Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown—who else, indeed; the most charismatic, charming, innovative, dauntless, erudite, scholarly, poetic and inspired in poetic recitation, historian supreme, devious and above of all else, wily of them all; that wily boy from beside the mine pits; forever young, like Fionn and the Fianna, a right boyo, blessed among the women, living in permanent adulation, uses big words, eloquent, a prophet, humble self-effacing and not conceited. St Kevin of Kilcaven prophesised that the women would ever follow the boy from Barrystown around and his exquisite elocution would enthral them as that elocution has electrified the crowds on so many occasions. If it is true it ain’t bragging and no native of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow ever brags or tell lies.

On the 24th of March, 1869 The Wexford Independent carried this report:–

“Casualties at Sea—We regret that on Friday evening last the Proteus, the property of Mrs Curran of Dungarvan, ran ashore at Bannow. The vessel, a fine brig, left Cardiff with about 300 tons of coals on Tuesday and on her passage sprung a leak. When near Tower Hook the wind changed and put her off course. A sudden squall then struck her and she dipped, thereby driving the water in the hold forward causing her to sink under water to the lee gangway. The captain, seeing the state of the vessel, thought it best to run her on shore; and, in doing so, she struck a reef of rocks between Bannow and Cullenstown. The hands all got ashore safe. On information coming to town, Mr W. Coghlan (Collector of Customs) and Mr Jasper W. Walsh (Agent at Lloyds) left in order to render assistance. The vessel is likely to become a total wreck.”

One notes in the above that the owner of the vessel was a woman.

From The Wexford Independent the 25th of March 1868:–

“The Established Church

(from a correspondent)

A lecture was delivered on the 10th instant, by the Rev. S. G. Potter, Rector of Duncormack, on “The Irish Church—its history and its claims”, in the Tintern schoolhouse, which was crowded by the Protestant inhabitants of the neighbourhood. In the absence of J. T. R. Colclough Esq., of Tintern Abbey, the chair was taken by Jacob Powell Esq., of St Kearns. The lecturer having been introduced by the Chairman proceeded to give a history of Christianity in Ireland which he contended was introduced at a period prior to the time of St Patrick and was, he said, independent of the Church of Rome, so that the Church in Ireland can trace back her history almost to apostolic times. The lecturer concluded with a most eloquent, fervent and impressive appeal to all true Irishmen to co-operate in supporting the old Apostolic Protestant Scriptural Church in Ireland. A vote of thanks was unanimously passed to the Rev. Lecturer, who has kindly promised to follow out the subject on a future occasion.”

It is conspicuous that the Rector of Duncormack did not seem to outline his sources for his outlandish theory of the Reformation in Ireland: the Henrician [that of King Henry VII] Reformation measures in Ireland involved the confiscation of the properties of the Catholic Church, especially of the monasteries and the ecclesiastical format of the new Established Church were superimposed on the existing Catholic infrastructure and boundaries, etc. For that matter Martin Luther was previously a priest—a monk—of the Catholic Church: the Reformation was a protest by powerful and widespread elements within the Catholic Church against its institutional character, and specifically against the Papacy in Rome. As an axiom, it may be stated that the Protestant Churches originated in the Reformation, beginning with Luther’s actual or mythical theses nailed to a Church door. If a Protestant Church had existed in Ireland—and this would be a most unique scenario—from near to the era of Christ and His Apostles, then why should Henry VIII have taken such draconian and acquisitive measures against the Church in Ireland? Was St Columba or St Columbanus Protestants? I don’t think so.

The Rev. John Macbeth, Rector at Killegney, near Clonroche, a mathematician and civil lawyer, held an identical view of pre-Reformation Christianity in Ireland, even going so far as to claim that the Catholic Church in Ireland originated in the sixteenth century!

The views of these divines, Rev. Potter and Rev. Macbeth were not, however, shared by all the Protestant denomination.

The Christian reformers, as they termed themselves, protested that the Papacy in Rome was fixated on pomp, material riches and wealth, and temporal power and engaged in corrupt practices, especially the selling of indulgences. They wished to recover what they regarded as the “Primitive Church” of Christ and His Apostles; that is a Church devoid of mega property and outlandish pomp and self importance. They regarded the Catholic Church and the Papacy as an antithesis of Christianity. The Christian Reformers stressed the primacy of Scripture and one’s personal response to it. The Reformation and the Counter Reformation provoked a series of ugly and major wars plus all kinds of religious persecution.

One particular stream of Protestantism held that both the Protestant and Catholic Churches sprung from a common source in Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The first Lord Robert Carew was of this view—he was the first cousin of Tom Boyse of Bannow. The Cliffes of Bellevue and originally of Abbeybraney –who had an estate in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow, presumably a lease from the Boyses—believed that the Protestant Church was a parallel branch of the true Church, with the Catholic Church. Eleven of the Cliffe family, after 1858, converted to the Catholic faith. They were influenced by the Tractarian Movement in England, comprised of leading Protestant figures who were semi-Catholic.

In late February 1836, at a meeting in the yard of the Catholic Chapel in Carrig-on-Bannow, the iconic and celebrated Tom Boyse addressed these issues in a most original and surprising interpretation. Tom Boyse—an avid reader of newspapers—referred to the observation of the Bishop of London, as carried in the newspapers, that those seeking the abolition of the Tithes had as their real intention “to starve” Protestantism out of Ireland. In a pungent reply to the Bishop of London, Tom Boyse enquired:–

“To be sure our annals are no very inviting study except to the natives of the Green Island—but can it be that the Bishop of London has never read, or peradventure he may have forgotten, that some three centuries since, an attempt was made upon a very extended scale to “starve” another church out of Ireland; not be deducing some twenty or thirty per cent of its revenues, not by making them commensurate with the spiritual wants of its communicants, but by sweeping away at one deadly blow its churches, religious houses, glebes, tithe lands; in short its temporalities of every description”

Tom Boyse is here talking about the Penal Laws imposed on the Catholic Church in Ireland. Nathaniel Boyse, one of his ancestors, had voted against these Penal Laws. At the meeting in the Catholic Chapel in Wexford in 1828, Tom Boyse depicted the Penal Laws as marked with the motif of the Devil. At the Carrig meeting, he outlined the result of the attempt to starve the Catholic Church in Ireland:–

“But did “starvation” follow? No, I see around me here, today, innumerable, substantial, fat, plump witnesses to avouch the fact, that that memorable attempt at “starvation” proved altogether an abortive one—was altogether a failure, as such attempts will ever be; for all experience and all history teach us that those churches or sects which have been—(if I may use an Irishman’s privilege of making blunders)—fed upon starvation, have invariably increased and thriven and spread themselves over the land; while as passing events prove, churches which have been subjected to the kind of treatment observed in feeding poultry in the neighbouring barony of Forth, I mean the cramming system, have as surely fallen victim to indolence and plethora—(laughter and cheers).”

A rough translation of the above is that Tom Boyse regarded the persecution of the Catholic Church in Ireland—especially the seizure of its wealth and properties in the reign of Henry VIII—a both an emblem and proof that it was the true Church: to suffer persecution is the defining mark of a true Church and guarantee of its invincibility. The awful system of the force feeding of geese in the Barony of Forth indicates that some of its inhabitants were of French and/or Flemish extraction. Tom Boyse continued his excoriation of the Protestantism of the Bishop of London by in effect, accusing the Established Church in Ireland (the legal name then of the Protestant Church in Ireland) of an unhealthy fixation on acquiring obscenely excessive wealth and worldly prestige (his unspoken coupling is with the Papacy at the time of the Reformation, surely a darting irony):–

“Why if my Lord of London would but open his eyes and use his memory, he would see that nothing is so absolutely necessary to our establishment at this moment—if she is to be preserved from impending dissolution—a copious and immediate depletion and if the [Protestant] clergy do not forthwith bethink themselves of their actual condition and submit to the only operation that can save them, that same melancholy fate will assuredly await the crammed fowls of the Barony of Forth and the crammed owls of the Established Church (laughter).” He then continued to render more graphic his comparison of the Established Church in his time with the Papacy at the Reformation:–

“We have seen that Church, sir, made  a Parliamentary pet, we have seen it in the full enjoyment of preference and privilege and earthly splendour and boundless wealth—we have seen it stuffed and pampered with all the tit bits and good things and savoury provocatives with which the state cooks could whet its cloyed and jaded appetites (cheers).”

The sarcastic words about the Protestant Church as a Parliamentary pet imply a serious distaste on Boyse’s part about having any Church designated by civil law as the Established Church. He was, as ever, anticipating the future: in 1869, a mere 33 years later, the British authorities would finally disestablish the Protestant Church, that is, remove its legal status as the Established Church, and related privileges. The principle of the separation of Church and State is basic to modern democratic philosophy. De Valera’s 1937 Constitution while it gave a special recognition to the Catholic Church as the faith of the majority of the people of the Irish State, did not designate it as the State Church; the 1937 Constitution, also, prohibited the giving of financial aid by the Irish State to any religious community or institution. The 1937 Constitution effectively recognised all other faiths.

In 1836 on the basis of a musty legal principle that the Established Church, or rather its clergy, ministered to the spiritual wants of all the people of Ireland, Catholic as well as Protestant—and presumably to atheist and agnostics, if such types then existed!—the Catholic denomination were required to pay one tenth of the value of the crops on their arable land to maintain the Established Church clergy. You could not think of a more offensive impost on any community.

At Carrig on that February Sunday morning in 1836 Tom Boyse returned to the Bishop of London’s apprehension that the Protestant Church would starve if the tithes were abolished: he focussed on the converse reality that, if so, the Protestant Church in Ireland depended for its survival on monies extracted from another denomination who did not share the Protestant faith—a pathetic scenario:–

“But to be more serious—what can be fraught with more danger to the Established Church than the mere contemplation by the Bishop of London, of the possibility of “starving” it? Does this not imply that the Protestantism of Ireland rests upon a very unsound foundation? That it possesses within itself no native abiding strength upon which it can subsist independently and that if it be not suffered to draw its supply of –print indistinct—from other religionists who conscientiously dissent from that particular mode of Christian faith and worship—it must perish?”

At the close of his address in another darting thrust at the Established Church clergy Tom Boyse asserted that he could not hold the pomp, the material grandeur, the legal privileges, “sinecure preferments”, etc, et al “to be attributes of the Scriptural Church of Christ.”

From The People January 20th 1894:–


Chapman—January 15, at her residence, Rochestown, to the inexpressible grief of their family and friends and fortified with the rites of the Catholic Church, Anne, the beloved wife of Mr Patrick Chapman, aged 70 years. Also, on January 14, her son Peter Chapman, who was widely known and respected, aged 40 years—R. I. P.

They are gone but not forgotten

Never will their memory fade

Deepest thoughts will ever linger

Round the graves where they are laid.”

The Free Press on the 23rd of April 1927 reported:–


Audley—April 13th 1927, at 63 Ulster-Ville Gardens, Belfast, Thomas, ex-Sergeant R. I. C., son of the late William Audley, Bannow.

Colfer—April –1927, at his residence, Kiltra Mills, Wellingtonbridge, Patrick R. Colfer. Deeply regretted. R. I. P.”

From The Wexford Independent November 24th 1860:–

“Salvage Inquiry

An investigation into the claims of certain Coast Guards and Mr W. F. Warriner, for salvage services rendered the cargo of the ship Arethusa, wrecked at Bannow on the 1st of January last, was held in the Customhouse on Thursday last, before John Walsh and John Greene, two of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, when the following evidence was adduced:–

Stephen Joshua Lett, Esq., examined—Is a Lieutenant in the Coast Guard Service: claims for himself and eight men; the Arethusa came on shore on the 1st of January and immediately broke up, when the cargo was scattered about the shore; witness and eight men were engaged three days in directing those who were salving the cargo, under the receiver of wreck; on the fourth day, the Captain of the ship, (Martin) asked him would he undertake to salve the whole of the timber on the beach, which he declined doing but he said that he would direct the salving thereof, to which the Captain agreed; he performed that duty and the cargo was saved in about fourteen days and for this a sum of £15 is claimed.

Cross-examined by Mr Sweetman—Had seven men engaged in saving the wreck, claimed £10 for that duty and was awarded £15; had the same number engaged saving the cargo, but they were not employed so long.

W. H. Warriner, examined—Was employed by Captain Martin to take charge of the cargo; was engaged seventeen days including seven nights on that duty; on three of these nights travelled to Cullenstown a distance of seven miles, ie, three and a half going and same returning, for which he claims £10.

Cross-examined by Mr Sweetman—Although the Coast Guard and his eight men were in charge, he took charge, also; the Captain told witness to discharge the Coast Guards; he was after being six days employed; put in a salvage claim for the wreck, amount £15 and was awarded £4; the period that he was employed looking after the wreck was the very time that he was engaged in looking after the cargo; took down the number of the timber and the number of the men employed.

Lieutenant Lett observed that in consequence of Mr Warriner’s statement he felt it his duty to state the cargo was salved when he (Mr Warriner) said that the services of the Coast Guards were not required.

The case having been closed and the room having been cleared of witnesses, the Magistrates remained in deliberation for some time and announced their adjudication as follows:–to the Coast Guards, £10; to Mr Warriner, £4.

Solicitor for the Owners—D. P. Sweetman, Esq.,”

The above is not easily to comprehend in these times: the value of the timber salvaged would hardly pay all those involved in the salvage plus the legal expenses! David Percy Sweetman was the son of Laurence Sweetman of Ballymackessy, Clonroche and his wife the former Eliza Kehoe daughter of the Dublin shipping magnate, Michael Kehoe who was a native of Coolhull, Bannow. Eliza Sweetman was buried in the cemetery at Carrig with her parents. The Magistrate John Greene was variously editor and proprietor of The Wexford Independent and, also, a landlord. He was a comparatively humane man and championed a cause close to my own heart—that of preventing cruelty to animals.

The wrecking of ships of all kinds, in atrocious weather, is a constant theme of newspaper reports in that by-gone ear.