Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown or Barrastown as they called it in the nineteenth century. I am as always charming, erudite, scholarly, inspiring, dynamic and above all else—wily; as they say that wily boy from beside the mine pits. I presume that they will have a bonfire at the mine pits on Tuesday the 22nd to celebrate my birthday, historian supreme!
On the 24th of April on the Thursday night at 8pm I will lecture at the Stanville Lodge Hotel on Travers R. Hawkshaw of Hillburn, Co. Coroner, magistrate, farmer and the son of a Protestant clergyman and brother of another who supported Catholic Emancipation and was a leading figure in the fight against Tithes. These charges, the tithes, were regarded as offensive by the Catholic community. Mr Hawkshaw may have felt that his denomination should make a radical gesture of atonement to the Catholic denomination for the Penal Laws and the horrors of 1798. He was scorned by many in his own community for his unusual stand. His father the Rev. Robert Hawkshaw was Incumbent in Taghmon; I don’t understand this phraseology but in 1785 Taghmon was episcopally united to the Impropriate Cure (or Curacy?) of Ballymitty. All those who believe in the reconciliation of Catholic and Protestant in Ireland should be at my lecture
From the report of the meeting of the Board of Poor Law Guardians of Wexford Union in The People on July 18th 1883:–
“The Master’s Journal contained the following entry:–I sent the workhouse car to Bannow for a woman named Catherine Neville, at the request of the medical officer on the district on the 10th instant. She was admitted to hospital at 7pm and died at 4 o’clock pm. The matter was referred to relieving officer and Doctor for the district.”
The car was a jaunting and bumpy vehicle and one wonders if the patient would have fared no less at home that undertaking this awful journey.
This missive from the Secretary General Post Office, Dublin was read at the above meeting:–
“I shall be glad if you are now in a position to reply to my letter of 24th ult, relative to the objections which have been raised by the Wexford Board of Guardians to an extension of the telegraphs to Bannow by means of telephones.”
With reference to this matter the following was read—“At a meeting of ratepayers held at Bannow on 19th July, Major Boyse in the Chair, and thirty-two ratepayers present, the following resolution was adopted:–“That the ratepayers asked for a telegraph office for Bannow and were informed that it would be granted on a guarantee being given of £35 for seven years. This they gave and are of opinion they should get it. In reference to telephone they are of opinion it would not be used to the same extent.” This resolution was proposed by Mr W. H. Lett and seconded by Mr John Breen.
The Clerk said he would send the document received from the ratepayers as an answer to the letter of the Post Office.
Subsequently Mr Devereux said that the resolution was passed unanimously. There was one man he wrote to who said he would as soon have one as the other. Mr Roche—I was talking to Mr Hollingshed, the surveyor of the Post Office, and he said that if the people only knew they would prefer the telephone. They could see that Dublin was connected with England and Scotland. Mr Peacocke said that if the local people asked for a telegraph and had given a guarantee for a telegraph office, they should get it. Mr Devereux said that Ballycullane had got a telegraph office for the same amount as Bannow had given.”
The meeting of the Board of Guardians in late July 1895 that the Local Government Board had written sanctioning the appointment of Dr Eugene Byrne as medial officer of the Bannow Dispensary District at a salary of £100 per annum. They, also, wrote approving of the proposed payment to Dr Byrne of £15 per annum as medical officer of health of the district. The latter job involve checking the condition of houses; searching for sanitary nuisances that might give rise to an epidemic and reporting on water supplies. I do know how Dr Byrne travelled; a bicycle would be the most economic and motor cars had hardly yet come into vogue. Traditionally doctors had travelled by horse—but as the Rector of Bannow, the Rev. William Hickey pointed out many years before—horses consumed a lot of food. Dr Lang of the Templeudigan district circa 1860 complained that the cost of the upkeep oh his horse whittled away a big part of his meagre salary of £50.
The people of Ballymitty in 1844 contributed £15 8 shillings and 4 pence to the Dan O’Connell National Debt and together with the sum transmitted from Carrig, made the contribution of the entire parish exceed £30. I presume that O’Connell used some of this money to fund his political campaigns and the remainder to ease himself out of financial embarrassment. The elected Members of Parliament then had no salary; thus only the truly opulent or those assisted by public subscription could stand for election to Parliament. The list of names of the subscribers in Ballymitty may be of use to those doing family history:–
“Rev. Peter Corish and Thomas Mayler £1, 10 shillings each; James Ennis and John Ennis, Esqrs; Mrs Ennis, 10 shillings; Mrs Kehoe, Mr Enoch Richards, Thomas Roach, Pat Stafford, John Cleary and Martin Ryan, 5shillings; Mr John Crosbie, Pat Cleary, Thomas Leary, John Devereux, Pat Roache, Mrs Purcell, James Harper, Robert Cullen, James Nowlan and John Murphy, 2 shillings and 6 pence each; Mr Patrick Byrne, Michael Doyle, Patrick Crane, Patrick Doyle and Mrs Doyle, 2 shillings each; Patrick Rush, Pat Browne, J. R. Doyle, Michael Kehoe, Sherly Richards, Mr Richards, Thomas Furlong, Lawrence Magrath, Stephen Cullen, Ellen Cleary, Phil Crane, Anna Doyle, Pat Walsh, John Cormack, William Cormack, Mrs Kehoe, Mrs Murphy, John Kavanagh, Martin White, Pat Duffin, Martin Crosbie, John Doyle, Denis Kehoe, John Sweeny, Bartholomew Cormick, Martin Crane, Patrick Walsh, William White, Pat Moran, John Moore, John Browne, Moses Ennis, John Walsh, Peter Fardy, –Ennis, Andrew Horne, Mrs Cormack¸ Anna Kehoe, James Roche, John Doran, Samuel Davis, Martin Cleary, John Ennis, Mrs Crosbie, James Byrne, Robert Blake, Mrs Brophy, Pat Whitty, Michael Rossiter, James Cullen, James Larkin, William Larkin, John Doyle, James Ennis, Mrs Harper, Pat Doyle, Alexander Coady, John Sweeny and Patrick Furlong, 1 shilling each; with the remainder in small sums.”
From The People July 6th 1887:–
Met June 23rd 1887. Present—Messrs A. Cullen (in the chair), Thomas Colothon, A. Devereux, James Daly, Patrick Wade and John Breen. A letter was read from Dr Boyd stating that it had been reported to him that scarcely any water can be procured from the pump erected by the Guardians in 1886 in Danescastle and consequently there is very great scarcity. He examined the pump and so far as his judgement went he thought the pump should be taken up and the well sunk and that it should be done with as little delay as possible. The committee having drawn the buckets they found six inches of water in the pump stick, a quantity useless in this exceptionally dry time and were unanimously of opinion that the pump should be taken up and the well sunk to a depth that may ensure a full and proper supply; around the pump to be finished in a concrete surface.
Mr Devereux said the village was in a desperate state for water; all the private pumps even had gone dry.
The Clerk—I heard that people had to draw water for upwards of a mile.
Ordered—That advertisements be issued.”
It is clear from the above that they had very dry weather in the summer of 1887: a constant of the Irish climate is that it is erratic and inconsistent—no two years are alike. There was appalling weather in the greater part of the nineteenth century, although it seemed to improve as the century ended. The Clerk referred to in the above was the Clerk of the Board of Guardians of the Wexford Poor Law Union. It is interesting to note that there were pumps privately sunk in the village of Carrig-on-Bannow. This was a late nineteenth century development as pre-1840 such wells were not sunk, except in villages. To ensure a regular supply of water requires that the well be sunk deep.
Another doctor Dr J. B. Kehoe, Bannow reported to the Wexford Board of Guardians in late March 1910:–
“The pump at Carrig is out of repair and some of the people there are obtaining water from an unprotected roadside well which is liable to pollution from surface water, cattle, etc. I recommend that the pump be put in proper order. It is necessary to send out a competent pump borer, as I believe a new pump stick is required and the well ought to be cleaned. A railing is necessary to protect the pump which ought to be locked and given in charge to some person to prevent children from tampering with the pump.
The letter was referred to the local committee.”
On June 3rd 1950 The Free Press carried this obituary of a celebrated sporting figure—a veritable icon—in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow:–
“The passing of Mr James Cullen of Coolishal Carrig-on-Bannow on Tuesday removed one of the fine old stock whose name was famous in football and handball circles half a century ago. One of the outstanding players of the Ballymitty teams of the old days Mr Cullen was a popular and well known figure in the district and his demise at 74 years after a long illness is keenly regretted by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Known to many as “Buller” Cullen, his name was a watchword amongst his football opponents who had reason to respect his abilities in the football art. He was, also, a keen exponent of bowling and a famous match in which he took part with Mr J. Wallace as partner at Bridgetown was related in The Free Press on April 1st last. His funeral to Carrig cemetery testified to the general esteem in which he was held.”
It was said of the young Jim Mc Cormack of Arnestown that his style recalled that of the Buller Cullen: that suggests that Jem Cullen was a high fielding fullback, with enormous physical strength. He was of the team that won the 1912 Co. Junior championship (played in 1913) but refused to accept the medals as they were of a cheap quality.
From The Free Press , June 3rd 1950:–
“A Cullenstown Enterprise
Two young Cullenstown men tired of waiting for a new cottage and sick of living in over-crowded dwellings have decided to build their own dwellings and the experiment is being closely watched by the neighbours. They are Messrs Nicholas Holmes and Peter Stafford and they are presently engaged on drainage work. An obliging farmer gave them a piece of a knock which they have declared and developed their site. Cullenstown strand abounds in gravel and in the evenings and half-day colleagues help them with the concrete work. They have picked up some timber cheaply and hope to have two small comfortable houses for their families before the winter. They did not bother about grants as they would have to keep to special plans and much red tape, so they decided to work all on their own.”
I don’t know how to respond to the above. Red tape often means legalities and protocols which turn out to be very important in the longer term. Surely there would be a necessity to transfer the site or sites to these enterprising young men? Grants are welcome money and I am not sure of the wisdom of ignoring them. Were the houses ever built and if so are they there still. The probabilities of successfully doing something like that then was greater than it would be now: the standards required in houses were basic almost primal. Electricity was only been introduced; there were no environmental controls.
From The Wexford Independent August 1st 1849:–
“We have had some distressing rumours about this valuable crop; that the head was diseased, some of the grains blasted as if by atmospheric influence, others eaten by an insect, etc et al all of which we believe to be unfounded or greatly exaggerated. The following letter which we have just received from an intelligent and observant friend of ours, written from Bannow, where he is residing for the bathing season, is quite satisfactory and calculated to repel the rumours to which we have alluded:–
“Carrig, Bannow, 28th July 1849
There have been so many evil reports, respecting the wheat crop, so industriously circulated, from what motive I know not, I was induced to examine minutely several fields of wheat in this neighbourhood and in the Hook; and from that examination I conclude that those reports are vastly exaggerated and that the ravages of this mighty worm does not amount to one-fiftieth part of the crop. Knowing that you would be anxious to hear the cheering intelligence I have hastily scribbled this note which you are at liberty to make use of.”
I presume that John Tuomy wrote the above; he spent summers in Bannow—although I am at a loss to understand how he got back each day to teach school in Taghmon. The school holidays in that era were in August and September to coincide with the harvest when the hardier children helped out at the harvest work. Tuomy used the nome-de-plume of The Rambler and in the above missive he seems to be rambling, down to the wheat fields in the Hook.
The Rev. Atkinson toured the country in circa 1816 and I quote this piece from his book:–
“From thence I drove to the sea coast, so far as Cullenstown and Ballymadder and while traversing this shore, contemplated with great interest the Saltee Islands, so largely noticed in the history of the Wexford coast, and rendered not less remarkable in the political history of this county, as having been the retreat of Messrs Harvey and Colclough (two eminent leaders of the Rebellion) previous to their arrest and ultimate misfortune in the year 1798. Bag and Bun, the famous promontory where according to general tradition, Strongbow landed his troops in the twelfth century, preparatory to the reduction of this country, is also, visible from the strand of Ballymadder and as a spot rendered eminent by this tradition, I regarded it with deep attention. There is a kind of tower on this projecting point of the coast, which constitutes it, as I have heard, a useful mark to the mariners who bend their course in this direction, to the city of Waterford….”
In a footnote Rev. Atkinson quoted Captain Frazer who controverted the general opinion of Strongbow having landed his troops for the conquest of Ireland in that place at Bannow:–
“This first landing of the English was merely that of a few private adventurers, who landed at Bag and Bun, in the county of Wexford, where the remains of their camp is to be seen at this day and which is improperly called Strongbow’s camp, who landed in the County of Waterford some months afterwards.”
The Rev. Atkinson said that he was not acquainted with Mr Frazer’s authority for that statement and he left it to be decided by better judges. So do I but perhaps the historians of Bannow will reply to Frazer’s thesis of two hundred years ago?