Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, ebullient, erudite, scholarly, humble,, modest, unassuming, inspired and inspiring, historian supreme, blessed among the women, a right boyo, a genius with an intellect greater than ever tested. It always has been gold and silver for the Barrystown children and a little bit for the wily boy—if it’s all true it ain’t bragging and no native of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow ever brags.

Very early on Thursday morning the little Jack Russell dog, Dinny—passed away, as his veterinary people expected. He was a few days short of his fourteenth birthday. I was most surprised (and the dog, himself, also, I think) at the great number of people who enquired after his health, since he started to fail seriously in early December 2015—it was even more astounding that he became a talisman of the affinity between the canine species and humankind; when he came down from the mountain in the spring of 2002 he seemed to me the most feral and highly strung young dog that I had ever encountered but over the years he became at ease with domestication, even if retaining touches of the canine devilment. I dreaded the anguish of having to direct that he should be put down if and as his heart condition deteriorated but he remained happy enough until Wednesday night when repeated bouts of coughing assailed him and early on Thursday morning he died a natural death, in his bed in the kitchen where he had slept all of his fourteen years. His life was an indication of the plasticity of canine personality—they may adapt to a wide array of conditions, as part of their strategy of survival.  I think that historians could say the same of the human race.

In 1836 John Howlin, a south Wexford landlord, was awarded hefty libel damages against the Wexford Independent; John Greene, the editor and proprietor of the newspaper, faced an enormous financial challenge in meeting this massive liability. The Wexford Independent had supported the Whig or Liberal Party, that of Tom Boyse and his first cousin Lord Robert Carew of Castleboro—and therefore it represented the interests of both the Catholic Church and the Catholic community. The demise of the Independent would be an enormous blow to Catholic interests. Collections were held in every parish on a repeated basis to raise sufficient money to meet this liability—as always, the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow did itself proud:–

“To the Editor of the Wexford Independent,

Bannow October 29th, 1836

Dear Sir—I have the pleasure of sending you £1 11s 7d as a second instalment towards the Anti-Press Persecution fund from the parish of Bannow—Since I sent you the first instalment of six pounds, this sum has been received in several very small subscriptions, which I scarcely expected; but, even, the poorest peasant in this parish, by his readiness to contribute his mite, has shown himself anxious to rival his more wealthy neighbour, in supporting your journal, which has, since its commencement vindicated his rights and exposed the tyrannies of his oppressors,

I, am, your obedient servant,

Nicholas Ffrench, Secretary.”

I presume that this is the Nicholas Ffrench who read the address of welcome for Tom Moore when he visited Bannow in August 1835. He much later died in America—I presume that he had gone to America with financial aid from Tom Boyse.

I am now quoting from Fr Thomas Butler’s history of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow about the improvements made by Sam and Tom Boyse when they came to Bannow:–

“One of the first improvements made was the reclaiming of Bannow Moor—a considerable area lying between the townlands of Kiltra, Vernegly and Grange. Old Samuel Boyse found this a veritable bog with only cart tracks through it as pathways and an impassable road. He gathered all the local men together and set them making drains, shores and roads, removing furze and rushes, promising a good home and some acres of the reclaimed land to each of the workmen taking part. In time the works were completed. A number of comfortable houses were set up in the Moor, each family having a few acres practically free of rent. Only a few of them are still in existence on the Moor; most of them disappeared in the larger farms that were later brought up and occupied.”

I hope that genial Fr Butler—in the heavenly mansions where he surely is— will be lenient with me I am uncertain about the above. The most obvious thing historically about the Moor is left out: it was the Commons of Bannoe (sic) Corporation in an ancient document. It would seem that people squatted on it and it thus, in Tom Boyse’s view as expressed in 1819, ceased to be a Commons. Both the Orange Order circa 1836 and land agitators in 1864, made the untrue charge that the Boyses had not owned the Commons of Bannow and that they inveigled and pressurised the inhabitants into agreeing to become their tenants. These charges seem to be seriously untrue. There are a few varying accounts of how some of the inhabitants of the Moor became tenants of the Boyses and it is a sort of riddle to work which one is correct. My problem with Fr Butler’s account is that I am not fully convinced that his scenario of the Moor is traceable back to extant sources; he may have given his imagination a trifle free rein and, then again, I may be wronging him.

Fr Butler’s claim that Tom Boyse completed the building of Bannow House in 1834 is simply wrong but a thousand historians have re-cycled it.

The second son of Nathaniel Boyse (according to the erudite Ph. D. thesis of Henry Goff) married Francis, daughter of Samuel Helsham of Kilkenny; I conjecture that this accounts for the Boyse estate in Co. Kilkenny. I presume that the name “Samuel” comes from that marriage.

From The People April 29th 1891:–


Burnside—April 12th at Cullenstown Castle, Co. Wexford, Mary Rebecca, widow of the late William Burnside, aged 71.”

The Wexford Independent on February 5th 1881 in recording the death of Mrs Anna Maria Hall seemed to transfer her place of birth, if such is possible:–

“She was born in 1807 at the Grange, Bannow, in this county, though many claim Dublin as the place of her birth.” She married Samuel Carter Hall in 1824, at presumably seventeen years of age—that seems a trifle young to get married. The editor of the Wexford Independent wrote that not many months since Mr Carter Hall attended a banquet in his honour in Wexford town—“The eloquent tribute which he delivered to the transcendent merits of Her whose death we now deplore, left an impression on those around him, that time cannot obliterate.” The editor (presumably John Greene) went with Mr Hall on the following day, as an old friend, to Bannow’s Banks and observed him “gather the wild-flowers around him, to enkindle on his return home the early reminiscences of his wife’s childhood “paradise”….”

Queen Victoria awarded Mrs Hall a hundred pound a year out of the civil list and presented her with early portraits of “Her Majesty and the Prince Consort, with an autographed letter containing the following words:–“The Queen has the greatest pleasure in presenting to Mrs S. C. Hall a portrait of herself and the Prince.” Victoria was deeply in love with the Prince Consort but he died long before his time. Tom Boyse—admittedly not a great judge of feminine beauty—described the young Queen Victoria as a beautiful girl.

Samuel Carter Hall on the fifty fourth anniversary of their marriage wrote this bit of poetry:–

“Yes! We go gently down the hill of life,

And thank God at every step we go;

The husband lover and the sweet heart wife;

Of creeping age what do we know?

Each says to each, “Our fourscore years, thrice told,

Would leave us young: the soul is never old.

What is the grave to us? Can it divide

The destiny of two by God made one?

We step across, and reach the other side

To know our blended life is but begun.

These fading faculties are sent to say

Heaven is more near to-day than yesterday.”

Historically, the sacrament of marriage was conceptualised as a mystical union of the two parties involved, of the two souls. This concept would have been taught to my generation of students at school: my memories of fifth and sixth year Christian doctrine classes at Enniscorthy C. B. S. are of myself arguing that divorce should be permitted in civil law as a human right and of Brother Ronan and later Brother “Frankie” Delaney refuting my proposition; I was not even sure what divorce was but I wanted to sound modern and progressive. One of my class-mates in a bid to effect a compromise, suggested that maybe non-Catholics could be allowed to divorce (if they wished) and Catholics would not be so allowed. Brother Ronan correctly pointed out a right in civil law would have to apply to all!

From The People September 3rd 1864:–


August 30th at the parish church of G—hill, King’s County, by the Rev. Charles Lett, Rector of Dunaghy (?) County Aintrim, uncle to the bridegroom, George Carr Lett Esq., Solicitor, Dublin, son of Richard Lett of Balloughton, County Wexford, Esq., to Kate daughter of the late Rev. Abraham Goff, Rector of Duncormack, County Wexford. No cards.

This is a letter to the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union:–

“Bannow Dispensary December 22nd 1857

Sir—I duly received your letter respecting the boy Gaynor who was so severely burned at Graig—and will not fail to inform the Guardians whenever I think he is fit to be removed to hospital. At present he is nearly a continuous sore from his mouth to his thighs and on his arms.

I am Sir, &etc,

James Boyd Medical Doctor .”

The People on August 17th 1898 carried this advertisement:–

“100,000 bricks for sale at Ballymitty. Apply Mrs Kate Colfer, Ballymitty.”

On September 14th 1887 the report of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union stated in part:–

“Pump For Ballymitty

Rev. Thomas Meehan C. C., Ballymitty, wrote as regards the “absolute necessity for a public pump in the village of Ballymitty. For months past, the school children and the people of the locality were in sore need for want of pure water.”

Mr M’Grath said that the people had to bring water from a distance of three-quarters of a mile. The school children, who averaged about seventy or eighty, had nowhere to get a drink when they came out of the schoolhouse.

Ordered—That a committee see to the matter.”

That committee certainly worked quickly as this advertisement appeared in The People on September 14th 1887:–

“Wexford Union

Erecting Pump at Ballymitty

The Guardians of the above meeting will, at their meeting to be held on Saturday 24th Spetember 1887, receive and consider Tenders for thoroughly cleaning out a well at Ballymitty, sinking it if necessary, properly lining it, erecting a wooden pump, making the surface in good order and building a protecting wall.

The tender to state how much per foot will be charged for sinking the well (if it should require it) and, also, how much for the remainder of the work. The person whose tender will be accepted will be required to do the work to the satisfaction of a Committee to be appointed by the Guardians and give security to keep the pump in repair for five years. The Rev. T. Meehan C. C., Mr M’Grath Poor Law Guardian and Mr Sheppard will show the work to be done.

Tenders to be lodged in the Tender Box at the Workhouse by 12 o’clock, noon, on the above date.

By order,

James O’Connor, Clerk of the Union

Clerk’s Office, Workhouse, September 12, 1887.”

From The Wexford  Independent  on January 7th 1837:–

“Kilkevan and Bannow Dispensary


For the above institution a resident Medical Attendant, duly qualified—Election to take place at the Post Office, Carrig, on Thursday, January 19th 1837.

Qualifications of Candidates to be sent into the Secretary, the Rev. Edward Moore¸ Bannow Glebe, the day before the election.

Balloghtan (sic), January 5th, 1837.”

From the report of the Wexford Board of Guardians in The People on July 16th 1866:–

“Admission of a lunatic—On last Saturday, when the admission of Richard K–, a man of unsound mind, was submitted to the Board for confirmation, it was stated that he held seven acres which are well cropped and, as it was on Dr Boyd’s recommendation he was admitted, the Clerk was ordered to inquire of Dr Boyd why he had recommended a person, having means of support. In reply to this inquiry the following letter was received from Dr Boyd:–

“Bannow, July 4th, 1866

Dear Sir—I received your letter stating that the Board of Guardians wished me to inform them why I applied for admission of Richard K—last week and I beg to say in reply that I was called to visit Richard K—last week and found him ill and very disturbed in his mind. After a very careful examination, I came to the conclusion that he could not be admitted to the CountyGaol as a dangerous lunatic, and, therefore, there was nothing left for me but either to send him to the Poorhouse Infirmary as a sick person, or leave him at home. When I saw the unprotected state he was in and was aware that I attended two years ago at an inquest of a sister of his who had drowned herself and being reminded by his family that I had sent a man from the neighbourhood last summer with a similar ailment into the Workhouse, who returned in a few days perfectly well, I, with a good deal of hesitation did recommend his admission into the Poorhouse Infirmary, knowing that the Board of Guardians would be able to procure a safe place for him in case he did not recover. I trust that the Guardians will take the same view of the case as I did—that his case was an exceptional one and one not likely to occur again and that, if there was some irregularity in his admission, that it was better to have it so than have the man left in an unprotected state, with the example of his sister before him—I am dear Sir, yours truly, etc,

James Boyd, Medical Doctor.”

Mr King—I don’t agree with Dr Boyd. The circumstances he mentions as justifying him in sending the man here, his apprehensions for his safety, is the very one which would give him no justification at all. If the man is considered dangerous, the Gaol is the place for him; but whether he is dangerous or not, he should not be sent to the Workhouse, a man having the property he has.

In reply to Mr King, Mr Corish [presumably the Clerk to the Board with Bannow/Taghmon connections] said he understood the man has eight acres of land, cropped, two cows and a horse. His brother is below now.

Mr Lambert—He ought to be made pay for the week he is in.

Mr Furlong—He is a very poor man.

Mr King—I move that the doctor be charged with the cost of the man’s maintenance.

K—s brother who had entered the Board-room, said that Dr Boyd had been very kind to the family and if the doctor demanded what they owe him, they would not have either cow, or horse, or anything else. He further stated that he lives at Lacken, Duncormack and that his brother is very dangerous, having broken a door not long since and threatened to kill his sister.

Mr King—Dangerous or not, it is quite clear that this is no place for him.

Mr Lambert—Will you pay for him?

K—I am not able, sir.

K—subsequently consented to take his brother away.”

It is perplexing to a latter day observer that a man or family with seven acres should be considered prosperous or able to meet all their needs, including medical ones. The Board of Guardians could only raise a limited amount of revenue, through Poor Law rates on land and commercial premises so it would be most irregular and immoral for them to provide free care for anybody able to pay for such themselves: the money was urgently required for the provision of relief to the very poor, of which there was an enormous number. By 1866 outdoor relief was given to the sick poor, in restricted cases—but the weekly lists, as published in the local newspapers, were quite long. The latter day mind has difficulty in comprehending how limited both the available revenues for relief of the poor were and how comparatively primitive the medical knowledge, remedies and hospitals of those bygone times were.

From The Forth and Bargy notes in the Free Press on February 21st 1953:–

“A Monster Mangold—A mangold grown by Mr T. A. Doyle, Cullenstown, Bannow, turned the scales at 25 lbs and is on exhibition at Mr Seamus Nolan’s establishment at Cullenstown.”