New Journal 2019

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WHS Journal 2018-19 –brief outlines of articles from our contributors


A Centennial Memoriam by Bernard Browne.

Fr. Patrick Kavanagh OFM historian of the 1798 rebellion died at the Franciscan Friary in Wexford on 17 December 1918, a century ago. Wexford town born Fr. Kavanagh laid the foundation stone of the 1798 monument in the Bull Ring on 1 November 1898 and on 5 August 1905 he unveiled the memorial to Fr. John Murphy and James Gallagher in Tullow, Co. Carlow and the following day 6 August Fr. Kavanagh unveiled the bronze Pikeman in the Bull Ring. On Sunday, 31 May 1908 he unveiled the 1798 monument in Market Square, Enniscorthy. His sudden death was universally mourned and the deep sense of loss was reflected in the newspapers yet there is no recognised memorial or plaque in a public space.


From Wexford to the World by Nicholas Rossiter

Wexford was the birthplace of a major Irish publication which appeared in print in 1902 – Ireland Own. It was John M. Walsh of the Walsh family originally from New Ross who set up the magazine and he saw its role as projecting an image of Ireland free from ‘alien’ influence described by a critic as offering ‘a formula for “healthy fireside reading” combining patriotism, pietism and national news with a minimum of foreign coverage or intellectual speculation’. John M. Walsh was proprietor of the People newspaper in Wexford. Now over a century later this magazine is extant and as popular as ever. As it said on the cover ‘The week wouldn’t be the same without it’.


I Was Just Passing by Eithne Scallan

Having published Houses of Wexford with her colleague David Rowe, Eithne Scallan has discovered and compiled a list of very famous ‘visitors’ to many Houses of Wexford over the decades. Famous names as Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales), John Hay of 1798 fame, Strongbow Napper Tandy and Daniel O’Connell and the poet Thomas Moore all stayed at Wexford residences. Marconi inventor of wireless telegraphy rented Marconi House in Rosslare. A guest at Ballytrent when it was the home of the Redmond’s was the architect Augustus Welby Pugin. As always a very interesting article and worth exploring the many names and places mentioned. Nicely illustrated.


The Scandinavians of Wexford: Place-name analysis with particular reference to Forth Barony by Emeritus Professor William J. Smyth

Professor Smyth makes an in-depth examination of some of the place-names found in the Forth Barony many of which are derived from the names given by the Viking invaders. Wexford town and environs are explored with the origins of place-names such as Wexford town, Ardcavan, Raven Point and Rosslare Point from the Norse language. Kayser Lane, Selskar, Ferry Bank and the deep pool marked by Crescent Quay. Professor Smyth also deals with Rathmacknee and the coastal parishes between Tacumshin Lake and Rosslare Bay, Greenore, Carnsore and Lady’s Island. The article is illustrated by five excellent maps and will be interest to all historians and readers alike.


Fr. John Redmond – a priest of the 1798 Insurrection by William Sweetman.

William (Billy) Sweetman author of County Wexford Trials of 1798 and Brother’s Divided relates the story of Fr. John Redmond and his eventual conviction and execution as a rebel. Although most certainly he was completely innocent of any participation in the fighting he became a victim of the Loyalist backlash that followed the suppression of the rebellion. He lived in the area of north county Wexford under the control of Lord Mountnorris with whom Fr. Redmond was friendly and was often invited to dine at his home, Camolin Park. The priest witnessed an attack on Camolin House by the rebels and was named as having led the rebels on the raid. Brought to trial in Gorey and falsely charged he was hanged on 30 June 1798 on Gorey Hill. A priest wrongly charged is one of the last writings from the pen of the late William Sweetman. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


The sad mystery of Stoker Petty Officer James Leach CGM by James F. Taylor

This article tells of James Leach from Great Island a Stoker in the Royal Navy and his sad loss by drowning on his return to service following a short visit home to recuperate following an injury to his leg when his ship was struck by a German shell. He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal during the combined naval and military operations near Lindi, East Africa in June 1917. He married Helena Kennedy from Drumdowney, Co. Kilkenny and the couple had a daughter, Kate. In March 1920 Jim was posted to HMS Rocket and was home on leave in March 1921 and was ordered to return to duty on 2 April. As his wife was pregnant, he was reluctant to leave and pre-arranged with a relation that he would wave a handkerchief to him as his ship Great Western passed Great Island Point. The plan was that he would jump into the water and be picked up and brought safely to shore. Unfortunately, all went wrong and James Leach lost his life. A fascinating tale well told.

Earl William Marshal and Countess Isabella by Brian Matthews

Born in Caversham, Reading in 1146 William fitzGilbert later to be known as Earl Marshal was an advisor to the Plantagenet kings. He married Isabella daughter of Anglo-Norman nobleman, Richard de Clare also known as Strongbow. William led a Crusade to the Holy Land and while he was in Jerusalem he decided to join the Knights Templar. William and Isabella came to Leinster in 1200 and experienced a bad storm crossing from Milford to Waterford. He promised to build a monastery if they were to land safely in thanksgiving for their survival. They landed at Bannow Lough and true to his promise Tintern de Voto was built at Saltmills. Cistercian monks came over from Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire to occupy the abbey. Isabella and her husband established a settlement at Old Ross and between 1192 and 1207 the settlement of Ros Ponte was established later was known as New Ross. History says that the church of St. Mary in New Ross was built by Isabella, Countess of Pembroke c.1207-20.


Imaging the’98 Smith: Fiction’s Creation of an Iconic Figure by Pádraig G. Lane

The 1798 Insurrection created an image of the local blacksmith as he forged the pikes to arm the rebels, most times in remote locations to avoid detection by the soldiers. Pike making reportedly had begun in Wexford in 1793 after the Bellvue massacre and by the autumn of 1797 it was discovered by the authorities that smiths were busier making pikes than shoeing horses. That image emerges as Myles Furlong’s, the smith’s, mother berates him for not tending to the neighbours scythes and ploughs come the farming time of the year rather than making the pikes he had hidden behind the bricks of the forge’s chimney. In this article the writer cites the many references to the pike and its effectiveness in battle related in the numerous books and poems imaging fictions creation of this iconic figure in literature. In John Keegan Casey’s poem, ‘The Forging of the Pikes’, the words ‘but now our trade is to make the blade that sets old Ireland free’, it is certain the smith of ’98 bore the mantle of the people’s protector.


A Roche Family Maritime Tradition by William Roche

In this article the author traces the strong maritime tradition in his family over the two world wars and the courageous roles played by his grandfather and his own father. James Roche the author’s grandfather from Carrigeen Street in Wexford was a crew member on the passenger ferry service plying between Rosslare to Fishguard. On the outbreak of WWI the ships were converted to serve as hospital ships carrying the wounded troops back to safety away from the trenches in France. James survived the war and stayed with the ferry service and in 1929 he was joined by his son, also James Roche in the service. In the Second World War, James Roche senior was assigned to the St. Patrick (II) while his son, James was assigned to the St. David both vessels converted to hospital ships. In the early morning of 13 June 1941, the St. Patrick (II) in bound to Fishguard from Rosslare was bombed by a German plane and sunk with the loss of 18 members of crew and 10 passengers. James Roche was rescued. Following the sinking of the St. Patrick, Roche was re-assigned in late 1941 to the Hospital Carrier St. Andrew (II) (HC 24) joining his son in the Mediterranean. Both mariners were involved in rescues at Dunkirk and Anzio and both of them survived their ordeals.


Alderman Richard Corish T.D. (1886-1945) Mayor of Wexford by Helen Corish-Wylde

Former Mayor of Wexford, Helen Corish-Wylde writes a detailed account of her Grandfather Richard Corish who served as Mayor of Wexford for twenty five consecutive years. She traces the origins of the Corish family and the prominent role played by Richard Corish in the 1911 Wexford Lockout when more than 300 men were locked out of the three Wexford iron foundries. He became secretary of the Wexford branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union based in Charlotte Street. In 1913 he was elected as a Labour candidate and became an Alderman on Wexford Corporation and in May 1921 he was elected for the first time to Dáil Éireann. A great family man and a teetotaler the pipe smoking Richard Corish served as a member of Wexford County Council and the Association of Municipal Authorities and also Wexford Vocational Education Committee. In January 1945 Richard Corish was conferred with the Honorary Freedom of the ancient borough of Wexford. Mayor Corish died unexpectedly on 19 July 1945.