Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, ebullient, scholarly, erudite, original, innovative, inspired and inspiring, a right boyo, modest, humble, self-effacing, historian supreme, a superb florist (but the diabolical summer prevented my hollyhocks from reaching prodigious heights), blessed among the women and above all else—wily, that wily boy from beside the mine pits. If it is true, it ain’t bragging.

For reasons outside my control, there will be no blog for the next three or four weeks although it may be possible to get an odd one up in those weeks. I will resume after the three or four weeks as normal.

I continue my preparations for the lecture on the history of hurling and the Cloughbawn senior hurlers from 1947 to 1952. A golden era had then commenced in Wexford hurling and the Cloughbawn team generated enormous excitement. The Cloughbawn Club are advertising the lecture on their website. The lecture is on Tuesday night Spetember 29th at 8.30pm in Clonroche Community Centre under the aegis of Clonroche Historical Society. There will be a welter of emotion and nostalgia on the night and come early to ensure that you get a seat. If the community centre is not big enough to hold the crowd we will be gung ho and go out into the Millennium Park as I expect it will be a reasonably mild night! I will hardly ever give a lecture like it ever again—I doubt if there ever will be a lecture like it again. I have important things to say in the lecture on the history of hurling.

All kinds of tales are believed about hurling and no matter what proof I adduce, people will continue to write and believe them. It is now accepted fact and beyond all dispute that Nick O’Donnell and Bobbie Rackard carried Christy Ring on their shoulders after the final whistle in the 1956 senior hurling final in a magnanimous gesture of sportsmanship. In an interview for the Echo G. A. A. Centenary publication in 1984 Nick O’Donnell said, in contradiction of the above, that at the final whistle, he and his colleagues were overwhelmed by emotion, excitement and intense ecstasy—they literally wanted to grab anything or anybody and throw it or him in the air in celebration. Christy Ring merely happened to be in their way! I presume that if the Archbishop of Thurles was in the way they would have carried him off the pitch, also. They were not conscious of making any gesture of anything. In an interview in 1988 Nick O’Donnell spoke of exchanging hurleys with Ring after a match. That of Ring was extraordinarily heavy.

Another of these tall stories is this account of Colclough of Tintern having a trial match in hurling between the Scarroughs or men of the Scar of Barrystown and the Beany Bags and selecting a team from it to travel to England and play an English team with the King and Queen present. The source of this story is an article by Anna Maria Hall in The Wexford Evening Post on the 16th of May 1826; she claimed that she met a peasant waiting in the village of Tintern for the “birn” [burial] of Sir John Colclough who was killed in the infamous duel with Alcock. The peasant—who can barely talk— told her the story of Caesar Colclough bringing the hurlers to England and does so with incredible amount of details plus direct quotations from several of those involved and an extra plus does it in most pedantic narrative! This is a round-about way of saying that this is a typical Anna Maria Hall story—bits of lore escalated into a very tall narrative—at best a hybrid of fact and fiction embellished by the ascribing to the peasants certain desirable attributes (from her view point). In this story the peasants of south Co. Wexford are admired by the King and Queen of England and they admire Mr Colclough. It may be wishful Royalist thinking. Mrs Hall was a writer of great power and ability with a penchant to make the surreal narrative of her sketches nigh credible; credulous people have certainly believed this story! In the story Colclough ordered his men to remove a mote or dwelling of the fairies and at the end of the story as told by the peasant, at the birn, Colclough is drowned in the sea as a result of the machinations of the fairies. These things strain credulity….

The People on December 20th 1862 published a letter from “An Ex-Bannow Man” criticising a deal made by the inhabitants of the Moor of Bannow with Tom Boyse, about fifty years before whereby they became tenants of Tom Boyse: they would have had squatters’ right to their holdings on the Moor so how they transferred such rights to Mr Boyse is a mystery never to be known. This is an excerpt from the letter (which I do not fully agree with):–

“But there were a few who still kept aloof, amongst whom one Larry Moore, the schoolmaster, stood foremost in the ranks—he poor man foresaw the evil likely to arise, lowering in the distance, and struggled nobly against it. Gentle persuasions were tried but in vain—still he would not succumb. Example was powerful, however, and Larry’s sons being employed at the big house—his wife represented to him it would be their ruin, so at length he consented, though contrary to his judgement and to make matters worse, both were sent home in a few days.”

According to the Report of the Commissioners of Education 1835, Laurence Moore kept a hedge school, with payments by the children, from 2 shillings to 4 shillings. There were 22 boys and 20 girls then attending his school and numbers increasing. The subjects taught were—Reading, writing and arithmetic—and the Roman Catholic catechism.

This outline of his teaching career would not buoy up one’s confidence in Larry Moore as a powerful intellectual, well versed in legal matters but the suspicion persists that he resisted the Boyse deal because he was literate and therefore able to comprehend the implications of what was proposed. It is as good a guess as any! I do not know why these children did not go to the National School at Carrig.

From The Free Press, 7th May 1927:–

“Taghmon League

Two games of hurling in the Taghmon League were brought off on Sunday, viz, The Dirr v Ballymitty and Duncormack v Taghmon. The first match was a poor display, the Dirr team being minus some of their best players. The Ballymitty team lately organised have a lot to learn in the matter of hurling. The game opened strongly. The Dirr scored a goal. Following this up they added a point and keeping up the pressure they added another minor and shortly after another goal. Ballymitty got going and scored two goals before half-time, with the scores:–

The Dirr—2 goals, 2 points;

Ballymitty—2 goals.

The turn over gave Ballymitty the advantage of the strong breeze. They were unlucky in not scoring on a couple of occasions. Play was even for a time but the Dirr gradually worked up and scored a goal. They kept up the pressure for the remainder of the moiety. Final scores:–

The Dirr—3 goals, 2 points;

Ballymitty—2 goals.

Ballymitty team—J. Coughlan, (Captain), S. Waters (goal), R. Tobin, P. Tobin, J. Molloy, T. Waters, P. Hanlon, P. Cullen, P. Doran, J. Cullen, W. Byrne, J. Waters. Referee—Mr N. Cleary.”

They seemed to have played 12 a side. Previously hurling in the Co. Wexford with a type of hurley described by the famous Gaelic games commentator, Carberry as sickle shaped; the Echo in January 1969 described a hurley preserved from the 1890 All-Ireland Final contested by Crossabeg/Castlebridge as like a scythe. The bas was three inches broad and my impression is that it was designed to give elevation to ground strokes. It seems unlikely that much lifting of the ball was resorted to. The outcome of relentless ground hurling was a much greater quota of goals than of points. A total reliance on goals could be an index to a team’s lack of sophistication. I think that improved designs of hurleys enabled players to score much more points.

Among those admitted to the Wexford Workhouse in January 1864 were:–

James Codd, aged 70, Bannow; Eliza White aged 22, Bannow; Margaret Dunn, aged 20, Ballymitty.

From the Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press on January 18th 1936:–

“Ceilidh at Ballymitty—On Sunday night a very successful Ceilidh was held in Ballymitty Hall, under the auspices of the Tullycanna Branch of the Gaelic League. There were about 200 couples present, which included contingents from many parts of the county. The arrangements in the capable hands of Messrs J. Carthy (President of the Branch), J. Martin (Treasurer), and P. Martin (Hon. Sec.) were all that could be desired. Dancing commenced at 8pm and ended at midnight. As M. C. Mr John Butler kept everything going like clockwork and the general opinion was that it was one of the most successful functions of the kind held in Ballymitty for some time. The new Ceilidh Band, lately organised in the district, supplied an excellent programme of music. The following comprised the players:–Messrs James Cullen and John Murphy (violins), James Hawkins, J.J. Holmes and Rupert Martin (accordeons), Thomas Mallin 9piccolo) and Stephen Keane (flute).

Sudden Death—A sudden death occurred near Ballymitty on Monday night or Tuesday morning when an elderly man named Andrew O’Hanlon, residing about a mile from the village was found dead in bed. The deceased was over 70 years of age and lived alone in the famous “Land League Cottage” once occupied by the late Nicholas O’Hanlon-Walsh, to whose sister he had been married. His wife died a few years ago. A nephew, a young land named Jas O’Hanlon, residing at Ballingly, came daily to the deceased but did not remain at night and on Tuesday when he came about 11 o’clock he got no answer to his knock. He forced the door open and found his uncle dead in bed. As the old man had been under medical treatment an inquest was deemed unnecessary.”

There is no need for me to recount to a Carrig-on-Bannow readership the heroic, stoic and selfless refusal of the widow O’Hanlon-Walsh of Knocktarton to pay a rent in excess of the Griffith’s Valuation. She had the money to pay the full rent demanded but would not do so on a point of principle. She and her son Nicholas O’Hanlon-Walsh lost Knocktarton. The latter lived in a Land League hut or cabin for some time but through the Land League majority on the Wexford Board of Guardians he secured a post as collector of rates for the Wexford Poor Law Union.

From The People 19th April 1882:–

“Land Act

Valuation of Farms

William H. Lett, Balloughton, Bannow, New Ross offers himself to the general public as a Valuator under the Land Act.

Having much experience in the farming of Land, holding more than 400 acres, in different parts of the country, he trusts he will be able to satisfy all. His terms will be found moderate. Address as above.

February 11th 1882”

The Land Acts, enacted by Mr Gladstone’s Liberal Government, were a phased process of improvement of the conditions of the Irish farmers.

From The People 3rd of August 1949:–

“Bannow and Rathangan Agricultural Show

Great Success Anticipated

The big show under the auspices of the Bannow and Rathangan Agricultural Society will be brought off at Little Graigue on Tuesday next, 9th inst, and promise to be the greatest of its kind ever held in a rural district in the county. The venue, which has been given by Mr John J. Furlong, is about one mile from Cullenstown. This, in itself, will be an added attraction as Cullenstown is the “big place” at present. The annual “big day” is nearing and many visitors are attending there at present. Entries for the show in all classes have been pouring in for the past few weeks and the list is far beyond all expectations and ensures a record success. The show is the principal topic all over the district and the general public are looking forward to the big event with feverish anticipation. From this it can be gathered the attendance should create a record in this respect. The horse jumping events should be a very interesting item on the programme as it is the first time that such an event has been seen in this locality. The slogan should be on Tuesday next: “To the big show at Little Graigue.” See advent.”

From The People 1st of September 1951:–

“Bannow and District Notes

Dance—St Mary’s Hall, Carrig-on-Bannow, was filled on Tuesday night for the annual Show dance. Mr Matthew O’Neill was M. C.

Fishing—A number of local anglers travelled to Bag-an-Bun and Slde during the week-end and had good catches of Pollock  and mackerel. Mr Ned Murphy, fishing with the lines on Bannow Bar, landed seventy bass on two tides.

Retirement of Popular Postman—Mr Thomas Murphy, a native of Cullenstown, who was for over thirty years attached to G. P. O., Wexford, has retired on pension. In his early years Mr Murphy was auxiliary postman at Bannow and Wellingtonbridge during the 1914—18 war. His numerous friends in the Bannow district wish him many years to enjoy his well earned pension.”

From The Wexford Independent the 2nd of January 1847:–


….At Bannow Glebe, county Wexford, the lady of Rev. Robert Henry Stanley, of a son”

From The People 2nd of April 1864:–

“The Gill Fund

Mr John Colfer, Balloughton, Carrig, 4 shillings, per Rev. J. Anderson O. S. A., inadvertently omitted in last list of acknowledgements.”

I have no idea what the Gill Fund meant.

From The Enniscorthy Guardian the 2nd of November 1935:–

[Re—Anna Maria Hall] “The “Sketches of Irish Characters” are a very entertaining collection of portraitures. They are drawn with a skilful and sympathetic hand. To these sketches she wrote in an introduction to the third edition of the work—“I have aimed at a higher object than mere amusement, desiring so as to picture the Irish character as to make it more justly appreciated, more rightly estimated and more respected in England; at the same time I have studied, but I trust in a kindly and affectionate spirit, so as to note the faults and errors that prevail among my countrymen and countrywomen as to be of some use in inducing a removal of them. There are none powerless to effect good except those who persuade themselves that attempts to produce it are hopeless. It has been my steady purpose and zealous wish to do justice to the many estimable qualities of the Irish peasantry, of whom it has been truly said, “their virtues are their own, but their vices have been forced upon them.”

Anna Maria Hall ever sought to lightly introduce what she deemed faults in the Irish peasantry in her writings in the hope of tactfully persuading them to excise these faults.

Herbert Hore, the famous historian, wrote in December 1889:–

“When the philosophic and industrious Sir William Petty was engaged in preparing his folio atlas of Ireland, it occurred to him to procure chorographic treatises on the several counties of the kingdom and he according entreated various gentlemen who by capacity and local knowledge were qualified for the task, to furnish him with accounts of the districts in which they resided.” One of these gentlemen was Robert Leigh of Rosegarland. The patent which granted Rosegarland to Robert Leigh—the author of the “A Chorographic Account of the Southern Part of the County Wexford, written by anno 1684—acknowledged the services of Leigh to Charles II, restored as King of England:–

“The King being very sensible of the many services performed to him at all times by Robert Leigh Esq., both in foreign countries, in the time of his exile, and at home, since his restoration, in recompense thereof…” Cromwell had executed King Charles I but some years later his son Charles was restored as King Charles II. Robert Leigh was descended, in all probability, from Captain John Lye who was buried under a flat tombstone in the graveyard of Kildare Cathedral in 1612. John Lye appears to have been “one of those few remarkable men of the native Irish race of that period who became singled out from the general disaffection to the English Crown and who, serving the Government by their talents and loyalty, rose to power and honours and founded wealthy and noble families.” That in translation seems to mean that the ancestral Leighs were native Irish who found favour with English monarchs and benefited from that. They favoured the Stuart Kings who were more sympathetic to Ireland than others.

When Robert Leigh sent his Chorographic treatise to Sir William Petty, “it was accompanied by the following letter from the writer, who probably penned the manuscript at Rathbride, his seat in the County of Kildare, as he speaks of being a distance from Wexford and this absence from the district he describes accounts in some degree for much of the omissions he apologises for:–

“Sir—The time now drawing neere in which you tould me you intended to rid yourself of the work you had in hand in order to the Irish atlas, I send you herewith, tho’ very imperfect, the best account I can (at this distance) give you of the County of Wexford, I neede not desire you to make use only of such of the particulars as you shall judge proper for publique view), but shall entreat you to take no notice of my being your intelligencer, for though I have with all the certainty I am able tould you all the remarkable things I could call to mind in those parts, yett it is possible some persons may take it amisse, theer concerns were forgotten. I have made mention of myself upon occasions of my concerns in the County, and should be glad (if it consists with your method) those few words, or some that may express the same truth might be incerted, otherwise by no means, for I desire it not soe much of ambition, as I doe to show my gratitude for benefits received, and in hopes that others of my father’s posteritye, may be more moved to serve their King hereafter, for the example’s sake—I am, sir, your affectionate kinsman and humble servant,

Robert Leigh”

“I wish you may be able to read these papers, for besydes the want of skill in the dictating part, the boy that writt has committed many faults, alsoe, which I beg you to excuse.”

Mr Leigh must not have gone to the National School at Carrig as his spelling is so bad! Maybe with an estate of so much land he had not time.

The above seems a postscript. I presume that the boy referred to had done the laborious work of writing the Account, presumably by hand, that is a quill or fountain pen. The instances of bizarre spelling attest to the changes that language undergoes over centuries. For instance up to 1800, prominent men used the verb “tould” while one would be ashamed to say tould in latter times.