Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown back from his most deserved holidays and as ever charming, charismatic, scholarly, erudite, innovative, challenging, humble, modest, self-effacing, a historian supreme, a boyo and above all else—wily. Back in 1970 Brother Delaney told the Christian Doctrine class in Enniscorthy C. B. S. that if there were any more like me in the place he would close down the school altogether. I presume that he would seek a return to secular life, perhaps, as a salesman. He was a Kilkenny man—of challenged stature and over weight but lively and active— with a lack of interest in Wexford hurling but he did close the school for a day when Wexford won two All-Irelands in hurling, senior and minor, in 1968. They would not ever do that again, he jested. In August 1970 the Order sent him to Dublin, to Crumlin, I think. He was universally known as Frankie (maybe as his name was Francis and he called everybody—except myself—Johnny) and two of the teachers told me that at the get together of the teachers before the summer holidays he used to sing ballads. I think that he sung in the boisterous and spirited mode favoured by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem; Bob Dylan said that nobody could sing a ballad like Liam Clancy. Frankie sang The Rocks of Bawn with gusto. Some years later in Dublin one of my schoolmates in Enniscorthy told of having met Frankie and Tom (alias Brother Tom Mc Donagh) on the bus—they were going to the All-Ireland final. Those two days, the All-Ireland finals in hurling and football, would have been quasi-sacred to those men and in a sense they were to many of my generation of youngsters as well.
In Dublin my feelings about hurling and football went into a flux: the more innocent aspect of me sympathised with people living in a county, ie, Dublin, that seemed unlikely to win an All-Ireland but in another context I felt myself succumbing to the overwhelming culture of indifference to hurling and football in an academic community. I was never able to convincingly identify myself with these games in after years. At 38 years of age I went marathon running but afterwards felt that the pain and injuries involved were certainly not worth it. It is All-Ireland Hurling Final time again and my memories are with men like Frankie and Tom to whom these games meant so much. Their dreams were not to be.
“To the Editor The Free Press
Sir—Mr James Casey has done valuable service to the community by drawing attention of the Authorities to the appalling condition of the roads in the Foulkesmills and Horetown area in his letter which appeared in last week’s issue of your paper.
I constantly travel over the roads which he mentions and over others in the Horetown area—which are even in a worse condition—and I can corroborate every word he says. There was a time when I knew every pothole in our local roads but now they have become so numerous that one has only a bumping acquaintance with them.
To some of these roads no attention whatsoever has been paid for months and not a solitary worker has been found either to fill in the potholes or to deal with the luxuriant growth of weeds and grass on the sides of the roads (despite the Noxious Weeds Act).
On our demand notes for rates, the road charge forms one-third of the total and one wonders what benefit the road users in this area are receiving from this charge. It is a poor consolation to know that if a motorist “bumps” his way at ten miles an hour for several miles he will eventually reach a road where it will be possible to travel with some degree of comfort and with less risk of broken springs and other mishaps.
I cordially agree with your correspondent that the condition of these roads is a disgrace to the county and a sad reflection on the efficiency of those responsible.
G. Browne (Canon)
The above was published in The Free Press on August 8th 1953. In that era you could substitute the names of any townslands in the County Wexford into the above missive and the Canon Brown’s letter could be transcribed to make one’s protest. Revenue was scant and the Co. Council could not afford to effect major road repairs; they were putting tarmacadam (I presume) on the roads. I remember them tarred but I presume not with great regularity. The advent of motor cars and lorries was tearing up the roads, especially un-tarred ones. The grass on the sides of the roads tempted some people to put their cattle grazing there: the gain was meagre in a time when increasing traffic made this a lethal practice. Several other people wrote to The Free Press on the same topic, all in agreement.
From The Free Press July 2nd 1932:–
“Proposed Pier For Bannow—The necessity for a pier at Bannow has been engaging the attention of the residents for some time past and a move to push forward the claims of the area in the matter was made at a large meeting on the people of the district. Mr John Cummins M. C. C., who had been specially invited, was present and promised all the help in his power and said he would bring the matter before the Co. Council. It was, also, decided to get in touch with the Department of State concerned. The need for a pier at Bannow is acknowledged by all, as the fisher folk of the place are badly handicapped for shelter for their boats, especially in winter time. It is to be hoped that as the project has now been launched that the efforts decided upon will meet with success….
Juvenile Sports—A juvenile sports fixture will be brought off at Cullenstown on Sunday next. An attractive programme in which all the events are open to school boys not exceeding 15 years, has been arranged. The fixture is being run by an energetic committee of which Mr M. Lynch N. T. is Hon. Sec. It is to be hoped that other centres will emulate the courage of Cullenstown in their quest for new material for the arena of athletics….
Carrig Dramatist’s Work—Encouraged by their recent success the members of Carrig Dramatic Class are busily engaged in preparation for their next public appearance. They are rehearsing a new comedy specially written for the class by Mr J. W. Ryan, Tullicanna, entitled “The Shebeen” and it is intended to stage it at an early date.”
I presume that the Mr M. Lynch referred to was the husband of Mrs Lynch who taught in Danescastle National School in my time there.
From The People January 11 1913:–
The monthly fair at Carrig-on-Bannow on Thursday week was a very bad beginning for a new year’s fair, as scarcely anyone attended and there was the smallest supply of stock ever seen at this centre. Our rural fairs are going from bad to worse, in fact there is scarcely any use in putting some of them on the lists at present. Of course most of the stock of rural districts are being disposed of in other ways; perhaps, more profitable, so that no one can blame people for not attending the fairs.”
In January 1866 Michael Cahill, Bannow, was granted a spirit license.
Patent Roll 10 Henry V
Appointment of John Neville, baron of Roscarlon, as seneschal of the liberty of Waterford.
Seventy Cocks of Hay were put up for public auction on Tuesday 23rd of August 1853 “On the lands of Kilkevan, near Ballymitty.” It was saved quite green and without rain. Also about thirty-five acres of splendid pasture.
In 1886 Mr Dillon Relieving Officer reported to the Wexford Board of Guardians that William Lacey, the Moor, Bannow, had paid his rent for his cottage. Very few did!
From The People April 9th 1881:–
“In the case in which Thomas J. Lyons was plaintiff and Jonas King, Barrystown, defendant, Mr Huggard, on the case being called, said he appeared for Mr Lyons but he should mention that he had a letter from Mr King on yesterday morning saying he would be down by the 1.30 train from Dublin and asking that the case be adjourned until then. Mr King had left some law papers for him (Mr Huggard) in his office and was under the impression he was acting for him. Therefore he told Mr Lyons that he would not press the case under the circumstances. The case was adjourned to this day week.”
Jonas King was sued by Mr Lyons for assault.
The report of the Wexford Petty Sessions then, in a surprising twist, continued:–
“The Affray on St Patrick’s Day
Mr Cooper—I will ask your worships to allow me to mention the case of Breen v Jonas King, tried recently in your court. On that day I applied for a warrant to have Mr King arrested and pursuant to that warrant I understand he was arrested—
Mr Ryan—I can give you an answer more directly than the Chairman [of the court]. The summons prayed to have him bound to the peace and a warrant was issued to that effect.
Mr Cooper—The summons was, also, for assault.
Mr Ryan—When Mr King was arrested it was two or three days before the sessions and he appeared before me with competent bail. Therefore I was not in a position and neither would I be justified, in keeping him in custody until the session’s day, when he did what you prayed to have done—procured solvent security to be of good behaviour. I took the case out of sessions and accepted the security and discharged Mr King.
Mr Cooper—The only question I wish to raise is with regard to the expense the plaintiff was put to. Of course your Worships have the power to fine for the assault. I would not apply for costs.
Mr Ryan—There was no order for costs made at the sitting of the court and therefore, it is a doubtful point if you can get costs. The matter did not occur to me. Of course you were expecting that the case would have been brought before the court and then it might have been in the power of the court to have given costs.
Mr Taylor—Perhaps you will allow me to say that it is not in the power of the magistrates to give an order for bail and impose a fine at the same time.
Mr Cooper—I do not think there was any application to fine. It is not in reference to a fine I am now applying. Of course it would be one and the same order to give costs along with an order for bail.”
By the summer of 1881 Jonas King of Barrystown Esq [Esq. denoted high social standing and prestige in that era] was making a haemes or total mess of himself—he was engaged in rough rows with sundry people, flying into incomprehensible rages and he was close to his death. I suspect that he was drinking copiously as he was badly drunk at a Sheriff’s auction in Wexford at this time—he detested the Land League. The bringing of a magistrate like Jonas King to the Petty Courts by ordinary citizens proves once again that the law was fair at that time and that nobody could plead high social eminence to evade it. Jonas grossly over-estimated the powers that he had as a magistrate.
The details of the will of the deceased Major Henry Arthur Hunt Boyse of Bannow House were published in the newspapers in April 1902. The estate was entailed that is he could only leave it to his son, Lieutenant Henry T. A. Boyse, of the Royal Irish Regiment. “The late Major Boyse’s estate was valued at “£9, 507 4 shillings and 1 penny, including personality of net value £6, 829 6 shillings and 10 pence.” I am confounded by this small value on the Boyse estate—“personality” describes liquid assets, cash in particular, shares etc. He left Mrs Boyse, his widow £195. That is what is written in the newspaper
Julian F. in a letter published in The Wexford Independent on July 9th 1836, told of spending a few days with an old friend in Bannow and continued:–
“I, consequently, attended the meeting of the men of Bannow, at Carrig, on the 29th of June. Having in company with my friend reached the place of meeting prior to the arrival of Mr Boyse, I had a fine opportunity of witnessing the reception given by an Irish tenantry (whom Mr Bruen politely styles “savages”) to an Irish landlord—met for a purpose, interesting to Irishmen, viz.,: to petition an English parliament for a redress of Irish grievances. As soon as it was understood that the “Old Master” (the popular name by which Mr [Sam] Boyse is known among his tenantry, but not in the West India sense of the word) was coming all eyes were instantly directed towards the quarter from which it was supposed he would make his appearance. All was silent for a few moments when lo! a sudden burst of cheers, with waving of hats and dinging of fists announced the presence of Bannow’s venerable lord; I had not seen the patriotic gentleman for many years before and was therefore the more sensibly struck with his amiable and philanthropic expression of countenance; and when he doffed his “beaver” on taking the Chair, amid the shouts of his happy tenants, which made the “welkin” ring, I could not but admire the hoary headed patriot, whose silver locks now bleached by the snows of some seventy winters floated in the breeze. His son, Mr Tom Boyse—the name carries with it its own eulogy, with that ease and dignity which characterise great minds, took his seat at the foot of the platform—suppressing for a moment the burning indignation which he afterwards expressed in his own peculiar and impassioned manner, at the puny efforts of the tiled bigots, to arrest the onward march of Irish freedom and prosperity and no doubt inwardly rejoiced at the thought of being the future landlord of such brave and independent spirits as surrounded him, for I believe with the exception of myself and a few stragglers more the meeting was exclusively composed of his father’s tenantry.”
The Protestant Reformers had argued that the Catholic Church had become obsessed with material wealth, temporal power and excessive pomp: they regarded themselves as returning to the primitive Church, as they termed it, of Christ which scorned earthly wealth and power. At Carrig Tom Boyse was speaking against the Tithes— a charge of one tenth on arable land crops, but usually only on barley; the revenue so collected was used for the up-keep of the Protestant or Established Church— Catholics and Dissenters were liable for the payment of this charge. The Catholic community found the Tithes most offensive. Tom Boyse charged in his speeches that the Protestant or Established Church was over-fed (like the geese in the barony of Forth crammed with food, he once jested) with material wealth, splendour and power; he was contemptuous of Protestant bishops living in material splendour. He felt that they were a betrayal of the Reformation. He stated on one occasion that the Catholic Church in Ireland during the Penal Laws, when it was stripped of all its wealth and power, truly resembled the Primitive Church of Christ. It had, he declared, prospered on persecution. Tom Boyse was turning the logic of the Protestant Reformers inside out.
Julius F. observed that the name Tom Boyse carried its own eulogy: Tom Boyse could easily have been created a Peer or member of the House of Lords but he was at best disinterested; the indications are that he resented the hereditary Lords of that institution. It is unlikely that he would have taken easy to the title of Lord; on the basis of Christian principles, he believed in the essential sacred dignity of all human beings and thus he was at ease with the common reference to him as Tom Boyse.
Julius F. then made this challenge:–
“Let any man visit Bannow and observe the slated and whitewashed houses of its inhabitants and their apparent comforts and contrast them with the squalid conditions of the miserable wretches who drag out a precarious existence on other estates in Ireland….”
Julius F. described Tom Boyse’s attitude to emigration:–
“Last Spring he enabled nearly thirty individuals to emigrate. He furnished each with three suits of clothes and a sufficient quantity of provisions for the voyage—all procured under his own immediate inspection. He killed his own meat for their use and had them supplied with flour from a mill on his estate—then settled for their passage not restricting them to sail from, or any particular port, but as their own fancy directed. Not stopping here he, also, gave to each person a sum of money to meet contingencies in a foreign land, until such time as they should find employment, or otherwise settle themselves. From the very liberal manner in which he fitted out these poor people they could not have cost him less than 4 or £500. I wish it to be distinctly understood, that these people were not as has been in too many instances the case in this country, ejected farmers, whose landlords more from fear than love, transported to the wilds of the Canadas; no they were the families of tradesmen and labourers, residing certainly on his property but possessed of no land and who considered fortune might prove more propitious to them abroad than at home.”
I am not sure how to respond to the above. One English visitor to Bannow estimated that the Boyses derived about £8,000 per year from the Bannow estate. £500 is one sixteenth of that and constitutes a formidable generosity on Tom Boyse’s part, especially as he did not derive any obvious advantage—such as in the case of an impecunious tenant well in arrears clearing away. Many landlords paid money to tenants in hopeless arrears of rent to leave and thus avoid the cost of a court case seeking a decree to evict. Eviction was a last resort which brought odium on the landlord and invited violent retaliation both from the evicted man and his relatives and the agrarian terrorists, such as the White Feet. There were several other calls on the altruism and charity of Tom Boyse, indeed of all landlords. The aspect of the above that jars in one’s mind is that the Boyses were planted in Ireland as part of the conquest of the country and however kind they were to these young people emigrating the fact remained that the latter were of the native Irish stock, the indigenous people of Bannow and Ireland. It is only fair to say that Tom Boyse wrestled with these tormenting conundrums and acted as he felt best, informed by a Christian conscience.
From The Free Press July 18th 1953:–
“Home From U. S. A.—Mr James Cullen of Bannow who emigrated to the U. S. A., nearly 60 years ago, has returned home by air on a visit to his brother, Mr Andrew Cullen, Bannow Bay. Mr Cullen last visited the homeland about seven years ago.
….Died in U. S. A.—News has reached Bannow of the death in Boston of Mr James Monaghan, aged 28, formerly of Bannow Moor. He joined the merchant shipping service during the war and it is believed that his death followed an accident aboard ship. A letter from him had only been received by his relatives in Bannow a few days previously.”