Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, the great or rather the greatest historian of all, and everybody’s favourite historian, a big hit with the girls, charming, charismatic, modest, humble, self-effacing, inspired and inspiring, a right boyo (as Brother Frankie Delaney of happy memory said) innovative, original, ebullient, as fresh as the grass in May and above all else, wily—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. Pat Dunne used to graze goats up at or near the mine pits.

There is no need to but I will remind the many people who are intensely interested that Bernard Browne will lecture on the Rebellion of  1798 with special reference to General Tom Cloney of Moneyhore and Rev. James Gordon of Boro Lodge, Ballymackessy to the Clonroche Historical Society on April 21st at 8.30 pm in the Clonroche Community Centre. The 21st is the eve of the birthday of the boy from Barrystown and as so many say that should be a national holiday, blah, blah….St Kevin of Kilkevan, in the late writings of his saintly life, prophesised that an all surpassing historian, of extraordinary natural charm and especially blessed among the women would arise amid the gold and silver at the Barrystown mines. St Kevin wrote in an archaic mode of Latin and his texts may not be decipherable by latter day scholars but that would be their loss! Gold and silver would always follow the Barrystown children and so it has.

“Mrs S. C. Hall

(From The Dublin Telegraph)

There are few writers more universally known and admired in English speaking countries than Mr and Mrs S. C. Hall. The works they have written, separately and in collaboration, are legion. A look at the letter “H” in the catalogue of the British Museum Library will demonstrate the truth of this assertion. As many as thirty pages of the huge catalogue are devoted to an enumeration of books by the Halls and the well thumbed condition of these pages shows how greatly in demand are the works among visitors to that great literary storehouse. “Men of the Time” mentions that Mr Hall has written 340 volumes; and I find in another quarter 250 volumes set down to the credit of Mrs Hall….Mrs Hall was a garner in the same harvest field at Maria Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, Carleton, the Bannins, Griffin, Lever and Lover.”

One could add Patrick J. Kennedy to the above list; he wrote of life on estates in North County Wexford. There was a radical difference, however, between Kennedy and Carleton: the latter depicted the Irish peasantry as drunken and feral, at least wild. Kennedy wrote of them as forming a law abiding, cultured, happy, musical, sporting, hard working and strongly religious community. Mrs Hall gives her characters a quaint idiom and ascribes to them some faults which she hoped would be correct but she is basically sympathetic to them.

The article in The Dublin Telegraph gives precise details of Mrs Hall’s early life:–

“On January 6th 1800 Anna Maria Fielding was born in Anne Street, Dublin. She, however, spent only a couple of weeks in the Irish metropolis. At Graigue, on the seaside, near Bannow, County Wexford, she lived in the house of her mother’s stepfather, George Carr, until her fifteenth year. The scenes of all her stories in her first book, “Sketches of Irish Character” published in 1828, are laid in that lovely district in which she grew up to girlhood, and which is remarkable in Irish history as the place where the Norman invader first set foot on the soil of Ireland. In 1815 she moved with her mother and Mr Carr to London. Seven years subsequently she met Mr Samuel Carter Hall, a young reporter on one of the London papers, and in the following year, on the 20th September 1824, they were married. Mr Hall was, also, in his twenty fourth year when this event (which proved a most happy one for both) took place, having been born at Geneva Barracks, the County Waterford on May 9th , 1800. His father, an Englishman, a native of Exeter was a colonel in the 72nd Regiment and from 1794 to 1802, was stationed in Ireland. Mr Hall tells us in his “Retrospect of a Long Life”—“In 1794 Ireland was almost as much terra incognita to the people of Devon as the Fiji Islands are to them now. The order that the Regiment raised by my father should embark for the Green Isle was received in terror by the mothers of recruits and the women generally; a greater display of feeling could scarcely have been evoked by a sentence of transportation to Botany Bay…. The Regiment was in Kerry during the Rebellion of 1798 and Mr Hall mentions with pride that under the considerate and humane sway of his father not a single life was taken in the district over which he ruled with autocratic power and on the other hand not an officer or man of the Fencibles was as much as ill-treated by the peasantry. Up to the time of her marriage Mrs Hall had written nothing, nor does she appear to have ever suspected the rich wealth of the novelist’s imagination and dramatic power with which she was endowed. Her Husband writes:–“Her first essay was brought about thus—One evening—in 1825—she was telling me some anecdotes of her old schoolmaster, “Master Ben”. Said I, “I wish you would write about that just as you tell it.” She did so. I printed her story in The Spirit and Manners of the Age, a monthly periodical I then edited and from that day dates her career as an author.”

Anna Maria Hall opposed the incipient women’s rights movement and her views in that regard are certainly now redundant and archaic:–

“Mrs Hall wrote very strongly against the female agitators for women’s rights. She held steadfastly to the opinion that the family circle was woman’s sphere and that any attempt to drag her out of it—to introduce her into the political arena was most unholy and should be anathematised. That opinion is now very much on the wane and will probably in a few years disappear altogether. Every part in the State recognises the influence for good which women can exercise in political contests. But Mrs Hall’s opposition to all this shows how soft and retreating was her womanly character. She writes—“I don’t consider it a degradation but whether it be so or not, I am quite sure the leading, guiding and controlling impulse of women is to render themselves agreeable and helpful to men—whether by beauty, gentleness, forethought, energy, intelligence, domestic cares, home virtue, toil—assistance; in hours of ease, in sickness and amid the perplexities, anxieties, disappointments and labours that environ life. It is so and it ever will be so, in spite of the strong minded, who consider and describe as humiliation that which is woman’s glory and should be her boast.”

This is a concluding part of the article:–

“A pension of £100 a year from the Civil list was conferred on Mrs Hall for her services in literature and in 1830 Mr Hall, for a similar reason, got a pension of 350 per annum. She lived to celebrate in 1880 the 56th anniversary of their wedding day. On that day Mr Hall presented the following beautiful verses to his wife:–

Yes, we’re going gently down the hill of life

And thank our God at every step we go

The husband lover and the sweetheart wife—

Of creeping age and what do we care to know?

Each says to each, “Our four score years, thrice told

Would leave us young—the soul is never old.

What is the grave to us? Can it divide

The destiny of two by God made one

We step across and reach the other side

To know our biended life is thus begun

These fading faculties are sent to say

Heaven is more near to-day than yesterday.”

Mrs Hall died at Devon Lodge, East Moseley on Sunday, 30th January 1881.”

From The People January 21st 1881:–


On last Sunday, at Mulgannon, the Mulgannon Harriers played a team from the Bannow and Ballymitty Football Club. The match was not distinguished for any excellent play, though some of the players gave promise of much improvement in the near future. From the beginning to the end there was not a single squabble, nor in fact was there a lewd word spoken and in this important matter, it differed considerably from the match that followed. The Mulgannon Harriers won by 5 points to 2.”

From The People February 25th 1888:–

“February 20th at Taylorstown, Clonmines, Mr Cornelius Cosgrave, brother to the Very Rev. L. Cosgrave P. P., Oylegate, aged 80 years, deeply regretted by his many and sorrowing friends.”

I am not sure who Dicky Kane was but he was certainly a friend of John C. Tuomy—this is John C. Tuomy’s recreation of his friend’s recollection of a previous election:–

“As the two most antagonistic parties in Ireland at present, are the landlords and leaguers and as each are busily calculating their chances at the far or near but at least expected elections, it will not be here uninteresting to give you Dicky Kane’s recollections of the last election for the old borough of Bannow and as nearly as possible in his own words.

“The morning was very fine and at noon the lord, himself and three or four more gentlemen, came down in a carriage to the ould church. They pulled out their big books and laid them upon the chimbley of what they called the Town-hall. After talking and writing for some time, a big black cloud covered the sun and shortly after, the rain came down pell mell. There was no house at hand and the parliament men, and myself, ran for shelter under the walls of the ould church. The Lord was a fine gentleman and a good fellow and as plain spoken as a poor man. Richard, says he to me, do you see that ould castle and that little garden behind it. I said yis my Lord. Well Richard, says he, if we ever have another election here, I will have a house built upon that garden, so that we will not be cot again in the rain. But his Lordship never came again; he went to Dublin and I heard that shortly after he died. I was then a young man but I never saw another election in Bannow, nor the big books laid open upon the ould chimbley.”

Elections were easily managed in those days and his story bears me out in the assertion “that the massive chimney of the Town-hall” derived its name from the fact of the “parlement men”, using it in lieu of a better.” This letter from Mr Tuomy was dated—“Bannow, December 2, 1850.”

The People July 10th 1895 reported—

“The New Scheme Under The Labourers Act

The Bannow dispensary committee recommended that the following applicants for cottages be allowed to go before the Local Government Board Inspector:–Ballymitty, Martin M’Grath; Bannow, Thomas Brawthers, Patrick Edwards, James Condell, Robert Purcell, Patrick Bent, Richard Maddock; Duncormack, Thomas Moran, Patrick Doyle, Patrick Redmond; Harperstown, Philip Murphy; Killag, David Siggins and John Cahill.

From The People March 10th 1877:–

“March 8 at Carrig Hill, Bannow, Mr Stephen Colfer, aged 83 years. This venerable gentleman practised through life a praiseworthy and persevering industry in cultivating and multiplying the fruits of the earth, was ever prompt in the discharge of his duties and vigilant in his business concerns, so that he earned for himself the proud distinction of being “a good farmer”; whilst his uprightness in all his dealings and sterling worth won for him the character of “an honest man”, which the poet has written is “the noblest work of God.” R. I. P.” Stephen Colfer did not forget the poor of Carrig-on-Bannow in his will.

From The People July 21st 1909:–

“A Graveyard Desecrated.

A letter was read from Mr Boyse complaining that the Bannow graveyard was neglected. The grass was not cut, persons were trespassing in it and that a tombstone belonging to him was wantonly broken and the grave opened and he had to get it repaired. The place was disgracefully kept and it was a standing monument to the way the district council looked after its business.

Clerk—This graveyard was taken over by the council and I wrote to Mr Boyse and told him it was in our possession.

Mr Codd—I think we had a member of the Boyse family on this council before. He is very complementary in his letter when he says that the condition of the graveyard is quite in keeping with the way the council do their business.

Mr Peacock—Refer that letter to a committee.

Lady Maurice Fitzgerald—Yes; that would be the best thing to do.

Mr Doyle—He has not written to us in a very complimentary manner certainly.

Lady Maurice Fitzgerald—He does not know better, perhaps.”

The import of Lady Fitzgerald’s jibe is obvious: it has an implication that Boyse lacked good manners, courtesy and did not have a proper deportment. The jibe implies boorishness and rudeness. Ignorance is a pathetic excuse for anything. The Clerk seems to say that the District Council took ownership of Bannow graveyard.