Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, historian supreme, with half of humanity reading his Blog and the other half not knowing what they are missing; an intelligence far in excess of Einstein; a whiz at Latin and at Law; trainor of hurling teams and a marathon runner; charming, charismatic, moves and talks with panache; blessed amongst the women; original, innovative; a prophet and seer and above all else, wily—that wily boy from beside the mine-pits….actually the most devious and wily of them all. St Kevin of Kilkevan prophesised that it would always be gold and silver for the Barrystown childre (Mrs Hall’s quaint word). And I daresay more of the gold than silver—even though there was plenty of silver in the mines at Barrystown. I advised the readers of my other Blog at clonrochehistorypages.blogspot.ie (or merely clonrochehistorypages.ie) to consult my Bannow Blog for a full recital of my greatness.

The People on the 2nd of February 1987, as part of its series on the villages of the County Wexford, carried Nicky Furlong’s account of his visit to Carrig-on-Bannow; his pseudonym was Pat O’Leary. I will quote his observations re Balloughton Church and “The Long Stone.”–

“The Church of Ireland parish is in the townland of Balloughton. It was built in 1822 on land donated by Richard Lett. It is, therefore, one of the few Church of Ireland churches not to be found on an ancient Christian site. The Rector is the very well known Rev. Ernest Brandon.

The Church is in pretty surrounds with an old sundial in front and it has a pleasantly curious amalgam of styles, a possible suggestion of Pugin was later shelved. However, the Church precincts are the more famous in that they are placed near a site of some forgotten ceremonial of 2,500 years ago.

Balloughton’s Megalithic monument is most impressive and for all I know, unique in Co. Wexford. Known as “The Long Stone” in Scanlon’s land, it is five feet in girth and nine feet high. Whatever its function, ceremonial or otherwise, there are small cupped holes on the west and south sides. There are five on the south side, three forming a triangle with two fainter cups above. On the west side there are also five cup marks. T. C. Butler suggests that one function was for sick people to blow, as it were, their diseases into the cup marks to obtain a sort of supernatural strength by traditional ritual. Stones such as this are found, also, wherever the genius of Neolithic man is found, used for various invocations, for example to increase fertility, cure sickness or prolong life. Professor Mac Alastair of U. C. D. was able to find traces of a Celtic cross engraved on it and also the faint outlines of Ogham writing indicating the tomb of a Gaelic aristocrat.”

Nicky Furlong wrote in that same feature:–

“June ye 26th

I confirmed and visited ye District of Ross John Fitzhenry (Parish of Bannow) an honest, indolent man who neither teaches not preaches his flock.”

So says the written hand of Bishop Sweetman, on the occasion of his visitation to the Carrig-on-Bannow area in 1753. The same cannot be said today of priest or rector. Today’s priest, an Honours Graduate of

the Pontifical University of St Patrick’s Maynooth, is not alone the inheritor of industrious eloquence, the trainor of cup winning hurlers and footballers, the embellishers of Churches, the ardent and busy patriot, the Very Rev. Henry Hugh Sinnott (for it is none other than he) is a poet who had verse published. If there are scoffers, clerical or lay, who would dispute the latter boast, let them attend to their literary supplier for a copy of Fr Thomas Butler’s truly admirable history of Carrig-on-Bannow, “A Parish and Its People”. There on page 19 they will find one of the pastor’s tributes in verse to a remarkable remnant of the founder of the Diocesan See of Ferns, St Aidan,  in Shemogue Churchyard. (Shemogue means the resting place of Aidan).

Today, however, it is not the riches of that exciting parish we must celebrate but our tour of the parish capital, Carrig-on-Bannow, the village which its native son, Fr Phil Doyle, the historian, poet and Augustinian, placed:–

“On the hilltop of Carrig, there’s a place where the roadways meet

In the sign of the cross on the head of the village street”

Lucky for us and all its loyal inhabitants the vast history of Carrig right down to the present day has been chronicled since remote prehistoric times by the Augustinian Prior of Clonmines, Fr T. C. Butler in the aforementioned book, which is nothing less than a little masterpiece.

A half day spent in Carrig lends to no other belief but that it was an important centre of habitation from at least 2500 B. C….

The stone crosses at the village crossroads of which Fr Phil Doyle sings are amongst the earliest Christian relics in Co. Wexford. T. C. Butler dates them from the eighteenth hundreds. They were originally in the old Carrig graveyard which was the focal point for centuries of Christian worship. That they represented “an early simple representation of the Calvary tableau has been suggested as well as a possible function in marking a boundary of jurisdiction.”

Mr Furlong then proceeded to recount his conversation with Mrs Sheila Kenny, wife of Mogue Kenny of Carrig village, via a lot of digression, before revealing the “new and brilliant distinction” conferred on Carrig-on-Bannow and of which Mrs Kenny apprised him.

“However, as an afterthought she acquainted us of a remarkable piece of intelligence. Her late brother was a pioneer airline radio officer. He flew with the Aer Lingus planes from the very first day of its foundation back in the ‘thirties.

He was the senior control tower officer in Shannon International Airport for years. In fact, he influenced the design of Shannon’s control tower. He further initiated radar training in Ireland instead of sending trainees and their fees abroad. In the latter half of the ‘fifties the system of naming airline flight paths was changed. Flight paths are the routes followed by planes from airport to airport. Until that time, they were given numbers. For example the flight line or path from Paris to Shannon might be known internationally as Flight Twenty-Six.

The new international system, presumably because of numbers confusion, was to call the flight paths after rivers instead of numbers. Lorcan Sinnott was one of the consultants on behalf of Aer Lingus for this task and he named the flight crossing South Wexford, Bannow and the Barrow river as “The Barrow”. British Airways vetoed “The Barrow” because they had used the word “Barrow” from their own river of the same name. Lorcan Sinnott promptly renamed the flight path “Bannow” and so the beautiful village of which we cheer today is marked and known on the airway maps of the world in hundreds of languages, cultures and even diverse alphabets. My dear friends and neighbours, I call across the decades for a toast, one toast. To Lorcan Sinnott.”

Back in 1987 it was quite credible to assert that a medium sized book could encapsulate the entire history, from the prehistoric period to the present, of any place; today, with the proliferation of access to sources of diverse kinds, it is now better understood that the task of recording the history of any place is truly daunting. The Augustinian Fathers at Grantstown were—ever—nominally and notionally and perhaps by solemn rule of their congregation, to regard themselves as of the Friary of Clonmines, destroyed back in the times of the Penal Laws; thus the monastery at Grantstown was called the Convent. I think that semantically, it is not an appropriate use of the word.

Nicky Furlong, in that 1987 feature, wrote of Carrig Chapel:–

“Carrig Church today….is not without unusual interest, to say the least. The baptismal font inside is the old medieval baptismal font from the great old church in historic Bannow port itself. The same Bannow font as sketched by the famous architectural artist, Du Noyer, was used as the cover drawing for the Royal Society of Antiquarians of Ireland Christmas card down to this year. The High Altar and surrounds, a beautiful piece of pre-Vatican II work, was erected by the father and uncle of the patriots, Patrick and Willie Pearse of 1916. It no longer exists (I am told) as they made it. … There’s a good photo of the pre-renovation altar area in Fr T. Butler’s book, page 152. Those of you with even a remote interest in the long drama and lore of a parish, brilliantly told by an expert should send for a copy to Very Rev. T. Butler, Prior of Clonmines, Grantstown, Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford. A fiver should cover the cost of the postage. It’s a gem, I promise you.”

Some bits—not many— of the basic history of the Chapel at Carrig village as given by Mr Furlong—understandable as written to meet a newspaper deadline when one does have an opportunity to research all minute details—are factually wrong and more of it is of uncertain objectivity. In 1987, I, myself, would have known nothing about the history of Carrig-on-Bannow chapel; I will quote Mr Furlong:–

“….A new Catholic church was built for Carrig near the remains of the old one in 1836. Its opening created a stir for whatever reason, one of the greatest and most nationally famous preachers in all Ireland was procured to preach on the occasion. He was the Dominican, Fr Tom Burke O. P.

Mr Boyse of Bannow House was the local benevolent landlord, popular and good-willed by contrast with many of his own and his class. He owned the land. He was a kind benefactor but he insisted that the design of Carrig’s Catholic Church should be based on that of the Protestant churches in Co. Wexford….”

Canon Gahan in his history of the secular priests of the diocese of Ferns states that the land on which the old chapel stood “had been recently acquired by Mr Boyse of Bannow House from Mr Welman, a Quaker, who held the lands at Danescastle.” He does not specify the status of Mr Welman’s ownership. Canon Gahan wrote of the people’s wish that the new church should be on the same site as the old one. Sources are not given for these assertions but Canon Gahan clearly put an enormous amount of effort into his researches. My understanding is that the new chapel was built around the old one and the parishioners continued to attend Mass in it while the structures of the new chapel went up. The first Mass celebrated in the new chapel was in 1838 but the building was not in any manner complete and thus the official opening and consecration took place many years later on the 6th of April 1856. The Rev. Dr Cahill, a famous preacher from Dublin, preached on that occasion at Carrig. He had travelled by train from Dublin to Wexford (if I recollect the reports correctly). Bishop Murphy dedicated the chapel to the Immaculate Conception and St Joseph. It is nonsense to write that Fr Tom Burke preached at the chapel in Carrig. I do not believe that Tom Boyse would have insisted that the Carrig chapel should resemble the Protestant churches; Tom Boyse made it abundantly clear that he regarded the Catholic faith as equal, at least, to the Established Church faith and would surely have regarded any attempt to force the Catholic authorities to show deference to Protestant religious motifs as abhorrent. In one of his speeches, he said that no church resembled more the primitive Church of Christ (that the Protestant reformers sought to return to) than the Catholic Church in Ireland, during the Penal Laws, despoiled of all its material wealth; Boyse was contemptuous of the Bishops and high clergy of the Protestant Church greedily insisting on collecting tithe monies from the Catholic community. They were, he jested, like the forced fed geese in the Barony of Forth.

Rev. William Hickey was Rector at Bannow up to 1820 and spent the later part of his life as Rector of Mulrankin. On January 11, 1863, The Wexford Constitution reported that William Connors was charged in court with stealing a door, a grate and a deal plank from the Rev. William Hickey, Rector at Mulrankin. My notes say that Connors was a caretaker, presumably for Rev. Hickey (but my notes do not have detail). The case was dismissed.

The Wexford Conservative on the 2nd of January 1841 reported:–

“On the Saturday night previous, the house of Mr Thomas Walsh, Coolhull, was entered and property stolen to a considerable amount.”

From The People the 10th of April 1987:–

“The final of the I. C. A. talent contest which was run by the Fethard-on-Sea guild of the I. C. A., in the Hotel Naomh Seosamh, was won by Campile with the Bannow ladies mummers and cabaret receiving the trophy for the best production. Eileen Hannon got the best actress award for her part in “Riders to the Sea” staged by the Carrig-on-Bannow I. C. A.

From The Wexford Independent, the 3rd of January 1855; report of meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union:–

“We regret to have heard from the Relieving Officers of Bridgetown and Bannow Dispensary Districts that fever was again on the increase in Kilmore Electoral Division and appearing to extend along the coast towards Bannow. The other districts were in a favourable condition.”

The Wexford Independent reported on the 3rd of January 1855 that at St John’s Church, Kilkenny, James Boyd, Esq., Medical Doctor of Kiltra House, Bannow was married to Martha the youngest daughter of Bagenal Colclough, formerly of St Kerin’s, Tintern, County Wexford, Esq.

According to the Wexford Constitution on January 2nd 1862—


To Jonas King, a daughter at Barriestown.”

This would seem to indicate that Jonas and wife and family were living at Barriestown.

The Wexford Constitution on March 8th 1862 advertised an auction for “The Schooner, Boston Packet of Wexford, carrying 60 tons, the property of Josiah Martin, Colebrook” which had been wrecked on Ballymadder Strand; “she now lies near Wellington Quay, Bannow”. I was not from the choice of wording if Mr Martin owned the ship or merely owned the 60 tons of property! I think that he owned the ship.

From The Free Press, July 25th 1914:–

“The members of the Carrig-on-Bannow fife and drum band are practising away as assiduously as ever and at the present time are in great form. They intend to make their debut in the matter of outing this year by attending at Cullenstown on Sunday next and should the weather hold fine a pretty large crowd is sure to be there. It is rumoured that the members of the band intend to organise an excursion to a popular centre in the near future and we fail to see why a very successful excursion could not be held.

The authorities evidently think that an attempt will be made at gun-running in or around Bannow or Cullenstown, as during the past week H. M. S. “Forward” has scarcely ever left the place and anchors close in to Bannow nightly. Some of the Customs authorities visited and searched the Keeragh Islands lately.”

From The Free Press, August 29th 1914:–

“The Volunteers had a grand parade to Cullenstown on Sunday last. The Bannow Corp consists of four sub-sections, viz—Bannow under Mr Barnes (?); Carrig under Mr J. Matthews; Cullenstown under Mr Maddock and Ballyfrory under Mr J. Keane. All four sections met on Sunday last and marched to Cullenstown, headed by the local fife and drum band and the sight was a most pleasing one. The Bridgetown band, also, visited Cullenstown and during the afternoon some excellent music was discoursed by both bands. The bugle call for the return march was then sounded and the Bridgetown band accompanied the Volunteers part of the way. The strength of the Bannow Corps is now more than 200 and promises to be one of the finest in the county.”