Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown and in deference to the wishes of my countless readers I shall give as usual a recital of my manifold qualities; charming, charismatic, obliging, inspiring and inspired, original, innovative, tireless, gallant, tactful, humble, modest, self-effacing, historian supreme, a right boyo, blessed among the women, scholarly, erudite, eloquent and grandiloquent—above all else the boy from beside the mine pits is wily, that wily boy…..etc, et all (to put in a bit of Latin).
In line with the prophesies of St Kevin of Kilkevan, it is always gold and silver for the Barrystown children.
My gratitude to the Bannow Historical Society for bringing me on their tour last Saturday; at St Mullins I saw the grave of my maternal grandfather and great grandparents. I was last there in the warm summer of 1967.
The boy from Barrystown will give a lecture at Clonroche Community Centre on Tuesday night September 29th at 8.30 pm on the history of hurling and the Cloughbawn hurlers from 1947—52. While I go back much further, I was astounded in recent weeks to find a considerable amount of information on hurling in the nineteenth century. There was, then, a musty old law which somebody in the Irish Constabulary determined to apply circa 1860: in the reign of William III a law was enacted prohibiting the playing of hurling matches, on the Sabbath, as it was deemed that such were a guise for political meetings and disturbances. Post 1860, as leisure time for the labouring classes increased, there was a surge in those wishing to play the ancient game of hurling; some prosecutions followed in the Petty Courts, much to the embarrassment of the magistrates in those courts. The law on hurling seemed incomprehensible and daft to many of the notable people in Irish society. I do not know if it was officially repealed or if it simply went into desuetude afterwards. Captain Harvey wrote an angry letter to the newspapers in which he related how a few youngsters asked permission to play hurling in one of his fields which he promptly gave; he had no knowledge of this ancient law and only found out about it at the Petty Sessions, in Wexford, where he was a magistrate when one such case came up. He expressed incandescent contempt for the law.
The hurling then was vastly different from the kind of game later played but some features were similar.
On the 15th of January 1938 Senator Kathleen Browne wrote in The Free Press:–
“….the name of the game of ball called Camann or Hurley, which was played on the Commons in the Barony of Forth, on a Church holiday.” She gave a translation of a poem written in a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Flemish and possibly French about a hurling match of the Commons of Mulrankin. They could have hardly played on the Moor of Bannow, at least in later times, as it was filled with houses or cabins! A Moor was an obvious place to play hurling as one did not have to seek permission to do so there. But I am talking around the houses now and not coming to the point I want to make. I think that there is a hint in Senator Browne’s article that the name of Camann (or Caman) was derived from Commons, where it was habitually played.
My obsession with the Moor of Bannow is not yet abated. The People on February 26th 1863 carried this missive:–
“The Moor of Bannow
To The Editor Of The People
Sir—Some time ago, a letter headed “Tenant Right”—The Moor of Bannow”—of which I in common, with my neighbours, the resident men of Bannow, did not, or could not approve, although purporting to be written by “An Ex-Bannow Man”—and I now, in consequence of still later remarks from the same writer, in reply possibly to objections cunningly made by himself for the purpose of showing his dexterity in demolishing them, take this opportunity of denying all. The writer having left Bannow, as his signature implies, seems full of zeal for those he has left behind—and equally full of a not very amiable feeling—a desire to asperse the memory of the dead without the prospect of doing any good to the living. Having made a sweeping charge and freed his bosom of the sense “of duty, by remaining silent no longer”—he comes plump to the charge that about fifty years ago the Boyse family anxiously wished to have a claim over it and by various cunning means and promises induced the holders to pay him a nominal rent—“that they might have any length of lease they chose and these renewable for ever.” He proceeds that the holders consented to accept leases of fifty years or three lives at the small rent of two shillings and six pence an acre”—but the leases have expired within the past few months—faith has been broken and on an average they are obliged to pay a guinea an acre and be satisfied with the short term of twenty one years. Such, sir, is the sweeping and serious charge—were it true. More substantial things than mere promises were given to the holders of the Moor—else they would not now be what “Ex-Bannow Man” describes them but they would be no better, if not worse than they originally were. “The land (says the writer) about half a century ago, was, literally, as its name implies, a moor—marshy, wet and quite unfit for cultivation—but owing to the industry of the tenants who drained, manured and fenced in their holdings, the aspect of the place is altogether changed.” Who, may I ask, sir, is this change owing mainly to? Is it not to the money, to the grinding advice and countenance of the very man whose memory is now slandered—for were it not for his aid the Moor of Bannow would still not bear a harvest of golden grain but coarse moor land grass and the houses instead of being as they are, neat and comfortable, would still be wretched huts and cabins. When the soil was the property of the holders, they were poor and wretched, could do nothing and would have remained so to this day, had it not been for the money, aid and advice of Mr Boyse—and now see is reward from the pen of the “Ex-Bannow Man”. Why were they not then as they are now? Let the writer’s own admission be the answer. I, also, find they were just as anxious for the change as the late Mr Boyse himself, with the one exception of Larry Moore—and I also find the general impression prevailed at the time that they had bettered their condition by the change, as they never could expect to be little better than paupers. Your correspondent will, I think, admit this to be true—at least he must see that previous to the change there was nothing to be seen on the Moor but goats and asses—whilst today he will see horses and cows and a comfortable people. He further says, the Moor tenants thought they were sure to get the land at the same rent as before. That is all moonshine—they were never so promised—nor never expected it. Whether the rent now is too high is quite another question—but this is certain, that the present Reverend proprietor is very far indeed from being a harsh landlord. [The Rev. Richard Boyse succeeded his brother Tom Boyse as proprietor of the Bannow estate; he was of a similar disposition as Thomas Boyse]. He is, in reality¸ remarkably kind and charitable to the poor, who are but few on his estate, and his agent, Mr Dobby, bears most justly a very high name in Waterford, where he is well known and a native. Your correspondent speaks sarcastically of the erection of a monument to the memory of the late Mr Boyse—but the matter is far from being unpopular and I and many others would willingly join towards it. But should such never be erected, there is a deathless monument to his memory in the spacious and splendid chapel of Carrig which owes mainly its existence to him and it will keep his name in grateful remembrance as long as a stone of it shall remain.
A Bannow Man, February 1863”
The rent on the Moor was one shilling and eight pence. Larry Moore kept a hedge school and his sons worked in the Boyse household. I doubt if Tom Boyse ever collected the rents on the Moor—hence the disparity after half a century in details about this rent depending on who related them.
James Browne of the Moor of Bannow with a ten pounds freehold applied for the franchise in February 1862. That was a high valuation for a farm anywhere, let alone on the Moor.
An excerpt from a letter written by Mrs Anna Maria Hall to the editor of the Wexford Independent and published on October 11th 1862:–
“There is an arched recess in the Church to which Mr Boyse has, also, caused a gate to be fixed. It was before “the 98”—before my birth—that a man who was believed to be insane, took his abode beneath the arched recess. The peasants were very kind to him (to whom is afflicted is the Irish peasant not kind?) and used to bring him food—taken not from their abundance but their wants—and at low water he sought cockles and clams in the “Cockle Strand”.
The strange wild man lived there many months and he used to sing and shout in such a way that no one could go near the Bannow cliffs after night-fall. At that time smuggling was by no means uncommon and a report got about that the madman of Bannow Church was not by any means a “natural”. My grandmother and the “Counsellor” did not believe he had much to do with smuggling and his vanishing altogether after “the 98” led to their thinking that he had something to do with what was very different from smuggling. There was a mystery about his sudden coming and going, which remains with other multitudes of undiscovered causes, and will do so until the last.
I remember my grandmother saying that before the “outbreak” (the Rebellion) he came to Graigue, singing and begging in his wild way and she made some observation in French to my mother about him—not a complimentary one, I suppose, for he cast a fierce look at her, grew very red, and posted up the avenue without waiting to receive the food prepared for him. I have seen an awfully dirty idiot who was called “Pole Poss” nestling under that arch but I do not think she slept there. She was really an “innocent” who had lost her little wits by “love”.
I am glad the Church is held sacred now from all such intruders and feel the deepest gratitude to its present protector.
This is a gossip—perhaps an idle gossip—but I could not resist sending it to you. My love for the old “place” grows stronger with each year of my life and the “sod” of Bannow grass and the ivy from Bannow Church, are the most cherished objects in our garden.”
In that letter Mrs Hall gives some useful and informative information on herself. I will quote some of it.
“Counsellor” Carr married my grandmother—an English lady by birth but of French (Huguenot) parentage, a woman of remarkable beauty and accomplishments. She had one child by her first marriage who in her early girlhood accompanied her to Ireland. My dear mother’s own marriage was a singularly romantic and most unhappy one, so much so, that she returned with me to the shelter of her parents’ roof, when I was only six weeks old and thence arises a general error that I am by birth a “Wexford woman”—I was born in Dublin.” Of the “Counsellor” George Carr she wrote:–
“Your latest correspondent is also perfectly correct in saying that only one gentleman of the name of Carr—“Counsellor Carr”—ever occupied Graigue:–he inherited from his maternal uncle Mr Richard Boyse. In far away times (I have heard) there were three brothers in the county, of the name of Boyse—one lived at Coolhull Castle—one I think at Cullenstown—and one built Grange—there was, also, at Graigue in those days an old blind lady connected with the family, I think of the name of Vigoes…” She later adds:–
“The Boyse family left their residence of Bishop’s Hall in the County Kilkenny and lived at “The Grange”, some years before Mr Thomas Boyse purchased Graigue from the “Counsellor’s” nephew and heir at law Mr Richard Osborne who for a time chose to be called “Carr Osborne Boyse” and whose …are still remembered in the neighbourhood.”
Dr W. H. Grattan Flood in The People on October 25th 1913 recalled:–
“The ploughing match of the South Wexford Agricultural Association came off at Balloughton, in the barony of Bantry on October 18th 1827 in a field belonging to Mr Lett.”
From The Free Press January 13th 1940:–
“Death of Guard Doyle—News was received during the week-end of the death in Dublin, formerly of Balloughton, Carrig-on-Bannow. He went to Dublin 28 or 29 years ago and afterwards joined the Metropolitan Police, being assigned to court duties. His death came rather unexpectedly as he was on duty the previous Tuesday. He leaves a wife and family to mourn him. He was one of seven brothers who all went away to make their way through life, several of them to Wales. His brother John lives in Dublin. Prayers for the repose of the soul of Guard Doyle were offered up at both Masses in Carrig Church on Sunday.”
From The People April 3rd 1948:–
“Half Sovereign Found on Grave—When opening in preparation for a burial at Kilcaven (Ballymitty) cemetery a couple of weeks ago, one of the men employed at the work when clearing away the top of the old graves, found a half sovereign in perfect condition. The date was 1869.”
From The People December 26th 1831:–
“The Canon O’Sullivan Memorial
Preparations are going on apace in connection with the Canon O’Sullivan memorial and it is expected that the work of erecting the memorial will be commenced early in the New Year. Subscriptions are being handed in still and the project is receiving extensive support.
The suggestion thrown out recently that there should be an effort made to erect a parochial hall in Carrig-on-Bannow now as the Canon O’Sullivan Memorial Hall seems to have met with general approval in the locality. Several prominent residents have expressed approval with the idea. The hall would support a long felt want in Carrig-on-Bannow….
Four Shillings For A Cow
A very remarkable incident occurred at the monthly fair at Wellingtonbridge on Friday last. A cow was offered for sale and changed hands at the record low price of four shillings. Old cows have been sold at times for £1 but never before has such a low price been recorded.”
From The Wexford Constitution January 28th 1846:–
….the renewed operations on these ancient works are becoming of a more promising character.”
The article added that the Danes (who inhabited Clonmines) had worked the mines in the 8th and 9th centuries.
From The Wexford Freeman April 2nd 1834:–
“The Rev. James Harper who has been for many years the Roman Catholic Curate of the Parish of Bannow, having been appointed by his bishop to a Catholic Rectory in the north of this county, his late parishioners immediately assembled to take measures for evincing to their beloved Pastor the sentiments of affectionate esteem which activated them in this regard.
It was resolved that a subscription should be immediately set on foot for the above purpose and in three or four days running a sum amounting to £60 14 shillings and 6 pence was actually paid in to the Treasurer, Mr William Browning, a liberal Protestant of the parish, to whose activity this large subscription is chiefly attributable.
Further subscriptions are still expected and the fund is to be appropriated on the conferring on the Rev. Gentleman some substantial and permanent memorial of the gratitude and regard of the men of Bannow, who know so well how to appreciate the value of his spiritual service and his invariably upright conduct while he continued to reside among them.
We heartily congratulate Mr Harper on becoming the possessor of so unequivocal a testimonial of the people’s love.”
I have no real idea what this means but maybe some of my readers will enlighten me:–
“House of Commons Debate 05 April Vol. 3 c 723
Mr Nicholas Murphy asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the recent proceedings at Kilkenny Assizes against tenants on the estate of Mr Boyse of Bannow House, County Wexford and others situate at Moonveen, County Kilkenny, in the course of which proceedings it transpired that the agents for this estate have been for a considerable time deliberately defrauding the Revenue authorities by issuing unstamped receipts to the tenants in question; whether he has seen the comments of the learned judge in which he states that if the Revenue authorities hear of it they will have him or them up for ever so many penalties; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?
Mr Hobhouse—The matter is under inquiry by the Board of Inland Revenue.”
It probably means something—maybe there is revenue there to reduce water charges but then I should be in a circus; my wit is razor sharp, blah, blah….
My sun flowers are coming into full bloom and the hollyhocks are growing up high but I am not sure if they will grow as tall as last year.