Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, ebullient, erudite, an intellect unsurpassed in human history, scholarly, modest, self-effacing, one who uses big words, historian supreme, dauntless, grandiloquent, eloquent, poetic, blesses among women, a right boyo and above all else, wily, that wily boy from beside the mine pits. If it is true it ain’t bragging. As St Kevin of Kilcaven prophesised it would always be gold and silver for the Barrystown children—a metaphor of their constant elevation to the highest honours.

At a meeting some year ago, somebody proposed the boy from Barrystown for a most modest post on another organisation; he uses big words was the main reason that he could think of, he told the meeting! Utilitarianism is surely a big word and my little dictionary says that it is the doctrine that the right action is the one that brings about the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The historian Michael Tierney writing in the 1930s condemned Dan O’Connell, the Liberator, as utilitarian in political outlook and quoted his advice to the Irish people not to concern themselves with Gaeilge or Gaelic as English was a most commonly used language and essential for Irish people if they emigrated in search of work. O’Connell saw English as cosmopolitan, a language of commerce, business and the workplace. The utilitarians essentially favoured the onward sweep of economic and social progress and were impatient with nostalgia, excessive veneration of the past and old ways and inefficient modes of working. Sean Lemass as Taoiseach from 1959 to 1966 would have followed the utilitarian paradigm; his was impatient with Mr de Valera’s vision of a frugal Ireland, the village industry, the cosy homes and the maidens dancing at the crossroads, etc (actually Mr de Valera did not use those words about maidens in his radio broadcast but a phrase of his was embellished and that is nearly the same) and, also, uneasy with the commemoration of the 1916 Rebellion in the spring of 1966; he may have feared that the commemorations would stir up more revolt in Ireland and stymie his absolute determination to create a modern economy. Tom Boyse of Bannow, of glorious memory, would have been utilitarian to an extent, especially in his opposition to the tithes, corrupt municipal corporations and unease with reckless demographical trends.

In 1844 most of the frontage proprietors to Ballyteigue Lough wished to engage in a mega drainage and reclamation project that would recover 2, 000 acres or more from its submersion in the water. At least four of the frontage proprietors objected with varying degrees of vehemence. Mr Grogan Morgan of Johnstown Castle and Charles A. Walker were not intractable in their objections and were mollified by assurances given at the official Inquiry into the objections. Both men would rank among the more humane of landlords and their concern was largely with compensation for the lesser types whose livelihood might be endangered by the project. Lady Elizabeth King objected on the stated basis that the drainage of the Lough would deprive her tenants at Newtown and Grange of access to sea weed; they would therefore be unable to pay the present rent of £2 2 shillings per acre and might be only able to pay £1 10 shillings an acre. They would be further distressed by the loss of fishing close by to them.

Lady Mary Elizabeth King was wife of Jonas King of Barrystown and daughter of the Rev. Abraham Goff, rector of Duncormack: I suspect that her objections to the Ballyteigue drainage and land reclamation project was essentially religious—she was repelled by what she may have seen as a re-ordering of God’s creation, as it applied to the Lough.

In October 1844 the Commissioners of Drainage Mr William T. Mulvany and Sir John Burgoyne met, initially, at Bridgetown and then at Wexford courthouse. Their response to the objections was more ideological and philosophical than founded on a rational consideration of the merits of the objections. They spurned the objections of the tenants of Lady King—Sir John advised them to buy lime….

Mr George told the Inquiry that he not only appeared for Mr H. K. G. Morgan but also for “Mr Boyse, on whose properties on the border of said Lough, coal stores and large yards, for the purposes of commerce, had been erected. Such improvements, he need not say, were constructed in consequence of the facilities for trade, which the navigation of the river afforded; and, which, his clients apprehended, would be closed up, or materially injured, if the reclamation took place….”

The Ballyteigue Lough project could be cited as a classical example of the application of utilitarian ideology. The mega economic advantage of reclaimed land would, as a matter of probability, far outweigh or even dwarf the puny economic output of ancient ways of eking out a livelihood as practised by countless generations living at the Lough. The indications from the Commissioners were that these humble people could not expect much compensation (as would be the case in latter times). There is a profound and reefing pathos in this piece of Mr George’s (who appeared for those objecting to the Drainage) opening address to the Inquiry:–

“Tens of thousands of people were interested in keeping up the present tidal stream, as well as the merchants and traders on its banks—he meant those who supported themselves by fishing and drawing manure therefrom from time immemorial. The latter consisted of sea weed, sea sand and alluvial deposit and nothing could compensate the vast number of poor people now enjoying it, for its deprivation. Even the fishermen from Kilmore resort to the Lough for the bait necessary for deep sea fishing. Could they be compensated, if deprived of this indispensable requisite for pursuing their honest and laborious vocation?”

Willy White, a tenant of Lady King, spoke of a previous offer of bountiful compensation to him (an offer reneged on, he said); if he got a like offer he would not oppose the project a burst of raucous laughter swept the court.

On Monday October 5th, 1844, as the Commissioners met at Bridgetown, Mr George examined Michael Furlong who told him that he lived at Cullenstown and had stores at Coolseskin—not far from the Coast Guard station.

His premises were surely in a precarious setting, as adduced by his evidence:–

“between it [the Coast Guard station] and the bar; has a quarter of an acre walled in, eight feet above the water, which he reclaimed from the sea; and now uses as coal yard; he paid £100 fine and £6 13 shillings and 4 pence per annum for three acres of land, on which his store is erected; at spring tide a vessel of 100 tons can come up to his wall; Mr Whitty’s vessel, the Mary, that carried 100 tons, often unloaded at his quay; coal, culm and slates were the commodities imported and potatoes those he exported; twelve or thirteen vessels have been in the habit of trading with him for the last twenty years; his own vessels are from fifty to sixty tons; sixteen trips were made by his vessels in the year; he sold two thousand seven hundred tons of culm and coal in a single year; his business is now increasing; they have as much water as on average as they have in the bar of Wexford; he expended about six or seven hundred and a gentleman would not do it for one thousand pounds; would not take three times that for it; thinks the outlet of water, if the reclamation goes on, will not be sufficient to keep the bar clear…” At this stage his evidence becomes  a trifle confused:–

“there are no regular stores on the Lough river; but there are yards and landing places on it; Mr Watson has one and his (witness’s) nephew another; thinks if the water narrowed, the tide would rise higher and flood the lands; the higher the water will rise, the better for the navigation; thinks the water will rise but that the bar would not be improved.”

The Commissioner Sir John Burgoyne cruelly jibed:–

“I really think, Mr George, that the witness don’t seem to be the best authority on scientific questions.”

Mr Furlong told Mr George that several lighters and cots were “trading over the bar; and seven or eight vessels; there are eight or ten lighters; and about fifty cots on the river; the fishermen frequently get bait in the river; the Lough is an asylum for fishing boats; before the Kilmore pier was built, several boats belonging to that station, used to come to the Lough during the winter.

He told the Commissioner Mr Mulvany that he didn’t know whether “a navigable canal up to Bridgetown would be of service.”

He told Mr Swan Counsel for the proprietors favour the drainage project, that there were “ten to fifteen feet of water at the bar and a swell when the wind is south-east. Shipped 3,000 tons of potatoes out of his yard one year,”.

If Mr Furlong was telling the truth (and he may have exaggerated in expectation of a lot of compensation) he has a most extensive business; but the Commissioners were dismissive and reductive of such evidence,

Now a tribute from The Echo on the 7th of May 1938 to a famous native of Moortown, Ballymitty:–

“Canon Paul Kehoe

I would speak though of the priest who planted on Furlong’s grave [the poet Thomas Furlong from north Wexford], Canon Paul Kehoe, late parish priest of Cloughbawn, ar dheis De go raibh a anam Gaodhalach. A typical sagart who loved his people, suffered with them in their sorrow and joyed with them in their joy, Father Kehoe early felt the urge to write poetry. Luckier than most he had the advantage of two world tours and residence in a foreign land. His experiences expanded a mind that was naturally broad and breeding comparisons, intensified a love of natal efforts. He had a keen observation and a facility in phrase-making that made his poetry pleasing at all times. There has been no collected edition of his works but there is a gathering of pieces that appeared from time to time in local paper and American magazines and some day, possibly, the poems will be published with a sketch of the life of a very Irish and a very lovable priest.”

The parish of Carrig-on-Bannow has given so many of its sons to the priesthood—maybe that reflects the Norman antecedents. They came to Bannow back in 1169 to reform the IrishChurch or so they said.

From The People April 20th 1898:–

“Sale of Cottage and Farm

On Saturday Mr John J. Kehoe, auctioneer, offered for sale in his offices, George Street, Wexford, by directions of Mr Robert Blake, the tenant, his interest in his holding at Ballyknock, Tullicanna, containing 3 acres, 1 rood, and 6 perches and on which are situate thatched dwelling house and cow-house. The place is held at a rent of £3 15 shillings, off which the landlady has made an abatement, bringing the rent to £2 15 shillings, the poor law valuation. Mr Martin M’Grath, Knockbine, purchased at £30. Mr Martin Huggard, solicitor, Wexford had carriage of sale.”

This item from the Forth and Bargy notes in The Free Press on June 5th 1954:–

“An Old Landmark Goes—The ancient building known, known as the “barrack”

was pulled down during the week to provide road building material. It was erected by Rev. William by Rev. William Hickey, a noted Rector of Bannow, as a fever hospital and later on housed a detachment of the royal Irish Constabulary, from which circumstance it got its name.” On a point of fact the Rev. Hickey would not have had authority to erect a fever hospital—when the Kilkaven Fever Hospital was established circa 1815, it was done by the Grand Jury of the County Wexford operating through the courts, more precisely, the Assizes at Wexford town. The Summer Assizes in Wexford circa 1819 directed that a sum of money be provided for the Kilkaven and BannowFeverHospital. Responsibility for FeverHospitals and Dispensarys was later transferred to the Poor Law Unions as directed by their Board of Guardians. It is almost certain that the Rev. Hickey, as Rector of Bannow, would have acted as Secretary of the Kilkaven and Bannow Dispensary, as did some of his successors as Rector of Bannow. The Royal Irish Constabulary were never stationed at Bannow; they were stationed at Tullicanna and Wellingtonbridge. Maybe they took temporary lodgings in the building at Bannow. I will check the 1841 Ordnance Survey Map to see where the KilkavenFeverHospital was; I expect that the writer of the local notes was correct in stating that the ancient building at Bannow was the location of the FeverHospital.

From The People February 27th 1889:–


Cullen—February 21st, at the Bay, Bannow, Mr Bartholomew Cullen, aged 76 years. His remains were interred in the OldChurch, Bannow, and were followed to their last resting place by a large funeral cortege.”

From a review of Anna Maria Hall’s “Sketches of Irish Character” [The Ladies Museum 1832 (?)]:–

“[Mrs Hall’s] is written in imitation of “Our Village” by Miss Mitford, but, is, nevertheless full of originality. Mrs Hall describes a simple people, of peculiar habits and manners, totally unlike the habits and manners of the generality of the Irish. They are the remnant of an Anglo-Saxon colony settled on an extreme point of the county of Wexford, at the time when Alfred was compelled by the Danes to take refuge in the wilds of Athelny. They have preserved their language and their independence; and though Bannow, the inhabitants of which Mrs Hall describes, is some distance from the Barony of Forth, where the Saxon is still spoken, the good people in that district retain enough of the idiom to show that they sprung from the same parent stock.”

Anglo-Saxon was a Germanic dialect, with Norse antecedents. I sort of studied it for a year in the old University.

In a case before the Wexford Petty Sessions in March 1862, Mrs Emily Lett deposed that she lived in Grageen, near to Carrig; she was in the habit or receiving letters and money orders from her friend Mrs Anna Maria Hall “who lived in Bannow Lodge, Brompton, England”. She had received a letter from her some time before “inquiring had she received one containing a money order for £1, previously sent”. The money order seems to have been misappropriated.

From The Free Press, 27th of August 1938:–

“Hay Burned—On Saturday morning a large rick of hay belonging to Mr W. Harpur, Bannow, was destroyed by fire. Many willing neighbours came with all speed to do what was possible to overcome the conflagration and they were successful in preventing the fire spreading to adjacent houses. The origin of the fire is a mystery.

Picnic Parties—Several picnic parties went to the KeeraghIslands during the week and they included visitors from across the Channel. The landing on the rocks was not easy and many had wet feet before they got safely ashore. It is suggested that if there were a more convenient landing place the Keeraghs would be a favourite picnic resort.”

From The Free Press 19th of November 1938:–

“Old footballer’s Death—The death in Wexford town on Saturday last of Mr Moses Mc Evoy caused sincere regret in Ballymitty district. He had been living in Wexford for many years past but was a prominent member of the old Ballymitty team that won fame in times gone past. He took the game close on thirty years ago and was a fine exponent for one so youthful. He played with Ballymitty until their withdrawal from the G. A. A. in 1913. He was sincerely esteemed by all his friends and acquaintances for his genial and kindly disposition and the sorrow at his death in the prime of life is general. His health had been failing for some years past, during which he suffered from a serious internal complaint. The cortege that accompanied the remains to their last resting place in Ballymitty on Monday was one of the largest and most representative seen in the district for many years and testified to the respect in which he and his family are held. Much sympathy is felt for his widow, family and other relatives in their bereavement.”

In 1913 Ballymitty-Ballymitty won the 1912 Co. Junior A Football championship and then refused to accept the medals from the County Committee (as it was called then) on the complaint that they were of inferior quality; cheap medals, in other words. I do not think that the Co. Committee meant offence but they were not possessed of much money to provide better medals. After a protracted and interminable dispute the Ballymitty-Bannow Club broke off all connection with the CountyCommittee and effectively dissolved. It was reformed a considerable number of years later and in the interim there were other teams from the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow (one in Kiltra) but they were not as good as the Ballymitty-Bannow team. Moses Mc Evoy was a member of the team that won the 1912 championship and thus he was forever famous in the parish and rightly so.

The Wexford Independent on June 22nd 1850 reported:–

“Suppression of Vagrancy

We are glad to observe, by the resolutions of the highly respectable inhabitants of Bannow, that they are resolved to preserve their peaceful and moral people from the contamination of strolling vagrants, that now overrun the South-Eastern districts of this county from all parts of Ireland. In this very proper determination, the clergy of both denominations, with the landlord and tenant cordially co-operate; and we shall be glad to hear that their example has been followed throughout the county. Our struggling middle class is already sufficiently burdened with taxation without having further contributions extorted from their fears, not their charity—their properties placed at the mercy of lawless wanderers—and the morals of their sons imperilled by associations from which the virtuous mind recoils. Many an old, respectable and once wealthy citizen has been compelled to take refuge in the Workhouse; and instead of repining, is thankful to a beneficent Providence for opening to him such as asylum in the hour of need; yet hordes of idlers, thieves and vagabonds, refuse to avail themselves of the proffered boom and quarter themselves on the industry of the country, in the name of charity. We thank the men of Bannow for taking the initiative to abate this nuisance.”

The strolling vagrants look to me like a fraternity, or, at least, from a common social genus: they despised work and did not wish to go to the Workhouse (although it is not difficult to see why anybody might not wish to go to the Workhouse!). The expectation (or maybe the propaganda to secure its acceptance by rate payers!) was that the introduction of the Poor Law would effectively remove the nuisance and menace of the vagrants by attracting them all to the Workhouses. This never happened. The above article is proof that the vagrants terrorised ordinary people by effectively giving them a choice of paying levies to them or facing the risk of having their properties burned. In such an event one might apply to the courts or Presentment Sessions on the basis of malicious damages for compensation. There were fears of the vagrants bringing and spreading disease due to their contempt for hygiene: in the nineteenth century, especially as it advanced, both the authorities and the people became aware that bad hygiene and insanitary conditions were conducive to the spread of disease and were alarmed that such factors could precipitate an epidemic.