Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, ebullient, daring, scholarly, erudite and—wily. Gold and silver for the Barrystown children and historians supreme come from Barrystown, beside the mine pits. My blog this week is a little restricted as I had to get a new charger for my laptop and it was delivered only on Thursday.
The boy from Barrystown will speak on Travers R. Hawkshaw of Hillburn, Taghmon on the 25th of April at a venue to be decided—that decision will come shortly. The lecture effectively deals with ordinary life in Taghmon—illegal fishing, tithes and protests about them, stone throwing at the police, still-births, inquests, election mobs, famine collections and controversies, farming, duels, fighting, the Petty Courts at Taghmon, wife desertion by husbands, vagrants getting burnt to death at the lime kilns and people seeing admission to the Poorhouse. Up to the middle of the nineteenth century at the very least men (and women, also, on occasion) were given to impulsive violence, much of which was tactfully not noticed by the newspapers of that era. Groups of men would erupt in blazing violence for no obvious reason; alcohol would fuel such outbursts of fighting and violence. I will talk about it at Taghmon and make sure to be there. I will give the exact venue in my next blog.
On Friday night December 3rd 1965 the Franciscan Teenage Tertiary Association had a major gathering and concert at Dun Mhuire, Wexford. The report of it in The Free Press stated, in part:–
“At the interval the Mayor (Mr T. F. Byrne) presented a silver cup and a plaque to Miss Kitty Kenny, Carrig-on-Bannow, winner of the public speaking competition for the teenagers of Wexford and to Miss Mary Roche, Rockview, Foulkesmills, both of whom are pupils of the Loreto Convent, Wexford. The winner’s topic was “Was 1916 a Mistake?” and Miss Roche’s “The Church Needs Us”.
The prescribed course for the teaching of history in the National Schools in that era required an emphasis on the separatist tradition of nationalist endeavour culminating in the Easter Rebellion of 1916. It would have been integral and central to this interpretation of Irish history that Easter 1916 was not only a transcendent apotheosis to the national struggle over seven centuries but a most necessary part of the final triumph of Irish republican separatism. The title of Kitty Kenny’s topic, therefore, surprises me: while I have no idea what answer she gave to her own question the very posing of such a question would have not have precedents in 1965. In April and May 1966 there were massive, Government arranged fiftieth year commemorations of the Easter Rebellion of 1916: the constant message from these commemorations was that Pearse and the Easter Rebellion were correct, beyond all dispute. The historians at that time saw their role as that of researching the finer detail of the organising of the Rebellion and of communicating its intrinsic correctness to the popular mind. Maybe it was the last time when people in Ireland all thought alike on a major national issue. In the nineteenth century entire communities could share a common world view. The then Taoiseach Sean Lemass was edgy and impatient with the commemorations in 1966—he feared that his more excitable colleagues would incite a recrudescence of extreme nationalist and Anglophobic feeling. Lemass was, also, uneasy at the time of Jack Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in June 1963 as he felt that the American press were firmly wedded to the fighting Irish, turf-sods on a donkey image of Ireland. Kennedy with his eye on the Irish/American vote extolled traditional Irish/American value and emphasised romantic interpretations of the Irish and American struggles for national freedom. Sean Lemass wanted to divest Ireland of its shamrocks and shillelaghs image and disdained the enduring Anglophobia, unrelenting sense of national victimhood and persecution. Lemass wished to present Ireland as modern, dynamic and industrialised. In Kennedy’s mindset Ireland was an impoverished country as this statement in his speech to the Dail on June 28th 1963 illustrates:–“This has never been a rich or powerful country…” At the garden party at Aras an Uachtarain, the politicians and other notables of Irish society mobbed Jack Kennedy—in a desperate attempt to get immediate access to him— in an embarrassing display of immaturity and lack of sophistication. Lemass’s reserve at Kennedy’s visit would therefore place him apart from the rest of the political figures in Ireland at that time. Sean Lemass was a visionary Taoiseach who in the 1960s instigated massive economic progress in Ireland and who was the first Irish political leader to seek to move the country away from its insular and xenophobic mindset. But I believe that Kennedy’s observation that Ireland was never a rich or powerful country has an enduring merit: we are still I believe over-estimating our national capacity and taking on too many challenges and commitments. It is a road to even bigger calamities than the present one.
In January 1844 Dan O’Connell was on trial for some obscure offences and garnered massive publicity from the trial; a huge controversy arose after Catholics were struck off the Jury Panel for the case—it was presumed that Catholics on the jury would simply find O’Connell not guilty as a matter of course. Catholic communities, all over Ireland, reacted with fury and intense grievance to this development; this is an account of a meeting in Carrig-on-Bannow on the matter:–
“At a meeting of the Catholic inhabitants of Bannow, held in Carrig, on Sunday last, Mr Laurence French in the Chair, the following resolution, proposed by Mr Sweetman and seconded by Mr Colfer, was unanimously adopted:–
“Resolved:–That as British subjects, Irishmen and Catholics we cannot find language to express our abhorrence of the grossly unconstitutional “insult and wrong” perpetrated against us by the Law Officers of the Crown in striking off every Catholic on the Jury Panel in the pending State trials and this in the teeth of the oft expressed determination of the Government to administer justice without reference to religious distinctions—we therefore petition our beloved Queen, to direct her attention to this country and to the wrongs done to her Loyal Roman Catholic subjects.
Laurence French, Chairman
Henry Corish, Secretary.”
From The People on July 19th 1893:
“The Clerk[to the Poor Law Guardians of the Wexford Union] said he had received a tender for the erection of the new dispensary house and doctor’s residence from Mr William Rochford, Bannow. Mr Rochford proposed to do all for the sum of £900, 10 shillings. In reply to Mr Devereux, the Clerk said there was only the one tender.
Mr Roche—He is a local man.
Clerk—The amount for the doctor’s residence is £600; yard and office £220 and dispensary £120, 10 shillings. It strikes me you could get a dispensary more suitable than this one.
Mr Peacocke—What was the estimate? Clerk—The estimate for the doctor’s residence was £580; yard and offices, £192 and for the dispensary, £102. The tender exceeds the estimate by £66. The total of the estimate in £873, 5 shillings and 1 penny. I think myself it would be worth your while to reconsider this matter. We are getting cottages built for £80.
Mr Roche—It would cost as much to build a dispensary as a humble cottage.
Mr Hore—I think myself the plan was too elaborate for a dispensary.
Mr Devereux—We got a second plan. What we want is a large waiting room for the people and not be keeping them out in the weather.
Chairman—Is the dispensary lofted?
Mr Devereux—No, it is all on the ground floor. There is a surgery for the doctor and a very large waiting room. I thought it would not cost more than a labourer’s cottage.
Mr Hore—Adjourn the consideration for a week until you see Mr Ryan.
Mr Peacocke—I apprehend we are not in a position to interfere with the plans. I think it is rather large unless you have a great deal of sickness in the district.
Chairman—The house is only 14 by 16.
Clerk—It is the most ridiculous price for it. The height of the wall would be nine feet to the top of the wall plate….”
Who was William Rochford? This is one clue from The People on July 15th 1893:–
“BANNOW AND BALLYMITTY IRISH NATIONAL FEDERATION
Dear Sir—I see from report of the above in your issue of Saturday that the committee seem to be all on one side when they call attention to the evicted farms and only mention Rochford’s, Walsh’s and Sinnott’s. What about poor Harpur of Barristown who offered two years rent and to pay a fair rent; and Stafford of Bannow who offered the same? It would be much better if they told the public of all the grass cattle on Harpur’s and ask the Rathangan I. N. F. where Mr —has his cattle at grass.—
Yours truly, Fair Play.”
Note the spelling Barristown.
The Walsh’s referred to was, of course, the Widow O’Hanlon-Walsh; Sinnott’s was Nicholas Sinnott of Ballymadder who owned Vernegly Cottage where Sam Elly lived. The report of the Bannow and Ballymitty branch on July 6th 1893 had this detail:–
“Mr William Rochford’s still in the hands of the grabber; Knocktartan still in the same position, grazed by the agent or his representatives; the cottage, Vernegly in the hands of the ex-policeman.” The same report complained that members of the committee were lax in attending the monthly meeting of the branch.
At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in August 1893 a man from Graigue sued another man from Whitty’s Hill “for trespass of sheep and lambs on his wheat and turnips. Their worships having heard the evidence decided that both parties were responsible for making up the fence and adjourned the case for a month to enable them to do so and Major Boyse and Mr Scallan will meet by arrangement in the meantime to see that the fences are properly made up.” The last two mentioned were magistrates on the bench at the Petty Sessions.
On August 30th 1893 Rev. David Thomas Davies , Senior Curate, Blaenavon, was married to Dorothea, second daughter of the late Jonas King Esq., Barristown, Co. Wexford.
Richard Codd died at his residence Clonmines Castle, aged 69 years in late July 1893. He was a large employer and his place of interment was in the ancient cemetery at Clonmines. He had been offered a post as Justice of the Peace, presumably at the Duncormack Petty Sessions some time before but turned it down owing to his declining health.