, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, obliging, eloquent, inspiring and inspired, visionary, a prophet, a poet, a trainor of hurling teams, a marathon runner, (and as the woman in Clonroche village prophesised twenty five years ago or more) blessed among the women, uses big words (appropriately), historian supreme, a right boyo, an intelligence far greater than Einstein, humble, modest, self-effacing; the most devious and most wily of them all; as I always say, if it is true it ain’t bragging. I am not sure if I need to recite all that on every Blog as the world must know it all, by now. No native of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow has any need to brag: as some great orator of the English language asserted—maybe it was Jack Kennedy in the Dail in Dublin town in 1963—there are two genus of Irish people—those who are natives of Bannow and those who wish they were. Barrystown invariably features in the stories of Anna Maria Hall—on a sunny Saturday a few years ago, I walked with Dinny–, the little terrier, (alas since departed to the doggy mansions in the sky) along the cockle strand and was astounded by the immediate closeness of Bannow to Barrystown. It always has been gold and silver for the Barrystown childre.
“Sir—I see by the last issue of your patriotic journal that the Carrigbyrne National League informs all whom it may concern that the evicted farm and public house at Wellingtonbridge have been grabbed. Having an intimate knowledge of this case, I say that the eviction of the family who held the place was as cruel and unjust as could be perpetrated. The late occupiers commenced to build on a bare field and expended over £1,000. In the Famine of ’79 and ’80 being unable to pay a notorious rack rent, they were thrown out on the roadside, without one shilling of compensation, the landlord by some legal quibble breaking their claim. The case is only one of many which illustrate the shortcomings of legislation and give a fitting answer to those who say that the Land Act of ’81 should be a final settlement. Nothing but the total abolition of landlordism and the establishment of peasant proprietorship in its stead will ever settle this vexed Land Question. Irish landlordism is the cause of all the suffering, degradation and crime that have disgraced our land for generations. The prevalence of widespread poverty and disaffection among the masses, consequent on ruinous exactions and social tyranny, threaten to overwhelm many established institutions. In the twenty years between ’46 and ’66, landlordism levelled 250,000 Irish homesteads and 3,000,000 persons were banished in one generation from a land capable of supporting twice its present population. Father O’Rourke in his book on the Irish famine says that at the lowest estimate 1,000,000 died of famine. The multiplied crimes of landlordism cry to Heaven for vengeance and the system stands condemned by the voice of civilised man—Yours, etc
The People published the above prescient letter on October 15, 1884. The peasant proprietorship came about with the occupiers of the farms owning them in fee simple or full ownership. Mr Leigh evicted Murphy and his wife from the hotel and public house at Wellingtonbridge—they had seemingly built these premises on a bare field site and spent over £1,000 on the venture. My suspicion is that the Murphys may have borrowed a lot of money to proceed with their project and in the bad years were financially stranded. Mr Curran who took the evicted hotel, pub and land, afterwards, reached a financial settlement with Mrs Murphy, by then long years a widow.
As I always say, any account of the history of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow should always refer to Tom Boyse of glorious memory. Mr Boyse used The Grange, Bannow as his address and in this context, I will quote what Dr W. H. Grattan Flood wrote in The People, August 20th 1910:–
“At the period of the so called Reformation, the monks of Tintern had 120 acres of arable land, valued at twenty shillings, in the village of Bannow, which land was then leased to Walter Browne of Mulrankin, together with the ferry of Bannow, value at 13 shillings and 4 pence.” A Grange was an out farm owned by an order of monks. The lands referred to by Dr Flood must have been the Grange of Bannow where Tom Boyse lived. Dr Grattan Flood continues:–
“As late as 1860, the debris of an old Elizabethan house was found at Bannow and the inscription, although fragmentary, stated that the mansion had been erected in 1598 by James Fitz Laurence Cullen and his wife Marian Sinnott.”
It would be wonderful if that were true! In 1860 Captain Boyse was eager to erect a handball alley in Bannow and some of the wall around the graveyard was up-rooted and the pieces of stone, referred to by Dr Flood uncovered. The problem was that the inscription on mature reflection—and putting the two broken parts of the slab together!— turned out to be 1398 and not 1598.
William Murphy aged 16, from Bannow was admitted to the Wexford Workhouse in late March 1861 as reported in The Wexford Independent on the 3rd of April 1861.
“To The Editor of The Wexford Independent
Sir—I see by your last issue a notice of a large seal washed ashore at this place, the dimensions of which as ascertained by Mr Craig, the chief boatman of Coastguard here were, length, 10 feet, 3 inches from tip of nose to end of tail; greatest girth, 5 feet , 4 inches, weighing about 20 cwt. These figures will give your readers an idea of what this specimen of Mammal was like—Yours
X. Y. Z.
Bannow Banks, 4th July 1881” [the letter was published in the issue of July 6th, 1881].
The People published this letter on April 25 1863:–
“To The Editor of The People
Sir—In your last issue appears a very interesting sketch of the Barony of Forth, taken from the Quarterly Journal, published by the “Kilkenny Archaeological Society”. As particular reference is made therein, relative to the old town of Bannow, about which there is so much diversity of opinion—I quote the paragraph, hoping that some of your learned correspondents may feel inclined to throw additional light on the subject:–
“The countie of Wexford, immediately after the conquest of the Kingdom of Ireland by Henry II, King of England, was honoured by the primier British colony introduced at Bannow [sic] (which was) then made a corporate town, with extraordinary privileges and immunities comprised in its charter.”
The above which can be corroborated from several authentic sources is sufficient to prove that Bannow must have been a town of considerable importance, so early as the twelfth century but, then, the chain of continuity is broken and we find no further mention of it in history; tradition, however, still speaks of the “buried city”, but it is quite unable to point out the site which it occupied. What, then, has become of this ancient town? Has it been swallowed up by some terrible convulsion of nature—leaving no trace behind? As I have already remarked, the greatest diversity of opinion prevails concerning it. Some suppose the buried town to be a myth, and would have you infer that its former greatness consisted merely of a small village or fishing hamlet, which gradually dwindled away, or was deserted by its inhabitants and, in the course of time, covered over with hillocks. Others, amongst whom is the celebrated writer, Mrs S. C. Hall, suppose it to have been a rich, populous city and that it must have been destroyed by a similar disaster, as that which befell the ancient Herculaneum. At all events to persons visiting the locality for the first time, it will be evident that some wondrous and fearful agent must have caused the terrific vicissitudes which present themselves to view. Probably, the town was destroyed by some volcanic shock, or swallowed up by an earthquake, and that at present, the sea rolls over the place, where once all was bustle and life. It is difficult, however, to hazard an opinion with any certainty—still it is most strange that the destruction of the oldest corporate town in Ireland should be thus completely wrapped in oblivion.
The correspondent is correct in his contention that Bannow was given a Royal Charter but it does not follow that Bannow was a massive metropolis or city such as Dublin is now—or even Cork. Most nineteenth century authorities were sceptical about the Herculaneum comparison. There is not enough space there to have contained a city of those proportions.
The People on the 20th of July 1895 recalled The Assizes at Wexford in 1795 and finished with this enigmatic detail:–
“It appears at this time the County-at-Large paid for the building of bridges as well as putting them in repair, no matter what Barony they were in. Bridges were built at the wash of the river near the Scar of Barrystown….”
I presume that Tom Boyse whose brother was horribly wounded at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 would have promoted the proposition of calling the bridge “Wellingtonbridge” after the British military leader Wellington. As it evident from the report the building of bridges, then, involved (comparatively speaking) an onerous financial burden—so it unlikely that very many of them were built. But in the deeper recesses of my mind I recall Mrs Hall, I think, telling of young girls crossing the Scar of Barrystown but I may be incorrect.
The above letter was published in The People on the 25th of April 1863
From The People the 6th of April 1912:–
“Cullenstown Ball Alley
The new ball alley at Cullenstown strand which has recently been finished is a splendid piece of workmanship and is a great credit to the young men of the district and there is no doubt but that the alley will become one of the most popular in the county in a short time. Cullenstown is always an attractive centre on account of its being such a pretty seaside resort and the fact of such a splendid ball alley going to be erected on the strand, with such fine accommodation for witnessing the contests which nature has provided, will most certainly add to its attractiveness and should become one of the most popular spots in the county during the coming summer. What could be more charming on a broiling summer’s day than to stretch oneself on the extensive banks at Cullenstown and enjoy the cooling Atlantic breeze and watch a couple of pairs of the “knights of the alley” strain for supremacy underneath?
It certainly would be most enticing and we would predict that such will be the order at Cullenstown during the coming summer. We understand that the young men who have been responsible for the erection of the alley are seriously contemplating the extension of the wing walls and raising the front wall somewhat higher. This would certainly add very much to the appearance of the alley and we trust that the idea may be put into execution. It is intended by the committee to publicly open the alley on Sunday, May 19th next and have some interesting contests on that day. It has been decided to invite a number of Wexford and Cooraun players to come to Cullenstown on that day and play a number of contests with the famous Carrig players. Should these contests come off, May 19th will be a red letter day in the annals of Cullenstown and one of the largest crowds ever seen in this locality should patronise the place on that day.
A Popular Appointment
Her many friends will be glad to learn that Miss Brigid Hore, Ballymitty has been appointed assistant teacher at Ballymitty School. Miss Hore, who is fully trained is to fill a vacancy which occurred through the resignation of her mother, Mrs M. Hore who has retired after a service of over forty years as teacher at the above school. Miss Hore is deservedly popular in the locality on account of her genial manner and we trust she may have a long and successful career as teacher of Ballymitty National School.
“When John Keane author of “Bannow’s Lonely Shore” died about fourteen years ago he bequeathed to us a store of inborn lore for his native land, of true patriotism and of fine sentiment, seldom surpassed in the history of our country. Now that he is no more, we recognise this fact and each time we hear the words of his beautiful song, the depth of feeling it contains, the poet’s love, almost reverence for Bannow, however faithfully he depicts the extraordinary beauty of the place and the little incidents connected with his life there, all serve to strengthen our regard for him and in our hearts we enshrine him and place him on a pedestal as one deserving of our love and esteem, for did he not love us and was not his dearest wish that he might be laid to rest by the
ruined walls of the old church of Bannow”—Extract from an article in “Ireland’s Own” of April 3rd. Now on sale everywhere. Price 1 penny.
The above quotation comes from The People on the 3rd of April 1912. Ireland’s Own was published by The People newspapers at Wexford.
John O’Donovan during the making of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland map in 1840 recorded the antiquities of the country—part of what he wrote on Clonmines is pungent and potentially controversial:–
“Previous to the Union, Clonmines, though being in utter ruins, ranked as a borough town and sent two members to Parliament for the Ely family. This place must have been formerly of much consideration, as is manifest from the present ruins, but I do not believe a word of what Mr Frazer asserts in his statistical survey of the Co. Wexford, that he has inspected in the library at Lambeth a document from which it appears that during the sway of the Ostmen or Danes over the maritime parts of Ireland, silver ore was found here is such abundance that the Ostmen established a mint and coined pieces of that metal here. I find that Sir Charles Coote Frazer and all the writers for the Dublin Society have been very dishonest in their references to archives and authorities and I, therefore treat their dicta with the contempt they merit.”
Mr O’Donovan made the above observation in The People on the 30th of March 1912. If he is correct then the claim by Mr Frazer that the Danes had a mint at Clonmines is wrong. I think, however, that there was a mint at Clonmines later.
16th January 1873
My Dear Sir—I would most respectfully beg leave to commend Mary U- of Ballylannon and Margaret C—of Clongeen as much in need of outdoor relief. The former has been for the last two months dangerously ill and her daughter and herself have subsisted on little else than precarious charity of her neighbours. I discovered Margaret C– this evening lying on her face on the cross-roads and I could not (she is such an annoyance) get any person to give her a night’s lodging. She has not long to live, as she is weak minded and probably deranged. I think that if she could be removed with safety she could legally be compelled to enter the workhouse hospital.
Assuring you that I give this trouble with great reluctance and through a sense of duty—I have the honour to be, your obedient servant,
William Moran P. P.
Relieving Officer Gorman said that the parties mentioned by Father Moran had been relieved.”
Fr Moran was, indeed, most deferential to the Wexford Board of Guardians but maybe a trifle tactless in his description of the mentally challenged girl; however his intentions were humane and good. This letter was carried in The Wexford Independent on January 25th 1873.
From The People February 1, 1862:–
“To be sold by auction on Monday 10th of February on the premises, the interest in the Lease of that part of the lands of Barristown held by James Larkin, at the yearly rent of £48….containing 34 acres, 2 Roods, late Irish Plantation Measure; held for 31 years from March 1841, or three lives, at present, 34, 32, and 29. The farm is situated convenient to the Manure Bank of Scar. The house and offices on the farm are in good repair.
Also two horses, five and six years old; Rick of hay; heap of manure; ploughs, harrows, car tackling, furniture, etc.
Terms—Cash, sale to commence at 12 o’clock.
Walsh & Sons, Auctioneers
Wexford 31st January 1862”
In the legal jargon of that era Jim Larkin’s farm was held by lease from March 1841 for 31 years, that is held for a definite period; and it was held for the lives of three persons, respectively aged 34, 32 and 29 years, that is held for an indefinite or uncertain period. The lease would continue until the deaths of the three named persons had occurred. To exercise the franchise—to vote that is—one had to hold one’s lease for an indefinite duration. To have the franchise attached to one’s lease enhanced its value.
From The People February 1, 1941:–
Barry—Jan. 30th 1941 at Coolcotts, Wexford, John Barry, formerly of Carrig-on-Bannow, aged 68 years. Deeply regretted. Funeral from Church of Immaculate Conception Wexford, to-day (Saturday) at 2.30 pm (new time) to Carrig-on-Bannow via Ballyfrory. R. I. P.”