Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, inspiring and inspired, an intelligence far in excess of Einstein, a visionary, a seer, a prophet, a trainor of hurling teams, a marathon runner, a florist whose dahlias are still in bloom, blessed among the women, historian supreme, writes, moves and speaks with panache, eloquent, a gifted and crafted public speaker and above all else, the most devious and wily of them all—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. It has always been gold and silver for the Barrystown childre. If humanity endures for another billion years, the likes of the boy from Barrystown will not ever be replicated: he is a meteor, visible as a streak of intellectual incandescence, as it moves at a speed exceeding light (thereby confounding one of Einstein’s most basic principles) across the panorama of unending generations.
Some of my legions of readers are suggesting that as I write such voluminous accounts of long ago, that after all that writing, I deserve a brief holiday so in concurrence with them, I will not have new blogs up for a couple of weeks.
From The People May 16th 1986:–
The death occurred last Saturday of Thomas Culleton at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co. Louth. Tommy who was in his early seventies was born and reared at Clonmines, Wellingtonbridge and he became manager of the General Providers, at an early age for Mr Andrew Forrest. Tommy who was very popular in the area built up a fine flourishing business. He lived for over twenty years in Wellingtonbridge where he mixed well with the community. He was a founder member of the Wellingtonbridge Cricket Club. Soon after getting married to Brigid Kearns, who was a school teacher in Ballymitty, he moved to Oylegate, where he bought a farm. Later, he moved to Stormstown, Ardee, Co., Louth. Tommy is survived by his wife Brigid, son, daughters, sons-in-law, grandchild, brother John, sisters Kathleen, Stasia Harpur, (Busherstown) and Maureen Pettit (Moortown), nephews, nieces, relatives and friends. Many from the parish travelled to his interment in Clonkeen cemetery after Mass in St Malachy’s Church, Reaghstown.”
My parents talked of Tommy Culleton as a larger than life personality and charming personality in Wellingtonbridge where he worked as manager at the General Providers but they were puzzled as to where he went. I calculate that he was born circa 1914 (that was the year of my mother’s birth). My parents came to live at Barriestown circa 1942.
From The Echo May 24th 1913:–
“Improvements to Bannow Chapel
During the past week some improvements have been carried out at Carrig-on-Bannow Chapel in the shape of painting decorations, etc. A number of workmen from a Wexford firm are employed and when finished the improvements will add greatly to the beauty of this already fine Church. Much praise is due to the Rev. Father O’Sullivan for his efforts in having the chapel second to none in this respect. The work will probably be completed by the end of the week.
The Bacon Factory—Meeting at Bannow
On Friday night last a meeting, in connection with the Co. Wexford Dead Meat Supply and Bacon Factory Co., was held at the schoolhouse, Carrig-on-Bannow. Mr W. H. Lett J. P. occupied the chair and there was a large attendance of the farmers of the parish amongst whom were—Messrs S. Keating, T. Crosbie, C. Dake, W. F. Hayes, A. Devereux, R. K. Lett, P. Chapman, P. Gallagher, T. Cullen, M. Cleary, N. Breen, P. White, C. Furlong, J. Dake, T. Devereux, J. White, T. Murphy, N. Browne, J. Daly, B. Wade, etc. Messrs Landy and M. Cullen were, also, present on behalf of the Bacon Factory Committee. The Chairman said the meeting had been called principally to elect a permanent parish committee but, first, he would introduce to them Mr Landy who would explain how the new factory was working up to present. Mr Landy then gave a lengthy address explaining fully how the factory had worked up to the present and the many difficulties they had to surpass. They had passed, he said, through a series of difficulties which would probably never happen again. The most extensive of these was the coal strike but they had come through all these difficult times with a very creditable record and a larger profit to their balance sheet than could be expected under the circumstances. Their dead meat trade had been a great success since the start but at present a good deal of profit was lost by not having a proper plant to treat the offal. However, in a short time they hoped to have this plant, too. They would, also, start the killing of pigs on a large scale in a few months. The only thing against the dead meat trade was the fact of farmers not having their cattle finished properly as this reduced the price of the beef very much and he would sooner not see cattle coming in to the factory at all than in poor condition. However, they had received some cattle from Bannow district which were a credit to their owners, viz., Mr Furlong’s, Mr Colfer’s and Mr Lett’s. If they got cattle like these they could compete against any country. He exhorted those present then to have their cattle properly finished before sending them in to the factory. The election of parish committee then took place. On the motion of Mr Crosbie, seconded by Mr J. Daly, Mr W. H. Lett was unanimously elected President. Mr Lett proposed and Mr T. Cullen seconded that Mr B. Wade be elected secretary, which was, also, passed unanimously. The following committee were elected—Messrs T. Cullen, Ballyfrory, T. Crosbie, Bannow, J. Furlong, Coolseskin, J. White, Bannow, W. F. Hayes, Grageen, P. White, Sheastown, T. Walsh, Danescastle, N. Breen, Carrig, J. Daly, Balloughton, M. Dake, Coolishall, P. Doyle, Maudlintown, P. Devereux, Ambrosetown, R. K. Lett, Balloughton. A hearty vote of thanks to the Chairman concluded the proceedings.
The Carrig Band
The members of the Carrig-on-Bannow Fife and Drum Band are keeping up an earnest and constant practice. Every Monday and Thursday evening the sound of the big drum can be heard all over the district. A good sound practice is gone through on each of these evenings and the band, as a whole, are improving weekly. A splendid new uniform has also been procured and the band intends to make an excursion to that favourite seaside resort, Cullenstown, on Sunday next for the first time in the new dress. A good many members have joined the band during the past few weeks.
Testimonial to the Rev. Father Roche, Bannow
A move is on foot amongst the parishioners of Bannow to organise a testimonial to the Rev. T. Roche C. C. as a token of his long term of zealous labour amongst them and his gentleness and kindliness in looking after their spiritual and temporal welfare. A meeting has already been held and the proposed testimonial meets with general approbation. It is certainly a step in the right direction, as Father Roche is deserving of all the appreciation that can be shown him by his parishioners.”
All the above came from the local notes in The Echo May 24th 1913.
Canon Mortimer Sullivan was the correct name of the saintly Pastor of Carrig-on-Bannow—there was not an apostrophe “O” used before his name.
Fr Thomas Roche had awful health. He was born at Levitstown in 1842 and ordained on the 17th of May 1868. He was appointed Catholic Curate at The Ballagh in July 1868 and transferred to Castlebridge in June 1871 but resigned in 1874, presumably for health reasons. He was appointed Catholic Curate in Bannow parish in November 1886 but retired from active duty on 28th of February 1913. He was of a retiring disposition and took no part in public affairs. Fr Roche died at his residence at Carrig-on-Bannow on Sunday the 21st of September 1924. I take this useful information from Canon John Gahan’s excellent study of the secular priests of the diocese of Ferns. It is superbly researched.
The General Election of 1835 was—like all elections in that era—rather unruly, with cumbersome procedures and a most restricted franchise. On January 17th 1835 The Wexford Independent carried a report of a meeting of the Union of Bannow and Ballymitty: reading (or translating) it is effectively an exercise in understanding early nineteenth century history:–
“At a meeting of the Electors and other inhabitants of the Union of Bannow and Ballymitty, held at Carrig, the following resolutions were adopted:–
Proposed by Mr E. Colfer and seconded by Mr M. Conroy—
Resolved—That as electors of Bannow and Ballymitty have so patriotically and independently determined to proceed to the Hustings at their own individual expense to vote for the popular Candidates—Power and Maher—we, the non-electors wishing to participate in the honour to accrue from such a manly and straightforward principal, do immediately enter into a subscription to aid the Electors in so laudable an undertaking”
I interrupt the account of the meeting to explain an extraordinary and bizarre aspect of those elections: because only those with ten pounds valuation in property could legally hold and exercise the franchise—who are described as the Electors—most people could not vote in the elections but could indirectly participate in two other ways. One way was to raise funds in support of a particular candidate; the plan agreed on at this meeting was a variant of this: the non-electors would raise or contribute monies to defray the expense for the Electors of getting to Wexford town, actually the Courthouse, to vote. But I suspect that some if not all of this money went to defray the expenses incurred by the two favoured candidates. The radical or extremely Liberal candidates in 1835 were John Maher of Ballinkeele and James Power, Oylegate district. Sir James Power was a close friend of Tom Boyse and Mr Boyse spent the closing days of his life at Mr Power’s mansion in Dublin. Mr John Maher was a flaring radical, proposing secret ballots and extension of the franchise to a much greater number of people. He also strongly opposed the tithes. Near the close of the 1835 campaign the Conservative or Orange faction in the County Wexford sought to topple the Whig or Liberal apple cart by running two Candidates who might (theoretically, at least) attract Catholic votes:–the Catholic Walter Patrick Redmond, a indirect or direct ancestor of John Redmond who later led the Irish Parliamentary Party and nearly achieved Home Rule and Anthony Cliffe of Bellevue, Ballyhogue, a man of the Tractarian disposition which was founded on the conviction that both the Protestant and Catholic faiths sprung from a common source in Christ’s life on earth. Late Mr Cliffe and his entire family would convert to Catholicism.
The second way is which non-voters could help a campaign by a particular candidate was to join one of the mobs that infested Wexford town when the election Hustings were in progress: these mobs sought to intimidate Electors likely to favour a rival candidate to the one favoured by them from getting to the courthouse to vote. Sometimes the rival mobs clashed, especially when the candidates gave them alcohol to encourage them in their electoral succour to them. I now resume the account of the meeting in Carrig:
Proposed by Mr John White and seconded by Mr Thomas Colfer:–
Resolved—That eight members of the Club be selected as an election Committee—four of whom to be stationed at Wexford during the Election and the other four to remain at home in the parish—whose business it shall be to look after the electors of this district and correspond with each other.” I presume that these worthy men would endeavour to ensure that no voter from the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow would be physically impeded from entering the courthouse to vote or assaulted on leaving.
At the Hustings one had to publicly declare who one wished to vote for—that was the method of election. If the demand of John Maher of Ballinkeele was acceded to and a secret ballot introduced, it would end the grotesque phenomenon of election mobs, demented by strong alcohol and bent on intimidation and violence. The rationale of the secret ballot was to give landlords a huge influence over their tenants’ voting options. As a freeholder held his property for a life or lives, the landlord could not evict a tenant for disobeying a direction to vote as the landlord wished but this defiance could be a negative factor when renewing the lease usually years later—that is if the tenant was genuinely a free-holder. In some cases tenants were registered as free-holders by giving spurious information to the court registering voters. The Boyses of Bannow, Sam and Tom, had no interest in coercing tenants to vote in a particular manner, as the meeting at Carrig testified:–
“Proposed by Mr Patrick Rossiter—seconded by Mr James Boyse:
Resolved—That the Lord of the Soil, Samuel Boyse Esq., having patriotically declared that it is not his wish to attempt in any manner to influence his tenants in the exercise of their votes but to leave them at perfect liberty to give their suffrage to those candidates who may be deemed, at the coming election, to serve their and their country’s interest best in maintaining her rights and for the redress of her wrongs we hereby tender him the best meed of our thanks, for such praiseworthy conduct, which we trust, will prove a noble example to all other Landlords of this county.
Thomas Conroy, Chairman
Nicholas French, Secreatary.”
The wording of the concluding paragraph would leave little doubt that the Electors of the Union of Bannow and Ballymitty (certainly the over whelming majority of them) intended to vote for John Maher and James Power.
From The Echo May 1913:–
“On Sunday last the opening match in the Wexford District Championship was brought off at Mayglass. The contest was a second division encounter and was between Bannow and Ballymitty United and Murrintown St Martin’s. There was a poor attendance; the match being badly advertised, a feature characteristic of Gaelic games of late—very few outside the immediate vicinity of the teams’ districts knowing the match was coming off at all and many only a short distance from the scene of the contest were asking from the scene of the contest were asking what was on when they saw the teams and a few followers passing. The match was a poor exhibition of football; the game being mostly of the rough and hustle kind, in fact roughness was rather too much indulged in and teams when practicing for championships should try and learn how to play football instead of learning how to rough. No doubt the followers of teams are very often responsible for this roughness and these encouraging cries of “kick him”, “burst him”, “mow him” should not be tolerated and the officials should see that those roughs conducting themselves in this manner be removed from the field. On the match, the Murrintown team were far and away superior to their opponents. The game opened with Bannow getting possession and forcing the play but Murrintown settling down …. and getting a free send well down in front of goal but are most unlucky in not scoring. Bannow then work down somewhat but another free to Murrintown returns play and over side is the result. From the throw in Whelan for Murrintown secures and notches a neat point. Kick out sees the side line the scene of action for some time and Ballymitty gradually work down and getting a free close to goal send wide. There is a great hustle in centre for some time now. Murrintown then get a free but misses the mark. Play remains in Bannow territory and another free to Murrintown is badly missed, the same thing happening inside of a few minutes more. A free to Ballymitty relieves the pressure and they get down to only to put over end. They return to the attack but miss only be inches. Murrintown now work up the hill and fail to score narrowly. Play now gets exciting and a player from each team, Kelly, Ballymitty and Radford, Murrintown, strike into a pugilistic attitude and are relegated to the side line. Ballymitty then get down and some exciting play follows. Murrintown once again return to the attack and a grand shot is neatly blocked by O’Neill in goal. Up and down play follows. Whelan with a grand shot send up to Walsh who misses by inches. The short whistle soon follows with the scores—
On resuming the game becomes of a rather uninteresting character, the play being mostly in Ballymitty territory whilst Murrintown who were far superior, in this half, piled up a large score. They were all over their opponents and showed much training whilst on the other hand Ballymitty showed an altogether lack of anything like stamina. At full-time, the scores read—
Murrintown—2 goals, 4 points;
Ballymitty—M. Gaynor, J. Wade, J. Murphy, J. Moran, M. Grady, W. Kelly, W. Currid, T. Chapman, J. Molloy, M. Keane, T. M’Evoy, P. O’Neill, J. Waters, J. O’Neill.”
The Ballymitty teams seems to have only 14 players but 15 players are given as on the Murrintown team! Not only were they playing in the second division of the Junior Championship but the Ballymitty team was the Club’s second team, a set of men who would not be highly motivated to train and practice. In 1913, Bannow-Ballymitty won the County Junior Football Championship Final of 1912 (played belatedly). The word Nil is an abbreviation of the Latin word Nihil meaning nothing.
In the early 1960ies young Fr Jim Ryan—who had a heart of gold—secured the use of a little field beside the School (it may have been a Muintir Na Tire initiative, in which Fr Ryan was involved) for the pupils of Clonroche National School to play Gaelic games in. We played an awful lot of football in it at the school playtimes or lunch-break. The abiding image of those contests is of the football remaining in the one place for some minutes; almost an intractable object. I presume that most of those playing were simply unable to kick the ball any significant distance; many of us did not have any football boots which made effective kicking of the ball even more difficult. When I read the reports of Gaelic Football matches in the early years of the Gaelic Athletic Association, I am inclined to think that the ball may have been held up in one part of the field for some minutes. Maybe the players from both sides crowded around the ball; not allowing anybody to kick it anywhere. Conversely many of the players may not have been adept at kicking the ball.