Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, erudite, scholarly, charming, charismatic, ebullient, in fine fettle, the historian supreme and above all else—wily. It was always gold and silver for the Barrystown children. I will lecture at Tir nOg, Wellingtonbridge on Thursday February 13th at 8.30 pm on the Land League in Carrig-on-Bannow and the G. A. A. in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow. I won’t be able to cover anything but a fraction of the history of either the Land League or the local Gaelic Games. I do intend to deal with the 1912 team that brought the first Co. Junior championship to the parish and with the Corah Ramblers plus the re-uniting of the three clubs in the parish to form a fully integrated parish Club in 1959; I will refer to the wonderful seven-a-side team that won the tournament at the Carnival in Taghmon in 1959 and I hope to deal with the 1962 win in the Nickey Rackard Rural Schools Football League—if I can locate the details as the papers had no reportage or at least such is not extant in the files now on microfilm. I will of course, speak on Jack Mc Cutcheon the poet and balladeer. The Corah Ramblers were as scripted in a poem or a powerful novel: they raced across the horizon like a meteor and with equal rapidity were gone. The story of them is worth telling, to put it, with least emphasis; and I hope that many of those who played Gaelic football in that era—and especially all those who played with the Corah Ramblers and their children—will come to the lecture that night. The Corah Ramblers were emblematic of the rural Ireland of pre-1960.
I have so much to say on the Land League: there is an enormous de facto archive of its activities in every parish in the contemporary newspapers, especially the Wexford People. They were not seeking to re-enact 1798; in truth after 1798 the major political movements in Ireland were seeking alternatives roads to that of insurrection and the Land League generally went the political route, using powerful propaganda and polemics, appealing to a spirit of sacrifice and patriotism, stretching the laws to their limits but not brazenly breaking them. There was a touch of socialism or social reformism to their agenda. They were however fighting precedents rooted in Irish behaviour: following the trade union example they enjoined a principle of solidarity but many men still took evicted farms or rented evicted grass. The British media, the English Liberal or Whig Party and later the Conservatives were not totally favourable to the landlords and more responsive to the tenants. The spirit of the age—the zeitgeist— decreed, in an era burgeoning with democracy, that the paradigm of landlords, the lords of the soil, was redundant.
They had awful falls of snow in the winter of 1947, from the 1st of January up to the end of March with traces of the snow in the ditches well into May. The newspapers from late May 1947 carried an astounding story: a diviner had claimed that there was a seam of coal sixty feet down, four feet wide, was to be found in the Ballymitty area, running west from Hilltown; he predicted other seams as well. What happened was even more astounding: groups of men started digging comparatively massive shafts in various fields around Ballymitty and were planning to blast with dynamite at 14 feet in one place. They also started digging near the village of Carrig-on-Bannow and Duncormack but a subsidence at Ballyknock resulted in injuries to one of the men working at it and operations were suspended. They were to be resumed in the springtime but I cannot, as yet, find any evidence of resumed operations. At times reading these reports I was baffled as if it were being made up but respectable businessmen were referred to. I will give fuller details in my next blog. I will now ask my readers as a form of homework to enquire if anybody remembers these mining operations and/or if there are traces of these shafts around the Ballymitty area, in Ballyknock, Knockbyne, Hilltown, etc?
The Kildare Place Society Schools were for the education of the poor children in Ireland in the early nineteenth century; some Catholic clergy were suspicious of them and their approach to the study of Scripture. According to their records John Johnston, a Protestant, commenced training at the Society’s school at Bannow on the 6th of January 1826 and was discharged on the 26th of April 1826. The Rector concerned with the school was the Rev. William Hickey. Where was it?
I am not sure if I understand all the details of the story of the ordeal of the crew of the Bannow Schooner “Mary Ellen” in early March 1903 but their deliverance from disaster was remarkable. I will quote the story as given in The Wexford Independent on March 7th 1903:–
“The following facts have been related to us by one of those on board (Mr Edward Neville):–About 1o’clock on Thursday the “Mary Ellen” proceeded to the Bay in order to lighten the cargo of the steamer “Alliance”, loaded with Superphosphate, which was consigned to Mr Patrick O’Neill, Enniscorthy. The following were on board:–J. Sweeney (master); Edward Neville; William Neville (father and son); Laurence Pender; James Pender (brothers); James Newport, William Neill, Nicholas Walsh and another seaman. The vessel which was brought out by the tug “Wexford”, moored alongside about four o’clock. The men commenced discharging the cargo immediately and closed work about 5.40 having at the time succeeded in getting about twenty tons on board. A nasty swell then got up and the vessel commenced to roll. It was then found that they could no longer remain in their position near the steamer and the latter went astern. The sea continuing to be rough, the Alliance pulled her anchors. The breeze continued to increase and the “Mary Ellen” paid out to the anchor about forty fathoms. The wind was blowing westward about 12.10 when the big anchor parted, the small anchor being now no use in such weather. It was blowing a hurricane with a short lull at times. The schooner then shipped the small anchor chain and let out before the wind. It was pitch dark at the time and Tuskar and all lights were lost sight of. The vessel started off, the captain nor those on board not knowing exactly what position they were in. They were judging that they were near the Long Bank but, luckily, they got clear. After passing the Lucifer Lightship a tremendous sea broke aboard carrying away the boat and upsetting all utensils on deck and the cabin stores. The boat was smashed by the heavy impact of the seas and it was impossible to see the compass. However, when they got out of the rough they managed to catch an odd glimpse of it by striking matches and the use of cut candies. When the seas broke over clearing almost everything in their way, the Captain and his men withstood the strain in dogged style, the former standing to the wheel all the time. The “Mary Ellen” was at this time running under bare poles. At 12.40 they rigged up a double foresail and standing jib and went for the channel as much as they could, for there was no light to be seen. At 1.20 the South Arklow lightship was caught sight of below them. Towards daybreak it loomed land but they were unable to tell what part it was. The vessel was proceeding along Lambay Island and Howth Head came upon their view; she then sped before the gale which was blowing a full hurricane, being at this time at the height of its fury and went into the channel. When the wind abated on Friday they beat about and managed to head the vessel for the Irish shore, the captain being still at the wheel. On Saturday morning the Kish Lightship was sighted and the schooner reached it and made for Kingstown Pier. The weather was fine and the wind from the north west so they decided on going further south. They passed on Bray and proceeded to Wicklow where they hoisted colours for a pilot, who was not long in coming on board and bringing the ship safely to the pier. Throughout all this trying time the captain stood at the wheel, a period of 30 hours. He was perfectly cool and collected during the whole time and it was mainly due to this that his vessel succeeded in braving the storm and regaining a place of safety uninjured. In fact all those on board fared similarly and when they arrived in Wicklow and were accorded considerable hospitality; it was very welcome to them. The captain Nicholas Walsh and the boy remained to take charge whilst the others came home to Wexford on Saturday night by the 10 o’clock train and were met at the railway station by numerous friends who congratulated them upon having so safely arrived.
“The Eviction At Knocktartin
To the Editor of the People
Sir—I beg to say for the satisfaction of the public and to exonerate myself from all blame in the matter, that I was not aware what my car was employed for when I undertook to drive the police and if I knew I would cut the legs off my horse before I would drive one of them. When I asked the policemen if they were going anything of the kind, they said, “oh not at all”. It was only when I arrived that I discovered my mistake; but when I got into the yard the gate was locked on me and I had no recourse. My friends may depend on it, I will never be caught again by policemen or anyone else that is doing Emergency business. Above all, no one could suppose that I would drive them to put out Father David Walsh’s mother. Not I got a guinea a mile
The Faythe, July 8th, 1881.”
Fr Davey O’Hanlon-Walsh scoffed at this story and contemptuously rejected it. He assumed that people often consciously do unsavoury and repellent things but cover themselves by pretending not to have known what they were doing.
The Echo on April 15th 1950 had a feature on the history of Carrig-on-Bannow: it is typical specimen of local historiography in that era, reckless on points of detail, correct here and there but that is the problem—which part is correct and which incorrect? It states that Fr Peter Corish the parish priest of Carrig-on-Bannow was appointed in August 1830 and continues:–“His Curate Rev. Martin Murphy (1834-46) commenced the erection of a new Church towards the erection of which Mr Thomas Boyse of Bannow generously contributed….”
The Curate was in fact Fr Martin Moran but he did not have charge of the erection of the new Church—this was the responsibility of Fr Corish and he took a leading role in all the major developments in regard to it.
The account then goes on to say that the Rev. Thomas Burke O. P. gave the sermon at the dedication of the new Church on Sunday April 6th 1856: in fact Fr Cahill the Dublin preacher of great fame came to Carrig to preach on that occasion. That genre of history is exasperating as one has to verify what is written in it.
Nicholas Moore of the Carrig-on-Bannow Land League wrote of Major Boyse evicting people in Bannow or at least threatening to do so but this is the conundrum: when the daughter of Major Boyse was married in July 1896 the readers of the newspapers were told—“The houses in Bannow and district were brilliantly illuminated after nightfall in honour of the occasion and the greatest harmony prevailed throughout the whole merry-making.” A farmer from Graigue Hill at a dance in the locality that night praised Major Boyse in the most profuse terms—“he had done all in his power to assist the people, in whose affairs he took the liveliest interest. He trusted he would be long spared to his tenantry.”
From the Echo May 10th 1947:–
“Mr Raymond E. Corish M. I. A. A. Auctioneer, Wexford, sold for Mr Daniel Curran, his very attractive bungalow at Barriestown to Miss K. Hanna, Rosslare Strand for £1,