Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, erudite, charismatic, witty, scholarly, obliging, ebullient, innovative legendary, larger than life and wily—truly a historian supreme! Gold and silver for the Barrystown childre!  It is astounding that in all the eulogies to the boy from Barrystown none have focussed on his most obvious aspect—his humility and modest disposition. It is truly curious that such self effacement is not remarked on! One recalls some old poem learnt at school about the village schoolmaster—“And so the wonder grew/ That one small head could carry all he knew.”

The Clonroche Historical Society have their annual outing on Saturday May 31st, leaving Clonroche at 9am and going to Huntingdon Castle and Russborough House. Anyone interested can phone me at 0872937960.

At the A. G. M. on Monday night I was gratified to note the continued success of the calendar brought out each year by the Bannow Historical Society. The photographs are undoubtedly the highlights of these calendars.

Rich Howlin inspired everybody involved with him over the last five years in the Bannow Historical Society; there was, always, an aspect of adventure and fun to the proceedings of the Society in those years. The ever smiling big Mattie Mc Donagh of Ballygar who was the father figure on the great Galway three All-Irelands in a row team was my childhood hero. He spoke of his “life enriched the day he met Tull Dunne”—the iconic trainor. Those words ever traverse my mind in the way a couple of lines from a poem might. I could paraphrase Big Mattie and say that my life was enriched the day I met Rich Howlin at the Beechdale Garden Centre. The flowers are one of the obsessions of my life—history is the other. Flowers in a sense are symbols of an enigmatic and mystical wealth. There was an enigmatic wonder and a touch of natural poetry to the Bannow Historical Society in the time of Rich Howlin’s tenure as chairman. He motivated me to write so voluminously about the history of my beloved and native parish.

I give my good wishes to Anne Farrell in her new role as Chairperson.

A professional person on last Tuesday morning gave me a framed photograph of a priest. “Fr Phellan Carrig on Bannow” is written in biro (I think) on the back of it. He looks a very young man but the clerical collar is not largely discrete as is the case with priests in modern times. The photograph was taken in “Barnard Studio, Wallace, IDA.” I can get no Fr Phelan in Canon John Gahan’s book on the secular clergy of the diocese of Ferns but the indications are that this priest operated in America. Is there any person or persons in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow who may be able to solve the enigma of who this priest was? Phone me at 0872937960 if you have any insights on Fr Phellan. If relations or indirect descendants of him are about they may have the photograph. If not I presume that Denis Kenny will take it for his archives of Carrig-on-Bannow.

The Second Report from the Parliamentary Commissioners on Education in 1835 lists the schools in Bannow. We have in last week’s Blog dealt with the grammar school at Scarview. That school was built by subscription and a grant of 60 pounds from the Lord Lieutenant and cost in all 159 pounds 1 shillings and 4 pence. The aggregate income of William and Catherine James was 26 pounds. Their schoolhouse was built of stone and mortar and slated.

Master Ben in Anna Maria Hall’s short story and also referred to in other parts of her writing was Benjamin Radford of Cullenstown, a Roman Catholic, who had a school in his humble house. As Mrs Hall described it the house was very sparse, small, rough and frugal.  His total income was 5 pounds in the year at most and his pupils had to bring fees to him. His was good at mathematics but his teaching methods were occasionally robust! He instructed Mrs Hall in arithmetic but she took little notice of his instruction having no aptitude in this subject.

John Welsh, a Catholic, had a miserable cabin, without a window, in Danescastle for his schoolhouse; the pupils paid fees and his income was given as 12 to 15 pounds a year.

Edward Butler, a Roman Catholic, had a school in “a miserable cabin” in Coolishall; the pupils paid fees and the income of Mr Butler was given as 20 pounds.

John Carey had a school in his own cabin at Haggard; he was a Roman Catholic and his pupils paid fees. His own income was uncertain.

The People on February 9th 1884 reported on the discussion on labourers’ cottages in the Bannow division at the Board of Guardians of Wexford Poor Law Union as follows:–

“James Kane, poor-rate collector, deposed that he knew the townland of Brandane and the sites on the crossroads were suitable; there was only one labourer man living on the townland and he worked at the bay of Bannow.

The Clerk, in reply to the Chairman, said that he had served notice. He got a communication from the tenants stating they were prepared to give up their part of the land and he had got a communication from Captain Boyse saying “I assent”. If every division of the Union had taken it up as well as Bannow we would have very little troubles. Certainly Captain Boyse showed real sympathy with the labourers.

The Chairman—With regard to the necessity for the other houses, have you any evidence on that?

The Clerk—No sir, unless that assigned in the representation made by the ratepayers. I should say that four are waiting from want of accommodation and the rest from sanitary defects. The doctor’s recommendation states that fourteen are insanitary.

The Chairman—Are those houses to accommodate the same labourers?”

“Ballythorry, Carrig-on-Bannow, November 4th 1863

Dear Sir—In order to test the properties of Goulding’s Super-Phosphates and Special Manure purchased from you last Spring I tried the Manures mixed on a field of potatoes and found, when digging the potatoes, that the produce was 100 barrels per Irish acre. In the field adjoining, which was in better heart, I sowed potatoes, manuring them fully with best farm-yard dung, and the produce was not more than one-third and was sown a month earlier.

John Barry.”

I presume that John Barry and the others who contributed these affirmations of the usefulness of these manures got a small fee for doing so. The observations may have written for them by management of the company involved, that of William Rossiter of 63 South Main Street, Wexford. I, also, presume that Ballythorry is a mistake and that Ballyfrory is where John Barry lived. The interesting aspect is that it confirms a movement towards artificial manures and a lessened reliance on traditional aids to growth such as farm-yard manure and of course—sea weed. Science was beginning to make an impact on life in the mid-nineteenth century.

From The People July 5th 1922:

“To Let

Colebrook Cottage, Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford, with four acres and garden, two reception rooms, four bedrooms, Bath (h. and c.); modern conveniences, servants apartments. Motor and   accommodation. Apply

T. A. Colfer”

The Carrig-on-Bannow branch of the Land League resolved at a meeting in February 1884:–

“Some collectors have not yet forwarded their collections but promised to do so as soon as they had closed. The numbers of members, therefore, could not be ascertained. A vote of thanks was passed to the collectors for the efficient manner in which they performed their duties. Especial thanks are due and were tendered to Messrs Michael Boyse and John Devereux, both of Bannow, who having collected their own district, went in and collected another district in which the collectors appointed had refused; and, also, to Mr T. Devereux, Danes Castle, who now on this his second year has performed his duty singly, as other persons appointed were apathetic and indifferent to the National cause.”

“To the Editor of The People

Dear Sir—Seeing in The People on Wednesday last an account of ball-playing at Bridgetown, in which I was charged with being both obstinate and disagreeable and that I was the means of spoiling the day’s amusement, I beg leave to offer an explanation of my conduct. Firstly—Why were all the old rules of the alley changed for that day? Secondly—Why were not disputed balls arranged between the judges and referee, without calling on outsiders to settle it? Thirdly—Why should judges and referee require a ball which was taken foul to be played over again, or tossed for? Lastly—What were the judges and referee doing at the time that Stafford struck the ball foul that they could not see it? Such being the case I would not play any more when they thought to favour the Bridgetown men. In conclusion I wish to state that Mr Simpson and myself will play against them either for £5 or the cup but with unprejudiced judges and referee for both sides—I remain, dear sir, yours truly

Andrew Walsh, Carrig-on-Bannow, September 8th 1885.”

The boy from beside the mine pits went back to the offending account in The People on September 2nd 1885. It was a remarkable occasion and an unsurpassed spectacle. It was the greatest gathering ever seen at Bridgetown, on Sunday August 31st 1885. The handball match for a Silver Challenge trophy—which had been purchased by subscription—was a prelude to the initiation there of a Gaelic Athletic Association club. The competitors were—for Bridgetown, Edward Stafford (Balwinstown) and Pat Keelan (Bridgetown); for Kilmannon—John Simpson (Kilmannon) and Andrew Walsh (Bannow). As the hour approached for the opening of the sports “the village presented a most animated appearance; the streets were filled with expectant groups who discussed the merits of the respective players and speculated upon the result of the game….”Few were prepared for such a large crowd and people travelled from Kilmore, Tacumshane, Broadway, Piercestown, Murrintown, Cleariestown, Kilmannon, Tagoat, Mayglass, Duncormack, Rathangan, Tenacre, Lady’s Island, Taghmon, Glynn and Barntown, Carrig-on-Bannow and Sledagh, etc. The account added:–

“A green flag with harp and shamrock floated over the ball court whilst the Kilmore Fife and Drum band enlivened the proceedings by the performance of a selection of a most elegant music during the day.” The match started at four o’clock but the accommodation at the disposal of the committee was much too limited “for the throng that rushed in to witness the game and hundreds had to deny themselves the pleasure of even a cursory peep into the interior of the court. The reserved seats which were provided at a charge of one shilling each were completely occupied by spectators and there can be no doubt that if there had been time to erect a gallery it would have amply repaid the cost of construction.” The game had proceeded for about two hours and had reached the seventh game when a row arose! The account in The People continues:–

“At this point an objection was lodged by Walsh against a ball which had been hit by Stafford. The former maintained that Stafford had taken the ball off the ground and the objection was laid before the judges. The judges were Messrs Andy Kearns and Nicholas Devereux. Referee—James Hayes, Wexford. It appears that neither of the judges or the referee had seen the ball and were unable to decide; and, accordingly, their recommendation was that the ace should be played over again. To this Walsh objected. His partner was willing either to play the ace over again or to toss for it but Walsh would not yield and withdrew from the game. This obstinacy on the part of Walsh detracted somewhat from the pleasure of the game and the issue, so far as the championship is concerned, remains to be knit by a fresh team. It is a matter of primary importance, for the purpose of securing harmony, that the decision of the judges, aided by the referee should, in all cases, be final; and where they are unable to arrive at a decision, that their opinion as to the proper course to be pursued should be deferred to in an agreeable spirit; otherwise a satisfactory ending of any match, or series of matches, cannot be looked forward to and the result will be that players will not enter a contest which may at any moment be brought to a disagreeable termination.

I have very little criticism upon the manner in which the players conducted themselves in the match. During the first two games Walsh took the left hand play; but as the score indicates, he was quite unequal to it and it was only when he changed places with Simpson that the colours of Kilmannon came to the front. Simpson exhibited particular skill in taking the short balls. It was on the tossing that most of the scores were made and in this I should say that the Bridgetown men, from their intimate knowledge of the ground, had the advantage. As the games progressed, the conditions became more equalised; the strangers becoming better acquainted with the peculiarities of the court. Stafford’s tossing was particularly brilliant, whilst his play at the left hand corner evoked marked applause. Keelan appears to be a good all-round player. Simpson’s play gave great satisfaction. Walsh did not seem to sustain his reputation.”