Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, scholarly, erudite, innovative, original, a historian supreme, very humble, a right boyo, witty enough to be in the circus and above all else—wily, that wily boy.
I will give a lecture of Killoughram Wood, Caime, About four miles from Enniscorthy, on Tuesday night October 14th at 8.30 pm in the Clonroche Community Centre. It was a great natural wood of 1500 statute acres some time before the Famine. There was 500 statute acres of it left when the Purdon brothers from Dublin leased it from Captain Ireland in 1858 and again in 1862. The Purdons were proprietors of the Farmers’ Gazette and they had a dream: to make farming a commercial activity, with the application of science and new fangled machines and implements. They borrowed prodigiously and lost in equal measure; the remaining brother Edward had a decree of eviction given against him in 1879. They sought to give much needed employment and as they engaged upwards of fifty men felling trees and stubbing up the roots plus 20 more as general farm labourers they did indeed do that. My puzzle is how these men, operating to a task system where they were paid on the basis of clearing a specified number of square perches, actually endured the cold, the frost, the sleet and snow of nineteenth century winters and stubbed roots of trees at the same time. It would, perhaps, be preferable to serving in the trenches in World War I. They were given half barrels of beer on Saturday evenings. Maybe they had a system of electric fires in the wood as they uprooted it.
In 1816 the famous “Captain Grant” and his insane gang of criminals resided in Killoughram Wood from which they planned to attack houses of prosperous people in and about Enniscorthy. In that era the law was ruthless in regard to criminals but Captain Grant was held in a perverse adulation not just by the lower orders but the gentry and aristocracy in the midlands of Ireland. Dao come and hear me talk about him.
All kinds of things are written about the nineteenth century in Ireland, seldom objective or correct: the basic assumption is that the gothic, the primal and the apocalyptic—without qualification— prevailed. The next task then is to create all kinds of miniature narratives to comply with that overall awfulness. My thesis is that research, especially at the micro level, confounds that excessive reliance on gothic and demonic scenarios. The nineteenth century anticipated our modern society.
Kevin Whelan’s book on the 1798 period “The Tree of Liberty” is well worth perusal. I agree with large amounts of what he has written.
Father Mike is the title of one of Mrs Anna Maria Hall’s stories and it is undoubtedly based on Fr. Edward Murphy, the parish priest of Carrig-on-Bannow at the time of the 1798 Rebellion and for a long time afterwards. I presume that her descriptions of Father Mike’s house are in parallel mode a picture also of Fr Murphy’s house; so I shall give extracts from her story dealing with Fr Murphy’s house:–
“The house stood on a bleak hill, exposed to the full rush of the sea blast, without a tree to shelter either dwelling, barn or yard….it was an ill-built slated house, flanked by thatched offices, which formed a sort of triangle….The inside of the dwelling was rambling and inconvenient; it had a dark entrance-hall or passage, a kitchen, a parlour, a cellar on the ground floor; while a sort of ladder stair case led to the upper chambers….On an old fashioned table, partially covered with a half bleached cloth, was spread the priest’s supper; a large round of salted beef, a silver pint mug, with an inscription somewhat worn by time, an unbroken cake of griddle bread, with a “pat” of fresh butter on a wooden platter and two old bottles, containing something much stronger than water. An antique arm chair with an embroidered but much soiled cushion was placed opposite the massive silver-handled knife and fork; all awaiting his Reverence’s coming. From the rafters of this wild looking apartment hung various portions of dried meat and fish and the pig’s heads, that looked ghastly enough in the flickering light. The dresser which as usual in Irish kitchens, extended the whole length of the room, made a display of rich china, yellow delf, wooden noggins, dim brass, and even old but chased silver candlesticks. A long deal “losset” filled to overflowing with meal and flour, was (if I may use the expression) united to the wall by a heap of potatoes…..; a large herring barrel, a keg of whiskey on a stand, to be “handy like” and a firkin of butter, occupied the spaces along the wall of the apartment.”
The source of the light is not specified but its flickering nature would suggest an oil lamp or even candles—they hardly depended solely on light from the fire; besides the housekeeper could read eleven o’clock on the clock (“for it’s almost eliven by the ould clock”). John C. Tuomey was annoyed by Mrs Hall ascribing this quaint idiom to the ordinary people of Carrig-on-Bannow; but comical reports of cases at the Petty Sessions in Taghmon more or less half a century on (circa 1860) had the litigants there talking in the same way. The dialogue in an unlawful killing case in Clonroche area and heard in Wexford Assizes circa 1883 had some incomprehensible talk! Mrs Hall as befitted a woman of the spiritualist outlook (her husband was also a spiritualist) invariably added touches of the gothic, or sheer awful and threatening, to her stories.
“A Huge Mammal
Much discussion is current relative to the large whale which was washed ashore some days ago near Cullenstown. The great mammal is about 36 feet in length minus the head. If supplied with that important member it would be near fifty feet. Some say that the carcase was shipped out to sea when the oil had been taken from the head. This is a most unlikely story, as those people who follow up such trade would undoubtedly find some more profitable purpose for this large body that letting it out to drift at will on the wild ocean waves. It must have been a considerable period in the water, as it was in an advanced state of decomposition. There were no marks such as harpoons, etc., found to give any identity as from where this great fish came.”
The above appeared in The Enniscorthy Guardian on January 18th 1913.
There was a public meeting in Carrig-on-Bannow on the last Sunday of April 1913, “under the auspices of the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the United Irish League”; Mr John Kane District Councillor presided and Mr Nicholas Moore acted as secretary to the meeting. The meeting passed a motion strongly condemning The Wexford Independent for its “mean and cowardly attacks upon our Parliamentary representative, Mr Peter Ffrench. Mr Denis Crosbie proposed that the resolution be adopted and Mr Robert Coleman seconded the proposal. It was passed with acclamation. Nicholas Moore had been secretary of the Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League. Mr Ffrench referred to his native parish of Bannow. Peter Ffrench lost his seat in the Westminster Parliament in 1918 to the Sinn Fein candidate Dr Jim Ryan of Tomcoole.
From The People September 21 1887:–
“Bannow Burial Ground
Very Rev. Canon Sheridan P. P. reported to the Bannow dispensary committee on the necessity of providing additional ground at the chapel of Bannow for the purpose of interment, as the present burial ground is over crowded; some graves have received two bodies and some three bodies. There is no vacant ground even for one grave at present. Having considered the report the committee concluded to enquire of the Clerk of the Board of Guardians the proper mode of procedure.
Mr Peacocke [this was a meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Union] :–Better refer this to the Clerk and then invite the attention of the Local Government Board before you can do anything in a matter of this kind.
The Clerk—This burial ground will be charged over a considerable district outside of Bannow. Of course we could take land compulsorily without an inquiry and without special order….
Mr Devereux said the accommodation was very small in the graveyard.”
To the latter day observer the above is ambiguous: are we dealing with the graveyard in the village of Carrig-on-Bannow or are we talking of the burial ground in and beside the ruined church at Bannow? I am nigh sure that it is the graveyard in Carrig village that is referred to. There was little room for the dead to sleep at peace in during the 19th century: the Rossdroit graveyard, near Clonroche, was reputed to have upwards of eighteen bodies in a single grave.
From The Freeman’s Journal August 2nd 1828:–
“On Sunday a Catholic aggregate meeting such as has seldom before been seen in that town, took place in the great chapel of Wexford. There could not have been less than four thousand persons present, comprising not only the Catholic but a vast portion of Protestant wealth and respectability of the town and country. Immediately after last Mass the crowds flocked in numbers and although the proceedings did not commence till three o’clock the whole edifice was filled to excess long before two. The galleries which were reserved for females exclusively, presented all that the town of Wexford could boast of—beauty, and the windows were choked with anxious spectators. A three o’clock the Gentlemen composing the committee came into the chapel and shortly after the Chair was taken by Sir Thomas Esmonde, Bart.
Mr Thomas Boyse, a Protestant gentleman, was the first who addressed the meeting. He took a view of the present system of monopoly that is exercised on the Catholics and after an able review of the penal code said that it required one thing to render it still more perfect, to condemn the Catholics to walk on all fours!!!
Mr Boyse senior followed.”
It would a very difficult task to follow Tom Boyse!
Mrs Jane Stratford Boyse, the widow of Tom Boyse died at over 90 years of age at Marseilles in June 1879. At the time of her death she was possessed of a house at No 53 Westbourne Terrace, some freehold property at Cheltenham and a very large sum in Consols and other government stock. She seemed to have been married to a Frenchman named Gautier. He claimed to the court after her death that he was lawfully married to her but the court rejected his claim. He was much younger than her and if her lawful husband would be entitled to her estate. Jane Kirwan [her maiden name] Colclough had after the break-up of her marriage to Tom Boyse resumed the name of Colclough and was never known as Boyse again.
In February 1820 Doctor Carroll of Bannow was married to Sarah, youngest daughter of the late Rev. E. Carr, Rector of Kilmacow, county Kilkenny.
From The People November 7th 1953:–
“Deep-Rooted Beet—A beet grown on the lands of Mr Seamus Nolan, Cullinstown measured 36 inches from tip of root to top of crown.”
From The People November 21 1953:–
“Ballymitty Men’s Departure:–
Messrs Richard and Patrick Neville, two members of the Ballymitty football club, have left for Dublin to take up employment in Messrs Powers’ distillery.”
From The People February 4, 1871:–
“Derelict Goods—The strong south-westerly wind prevailing for the past few days has caused a considerable quantity of casks containing paraffin oil to be driven in between the Bar of Lough and Bannow Bay, from some wreck which probably may have occurred in the Channel during the storm.”
From The People February 11, 1871:–
“On Saturday, 21st January, at Philadelphia, Rev. Mark Crane O. S. A., pastor of St Augustine’s Church to the deep regret of all who knew him. The reverend deceased who was born August 10 1831, in the parish of Bannow, was one of a family counting six of its members devoted to the service of Almighty God, four of his brothers being in the priesthood and his only sister a nun. The death of this truly just and good man leaves a void which time itself scarce can fill; poignant then is the grief that pierces the hearts of all who knew him, a pastor, father, and friend. May he rest in peace—Catholic Standard.”
At the Duncormack Petty Sessions in July 1898:–
“No Licenses for Cullenstown on “the 15th”
Mr James O’Farrell, Main Street, Wexford and Mr Nicholas Barry, Carrig-on-Bannow applied for occasional licenses to sell spirits, wine, etc., at Cullenstown in August on the 15th, the occasion of the annual “pattern”. District-Inspector Fleming said he would oppose the granting of any licenses for the 15th August at Cullenstown. There was a public house which he considered quite sufficient for the occasion. The free use of intoxicating drinks would necessitate the sending there of an extra force of police and he did not believe the bench desired to give a chance for any scenes of disorder by granting any licenses. The bench refused all the applications.”
In the 19th century the effect of imbibing freely of alcohol was explosive, at least, metaphorically if not actually! My impression is of people saving assiduously for big events like the 15th at Cullenstown and then drinking copiously on that day: they were unaccustomed to alcoholic drink which increased its maddening impact on them and besides they were, in a way incomprehensible to us of modern times, given to impetuous violence.
From The People October 7, 1950:–
Show Successes—In the recent Loch Garman Show, competitors from the district met with remarkable success. Mr E. White, Nickaree, won first prize for best foal in the show. As usual the Mc Cutcheon family, Ballymitty were successful in the honey section….Mr P. Murphy, Ballygow, won several prizes in the fruit section. Miss Bridie Davy, Grange, had several prizes to her credit in the flower section.”
We, the undersigned, give notice that the game on the lands in our possession are preserved, that all former permissions are withdrawn and that any person found thereon in pursuit of game without permission in writing will be prosecuted—Signed,
Loughlin O’Keeffe, Coolcliffe, Raymond Corish, Ballinleigh (sic), John M’Cormack, Arnestown, Mary Crosbie, lands of Arnestown, Patrick Donnelly, lands of Arnestown.
July 24th 1896.”
Fr James Barry aged 43 years and in the 18th year of his sacred ministry died at Bannow on April 6th 1875. His illness was very brief. He was born in Bannow in 1832 and pursued his early ecclesiastical studies at St Peter’s College and finished them at Maynooth. He was ordained in 1857 and was then appointed Curate at Wexford.
From the Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press on June 19th 1954:–
“U. S. A. Visitor—Mr Edward Wade, Chicago, was a visitor to Carrig-on-Bannow during the week. He is son of Mr Philip Wade, well known Carrig handballer, who emigrated to America 40 years ago and nephew of the late Mr Ben Wade N. T., Bannow. Mr Wade paid a short visit to relatives in the district. He is retuning from the Korean battlefront where he is serving with the United States forces….
“The ’Plane Game—Prince Michael Neale, prince of the Saltees, landed in Harriestown in airplane about 11 am on Sunday forenoon. His arrival on the two previous Sundays had been awaited by crowds of people. When it did touch down there was no audience to welcome him and it was some time before the crowd collected. Shortly afterwards another ‘plane, piloted by Captain Kennedy, an ex-British Air Force pilot, landed in the same field and this made up for the disappointments on the previous two Sundays. Captain Kennedy took up several people for short flights. Both planes took off for Dublin about 4 pm.”
They had a faggot cutting competition at the Bannow and Rathangan Ploughing Match at Coolcliffe, Ballymitty on Thursday January 1936; Mr Gannon kindly gave the field. One had to cut 15 faggots, 42 inches in circumference, in 1 hour. The first prize was £1 and the entry fee was 2 shillings and 6 pence. Tom Stafford of Cullenstown, Bannow was the secretary of the organising committee.