Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, in fine fettle, charming, charismatic, erudite, scholarly, innovative, witty, obliging, original, a historian supreme, a right boyo and, above all else—wily, that wily boy. Gold and silver for the Barrystown children and so say all of us. The boy from Barrystown will be on holiday for the next week, in Hungary or some place like that….some name for a country but then like the district justice in the novel of John Mc Gahern—one of the few really gifted writers of latter times in Ireland—I should get a job in the circus.
I hope to get permission to look at papers from the Boyse estate, Bannow held at the headquarters of the County Wexford Library at Ardcavan, in the next few days. There seem to be lists of tenants in it and possibly maps but I am vague as to the precise nature of the material. The Cliffe estate maps are on line and the Cliffes had land in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow: estate maps should be definitive as regards configuration of ditches and fields in previous centuries. There is no end to the ingenuity of the boy from Barrystown and to paraphrase the poet the wonder grows how one small head could carry all he knows.
I have always eschewed myths, fallacies, legends, superstition, ghost stories, fables, anecdotes (make up the rest, yourself) and I told the schoolmistress in Danes Castle that I did not believe in Santa Claus, either.
Henry Englis who travelled through the Barony of Forth in the autumn of 1834 wrote of the barony of Forth:–
“The inhabitants were originally a south Welsh colony; and till of late years, the language of Wales was generally spoken and is still understood by some of the older people.” This corresponds with my own estimation of when the Yola/Anglo-Saxon went extinct, as outlined in my letter to The Echo. Irish or Gaelic dialects went in a parallel direction and the famous historian the Rev. James Bentley Gordon writing of the modern Clonroche area in 1814 said that the peasantry spoke bits of Irish among themselves but the last person who could not speak English in his parish died a few years before.
The Free Press on June 19th 1954 had this item:–
“Rev. Thomas M. Parle, Iowa, U. S.A. celebrated Mass in Carrig Parish Church on Sunday last. It was his first Mass in Ireland, for he had just arrived from Rome where he had attended the canonisation of Saint Pius X. His grandparents had been married in the same church nearly 100 years previously and his father had been baptised there. His father who is 93 years old and still hale and hearty, emigrated to the U. S. A. when scarcely six months old. Father Parle was visibly moved when he addressed the congregation at Carrig on Sunday and said it was a great privilege for him to celebrate Mass where his grandparents had assisted at the holy sacrifice and where his father had received the Sacrament of Baptism. He hoped to be to tell his father of his experience. Father Parle was accompanied by his first cousin, Mr William Parle, Swansea, South Wales, and visited many relatives in the district. He left on Monday to visit his mother’s relatives in County Tipperary. Two first cousins of Father Parle, Mrs Mary Mc Carthy and Mrs James Colfer, live in Bannow parish and another first cousin, Mrs Margaret Parle, died last year.”
Bill Parle was of the Barrystown Parles—I am almost certain of that—so I have no doubt that Fr Parle’s father came from Barrystown. I am puzzled how he travelled about; it would be most difficult on a bicycle but he may have had a motor car or hired one.
In that era people lived for the faith: it was their life, their great passion and conviction. Their faith was unshakeable or was, at least, until the Vatican Council II. The changes ushered in by Vatican Council II while modernising and kinder that what went before seemed to undermine the previous certainty felt by Irish Catholics. In the years after 1962 so many people spoke to me of their bewilderment at change in the Church: they perceived the Church as immune to change; its immutability was its proof of divine inspiration, or so they thought. In 1967 I remember young Fr Jim Ryan saying Mass for the first time in “the vernacular”, that is in English. Previously it was celebrated in Latin and I felt that the substitution of English took away the aura of mystery and mystical enigma.
The following is not a great poem but was headlined as Original Poetry by the Wexford Independent on June 30th 1866:–
“Grantstown (Co. Wexford) Old School
Dear scenes of my youth, thy memory still
Floats in my brain like a vision of joy;
Skipping like lambs o’er thy meadows and rill
Whose murmuring waters I loved when a boy.
And where are the faces with me used to play?
Or where are those teachers who kept us in bounds?
Where are our good pastors who used with us play?
And where the musicians who taught us the sounds?
How soon did we part from such beautiful scenes!
How soon has thou, Time, scattered dearest friends?
But still from my breast no change ever weans
My affection for thee, tho’ hourly it spends
Like the last rays of evening sinking in night
With feeble reflection they tell of their love;
Like words which are spoken when fast fails the sight,
Or when the cold lips are ceasing to move.
I’ll carry thy image unto the grave’s door,
And with it I’ll live in the heavenly land;
Thou friend of the friendless—thou friend of the poor,
Thy gates are e’er open at mercy’s command.”
The author of the above was probably an erudite and learned man; he seems to use formal theories of metre and scansion in his poem and he was, also, a holy man: I presume that he was a priest trained for the Augustinian Order, at the little seminary in Barrystown and he could have been a Crane of Barrystown. It is a reasonable proposition that the Cranes of Barrystown were attracted to priestly life because the Augustinian Convent and seminary was so nearby.
From The People March 14th 1857:–
“Rev. P. Sheridan
The parishioners of Carrick, Bannow, on Thursday last presented an address to the above named reverend gentleman, together with a very beautiful present, consisting of a jaunting car, a harness and a piece of pate. The deputation who conveyed this mark of the esteem and affection of the people to their priest, consisted of Mr John Colfer, Mr Patrick Colfer, Mr Crane and Mr Rossiter. The Rev. Mr Sheridan returned an appropriate reply. The presentation of this valuable testimonial is equally creditable to the donors and to the recipient.”
On April 19th 1882 The People reported:–
“Visiting Wexford Suspects—On Friday the Rev. B. E. Ennis visited his brother, Mr James A. Ennis and Mr Denis Crosbie, at Kilmainham. He found both in excellent health and spirits and looking well.”
Denis Crosbie came from Bannow and James E. Ennis was a wealthy gentlemen from the Ballymitty area who joined the Land League. Balfour’s Act provided for the detention, presumably without trial, of men suspected of intimidation of others during the land agitation. The suspects, as they were called, had a wonderful time in prison; they could receive visitors at any time; they played handball and bet money on the outcomes and they were supplied with money and food from outside. They were released in the spring and summer of 1882 and went home to rapturous welcomes—only all-Ireland winning teams in modern times could equal the welcome given to them. To maintain the analogy, they were not only men playing senior hurling but they were triumphant at it! The tide was with the Land League. I have little doubt that these men were engaged in intimidation for a very simple reason: the urge to take land from which another had been evicted was deeply ingrained in the Irish agrarian character and, indeed, in Irish history, itself and if the ultimate deterrents of intimidation and threats were not resorted to, it was inevitable that some men would take evicted lands and grass.
On the 11th of December 1832 The Wexford Conservative carried this alarming report:–“On Thursday last a detachment of Whitefeet well armed and mounted passed through Tullacannon; where they served a man named Ennis with a notice that if he did not give up some land which he held he should meet with the fate of the Maddox’s.”
In late1832 the Whitefeet—an agrarian terrorist organisation—burned the home of Maddock (correct spelling) at Tomfarney, Bree and murdered his wife and daughter plus splitting Mr Maddock’s skull (although he survived). Maddock had take the farm from which Redmond had been evicted and the Whitefeet had warned him in threatening missives. The Whitefeet usually came across the Blackstairs mountains, in groups under the command of a “Captain”. Anna Maria Hall defined their philosophy as the wild justice of revenge: the rationale of their gruesome actions was that such events would deter any more men from taking land from which others had been evicted. The Whitefeet, also, took de facto levies from farmers, engaged in making and circulation fake currency and common robbery. The horses that they were mounted on were inevitably stolen.
On Tuesday the 30th of April 1850 the Rev. Mr Kavanagh presided at the marriage of Patrick Colfer of Danes Castle, to Alice, eldest daughter of Mr Stephen Hore of the Hill of the Sea.
From The Wexford Independent June 18th 1892:–
“On Tuesday evening a woman named Mary Carroll, a native of Carrig-on-Bannow, was conveyed to the Wexford Workhouse in a weak condition. Her admission took place at ten minutes to six o’clock and she died an hour later. Dr Michael J. Sheridan, the Medical Officer, was sent for as soon as the sinking condition of the woman was observed, but she was dead when he arrived. The cause of death is supposed to be heart disease.”
She was brought to the Workhouse for either of two reasons. She may have been destitute and could only survive in the Workhouse. More likely she was very sick and she was brought to the Workhouse for medical treatment. The journey in the Board of Guardians van—a dreadful horse drawn vehicle, with no real suspensions on bumpy roads—could precipitate a heart attack; later on this practice of bringing in seriously sick people to the infirmary in town was discontinued and replaced by a system of outdoor relief—money would be paid weekly to the sick person and, if necessary, a nurse employed to care for that person.
From The People February 28th 1883:–
“The Bannow Dispensary
The Clerk announced that he had received the following reply to the letter which he had last written to Mr Huggard, solicitor, Wexford, in reference to the rent of Bannow Dispensary and which he had read for the board on that day:–
“17th February 1883
Dear Sir—In reply to yours of yesterday’s date, as you decline paying the rent due by the guardians for the dispensary, I shall only have to take proceedings against them without any further notice to them, the expenses of which must come out of the rates, which either you or they are so ready to have so squandered.
Mr Pettit—Can that production be Mr Huggard’s?
I did not think he could be the perpetrator of such an epistle as that.
The Clerk—It is Mr Huggard’s, then.
Mr Pettit—I wonder is that open to an action?
Mr Browne—I am of the opinion that is is.”
John Barry leased the building, at Ballyfrory, used as the Bannow dispensary but Captain Boyse had a decree to evict Mr Barry and the Wexford Guardians became confused as to who they should pay the rent to. Mr Huggard’s letter might be a libel on the members of the Board but equally it might be fair comment. It is an unmannerly letter.
On July 5th 1884 The People had this account of crops in Bannow area:–
Bean—Stinted in growth, and not more than half a crop on the ground. Barley is not a promising crop, as yet very patchy and is yielding to the excessive heat and want of rain. Wheat sowing limited; some fields looking very well, this is an exception but not the rule generally. Winter oats of no account in this neighbourhood. Spring oats very indifferent and will be short and shy in shooting. Potatoes feel the great effect of the scorching sun; the stalks are drawn up like sparement, not vigorous or branchy as last year. Green crops, Mangolds are going on fairly well up to the present. Turnip crop almost despaired of. Hay now cutting and home haggarded; thin on the ground; much under the average; quality good. General observations—On the whole it is not a promising time for the farmer. I can’t see anything in the political atmosphere that will assist to serve the landlords’ problem of “pay the rent”. It is not legal to advise hold the harvest, but there is another difficulty in the way, and that is, it must be first caught, which, I fear, won’t be done this year.”
From The People May 17th 1882:–
“Arrest at Bannow
On Saturday morning the most sensational rumours were current regarding an arrest which took place on the previous night in the vicinity of Bannow. It was stated that two men were observed loitering about the district during the evening of Friday and that the suspicions of the police were consequently aroused that they might be the accomplices in the Phoenix Park outrage. Later in the evening Constable Walker, Wellingtonbridge Station, arrested one of the men on suspicion of being implicated in the melancholy event. He gave his name as Gordon but refused to give away any further account of himself beyond stating that at the time he worked at Castlebridge. On being brought to the police barracks and a search being made, it is alleged over the left eye was the mark of a slight wound and on his clothes there were observed some blood stains. A sum of money (£51 10 shillings) in gold was found in his possession. He was lodged in the county jail on remand and is to be brought up at the Taghmon Petty Sessions on to-morrow.”
In the Phoenix Park outrages two high officials of the Dublin Castle administration—the Lord Lieutenant, I think and his deputy—were on their first time in Dublin murdered by the Invincibles. I am not sure how the police imagined that these men if involved in the Dublin outrage could have got to Wexford.
Peter Creane of Barriestown aged 70 and deceased by the time of the 1938 National Schools Folklore project was completed gave the information that there was a Baptismal Font in Mr Boyd’s land at Kiltra, which is called the “Church Field” as there was a Catholic Church in it in years gone by.
The holy water font was in Mr Boyd’s yard.
Tomas O’Broinn wrote on Bannow in The Past December 1921; he wrote on Bannow Island:–
“The island of Bannow—once known as Slade—contains 175 acres, 3 roods and 38 perches and belonged to the Tintern estate, while the Bannow mainland forms part of the Boyse property. Some regard this as a proof that the channel formerly flowed on the East side of the Island. The only objects of antiquarian interest on the Island are the ruins of an old church standing in what is still known as the “Chapel field”. At H, is “Haarians” moat which, with Clare Island was a favourite resort of the fairies—if local traditions count. I have, also, heard of an ancient “still” on another part of the Island. There are only four families residing there now, but judging from the numerous “ridges” on what are now waste portions of the land, there must have been a large and industrious agricultural population there in former times. The three eminences surrounding the few houses that remain are very striking, reaching a height of over 50 feet above sea level.”
From The Free PressApril 8, 1950:–
Owing to the death of the Very Rev. M. Keating P. P. The Cinema, Carrig-on-Bannow will be closed until further notice.”