Wexford Historical Society Journal – Volume 21

The twenty- first edition of the Journal of Wexford Historical Society was launched on Wednesday, October 3rd in the Riverside House Hotel. With over sixteen articles of interest to the people of County Wexford it is the largest journal to date. It is available in bookshops in Wexford town at €20. Speaking at the launch the Chairman of Wexford Historical Society, Celestine Rafferty praised everyone involved in this fine production including all the contributors, the editor Hilary Murphy and the printer Lee Robinson of The Print Shop, Wexford. The editor Hilary Murphy said that any journal is only as good as the contributions of individual authors and he was delighted with the content and wide range of articles in this year’s journal.

Contributions from thirteen different authors begin with the record of the Franciscans in County Wexford, from the thirteenth century to the departure in 2007 of the last of the Observant, or Brown Friars, from Wexford town where they first settled in 1255, and their replacement by the Conventual Franciscans, also known as the Grey Friars. Fr Pat Conlan, o.f.m., lists all the friars who served in Wexford f rom1918, many of whom, such as Fr Irenaeus and Fr Humilis, will be fondly remembered by older residents.

The discovery that letters written by the ’98 rebel leader General Tom Cloney were offered for sale by public auction in Connecticut, USA, is revealed by John Joyce, who has lived for the greater part of his life in the house once occupied by General Cloney in Graiguenamanagh. The sale was cancelled because of the 9/11 attack in New York and letters were put up for auction again some weeks later and acquired privately at a later date. Copies of the letters are reproduced in John Joyce’s account, including a facsimile of one of them.

Nicky Rossiter recalls a year in the life of an ordinary Wexford seaman, John Joseph Heron from William St, giving extracts from his diary for the years 1915/16 which, he notes, ‘gives an insight into the life of a Wexford-born ship’s engineer on deep sea voyages in the middle of the Great War.

The ’98 rebellion also provides the backdrop for David Ian Hamilton’s account of the extraordinary life of Richard Grandy, one of only two Protestants whose lives in spared in the notorious Scullabogue barn atrocity. The author poses the question as to whether his kinsman Grandy was a ‘villain or victim’.

Celestine Rafferty resurrects the little known diary of Richard Pococke’s tour through Co. Wexford in 1752. The Englishman’s detailed descriptions of his journeys make for fascinating reading and offer a unique insight into life and customs in eighteenth-century Ireland.

Space confines only brief references to the other contributions: Paulstown in 1798 (John J. Dunleavy); The Will and Codicil of John Knox Grogan, 1811 & 1813 (Hilary Murphy); The Wreck of the Demerary, Keeragh Islands, 1819 (Edward Bourke); Wexford Priests in ‘Sensational’ Baptismal Litigation (Hilary Murphy); The Wexford Infirmary (Tom Lambert); The Shouting Down of Fr Thomas Furlong (Tom McDonald); John Redmond – Parnellite and Nationalist (Dermot Meleady); A Portrait of Monastic Wexford (Dr Aidan Breen); Archaeological Excavation of a Nineteenth Century Shipwreck Victim at Hook Head (Cóilín Ó Drisceoil); Festival Tours: the Story (Eithne Scallan); Schoolmasters and Schoolmistresses in Co. Wexford, 1826-27.

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