Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, modest, erudite, scholarly, innovative, ebullient, charismatic, adventurous, humble, self-effacing, kind, original, a historian supreme, in fine fettle, a right boyo (is there a left boyo?) and—wily. That wily boy….I had read previously about the wreck of the Mexico but the photographs on Thursday night gave me a much more immediate impression of what happened. In my previous reading on the disaster I was most impressed by the glowing tributes to William Duggan of Rosslare. He was truly heroic

The tithes were nearly as detested as the proposed water charges: a ten per cent charge usually on barley but sometimes on potatoes—in the original legislation it was a charge on all crops and on livestock. The tithes went for the upkeep of the Established Church or Protestant clergy on the musty basis that they ministered for the spiritual needs of all the people in their parishes, Protestant, Catholic, Dissenter, etc. On the 26th day of July 1824 Rev. Richard Gordon, Rector of Duncormack, wrote this charming and insane letter to Willy Furlong of Ambrosetown:–

“Sir—As it appears to be your intention to be litigious not only in regard to your own tithe but, also, as I have reason to believe are instigating others to the same proceeding, I hereby give you notice, that it is my determination in future to enforce the payment of all things subject to tithe upon your farm of any value and which it was never my intention to have demanded, beyond what was customary in the Union, but for your own conduct. I, therefore, give you notice, that in addition to what you have hitherto paid, I shall, in future, require the tithe of milk, pigs, sheep, lamb and flax, which I trust, for your own sake, you will give according to law. I further desire you to take notice that I shall, on Wednesday morning, the 28th of July instant, commence to send for the milk of your cows and continue to send every tenth day for morning’s and evening’s milk of so many as are or shall be milking throughout the year.”

Mr Furlong claimed to be able to prove that Rev. Gordon sent his servants on the day named in the letter for the milk! It is little wonder that Tom Boyse—of glorious memory—at a monster anti-tithe meeting put his head in his hands and started to cry!

There were veritable hurricanes of laughter and the Rev. Gordon denied making this demand but he would wouldn’t he?

Tom Broaders aged 69 years wrote a comparatively articulate essay on his work in the Barrystown mines for the National Schools project for the Folklore Commission in 1938. He wrote that they opened a new shaft in James Howlin’s field opposite Carton’s Lane and sank 55 or 56 feet. They came on a silver and lead seam about one foot wide and three of them working together upped 33 tons in all, which was despatched in bulk to  England. They sunk another shaft, 23 feet deep in the bottom of the same field. Mr Broaders wrote that there was considerable local speculation when Mr de Valera’s government came to power in 1932 that an attempt would be made to re-survey the mines to determine if it was worth while opening them again.

One of the applications made at the Presentment Sessions in Duncormack Petty Sessions House on January 7th 1897 was to build the sea wall at Barrystown, 25 yards long and cost not to exceed £70.

I do not know what Walter Harpur of Busherstown and Moses Colfer of Ballygow had against Tom Boyse but here anyway is the text of the letter that they had published in The People on July 26th 1890:

“Dear Sir—The presentment for the Cullenstown road has ended for the present as most people expected. It would be futile in the extreme to expect that where there were so much title deeds to hunt up and find out and where records of the long past were needed to convince the Grand Jurors of the existence of a public road leading to Cullenstown foreshore and on through Bannow, when our fathers were small boys, could in the limited time at our disposal, be brought forward and placed black on white as an undeniable fact and convincing proof of the existence of such road being at one time a presented one. We were hunting up those records to the very last moment and we say successfully. We think a discerning public will admit and give us credit for making an attempt which people in their wildest dreams never thought during all those years since Mr Tom Boyse of Bannow House first planted his barriers and forbid the public the right to drive to Cullenstown strand for recreation, except he so willed, and his successors in title down to the present day. We will admit defeat but only temporary; our intention is to go on again. The good old maxim “Try Again” is our motto. We are much stronger in proofs now than at the commencement, many of which were hunted up at the last moment, unfortunately too late to put them in evidence. The statement of Mr Doyne at the Grand Jury, that they (the grand jurors) would not have passed the presentment even if they believed it was a public road, speaks volumes and we leave a far-seeing public to judge for themselves. The decision, now pending, between Major Boyse and James Stafford in the Vice –Chancellor’s Court, which Mr Barton said this case was intended to forestall, had about as much to do with the case, in our minds, as a shell on the shore has to do with the rising of the tide, and Mr Corvan’s statement in pleading the case before the judge and the judge’s answer as well fully bears out our statement that one case has no bearing on the other, but only go to prove the legal weakness on the opposition; it is only the case of the drowning man grasping at the straw. We have convincing proofs that the law is on our side and such being the case we intend to give the cesspayers another opportunity of passing the presentment by a large majority and the grand jury another chance in the face of such majority of tearing our tender. We beg to remind Mr Richard Codd of Coolseskin and his brother-in-law Mr James Furlong of Braestown that they will have another chance of airing their persuasive eloquence in an opposition canvass on the associated cess-payers. Our memorial, signed by the largest cess-payers for miles around outside Bannow estate, backed up by handsome subscriptions towards expenses, is a convincing proof that the force of public opinion is on our side and such being the case it would be the blackest ingratitude on our part to those gentlemen who supported us if we succumbed to a temporary defeat. The few individuals who attended before the grand jury to give evidence against us are for the most part nonentities and employees of the lord of the soil, from whom no one expected better. Their car hire and hotel keep were paid for out of the pocket of the landlord and we assure them we don’t owe them the slightest animosity for trying to get a couple of days’ good feeding in scarce times. We respectfully thank those gentlemen, lay and clerical, who supported us, many of whom we never had any previous acquaintance with and assuring the public they have not yet heard the last of the Cullenstown road.”

I assume that neither Moses Colfer or Watt Harpur actually scripted this missive as distinct from signing it. Some legal man working for them may have penned it or one of the priests supporting them. The famous school-master William Murphy—if not dead by then—who was a whiz at spelling difficult words might have written it for them. All through the nineteenth century ordinary men, with little education, signed letters to the newspapers, of enormous erudition and complex diction; presumably scripted by somebody else.

The People on January 10th 1959 published this letter:–

“Having returned to my native soil after an absence of sixty-five years, I am utterly astounded at alterations during that period.

In my wanderings round this “mortal coil” it has always been my habit to view things, as they were in my youth, omitting the fact that time marches on in its own inexorable fashion, regardless of its human element, so much so, that had I been dropped here by parachute, I would not have recognised Bannow.

I am prompted to write this through reading your leading article in this week’s issue of your excellent newspaper, The People, entitled “High Hedges” but your comments are, to say the least, extremely mild. Hedges are not only high, but they are a howling disgrace to the fair name of Wexford. The side roads are nothing more than a “beaten trail” through what is virtually becoming a jungle, each one of us will have to be provided with machete and slasher to carve our way to where we wish to go.

It is all the more astonishing because everyone seems more prosperous, better dressed, more intellectual with money flowing freely. Most remarkable, too, is the number of motor cars outside the church; also, numerous cycles, with only one or two on “Shanks Pony”.

The saddest note is the absence of youthful comrades. I enquire for old familiar faces—alas, R. I. P. and but few remain, Mr John White of the Farm; Pat Wade¸ Ballymadder; Willie Harpur, Blackhall; Jimmy Colfer of the “Sweep Haggard”, the Boyces, Dick Grace, John Cahill and a few others whose names I can’t recall.

Paddy Monaghan



In the Wexford Independent on June 27th 1857 Rev. Peter Corish P. P. Carrig-on-Bannow acknowledged the receipt of £3 for the poor of his parish from Miss Boyse, late of Bannow, and then of No 3 De Vesci Place, Salt Hill, Dublin.

From The Bannow and District Notes in The People on October 14th 1950:–

“Owing to her forthcoming marriage Miss O’Shea, assistant teacher, Danescastle National School, has resigned. Her position has been filled by Miss Sheehan N. T., a native of Kerry.”

I presume that the teacher referred to in the above was Teresa O’Shea and that she was about to marry Paddy Garvey, later principal teacher at Danescastle National School. In order to increase the meagre amount of posts available to male teachers the regulations at that time required that a lady teacher should resign from teaching if she married. This rule was changed later on. There was a lady teacher named Miss Garvey from Brandon, Co. Kerry, teaching at Bannow.

Lar French of Grange, Wellingtonbridge died in February 1951 at his residence. He was, of course, a member of one of the oldest families in Bannow; he was a cousin of the late Mr Peter French M. P. for south Wexford and of Fr C. French P. P. Monageer. In his early years he had been a member of the “Erin’s Hope” football team.

From Forth and Bargy Notes in The People March 30th 1946:–

“Some time ago Mr John Breen N. T. Carrig-on-Bannow retired on pension from Danescastle National School (Carrig-on-Bannow). Mr Breen had been well over 40 years teaching in Danescastle School. In past years he was prominent in G. A. A. circles, being a member of the once famous Ballymitty and Bannow football club. He is brother of Mr P. D. Breen N. T. Castlebridge.” Actually Jack Breen was secretary of the club when in 1913 Ballymitty/Bannow won the 1912 Junior A Football championship but refused to take the medals as they were of the cheaper type. That row wrecked the club and cut short the prospect of a really good run of success.

In early May 1862 Mr Leigh Rosegarland advertised for a “first rate smith to occupy a forge at Wellingtonbridge”.  My father was a close cousin of the Smiths and the story changes with the wind: one version is that the man weighing the teams for the tug-o’-war asked my father was he a Smith (the resemblance was very close) and he replied that no he was not a smith but he was a handy man. Another version ascribes the wit to uncle Paddy.

On a Monday in mid February (perhaps a Feast Day) Gregory White Esq., of Bannow was married to Johanna, the only daughter of Mr John Parle of the Great Saltee Island. “Soon after the wedding ceremony the happy couple took their departure for the beauteous banks of Bannow.” I am not sure if they went to the Bannow banks as part of their honeymoon travels or if they simply went back to reside there. I suspect that the latter interpretation is the correct one.

From The Wexford Freeman November 7th 1832:–

“At Barristown in this county, on the 31 ultimate, Jonas King Esq., aged 72 years. The degree of estimation in which this amiable and most unoffending gentleman was held within his vicinity was great, indeed. His remains were attended to the grave by a large concourse of rich and poor who, on this occasion, were met together in unaffected sympathy. He was a truly good man, such as one is rarely met with.”

Jonas King was a bachelor, not necessarily a crime in itself. The Jonas who succeeded him at Barriestown was the son of the Rev. Richard King of Woodville, Duncormack.

Who was James Power postmaster of Bannow in 1850?

From The Wexford Independent the 6th of October 1860:–

“Time was when the hall of the good old country gentleman rang with mirth and jollity, fun and frolic, at the universally joyous festivity of Harvest Home. The fruits of the earth saved, the toil of the harvest over, the plenteous store was a matter of rejoicing to all, for master and man looked to it with equal pleasure and jointly partook of the gay observances of the occasion. Time, ever on the wing, changed the good old custom but did not altogether abolish it, and it still lingers amongst us, stripped of its follies and coarseness, but retaining its old pure spirit—the intercommunion of employer and employed, the mutual congratulations on the result of the season and the invitation given from the heart from the lord of the feast to the hind and labourer to partake of the refreshments provided, to make merry and rejoice, for the Giver of all good has crowned their labours with His blessing, therefore let us all rejoice. A harvest home of this sort took place at Rosegarland, the beautiful residence of Francis Augustine Leigh Esq.,  on Saturday last where, the crops being all secure, over three hundred of both sexes, comprising the house and farm servants, the extra hands called in to help and hasten the progress of the harvesting, the numerous tradesmen and to several young people of the surrounding tenantry met to enjoy the abundance of good fare provided for them to celebrate the happy occasion—Mr and Mrs Leigh mixed most cordially in all the scenes and were the life and soul of the feast and subsequent amusements, delighting all by their kindness and condescension and the song and merry dance were kept up to a late hour.

The admirable arrangements made by Mr Murchie, the highly intelligent and practical Steward of Rosegarland, to carry out his orders, are most creditable to him, as well as the excellence of the crops which have been harvested. The green crops, extending over one hundred acres, are excellent; Lewes Superphosphate being the artificial manure used on the most productive parts and under all circumstances, perhaps, not to be surpassed this year.”

At least that is what was written in the paper!

From The Forth and Bargy Notes Free Press, August 28th 1937:–

“Religious Profession—The religious profession of Brother Aurelian Martin, of the De La Salle Order, took place at Mallow, Co. Cork, on the 8th of August. Brother Aurelian, who is fourth son of Mr and Mrs Patrick Martin of Tullicanna, entered the De La Salle novitiate at Castletown, Leix, eleven years ago and after completing his course there he spent three years in France teaching English and acquiring fluency in French. He is now attached to the De La Salle community in Limerick and his many Wexford friends unite in good wishes to him.”

At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in January 1917 the Wexford Board of Poor Law Guardians prosecuted James Byrne of Kiltra for failing to have his child vaccinated. “Defendant said the child was about four years old and had been very delicate—too delicate to have her inoculated. Mr Colfer—Will you agree to have the child vaccinated within a reasonable time? Defendant—I will, sir. Chairman—Within two months? This was agreed to and the case was adjourned for the stipulated time.

Same against Stephen Roche, Kiltra; child five years old; delicate, too. Defendant agreed to have the child inoculated within two months and the case was adjourned for that period.

Chairman—Mind now gentleman, these adjourned cases will come again come on for hearing in two months and I hope the children by that time, will all be vaccinated, so that will end any further trouble in the matter. I must say Mr Colfer, on behalf of the guardians, acted very leniently, indeed, towards all the defendants, as he did not unduly press any of the cases.”

In reality many people and parents were simply scared of the vaccinations and dreaded that they could seriously harm or even kill their children. They were wrong in these fears and prosecutors like Mr Colfer were seeking to avoid draconian measures and to conversely persuade these parents who were loath to have their children vaccinated.