Hi ,it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, obliging, modest, humble, inspired and inspiring, fearless, renowned, iconic, innovative, a right boyo, historian supreme, a big hit with the girls and above all else-wily, that wily boy from beside the mine pits. If it is true it ain’t bragging. As St Kevin of Kilkevin prophesised gold and silver would always follow the Barrystown children.

The indications now are that a big crowd will come to Bernard Browne’s lecture to the Clonroche Historical Society at Clonroche Community Centre on April 21st at 8.30 pm. He will speak on the Rebellion of 1798 with special reference to General Tom Cloney of Moneyhore and Rev. James B. Gordon of Boro Lodge, Ballymackessy. The crowd will be bigger than that of those who claimed to be in the G. P. O. at Easter 1916 with Patrick Pearse. Possibly equal to that of those who made the Normandy landings in June 1944. After Easter 1916 most Irish people claimed to have fought in the G. P. O. with Pearse. April 21st is the eve of the birthday of the boy from Barrystown which is or should be regarded as a unique occasion in the history of this country, blah, blah….

The Bannow Mother’s Lament

The beans are flowering on Bannow Moor

The corn is shooting fornent the door

But who’s to reap them if you two go

Oh, weary on it, and weary oh.

Now, Bride, alanna, ‘tis striking one

‘Tis time the neighbours should be all gone

‘Tis short your sleep till the crows will crow

Oh, weary on it, and weary oh.

I’ll leave you finish the eight hand reel

The more I see it the more I feel

All the pride of Ireland and of long ago

Oh, weary on it, and weary oh.

Now, James, acushla, we’re tired to pray

And a single decade is all we’ll say

The boat is early and the clock is slow

Oh, weary on it, and weary oh.

Beside the greeshuck I sit and doze

I darn their stockings and air their clothes

All starched and ironed and white as snow

Oh, weary on it, and weary oh.

Oh, dooshe droleen, ‘tis morning now

I’ll light the fire and I’ll milk the cow

I’ll never call you again I know

Oh, weary on it, and weary oh.

I watched them waving up Carrig Hill

I heard them crying I hear them still

The summer sunlight has turned to snow

Oh, weary on it, and weary oh.

In 1916 Fr Philip Doyle O. S. A. Maudlintown, Wellingtonbridge published his three act drama “The Hook in the Harvest” and this song was included in the drama. I think that Fr Doyle intended that it should be sung to air of the Bantry Girl’s Lament. There is an economic naiveté in Fr Doyle’s ballad: the meagre bit of agriculture outlined in the opening stanza would not suffice to provide a livelihood for two young men. Fr Doyle evokes the local place names—a sign of his love of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow.

From The People August 22nd 1891:–

“The Late Evictions On The Leigh Estate

An Attempt To Re-let The Evicted Holdings

The Leveller And The Free Press

Dear Sir—I rarely, except when it cannot be helped, go to a newspaper with any grievance which I may have in a political way as I am a firm believer in the principle that the local branch of the people’s organisation is the proper place to have the matter dealt with. However, my claim upon the valuable space of your journals now is the fact that the matter which I am about to deal with is of a very pressing character and if I awaited until the next meeting of the branch, in the vicinity of which I live, some innocent person would, through the medium of The Free Press, be drawn into a bargain which they would have reason to regret all their lives.

It is now some months since the National feeling and spirit of Wexford were stirred to the very inmost core by the cruelties perpetrated by Francis Augustine Leigh J. P., Rosegarland. The eviction of the unfortunate peasant Neill and his soft family thrown out in the village of Clongeen and the ravages committed by hirelings upon the home of the blacksmith of the village, who was evicted because he was unable to pay a trebled rent, stirred the very hearts of the people and reminded people how blacksmiths, in particular, have suffered since the commencement of the Land League, for their disobedience to the behests of landlords. We all remember what happened.

Three brave blacksmiths from the County Clare who wouln’t shoe a grabber’s horse and how they fared for their persistence in what in the language of Coercion was “evil doing”. I now observe that Mr Leigh has put an advertisement in The Free Press, a paper which I may say is rarely seen in this neighbourhood, addressed as follows:–

To Blacksmiths—A forge, dwelling house and some land to be let; good locality for business. Apply to Mr Leigh, Rosegarland.

This “forge, dwelling-house and some land” is the home of the poor evicted tenants who were evicted some months ago. I am sure everyone must have read the account of the eviction in your papers. It is said that none of these brave blacksmiths from the County Clare are coming down to take this evicted forge.

One of Leigh’s victims

P. S.—I enclose my name and address; you can publish both if you like.”

The Free Press supported the Irish Parliamentary Party led by John Redmond of Wexford. It was not exactly a landlord’s party as it took a radical stand on the land issue and favoured the newly established Gaelic Athletic Association. Some of the syntax and grammar in the above letter grinds a bit but nevertheless it is hard to believe that an evicted tenant or blacksmith could be as articulate as the above letter indicates. I presume that the tenant got the local schoolmaster to write the letter.

From The Wexford Conservative April 29th 1835:–

“A few nights ago some miscreants set fire to a new boat on the stocks, ready to be launched, the property of Francis Leigh jun. Esq., of Rosegarland which was burned right through the centre and rendered useless, the incendiary having placed a tar barrel found in the neighbourhood under the boat and lighted it, which soon accomplished their evil design. We understand the boat was to have been launched the next morning and to be christened “Dan O’Connell”; but even this popular name was insufficient to shield her from the depredations of our fine pisantry. We venture to bet had Mr Leigh had spirit enough to have christened his boat “The Conservative, she would not have been meddled with.”

The Wexford Conservative owned by Samuel Wheelock of Wexford and edited by James Ryan, a mathematician, wrote in the interest of the most severe variant of the Established Church faith (or Protestant faith) and the Orange Order. It lampooned the Catholic peasantry and their alleged difficulties in pronouncing the English language—thus peasantry morphs into pisantry in the report. The Conservative saw this quaint way of speaking as symptomatic of the inherent weak character and slothfulness of the Catholic peasantry; the implication was that the Catholic peasantry were feral, wild, savage, impervious to good influence or education. Anna Maria Hall in her novels had the Catholic peasantry speaking a similar peculiar and ungrammatical idiom but to her—and to her readers, most of the upper class—this quaint and uneducated manner of speaking was part of the charm of the Catholic peasantry. John C. Tuomy, the Taghmon schoolmaster, was indignant with Mrs Hall as he felt that by ascribing this awful mode of speaking to them that she had degraded the Catholic peasantry.

This paragraph from the report of the missions at Carrig-on-Bannow and Ballymitty taken from The People on December 3rd 1859 is intriguing:–

“Mrs Leigh of Rosegarland deserves much praise for the very beautiful and tasteful manner in which (with her own hands) she decorated the Virgin’s Altar at Ballymitty and she attended very often at the devotions, although the mission was not in her own parish. There were two respectable young persons received into the Church during the mission and more are expected to follow the good and courageous example; so it is not by lying and scurrilous tracts or soup cans that we gain souls.”

Two facts are to be extracted from the above. Firstly, Mrs Leigh of Rosegarland was a Catholic but her husband was of the Protestant denomination. Secondly some local Protestants were converting to the Catholic faith. The reference to soup cans is a jibe: the Protestant evangelists were on occasion accused of using free meals, especially of soup, to entice Catholics to convert to the Protestant faith, especially during the Great Famine.

From the Bannow/Ballymitty notes in The People July 19th 1985:–

“There was a good attendance at the Corah Ramblers’ Soccer Club’s annual general meeting at John Ryan’s Wellingtonbridge, on Wednesday night of last week. The following officers were elected:–Chairman, John Murphy; Secretary, Michael Wallace; Treasurer, Willie Wallace. It is hoped that Jimmy (Mac) Whitty will return as manager of the first team this year. Michael Wallace is taking charge of the second team. Some of the players are already jogging in preparation for the coming season and full training will commence next month. The Club hopes to hold fund raising events in the near future.”

“The Cullenstown Road Again

To The Editor Of The People

Dear Sir—Through the columns of your widely circulating journal, we beg to remind the associated cesspayers of the Barony of Bargy that we intend to again bring forward the above road leading to the strand at Cullenstown for presentment and repairs at the next Presentment Sessions to be held at Duncormack on Thursday, the 6th of November next, and solicit their support. We will do our best to call personally on all we can in the interval.

Yours truly,

Moses Colfer, Ballygow

Walter Harpur, Busherstown.”

The above appeared in The People on October 22nd, 1890.

This appeared in The People on September 8th, 1883:–

“To The Editor Of The People

Sir—I have seen in the Freeman’s Journal sundry reports of the Rosegarland poisoning cases and of what occurred in consequence thereof. These reports are full of inaccuracies but bear intrinsic evidence of having been supplied by some one who was present at the inquests. They purport to have been sent from Taghmon and there was no person from that village present at the inquests but two policemen and their carman. Are the police allowed to act as newspaper correspondents? If they are, they ought to be accurate.

A. B.”

In the fall of 1883 as the harvest was gathered at Rosegarland, a heifer became seriously ill with the murrain and young Leigh, at five o’clock in the morning shot it (one is thankful that he chose this comparatively humane means of killing it.) Mr Leigh decided to distribute the resultant meat among his employees in appreciation of the very hard work, done by them, in saving his harvest. A number of those who ate the meat became violently sick and at least one fatality resulted. It became a matter of enormous controversy and official enquiries.

From The People March 10th 1951:–

“State of Roads—A large and representative meeting was held at Bannow on Thursday evening to call attention to the state of the roads in the Bannow area and to suggest to the County Council means for their improvement. Mr Thomas Crosbie presided; Messrs J. J. Furlong M. C. C. [Member County Council] and James Kennedy M. C. C. were in attendance. It was stated that the district is the highest rated in the county and is one of the most productive areas for beet, corn and potatoes; that a big area of the roads that serve the needs of the people get no repairs from public money and other portions are only classed as fourth class roads. Attention was, also, directed to the state of the lane leading to Bannow Cemetery and to the difficulties of the people of Bannow Island in getting to Mass when the high tides flood the passage to the mainland. It was decided to ask the County Council to have steam rolling done on the main road from Carrig-on-Bannow and to have a trial of a mile of selected portion of road of specially selected sea gravel. Messrs Furlong and Kennedy promised to bring the views of the meeting before the County Council. The Chairman thanked Messrs Kennedy and Furlong for their attendance and also Mr White for the use of his premises.”

[I presume that the meeting was at the Farmhouse, Bannow.]

Ballymitty Men in Birmingham—A number of Wexford exiles have formed a Gaelic Football Club, all its members are Wexford men, more that half of them belonged to the Ballymitty Gaelic Football Club, including the four Hillis brothers, Wellingtonbridge. They hope to give a good account of themselves in the championships over there.

Cattle Prices—Forward Store cattle are being bought up eagerly at good prices in the Bannow district. Mr Patrick Morris, Vernegly, sold four store bullocks, 20 months old, at £40 each.

Leg Fracture—A boy named Jolly, from Balloughton, while dismounting from his bicycle sustained a fracture of his leg, which necessitated his removal to the Co. Hospital, where he was detained.”

The Irish Times reported in the spring of 1951 that one-third of the Ballymitty Football team had emigrated over a single weekend.

From The Wexford Conservative March 11th 1837:–

“On Monday night last some malicious incendiary or incendiaries, with a determination, no doubt, to destroy the property and burn the inmates, set fire to a lodge or out-office near the dwelling house of Mr John Byron, of Ballone, in the vicinity of Rosegarland, in this county. The lodge is about five yards distant from the dwelling house and out-offices, all of which must have been consumed but for the exertion of the inmates, who most providentially were awakened by the smell and suffocating effects of the smoke—They were two young men, Protestants, in the service of Mr Byron and so determined were these midnight assassins and incendiaries on their destruction that they set fire to the lodge in eight different places; happily, however, without effecting their diabolical object, owing, as we have stated, to the timely and praiseworthy exertions of the inmates. Mr Byron is a Gentleman of inoffensive and unobtrusive habits, never meddling in politics nor interfering with the business of his neighbours—but he is a Protestant!!!”

The Conservative was the newspaper of those who supported the then proscribed Orange Order. There is little doubt that there was some serious controversy over Mr Byron’s holding and the incendiaries were, undoubtedly, the White Feet who usually came from over the Blackstairs mountains on the basis of local information to wreak vengeance on both the landlord who evicted a tenant or/and the person who took the evicted land. A lodge would be difficult to burn; hence they set fire to it in eight different places.

The report added that “suspicion attaches to persons in the neighbourhood.” It does not seem that Mr Byron was living in the house; the suspected local people presumably had a serious grievance against him but they might merely inform the White Feet of the situation and the latter would engage in violent reprisals against Mr Byron. The closing paragraph is informative and indeed confirms my interpretation:–

“We have been told that such is Mr Byron’s disgust at this and other bad treatment he has received since he went to reside in that neighbourhood that he is determined to dispose of his property and leave that part of the country.”

John Byron advertised his farm of 37 acres and dwelling house and offices in tenantable repair, garden and orchard for sale in The Wexford Conservative on March 18th 1837. It was situate in Ballone, adjoining Rosegarland “about 8 miles from Ross and 10 from Wexford and only 2 miles from a splendid beathing (sic) place.”

Applications were to be made to John Byron, Esq., Rosegarland.