Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, incapable of error, modest, erudite, innovative, ever in fine fettle, charismatic, a historian supreme, a right boyo, unassuming and—wily; that wily boy, indeed! If what one says is true then it ain’t bragging and it is true: as the ancient saint prophesised, gold and silver would, always, follow the Barrystown children.

Anglo-Saxon mixed with Flemish was spoken in the baronies of Forth and Bargy but (and this is the big but) it was effectively redundant by 1800: none of Anna Maria Hall’s characters, based on local personalities spoke Saxon or Yola. Neither did local people appearing in the courts in that era; they spoke ungrammatical but ordinary English. The Anglo-Saxon spoken in south county Wexford was probably a German dialect but this dialect—and the Gaelic dialects—died away before 1800, in most places.

The Wexford Independent on May 31 1937 reported that Sam Boyse laid the foundation stone for the new chapel at Carrig-on-Bannow “on Monday week last”; if this issue was on a Wednesday then I estimate that the Monday was the 22nd of May 1837. Most people have the calendars for all the years past on their mobile phones, now so check the dates there. John C. Tuomy (the Taghmon schoolmaster) wrote that Sam Boyse came riding on a pony accompanied by Tom Boyse on foot to Carrig village in the summer of 1836, turned into the church-yard and handed over £200 and of course laid the foundation stone. He had the date wrong, by a year. Tuomy put Sam Boyse on a pony to give a folksy tint to his story; we may be sure that Tom Boyse would have a high powered automobile.

I will give a full account of the laying of the foundation stone in my next blog. Fr Peter Corish Parish Priest of Carrig-on-Bannow (but living in Ballymitty) became Chancellor of the Diocese of Ferns; he presided over the building of Carrig chapel. Do read the last issue of the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society with my article “Tom Boyse’s High Steeple”.

The People on February 2nd 1918 in its’ reports of Trade and Labour League had this account of the Bannow branch:


A meeting of this branch was held at Carrig on Sunday there being a large attendance. Mr Christopher Culleton, District Councillor, who spoke for an hour and a half, impressed on the meeting the need of organisation and hoped every working man would come into the League.”

I am not sure why speakers at meetings in that era went on so long. It may have been that ordinary people—at a time minus modern means of mass communications—did not understand public issues and maybe matters had to be explained in great detail.

From The Free Press, June 26th 1970:–

“The late celebrated Dr John O’Donovan was convinced that the town of Bannow was not buried, and writing for the Ordnance Survey Report in the eighteenth century he stated:–“A great deal of nonsense has been written in the Dublin Penny journal about the town of Bannow having been buried in the sands.”

Dr O’Donovan went on to say:–“There never was a house of it covered by the sands, but the people believe there was an old Irish village there, the houses of which were of mud and wood and which fell into decay, like the town of Mayo.

But there is no evidence that the sands have encroached on the place, as some nonsensical writers describe.”

I think, myself, that Dr O’Donovan was talking a good bit of nonsense! Bannow had an ancient charter from the King of England; it had streets as named in the quit rent roll book and while, if John C. Tuomy is correct, it had houses of wood and mud, it, also, had stone walled houses of distinction by contemporary standards.

I concur with Dr O’Donovan that it is improbable that a sand storm covered Bannow and submerged it for ever more. The probability is that a plague wiped out its inhabitants and other people were afraid to live in the place again. Up to early modern times material from old houses were used to build new houses and so later generations could have—as John C. Tuomy claims—could have carted stones from the houses in Bannow away. Mr Tuomy also states that farmers drew away the clay from the walls of cabins in Bannow to enrich their soil.

From The Wexford Herald March 25th 1825:–

“The sloop Foyle of Cork, Edward Mc Donnell, master, foundered on Thursday afternoon, about a mile off shore, off Bannow. She was coal laden, two days out from Cardiff and bound for Youghal. The crew saved themselves with difficulty in their small boat.”

I presume that the coal was mined in Wales.

On September 29th 1824 The Wexford Herald carried this notice:–

“Married—On the 20th instant at St George’s Church, Hanover-Square, Samuel Carter Hall Esq., of the Inner Temple to Miss Anna Maria Fielding, granddaughter of the late George Carr Esq., of Graigue in this county.”

Actually I think that George Carr was her (if such a phrase is correct) her grandfather in law; he was not I think a blood ancestor of Anna Maria Fielding. The words “Inner Temple” indicate that Mr Hall was a distinguished lawyer.

Parnell’s sister set up a Ladies Land League; it had a hint of the feminist philosophy, then tentatively emerging. Parnell was edgy about this development fearing I thing that the Ladies League would be excessively emotional and risk inviting. They had a branch of the Ladies Land League in Carrig-on-Bannow and this is a report of one of its meetings in The People on April 12th 1882:–

“At the meeting of this society held a few days ago, the Treasurer stated that she had forwarded £12 to the Sustenation Fund, which was duly acknowledged. The collectors handed in their books with the amounts collected and had them signed.

The Secretary said she was sorry to say that some disagreeable occurrences had recently taken place in their midst—that in fact “grass grabbing” of a most virulent kind had crept in among them. Her source of information was beyond dispute and to deal with those parties was beyond a doubt, their primary duty. She could not imagine from the examples that had been before the public in bygone days, that they could find any one man, or body of men, capable of resorting to the old game of “grabbing”. But such is the case. Such deserves our severest censure. One is to be found in this motley crowd who had been in the people’s ranks heretofore but is now a betrayer. He held a position among the men of this district, that should have taught him a new line in days to come; but on enquiry I may tell you that during his time of association his ends were selfish and as he is, more or less, living by the public, they can see their way of allowing him to revel in his loneliness. This should be the rule towards all that will run counter to the wishes of the oppressed tenant-farmers who are struggling for a “live and thrive” existence. This we will endeavour to carry out to enable us, when we are called on, to fill our places in the homes of worthy men, which I trust, will be at no very future day. Any lady that may have a resolution bearing on this point will move it. Since our last meeting an eviction has taken place, and this John Browne of “ours” has been thrust from his home, where he and his spent so many years, paying Captain Boyse and his predecessors over £1,100 above what is presumed at the present day to be a fair rent, viz., Griffith’s valuation. I am happy to inform you, when on this subject, that he has not been forgotten by the ladies, as our treasurer handed him a draft for £8 10 shillings to be continued monthly.

A letter was read from Mr Brown returning thanks to the ladies for their prompt action in his particular case.

Proposed by Miss Daly, seconded by Miss Keane—“That we tender our warmest sympathy to Mr John Browne and his family and wish them a long life to maintain the struggle of the oppressed, which, we trust, will outlive landlordism” Passed.

Proposed by Miss Power, seconded by Miss M. A. Walsh—“That we tender to the Rev. Father Feehan our admiration in upholding the people’s cause against oppression and that he may live to see his teachings bear good fruit.” Passed.

Proposed by Miss A. Cullen, seconded by Miss Walsh—“That we condemn grass grabbing in this district and trust that the manhood of Bannow will be vindicated in its protest against the avowed enemies of the people’s cause.” Passed.

Proposed by Miss K. White, seconded by Miss Furlong—“That those grass grabbers will have no more share of our patronage or accommodation in every sense of the word and as they are locally known we will give their  names at a future meeting for the public good.” Passed/

A sum of £8 was ordered to be sent to the Sustenation Fund.

I think that there is a misprint in the above;  Fr Feehan was actually Fr Meehan C. C. of Ballymitty who became Canon Meehan P. P. at Ballindaggin.

The proposers and seconders of the motions were unmarried and presumably young ladies—this is what Parnell may have feared: their political immaturity and inexperience. If an evicted man got £8 every month he might be better evicted that eking out an existence on a small holding! Once again it was demonstrated that Bannow was awash with cash.

As I always say the Land League was, in one sense, fighting Irish history: there was a long habit of taking lands (over generations) from which other men and families had been evicted; the Land League adapted the Trade Union principle of solidarity whereby it was urged on all men not to take evicted lands and grass. Some continued to do so. The difficulty for the historian is in recording their names as descendants may be upset at such information.

If anybody has information about the Brownes of Bannow I would like to hear of it.

On New Year’s Day 1885 Mary the beloved wife of Patrick Whitty, Old Hall, Bridgetown, died at the residence of her father Patrick Codd, Littlegraigue. Funeral left Littlegraigue for Carrig-on-Bannow on the Saturday at 1.30 pm.

From The People August 7th, 1889:–

“The Rate Collection [for Wexford Board of Poor Law Guardians]:–

The Clerk—Mr Moore closed his collection yesterday. He has made a very creditable collection this year, in fact his arrears, taking everything into consideration, are not £100. They generally used to be over £200.

The Chairman—Does this include uncollectible rates?

The Clerk—It includes everything. In the Bridgetown district there is £2 8 shillings; Bannow, £2 2 shillings; Kilmore, £1 3 shillings; Tomhaggard, £7. There is £4 due by Mr Boyse, Bannow, for an evicted farm in his possession at Newtown. He paid two years rates but no more. I told the collector to summon him for the remainder and try what effect the law would have on him. There are several evicted farms on which we cannot recover the rates. There is a very large arrears sheet still in Bannow. However, when I went over them there was no fault to be found with the collector. There are two townlands there off which it would be impossible to get the rates—Brandane and Vernily…..”

Mr Moore was Nicholas Moore, formerly the secretary of the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League. The majority on most Boards of Guardians was composed of elected Land League Guardians and they naturally appointed men with connections to the Land League, to Poor Law Union posts. The rates went to pay for the upkeep of the Health Dispensaries and medical care for impoverished people, for the maintenance of the Workhouse and provision of food and clothes to its inmates and out-door relief and occasionally to buy coffins for vagrant persons. Nicholas O’Hanlon Walsh (whose mother was evicted from her fine farm at Knocktartin) was employed as a rate collector for the Wexford Board of Guardians.

Richard Pococke who wrote of his tour of Ireland in 1751 or thereabouts was an atrocious speller and most ungrammatical or at least his writing appears that way to the latter day observer! I quote:–

“On the 4th I left Fethard and walk’d a mile on the south side of the river to the Mole, in which a vessel of an hundred tun can lie safe, but in a storm a ship cannot be secure abroad, except it may be from a westerly wind. I crossed over in about half a league to Bannoe and landed on the strand at that creek of land which joins what they call the Island of Bannoe to the land here they say was the old and safe entrance when Clamines was a town of trade; but now the entrance is to the west of it and is choked up by several barrs of sand that would make it very difficult for a ship to pass with safety when the tides are high: this Peninsula is a fine low round hill covered mostly with corn and appears very beautiful. There are only three or four houses at Bannoe and ruins of a good old church….

From The People September 3rd 1884:–

“Eviction Notices

…..Francis King and others to evict Richard Fowler from the lands of Barrystown.”

The notice was to the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union: under law the evicted person or family were entitled to be taken in the Workhouse. A grim prospect but better than sleeping in the ditch: very few availed of this right. The British legislators intended—by this legislation— to make the point to the landlords that eviction was inhumane and unacceptable. Richard Fowler lived for a while in a wretched house in the Ballymitty area.

From The Wexford Conservative September 14th 1842:–

“Mary Stafford appeared with a male child claiming its admission. The child was called John Wall, under which a Grand Jury presentment, had been for two years granted to sustain it, as a deserted child. William Monaghan was another name by which the same child was known. Mr N. Lett of Ballyoughton, on whose lands the child had been abandoned by its unfortunate mother, called the child Wall and had much exerted his humanity and interest towards it since. He was before the Board and explained the finding of the infant in some old walls—hence the name.

The late Rev. D. Thompson, Rector of the Parish expressed a desire to administer baptism to it when found and then about a month old. Mrs Lett remonstrated and said on enquiry she heard the child was born in England and baptised by the Rector, the Rev. Mr Alcock. Mr Lett had no bigotry about him and he, after this explanation, would leave to the Guardians what religion the child should be brought up in.

Mr Hawkshaw observed that if the child was baptized by the Rev. Mr Alcock, the registry of the parish would show it. Mr Furlong wished to know how Mr Lett could know that it was the same?

Mr Lett said, that from the time and description, he surmised it was the same. Mr Lett on being asked how could he account for the withdrawal of the Grand Jury grant, said he had signed resolutions at Rathangan for the reduction of Grand Jury cess and he supposed the Grand Jury thought well to begin with his application.

Mary Stafford stated that she left Sheastown to go to see her sister near Templetown. On the third day after, a strange woman was delivered of this child nigh the place and she went with another woman and had the child baptized by the Rev. Mr Dunn, in the name William. About a month after, the mother called to her (Mary Stafford’s) house in Sheastown and the child was then with her. It was morning and the woman took some boiled potatoes and went towards Mr Lett’s. When the child was found two potatoes were laid along with it.

The Guardians looked on the coincidence of the applicant, accidentally attending the delivery and baptism at such a distance from home, and afterwards becoming the nurse of the infant of a perfect stranger as singular, and declined receiving the child.”

The Guardians would have to be correct: in my opinion Mr Lett’s story does not seem even plausible, even if exotic. Travers R. Hawkshaw of Hillburn, Taghmon was in quickly to point out that if the child was baptized by Rev. Mr Alcock of Fethard the parish register would show that. I suspect that the child was that of Mary Stafford, herself or of a relative of hers: the objective was to have the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union take in and provide for the child. Mr Lett was, presumably, helping her in that intention. In latter times a child is seen as a unique gift, on which the lavishing of attention and extraordinary expense is gladly undertaken. To people in Mary Stafford’s time a child was often an overwhelming burden, especially one born out of wedlock. If the Workhouse could be tricked into taking such a child some mothers—in desperation and out of grim necessity—would be relieved. The burden and inconvenience of rearing a child would increase as time went on; many of the unmarried mothers lived by working for very low wages at physically demanding drudgery. Unscrupulous men, sometimes married, gulled them with promises of marriage and, perhaps, abused them. The law did provide that such fathers could be required to pay for their offspring. Usually the fathers had nothing to pay for maintenance of their children.