Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, who may only be described in superlatives (check the meaning of that word in a dictionary or perhaps on Google); a historian beyond compare, truly inspired, of enigma, and mystery, ever pursued by adulation—charming, charismatic, dauntless, brimming with integrity, innovative, pure genius, a right boyo, blessed among the women….oh I could go and on writing of my greatness but my shyness, modesty, humility deters me.

One is delighted that a bit of adventure and determination has come back into the Cork hurling.

The Rev. Robert Welsh visited Bannow in 1826 and wrote an account that provoked enormous controversy—I give this slightly comical (maybe true!) excerpt:–

“No One Sick in Bannow

The air is as mild and as salubrious as the soil is fertile. Cambrensis spoke of it, in his time, in the highest terms. “So great” said he “is its clemency that here is neither the infecting cloud nor the pestiferous gale, nor the tainting atmosphere. The island needs no physician. You meet no sickly man except the dying. There is no interval between uninterrupted health and parting life. In a long series of centuries it has not deteriorated and the longevity of the inhabitants in particularly remarkable.”

Rev. Mr Welsh wrote that a local gentleman (presumably Sam Boyse and his son Tom) had promised to supply him with fifty men to enable a proper archaeological dig to be done under his superintendence—but, as one would expect, this fine crowd of men never turned up! Gerald Cambrensis was a close associate of the Normans who invaded Bannow in May 1169 and the main extant account of the invasion was written by him but then my readers know those things.

From The Graphic and Historical Illustrator, April 1834:–

“The tenants of the estate of Samuel Boyse, Esq., whose farms on an average, do not exceed twelve or fifteen acres, had, some time since, two thousand pounds deposited in the Waterford Savings’ Bank; and the active young men who can find no adequate employment at home, being annually provided, to the number of ten or twelve, with funds to convey them to America, by their landlord, the property is thus drained of a redundant and idle population. These circumstances may appear trivial to an English reader, but are rather peculiar in Ireland, where as very few landlords indeed by comparison, ever make any abatement in their demands, however bad the season, or depressed the market, the tenant generally pursues his cheerless toil, pressed down by the dead weight of old arrears. The rents on Mr Boyse’s estates are not low; but through the indefatigable exertions of his eldest son, Thomas Boyse Esq., aided by the co-operation of a sober, industrious people, a system of agriculture has been introduced, enabling the holder to till his few acres with the greatest profit. Mr King of Barristown who has resided among the people during a long life, with the exception of one excursion to England, although not in the commission of the peace has, for the last forty years, settled half the disputes in the parish:–such are the advantages of a resident gentry, when kind and benevolent to those around them.”

Jonas King was not in the commission of the peace; in other words he was not a magistrate but his nephew Jonas King was. I assume that the tenants of Mr Boyse’s estate derived extra income from fishing and extra work would arise consequent to ships coming into Bannow, drawing coal, culm, etc. The sea weed, especially if used in large quantities, would greatly increase the yield from crops.

The Quarterly Journal of Agriculture December 1832 to March 1834 commented on the Bannow estate:–

“Some properties, greatly people in proportion to their extent (that of Bannow in the county of Wexford for example) have been enabled, by judicious management, to maintain their occupants in comparative comfort and independence; and where a desire for emigration to America has been expressed, the funds for going thither have been largely supplied, not merely sums sufficient to land the exile on the shores of the far country of his choice, without the means of proceeding to the advantageous points of settlement, without provision against sickness and the various casualties which may await him before he succeeds in obtaining a suitable location; but since policy has pointed out emigration as a desirable mode of relieving an overwhelmed soil, so the influence of humanity has operated on every good landlord to provide the supply of ample means.”

In regard to the soils of Co. Wexford the same writer, inter alia, commented:–

“There are a few spots of rich loam, as at Richfield and a small part of Bannow, in the barony of Bargy….”

According to the Report to Parliament of the Commission of Public Instruction in Ireland there were five schools in the parish of Bannow.

Mr James kept a boarding school at Bannow with payments from the scholars who numbered 44 males; the number was limited to 45. They were instructed in English, classical [Latin and Greek] and scientific disciplines; the catechism and scriptures were taught by the Protestant clergyman.

The National School at Danescastle had an annual grant from the Commissioners of National Education of £10 and quarterly payments were made by the children, from 1 shilling and 6 pence to 3 shillings. There were 51 males and 22 females attending and instruction was given in reading, writing, arithmetic and geography for boys; with needlework for the girls. The numbers attending were stationary since its establishment in 1833.

The issue of whether children attending national school should have to pay fees of any kind was raised by Lord Carew (the son of a first cousin of Tom Boyse) in the Clonroche Petty Sessions. The National Schools system of education was intended to provide schooling for all and especially the poor. Lord Carew acting as a magistrate at the Petty Sessions at the hearing of case taken by a national schoolmaster for unpaid fees, said that he would write to the Commissioners of National Education to query if such fees were lawful. I never saw the letter or the text of it.

There was a hedge school kept by Benjamin Radford [the Master Ben in Anna Maria Hall’s story]. The children made quarterly payments from1 shilling and 8 pence to 5 shillings. There were 9 males and 11 females; not an impressive number of pupils and the number attending were described as diminishing. He relied on a severe mode of discipline at least according to Mrs Hall but she may have been jesting.

Larry Moore who resided on the Moor of Bannow had 22 males and 20 females attending his school; his charge was from 2 shillings to 4 shillings a quarter. Both Ben Radford and Larry Moore gave instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic and the Roman Catholic catechism. The numbers attending Larry Moore’s school were increasing. Larry Moore, at least, initially, held out against the invitation from the Boyses to the inhabitants of the Moor of Bannow to become their tenants.

Matthew Roach at his hedge school applied the same charges as at Larry Moore’s school; he had 20 pupils and his numbers were increasing since he established his school in 1833. His range of instruction was the same as that of Larry Moore and Ben Radford.

There was also a Sunday school at Kilkevan “under the superintendence of the Protestant clergyman”; 2 males and 5 females attended for “Catechism and the scriptures.”

The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser October 26 1773 reported this strange story (talk of the latter day tabloids being sensationalist!):–

“Ireland, Wexford October 11. From the neighbourhood of Bannow we have a melancholy account of a young girl who was bit by a mad dog some time ago. Uncertain of the animal being affected, no antidote was administered for a month, when symptoms of the poison appeared and all endeavours were ineffectual. The unhappy sufferer was smothered between two beds.”

Two quotations from the autobiography of Fr Philip Doyle O. S. A., a native of Maudlintown, Wellingtonbridge and who died in the summer of 1965:—

“The master during my time was William Murphy, a native of the parish of Davidstown. Of low size, somewhat deformed, he always dressed in sombre black with snow white linen and wore a skull cap and a gold dangling watch chain with seal. At all times a severe man, he was an excellent teacher….His predecessor (of whom I only heard tell) was a Mr Ryan, who was very keen on mathematics and also taught navigation….

“While we were in the old school or playground, the street which, for a country village, was remarkably wide. Strangely enough the favourite game of the boys was hurling. Our camans were homemade and crude. The ball was heavy, seldom rising from the ground. There never was any complaint of a broken window.”

Fr Thomas Butler O. S. A., in his pioneering work of the history of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow, quoted fascinating and informative passages from Fr Doyle’s autobiography. Fr Butler’s book merits constant re-visiting.

In the time of my youth there was a fixation on playing the ball on the ground, on pulling first time—ground hurling was regarded as a exquisite feature of the game. The fixation of hurlers in latter years is on lifting the ball at all times—ground hurling is literally unheard of. The query that arises from Fr Doyle’s account of him and his schoolmates hurling on the Carrig street is whether the tendency to ground hurling arose because in previous times, back in the nineteenth century and earlier, sheer circumstances, unwieldy and crudely made hurleys and heavy balls rendered striking the ball on the ground the only available option to the players!

I presume that Mr Ryan was keen on navigation mainly because of its relevance to the lives of people living in close proximity to the sea. On April 11th 1860 The Wexford Independent carried a letter dealing with the “demise of two first class female teachers”; one was Mrs Anne Cullen, Tominearly, Clonroche, the daughter of the iconic Cloughbawn schoolmaster Hugh O’Neill and the other was Mrs Cullen, Ballinkeele—this extract is relevant to any history of Danescastle National School:–

“Mrs Cullen, Ballinkeele was daughter of Mr William Ryan, present teacher in Ballymurrin National School. Her father was appointed to the Bannow (Carrig) National School in the year 1840 and being of a studious unobtrusive turn, he devoted his spare hours to the education of his little daughter and she did not disappoint his hopes. When of sufficient age she was appointed paid Monitress in her father’s school (a rather rare appointment) and when the great Head-Inspector Kavanagh paid a flying visit to the school in 1852, that fastidious public educationist felt surprised at the amount of mathematical knowledge acquired by Miss Ryan. In 1855 Miss Ryan and her father were appointed to the Ballymurrin Schools, and I lately heard a trained National Teacher say, that to Miss Ryan he was indebted for his knowledge of Algebra and Geometry, for though he was a pupil of the father, it was the daughter who taught him.”

From The Free Press Friday December 3rd 1965:–

“Bannow Drama Club

St Mary’s Drama Club Annual Meeting elected:–Chairman, Mr Paddy Morris; Vice-Chairman, Mr Andy Monaghan; Joint Secretaries, Miss Eileen Campbell and Mr William Kelly; Treasurer, Miss Margaret Holmes.

The Group are now busy rehearsing a play for the coming season.”

From the Free Press 19th of March 1938:–

“Death Of An Old Bannow Athlete—An old and respected resident of the Carrig-on-Bannow district passed away during the week-end in the person of Mr Mogue Carthy of Balloughton. In his day he was an athlete of more than local fame and won many flat events until well on in years. He staged a come-back in his old age and won several of the old men’s races that were popular features of sports programmes in or about twenty year ago, including one in Barntown in 1918 and one in Murrintown in 1923. Up to quite recently Mogue was hale and hearty and would often tell how he “ran away from them all” not only when he was a youth but when he was in the sere and yellow leaf.

Bred to Race—Running was in Mogue Carthy’s blood and his nephew Sim Purcell inherited the turn of speed. He was an athlete of local renown some years ago and when he went to Wales quickly established himself on the cinder track taking no less than four Welsh championships in a style worthy of his swift footed uncle. The late Mogue Carthy was a very respected man throughout the district in which he spent his life and a very large and representative cortege of mourning friends accompanied the remains to their last resting place in Bannow cemetery.”

In January 1883 Andy Colfer of Kiltra Mills, Bannow Co. Wexford advertised his Traction and Portable Engines for Threshing. The advertisement in The People read—

“Begs to inform his friends and the public that in addition to his first class Traction Engine (M’Larne’s Leeds) and Threshing Machine (Humphrie’s Complete Finisher) and with a view of still further accommodating the public, he has purchased a medium sized Threshing Machine, complete finisher, also, to be used in connection with his four horse power portable Engine.

A machine for threshing beans may also be had.

P. S.—In consequence of not being able to meet the increased wants of my customers I have purchased an additional Traction Engine (7 horse power) on improved principles, from the above firm (M’Larne’s) and a Finishing Threshing Mill by Mr Foster, Lincoln, so that in future all unnecessary delays may be avoided as much as possible.”

I am not sure if I understand all of that advertising description; maybe my countless readers will comprehend it!