Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, erudite, scholarly, eloquent, moves and talks with panache, historian supreme, a right boyo, modest, self-effacing, original, innovative, inspired and inspiring, a marathon runner, trainor of hurling teams, a superb florist, expert at cultivating sunflowers—a man without equal and not ever to be emulated; above all else, the most devious and wily of them all, that wily boy from beside the mine-pits. You could write a million books about me and still not adequately describe my greatness.
On the 1st of May 1850, the Wexford Independent carried a letter sent by Tom Boyse of Bannow to Mr Conway, the editor of the Dublin Evening Post. Mr Boyse addressed the editor, a special friend of his, as “Conway”: it was a convention of that era to address a distinguished public person by his surname in public discourse. The theme of Tom Boyse’s letter was that Tom Moore, the poet, was dying and it was feared that because Moore had become antipathetic to the Repeal of the Act of Union Act of Great Britain and Ireland, the great matter in the life of the Liberator Dan O’Connell, that public feeling in Ireland had turned against Moore. Moore as a close friend of Lord John Russell, the British Prime Minister, would inevitably support the Union of Ireland and Great Britain. Mr Boyse feared that it might not be feasible to erect a suitable monument to Moore in Ireland or indeed to have an appropriately large funeral for him in Ireland, because of the animus towards him due to his unwillingness to support Dan O’Connell in his campaign to achieve a Repeal of the Act of Union of Ireland and Great Britain. I think that Tom Boyse was, also, opposed to a Repeal of the Act of Union..
“Bannow, County Wexford, April 5th 1850
My Dear Conway—I have just received a letter from the wife of Thomas Moore, to tell me that the condition of the Bard now leaves no hope of recovery.
Your friend, my friend and the friend—(whatever some of our tinsel patriots may say)—has been for a long time declining in health and has not left his room for the past three months. You know by what close ties of intimacy I have been attached to Moore and I can speak to the sentiments of regard which he always entertained for you. As a mournful catastrophe, then, is near at hand, ought not the admirers of the Prince of Modern Lyricists in Ireland, bethink themselves of organising the means of conferring all possible honours on the tomb and memory of our friend?
His two earliest and most powerful friends are the present Premier [Lord John Russell] and Lord Landsdowne; and I believe there will be much of conflicting opinion as to where the remains of our immortal countryman are to go to their rest. His English worshippers will say—lay him, by all means, in Westminster Abbey, among the illustrious fraternity of poets, historians, philosophers and other great men who have gone down to the tomb before him in the United Kingdom. The Emeralders [the Irish] will naturally suggest one of those beauteous spots in Ireland, which his magic lays have made classic ground and consecrated to ever-during fame.
I have already been appealed to as the Poet’s confidential friend by some of his worshippers, who wish that the public should be prepared through you, and your brother journalists for the loss we are about to sustain.
I know not whether you are aware that Moore did me the high honour of dedicating to me his “History of Ireland”—and I know not how to feel sufficiently grateful for such a compliment from such a quarter. Much as we all admire Moore’s genius and its fascinating effusions, yet, believe me, the man, simply as such—and I knew him well—was still more admirable—
“—Cui justitie soror
Incorrupta fides—nudaque veritas
Quando alium envenient passim”
Yes, the soul of Moore was intensely noble. He was one of those aristocrats of nature, of whom a brother Bard (Burns) speaks as holding a patent of precedence immediately from Almighty God. I have means, were I at your elbow, of proving that this is not the mere conventional language of exaggeration or sycophancy, but that of plain unvarnished truth.
You are aware that in O’Connell’s latter movement Moore declined to be a fellow-labourer and that he thereby forfeited the confidence and countenance of the then omnipotent Irish Tribune. Moore’s name has never since been in good odour with O’Connell’s followers and I thence am disposed to infer, that a public funeral, a monument &c.¸ &c, in Ireland might prove a failure—whereas a similar solemnity in London would be as sumptuously celebrated as the obsequies of our Soldier-Duke, or of Prince Albert, himself. The sad circumstances with which our poor country has been for some years too familiar you will agree are not likely to prove propitious to our great Melodist’s popularity—and only for this one disturbing power, I should myself give my humble voice in favour of a grave for Moore in Ireland with, if you will, a cenotaph—as one of my correspondents suggests—at Westminster.
We all know the unction and the splendour and the nationality with which Scotland has heaped posthumous glory on the memories of her Scot and her Burns, and it is now asked, whether the tomb of Moore is to be less honoured by the men of Ireland? Even the peasant mind of Ireland is, as I grieve to say it, poisoned with reference to the true character of our departing friend. Yet I can never believe that the educated classes of Irishmen—be they Conservative or Whig, Orange or Green, Roman or Reformed, Radical or Tory, or, in a word, what you will—will skulk from lavishing due reverence and praise on the perished relics of one whose polished labours had reflected back immortal honour on their country. Can I be wrong in this?—Surely, no.
I enclose for your perusal in this, to me, absorbingly interesting subject, a letter which I have lately received from an Irishman, who has long been a sojourner in the neighbouring isle, but whose feeling, nevertheless, overflows with much of genuine Irish nationality and enthusiasm. Lord Landsdowne says, that as soon as the anticipated melancholy event takes place, the first thing to be done is to ascertain from Mrs Moore what the wish of her illustrious husband was on this, while he was competent to entertain one.
May I beg of you to take care of Mr O’Brien’s letter and after a little time to return it to me.
The immediate object of my now addressing you, is to express my earnest and anxious hope, that you will acquiesce with me in thinking that the present is an occasion on which you may properly and gracefully stir up Dublin Evening Post’s gentle public to the public discussion of a subject, on which I have written volumes already myself, and on which I could still write in secula seculorum.
At Avoca or Innisfallen (vide Mr O’B.) I fear no funeral cortege could be arrayed sufficiently numerous and imposing and impressive to mark what we all feel relative to the merits of Thomas Moore—and without numbers everything in Ireland is a failure. It is confidently assumed by some folks, that is a subscription were once organised—limited to £1—a tide of money would flow in; more than sufficient to satisfy the yearnings of the beloved bard’s.
A few words in your own strong style of composition will efficiently usher in the subject; and I believe your brother journalists would not prove tardy in echoing your ex-cathedra Postiana injunctions. Do, then, sound the loud trumpet, that your readers may be apprised of the coming bereavement. Call upon every man who is capable of drinking in the music of Moore’s enchanting strains, to prepare—for in this, if we deliberate, we are lost.
I long to know your own opinion—let me have it in confidence
Longum esset si quoad nunc sentio dicere coner.
But I durst no longer trespass, at present, on your precious time.
Always¸ dear Conway, truly yours
Tom Moore was most relieved in the closing years of his life (shortly after his visit to Bannow in 1835) to be granted a yearly pension of circa £100 from the British State. After his death, the Prime Minister Lord John Russell edited the diaries of Moore for publication, to provide an income for his widow.
From The People the 29th of July 1891:–
“MELANCHOLY DROWNING ACCIDENT
On Sunday last a remarkably sad case of drowning took place near Ballingly, Ballymitty, the victim being a young man named John Ennis, only 22 years and of the most exemplary character. His father, Walter Ennis, resides in Arnestown, where he holds a small farm of some seven or eight acres. On this farm the deceased lived and through hard work and unceasing activity he and his parents were above the wants of people similarly circumstanced. It appears that on Sunday last young Ennis went to bathe in a river close to his home and though being just able to keep himself over the water, yet he was not able to swim and when he got out of his depth, the current brought him down the river and into a turn-hole, where he was drowned. Two young boys were witnesses of the sad affair and, at once, gave the alarm. Some of the neighbours turned out and having dragged the river got the remains. Upon the respected Curate of the parish, the Rev. T. Meehan C. C., devolved the unpleasant duty of breaking the terrible news to the old couple, whose only hope and stay the deceased was and, needless to say, that it was done by the Reverend gentleman with all the tenderness and tact that have endeared him so much to his flock. Throughout the whole parish, by all sections of the community, the untimely fate of young Ennis is deeply deplored on account of his many sterling qualities and deep sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents. Dr Cardiff held an inquest on Monday, and a verdict of death by accidental drowning was returned.”
From a report of a meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union in The People on the 14th of July 1909:–
“Leave of Absence
A letter was read from Nurse Doyle of Balloughton, Bannow asking for a fortnight’s leave of absence.
Mr O’Brien—Does she name a substitute?
Clerk—No; she does not mention it in her letter.
Mr Devereux–Is there not a Mrs Howlin out there who would do duty for her?
Clerk—Yes; we employed her before at £1 a week.
Mr O’Brien—Let her provide a substitute. The district should not be left without a nurse.
It was decided to grant the application provided that the nurse provided a substitute.”
My deduction from the above is that Nurse Doyle would have to pay the substitute nurse.
From The People the 17th of August 1912:–
“Trade and Labour Benefit Society
A meeting of the Ballymitty Branch of the Irish National Trade and Labour Benefit Society was held on Friday last, Mr M. Waters, President, in the chair. Also present—W. Scully, R. Furlong, J. Byrne, P. Waters and P. J. Chapman, secretary. A few new members were enrolled and some half dozen applied for transfers to be allowed into the branch which were granted. The Chairman said he noticed by the report of the last meeting of the County Council that the Secretary stated they (the County Council)had a membership of 7,000. This was far and away below the membership of the Trade and Labour Benefit Society and was not much to boast of for such an influential body as the County Council. He felt sure that by the end of October their Society would top the lot with regard to membership, as even their own branch was steadily increasing and he knew of many persons who had joined the County Council and other societies and they were very sorry for having done so and had signified their intention of applying for transfers, so that in a short time, their branch would be as large, if not larger, than any in the county. Mr Scully strongly criticised the action of some employers in offering such opposition to the Insurance Act. The reason was apparent because the worker in general was given a chance of doing his own business by this Act, which could not be said of Acts given by the Tory Government. The workers should feel thankful to the Liberal Government for giving them a free hand in this Act¸ which lifted them up from the position of slaves. Other routine business having been transacted the meeting adjourned.”
From The People the 19th of June 1948:
“Kilcavan Pattern—The annual pattern was held at Kilcaven (Ballymitty) Cemetery last Sunday and there was a very large attendance, considerably more than for many years past. Many people were present from remote localities such as New Ross, Adamstown, Wexford, Kilmore, Taghmon, Fethard, Bannow and Clongeen. The graves were all dressed with an abundance of beautiful flowers. During the afternoon, Rev. L. Kinsella C. C. Ballymitty attended and recited the Rosary for the repose of the souls of those buried there; the vast crowd joining in the responses.”
The phrase “remote locations” is redolent of something written by the poet Paddy Kavanagh; in this era of motorised transport the locations referred to are a mere drive of less than half an hour away.
From a report of a meeting of Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union in The People the 21st of August 1895:–
“Bannow Dispensary Residence
Philip Doyle, contractor for Bannow Dispensary Residence, wrote that the building would be completed next week and said he would be thankful if the Guardians would take it off his hands, as when finished he would have no one to take care of it and it might be damaged, such as windows broken. It would oblige him very much if he could get some money that day. It was decided that Mr Doyle’s request be acceded to.”
I am unsure if the request acceded to was that of taking the residence off Mr Doyle’s hands or giving him some of the money due to him.
From a report of a meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union in The Wexford Independent on the 21st of June 1859:–
“Mr Nicholas Sinnott (Bannow) applied for out-door relief for a woman in his Electoral Division and produced the following certificate:–
“I certify that Ann Hanrahan of Danescastle is a very feeble old woman and seems to be in great pain. She has a large ulcer on her leg and it would pain her very much to go to hospital.
James Boyd Medical Officer
The Chairman (Mr Howlin) said if all with ulcers now in the House were to be left on Out-door Relief, they would have very few coming in. The doctor too, did not show the case to be a very serious one requiring relief and his own opinion was that she should have the choice of using the House or staying where she was—Out-door Relief refused.”
The problem for the Boards of Guardians was that if the conditions for relief were relaxed then vast numbers of people would quickly apply. The disadvantages and, indeed, punitive aspects of going to reside in the Work House were obvious and most only applied to get in as a last resort. Out-door relief in the form of weekly payments delivered by the Relieving Officer was granted to poor people who were sick and difficult to remove to the Work house; it was given, also, to widows with four or more children. The out door relief anticipated the modern social welfare systems.
From a report of a meeting of the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union in The People on the 20th of July 1891:–
Henry Arthur Hunt Boyse Bannow House to evict William Rochford senior, William Rochford, junior, Thomas Keane, Michael Colfer, William Murphy and Mary Kearns, from part of the town and lands of Danescastle, containing 6 acres, 3 roods, Irish measure.”
It was a legal requirement that any proprietor intending to evict tenants from their residences should inform the Board of Guardians of the Poor Law Union; in the above case the Wexford Poor Law Union: the purpose of this was to enable the Board to make provisions for the admission to the Work House of the evicted tenants. Very few evicted tenants took advantage of this grim right to accommodation in the Work House.