Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, the sheer genius, historian supreme, erudite, scholarly, an intelligence far in excess of Einstein; moves with panache and talks likewise—that most devious and wily boy from beside the mine pits. My former teacher Professor emeritus Ronan J. Fanning, a most distinguished historian, recently passed from this world.
My birthday is on the 22nd of April and I hope by then that the dark and claustrophobic clouds of the long winter time will have finally passed.
I do not agree with the recent changes made in regard to Gaelic games: I regard tradition as integral to those games and the September Sundays, the late harvest time in a previous era, should be sacrosanct as the dates for the Hurling and Football Finals. I see no purpose to the Super 8 mine league in lieu of Football Quarter Finals. As I see it, the focus should be on avoiding the playing of important matches in the lethal January/February and March weather plus the placing of strict restrictions on the blight of hand-passing in Gaelic football. The latter game is now so degraded into incessant hand passing that it seems an anti-truth thing (or something like that) to describe it as football. In my lifetime, in hurling- ground hurling, over-head striking, long striking, centre-field play, positional play have all disappeared while in Football, place kicking, long kicking, high fielding, long kick-outs, punching of moving balls have all disappeared. In both games, man to man marking is gone with players behind the ball. Oh I could go and on….
From The People the 5th of February 1881:–
January 22, at Wellingtonbridge Bridge, aged 93 years, Mrs Bridget Murphy, deeply regretted by all who knew her.”
Fr Matthew finally came to Grantstown on November 20th 1841 or at least, he made his presence obvious there; it was possible that he slept the previous night there. John H. Talbot, the extensive Landlord (of the Catholic faith), the Earl of Shrewsbury, wrote an extensive account of Fr Matthew’s visit and I will quote a good bit of it:–
“On Wednesday morning the apostle of Temperance arrived at the Convent of Grantstown, in order to support the claims of its Reverend Brotherhood on a Christian people, to enable them to liquidate the debts attached to the institution. Every avenue radiating from the point of attraction was covered from daylight to eleven o’clock, with dense masses wending their way to hail the regenerator of Ireland, and enlist under his glorious banners. A large sprinkling of the gentry, we are glad to say, encouraged by their example their more humble fellow-beings in the laudable work of honouring the Apostle of Temperance and cheering him on in his glorious and heavenly mission. Amongst others we observed our esteemed High Sheriff [Thomas Boyse], Mrs J. W. Goff and family, Mrs King, Coolcliffe and family, T. R. Hawkshaw, Esq., &c, &c. Shortly after eleven o’clock, Father Mathew entered the Chapel and having ascended the steps of the altar, delivered one of the most forcible, eloquent and persuasive discourses in behalf of the sacred Temple in which he stood, that we have ever heard, and evidently made a deep and we trust, lasting impression on the hearts of his vast and admiring auditory. Immediately after the sermon, he proceeded to the extensive area in front of the Chapel, which was crowded with postulants awaiting the appearance of their deliverer from the most debasing and iniquitous of vices. The amateur bands of Wexford and Ross had, also, arrived from their respective localities, to greet this great conqueror of the national failing and on his making a appearance in the open air, struck up “See the conquering hero come”, which had a most pleasing effect. A more humble but not less meritorious knot of admirers of “concord of sweet sounds” from Duncormack, with instruments of real native manufacture, also, joined in the general jubilation. Father Matthew, having ascended a platform, erected for his accommodation, on which we previously observed a considerable number of the venerated and beloved Pastors of the people, encouraging their susceptible and attached flocks, on the bright path of virtue and regeneration, he proceeded thus to address them—after greetings loud, long and heartfelt, had rent the air for some minutes.”
The remainder of Fr Matthew’s address was referenced with abstruse theological references and rhetorical hyperbole on the evil of alcoholism. He seemed amidst the profuse verbiage to make two practical observations:–
“He grieved to say, however, that there were more infractions of the sacred obligation which the Irish people had, under the Divine assistance, placed on themselves, in this county than in all the rest of Ireland.”
He seems to be specifically citing County Wexford, as the place with most reneging on the Pledge to abstain from drinking alcohol. He had even worse to accuse the Wexfordians of!
“He had just come from districts where there were twenty, thirty, forty thousand teetotallers and not had they proved faithless to his pledge or adopted the wretched subterfuge of getting a doctor’s certificate in order to qualify as patients to participate in the maddening draught. A few days back, he had traversed a great portion of the County Wicklow, and the extensive district of Kiltealy and Limbrick on the borders of this county, and blessed be heaven, not a single teetotaller had violated his pledge therein. Last Sunday, he had been in Mountrath and met the clergy of the Queen’s County, Kildare, Carlow and Kilkenny there, and was assured by them that there was no such thing thought of by their respective flocks as breaking their pledges. This was the only part of Ireland, he regretted to say, for the character of the County Wexford, from which he received letters, and seemingly all in the one hand-writing, surrendering their obligation but he would take occasion to inform them that he never opened any such letters, as if they had never written them. From the abuse of the clause in the pledge, making an exception for medical purposes, he was determined, in the administration of the pledge in future, to leave out all qualifications and exceptions.”
I will attempt a translation of the above! Fr Matthew was incandescent with those who wanted a dispensation for their pledge to abstain from alcohol. In line with mid-nineteenth century medical mythology or codology, the pledge administered by Fr Matthew allowed the person making this solemn vow, to rely on medical reasons to have their pledge put aside—alcohol was viewed as a stimulant to possibly regenerate the ailing person. As many people must have taken the Fr Matthew pledge because they felt under a social, and religious pressure to so, it was inevitable that they would later seek an exit from this pledge. The medical exemption was ideal for that purpose. Fr Matthew asserted that he only received letters, seeking on medical grounds to have the pledge set aside, from the Co. Wexford and that in so many other parts of Ireland the local clergy assured him that nobody reneged on their pledge. These clergy may have been flattering Fr Matthew and keeping from him the true account of the broken pledges.
Fr Matthew at Grantstown altered the nature of the pledge: henceforth, there was no exemption on medical grounds in the Temperance pledge. We now know that in severe alcoholism a mere pledge would not suffice to keep a person sober.
Fr Matthew claimed that by that time, there were five million teetotallers in Ireland: I presume that he only counted those who were pledged to abstain from alcohol. I think that with or without the abstinence pledges there were a vast number people in Ireland who would not take alcohol, anyway.
At Grantstown, Fr Matthew had high praise for Tom Boyse of Bannow.
From The People the 11th of October 1913:–
“We regret to announce the death of Mr Patrick Doyle, Maudlintown, Wellingtonbridge; father of Rev. P. A. Doyle O. S. A. Orlagh. Mr Doyle was, also, father of Sister Mary Magdalen, Convent of Mercy, Wexford; Sister Mary St. Cyr, St Paul’s Birmingham and Miss M. A. Doyle, Good Shepherd Convent, Limerick. The late Mr Doyle was well-known to be a very patriotic man who always took a lively interest in the country’s welfare. He was a devout Catholic and his demise is deeply regretted by all his family and friends. The funeral took place in the old Church-yard of Bannow on Thursday after Office and High Mass.”
From The People the 16th of August 1913:–
“Pattern Day At Cullenstown
Friday, the feast of the Assumption, being the “pattern day” at Cullenstown, is sure to be thronged, especially in view of the semi-finals in the Handball Tournament being decided. When that day comes all the cottagers and residents in the vicinity make it a point to have their homes tastefully whitewashed and decorated and for a day or two, previous, all the local celebrities who are wont to patronise fairs, patterns and sports may be seen on the march for this spot in hopes of getting through the good nature of the merry crowds. Then again the Carrig and Fife Drum band will be a pleasing feature and add to the variety this year. In fact Cullenstown is about the only remaining pattern that is being continued and the only reminder of the days when the fair of Scar was the rendevous of young and old for miles around.”
From The People the 27th of September 1913:–
“Exit of Kilmore and Cullenstown Visitors
The stormy weather that has prevailed during the past week or so has been responsible for the desertion of the two local seaside resorts of Kilmore and Cullenstown to a great extent. Almost every day van loads of the belongings of holiday makers could be seen on the road to the railway station so that in a very short time the Kilmore and Cullenstown natives will have all to themselves again.”
From The People the 16th of July 1887, re Crop prospects:–
Beans—Only a small area sown; prospect not promising; an hour’s wind might leave them not worth much. Barley—this crop has suffered much from the continued drought, stunted and thin on the ground; exceptional fields a full promise. Wheat—Not much sown, only for home use; looks pretty well and is expected to harvest good. Winter Oats—Gone out of tillage here. Spring Oats—Apparently seedy, straw very short and thin on the ground. Potatoes looked very well up to last week but would now appear to have stopped growing; stalks getting yellow. I don’t know of any new [is there a word left out?] in this locality; a month late. Hay—Not half a crop and unless stored next day after cutting, useless as provender. General Observations—The great want of water is felt both for people and cattle. All pumps are dry or nearly so. Should Copious showers fall the coming week, they would assist the situation and materially help the green crop.”
According to The People on the 2nd of July 1887 The Carrig-on-Bannow National League in collections at Carrig, Ballymitty and Grantstown Chapels amassed £23 15 shillings and 6 pence as its contribution to the “Pay the Members Fund”, the Members of Parliament who represented the Irish Parliamentary Party. Members of Parliament were not then paid any salary, remuneration or expenses.
From The People the 6th of July 1887:-
Met June 23rd. Present—Messrs A. Cullen (in the chair), Thomas Colothan, A. Devereux, James Daly, Patrick Wade and John Breen. A letter was read from Dr Boyd stating that it had been reported to him that scarcely any water can be procured from the pump erected by the Guardians in 1886 in Danescastle and consequently there is a very great scarcity. He examined the pump and so far as his judgement went he thought the pump should be taken up and the well sunk and that it should be done with as little delay as possible. The committee having drawn the buckets they found six inches of water in the pump stick, a quantity useless in this exceptionally dry time and were unanimously of opinion that the pump should be taken up and the well sunk to a dept that may ensure a full and proper supply; around the pump, to be finished in a concrete surface.
Mr Devereux said that the village was in a desperate state for water; all the private pumps even had gone dry.
The Clerk—I heard that people had to draw water for upwards of a mile.
Ordered—That advertisements be issued.”
From The People the 8th of August 1891:–
“EVICTION AT BANNOW
On Monday last some evictions were carried out in Bannow on the estate of Major Boyse. It appears the leases under which the tenants on a certain townland held their holdings, expired in the beginning of 1890. Ejectments for over holding were served by the landlord on all the tenants, and which with one exception, they allowed judgement go by default. Major Boyse then entered into new agreements with the tenants, raising their rents in nearly all cases. The one exception mentioned was Mr William Rochford, who defended the ejectment brought against him. Mr Rochford’s holding contained ten acres, held under a lease for 90 years, at the yearly rent of £5. When the first rent became due after the expiration of the lease, Mr Rochford tendered it as usual, but it would not be accepted. Major Boyse wanted possession of the land, though not a penny was due by the tenant. The ejectment came before the County Court Judge and afterwards before Judge O’Brien at Assize, the result being that as there was an under-tenant who held a house and about an acre of the land for many years, the judge decided it was not a present tenancy and the ejectment decree was put in force on Monday last. None of the public were present. No one knew at what time the eviction would be carried out. Mr Walker, the agent Pierse, his clerk and Daly the Taghmon bailiff, with an assistant, put in an appearance and evicted Mr Rochford, Michael Colfer and wife, Mary Kearns, with four in family and John Wallace, his wife and two children, all cottiers. Wallace and his family have been evicted twice in six months, first by Mr Sheppard of Ballygow, from a holding that was reclaimed from a knock into a state of cultivation by Wallace, who paid over for over fifty years four times the valuation. He offered double the valuation or leave the matter to arbitration, which was proposed by Mr Sharpe who afterwards went back of it. This appears to be an opportune time for landlords to vent their vengeance on those who took an active part in the agitation. A. – of Carrig is caretaker over the farm. There is no branch of the Federation in Bannow.”
While I am a whiz at legal matters, the judgement of Justice O’Brien is a puzzle to me. If Rochford had a lease for 90 years then I do not think that Major Boyse or the courts could evict him, except by some hideous technicality. William Rochford was a prosperous building contractor and not really dependent on the Major Boyse; hence his pugnacity in fighting this issue out. Mr Gladstone, the Liberal British Prime Minister once described eviction as death: it was an appalling procedure.
From The Wexford Independent January 1841:–
The following communication recently appeared in the Freeman’s Journal. Although any thing tending to exalt the gifted and noble-minded Boyse in this County is mere surplusage, still as our Journal has a wide circulation beyond our local precincts, the example of such a man cannot be made know too extensively:–
Sir—Shall I ask to publish in your highly esteemed and valuable paper some more and I may say, singular instances of Protestant liberality. They have emanated from the amiable and patriotic Thomas Boyse Esq., of Bannow. Not long since a splendid and capacious Catholic Church has been built at Carrick, in Bannow and for the erection of which he (Mr B.) and his late father and Miss Boyse have given the munificent sum of £700. To the Church is annexed a tower but not finished; it is now about to be completed and for its completion, Mr T. Boyse is giving £200 in addition to what is already mentioned, besides a lease for ever of the Chapel yard and a considerable Chapel yard, at a nominal rent. Now, sir, we read frequently of Protestant and Catholic Liberality but where shall we read of a fellow for the above? What enhances its value is, that Mr Boyse has declared to me that he thinks it is his duty to help the people to erect a house to the worship of the Living God. You will say, happy the people who have a gentleman of so much philanthropy living amongst them. Yes and happy Ireland, if the evil of absenteeism was removed and she had many Boyses distributing the blessings of their beneficence amongst her indigent sons—I am, sir, your obedient servant.
Bannow January 4th 1842.”