Gorey - Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885

About “Wexford County Guide and Directory,” 1885

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

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The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version of Bassett’s Wexford County Guide and Directory is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

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Population—2,450 in 1881.

THE town of Gorey occupies the side of a gently rising hill, three miles from the sea at Courtown Harbour. It is on the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway, 59½ miles from Dublin, and 33¼ from the Borough of Wexford. The County Wicklow borders the barony of Gorey, and its important town of Arklow is one of its markets. In the vicinity of Gorey there is a considerable amount of first-rate land, which is employed for tillage and pasture. A farming society, strongly interested in improving the breeds of horses and cattle, has been in existence for many years, and, under the presidency of Lord Courtown, continues to flourish. The trade of Gorey depends for success upon the agricultural operations of the district. Two coach factories, a grist mill, and a saw mill provide a certain amount of employment for the people. There are idle mills that would be excellently well adapted for woollen manufacturing on a large scale. It is a pity not to have them occupied by 500 or 600 operatives, for the town is very well situated for such an enterprise, and could command a large supply of wool for mixing purposes. Gorey is built upon a plan which evidently had in view a very much larger population. Its streets are broad and well macadamized. This description applies more particularly to the Main Street, which, seen from the head, is good enough for a city of ordinary pretensions. Its footways are in keeping with the thoroughfare, well and regularly flagged and curbed. Gas-lamps of modern finish are placed at convenient intervals, and, when lighted, produce a night effect most comforting to the traveller. For the greater part, the houses of the town are well built, and the shops are handsomely fitted. There is a good water supply, and a first-rate sewerage-system, provided by the liberality of Mr. Stephen Ram, D.L., during the days of his proprietorship, and for which he is held in kindly remembrance by the people.

The history of Gorey is very much bound up with that of the Ram family. Thomas Ram was Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin in i612, and was buried in a chapel on his own estate at Gorey. He obtained a Charter for Gorey under the name of Newborough. Provision was made in this for Parliamentary representation, and for a corporation, composed of a sovereign, burgesses, and free commons. A second Charter was granted by James II., but never went into effect. The inhabitants did not take kindly to the name chosen for the town by Bishop Ram, and his descendants evidently did not try to popularize it. In 1641 the palace he had built was burned by the Parliamentarians. During the Rebellion of 1798 Ramsfort and Clonatin, residences of the Rams, were destroyed. It is supposed that St. Edan had a cell near the latter place, and that Clonatin was originally called Cluain-Edan. At the time of the Union, Gorey was disfranchised, the then Stephen Ram receiving £15,000 as a solatiuM. It is at present governed by Commissioners under the Towns Improvement Act. A good general market is held in the Main Street, weekly, on Saturday, and a fair once a month.

Good trout-fishing is found in the Owen-a-varra and Bann, both within a distance of two miles, Irish.

In the Royal Irish Academy there is on exhibition a gold torque, found by a farmer near Gorey, and sold to Mr. Donegan, of Dame Street, Dublin, from whom it was purchased by the Academy in August, 1863. It was broken in five pieces, without doubt, in order to make sure that it was all genuine. The portions untouched are in perfect condition, and bear testimony to the superior skill of the ancient Irish workers in the precious metals. In this connection I have pleasure in acknowledging the courtesy of Major M‘Eniry, Curator of the Royal Irish Academy.

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