Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming and charismatic, scholarly, erudite, a pure genius, blessed among the women (for which reason so many others are jealous of him!), eloquent, poetic, a right boyo, historian supreme, a prophet, modest, self-effacing, inspired and inspiring, uses big words (appropriately) and the most devious and wily of them all—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. If it is true, it ain’t bragging and no native of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow ever brags or tell lies. Professor Pat O’Farrell of Sydney once said that I was an exception to every rule—I agree: my genius puts me apart, in a space that is unique. To paraphrase one of William Yeats’ poems, one may be tempted to exclaim that such a man could not exist, that he is a figment of the imagination but the enigma is that such a man does exist, as St Kevin of Kilkevan prophesised. That exalted saint also, prophesised Brexit but it is impossible to decipher from that piece of pertinent manuscript, written in a very old mode of Latin, what the saintly man thought of it. Why he did not use, at least, a typewriter, I do not know; I presume that Broadband had not reached rural parts by then. The confusion resultant to Brexit illustrates one of the constant factors in history: human beings at any point in time in history are acting in murkiness, unsure of the future outcome of current developments. Decisions, even great decisions, are made in partial confusion.

I return to the map of the estate of John Leigh of Rossgarland (“Mannor of Rossgarland”) made by Charles Frizell in 1752. The names of the townslands are  quite similar to the modern usage; the only exceptions are—Longraige (very slight difference), Hoartown, Rosspoyle, Coolbrock, Clomines (for Clonmines) and Modlingtown or Modlintown (for Maudlintown). “Bannow Harbour” is sketched and the modern usage of Barrystown is there. “Whelan’s pt (sic) Laghnagier 169 [acres]..0…12” The modern Loughnageer is also given as Laghnageer; my father was a native of Loughnageer but there is no need to tell my millions of readers that. I was unable to decipher the writing in the case of a few of the tenants but I got the vast majority of them relatively easily! Here they are:–

Robert Boyde, George Doyle, William Cottom, William Doran, James Cullen, James and Thomas Doran, The—indecipherable, Aghern (hard to decipher), Neville, Murphy, –Bryan, Matthew Carroll, Dominick Daly, Edmond Bryan, Patrick Fitzharris, –Furlong, John Fitzharris, William Fitzharris, Thomas Hogan, Timothy Farrell, Nicholas Hayes, John Murphy, Patrick Keating, William Murphy, John Power, Clongeen Plott (sic), Edward Sutton, Thomas Ryan, Richard Rossiter, Phelim Ryan, Michael Sweetman, Richard Sparrow, Rev. Joshua Tench, Rathgorey–, Newcastle Turbary, Mr Joshua Tench, Mr Caesar Sutton, Mr Nicholas Tench, Walter Roche, James Walsh and Thomas Whelan.

I think that many of these tenants would have had sub-tenants although the population in 1752 would have been much less that in the nineteenth century.

From The Free Press November 16th 1918:–

“To The Editor of the Free Press

Sir—Will you of your courtesy allow me space in your valuable newspaper to bring before the proper authorities the following very grave situation of the water supply of the village of Cullenstown, Bannow? The residents of Cullenstown are dependent for their drinking water on one well, said well being situated in a recess at the side of the public road and lying six feet below the level of the road, with the result that all the road washings are swept into the well. To make matters worse, the recess in which the well is situated is used by tramps and –, as a latrines; so that after rain the well is contaminated. In July and August, this well is almost dry and when the mud at the bottom is disturbed the stench is truly awful. I spent five weeks last summer in Cullenstown and am writing of what I have seen and smelt. Such a state of affairs is outrageous in any civilised country. Were a sample of this drinking water sent to Professor Cameron for analysis I would venture to say it would make his hair stand on end. If this well were deepened some five or six feet and properly covered in and a pump erected, there would be an abundant supply of pure water and the cost would be very small. Surely the ratepayers of Cullenstown are entitled to this small outlay and to be given pure drinking water. There will be an outbreak of typhoid in the village if something is not done and done quickly, as the well is going from bad to worse.

Yours faithfully

W. H. Bradish, Strandfield, Wexford.”

From The Free Press, October 26th 1918:–

“Strayed or stolen from Tullycanna a white male donkey, hollow back, about 12 years old, lately shod. Information as to the whereabouts of same thankfully received—Robert Walsh, Tullycanna, Ballymitty.”

From The Enniscorthy Guardian, January 15th 1910:–

“A meeting of the Clongeen United Irish League branch was held in the League Room, Foulksmills on the 15th instant. Mr Michael Hickey M. C. C. Chairman, presided. Also present were—Messrs Patrick O’Farrell District Councillor; Thomas Murphy; John Cogley; John Corish; Michael Breen; James Rowe; J. O’Brien; M. Corish; W. Fardy; Mrs Fardy (evicted tenant); Thomas Kehoe (Leslie evicted tenant) and Martin Ryan District Councillor and honorary secretary. The first matter dealt with was the case of Mrs Fardy who had been evicted in 1899 from her holding at Maudlintown. Mrs Fardy stated she had a holding of twenty acres, for which she paid a rent of £30, although the valuation was only £25 and even that figure was excessive, as the land was wet and of a very inferior quality. She had to pay £45 in one year which crippled her financially and in 1889 she was evicted. The Secretary said that Mr Ffrench had full particulars of Mrs Fardy’s case and would do his utmost in conjunction with other members of the Party for Mrs Fardy and the rest of the Leigh evicted tenants. Mr Ffrench was in communication with the Estates Commissioners as was, also, Fr Lyng. Father Lyng had that morning received a letter from the Commissioners in reference to the evicted tenants. It was stated that evicted tenants from other counties had been offered land in Ballybrack by the Estates Commissioners. The Chairman, Mr Breen, and others thought the Leigh evicted tenants should act in unison and harmony in order to secure the untenanted lands for themselves. The Chairman said that they had succeeded in collecting the necessary amount for the reinstatement of Thomas Kehoe and he had a letter assuring him that Thomas Kehoe would be accepted as tenant on payment of the amount due by him. He desired to thank, on his own behalf, and on behalf of the other collectors, all those who had so generously subscribed. He was very glad to be tell Mr Kehoe that he would soon be back again in his holding. Mr Kehoe, the evicted tenant, said that he desired to thank all the members of the League for the trouble they had taken on his behalf. He desired to thank in a special manner Mr Hickey and Mr Ryan, because were it not for them he would never have got back his holding again. The next business was the consideration of the best time and means to make the annual collection for the Parliamentary Party. The Irish Party were deserving of their best support. He was sure that they were all glad that Mr Ffrench had again been selected to represent them in Parliament. They could not have a better man. Several members expressed their concurrence. After a discussion it was agreed to make the collection for the Parliamentary Fund on the last Sunday in January. The collection will be made at the chapel gates with the consent of their pastor, Father Lyng. It is hoped that everyone in the parish will subscribe generously. Poster announcing the collection will be posted up in due time. Next meeting of the branch on Tuesday evening at seven o’clock when a full attendance of members is requested.”

There is no need to point out to a Carrig-on-Bannow readership that Mr Peter Ffrench was a native of Bannow and one of the respected Ffrench family there. You could not think of a better man, indeed, to represent his county in Westminster (as a speaker at a public meting put it).

From The Echo the 8th of March 1913:–

“A New Football team

A new football team is about to be formed at Kiltra, Bannow, in the near future. Already the boys are getting into form and some of the preliminaries for organising the team proper have been gone through. There is some fine material for a football team in this locality and with proper training they should rank amongst the best. Arrangements are being made to have the team affiliated and we trust it may have many successes.”

At an election meeting held in Taghmon very close to the famous 1918 election, it was reported:–

“Mr Ffrench who was received with prolonged cheering thanked the assemblage for their warm reception and paid a high tribute to the memory of the late beloved and deeply venerated Canon Furlong whose marvellous eloquence they often heard on such occasions at the present, and today they had another venerated priest presiding at their meeting, Canon Fortune (cheers), a great reformer and a great priest. The Rev. Canon had alluded to the practice of giving free drinks at the coming election. He (Mr Ffrench) could assure them that neither he nor anybody acting for him would do anything of the kind and he altogether deprecated the practice and did so all his life and with the late Major Willie Redmond always supported the Temperance reform when such a measure came before the House of Commons.”

Canon William Fortune was strongly opposed to the consumption of alcohol and wrote long letters to the newspapers about this matter. In the December 1918 election, Sinn Fein on the tidal waves of emotion emanating from Easter 1916 swept to victory and obliterated the Irish Party, which Mr Peter Ffrench represented. At an Irish Party meeting a sister of the iconic Land League priest Fr Davey O’Hanlon-Walsh interrupted a speaker; the report stated:–

“At this stage the speaker was interrupted by a lady who said that she wished to publicly censure a statement her relative—had uttered on a public platform where he belittled the services of Mr Ffrench and of the Party of which he was a member. She said that as an evicted tenant her blood boiled when she heard of such mean and lying attacks.”

Another report has her saying that Mr Ffrench recovered her farm for her. The Irish Party had worked closely with the Land League in all its guises but I am still surprised that a sister of the fiery Fr Davey O’Hanlon-Walsh would side with the Irish Party in the turbulent atmosphere of late 1918.

This item is taken from the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 5th Series, Volume 33, September 30th 1903 (maybe we brought the Journal with us from Barrystown):–

“I desire to call attention to the following short account of a remarkable silver cup presented to Dudley Ackland, Esq., of Boulston, Haverford West, Pembrokeshire. The cup was presented by four gentlemen, whose wives and children found refuge in Mr Ackland’s house, when they fled from Ireland in 1798. Unfortunately the cup cannot now be discovered, a matter much to be regretted, as it was of historical value.

Round the cover are the words:–

Sacred to Cambrian Hospitality

And on a medallion on one side, was the following:–

To Dudley Ackland Esq., of Boulston for the asylum afforded to their wives and children from the horrors of Rebellion, June 1798. From:–Sir John Newport, Bart., Samuel Boyse, Robert S. Carew, William Morris, Esquires of the city of Waterford.

A letter which I received from Arthur Boyse Esq., of Bannow, Wexford gives some information about the gentlemen who presented the cup.

“Sir John Newport, Baronet, lived at Newpark (now occupied by Mr Bloomfield) just outside the town of Waterford.”

“Samuel Boyse was my great-great-grandfather. He lived at Bishop’s Hall, County Kilkenny (now a ruin) and, also, at Bannow. He bought in some of the estates from a cousin, Frances Carr, to whom they had descended through a female line.”

“William Morris of Waterford lived where the present Adelphi Hotel is.”

“These three all married sisters of the Robert Shapland Carew (of Castleborough), County Wexford, whose name is also mentioned on the cup. He (R. S. Carew) was the father of the first Lord Carew of Castleborough (sic, should be Castleboro), County Wexford. The names of the first two are on the wooden bridge at Waterford.”

I may add that Sir John Newport Baronet, was the son of a Waterford banker, in which city he entered the Imperial Parliament as member for Waterford and continued to represent it until 1832. After the passage of the Reform Bill, he was appointed Comptroller of the Exchequer, from which office he retired in 1839, with a pension of £1,000 per annum. He died at Newpark, near Waterford, on February 9th, 1843, aged 87 years.

Courtenay Moore M. A. R. D. Honourary Provincial Secretary for Munster.”

The above is an astounding document! Tom Boyse was seemingly a native of Co. Kilkenny and would have been circa sixteen years of age in 1798. If we are to believe the above (and it conforms to the responses of other Anglo Irish magnates in 1798, notably the Cliffes of Bellevue, Bree) then the entire Boyse family of Dorothy Boyse (nee Shapland Carew) and her children, including Thomas Boyse would have fled to England during the Insurrection of 1798.

Paddy Breen N. T. and future President of the G. A. A. seemed to disagree with the “ban” by the organisation on its members playing or attending foreign games, soccer, rugby and cricket; at the 1924 County Wexford Convention, the native of Carrig-on-Bannow village asserted:–

“….he was sorry to hear the last speaker refer to the danger of rugby and soccer creeping in. He did not agree with him. The influence of Gaelic had been proved through the history of Ireland to be greater in its absorbing powers than any influence that ever entered Ireland. He was in favour of abolition of the rule [the ban on foreign games] so that the Gael would be given an opportunity of absorbing the import feeling that existed….

The English influences of the past 700 years being removed, he believed, they were free to work out their own salvation, and if a Gael was not able to work out his own salvation then he was not a Gael. The Gaelic Games were safe in the hands of the Gael, and with regard to what was left of English influences, he thought, should get a free hand and in the course of time, he believed, even the remnant of English influence would have disappeared (applause).”

The G. A. A. in the early 1970s removed its “ban” on its members playing or attending soccer and rugby. It was, then, most controversial, with some players flouting it. Mr Breen’s expectations were not realised, however: by 1971, soccer and rugby were becoming quite prominent in Irish life and were not succumbing to the native Gaelic culture. In the Christian Brothers School in Enniscorthy from 1965 to 1970, I felt the emergence of a certain taboo about playing hurling and Gaelic Football but these were the only games that I was interested in. P. D. Breen clearly did not favour soccer and rugby but he did not favour the “ban” on playing on them; believing that the Gaelic enthusiasm would make such a ban unnecessary.

There is a converse way of responding to Paddy Breen’s argument. The “ban”, even, to many within the G. A. A., itself, exuded a disposition of intolerance—hardly a good augury in the incipient period of the new Irish state. Paddy Breen may have been searching for an argument to counter the case for a “ban” on playing soccer and rugby or attending such games. If so I would have agreed with him. If I recollect correctly, the iconic Cork All-Ireland hurler and footballer Jack Lynch as Taoiseach was pictured in a photograph in a Sunday newspaper attending a rugby international at Lansdowne (spelling may be incorrect), apparently indifferent to the “ban”.

I do know if it was their fault or my own—or maybe a combination of both!—but I never fitted in to the G. A. A. and in at 36 years of age I embarked on long distance running; the appeal of it to me was that I could do it myself without having to get other people to approve of my exploits. At 38 and 39 years of age I ran the Dublin City Marathons but my left leg became injured as a result of my manic training the following year and I did not attempt a third one.

It was reported in The Echo on the 29th of March 1913 that at a meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union that:–

“Dr O’Brien, Bannow, reported that the cottage occupied by Richard Tyrrell, Cullenstown, was in need of urgent repairs, as the ceiling over two rooms had fallen, admitting wind and rain.

Mr Walsh Relieving Officer, said the house had been in a scandalous state for the past year and there was another at Kilquan as bad. It was awful to have people living in such conditions.

Referred to Mr Fitzhenry” [I presume to have these matters rectified].

The Echo on the 29th of March 1913 reported the death of Mr John J. Murphy, Bannow:–

“We regret to announce the early demise of Mr John J. Murphy, Carrig-on-Bannow carried off in the prime of youth. He caught influenza early in March and although he struggled hard against the fell disease it bore him off in the end to a happier and a better world. Deep sympathy has been shown to his bereaved wife and afflicted parents and the large cortege which attended his funeral to the family burial ground in Rossdroit showed the esteem in which he was held by all classes in the community. Several members of his own profession accompanied his remains to their last resting place. The Funeral Office and Mass was held in the Church of Bannow on Saturday last. R. I. P.”

The reference to the family burial ground at Rossdroit—about two miles on as one travels the road that leads from Clonroche to Enniscorthy—indicated that the young Mr Murphy was either a son or grand-son of the famous school-master in Carrig Mr William Murphy. While the report refers to “several members of his own profession” it does not specify that profession but I presume that he was a National Teacher.