Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, inundated with good wishes for his birthday: may one think of any day more important than that of the birthday of the wily boy from beside the mine pits, excepting the most important feast days of Christmas, St Patrick’s Day, Easter time, perhaps? To paraphrase some famous boxer, I am the greatest—of the historians, that is. If the great vocation of history had not called me, I might have been the greatest at Gaelic Football or hurling or even at sowing flowers.

At the history meeting last Wednesday night I recited an extract from “The Deserted Village”—

“While words of learned length and thundering sound

Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around,

And still they gazed and still the wonder grew

That one small head could carry all he knew…”

The boy from Barrystown would really want a lorry—at least as big as the one that Rich Howlin’s father had before the advent of World War II—to carry around all he knows. I am erudite, scholarly, original in thought, innovative, charming, charismatic, moves and talks with panache and above all else is the most devious and the most wily of them all—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. Maybe as “Frankie”, the much beloved Brother Francis Delaney, told my mother, a right boyo, also!

I am writing on this, the most special of days—my birthday and thinking in a mix of poignancy and nostalgia of those that went before me, parents, uncles, aunts, a sibling, neighbours, old friends: I know that they are in the mansions most high, the heavenly ones and they deserve no less.

From The Wexford Independent the 2nd of November 1882:–


On the 21st October, at Witless Bay, Newfoundland, aged 79, the Very Rev. Dean Cleary P. P. The deceased was born at Bannow, educated at the old Seminary under the care of the Franciscan Fathers­­ Drs Scallan and Lambert—and ordained in 1829, by the Right Rev. Dr Keating. Dr Lambert having been appointed by the Holy See first Bishop of Newfoundland and Dr Scallan as his successor, Fr Cleary volunteered to go Island and laboured there ever since. His death is deeply regretted by his flock—R. I. P.”

On a point of fact Fr Patrick Cleary was born in Maxboley, Ballymitty. And I think that he must have been more than 79 when he died but I am open to correction.

From The Wexford Independent the 23rd of January 1847:–

“The Poor


St Martin’s, Tintern, Jan., 21st 1847:–

Sir—Permit me, through the medium of your paper, to acknowledge the receipt of £20 handed me by H. C. Sweny, Esq., the subscription of Lord Valentia, for the poor of Clonmines, the only part of his Lordship’s estates l, for the poor of Clonmines, the only part of his Lordship’s estates lying in this electoral division; and, also, the sum of £5 handed me by H. C. Sweny, Esq., some time back, his own personal subscription, to purchase flax wheels for some of the old women in this locality, to enable them thereby to contribute to their own support, during this period of distress .

I am, Mr Editor, your ever faithful servant,

Andrew Barden.”

From The Wexford Independent the 24th of February 1847:–

“Gratitude Of The Poor

The poor people employed on the public works in the district of Bannow, have commissioned the writer of the following plain and artless communication to bear testimony to the services of the gentlemen, whose names are therein recorded. We cannot, tell their tale in a better manner than that adapted by the unsophisticated writer:–

“February 22nd, 1847

Dear sir—I mention some worthy gentlemen that have saved the lives of needy poor in the parish of Bannow and Balloughton districts, and they wish to continue such brotherly duty to the end of their existence.

Their names should be recorded and it is the sincere wish of the needy poor of that district to have those gentlemen’s names published in your Press.

The gentlemen whose names are worthy to be recorded are the Rev. Peter Corish P. P. Bannow; Rev. Nicholas Codd, Carrig; the Rev. Richard Doyle, Grantstown; next came that charitable gentleman, Thomas Boyse, Esq., the Grange, Bannow and Richard Lett, Esq., whose feelings of humanity should not be forgotten. It is requested of you by the people of this district, to have, also, inserted the steward of Balloughton Public Works, No. 22, Nicholas Maddock, as a just man.

Sir, we refer the statement of this just report to the management of your worthy press, as I am incapable of drawing a prefect statement thereof.

Sir, I am your obedient servant,

William Hayes.”

Strictly speaking a clergyman (unless operating in a professional situation, such as teaching, nursing or as a doctor) had no income beyond what the Catholic laity gave him so the query arises: how could the above named clergy have kept the people from starving? One answer is that they may have private assets, lands, monies, bank accounts accumulated as a result of donations, legacies, bequests, and succour from family, parents and siblings. Many wills of that era specify that certain money should be left to named clergymen, usually to be used for a charitable or religious purpose. Monies left for the personal needs of a clergyman would carry—I opine—an understanding that if no longer required by the clergyman, especially at imminence of death, would be directed to charitable uses. I assume that Fr Corish, Fr Codd, and Fr Richard Doyle gave money from their personal savings to alleviate the Famine distress; at a time of stellar prestige for the Catholic clergy, no local notable or landlord would wish to ignore any request from a Catholic clergy for help for the starving people.

From The People the 5th of July 1893:–


The bicycle races at Ballymitty on the 29th of June, attracted a large crowd of spectators. All the competitors being local men, great interest was taken in the race. Out of a field of seven, P. Doyle, finished first in the four mile race, with J. Fane second. The latter who generally rides a pneumatic, rode a 50 lb cushion tyre, and considering it was his first attempt on that type of machine, he got on remarkably well. Details:–

Four Mile Race—P. Doyle, 1; J. Fane, 2; R. Corish, 3. Also ran—D. Curran, A. Keating, J. Walsh and P. Furlong.

Slow Race—R. Walsh, 1.; J. Walsh, 2. Also ran—J. Kehoe, R. Corish, P. Furlong and M. Carroll.

Two Mile Race—T. Colfer,1; P. Furlong,2; J. Walsh,3. Four started but one of the riders met with an accident on the way.”

According to my little dictionary pneumatic means inflated with wind or air. A bicycle without such a tube inside the tyres on the wheels would be fun to propel but I speak in jest.

From The Wexford Independent the 5th of August 1893:–

“A pious and most exemplary Father of the Augustinian Order—the Rev. Patrick Moran—passed away this week in one of the establishments belonging to the Community in Dublin. Father Moran, who was in his 66th year, was in failing health for a long time past. In consequence of a painful illness, a couple of years ago, he became enfeebled and had since been unable to perform the duties of his sacred office. Father Moran was born at Harriestown, near Grantstown Convent, and was, always, of a remarkably pious and retiring disposition. After his preliminary studies in St Peter’s where he was a class-fellow with the Very Rev. John J. Roche O. S. F., Father Moran pursued his Theological Course in the College of his Order at Rome, where he was ordained. After spending some time in the Augustinian Convents of Cork, Callan, and Galway, he was appointed Prior of Drogheda and afterwards of New Ross Convent where his simplicity and sanctity endeared him to the people. After spending some time in Grantstown, Father Moran last year went to Dublin, where he died on Monday, deeply regretted by members of his Order, and attached friends, which he made in the various towns where his holy and useful life was spent. On Thursday were celebrated in the Church of SS Augustine and John, Dublin, the solemn obsequies. There was a large attendance of priests in the sanctuary. The Office for the dead was followed by the Solemn Requiem High Mass. Celebrant, Very Rev. James Murphy D. D. Provincial O. S. A.; Deacon, Rev. C. Murphy O. S. A.,; Sub-Deacon, Rev. Father Bird O. S. A. Master of Ceremonies, Very Rev. John Kehoe O. S. A., Prior of Clonmines…..”

From The Wexford Independent the 6th of February 1847:–


Bannow, January 29th 1847

My Dear Sir—In your interesting paragraph headed “The Potato” in the Dublin Evening Post of 26th instant, you prudently suggested the awaiting future experiments in order to test the probability of the potato plant of 1847 being attacked by the same malady as that which annihilated the crop of 1846

You intimate, for our comfort, non sequitur, because the plants being nurtured in the high artificial temperature of the Speaker’s forcing house have failed, therefore, they would, also, fail in the open air. I am sorry to tell you having planted some seed here in the month of October in a garden border facing the south-west, I had some of them taken up on reading your article of Tuesday last, when to my utter dismay, I perceived in almost every plant the unequivocal appearance of the same fatal disease which has consigned the whole island to desolation and despair.

I have to add that these plants have not been subjected to the agency of any artificial or unusual stimulation.

The “appearance” to which I allude is a brownish red colour on the part of the stalk adjoining the tuber.

Very truly yours

T. Boyse”

My former teacher, the late deceased Professor Robin Dudley Edwards, wrote that both the expert and popular opinion of that time did not understand that the potato blight was caused by a fungus and for some time attempted to vanquish the blight by altered methods of cultivation—as Tom Boyse, of glorious memory, explicates in the above letter, it did not matter what way one cultivated the potatoes, in terms of avoiding the blight. The Dublin Evening Post favoured Catholic Emancipation—the Wexford Evening Post was a parallel newspaper.

From The Bannow and District Notes in The People on the 31st of May 1952:–

“Fishing—The fine weather over the week-end attracted a large number of rodmen to the Bar of Lough fishing but they met with poor success, with the exception of Mr P. Martin, who landed a large Bass weighing 7 lbs on Sunday afternoon. Greater success was experienced by the boat fishermen at Bannow. Mr William Roche, landed seventy Bass in a couple of tides. Large numbers of basking sharks and purposes were seen in Ballyteigue on Monday which local fishermen regard as a good sign that fish is (sic) plentiful.”

From The Wexford Independent the 6th of May 1857:–


Gentlemen—A Coronership having become vacant, in the County, by the death of Travers R. Hawkshaw, Esq., I hereby offer myself as a Candidate for the office and should you elect me thereto, I will give my entire attention to the duties of the office.

Jonas King J. P.

Barrystown, 5th May 1857.”

The remuneration for this post was not of an astronomical figure; his offering himself as a candidate may suggest that Jonas was a bit pinched for money. The “J. P.” denotes Justice of the Peace—although Jonas occasionally broke that blessed Peace himself! The Cesspayers were the electors—a rather numerous group as people with little property paid cess.

From The People the 9th of June 1910:–


On Sunday evening last a most successful Retreat given by the Rev. Father Barrett S. J. [Society of Jesus] was brought to a close in Carrick-on-Bannow Catholic Church. During the Retreat, the attendance was very large, both in the morning and the evening. Confessions were heard daily from six to nine and from 10.30 to 3.30. On Friday morning no less than 600 approached the altar rails to receive the Blessed Eucharist, whilst it is computed that on the closing day about 700 received our Divine Lord at the eight o’clock Mass. Friday was observed as a day of devotion to the Sacred Heart. A special altar had been erected in the sanctuary, which was richly decorated with flowers and candles presented by the ladies of the parish. On Sunday evening the devotions commenced at five pm. Father Barrett having read the Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart a procession which was almost a mile in length, was formed and marched around the large field adjoining the Church. At the head of the procession came the cross-bearer and altar servers. These were followed by the girls and boys of the schools, the women of the Sacred Heart Confraternity and the men of the parish. Large numbers of cyclists and others from adjoining districts watched the procession from the roadside. During the procession, the Rosary was recited and hymns sung. The sight was a most impressive one and will be long remembered in Carrick-on-Bannow. The processionists having returned to the Church, the Rev. Father Barrett, preached an eloquent sermon on the vice of intemperance, which was listened to with rapt attention by the immense congregation. The total abstinence pledge was then given and devotions concluded with the Papal Blessing and Solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.”

From The Bannow and District Notes in The People on the 10th of May 1952:–

“Joined the Army—Three well known young men, Messrs Michael Byrne, Maudlintown, Sean Chapman, Kiltra and Sean Culleton, Danescastle, have left for the Curragh. Messrs Chapman and Culleton were members of Ballymitty juvenile and minor football teams, and they will be missed by the club. Their many friends wish them every success in their army career.”

From The People the 13th of March 1897:–

“For Hire a 13-row Corn Drill. Apply to James Hillis, Aughermon, Ballymitty or William Warriner, Faneystown, Duncormack.”

From the People the 14th of June 1952:–

“Kilcavan—The dressing of graves was carried out at Kilcavan Cemetery on Sunday. A large number of people from all over the county attended.

The Rosary was recited by Rev. L. Kinsella C. C. Ballymitty. The pattern is one of the old gatherings and in olden times athletic feats and dancing were carried on; the great performances put up by weight throwers and jumpers are still talked of by the older generations. The pattern is very often divided as a controversy exists; some holding that the nearest Sunday to the 11th June is the proper date and others contending that the nearest Sunday to the 12th is proper date.”