Hi it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, erudite, scholarly, obliging, witty, resilient, resourceful and above all else—wily. It is always gold and silver for the Barrystown childre to use a word from Anna Maria Hall. The boy from Barrystown will be in Wellingtonbridge for the Bannow History Society A. G. M. tomorrow night so I presume that is sufficient notice for all concerned to have a special welcome for me….blah, blah. Adulation has always followed the boy from the mine pits; maybe the fates determined that the place of my nativity should be close to precious metals.

Nineteenth century beggar-men lived in atrocious conditions and on meagre supplies of all basic necessities but conversely some of them were simultaneously miserly and possessed of a hoard of money. They may have feared that if they spent the money that no more might come; maybe they had memories of extreme want. Some of them were, possibly, unwanted sons on a farm who waited at home until they got their share in cash and moved on. I think that most of them belonged to a begging fraternity but they were invariably single. That is prelude to this item from The People on March 26th 1864:–

“Death of a Miser—Tom Grant, a well known mendicant, died suddenly on Wednesday night at Mr Doyle’s, Kilcavan. It is said more than thirty “yellow” sovereigns were found safely deposited on his person, though in life he never indulged even in the common luxury of shoes. His costume generally consisted of a large frieze coat, confined tightly by a leather belt round the waist, a cap or hat usually ornamented with a large bunch of ribbons, of various colours and a lash in hand to prevent wicked youths from cultivating too near an acquaintance.”

The larger amounts found on dead mendicants in that era tended towards a hundred sovereigns—a sovereign was one pound and one shilling.

My former teacher Professor Pat O’Farrell wrote that the great casualty of the civil war was the concept of a holy Ireland but I think that such was an exaggeration. Ireland remained intensely Catholic and religious in the decades after the Civil War. It was an awful conflict and certainly most shameful and—near incredible that former comrades started attacking and killing each other. There were some episodes of sheer depravity. In June 1936 Mrs Forest of Wellingtonbridge made a claim under the Damage to Property Act for damage to her house consequent to the attack on the Wellingtonbridge railway bridge in March 1923 at the height of the civil war.

One man told the court that he was captain of the F. Company 2nd Battalion Wexford Brigade, I. R. A. in 1923. There had been three attempts to blow up the bridge. In March 1923 the bridge was blown up by the I. R. A. as a military operation. In reply to queries from Mr Kelly, the Counsel for the Minister for Finance, he said that the bridge was blown up at midnight and that he was aware of the fact that the I. R. A. blew up the bridge from some of the men concerned.

Patrick Colfer, Member of the County Council, stated that during the troubled times he was a member of the I. R. A. On the night the railway bridge was blown up he was at home a mile and a half away and he saw flashes and heard the explosion. When he saw the bridge on the next day it was practically destroyed. He told Mr Kelly that the bridge could not be cycled across after the explosion. “He was told by a member of the I. R. A. to go to Wellingtonbridge to see if the coast was clear. There had been an outpost of the National Army there. He did not who blew up the bridge.”

Another witness stated that he was Brigade Commandment in 1923 and that the explosion was the result of his orders; the order was carried out by the Brigade engineer. Witness was not present.

Richard Tubritt stated that in March 1923 he was working for Mrs Forest. On the night of the explosion he was in bed and heard stones falling on the roof and the house shaking. Glass was broken and a lot of stones and slates were outside the premises in the morning. He, also, noted cracks before the explosion. He never saw any cracks before the explosion.

The applicant, Mrs Forrest, gave evidence in regard to the prosecution. She stated that there were three very heavy explosions and a small one. She got paid £30 in respect of a claim for £35 for goods taken from the shop under the 1923 Act. She did not make a claim for damages to the house on that occasion, as she thought the house would have to be burned before she could do so. She did not know how the house beside the bridge escaped the explosion.

The Justice, Mr Comyn, King’s Counsel, said that “in his opinion here was no damage done to the house as a result of the explosion and he dismissed the case.”

I am reticent about giving out the names of those involved in controversial matters in the past as I may offend or embarrass descendants but all these things are now long since past; it may be alright to name names now—perhaps my numerous readers will give me their views on this issue.

From The Watchman April 6th 1873:

“Bannow, New Ross, March 28th 1872

Sir—The Rev. Mr Corvan has handed me yours of the 17th ultimate, referring to the Burial Grounds of Old Bannow and Kilcavan and requesting me to reply to same. I beg to say on his part and that of Captain Boyse and other parishioners that the Burial Board of Wexford Union should at once take charge of these graveyards and also of the burial grounds of Littlegraigue and Cullenstown.

I am sir, your obedient servant

James T. Edwards, Agent Bannow Estate.”

To the Clerk of Mr Rossiter, a gate was ordered for Bannow Churchyard, not to exceed £2.”

The above was part of the report of the proceedings of the meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union, circa 1860 at a meeting of the National Teachers Mr French of Bannow “being loudly called on to respond, spoke as follows:–“Well gentlemen, since I must say a few words, I will. Many of you have stood up and made beautiful speeches redounding to the credit of yourselves and the National Teachers, but I stand up to be laughed at; however, I will venture to respond to their toast with the utmost pleasure. I am very sorry it did not fall to the lot of some person to do so less bashful and more competent. I only wish I had the combined eloquences of all the gentlemen present, nay, of the ancient and all the modern orators, together with the sentiment of all the poets, from Homer down, to lavish praises, on the ladies of our profession belonging to this country, for they have given support to our profession, without which it could scarcely exist. Whenever there was a want of funds, from the day our Association was first formed up to the present, the ladies did not need to be reminded of it again and again; but with that gentle sensitiveness only inherent in woman’s nature they immediately came forward and voluntarily, magnanimously and generously contributed their aid. Now, perhaps, this may, in a great measure, be owing to the exertions of our highly polished and gallant secretary, who is a great favourite with them, but whether it is or not, unfading honors to them, I say, and may God bless their gentle and tender, yet noble hearts and grant to all the unmarried ones good husbands who can and will fully appreciate their lovable and self-sacrificing qualities.”

The above may be described as nineteenth century chivalry where men poured charm and flattery on the gentler gender: it sounds repellent to the women of latter times, perhaps, because it carries a connotation of the superiority of the male gender, implicit in the wish that the lady teachers would find good husbands. In out time women are not necessarily seeking husbands. In the nineteenth century when work was largely physical and rough and performed out in the cold and wet weather, women were, inevitably, at a disadvantage in terms of making money to live on. They therefore depended on fathers, brothers and—husbands to provide for them. The typical male concept of women was that of them as exotic and beautiful creatures, to be praised but not genuinely as equals.

A person in a letter published in April 1860 stated:–

“Mrs Cullen, Ballinkeele, was daughter of Mr William Ryan, present teacher in Ballymurrin School. Her father was appointed to the Bannow (Carrig) National School in the year 1840 and being of a studious, unobtrusive turn, he devoted his spare hours to the education of his little daughter and she did not disappoint his hopes. When of sufficient age, she was appointed paid Monitress in her father’s school (a rather rare appointment) and when the great Head-Inspector Kavanagh, paid a flying visit to the school in 1852, that fastidious public educationalist felt surprised at the amount of mathematical knowledge acquired by Miss Ryan. In 1855 Miss Ryan and her father were appointed to Ballymurn schools and I lately heard a trained National Teacher say, that to Miss Ryan he was indebted for his knowledge of algebra and geometry, for though he was the pupil of his father, it was the daughter who taught him.”

Fr Philip Doyle O. S. A., of Maudlintown, Wellingtonbridge, wrote in his autobiography that the predecessor of William Murphy as principal of Danescastle National Boys School “was a Mr Ryan who was keen on mathematics and, also, taught navigation.” Mr Murphy “was more intent on good hand-writing and English grammar. Diction and parsing were his strong points.” William Murphy won a several prizes for his teaching.

From The Free Press March 23 1962:

“Entertainments in Ballymitty

Ballymitty Hall was packed to capacity for a concert and dramatic entertainment by St Leonard’s Dramatic Group. The play “Mistress of Logan Court” was written by a local and well-known piper, Mr James Whitty and was very well received. Cast:–Mrs Cleere, Misses Mollie Cahill, Breda Whitty, Messrs Patrick Doyle, Michael Gleeson, Michael Conway and John Murphy. Songs were contributed by—Miss Bridie Cullen and Mr Francis Parle and a duet by Messrs Patrick Doyle and Michael Gleeson. An exhibition of step-dancing was given by Misses Marian Cleere, Eileen Kinsella, Margaret Stafford and Margaret Roche. Music was supplied by Mr James Whitty, who gave a selection of piping and Messrs James Hanlon and Michael Gleeson. Mr Michael Conway was stage manager. Rev. T. Byrne C. C. thanked the dramatic group for their fine performance and all the patrons.”

The Bannow notes in the Free Press on Friday April 6th 1962 read:–

“Living Van Crashes—No one was hurt when a sleeping van became detached from a towing lorry at Rospile Hill on Saturday. The van ran back down the hill and capsized in a roadside stream. It had to be left on its side over the weekend.

Tar Station—Work has commenced on building tar storage tanks at Wellingtonbridge. The tanks will hold the tar supply for all the south Wexford road dressing and maintenance works and will considerably speed up road works in this part of the county.

Card Drive—The winners of last week’s card drive which was started in Ballymitty Hall on Sunday night was not finished until Friday night were Mrs Breen, Staplestown, Mr M. Carroll, Busherstown, John and Mary Murphy, Ballymitty, Mrs Farrell, Wellingtonbridge, Mrs Kelly, Ballylove, Mr Waters, Taylorstown and Mr W. Kehoe, Marshalstown.”

It was reported in The Free Press in June 1928 that Taghmon beat Ballymitty in a second division junior football tie at Wexford Park. The Ballymitty team was—N. White (captain), W. Devereux (goal), James Cullen, J. Cullen, J. Roche, M. Colloton, J. Martin, M. Kelly, P. Harpur, P. O’Hanlon, R. Tobin, W. Whitty, P. Byrne, M. Colfer and M. Broaders.

In 1962 it was unusual enough to find Bannow notes in The Free Press but the issue of May 25th was one of these unusual occasions—

“Bannow Notes

Pioneers’ Excursion—

An excursion to Athlone on June 27th, including a four hours cruise on the Shannon, is being organised by the local branch of the P. T. T. A. Interested pioneers may have full information from the secretary.

Sports—The committee of Muintir na Tire Guild are leaving nothing undone to make the annual sports an enjoyable event. For full particulars see advertisement.

Congo—Among the latest departures were three members of the Furlong family, Busherstown and Philip French, Coolishall, all of whom are making the second trip.

Camogie—St Mary’s players gave a disappointing display at the show-field, Littlegraigue, when being defeated by Taghmon on Thursday evening last. Best For St Mary’s were Alice Walsh and Mai Cleary. Nancy Sinnott gave an excellent performance for Taghmon.”

The Irish Government sent soldiers to aid the United Nations peace keeping forces in the Congo in Africa in 1960 and more soldiers were sent for the next two years at least.

From The People June 28th 1919:–

“Close of Ballymitty Mission—On Sunday evening last the two week’s mission which had been conducted by the Rev. Fathers Gill and Halpin, of the Jesuit Order, at Carrig-on-Bannow Church, was brought to a close. There was an enormous congregation present; standing room not being available in the vast Church, large numbers having to remain in the chapel-yard. In addition to the parishioners large numbers attended from outside parishes and this fact made the attendance of such large proportions. The devotions commenced at 7.30 with rosary followed by a very eloquent sermon. Baptismal vows were then renewed and the Papal blessing given. The devotions concluded with Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament.

At Ballymitty—On Sunday after last Mass the mission opened in Ballymitty, the half parish of Bannow and was continued during the week. The attendance despite somewhat inclement weather was very large, much devotion being shown in general. The mission will close at this place on next Sunday evening.”

If my arithmetic is correct then the Ballymitty mission was only for a week in contrast to a mission of two weeks in Carrig-on-Bannow. Missions were always attended by people from other parishes and in the nineteenth century the crowd would endeavour to prevent the mission priests from leaving as if they wished for them to continue the mission on a continuous basis. In extreme cases they blocked the roads.

The Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League passed many resolutions at its meeting in early July 1885; among them these two:–

“That we, in union, with all patriotic Catholics, and Irishmen, hail with delight the elevation of the Most Rev. Dr Walsh to the Archiepiscopal See of Dublin and hope he may be spared to fill the high and holy position of Prince of the Church to which his exalted talents, piety and learning entitle him.

….That we beg to thank Mr John Murphy Kilkevan for refusing the services of his bull to the deputy caretaker of Knocktarton; and also Mr John Whelan for refusing to hire his machine to him.”

It is improbable that ordinary people in rural Ireland would know of the personal and theological attributes of the candidates for the See of Dublin. These resolutions were, more than likely, prepared by people higher up in the Land League and copied by all the branches. The Land League were conscious of the need to adulate Church leaders in an intensely religious society; undoubtedly the ordinary members of the Land League shared in this intense faith.

A closing resolution indicated that the names of all the labourers who are members of the branch would be published in August at the latest, “in order to let the guardians and rate-payers see who are in the ranks of the Nationalists.” This was a hint to labourers who refused to join the Land League that since the Land League had control of the Board of Guardians of the Poor Law Unions, labourers who paid up as members would get preference in access to Laboures’ cottages. The ethics of such pressure is dubious.

From the Free Press June 27th 1936:

Report of Junior hurling match in the Wexford district championship played at Kilmore—

“The second game between Bannow and Kilmore was a slight improvement [on the first game], as both sides fought strenuously for victory….

In this game Bannow assumed the offensive at the start and scored a point. Kilmore invaded and scored a goal and added another in following play after which Bannow attacked but sent wide. Before the end Kilmore notched another goal, leaving the half time score

Kilmore—3 goals;

Bannow—1 goal, 1 point.

The second half was a game of thrilling exchanges and for fully twenty minutes no score was made. After several attempts Bannow scored a goal which was the only score made for this half and the final whistle went leaving the scores—

Kilmore—3 goals;

Bannow—1 goal, 1 point.

Kilmore—P. Keating (captain), J. Keating, J. Fox, A. Foley, W. Nagle, W. Hayes, M. Keiley, A. Leary, M. Keiley, T. Barry, J. Sheil, E. Mernagh, N. Whelan, J. O’Neill and P. Doyle.

Bannow—W. Wade (captain), P. Wade, M. Mackey, J. O’Hanlon, J. Hore, J. Foley, T. Stafford, C. Maddock, P. Power, M. Cousins, P. Carthy, P. Colfer, J. Colfer, P. Power and T. Ryan.”

I think that there was a long tradition of hurling in Bannow and they played on the green of Cullenstown. Hurling came with the Normans who picked it up from a Celtic tribe in southern England. Hurling seems to be almost invisible in the rest of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow but my readers may contradict me on that. The game as previously played was a matter of spontaneous pulling on the ball, a lot of ground striking and some over-head striking. The result was more goals than points. The present mode of hurling represents an attempt to make it more a possession game, on the lines of soccer and rugby. It is now a less interesting game and will become even more uninteresting if further rules changes are brought in which they will be. The ball used at present is far too light and the new model of penalty and 20 metre free taking is extremely dangerous and should be stopped before serious injury is caused.