Newtownbarry - 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 960 in 1881.

FOR its size, there is no town in the County Wexford to compare with Newtownbarry. As a business place, its record is first-rate, and in scenic attractions it stands in the front rank. It is situated on the right bank of the Slaney, bordering the County Carlow, seven miles Irish from Ferns, the nearest railway station, nine miles English from Shillelagh, in the County Wicklow; ten miles Irish from Enniscorthy and sixteen miles Irish from Gorey. Originally it was called Bunclody. Clody, in Irish, signifies a mountain torrent, and bun is butt. The town was built at the junction of the Clody and Slaney, and received its name accordingly. The change from Bunclody to Newtownbarry was made when it became the property, in the sixteenth century, of James Barry, progenitor of the the Barons of Santry. The estate went to John Maxwell, afterwards Lord Farnham, by marriage with Miss Barry. It reached the Encumbered Estates Court about thirty years ago, and by purchase ultimately passed into possession of the late Mr. Hall-Dare, who at once set to work to develop its resources, and increase the rental of the town. Mount Leinster is about three miles to the south-west.

Newtownbarry is very favourably centred from the trade point of view. Lands of superior quality, admirably suited for tillage and dairy-farming, feed its market with their produce; and the farmers find in its shops and storehouses everything required to render life endurable. This includes the choicest food supplies, and the best materials for male and female attire. A superficial inspection is sufficient to demonstrate to the stranger that the popular taste at Newtownbarry has been cultivated far beyond what might be expected from a district having neither railway nor steamboat communication with the outer world. The shop-fronts are of ample height, and are painted and decorated in an artistic manner. The shop interiors are well appointed, and some of them would not be out of character in Grafton Street, Dublin. To effect a general appearance like this, has been a work of some years, but it has all been done in the memory of the inhabitants, who are still fresh and vigorous. Thirty years ago the houses on the right side of the principal street were nearly all in ruins. Now they are nearly all new, and have longing eyes cast upon them by persons eager for trade ventures. An inviting feature of the thoroughfare is provided by the presence of a row of trees—limes and sycamores. A few years ago these were “headed” by direction of Mr. Percival Atkin, under-agent of the estate; and in their fresh growth of branches are quite ornamental. They are planted along the edge of a stream, running in a bed, barely deep enough to carry a few inches of water. It was the idea of the late Mr. Hall-Dare to have an abundance of water for household purposes conveyed through the street in this manner. The effect of the novelty has often been heightened in the spawning season by the appearance of salmon in the streaM. Some time since young men of the town were so excited by this fact as to have forgotten the existence of the Royal Irish Constabulary barrack at the lower end of the Square. The stream is diverted from the Clody, and rejoins near its junction with the Slaney.

The market of Newtownbarry, held weekly, on Saturday, is attended by several butter buyers; and it is worthy of remark that one of them is contractor to the Curragh Camp. Fowl-raising is a well-developed industry of the district, and the fowl department in the market is always well supplied. Six of the most extensive buyers of Wexford and Wicklow attend it. Nearly every day in the season there is a corn market. There is also a very good egg market, and the farmers of the mountain regions send down a large amount of honey.

There are two good mills at Newtownbarry. One, Mr. John N. Keating’s, is used for flour and coarse grindings; and the second, Messrs. Thomas Dormer & Sons, for oatmeal and Indian meal. Mr. Keating’s mills are about half a mile from town. One of them, burned some time since, has been rebuilt, and is again in full working order. The second are called the Bunclody Mills, and were built in 1868 by Mr. Thomas Dormer, who has expended a considerable amount of money in improvements at Newtownbarry. On one of the mills alone he has made an outlay of upwards of £1,000. The situation of the Bunclody Mills has the advantage of convenience. The premises occupy about a quarter of an acre, at the head of the Main Street, and are part of a beautifully planted farm of ten acres. Two slate quarries are in the vicinity of the town, one worked by the Hall-Dare estate; and the other, at Glaslacken, owned by the Rev. William Sherrard, of the County Cork, and worked vigorously by a staff of men under the management of Mr. Robert Annesley Cowan.

In the midst of business cares, the people of Newtownbarry find time for mental and physical culture. There is a society, the object of which, as set forth in its rules, is “the moral and intellectual improvement of its members.” There are also cricket and athletic clubs. The Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Society was established about fourteen years ago. Between October and May it provides monthly musical and literary entertainments at the Court House. The annual subscription of members is two shillings. More than twenty years ago the cricket club was established. The athletic club is not yet a year old, but gives promise of long life. The Slaney affords excellent sport for anglers, but access to its banks with rod and line is not to be had without a permit. White and yellow trout are found in the Clody.

Newtownbarry only lacks railway facilities and a few factories to ensure the increase of population necessary for its inclusion under the Towns Improvement Act.

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