Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, inspiring and inspired, of greater intelligence than Einstein, historian supreme, scholarly, erudite, forensic in analysis, uses big words (appropriately), blessed among the women, a prophet, a gifted author, a pure genius, a right boyo, so learned that they call me “the book”, humble, modest, self-effacing, visionary, a marathon runner, a trainor of hurling teams, a florist and my hollyhocks, sunflowers, dahlias, gladiolas, etc et al are coming into magnificent bloom; to paraphrase somebody talking about some eminent person, to praise my genius as a historian would be akin to seeking to gild the lily. If it is true it ain’t bragging. It was always gold and silver for the Barrystown children.

Back in the 1960ies, the joke was that President de Gaulle of France was descended from a Mc Carthy of County Cork: Mc Carthy scored so many goals at the hurling, against all the other counties, that they called him “the goal”.

I am quoting from Chamber’s Edinburgh Journal published on Saturday, November 2nd, 1839, which featured a story by Anna Maria Hall, “The Crock of Gold”:–

“A bridge beyond the castles [of Clonmines], called “Wellington Bridge” crosses the arm of the sea, I have already mentioned, and facilitates communication between the secluded neighbourhood of Bannow and Ross and Waterford. Before the bridge was built, those who wished to get to the opposite side were obliged to wait till the tide was out and cross at the ford. The country girls proceeding to Ballyhack to sell their eggs, used to take off their shoes and stockings and wade across, carrying their marketing on their heads; if the tide ran strong they would link hands and cross in numbers. And I remember but one or two accidents; though since they have got the bridge, crossing the ford is spoken of as a barbarism—I should say, since they have got a road to the bridge; for it be known to the methodical readers of “Chamber’s Journal”, that the bridge was finished three years before the road was made. But things are better ordered now.”

In 1810 the Grand Jury at the Wexford Sessions laid aside money for the construction of a bridge “at the wash of Barrystown” (whatever that means). Was that Wellingtonbridge?—was the building of it delayed maybe until after the Battle of Waterloo, the seismic success of Wellington’s army in defeating Napoleon. Mrs Hall initiated her story with this lyrical recall of olden times:–

“In the county of Wexford and in a nook which, fifty years ago, was completely apart from the ordinary route of travellers, are situated the Seven Castles of Clonmines. An arm of the sea, called “the Scar” separated them from the parish of Bannow. In my childhood they were to me objects of deep interest; I had no playmate, no companion; and when my relatives went on friendly visits in the neighbourhood, they would take me with them; it being a fixed principle that I was never to be left to the care of servants. One of our best and dearest friends dwelt in a house called Barristown, nearly opposite those fine old ruins; and happy, indeed was I, when the carriage was ordered to prepare for a drive thither. It was inhabited at that period by a very aged lady and her youngest son, an old bachelor; her grand-daughter also, lived with them, a young lady of most amiable mind.”

Mrs Hall is talking of Mrs King of Barristown House and her son Jonas King who died in the early 1830ies.

Mrs Hall clearly depicts a derelict and abandoned Barristown House:–

“When last I drove by old Barristown, it looked grim and grey, shut in with its own loneliness—nothing about it telling of existence, except the rooks that cawed above the one tall ivied tower, where the old lady slept and died. It looked grey and sad and well it might; for those who made it ring again with hospitality were all—all—in their silent graves. It frowned at the sunshine like a thing that would not be comforted; I was glad to send my thoughts and my gaze across the waters to the ruins of the Seven Castles of Clonmines and they looked, as they had always done to me, land marks of mystery and full of the deepest and most solemn interest. Time which had destroyed the charm of the more modern structure had only added a few more ivy wreaths to the old castles.”

My deduction, then, is that after Jonas King died that Barristown House was unoccupied and went derelict. I do not know when his nephew the irrepressible, wayward, eccentric and volatile nephew Jonas came to be proprietor of Barrystown—what looks like the demesne lands at Barrystown were advertised for sale, presumably to a tenant, circa 1841. My reasoned conjecture is that Jonas came to own (or lease from his father the Rev. Richard King) the lands at Barrystown at a result of some transaction at that time. I doubt if he ever lived in Barrystown House; his wife—the daughter of the Rev. Goff— had an estate abutting Ballyteigue Lough. I think that Jonas and his wife lived mostly in Dublin.

It has proved exasperatingly difficult to determine the precise details of Paddy Garvey’s teaching career, with different articles and sources giving slightly diverging details. The obituary in The People newspaper on April 29th 1983 stated that he died at his home in Brandon, Templerainey Heights, Arklow, Co. Wicklow. I presume that the house was called Brandon after his native place in Co. Kerry. The fact that Paddy and Teresa Garvey used the appellation “Brandon” for their house in Arklow confirms the claim in Anne Farrell’s article that he was “from the townsland of Ballinloughig, at the foot Mt Brandon Co. Kerry.” His future wife Teresa O’Shea came from the other side of Mt Brandon and attended secondary school in Dingle. I am not a whiz at the geography of the Co. Kerry—one of the few subjects that I am not a whiz at!—but I presume that Mt Brandon was near Dingle.

The obituary stated that he was born in Dingle, Co. Kerry and that he came to Co. Wexford in 1941 “when he had a temporary post at Rathnure National School”. He was (according to the obituary—a doubtful “fact”) appointed to Tullicanna National School in 1942. In 1949, he moved to Ballymitty National School and he became Principal in Danescastle National School, Carrig-on-Bannow in 1954. Different accounts of Mr Garvey’s career diverge at to the precise time when he began to teach at Tullicanna. There is ambiguity in some of the sources, including my own.

The Forth and Bargy notes on January 4th 1941 recorded:–

“The departure of Mr Thomas Butler N. T. to take up an appointment as principal teacher in Cushinstown National School in succession to Mr M. Murphy N. T. who has retired on pension, has caused general regret in Tullicanna where he has been teaching for some years past. Mr Butler was very popular with pupils and parents in Tullicanna as his genial and unassuming personality was much appreciated. Many hearty congratulations and good wishes in his new appointment have been extended to him.

A New Appointment—Mr John Dillon N. T. son of the late Mr Richard Dillon, Harpoonstown, Bridgetown has been appointed principal teacher at Tullicanna National School in succession to Mr T. Butler N. T. For some time past, Mr Dillon has been principal teacher in Ballyroebuck National School, near Ferns. He, like Mr Butler, is a G. A. A. enthusiast and has played with the St Ann’s Club in the championship.”

Tom Butler lodged in Tullicanna during the school week and cycled home to Adamstown at weekends. He was son of John Butler the driving force behind the great Adamstown senior hurling teams of the 1930s and Co. Board officer; Tom Butler, himself played on these teams, at an early age. Tom Butler was a highly placed official of the Wexford Co. Board in the 1950s and wrote an article for the Irish Press circa 1963 recounting how on the tour of New York by the Wexford Hurlers in 1957 he with some of the players met the famous heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey at his restaurant there.

The records taken from the Tullicanna National School roll books are enigma but possibly a corrective to my account! The Teachers are given as follows—

1940: Paddy Garvey and John Dillon.

1941—43—Paddy Garvey and Bessie Foley.

Unless the Forth and Bargy notes are utterly upside down there is a problem there: Tom Butler was principal until January 1941 and John Dillon up to then was teaching in Ballyroebuck National School, near Bunclody, I think. There is a history of the Ballyroebuck School and surrounding area that I previously read so that may shed light on the matter. Lloyd-George’s wife said that when Kitchener spoke it was like the illumination from a light-house—for a moment all was visible and then a sudden return to utter darkness. The Free Press on the 1st of March 1941 had this nugget of illuminating information:–

“Tullicanna Schoolboys—Mr P. Garvey, the temporary N. T. (who by the way is a Kerryman), is taking a keen interest in the school team and is getting it into shape for the coming season. He has arranged a match with Ballymitty for tomorrow (Sunday) and the game is stimulating much interest among the boys.”

In the photograph beside Mr Garvey with Tullicanna school group circa 1940 I count approximately 50 children; it is in the summer weather as the children are bare-footed but I can discern no school-mistress. I do not know if these are the entirety of the children at the school or merely Mr Garvey’s classes. Jackie Handcock gives the average attendance at Tullicanna pre the amalgamation as 48.

Two patterns are obvious (and historians are ever seeking patterns): the sheer youthfulness of the principal teachers and the high turnover of Principals in these schools; I think that there was a rule that one needed five years experience to qualify to apply to become a Principal Teacher. It is hard to see how Paddy Garvey had served five years teaching before becoming Principal at Tullicanna, or indeed Tom Butler in his time.

It is possible that Mr Garvey was an assistant teacher at Tullicanna for a year. The impression from the Forth and Bargy notes is that Principals at Tullicanna moved on to other and bigger schools but George O’Donnell stayed from 1952 to the amalgamation with Ballymitty in 1969, when he retired.

The obituary of Mr Garvey stated:–

“Being a Kerryman, football was in his blood and he turned out on many occasions for Bannow parish’s football teams but, unfortunately, a stomach ailment restricted his playing career.” As I stated in last week’s blog:–

On Sunday June 15th 1941 P. Garvey played in goal for the Ballymitty-Bannow football team. I can find no other mention of him. In my researches on Bannow-Ballymitty football I searched avidly for mention of Paddy Garvey playing competitive football but mainly in vain. While in Barrystown I heard it said that Paddy Garvey had played competitive football. I am not even sure if the P. Garvey cited on the team in June 1941 is the iconic teacher—it could be somebody else of a similar name!

It could be truly said that to praise Paddy Garvey in any assembly of Carrig-on-Bannow men and women would, also, be an exercise in gilding the lily. He was a larger than life presence, a wonderful teacher and inspiring mentor.

I do not know why there were branches of the Red Cross in most parishes during the years of World War II and maybe after it. The Free Press on the 6th of June 1942 reported on one such meeting:–


Very Rev. Fr Keating P. P. presided at a meeting in the Hall, Carrig-on-Bannow on Sunday at which the following members of the Bannow and Ballymitty First Aid Centre were presented with their certificates:–

Bannow—Mrs M. K. Lynch, the Misses R. Pierce, M. Furlong, P. Breen,

N. and P. Byrne, K. O’Mara, M. K. O’Brien and K. Gough; Messrs A. Sweetman, S. and M. Murphy, J. Maloney, W. Wallace, J. Pitt, P. Nolan, M. Kenny, R. Cleary, P. Colfer and M. Lynch.

Ballymitty—Mrs B. Brennan, Mrs M. Mc Evoy, Mrs K. Waters, the Misses L. Mc Cutcheon, P. Coady, B. Fardy, P, O’Keeffe, A. and E. Foley, A. White and E. Woods, Messrs P. Donnelly, P. Garvey, J. Cullen, W. and S. Waters and W. Moran.

The Rev. Chairman paid high tribute to the painstaking instruction given by Dr Hugh Brady M. O. and Nurse O’Leary and said that the success that had attended their exertions would be their best reward. He impressed on those who had qualified for the certificates of the importance of frequent revision of the knowledge they had acquired.

Mr M. Lynch N. T. Carrig-on-Bannow, Secretary to the meeting, stated that Rev. Father Angelus O. F. M. and Dr T. R. Mc Cabe were unable to come to Carrig Hall on Friday of this week to speak on the advisability of having Red Cross centres established in every parish.”

Am I to assume that these Red Cross centres were intended to respond to an invasion by Hitler’s armies? I presume that the P. Garvey listed in the Ballymitty section of those receiving the certificates is the iconic schoolmaster.

The Mr M. Lynch N. T. is undoubtedly the teacher referred by Michael Martin, the future Br Aurelian, in his recollections of his time at Tullicanna School circa 1917; he called him “Mick Lynch”.

From The Forth and Bargy notes, in The People, on the 17th of January 1942:– “A Link With The Past—The death of Mr William Cox, Duncormack, at the age of 90, severs a link with the old time shipping business on the south Wexford coast. He was for many years skipper in the vessels that carried coal to the yards at Lough, owned by the late Messrs A. Colfer, Kiltra and S. Roche, Ballygow. He is survived by one sister. The large funeral to Duncormack cemetery on Sunday testified to the sympathy felt for her bereavement.”

The files of the Commissioners of National Education have narratives that are, by turns, bizarre, intriguing, lunatic, full of bureaucratic obfuscation and pedantic impediments: in 1908 the pastor of Taghmon Canon Patrick M. Furlong was involved in a wrangle with the Commissioners of National Education over his attempts to appoint a seventeen year old girl who was born in Ballinglee in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow to the lowly post of Junior Assistant Teacher at Traceystown National School; this missive was sent by the Canon Furlong to the Commissioners:–


27 March 1908


I beg to submit to the Commissioners that, if a high standard be exacted in the case of Junior Assistant Mistress, it will be almost impossible to find suitable applicants in country districts unless by a lucky chance. Girls who have been acting as monitresses in town schools will not come as Junior Assistants to country schools because they cannot maintain themselves on the salary allowed except—and this is the chance—they happen to have relatives living in the district from whom they can obtain board and lodging gratis or almost gratis. Hence it arises that candidates are to be met with only amongst girls residing in the school district who have never served in any capacity under the Commissioners and must depend on private study and unofficial training for their qualification to fill the position of Junior Assistant. Miss Aylward has endeavoured to qualify herself by such a course of study and training in the Presentation Convent, Wexford and I trust with such success as will enable her to satisfy the requirements of the Commissioners [of the Board of National Education].

Patrick M. Furlong P. P.”

The logic of Canon Furlong’s letter is unassailable—the salary of a Junior Assistant Mistress might not fully cover the cost of lodgings; an other option for a town’s girl would be to cycle to Taghmon each day and cycle home to, say, Wexford town each evening. I am not sure if the remuneration of the Junior Assistant Mistress would suffice to pay for the maintenance of the bicycle but, perhaps, I exaggerate. I am so funny that I should take a day job in the circus!

The seventeen year old girl seeking that post in Traceystown National School (the file on it does not specify if it is merely the girls National School that it under consideration) went by three variants of her name; in that era both the spelling and pronunciation of many words ever shifted.

One memo of the Commissioners of National Education refers to her as Mary Elward or Aylward. Both Canon Furlong later confused matters further by referring to her as Miss Edward! So she now had four names; as the children’s rhyme says—sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

According to her birth certificate sent by Canon Furlong to the Board of the Commissioners of National Education, Mary Ellard was born on the 6th of March 1891; her parents were John Ellard of Slevoy, a smith and Anty Ellard [Eustace]. Mary was born at Ballinglee in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow and Dr James Boys, presumably of Kiltra, Bannow signed her registration entry.

The outcome of this protracted and confounding wrangle was that Mary Aylward was provisionally appointed Junior Assistant Teacher from the 1st of Spetember 1908, on salary, and her continuance in the post would depend both on her performance in the job and the results of her second attempt at the examination for Junior Assistant teacher to be taken by her at Easter 1809. I do not know if she passed the examination at Easter 1909: perhaps, some of my millions of readers may be able to enlighten me on the matter.