Wednesday 21 March 2018

Ballywilliam's 'The Miller' will live long in memory


The late Ned 'The Miller' Devereux.
The late Ned 'The Miller' Devereux.

Ned (The Miller) Devereux, of 1 Castan Close, Ballywilliam, was a man whose wit, wisdom and ways will live long in the memory of the people of his beloved village and county.

Ned was born on August 10th, 1940. He hailed from a family of forgers going back over decades and his father Nicholas was a blacksmith and held court in their business at The Range in Ballywilliam.

The family were renowned for their craft and skill and made the rivets for the old Red Bridge outside New Ross, which still proudly stands as testament to their endeavours.

Ned's first four years had the Second World War as their backdrop, but under the loving care of his family and the arrival of his younger brothers, Joseph and Nicholas, he enjoyed the fruits of a rural garden of Eden.

Ned attended Templeudigan NS and excelled. He developed a photographic memory and retained it to his last breath.

Ned's father passed away when he ws 16 and he began working in the mill, getting his nickname, He later worked in the co-op and over the following years he worked through every harvest with a large workforce which dissipated as modern ways took over.

He worked at various farms in the area and went on to travel the length and breadth of his beloved island. He considered emigrating to England in his younger years, but never made it that far.

In later years he travelled to Northern Ireland with his good friend Jerry McQuaid and he often spoke fondly of his time there.

Ned could recite the Latin Mass into his Seventies and the works of Sargeant word perfectly from 'Dangerous Dan McGrew' to 'The Man From God Knows Where'.

He was an academic without the qualifications and the span of his knowledge base was truly breathtaking. He would only use it to intimidate the braggart and silence the fool. Before Google, everyone just asked Ned.

A huge follower of Wexford hurling, Ned never missed a match through the 50s, 60s, 70s, up to more recent times.

He was an avid supporter of Rathnure and followed them over the years. He also had a great grá

for Cloughbawn when they hurled and took the digs regarding his place of birth when the shots flew in the local tavern. He supported Rathgarogue/Cushinstown when neither Rathnure nor Cloughbawn were involved.

Ned was above all a proud Wexford man and he wore the Wexford cap with pride as he watched Wexford play Galway in this year's Leinster final.

He enjoyed a few drinks at the Ash Tree pub whose window afforded a view onto the village and its inhabitants and passersby. He loved rebels songs by artsist including Luke Kelly, Peggy Sweeney and The Dubliners.

He inherited his parent's love of animals and kept a terrier or two until he could not longer do so.

Ned knew everyone in the Ballywilliam area, down to the name of every child born. He brought solace to the young and offered his wisdom freely. Of the many who left during the recessions of the 1980s and the 2000s, they were always greeted on their return by their first name. Despite the passage of time, a full and extensive biography of the individual was logged and made ready for articulation.

Ned was proud of his Norman background and was very knowledgable of his ancestry, many of whom fought in Wales, Normandy going back to Viking roots.

Ned was a man who was ahead of his time. He was taught self-sufficiency by his grandfather who had a garden which fed the family amply.

Ned was adamant that good health sprang from the soil and he despised the way land was 'poisoned' using insecticides and sprays. He abhorred the removal of railway lines, railway bridges, lime kilns, old lanes in fields, ditches and mill races. He believed that large farm machinery killed the earthworms who provided health and sustenance. He was a child of nature and proudly extolled its virtues.

Known for his wit and sense of fun, Ned enjoyed good health throughout his life, spending his final months in New Ross Community Hospital where he knew every nurse on a first name basis.

As his friend Sinead Connick said of The Miller on the day he was laid to rest: 'Today, Ballywilliam will bury one of its own, The Miller. A Gentlman and a Legend. We will miss seeing him walking up and down trough the village. Often in good form, with the Miller salute, hemhhh.... thats a bit of a grunt thats not easy spell.. but 'twas the Millers signiture sound! You'd often see him with a fine big bag of freshly picked mushrooms in hand, and he often shared a bowl too. He was a great man in the garden. He'd often be found over in the Bog Oaks or in Maggie Rowe's. He took great pride in his time in Templeudigan on the FAS. He will also be remembered today I'm sure, by the 'boys' in the Co-op, where he passed many an hour, or over in the shop, and could often be spotted below, looking in at the river. The Ash Tree was his local. Young and old mixed with the Miller. He had some memory! There is no doubt but he will be missed in the village.'

Ned passed away aged 77 on August 14 and a lot of colour was drained out of the village of Ballywilliam that day.

The stories and anecdotes about The Miller - as he came to be known - are legendary and will be retold by the coming generation.

The Miller was predeceased by his brother Joe of Chapel and is survived by his brother Nicholas and extended family.

A large crowd attend The Miller's funeral Mass at St. John & St. Anne's Church, Rathgarogue, which was celebrated by Fr Sean Devereux and Fr Odhrán Furlong, where some of his favourite songs were performed by Darren Byrne, Martin Codd, and Eddie and Hazel Doyle. He was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

Ar dhe Dé go raibh a h-ainm.

New Ross Standard