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Monday, 28 November 2016


Patrick Pearse and the Easter Rebellion in the Context of World War I
The recall of insurrection in songs, olden memories and in various kinds of entertainment, in some instances, became a call to further Rebellion.
Thomas Dwyer of Enniscorthy joined Na Fianna at thirteen years of age; he recollected forty years later:--
“This club [at Mary Street, Enniscorthy] was the breeding ground of rebellion, for here was installed into our youthful minds the hatred of the Sassenach, and there grew in us a burning desire to see our country freed from the chains of bondage. We were told how other Irishmen down through the centuries had fought against overwhelming odds and died in a glorious attempt to rid Irish soil of a foreign foe. We learned of the rebellions of Owen Roe, or Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen, of Rossa and the Fenians and we longed for the day when we too might join in the fight against our common enemy.”
Sean Whelan of St Senan’s recalled, also, many years later:--
“Thanks to my mother’s great fund of Irish songs and ballads, I was familiar with Ireland’s struggle for independence long before I could read or write.”
The Ballymitty Mummers in January 1913 gave an exhibition at Duncormack; the report stated:--“The Ballymitty boys are the pioneers of the Irish style of mumming in this district and much credit is due to them for their efforts in trying to make our rural amusements truly Irish. It was the first time that we heard the Irish rhymes in this locality and the history of our country, even in rhyme, seemed to reach the hearts of the listeners. But, alas! how many there are who do not even know the history of their country….” The mummers acted out a panorama of demi-divine figures, and veritable giants, all alike and of an identical lineage:--St Columbkille, Brian Boru, Art Mc Murrough, Owen Roe O’Neill, Patrick Sarsfield, Wolfe Tone, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, John Kelly of Killanne, Michael Dwyer, Robert Emmet, and Father John Murphy of Boolavogue. The short and simply written histories published by the Young Ireland movement, circa 1850, led to a steady increase in those who knew the history of their country: history then was meant, exclusively, as an inspiration to Ireland’s struggle to be free.
Patrick Pearse wrote that the object of Na Fianna, founded by Countess Marchievz and others in 1909, was “to train boys to fight Ireland’s battle when they are men.” The name recalls ancient Irish mythology of Cuchulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill—but Pearse affected to regard these semi-divine figures as literally true. He, at the end of the list of the military and related skills taught to the boys of Na Fianna, added—“and opportunity is given to the older boys for bayonet and rifle practice.” His ideal of perfect education was that of a master taking young boys into fosterage (as in ancient Gaelic Ireland) with him and inspiring them into selfless devotion to Ireland; he wrote: “To the old Irish the teacher was aite, “fosterer”, the pupil was dalta “foster-child” the system was aiteachas “fosterage”…” He returned repeatedly to ideals of intense male bonding and camaraderie, appropriate to groups at war; Cuchulainn epitomized to him the perfect paradigm of the boy warrior. His paradigm of education was of the teacher as inspiring the pupils to learn: but I concur with Francis Mac Manus, the novelist, that a child’s mind is fickle, confounding and elusive in response to adult logic.
The Catholic variant of the Temperance movement, in confluence with the 100th anniversary commemoration of 1798 in 1898, placed a new stress on the 1798 Rebellion; its heroes and priest leaders in resistance to satanic oppression of the Catholic people were presented as examples to inspire the men and women of that time, to abstain from alcohol. The ballads of P. J. Mc Caul were apt concert items. Nobody envisaged that the gothic horrors of 1798 could be enacted anew—a correct calculation, as the later events from 1916 to 1923 were minimal in comparison to 1798: thus the license to fantasise, exaggerate and eschew tedious and contradicting details was in free rein.
It is a mix of history, mythology, folk lore and memories, in a time when people perceived an interplay of earthly figures and heavenly phenomena. The heroes could not agree if they all met in heaven: for example Hugh O’Neill and Owen Ruadh O’Neill fought to regain their Gaelic Kingship; Wolfe Tone (as I read Kevin Whelan) was informed by French revolutionary ideals of excising all tradition and replacing it with a system based on reason and inherently secular, and the latter Irish revolutionaries were influenced by democracy and social ideals.
Patrick Pearse heard of such lore from his great aunt Margaret. His father was an English man, a sculptor of merit, and on his second marriage; his mother was a Brady from Co. Meath, a family with connections to the rebels of 1798.
The history of that era over estimated English malevolence and by this unfair simplification contributed to creating rebellion. The consensus on the causation of the 1798 Rebellion was expressed by Fr Cowman O. S. A. at Bree in 1910:--
“The Rebellion was a piece of English statesmanship to bring about the Act of Union. It was provoked by England in order to frighten the landed gentry that they could only be safe under English protection.” Robert Brennan wrote: --    “This rebellion was….deliberately fomented by the British authorities who hoped to crush it easily and thus pave the way for the destruction of the semi-independent Irish Parliament.”
The objective truth is that Lord Cornwallis on coming to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant in the summer of 1798 insisted that the Orange Order had too much influence in the Dublin administration and were largely culpable for the Insurrection of 1798. Lord Castlereagh sought to terminate the Irish Parliament as he regarded it as a basis for Protestant oppression of the Catholic community: union with Britain would ensure that the Catholic people of Ireland would be afforded the same rights as British citizens. Ted Heath’s introduction of direct rule in Northern Ireland is a parallel to Castlereagh’s Act of Union. British policy as the nineteenth century advanced was to gradually whittle away the residual Protestant ascendancy in Ireland.
Robert Brennan correctly acknowledges the great achievement of the Irish Parliamentary Party in having ownership of the land transferred to the farmers by 1903 plus but is mistaken, as he writes of the tenant farmer:--
“His occupation of the land depended entirely on the goodwill of the landlord. He could be thrown out at any time. The rent he paid could be raised every year and he had no redress or court of appeal.” Except for tenants at will, this is all untrue and unfair. The tenant held his farm under a lease at an agreed rent for a period of a number of years or and for a life or lives; he could only be evicted if in arrears of rent; then a court would have to grant the landlord a decree to evict. Later, The Land Commision Courts fixed judicial rents well below what the landlord might want.
The Rev. James Gordon, Rector of Killegney parish, wrote of his parish in 1814:--
“The poorer classes are industrious and quiet in general, not however, averse to Rebellion if opportunity should occur; they are in extreme subjection to the priests and go to chapel in all kinds of weather.” The Irish while disposed to experience Rebellion vicariously in pageant, song, populist and magical history, folk memories, and mumming rhymes were essentially passive—as Rev. Gordon so deftly pointed out—in their espousal of revolt: most would go along with Rebellion, if started, but few would psyche themselves to initiate Rebellion. Peadar Kearney told of Patrick Pearse asserting to a meeting in Dublin on March 2nd 1912 that “a rifle should be made as familiar to the hands of an Irishman as a hurley”. Mr Kearney (the author of the Irish National Anthem) wrote that those present were growing uneasy as the evening advanced when it dawned on them that Pearse was determined to carry out his policy.”
Eamonn de Valera wrote, in a letter, of his misgivings about joining the Volunteers as he was a married man; he knew that his decision meant certain participation in war, with the risk of death. Captain Sean Sinnott speaking in July 1915 at Wexford outlined the mindset of the Volunteers:--
“if it was necessary they would give their lives in proof of the faith that was in them (applause). The road they were on led to honour and everything that made a man. As a great contemporary Irishman had said before the goal was reached many would have fallen….but if they were craven enough to let that thought deter them they would be unworthy of their glorious ancestors who had battled so bravely for the race and the sod.”
Young Sinnott was in phlegmatic acceptance of the high risk of death but not purposely seeking it.  Patrick Pearse by contrast, sought martyrdom as a mystical imperative on him: he wrote poetically of setting his face to the road before him, to the deed he must do— and the death he must die. He did not anticipate martyrdom by random chance but as the outcome of a deliberate plan on his part. In his writings, he focuses on the image of one man alone by his martyrdom redeeming the Irish nation; he expressly compared that sacrifice to that of Calvary. Pearse’s alter ego, Mac Dara, in the drama The “Singer” proclaims:--“I will take no pike. I will go into the battle with bare hands. I will stand up before the Gall as Christ hung naked before men on the tree.” In 1915 he wrote:--“like divine religion, national freedom bears the marks of unity, of sanctity, of Catholicity, of apostolic succession.” According to the old style catechism, the true Church was one, holy, Catholic and apostolic. At Enniscorthy on March 9th 1916, Pearse spoke of nationality as more ancient than any empire and will outlast all empires; he spoke of valley periods in our nationality as when “some good man redeems us by sacrifice”. The stress is on a single man. Robert Emmett was one of the “martyrs” whose “Christ like death” redeemed Ireland” post 1800. He nominated Republican separatists Wolfe Tone, Thomas Davis, John Mitchell and James Fintan Lalor as the “four great minds” and “Apostles of Irish Nationhood”. In another context he described them as the four evangelists of Irish Nationality. Pearse conceptualised Irish Nationality as a replication of the Catholic faith and sought to identify a perfect symmetry between both. He did not address the pedantic but contradicting detail that Wolfe Tone sought the replacement of religion with a secular identity. The Volunteers and indeed the I. R. B. men were fervently Catholic as evidenced by the urgency with which they sought confession before military engagement but I do not think that they would have defined their faith in the grandiose model of Pearse. Close to Easter 1916 Pearse wrote of having to appease the ghosts of Irish nationality, the long dead heroes and martyrs calling on him “to do a big thing”. The ambiguity here is whether this is a manner of speaking or a sense of genuine psychic intrusion of extra-temporal messages. Pearse wrote that John Mitchell “did really hold converse with God.”
Anglophobia or visceral hatred of England, the English, the Gall, the Sassenach was a deep emotion in early twentieth century society. On the last Sunday night of  February 1913, the local school-master Mr J. Breen N. T. lectured to the Bree Branch of the Gaelic League, at St Aidan’ Hall on Red Hugh O’Donnell. The report of it includes this astounding narrative:--
“The lecturer explained how when O’Donnell went down to drive the English out of Connaught the means he had of distinguishing the Irish from the English was by the Irish language. All who could not speak the Irish language he put to death.”
I hope that the famous patriot did not carry out such a massacre.
The comparatively moderate Peter Ffrench M. P. for south Co. Wexford, in June 1906 recorded 1798 in terms of persecution and vengeance by the Gael:--
“The pitch-cap, the triangle, the lash, and other unheard of cruelties were requisitioned and at last the people of Wexford, like all other Celts—because when you tread on the Celt he is likely to take a terrible vengeance—after their submission to such cruelties and indignities rushed to arms.” Earlier in his speech Mr Ffrench exulted in the image of “the charge of pikemen with England’s scarlet soldiers running before them”.
The persecutions of the Reformation and the related Penal Laws in Ireland were a gothic remembrance of the demonic character of England:--Fr Kelly, a young professor at St Peter’s College, preached in Ferns in February 1907:--
“The early Christians of Rome suffered untold things at the hands of the Pagan emperors but I believe in my heart that their sufferings for the Faith were not to be compared with those endured by the Irish people at the hands of England in those dreadful years”. He added:--
“Vinegar Hill beyond there in the distance is a silent witness to the eyes of that vain, hopeless struggle of the weak against the strong.”
The motifs of vengeance and armed and holy resistance, albeit ineffectual, are present in both Mr Ffrench’s and Fr Kelly’s words; but I opine that their words were not a prescription for renewed war. Patrick Pearse in hyperbolic enlargement of this populist hatred of England transformed it to apocalypse, holy war, and metaphysical excitement:--
“Ireland has not known the exhilaration of war for over a hundred years…When war comes to Ireland, she must welcome it as she would welcome the Angel of God….Ireland will not find Christ’s peace until she has taken Christ’s sword….Christ’s peace is lovely in its coming….But it is heralded by terrific messengers; seraphim and cherubim blow trumpets of war before it.”
 On January 6th 1910, (Twelfth Night) Fr Cowman O. S. A. Dungarvan delivered a lecture at Bree Hall on the 1798 Rebellion: the introduction by Bree Parish Priest Fr Patrick Sheil was, ironically, much more interesting than the lecture:--
“That night he [Fr Cowman] was to speak on a subject which he [Fr Sheil] was sure they would be all delighted to hear—the ’98 movement (hear, hear). They all recollected the magnificent manner in which Fr Cowman had dealt with the ’48 movement and when he (Rev. Chairman) recollected that lecture he felt inclined to hope that the audience would not become intoxicated with Father Cowman’s eloquence when dealing with the ’98 movement. It might be too dangerous added the Canon, with a funny twinkle in his eyes,  and perhaps after hearing Father Cowman’s eloquence some of you will imagine that you are back in the old days when our grandfathers took the field in defence of Faith and Fatherland. We are all proud of the men of ’98 (cheers); we are proud of our ancestors who had the courage to come into the field and stand up as courageous men against oppression and tyranny (hear, hear). …The men of today are carrying on the same fight but by different methods. We are not called on to take the field and, indeed, considering our position, it would not be wise to do so, especially, considering our unarmed condition. We would not have any chance in an armed conflict. At present, however, we have what we know as constitutional agitation….”
Fr Sheil’s analogy of intoxication is intriguingly similar to that of Patrick Pearse who wrote that planning an insurrection was better than a draught of wine! Significantly, Fr Sheil in his advocacy of the Irish Party policy of Home Rule had to stress their inability to win by force of arms.
The classic theory of nationalism postulated that each nation had a special purpose: the implication is that Providence (or God) created each nation.  A passionate Republican asserted in the summer of 1915 that—“God had given Ireland a clearly marked frontier, girded by the ocean and He has never ordained that the people of this island should be a subject race (applause).” Irish Catholicism at that time was fixated on a vision of Ireland as divinely purposed to become a spiritual empire, engaged in mega missionary campaigns to propagate the Catholic faith across the globe. Canon Michael Murphy Parish Priest of Cloughbawn recalled that at least twelve of the priests of the diocese of Ferns—himself included—were supportive of the Easter Rebellion of 1916; Fr Murphy provided his car for gun running a few weeks before the Rebellion. Priests like Fr Martin Ryan of Tomcoole were excited by the  new nationalism anticipating that an independent Ireland would seal off Anglicisation—the code for sexual license and bestiality, urban and industrial mores, religious indifference, alcoholism, modernism and evil literature etc et al: Patrick Pearse wrote that his school struck at the roots of Anglicisation.
At a meeting to further the project of erecting a memorial to the men of 1798, Peter Ffrench M. P. for south Co. Wexford and a naïve of Bannow—where the Normans first came—addressed the issue of the nature of the Gaelic race, albeit with a local reference:--
“Now my friends, said Mr Ffrench, you have often heard that the people of Wexford are not of the Celtic race. They say we are Normans, or French, or Anglo-Saxon—anything but Celtic. A strong race like the Celts never loses its individuality by mingling with other races (cheers). Those who have studied the racial problem say that mongrels all die out and after a few generations the strong race is just as pure as it was at first.” Mr Ffrench then outlined a truly bizarre and vague proof that the Irish people remained a Celtic race, in essence:--“And the conduct of the men of ’98 is proof of the theory, for characteristic of the Celt is patience, sincerity and an excessive love of justice and that love of justice sometimes leads him to an amount of submission that almost appears to be slavishness....”He outlined his imagined scenario of 1798 to obligingly prove that they responded and fought as Celts—even if they had Norman blood!
The history of ancient Ireland is less mystic than simply misty, unclear, the details remotely inaccessible. There may have been several other migrations to Ireland apart from the coming of the Celtic or Gaelic races; but the Gaelic language seems to have been preponderant. The Celts could have killed off previous settlers.  I think that the Normans liquidated most of the native inhabitants in the baronies of Forth and Bargy. The Statutes of Kilkenny and the Statutes of Galway were enacted to deter the Normans or new English from adopting the Gaelic language, customs and culture. The situation of the Normans or old English was inverted by the Reformation, when England broke with the Church of Rome. The Normans in Ireland clung tenaciously to the Catholic faith. The wars of the Reformation were catastrophic for them; after Cromwell’s invasion their entire lands were confiscated and new proprietors—Puritan and Protestant—acquired them. These men were termed the new English. Afterwards the old English and the Gaelic peoples in Ireland became coalesced into the one entity, perceived as Irish and Catholic. One may deduce that the old English became Gaelic but the counter-argument is that the eventual emergence of English as the vernacular in this country is a possible index to the endurance of the Norman or old English culture.
The analogy of an archaeological dig is most apt to describe the endeavours of a host of radical organisations in late nineteenth century Ireland to retrieve the mystical essence of an ancient Gaelic civilisation. The Gaelic language was conceptualised as divinely inspired, and, at least, as the mind of Ireland and its people, probably its soul. Fr Patrick Kavanagh O. S. F., the famous historian of 1798, in Wexford town in late 1903, spoke of the Gaelic League:--
“The mind of a nation followed the language and it the latter [were] lost the National mind could not long survive….So it was, too, with the Irish language, the tongue of Ireland’s ancient kings, its bards and brehons. The language of ancient Ireland was written on the face of nature, itself; it was written on our hills and dales, in the names of our townlands and parishes. If the very soil of our country is thus eloquent of our language and our past, how can we be silent and forgetful of the tongue in which our story is enshrined?....If we are to think with Irish minds, why should we not speak with Irish tongues?”
In late October 1914, Padraig Kehoe of Enniscorthy, in a lecture on Thomas Davis, quoted the oft quoted imperative of his subject:--
“A people without a language of its own is only half a nation. A nation should guard its language more than its territories—tis a sure barrier and more important than frontier, fortress or river.”
In his blazing oration at O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral on August 1st 1915, Pearse defined the Gaelic issue as a red line one: not merely Gaelic but free as well; not merely free but Gaelic as well. Pearse, to the chagrin of the more extreme Republicans and Gaelic League exponents had given a tepid support, in 1912 to John Redmond’s Home Rule project: his reasoning was that with Home Rule the Board of National Education would be swept away and Gaeilge would be systematically taught in the national schools.  His fellow signatory of the Easter Rebellion Proclamation, Thomas Mc Donagh—and one time teacher at Pearse’s schools—maybe as befitted a Professor of English Literature disagreed with the conventional thinking that Irish people could only properly express themselves in the Gaelic tongue, as they had done for aeons. Mc Donagh insisted that as English had become the vernacular, it was now natural for them to speak in the English language. He had inadvertently anticipated the stubborn inertia of generations of children in twentieth century Ireland towards the Gaelic language. A speaker at a meeting in New Ross in June 1906 depicted a historic proximity to a fully Gaelic society:--“They had it on the authority of a Potter—an Englishman—….that at the Enniscorthy fair of 1814, the transactions were conducted almost entirely in the native tongue.” As time moved onwards, the inertia towards Gaelige increased. There may have been a disconnection between the high aspirations of the Gaelic revival and quotidian Irish society.
The focus was excitedly back in time: Pearse waxed lyrical of finding in mediaeval civilisation some “rich and beautiful organisations with an art and a culture and a religion in every man’s house, though for such a thing we have to search out some sequestered people living by a desolate sea-shore or in a high forgotten valley among lonely hills—a hamlet of Iar Connacht…” Mr de Valera’s derided radio broadcast in circa 1943 about the comely maidens dancing at the cross-roads is resonant with this social vision of Pearse.
Mazzini, the Italian nationalist ideologue, opined that a nation is formed of those who will it to be a nation; not necessarily of a single race.  The Ulster Protestants not only did not will to participate in the Irish nation but on the contrary, in January 1913, Sir Edward Carson and James Craig set up the Ulster Volunteer Force  to defend Ulster against Home Rule, as nearly won by John Redmond and his Irish Parliamentary Party. The implication was that Home Rule could be imposed only by a military crushing of Ulster’s armed dissent; something any British government would find an unpalatable task. In response, in November 1913, the Irish Volunteers were founded, in Dublin “to secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland.” Young nationalist men poured with gusto into the Volunteers; they were almost invariably of a radical mind-set, certainly at variance with Mr Redmond’s imperial philosophy. In effect, the Volunteers were set up by the I. R. B. who sought to present the movement as something wider: hence they imposed as its commander Eoin Mac Neill, a northern who was a Professor of Early Irish history in Dublin, essentially a moderate and inoffensive man. In late 1913, the obvious purpose of the Volunteers was to protect a Home Rule settlement from the Ulster Volunteer Force. Nationalists, of all hues, engaged in circumlocutions and rhetorical sleights of hand to avoid directly addressing the Ulster question: the sheer intractability of it may have psychologically disposed them to avoid seeing this elephant in the room. In July 1914, John Redmond wrote a euphemistic letter to the Dublin Corporation:--
“I would…. regard it as a great calamity if the coercion of any section of the Irish people were to accompany the inauguration of a free Parliament in Ireland and, while I….never shall advise the Irish people to be consenting parties to any settlement involving the permanent division of Ireland I…am ready to make large concessions to win the hearty assent of all sections of Irishmen to a settlement which will bring liberty to all.” Mr Redmond, most absurdly, did not despair of a settlement by the general assent of all Irishmen!
Patrick Pearse’s response was a deliberate misinterpretation of the Ulster Volunteers as a prelude to express his total theory of war:--
“A thing that stands demonstrable is that Nationhood is not achieved otherwise than in arms….I am glad that the North has “begun”. I am glad that the Orangemen have armed for it is a goodly thing to see arms in Irish hands. I should like to see the A. O. H. armed. I should like to see the Transport workers armed. I should like to see any and every body of Irish citizens armed. We must accustom ourselves to the sight of arms, to the use of arms. We may make mistakes in the beginning and shoot the wrong people; but bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing and the nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood. There are many things more horrible than bloodshed and slavery is one of them.”
One afternoon in the old university, Dr Liam de Paor, in reply to my query, meant to provoke him, replied politely that Pearse was greatly influenced by the English romantics; recent research confirms that Pearse’s writings are resonant with themes and phrases from the English Romantics. These writers glorified the experience of war, as both a defiance of society’s conventions and verities and a masculine vindication of one’s aspirations.
They were part of a zeitgeist that prevailed across the Europe of that era. I am unsure if Pearse was influenced by them or if he was seeking in their theories arguments to psyche both himself and others to Rebellion in Ireland.
The obvious riposte to John Burton’s argument of Redmond’s Home Rule as not involving bloodshed is that the latter directed young Irish men to, in his rhetoric, sacrifice themselves in the war against Germany, “wherever the firing line extended”. Pearse’s reaction to the Great War, as expressed at Christmas 1915 was astonishing:--
“The last sixteen months have been the most glorious in the history of Europe. Heroism has come back to the earth…. The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields. Such august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage of millions of lives given gladly for love of country.”
James Connolly, unaware of the identity of the author, rejoined that only a blithering idiot could believe such things. One scholar suggests that the phrase, “red wine of the battlefield” is re-working of another in a poem written by Rupert Brooke, one of the Romantics, who died in May 1915, a war victim. The two lines in question read:--
“But dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold. These laid the
World away: poured out the red Sweet wine of youth….”
Recent research suggests a touch of Darwinian Theory that darkens the effect of Pearse’s writings. Yeats’s reference to a terrible beauty evokes the Romantic canon.
These theories may have dovetailed with the traditional I. R. B. and separatist nationalist conviction that tiny groups if sufficiently motivated were morally entitled—perhaps obliged—to enter into Rebellion. While Ireland was suffused with a culture of Rebellion, which the multitudes wished to encounter in a vicarious manner, only tiny groups were able to psyche themselves to embark on actual Rebellion. Requirements of majority approval were of necessity eschewed.
A tribute to Captain Sean Sinnott in Wexford town in July 1915 was informative on these issues:--“The captain headed a section of what had been called a discontented minority….The Fenians had been no doubt a minority…There would be always discontented minorities until Ireland was free, and as long as the discontented minorities had men like Captain Sean Sinnott to lead them the cause of Ireland was safe; beaten they might be, they could never be dishonoured.” The rationale of a failed Rebellion as justified if it merely kept faith with Ireland’s insurrectionary tradition is there.
The Fenian uprising of 1867 was planned by the Irish Republican Brotherhood; the acronym is I. R. B., a secret organisation, fixated on ending the English presence in Ireland. They may, possibly, have continuity with the White Feet and White Boys.
In the summer of 1914, John Redmond demanded to nominate 25 members of the Volunteer executive, effectively a majority; the movement caved in to his demand. In August 1914, in Mr Grey’s memorable phrase the lights went out all over Europe as the Great War broke out.
Henry Kissinger wrote that that Germany was so strong that the other European countries had to combine in resistance to it. On September 20th 1914 John Redmond at Woodenbridge, Co. Wicklow pledged the Volunteers to participate in the Imperial forces. Amidst an angry controversy, most of the Volunteers seceded and formed the pro-Redmond National Volunteers; the residue, about 10 per cent of the estimated 181,000, remained under Mac Neill, retaining the name Irish Volunteers. I believe that the main motivation for those who enlisted was the prospect that their sacrifice would both guarantee an All Ireland Home rule settlement and demonstrate that an independent Ireland would support Britain, in all eventualities: the rhetoric was an evocation of Ireland’s history, an appeal to heroism and idealisation of war. The suspension of Home Rule, at the outset of the war, in the context of the grinding and futile horror of the war quickly extinguished this enthusiasm.  The plight of Belgium, as the Germans devastated it, attracted little interest in the Irish Catholic community; the community of Belgian nuns at Merton, Bree was proof of horror in Belgium; this report from the Echo July 24 1915 indicates minimal Irish Catholic attention:--
“The Rev. Gaston Brohee of Thurin who is in this country….to raise funds for the destitute Belgians, gave two most interesting lectures on the 16th inst. in Killegney parish, one in the afternoon in the Killegney School, the other at 8pm in the Clonroche Hall, kindly placed at his disposal by Mr and Mrs Mullany. The attendance was large and there was a liberal response. Father Brohee was the guest of the Rector, Rev. Canon Macbeth.”
The Hall referred to was the shop owned by Pat Mullany, ex member of the R. I. C. Catholic Belgium was, ironically, the concern of the Protestant clergy and former policemen.
In late September 1914, the Supreme Council of the I. R. B. decided that before the World War ended that it should take armed action. I. R. B. men were at the commanding positions of the Irish Volunteers with a few exceptions and one most important one:--Eoin Mac Neill remained as Chief of Staff. 1916.
Tom Clarke enjoined absolute secrecy about the having of the Rebellion on Easter Sunday. Joseph Plunkett and Sean Mac Diarmuida forged a document supposedly from Dublin Castle revealing a plan to arrest all the leaders of the Volunteers. Late in Holy Week Mac Neill was told that it was a forgery and had an angry encounter on Holy Thursday night with Pearse—Mrs Pearse was alarmed by the shouting of both men at each other. On Good Friday Pearse, Mac Diarmuida and Plunkett convinced Mac Neill that Casement and the Germans were to land at Kerry, with a massive quantity of arms and guns; therefore a Rebellion was inevitable. The English who had deciphered the German radio code knew of the intended landing; on Saturday, Mac Neill was informed of Casement’s arrest; late on the Saturday night he put advertisements in the Sunday Independent cancelling all manoeuvres on that day. These parades were intended as a cover for the Rebellion. Mac Neill, in words indicative of his attitude to Rebellion, told Pearse that he would do as his conscience and common sense bade him. In March 1916, Eoin Mac Neill prepared a memorandum to charge Pearse with having surreal mystical concepts of Ireland but at the meeting of the Volunteers he lost his nerve and did not present it. In it he wrote:--
“our country is not poetical abstraction as some of us….in the exercise of our highly developed capacity for figurative thoughts, are sometimes apt to imagine—with the help of our patriotic literature. There is no such person as Kathleen Ni Uaillachain or Roisin Dubh or the Sean Bhean Bhocht who is calling upon us to serve her. What we call our country is the Irish nation which is a concrete and visible reality.”
Mac Neill focussed on the obvious dilemma of aspirant Rebels: the absence of “deep and widespread discontent. We have only to look around us in the streets to realise that no such condition at present exists in Ireland. A few of us, a small proportion, who think about the evils of English government in Ireland, are always discontented.” The fiasco of the commands and counter-commands before Easter Monday and, indeed, the later tragic splits arose from this disagreement about the existence of Kathleen Ni Uaillachain.
The military committee, an elite within the I. R. B., forced through the Rebellion by gulling Mac Neill; some of the Volunteers thought they were on parade but the news that were in a Rebellion, at last, would have elated them!
In the Proclamation “Ireland” is presented in figurative mode as a mother, a divinity; her tradition of nationhood comes from God and she summons “her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.” The word “children” is used in metaphorical mode: Ireland would surely not call school-children to arms, as the late Justice Adrian Hardiman attested. The Proclamation addresses “Irish men and Irish women” rather than using the generic “Irish men”: I opine that this was a gesture tilted at Cumann Na mBan, the organisation established by Countess Marchievz  of young women to aid the Volunteers, and who were in the G. P. O.  It places the Easter Rebellion in a direct continuum with six previous revolts in the past three hundred years, a Rebellion in every generation; making it a nationalist document, in purpose.
It is comparatively radical in its guarantee of equal rights and opportunities to all its citizens plus religious and civil liberty. Connolly may have influenced these promises but my understanding is that Connolly believed that this nationalist Rebellion might be followed by a socialist or Marxian revolution. Marxist theory anticipated a series of revolutions, with a final workers revolt leading to a workers state. On January 19, 1916, Pearse, Joe Plunkett and Sean Mac Diarmuida took Connolly away and over three days persuaded him not to proceed with the Citizen’s Army into an absurd and miniscule Rebellion: his decision to join the Citizen’s Army with the Volunteers in the Easter Rebellion incurred the envenomed castigation of Sean O’Casey, who felt it should be used only in a Marxist Revolution, such as that of Lenin in Russia in 1917. O’Casey wrote a series of dramas pouring vitriol on Connolly in the G. P. O.: neither the rural dramatic groups who staged these plays nor their audiences ever understood the bitter anti-Easter 1916 message in them.
The phrase “cherishing all the children of the nation equally” is wrongly parsed. The word “children” is not to be taken literally; the next phrase adjoining it “and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government which have divided a minority from the majority in the past” is code for the interminable nationalist charge that the religious and sectarian conflicts in Ireland were an artificial contrivance of British policy. “Children” in this context denoted the rival denominations of Catholic and Protestant in Ireland who are metaphorical children of Ireland, a divine mother. In effect this is Pearse’s invitation to the Ulster Protestants to join the Republic: it is disingenuous and is, certainly, hyper optimism! The Ulster problem bewildered both John Redmond and Patrick Pearse.
This figurative speech is resonant with common usage of that time. At a Home Rule demonstration in Enniscorthy in May 1914, Fr Robert Fitzhenry Adm., declared:--
“The day had come, he hoped, when the doctrine of hate and strife, too long preached and published by those who would keep Ireland divided would no longer be listened to in Ireland (applause)….the day had come when Ireland and her dear children would unite together in brotherly love to work for the greatness and grandeur of their beloved motherland.”
The past is a foreign country: the men and women of Easter 1916 could not imagine let alone contemplate the mega productive capacity of modern states and related vast public expenditure on public services, the libertarianism and ever expanding agendas of latter times. The Pearse brothers rode on bicycles to the G. P. O. 
The final reference to the august destiny to which the Irish nation is called explicitly assumes a divine patent in the creation of the Irish nation. Speaking in Enniscorthy on March 9th 1916 Pearse castigated those unable to discern “in the nation the image and likeness of God.”
Pearse tended to invert or at least amend the tilt of comparatively small events into proofs of a vast abstract theory. Emmet’s Revolt and the Fenian rising of 1867 were very limited escapades; and the 1848 Rebellion involved the eccentric William Smith O’Brien’s affray in the Widow Mc Cormack’s cabbage patch in Ballinagarry, Co. Tipperary. The Irish Citizen Army was composed of poor labouring men, some of whom were malnourished, some unable to afford a uniform and a few of them armed with pikes. Sean Sinnott was forging pikes in Wexford pre-Easter 1916. The grandiose allusion to “gallant allies in Europe” may have strengthened the case of conspiracy with the Germans, supposedly required under the Defence of the Realm Act to condemn the leaders of the Rebellion to death subsequently. On a point of fact, Roger Casement came back on Good Friday to persuade the I.R. B. to call off the Rebellion as he was convinced that the Germans had no serious interest in an Irish involvement.
Conversely one may regard this tendency of Pearse to inflate the narrative of abject scenarios as his peculiar genius: his rhetorical power and superb facility of expression induced Tom Clarke to promote him as the leader of the coming Rebellion. Michael Collins was of an opposite opinion: he wrote of the communiqués of Pearse as semi-poetic statements and the G. P. O. as like a Greek tragedy. My caveat here is that Collins, while most affable, tended to criticism of colleagues and later bombarded Mr de Valera with complaints about shortcomings of other ministers in the First Dail Government.
The Proclamation asserted that Ireland “now strikes in full confidence of victory.” The consensus of all historians is that the Easter Rebellion could not have succeeded militarily. Many years ago I sought to explicate with Professor Pat O’Farrell why the Bolsheviks, a tiny group of terrorists, hiving off from another tiny group, seized and held power in Russia in 1917. The outright collapse of the Russian army in the ongoing World War certainly facilitated this extraordinary revolution. My contention is that if the British army were either defeated or like the Russian one simply disintegrated then the I. R. B. Rebellion might have succeeded.
Patrick Pearse, and others like Tom Clarke and Sean Mac Diarmuida, would have regarded the fact of making a Rebellion a triumph in itself: Pearse saw an imperative of each generation rising in national revolt. Life, he wrote, battens on death and the blood of the killed and martyred insurgents would serve as mystical nourishment to a coming generation to fight anew. Tom Clarke was exultant all through Easter Week. At Rossa’s funeral in August 1915 Pearse proclaimed that while Ireland held the graves of the Fenian dead Ireland un-free would never be at peace; he spoke of his own generation as baptized anew in the Fenian faith.
During the World War I and later in World War II, the British shelled ahead of their soldiers, presumably to conserve the lives of their soldiers. Brigadier General William Lowe, as—initially—Commander of the British forces deployed from the Curragh, used artillery against the rebel strongholds and simultaneously, destroyed connections between them. The inferno in the G. P. O. was fearful and on the Saturday night as the surrendered rebels squatted on the green area in front of the Rotunda Hospital, Sean Mac Diarmuida kept shouting in his sleep, “the fire, the fire”.
James Connolly lectured his Citizen Army on street fighting tactics and theorised that urban warfare could enable a rebel force to defy a conventional, bigger and better armed army. I opine that both Connolly and Pearse did not sufficiently ponder on the certainty that urban warfare would involve injury and death to innocent civilians. For some obscure reason of honour, the men of Easter Week did not seek to escape as the Rebellion ended.
The courtesy of Brigadier Lowe to the rebel leaders was extraordinary. When Patrick Pearse petulantly charged him not to accuse him of telling a lie, General Lowe immediately apologised. Lowe exchanged military salutes with Tom Mc Donagh. The two men sat in Lowe’s car for an hour, as the Brigadier persuaded him to surrender. Lowe apologised to Nurse Elizabeth Farrell, who liaised with the rival forces at the surrender, for his soldiers strip-searching her and had money confiscated from her returned to her. She was with Pearse as he surrendered to Lowe. He may have seen the rebels as genuine idealists.
The execution of Mac Diarmuida and death of Tom Ashe in 1917 left Mick Collins in control of the I. R. B. who became the bulk of the army of the First Dail from 1919 onwards. They depended mainly on financial support from the Irish Diaspora in America. Mick Collins never believed that these freedom fighters could defeat the British army and later wrote that the Republican army was never able to drive the British forces out of any part of Ireland and that in many parts the Republican army had no presence at all. His calculation was that the Volunteer military actions would induce the British Government to negotiate with Sinn Fein. Dr Ronan Fanning wrote recently that the ambush at Kilmichael, Co. Cork had a searing effect on the British cabinet; Dr Fanning argues that the Anglo-Irish Treaty was an enormous advance on the provisions of the Home Rule Bill offered to John Redmond. Collins felt that he had, also, signed his death warrant in signing this Treaty. I believe that the Anglo Irish Treaty facilitated the entry into the political limelight of the representatives of a historically submerged and hidden mass of people: maybe the Sinn Fein struggle was a contention within Irish society? To the revolutionary mind-set, independence achieved by political negotiation would be prosaic; that achieved by armed revolt was poetic—the craved for apotheosis to centuries of struggle.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty was therefore a compromise from the absolute demands and mystical aspirations of Easter 1916: the present Irish State was legally established by that Treaty. Those who, like Pearse, believed that the Irish nation was of divine patent could not accept the oath to the British Monarch but their armed defiance of the Free State administration was ill-fated and doomed: Ireland was fatigued with war, revolts, private armies and public ones, killings and destruction. When Mick Collins was assassinated at Beal Na mBlath in his native Co. Cork in August 1922, the Republican prisoners at Mountjoy fell on their knees and recited the Rosary: it was sure testimony to the insanity of the Civil War. Dr Fanning has written that Mr de Valera’s rejection of the Anglo-Irish Treaty was a serious blemish on an otherwise proud record of public service. Mr de Valera’s entry to the Dail in 1927 represented his succumbing to compromise, maybe nigh to Mac Neill’s common sense!
Major General John Grenfell Maxwell was given “plenary power to proclaim martial law over the whole of the country.” It does seem that Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith intended, that with respect for probity and legality, that Maxwell should have “a pretty free hand to deal with the insurgents.” The executions haunted Maxwell for the rest of his life, the latter part spent of it spent doing charity work. He wrote to his wife that he was detested in Ireland. He charged that Mr Asquith had hung him out to dry. I think that he was not really fit to be at large! One authority writes: “A pit lined with quicklime had been commissioned by General Maxwell immediately following his arrival from London” on Thursday, the 27th of April. Three of those executed were in immediate proximity to death anyway: James Connolly was dying from gangrene in the wounded leg; Joseph Mary Plunkett was dying of tuberculosis and Tom Clarke appeared beset by terminal illness. Willie Pearse, while he had inherited his father’s talent as a sculptor was—in my opinion—mentally challenged and harmless. The executions of all four were equally obscene and unnecessary. Maxwell rejected a request by Pearse that he accept his admission of full responsibility for the Rising in lieu of executing his men. The deceased Justice Adrian Hardiman has asserted that under the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA to use the acronym), there was no evidence of collusion with the Germans, as required, to bring in death sentences. That may be legal pedantry: courts Martials are never strictly legal and, besides, the allusion to the gallant German allies in the Proclamation probably prompted Maxwell to rely on DORA. Pearse, in a post script, in a letter to his mother referred to German support.
On Easter Monday evening on his return to 10 Downing Street, Mr Asquith was told of a Rebellion in Dublin; as he ascended the stairs he sarcastically remarked—“That is something”. As Irish and international anger (especially that of America) mounted and as John Redmond and John Dillon—the latter making a ferocious speech against the executions in the House of Commons—protested, Mr Asquith became alarmed and tried to persuade Maxwell to act more leniently, without success. Britain was eager to persuade America to join with them in the Great War—the executions did not help that purpose. Maxwell was fixed on executing the entire leadership echelon of Sinn Fein, perhaps over 60 executions. Some days later, Mr Asquith came to Dublin and ordered Maxwell to halt the executions and even then he persisted in executing James Connolly and Sean Mac Diarmuida. The loss of the lives of British soldiers in the Rebellion may have weighed on his mind, leaving him with a sense of obligation to avenge them. The soldiers who comprised the firing squads—some possibly teenagers—were traumatised by the task and the guns in their shaking arms waved like fields of corn in the wind. Maxwell was, undoubtedly, mindful that England was fighting for its own survival, at that time preparing for the hellish Battle of the Somme.
The transformed public feeling after Easter 1916 has been universally ascribed to repulsion at Maxwell’s executions; conversely one may argue that this transformation is proof of Professor Pat O’Farrell’s thesis that any Rebellion in Ireland would be approved. Professor O’Farrell argued that the contemptuous allusion by Trinity College Provost Mahaffy to “a man named Pearse” shortly before the Rebellion was an objective measure of his status then: martyrdom elevated him into the Pantheon of Irish heroes—with a guarantee of acclaim both from contemporary society and (as he wrote to his mother), also from posterity. Rebellion, if actually entered on, was a certain road to celebrity, to use a latter day parlance. He told his pupils of the words ascribed to the ancient Gaelic hero, Cuchulainn—“I care not though I were to live but one day and one night, if only my fame and deeds live after me.” This may be a parallel immortality to that of the religious promise of eternal life. The erection of statutes with a sculpted likeness of the celebrated hero—a phenomenon of that era—served as constant reminders of demised heroes—a metaphorical life after death.
The Easter Rebellion was described by the media and the British authorities as the Sinn Fein Rebellion—even if it was, in fact, an I. R. B. rebellion. The mistake is more apparent than real: the Sinn Fein movement, initiated by the diminutive and solemn journalist Arthur Griffith while professing the founder’s eccentric principles of a dual monarchy and abstention from Westminster, was at the level of local units, replete with young men of belligerent and insurrectionary intent, most of them I. R. B. or tilting that way. The I. R. B. was a secret organisation but Sinn Fein was lawful and public; so bellicose young people could associate openly in it. As the commandment at Mount Street bridge where the massacre of the Sherwood Foresters occurred, and as one who would have been executed if Mr Asquith had not arrived in time to prevent any more executions, Eamonn de Valera, in the aftermath of the Rebellion became iconic and in the populist superstition, arrayed in the aura of semi-divinity.[his actual name was Edward, later changed to Eamonn] He became President of a re-organised Sinn Fein, as Mr Griffith ceded the Presidency of Sinn Fein to him. Patrick Pearse wrote that the old Fenian O’Donovan Rossa “was incapable of compromise”; in Pearse’s mind that was the acid test of a revolutionary—that he should not compromise.
Eamonn de Valera was, by his admission, neither a doctrinaire Republican nor a revolutionary. A mathematician and of masterly political calculation, he placed Sinn Fein in the post Rebellion period in discrete compromise from the absolutist aspirations of the Proclamation and, indeed, from Pearse’s more extreme prescriptions. When Eoin Mac Neill was brought into the prison where other Sinn Fein prisoners were, De Valera instantly commanded all his fellow inmates to give Mac Neill a military salute: in part de Valera was maintaining strict military etiquette (soldiers saluting their commander-in-chief); in another sense, he was seeking via total inclusiveness, a broad national unity. There would have to an implication of compromise in his gesture to Mac Neill. (Michael Collins, like another I. R. B. leader the executed Sean Mac Diarmuida, resented the re-integration of Mac Neill). The post Rebellion Sinn Fein did not morph into a violent revolutionary movement, in terms of its basic principles: Griffith’s old prescription that the elected members for the Irish constituencies, in the election for the Westminster Parliament, should instead establish a native Dail in Dublin, was applied after Sinn Fein won a majority of the seats in the December 1918 election. Eamonn de Valera headed a new government elected by Dail Eireann, as much theoretical as real. Much was made of sending representatives to the post war international peace conference in Paris in 1919, to plead the case for Irish freedom. The pitch of the Sinn Fein campaign in the 1918 election was suffused with ambiguity: there was an atmosphere of war but Sinn Fein did not ask for specific retrospective approval of Easter 1916—maybe that was implied—and did not seek a mandate to enter on a war with the British authorities. Arthur Griffith did not approve of military action; even during the war of Independence, when he was a minister in de Valera’s Government he opposed these hostilities. Mr de Valera conceptualised the struggle as essentially political and even metaphysical: he sounded as uncoiled from a design in the Book of Kells, often obfuscating even to himself. He invariably outlined seven centuries of Irish oppression in formal discussions; during the truce negations in 1921, Mr Lloyd George, the Prime Minister told his secretary Tom Jones, that after two days they were making progress as they had now reached the Norman invasion.

From 1919 onwards local units of the Volunteers—mainly the I. R. B.—uneasy at the excessive political direction, as they saw it, of the Sinn Fein movement, took the initiative in terrorist actions. Collins’s control of them was never total; besides Cathal Brugha, as minister for defence, sought, with little success, to have all Volunteers take an oath of loyalty to him as members of the Irish Republican army, to stress the control of the Dail. The I. R. B. out of loyalty to Collins took the pro-Treaty side in the Civil War: their ferocious fighting instincts are one explanation of the ruthless Free State campaign. Ironically Mick Collins was faintly squeamish about taking human life: he prevaricated about having British spies shot, sending them repeated warnings to clear out. Once he went to London in late 1921, he was set on a settlement, with little relish for committing the Volunteers to more war and killings. Mr de Valera may have seen the rejection of the Anglo-Irish Treaty as involving a  resumption of the struggle on a political and metaphysical level—an obfuscation of the ugly, blood spilling nature of war.

Sunday, 9 October 2016


The Caime Mines
The Echo on April 6th 1957 published a reproduction of a document which it claimed to have received from a reader. It was what would be in latter day parlance be called a pay order or cheque issued by Caime Mine authorising Messers Harris and Company of the Enniscorthy Bank to pay the bearer,  J. Lee, before 1810 on demand the sum of six shillings. I am unable to find a clear indication of the date 1810 on it but I take the word of the caption underneath it that this was the date.
If the date is as stated then the mines in Caime were in operation in the first decade of the nineteenth century. The probability is that six shillings represented week’s wages for the miner but that is not exactly certain. We now know, at least, the name of one of the miners in the Caime mines. His evidence to the public inquiry into John Howlin’s claim for compensation in December 1844 indicates that Garrett Byrne was another; the relevant part of it state was as follows:
“Has lived about forty years in this country; was always a miner; was employed by Carlton and Lapp, who had the mine before the company; at that time the stream that now flows in Mr Howlin’s land was conducted by a cut into the mines at Caim rocks from an artificial pond but the course it runs at present is the original course….It was not run to Caim Rock mines for upwards of thirty years and the pond and cut are filled up that length of time.1
The Caime Mine Rocks was were about two and a half acres in area, presumably in Plantation measure, a good bit bigger than modern statute measure.
John Abraham described as a very old man said that “he had no recollection whatever as to the mines, at which he said he had been employed about forty years ago.2” A Parliamentary inspector in April 1841 stated that there were 127 persons working at the mines; 60 of them were male adults, 14 female adults; 20 males and 26 males under 18 years of age and 7 children, all of whom were boys. Only the male adults worked underground and most of the people employed at the Caime mines were natives of the neighbourhood. The people in the Caime locality were exceedingly poor, living almost entirely on potatoes, supplemented occasionally with milk and on the very odd occasion with fish or bacon. The children working at the mine told a Parliamentary enquiry that they were satisfied, for the greater part, with their employment but their admission that they could not afford to pay the tuition fees in the local School—leaving them unable to write and read—indicates serious poverty.3
The statements of Messrs Byrne and Abraham would seem to imply that the mines at Caim were closed as early as 1815 and that Carlton and Lapp succeeded the Caime Mining Company before 1815.
The Echo on September 12th, 1925 reported on the visit of a Mr Samuel G. Knott, an American mining expert, to the site of the lead mine at Caime. He was accompanied by Mr Gerald Flood, the engineer of the Enniscorthy rural district. In the report geological records were referred to as proving that the mine was abandoned due to lack of machinery but that it opened some time later in 1836. They did indeed open in 1836 or thereabouts.
The Wexford Independent in the early summer of 1836 reported:
“We are rejoiced to hear that the splendid and extensive Lead Mines of Caime, the estate of Justin Brennan, are about to be worked by a spirited and affluent company under the most favourable auspices. These mines were formerly worked with beneficial effect; but for some cause or other, like most other Irish speculations, however profitable, were after a few trials, placed in abeyance.” The report noted the dearth of agricultural employment for our sturdy, able-bodied labouring population.” The resources available were describes as “scarcely sufficient to sustain nature”. It was indicated that Mr Brennan was favourable to the venture and the report concluded:
“We believe it is found necessary to send the ore to England for smelting from the want of sufficient coal in our own country; but if our resources were properly developed, even in that all important article, we would ere long be able to compete with our more favourable neighbour.4” The prosperous state of its finances and the advanced price obtainable for lead motivated the Mining Company of Ireland to re-open the Caime Mine; the official report noted-enigmatically—that this concern had “been under lease to the Company for some years.5
The geological records which the article in the Echo in 1925 referred to were presumably the Parliamentary ones of the 19th century. These indicate that the output of 1842 was 500 tons of crushed ore and there was 130 men working on the site. The ore was conveyed to another works owned by the same company on the coast of Wicklow. The mines according to the records were definitely closed down in 1854 owing to the lode being lost but the newspaper report in 1925 added enigmatically:
“Local tradition, however, has it that the owner of Ballyhyland House at the time—a Mr Howlin—was afraid that the workings which were proceeding in the direction of the house would undermine it and that he was responsible for the closing of the mine. This is quite possible and he may have had sufficient influence to have secured an entry in his favour in the geological records.6
John Howlin did not own Ballyhyland in fee but leased it from Justin Brennan but he had land in Carne probably in fee simple or full ownership. He was a magistrate in that locality. Howlin and his brother Jimmy were volatile men, given to rows with other notables and on one occasion with the Rev. Mr Hughes a rector in the Carne area. I am not fully convinced, however, that John Howlin was totally responsible for the closure of the mine.
Mining then was a risky investment and the one at Barriestown in Carrig-on-Bannow in Co. Wexford were worked on and off and finally closed in circa 1850 with catastrophic consequences for the employees. The work of digging for ore with shovels and pick axes was labour intensive and often fruitless. Bad weather, especially wet times, could flood the mines or at least clog up work on soil.
The fundamental reason for the failure of the Caime Mines in 1844 was simply financial. Richard Purdy the Secretary of the Mining Company of Ireland, Office 27 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin wrote on May 23rd as follows to Captain J. Barrett the manager of the Caime mine:
“Dear Sir—I have laid before the Board of Directors your statement that the tributers at Caime mines are not satisfied with the rate of wages earned by them under their several contracts for ore and I regret to inform you that notwithstanding the low wages paid to the men, the Company has lost and continues to lose large sums of money by working the mine, by which losses and the unfavourable prospects in the mine, the Board is precluded from authorising you to advance the rate of wages. And you will therefore discontinue the workings and dress up the men’s ore with the least possible delay; and in the meantime to enable the men to proceed to other concerns, you will advance to each partnership the probable value of the ore when at surface.7
The probability is that the mines were losing money despite the low wages but the reference to the unfavourable prospects in the mines may be a tactful allusion to the bizarre, unprecedented and ugly row between the Mining Company and John Howlin of Ballyhyland House.
The Mining Company of Ireland’s reports initially indicated good prospects for the re-opened Caime Mine. That of January 5th 1837 indicated that the Engine House and Smith’s Forge had been erected there and part of the Steam Engine to un-water the Mine received. The report of January 1840 asserted that the “prospects under ground are considerably improved—the vein which had been heaved has been found and is productive.” The Report of the Company dated July 1st 1841 indicated financial loss at the Caime Mine; it sourly noted that workings directed principally to searches for the great lode, heaved at the 47 fathoms level….absorbed the profit upon the ore produced.8” A report of May 1842 referred to “the reduced price of lead” as depriving it of a profit at Caime.
The mines were still operating at the end of June 1844 as Edmund Hore in the Wexford Independent angrily focussed on the fiasco that the Caime mining project had become, a truly Irish saga of shooting one’s self in the foot. He wrote:
“The Mining Company of Ireland, a native Irish one, has for some years past, worked with much success the silver lead mine of Caim and Ballyhyland. This is a poor and backward district and an immense majority of its inhabitants, barely above actual want, eagerly seek after any employment which would promise to them the slightest remuneration. From one hundred and fifty to two hundred individuals are employed at these works, with an expenditure of at least two hundred pounds a week; all natives employed, with the exception of a few Cornish miners, whose skill and experience rendered their services indispensably necessary for the successful carrying on of the operations; but all the money earned is spent in the neighbourhood of the works to the great advantage of all and the satisfaction of the inhabitants in general with few, if any, exceptions.”
Hore continued that the work was unfortunately limited for want of surface—to explore— and explained:
“This heavy and absolute check to an enterprise which has worked so much and promised still more for the public weal, is attributed to a difference between the owners of the property….” Captain Justin Brennan the owner in fee or full owner of Ballyhyland was the owner of the mining rights on his estate and he favoured the mining project but John Howlin of Carne the tenant of Ballyhyland, a magistrate and effectively one of the lesser landlords himself is discretely quoted by Hore as saying that he would rejoice if the works should cease altogether.9
My reasoned conjecture is that John Howlin may have opposed the mining because of an apprehension on his part that it would place an intolerable burden on the poor law rate for his electoral division. Mines in 19th century Ireland were a mixed blessing: even where they forged successfully ahead they resulted in upward demographic pressures as more of the labouring poor entered into marriage. In practice most of these mining enterprises in Ireland faltered with catastrophic consequences for both the miners themselves and local business people dependent on their business. The men left unemployed after the closure of the lead and silver mines in Barrystown, in the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow in circa 1849, spent the next two years surviving on the charity of their neighbours before the local proprietor, Tom Boyse, arranged for them to emigrate to America. The latter had a vested interest in their departure as the alternative was to allow them to enter the Workhouse: the cost of maintaining them in that institution would have to be recouped from the rates on proprietors, farmers and commercial people in the electoral district that they had resided in. I may, however, over stress such a consideration in Howlin’s reasoning
On the 22nd of January 1845 the Wexford Independent published an incandescent letter from John Barrett, the Captain (to use the pompous title given to him) of the Caime mines: he alleged that the report of the inquiry into Howlin’s claim for compensation to his land done by the mining company wrongly implied that he was made the victim of an entire system of persecution by Barrett since he came to Caime about seven years before.
Mr Barrett wrote that for the previous four years the principal operations were searches in the old mine and that he had during this period told Mr Howlin of his conviction that “there were other bunches of ore deposited to the west of the Company’s present workings…. On some occasions he [Mr Howlin] would exclaim oh no!—seek in the opposite direction and by God—you will find plenty of ore. I invariably told him I was sorry I should dissent from him on that head—that from all my theory and practice I was satisfied I was right—that the strongest of all indications for ore was—the granite appearing so near to the west as the back of Ballyhyland Hill.” In other words on Howlin’s demesne and moving towards the mansion built by him.
On the 7th of September 1842 Captain Barrett put four men to work at surface searches in a field of Howlin’s fully half a mile from Howlin’s house; effectively they were digging holes in the ground with manual implements, spades pick-axes, etc. He alleged that a large body of labourers hurried down from Mr Howlin’s farm yard, all armed with pitch-forks, spades etc, one having a bayonet fixed on a gun. Clement Sinnott, the steward at Ballyhyland—according to Captain Barrett—produced a letter from Mr Howlin, then at his other farm at Carne, directing him to prevent the miners exploring in the field by all possible means “even to a breach of the peace.”
Captain Barrett claimed that Mr Howlin on his return from Carne appeared on the following day in person, heading a police force as magistrate and assembled a large group of his workmen “who all waited to see if I dare repeat the attempt of the day previous.” In my opinion Mr Howlin was over-interpreting his authority as magistrate and I believe that he likewise abused his authority as magistrate in a row over seaweed on a strand in South Co. Wexford. The role of statutory law was augmenting all thorough the nineteenth century and it posited the existence of basic legal rights for citizens and eschewed the arbitrary character of rule by magistrates. Barrett desisted from entering and Howlin asked him for his authority for doing so on the previous day. He demanded that Barrett produce an order from the owner in fee or landlord Justin Brennan of Kiltrea before he (Mr Howlin) would allow him to proceed to enter the lands. Captain Barrett stated that Mr Brennan, who as owner in fee or head landlord, possessed all mining rights on his estate, sent him by post on September 19th 1842 an order allowing the mining company to search the lands of Ballyhyland for ore. Barrett continued:
“On the 24th September 1842 Captain Brennan came from Wexford, up to the mine, and to prevent any further obstruction to my search, walked over the Royalty and gave me possession personally.” Captain Barrett finally succeeded in giving Captain Brennan’s order to John Howlin on October 3rd 1842 at which Howlin admitted his right to enter but asserted that he would not allow the company to erect any machinery on his land. The impression given is that Howlin, although powerless to prevent the mining company going onto his land, was determined to frustrate them as far as possible. This disposition of Howlin may have been the cause of a most malicious attitude on the part of Captain Barrett and the mining company to Howlin. The heat of this quarrel would have been sufficient if exploited properly to smelt the ore!
On the 14th of November 1842 Mr Howlin came to the mine early in the morning and complained that he had heard that Captain Barrett intended to erect “a windlass over the shaft we had sunk on the Ballyhyland part of the Royalty.” Barrett alleged that Howlin took a gun from his caretaker and discharged it in the air. He continued:
“The carpenter….on looking around saw a number of his workmen running down the field towards the shaft where they were. When I arrived Mr Howlin was in a rage. I, however, commenced putting up a windlass which he prevented me by taking the timber out of my hands. By this time numbers of his labourers surrounded him. I told him the course he was pursuing was calculated to oblige me to do more damage to the surface than if he allowed us quietely pursue the search. He said that was just what he wanted: the more damage the more pay. Barrett claimed that he then had to enlarge the mouth of the shaft; a course more expensive than if had been allowed to erect the windlass. He then made this astounding accusation:
“Mr Howlin….commenced cutting a water course immediately above the shaft and succeeding in completing it by the 22nd of November; this led the water into the head of the field where we were at work. The water was then turned down towards the shaft and soon forced its way to its sides. In one night the sides were so saturated that they forthwith gave way and rendered it entirely useless.”10 The mining company were then obliged to sink a new shaft up higher from the diverted water and as this work commenced a most unfortunate assertion was made by Captain Barrett. In his evidence to the court inquiry at Enniscorthy —required to adjudicate on John Howlin’s claim that the Mining Company were maliciously endangering undermining his splendid  Ballyhyland House— in late December 1844 he stated:
“Mr Howlin said to witness that he was surprised at his spending the money of the company in annoying him; witness said he should spend a great deal more of the Company’s money in annoying him.11” The lawyers for Howlin implied all through that the mining company had dug all the holes in his land and up to his front door as a vexatious exercise; a form of revenge for Howlin’s negativity to the mining. Articles in the Echo in 1927 depict Howlin as an ogre and demon clearing impoverished tenants off his estate; this kind of ultra nationalist and Anglophobic treatise was typical of that time but possibly incorrect. The indications are that the large numbers of workmen employed by Howlin at Ballyhyland were in awe of him and the evidence of James Clinch an employee of the mining Company was detrimental to Barrett on the important issue of motivation:
“witness was not prevented by Mr Howlin or any person from searching; Captain Barrett seldom accompanied the men in their searches; on one occasion was at work in a turnip field of Mr Howlin’s digging a pit when Barrett came up to him and said he need not work any more there as he (Captain Barrett) knew where the ore was himself full well; witness said, why not show it then? Barrett said no, I will torment him a few days longer.12
Clinch described himself as a brogue maker by trade and further argued that he saw no water come into the pits but what came down by the rain and added that the weather was very wet about that time. The Caime mines were reputed to be wet, the   wettest in Ireland. His evidence, despite his position as an employee of the mining company, was favourable to the Howlin case.
There was a mention in the newspapers in the late 1950s of Howlin taking an injunction against the mining company in 1854 but I have found no evidence of this and I feel that the only lawsuit entered into by John Howlin to the courts for compensation which was heard before a jury in Enniscorthy in December 1844.
Mr George Q. C. in his opening address stated the case for Mr Howlin. The mining company had on every day from the 29th of August 1842 to the 3rd of January 1843 entered upon his lands, dug several pits or open casts, broken down his fences, destroyed his plantations and carried on their operations in such a manner as to cause very serious annoyance and injury to him; having gone so far as to sink open holes and open cuts in the shrubbery within a few feet of his hall-door—under his parlour windows—in his farm yard, his haggard containing several hundreds barrels of corn and throughout every part of his demesne, the pits or open cuts so sunk amounting to the number of 42, besides ninety-two surface holes dug or sunk in one ten acre field alone.13” John Howlin had built the magnificent Ballyhyland House and had employed Mr Frazer the landscape painter to lay out his grounds. There is no clear evidence that Mr Howlin feared that the mining operations would undermine his mansion but such a consideration must have come into his mind. The digging of all these holes would —as stated by Counsel—greatly lessen the value of his place. The unpleasant and dismissive disposition towards Howlin and his concerns of the Counsel for the mining company must have created a bad impression on the jury. Mr William Monck Gibbon, for the mining company boasted that they were spending £6,000 a year on the mining operations, a sum greatly in excess of all that spent by Mr Howlin at both Carne and Ballyhyland.
Mr Gibbon pressed the counter case of the mining company: they alleged that Mr Howlin diverted a stream into the mine shaft and that he forbade them to use a windlass to speed up their work: the impediments posed by Mr Howlin had forced the company to do all the digging and he estimated that four fifths of the damage done to Mr Howlin had been caused by his own interruptions. Mr Gibbon said that if the company took his advice they would bring an action against Mr Howlin for the injury that he had done them.14 Counsel for Howlin handed to Captain Barrett a copy of the notice from Richard Purdy the secretary of the mining company of May 23rd 1844 informing him that the mines at Caime had to be closed because they losing so much money to counter the allegation that Howlin’s opposition had caused the mines had fundamentally endangered the viability of the mines.15 It was a superb bit of court theatre and most effective.
The jury at Mr George’s suggestion went to Ballyhyland to inspect the damage. After the hearing of evidence plus addresses from the rival legal teams concluded the jury retired to deliberate and after half an hour returned with a verdict of £325 damages to Mr Howlin for entering and digging on the lands of Ballyhyland. It is difficult to disagree with their verdict.
The official reports of the Irish Mining Company give terse clues as the why the Company abandoned the Caime mines. It was stated that for the half-year ended the 31st of May 1842 that 300 tons of ore were obtained but that the price of lead was reduced. The report for November 1842 indicated that works at the surface were impeded by a misunderstanding with the tenant in occupation that is John Howlin. In May 1843 the situation in regard to Mr Howlin was described as improved.
On the 31st of May it was stated that the issue of working on the surface was not resolved with the tenant of the land and that therefore “the working of Caime and Ballyhyland mine has not been resumed.”
The Wexford Guardian reported on November 27th 1947 as follows:
“We understand that the spirited and enterprising proprietors of the Barriestown mines intend immediately to commence operations in Ballyhyland mines (in the neighbourhood of Enniscorthy) in or about January next. These gentlemen give at least present employment weekly to over 300 persons. 16” This report is certainly incorrect as the official records of the Mining Company prove that it retained ownership of the Caime mines well into the 1850s and make no mention of a deal with any other company in relation to the Caime mine.
The Mining Company of Ireland refused to pay the £325 compensation to John Howlin; the Ballyhyland proprietor consequently detained property of the Mining Company to pressurise them to pay. Purdy as Secretary to the Company took Howlin to the Court of Queen’s Bench in early June 1846 for this trespass and seizure of its property but the Chief Justice felt that Mr Howlin was entitled to the compensation awarded to him by the judicial investigation and he found in Mr Howlin’s favour.17
1. The Wexford Conservative, January 4th 1845. It is the Wexford Library.
2. The Wexford Conservative, January 4th 1845.
3. Coal Mining History Resource Centre. Published by Ian Winstanley, 83 Greenfields Crescent, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Wigan. Wn4 8qy, Lancashire, England This gives superb information on the working conditions in the Caime Mines, especially of the women and children.
4. The Wexford Independent May 4th 1836.
5. Mining Company of Ireland’s Report dated 7th July 1836 and signed Richard Purdy, Secretary.
6. The Echo March 30th 1957. The 1925 article was re-produced in that issue.
7. The Wexford Independent June 1st 1844. It is in the Wexford Library.
8. The reports of The Mining Company of Ireland are easily accessible on Google.
9. The Wexford Independent June 29th 1844. It is in the Wexford Library
10. The Wexford Independent January 22nd 1845. It is in the Wexford Library.
11. The Wexford Conservative, January 4th, 1845. It is in the Wexford Library.
12. The Wexford Conservative, January 4th, 1845. It is in the Wexford Library.
13. The Wexford Conservative January 4th, 1845.
14. The Wexford Conservative January 4th, 1845.
15. The Wexford Independent January 1st, 1845 and The Wexford Conservative January 4th, 1845.
16. The Wexford Guardian, November 27th, 1847. It is in the National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin.
17. The Wexford Independent, June 13th, 1846.

Sunday, 25 September 2016


Gorgeous Hurling
Hurling in the ancient Gaelic texts is associated with heroism, war, bards and poetry. The earliest reference is to the Battle of Moytura near Cong, Co. Mayo in circa 1272. The text may have been written centuries later. The Firbolgs challenged their enemy, the Tuatha de Danaan to a hurling match, 27 a side. The interpretative difficulty is that the heroes in these epics are possessed of semi-divine power: therefore, one may not treat them as literal truth.
The Flying Post on June 29th 1708 reported that on St Swithin’s Day-- “About three in the afternoon there will be a hurling match, on the Curragh, between 30 men from each side of the Liffey for 30 shillings. A barrel of ale, tobacco and pipes will be given to the hurlers.” Access to the comparatively large amount of ground required to hurl was most difficult and, thus, matches were played on open ground, on moor and on commons. The orthodox etymology is that the word “camán” is the diminutive of cam, the Gaelic word for crook but my conjecture is that the words camán and common are linked. “Cormac”, writing in The Free Press in 1938, referred to an old ballad, in the Anglo-Saxon dialect of the baronies of Forth and Bargy, “which was handed by tradition from the early [Norman] settlers. The subject is the game of ball called Caman or Hurley which was played on the Commons in the Barony of Forth, on a Church holyday.” The implication is that the Norman colonists introduced hurling to the baronies of Forth and Bargy in the 12th century; the Normans probably adopted the game through contact with Gaelic tribes in the South of England.
The Statutes of Kilkenny, enacted in 1366, intended to prevent further fraternisation of the Normans with the Gaelic Irish, ordered:--
“use not henceforth, the games which men call hurlings with great clubs of a ball on the ground….”
The framers of these Statutes clearly regarded hurling as a Gaelic phenomenon. The Statutes of Galway in 1537 enjoined:--
“At no time to use nor occupy ye hurling of ye little ball with the hookie sticks or staves.”
The description “little ball” aligns that form of hurling with later variants, in the important aspect of the size of ball used. In Kilkenny in 1366 they were, it seems, hitting the ball on the ground.
Fr Philip Doyle O. S. A. wrote of his time at School in Carrig-on-Bannow around 1890:--
“While we were in the old school our playground was the village street which, for a country village, is remarkably wide. Strangely enough, the favourite game of the boys was hurling. Our camans were homemade and crude. The ball was heavy, seldom rising from the ground. There was never any complaint of a broken window.”   
The diarist Amhlaoidh O’Suilleabhain, wrote of a match at Callan Co. Kilkenny on the Catholic feast-day, June 29th 1827:--
“It was a good game. The sticks were being brandished like swords. Hurling is a war like game. The west side won the first game and the east the second. You could hear the sticks, striking the ball from one end of the Green to the other.”
This part of the account of hurling by John Dunton, an English Protestant divine, is informative, with caveats, of hurling circa 1699:--
“One exercise that they use is their hurling….When their cows are casting their hair, they pull it off their backs and with their hands they work it into large balls which will grow very hard. This ball they use at hurlings, which they strike with a stick called a commaan, three feet and a half long in the handle. At the lower end it is crooked and about three inches broad and on this broad part you may see one of the gamesters carry the ball, tossing it for 40 or 50 yards, in spite of all the adverse players; and when he is like to lose it, he generally gives it a great stroke to drive it towards the goal….”
In modern times, Christy Ring conceptualised hurling as constant striking of the ball towards the opposing goal. The above description of a solo run is rarely found.
I enter a caveat about this observation as contemptuous exaggeration:--
“They seldom come off without broken heads or shins in which they glory much.” He added that the prize was one or two barrels of ale. A Tipperary man wrote to the newspapers in 1764:--
“The hurlers themselves often take away each others lives by jostling, or pretending to strike the ball when hovering in the air; and aiming at the same time with greatest force at the temple of one of the antagonists, this is often practiced; I’ve heard of several persons being killed on the spot and others never recover from the bruises, etc, etc, received at this accursed exercise. A HURLING is a scene of drunkenness, blasphemy and all kinds of debauchery…..I could like it to nothing else but to the idea I form of the Stygian regions, where the Daemoniac inhabitants delight in torturing and afflicting each other.”
One simple rejoinder to this is that the law would, even in 1764, punish acts of murder. My mature impression is that tracts of this genre were composed by authors of extreme Protestant disposition who loathed the Papist under culture of impoverished peasantry and cottiers. I have no doubt that the Irish peasantry, like their counterparts in all other European countries, were given to impetuous violence but such was subject to restraints and intermittent, at most.
Dunton may be cited as evidence of over head striking.
The temperate author Edward Wakefield, in his books of 1808 and 1812, commented of the Munster area:--
“Hurling is a prevalent amusement. Children, as soon as they are able to follow each other, run about in bands of a dozen or more, with balls and hurls, eagerly contending for victory. They sometimes issue in such numbers from the miserable mud cabins which are scattered throughout the fertile districts of this rich country as must excite astonishment in those who are acquainted with the poverty of the inhabitants. Hurling is a game which cannot be played in the mountainous districts; and I think that the vigour and activity of the peasantry in the south, are in great measure to be ascribed to their attachment to this play, which by the exercise it affords, strengthens the whole frame and contributes to health.”
Wakefield is correct in his focus on the “contending for victory”: to triumph has ever been the prime emotional dynamic of hurling. He stated that there were teams of 100 a side in contests in Tipperary and that men played without shoes or stockings at hurling.
An extract from a letter written on September 23rd 1773 states:--
“This day the grand hurling match, between the county of Galway and the county of Tipperary, for one thousand guineas, was finally decided in favour of the latter, near Banagher. There were never, perhaps, so great a company seen in this kingdom before as, at the lowest computation, there could not be less than 10,000 persons present.”
Patrick Kennedy in The Banks of the Boro describes a hurling match played in 1817. He relates that the elder folk whose hurling days were done, advised that two captains select the rival teams rather than risk the— possibly— clannish contest of Rathfylane and Courtnacuddy.
The teams were of 21 men a side with a leather covered ball, about three pounds in weight—the puzzle is that Bryan Roche striking it on the broad curved end of his hurley, sends it into the clouds at a distance of half the field. The basic objective was to drive the ball through the bow, or wicket as Kennedy terms it—he does not describe it. There was a bow at either end of the field. He wrote of one of the hurlers inserting the shovel end of his hurley under the ball, tossing it upright in the air and striking it vigorously. The essence of this game is striking: several blows were made at the ball as it descended after the initial throw in; subsequently, opportunities to strike were limited as the players crowded in on one another. Shouldering is routine in the game. It was difficult to handle the ball.
In January 1862 the plaintiff in an assault case at Taghmon Petty Sessions said that on Sunday January 5th he was with others looking at some gorgeous hurling at Newcastle. At the conclusion of the Sessions Mr Leigh of Rosegarland, the Chairman, said that the order of the court was “that the Constabulary ascertain the names of the parties engaged at hurling and have them summoned for violation of the Sabbath.”
In late January 1862 at an extraordinary Petty Sessions at Taghmon Constable Byrne summoned a group of young men for hurling at Newcastle on Sunday January 5th but the witness that the Constable relied on refused to give any evidence useful to conviction. The Petty Courts generally were loath to apply this anachronistic law—one of the magistrates, Captain Harvey of Kyle, in a letter of protest to the newspapers stated that he did not know such a law existed; he had permitted young fellows to play hurling in a field of his.
I quote from the report by Agricola on a match held near Ballinkeele on April 30th 1864:--
“Hence, the difficulty which the clergy experience in preventing the youth of their flocks from hurling and other out-door sports on the afternoon of the Sabbath—Latterly, the police authorities have come to their assistance, having hunted up some old musty statute of the reign of William the Third. That law was enacted, I believe, to prevent the political gatherings of the scattered adherents of the faded fortunes of the Stuart dynasty, under the guise of hurling matches.”
The law of William of Orange on hurling was undoubtedly a penal law, directed against the Catholics. The Stuart Kings were comparatively sympathetic to the Catholic community in Ireland—King James who was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne was one of them; a section of the landlords were supporters of the Stuarts and in modern history they mutated into allies of the Whig/Liberal Party, which supported Catholic Emancipation and an end to the odious tithes. These landlords were sympathetic to native culture; in Co. Wexford the Carews and Colcloughs of Duffry Hall promoted hurling on their estates. Hurling was emblematic of varying degrees of opposition to English rule in Ireland.
Dr Kevin Whelan states that the last pre-G. A. A. inter parish match in Co. Wexford was played on the North Slob on May 3rd 1863. That has to be wrong as I wrote in the Bree Journal on the Edermine v Ballinaslaney match on Saturday April 30th 1864. “Agricola” described the game in fine detail in the Wexford Independent; I allow him to outline the nature of the game:--
“Each set takes up its position at the goal—two stakes stuck in the ground, three feet apart and forming a bow. In this instance the bows are placed at two hundred yards distance from each other. A bowman is then placed in charge of the goal, to prevent, if possible, the enemy’s ball from passing through….” If the ball was driven through the goal then the match was won; otherwise shots driven wide of the bow counted as scores. Agricola after outlining the formation of a team added that once the game commenced, all this order is broken up; a general melee ensues, the two bowmen only maintaining their places, as warders of the goals.
In a match in 1862 at the Ballagh, Oulart “as the whole field was regarded as the playing pitch with no side line or end line, very often the ball was in the ditch with several men on top of each other and one occasion there were forty men in the ditch which left only the two bow men on the field.”
On January 18th 1969 the Echo had a photo of and article on a hurley used when Crossabeg contested the 1890 All-Ireland final and still preserved. The article noted that compared with modern hurleys it had more in common with a scythe; it was clearly intended to give elevation to the ball struck off the ground: point scoring would be less likely than goal scoring with it. The bas was 3 and a half inches in width and it was 3 feet, 2 inches long. Handling the ball and striking from the hand would be awkward with this camán. The Killimor Club, East Galway, on February 2nd 1885 in its provisional set of rules decreed that “no hurler is allowed when playing to handle the ball.” In the 1956 All-Ireland Final, Christy Ring protested that Billy Rackard’s catching of the ball in the air was not proper hurling!
Brother William Canny wrote a tome on the history of hurling but in esoteric Gaelic so that, in consequence, the general public are unaware of its details. He outlines rules for hurling which clearly resemble a replication of the rules and terminology of some form of primitive rugby, with aspects of a metaphorical choreography. My impression is that the Liberal Landlords who promoted hurling in the eighteenth century dictated these rules—they are not proof that the two games are of the same genus.
Dr Kevin Whelan refers to the shrewd application of the parish rule, etc but the reality is that the clubs were townsland based.
In A Village feature  in The Free Press on November 29th 1963 on Clonroche, John Hendrick, Knoxtown, then Chairman of the Cloughbawn G. A. A. Club was quoted:--
“He told us that the Club was formed in 1918, after a Mummers’ Ball in Forrestalstown. A crowd of boys from the parish got together in Ballyboro and pretty soon they were making their presence felt in junior hurling. They reached the county junior final in 1921, but were beaten by New Ross in the decider, played at Wexford Park.”
Actually, Cloughbawn and the O’Hanrahan’s New Ross contested the 1919 second junior co. final at Wexford in August 1921. The winning score was three goals to nil.
The County Junior Hurling title was won by Cloughbawn on August 10th 1935. At the 1931 Co. Convention there were representatives from the Clonroche Independents, the Clonroche Mutineers and Clonroche Rangers. The 1935 final was played at Barrett’s Park, New Ross and the astounding feature of the first half was the mesmerising display of young eighteen year old John Foley for Adamstown; all of their scores came from him and they led Cloughbawn at half time on the score line of 2—7 to 2—1. Larry Harrington moved to centre back in the second half, in an attempt to curb the effectiveness of John Foley. Cloughbawn ran out easy winners, with two late goals, on the score line 7—3 to 4—8.
The Cloughbawn team as listed in the newspapers is identical to that given by Hilary Murphy in his feature on Clonroche in 1963:--
Peter Cullen, Knoxtown (goal), Bob Carstairs Ballyboro, Matt Furlong, Clonroche, Pat Nolan, Coolaught, Tom Cullen, Knoxtown (captain), John Henrick, Knoxtown, Paddy O’Leary, Ballyboro, John Hendrick, Rathfardon, Larry Harrington, Castleboro, Davy Reck, Courtnacuddy, John Forrest, Clonroche (a native of Youghal), Reggie Leech, Tomfarney, Jim Buckley, Chapel, Paddy “Mull” Furlong, Chapel and Dan O’Neill, Chapel. The substitutes were:--Paddy Buckley and Jimmy Codd, both from Clonroche and John Williams, Forrestalstown. 
On a most inclement Sunday night, in early January 1836 at Clonroche Hall they celebrated and danced to the music of the Clonroche Rangers piano Accordeon Band.
The Cloughbawn team of 1947 and after years were par excellent, exciting, and innovative with a touch of the poetic. The Gaelic scribe in The People on August 2, 1947 certainly thought that:--
“In the county junior hurling semi-final played at Barrett’s Park last Sunday, Cloughbawn proved a most spectacular and effective side. A young team, with the most promising players, they were the best junior combination seen on view in this county for some time. Their hurling against Gusserane was certainly a revelation and they made a deep impression on neutral spectators. Their striking was superb and their style differed somewhat from the Wexford standard which we have been accustomed to. They have pace, speed and stamina and hurl with a cohesion and purpose that produces the best results. Cloughbawn are certainly a grand young team.
They had a clever set of forwards with Tim Flood behind them to worry any defence. It was a pleasure to see their vanguard weaving in and out and striking with accuracy for the objective. The Floods, Murphy, Fogarty and Conway made up a grand combination in attack while at centrefield Lar Harrington—the veteran of the team—played the game of his life. In defence, Walsh, Pat Harrington and the Harris brothers yielded little and between the sticks Kevin Foley brought off a couple of magnificent clearances from close and hard hit shots.”
The snow, the rains, the floods and arctic cold of the winter and spring of 1947 resembled a series of Biblical pestilences but in July a prolonged heat wave began. Constraints of time prevent me from giving a detailed account of the 1946 Co. Junior Hurling Final played on August 10th 1947, on a score-line Cloughbawn 6—4; St Ibar’s 2--4 . The team was: Kevin Foley (goal), Vin and Parkie Harris, Martin and Jack Wickham, Mikey Walsh, Pat and Larry Harrington, Martin, Sean, Gerry and Tim Flood, P. Fogarty, J. Conway and J. Murphy.
The contours of the 1949 Senior Co. Hurling Championship Final were set in the semi-finals.
On Sunday August 14th 1949 at Barrett’s Park, New Ross, the holders Rathnure, in one of the most one-sided senior hurling ties witnessed, defeated Horeswood on the surreal score-line of 8—10 to 0—4 and qualified to meet Cloughbawn in the final.
Rathnure were outstanding in all sectors with good teamwork: the analogy of a bulldozer crashing through the Horeswood defence was used to describe Nicky Rackard. By scoring 5 goals and five points, he had signalled that he would be a major force in the Co. Final.
Cormac in The Free Press, before the other semi-final on July 30th, described Cloughbawn as a young mobile team and strengthened by some Adamstown players, including inter-county goal-keeper Martin Furlong.
That semi-final between St Aidan’s Enniscorthy and Cloughbawn started at 7.30 pm at Bellefield on Sunday July 24th 1959; the result was quite a surprise as Cloughbawn won on the score-line 5 goals, 9 points to 4 goals, 4 points.
Cormac in The Free Press wrote the outcome “was full of possibilities for Cloughbawn because it opens up for them the road to county honours.” They had set a fast pace from the beginning and, to the surprise of the spectators, kept it up to the final whistle. Cormac stated that the dash and pulling of the Cloughbawn team put the St Aidan’s off their usual combination: the experience of the St Aidan’s was well countered by “the speed and robust play of Cloughbawn.” The game was played at a cracking pace with Cloughbawn, a young side, obviously the fitter.
Martin Flood at midfield was inspiring and had a hand in most of his team’s scoring movements; his striking from a variety of distances and positions was ever so accurate. Sean Flood scored three goals. The message of this semi-final was that Cloughbawn were a young, extremely fit, fast pulling and delightfully striking team and, also, resolute and resilient.
On Co. Final day, the 11th of September, a broiling warm day, quite a lot of the spectators found difficulty in following the play, due to the similarity of the jerseys—Black and Yellow and Blue and Yellow (both similarly striped). The gate was £320, the highest takings for a county championship match since the famous replay of the senior football final between Ballyhogue and Starlights in 1929.
The Echo noted:--“Both parishes turned out in strength for the clash, using everything on wheels, and not only the immediate followers of the teams but hurling enthusiasts in all parts of the county poured into Enniscorthy, which for weeks before was discussed at every chapel gate and crossroads.”
Cloughbawn had trained intensively under Tommy Cullen of Knoxtown, assisted by the Enniscorthy based electrician Larry Duggan, an All-Ireland hurler with Kilkenny.
Cloughbawn, playing with the wind, defended the town goal. The opening exchanges were scrappy and five frees eventuated in the first five minutes: two of these at close range, one for each side, were badly wide. A centre by Nicky Rackard led to a fierce tussle in the goalmouth but Pat Harrington cleared. In the 7th minute Des O’Neill got the ball on the left wing and pointed. Tim and Sean Flood were “all out for scores” but the Rathnure backs were unyielding. A shot by Sean Flood grazed the posts. A free to Rathnure at midfield was taken by Bobby Rackard and Des O’Neill centred but Parkie Harris came out to make a spectacular clearance. Tim Flood raced away on the right, sent to Brendan Browne who wided. Nicky Rackard on a thrilling run goalwards was fouled and Spud Murphy from the free had Rathnure’s second point.
The reports of the game reflect the fast and spontaneous tempo of the game as in this quote:
“D. O’Neill fed Nicky Rackard who tore past two defenders, tipping the ball on his hurley and swung in a dangerous ball. Mike Walsh, the Cloughbawn skipper, doubled on the dropping ball and a dour struggle followed at midfield. Cloughbawn missed a great chance for a goal.” Pulling both over head and on the moving ball was an observed aspect of this final.
Cloughbawn were slow to settle in the opening minutes, with some of their players showing signs of nerves: thus they found themselves 2 points in arrears after ten minutes.
After Bobby Rackard cleared, Pat Harrington sent back and Sean Flood tried for a goal but the goal-keeper saved and cleared; Tim Flood, however, secured the clearance and streaking goalwards netted to give Cloughbawn the lead at the fifteenth minute. Another report differs in basic details:--
“After backs and forwards had mangled in a strong duel R. Rackard cleared over the sideline. The sideline puck by Martin Flood reached his brother, Tim Flood, who waltzed through the backs to hand-pass to the net. The latter soon after wided and Martin Flood from an 80 yard free in a splendid attempt at scoring was narrowly wide.”
Martin Flood and Jack Wickham controlled midfield; Jack Wickham received a head injury early on but went on to play a magnificent game.
In the 24th minute eighteen year old Billy Wickham—in The People report—crossed the ball into the goalmouth and Larry Harrington flicked to the net. The Echo report has young Wickham sweeping through and Larry Harrington “scooped to the net.” The longevity of the hurling career of Larry Harrington—of Tipperary antecedents—was astounding; the only player linked with the victorious 1935 junior team but playing well before that. In a subsequent move, Jack Wickham secured possession and his high centre dropped in the corner of the square where Tim Flood doubled on the dropping ball and wided. Nearing half time according to the Echo, Rich O’Neill and Bobby Rackard defended valiantly but Martin Flood gripped and his left handed drive from 50 yards beat Kennedy for the third Cloughbawn goal. According to The People, the Cloughbawn forwards, whose speed was impressive, laid siege to the Rathnure goal; Bobby Rackard made a short clearance and Martin Flood dashed in to gather and crash it to the net. It was a splendid goal. “The Rathnure lads now battled furiously against the rising Clonroche tide but some of them were beaten for speed.” The half time configuration of scores was unusual—Cloughbawn 3 goals; Rathnure, 2 points.
It was observed of the opening moiety—
“some Rathnure players made the mistake of dallying with and trying to lift the ball but these tactics cut no ice against the direct methods of the Cloughbawn fliers”. My reasoned conjecture is that as Rathnure were the heavier team—with at least four mammoth men—that they may have seen lifting the ball as their best option.
For the second half, Rathnure moved Martin Codd from corner back to out-field. Within a minute, according to the Echo, Cloughbawn increased their lead. Pat Harrington was fouled when clearing the ball but there is a slight divergence in the reports after that. The Echo related:--“Martin Flood from the free, sent a long ball up to Sean Flood, who sidestepped Murphy and drove over bar.” The People stated:--“A free at midfield by Martin Flood was accurately placed but [Mikey] Redmond blocked down. The clearance reached Sean Flood who side stepped Murphy and drove over bar.” Sean Flood’s recollections is that his two points in that final came from interceptions of balls batted down by Bobbie Rackard; he had observed the latter’s tendency to do this and positioned himself to take the resultant loose ball.
Jimmy Rackard from play and J. Murphy from a twenty one yard free were wide for Rathnure. The corner forward was not in position for a probing delivery from Jack Wickham and a Cloughbawn wide resulted. When Rathnure swept goalwards from their own puck-out there was a lively bout of play in front of the Cloughbawn goal and Boland forced a 70 which Bobby Rackard struck beautifully for a point. The Echo stated that Nicky Rackard from out on the right wing centred and his brother Jimmy forced a 70.
The People reported that a free by Nicky Rackard was blocked down by Martin Furlong the Cloughbawn goal-keeper but Jimmy Rackard raced in to send it to the net; the Echo related that Nicky Rackard lobbed it in close to the sticks and Jimmy Rackard finished it to the net. That goal in the Echo view, rallied Rathnure and they threw all they knew into the game
A sideline puck by Cloughbawn was stopped by Des O’Neill who centred and Nicky Rackard crashed it to the net. I will quote The People on the next five minutes of play:--
“Martin Flood raced 30 yards with the ball to open a breath taking Cloughbawn raid but Bobby Rackard came to the rescue with a great clearance which was the signal for a fast passage on high class hurling, a feature of which was the speed of the ground hurling. Nick Rackard earned the plaudits of the crowd by booting the ball 30 yards to the goalmouth when tasked but the goalie caught and sent upfield. A cracking pace was maintained and there were robust and exhilarating clashes all over the pitch. Sean and Martin Flood were outstanding in the Cloughbawn attacks and after five minutes pressure had provided wides Sean Flood pointed. When play reached the opposite side N. Rackard, though closely guarded by Pat Harrington and Gerry Flood succeeded in hand passing over the bar. Only one point separated the teams and excitement ran high. Boland created an opening by a deft stroke to the Cloughbawn posts but Harrington and Martin Wickham crashed out of the danger zone. Cloughbawn were now under fire and their goal had three narrow escapes from Nick Rackard and J. Murphy.”
The Echo stated that “Sean Flood came through again and his shot curled over the bar in the thirteenth minute.” I suspect that this second point by Sean Flood came later than that. The indications were that the Cloughbawn defence was on a strategy of minimising the impact of Nicky Rackard. A man of patrician aspect, of mammoth physique, fine height and silken skills his presence on the field was charismatic and inspiring: the highest tribute that one may pay to the Cloughbawn defence is to record that they so minimised his role in this final.
There was now only a point between the teams; then as partisans were on their toes in excitement, came, in the twentieth minute “that whirlwind Cloughbawn movement which swept from wing to wing with the speed of prairie fire, spread-eagled their [Rathnure] defence which fell before the clever partnership of Sean Flood and Vincent Harris….it came at the exact psychological moment and made all the difference between defeat and victory.” A long clearance from Martin Flood inside his own fourteen yard line “transferred attention to the Rathnure defence”. Vincent Harris went on a grand solo run along the right wing, “whose shot from almost the corner flag was incredibly accurately centred off the ground” across the square where Sean Flood “was on the mark to flick just inside the upright for Cloughbawn’s fourth goal” to leave them ahead 4—2 to 2—4.
The Echo then continued:--
“[Martin] Furlong was applauded for bringing off a clever save from a shot by Des O’Neill and from a free Cloughbawn descended on the Rathnure posts but Jack Wickham wided.” Mikey Walsh and Martin Wickham were solid in the Cloughbawn defence. The Echo claimed that Martin Codd placed Nicky Rackard who raced in for a point but The People said that Holohan and Brennan set him up. The Echo stated that Nicky Rackard, after he lost his hurley tried for a goal and hit the side netting. The Echo said that he was shouldered into a wide. Two more Rathnure wides followed. As Rathnure sought a goal, Des O’Neill had hard luck as he wided. A free from 40 yards by Bobbie Rackard was caught by Pat Harrington and he drove it away. Vin Harris and Sean Flood led attacks on the Rathnure goal before Des O’Neill racing through, sent in a rasper which Martin Furlong saved brilliantly. Brendan Browne of Cloughbawn wided and Martin Flood foiled Bobbie Rackard on a solo run. Another wide followed from Jerry Flood. A grand ground stroke by “Spud” Murphy was saved by Martin Wickham for a 70. This created a terrific tussle in the Cloughbawn square and Martin Furlong made a wonder save “and seemed to be beaten by a return shot but [Martin] Wickham chipped in to pull the ball from under the bar.” The closing score is a mystery never to be told. The Echo said that nineteen year old Billy Rackard drove it over the Cloughbawn bar; The People said that that Lenihan after a pass by Billy Rackard hit it off the ground over the bar. I believe the Free Press variant—that Lenihan pulled in the air on a long drive by Billy Rackard to point. Jerry Flood, Pat Harrington and Mikey Walsh repulsed late pressure. As the game closed Tim Flood, outpaced his opponents and raced along the wing for 50 yards but his effort finished wide. Parkie Harris cleared from a late Rathnure free and as the final whistle sounded, the Rathnure players were the first to congratulate the victorious Cloughbawn team
 Hundreds of ecstatic Cloughbawn supporters swarmed onto the pitch, “and prolonged cheering rent the air.” It was their epic moment, the advent of their millennium: it was unique, impossible of identical replication. The players, one and all, were carried high to the dressing room, where the Michael O’Hanrahan Cup was presented to Mikey Walsh, by Co. Chairman, Mr Ben Byrne, the Clongeen schoolmaster. The presentation was missed by many who were waiting to see the ceremony on the field.
The Echo reported that—
“In Clonroche on Sunday night, bonfires blazed on the street and stirring Irish and popular airs were played, the records being amplified on the cinema public address system.” National and patriotic feeling, especially as expressed in rousing ballads, was a constant of Irish society then. The bonfires blazed late into the night.
On the Monday night the village hall was packed to overflowing by people from every part of the parish “and the members of the team received a great ovation.” Amid deafening cheers, Mikey Walsh, the captain handed over the Michael O’Hanrahan Cup to Fr Michael Murphy P. P. in whose custody it would remain for the year. I assume, in an era of intense religious fervour, that this gesture signified the parish consciousness of epic achievement. Jim Whelan, the seanachai, related that Fr Murphy determined that the cup should not be defiled by alcohol. If Tom O’Gorman, a poet slightly partial to alcohol, was correct in a poem penned in late October 1949 the cup was not filled then!
“Clonroche town is all you say:
As everybody knows/ The sparkling river Boro
Beside the village flows
All around you’ll find good hurlers/ Sturdy lads that won’t be killed
(While the cup that made them champions
Won’t be right until ‘tis filled)—“
On that Monday night, Eamonn Cullen, the Club chairman, presided and Fr Michael Murphy P. P., its President, and Fr Harry Williams, a native of Forrestalstown first addressed the massive crowd. Tom Cullen of Tominearly, the trainor and revered personality in the Club spoke of accomplishing “the dream of all parochial Gaels by bringing home the county title to Cloughbawn for the first time”: the noun “dream” was apt—it must have seemed too magical to be real.
Mikey Walsh had been, also, captain of the 1946 Co. Junior winning team so maybe he had a little practice in speech making—sometimes an unnerving task for a triumphant captain and referred “to the enthusiasm of the players in training for the final and their great loyalty to one another throughout the year.”
The composition of the selection committee is puzzling:--James Cullen, Castleboro, Peter Cullen, Knoxtown, Pat Nolan, Coolaught, Martin Flood, Castleboro, Michael Walsh, Palace East, Tom Cullen, Knoxtown and Larry Harrington.
This committee is not only unwieldy but composed of a nigh equal mix of mentors and players.
The celebrations and collective delirium must have continued in Clonroche for weeks and, even months, afterwards. Col. Tom Ryan of Castleboro, in a poem in late October, advised those in depressed feeling to go to Clonroche:--
“You won’t be long there
Till you’re treading on air,
Doing a jitterbug in Clonroche.”
“Cormac” in The Free Press after lamenting that “hurling in Wexford for some years had developed into a style of poking and lifting that had destroyed our characteristic dash and grand ground hurling” added:--“But at Bellefield on Sunday I was glad to notice that Cloughbawn and Rathnure had shaken off this obsession.” The fitness of the players “allied to accurate striking and pulling….gave us hope that hurling in not dead in the county.” The sure hitting and pulling from the outset has pleasantly surprised him and the overhead work reminded him of the Kilkenny style.
Cormac wrote that Rathnure kept lobbing the ball into the forwards, depending on Nicky Rackard to bulldoze his way through. Cloughbawn’s speed to the ball and quick blocking enabled them to withstand shock tactics. In the second half the Cloughbawn backs gave “a sterling display in turning back attack after attack from their lines.”
The Enniscorthy Guardian commented—
“Speed was the deciding factor in Cloughbawn’s favour, for even from the early stages it was conspicuously evident they possessed the advantage over Rathnure in this respect.” The writer lauded “the grim determination of a well-knit and resourceful defence.” He gave chief credit for this victory to the sextet of Martin, Tim and Sean Flood, Martin Furlong, Pat Harrington and Jack Wickham.
The columnist “I Hear” in The Free Press quoted an old Gael “that he never saw anything like Tim Food’s sprint up the wing in 50 years.” He stated that Rathnure despised points, looking for goals; that Des O’Neill with opportunities to score points preferred to lob it into Nicky Rackard. He added significantly—
“That Kilkenny born Larry Duggan had a big hand in Cloughbawn’s win/ That his special instructions harrissed the Rathnure defenders.”
The team was—Martin Furlong (goal), Mikey Walsh, Martin Wickham, Parkie Harris, Jim Furlong, Pat Harrington, Gerry Flood, Martin Flood, Jack Wickham, Tim Flood, Vin Harris, Seanie Flood, Brendan Browne, Larry Harrington and Billy Wickham.  I believe that John Bradley came on as a sub.
The A. G. M. of Cloughbawn G. A. A. Club was held on Friday February 1st 1952; the address of the Chairman Eamonn Cullen is informative to posterity:--
“The parish should feel very proud that it gave such stalwart players to county teams as Tim and Martin Flood, Win Harris, Pat Harrington, Mikey Walsh, Brendan Fitzgerald, Sean White [both in football] and Sean Flood and that….Tim Flood had again received the signal honour of a Leinster hurling jersey.” He added that “last season….Clonroche had been chosen as the venue for the training of the county hurling team”; he thanked Mr Sam Dier for the use of his field for training. He lauded Tommy Cullen who never missed a game in which Cloughbawn played. He did not wish to serve as Chairman in the coming year and to my surprise—“on a vote” Tommy Cullen, Knoxtown, with 18 votes was elected Chairman to 17 votes for Jimmy Furlong, Palace. The latter joined Peter Cullen, Knoxtown, Pat Nolan, Coolaught, J. Cullen, Jun., Tominearly on the senior hurling selection committee with Larry Harrington, Castleboro, elected as Team Manager.
The narrow defeat by Kilkenny in the Leinster senior final in 1950 heralded the outset of a glorious era in Wexford hurling; in 1951 Wexford were defeated in the All-Ireland final by Tipperary. The club championships were consequently disrupted and concluding stages of most championships postponed into 1952.
On Sunday May 4th 1952 in the Co. Senior Hurling semi-final Cloughbawn defeated Shelmaliers by 5—7 to 1—3. The team while structurally much the same as in 1949 had been amended to some extent. The physically strong and big Billy Wickham had switched to full-back where his brother Martin played in 1949; Brendan Browne was now in goal; Kevin Foley was at wing back as was the new-comer Paddy Kennedy on the other wing; Bill and John Bradley from Adamstown parish were in the full-forward line with Vin Harris. Young Con Buckley joined Tim and Sean Flood in the half forward line; the Echo reported:--
“Tim Flood, the county forward cutting lanes through the defence was the chief architect of Shelmaliers’ downfall. He rattled up sparkling scores, contributing 1—6 to the Cloughbawn tally and his dash and speed and accurate striking were a joy to watch. His partners in the half-forward line Sean Flood and Con Buckley gave a splendid account of themselves while the front line trio, Vin Harris and the Bradleys were always on the mark.” One report referred to “the weaving, lightning raids of a most efficient Cloughbawn attacking machine…”
They were on the mark but for goals rather than points! Of the 7 points Tim Flood scored 6 points plus a goal and the other point came from John Bradley who, also, got 2 goals; Bill Bradley and Vin Harris each had a goal. These statistics suggested a possible deficiency of point scoring ability: the victory was, as Cormac suggested in The Free Press facile; not a severe test and likely to engender excessive self-confidence.
The 1951 Co. Senior Hurling final was played at Wexford Park on May 18th 1952 under a broiling sun. The ground was hard and dry and near the goal-posts there were dry dusty patches. Over 4,200 people attended with gate receipts of £270.
The Free Press observed that “the backs at both ends and both goal-men adopted determined tactics that baffled the forward divisions during most of the hour and scoring came almost entirely from long range shots.” The Enniscorthy Guardian was, perhaps, a trifle
“….at stages the rooting for the ball, by both teams, made it hard for anyone to believe that they were senior hurlers at all. However, the lack of hurling ability was erased by the thrills which came aplenty. During the game there were periods during which play swept from one end of the pitch to the other with neither side taking or giving quarter and camans snapping in two like matchsticks.”
After three minutes Martin Flood pointed from seventy yards out. In the tenth minute Kevin Foley cleared a Horeswood attack “and a harmless looking clearance reached Tim Flood, along the ground. Just lifting the ball Flood turned and let fly—and Cloughbawn were two points in front.” Even the Horeswood supporters “gave Flood a hand for that remarkable shot.” After the puck-out Dom Ahearne beat three men in succession and tipped the ball towards the goal: Mikey Walsh (Cloughbawn) clashed with John Cummins and the ball went out to Fury who scored Horeswood’s first point.
A sideline cut by Martin Flood from the corner went all the way for a well judged Cloughbawn point. John Waters responded with a neat Horeswood point. Tim Flood raced down the left wing; his hard shot was beaten down and cleared straight back to him. He sent a nippy left handed shot over the bar in the twentieth minute. Martin Flood had a shot saved by Shannon for a 70; he took it himself and “from a lightening double” Tim Flood hit the crossbar—Con Buckley dashed in for the rebound and pointed.
Tim Flood had another point to put his team 0—6 to 0—2. Caulfield had a Horeswood point off a free. During fast exchanges in the Cloughbawn square Brendan Browne made a point blank save but shortly after Horeswood pointed—the Guardian attributed the score to Cooley and The Free Press said Caulfield! After one of the Bradleys was fouled near the Horeswood goal, Martin Flood had the last score, a point, of the first moiety. Coming up to half-time Paddy Kennedy retired injured and was replaced by Jerry Flood.
The second moiety resumed at a fast pace; after a Cloughbawn wide, a Horeswood raid tested Brendan Browne in the Cloughbawn goal twice. Jim Wickham replaced Kevin Foley, in the Cloughbawn defence, who went down injured after a prolonged Horeswood attack. Tim Flood stretched the Cloughbawn lead with point from forty yards out on the wing. Mick Hanlon sent a Horeswood free from midfield wide. Pat Harrington blocked repeated attacks by Horeswood before, the diminutive, young Waters had a point for Horeswood, after he picked up a loose Cloughbawn clearance, “with a grand drive from far out.” After five minutes, Sean Flood had a grand point after a perfect pass from his cousin Martin.
As the pace increased, Tim Caulfield pointed for Horeswood but Martin Flood replied with a point from midfield. A wave of green and white seemed to invade the Horeswood defensive district. Tim Flood, Bill and John Bradley and Vin Harris were all active before the latter shot barely wide. A midfield free by Martin Flood was cleared by Mick Hanlon but Martin Flood pointed again from almost the identical position of his previous score—to put Cloughbawn five points ahead.
The Echo wrote of him eluding the Horeswood backs very cleverly.
Mid-way through the second half as the drift of the game seemed against Horeswood, the narrative changed abruptly. The Guardian related:--
“A sideline cut was awarded to Horeswood about forty yards out….Mick Hanlon took the cut and the ball went to the net. Brown, in the Cloughbawn goal, was completely dumbfounded as were the other defenders but the most surprised person of the lot seemed to be Hanlon, himself.”
A barrage of Cloughbawn attacks went fruitless in the face of a stone wall defence and a 70 and a close in free yielded no scores for Cloughbawn. Brendan Browne was fouled after making a terrific save; Wickham sent the free upfield where Sean Flood took possession who passed to the better placed Tim Flood and after a dazzling solo run he pointed.
 Frequent wides at this stage attested to prompt tackling by both defences. The Free Press described the next goal in these words:--
“Cloughbawn had an encouraging goal, when Martin Flood sent a side line ball to the square where Tim Flood sped it through the net, where it was lost for a minute in the long grass.”
Cloughbawn were now six points ahead: Tom Caulfield and John Cummins scored goals for Horeswood but the newspapers disagreed on the sequence of same! The Echo and Free Press said that young Caulfield got the first of this brace but the fine account in the Enniscorthy Guardian says John Cummins. I think that it is wrong, as it ascribes identical type goals to both men. The Free Press stated that
young Tom Caulfield from a side line cut that sailed through a crowded Cloughbawn square added another goal. That looks a replication of Hanlon’s freak goal and I am doubtful if it came that way. I believe that Dom Ahearne went down the left wing and crossed from near the corner flag and Caulfield goaled. In a lightening breakaway Cloughbawn were rewarded with a beautiful point by Tim Flood from forty yards distant, almost on the side line.
 A free by Martin Flood was pulled down but Tim Flood returned the clearance over the bar to put his team four points ahead. The Free Press continued—
“play sped from end to end in a dashing style. Excitement rose to a high pitch when Hanlon drove to the Cloughbawn end where Cummins drew on a travelling ball to send a rasper to the net.” The “I Hear” columnist in the Free Press had young Waters sending “a grand centre” to Cummins for this goal. Cloughbawn now led by a mere point.
After Tim Flood wided, “Play swept to the other end where Johnnie Waters ran rings around the Cloughbawn defence and was on his way for a score when he was fouled in front of goal….[Mick] Hanlon went for a goal. The shot was stopped and the ball went over the line for a “70”. Hanlon’s shot from the “70” dropped short and in the resulting scrimmage, Horeswood were awarded another free”. Dom Ahearne pointed to make it a draw on a score-line of Cloughbawn, 1—13; Horeswood, 3—7.
Cormac in The Free Press felt that the final did not reach the expected standard; the inter-county players had displays consistent with that status but he concluded—a little uncharitably—“but among the remainder there were many degrees of skill and the want of it.” Horeswood appeared a heavier and stronger side: Cloughbawn were smaller than any of the teams that they contended with but their speed and striking—their hallmark—counteracted that. The irony in regard to Horeswood was that on a team with six inter county players, it was the their two forwards Caulfield and Waters that were outstanding through the hour. Waters, young and small, was regarded by many as the best man on the field—at least, if you excluded Tim and Martin Flood. Cormac continued:--
“Tim Flood’s skill in racing full speed with the ball balanced on the hurl was like a conjuring trick and his shooting accuracy was amazing.
At midfield Martin Flood gave a finished display, ranging from the half back line through the forwards and lashing balls over the bar from every angle….All but three points of the Cloughbawn total (1—13) were notched by Martin and Tim Flood. The other three points came from Sean Flood and Con Buckley.”
Pat Harrington and 22 year old Billy Wickham at full back were sound in the Cloughbawn defence. The latter soon after joined the County senior panel. The players on both teams tended to the irritation of their supporters to string out along the centre of the pitch from goal to goal, leaving the wings vacant. Little attention was given to positional play. In the first half both defences dominated and baffled the opposing forwards; the scoring would have been most meagre but for the lightening long range points from the Floods on one side and Caulfield and Waters on the other.
“I Hear” in The Free Press, referring to the sultry indeed blazing warm afternoon quoted a lady enthusiast:
“That coats off were the order in the enclosure and on the side lines
That a fair enthusiast said she never saw as many clean shirts in all her life
That she said ‘tis a pity the County Committee wouln’t send the goal and side line flags to the washing….”
He stated that the teams lined up in the parade behind the Campile Pipers Band made a colourful scene with their distinctive jerseys. He also claimed that Paddy Shannon, the Horeswood goalkeeper played with the band in the parade. Men then dressed on Sundays in suits, white shirts and ties. He quoted Martin Flood saying:--“When the championship drags out so long it loses its gizz.”
For a short time it seemed that it might never be played out! Eamonn Cullen of Cloughbawn told the Co. Board after it fixed the replay for Wexford Park on June 22nd  that “If the match were fixed for Wexford Park they would be reluctantly compelled to let Horeswood have the match.” They wished to play at Barrett’s Park, New Ross. Shortly after the Cloughbawn Club agreed to play at Wexford Park.
The towering and ever certain Shannon in the Horeswood goals saved a rasping high drive at the outset and shortly after he saved a first time pull by Tim Flood. In the third minute Tim Flood snapped up the ball in his stride and sped it over for his team’s first point. In the fifth minute Tim Flood “sent another of his lightening drives across the bar.”
Mick Hanlon, from a 70 pointed. The Free Press stated:--
“Play had developed to a sparkling pace at this stage and clashing hurleys flew in splinters all over the field. [Jack] O’Neill was away on his own along the wing and following a brisk tussle with two opponents, raced away” to get an equalising point in the tenth minute “with a grand left handed shot”.
 Horeswood now seemed in a winning mood and in the twelfth minute  John Cummins with a long drive pointed to put Horeswood ahead. Cloughbawn at this stage were in crisis, unable to reproduce the smooth combination of the drawn game while Horeswood were sparkling, and combining so well. John Cummins raced out to the left wing to gather and send over a beauty of a point. A point by Dom Ahearne stretched their lead and a great drive by Sinnott soon had their forwards racing around the Cloughbawn end where they held on until a pass from Cummins was sped to the net by Dom Ahearne from twenty yards out. Now after 15 minutes Horeswood led by 1—5 to 0—2.
Martin Flood had a nicely judged point from a free. Sean Flood from an acute angle had another point. Coming up to half-time, Martin Flood switched play to his forwards and, in a quick dash, Vin Harris pointed. Horeswood, in a powerful riposte, had two points in quick succession. When Caulfield centred, John Hearne drew on a high ball to score a point. Dom Ahearne had another Horeswood point. An all out effort by Cloughbawn got the ball near in, where Sean Flood scored a goal. The Guardian described the move:--
“Mick Hanlon beat off a Martin Flood free but Sean Flood broke through for a rousing goal for Cloughbawn with a bullet like drive which flashed in at the bottom right hand corner of the net.”
“There were repeated attacks by Cloughbawn but Mick Hanlon and Martin Byrne repelled them. At half-time the score was—Horeswood 1-7; Cloughbawn, 1—5.
On resumption of play Cloughbawn had moved Vin Harris to full forward with Bradley moving out to centre forward. Kevin Foley retired injured shortly before half time and was replaced by Jerry Flood.
After Con Buckley had a fine shot blocked, Tim Flood, in the third minute scored what was described as a point from far out. The Free Pres continued:--“The hard pressed Horeswood backs gave away two seventies but redeemed the mistakes by their sound defence when the free pucks by Martin Flood brought play to the square.” Tim Flood wided and then, according to the Guardian:--
“From a beautifully taken free by Martin Flood the ball struck the Horeswood furniture with a clatter that could be heard all over the park.”
Martin Flood was fouled in possession and with the free he found Con Buckley who pointed in the fourteenth minute to level the scoring. The Echo in mixed up phonetics called him Cousins at one stage! A minute later Martin Flood pointed from a free to put them ahead.
Martin Flood gave Cloughbawn the lead with a point. A free from midfield by Mick Hanlon was seized by Brendan Browne, the Cloughbawn goalkeeper, who “drove it all the way back to the same spot.” The Echo differed saying that [Mikey] “Walsh cleared splendidly.”
The wonderful Horeswood forward Dom Ahearne, in the sixteenth minute, “streaked off like greased lightening and rounded off a great run by scoring the equalising point.”
Excitement ran high as the play entered the closing stages with the scores 1—8 each.” There followed an extraordinary goal, exquisite skill, daring and speed of mind and limb from Tim Flood; the Guardian described it:--
“A Mick Hanlon free was gathered by Jack Wickham and the ball sent well up to the forwards. Tim Flood took the ball out of the air and with all the artistry of Christy Ring left the opposition standing, tore a hole in the defence and slammed in a rasper which rattled the top of the rigging for as good a goal as has ever been scored in Wexford Park.”
John Cummins pointed a free in reply for Horeswood. In the 23rd minute Tim Flood had another score for Cloughbawn. As the game advanced, in the terrific heat, Horeswood could no longer cope with the fiendish pace. As the hour ended Martin Flood had another point and right at the very end “Tim Flood snapped up a ball at midfield and was away on a weaving run that evaded several opponents and ended with a point.” Cloughbawn were victors on a score-line of 3 goals, 10 points to Horeswood, 1 goal, 9 points
Sean Browne M. C. C., the County Board Chairman, after the game presented the O’Hanrahan Cup to Martin Flood, captain of the Cloughbawn team, in the dressing rooms. Throngs gathered around the dressing room at the presentation.
On the following Saturday, a photograph of the Cloughbawn team was carried by The Free Press; garbed in green with a white collar. Pat Harrington told me that he was not in the photo as Dr Bowe was attending to an injury of his in the dressing room. The team was—Brendan Browne (Goal), Mikey Walsh, Billy Wickham, Parkie Harris, Paddy Kennedy, Pat Harrington, Kevin Foley, Martin Flood, Jack Wickham, Tim Flood, Vin Harris, Con Buckley, Sean Flood, Bill Bradley and John Bradley. [Subs—Jim Wickham, Eunan Flood, Gerry Flood, Paddy Byrne and Paddy Kehoe]
Hy Kinsella, a pseudonym for Patrick Kehoe, father of the famous Padge, in the Echo commented that Cloughbawn had decisively won the replay of the County Senior Hurling Final. Apart from Billy Wickham in the defence he felt that no new talent was uncovered. After observing that the county players had stood out he added:--
“Tim Flood for Cloughbawn, waltzing through the opposition with ridiculous ease in the second half. The better team won—quicker to strike and staying better. Horeswood started like a hurricane but the pace could not be maintained. Both sides were trained; Cloughbawn moving like machines, showed speed and stamina of a high order…the Cloughbawn team are worthy champions, an ever speedy lot, with “no passengers” and something extra in Tim Flood whose right place is emphatically on the ’40 mark.” Paddy Kehoe had two grouses: the grass needed a closer cutting and as it was a county senior final with a unusual pairing “we might have had a band.” This time, however, the flags were washed!
Cormac, in The Free Press, wrote in glowing terms of the match:--“The game was fascinating in its speed and in the way it developed with fortunes swaying and play weaving all around the pitch.” He stated that marking was so tight that a player had to be particularly lively to get clear for a swing at the ball. Some of his descriptions of the fury of the game are semi-poetic: “Every ball whether it dropped out of the sky, came up from the hop or came whizzing along the grass found a brace of players clashing for possession.” From the eight minute onwards, “Play was desperately close in the next ten minutes, the flashing hurleys and flying ball riveting the breathless attention of the big crowd.”  Con Buckley, the Bradleys and Vin Harris were tireless forwards and Jack Wickham gave a grand display at Martin Flood’s midfield partner but Cormac focused on a disparity in scoring; the brilliant marksman Tim Flood scored 2—4; Martin Flood had 3 points and Sean Flood 1goal and 1 point. Thus 3—8 out of a total of 3—10 came from these three players with a point each coming from Con Buckley and Vin Harris.
The “I Hear” man in the Free Press noted that some old hurlers were disappointed and complained that there was too much bunching of the players and a surfeit of lifting which exasperated them. The more expert players were adept at quickly striking after raising the ball but others got hooked or blocked. The older generation of hurling fans resented any move to a lifting game as they saw ground hurling as the pure tradition.  He stated that the pitch was in splendid condition and it suited the Cloughbawn type of hurling and added:--“compared with their fleetness of foot Horeswood looked comparatively slow, which became apparent in the closing stages.”
Some hundreds came by motor car. The Enniscorthy Guardian used pungent terms to describe the game:--“it was a close marking, heavy pulling, quick tackling game which provided a succession of thrills for the hour.” This reporter highly praised the Cloughbawn defence. The two teams had “produced a display that many rated on a par with the much vaunted Munster camanship at its best. It was probably the most thrilling exhibition ever for a final.” The superb distribution of Martin Flood was noted.
After Wexford’s shock win over Tipperary in the 1960 All-Ireland Final, a poet—Jack Mc Cutcheon— from my native country of Bannow wrote:-
“From early spring the birds do sing
In the Boro’s lovely woods
High on the trees, their songs of praise
Are all about Tim Flood.”