Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown. As always erudite, scholarly, intriguing, innovative, original, inspiring—it would be an idle task to even attempt an objective and proportionate evaluation of my greatness as there are not words to adequately describe it, blah, blah, blah….I see that one of the newspapers has an account of my lecture in The Cloch Ban, Clonroche on Thursday March 6th:–the crowd going to it will be immense, I presume. It is a time of commemorations and I honestly feel that the optimum response would be to respectfully commemorate all those who fought in all wars and respect their sincerity. I dislike war but a historian does not impose his or her agenda on history. Peace seems to have finally come to this island and the European Union has achieved at least one of its fundamental purposes: a war between Germany and the other European countries has become unthinkable.

I hope that the people of Carrig-on-Bannow will come to Tir nOg on this Thursday night, especially, to honour those who played hurling and football in days of yore. They ornamented Irish life at a time of perennial dullness and won comparatively little recognition. They had a passionate love of their native place and an equally intense love of these games. To paraphrase Paddy Kavanagh the poet, they were surely as big as God made them and to quote him again the gods make their own importance. One of the Corah Ramblers, young Peter Tobin, was diminutive—quite small and not tall by any means— but metaphorically immense in his effect on any game. After both the semi-final and final of the 1956 Co. Junior Football championship (played in April 1957) the newspapers carried lyrical and elegantly written tributes to the genius of Peter Tobin; as Jim Byrne told me he was a wizard. I, too, will pay a tribute to Peter Tobin on Thursday night and I hope that some of those who saw him play will be there. And I will pay a long overdue tribute to the Carrig-on-Bannow team that won the Nickey Rackard Rural Schools Football League in 1962—it was a success long delayed as Kilmore at this time had a series of powerful schools and underage teams. Carrig-on-Bannow had pushed them close on a couple of occasions in the Nickey Rackard Rural Schools Football League.

From Thom’s Directory 1850:–

“The Waterford Fisheries district extends from the east bank of Bannow ferry to Ballyvaile Head, comprising 76 miles of maritime boundaries and had in 1845, 390 registered fishing vessels employing 1608 men and boys and 1848, 330 vessels with 1, 334 men and boys.”

On Wednesday January 11, 1882 The People reported:–

“Evictions at Tullicanna

Yesterday James Connors Deputy-Sheriff, with three bailiffs from Enniscorthy proceeded to T    ullicanna accompanied by a posse of police under command of Sub-Inspector Ball, Taghmon, for the purpose of carrying out the evictions. The first place reached was that of a man named James White. When the Deputy Sub-Sheriff went to the place he found that Mr White had gone to the fair of New Ross. He, however, waited while the wife went to a neighbour to borrow the money, £8, 16 shillings and 4 pence. The next visit paid—they found an empty house; a portion of the roof was off. An entrance was effected and the few things thrown out. The landlady is Mrs Heaton. The evicting party then drove to Ballyweather where a widow, who was a cottier, and her child were cast out. The poor woman poured out all sorts of maledictions on the person who had thus turned her out.”

Mervyn Boyse put Bannow House up for auction in Dublin on the 31st of March 1948 at 2.30pm. A couple of details from the auction notice: electric light (own plant) was fitted throughout the house and practically all the out-buildings; there were six avenues in the estate, which also included 2 gate lodges, 3 cottages and a good detached house containing 5 rooms. All of these houses with the exception of one cottage, occupied by a caretaker, were in the occupation of employees on the estate

The interpretation of the past of history is often influenced by the manner in which view events and personalities of their own lifetime. In the time of Tom Boyse of glorious memory the people of Carrig-on-Bannow adulated and ever praised the Boyses; his brother the Rev. Richard continued his policy after he inherited the estates but on the death of Rev. Richard Boyse a nephew of Tom Boyse succeeded, named Captain Arthur Hunt and added to it “Boyse”. His first missive to his tenants which I quoted in full in my last blog (or one before that) was strict in tone ordering his tenants to get rid of their dogs and to have no sub-tenants and of course to support the fair in Carrig village. He, also, cancelled a large reduction in rents on the estate which Tom Boyse had introduced during the Famine and which the kindly Rev. Richard also maintained. In the years leading up to the emergence of the Land League agrarian agitators in the Bannow area effectively sought to change the local perception of the history of Carrig-on-Bannow generally and to cast aspersions on the Boyses in particular. A number of controversies were carried in the People newspaper and one of the most intriguing was that of the Moor of Bannow: it was  asserted that the 120 Irish acres of the Moor were commonage and that the Boyses gulled the men living on it to become their tenants. The crowd at the meeting on the day of the attempted eviction of John Barry shouted remarks about the Moor of Bannow. Unfortunately on Thursday night in my lecture I will not have time to peruse this controversy and the related historical revisionism about Bannow by the Land League. It is a huge subject in itself and the Land League were not good historians as they were polemicists and propagandists. But their case is worthy of consideration; their attacks on Tom Boyse were oblique, indirect, muted, indirect and not overly confrontational—the Land League understood that the people of Bannow had a deep rooted love of the Boyses, Sam and Tom.

“Ballymitty Coal—The prospects of coal in Ballymitty district grown brighter. A number of people secured the service of a divining expert who carried out an inspection. The result was that he maintains that a four foot coal seam runs from Hilltown, due west to Ardinagh, or rather the “Mongaun” as it is more commonly known. The coal seam is, he says, about 60 feet deep and he expects that many more seams may be around the place. If coal could be procured here it would be a great boon to the people of the locality, as fuel at the present time is very scarce. It is to be hoped that the optimism at present entertained of the existence of coal will be fulfilled.”

The above is taken from the Forth & Bargy Notes in the People on May 31st 1947.

On July 12th 1947 this item appeared in the Notes:–

“Ballymitty Coal—as reported some time ago an expert diviner reported the presence of coal in the Ballymitty district and on the lands of Mr Patrick Byrne, Ballyknock. Here a seam was located which runs from a north to south direction into Mr Nicholas White’s land at Knockbyne. There are two seams at Ballyknock, the upper one at 40 feet deep and the lower one at a depth of 75 feet. Very Rev. M. Keating P. P. Bannow and Messrs S. Murphy, manager Shelbourne Co-op Society and Joseph Wallace, Wellingtonbridge are taking a keen interest in the development of the project. The work of excavation was commenced last Monday with expert men. They are sinking an opening of eight feet square; this opening to be used as the main shaft. The diviner says they will encounter very hard rock at about 14 or 15 feet which will entail some blasting operations and the work of getting down will be somewhat tedious. During the week many people visited the scene of operations.”

The next instalment came on July 19th 1947:–

“The new coal mine—Many holiday-makers and others have gone to see the mine workings at Ballyknock, near Ballymitty, where a shaft is being sunk in an effort to locate the coal which is believed to be there in abundance.”

The Notes on August 16th related:–

“The Ballyknock Coal—Good progress has been made with the sinking of the shaft at Ballyknock, Ballymitty, in the search for the expected coal there. Two gangs of workmen are now at the job—one during the day and another on an evening shift. During last week the rock was reached almost at the exact depth at which the diviner in his survey said it would be found. The sinking operations will now be much slower as this rock will entail much more careful blasting and will take much more time to get through. Large crowds visit the place daily, especially on Sundays.”

And then came a big operational set-back as told in the Notes on September 13 1947:–“The Ballymitty Coal—A second shaft has been opened at the Ballyknock (Ballymity) excavation as the first shaft was in danger of collapse owing to springs and had to be abandoned. Now, in the second excavation springs have been again encountered and pumping had to be carried out constantly. The excavation on this second trial has now reached over 20 feet in depth and again the rock will be encountered. This time “props” have been put down and during pumping operations on an evening last week an accident occurred whereby one of those engaged had a narrow escape from serious injury. While the pumping operations were in progress this workman was down at the bottom of the “pit” and the vibration of the pumping engine caused a collapse from the top of the pit. The falling material caught him and he sustained an injury to his head and had to receive medical attention. He is progressing well under the circumstances. The Ballymitty coal is an everyday topic in the district and many people from various places are visiting the place daily. On Sunday last there was a large crowd present from mid-day until late in the evening. Of course there is not much to be seen yet, only a large hole in the ground. Later when the excavations have been cut down to the depth where the coal is expected to be found, there will be a great interest taken in the place.

More Excavations—There seems to be quite a craze for excavations in the district at present as there are rumours of digging for minerals. From Carrig-on-Bannow district comes a report that a party are digging for minerals near the village and have gone a good depth. It is also stated that minerals are at a place near Duncormack and more excavations may be expected in the near future. It is thought that a vein of iron passes through Redmoor as some years ago many lumps of a mineral substance were found in a river bed close to the canal there.”

On November 8th 1947 the People reported:–

“Coal Search Suspended—

Following a collapse owing to soil subsidence the excavations in an experimental shaft in search of coal at Ballymitty has been suspended until next spring. The excavations are sponsored by South Wexford business men to test the prediction of Mr P. Caulfield, mineral diviner, Campile, that a seam of coal existed at a depth of 70 feet.”

This report appeared in The People on January 24th 1948:–

“A farmer on the Kilcaven side of Ballymitty parish was sinking a well recently, found water at a depth of thirty feet and the shingle at the bottom, being a coal-like appearance, he engaged a diviner to investigate. The diviner is of the opinion that a coal seam can be found ten feet lower down. The farmer, however, has need for the  good water supply now available and has decided to have a new shaft sunk some distance away in a few months’ time when the weather becomes dry, to test the diviner’s forecast.”

The injury to one of the men digging it in the second shaft at Ballyknock in September 1947 would seem to have scuttled the mining project in Ballymitty. There are no reports of it resuming in 1948.

On September 12th 1913 at Arnestown, Ballymitty John Mc Cormack died aged 87 years. He was most prominent in the Land League agitation and had been elected to the Board of Guardians of the Wexford Poor Law Union. He was father of Fr Aidan Mc Cormack C. C. New Ross, Mr James Mc Cormack the pharmacist in Wexford town, John Mc Cormack District Councillor and Patrick Mc Cormack. The latter was if my information is correct was father to Aidan and Jim Mc Cormack, the famous players on the great Ballymitty teams of 1947 and 1949 and later on the Corah Ramblers team that won the Co. Junior football title of 1956 (played in April 1957).

The Wexford Herald on the third of April 1806 reported:–

“Sunday last a man on horseback crossing the scar of Barrystown, opposite St Kearin, the horse missing the usual track got fast in the mud and was drowned, the rider with great difficulty was saved.”

It seems a logical deduction that in 1806 the bridge we know as Wellingtonbridge was not yet constructed. The Wexford Herald reported on the 15th of June 1806:–

“At Danescastle after a short illness much lamented Mr John Devereux.”

The Forth and Bargy notes reported on September 26 1953:–

“A Good Yield—Mr John Moran of Moortown, Ballymitty, had a return of 30 barrels per Irish acre from his barley crop.

A Promising Dog—Harveystown Rise, a greyhound bred by Mr Dick Stafford, Tullicanna, running in the Irish Greyhound Oaks last week, twice broke 30 seconds for the 525 yards before winning the third heat on Monday in 29.87 seconds. He is half-brother to the famous Blue Space also bred by Mr Stafford.”

From the Wexford Independent in September 1850:–

“We are glad to observe by the resolutions of the highly respectable inhabitants of Bannow that they are resolved to preserve their peaceful and moral people from the contamination of strolling vagrants, that now over-run the south-eastern districts of this county from all parts of Ireland. In this very proper determination the clergy of both denominations with the landlord and tenant cordially co-operate; and we shall be glad to hear that their example has been followed throughout the county. Our struggling middle class is already sufficiently burdened with taxation, without having further extorted from their fears, not their charity—their properties placed at the mercy of lawless wanderers—and the morals of their sons imperilled by associations from which the virtuous mind recoils. Many an old respectable and once wealthy citizen has been compelled to take refuge in the Workhouse; and instead of repining is thankful to a beneficent providence for opening to him such an asylum in the hour of need; yet hordes of idlers, thieves and vagabonds, refuse to avail themselves of the proffered boon and quarter themselves on the industry of the country, in the name of charity. We thank the men of Bannow for taking the initiative to abate this nuisance.”