I have been debating frantically with myself for the past two weeks or so: should I write in my little memoir that the soubriquet of “that wily boy” is now widely applied to me? I think that the soubriquet not only describes an aspect of my personality and life but maybe describes the battle of wits that those who went before me had to engage in to make a livelihood and survive. My father and his brothers were innately clever but I am afraid of offending somebody or other by writing in that vein. Maybe some of the millions of my readers will advise me on the matter. There is no need for me to dwell on all the other exciting attributes of myself.
6 April 1765
“Lease by Hon. Henry Loftus of Dublin to Richard King of Barrystown, Co. Wexford, gentleman, for £139 18 shillings 7 and a half pence, for lives of Frances King, Jonas King, sons and daughter of lessee, of part of Ballymager, called the Black Stone, Doyle’s Park, the Little Ennis, the Cull and the Fallow Park, with the Slobs and Reisk, Bargy Barony”
The Jonas King cited above was the Jonas King who lived as a bachelor at Barrystown and who died circa early 1833; he was uncle to the later Jonas of Barrystown, the volatile, colourful, temperamental and erratic character who resided at Barrystown and later at Dublin; his body was found in circa 1881 close to Balloughton Church.
From The People the second of August 1913:–
“Intense sympathy was felt throughout Clongeen and Carrig when it was made known that the Rev. Mortimer O’Sullivan P. P. had a narrow escape from drowning. It appears that the Rev. Gentleman was indulging in his daily bath in the briny at Blackhall when he was seized by that bann to swimmers—a cramp. Luckily a local tradesman, who was engaged on a bank hard by, observing the struggles of the Rev. Gentleman, gallantly plunged to his rescue and brought him safely ashore. Much relief was experience on the following day when the Rev. Gentleman was seen in company with his two Curates taking the usual walk nothing the worse for his thrilling adventure.”
The above story at this remove is pure enigma. On the 6th of August 1913 this item appeared in the Bargy district notes:–
“Rev. M. O’Sullivan P. P.
Our readers will be gad to learn that the paragraph which appeared last week, from our Taghmon correspondent, stating that Father O’Sullivan P. P. was nearly drowned while bathing at Blackhall is unfounded. Towards the end of June, after the discharge of some official duty at Blackhall, Father O’Sullivan, in company with a relative, who is on a visit to him, went to bathe, as stated, but was not seized with a cramp, had not a death struggle or did not cry out for help. Our readers will be glad to learn that he is enjoying his usual good health.”
A simple way to reconcile these two opposite accounts is to surmise is that some observer¸ not acquainted with the relative of Father O’Sullivan, mistook him for some body trying to rescue the Pastor. Another explanation is that Fr O’Sullivan may have got into serious difficulties in the water and had to be rescued but was seriously embarrassed by that and that he, or local people, required The People to present alternative truth. Yet another scenario is that some wit or malicious person may have told this untrue story to the Taghmon correspondent. There is no way of ever knowing.
From The People the 30th of November 1867:–
“The Collection for the Pope at the Augustinian Convent, Grantstown Carrig, Bannow, amounted to £4 7shillings and 6 pence, thus bringing the offering of Bannow and Ballymitty to his Holiness, £45 16 shillings and 6 pence.
From The People, the 7th of December 1867:–
On the 2nd inst., at the “Farmhouse” Bannow, Mary, the beloved wife of Mr John White, aged 48 years, after a long and painful illness, which she bore with Christian fortitude and resignation—R. I. P.”
According to The Royal Irish Academy in 1956, an award of £97 was made for 89 coins retained out of a hoard of 199 gold and 144 silver coins from Whitty’s Hill, Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford. I am puzzled as to why I did not get any account of this in the Co. Wexford newspapers.
In The London Gazette 1876, a copy of Bankers Returns was produced—these names were in it: James E. Mayler, Harristown, Ballymitty; Mrs Mary Furlong, Moortown and Mrs Mary J. Mayler, Harristown, Ballymitty. I am not sure what all that means.
John Cumming published at 16 Lower Ormond Street, Dublin in 1815—“The Travellers New Guide Through Ireland” and it contains this enigmatic statement:
“the Scare is fordable at low water but at middle or high water it must be crossed in boats.”
The obvious meaning of the above is that the bridge at Wellingtonbridge or Maudlintown must not have been built by then. However, a man in Dublin might be proceeding on out-of-date information. I am unsure if Wellington’s famous victory at Waterloo was in 1814 or 1815.
From an Account of the all the Augustinian Chapels and Communities, written in the mid 19th century:—
“About the year 1735, the Rev. Nicholas Newport, a most learned and venerable member of the order, took a small farm in the parish opposite Clonmines, about two miles from the ruins of the old convent; upon this farm he built a thatched house, as a residence for himself and Community; and this house served as a convent until early in the present century. It is now called Grantstown Convent by the people, it being the name of the townland where the convent is situated but it is still called the convent of Clonmines by the Order as it holds its jurisdiction from the original foundation. After the house was built a thatched chapel was, also, erected, in which the Augustinian Fathers continued to minister to the spiritual wants of the people, until the year 1830. The Community consisted generally of two and sometimes of three clergymen; they derived their support partly from the produce of the farm and, also, from the free offerings of an attached and faithful people.
The venerable Father Newport, who established the Convent, was born in the year 1705 and died in the 86th year of his age in the year 1791. In the cemetery of Kilkevin, near Grantstown, the following inscription may be seen on his tomb:
“Here lieth the body of Rev. Nicholas Newport O. S. A. who departed this life August 23, 1791, aged 86.”
According to an article in The People—
“It was the [Lett] family of Balloughton who gave the Augustinian Fathers of Grantstown the ground upon which to build their church, in succession to the mud walled chapel in which the great James Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin made his profession.”
From The People the 29th of April 1891:–
Burnside—April 12th at Cullenstown Castle, Co. Wexford, Mary Rebecca, widow of the late William Burnside aged 71 years.
From The Wexford Independent the 17th of April 1841:–
“Father Matthew—Grantstown Convent
The following letter has just been received from the Apostle of Temperance by the Rev. Richard Doyle. When Fr Matthew was first requested to lend the aid of powerful advocacy in behalf of the chapel of Grantstown Convent, on which a large debt still remains unpaid, he not only complied in the most prompt and generous manner, but specified the holy period of Lent as the precise time when he would discharge that pleasant duty. However, it will be seen that the sphere of the Apostle’s exertions are happily becoming so extended that he cannot now devote any particular moment of his life to any specific purpose. When he named Lent as the period of his projected visit to Bannow, he did not anticipate that loud and urgent call from the North, to which he has since so promptly and efficiently responded. But we do not regret this postponement as it will afford better opportunity to the friends of morality and Christian benevolence, throughout the County, to make such arrangements as will bring within the fold of temperance, the few stray sheep that still tread the paths of drunkenness and vice—and enable us all, in the interim, to second the laudable efforts of the Reverend Mr Doyle to rescue a temple devoted to the service of Almighty God from the bondage and disgrace of earthly encumbrances. We do not know any ecclesiastical establishment of more eminent utility than that under our notice. Situated in one of the most populous districts in Ireland—the lives of the pious, self-denying and laborious inmates of Grantstown Convent have been unceasingly devoted to assuage the sorrows, watch over the morals and minister to the spiritual wants of thousands; and as the tree is know by the fruit—where, throughout the length and breadth of the Island, we ask—and as a Wexfordman, we put the interrogatory triumphantly—where will you find such an industrious, well-disposed and virtuous community as that of Bannow and its appurtenances? Is it not every man, therefore whom Providence has placed in favourable circumstances, bound by gratitude to his Almighty Benefactor and love for his fellow man, to come forward and aid the Apostle of Temperance in snatching from the grasp of the creditor that House of Prayer in which such a people are wont to supplicate the Father of All Flesh—
“Cork, April 10th 1841
My Dear Friend—You must excuse my silence, which you are to attribute to an unwillingness to reply, until I was able to name a day for my visit to Bannow. As yet I cannot have that pleasure, for I shall be engaged in the North for two or three months more.
Some time in Summer, please God, I shall avail myself of your kind invitation, and I shall give you early notice.
Believe me, Rev., dear sir
Your’s most sincerely
To—Rev. Richard Doyle, Bannow, Taghmon.”
The above article was in latter day parlance a bit over-written: the practical message from it is that the Community of Augustinians at Grantstown invited Fr Mathew to visit there as a means of raising money to pay off the debts on their chapel. I am not sure how, in that era, the grasp of the creditor could take away the Chapel from them! Maybe some of the attached land was security for it—but who would buy property seized from the Catholic priest in that era? Maybe the Augustinians, as a matter of pride wanted to pay off the debts.
The Wexford Independent reported on March 2nd 1836 that “one of the most influential and numerously attended meetings, it has been our good fortune to witness, was held in the open air in the village of Carrig…” I do not understand how they could so confidently intend to have a meeting in the open air on a late February Sunday—what if the rain and sleet came? There was a double purpose to the meeting—to petition Parliament “for the unqualified abolition of tithes” [the levy of one tenth on arable land to be paid by all Catholic as well as Protestant] and to express confidence in the new Lord Lieutenant Harry Constantine, the Earl of Mulgrave. Tens of thousands of people would pour out of the roads in the summer of 1836 to see and follow Mulgrave as he toured the County Wexford.
At three o’clock Mr Andrew Devereux took the chair (and I hope that he gave it back). Mr E. Colfer was requested to act as secretary.
The first resolution—“strongly condemnatory of the iniquitous tithe laws, and energetically calling on the Legislature for their extinction” was proposed by Samuel Elly of the Society of Friends.
Tom Boyse rose to second the motion but “was received with such vociferous and protracted cheering that he could not for a considerable time make himself heard”. I do not know how spontaneous and instinctive this eruption of applause would have been; I expect that the people there felt that they should respond in that way and, besides, the correspondent who wrote the account, may have exaggerated. Tom Boyse then in the best manner of latter day politicians, made an assertion that could not be true:–
“I thank you….for those cordial shouts; but I do not, I cannot take them to myself; I thank you for them, however, in the name of all good Reformers and I think I know how to rightly translate them; if my interpretation of them be correct, then, your cheers have not been raised to render homage to those insignificant particles of mind and matter which go to constitute the thing called Thomas Boyse, no, no, no, a thousand times, no; they are directed to a higher object. They are the honest free-will offerings of your Irish hearts at that shrine of Religious Liberty, where you have met me, gentlemen, early and late, a pretty steadfast worshipper (we have) and to which I have sworn and borne with you inviolable fidelity.”
On a point of fact, Tom Boyse is certainly wrong: the crowd gathered there were not there primarily to protest their abstract commitment to principles of Religious Liberty—they were there to see and hear Tom Boyse. All the organisers of such meetings were determined to have Mr Boyse because he ensured a massive crowd would be present. Tom Boyse and his father Sam were apprehensive that their campaign for Religious and Civil Liberty would be perceived as a ploy by them to win a cheap popularity.
From The Wexford Independent February 28th 1849:–
“The Bannow Wreck
Kilmannock February 26th 1849:–
Dear Greene—Pray state in your upright and influential Journal the gratifying intelligence that I have received from “The Royal National Institution for the Preservation of lives from Shipwreck”, a handsome silver medal for Robin Gleeson and Five Pounds for distribution amongst himself and his gallant crew, for their noble exertions in saving the lives of the poor shipwrecked Greeks on the bar of Bannow, as already detailed in your paper. It is pleasing to think that our English friends are thus mindful of the merits of true bravery and disinterested benevolence.
Yours Most Faithfully
G. Powell Houghton
From The People June 6th 1891:–
“Carrig Bannow National League
At a meeting of the Provisional Committee of the above League, it was decided, in consequence of a Mission being, at present in the parish, to postpone the Meeting to be held on the 1st Sunday of June to the 1st Sunday of July.
In addition to the names already published to collect subscriptions, the following were added—Messrs James Mc Grath P. L. G., Richard Murphy and Nicholas Furlong.
John Kehoe sec. pro tem.”
My next Blog will have an extended commentary on Fr Matthew’s visit to Grantstown by John R. Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury. I hope that I have all these titles the right way round.