Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, scholarly, erudite, learned, ebullient, modest, humble– and wily. It was always Gold and Silver for the Barrystown childre.
When Erin’s Hope (Ballymitty) played Young Ireland’s (New Ross) at New Ross in July 1899 in a junior football tournament it was reported:–
“Three waggonettes and a great number of cars left Ballymitty for Ross at 12.30, carrying close on a hundred, while a large contingent of cyclists followed behind. As the big procession moved rapidly along one could not help being reminded of the caravans of the desert and the similarity was increased by the fact that there were recognised halting places at which most of the travellers appeared parched for thirst. Of course the remedy provided was availed of.”
The notes in The Free Press on August 21st 1970 reported that most enjoyable social evenings were held in the Brandane Inn “over the past week. Among the famous people who visited were Mr Frank Hall and Mr Cyril Cusack.” The notes on August 7th 1970 had this item—
“The rural water scheme in the area is progressing favourably. The pipeline has now been laid as far as Cullenstown.”
There was a veritable vibrancy to life in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow back in the 1970ies as local events attracted large crowds and generated huge emotions. The village of Carrig-on-Bannow was en fete for the third Junior Feile Cheoil on last Sunday of July 1970. “The numerous street sessions in the evening were enthusiastically enjoyed by thousands of music lovers, many of whom were on holiday from various parts and the Bannow Mummers gave a very competent display which was eagerly looked forward to by a large number of these visitors.” Miss Nancy O’Brien was the secretary and Miss Maudie Walsh was the assistant secretary. I will give some of the results.
Ballymitty Music Class
Piano Accordian—1. Margaret Waters, Duncormack.
Guitar—Nellie Boyse, Duncormack, 2. Patrick Fanning, Foulksmills.
Tin Whistle—1. Inez Sweetman, Carrig-on-Bannow; 2. Martin Whitty, Ballymitty.
Melodica—1. Margaret French, Ballymitty; 2. Philomena Mahoney, Ballymitty.
Dancing—Carrig Dancing Class.
Reel, under 10—1. Kathleen Bennett, Balloughton; 2. Jacqueline Browne, Cullenstown.
Reel and Jig, under 10—1. Pauline Garvey, Carrig; 2. Eileen Roche, Lacken.
Reel and Jig, under 13—1. Martina Foley, Carrig; 2. Inez Sweetman, Carrig.
Reel, under 13—1. Joan Kearns, Carrig.
Under 18—1. Kathleen Kelly, U. S. A.
Under 14—1. Mary King, Boderan, Arthurstown; 2. Donal Dillon, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
From The Free Press March 30 1935—Forth and Bargy notes:–
“The beautiful new stations of the Cross in Ballymitty Church were much admired by the congregation on Sunday last. They are of extremely artistic design and great credit is due to the worthy curate of the parish Rev. John O’Connor C. C. for having installed them in his church.”
On Sunday night January 23rd 1955 Fr Laurence Kinsella had a concert at Ballymitty Hall to raise funds for Church purposes. The Curracloe Dramatic Society staged a three act play—“The Black Stranger”. One of the supporting items was the Ballymitty school quartet of Kitty Dunne, Paddy Murphy, Terry Mc Evoy and Noel Keane.
The Tullicanna set of Mummers and a large attendance of local people had on Sunday night January 23rd 1955 “a hospitable reception” at Tom Carty’s of Maxboley. “Following the mumming an enjoyable social was held with songs by Mrs Ryan, Miss B. Cullen, Messrs J. Culleton, J. Keane and N. Marshall and a number of other items. Mr W. Harper, the captain of the set proposed the vote of thanks to Mr and Mrs Carty and Mrs Scallan.”
The price of rabbits in January 1955 had gone up to 4 shillings a pair and they were being hunted on a large scale again. Or so the “Along the New Line” notes related. One statistic from early 1955 indicates the scale of change going on in the Co. Wexford at that time: only one entry was received for the horse ploughing event at the County ploughing championship contests held on Thursday January 27th 1955. Horses were largely replaced by tractors by that time.
Mrs Mary Tobin of Hilltown, Ballymitty, died on Friday January 21st 1955. The obituary in The Free Press described her as last link in the district “with the dark days of the Land League. Her father, the late Richard Fardy, took a prominent part in that agitation and was a personal friend of the late O’Hanlon-Walsh. For his activities in the Land League the late Mr Fardy was evicted and went to live in Ballymitty. The late Mrs Tobin was widow of Mr Peter Tobin who died five years ago [in 1950]”. Her relatives as listed in the obituary were of a most extended number but I will only refer to a few. She was aunt of the Rev. Godfree Walsh O. P. Cap. And two of her nieces were members of religious communities. She was mother of Sergt Martin Tobin, who was killed in action over Germany in 1943 and of Philip Tobin, Harriestown, Richard Tobin, Tullicanna and Mrs R. Kelly, Ballymitty. She was grandmother of Messrs Edward, Peter and Richard Tobin H. Q. Curragh Camp. The Peter Tobin referred to is, I presume, the superb footballer who played with the Corah Ramblers.
From The Free Press December 20th 1957:
“An Old Coin—While out in the fields recently Mr M. Crosbie of Moortown, Ballymitty picked up an old Irish halfpenny dated 1845. On one side is a harp and on the reverse a profile.”
From The People on December 24th 1875:–
“To the Editor of the People
Dear Sir—I have read in your last issue a letter signed “The Agent of the Bannow Estates” purporting to be a reply to mine of the 27th ult., respecting the relations between landlord and tenant, on the aforesaid estates. That the agent has a right to defend his employer, nobody will deny; but that in so doing he should make gross misstatements likely to deceive the public, should not, I think, in the interest of truth, be tolerated.
That he has made such misstatements only those who are acquainted with the facts can fully understand. However as the public have been called on to judge the matter, I will state the case as any of the neighbours would state them and as I have heard them stated by the persons most concerned—the tenants themselves.
In my letter of the 27th ult., I asserted that the tenantry of “The Bannow Estates” are living under a landlord who makes no secret of his intention of “driving them all to the road (the expression is the landlord’s) as soon as the opportunity presents itself”; to the truth of this assertion I still adhere and the “Agent” though he quoted my words did not attempt to deny it. In proof of the ill-treatment to which the people of Bannow are subjected I adduced only two examples, one of which created great excitement here at the time.
In the first place I stated that an honest and respectable man was compelled by the landlord to leave the farm on which he had resided for upwards of thirty years. This the Agent denies and by his version of the case would lead the public to believe that Boyse (whose name the Agent with not very “graceful simplicity” places within inverted commas) in place of giving an injury conferred a favour on the tenant by giving him a better in exchange for a worse farm. It this were true it would no doubt place the landlord in a very favourable light before the public. However, it is not true, as poor John Stafford knows to his cost.
Of the two farms in question, William’s, as the Agent says, was very much the larger and better farm. But William’s health having failed and he having no family was unable to work his farm, “part of which indeed”, say the Agent, timidly “he underlet some years ago, to his brother John”. “Boyse” (the inverted commas are the Agent’s not mine) giving his consent to such an arrangement in hope that William would do better with a smaller farm. The Agent here leads his readers to infer that the present landlord in his tender solicitude for the welfare of the old couple generously consented to this arrangement. This is absolutely false. The kind act was performed not by Boyse, as the Agent falsely alleges, but by his predecessor—a real genuine Boyse—a respected and high minded clergyman whose name is still cherished with grateful remembrance by the people of Bannow.
The Agent must feel it very difficult to defend his master when to do so he is constrained to pilfer the good works of his reverend predecessor. Shortly after this arrangement the Rev. Richard Boyse died and the present man Capt. Hunt came in on his property and assumed the name of Boyse. The land thus obtained (half the farm), John Stafford has tilled and paid the rent and taxes of for the last 13 or 14 years. Further, as he had an interest in William’s half—the lease being a joint one and William’s eviction involving his and besides as in the course of time William’s part was naturally and by promise to belong to John or his children—he assisted William in every way possible to secure the rent. Therefore one half of this farm actually and he other virtually belonged to John Stafford.
In the meantime the landlord was casting an envious eye on John’s original farm at Cullenstown. “To support his Church” (as he says himself) he had planted an English Protestant on an adjacent farm and with a truly apostolic zeal, wished to help this English Protestant to his neighbour’s holding. Accordingly every stratagem was used to induce John to give up his home and go live to his brother William. Messengers came to John holding out fair promises and amongst others, the medical officer of the district came in the landlord’s interest and in his usual bland and persuasive manner represented to John Stafford that it would be in his interest to leave his home and make way for the Protestant. John, considering, of course, that he had a right to both places, would not agree. However, as we shall see, circumstances soon occurred which forced him into an agreement.
William became hopelessly involved and was threatened with eviction. John, in order to retain the farm, to which he had a perfect right and to provide for his helpless brother, whose natural protector he was, entered into an agreement with him, by which William consented to give John his farm, with the exception of 3 acres, which John was to till for him, besides giving him the grass of a cow, and seeing he should never be in want. When the landlord heard of this agreement he succeeded in obtaining possession of it and thereby the lease broken, as there was a clause in it which forbid the tenant to let, sell or bestow. He then allowed John to choose whether he would give up his Cullenstown farm (which your readers will recollect he was so anxious to bestow on a Protestant) or lose the larger farm. Then came the agreement which the Agent says Capt. Boyse entered into last August with John Stafford. This agreement the poor man, sorely against his will, and to the great grief of his wife and family, was compelled to sign, as in case of refusal, besides seeing the larger farm fall into the hands of an English Protestant, it was plainly intimated to him that he would lose Cullenstown, also, at the expiration of the lease (seven years). John Stafford was, therefore, compelled to surrender his smaller holding on which he had lived for upwards of thirty years¸ in order to retain his larger one and save his family from being driven to the road at the expiration of his lease.
Another feature in this case is the hard treatment which this family received both from the landlord and from the incoming tenant at the time of their removal. That time was unusually severe and rainy yet such was the impatience of the landlord and his creature to grasp the poor people’s farm that they could not allow them a few days to render their future home capable of affording them shelter. Nay more; whilst they were working might and main to remove the chattels the Englishman would come and with over-bearing insolence threaten to fine them for trespass if they remained another day. And as to their future home I saw it at the time that Mrs Stafford should have been there, had not God willed otherwise and I firmly believe that she could not have lived three days in it. There was not a spot where a comfortable bed could be made, the windows were smashed and the rain came down through every part of the roof. Little wonder that the poor woman’s heart should burst at the thought of being forced to dwell in such a place! This, sir, is the true state of affairs, differing materially from the Agent’s version and as it cannot be assumed that the Agent “rushed into print without taking the trouble of informing himself in this matter” for as Agent he must be fully cognisant of the facts, I am sorry I cannot acquit him of having indulged in a not “over clever suppression veri” which is likely to mislead the public.
Referring to Mrs Stafford’s death the Agent tells us “he is about to say a word in a different strain” whatever he means by that I don’t know. But I know this that he seems to determined to persevere in the strain of misrepresentation to the end of his letter. He says—“That she died suddenly some little time after the delivery of a message to her husband by the bailiff of the Bannow estates is, alas!, too true.” That she died suddenly is alas! too true; but that she died suddenly after the delivery of a message to her husband by the bailiff every man, woman and child in every parish (including the Agent) knows to be utterly false. Because there was unusual indignation felt towards the bailiff for choosing to deliver the message (notice to quit) to the delicate woman when he could and should have delivered it to her husband. “But I would observe” says the Agent, “that she was known to be long suffering from disease of the heart.” Wrong again, Mr Agent; she was not known to be suffering from disease of the heart—After daring to make these and some other equally erroneous assertions he very conveniently thinks he can assume that her death was a sad coincidence rather than as a consequence of the message. He can assume whatever he pleases but the opinion of the people is still unchanged and unchangeable on the matter.
In reference to the other case of hardship which the Agent so easily disposes of I will say very little, as he admits, as candidly as an Agent could be expected to admit the truth of my assertion. I deny, however, that Mr Barry cheerfully gave up the land in exchange for the lease (which I believe is not overly perfect). “If you cheerfully give up the land” said the landlord, “I will give you a new lease of your own holding—i.e. I will allow to live in the home of your ancestors but if you refuse I will drive you and several others to the road in a very short time.” Mr Barry had no alternative but to give up the land. The Agent tries to gloss over the injustice done Mr Barry by saying that the under-tenant, a decent old woman, had been well provided for and “more money put into her hand than it his grasped for many a day.” That might easily be; still that sum might be sufficient to support her for two months. A similar case happened on the estate short time ago. The landlord wanted a poor woman to give up possession of her cabin and offered her in return 26 shillings which was I think “more than the woman’s hand had grasped for many a day.” The woman very naturally asked what would she do when that would be spent. “Ah” said the generous Boyse “would it not be a nice thing to get 26 shillings.” The woman very wisely kept her cabin.
Indeed the landlord’s kindness to the poor is strikingly illustrated by the following case: a poor man in Bannow holds nine or ten acres of poor land, at 28 shillings per acre; the man having a large, soft family to support; was unable to pay such a high rent, he fell into arrears and was about to be evicted when the required sum was procured from amongst the kind neighbours. As soon as it was paid the landlord showed great “kindness” towards the poor man by raising his rent £6 a year more. He throws his delicacy and good nature occasionally by riding through the funeral to get possession of the home of the deceased, or by calling the weeping children from the bedside of a dead parent and telling them to leave their home and go to America. “Spectemur agendo”. In my letter of the 27th ult., I stated that Boyse, to support his Church, has declared his intention of not leaving, if he can, a single Catholic on his estate, and the Agent has not attempted to question the accuracy of my statement. On the contrary he says “he will not attempt to palliate the presumption with which “Boyse” declares his intention of supporting a Church against which the dread fiat delende est has been issued by Mr Gladstone.” Pretty plain speaking that and must be very consoling to the people of Bannow—particularly those with short leases.
At the end of his letter the Agent complains of anonymous misrepresentations, which scarcely comes with grace from him, as he himself did not give his name to the public and as his letter was one tissue of misrepresentations from beginning to end.
With regard to the communications “Y. Z.” and the accompanying “note” of the evidence given at the inquest, I shall have something to say next week; for I have very grave reasons to believe the “note” to be inaccurate and the verdict quite different from that returned by the jury.
Hoping, sir, you will pardon me for intruding so much on so much of your valuable space.
I am reluctant to believe the charges of stark sectarianism levelled against Captain Arthur Hunt Boyse and the English tenant in Bannow but after stating that caveat I do assert that Captain Boyse was an unpleasant and callous landlord. His name was Hunt and he was a nephew of Tom Boyse and added Boyse to his name but he was no Tom Boyse!