Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, your favourite historian and everybody’s favourite historian; charming, charismatic, erudite, scholarly, innovative, inspired and inspiring; a pure genius and the wonder must be that one small head could carry all I know; a hit with the girls (like Tom Moore) and a right boyo plus wily—that wily boy from beside the mine-pits and mine stacks. The Echo on Tuesday March 10th published my letter on Patrick Kennedy and it should be essential reading for all who want to understand the objective reality of the history of their county. The history of nineteenth century Co. Wexford is like a tying of knots on knots, well nigh impossible to disentangle. Pat Kennedy wrote in the interest of the Whig or Liberal party who sought to reconcile the wider Catholic community to the British Empire. He dedicated his work, usually, to the second Lord Robert Carew of Castleboro. The first Lord Robert Carew was first cousin to Tom Boyse of Bannow. Dorothy Carew was Tom Boyse’s mother. I have written sympathetically about the Whig/Liberal movement but I have serious problems about Pat Kennedy’s writings. Firstly I do not regard them as an objective account of the Irish society of his time and I suspect that at least some of those who espouse him and his writings may mistake him as populist and perhaps even republican! Anyway read my letter.
Bernard Browne will give a lecture related to the Rebellion of 1798 to the Clonroche History Society on Tuesday night April 21st. That is the eve of my birthday.
The Clonroche History Society will probably go to Bannow for their tour this year; hopefully to Tom Boyse’s and to see where the Normans came in plus a look at the mine pits, Jonas King’s place and a look—from the road—at Leigh’s of Rosegarland. History begins in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow and it is appropriate that a historian as masterly as the boy from Barrystown should have that parish as his native place, blah, blah….
We resume out the transcribing of the letters of Bannow Man and Spectator.
“A Bannow’s Man’s Libel On The Dead
To The Editor Of The Independent
Sir—The person who assumes the name of “A Bannow Man” is again at the dirty work of mangling the memory of a good man, with the tusks of calumny and vituperation. He says, there were not five men, on the Bannow estate, who entertained a cordial feeling for Mr Boyse. Happy landlord—grateful and loving tenantry! Again, he says, if two tenants met, they looked over the ditch before they spoke to each other, lest a third would be listening who would report their conversation to the landlord. According to this, every third tenant was a spy in the service of Mr Boyse. Why Bomba, himself, cannot boast of such a formidable secret police force, among his faithless Italians. A handsome compliment, certainly, to the manliness and spirit of the people, whom the “Bannow Man” has taken under his especial protection!
He now finds that Bannow is covered with a net work of roads and also makes the wonderful discovery that they were paid for by the cesspayers of the County—he might have confined himself those of the Barony. Hear him further. “As the leases expired, Mr Boyse, by increased rents repaid himself fourfold for the money previously contributed towards the erection of the farm houses.” “All lands are let at £3 an acre.” Thence I suppose the public are to infer that all the lands attached to the farm houses erected in Bannow within the last 30 years are subject to £3 an acre.
This is a most flagitious falsehood and if he were “a child of the parish”, instead of being the “patriot” of some other, he would know it to be such. I tell this man of “solid information”, that there is but a small portion of the Bannow estate, leased at £3 an acre, and I now further add that through this £3 land, not one of the new roads run, which the “Bannow Man” tells us were paid for “by the county at large”, though he would have us believe that to enable the occupiers of this land to pay this exorbitant rent, they became the contractors of the new roads. How very truthful!—In fact the entire of his last letter, is one jumbled mass of contradictory falsehoods. In one place he tells us that the £3 land was the only portion of the estate out of lease during Mr Boyse’s time. False. And in another, he informs us, that Mr Boyse retained the money of his tenants in safe keeping until the expiration of their leases and then made his own of it, by way of renewal. If this be true and a “patriot” vouches for it, then the unfortunate men who rent the £3 land, had, also, to pay for it, by way of bonus, some hundreds of pounds, on the renewal of their leases.
“Oh shame where is thy blush!”
I would advise the “Bannow Man” friends to take care of him—he needs it, or otherwise he would not make such reckless assertions. He now admits that the “look” of Bannow is improved but its roads—but not to Mr Boyse’s pocket, but to his influence with the Grand Juries of Wexford, he gives the merit. On this point I will not quarrel with him. I contradicted him before, because he would allow none of the merit of Bannow’s “look” to Mr Boyse. By the designed ambiguity of the language of his last letter he led his readers to believe, that all Mr Boyse’s lands were let at £3 an acre. I contradicted this assertion and left him to solve the paradox, why those on the £3 land were as well off as those on a larger portion of the estate at 14 shillings. How has he solved it?
By advising the “money-grubbing” landlords of the County, on the first opportunity to charge their 14 shillings lands, at £3. Would he give them a guarantee that they would get it? I think he would cry out “no guarantee” as fiercely as his neighbour of that name in the same page with him.
Did the idea never enter into his philosophical pate, that there are some lands, from their own intrinsic value and other advantages attached to them, as cheap at £3, as other lands at 14 shillings? Not he; with him land is land and rents should be the same in all cases.
If to the £3 an acre, Mr Boyse had added the tithe rent-charge and to both a poll tax on the number of horses on the farm; and, moreover, given the tenants of other estates, if they paid for it, the right of these advantages; then I would say Mr Boyse was a sharp customer. And yet, he would have found precedents for this; and the landlords who do these things cannot have their memories hereafter more beslavered with the filthy abuse, than this “patriot” is seeking to fling on the grave of the late generous and large hearted proprietor of Bannow. Our would-be “Bannow Man” although a fast writer, yet in habits belongs to the Paddy-Go-Easy school. Your comfortable and respectable farmsteads are no bright spots in a landscape for him. The mud castle, guarded by a company of long-bearded halbertmen, would in his estimation be more national and patriotic, and more characteristic of the warlike Byrnes, Tooles and Kavanaghs, who accompanied King Dermod to Bannow, to welcome the first Anglo-Norman invaders.
Now the “Bannow Man” cautions his readers against my “hearsay” evidence in favour of Mr Boyse; but I suppose they are to believe his hearsay or native manufactured slanders against him. What will his readers say when I inform them that all the bright spots in the Bannow landscape were erected subsequently to Mr Boyse’s granting the leases of the farms on which they stand: Oh, veracious “Bannow Man” the sooner “the tile was signed” for your banishment from the pages of a newspaper, the better for political honesty and common decency. Mr Boyse never expected to reap any benefit by increased rents for the money he gave towards the building of the farmhouses and it could be proved that he contributed to some, more that the entire rent he received for the land attached to them would amount to, for several years and the leases of which are some of the longest on the estate.
But Mr Boyse was “a money grubber”. No, Mr Boyse was most lavish in spending his money for the benefit of the people on his estate. What benefit was he to derive from the large sums, which “Bannow Man” admits he gave to “our chapel”? How many thousands did he expend, by sending the poor, found on his estate to America and Australia, both previous and subsequent to the establishment of workhouses—and these people, and their families, who never rented an acre of land from him. But this wiseacre will exclaim—“they would have gone into the Poor-House when built. Bah! Some of them might have done so and would soon have passed that bourne, from beyond which, little Poorhouse taxation is incurred. I give this counterfeit “Bannow Man’s” first budget of charges, against Mr Boyse, the benefit of your extensive and highly respectable circulation. I have now followed him through his second rigmarole of envenomed slanders as zig zag, and every whit as muddy as the old roads of a rainy winter’s night, and I leave him to congratulate himself on the laurels he has won, in his rascally onslaught on the character of the late Mr Boyse.
He says I consider Mr Boyse to have been a demi-god. Well I would rather he should so, than for me to think him taxing his inventive genius to paint Mr Boyse a whole devil. I now tell Mr “Bannow Man” that he is not, nor ever has been, further removed beyond the reach of the power and influence of the late Mr Boyse or his family than I am. A sincere and un-purchased regard for the memory of a truly, patriotic, high-minded and generous Irishman, on whose like Wexford will not look again for some time, impelled me to blow away the dense cloud of filthy calumny in which this counterfeit “Bannow Man” endeavours to envelope his tomb.
November 12, 1856”
The style of the above letter is unmistakeably that of John C. Tuomy, the Taghmon National School-master. The style is perhaps the undoing of the missive: it is replete with rhetoric, clause coiled upon clause in dense, impenetrable and sometimes not easily comprehended sentences; there is too much invective. Boyse was a man of his era. Spectator and indeed many of his tenants and much of the wider public in the Co. Wexford did regard him as a demi-god, that is half a man and half a God. Up into early modern history, Kings and Queens were regarded as demi-divine and ruled on that basis. The “Bannow Man” may have represented the dawning of the democratic era with its egalitarian ethos that every person is basically equal—and its prescription that Governments must be elected by a free vote of the people, of all the citizens. The irony here, indeed paradox, is that Tom Boyse in his speeches, seemed to both anticipate and advocate the coming democratic values and principles to such an extent that the Wexford Conservative—the newspaper favouring the Conservative and Orange Parties—regularly accused him of undermining the ideological, philosophical and religious principles of the Protestant British state. The Wexford Conservative in vitriolic sarcasm dubbed him “the patriot of Bannow”. Tom Boyse would have regarded the sulphuric pronouncement on him in the Conservative as proof that he was correct!
The Bannow Man had the last word and a succinct one at that! This is it, in The People:–
“The Bannow Tenantry
Our correspondent the “Bannow Man” writes to us in reference to the last letter of his opponent in a local journal.
There is no use in answering “Spectator”. He would deny a triangle to have three sides—he denies facts as plain. These facts are known to be quite true by the inhabitants of this place and I will leave the matter to them. Spectator’s last letter is a humbug, he does not prove any of my statements false but passes over most things and then says my letter is made up of “contradictory falsehoods”. I have often heard of contradictory propositions but never before of “contradictory falsehoods”.
From The People August 25th 1894:–
“The “Pattern” of Cullinstown
Not for many years has the attendance at the “pattern” of Cullinstown been as large as it was on Wednesday of last week, when the big strand was crowded from one end to the other with visitors from all parts of the county. There was a band in attendance from Carrig-on-Bannow and during the day it played a nice selection of airs. The Cullinstown “pattern” in olden times consisted of a pilgrimage to the graveyard at Grange, in the parish of Bannow, when the graves of the people’s friends were decorated and prayers said for the repose of their souls. Like a good many assemblages of the kind in Ireland, it has of late years changed and the “pattern” of to-day is very much unlike the pilgrimages of the last century. It is pleasing to relate that though the assemblage numbered some thousands there was no drunkenness.”
From The People August 22 1894:–
“Hornsby Binders—Mr W. H. Lett, Balloughton House writes—I am glad to tell you that I have the binder in full work. Though the corn is tossed you would be delighted to see it at work in a twelve acre field of thick oats.”
Do any of my numerous readers remember binders at work? They were still used as late as 1960 but by then, nearly totally replaced by the combine harvesters. My mother hated threshings; feared youngsters messing at them causing mischief and on wet days the sheer cost of providing a proper dinner to a large group of men who could do no work, due to the rain. The combine harvester seemed a blessing from heaven, itself.