Trade, Fisheries, Manufactures, &c - 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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TRADE has been steadily improving at the principal centres of the county for some time past. In most of the towns, small and large, eligible shops and stores for new ventures are difficult to find. This is all the more remarkable considering that so many persons get into business who have but a primitive notion of business principles. There is a general complaint by the heads of the old houses that the new men are “destroying trade,” but in spite of this, and of tardy payments, fortunes continue to be made in unpretentious establishments. Wherever the lands of the surrounding country are good, the general country merchant finds it profitable to keep the several departments of his business well stocked. Commercial travellers throng the country hotels, and are to be seen every day, bag-in-hand, passing from shop to shop inviting orders. They know the state of trade in the county very well, and there are few towns or villages considered unworthy of solicitation.

The shipping trade of the county is not what it was in the “good old times,” when steamers did not enter into competition. Although a maritime county, it does not now possess four foreign-going vessels. Wexford harbour is too uncertain to encourage the building of large vessels, and New Ross can suit its requirements by charter. Of smaller coasting vessels there is a goodly number. They are chiefly engaged in the coal trade, which has been greatly increased at Wexford by the inland carrying facilities afforded by the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway. A still further increase of this trade is expected from the branch railway to New Ross.

The fisheries give employment to a large number of men, but the owners of boats are not willing to admit that the per centage of profit is commensurate with the capital sunk. Twenty-five craft, smacks, luggers and cots, engage in troll-fishing from four to fifteen miles off Wexford Harbour, and are owned in Wexford. From Cahore Point to Carnsore Point, a distance of about twenty miles, is the fishing ground of Wexford. All kinds of flat fish and turbot are caught, but very few mackerel. Lobsters are caught between Carnsore and the bar of Bannow, eighteen miles. Wexford employs 120 men in the deep sea fishery, and in the rest of the county about 500 men are similarly employed. Mr. William Armstrong, of Wexford, who is a boat owner himself, is considered a good authority on fishing and its profits, and he says that the failure to make the Wexford boats pay is due to the fact that the crews are too strong for the catch. The men persist in following an old custom of hauling in the nets, which requires more hands and greater labour. The Wexford crew consists of six men, whereas in Dublin and Waterford it is only three men and a boy. The division of profits at Wexford is two shares to the owner of the boat, and share and share to the men. An effort was made to induce the crews to take in the nets over the bows, according to the Dublin system, but without success. A considerable improvement in the helps to the coast fishery has been made by the erection of a new pier at Carnsore, at a cost of £2,200. This pier is expected to be of great service in enabling fishermen to try their luck in the vicinity of the Tuscar Light, which is about seven miles from Carnsore Point. Pollock are to be found there in abundance. Some mackerel fishing has been done on this ground, but by lines only. The pier will encourage the extensive use of boats in this fishery. The fishermen at Kilmore Quay make a fair catch of lobsters, and have a tolerably safe refuge, but the Courtown fishermen find their harbour so difficult of access in rough weather that they sometimes have to run on to Wicklow.

The salmon fisheries of the county are fairly remunerative. They were very much more so within the memory of many of those who work theM. From New Ross to Cheek Point, between 600 and 700 men find employment during the season, occupying the rest of the time in tilling small farms for themselves, or doing ordinary labouring work for others. The Slaney salmon and trout fishery extends from the Point of Park to Enniscorthy, about thirteen miles English, and gives employment to about 100 men. The mode of fishing is by draught nets.

Manufacturing enterprise has not yet engaged the attention of the people to the extent that might be expected, considering the efforts made at the Exhibitions of Dublin and Cork. At Wexford there are extensive iron works, cement works, two tan yards, a flour mill, a distillery, a brewery, a mineral water factory, several malt houses, and some coach factories. New Ross has a bacon factory working for the London market, a tannery, some woollen weaving, a tobacco factory, corn mills, a brewery, a mineral water factory, a patent roofing factory, and large malt houses. Enniscorthy has several extensive flour mills, an iron foundry, two mineral water factories, malt houses, a brewery, a woollen factory, and a bacon factory. Gorey has secured considerable fame through its coach building. There is a small tannery at Ballycanew. Newtownbarry has large flour and corn mills; and Kerns, though last not least, has a corn mill, and iron and steel works, the productions of which are bringing its ancient fame once more to the notice of the people of the United Kingdom.

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