Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, eternally young in spirit and in fact, charming and charismatic, blessed among the women, uses big words, is a whiz at Latin, legal matters, mathematics, etc, et al, eloquent, erudite, scholarly, humble, self effacing, historian supreme, inspiring and inspired, of astronomical intelligence, a pure genius, a right boyo and above all else—wily, that most devious and most wily one of them all. As I always say, it is ever gold and silver for the Barrystown children.

As the tour bus journeyed home on Saturday evening I recited W. B. Yeats’ poem about Parnell’s love affair with Mrs Kitty O’Shea; the bandsman told me that many years ago I left him, and many others, mesmerised at a talent competition by my recital of that poem. My views on the Parnell divorce controversy have altered somewhat since then. It does seem from the excellent account in the book by F. S. L. Lyons that Mrs O’Shea’s aunt had a huge amount of money plus an estate in England; Parnell had ongoing financial problems so the wealth of the aunt of Kitty O’Shea may have been a factor in this matter; it certainly was to Mrs O’Shea’s husband. I sincerely feel that the Catholic bishops would have difficulty in accepting a national leader getting married to a divorced woman: apart from anything else, it would be an incitement to ordinary men to abandon their wives and children and go off with another woman. There was little provision then for deserted wives and children.  Still the final lines of the poem have a powerful effect: “For Parnell loved his country/ And Parnell loved his lass.” I always—for emphasis— hesitate for a moment before reciting that very last line about his lass.

I am endeavouring to comprehend the issues in the Norman invasion as outlined in a number of history books: my overall impression is that all the authors are assuming too much on the basis of the opaque, vague, fragmentary and often contradictory sources; too often, the conclusions are not referenced by any source. One basic thing is clear and agreed: on the last day of April 1169, Robert  Fitz Stephen, Miles Fitz David, Meilyr Fitz Henry and Harvey de Montmorency (the uncle of Strongbow) plus others set sail for Ireland and very early in May they landed on Bannow Island. Strongbow was not on this expedition. One scholarly writer, in a most enthralling account, seems to confuse Bannow Island with the entirety of Bannow.

I do not know how to respond to the Normans: their mode of war was utterly barbaric, an urge to conquest and infliction of obscene cruelty on the vanquished. Maybe that was the mode of the times. It would be hard to find a parallel to the demonic cruelty of the execution of Viking prisoners of war by the Normans after the battle of Baginbun in the late summer of  1170. The narrative of those wars repeatedly tells of much lesser numbers of Norman fighters routing the Gaelic and Viking forces. Wexford was a Viking or Danish/Norwegian town.

In the summer of 1921 the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George jested in exasperation to his secretary Tom Jones that his negotiations on the terms of a truce—in the war of independence— with Eamonn de Valera were progressing well after two and a half days: they were now up to the Norman invasion—Mr de Valera invariably recited the narrative of seven centuries of British oppression of Ireland, in all negotiations. My own view is that English rule in Ireland did begin with the Norman invasion but one eminent scholar, at least, seems to dispute that. It is a matter of opinion and debate. Mr de Valera clearly believed that English oppression of Ireland commenced with the Norman invasion!

“Ballymitty Boy’s Brave Act

Saves Man From Bull

Presented With £5 And Watch

At Ballycullane District Court on Monday, Mr J. V. Fahy D. J. said he had been entrusted by the Carnegie Hero Trust to present to Master Andrew White, Maxboley, Ballymitty, a cheque for £5 and a silver watch in recognition of his great bravery in saving the life of the man attacked by a bull last July. The Justice added that the boy actually saved two lives on the occasion. In making the presentation to the boy he warmly complimented him on his great bravery and wished him every success. He said he had much pleasure, too, in presenting Trustees Testimonial to Mr Garry Murphy, Ambrosetown Mills, Duncormack for bringing the bravery of the boy to their notice. The boy, who is aged about 15 years, was cycling along the road when he saw the bull having the man down and mauling him. He jumped off the bicycle and seizing a stick bravely attacked the bull and drove it back and then pulled the injured man upon a ditch out of reach of the bull.”

The above comes from The People March 6th 1935; the Justice’s reference to young White saving two lives is not understandable to me. Andy White, also, gave signal service to the parish of the Carrig-on-Bannow, as secretary of the Ballymitty-Bannow Gaelic Athletic Association Club, especially in its halcyon period in 1946—19 and later. In those years I was told that Andy White, as Secretary, cycled to Enniscorthy for County finals to leave an extra space in the hackney or hired cars for the players. The selflessness of so many of his era was surely epitomised in the life of Andy White.

I resume my serialisation of the story of Mrs Tom Boyse (at least she was wed to Mr Boyse for a very short time) by repeating something that I wrote in last week’s blog. You could say that Tom Boyse made a great fist of his marriage! I should get a job in the circus.

Mrs Boyse—if that was her proper name—was evidently addicted to credit and presumably hyper spending! She was indebted to the Credit Foncier to the amount of £9,000; a bill in Chancery—a division of the High Court—was filed in 1872 to compel the Bank of England to pay over to her the dividends on some £64,000 Consols standing on their books in her name—presumably to enable her to pay the amount owing to the credit bank, the Credit Foncier. These dividends were unpaid for some years; perhaps she had become absent minded, in advanced age.

In that declaration Jane Kirwan Colclough Boyse stated that during the progress of the litigation relating to her first husband’s will—Caesar Colclough’s will leaving all of his property to her was contested in a famous and much publicised case—she had been subjected “to great annoyance and importunities for money and had, therefore, determined to live abroad and place herself under the protection of M. Gautier, the defendant.” The next bit of the story is mind boggling. M. Gautier had gone to live with her in Westbourne Terrace in 1856. Mrs Boyse informed her brother-in-law of her determination of living with M. Gautier “and at some time between 1856 and 1860 this clergyman had in the words of the declaration [of Mrs Boyse] “committed his sister-in-law [Mrs Boyse or widow Boyse] to the care of M. Gautier to relieve her from all trouble and from the endless importunities for money which she had been beset and in token thereof he (Mr Crofton) had put the gold ring on her finger which she wore. This was not a legal marriage, nor was it intended to be so, but was simply to indicate the duties which the said Alfred Gautier had undertaken and to pledge him to carry them out. No license was obtained, no religious form or ceremony was used, no registration took place, no record of it was made and it was in not, in any sense, or way a valid or legal marriage.”

M. Gautier had been made a party to the legal suit by Credit Foncier in 1872—in form a Bill in Chancery—to made the Bank of England to pay to Mrs Boyse the dividends on the £64,000 worth of Consols shares; she would, presumably use this money to pay her debt of £9,000 to the Credit Foncier. The next piece of the narrative is, also¸ mind boggling:–

“He [Alfred Gautier] on that occasion objected to make any declaration in 1872 that he had never been married to Mrs Boyse, on the ground that if had done so, everybody he knew in Marseilles would have become at once aware of the fact that he had never been married to the lady then living with him and passing as Madame Gautier. The decree made in the suit was to the effect that

Mrs Boyse was a widow and that she was entitled to receive the dividends as an unmarried woman. She had continued to live with M. Gautier who was, indeed, very much younger than herself and had passed as Madame Gautier for the last 22 years of her life. He had pleaded in this case that he was her lawful husband and alleged that at a date which he was unable precisely to state she had been married to him in the drawing room of her house in Westbourne Terrace. A short time since an order was obtained on his behalf for a commission to go to Marseilles to examine witnesses there to prove a reputed marriage and to obtain the evidence of French advocates that such a marriage, although not valid by French law, would still, after the death of one of the parties, confer on the survivor all the civil rights that would have existed if the marriage had been a valid one according to law. That commission had, however, never been executed and the case was now virtually undefended.”

Dr Tristram, who appeared as Counsel for Alfred Gautier, commenced his case on a weak basis: he could not produce any evidence of any marriage between Mrs Boyse and the defendant. He continued to the effect that Alfred Gautier “had always believed that he had been married to her and she had never been known in Marseilles by any other name than that of Madame Gautier. When she had signed receipts for moneys paid to her by the trustees of her marriage settlement she had written her name as Jane Colclough Gautier and those had always been further signed by M. Gautier.” I am not sure if Dr Tristram had shown the court any of these receipts or even copies of them: if so produced they would strengthen the proposition of, at least, a de fact or common law marriage between Mrs Boyse and M. Gautier. Dr Tristram then focussed on another basic issue in this case:–

“No doubt he was aware that the deceased [Mrs Boyse] had, in her declaration in 1872, stated that she had remained a widow after the death of Mr Boyse, and had never been married to M. Gautier; but the defendant [Alfred Gautier] alleged that she had always said afterwards that this declaration had been improperly obtained from her and she had subsequently refused to allow the solicitors who had induced her to make it to act any longer for her.” Would the Bank of England have required her to produce documentary evidence of marriage to Alfred Gautier, if she had described herself as Madame Gautier. There is, also, the consideration of the wide age gap between the former Mrs Boyse and M. Gautier—was marriage likely between parties that apart in their ages? The decision of the court was of no joy to M. Gautier:–

“His Lordship said the question now before him was whether or not the deceased had been married to the defendant, and upon the evidence adduced he could only come to the conclusion that the defendant [M. Gautier] had never been her [Mrs Boyse’s] lawful husband. He, therefore, gave judgement for the plaintiff [Edward Crofton, the nephew of Mrs Boyse] with costs.”

I think that it was dubious justice in the case of Alfred Gautier: on mature reflection I think that he had a good case to be recognised as the common law husband of the Widow Boyse. Costs were given against him, to make matters more galling for him!

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 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. At 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 was speaking in heavy irony]

Mr Boyse, senior, followed.

Mr Sheil next addressed the meeting. Mr Sheil congratulated the meeting on the presence of Protestant gentlemen but, at the same time, said the cause was as much theirs. He dwelt on the union organisation of the people; alluded to Clare as an illustration of it; recommended subordination; said they were too wise to rebel; it was in the House of Commons, for the future that the battle was to be fought; he said he knew none combining so many qualifications so worthy to be the Representative of Wexford as Mr Boyse…”

To clarify matters, Catholic Emancipation gave Catholics the right to be elected a Member of the House of Commons in Westminster, London. Previously those Catholics who qualified to vote, on the basis of the forty shilling freehold, had to vote for the Protestant candidate they deemed most favourable to the interests of the Catholic community. Thus Mr Robert Carew of Castleboro and Mr Colclough were elected to the House of Commons in 1818 to represent the Co. Wexford precisely because the Catholic voters opted for them. There was much criticism of the forty shilling freehold qualification to hold the franchise or right to vote: landlords were tempted to create these tiny tenancies and give them leases for a life or lives as the landlord was in a strong position to ensure that the tenants voted as they wished them to. Each voter had to declare at the election who they wished to vote for. One voted by public declaration.

The apprehension of the English authorities was that once Catholics could be elected to Parliament then any one of the miserably poor and uneducated forty shilling freeholders could be elected to the House of Commons. Dan O’Connell effectively assented to a deal that in return for Catholic Emancipation, that only those with a freehold property of £10 value would in future possess the franchise or vote. A property could be leased for either a fixed term of years or for the indefinite period of the life of a particular person or lives of particular persons—or a combination of a fixed term and life or lives. A freehold occurred when one had a lease for a life or lives. One for example could have a lease for forty years and the life of Tom Boyse or one could have a lease for the life of the boy from Barrystown and Queen Victoria. A lease for a period of a specific number of years was not a freehold and did not entitle one to have a vote in elections.



Sunday 9th November [1947]

At 8pm

Stewart Granger, Jean Kent, Anne Crawford, Denis Price in


Admission (incl. Tax)—1/8 and 10d.

The Management reserve the right to refuse admission and to change the programme.”

The Management did not specify who they might refuse admission to: in the intricate legislation of latter times, it might be more difficult to refuse admission to anybody.

The People on September 2nd 1857 carried this intriguing letter:–

“To The Editor Of The People

Rosegarland, Foulk’s Mill

Dear Sir—I forward you by this day’s post a paper containing an article on land, written by a Norfolk farmer. You will perceive that his views of the freedom of purchase, abolition of the system of Entail, primogeniture and Class Legislation are nearly identical with those expressed in the last number of the People. This is, also, a proof that the English farmer and the Irish Democrat require the same thing.

Yours obediently

Francis A. Leigh.

(We feel obliged to Mr Leigh for his communication but the paper he refers to has not come to hand.)”

There are some big words in the above and as the boy from Barrystown regularly uses big words, I will endeavour to translate some of them. Entailed estates had to demised to the first born son or the sibling nearest to that status, if the first born heir was deceased; it created enormous legal and financial complications. For example, one could not sell an entailed estate: the Carew Estate at Castleboro had to be willed to the heir, the first born son. He, in turn, could only will it to his first born son. It was very difficult to obtain a mortgage on an entailed estate. Primogeniture was a French custom or law regarding succession to estates: the first born had to succeed to the estate—the strategy was to avoid the fragmentation of estates in sub-divisions to several siblings. The real puzzle about the letter was that Mr Leigh should write to The People in such friendly terms, since The People was not well disposed to landlordism and would later strongly support the Land League. I wonder was this the Francis Leigh who married a Catholic; she did an enormous amount of work in connection with the Catholic Chapel of Clongeen.

An extract from the report of the meeting of the Wexford Poor Law Guardians , in The People on the 28th of November 1906:–

“Dr Keogh, Bannow¸ reported regarding a case of consumption in his district. The patient lived with his six brothers and it was desirable that he be isolated or removed to  an hospital.

It was suggested that the Guardians should take measures to have the boy, if possible, sent to the sanatorium at Newcastle. The Chairman regretted that she had already promised her vote to another patient who desired to get into the sanatorium. Admittance to the latter, she explained, was regulated by votes of subscribers and if the Guardians paid three guineas, they could have a vote in the matter. Mr J. Codd, (Ardcolm) said that there was only one patient in the hospital at Wexford and the boy should be induced to come in there. Mr Keane thought it was useless to advise the boy who had got so downhearted that he would not go out of the house or go to see a doctor who was obliged to come to his house.

The Chairman thought that the people should be asked to have the house disinfected. The Board decided that nothing could be done if the boy refused to come to the hospital and Dr Keogh was to be acquainted with the facts.”