Britannia, by William Camden

The County of Weisford.

Big B BELOW that mouth, from which the three sister-rivers, the Barrow, the Neore, and the Swire, empty themselves into the Sea; upon a Promontory eastward, which makes a winding shore, lies the County of Weisford or Wexford, in Irish County-Reogh ⌈(i.e. coarse or rough;)⌉ where the MenapiiMenapii. are placed by Ptolemy. That these Menapii were the offspring of the Menapii upon the Sea-coast of the Lower Germany, the name it self seems to intimate. Carausius. But whether that Carausius who set up for Emperor in Britain against Dioclesian, as of this or that Nation, I leave to the Enquiry of others. Published by Schottus. For Aurelius Victor calls him a Citizen of Menapia; and the City Menapia is placed by Geographers in Ireland, and not in the Low Countreys.

Upon the river Barrow in this County, formerly flourish’d Ross †Urbs ampla. a large City, ⌈now a Burrough,⌉ of good trade, and well-peopl’d; fortified with a wall of great compass by Isabel daughter of Earl Richard Strongbow; which is the only remains of it at this day. For the dissension between the Citizens and the Religious here, did long since ruin the Town, and reduc’d it almost to nothing. ⌈It had anciently a Cathedral and a Bishop; but the See was afterwards united to that of Cork. The Honourable Family of Parsons have been advanced to the dignity of Viscounts, and more lately, of Earls, of Ross.⌉

Duncanon. More eastward, Duncanon, a garrison’d castle, is so seated upon the river, that no Ships can pass to Waterford or Ross, but by its leave; and therefore they took care to fortifie it in the year 1588, when the Spaniards made a descent into Ireland. From hence, to the very mouth of the river, a narrow neck of land shoots out; upon which stands a high tower built by the Citizens of Ross in the time of their prosperity, for the direction of Sailors into the river’s mouth. At a little distance from hence, upon a winding shore, stands Tintern,Tintern. where William Marshall Earl of Pembrooke built a famous Monastery,Monast. de Voto. and call’d it De Voto, because, in a dangerous storm, he had made a Vow to found one, and, being here cast upon the shore, perform’d it in this place.

Hieron Promontory. This very Promontory, Ptolemy calls Hieron, i.e. Sacred; and I question not but it was call’d by a name of the same import among the Inhabitants. Byaun in Irish, sacred. For the last Town in it, where the English landed when they first invaded this Island, is call’d in Irish Banna, which signifies holy.

From this Holy-Promontory the shore turns eastward, and runs for a long way towards the north; over-against which, the Sea is full of flats and shallows that are very dangerous, and are call’d by the Seamen the Grounds. The Grounds. Here, Ptolemy fixes the river Modona,The river Modona. and the city Menapia at the mouth of it; names, so utterly lost at this day, that I despair of giving light to a matter so very obscure. Yet, seeing there is but one river which empties it self here, and, in a manner, parts the County in two, and is call’d Slane;The river Slane. and since upon the mouth, where it stagnates, there stands a City call’d by a German name, Weisford,Weisford. the head Town of the County; methinks, it is very probable, that this Slane is the old Modona; and this Weisford, that Menapia; and the rather, because the present name is but novel, and of a German original, having been given it by those Germans whom the Irish call Oustmen. This is * * None of the greatest, C.a large Town ⌈and a Corporation, and is much frequented by Strangers in Summer, by reason of a good Chalybeat-Spring that is near it.⌉ The Town is remarkable upon this account, that it was the first of the Island that submitted to the English; being reduc’d by Fitz-Stephens, a valiant Commander, and made an English Colony. So that this Shire is very full of English, who * * So said, ann. 1607.dress after the old fashion of the English, and speak the English Language, but with a mixture of Irish. Dermic, who invited the English hither, gave this City and the Territory about it to Fitz-Stephen for ever, who began a † Municipium.Burrough-town hard by at Carricke, and improv’d the natural strength of the place, by great additions of Art. But he having surrender’d his right to Henry the second, the King made it over to Richard Earl of Pembrook in fee, to hold of him and the Kings of England for ever; from whom by the Earls Mareschals, the Valences of Lusignan a Family in France, and the Hastings, it came to the Greys Lords of Ruthin, who are frequently call’d in old Charters Lords of Weisford; tho’ in Henry the sixth’s time J. Talbot is once mention’d in the Publick Records, by the title of Earl of Shrewsbury and Weisford. Ware, Ant. p.26. ⌈The Island Edri; by Pliny call’d Andros, is seated by Ptolemy among the Islands in the west of Ireland; and the learned Author of the Antiquities of this Kingdom, believes it to be the same with Beg-Eri; i.e. Little Ireland; an Isle, in the mouth of the river Slane.⌉ Concerning which river, take this Distich of Necham, such as it is:

Ditat Eniscotrum flumen quod Slana vocatur,
Hunc cernit Weisford se sociare sibi.

Enrich’d by Slane does Eniscort appear,
And Weisford sees him join his stream with her:

For * * Eniscort, C.Eniscorthy, a Burrough-town, stands upon this river; as also more inward upon the same, Fernes (only famous for its Bishop’s See,) which the Fitz-Giralds formerly fortified with a Castle. Hard by, on the other side the Slane, liveAnn.1607. the Cavenaghs, the Donels, the ¦ ¦ Extinct.Montaghs, and ¦ O-Mores, Irish Families of very turbulent and seditious spirits; as also, the Sinotts, the Roches, and the * * Extinct.Peppards, all English. On this side the Slane, those of greatest note, ¦ ¦ Are, C.were the Viscounts Mont-Garret (the first of whom was Edmund Butler, a younger son of Peter Earl of Ormond, dignify’d with that title by Edward the sixth,) and many more of the same name; with the Devereux, Staffords, Chevers, Whites, Forlongs, Fitz-Harrys, Browns, Hores, Haies, Coddes, and Mailers, of English Extraction (as are very many of the common people;) ⌈all, or most of whom, are now in a low condition: but the Roches and Sinotts, before-mentioned, remain in a good state.

Newborough. From Newborough, in this County, the title of Baron is enjoy’d by the Honourable George Cholmondley,Vid. Anglesey, p.811. on whom also hath been confer’d the honour of a Baron, in the Kingdom of Great Britain.⌉

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06