Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming and charismatic, erudite and scholarly; historian supreme, with, as the people tell me, endless brains, an intelligence greater than Einstein, blessed among the women, a right boyo, the most devious and wily of them all, that wily boy from beside the mine pits.
The Ui Cinseallaigh Historical Society tour on Wednesday had a beautiful finish at Grantstown and the nostalgia of it for me was enormous. I had gone regularly with my mother to Sunday Mass at Grantstown for at least three years. I was most gratified that so many of those present knew me and recalled old times to me. The music, the songs and the dancing were delightful, phenomena that are ever the leaven of community spirit. Afterwards we walked along by the “Peace Garden” and entered the Chapel. Somebody posed the puzzle why the North or North East facing wall had no windows: Fr Hamell—who showed such a masterly command of the history and geography of South Co. Wexford all through the tour —suggested that, maybe, I should I try to work out the reason why. I shall try my best but I doubt if I will be successful. The Society was generally referred to throughout the day as the Enniscorthy Historical Society—in a real sense that is what it has morphed to but it was established circa 1920 as the Historical Society of the Diocese of Ferns.
“I’m very sorry I have to be off”, said Father Peter.
“Father, Father, one other little while,” shouted all the boys and girls.
Wait till Mike Hawkins sings “The Bannow Rover.”
“Leave me alone” said Big Mick.
“I’ll play a solo on the big drum, if you like, but I can’t sing no more than a jackdaw.”
In a moment Bridie Colfer swept the drum sticks out of his hands and he simply had to sing. I wish I could give you an idea of the rollicking air he put to it. We all joined in the chorus, when we were able to do with the laughing. I think he composed it himself.”
The above is an extract from “Bannow Night” in Brooklyn”, published in The People on the 18th of July 1912, under the pseudonym of “Bannow”. I assume that “Bannow” was Fr Philip A. Doyle O. S. A., the Maudlintown native; I, also, assume that Fr Doyle was the author of “The Bannow Rover”. He was a prolific writer and genuine scholar and historian. He believed that young Irish people should not emigrate, contending that there were sufficient resources for them at home. I think that he looked back to older economic modes of survival and was unrealistic in his expectations of persuading the youth of Bannow and every other place in Ireland not to emigrate. I will quote the first and last stanzas of the ballad:–
“’Twas in Bannow shearing sheep that I chanced to fall asleep
When a fairyman whispered me,
Saying down in Brendan, you’ll never get on
And an emigrant you should be.
So I made up my mind to leave Ireland behind
And cross to the Island over,
And my father called me mad, and sure someone was so bad
As to Christian me the Wexford Rover….
There’s a cottage in Brendhaun, with an acre and a bawn
And ‘tis there that you’ll see me soon
When the geese are all plucked and the corn is stooked,
I’ll go home by the harvest moon.
Then I’ll leave the wild oats to the geese and the goats
And get married when the Lent is over
And I’ll never fall asleep at the shearing of the sheep,
Like your once wild Wexford Rover.”
In that era, it was not permitted to marry during the season of Lent. I honestly feel that an economy based on cottages on one acre and a bawn would not even provide a subsistence livelihood for a family. I am not sure but I presume that “Bannow Night” in Brooklyn is fictional. It would be useful if it could be determined if the persons named in the narrative were actual people or, even, fictional personae attached to such persons. Fr Doyle’s narrative is one of intense local feeling, albeit in far-off Brooklyn: the crazy sea weed or wore wars between the men of Bannow and those of Clonmines were recalled.
On Sunday the 13th of July 1884, the Catholic Young Men’s Society, Wexford, went on their annual excursion; an extensive account of their day appeared in The People—I quote the part dealing with the progression towards Bannow (surely an excellent choice of venue for an excursion):–
“Away then speeds our procession leaving Forth Mountain behind, on through the Dirr, Waddingtown, Woodgraigue, Ambrosetown, Faneystown, Balloughton, receiving from crowds assembled at cross-roads a welcoming cheer as we passed. The mountain road contains a series of panoramic views of the beauties of Nature and Art, from the Dirr to the Hill of Carrig—the churches of Ballymitty, Grantstown, Carrig-on-Bannow, Ramsgrange, the Saltee and Keroe Islands, Bannow Bay, Fethard, Bagenbun—new beauties breaking in on the gaze at every step, whilst the face of nature brightened by the freshening showers was delightful to behold. Truly one might exclaim—
“What a goodly prospect spreads around
Of hills and dales and woods and lawns, and spires and gilded streams.”
As we passed the ruin where honest Stephen Roche once tended the whirring, busy mill, whither thronged the neighbours with their bursting sacks of plump and floury grain, a joyous shout greeted us at the Cross of Moor, where from the residence of Mr Denis Crosbie, stretched a splendid arch of evergreens with many a pretty device, including “Welcome to Bannow”, “God Save Ireland”, “Parnell for Ever”. Having returned the salute at the Moor, we passed under a similar decoration at the Cross of Blackhall stretching from Mr John Boyse’s, where a group of pleasant faces wished us welcome. Pass on we by the Benny Bridge, Haggard, Vernegly, till at Mr Stephen’s Dake’s another splendid arch bids us “Welcome” and “Safe Home”. At length the old church is reached, and here, beside the ball-alley, our hampers are unpacked, our cloth is spread on nature’s velvet carpet and then “Dire was the clang of plates, of knife and fork.”
The Catholic clergy in Wexford town liaised with the local clergy and were met at Bannow by Fr N. Lambert C. C., Clongeen; Fr J. Boggan C. C., Ballymitty and Rev. J. Kehoe O. S. A., Grantstown.
A sports was held and a local band adorned the occasion:–
“The sports occupied the remainder of the evening, a special attraction being lent to them by the performance of the Moor of Mulrankin Fife and Drum Band. Everybody was struck with admiration at the excellent performance of this spirited corps as they moved along the field in their splendid uniform. Their staff which is surmounted by a harp, is of most unique construction, and as the harp, on this occasion, was wreathed in ever-greens, the effect was most pleasing.”
The New Ross Standard on the 14th of March 1969 carried a delightful—if terse—feature on Mr Larry Devereux and Margaret Devereux, the last surviving descendants of the Normans who landed at Bannow Island around the 1st of May 1169. Their brother John Devereux had died on the Tuesday of the previous week.
Larry who would be seventy-one years in April 1969 told the newspaper how he remembered nine different families on the Island—the Devereuxs were the only surviving family; the population of the Island was, at one time, eighty four.
In his early life, Larry worked for the Merchant Navy “and he also spent a long number of years on the land. The report added:–
“Larry who is known to his neighbours from the surrounding districts as The King of the Island can bring one back a long number of years on the history of Bannow and is a great old warrior.”
The Free Press on the 11th of April 1969 carried this response to its article:–
“Sir—In your issue of March 14, 1969, a copy of which recently reached me, you printed an interesting feature article about the Norman invaders of 1169, headed “On Lonely Bannow Strand.”
Then under a photograph of Mr Larry Devereux, and the sub-heading “Devereux Have Survived since 1169”, you wrote that Larry and Margaret Devereux were “The last surviving descendants of the Normans who landed at Bannow Strand around May 1, 1969.” I believe this to be incorrect.
In the library in St Peter’s College, Wexford, are preserved the full notes made on the complete history of the Devereux family by the great Wexford county historian, Hore.
There he states, if I am not mistaken, that the first Devereux to arrive in Ireland—coming directly from Normandy, where the family was closely related to Royalty—landed in 1232, some 63 years after the original invasion of 1169.
My own interest in this stems from tracing the history of my own family in Co. Wexford, as they intermarried with the Devereux, on at least three occasions, the first being in 1320.
But the Whittys, too, just missed the boat in 1169; they came with the second wave in the following year and dominated the Ballyteigue Bay area from their castle there for nearly 500 years, until Cromwell uprooted them. But that’s a different story.
Editor’s note:–We are grateful for Mr Whitty’s erudite correction.”
Margaret Stafford, the wife of John Stafford of Coolhull Castle died at Coolhull Castle, in late November 1873, according to The People on the 29th of November 1873.
According to an advertisement in The People on the 14th of May 1874, William Murphy of Carrig-on-Bannow was an agent for W. & H. M. Goulding Limited, Manure Manufacturers, Cork and Dublin. He sold these manures:–Goulding’s special manure, for wheat, oats, barley, potatoes and grass; Goulding’s bone manure, for turnips and flax; Goulding’s Superphosphate of lime, for general uses and for Guano, etc; Goulding’s corn and grass manure, specially prepared for cereals and grasses. This William Murphy is not to be confused with the famous schoolmaster at Carrig-on-Bannow village of the same name.
From The New Ross Standard the 22nd of July 1910:–
“Dr Grattan Flood in his “Antiquarian Jottings”, in our supplement this week mentions Father William Doyle O. S. A., who built the old Augustinian Convent at Grantstown, which replaced the old humble thatched cottage erected by Father Newport in 1737. Father William it was, who received his kinsman, the great Dr Doyle, “J. K. L.” [James, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin] into the Augustinian Order in 1905, that is 105 years ago. Father William Doyle was a native of Scullabogue, Carrigbyrne, and was not the only member of his family who joined the Augustinian Friars, for his nephew Father Frank, was long Superior of the Order in Drogheda and built the magnificent church for the Augustinian Community there. The Doyle family of Scullabogue, a branch of which settled in Dunmain, were located there since Catholics first held farms after the Cromwellian persecutions. Here is something noteworthy:–the stole worn by Father William on the occasion of receiving the vows of the great J. K. L., in the little thatched chapel at Grantstown, has long been a precious heirloom in the old family home at Scullabogue, where Father William Doyle’s grand-nephew, Mr J. L. Doyle lives at present.”
From The Free Press, the 3rd of May 1930:–
“Dramatic Class Presentation—The members of the Carrig-on-Bannow Dramatic Class, have made a presentation to one of their members, Miss Minnie Holmes, on the occasion of her marriage to Mr Sonny May, horse trainor, Tullicanna, which pleasing event took place on Tuesday last. The presentation was made at the residence of the recipient by Messrs M. Wallace (Chairman) and M. Byrne (Secretary), who wished her many happy years of wedded life. Mrs May was one of the leading members of the Class and her resignation will be a great loss,”
The People on the 4th of July 1911 in its report of a meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union, recounted:–
Dr Keogh, Bannow, reported that no steps had been so far taken to repair the house of Margaret –, Johnstown, which was in a dangerous state. He recommended that a committee be appointed to inspect the place.
Mr Devereux—This is not a labourer’s cottage at all and it is not right to be repairing houses for farmers.
Mr Cowman—Are we responsible if anything happens? Clerk—You are responsible.
On the motion of Mr Meyler, seconded by Mr Cowman, it was decided to serve notice on the owner and occupier.”
The Board of Guardians had legal powers to seek in the courts an order to demolish houses not fit for human habitation.
From The Free Press the 10th of May 1930:–
“Motor and Lorry Collide—On Monday last, a motor collision occurred at Cullen’s Cross, near Tullicanna, between a lorry of Messrs J. J. Stafford and Sons, Wexford, which was proceeding towards Ambrosetown and a motor car, driven by Mr Jefferies, Rosegarland, which was proceeding from the Tullicanna direction. The collision took place at Waddingtown-Ambrosetown crossroads, at which point the hedges are somewhat high. Mr Jefferies’s car was damaged. He was accompanied by Mr John Handcock and both gentlemen escaped injury.”
From The People the 12th of March 1881:–
“Carrig-on-Bannow Branch of the Land League
This branch of the League held its monthly meeting on Tuesday evening at Carrig—James A. Ennis, Esq., V. P. in the chair. Other members present—Messrs Arthur Keating, John Breen, J. E. Meyler, Patrick Wade, John Barry, Andrew Cullen, John White, Denis Crosbie, Andrew Devereux, Thomas Culleton, Nicholas Walsh, Patrick Murphy, &c, &c,…
The tenants on Brandane handed in several writs that had been served on them by Mr Jonas King who refused to allow his tenants the small reduction of twenty per cent. The Hon. Sec. was directed to forward them to the Central Office at once….”
An obituary from The People the 12th of March 1904:–
“Rev. Peter Crane O. S. A.
The last brother of a very old and remarkable county Wexford family, the Cranes of Barriestown and Slevoy—passed away on February 24th at the Augustinian Priory, St Laurence, Massachusetts. The Rev. Peter Crane O. S. A. was the last of five brothers who devoted their lives to the Church, four in the Order of Hermits of St Augustine and a fifth, who died only last year in Sandhurst, in the Order of Mary Immaculate—the Very Rev. Nicholas Crane O. M. I., while their sister is the Mother Prioress of Mount Carmel, New Ross. Probably the brothers of this pious family were attached to the glorious old Order of Hermits of St Augustine, from the fact that their home in Barriestown is within view of the fine ruins of the ancient Church and Priory of the Order founded at Clonmines, by one of the Kavanaghs in the 13th century. Not alone did those five brothers join the religious life, but their uncles and grand-uncles for the past 150 years were members of the Augustinian Order in Clonmines and New Ross. While two of their nephews—the late Father William Crane O. S. A. and the present Very Rev. John P. Crane O. S. A., Prior of Callan—also joined that Order; two of the eldest brothers, Very Rev. Patrick Crane O. S. A., Prior of New Ross and afterwards of Grantstown and the late Most Rev. Martin Crane O. S. A., Lord Bishop of Sandhurst, were well known, while Rev. Mark Crane O. S. A., who joined the American Providence, died in 1871. Nearly all the brothers, it will be seen, laboured in foreign lands, where are there few priests to attend to the spiritual needs of the people and in foreign lands all save Father Patrick Crane have found graves—R. I. P.”