Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, modest, self-effacing, obliging, humble, a historian supreme, a right boyo, a genius, innovative, charming, charismatic, scholarly, erudite and above all else—wily.

My extract from the diary of Tom Moore the poet last week in the references to his attraction to young girls in green gowns generated storms of laughter. He had seventeen years of life left to him after his visit to Bannow so if the young Muse had run away with him she would have been without a partner after seventeen years. In Greek mythology there are nine goddesses or Muses; each one of them inspires an art or science. In my opinion it was not surprising that Moore was overwhelmed by the young girls of Carrig-on-Bannow; Dan O’Connell when he visited Bannow in 1838 spoke profusely of the beauty of the women of Carrig-on-Bannow. I am sure that Jack Kennedy expressed similar sentiments on his visit to Co. Wexford in June 1963. As a general rule the women of the south Co. Wexford are most alluring, charming and beautiful—so much so that I keep away from them in case I should find myself overwhelmed by an uncontrollable attraction to any of them; but I doubt if they will wear green gowns in these times. Romance and marriage would distract me from my destination as a historian…blah, blah,….One of my relatives once opined that romance was an infection that one could catch up to sixty years of age!

There was a young man named Martin Mc Donald Doyle from Duncormack that seemed to promise greatness at the learning; Tom Boyse arranged for his education at St Peter’s College but while he wrote poems replete with references to classical literature he never wrote really inspiring poetry. He was a young man when Moore came to Bannow; he was present and Tom Moore strode across to warmly shake hands with him and greet him as a fellow poet. Moore arranged a job for him at the Post Office in Dublin but he died before his time.

When Tom Moore died Lord John Russell the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, edited Moore’s diary and had it published to provide an income for his widow. When Moore was in Bannow there were reports and related controversies that the Government had granted a pension to him—they did shortly afterwards and his wife was reputed to have said that they could henceforth have butter on their potatoes. Moore was a very low man; Tom Boyse jested during his visit that he was every inch of him an Irishman, even though his inches were limited. The crowds there expressly cheered for the two Toms.

Elizabeth Colfer died on October 10th 1889 at Ballygow, aged 73 years, “sincerely and deservedly regretted by a large circle of friends.”

Among the Franciscans at Wexford in October 1889 were:–

Fr Laurence G. Cosgrave O. S. F. who was born at Clonmines about 80 years before and “made his novitiate in Rome”.

Fr P. A. Corish O. S. F., who is a native of Lough, made his novitiate in Rome and belongs to a family which has given many sons and daughters to the Church.”

Fr M. F. O’Hanlon O. S. F., “is a native of Clongeen and a learned student.”

On January 4th 1936 this obituary appeared in The Free Press:–

“Mr M. A. Corish, Lough, Duncormack

The death took place on Monday of Mr Michael A. Corish of Lough, Duncormack, at the fine old age of 86 years. A member of one of the best known and most respected South Wexford families, the late Mr Corish enjoyed the esteem of  a wide circle of friends who deeply regret his passing from amongst them. The deceased was brother of the late Rev. Father Corish P. P., Ballymore and of the late Rev. Patrick Corish O. S. F. and three of his sisters also entered the religious life. To his surviving sisters and other relatives deep sympathy is extended in their bereavement. The late Mr Corish was a staunch and uncompromising Nationalist and in his active days stood four square for the advancement of the constitutional policy of the Irish Parliamentary Party led by Mr Redmond. The funeral to Carrig-on-Bannow on New Year’s Day was of very large proportions and a fitting tribute to his popularity and the high respect in which he and his family are held. The chief mourners were: Messers C. W. Furlong, Raymond Codd, Richard Codd and Raymond E. Corish, auctioneer (cousins)”.

It does not seem that Mr Corish was married; the reference to three sisters entering religious life, ie, becoming nuns denotes a typical scenario of previous eras. Latter day commentators invariably assume that these girls were coerced by parents and other family members to become nuns: the sub-text is that only under compulsion would a young girl opt for such a life. I disagree: these commentators are projecting the assumptions, the experience, the values and realities of the present day back onto history, onto a departed age. To speak in metaphors, the past is a foreign country. Firstly the people of that departed Ireland lived for the faith and firmly believed in its doctrines and promises. The status of people in priestly and religious life was very high and alternative ways of life were difficult; marriage imposed intimidating burdens on those on the fraction of the people who embarked on that course.

From The Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press on January 4th 1936:–

“A Challenge Trotting Match

On Monday next, twelfth day, a pony trotting match will come off at Rack’s Cross. The challengers are Mr P. Ffrench, Tullicanna and Mr M. Bowe, Clongeen. The distance will be about four miles starting from Wellingtonbridge at 2 pm and finishing at Rack’s Cross. There is a substantial bet staked and the trot is evoking considerable local interest, especially in Tullicanna, where “Paddy” Ffrench is very popular. There is sure to be a big crowd along the new line to see the ponies go by.

Mummers at Rack’s Cross—

It is probable that the Cleariestown and “Mountain Planters” mummers will give exhibition at Rack’s Cross on the holiday afternoon, also, and with the trotting this should make things lively at the now famous Cross.

Bread-van Mishap—

When going down the steep hill known as the Hill of the Wash on Monday, a bread-van skidded into the dyke and landed partly across the fence. The driver escaped uninjured and with local help the van was got back on the road and continued its journey.”

From The Free Press on January 18th 1936:–

“Ceilidh at Ballymitty—

On Sunday night a very successful Ceilidh was held in Ballymitty Hall, under the auspices of the Tullicanna Branch of the Gaelic League. There were about 200 couples present which included contingents from many parts of the county. The arrangements in the capable hands of Messrs J. Carthy (President of the Branch), J. Martin (Treasurer) and P. Martin, junior (Hon. Sec) were all that could be desired. Dancing commenced at 8 pm and ended at midnight. As M. C. Mr John Butler kept everything going like clock-work and the general opinion was that it was one of the most successful functions of the kind held in Ballymitty for a long time. The new Ceilidh Band, lately organised in the district, supplied an excellent programme of music. The following comprised the players:–Messrs James Cullen and John Murphy (violins), James Hawkins, J. J. Holmes and Rupert Martin (accordeons), Thomas Mallin (piccolo) and Stephen Keane (flute).”

This astounding notice appeared in The Wexford Conservative on February 26th 1842:–

“Sheriff’s Sale

Walsh a Ely; Admx. Pitt a Same; Walsh a Same; Insole a Same

To be sold by auction on Thursday the 3rd March next and following days at the late Samuel Ely’s Wellington Cottage, Bannow, by virtue of Her Majesty’s writs of fieri facias to me in these several cases directed, the household furniture, farming stock, crop, a valuable library and part of two vessels.

The furniture consisting of Parlour, Drawing Room and Bed Chamber and Bed Chamber Chairs; Carpets and Rugs; Handsome Dining, Breakfast, Card, Sideboard, Work and Dressing tables, Brass Fenders  and Fire Irons; Sofa, Mahogany, Wardrobe, Hall Tall –and Book Cases; Elliptic and Press Bedsteads; Moreen Window Curtains and Blind; Feather Beds, Mattresses and Palliasses; Blankets, Quilts, Table Linen and Sheeting; Basin and Commode Stands; Presses & &; with Kitchen and Dairy Utensils; a neat Chamber Eight Day Clock; a gig, outside Jaunting car and Harness.

Farming Stock &–One Horse, Pony and Two Pigs; Two Cows, One Heifer and an Ox; Carts, Cars, Iron Ploughs and Harrows; Tackling and Iron Gates; Beam, Scales and Weights; 150 Barrels of Apple and Cup Potatoes, Hay, Oats, Barley and Straw; a large heap of manure; a quantity of Bird-eye Maple Plank Timber and Deals; a very fine Round house complete.

Library—About 600 Volumes of Books neatly bound, in which are all the New Works.

Vessels, 32-64 of the “Western Star” burthen about 80 tons lately repaired; 22-64 of the “Sarah Jane”, about 69 tons, with a variety of Wood and Iron Blocks; small and large chains, Masts & &. Terms—Cash. Sale to commence each day at 11 o’clock.

Stephen Ram

Dated 25th February, 1842

The Library will be sold on the Second Day at 12 o’clock. 201 Pots, a splendid collection of Plants, Flowers & &.”

Are we to assume that Sam Elly went bankrupt or alternatively that various parties had applied to the courts for monies owed by him to them? What was he doing with 600 books? Was he writing a history of Bannow, of Tom Boyse or of Ireland!

From The Wexford Conservative January 29 1842:–

“Melancholy Shipwreck

We regret to have this day to record another shipwreck but accompanied with more melancholy circumstances than the one mentioned in our last. At daybreak on Wednesday morning a Schooner, the Sarah of Waterford, Thomas Rossiter, master, sadly disabled, was seen to run ashore at Rastoonstown, a few yards west of the Honor. where the sea continued to beat over her in mountains. The crew, five in number, were seen in the rigging and although crowds, anxious to render every possible assistance, were within a few yards, all attempts proved fruitless. Benumbed with cold and dreadfully beaten by the fury of the waves, the unfortunate men dropped one by one from the rigging and, melancholy to state, all perished save one seaman. Among the many who strove all in their power to save the unfortunate crew, we hear that John Waddy, Esq., M. D. of Clough-East Castle, behaved most nobly and by his words and example spirited on the others in their god-like efforts. Dr Waddy was nearly falling a victim to his humanity, for while seizing on one of the crew, he, himself, was carried away and with the utmost difficulty saved. It would be impossible to convey an idea of the fury with which the sea breaks on that fatal strand, even during ordinary gales, nor can its horrors be conceived but by an eye-witness—and truly brave must that heart be, which will venture, even knee-deep, in the broken surf and running sands.

We regret to say that Captain Rossiter, who is our townsman, is among the unfortunate sufferers and has left a wife and tender family to deplore his untimely fat:–He was a brave and intelligent seaman, respected and esteemed not only by his employers and shipmates but by all with whom he was acquainted.

The Sarah was laden with culm from Llanelly and bound to Bannow. She has become a total wreck.”

It is an obvious deduction from the above that there was a functioning harbour in Bannow at that time but where?

From The Wexford Conservative 19th January 1842:–


January 13th , at Rosegarland, county Wexford, Mrs Francis Leigh, of a daughter.”

From The Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press January 1936:–

“Forth and Bargy Notes

Lecture at Ballymitty—On Sunday night a very interesting lecture was given by the Very Rev. T. Hoyne O. S. A., Grantstown, in Ballymitty Hall. The subject was the Holy Land and the lecture was illustrated by lantern slides. The attendance was very large and the proceeds were devoted to the Parochial Fund. The Rev. lecturer gave a very entertaining description of the Holy Land which was listened to with rapt attention by his large audience. Rev. J. O’Connor C. C., who presided, proposed a vote of thanks to Father Hoyne for his kindness in coming to give them his lecture and paid a fitting tribute to his eloquence and to the very entertaining account he had given them of life in the Holy Land.”

I am puzzled as to how anybody could give a non-controversial lecture on the Holy Land, an arena of persistent, indeed infinite dispute and belligerent controversy.

This is the following item from the same notes in late January 1936:–

“Trotting Match “Off”—The pony trotting match arranged from Wellingtonbridge to Rack’s Cross between Messrs Ffrench, Tullicanna and Rowe, Clongeen, was declared off owing to the death of a relative of one of the parties which occurred during the week. The match has been postponed to a future date. The refixing of the match will be eagerly awaited by a large circle of the friends of both sportsmen.”

In February 1936 they were worried about the preparedness of the Bannow football team for the championship; I am not certain which Bannow team they were referring to but I assume that it was the mainstream parish team:–

“Bannow Football Team—It is high time for the Bannow Gaels to bring out the football if they intend to take part in the coming championships, for the entries will close in a few weeks. They should be up and doing, as the championships will commence early and, furthermore, they are still in the Kehoe Memorial Tournament. The complaint often heard that the championships start too early in the year before many of the players have got into serious training should only be regarded as a lame excuse for neglect of early training and now is the time for Bannow and every other team to get going and be fit to play when they are called on.”

On Saturday August 30th 1836 The Wexford Independent corrected an omission in its report of the banquet at Wexford for the reforming Lord Lieutenant Mulgrave:–


In our account of the public dinner to the Lord Lieutenant, the compositor inadvertently omitted the respected name of Samuel Boyse Esq., as having sat at the head table with is Excellency.”

Mulgrave’s tour of the Co. Wexford was triumphal; to use a futuristic analogy, it was Jack Kennedyesque. Tens of thousands poured into the roads to see and follow him.