Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, erudite, scholarly, eloquent, moves, acts and talks with panache, without equal, historian supreme, an intelligence far in excess of that of Einstein; a superb florist, a possessor of a poetic touch, an athlete and above all else, the most wily and devious of them all, that wily boy from beside the mine-pits. A wet and windy May will fill the haggard full of hay.

I think that the Rev. James Graves ministered in the Fethard district, at some time or other; he was a scholarly man but tended to use one hundred ornate words where one simple one would suffice. He was inherently courteous and on October 5th 1850 The Wexford Independent published his response to a letter previously published in the newspaper, written—almost invariably—by John C. Tuomy:–

“Sir—Having received, by your courtesy a copy of the Wexford Independent of the 25th ultimate, I have read with much pleasure and profit the valuable and interesting letter of “J. C. T.” [John C. Tuomy] on Bannow and its locality. Did I require any new argument to convince me of the usefulness of local associations, such as the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, that letter would furnish with a most conclusive one. Comparatively speaking, a stranger to the locality, I visited Bannow during the summer of this year; and having been highly interested by what there came under my observation, I brought the subject before the September meeting of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, giving as faithful account of what actually presented itself to my notice, as I was able. My short and imperfect letter meets the eye of “J. C. T.” and elicits from him a letter, which elicits a great amount of valuable information, which otherwise might never have been placed on record; for I think I may safely assert that “J. C. T.” would never have written the letter in question but for the antecedent of my paper on Bannow. Thus the existence of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society has been the means of placing on record, the only genuine record we possess on one of the most interesting localities in Ireland, whether we consider it in a historical or physical point of view—a locality, too, which has up to the present time, has most woefully suffered from the ignorance and exaggeration of a certain class of writers….

I must now, Sir, ask your indulgence, whilst I briefly notice one or two statements advanced by “J. C. T.”

With regard to that tract denominated the “Wood of Fethard” I am ready to bow to his superior local knowledge; I shall therefore merely observe that my assertion as to the strand and not alone the “high land”, forming a portion of the western boundary of Bannow Harbour, being so denominated, rested on the authority of persons long acquainted with the neighbourhood.

I will not quarrel with your correspondent as to the cause of the present shallowness of Bannow Harbour, but surely if caused by the closing of the eastern channel, which I grant is a very likely supposition, it must have been caused by the rising of the sand and “mud-lands”, by which that channel is, at present, obstructed; and with regard to the quay at the Tintern side—at which “J. C. T.” states that vessels drawing “ten or eleven feet of water” frequently discharged their cargoes, I shall merely observe, that the ferry boat cannot ply thither at low water, as I know to my cost, having been compelled to walk round by Poulguff bridge, on a very sultry day. While sauntering about Bannow, I had harboured the delusive idea that I could enjoy my otium cum dignitate, whilst the renowned boatman of Mrs S. C. Hall, or his present representatives, wafted me across to Tintern. But, alas, the “mud-lands” presented an insurmountable obstacle, notwithstanding the promise of additional remuneration.

I am quite willing to subscribe to J. C. T.’s emendation of my theory respecting the site of the town of Bannow. It is very probable that the foundations laid bare on, and finally carried away from, the space between the Church and the cliffs were merely a suburb of the town which extended along the  more extended internal shore, to the east of the Church and on part of which the castle, ruthlessly pulled down by “Dicky Kane” so lately stood; a supposition which as J. C. T. observes is strongly supported by the curious burgages tenures still in existence, in illustration of which I give the following extracts from the Inquisitiones post mortem for the county of Wexford—A. D. 1616, Sir Dudley Loftus of Kilclogen, died, seized, amongst numerous other possessions, “of one ruinous castle and one acre of land in Bannow, and Danes Park, called Glebeland.” A. D. 1627, Hamond Cheevers died seized, amongst numerous other possessions, of “one burgage in Bannow, which was held by Cheevers and Hollywood in free burgagery.” A. D. 1621, Walter Revell died, seized, amongst other possessions, of “one messuage, called le Hay, commonly called Joane Haye’s acres, which were held in burgage tenure.” A. D. 1629, Nicholas Hollywood died, seized, amongst other possessions, of “£3 annual rent, issuing out of the burgage of Bannow”, a large rent in those days. A. D. John Cullen died, seized “one messuage and 80 acres in Westerhill and one water-mill in the same, value 16 shillings annually; also of one messuage and 21 acres in Cullen’s land, with the weir, called Cullen’s weir, one messuage and 12 acres called Hamer’s land; one messuage and 12 acres called Hore’s land, 5 acres called Cullen’s croft, 15 acres in Ballyellane, 10 acres in Cornwadge, and 15 acres in Grauntstown, value 16 shillings annually and all part of the burgage lands of Bannow and held by Cheevers and Hollywood.” A. D. 1633 Walter Browne died, seized “of one messuage and 30 acres of land, part of the burgage lands of Bannow, also, held of Cheevers and Hollywood in burgage tenure.”—A. D. 1640, Christopher Cheevers died, seized, amongst other large possessions of “one messuage and 30 acres arable land in Newtoune, 1 messuage and 15 acres in Sarrin’s Lane, 10 acres in Le Cornage, with another tenement called le out Cornage, parcel of the burgage land of Bannow and held by burgage tenure; also of £4 annual rent, issuing from the Burgage and Town of Bannow, of 2 shillings rent of Wimmingstoune, 5 shillings rent of Cullen’s Newtoune, 6 shillings 8 pence of Carrig Church and one load of rushes from Belgrove, all of which are held of the King, by the Burgage tenure of Bannow.” Many other such items might be given but I forbear.

With regard to the Church of Bannow, I did not mention the porches, because I was not, and am not satisfied as to their antiquity. But J. C. T. misunderstood me when I said that the flat-headed doorway was of “comparatively modern date”; indeed, perhaps, I did not express myself with sufficient clearness, for I meant to compare it, not with the Church, with which it is, undoubtedly coeval  but with the very early flat-headed doorways of the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries. As relates to the sepulchral remains, I do not pretend to see very deeply into a stone, but I have before me a rubbing taken from the nearly effaced inscription which usurped, in the early part of the 16th century the fine Edwardine sepulchral slate of the knight and the lady. [This is evident from the fashion of the letters; the date is effaced]. So far as legible, it runs as follows:–

“Hic….qui obiit

Anno Domini…..

Anna Higgin qui obiit….

Quorum animabus propicietur

Deus. Amen.

The chimney of the town house is then, after all, a verity. I certainly must plead guilty to having seen it; but, as J. C. T. most justly surmises, I have been so mystified by the grandiloquent descriptions of previous writers, that I could not, for  a moment suppose the prostrate mass of masonry to be the veritable chimney which, ere I visited Bannow, I had fancied myself about to make a descent in order to examine the subterranean wonders of the “Irish Herculaneum”

I shall now conclude, Sir, conclude with an earnest wish that your correspondent may soon favour us with his “evidence for an eastern channel.”

James Graves

Kilkenny, October 2nd 1850.”

I assume that the Rev. Graves did not know what the initials “J. C. T.” represented; the tone of his letter is appreciative of the knowledge and learning of Mr Tuomy and it is unlikely that he would not use the appellation Mr Tuomy, if he knew the actual identity of J. C. T. Mr Tuomy insisted that the site of the city or town of Bannow was to the north east of the old church, as far as I can interpret his writings on the matter; it was not where it was previously thought to be.

From The People the 3rd of January 1883:–




Begs to inform his friends and the Public that, in addition to his first class traction engine (M’Larne Leeds) and Threshing Machine (Humphrie’s Complete Finisher) and with a view of still further accommodating the public, he had purchased a medium sized Threshing Machine, complete finisher, also, to  be used in conjunction with his 4-horse power portable engine.

A machine for threshing beans may, also, be had.

P. S. In consequence of not being able to meet the increased wants of my customers I have purchased an additional traction engine (7 horse power) on approved principles, from the above firm (M’Larne’s) and a finishing threshing mill, by Mr Foster, Lincoln, so that in future all unnecessary delays may be avoided as much as possible.

Terms on application.


Bannow, County Wexford

28th October, 1882.”

The picture or drawing of the threshing machine at Andy Colfer’s indicates that it was a steam powered engine. While such machines represented enormous progress in terms of agricultural productivity, they became redundant with the advent of the vastly more efficient and convenient internal combustion engine. I am unsure who would have written the pompously termed advertisement; the local schoolmaster could have done so or a journalist at The People. What is clear is that Andy Colfer was doing an enormous amount of business.

From The People the 7th of July 1897 [report of meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union]:–

“Carrig-on-Bannow Pump

Dr Byrne reported that Carrig-on-Bannow pump was not in working order.

Mr Devereux said it was water that was wanted in the pump. Mr Murphy—Was it not condemned one time as being unfit for use at all? Mr Devereux replied in the affirmative

It was decided to ask Mr Devereux Relieving Officer to furnish a report on the matter.” And from report of the same meeting:–


Dr Byrne reported 22 defaulters under Compulsory Vaccination Act and recommended that John Roche, Wexford, Nicholas O’Neill, Sheastown and S. Holmes, Cullenstown be prosecuted.” Parents were unsure about the after effects of vaccination and were often loath to allow the doctors to vaccinate their children.

From The People the 24th of July 1897:–

“Lost or stolen, on June 27, a small sheep Bitch; two white specks on eye; of a blush grey colour. The finder will be rewarded by applying to Thomas Murphy, Balloughton.”

From The People the 26th of April 1952:–

“Recent Death—News was received in his native district on Tuesday of last week of the death of Mr William Galavan, Sallypark, Waterford, formerly of Cullenstown. He left at an early age to work on the railway in Waterford. After almost fifty years service, most of it as a guard, he retired on pension about five years ago. He was popularly known as a courteous official. He was brother of the late Mr George Galavan, Cullenstown and father of Messrs George and Tim Galavan, two well known C. I. E. officials at Rosslare and Waterford. An ardent supporter of Gaelic pastimes he followed the fortunes of the Kilkenny, Waterford and his native Wexford hurling teams with great interest and was a familiar figure at big matches. The funeral took place to Ferrybank Cemetery on Wednesday and was largely attended. R. I. P….

Tillage By Lamplight—Following the example of the tractor drivers, who are carrying on tillage operations by the aid of headlights, a busy farmer in the Whitty’s Hill district, who had to go to town on Saturday on urgent business, decided to plant his potatoes and cover them on Friday night. He fastened a lamp to the harness of his horse team and got the work satisfactorily finished before midnight.”

The reference to tractor drivers in the above indicates that some momentum was occurring in the rural economy in the 1950ies.

From The People the 27th of July 1895, in report of Petty Sessions at Duncormack:–

“Row About A Quarry

Michael Carroll, Busherstown, asked an order on Francis Boxwell, Kerlogue, to compel him to enter his quarry, at Duncormack to take stones for building a  wall at Barrystown, of which plaintiff was contractor. Stones suitable for this work could not be had conveniently elsewhere. The court made an order to get the stones; Mr Boxwell to appoint a valuer, the plaintiff another and the court would then appoint a third.”

The People on the 29th of Aril 1896 reported that the Land Commission Court sitting at New Ross that, in the case of John Stafford of Brandane, the tenant and Jonas King the landlord it decided to reduce the rent on the 2 acres, 2 roods and 11 perches form £3 5 shillings to 32 10 shillings.

From The Free Press, June 26 1942:–


Currid—June 21st at Ballingly, Ballymitty, Catherine Currid, relict of Timothy Currid (ex-Sergeant R. I. C.), aged 73 years; deeply regretted. Interred at Ballylannon on Wednesday. R. I. P.”

The initial question to the panel at the Muintir Na Tire at Forum at Ballycogley Hall on March 24th 1957 was—Should Bachelors be Taxed?

Fr Patrick Magee O. S. A. Grantstown relied as follows:–

“Father Magee said he was against the suggestion. He believed no one should be forced into marriage. The type of bachelor he believed should be taxed was the ….farmer with a hundred acres who lives, perhaps, all alone. If Ireland is going to make any kind of progress something should be done about that type of bachelor, because he is leading a useless life, in no way contributing to the prosperity of the country. As soon as he is taxed out of existence, the sooner the country will be on the road to recovery. Bachelors, in general, Fr Magee concluded, should not be taxed.”