An article in the latest edition of the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society, dealing with the erection of St Selskar’s Protestant church, is of particular significance in view of the current proposal to secure funding from the Office of Public Works to re-roof what is being portrayed by its proponents as historic Selskar Abbey.
But, as Etain Murphy’s very interesting article states, the now roofless church was built in 1825/’26, on the site of the13th-century abbey, to cater for the poorer Protestant parishioners who couldn’t afford to pay for pews in St Iberius Church.
The building of St Selskar’s church caused bitter controversy, particularly because it required the destruction of part of the old abbey, probably the original chancel, and disturbance of graves in the adjoining cemetery.
Selskar figures in another article, in this twentieth edition of the Wexford journal, in a detailed account of the family of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, prominent Young Irelander of 1848 and leading Canadian statesman. The joint authors, Brendan and Jenny Meegan, used the inscription on the McGee gravestone in Selskar to explore the story of the family who came to live in Wexford in 1833.
Their account uncovers some of the little known McGee family history from the time James and Dorcas McGee, together with their eight children, moved from their home near Cushendall, County Antrim to Wexford. James McGee was a boatman with the coastguard service at Point of Garron, near Cushendall and he was being transferred to a new post as Tidewaiter and Boatman with the customs service at Wexford.
After the greatly lamented deathg of his wife Dorcas, James married a Wexford woman, Margaret Day, in Wexford on 2 March 1840, and the authors speculate that she may have been one of the Day family of Gollough in the parish of Kilmore.
Professor John Mannion of St John’s University, Newfoundland, contributes a major article on the vast estates of Lord Baltimore, including more than 7,000 acres around his base at Clohamon in north Wexford, and others in Longford, Newfoundland and Maryland in the USA.
Barry O’Leary gives an account of the Wexford church architect and builder, Richard Pierce, whose monuments include the twin churches in Wexford and collegiate wing of St Peter’s College, among many others in Wexford and other counties, while Celestine Rafferty traces Pierce’s family history.
Other subjects include the origin of the Goffs of Horetown by David Ian Hamilton; the post ’98 trial of John Bryan by Billy Sweetman; the Rams of Gorey by Lester Hartrick; the last pre-Reformation Bishop of Ferns by Patrick Comerford; the historian of Ballymackessy by Tom McDonald; and reports on archaeological excavations in Co. Wexford by Isabel Bennett, Emmet Stafford and Cóilín Ó Drisceoil.