Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, the historian supreme, erudite, charming, charismatic, ebullient, scholarly, informed, exuberant and—wily. The geological experts were claiming in the 1840s that the ore at Barrystown had a high concentration of silver: so they did not have to look far for silver to put in the making of the trophies for the children of Barrystown!

On Wednesday May 9th 1928 Mr Richard Corish had a question for the Minister for Fisheries:–

“Mr Corish asked the Minister for Fisheries whether the Land Commission have yet acquired the lands of the Boyd estate Co. Wexford and if so when it is proposed to allot them to applicants?

Mr Roddy:–The Land Commission are unable to identify the Boyd estate referred to as pending for sale before them under the Land Purchase Acts, but if the Deputy refers to the estate of trustees of Major Boyse, County Wexford, the Land Commission have agreed with the owners for the purchase of 119 acres 0 roods and 28 perches of the lands of Ballymadden and 7 acres, 2 roods and 12 perches  of Cullenstown in this estate and hope to be in a position soon to allot the lands to approved purchasers.”

I presume that Ballymadden is a mis print or mispronunciation for Ballymadder. The Land Commission was engaged in a quixotic project to acquire big estates and divide them among small farmers. A certain amount of progress was achieved; on some of the allotments the Land Commission built new dwelling houses. The Commission favoured those men who had purchased land, albeit small bits of it as this showed initiative and passion to farm.

My mother told me that when my father was informed by the Land Commission in 1958 that he was getting a farm and new house at Ballymackessy, Clonroche she exuberantly told them at Mr Corbett’s shop in Wellingtonbridge of the glad tidings. All kinds of delay intervened and it was not until the 3rd of May 1960 that we finally moved there. Initially the people kept asking her about the new house and farm but after several months passed with no sign of anything happening they assumed that she was imagining it all and tactfully ceased to ask her anymore about it. My father bought the 14 acres beside the mine pits in circa 1940 and this may have influenced the Land Commission to exchange the much bigger farm at Ballymackessy with him for the tiny holding at Barrystown.

From the Railway Gazette:–

Barristown Lead Mine—Wexford September 19, 1845.

The prospects have improved since last report; the stopes east of engine-shaft are producing full a ton of ore per fathom. The bottoms of road near the strand are improved; the men are putting a stope level, with the water over it; it will produce two tons per fathom. The shaft in middle lode looks well; the stones from it look more solid than heretofore. We have not cut any more of lode in cross cut coming under this at the 12 foot level. From garden shaft there is still a stream of water coming from the short cut end; and a great deal of water in the shaft. The engine and flat road shafts are sinking with all possible despatch; the ground is more favourable for sinking in each of them. The lodge in winze east of Dane’s shaft is heaved by a slide. Driving north at this point to see if any part is drawn in this direction we have been six or eight fathoms west of the point before the men are working in stopes and find what can be seen of the lode in arches, very regular and good. There are at present employed sixteen men on tribute; forty on tutwork; breaking ore on tutwork, ten; surface labourers, six; pitmen, smiths, carpenters, etc, eight; dressers, including girls, twelve; buckers, six; boys, filling and landing, four—in all from 102 to 120. September 30—We have discovered the west end on the lode we are on; the fore-breast, standing from bottom, says 12 fathoms up, within 4 fathoms of surface; looks well and producing about 1 and a half tons to 1 ton per fathom. Behind and within 8 feet of breast is a lode in an arch of ground, which will produce 2 tons or more of ore per fathom.”

“To the several tenants on the Bannow estate, County Wexford

Bannow House, 2nd January 1865

Your landlord Captain Boyse has directed me to bring under your attention the following matters in full confidence that such will have your attention and a ready compliance to prevent the necessity he will otherwise be under of proceeding against you to deprive you of your leases:–Captain Boyse will not permit sub-letting or con-acre on his Estate, such being contrary to the existing leases and if fact rendering such leases void, in addition to increasing the local axes and poor rates. You will therefore act, forthwith, to determine all under-tenancies and to have all strangers and squatters removed from the Estate and where such under-tenancies have been created, contrary to the provisions of your leases, and this timely advice not taken, your rent in March next will not be received. Captain Boyse being anxious to encourage on his Estate sheep-feeding and pasture farming generally, in preference to tillage, and the preservation of game of every kind, requests that all dogs may be parted with as speedily as possible. Captain Boyse being aware of the material advantage which you derive from the establishment of a monthly fair at Carrig, wishes to further extend that advantage in the coming year by endeavouring to, also, create a butter, corn, and general market there; and requests that you will discontinue that most objectionable and unwise practice of selling pigs and cattle to jobbers at your private houses while you are in ignorance of the rise and fluctuations of the markets, of which such jobbers are fully advised. Captain Boyse trusts that you will see a necessity , healthfulness, and prudence of keeping your houses and all farming buildings neat, clean, and well white-washed; your land free from all weeds and all dung and manure heaps at a distance from your actual dwelling houses. Captain Boyse, feeling that his position of landlord is most materially affected by your prosperity and good conduct trusts that you all will endeavour to carry out his views and wishes as tending to your mutual benefit and to you so acting, in addition to the profits and advantages accruing to yourselves, you will secure every encouragement from Captain Boyse in meeting you and your children to advance your and their education, position, and prospects, in the interests of the landlord and tenant, being identical.

Yours faithfully

Robert Dobbyn.”

Sub-tenants were simply tenants of the farmers who leased the farm from the landlord. They usually had a lease (or informal arrangement) of a very small piece of land from the farmer. Most of the leases in Bannow had sub-tenants. They are said by some to have lost out completely in the transfer of land to the tenants after 1903 but I am not convinced that such is a valid argument.

Captain Hunt Boyse inherited Bannow from the Rev. Richard Boyse and this opening missive signalled a change of disposition in Bannow House. Justitia (possibly John C. Tuomy, if he were still alive) tried to do his best to ameliorate its harsher aspects:–

“Sir—Please allow me to state that I think your strictures on the Notices issued to the Boyse Tenantry of the Bannow estate, appearing in your last—were rather severe—but judging them from their mere literal expression, perhaps, you could not say less. The tenantry of Bannow are, however, willing to take a more comprehensive view of matters. They do not believe that Captain Boyse intends by this address, on which you comment so severely, a total levelling of houses, a regular clearance of sub-tenants. This would be quite at variance with the liberal views of the Boyse family.

’Tis true that Tom Boyse whilst living, cause many houses to be levelled and paid the passages of hundreds, I believe, to America, in order to prevent an increase in the local taxation and he was considered more as a benefactor, that otherwise, for so doing. These were not exactly sub-tenants, however, as a brief explanation will suffice to show. Previous to the period alluded to, about fifteen years ago, the lead mines at Barriestown had been worked successfully, when people flocked with their families from all parts and settled down (as best they could) in Carrig, the neighbouring village, and the adjacent locality. The work soon ceased, however, and the result was that whole families were thrown out of employment; soon found themselves in total want, without the slightest hope of aid and the Workhouse loomed in sight. What was to be done? The landlord to meet these emergencies, called public meeting of his tenantry and agreed to send these poor people to America, provided they were willing to throw down their houses, a request they readily complied with; thus increased taxation was prevented and the wants of these suffering people relieved. I think you will agree with me that Mr Boyse does not deserve censure for this act. And now since that time, several families, used to a migratory mode of life, have settled on the estate, are an encumbrance thereon—and is it any wonder that Captain Boyse ties to prevent a like recurrence as that already quoted? To show you that he does not intend to interfere with the old sub-tenantry I need only state that he has already done much to promote neatness and cleanliness, in the aspect of their dwellings—a thing he would scarcely have done, had he bestowed a single thought on demolishing them. I think the industrious cottier, therefore, has nothing to fear from this harmless mandate and that Captain Boyse, instead of acting harshly, may be induced to act like several other gentlemen in this county and build suitable cottages on his estate, for the residence of these humble and useful members of society. In the next paragraph which you deal with, I must acknowledge there is a great lack of judgement wherein “pasturage is to be preferred to tillage”. Bannow is, with few exceptions, a tillage country—sheep and cattle do not thrive in it and many farmers who made the experiment felt the loss most seriously. Besides the tenantry should be at liberty to make the most that they can out of their holdings, since their rents are the highest which possible can be paid. Regarding the remaining portions of the Notices—they breathe a genial and kindly feeling and it is to be hoped that when Captain Boyse comes to reside amongst his tenantry—when he becomes acquainted with the position and circumstances of each, individually, then he will be able to judge for himself and you may rely, very few complaints will then be heard of him as a landlord. It is much to be regretted that these notices were issued at all for generally speaking, their meanings have been misconstrued—false impressions and prejudices created against a landlord who, I am sure, has not the slightest wish of rendering himself unpopular amongst his tenantry, or subjecting himself to the censure of the public press. Trusting you will give insertion to these remarks in your next issue.

I am yours sir, Justitia”

From the Wexford People on July 2nd 1881:

“On Thursday an eviction took place at Knocktartan on the property of Colonel Tottenham. The person evicted was the widow Walsh, mother of the Rev. David Walsh. It will be remembered that about four weeks ago the sheriff paid a visit to this locality when it was believed that a visit would be paid to Mrs Walsh; but if contemplated this was not carried out. Mrs Walsh offered what she considered a fair rent but Colonel Tottenham and his agent Mr Boyd were inexorable. Considering that on the death of her husband, Mrs Walsh had her land raised by 5 shillings an acre, it was only a reasonable demand. The Constabulary display today was viewed by the country people with a wondering astonishment as none were aware of the reason of their visit. From 10 o’clock in the morning the Constabulary continued to arrive by different routes from Enniscorthy and Wexford. The force numbered over eighty men and were under the command of E. F. Ryan R. M. and Sub-Inspector Ball, Taghmon. At twelve o’clock the Sheriff, Thomas Wilkinson and the Bailiff, Nathaniel Hammond, with an assistant, came upon the scene. The police were drawn up on the road opposite the dwelling house and the Sheriff and Bailiffs proceeded to put into force the behest of the evictor. The house was unoccupied and soon the furniture and other articles were flung on the road. The rain came down with pitiless severity but the evictors heeded it not. The work of removing the cattle and horses off the land was no easy task and it was three o’clock before it was completed. In the meantime Father Walsh arrived and some hundred farmers from the surrounding districts but offered no opposition. Father Walsh offered what he considered a fair rent but was peremptorily refused. At length the last cow was driven off the land, the bailiff closed the door of the widow’s house and the posses withdrew from the scene. She was not re-admitted.”

Brother Tom Mc Donagh taught us back in 1965/66 that “historia” is the Latin for a story and has been developed in modern English into the word “history”. If history is a story then the narrative of the eviction of the Widow O’Hanlon-Walsh is scintillating history and it is puzzling that the historians of Carrig-on-Bannow have not written of it. Mrs O’Hanlon-Walsh had ample money to pay the rent but refused to do so; on a point of principle, she felt that she was charged over 30 per cent above the proper amount. Her son, Fr Davey O’Hanlon-Walsh, became a celebrated figure in the Land struggle, a veritable icon as was his brother Nicholas O’Hanlon-Walsh. I could go and on talking about Fr Davey O’Hanlon-Walsh. He died before his time in Kiltealy and is buried there, in the chapel if I am correct. Those that the Gods love die young—it was likewise with Jack Kennedy.

From the Bargy Notes in the People on July 6, 1912:–

“The Dangers of the Hatpin

Towards the close of the football match at Ballymitty on Sunday last between Campile and Gusserane a very peculiar incident occurred. There was a rather good sprinkling of the fair sex on the side line and the ball being kicked out struck one of the number on the top of the head and the hatpin which was protruding pierced the ball, puncturing it so badly that another ball had to be produced in order to have the game finished. The affair caused some amusement.”

On the 15th of June 1881 Bartholomew Ffrench, a native of Bannow, died at San Francisco.