Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, overwhelmed by adulation, fated to a glorious destiny, replete with genius and with brains to burn [so I wont need the Ballymitty coal], a right boyo, blessed among the women, charming, charismatic, original, innovative, inspired and inspiring, a historian supreme, a wit with the gift of spontaneous humour (like uncle Paddy) and above all else, wily—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. It had been the first ever parent/teacher meeting in the Enniscorthy Christian Brothers School; my mother was there but my father stayed away as he feared that the Brothers would talk to him in Irish—in the Christian Doctrine class the following day, Brother Francis Delaney [known to all as Frankie] told the class in a solemn tone that if there were any more like Mc Donald in the school, he would close it down, forever….That is a Kilkenny man for ye! He went to the mansions most high some years ago. He had little time for Wexford hurling but sang ballads—one of his teaching colleagues told me—with gusto, especially the Rocks of Bawn. Teaching in that era, when a sub-culture inimical to learning was quite strong, would render anyone nostalgic for ploughing rocks—as Tarry Flynn used to say there was a great beauty in rocks and weeds in Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan. I challenge my readers to work out the rest of that allusion, themselves.
At the consecration of St Peter’s College Chapel in 1840, after high mass, a collection was made, in order to liquidate the debts of the chapel and “upwards of £100 was obtained.” Tom Boyse was one of the three collectors, as one would expect….
From exhibits at the Royal Irish Academy in 1864:–
“No 33—A tombstone similar in type to the former and preserved in the old churchyard of Bannow, county of Wexford. Here, however, we have the head and bust of a male and female figure, surmounted by an architectural canopy. The male head is armed with the cylindrical flat-headed helmet of the 13th century; the female head is bare, showing the head tonsured over the forehead and falling in looped up curls over the ears, being bound round with a flat band. Along the shaft of the cross there is the following inscription, in black letter:–
“Hic jacet Johannes Colfer qui obit [no date]. Orate pro Anna Siggin [another blank space on which the date was never inserted] quorum animabus proprietor dues. Amen.
In the district of Bannow and Carrick, Colfer is the most common name; but Siggins, though recognised as one of the oldest names, is now extinct; the last of the name in the county was a travelling horse-breaker, an old man much respected by the people, and who occasionally lived among them at free quarters.
No 34—View of the old house of the Siggin family, in the townland of Newtown, formerly Brandane, opposite to Bannow Island.”
Would the name Shiggins not have derived from Siggin? The above contention was risibley wrong as there are several people of that name in present day Ireland
It was reported in very early February 1918:–
“Bannow [Trade and Labour League]
A meeting of this branch was held at Carrig on Sunday, there being a large attendance. Mr Christopher Culleton D. C. 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.”
From The Free Press 7th of May 1927:–
Two games of hurling in the Taghmon League were brought off at Duncormick on Sunday, viz., The Dirr v Ballymitty and Duncormick v Taghmon. The first match was a poor display, the Dirr team being minus some of their best players. The Ballymitty team, lately organised, have a lot to learn in the matter of hurling. The game opened strongly. The Dirr scored a goal. Following this up, they added a point and keeping up the pressure they added another minor and shortly after scored a goal. Ballymitty got going and scored two goals before half-time with the scores:–
The Dirr—2 goals, 2 points;
The turn over gave Ballymitty the advantage of the strong breeze. They were unlucky in not scoring on a couple of occasions. Play was even for a time but the Dirr gradually worked up and scored a goal. They kept up the pressure for the remainder of the moiety. Final scores:–
The Dirr—3 goals, 2 points.
….Ballymitty—J. Coughlan (Captain), S. Waters (goal), R. Tobin, P. Tobin, J. Molloy, T. Waters, P. Hanlon, P. Cullen, P. Doran, J. Cullen, W. Byrne, J. Waters.
Referee—Mr N. Cleary.”
The above score line denotes a lot of ground hurling and first time striking: lifting and striking for points was much less done then.
From The Echo, 8th of February 1913:–
“The Carrig Band
During the past few weeks the members of the re-organises fife and drum band at Carrig-on-Bannow have had some excellent practices. They have two or three weekly and certainly the boys show much earnestness. From the progress they are making they will be able to turn out as a first class band in the early summer, and will be able to enliven the district with some fine productions of our old Irish airs and music. They have had some of the old instruments fitted up in splendid order.
There is great annoyance caused by the system of train service that at present exists between Wexford and the southern districts. Complaints are general but talk will have no effect.”
The advent of trains transformed travel in the nineteenth century and for long after. The parochial bands played at any venue or place accessible to them: the Carrig band would have played before local meetings, on the strand at Cullenstown, St Patrick Day’s parades at local matches, etc, et al. They invariably played patriotic songs and tunes: my impression is of people (to use a metaphor) intoxicated by music in that era. It was a rare experience to them.
The County Wexford Independent reported on March 10th 1906:–
“What A Referee Says
Mr J[ack]. M’Cormack, [Ballymitty and previously Arnestown], who so ably refereed both matches in Wexford Park on Sunday and who is recognised as one of our best administers of Gaelic rules on the football field, spoke to his charges as follows—Gaels of Wexford (perhaps, I am addressing the junior champions), permit me as referee to speak a few words to you ere I start the game. First of all, a referee’s task is a very difficult one, for an accident may occur during the game and the fault is certain to be laid on him. Therefore, I intend to make you play strictly up to the rules and by you so doing it will help me to perform my duty and to the satisfaction of both teams. Secondly, I intend to put down roughness with a firm hand, for you are all well aware that such conduct tends to degrade our Gaelic games—some of the few of our grand old pastimes; and finally, I want you to play the game in such a manner and in such a spirit that when, the hour is ended, victor and vanquished may clasp hands in a friendly shake and say, “Brother Gaels, I congratulate you; it was the better team won.”
Jack M’Cormack was uncle of the famous Aidan and Jim Mc Cormack.
This was the editorial in The Wexford Independent on Saturday October 31, 1835:–
“We have just received a letter from an esteemed correspondent in Bannow, from which we feel infinite satisfaction in making the following extract—
“Erin’s bard who has lately visited this neighbourhood still shows that the enthusiasm with which he was received by the honest people here is duly appreciated by him. He calls his two days in Bannow—“two glorious days”—and he still makes manifest, although in another land, that they were so to him. His gratitude to the Bannow people, for their attention is not confined to words merely—for he has lately enclosed to Mr Thomas Boyse, the sum of ten pounds, to assist them in the good work of building the new Catholic Church of Danescastle. This fact speaks trumpet-tongued for the noble heart of him who carries all hearts captive.”
There is no doubt that the esteemed correspondent was John C. Tuomy, the principal of Taghmon National Boys School and owner of sub-standard houses in the village. He did posterity a signal service in chronicling so much of what happened in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow and somebody should put up a memorial to him or give a lecture on him or better still write a book on him.
Shortly afterwards a pension of £100 per year was arranged by the British Government for Tom Moore. No doubt Tom Boyse had a word in the making of that arrangement. The crucial issue here is that both Boyse and Moore were adherents of the Whig or Liberal cause. Tom Moore’s wife jested after the award of the pension that they could eat their potatoes with butter after that!
If I am correct Anna Maria Hall was, also, given a pension.
Tom Moore died seventeen years (or thereabouts) after his visit to Bannow. Lord John Russell who became the Liberal or Whig Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Famine in Ireland edited the diaries of Tom Moore after his death as a means of providing an income for his widow.
When Jack Kennedy was in England before World War I I (that time when old Joe was United States Ambassador to Britain), he made a careful study of the political methods of the Whig aristocrats, especially of their techniques in generating mass emotions. His visit to Ireland in 1963 was astounding for his rapport with massive crowds.
In the summer of 1836 the genuinely reforming Lord Lieutenant the Earl of Mulgrave, came on a triumphant tour of the Co. Wexford, as tens of thousands of people poured onto the roads to see and follow him. I wrote an article on his visit in the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society entitled—“The Maidens Dancing At Boro Hill”.
Tom Moore’s visit to Bannow in 1835 was an early example of a public figure in ecstatic and intense communion with a massive crowd, indeed with an entire community. Tom Boyse, himself, during the campaign against Tithes, spoke to and excited crowds of hundreds of thousands on occasion.
The Whigs or Liberals were, essentially, on the side of the Catholic community: they sought civil and religious liberty above all else. They, also, put a much greater stress on social justice. In the closing decades of the nineteenth century Mr Gladstone, the Whig or Liberal Prime Minister of Great Britain introduced the Home Rule Acts and the Land Acts; ironically it was Mr Wyndham of the Conservative Party who in 1903 introduced the final bit of legislation to enable the tenants to buy their farms from the landlords.
Jack Kennedy in New Ross in June 1963 extended abundant and exaggerated praise to everyone. Martin Mc Donald Doyle of Duncormack had been sent to St Peter’s College by Tom Boyse as he seemed most gifted but that supposed genius never really flowered—he was, at best, an earnest but uninspired and amateur poet. At Bannow on seeing him, Tom Moore rushed across and grasped his hand and called him a fellow poet—implying that the young man was his equal. There is no need for me to dwell on Moore’s lavishing of attention on the young girls—I am sure that they were beautiful as all Carrig-on-Bannow girls are—but even if they were not Tom Moore would insist that they were!
Very Rev. William Murphy, Vicar-General and Dean of the diocese of Ferns and Parish Priest of Taghmon went to the heavenly mansions in early June 1896. There was a vast attendance at his funeral. His obituary focussed on a little known highlight of his long life:–
“Another fact in connection with the late Dean Murphy, not generally known, is that it was he who composed the address presented to Thomas Moore, the poet, on his “triumphal entry into Bannow”, where he was guest of late Mr Thomas Boyse in August 1835. Father Murphy was then a student in Maynooth, where he had a very distinguished career and composed the address at the pressing request of Mr Boyse and the then Parish Priest of Rathangan, the late Rev. John Barry (grand-uncle of the present Parish Priest, Canon Hore). The address was read at Bannow House by Mr Nicholas Ffrench, grand-uncle of Mr Peter Ffrench M. P. So high an opinion of the late Dean’s wisdom and learning did the clergy of the diocese entertain that on the occasion of the late Most Rev. Dr Warren’s death they unanimously appointed him Vicar Capitular, to govern the see of Ferns pending the appointment and consecration of the present wise ruler of the Church of St Aidan.”
From The Wexford Independent September 22nd 1838:–
“Not long since a farm-servant of the name of John Larkin picked up after nightfall a parcel containing £25 10 shillings in bank notes, on one of the public roads which intersect the classic parish of Bannow. Not conceiving “all to belfish which came into his dish” and recollecting the precepts inculcated by the ancient religion of his fathers—the creed of a Fenelon and a Bossuet, he had the money advertised the next Sunday on the church-gate of Danescastle. On the following Sunday, another advertisement was posted in the same place, saying that Mr Haughton of Kilmannock had dropped notes to the amount of £24 10 shillings. Young Larkin immediately waited on him and instead of £24 10 shillings presented him with £25 10 shillings. Mr Haughton identified the notes as those he had lost and awarded the boy with £1, the difference between the sum returned and that which he advertised he had lost. The above would probably never have found its way into the columns of a newspaper but for the rascally comment of the “Conservative” on the character of the people regarding the accoutrements of the unfortunate soldier. Here then is more data for “Paddy Byrne” from which he may demonstrate the dishonesty of his former patrons, the peasantry.”
This looks classic John C. Tuomy but I am not sure if had yet come to Bannow—I think he had; check my previous blog on the Bannow Boatman, Paddy Cahill.
I am not absolutely sure if the story is true but I opine that Mr Haughton, a powerful and opulent landlord in the Tintern locality would have probably contradicted this report if it was not true. Mr Haughton was of the genus of landlord who favoured the Catholic community so he may have been amenable to letting a trifle distortion of fact go unchallenged—especially, if it was a good riposte to the Wexford Conservative, the organ of the detested Orange Order. I think, on balance, that the story is true: in that era, ordinary people would have feared eternal damnation if they committed serious sin and, besides, there is abundant other evidence that they were instinctively honest.
On a legal notice published in Finn’s Journal, dated February 6 1790, Samuel Boyse was described as the High Sheriff of the County of Kilkenny.