Local History

My name is Philip Barron (Ainm.ie, 2016)

Philip Barron: A Brief History (Daithí de Paor, 2009)

Born in 1803, Philip Barron came from a wealthy family based in Ferrybank, Waterford. As a young man he supported O’Connell’s Catholic Association. Involved in newspaper publishing, he was sued by a political opponent of O’Connell for slander and the resultant legal fines and costs brought his newspaper career to an abrupt end.

His family owned land in Seafield, Bonmahon on the Copper Coast in Co. Waterford and it was to this estate that he devoted his energies. The area was a large centre of population at the time as copper mining was a thriving enterprise drawing Cornish miners to work along side poor Irish-speaking labourers.

Philip did not share O’Connell’s views on the Irish language, seeing its preservation as a cause worth fighting for. A man of action, he undertook the construction of a three-spired college on his land and he published a series of easy Irish primers and a weekly magazine during a brief period from 1834-35. His aim was to teach all conventional subjects in his college through the medium of Irish.

His slogan was: Irish will yet be in great esteem

Without state financial support and in light of the cynicism of his peers Philip’s revolutionary education project, although decades ahead of its time, was unfortunately doomed to fail. Within months it had closed and he fled his creditors to the continent, subsequently dying in Paris.

Gaelscoil Philib Barún is proudly dedicated to the legacy of a lone visionary who was true to his ideals.

Philip Barron: Man of Mystery (Dóirín Ni Mhurchú, 1976)

Philip Barron: Man of Mystery is a fascinating and highly regarded account of the life of Philip Barron. It was written by Dóirín Ni Mhurchú in 1976 for the The Old Waterford Society’s “Decies” series and has been digitally transcribed especially for the Pilib Barún website.

Pats Burns: The Last Native Irish Speaker? (Breandán ó Cathbhuaidh, 2009)

On the 2009 edition of An Linn Bhuí: Iris Ghaeltacht na nDéise, Breandán ó Cathbhuaidh has contributed an article on Pats Burns of Dunabrattin, west of Fenor, who could have been the last native Irish speaker in the area. We have received permission to reproduce the article here for those interested.

Pats Burns lived in a cottage on the Coast road and and farmed the acre of land that went with the cottage selling vegetables and produce in nearby Tramore. Brendan Coffey, the author, visited him in the 1960’s and recorded conversations with him covering local lore and history. Pats spoke of stories he heard of the poet Donncha Rua and the songs of the Déise.

What is interesting to note is that having listened to a recording of a traditional singer from Ring, Pats said he had never been to what we now regard as the only Gaeltacht in Waterford. He was an echo of a world and tradition forever lost, as the article’s author puts it- Oisín i ndaidh na Féinne, Oisín after the Fianna. Alas, Brendan’s tapes of Pats have not survived but he has been recorded by RTÉ. It is hoped that the tapes can be found in the archive and we will yet hear a native of the area speak the language and dialect so dear to Philip Barron.