News: Dunne, James, The Ferns Tragedy

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives
Wexford Index


File contributed by:  Aaron Brown


Victim descendent of fine old Irish family.

"The Dunnes of the Mill"
There was an extremely large cortege at the funeral of Mr. 
James DUNNE who was shot at Ferns on Monday evening. The 
remains were interred at St. Michael's Cemetery, Gorey. All 
National Organisations were represented and bands also 
attended. A volunteer commandant acknowledged the action of 
the soldiers, who saluted the remains. Many beautiful 
wreaths were laid on the grave.

James Dunne came of a good old stock from Castleboro, Co. 
Wexford, his ancestors came to Ballinatray early in the 
eighteenth century and there occupied an extensive farm.

Baile-na-Tragha (Ballinatray) has the Aunavarra (River of 
the Sleeping Flax) coursing through its picturesque valley. 
The river ran beside the Dunne's farm and they built a Mill 
on its bank. The making of the water course entailed much 
expense and labour, but with the grit of their race, they 
carried it to success.

The permission to make the course entailed an addition of 
£14 on the annual rent, and this charge the family have been 
paying for practically two centuries, and are still paying.

The Mill itself nestles in the valley under the shelter of 
the Courtown Viaduct - locally known as the Bridge of 
Ballinatray - and the picturesque charm of its location has 
inspired the local poet:

See it in the glorius springtime,
when the river banks are laden
With the bluebell and the primrose
peeping through the fern green;
Overhead the trees are budding,
soon to give a summer shading.
To the busy Mill - wheel yonder
that lends music to the scene.

The family were great millers always. They had a tradition 
for straight dealing, and they always kepts their word. For 
a circuit of ten miles the farmers broght their corn to " 
Dunnes of the Mill".

They were a proud people. They were never obsequious - even 
in the worst days of landlordism they were never known to 
lift their hats to either landlord or agent, the head of the 
family invariably addressing the landlord, the Earl of 
Courtowwn as "Courtown".

To them it was truly said that to God only or His anointed 
upon on earth did they ever bow the head " or bend the 
knee", and therefore it can be understood why James Dunne, 
the other day, scorned the order to go down on his knees, 
and lost his life sooner than he should do what one of his 
race had never done before him.

Physically, there were magnificent specimens of Irish 
manhood. Another Seamus DUNNE, grandfather of the victim of 
the Ferns tragedy, stood six foot four, and like Paud 
O'DONOGHOE "his arm was as thick as another man's thigh". He 
used to play with half-hundred weights, and was known to 
carry forty stone of wheat from the cart to the kiln, up a 
number of steps. His funeral was long the topic at many a 
Wexford fireplace. From the house to Clonattin Graveyard 
where he was buried is a distance of four and half miles, 
and it is related that the end of the funeral procession was 
only passing the house at the time the hearse entered the 

One son of his, Father Martin DUNNE was parish priest of 
Blackwater, and another Father John DUNNE is buried in the 
Star of the Sea at Riverchapel.

The old home at Ballinatray is still in possession of the 
Dunne family, the work being carried on by George Dunne a 
younger brother of the murdered man.

From the Evening Telegraph, Dublin, July 9th 1920