Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, modest, perhaps too modest and loath to—metaphorically—blow his coals; a mega genius, charming, charismatic, obliging; a big hit with the girls; a right boyo, inspiring and inspired, the historian supreme; erudite, scholarly, eloquent and above all else—wily, that wily boy from beside the mine pits. Gold and silver for the Barrystown children; success and every kind of wealth would follow them around, or so St Kevin of Kilkaven prophesised.

On the Clonroche Historical Society tour on next Saturday June 13 I will speak on various aspects of the history of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow. I think that I am finally getting my head around the issues of both the Norman invasion and the enigmatic city of Bannow. The first wave of Norman adventurers came to Bannow Island in the first week of May 1169; Robert Fitzstephen, Meiler Fitzhenry, Miles Fitz-david and Hervey de Montmorency (an uncle of Strongbow) were the leaders of that group. Maurice de Prendergast joined them on the following day. The aggregate number of men landed was about 600.

Meiler Fitzhenry was the son of Henry, the illegitimate son of King Henry I and Princess Nesta, a Welsh Princess.

In the early Summer of 1170 Raymond le Gros landed with a small group at Baginbun, as a prelude to a large group of Normans under Richard de Clare,

Earl of Strigoil, better known as Strongbow, landing at Waterford.

The mystery of the disappeared city of Bannow is now greatly diminished by ongoing research. John C. Tuomy located it north-east of St Mary’s church, the old ruined church; according to him it was located around where the old Coast-Guard house was—see the old Ordnance Survey Map.

Tomas O’Broin in The Past in 1920 rejected Tuomy’s theory and I agree with him. John C. Tuomy is simply wrong. Rev. James Graves in 1850 wrote:

“The town of Bannow was situate on the eastern head-land of the bay..”

The decline of the town and its disappearance were related both to the effects of plagues (such as the Black Death) and the silting of Bannow harbour. It was a town designed by the Normans—like Clonmines, Carrig, near Wexford etc—but the Norman colony went into decline in the centuries after 1169.

I hope that my numerous readers and legions of admirers will join me at some stage of the tour next Saturday and I will speak on various aspects of the history of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow plus reciting poems and ballads of the area. My phone number is 0872937960. Anne Farrell, the chairperson of Bannow Historical Society, will be delighted to hear from anybody considering joining the tour. It leaves Clonroche at 9.15 am and goes directly to Wellingtonbridge.

From The Free Press, Forth and Bargy Notes on April 7th 1934:–

“With the Bannow Gaels—G. A. A. matters in Bannow are booming. Mr Tom Kelly is giving the “boys” an ideal course of training and it may be safely said that it is the first time for the past two decades since Bannow Gaels won the Co. Championship that training in the proper way has been taken up.”

Bannow-Ballymitty had won the Co. Junior Championship in 1913 (actually played in 1913) but refused to accept the medals as they deemed them of shabby quality. The County Board, or County Committee as it then was called, were unrelenting in rejection of the demands of the Bannow-Ballymitty Club with the result that the Club effectively went out of existence indefinitely—enormous damage was done to Gaelic football in the parish.

From The Wexford Freeman January 7th 1837:–

“Kilkevan and Bannow Dispensary

Wanted for the above institution a resident medical attendant, duly qualified. Election to take place at Post-Office Carrig on Thursday January 19th 1837. Qualifications of candidates to be sent into the Rev. Edward Moore, Secretary on the day before the election.

On February 9th 1856 The People reported that Mrs Fielding, the mother of Anna Maria Hall, the authoress, had died “Near London recently”.

From The Wexford Conservative October 15 1845:–

“The Potato Murrain

We have and we still think that we have done so prudently, abstained from increasing the alarming cry of this pestilence. The alarm has been spread over the breadth and length of the land and we regret to say not without cause. But when the cry of total destruction from the disease is once raised, it, as all bad news does, quickly runs and gains more repute than good news.

The first notice of the Potato Murrain in this County was found in Bannow, a district equally remarkable for its industry and excellent habits. It did not then create much alarm; but the everyday reports from Belgium, France, England, &c, and from numerous counties in Ireland, have created a very just alarm among the people of this county. On examination of their fields some found no cause of alarm—yet the rumours from other places prevailing, a further subsequent examination has convinced the farmer that there is an incipient disease in and around his crop. The alarm is wide-spreading and people know what not to do. Some direct immediate digging out, while others are as positive in the contrary opinion. Among the various recipes which are given to stay the calamity of so great a loss, we know not how to select. In our present paper will be found an excellent recommendation from Mr Dillon Croker, Mitchelstown, while others recommend the preparation of the Farina, or Starch from the deceased crop. To accomplish the latter it would be prudent to begin at once and gradually as may be found necessary—but we still fondly, and as we trust truly and justly, cling to the hope that the disease here is partial.”

The blight or fungus on the potatoes was total.

At the Duncormack Petty Sessions—

“Constable Molloy summoned Joseph Neville, Whitty’s Hill for an unlicensed dog. Fined 2 shillings and 6 pence and take out a license.”

According to a statement in the Castlereagh Papers, Dr James Caulfield Bishop of Ferns after enumerating the Friars within his jurisdiction on 29th November 1800, wrote:–

“They are supported by the charitable contributions of the people; they are employed in preaching, catechizing and instructing the people, attending the sick and assisting the parochial clergy occasionally in the administration of the sacraments.”

If the Friars—such as those at the Convent in Grantstown— were solely dependant on such contributions would not their income be meagre enough?

The famous Bishop James Doyle bishop of Kildare and Leighlin (J. K. L.) spent the year of his novitiate at Grantstown where he entered in January 1805.

From The Wexford Conservative April 22 1835:–


At Longraigue, on the 19th instant, the lady of Caesar Sutton, of a daughter.

At Woodville, the lady of Rev. Richard King, of a daughter.”

Rev. Richard King was father of Jonas who later lived at Barrystown.

From The Free Press 21st of May 1932:–

“Carrig Athletic Club—The Annual General Meeting of the Carrig Athletic Club was held on Friday night last, the Rev, W. F. Hanton presiding. The attendance was very large and the election of officers and committee for the coming year resulted as follows:–President, Rev. M. Keating P. P.; Vice-President, Rev. W. F. Hanton C. C.; Hon. Secretary, Garda J. Byrne; Hon. Treasurer, Mr Wm Neville; Committee—Messrs M. Lynch N. T.; J. Blake; R. Tobin; M. Byrne; P. Byrne; P. J. Hayes; M. Broaders; S. Roche and Sergeant Purcell. The Hon. Secretary’s report showed that everything in connection with the club was in a flourishing condition. Running shoes and general equipment had now been supplied to all the members and other requirements for training in jumping, weight throwing, etc, has, also, been procured. It was decided to approach Mr T. Devereux, Danescastle, for the use of his field for training. A vote of thanks was passed to Mr Devereux for his kindness in this respect and tributes were paid to him for his hearty co-operation. The Hon. Secretary reported that permit for a sports fixture on July 17th and a provisional license for a sports at Cullenstown later in the season were granted. It was decided to apply for a County Championship event and a Leinster Championship event.

A Transfer—Garda Maher, Adamstown has been transferred to Carrig in place of Garda Lennon who has gone to Adamstown.”

The Free Press in its Forth and Bargy notes on July 8th 1933 had this item:–

“Cullenstown Roads—The roads approaching Cullenstown which, by the way, are not public or “presented” thoroughfares in the sense of being kept in repair by the County Council, are in very bad state at present and as deterioration is increasing the residents are naturally getting anxious. At the present time there are 70,000 or 80,000 concrete blocks being made there on the strand for cottages and it is feared that the carting of them will make the condition of the roads worse than they would have been under normal traffic conditions. The residents propose sending a deputation to the Co. Council to consider the situation.”

Does the above have any connection with this astounding story in The Irish Times on Saturday February 10th 1951 (my mother got all the daily papers in those days!):–

“Cullenstown Co. Wexford, is a village republic within the Republic—thanks to an ancient charter given by a King of England to one of his retainers so long ago that the local people can’t remember the date.

But they do remember their privileges. That is why the roadway through the village is unique in the Model County. On this mile and a half stretch no county council worker sets foot to work, though it carries all the main road traffic to Carrig-on-Bannow and Duncormack.

To the annoyance of tourists it carries no road signs for the same reason that it is private property. But because it doesn’t come under county council jurisdiction its surface is the worse in the county—thanks to the busy tractors which use the road to remove building material from the nearby beach.

Elsewhere in Ireland the Minister for Industry and Commerce controls the foreshore to the high water mark—but not at Cullenstown.

Some local residents tired of their responsibility for keeping their little republic in order want to ask Wexford County Council to take over. But they are not in the majority.

Most Cullenstown folk want to hold on to their ancient privileges and are willing to do their share of repairing the road now and  then and keeping the hedged trimmed.

And they have one good reason for their attitude. If their animals break loose and wander about the roads the owners cannot be prosecuted. Years ago a test case was brought against a local man but was thrown out because, ruled the magistrate, the case was beyond Court jurisdiction.

Nobody in Cullenstown has considered other possibilities of the unique status: the issuance of stamps and currency or the installation of customs. There isn’t even a toll at Cullenstown.

Reason, perhaps, is that these people are too busy attending their lands. Cullenstown is one of the finest early potato and beet-growing districts in Ireland. Its popularity as a seaside resort is also increasing.”

From The Echo April 15th 1950:–

“Rev. Edward Murphy, a native of New Ross, was appointed Parish Priest [of the modern Carrig-on-Bannow parish] on August 6th 1793 and had a pastorate of 37 years. Father Murphy experienced all the troubles incidental to the 1798 period and his portrait has been vividly penned by Mrs S. C. Hall. He built at thatched chapel at Ballymitty in 1806. His curate, Rev. John Sutton, died on June 16, 1821 and was replaced by Rev. James Harpur. Father Murphy died on July 23rd 1830, aged 80.”

Fr Murphy according to Dick Musgrave—a notoriously sectarian historian—encouraged the rebels in 1798 and his claims are strengthened by Mrs Hall’s stories of documents incriminating Fr Murphy been found at Clonmines and returned to him to enable him to destroy them. A vagrant beggar woman was instrumental in the finding of the documents. In its details Mrs Hall’s story is far fetched, too surrealistic, excessively imaginative and simply incredible but the underlying point may be correct: Fr Murphy may well have supported the rebels in 1798 and afterwards came to regret doing that. Fr Murphy went every Sunday for his dinner to George Carr of Graigue House.

The Echo on April 15, 1950 also stated—

“Rev. Andrew Devereux C. C. of the Hook was appointed P. P. on December 17, 1789. In the Episcopal Register, his appointment is given as “Pastor Ecclesial S. M. V. de Bannow cum suis annexis, scil. Parochus de Carrig, Ambrostown, Ballymitty, Shimogue and Ballingly.”….Fr Devereux was a native of Danescastle and resided at Lacken. He had a short pastorate and died on July 27 1793, aged 43.”

I am not sure if one can totally rely of the Echo account! It its narrative of the pastorate of Fr Peter Corish that extended from 1830 to1873 there are some howling errors. Fr Martin Moran C. C. was the Curate assisting Fr Corish during the initial phase of the building of Carrig Chapel and not Fr Martin Murphy. Fr. Tom Burke O. P. did not preach the sermon at the dedication of Carrig Chapel; the famous preacher Fr Cahill came from Dublin to preach the sermon on that occasion.

The Rev. William Hickey Rector of Bannow from 1820 to 1827 (approximately) wrote in his book of Bannow:–

“Neither tradition nor historical record affords information respecting the disappearance of the town. There are faint indications of a street near the old churchyard, which, with the walls of the church, are on the elevation of about thirty feet above the sea-shore. The ruins of the church are unquestionably more modern than those in a field at no great distance, which are probably the remains of what was once a sacred edifice of much older date.”