Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, inspired and inspiring, blessed amongst women, historian supreme, eloquent, uses big words, moves with panache, a far greater intelligence than Einstein, erudite, scholarly, with soubriquets of “the professor” and “the book”, a trainor of hurling teams, a marathon runner, a florist and cultivator of fabulous sunflowers, humble, self-effacing, modest, easily pleased, and above all else, devious and most wily, that wily boy from beside the mine-pits, if they are still there. If it is true, it ain’t bragging and no native of Carrig-on-Bannow parish has any need to brag. Once when preparing a lecture of the Caime mines, I went to look at the Chimney Stacks or pits there: I was convinced that they were fire-places to keep the miners warm in winter weather and cook their food! A man from a mining area told me that they were used to draw off dangerous gases from the mine shafts underground.
I will lecture on the genesis of the first Co. Wexford Strawberry Fair in Enniscorthy in 1968 and the early phases of the Strawberry Fair in Clonroche Community Centre at 8.30 pm on Wednesday October 12. Muintir Na Tire initiated the Strawberry Fair; Muintir now exists in a residual form, and organises the welcome and useful Community Alert schemes. The Strawberry Fair was a phenomenal success, equally unexpected and massively attended. There were guilds of Muintir Na Tire in most parishes then, including Carrig-on-Bannow.
From The Enniscorthy Guardian the 2nd of January 1937:–
“Duncormack Mummers’ Skit
Sometimes the common English ballads, contained a few words in the native [Anglo-Saxon] dialect, generally in the nature of a hit at the Forthers [from barony of Forth]. There is one about a mumming tradition, a party of young men from Duncormack, went into the parish of Kilmore where in receiving the hospitality which they expected, were put off by the canny Kilmore men with regrets and apologies:
“In rank and fine order we marched to Kilmore,
Our only intention being Mass to procure;
But the hochanny set unto us did say,
‘Fad, didn’st thou cum t’ous on zum other day?
Fad, didn’t thou cum t’ous phen w’ad ‘zum thin to give?
But curse on the churls, ‘tis at home we could live.”
From The Wexford Independent August 1st, 1840:–
“Mrs Devereux (Presentation Convent Enniscorthy) thankfully acknowledges the receipt of twenty pounds from the Countess of Shrewsbury and Five Pounds from Thomas Boyse Esq., towards the liquidation of the debt due for the erection of the new convent and school of that town.”
The appellation “Mrs Devereux” is baffling but there is an explanation for it, if I can retrieve it wherever I disposed of it! Once again the liberality of Tom Boyse is illuminated.
There is an undated and unsigned eighteenth century petition of –
“Robert Leigh, late of London, and now of Rosegarland Esq., prays for a Licence for a gun and a case of pistols.”
The Wexford Independent on February 5th 1834 reported:–
“Francis Leigh of Rosegarland is building a school-house for the use of the Tenantry on that part of his estates. The proprietary of the County of Wexford are, in many instances, acting in a manner highly deserving of applause; and we shall make it our business (in order to promote the imitation of such conduct) to give as wide circulation as our Journal can effect, to every disinterested effort made by the Lords of the Soil for the substantial benefit of the humbler classes of society.”
My informed suspicion is Mr Leigh, who was associated with the Brunswick Clubs, would have insisted on the Established Church mode of Scriptural study in that school; in that case, the Catholic parents would be unlikely to send their children there. The Brunswick Club sought to turn back the tide of religious liberty and continue Protestant ascendancy. They might have as well tried to block the tide coming in at Bannow.
Arthur Young wrote of the barony of Bargy—
“they are evidently a distinct people and I could not remark that their features and cast of countenance varied very much from the common native Irish. The girls and women are handsome, having much better features and complexions. Their industry is superior to that of their neighbours; and their better living and habitations are, also, distinctions not to be forgotten. The poor have all barley bread and pork, herrings and potatoes. On the coast there is a considerable fishery of herrings.” The beauty of the girls in the barony of Bargy and especially in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow has ever remained consistent, throughout the centuries.
From The Enniscorthy Guardian the 3rd of October 1936:–
On Sunday last the Bannow Parochial Committee brought off an aeridheacht at Cullenstown and thought rather late in the season the fixture was fairly successful. Owing to many attractions in other centres the attendance was not as would be wished. With the Bannow team playing in Cleariestown and an aeridheacht in Rosslare and so many people in Dublin at the football final, Cullenstown came off very well under the circumstances. There were competitors from New Ross, Wexford and Enniscorthy. The dancing was judged by Mr John Murphy, Bridgetown, and Mr Tom Crosbie, Bannow, displayed his usual efficiency as stage manager. The music was supplied by the Grange (Bannow) and Mayglass Ceilidhe Bands. The competition for the Cullenstown Cup was very keen, so much so that the committee decided on getting a special medal to the competitor that came second. Details:
Senior Hornpipe and Reel for Cullenstown Cup to be won twice in succession or three times in all—1. Miss Debby Hogan, Enniscorthy; 2. Miss Joan Carley, Wexford.
Hornpipe for Juniors, under 18—1. Joan Carley, Wexford; 2. Debby Hogan, Enniscorthy.
Three hand Reel (Juniors), under 18—1, Miss Kelly’s Class B, New Ross; 2, Nellie Murphy, New Ross.
Three Handed Reel, Juniors under 12—1, Convent of Mercy, New Ross.
Harmonium Competition—1, P. Murphy, Bannow; 2, W. Martin, Taghmon.
During the afternoon there was an there was an inter-school football contest, the teams being Danescastle and Bannow Schools being pitted against the pick of Tullicanna and Ballymitty. The match was a most exciting one and very evenly contested. In their last meeting the Tullicanna-Ballymitty group were successful but on Sunday Bannow turned the tables and secured the victory. Mr T[om] Walsh N. T. Bannow held the whistle and the final scores were:–
Bannow and Danescastle—2 goals, 1 point.
Tullicanna and Ballymitty—1 goal, 3 points.”
The scoring was meagre—maybe both teams were into blanket defence but the more likely explanation was they were not able to drive the heavy leather ball very far.
From the Enniscorthy Guardian the 17th of October 1936:–
“Fire Near Wellingtonbridge
Farmer’s Heavy Loss
Two large ricks of corn, wheat, barley and oats, the produce of between 20 and 30 acres of land, the property of Mr P. O’Hanlon, Arklow, Wellingtonbridge were destroyed by fire on Friday night. The fire was observed early in the night and a big number of neighbours rushed to the place and assisted the owner. The corn being very dry and inflammable after the spell of warm weather facilitated the advance of the flames, which spread with a rapidity that no human effort could arrest. From the very beginning it was absolutely impossible to save any portion of the ricks and the men directed their efforts to prevent it reaching any of the buildings. As the flames shot into the sky they could be seen a distance of several miles away, and so intense was the heat that it burned the leaves and seared the wood of the trees adjacent. A prize bull in a house some distance away was got out but fortunately the sparks did not reach the building. All present worked during the night at fighting the flames with a sacrificing zeal that was most admirable…..”
John O’Donovan in his notes for the Ordnance Survey, circa 1839, wrote inter alia:–
“The people assert that the old Town of Bannow was around the church above described. The lines of the streets are still traceable but the foundations of the house are all effaced. The natives believe that this town was laid waste during some of the wars of Ireland and being never afterwards rebuilt it became fully effaced but it is confidently asserted that the sands over encroached on its site. It is said, on the contrary, that a small arm or creek of the sea extended up to the present Church but that the sea receded and broke in at another place….
About a furlong to the north of the Church above described there is part of another, of which parts of the west gable and side (?) walls remain, the side walls eight feet high and twelve feet long and the gable a little higher. The breadth of this building is thirteen feet but its length cannot be determined, as no trace of the east gable remains. The natives call this the old Chapel; there is no doorway or window on the part of it which remains nor burial ground attached to it.
No other remains of the ancient town of Bannow are now visible.
At the distance of half a mile west from the village of Carrick in the townland of Danescastle these is a castle of the same name in good preservation. It is fifty feet in height and consists of four storeys and built of hammered grit stones of good size. This castle has two doorways, one on the north and the other on the east side; the one on the north side is round –and that on the east pointed. An arch is turned over the ground floor; this remains perfect but the other floors which were of wood, have long since disappeared. All the windows of this castle are quadrangular and appear very ancient. Mr Wakeman is requested to make a most careful sketch of this castle as it is probably as old as any in Ireland. The natives believe that it was built by the Danes, which is hardly true, but it looks as old as many of the round towers.”
The puzzle there is why was it called Danescastle? Maybe because the people thought that it was built by the Danes—even if such was an erroneous belief—it got called Danescastle. Could it be called after a family of the name of Dane or Dean? And maybe the Danes did build it!
From The People Saturday March 8th 1952:–
“Muintir Na Tire—A general meeting of the Carrig Guild, Muintir Na Tire, was held in St Mary’s Hall on Monday evening. Mr M. Merriman presided. Correspondence was read from the district superintendent E. S. B. Waterford, re the delay in repairing the breakdown in the current during the recent storm and regretting any inconvenience caused to users and promising more prompt attention to complaints in future. The question of repairs to the weigh bridge at Wellingtonbridge was considered and it was decided to seek the co-operation of the Bannow and Ballymitty Guilds, as well as the local F. C. A. in having attention given to the matter. The question of the provision of seed and tilling of plots for necessitous persons was adjourned to the next meeting.
Stations To Have Electricity—Wellingtonbridge and Duncormack railway stations will soon be provided with E. S. B. current by C. I. E. Local bodies have been agitating for this for a considerable time to facilitate the loading of cattle and sugar beet. Those two stations will be the first on the South Wexford system to be provided with electricity but it is learned that other centres will get the current later.”
I am focussed in recent weeks on the role of Muintir Na Tire given its initiation of the first Co. Wexford Strawberry Fair in Enniscorthy in 1968—an unexpected but phenomenal success. The impression from the above is that it did it the kind of work that elected representatives, such as County Councillors, T. D.s and Senators, now do. It is hard now to imagine railway stations operating without electricity.
On February 6th 1851 the Wexford Tenant Protection Committee through its Chairman Charles S. Reeves and its (the future priest) secretary James A. Johnson relied at interminable length and in angry tones to the attack on the Tenant Protection movement, communicated to their secretary by Rev. N. Codd of Bannow. Tact and discretion were not Fr Codd’s strongest attributes as he referred to “the clap-trap, rigmarole and untrue statements” contained in the address sent to him (Fr Codd) by the Tenant Protection committee. Fr Codd’s attitude was, in ordinary terms, incomprehensible: why should a Catholic priest oppose improvements in the situation of the Catholic peasantry? I could only find scanty details on him in Canon John Gahan’s excellent book on the secular clergy of the diocese of Ferns. He was educated for the priesthood in Maynooth, 1829—35 and ordained in June 1835. He was appointed Curate in the parish of Ballindaggin, 27th February 1836 and C. C. Enniscorthy, 21st October 1836. Owing to ill-health, he was transferred to Carrig-on-Bannow where he died on the 17th of February 1855. If I am correct—and I am seldom wrong!—Fr Codd was a native of the Bannow/Clonmines district and may have come from a Catholic gentry family. Maybe Fr Butler mentioned him in his book?
They had a Presentment Sessions at the Court House in Duncormack on Wednesday May 7th and Jonas King J. P. [Justice of the Peace] Barriestown was there with consequent comedy and hard talk:–
“Mr King J. P. said he would prove a resolution condemnatory of the contemplated expenditure on the Court House; at the Taghmon a similar resolution was adopted. He considered that this was no time to saddle the already over-burthened Cesspayers with additional expense and as law business in the county is much less now than formerly, he thought the present accommodation quite sufficient. Mr King concluded by moving that the Magistrates and Cesspayers of Bargy assembled in Sessions disapprove of the expenditure of £3,000 on the Court House.
Mr Mayler seconded the resolution; he would be satisfied to lay out a small sum, say £300, in washing, cleaning, painting and otherwise improving the court but the county is not in a position to lay out a big sum of £3,000.
Mr Sparrow—Didn’t the Court House do very well these last 40 years and a great deal more business done than now.
Mr Wynne said on this morning he had been looking over the abstracts of other counties and he saw that in the County Longford, they improved their court house in the year 1859 and borrowed the money from the Board of Works.
Mr Thomas Mayler—But we would have to pay it in any case; put some paint on it and it will do for ten years.
Mr Wynne said it was the Crown officers continually calling attention to the insufficient accommodation that brought the matter on
Mr Thomas Mayler—Sure they have as much accommodation as ever they had.
Mr Wynne—Oh! Mr Mayler don’t think I’m arguing the question; I only state what the Crown say. They complain of not being able to carry on the business.
Mr [Jonas] King—Oh! people are always complaining of some thing or other; we are all complaining of the bad weather (laughter)….
The resolution put by Jonas King was passed without dissent. On this occasion Jonas King did the ordinary people a favour: the cess was collected from people with small enough bits of property. Jonas had a rough and ready sense of humour.
The Presentment Sessions then proceeded to consider the applications for new works.
1. For under-pinning, paving, and sinking the watercourse of Tullicanna bridge at the bounds of the baronies of Bargy and Shelmalier West. Half [of cost] off Shelmalier. Not to exceed £15.
Mr Thomas Mayler said that thirty years ago, two sweeps were after eels under that bridge, they pulled out a couple of stones which were never replaced. The bridge was built before the Rebellion [of 1798] and it is just as good as ever; 10 shillings would do all the repairs required.
Mr Farrell [in an attempt at humour!]—The sweeps didn’t sweep the bridge away then. I think 40 shillings enough for it. Passed at that sum.
2. For building the north of Cullen’s cross bridge and under-pinning and paving the two arches, building buttresses and coping the south wall of said bridge—not to exceed £50. Approved of at £40.”