Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown who may only be described in superlatives and the average dictionary may have an insufficient supply of these words. I will try a few:–charming, charismatic, daring, peerless, dauntless, inspiring and inspiring, eloquent, cultured and cultivated, poetic, oratorical, scholarly, erudite, innovative, a genius, expansive, historian supreme, larger than life,  a right boyo, a big hit with the girls, blessed among women and above all else, wily, that wily boy from Barrystown. It was ever gold and silver for the Barrystown children.

The date of the tour by Clonroche Historical Society is changed! It will now take place on Saturday June 13th leaving Clonroche at 9.15am. It will go to Loftus Hall, Clonmines, hopefully the memorial at St Kearn’s, and then to Bannow Bay, Carrig village, the mines at Barrystown, Grantstown, Kilkavan Castle etc. We will not get in to all these places but look at them from a close distance. I am sure that we will get a glimpse of where the Boy from Barrystown was born. And of course we shall go the birthplace of St Kevin of Kilkavan. The Boy from Barrystown will speak extensively on the history of Carrig-on-Bannow and recite some of the poetry of the parish.

The historiography of the Norman advent to Bannow is less than of crystal clarity. There are only two contemporary sources: Giraldus Cambrensis, who was connected to the Norman adventurers and the Norman French rhymer who wrote a terse account of the invasion in verse in the French language of his time. He claimed to have taken his details from Maurice Regan the secretary to and interpreter of King Diarmuid of Ferns, the King of Leinster who had invited the Normans in. With the exception of Rev. James Graves writing in 1850 the historians of the invasion do not closely reference their accounts back to the specific and enigmatic details of these two sources; there is a lot of contradiction between the different writers. Only Rev. Graves addressed the implication of a silting harbour at Bannow to the determination of where the first invaders landed: if the harbour in 1169 was deep and allowing ships to proceed up to Clonmines then the probability is that the invaders in May 1169 landed close in to the city of Bannow

In The Wexford Independent on June 17th 1837 the editor Edmund Hore wrote on the response in Co. Wexford to the O’Connell National Debt appeal:–

“Bannow and Ballymitty [subscribed], £51 10 shillings and 6 pence. This includes £20, the personal subscription of Mr Samuel Boyse, so distinguished for his public spirit and liberality on all occasions–£5 from his illustrious and single minded son, Mr Thomas Boyse. The munificent donation of £200 has been, also, lately subscribed by this amiable and benevolent family, towards the erection of the Catholic Church, which is being built at Danescastle.”

The aggregate amount given by the Boyses for building Carrig chapel was £1100 plus.

The Rev. James Graves read a paper to The Kilkenny Archaeological Society on September 4th 1850 and this is his depiction of a great change (one of two) having taken place at Bannow:–

“The first of these may be either accounted for by the sinking of the land or the rising of the sea level. Indications of this fact, however startling the proposition may seem, abound along the east coast of Ireland. At Tramore Bay, beneath the strand, lies a deep stratum of peat, embracing the roots of trees in their natural position—and the tradition of the locality is, that at some remote period, the sea made a further irruption into the “Black Strand”. At Duncannon, on the coast of Wexford, the same phenomena are apparent. A similar observation holds good¸ also, of the strand of Fethard. Whether caused by the sinking of the land, therefore, or the rising of the sea, it does not appear to men as assuming too much to suppose that a safe and noble harbour was in remote ages formed at Bannow; defended at its mouth from south-westerly winds (the only point at which it lay exposed) by what was then, not only in name but in reality, an island of considerable size, still known as “the island of Bannow”, although now scarcely ever insulated even by the highest tides.”

The Rev. Graves regarded the second great change as involving the accumulation of sand and gravel, deposited by wind and tide “within the harbour, whereby it has become, in effect, obliterated or at least rendered totally useless, in a commercial point of view.” Rev. Graves outlines a number of parallel scenarios along the east coast of England.

The silting of the harbour and it consequently becoming useless to shipping may be one reason for the disappearance of Bannow city but such is not the focus of the paper given by Rev. Graves. He is seeking to determine the precise place where the Norman adventurers landed in May 1169:–

“It cannot then be assuming too much to suppose that at the period of the Anglo-Norman invasion in the reign of Henry II, Bannow Bay was counted a safe harbour and known as such amongst the mariners of the opposite English coast. Here the five Welsh vessels, which carried the little army of Robert Fitz-Stephen, Myler Fitz-Henry, Milo Fitz-David, Harvey de Montmaurice and Maurice de Prendergast, the avant couriers of Strongbow, cast anchor in May A. D. 1169—The story of their landing at Bag-an-bun, and there entrenching themselves, seems to be a mere myth without the slightest foundation. Giraldus Cambrensis call the place of their landing Insula Banuensis and leads his readers clearly to understand that the position was by no means strong, although the insular form of the place gave it a certain degree of security:–

“Cum igitur in Insula Banuensi subductis se navibus recepissent, nuncios ad Dermicium missis, nonnullii ex partibus maritimis confluxerant.”

Rev. Graves continues (and I will try to clarify things a bit):–

“The Norman French rhymer agrees with Giraldus Cambrensis in his account of the landing of the expedition calling the place of disembarkation la Banne. His account is as follows:–

A la Banne ariverent

Od tant de gent cum erent.

Quant il furent arivez

E erent tuz issuz de nefs

Lur gent firent herbeger

Sur la rive de la mer.

[At the Banne arrived they

With all their followers as they were

When they had brought to

And all had disembarked

They caused their men to lodge

Hard by the sea shore].”

Rev. Graves insists that there are only two genuine accounts of the Norman landing in May 1169: Giraldus Cambrensis who was closely connected with the invading Normans and writing in their interest and the Norman French rhymer, who claims that he took his information from Maurice Regan, the interpreter to King Diarmuid Mac Murrough of Ferns, the King of Leinster. King Diarmuid invited the Normans into Ireland as he had a row of some kind with the Ard Ri or High King of Ireland.

The contrary theory is that the Normans landed at Bag-an-Bun, based on one source and on considerations of primitive military formations (at Bag-an-Bun).

The Rev. Graves relies of the brevity of the time spent by the Norman invaders at Bannow to dismiss the Bag-an-Bun theory. He quotes the Chronicler to show that the invaders sent a message to King Diarmuid and he arrived from Ferns—I presume—the next morning at Bannow. It is not clear how the message was sent: we may safely assume that modern technology did not exist or was even to be imagined then so I presume that one of the Norman soldiers walked to Ferns or stole a horse to speed his travels. On the morning of the day after his arrival at Bannow King Diarmuid “marched directly to Wexford/Accompanied by all—Of a verity to assault the town.”

Wexford was in the control of the Danes or Norsemen.

Rev. Graves quickly drives home his argument:–

“The invaders then had no time or need to surround themselves with the elaborate fosses and ramparts which still exist at Bag-an-Bun point and which should be referred, I have no doubt, to the primaeval inhabitants of the country, as many entrenchments of a similar nature may be traces along the coasts of Wexford and Waterford.”

The presence of these fosses and fortifications at Bag-an-Bun would inevitably suggest that the Norman invaders erected them for their protection—but as Rev. Graves points out, they did not need such defences as they quickly moved on Wexford town. Equally they would not have time or materials assembled in the course of two days to build ramparts and such like.

The Rev. Graves addresses the issue of Geoffry Keating’s advocacy of Bag-an-Bun as the scene of the landing of the Norman invaders:–

“And our “Irish Livy” as honest though often credulous Geoffry Keating has, not undeservedly, been termed, seems to have based his account of the landing of Fitz-Stephen at Bag-an-Bun on the distich given by Hanmer who writing about the end of the 16th or commencement of the 17th century, states that the Normans landed at “The Bann” and remarks that “hereupon the rime runneth:–

At the creeke of Bagganbun

Ireland was lost and won.”

The Rev. Graves quotes and translates the relevant entry from Keating’s History of Ireland:–

“As regards Robert Fitzstephen, he came to fulfil his engagements to Mac Murrough and the number of troops that came with him to Ireland were 30 knights¸60 esquires, and 300 footmen; and they landed in the harbour of the Banbh, on the coast of the County Wexford at a place called Beag-an-Bun. The year of the Lord at that time was 1170 and the seventh of Roderick O’Connor’s reign.” Rev. Graves did not believe Keating’s account.

From The Free Press July 19th 1924:–


Colfer—July 1st 1924, at his residence, 3101 West Congress Street, Chicago, Stephen, youngest son of the late Patrick Colfer, Carrig-on-Bannow. Deeply regretted. R. I. P.”

From The People February 27th 1889:–


Murphy-English—February 21st at the Catholic Church Carrig-on-Bannow, by the Very Rev. Chancellor Sheridan P. P., John Joseph, only son of Mr William Murphy Danescastle to Sarah, second daughter of Mr Richard English Merrion, Dublin.”

Fr Philip Doyle O. S. A. in his autobiography (as quoted in Fr Thomas Butler’s book) describes the charming young English girl, a teacher in the Danescastle school.

From The People October 23 1920:–

“A Funeral Incident—When some of the Bannow Gaels were proceeding to the funeral of Mr Jas. Byrne, Scar, on Friday last they were met on the road close to Carrig-on-Bannow village by some police who searched them extensively without, however, finding anything incriminating on their persons.”

Young James Byrne was one of the victims at the explosion in an un-used house at St Kearns, serving as a place where the I. R. A. made explosives and bombs during the War of Independence. The wording of the above suggests that the footballers of Bannow/Ballymitty were going as a group to the funeral; the police may have expected to find seditious documents on them or, perhaps, guns to fire a ceremonial volley at the funeral.

From The People May 18th 1907:–

“Legal Notices

Re: John Enock Richards, of Youngstown and Ballymitty, shopkeeper and farmer, deceased.


All persons indebted to the above named deceased are hereby requested to pay their accounts to the undersigned Solicitors, for the Administratrix of the said deceased, on or before Saturday the 18th May 1907 and all persons having claims against the estate of the said deceased are hereby required to furnish particulars therof to the undersigned Solicitors by the above mentioned date.

Dated this 4th day of May 1907.

P. J. O’Flaherty And Son

Solicitors for the Administratrix of said deceased, 1 Rowe Street, Wexford.”

Anybody would be stretched to one’s limits to divine any clear meaning from such a concoction of obscurantist jargon. The extent of the estates involved was often negligible.

From The Free Press October 23rd 1970:–

“Ballymitty and Bannow G. P. A.

General Meeting

will be held in

Balloughton Hall

On Tuesday 27th October

at 8.30 pm.

All members and landowners are requested to attend.

S. Mc Loughlin.”

Where is (or was) Balloughton Hall?

From The People August 8th 1907:–


Mr John L. Barry D. C. Ballyfrory

It is our painful duty this week to chronicle the death of Mr John  Louis Barry D. C. of Ballyfrory, Bannow, which sad event took place on Friday 31st ult., after a brief illness. He was 59 years of age and belonged to a very old and respected family, being a first cousin of Mr John Barry ex-M. P. and nephew to the late Fr Barry, Crossabeg and the late Fr Colfer of Bannow. During his life he associated himself with many national movements in his native parish and proved himself a sincere friend to all who came in contact with him.

Interment took place at Carrig on Sunday and the long procession of vehicles which followed the remains to their last resting place proved the high regard in which the deceased was held. The chief mourners were:–Messrs L. Barry D. C. Kilmore; M. Murphy, Kilmore; J. E. Meyler M. M.  C., Harristown; J. Meyler D. C., do and P. Meyler (cousin).

Office and High Mass will be held in Bannow on 11th instant.”

The opening two paragraphs of an article in The People on October 22nd 1949:–

“Some of the people of the parish of Bannow are very anxious that further efforts should be made to mine the coal that they believe is in the area. It has been proved that there is coal in the district, because it was mined there about eighty years ago, when three shafts were sunk in the Ballymitty area.

Old residents say they saw the coal that was mined there being burned in fireplaces of the neighbourhood. It was often used in Molloy’s forge. One of the shafts was in the field beside the forge. That shaft is now filled up. Two other shafts were down in the marshes of the Mungaun….”