stolen the £145 and the only issue for the jury to decide was—that of whether she had stolen or was in possession of the brooch. The jury decided that she was in possession of the brooch. I disagree with the decision of the jury: the evidence at best demonstrated that the brooch was in the house in which Anastatia W—lived. Her own evidence seemed to prove that she knew where the brooch originated but her father or her brothers could have stolen it; it was, also, possible, that persons other than her father or brothers stole it and that it was given, or sold, to her by them. If Mary Blanch was telling the truth and had heard somebody talking in a low voice when the robbery was going on then it is most probable that more than one person carried out the robbery.

The expert advocacy of Mr Johnson excised any possibility that this unfortunate girl could be convicted of the stealing the £145; if convicted of such a charge she could face a number of years in prison or transportation out of Ireland. The irony is that some of those transported did very well! I am puzzled why the court did not address the issue of the girl’s situation if any member or members of her family had committed the break-in and theft: she might have feared violent retaliation from them if she told Constable Molony of their criminality. The position of women in a male environment in that era would be vulnerable, indeed, pathetic in times of stress and discord. Even by the standards of that era the sentence of twelve months in prison was outrageous and outlandish. In my opinion, the case should not have been ever brought before the courts and Mrs Lizard’s reluctance to give evidence is comprehensible in that context.

Mrs Lizard described the stolen item as “a small gold brooch”. Maybe the gold made it a bit valuable. If it was, I am unable to understand why the convicted girl had not sold it before the following October.

Jonas King of Barrystown was on the jury for a subsequent case of an alleged grievous assault by one man on another at these Assizes.