Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, erudite, scholarly, inspiring, innovative, charismatic, in fine fettle, a historian supreme, a right boyo and—wily; as ever proof that gold and silver is always for the Barrystown children.

They were hanging out of the rafters and equally hanging out of my every word at my lecture in Clonroche on Tuesday night on Killoughram Wood! There were a multiplicity of themes but one part of the overall narrative commanded enormous attention: that of Captain Grant, the leader of a criminal gang, who lived in the wood in the spring and summer of 1816. Jeremiah Grant was and is an enigma, a conundrum and fascinating personality or –series of personae and aliases. He was favoured by Rectors of the Established or Protestant Church and by loyalist gentry and aristocracy, many of whom petitioned for his reprieve from execution. My suspicion now is that the Dublin Castle authorities were loath to reprieve him for that very reason:–if they succumbed to such pressures it would appear that they were partial to loyalist influences, at a time when the authorities were seeking to re-assure the Catholic and nationalist majority. They were determined to make an example of Grant to prove that the law was impartial. In recent times a two act drama has been written about Grant plus a novel which refers to him. However it is ludicrous to depict him as a rebel of 1798. He looks the very opposite! Many of his direct and indirect descendants live in Australia.

I commenced school at the Danescastle National School in the summer of 1957; the place looked old and metaphorically musty, drab and dull. I did not go to the blessing and opening of the re-constructed Danescastle School on Sunday February 22nd 1959: the impression I have of the report of that event in The Free Press is that it under-estimates the enormous transformation effected to the School:–

“Danescastle National School, Carrig-on-Bannow, which has been reconstructed and extended, was re-opened and blessed on Sunday by the Bishop of Ferns, Most Rev. Dr Staunton.

The re-construction work which was carried out by Messrs John Ferguson and Sons¸ Wellingtonbridge, included the provision of two new cloak rooms, play-shelters, new furniture and modern sanitary equipment, which bring the school up to modern standards. The entrance and grounds were also renovated.

The simple ceremony followed 10 o’clock Mass, celebrated by Very Rev. John O’Brien P. P. Carrig-on-Bannow and attended by His Lordship. School children in charge of their teachers, Miss Lynch and Mr P. Garvey, headed a procession, which included the Church Choir, singing the Ave Maria and acolytes, followed by the congregation, from the Church to the school. His Lordship was assisted in blessing the School by Very Rev. G. J. Murphy P. P., Rathangan and Father O’Brien. Papal and National flags were flown in the village for the occasion.

The school has accommodation for 120 pupils.”

I have no doubt that “Miss Lynch” is a misprint for Mrs Lynch. Was not Mrs Theresa Garvey the wife of Paddy Garvey—one of nature’s gentle creatures—not teaching then? I am sure she was and she is, I believe, in the pictures of the opening published in the newspapers. It was still an era when most youngsters’ education ended at the expiry of their time at National School.

The newly re-organised Ballymitty Council of the Pioneers Total Abstinence Association had a special night when forty silver and golden jubilarians received their pins and certificates in Ballymitty Church at a special Mass on Friday evening April 23rd, 1982. They were:–

Anne Parle, Ballycapogue, Bridgetown and John Mc Loughlin, Waddingtown received gold pins from Fr D. Lennon, House of Missions, Enniscorthy, Pastoral Director of the P. T. A. A. in the diocese of Ferns. They were fifty years pioneers. Fr Lennon presented silver pins and certificates to:–

Mary Breen, Staplestown, Anne Crosbie, Moortown, Margaret Carty, Ballyknock, Monica Ferguson, Ballymitty, Sarah Howlin, Ballymitty, Sr De Montford Kelly, Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnam, Dublin, Mary Kelly, Narrowmore, Athy, Co. Kildare, Mary Kate Kelly, Springwood, Joan Keane, Hilltown, Anastatia Mc Cormack, Ballymitty, Maureen Mc Cormack, Arnestown, Maureen Mc Donald, Busherstown, Catherine Murphy, Kilcaven, Joan Moran, Balloughton, Gracie Neville, Ballymitty, Catherine O’Hanlon, Hilltown, Anne O’Mahoney, Ballingly, Eileen Roche, Whitty’s Hill, Bridget Roche, Harriestown, Margaret White, Ballymitty and Anne Wickham, Arnestown;

John Bennett, Arnestown, Francis Codd, Ballingly, Stephen Codd, Clonmines, William Furlong, Gibletstown, Edward Goff, Harriestown, Patrick Kelly, Ballingly, James Mc Cormack, Arnestown, Thomas Mc Cauley (?), Wellingtonbridge, Sean Mc Kenna, Barntown, Thomas Murphy, Kilcaven, Thomas Moran, Balloughton, Patrick Moran, Shanoule, Foulkesmills, Michael, Laurence and  Walter Neville, Ballymitty, James Roche, Harriestown, Edward White, Maxboley, Andrew White, Ballymitty and John White, Ardinagh.

By my arithmetic the aggregate in the above exceeds forty. The near parity of men and women is interesting—traditionally in rural Ireland, especially, women were loath to frequent public houses. Men did regularly frequent the pubs in considerable numbers. It is most likely that many women who did not drink did not feel it necessary to join the P. T. A. A.

After the Mass they all were entertained to a supper in Ballymitty Hall (they did not call them community centres in those days). Thomas Murphy the chairman of the Ballymitty Council, paid a special tribute to Johnny Mc Loughlin who had been a pioneer for 53 years. He thanked Monica Ferguson and the children of Ballymitty National School for providing music and singing at the Mass.

A great evening’s entertainment followed with music and songs from the Goff family, Harriestown, the Boyce Group from Ambrosetown, and Bobby Stack and Jim Cullen from Foulksmills. There were songs from Fr Lennon and Fr Harry Sinnott P. P. Carrig-on-Bannow, John White and the Goff sisters, step dancing from Joan Moran, Joan Bennett, Karen Howlin, Margaret Goff and Packy O’Mahoney. With half-sets, waltzes, rock and roll and jive, all age groups were catered for.

From The People June 25th 1881:–

“Writ Serving on the Rosegarland Estate

On Thursday, a bailiff named Nathaniel Hammond, New Ross, was engaged serving writs on the tenants of F. A. Leigh J. P. at Newbawn, County Wexford; he was scalded with boiling water thrown out from the top windows of a house, where he was affecting service by putting a writ under the door. Hammond fired his revolver into the upper window and a few shots into an outhouse where he heard some voices. Horns were sounded by the country people, when the bailiff called his man and croydon and drove on to the nearest police station at Ballinaboola, where he reported the matter. The Daily Express adds—The police would have taken the bailiff into custody, but he refused to give himself up.”

I am not sure if the above is literally true or even if it could be true. If Hammond fired shots from his gun with a possibility of taking human life he would be in serious breach of the law. Jonas King pulled a gun on a man in Taghmon in the late disturbed phase of his life but prosecution followed. The Royal Irish Constabulary would be obliged to arrest Mr Hammond and charge him if he released firearms. The Daily Express may have an agenda in the matter and editorially it would favour the landlords—it may have wished to depict the farmers in Ireland as feral and dangerous and out of control; conversely its account of Mr Hammond is seriously damaging to him and to Mr Leigh—if true. I am puzzled that no prosecution followed. Rebel and Republican traditions were strong and persistent in the Adamstown and Newbawn area. Leigh of Rosegarland had lands there.

On a re-reading of the above from the People I am inclined to interpret it as meaning that the Royal Irish Constabulary at Ballinaboola sought to take Mr Hammond into custody, presumably, on the basis of prosecuting him but that he resisted them and they failed to hold him. In fairness to him the scalding water may have tortured him and demented his senses and rationality. Certainly the drawing of a gun and indiscriminate firing of shots was seriously illegal.

The Land League was anxious to proceed by political means and not to re-enact the Rebellion of 1798. They judged the latter course as foolish and likely to result in sever repression of the country. They also, felt that political methods would achieve their objectives which they did!

On January 18 1837 the Wexford Independent reported that a deputation waited on Sam and Tom Boyse at Bannow, on behalf of the inhabitants of the Barony of Bargy to invite them to a public dinner, “in testimony of the sense entertained by the men of Bargy of the signal services rendered by Messrs Boyse to the popular cause and of the tried fidelity with which they have advocated the interests of reform.” Both these gentlemen declined the proffered honour “not with any intention of underrating its value, which in their eyes was incalculable but because they had never sought, nor ever would seek, either compensation, compliment, or reward merely for having done, as conscience prompted, their duty to the public.” The report continued:–

“The Rev. James Walsh of Kilmore strongly urged upon the attention of the gentlemen, the gratification which their acceding to the proposal the deputation had just made would afford to those whom it represented; Mr Boyse expressed his thanks with great cordiality and repeated that so far was he from harbouring anything like indifference to public feeling on the present occasion, or to the good opinion of his friends and neighbours, that he knew nothing from which he would derive more unmixed pleasure than from the unexpected visit he was not receiving—of that visit he must retain the most grateful remembrance; although he assured his friends that no such incentive was required to stimulate him and his family to continue to the end in what he considered the best and shortest road to the happiness and improvement of Ireland.” He then referred to the great, reforming Lord Lieutenant Mulgrave—

“these were the objects nearest and dearest to his own heart; aid that it gave him inexpressible pleasure to add, that they were the objects steadily and honourably contemplated by the Illustrious Man [Mulgrave], upon whom the arduous and responsible task had devolved of administering the Irish government in times of such unexampled embarrassment.

The deputation, through Fr Walsh then expressed the disappointment they felt, in consequence of their mission not proving successful; and having partaken of refreshments, bade farewell to “Bannow’s Banks” and their spirited proprietor.”

Fr Walsh and other prominent men in the barony of Bargy had intended that a public dinner should be held in honour of the Boyses’ service to the causes of Catholic Emancipation and fight against tithes. Tom Boyse had an aversion to public adulation of himself and may have felt that those who so adulated themselves demeaned themselves. The promoters of such a function may have intended that it should be another aspect of the campaign against tithes.

From The People February 8th 1882:–

“An important meeting of the Boyse tenantry was held on Friday to determine what action should be taken in view of the attitude of the landlord, who has served an unprecedented number of writs. Nearly all the tenants on the estate were present and they resolved to demand a reduction of 6 shillings in some cases and 3 shillings in others. A number of the tenants waited on the agent, Mr Edwards, and conveyed to him the intention of the tenants and also requested him to say if the landlord had determined on selling out the tenants on whom writs had been served. Mr Edwards declined to make any reduction and stated that the landlord was inexorable that the farms would be put up to the hammer. It is an unquestionable fact that the tenants are unable to pay the demands made upon them but with the reasonable concession which they asked for, if granted, might be able to tide over the present crisis.”

Also from The People February 8th 1882:–

“The Ladies League, Ballymitty

On Sunday evening a grand ball, under the auspices of the Ladies League, was held at Ballymitty. There was a very large assembly from the surrounding districts. The promoters of the ball have every reason congratulate themselves on its success. The primary object of the ball was to raise funds in aid of the Political Prisoners Sustentation Fund and the results in this respect were of the most gratifying kind. None but ladies were present.”

The last sentence is puzzling. Parnell’s sister or sisters organised the Ladies Land League but Charles S. Parnell was not exactly happy with it and stymied it. I suspect that it derived from feminist ideas then coming into vogue on the continent of Europe; socialism was another “ism” then mushrooming and socialist thinking informed the rhetoric of the Land League. Women did not possess the franchise or vote in the nineteenth century as a general rule unless they held it on the basis of property owned by them—on that I am not sure. All through the nineteenth century men envisaged all kinds of radical re-ordering of society and the creation of an utopia, founded on social justice and equality.

From The People June 16th 1866:–

“Sir—In the spirit of defending popular rights, I give the most unqualified contradiction to the report in your issue of the 9th inst. as to this fair being only nominal. I beg to inform all whom it may concern (which statement can and will be supported by the most respectable of the neighbouring gentry if necessary) that our last Carrig fair was well supplied with all sorts of stock; and stock at all times realises prices here that cannot be obtained on other fairs. In fact our fairs give the greatest amount of satisfaction to not only Capt. Boyse’s tenantry but to the adjacent parishes and so please the inhabitants that the idea of change is wholly foreign to them. The writer’s mind must be surcharged with the same matter, or goaded to exasperation by some inexplicable agent to me unknown, or to imagine for a moment that such a libel could travel to the full extent of the People circulation without a contradiction. As a shopkeeper of the “immortalised” Carrig-on-Bannow, in behalf of the trade (and in reply to the conclusion of the paragraph), I beg to certify that a rowdyism is a thing unknown and even if parties were disposed to carry it out on fair-days, the opportunity is taken away, as the licensed houses close during the winter season, at six o’clock pm, and in summer at eight o’clock pm; so that the writer must have had some malicious design. Trusting he will repent and apologise, I have the honour to be your obedient servant,

A Shopkeeper.

To The Editor of The People

Cullinstown Castle, 13th June 1866

Sir—Having observed in your paper of the 9th June, a paragraph stating that the fair of Carrig-on-Bannow, on the 7th inst., was merely “nominal”. Now Mr Editor, the writer of this paragraph proves himself to have been actuated by malice (for as is well known, as is the reason for his sending the false statement to you). For that it is false, can be shown not only by myself, who sell all my cattle, pigs, etc¸ at Carrig, but, also, by every farmer on Captain Boyse’s estate.

Your obedient servant

William Sparrow, Hon. Sec.”

From The Wexford Freeman, January 2nd 1836:–


On Wednesday at an advantaged age, the lady of Samuel Boyse of Bannow, Esq. Estimable in all the relations of life this amiable lady departed amidst the deep and lasting sorrow of all who knew her.”

Mrs Boyse was a sister of the first Lord Robert Carew of Castleboro, who brought a dowry of £3,000 to Bannow.

I am not sure what it means but I will include Patent Roll 9 Richard II

123 3 October 1385:–

“Commission by mainprize of Matthew fitzHenry and William Boscher of Co. Wexford to Simon Nevell of custody of the manor and rents of Roscarloun, of which Philip Furlang died seised.”

“seised” meant “in possession of”. Roscarloun was undoubtedly Rosegarland.

In early March John Bagenal Boyd died at his residence, Kiltra House, Bannow. He was a son of the late Dr James Boyd, Bannow and was an extensive farmer and succeeded the late Mr Charles F. Walker as agent of the Boyse estate. He was one of the proprietors of the former tannery in New Ross carried on under the name of Jones and Co.