Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, the most manipulative, most enigmatic and most wily of them all—ever a genius, of extraordinary intellect, ebullient, charming, charismatic, obliging, modest, self-effacing, humble to a fault, blessed among women, a right boyo, historian supreme; a man of destiny, inspired and inspiring, prophetic and April 22nd is the birthday of the boy from Barrystown. It should be a national holiday….a modest proposal. It has always been gold and silver for the Barrystown childre (to use a coinage of Anna Maria Hall).

My birthday celebrations will conclude on the night of Tuesday May 3rd with my lecture on “Patrick Pearse and the Easter Rebellion 1916 in the context of World War I.” I am not going to say the usual and predictable things in it—I am presenting a most original interpretation, replete with allusions to a wide range of scholarship plus novel insights. I want to address a series of issue ignored in the present Commemoration. I think—sincerely—that anybody with a serious interest in understanding Easter Rebellion 1916 and that related period should make it their business to listen to what I have to say. It will be sad if they do not! The lecture is at Clonroche Community Centre at 8.30pm on Tuesday night May 3rd [exactly the hundredth anniversary of Pearse’s execution].

It was written of Patrick Pearse that he spent his life, writing, talking and thinking. The same could be said of the boy from Barrystown; although in my case I have thought about history rather than planning Insurrection. In the old university we talked about whether a historian could ever be an insurrectionist: the discipline required one to keep an intellectual distance from the events, issues and persons who comprised history. War, and indeed politics, invites polemics and spin. The historian is ever bound by what the sources reveal.

An account of Probate items in an ancient document, written in Latin, informs us that Thomas Barry of the town and land of Barriestown had died recently aged upwards of forty years. The boy from Barrystown is a whiz at Latin! The date is the 12th of April 1632. Mr Barry had two caracuts of land in Barriestown, that is, two amounts of the measure of land that would be ploughed by a team of horses if working for an entire year. A caracut (my spelling may be wrong) amounted to 120 acres. He had 80 acres in Buncarrig; 30 acres in Johnstown; 7 acres in Duncormack; 7 acres in Sculocks Bush (?); 15 acres in Clonmines and land in Flemingstown.  Where is Flemingstown?

On August 17th the Wexford Independent carried an advertisement from Richard Boyse Osborne: there was a tradition in the nineteenth century for an aggrieved person to take out a large amount of space in a newspaper to denounce an opponent or enemy. In this advertisement Mr Boyse Osborne seems to have at least two enemies, his agent James Abbott and John Rowe the Justice of the Peace from Ballycross and possibly Miss Carr, his aunt with whom he “was not on cordial terms on pecuniary affairs”. I found Mr Boyse Osborne’s declamation largely incomprehensible but it does seem that Mr John Rowe endeavoured to arrest him and fourteen tenants. Some months afterwards Tom Boyse bought the primary lease of the Graigue estate which he held in fee simple, anyway. If I could understand Mr Osborne’s advertisement it might explicate why the Graigue estate was put up for auction. Rents seemed to have been due to Miss Carr; towards and the end of the advertisement Mr Boyse Osborne directly charges John Rowe:–

“You Sir, deemed it fit to issue warrants against me and 14 tenants for the police to drag men by night out of the most peaceable spot in Europe who manacled them as felons…..You have insulted the character of Bannow where even 1798 saw no blood shed, where notwithstanding all wars waged [against] Irishmen by the tyrants of the earth, neither police, judge or jury had employment in it.” I daresay that any student of the nineteenth century will agree with that description of Bannow!

The Wexford Independent on May 11th 1833 carried this notice:–

“By Order of the heirs at law of the late Simon Osborne, Esq., of Armsborough in the county of Kilkenny and George Carr Esq., of Graigue, in the County of Wexford for the payment of all judgements, debts and other encumbrances affecting their said several Freehold and Fee-simple Estates, in the County of Tipperary, County and City of Waterford and County of Wexford, in the Kingdom of Ireland.”

This looks most like a bankruptcy situation or an order by the courts to sell these estates to recover monies owed. The estates in Co. Wexford are described:–

“Also that capital Dwelling House and Domain of Graige in the parish of Bannow, in the county of Wexford, with all the offices, gardens, pleasure grounds, lawns, plantations ….containing about 120 acres, with that part of the lands of Blackhall, containing about 60 acres, and part of which is now let to respectable tenants, at the yearly rent of about £389;

Also the valuable town and lands of Coolhull, in the said parish, now let on a lease for lives to respectable tenants, at the yearly rent of about £360;

Also the lands of Little Graige, in the said parish—Also the lands of Coolseskin—Also the lands of Ballyfrory, all in the Barony of Bargy, in the county of Wexford, and together let at the yearly sum of about £600.”

The word “town” is merely a matter of legal form.

Anybody interested in these estates was directed to apply to either of a number of people—the last mentioned was “James Abbot, Esq., at Graige.” One was directed to pay the postage on any missive sent. It is clear that Mr Abbot was in a position of some authority over the Graigue estate and that is why Richard Boyse Osborne so criticised him in his advertisement about John Rowe.

At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in late April 1892 it was reported that:–

“Sergeant Byrne, Wellingtonbridge, summoned Daniel Kelly, Kiltra for allowing a goat to wander on the public road at Newtown on 16th of June last. Fined 1 shilling and 1 shilling costs. Same Complainant against Michael Cruise, Whittyshill, for allowing one goat to wander on the public road at Barrystown on 21st of June last. Fined 1 shilling and 1 shilling and 6 pence costs. Same Complainant against Peter Kelly of Kiltra for allowing one ass to wander on the public road at Newtown on the 16th June last. Fined 1 shilling and 1 shilling costs. Same Complainant against Michael Grace of Danescastle for allowing one ass to wander on the public road at Kiltra the 24th June last. Fined 1 shilling and 1 shilling costs.”

From The People March 4th 1885:–

“Wanted a General Farm Man. Apply to Mrs Burnside, Cullenstown Castle, Bannow.”

The Irish Times on February 10th 1951, turned its attention to Ballymitty Football Club:–

“Worst hit in the county was Ballymitty Football Club; a quarter of its members emigrated in one night. Anticipating a ban on emigration, large numbers of young men are now leaving Wexford and the county is said to be second worst hit in Republic.”

I am unable to get any other evidence to corroborate the above report. The People on the 15th of February 1888 carried this report:–

“Adamstown v Carrig-on-Bannow—The above match was played on Sunday in a sequestered hollow about a mile outside the village of Clongeen, in a field kindly given for the occasion by Mr Stafford. There was a good attendance of spectators. Carrig-on-Bannow won the toss and elected to play with wind and hill. The hill was considerable but the wind only slightly advantageous. Adamstown were compelled to play a defensive game in the first half hour. Notwithstanding the terrific onslaughts of the sons of Bannow, their efforts to score proved futile. Bannow got a free kick in the first half hour and was nigh scoring a goal by a splendidly delivered kick from the 40 yards mark. At change of sides neither party had scored. At call of time Adamstown went into their work with an unusual amount of dash and vigour and after about ten minutes play in the Bannow territory made a rush for a goal that was really irresistible. The big guns on the kick (?) made a fearful rush and drove their own forwards, Bannow men, ball and all clean through the goal. After this Bannow played well on the defensive and only allowed Adamstown to score another point. The utmost good humour prevailed throughout, though there was some little clashing of opinion about old and new rules. The return match will be played at Tottenham Green on Sunday, the 26th instant, when a good game may be expected. It would be hard to find a better team in physique and appearance than the genial and good humoured sons of Bannow and after a little more practice the premier clubs will find them “a hard nut to crack”. Mr P. D. Gorman discharged the duties of referee in a very efficient manner while Doyle, Kinsella and Roche (goal), Murphy and Meighan gave universal satisfaction. Score—Adamstown, 1 goal, 1 point, to nil.”

Down the generations Gaelic Games writers have focussed on the imposing physique and stature of teams from Ballymitty-Bannow.

At their September meeting in 1885, the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the National League [Land League] noted:–

“That we find parties from the Coastguards of Bannow when going for apples get very thirsty passing by the grabbed house at Wellingtonbridge [Mrs Murphy’s Hotel]

That we thank Mr John Roche of Tullicanna for refusing to sell any commodity or accommodate in any way the evicting landlady of Tullicanna who flung old Mary Kinsella on the roadside.

That we would recommend all members of our branch, under pain of expulsion, to employ no steam-threshing machine but one owned by a Nationalist who can show his card of membership and let those in opposition to us take their own side. To those who employ horse-threshing machines, we recommend Mr James Harpur of Barrystown and Mr John Gallagher of Kilkevan as Nationalists.”

A man from Maudlintown allegedly grabbing a portion of Mrs Murphy’s farm was stated to be objectionable. From the above I deduce that there were threshing machines powered by horses. The eviction of Mary Kinsella of Tullicanna was a crime against humanity.

The People on August 12th 1910 reported:–

“Death of a Nonogenarian

During the week a very old and much respected man passed away in the district, in the person of William Parle, Barrystown, Bannow. He had attained the fine old age of ninety years and up to a short time ago enjoyed the best of health. He was, also, in receipt of an old age pension. It is seldom that such an old age has to be recorded. The funeral to Carrig-on-Bannow Cemetery on Wednesday last was large and representative.”

From The People November 1st, 1913:–

“Windows Broken

The disgraceful conduct of window breaking and general hooliganism seems to be carries on systematically throughout the district at present as every week fresh cases of the kind are reported. Quite recently a case of window breaking was perpetrated near Carrig-on-Bannow on a house occupied by two or three old women. The police were notified of the occurrence but up to the present no clue to the perpetrator has been discovered. It is indeed a great pity that the persons who carry on this kind of blackguardism could not be brought to justice…..

Almost a Centenarian

On Friday last a very much respected old man passed away in the person of Mr Michael Kane who resided at Harriestown, Ballymitty. He had attained the fine old age of 97 years. During his life he had followed the occupation of horse-trainor and up to a short time ago enjoyed fairly good health.”

From The People July 31st 1909:–

“The Barrystown Mines

For some time past mining operations on a small scale have been going on at the Barrystown mines near Wellingtonbridge. The operations have been carried out with a view to ascertaining if the quantity of metal in the mines would justify the opening up of the mines on a large scale and the formation of a company for their development. Excavations have been made at various points and in a couple of weeks boring machinery of an improved type will arrive at Barrystown. It would be impossible as yet to predict what the future of the mine will be. If the mines could be profitably worked it would be a great boon to the district, as a large amount of employment would be given.”

In 1864 Mr J. Ennis Mayler, Ballymitty, County of Wexford, presented to the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society, “a half stone mould for casting a small equal armed cross-crosslet, found at Moortown, county of Wexford, about the year 1790, by the late Mr Richard Cullen, who died about forty years since and who always stated that he picked it up in the sand by the margin of a stream. This mould differed from others of a similar character, in having an orifice in the back, whereby the molten metal passed into the mould at the centre of the cross, in place of the edge, as usual. Mr Mayler presented four copper coins, found in the barony of Forth, including a half crown of James II, struck in August 1689, in remarkably good preservation.”

From The Freeman’s Journal Thursday February 10th 1820:–


By the Rev. Joseph Mider, Doctor Carroll of Bannow, in the county Wexford to Sarah, youngest daughter of the late Reverend Edward Carr, Rector of Kilmacow, in the county of Kilkenny.”

In The Irish Monthly, November 1904, a priest who was a clerical student at the time of Tom Moore’s visit to Bannow recalled the scene in Wexford town as Moore left:–

“The present writer was not at Bannow that day. What then, were the pathetic circumstances under which he got sight of Thomas Moore? When the poet’s visit to the Grange was over, he drove to Wexford, in order to travel to Dublin by the night mail coach. Hearing that the coach was to stop in the Bull Ring to take up this illustrious passenger, I mounted to the box-seat just before the coach started. This gave me a good view of Moore when he came to take his place, passing over from the Corn Market where he had just visited the house in which his mother was born. He stood for a few minutes in the Bull Ring, bidding good bye to his friend Mr Boyse. He had a bright pleasing face, I well remember and wore a high shirt collar and a cloak such as is often associated with O’Connell. He was small of stature and this was often alluded to playfully by his friends, as when Mr Boyse said in one of his speeches:–“He is every inch an Irishman, though, to be sure, his inches may not be very many.”

Actually Tom Boyse made that quip when Tom Moore was at Bannow. On that momentous occasion the crowd shouted out for the two Toms! Moore wrote in his diary that Tom Boyse was evidently in high favour with the people.

The Forth and Bargy notes in the Echo on May 17th 1913 had some bizarre news of the weather:–

“Never to the remembrance of the oldest inhabitant of the district has such high floods been seen in the month of May. The land in general is something like a bog whilst in the vicinity of rivers the land is completely covered. Agricultural work is out of the question and those who have sown their crops are in a serious a position as those who have not as the crops are simply ruined by the heavy rains and floods. There are a very large number of farmers who have not yet sown part of their crops. Potatoes have to be yet sown in many places and in some instances the sowing of the crop will have to be abandoned as the tubers have not been sprouted; others, however, are more industrious in this respect and will be in a position to sow the crop whenever the weather permits.”