From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
TACUMSHANE, a parish, in the barony of FORTH, county of WEXFORD, and province of LEINSTER, 2 ½ miles (S. W.) from Broadway; containing 907 inhabitants. This parish, which comprises (with the chapelry of Churchtown) 3000 statute acres, is situated between two small land-locked gulfs with very narrow openings, called Lake Tacumshane and the Lady's Island Lake: the surface is flat, and it has only a few streams flowing through it, which are dry in summer, the cattle being then driven to be watered in marl pits, which are numerous in the district and are never exhausted.
The land is chiefly under tillage: the principal crops are wheat, barley, oats, and beans, which are cultivated according to a judicious system. The principal manure is marl, found here in large quantities, and of three varieties, all adapted to the soil; sea-weed, which is eagerly sought after and collected by the families residing near the shore, is also very largely used, both by itself and mixed into a compost with sea-sand.
The lakes are frequented by various kinds of wild and water fowl in great numbers, that are highly esteemed as an article of luxury from the delicacy of their flavour, which is attributed to their feeding on a species of grass or weed in the lakes. A peculiar kind of stork used to build its nest on the surface of the water of one of those lakes, which formerly was unconnected with the sea; but a high tide having broken the intervening embankment of sand, the birds deserted it after the ingress of the salt water. Several kinds of fish, particularly herrings, lobsters, and oysters, are taken along the shore in great abundance, and of excellent quality: the herring fishery is the most productive, giving employment during the season for 100 cots or open boats manned with five men each. In taking shell-fish 20 boats are regularly engaged for eight or nine months in the year: the strand for miles is formed of a bank of hard dry sand, and is much resorted to for exercise and for sea-bathing during the summer months.
The inhabitants, who are peculiarly attached to the place of their nativity, and therefore, until of late years, were extremely averse to travelling beyond the limits of the barony, are peaceable, industrious, and amiable in their dispositions: their habitations, built of mud which hardens to the consistency of stone, are neatly constructed, thatched, the ridge plastered with mortar, and for the most part whitewashed; their offices are equally neat, and the interior arrangements of their dwellings do not disappoint the expectations formed from their external appearance. Their principal want is fuel: coal from Wexford is generally used by the more wealthy farmers; the poorer classes are obliged to have recourse to furze and bean-stalks. There is a coast-guard station at Tacumshane.
The roads in the parish are in good order. It is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ferns, forming part of the union of Kilscoran; the tithes amount to £224. 18. 11 ½. A perpetual curacy for Tacumshane and Ballymore has been recently instituted under the name of Churchtown, which see. The old church near the lake is in ruins.
In the R. C. divisions it is part of the union or district of Lady's Island: the chapel is in the village of Faithe. A parochial school has been established and placed under the superintendence of the perpetual curate. The castle or tower of Ballymakane fell about 80 years years since, but the dwelling-house attached to it is still inhabited and is now the residence of Mr. Richard Barrington: the remains of the castles of Syganstown and Rathshelan, the former belonging to the Jacob family, and the latter to J. H. Talbot, Esq., are still in existence.
Charlotte Milligan Fox, sister of the poet Alice Milligan, was a founding member of the Irish Folk Song Society and an indefatigable field collector of Irish traditional music. Her singularly important work on Irish haprers is here presented for the twenty-first century reader. This edition of Annals offers a much greater number of illustrations than were included in the original 1911 publication, a full biographical introduction, an extensive bibliography of the writings of Milligan Fox and an appendix discussing the variant texts of Arthur O’Neills Memoirs.
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