Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, ebullient, erudite, scholarly, innovative, original, visionary, a right boyo, a historian supreme and—wily. Gold and silver for the Barrystown children; that is why they mined silver at the mine pits there.
1955 had a late starting but very warm summer and if I may make a predictable jest, global warming may have begun in 1955! The effect on flowers would be spectacular and so it was in 1955. Mrs Mac Dermott of Busherstown, Ballymitty, according to the local notes in The Free Press on August 5th 1955, had a hollyhock eight feet high. The boy from Barrystown has two hollyhocks of more than that height—if I could keep them standing erect! My flowers are magnificent this summer and the passer by are admiring them
From The Wexford Herald October 17th 1814:–
“The house, offices, garden and orchard of Kiltra with from ten to twenty-four acres of land [for sale]….The ground has been highly limed and manured within the last year.
Application to Mr Irvine, Post Office, Wexford or Mr James Carpenter, Kiltra.”
From The Wexford Herald April 17th 1824:–
“A distressing accident occurred at Tullicanna on Wednesday night. A neat thatched cottage was burned to the ground, together with Miss Susannah Hamond, its only inmate, a lady upwards of 60 years of age. It is conjectured that she fell asleep while reading as she was found sitting at a table, her whole body burned to a cinder. No person was near to render her assistance; her servant not sleeping in the house.”
Was she using a lighted candle to provide light? A thatched roof would feed a conflagration.
On December 13th 1872 Samuel H. H. Boyse secured a judgement for sixty pounds against the estate of Jonas King, Barrystown. It is noticeable that King’s place of residence is spelt “Barrystown”. That is an early use of that particular spelling.
Mrs Mary Sleator, aged 78 years, died at “Tullycanna” on the 24th of December 1873.
A meeting of the County Federation of Muintir na Tire was held in the Talbot Hotel, Wexford on Thursday night June 16th 1955. This is an extract from the account in the Free Press on June 24th 1955:–
“Carrig-on-Bannow Guild—Miss Peggy Wallace, Hon. Sec., reporting on the work of the Carrig-on-Bannow Guild stated that it was formed in October 1951 and recognised as Guild in November 1951. The Guild carried on in a very small way in the first year. A series of 45 card drives and whist drives were organised as the first means of finance, which were well patronised. The Guild then commenced the work of sowing a plot for an old couple. Following that they were requested to renovate a house for a deserving family in the district where it was not possible for a cottage to be built. Voluntary collections were made for same. The cost was £60. In 1952, she stated, though the affiliation fee was paid, the Guild became almost dead, a failure and attendances at meetings were only two and three. She recalled that in 1953 the newly elected officers decided that something should be done if the Guild were to live. Rev. M. Byrne C. C. Mayglass, was invited to a meeting. Here again the attendance was small but Fr Byrne’s lectures made a very good impression and the Guild has not looked back since. Having told of the organisation of a Christmas party for the children of the parish, the carrying out of work on the cemetery and the appointment of a caretaker. Miss Wallace said a house had been procured and converted into a social club in which the Guild held their meetings, etc. Teaching of Irish dancing was, also, carried on weekly. They hoped to have Irish classes started in the winter. The cost of work on the club, including the installation of electric light amounted to £57 15 shillings, that again left finance very low, the amount on hands being 5 shillings and six pence. Mr J. T. Browne, former Secretary of the County Federation, had, also, lectured to the Guild at the invitation of the members and his talk had been very helpful. Sports, Aeriocht and dances were organised in 1954, all of which met with most generous support. School signs had been erected and three ancient crosses had been re-erected at the entrance to the village. A letter had been written to the County Council asking for three lights for the village. Two had recently been erected. One thousand trees had, also, been planted through the efforts of the Guild in 1954-55. Concluding she said she was pleased to state that the Guild was now in a healthy financial position, the success of which was due to Rev. M. Byrne and, also, to Mr Browne, whom they always found most encouraging and helpful. On behalf of the Guild members she thanked Very Rev. N. Magee O. S. A., Prior, Grantstown, who had been most helpful and loyal to the Guild. The Guild members wished success to Muintir na Tire everywhere and with the co-operation of all, they looked forward to greater success in the future.”
Canon John Hayes, a Co. Tipperary priest founded Muintir na Tire which translated from the Irish means people of the countryside. It was meant to promote Catholic principles of social justice and order. The committees of each Guild had representatives of the main social groups in the parish, in an obvious reflection of Papal Encyclicals. Any Voluntary organisation needs to display productivity and Guilds of Muintir na Tire did this by undertaking small local projects, some (as in the record of the Carrig-on-Bannow Guild) of obvious benefit. Mike Flynn, the Secretary of the Kilmore Guild, in a letter to the newspapers on the atrocious condition of roads around Kilmore explained that his Guild were not taking up the condition of the roads issue merely as a means of demonstrating that the Guild was useful and a ploy to show their importance! Mr Flynn was anticipating an obvious riposte to his Guild’s protest about the roads: a Muintir na Tire Guild needed things to do as an incentive to its members to say involved. It must have been daunting for members to attend meetings regularly given the rudimentary modes of transport then used by many people (although the amount of motor transport was noticeably increasing) in the context of volatile and irrational weather. The Ballymitty Guild had gone defunct and Mr Browne (mentioned by Peggy Wallace) appealed to the Carrig Guild to endeavour to revive it. I remember the sports day in Carrig each summer but until I read Peggy Wallace’s account I did not know that Muinter na Tire organised it. I was there a couple of times and Gus Byrne the Wexford town cyclist was a regular attraction. My impression of Muintir Na Tire is that it envisaged a total transformation of Irish society, based on Papal Encyclicals (or the social teaching in them) but in practice it did little more than small local improvements in various parishes. It is difficult to see how it could do anymore but this limited scope of its operations undoubtedly contributed to its effective demise—as a major organisation—in the later 1960ies.
I also remember Fr Magee (was not his Christian name Patrick?); he was a very able man, a sharp debater, qualified in the social sciences, expert at bee-keeping and broadcast of Radio Eireann on bee-keeping and lectured on social science to external classes of University College Cork. He had been an accomplished step-dancer before his ordination and directed amateur drama groups. He was quite good at farming. The great flaw in his personality was his temperament, too impatient, too stressed and too quick to become agitated; I am circumspect and polite to say too cross. He died before his time in the summer of 1962 but I think his health was suspect for some time before that.
In my time in Carrig-on-Bannow I did not know that there was a Guild of Muintir na Tire in the parish; nor did I know that young Father Jim Ryan had organised a Guild of Muintir in Clonroche in circa 1961! They organised a trip to the seaside for the pupils of Clonroche National School in 1964 but I totally ignored it!
I will chance giving or quoting the account in The People on March 3rd 1860 of the trail at Wexford on a man for killing Thomas Ouslam in a pub on the Moor of Bannow (I sincerely hope that nobody’s sensitivities are offended and if they are I apologise):–
“Counsellor Purcell with Counsellor Devitts (on the part of the Crown) stated the case. On the 17th of January last the prisoners with a number of other persons went to a public house of a man named Keane and whilst there a quarrel arose which resulted in the death of the unhappy man. He mentioned that Ouslam came into the public house after the other party. It would be given in evidence that Michael Fitzgerald made a kick at Ouslam and subsequently leaped on him causing death.
Counsellor Nunn requested that all the witnesses leave the court.
Patrick Colfer deposed—Knows Keane’s public house on the Moor of Bannow; was there on the 17th of January; saw the prisoners and others there at the time; they got some drink but I was not in the company; none of them were drunk; Gregory White ordered a quart of whiskey; this Ouslam came in whilst they were drinking; he sat by himself for some time; I went out for a short time and when I came back I saw Michael Fitzgerald make a kick at Ouslam and then got up on a table; I prevented him from making a second kick; I caught him around the waist and Michael Walsh, in giving us a shove, we both fell on the floor; I can’t say if the kick reached the deceased; I was taken up and brought into another room; heard Walsh saying there should be no row; I next saw John Power shoved out by the servant girl and he made a box at her; after prisoners went away I saw Ouslam lying dead on the floor.
Cross-examined by Counsellor Nunn—I was at this house at one o’clock; before the Tintern men came in; I drank a glass of punch with Greg White; Ouslam is not a Tintern man but he treated the Tintern men to a quart of whiskey; he, also, treated Ouslam to a glass of punch; when I went out they were all in good humour; when I returned they were all up on their feet; could not say the kick Fitzgerald made at Ouslam reached him, they were all scrambling together.
Gregory White, sworn, deposed—I was at Keane’s public house on the 17th January, at ten o’clock; no person was then there; I called him Pat Colfer when I saw him passing the road; this was about one o’clock; a good many other persons came in after, amongst whom were the prisoners; did not know them previously; Ouslam came in a short time after these men; he sat down by himself as he was not one of the party; he had nothing drinking; the other men were not drunk; could not say how the quarrel first commenced but Ouslam did not quarrel as it was the prisoners quarrelled with him; the first thing I saw Michael Fitzgerald do was leaping up on a table and making a kick at Ouslam; can’t say if he struck him; he did not fall; Fitzgerald and Colfer fell off the table; after that I saw Fitzgerald run at Ouslam and said something about striking himself or his brother John; there was a general shoving and quarrelling and I got a few kicks; I hears sounds of kicks off a man’s body but can’t say who was kicked; can’t say who was making the attempts at kicking, as I was then on the ground; the prisoners were engaged in the struggle.
Cross-examined by Counsellor Nunn—I was in a good humour that day and am always so; I was drinking that day and the night before; I treated the men to a quart of whiskey and we drank that and a more after; saw Fitzgerald on the table making a kick at Ouslam but did not see it strike him; they were all after that in a regular jumble together.
Michael Walsh, sworn, deposed—I was in Keane’s public house on the 17th January; I saw Ouslam and the prisoners there that day; did not see the prisoner do anything to Ouslam; I saw Michael Fitzgerald on the table, with his foot raised and I caught hold of his hind leg; I don’t know why I did so; I believe it was because I thought he was going to kick Ouslam.
Cross-examined by Counsellor Nunn—I was not one of those who were rolling on the floor; I shoved Fitzgerald off the table; I did not see Fitzgerald strike Ouslam.
Johanna Keane, sworn, deposed—My brother keeps a public house on the Moor of Bannow; on the 17th of January the prisoners were at the house about two o’clock; they were accompanied by some twelve others; they went into a room and called for drink; they were drinking about an hour and a half before Ouslam came in; at that time there was no quarrelling going on; half an hour after I heard quarrelling; when Ouslam asked for a drink I refused it but I do not think he was drunk; first thing I heard was the breaking of a table and when I went in I saw five or six men jostling on the floor; I did not see the prisoners or Ouslam in particular; some of the men were sitting at a table; I found a table put across a door and when I thought to take it away, Power struck me, and I had to leave the room; in a few minutes more they all left the house and I went up to the room, and I there saw Ouslam lying on the left hand side of the room with his head against the wall; he was then dead; before that some of the men who were quarrelling had returned to the house again and forced open the door; I only knew Tom Walsh, they went up into the room where Ouslam was and on returning said there was no one there; in a minute after I went up to the room.
Cross-examined by Counsellor Nunn—Only saw then all jostling and fighting; could not say if at the time Ouslam was on the floor or sitting; if he was sitting I think I would have seen him.
Doctor James Boyd, sworn, deposed—I remember the evening of the 17th January when I saw Thomas Ouslam, he had a great number of wounds on the head.
His Lordship—Even if this man came by his death by blows there is no evidence against the prisoners. He then addressed the jury saying that this case was one of those which too frequently occur. People go into a public house, drink till they get drunk, a quarrel ensues and a life is lost.
The jury found the prisoners [Michael Fitzgerald and John Fitzgerald] not guilty.”
My impression is that the witnesses were at best practising economies of truth and not revealing anything that could convict the Fitzgeralds. I also believe that their idiomatic talk was improved upon in the reports that appeared in the local newspapers. The learned Justice made a correct address to the jury: there was no evidence to prove that the Fitzgeralds had landed the blows that killed the man. The courts of that era operated on strict rules of evidence (contrary to the later popular impression of Courts making unfair and arbitrary decisions). The Justice was also correct to refer to the culture of drinking and fighting with a frequent consequence of injury and death. Men in that era were inclined to impetuous violence which flared up so quickly; drink was like putting petrol on a fire in the context of these violent propensities. Both the Constabulary and the Catholic clergy sought to curb this violence and from the middle of the nineteenth century the culture of drunken rows abated. I suspect that Ouslam’s death was related to the feuds between the men of Tintern and Bannow but some of these fights were over utter trivialities as the one at Clonroche in circa 1883 which I wrote about some years ago in The Past. Pat Jordan of Raheen and John Mahon of Chapel fought to prove whether Raheen or Chapel men were the tougher; the drunken Jordan fell and hit his head against a boulder and died immediately. It may be that in an era when all work was physical, men of exceptional strength were especially valued—maybe they felt that the girls would favour the stronger and tougher men!