Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, yes, that wily boy from beside the mine pits and ever blessed among the women. Some great orator of the English language (it may have been Jack Kennedy talking of Commodore John Barry….) said that the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow generally—and Barrystown, in particular—is steeped in history. So it is appropriate that the historian supreme should be a native of Barrystown or Barristown as they called it 200 years ago. It was, also, gold and silver for the Barrystown childre (to use a word from the lexicon of Anna Maria Hall). If the other scholars were even half as great as the boy from Barrystown they would never cease to brag and have intelligence tests on themselves daily. I am so funny that like the District Justice in John Mc Gahern’s superb novel (The Barracks) that I should get a job in the circus.

The latest issue of the Local History Journal published by the Federation of Local History Societies contains my article entitled “Tom Boyse’s Vista of Emigration”—in essence a study of assisted emigration from Bannow in the early decades of the nineteenth century. The Bannow Historical Society is affiliated to the Federation of Local History Societies and there should be no bother in procuring a copy. I am nearly sure that it sells through affiliated Societies at a much reduced rate. Anybody wishing to know of Bannow circa 1815 should read the article; indeed anyone wanting to know the history of the Co. Wexford in that era should read it!

The Journal of The Wexford Historical Society contains my article on anarchy, crime and lawlessness in the Templeudigan area, on the White Mountain, on the Wexford/Carlow border in the years after the 1798 Rebellion. The escapades of the iconic, celebrated and charismatic robber Captain Jeremiah Grant in the Co. Wexford in 1816 is covered in the article. They don’t make criminals like Grant anymore. The country, including the gentry and aristocracy, idolised him.

The folklore collected from children in the schools of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow circa 1938—on microfilm in  Wexford Library—contain names and details plus related traditions of fields in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow.

From The Wexford Independent March 29th 1854:–


On the 25th of Saturday, the 25th instant, some person or persons as yet unknown, entered the house of Mr John Colfer, Balloughton, in the parish of Bannow, and removed from a bedroom a box containing £175 in cash and securities, with several papers of importance. No trace of the burglars has been discovered. The occurrence has caused much astonishment in that remarkably orderly and quiet district. A reward of £30 has been offered, for such information as will lead to the apprehension and conviction of the offenders.”

I, in a previous blog, related the trial of a local woman, for this crime but it was not possible to convict her for the theft as the evidence was non-existent—she was guilty of having a brooch taken as part of the break-in (albeit many months later). In that era, every outrage was followed by the publication of a list of people in the local newspapers; each pledging to pay a specified sum of money to the person or persons who would provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the responsible parties. Some may have agreed to pledge this money to concur with a custom of doing this: the conundrum was that the money pledged may have been theoretical money, promised on the expectation that nobody would apply for it; in the unlikely event of somebody applying for it, then he or she might find that the persons pledging the money did not have such money to spare. Any person giving information in expectation of such a reward would be putting himself or herself at considerable personal risk. Witnesses in the cases before the courts were reluctant to give incriminating evidence and members of the Established Church/Protestant denomination were often most loath to testify in court if local people were there as defendants: they may have feared that if they were implicated in local people facing draconian sentences that the relations between them and the local community would be badly impaired.

The Wexford Independent reported on August 23rd 1848 that Martin M’Donald Doyle had died in Dublin on Thursday the 17th of August 1848. Tom Boyse was convinced that he had a touch of genius and provided for his education at St Peter’s College but the outcome was—comparatively—disappointing; he was, however, well acquainted with the ancient classical literature of Greece and Rome and perhaps, pedantically, introduced themes, images and tropes from that into his poetry. He published poems in The Wexford Independent under the signature of Donald of Shelmalier. His greatest moment—the moment of his metaphorical All-Ireland senior hurling medal—was at Bannow in late August 1835 when he read a poem of tribute to Tom Moore the iconic poet then on his famous visit to Tom Boyse’s place at Bannow. Tom Moore greeted him as a fellow poet on that occasion. Tom Moore, also, got him a job in the General Post Office in Dublin. I believe that he was from Duncormack.

From the Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press on the 30th of September 1950:–

“Rural Electrification—The rural electrification scheme has been completed in Bannow, Ballymitty, Duncormack, Carrig and Tullicanna areas and quite a lot of workers who had been on the job of erecting poles will now be out of work. While employed on the scheme they had some months of work at good rates of pay. The light was switched on in the Tullicanna area on Monday night. Householders are delighted with the scheme.” It would be an understatement to say that the householders were delighted: it was a sensation of entering into a dimension of magic. Do any of my legions of readers remember the switching on of the electricity?

From The Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press on October 10th 1953:–

“On to-morrow (Sunday) night Carrig cinema presents “The Tales of Hoffman”. Ernest Hoffman, a lawyer by profession, lived in Koenigsberg, Germany, two centuries ago, and though his name is forgotten his music lives on and is commemorated in Joseph Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffman” now presented for film goers. On Wednesday, 14th, the film “Decision” will be shown. It deals with the last phase of the war in Europe.

Miss Bernadette Coady, who recently celebrated her coming of age is eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs J. Coady, Danescastle, Bannow, holds a responsible position in one of London’s banks….

Beet Harvesting—Armer Beet Harvesters are now available in Wellingtonbridge area and can be obtained by any farmer who requires them. The Armer is specially adapted to suit Irish conditions and is manufactured in Carlow. They are being availed of by a big number of farmers as casual labour for beet harvesting is practically impossible to obtain. Beet loading commenced on Wednesday at the loading centres of Duncormack and Wellingtonbridge and beet pulled so far has bulked very well but, of course, there is no indication of the sugar content.”

Some observations of the above. My father talked a good lot about the Garda Coady who served in Carrig-on-Bannow; he regarded him as reasonable, friendly, helpful and not over tediously over-strict. Was Bernadette Coady his daughter? Maybe some of my legions of readers may enlighten me? The good thing for young people back over sixty years ago was that, fortified with a bit of education or training, a young person could obtain a responsible post: education in latter times goes on interminably, leaving one qualified (on the basis of age), on obtaining the final of a series of qualifications, to draw the old age pension.

Pulling beet by hand and “crowning” in early winter weather was a cold and mind-numbing job; and I doubt if anybody would do it except out of serious necessity. The weather habitually cold and atrociously wet delayed manual work in the fields; this had to an influence on farmers in favour of buying an Armer Beet Harvester. Machinery multiplied productivity and excised awful hardship.

From The Free Press September 16th 1950:–

“A Problem Solved—When digging holes for electric standards last week the E. S. B. workers made an excavation in the floor of a ball-alley in Tullicanna. The same night the local handballers filled in the hole. Next day the E. S. B. opened it up again but it was refilled the same night. On the third morning the E. S. B. men took the hint and sank a new hole in a filed outside the wall.”

From The Wexford Independent December 15th 1838:–

“Mr O’Connell reached the new bridge about two miles from the residence of Mr Boyse at Bannow where he was due to dine and sleep. Several roads converge to this spot from different parts of the country, from each of which were seen pouring countless multitudes of men, women and children….The road from the bridge to Mr Boyse’s house was literally so densely crowded that it could hold no more.” This report in the Wexford Independent on September 15th 1838 could have been written by either John C. Tuomy, the Taghmon schoolmaster who idolised Tom Boyse or Martin M’Donald who wrote poetry in praise of Tom Boyse (and who was introduced as a poet to Tom Moore at Bannow in August 1835). From the “lofty front” balcony of Bannow House, Dan O’Connell, the Liberator, so named for his winning of Catholic Emancipation, spoke to the throngs gathered in front of the house about—

“a noble and bold peasantry, well clad and well housed and the most lovely women I have ever looked upon….”

Dan O’Connell was another of that rare species of men who were blessed among women, although Robin Dudley Edwards, (one of my former teachers) in his biography of him, was dismissive of the tradition of O’Connell as a womaniser. He was, certainly, not wrong in his estimate of the beauty of the women of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow.

From The Wexford Independent November 13th 1886:–

“On Thursday, John Murphy Esq., J. P. Coroner for the Northern Division of the County, held an inquest at Ballymitty on the body of John Crowley, who died by falling from a car. The deceased was blind and about sixty-five years of age; he left his home to go to Wellingtonbridge for coal, taking an ass and car with him. At Kilderry the ass went off the road and Crowley fell. This occurred about eleven o’clock. A few minutes after he was brought home and died at four. Dr Boyd stated the cause of death, when the jury, of which Mr Donohue was foreman, returned a verdict of accidental death.” A correspondent sent in this report to the newspaper.

I am unable to understand how a blind man would be able to travel in an ass drawn cart; untreated diabetes could have made him blind—maybe he was partially blind.

On the 29th of September 1886 Lizzie Finn of Tullecanna, (sic) a shopkeeper, notified to Francis King Woodville, and William Boxwell, Justices of the Peace and to the Police authorities that she intended to apply at the Annual Licensing Quarter Sessions, to be held at New Ross, on the 5th of November 1886 for a transfer of an ordinary license to sell beer, spirits, wine &c to be consumed on the premises, at the house and premises situate at Tullecanna….

On the 18th of April 1840 Fr Aidan Ennis, “at the patriarchal age of 85” died. He was ordained priest in 1778, after the termination of his studies in Louvain, where he spent six years, training for the priesthood. He (on his ordination) was appointed a Curate at Bannow, the parish of his nativity. The custom, then, was for the Bishop to appoint priests to ministry near their family and relatives who would give them financial and material support.

From The Wexford Constitution, January 28th 1846:–

“Barriestown Mines

….the renewed operation on these ancient works are becoming of a more promising character….”

The Rev. William Hickey Rector of Bannow, 1820—27 (approx) wrote of the farmers of the baronies of Forth and Bargy (the south coast of Co. Wexford):–

“Their position, however, on and near the sea coast, with an excellent soil, and facilities of manuring, give them advantages which the emigrating sections from the inland parts of the South and West have not possessed. Besides there are some ethnological considerations to be taken into account along with the mere physical points of soil and climate and proximity to a thriving town; the people have inherently an industrious, thrifty disposition and orderly habits indicating self-respect and steadiness of character, with proverbial honesty. They originally immigrated in the 12th century from Wales, with the Earl of Pembroke, but not from a Celtic stock; they do not speak of the Gaelic tongue, nor understand a word of it….”

I think that the Rev. Hickey is referring to the Norman invasion of 1169 and 1170. He is correct is saying that the settlers in Forth and Bargy did not speak Gaelic; they spoke Anglo-Saxon dialect, akin to old English and related to the German language. In my first year at the old university I learned a small amount of it in my first year there. The Anglo-Saxon dialect was spoken in the South Co. Wexford, possibly, up to 1700. There were bits of French and Flemish mixed into it.

Another clergyman was writing the praises of Tom Boyse during the closing year of the Great famine:–

“Doylevilla, Graig, [Co. Kilkenny]

July 18, 1849

Dear Sir—I have written you a letter some years ago stating that Mr Samuel Boyse of Bannow, Co. Wexford granted me an acre, rent free, for ever, on which to erect a National School House, for the use of my people of the parish of Powerstown, Co. Kilkenny. I also, told he contributed to the erection of the splendid chapel at Loughmastem, for which he also, offered an acre of land but the people preferred the old present site.—Bearing in mind the generous offer, heretofore made to me by his worthy son Thomas Boyse, I wrote to him for its fulfilment. His answer which I herewith enclose, speaks for itself. I would have long since called on good friend Mr Boyse, for the lease he so kindly promises, had not the field been in the possession of a poor man who died of inanition, and is gone, and with him hundreds of my parishioners of Graig, Ullard, and Powerstown, from similar causes, to untimely graves, and who for the last three years have rendered the church-yards of Graig and Powerstown not only loathsome to behold but even to contemplate. Although Mr Boyse’s tenants in my parish were not in need of in or out door relief—they being independent and respectable—yet, he did not forget the poor of the district to whose aid he humanely contributed. I would say to all landlords, go and do in like manner lest more victims be added to the old, and before the exhalations from the half-interred corpses infect the air and generate new disease in addition to those already prevailing. My friend and the benefactor of the poor, Mr Boyse, may be displeased with me for publishing a private letter. As such acts of humanity and charity should not, in my opinion, be hid under a bushel, I will, therefore, run the risk of incurring his displeasure and hope, once more, to regain that friendship I so highly appreciate. Pardon this trouble and

Believe me, my dear Sir

Yours truly

Martin Doyle, Parish Priest.”

Tom Boyse was loath to permit distress from Famine on or near any of his estates and spent much of his vast fortune alleviating hunger during the Famine. The above letter was written to the Editor of the Dublin Evening Post. So many leading Catholics, both clerical and lay, wrote and spoke the praises of Tom Boyse that it is impossible to think other than that he was a sterling friend of the Catholic community; the great Dan O’Connell said that it would be useless to eulogise him, such was his greatness. I will quote the letter from Tom Boyse to Fr Doyle:–

“Bannow, July 13 1848

My dear Sir—I lose not a moment in assuring you that I am not unmindful of the offer I made of an acre of land to be dedicated to the use and purpose of a burial ground for the parish of Powerstown.

I shall be ready to execute a lease of it whenever you call upon me, without deeming myself entitled to the slightest gratitude from your parishioners for so slender an accommodation. I am, however, very happy that it is in my power to grant the request, small as it is.

Very faithfully yours

T. Boyse” [letter to Fr Martin Doyle of Graig] Tom Boyse was ill-at-ease with praise and adulation of himself; he refused to attend public dinners in his favour and may have avoided election to Parliament as he feared that might be viewed as exploitation of his services to religious and civil liberties for personal glory.

In Foreign Occurrences—News from Ireland on September 28th 1811, it was reported:–

“In the neighbourhood of Wexford, at the fatal pass of the Scar of Barntown (sic), at the very hour of noonday, in the sight of numbers assembled for the purpose of passing over with their cars, & for turf (the fuel of all this neighbourhood and of nearly the whole of the Barony of Bargy being supplied from the other side); one poor man, of the name of English, residing  at Duncormack, accompanied by his wife, unhappily, determined on venturing across, a few minutes before the tide had sufficiently ebbed to leave a safe passage; and having two cars, kindly permitted a man of the name of Dunn, who lived in the neighbourhood of Tintern, and was anxious to return home, to accompany him in the second car when, melancholy to relate, they immediately got beyond the horses’ depth, who could no longer keep their footing; the car and crates were overturned and all were swept away by the  rapid flood, out of sight of the astonished spectators, who were incapable of affording any other assistance than that of saving the poor woman and one horse, that had happily drifted near the shore.”

I have no doubt that the Scar of Barrystown is what was meant by “the Scar of Barntown”. It is clear from that account that Wellingtonbridge was not constructed before 1811 at the earliest. See below—Mrs Hall on Wellingtonbridge.

From The Free Press January 14th 1928:–

“Tullicanna Driving Accident—On Sunday night of last week a driving accident occurred near Tullicanna. Four young ladies set off in a pony and trap to attend a dance in the Newbawn locality. They had not proceeded far on their journey when in rounding a sharp curve the pony cut the corner too short with the result that the trap turned over into the dyke, the shafts being broken off and one of the wheels being smashed. The ladies managed to extricate themselves after some time. A lucky feature of the occurrence was that the pony neither got tangled nor ran off.”

I am unsure about the credibility of the above story: it is intended as a comic item in the notes? The ladies are not named, perhaps, to save them embarrassment. Surely they would have boyfriends to bring them to the dance in their motor-cars?

At their meeting in late November 1884 the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League passed these motions:–

“That we return thanks to those patriotic women who, at the foul (sic) market of Wellingtonbridge, refused to support obnoxious persons; and trust that they may long retain that patriotic spirit for which the daughters of Ireland were so noted.

That we thank Mr Busher, smith, Ballylannon, for his generous support of the cause by refusing to work for grabbers.

That we trust that this and the neighbouring branches will take heed of the lessons taught by temperance advocates.”

I assume that foul is a misprint for fowl; the phrase “daughters of Ireland” at least figuratively, implies that Ireland was an animate being, an issue that Eoin Mac Neill disagreed with Patrick Pearse on in the months before the Easter Week Rebellion of 1916. Pearse denied that he actually believed that Ireland was an animate being but he continued to use the figurative mode of describing Ireland. The opening sentence of the Proclamation of Easter 1916 announces—“Ireland, through us summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.” This figure of speech is continued through the document. It was less an exotic creation of Pearse than common usage among the politically active in that era. I will give a lecture on Pearse and Easter 1916 in April in Clonroche.

Temperance meant abstaining from drinking alcohol; in 1961 the boy from Barrystown on Confirmation day took the pledge to abstain from alcohol until the age of twenty one years. Temperance in one sense was a lost cause in Ireland as so many drank to excess if their finances permitted them to do so but, on the other hand (as the politicians say) hundred of thousands of people took the pledge to abstain from alcohol in the mid nineteenth century from Fr Matthew and the Pioneer movement was most widespread and influential in Ireland in the twentieth century. Some people followed Fr Matthew around the Co. Wexford and took the pledge several times. I kept my confirmation pledge, only taking alcohol in the summer of 1973; I hated the taste of it and desisted from it ever since.

Jack Kennedy wanted to include in  his address to Dail Eireann in June 1963 a quotation from david Lloyd George about the greatness of the little 5 feet 6 inches nations, of how the Saviour of mankind came from one of these nations. His advisors were apprehensive that the mention of the name of Lloyd George could upset some of those in the Dail and explained to President Kennedy—too preoccupied with the mega global issues to bother himself with the minutiae of Irish history— that Mr Lloyd George was Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Irish War of Independence (1919—21) and negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty with Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. So Jack Kennedy in his address left out the name of Lloyd George and substituted the phrase—“a great orator of the English language” and discoursed away about the little 5 feet, 6 inches nations.

The Wexford Independent reported on August 24th 1859 that Jonas King of Barrystown sat on the Bench at Duncormack Petty Sessions in August 1859; he queried witnesses during the Sessions. The Constabulary of “Tullacanna” and, also, of Wellingtonbridge, at the same Sessions, prosecuted a number of persons for their cattle on the roads, all of which were fined 1 shilling and costs for first offence, for second offence 6 pence and costs. Invariably these cattle were set on the roads to graze grass on the sides of the roads; even then they were a menace to traffic but the practice still persisted into the 1950s. Jonas was still on the Duncormack Bench in 1861, a year after the bizarre court case in which Martin, an Enniscorthy butcher, extracted compensation from him for wrongful imprisonment.

From The People February 21st 1885:–

“Wanted a General Farm Man. Apply to Mrs Burnside, CullenstownCastle, Bannow.”

The Wexford Herald on July 26th 1828 reported Sam Boyse as saying at a major public meeting in favour of Catholic Emancipation:–

“Sir Thomas Esmonde, I rise for the purpose alone of recording my entire coincidence in the view which my son [Thomas Boyse] has just taken of this great Irish question. I cannot help thinking, Sir, that what the lawyers call a misnomer has occurred in the baptism of this question and that its genuine designation ought to be a Protestant question. Allow me to assure you, Sir, that I am heart and hand with you in the adoption of all those means for the attainment of your object, which are consistent with law and peace and that I entertain a confident hope of its approaching consummation.

Sir, I am free to confess, that in the early part of my life, in common with other Protestant Gentlemen, had my doubts and fears upon the subject of Catholic Emancipation—I imbibed prejudices with my mother’s milk; but Sir , those fears, those prejudices—

“They to friendship turned my hate

And taught me to be just was to be great.”

From Anna Maria Hall:–

“In the county of Wexford, and in a nook which, fifty years ago, was completely apart from the ordinary route of travellers, are situated the Seven Castles of Clonmines. An arm of the sea, called “the Scar” separates them from the parish of Bannow. In my childhood, they were to me objects of deep interest; I had no playmate, no companion; and when my relatives went on friendly visitings in the neighbourhood, they would take me with them; it being a fixed principle that I was never to be left to the care of servants. One of our best and dearest friends dwelt in a house called Barristown [Barrystown], nearly opposite those fine old ruins and happy, indeed, was I, when the carriage was ordered to prepare for a drive thither. It was inhabited at that period by a very aged lady and her youngest son, an old bachelor; her granddaughter, also, lived with them, a young lady of most amiable mind and manners.”

The old bachelor was Jonas King who died circa 1832; he was uncle of the turbulent and eccentric Jonas King who lived at Barrystown later and died circa 1881.

In that same piece of writing Mrs Hall wrote in tantalising mode:–

“A bridge beyond the castles called “Wellingtonbridge” crosses the arm of the sea, I have already mentioned, and facilitates communication between the secluded neighbourhood of Bannow and Ross and Waterford. Before the bridge was built, those who wished to get to the opposite side, were obliged to wait until the tide was out and cross at the ford. The country girls proceeding to Ballyhack to sell their eggs, used to take off their shoes and stockings and wade across, carrying their marketing on their heads; if the tide ran strong, they would link hands and cross in numbers. And I remember but one or two accidents; though since they got the bridge, crossing the ford is spoken of as a barbarism—I should say since they have got the road to the bridge: for be it known that the bridge was finished three years before the road was made.”

If Anna Maria Hall came to Bannow post 1800 or thereabouts then Wellingtonbridge was constructed later than that, as Mrs Hall recalls one or two accidents crossing the bridge. My assumption is that it was called after the victor of the Battle of Waterloo, in which a brother of Tom Boyse fought and was grotesquely, injured leading to a shortening of his life, afterwards. Tom Boyse told of going to Waterloo after that watershed battle.

From The Wexford Independent February 22nd 1831:–

“Anti-Malthusians—It is our pleasing duty to report that during last week in the parish of Bannow and Kilkeavan, (sic) ten young couples were bound together in the holy bonds of Matrimony. Five members of one respectable family in this town [ Wexford], were within the last fortnight led to the Hymeneal Altar.”

Tom Malthus prophesised that increasing population would lead to famine. Anna Maria Hall, the famous writer, regarded these early marriages as a dreadful development.

From The People August 6th 1859:–

“A Bannow Subscriber” informs us that he does not receive his papers regularly, and that sometimes they come to him “thumbed, crumpled, and soiled” three or four days after publication. The letter carrier of the district, he says, instead of having letters and papers sealed in a bag, “more generally has them roosted on his head or shoved into his pockets.” We hope this notice may reach the eye of the postmistress of Bannow and her assistant and save us the necessity of writing to the Postmaster-General.”