Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown and I have been pondering if it is necessary on a weekly basis to give a recital of my greatness! I sometimes think that the English language does not have enough superlatives to describe my genius, a historian supreme, destined by the fates to ever correct the mistakes of lesser mortals. If it true it ain’t bragging and it is surely true.

The commonage of Bannow, another description of the Moor of Bannow, is probably a remnant of the ancient Gaelic system of gavelkind whereby the right of pasturage on lands of very little real value was held in common by numerous people. In the Bantry Commons/White Mountain case in July 1944 the court found (or rather the jury on the direction of the presiding justice) that a Commons went back to time immemorial and continued to exist as long as people exercised that right to pasture. A commons in the view of the court could not be transferred to new owners after the 1641 Rebellion, since only those who participated in the 1641 Rebellion on the Irish and Catholic side could be deprived of their estates. A Commons was not specifically owned by anybody but vaguely attached to a wider community; the Moor of Bannow was attached to the corporation of Bannow.

The Bantry Commons, on the borders of Counties Carlow and Wexford, was not inhabited; the people merely put their cattle and sheep on it, especially in the day-time in the summer season. This is anther conundrum about the Moor of Bannow: it was very closely inhabited by the time the Boyses came to Bannow and effectively enclosed. The inhabitants had bits of land, varying from a minute amount up to ten acres and possibly upwards. These people did not own these tiny holdings but they did not pay rent to anybody: in my opinion they—or more probably their ancestors—had no legal authority to build cabins on the Moor but by 1800 I think that prescriptive law would given them a de facto authority to remain there: long usage, especially over generations, in prescriptive law gave legal rights recognised by the courts. The Moor all those years ago may have been deemed so useless that people with a right to pasturage on it may have not bothered to oppose anybody building a cabin on it and enclosing a bit of it.

Tom Boyse in 1819 referred to the Moor as formerly a Commons—because it was fully occupied by cabins and small holdings there were no possibility of people from a wider local society turning their cattle and sheep on the Moor.

The process by which the inhabitants of the Moor accepted the invitation of the Boyses to become their tenants is a conundrum. There were some rational considerations for the inhabitants of the Moor to become tenants of Sam and Tom Boyse; for example they would have possibly qualified for the franchise and the new arrangement gave a legal status to their situation on the Moor. That is a preamble to what I want to say.

The claim of the Boyses to the Moor was non-existent. The corporation of Bannow and the Moor were excluded from the grant of Bannow to Nathaniel Boyse. I am still unsure of the basis of the agreement: since the people on the Moor did not legally own their holdings on the Moor how could they transfer these holdings to the possession of the Boyses? Maybe the transfer was based on prescriptive law; if so could the inhabitants not apply for ownership in fee simple for themselves? Alternatively—and more realistically—they could have remained there and not be liable to pay rent to anybody. The rent agreed was one shilling and eight pence but I doubt if Tom Boyse ever bothered to collect it. The controversy arose after the death of Tom Boyse when the agent of Captain Arthur Hunt Boyse upped the rents on the Moor on the basis that the land there was hugely improved. My opinion is that the original transaction of the Moor becoming the possession of the Boyses would not survive an action in the courts; the paradox there is that most of the inhabitants of the Moor would not wish to take such action as they revered Tom Boyse, with good reason.

From The Free Press May 4th 1962:–

“Ballymitty G. A. A. Club presented Rev. Sean Cullen Knockbyne, Ballymitty, with a watch on Wednesday night to mark the occasion of his ordination to the priesthood and as a token of remembrance of Father Cullen’s association with the Club as a player in recent years.

Mr Rich Howlin, Chairman of the Club, addressing the large assembly said:–

“Rev. Fathers, fellow members and friends, I have been asked to speak on behalf of the members of Ballymitty football club. We have come here tonight in a spirit of joy and thankfulness to pay tribute to Rev. Fr. Sean Cullen and to congratulate him on his ordination. We are grateful to having been associated with him on many happy occasions in the field of sport. Please God we may always remain associated with him in the Mission Field, or wherever his sacred calling may take him. We also wish to express our high regard and affection for Father Cullen and to pray that God may bless him in all his work at home and abroad. As a token of our friendship and regard for Father Sean we would like him to accept this present from the Club with our best wishes.

Rev. T. Byrne who made the presentation congratulated Father Cullen on his ordination and wished him every blessing and success in his new life.

Mr John Hayes, Secretary of the Club, joined in the tributes and good wishes extended to Father Cullen.

Father Cullen thanked all sincerely for their kindness and good wishes. He said he would always remember the happy days he had enjoyed among the members of the Club and gave his blessing to all present.”

From The Wexford Independent September 15th 1849:–

“Fatal Accident—Barristown Mines

To the Humane and Charitable

The family of the late James O’Leary who was accidentally killed at the above mines on Friday 7th instant, being in the deepest distress and consisting of his widow and five young and helpless children, are compelled to appeal to a humane and generous public for a favourable consideration of their circumstances. The deceased bore an excellent character and was the sole support of his wife and family.

We have been requested to receive at our office contributions towards the relief of the afflicted and desolate widow and orphans. We shall feel pleasure in doing so and in making the suitable acknowledgements.”

From The Wexford Independent March 28th 1832:–

“The Slaney Club

A number of young gentlemen have just formed musical society in town, under the above denomination; and as the name indicates, intend making our beautiful river the scene of their festivities during the approaching summer. They have procured a full set of instruments for the occasion; and some of them being amateurs of the highest reputation in the musical world, we anticipate many a delectable treat from their exertions. But what pleases us more is the fact that the club is to be totally free from that sectarian character which too often hitherto characterised Irish society and infused the alloy of religious antipathy into the social cup; the present is a society of young Irishmen—we know them by no other title—determined that no foolish bickering or senseless animosities shall prevent them from enjoying “the feast of reason and the flow of soul.”

The Slaney Club Band in their colourful uniform that so caught the attention of the famous bard played all through the visit of Tom Moore to Bannow in August 1835. I have no indication why Boyse invited them to play at Bannow on that auspicious occasion. There was a lodging house or hotel or private residence where Tom Boyse stayed when on business in Wexford town—maybe while there he came into contact with the newly emerged band.

On Friday January 24th 1902 The New Ross Standard reported that Colonel Henry Arthur Hunt Boyse had died at his residence Bannow House the previous Friday morning January 17th. He had been in bad health for a year previous to his death; he was only in his 53rd year. The report continued:–

“On the occasion of his daughter’s marriage a couple of years ago, Colonel Boyse in accordance with the traditional hospitality of Bannow House invited all his friends and in the evening his tenants and neighbours and made the occasion right royally festive at home after the style of the patriotic Irish gentleman and in pleasant contrast to the un-Irish action of those who have recourse to some London hotel for their cold and lifeless and formal wedding feasts. The family is very old and has always been a popular one, and is connected with most of the principal families in the counties of Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny, the Colcloughs, Carews, Grogans, Rowes, Lord Dessart, O’Connor, Morris and others. Colonel Boyse’s grand-father Captain Hunt, belonged to a well known county Waterford family. He married Miss Boyse, sister of the celebrated Mr Thomas Boyse….It was Colonel Boyse’s father who assumed the name of Boyse, in addition to Hunt on acquiring the Bannow estates.” There are some puzzling details in the closing sentences of the obituary:–

“The interment took place in the family vault in the old Norman Church of Bannow, alongside the remains of “Honest Tom Boyse” and of Counsellor Carr, the uncle of Mrs S. C. Hall, another old and respected resident of Bannow. Most of the country gentry and the residents of Bannow and adjoining districts were represented at the funeral, which was extremely large.”

Tom Boyse died at Roebuck House Dublin in January 1854 and is buried in Dublin. Counsellor Carr was not I am almost certain, a blood relative of Anna Maria Hall. While Captain Arthur Hunt assumed the name of Boyse he was not—as I have said a thousand times—another Tom Boyse and the great love of the Bannow people for the Boyses diminished in the time of the Hunt Boyses; admittedly they operated in more fractious times, especially that of the Land League agitation and the related upsurge of democratic values.

From The Wexford Independent September 24th 1859:–


September 19th in Paris, at the early age of 36, to the inexpressible grief of his sorrowing parents and widow, Augustus Freeman Boyse Esq., only child of our estimable friend, the Rev. Richard Boyse of Halkin Street, West, Belgrave Square, London and Bannow House, county Wexford; and nephew of the late lamented Thomas Boyse, one of the most gifted Irishmen and honest Patriot of the age in which he lived and on which he shed so bright a lustre.”

The Rev. Richard Boyse succeeded his brother Tom Boyse to ownership of the Bannow estate and presumably the other Boyse estates. The death of his only child complicated the issue of succession and thus Captain Arthur Hunt, a nephew of Tom Boyse, succeeded to his estates.

From The Wexford Independent August 18th 1832:–

“Attack on a Churn of Buttermilk by two Whitefeet

A few days ago as a young woman was driving a horse and car, on which was placed a churn of milk, over Wellington bridge, she was overtaken by two men, with their faces blackened, who ordered her to stop and threw the churn, with its contents, over the battlements of the bridge; but without offering further molestation to the girl. We have heard some particulars connected with this transaction but for the present forbear giving them insertion; and we merely throw it out as a hint to the owner of the milk, that it would be just as well if he sold his “roddleam”, as the poor people called it, in his own neighbourhood and not send it all the way to Saltmills for exhibition.”

At the splendid official reception for the reforming Mulgrave Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at Wexford in August 1836 the readers of the Wexford Independent were informed:–

“A temporary gallery was erected for the ladies at the special request of Mr Thomas Boyse and never did we behold a more brilliant array of loveliness and fascination than on this interesting occasion. From this gallery was suspended an emblazoned scroll with the words “cead mille failthe”.

The above might jar with latter day sensitivities!

From The Wexford Independent December 21st 1831:–

“Dreadful Wreck and Supposes Loss of Nine Souls—On Friday night, about 12 o’clock, a fine Brig, perfectly new, drifted in on the coast of Bannow, not a soul on board; the main sheet had been carried away and was lying over her side in the water. The iron stay or traveller had snapt, it is supposed, and she got a dreadful lurch so that a sea (sic) washed the entire crew over board. It appears by her papers, she was named La Bonne Julia, of Bordeaux, bound to Dunkirk. She had not drawn any water and was perfectly sound until she was struck. She had a valuable cargo of oil, fish, and about one hundred French and Spanish dollars in a bag; her Captain’s name was J. Barten. The gentry and water guard instantly came forward and used every exertion to save the cargo. The oil is now discharging and is to be bonded in stores on account of the Crown and the Lord of the Soil, to give time to the owners to claim, as, if none should appear, it belongs to the latter, subject to the duties and salvage. We have also learned that to prevent any risk from contagion Messrs Boyse and Osborne, with the consent of the officers of customs and waterguard, saw every article of clothing, bedding, &c, on board brought on shore and burned, notwithstanding the entreaties of the many poor who came from all parts to get what they could.”

From The Galway Mercury late December 1847:–

“A Good Landlord—We have much pleasure in recording an act of generosity on the part of a gentleman who, though not resident in this county, has always shown the utmost anxiety as well for the prosperity of the community at large. To those acquainted with the individual alluded to it will not be necessary to say a word by way of commendation, for wherever the name of Mr Boyse of Bannow, in the county of Wexford, is known, it is sure to be held in veneration and respect. Mr Boyse is the owner of an estate between Galway and Tuam and his tenants have ever found in him a disposition to ameliorate their condition and to make every pecuniary sacrifice for their sakes. We are assured upon competent authority, that with a generosity that does him credit, he has lately instructed his agent here, to inform his tenantry at Carra that it is not his intention to demand any rent for the present year and furthermore that he forgive all arrears due of the estate amounting to two and a half years rent. Such conduct needs no comment; it will draw around him the affections of his people and prove a stronger and safer protection for his life than all could be effected by the Coercion Bills of an alien legislature.”