Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, whose history is published this Christmas in so many journals. The Federation of Local History Societies has published my article ”Tom Boyse’s Vista of Emigration”. It deals with Bannow around 1815 to 1826 and has wonderful new information. Also my two articles “Red Tom White” and ”The Opening of St.Peters Chapel” are in the latest edition of the Kilmore Parish Journal. A testimony, in itself, to my genius and assiduous research of history, blah, blah,….If it is true it ain’t bragging and natives of Carrig-on-Bannow never brag. The boy from Barrystown was ever destined to write history, a historian supreme, blessed among the women, a right boyo, charismatic, charming, grandiloquent, eloquent, original, innovative, humble, self-effacing and of course wily.
On Christmas Eve, I used as a child go with my mother to Wallace’s shop at Wellingtonbridge and buy a small toy: it was my reticent acknowledgement of Christmas—I never believed in Santa Claus. I remember the other pupils at school in Danescastle singing songs loudly and boisterously (the Clancys and Tommy Makem were supposed to sing that way) but I did not join in, although slightly impressed. I walked home alone; it could have been 1958 or 1959. We left Barrystown on May 3rd 1960; in Clonroche, young Fr Jim Ryan used to organise a party for the children of the school each Christmas. It did not amount to much; we got a bag of Tayto and looked at a home made film or something like that. The local guild of Muintir na Tire may have had a part in organising the party but I am not sure. They did organise a trip in the summer of 1964 and maybe 1963 to the seaside for the school children but I ignored it. There were no Christmas parties at the Christian Brothers School in Enniscorthy. At home from school I would have read the newspapers avidly, the Irish Press and Sunday Press. When we came back after the Christmas holidays in very early 1963, the snow was still on the ground, even on the roads. I recollect Fr Jim Ryan coming into Clonroche School that morning, with Wellington boots on, and telling us that he was closing the school until better weather returned. On Sunday February 14th 1963 the snow finally melted and we were back at school on the following Monday. Jack Kennedy of glorious memory came to New Ross in June 1963 and Mr Healy, the master, told us to go home and listen to his speech on the radio and television. In December the inspector came and said that too many days had been taken off school that year; he directed (I think) that we return for an extra day after the Christmas party. Mr Healy (God rest his soul) was totally disinterested in teaching on that day: he raffled his pocket money in portions to those who brought sticks to light the school fire and asked for a song—a young girl sang, “A Mother’s Love’s A Blessing” and Mr Healy told us to go home and have a happy Christmas. I got no money: I had collected a bunch of sticks one morning for the school fire but a man building a house asked me was I constructing a crow’s nest so I threw them away and never collected any more sticks. He should have bought fire-lighters! Or throw petrol on the fire! Fr Jim Ryan died well before his time in Templeudigan- he had a heart of gold and was surely a saint. He was of the famous Tomcoole, Taghmon family but when my mother asked him if Dr Ryan, the Minister for Finance, was his uncle he shifted uncomfortably in the chair and mumbled that he was supposed to be.
The rains and cold winds of the summer of 1960 resembled a pestilence from the pages of the Bible; a mystic or nut in some far off country (India?) predicted the end of the world on the 14th of July 1960: Radio Eireann carried it on the news as a spoof item but some people, not into irony and sarcasm, believed it. The cloudy, dull, cold and interminably wet summer seemed a portent of the end of the world.
The People on November 21st 1857 reported that Dr Thomas Furlong, the bishop of Ferns had appointed Fr P. C. Sheridan Parish Priest, Carrig-on-Bannow to the new post of Dean of St Peter’s College.
The People on June 30th 1855 carried this item:–
“William Duggan v Francis Leigh.—In this case which was an action for a quarter’s salary due to plaintiff as a steward to Mr Leigh of Rosegarland, the question arose whether a land steward fell under a category of other servants to whom a month’s notice was sufficient. The defendant had given a month’s notice and offered plaintiff amount due to him up to that period, which, plaintiff, declining to receive under the plea that he was entitled to a quarter’s salary was lodged in court. The Barrister decided that the plaintiff was only entitled to a month’s notice.”
The correspondent to The Freeman’s Journal on September 26th 1866 reported:–
“Dr Boyd of Bannow reported that several cases of cholera, and some deaths there from having occurred on board four Bannow vessels at present in Milford harbour, but which had been laden at Llannelly, the people of Bannow felt serious alarm lest the disease should be imported into Bannow by the vessels referred to. He had asked the Poor Law Commissioners if those vessels could be subjected to quarantine and they referred him to the 15th article of their general order recently issued under an order in council. As this question affects Wexford, also, and the Guardians not being able to find powers of quarantine conferred on them by the section referred to, they have requested the Poor Law Commissioners to say if quarantine can be enforced in this port, the town being open to fresh importations of cholera every day.”
Dr Boyd had reported to the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union.
A letter signed “Momus” appeared in The Wexford Independent on the 27th of April 1836 “reflecting on the character of the Rev. Richard King”. Rev. King, who lived at Woodville, Duncormack, was the father of Jonas King of Barrystown. Rev. King took umbrage at the letter and wrote to John Greene, the editor and proprietor of the Wexford Independent complaining of the said letter and threatening legal proceedings. John Greene was adversely by at least one successful libel action against his paper and I suspect that his legal advisors cautioned him against defending himself and his paper in court. The resolution of the matter looks like a chorography crafted by the respective legal advisors of both Mr Greene and Rev. King.
The initial item was this letter of Mr Greene to the Rev. Richard King, a most grovelling production but craftily focussing on the christian vocation of the Rev. King:–
“Wexford Independent Office
October 15th 1836
Rev. Sir—I have purposely waited up to this period replying to your last letter, in order that the feelings of (I must say), just indignation manifest therein, should give place to your wonted Christian spirit. I assure you most solemnly that nothing ever gave me greater pain to hear that you viewed the subject matter of the letters signed “Momus” in any other light than as mere political pasquinades, which occur every day in a society so heterogeneously constituted as ours; and sincerely trust that, now, as the excitement which called them forth has passed away, you will receive the amende honourable, which the author is willing to make (as I believe he was imposed on) to the fullest extent that you may require. This will be more grateful to your feelings, as the father of a family and more consonant to the spirit of our Divine Master, who will forgive “our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”, than any other mode of redress. For myself, Rev. Sir, believe me, that I am impressed with the deepest sorrow for what has occurred and trust that you will make allowances for the independent position which public journals must occupy in the estimation of their respective parties. By accepting a public apology, which I am ready to offer, or any other mode of reparation you may require, you will best consult your own dignity, obtain more full and satisfactory reparation for your wounded feelings, establish your own future peace more fully, by the reflection, that, though “injured you forgave”, for “to err is human, to forgive divine” than could possibly be effected in a court of law and, also, place under an indelible obligation.
Your obedient and very humble servant
It is hard to disagree with the logic of the above letter: a Christian minister is obliged by his faith to endeavour, always, to forgive—the Rev. King picked up the cue. He expressed his willingness to forego legal proceedings, if the author of that letter would make a public apology for it; “and accordingly the following letter was addressed to the Editor of the Wexford Independent; the identity of “Momus” was revealed, at last (Fr John Kavanagh of Mulrankin):–
“Sir—In reference to the letters signed “Momus”, which lately appeared in your Journal, in which the name of the Rev. Mr King was mentioned and of which I avow myself the author, I have to express my sorrow that they were ever published. They were written by me under the influence of excited feelings, but now, upon cool reflection, and being perfectly convinced that the alleged facts that had called forth those feelings were altogether destitute of truth and had been greatly represented to me, I tender him the only apology in my power—namely the expression of my sincere regret, that I was in any way instrumental in wounding his feelings and as far in my power, I withdraw and retract everything in these publications that was calculated to give him offence. I do so, the more readily, as I can say with truth that I never entertained towards him, personally, the slightest bad feeling.
I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant
In consequence of this letter the Rev. King declined to take any legal proceedings in relation to the letter written by Fr Kavanagh.
I will analyse in my next blog the letter from Fr Kavanagh about Rev. King that caused this outrage on the part of the latter.
Samuel Elmes on the 21st of June 1798 wrote to his father Mr Samuel Elmes, senior, inter alia:–
“I hear Mr Marsh and Jonas King are taken by the rebels, let me know the fate of all our friends, the Whitneys and Frizells families with all friends.”
I will now cite two pieces of evidence that puts the Rev. Richard King in a better light than “Momus” might allow.
From the Wexford Independent June 24th 1857:–
“We are sorry to state that a fire broke out on Saturday last, between the hours of 11 and 12 at Woodville, the seat of the Rev. Richard King, but happily, without doing further injury, than consuming a large rick of straw, in which it was first discovered. On being alarmed by the ringing of the workmen’s bell, the country people flocked in large numbers to the scene of the disaster and nothing could exceed the heartiness and good will with which they exerted themselves to extinguish the flames—and to those exertions combined with the assistance rendered by the Constabulary, we may attribute, under Providence, the safety of the out-offices and dwelling house. Sergeant Byrne, in his anxiety to protect the premises, was very near deprived of life, having fallen into the burning mass; and too much praise cannot be given to a public servant, who thus courageously exerts himself in the hour of danger. The Rev. Mr King, in a feeling manner, expressed himself, deeply grateful to all his friends and neighbours for their devoted zeal and kindness to him in the hour of peril—a spirit which all who love Ireland and her people, should desire to extend and consolidate throughout the length and breadth of the Island.”
The most positive part of the above is the indication that “the country people” rushed to give assistance in quenching the fire: this would surely suggest that Rev. King was not regarded as an ogre by them.
The Wexford Independent reported on August 7th, 1850:–
“We have sincere gratification in announcing another instance of landlord generosity in this county—At the last gale day, the Rev. Richard King of Woodville, made an abatement varying from 15 to 20 per cent to his tenants in the Bannow and Harristown Electoral Divisions—a fact exceedingly creditable to the reverend and benevolent gentleman, viewing his own limited circumstances and large responsibilities. A few facts of this nature would tend more forcibly to promote good feeling and generous cooperation amongst the component sections of the community, than all the statute law in the realm—beside cheering the country in her present sad and gloomy condition.”
From The People May 18th 1957, Bannow and District notes:–
“Sports—Carrig Guild of Muintir na Tire have a very fine programme arranged for their annual sports meeting which will be held at Carrig on the 30th May and granted fine weather a large crowd is expected at this very popular fixture.
The Spring Show—Many people from the district travelled to Dublin last week to see the Spring Show. All were pleased with the exhibits and the modern farm house kitchen came in for a lot of praise.
Mixed Weather—The weather which a couple of weeks ago was very dry and harsh has now turned to rain, hail, and bitterly cold winds. Although the rain is very welcome a little more kindness would improve the growing crops.
The Bannow Mummers travelled to Rosslare on Sunday night to take part in the national junior mumming competition. They gave a very fine display and won the first prize and a set of medals and received the highest of praise from the judges for their very fine performance. They will, also, take part in the senior competition. Members of the set: Mick Colfer, (captain), Peter Dyce, John Carty, Thomas Walsh, Sean Carthy, Jack Foley¸ James Foley, Mick Monaghan, Sean Dunphy, Jimmy Kelly, Patrick White and Thomas Ryan.”
The Free Press on the 2nd of February reported on the Annual General Meeting of the “Ballymitty Club” (I think the official name of the Club was more formal and elongated):–
“Ballymitty club annual meeting re-elected:–Rev. T. Byrne C. C., President; Mr Richard Howlin, Chairman; Mr S. O’hAodha, Secretary; Mr Frank Codd, Treasurer; Messrs L. Fanning and J. Byrne, delegates to District Committee; Messrs Edward White, Jim Byrne, John Moran, Frank Codd and Richard Howlin, Selection Committee; Mr J. Bennett, Chairman and trainer of minor team.
In his report [I am nearly sure that S. O’hAodha was Garda Hayes], the Secretary congratulated the junior team on winning the suit lengths tournament and the juveniles on winning the New Ross district championship. He thanked Rev. T. Byrne C. C., the Club members, owners of cars who supplied the transport for the players; Ballymitty and Bannow Hall Committees; Mr C. Mc Cutcheon, Hilltown and Mr James Neville for the use of fields and all others who had helped the Club during the year.
Mr F. Codd, Treasurer, said the club’s finances were sound and he thanked the supporters of the silver circle. It was decided to enter minor, juvenile and two junior football teams and a junior hurling team for the championship.”
From The Echo the 5th of May 1907:–
Vote of Condolence
Lady Fitzgerald presided. Also present—Mrs M. A. Ennis, Messrs M. A. Ennis J. P., M. C. C., J. Hore.
Vote of Sympathy
The Clerk reported that since the last meeting one of the members of the Board has passed away—Mr J. E. Richard, Youngstown, Ballymitty.
Mr Ennis said that he had known deceased personally as well as in his official capacity and he was always an extremely useful member of the Board and he would propose that the Board adjourn as a mark of respect to the family of deceased and that they tender their sincere sympathy to his family in their sad bereavement
Mr Hore seconded the motion, which was passed unanimously and the Board accordingly adjourned.”
A M. C. C. was the acronym for A Member of the County Council. My puzzle reading the above is the small attendance at the meeting—did they have a quorum?