Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, obliging, charismatic, humble, unassuming, ebullient, scholarly, erudite, witty, a historian supreme, a right boyo and—wily. Gold and silver for the Barrystown childre.

On Tuesday night October 14th, I will speak on Killoughram Wood, Caime (near Enniscorthy) including the story of Captain Grant, in the Clonroche Community Centre at 8.30 pm.

The fame of the self-styled Captain Grant, in his era, circa 1816, was enormous and he and his criminal gang levied annual charge on farmers and other solvent people. He was young and violent and exercised an iron discipline over the members of his gang. He was the son of a poor peasant born in the Queen’s county and could neither read nor write. In 1816 he departed from his native county after the magistrates there increased their efforts to apprehend him; he set up in Killoughram Wood in a bed of straw and assumed a new name of Cooney; after he began a series of raids on Houses in Enniscorthy he was arrested in the wood of Killoughram and recognised. He changed his name and persona as the chameleon changes colour. He was brought back to Maryborough Gaol to stand trial for a burglary committed in his native county. He was hanged on August 29th 1816 at Maryborough Jail: the sheriff postponed the execution until one o’clock in the hope that a reprieve would arrive—members of the gentry and aristocracy had a certain sympathy for Captain Grant and made representations to spare his life.

Somebody told me that The Irish Independent published my letter about timber, boats, forests, fishing and harbours around the time of the Famine. I rejected the thesis that there was no timber and no boats in Ireland at that time. There was, for a start, about 600 acres of a wood at Killoughram, Caime; about four miles from Enniscorthy and they were building a pier at Kilmore. They were fishing in boats off Kilmore before and during the Famine. Read the various issue of the Kilmore Parish Journal!

It was stated of an eccentric man up Clonroche way that he was always on the road, that as implied in the subtext, he slept on the road, read the newspapers on the road, looked at All-Ireland finals on the road, courted girls on the road, wrote letters on the road, could have got married on the road….Some things are seemingly infinite and eternal—without any expected end. One could have felt that the dispute between the widow Mrs Margaret Murphy and Mr Curran who took the hotel and premises from which she was evicted would go on and one forever ….Then in June 1891 “Communicated” informed the People newspaper that as a result of persevering efforts of Fr Tom Meehan of Ballymitty, Fr Sheridan of Carrig-on-Bannow and Mr P. Codd, Littlegraigue that “This long standing dispute for this boycotted house has been finally arranged on terms agreed on by Mrs Margaret Murphy, her daughter and Mr Curran.” Mrs Murphy wrote to The People expressing her delight at the settlement and wishing Mr Curran success in his business. The clergy may have influenced her in the direction of formal forgiveness. A parallel interpretation is that Mr Curran may have made a higher financial settlement on the basis of Mrs Murphy expressing public appreciation of his deal and wishing his business in the hotel success. Her good will would enable trade and custom driven away the boycott to return to the hotel. My mother told me of this controversy but added that a settlement was afterwards arrived at but she did not know the details of it.

At the Taghmon Petty Sessions in January 1891 the chairman Mr Leigh of Rosegarland withdrew his charge against Michael Prendergast of Ballymitty “for trespassing on plaintiff’s land at Ballingly on the 8th of December in pursuit of game.” The only magistrate on the bench that day was Mr Leigh and it would be unprecedented for him to hear his own case.

Margaret the wife of Stephen Colfer Carrig-on-Bannow died on January 18th 1865 at her home, aged 57 years.

From The People November 7th 1953:–

“Recent Death—The death occurred last Sunday of Miss Margaret Parle, Barrystown, Wellingtonbridge. Deceased belonged to an old and respected family. All the other members of her family went to reside in Britain half a century ago. She is survived by one brother Mr William Parle, now residing in South Wales. The funeral which took place from Carrig-on-Bannow Church to adjoining cemetery was large and representative which testified to the popularity of the deceased. Prayers at the graveside were recited by Rev. Philip Doyle O. S. A.”

In his will dated the 7th of October 1872 Mr James Kehoe of Moortown, Ballymitty left among other bequests:–to Fr Peter Corish P. P. Ballymitty or his successor the sum of £40 for the improvement or benefit of the chapels of Ballymitty and Carrig-on-Bannow; the sum of £20 to Fr Patrick Crean of Grantstown.

At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in April 1861—George Galvin for Mr Boyse prosecuted John Roche, Martin Tierney and Laurence Devereux for trespassing and on the Bannow strand and taking seaweed therefrom. They were severally ordered to pay 5 shillings and 1 shilling and 6 pence costs. [George Galvin was caretaker of the strand for the Boyses].

John O’Shea, Bannow, after a short illness, died in September 1951. He was a well known building contractor and among his many works were the construction of national schools at Bannow and Ballymitty and the reconstruction of Duncormack school. He also carried out extensive additions and renovations at Ely House, Wexford. As a violinist he won many prizes at Wexford feiseanna in the early part of the twentieth century.

The People reported on September 27th 1913:–

“The stormy weather that has prevailed during the past week or so has been responsible for the desertion of the 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.”

Mr Patrick Wade V. C. was in the chair at the meeting of the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League in January 1891. I do not know what V. C. stands for. £2 was paid to Mrs Murphy as a grant. She used to sit on the bridge checking on those who entered the premises in Wellingtonbridge (now morphed into Tir Na nOg) and hand in a list of the names of those who entered to the subsequent meeting of the branch. On this occasion (as always) her list showed the Clonmines crowd as the leading custom of the evicted property. The report continued:–

“Mrs Wallace of Ballygow came before the meeting and stated that she had been evicted from her home in Ballygow by Mr Boxwell of Butlerstown Castle, but yet she could  not lay any blame to Mr Boxwell. She considered William Sheppard of Ballymitty was the real evictor. She and her father held their place which contains a house and one acre and a quarter of land from William Sheppard, who succeeded the late Mr Sam Warriner in property in Ballygow; Mr Boxwell being head landlord; old rent £4; valuation, £1. The tenant offered £2 as the rent and one year’s rent in lieu of arrears, which Mr Sheppard would not accept. It was then agreed to leave the matter to arbitration; Mr Sheppard to get one man and the tenant another but he wanted to dictate his own terms to his arbitrator, so the deal fell through. Mr Sheppard then gave it up to the head landlord, whose agent came there and evicted her, locked up the door and handed over possession to Mr Sheppard. The meeting came to the conclusion that William Sheppard of Ballygow (sic: I think it is a misprint for Ballymitty) was the evictor of Mrs Wallace, who they considered offered a fair rent for her holding.”

The eviction of Mrs Wallace was an outcome of Land League strategy: tenants offered a much lower rent than that set out on the lease agreement of their tenancy; the landlord refused to accept the unilaterally determined reduction of the rent and sought a decree to evict. The tenant usually attended the Sheriff’s sale and bought back the lands for an amount equal to the arrears of rent (the rent specified on the lease) plus the landlord’s legal costs. It is hard to discern the logic or usefulness of such a plan to the tenant. A tenant could apply to the land courts, operated by inspectors of the Land Commission and usually a judicial rent was determined, nearly always less than the previous rent.

The People on January 17th carried the lists of those in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow who contributed to the “Evicted Tenants Fund”.  In my childhood young Father Jim Ryan used to call out at Mass the contributors to the Dues, payable twice yearly. Many people at the time were under the impression that this was a ploy to shame them into paying larger amounts than they would otherwise do. Actually the reason they were read out was as a matter of courtesy: going back into the nineteenth century it was deemed unmannerly not to publicly acknowledge donations made to any fund or collection. The Land League felt bound by this precedent and routinely published all contributors to its myriad of collections. I won’t give all the names of those cited in the People on January 17th 1891 but confine myself to the those who handed in money at the gate of Grantstown Friary or Church, before Mass:–

£1, Thomas Murphy, Balloughton; 14 shillings, John Murphy, Kilkevan; 10 shillings each, Very Rev. John Kehoe O. S. A., Grantstown Convent, Patrick Murphy, Kilkevan, James Daly, Poor Law Guardian, Balloughton, Thomas Devereux, Danescastle, William Daly, Whittyshill; 8 shillings, Patrick Doyle, Maudlintown; 7 shillings, Patrick White, Sheastown; 5 shillings, John Gallagher, Kilkevan; 4 shillings each, John Quigley, Sheastown, John Devereux, Danescastle; 2 shillings, John Fardy, Maudlintown; 1 shilling each, James Johnston, Ballyfrory, Mary Neville, Grantstown, James Neville, Harristown, Michael Carroll, Busherstown, Edward Moran, Knockbine, John Mayler, Harristown, James Harpur, Barrystown. Total, £6, 1 shilling.

John Potts of Kiltra gave 6 pence. Who was John Potts?

At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in late January Sergeant Dolan summoned a youth from Coolishall “for being drunk.” Mr J. J. Roche, in the chair, “said he would be in favour of giving him a chance to take the pledge and adjourn the case against him for three or four months.

Mr Boyd—I would not be in favour of that. He is such a young lad to get drunk I’d punish him severely.

Mr Lett—I know this young lad; he should not have got drunk. If he would promise to take the pledge, I’d be in favour of giving him the chance. Defendant—I have taken the pledge. Chairman—From whom? Defendant—From Father Walsh.

Chairman—Well get a certificate from Father Walsh that you have taken the pledge and give it to the police and we will adjourn the case against you for five months. If you are up again within this period the present case will stand against you in addition to any future charge. So take my advice and be a good boy; get drunk no more.

Defendant thanked the bench and said he would keep the pledge.”

Fr Patrick Walsh was a curate at Carrig-on-Bannow for a short while and became noted later for his Republican views. He also served in the parish of Cloughbawn (where I now am). The pledge was a promise that members of the Total Abstinence Association took to refrain from taking alcoholic drinks but one did not have to be a member of that organisation to take the pledge. In 1961 as was routine then, I took the pledge along with the rest of the Confirmation class; Bishop Staunton, in his booming voice, called it out and we repeated the words after him. Fr Jim Ryan gave us special medals to wear but I never bothered to do so. In our case we promised to abstain until 21 years of age. I think that I was 22 years of age before I took alcoholic drink in the university but I only done so because I felt that one had to do so as a sign that one was grown up, or something like that. Later a former classmate a medical student, that I well knew, saw me in the bar in the afternoon and he rebuked me pointing out that if one was in the bar in the afternoon then one was on the road to alcoholism. The rebuke hit me on some of my raw nerves and I never took alcoholic drink again. I never liked the taste of it but forced myself to drink it.

Major General William Murphy had a distinguished career in the British army and was given a number of military awards. In June 1923 he offered his services to the Provisional Government in Dublin and was appointed with the rank of Commandment General, Command Adjutant to General Owen O’Duffy and further promotion and prominence in the Irish Free State army followed. His grandfather was William Murphy the former principal teacher of Danescastle National Boys School and his father John Murphy was the principal teacher at Ballymitty National Boys School. His mother was principal teacher at Danescastle National Girls School. When Major General Murphy’s father died Maurice Murphy of Boolabawn, Davidstown, near Enniscorthy adopted him and his sister. William Murphy the grandfather and schoolmaster at Danescastle had come from Davidstown so I assume that Maurice Murphy was near related to John Murphy.

Clonmines was featured in a supplement to The People on August 17th 1889; I will quote extracts from it:–

“When ruthlessly driven from their monastery at Clonmines the good Augustinian Friars crossed the Scar and landed on the spot still called “The Friars’ Bank”. For nearly three hundred years they and their successors roamed the baronies of Forth, Bargy, and parts of Shelburne, homeless but doing the good for their cherished religion and their fatherland….For three hundred years they wandered about visiting the houses of the farmers and of the poor peasants in the baronies of Forth and Bargy…. In 1773 the Very Rev. Nicholas Newport O. S. A. took the little farm of Grantstown, within two miles and in view of the ancient abbey from which his Order had been expelled 290 years previously. On this farm he erected a thatched house and chapel. This thatched chapel was used up to 1830. Fr Newport passed away to his eternal reward in 1786 at the ripe old age of 86 years. He was a most exemplary and pious priest and his name was treasured in the neighbourhood for generations after his demise. His remains lie interred in Kilkevan graveyard about a quarter of a mile from Grantstown. Fr Newport was succeeded as prior by the Very Rev. John Gregory Butler O. S. A., who built the present convent. During Fr Butler’s superiorship the illustrious J. K. L. (James bishop of Kildare and Leighlin), Most Rev. James Doyle O. S. A. received the habit and made his noviciate in the humble thatched chapel and convent of Grantstown….”

This is a good account of the scene around Wellingtonbridge locality after the fearsome snow of March 1947:–

“The snowstorm on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week was said to be the worst experienced for 55 years. Roads were blocked every place and only a very few were passable. The new line road from Wexford to Wellingtonbridge was fairly open save for a big drift near the Dirr. However, on Friday evening last employees of Messrs Stafford and Co. removed this drift in order to get through. On Saturday bread vans got to Wellingtonbridge and the bread famine was relieved somewhat. On Sunday more bread vans got out as some of the by roads were cleared. The road from Rack’s Cross to Tullicanna was completely blocked but on Saturday afternoon Mr Mayler, Harristown sent all his workmen and a tractor and with local help this portion of the road was cleared. On Sunday the remainder of this road on to Duncormack railway station was cleared, about twenty-five men being engaged. On Sunday about fifty men were employed on the roads around the Ballymitty locality….”

In some places, the residue of the snows was still in the ditches in May but a heat wave came in late August and September.

From The Free Press 24th of November 1961:–

“Archaeologists Visit—The famous 12th century Abbey at Ballingly had a visit from a party of archaeologists during the week who took numerous photographs and also paid a visit to The Lady’s Well in Ballingly.”

Michael Kane who had reached the fine old age of 97 years died at his residence at Harristown, Ballymitty in late October 1913. He had followed the occupation of horse trainor all his life.