Hi, it is the boy(o) from Barrystown, humble, diffident, unassuming, charming, charismatic, ebullient, a historian supreme, a boyo, scholarly, erudite, enlightened, rational and above all else—wily. It is always gold and silver for the Barrystown childre.

They had a function in Clongeen Hall (they did not use the verbally cumbersome “Community Centre” then!) on Friday night January 26th 1962 to honour the Loughnageer tug-o’-war team that won the All-Ireland tug-o’-war championship in Tullamore. The Hall was packed with people from all over the county. Mr Leo Carthy, the Vice-Chairman of the Wexford County Council after noting and welcoming the presence of Father Nicholas Redmond P. P. Clongeen, a Mr Felix Rooney (who supervised the South Wexford Drainage Scheme for four years) who had travelled from Donegal and Mr Bill Esmonde, the famous athlete, who trained the All Ireland Wexford winning team of 1960 then focussed on a local legend and icon:–

“Another of the guests whom they all liked to see present was Mr Paddy Mc Donald, a veteran of sport and an inspiring example to the younger members.”

It was written of Paddy Mc Donald that he pulled tug-o’-war with panache and when the old sport was revived in the 1950s, at the meeting, Paddy Mc Donald was the first to step forward when the request was made for men to come forward for the team. A number of ballads relating to him were written in those years.

A vintage enthusiast who reads all my history took me in one of those planes that they used in the 1950s (such as Prince Michael O’Neill might have had; I think it was one of his in the old days) to what was previously known (according to John O’Donovan in the Ordnance Survey notes) as the Ballingly Abbey. The readily accessible information on the Abbey is tedious and largely uninformative or if informative it tells what one already knows.

Two issues occur to me in regard to the Ballingly Abbey. Firstly I am unsure if special license is required for laity to be buried within the ruins of such Chapels or is it a matter of some people wanting to be buried there?

Secondly the rudimentary nature of the altar—the simple arrangement of stones—suggests that Mass was last celebrated there many centuries ago. I will here give bits of disjointed information about Ballingly Abbey.

In 1418 Rev. John Madden was Rector of Ballingly. From the Regal Visitation of 1615 the Rectory of Ballingly was impropriated to the Protestant Bishop Thomas Ram and it was then valued at £3. During the Reformation the Catholic Chapels were taken over by the Protestant authorities. Dr Grattan Flood wrote that after the Reformation—presumably as it was no longer used for worship—the Abbey of Ballingly was allowed to go ruinous and was finally abandoned.

In 1670 Fr Patrick Rossiter was labouring in the parish of Ballingly; in 1704 (as required by the Penal Laws) he registered himself as Parish Priest of Bannow, Carrig, St Imogue, Ambrosetown, Ballingly, Ballymitty and Kilcavan.

On Wednesday I went—again by vintage plane, as I find travel by bus tedious—to Jerpoint in Co. Kilkenny. The Ui Cinsealaigh Historical Society —originally set up as the Diocesan Historical Society circa 1920 but somewhat evolved since—were by a magical coincidence, also, there and may I digress here by suggesting that this dedicated Society deserves an influx of a few new members; a mere Euro10 for membership (you would not give that little to a child). The proprietors there spoke of a medieval town having been recently discovered at Jerpoint: it prospered for about two centuries and then disappeared, and thinking it a bit like Bannow, I asked the lady speaking on the matter why it disappeared and she asserted that an epidemic wiped its population out. Could an epidemic have wiped out the people in the city of Bannow? Could other people have been afraid to enter or live in the then unoccupied houses for fear of becoming infected with the disease that killed all the others?

In 1245 “the Island of Bannow and other lands” were granted “to the Abbot and Convent of Tintern, Co. Wexford”. The other lands included—I presume—the Grange of Bannow as the word Grange describes an out farm of a monastery.

On October 1st 1898 at El—Oro, Mexico, after a short illness, fortified by the rites of the Catholic Church, James, fourth son of Andrew Devereux, Danescastle, died aged 28 years.

Margaret Colfer the beloved wife of Mr Stephen Colfer , died at Carrig-on-Bannow, on January 18th 1865, in her 57th year.

From The Free Press, July 14th 1957:–

“Kilbarry Killed in England

One of the most famous Wexford bred horses of modern times, Kilbarry was killed recently in England when taking part in hunter trials at Cotlesbroke. Kilbarry was bred and sold for a big figure by Mr Aidan Keane of Balloughton, Wellingtonbridge and from the time of his arrival in England he set up a record in England that no horse in Europe has equalled. Col. Frank Weldon, his owner first introduced him to International Competition in 1953 and since then he has always been Great Britain’s No I at every competition. He never finished out of the first three in any international competition. He won three Three-Day horse trials, innumerable one day trials, hunter trials, dressage competitions and a couple of point-to-points. Not least he was a brilliant hunter, an officer’s charger on the streets of London, a proper soldier’s horse. Writing about him Col. Weldon said:–

“Now Kilbarry is gone. He went out like a lion in all his strength, tempestuously as he lived. He died instantaneously of a broken neck as a result of taking a chance at deceptively innocent looking obstacle. The memory of his achievements will inevitably grow dim as others take the place where once he reigned supreme. But to those who knew him best there will never be another quite like him”

A letter under the nome-de-plume of “Go Ahead” was published in The People on July 18th 1891; this is an extract:–

“The bathing ground both for ladies and gentlemen is all that need be desired and I am sure if bathers turned up in larger numbers, in the shape of lodgers or otherwise, matters could be greatly improved for the general comfort of those who wish to bathe. Through the kindness and exertions of the Rev. T. Meehan C. C., Ballymitty anyone not courageous enough to have a dip in the briny, can enjoy the luxuries of a shower bath by applying to Mr Cahill, who resided convenient to the gap at Cullinstown.”

It was noted in March 1871 that John Crosbie, Ballinglee, Ballymitty donated 10 shillings and Mrs Leacy, Arnestown, Ballymitty, 5 shillings “for the relief of the French peasantry.”

From The People August 9th 1950; Bannow and District Notes:–

“Visitors—Mr M. Murphy of Danescastle is on a visit to his native place after thirty years exile in Wales. Mr Martin Doyle, Balloughton, visited friends in Duncormack district after an absence of forty years. Mr T. Ryan, Balloughton, is on a visit to his native place from England. Mrs Baker, formerly Miss Dake, Coolishal, is on a visit with her husband to the residence of her brother, Mr R. Dake, Coolishal.”

The obituary of George Galvin in The People on November 11, 1950:–

“An old and industrious resident of the district in the person of Mr George Galvin, has died. He was the oldest native inhabitant of Cullenstown and was well-known over south Wexford. During the 1914—19 (sic) was he was chief civilian coast watcher attached to Bar of Lough Station. In 1923 he was appointed No I man in charge of the Coast Life Saving Service, a position he held up to two years ago when he retired. He was, also, a member of the old Carrig-on-Bannow fife and drum band. In Gaelic circles he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Ballymitty and county football teams. In the local regattas and sailing events he took an active part. He was a powerful oarsman and a keen helmsman. There was a large attendance at the interment at Carrig on Wednesday…..”

Walter Harpur died at his residence at Busherstown aged 93 years in February 1941.

“At the Duncormack Petty Sessions July 20th 1838

Edwin Richards Chairman, John Rowe, John G. Young and Annesley Brownrigg, Esqs; Captain Rathburn, Stipendiary Magistrate.

After a few cases on the civil book were disposed of, two professional gentlemen, Mr Cooper and Mr Corcoran, entered the room and requested the case of the sea weed might be called. In this case Laurence French, Thomas French and Andrew Cullen from Bannow were the plaintiffs; and Edward Donahoe, John Donahoe and John Sweeny were the defendants. The charge was, that the defendants maliciously forced opened the gates of plaintiffs and were otherwise riotous on the 11th and 12th of July

Laurence French being sworn; said that on the 11th of July last he saw Edward Donahoe force the gate of the green road, that he broke the lock; and that John Sweeny and John Donahoe assisted him in doing so. The gate and the roadway are his property—it is not a public road—did not see Edward Donahoe and John Sweeny three years ago bringing sea weed up this road—admits that some persons passed this road but none to his knowledge without preventing them—put up the gate to keep off the trespassers—is positive that no person trespassed the former occupier of the road.

Andrew Cullen sworn—said that Bannow road is made twenty one years, by Mr Boyse—that no person but the tenants of Mr Boyse are allowed to go this road—saw the Donahoes and Sweeny with horses, carrying sea weed up this road about two years ago—swears the road is for the positive use of three tenants of Mr Boyse.

Matthew Rossiter, sworn—said that Mr Boyse made this road and that no trespass was attempted to be committed until about two years ago—stopped several persons from going this road—saw persons once or twice going the road—the gate on the road was occasionally locked—about three or four years ago, put up an iron gate on the road and a lock—each tenant had a key for the lock.


Laurence Williams, sworn—said that he went this road without ever being prevented until about twelve months ago—saw a gate put up there about four years ago and asked Laurence French for what purpose he put up the gate—French told him it was put up for the purpose of keeping out cattle from trespassing on the 11th of June last year, saw several people from different parishes, drawing sea weed up the Bannow road; and also saw persons drawing sea weed up the green road—French told him, whatever Mr Boyse bade him do, that he would do—he generally took twelve loads every year—never saw a gate locked prior to one year ago on this road.

Walter Neville, sworn—Knows French’s road fifteen years ago but never drew upon it—knows Cullin’s road also,  and drew on it five years ago and was not interrupted; saw persons drawing on French’s road—Cullen and French never interrupted him, when drawing sea manure up the bay road.

After hearing these depositions on both sides and the arguments of the professional gentlemen, two of the magistrates, namely Mr Richards and Mr Rowe, were of the opinion that the people had a right to draw on those roads without molestation; but the other three magistrates held a contrary opinion. It was finally decided on, that informations should be taken against the defendants, who immediately entered into recognizance, to stand their trial at the New Ross Quarter Sessions, next October.”

The report was incorrect on the contending views of the magistrates and three of them wrote to the Wexford Conservative to refute this aspect of it.

From The Wexford Independent January 17 1877:–

“Bannow Dispensary

The following letters were sent from the Local Government Board, in order to the get the opinion of the Guardians [of Wexford Poor Law Union].

To The Local Government Board

Gentlemen—I am requested by the committee of Management of the Bannow Dispensary District to forward their Medical Officer’s letter, requesting the appointment of a midwife in place of Mrs Furlong, lately deceased; and to inform you that they approve of the recommendation of Dr Boyd, in case your Board consents thereto.

Your Obedient Servant

James Creane, Hon. Sec.

To the Committee of Management of the Bannow Dispensary District

Gentlemen—I have to report the death of Mrs Furlong, the second midwife in your district and wish before you proceed to appoint another in her place to mention the circumstance under which she was appointed. The present midwife, Mrs Murphy, was appointed for the whole district some years ago at a salary of £20, provided she resided in the centre of the district but she could not procure a central residence and as she was convenient enough for half of the district, at my suggestion and with the concurrence of the guardians, a second midwife was elected, each at a salary of £10 a year; and since then her services have been taken advantage of by the poor people with great satisfaction. Mrs Furlong was appointed for the remainder of the district at same salary, but owing to the shape of the district, her services were not availed of as much as required; and if another is appointed in her place there will be the same result. At present with the consent of your secretary I procured the services of a midwife for every poor person at 5 shillings to 10 shillings and I would now recommend that this arrangement should continue for some time or that you would appoint temporarily, two midwifes at a salary of £5 or £6 each, till you see how their services are availed of. I spoke to one who (I think if appointed in place of Mrs Furlong) is satisfied to take half the district at a salary of £5 per annum. I find that the number of confinements of labourers’ wives in half of your district is about thirty a year.

I am, gentlemen, faithfully yours,

James Boyd.

Local Government Board¸ Dublin

January 5th , 1876

Sir—The Local Government Board acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 1st, forwarding a communication from Dr Boyd, Medical Officer of the Bannow Dispensary District, relating to the appointment of a midwife for the district in place of Mrs Furlong, deceased; and the Board desire that it is open to the Committee, if they think fit, to appoint, subject to the concurrence of the Board of Guardians, two midwives, as suggested, in room of Mrs Furlong; but it would probably  be best to remunerate them by a fixed sum for each case in which they are called on to act.

By Order of the Board,

B. Banks, Chief Clerk.

The Guardians approved of the action taken by the committee.”

I would doubt if these midwives had enormous expertise or equipment but that is not the issue: they performed a public service, free of charge, to the poorest women in the dispensary district. The indications are that these women availed of it. The midwives were paid out of public funds, in effect, the poor law rates on land and property. This would have to represent a significant step on the road to social justice in the context of that era.

At Duncormack Petty Sessions in June 1895:–

“Before Major Irvine (presiding) and Mr John J. Roche.

Constable Hourihan charged Peter Kane, Holdmanhill, with having two cattle, his property, wandering of the public road.

The defendant stated that he took grass at Halseyrath for the cattle and they broke out of it on the road.

Mr Roche said he would not be surprised at cattle running away from Halseyrath.

The Chairman considered the proper way to tether cattle in land was by the mouth, that is, give them something to eat (laughter).

Fined 1 shilling and costs.”

I am at a loss to understand why the cattle detested Halseyrath. Maybe the broadband reception there was bad, blah, blah, fada wada dada, etc.

At the same court—

“Mr O’Flaherty, for Mrs Murphy, Carrig-on-Bannow, asked a transfer of license to Mrs Murphy, consequent on the death of her husband Mr William Murphy. Granted.”

There were two William Murphys in Carrig village—the schoolmaster and a man by the same name, a merchant. I am not sure which is involved here. The item is significant is that it proves that women were not totally excluded from owning property and conducting business. The probability is that her husband willed the premises to her.

From Bannow and District Notes in The People on August 26th 1950:–

“Camogie—St Leonard’s had a run away victory over St Mary’s [Carrig-on-Bannow] in a match played at Carrig on Sunday last….

Visitors—Mr J. Daly, Balloughton, formerly a well known district councillor, is on a visit from Sheffield. Mrs T. Turner, formerly Miss S. O’Meara of Busherstown, is on  a visit to her sister Mrs Colfer of Cullenstown. Mr J. French, Cullenstown, a naval commando in the late war, is on a visit to his father. Rev. Brother L. O’Connor is on a visit to his native place.

New Football Club—There are signs that a new football team will be organised at Ballyfrory, Carrig-on-Bannow. The game has been finding much favour in this locality for some time past and there is a team in the nine a side league now in progress in the area, in which they have given a good account of themselves. Those responsible are looking forward to organising a full team in the near future and entering a hurling and football team for next year’s championship. There are some very prominent players in this locality, notably the Neville brothers, who have given some grand displays on Ballymitty teams.”