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Baronies of Forth and Bargy in County Wexford, Ireland

The Yola people, historically known as Forth and Bargy people or Forthers,[1] were an ethnic group that formed in the baronies of Forth and Bargy in County Wexford after the Norman invasion of Ireland at Bannow Bay in 1169. They were descendants of the original Norman invaders and hence they were distinct from the rest of Ireland in their customs, manners and appearance. As time progressed, the Yola people became mixed with the diverse medieval ethnic mix which colonized County Wexford, including French, Norman, Danish, Welsh, English, Irish, Flemish and the original Old Norse settlers who colonized the area prior to the invasion.

Customs, dress and manners

The Yola people used a number of unique customs that were thought to have originated in the old Duchy of Normandy. These included mumming, patrons, and the tradition of placing funeral crosses on roadway trees, which still continue to this day. They were known to be extremely law-abiding; incidents of robbery, murder and the like were seldom recorded in the baronies.

A woman's customary dress was a lilac kircher or bonnet with ribbons, and a large frock worn as the main garment, with ribbons of various colors tying them across the waist. A man wore a waistcoat, short trousers and long socks with a hat.

Norman utensils such as a "peeler" were used for cooking bread. Many unique dishes such as buskés, a type of spiced corn bread, were common in the area.

A local custom was to take a daily afternoon nap known as an enteete in the local tongue, similar to the Spanish siesta. It was common at this time of day to cross from one end of the baronies to the other and not to see a single person on the roads.


Main article: Yola language

The Yola language, also known as the Forth and Bargy dialect, was a unique language that formed in the baronies. It was mainly spoken in the structure of Old/Middle English but contained many loanwords from Irish, Norman-French and Old Norse. It was somewhat similar to the Dorset dialects of West England, but its many loanwords have made it a source of major research by many academics.


The baronies of Forth and Bargy are quite unique in that they do not experience as harsh a climate as the rest of the country, which allows for many crops to thrive in their flat and fertile plains. The main crops grown by the Yola people were beans, peas and barley; potatoes were not relied upon as heavily as in the rest of Ireland. The farmers practised an advanced crop rotation and fertilizing system far ahead of the rest of the country. For that reason, the baronies did not experience the effects of the Great Famine and actually thrived during that period by simply relying on the alternative crops, mainly the bean crop.[2]


The Yola people eventually merged into Irish culture. Many lands were confiscated during the plantations and modern English was introduced at this time. The Yola language eventually succumbed to the same factors that suppressed the Irish language in the county, which was the stigmatization of the language and the introduction of English in schools. The language was officially declared extinct in the 1850s, however the language still had speakers till 1998 with the death of Jack Devereux,[3] Their descendants still populate the baronies and many customs and words survive in the locality.


  1. ^ Poole, Jacob (1867). "Glossary of the Dialect". In Barnes, William (ed.). A Glossary, with Some Pieces of Verse, of the Old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland. London: John Russell Smith. pp. 27–28. Retrieved 28 April 2022 – via Internet Archive. A lawful form from bren, to burn, but I know it not in another Teutonic speech. It is a good word. Did the Forthers make it?
  2. ^ Ó Gráda, Cormac (2000). "Contexts and Chronology". In Mokyr, Joel (ed.). Black '47 and Beyond: The Great Irish Famine in History, Economy, and Memory. The Princeton Economic History of the Western World. Vol. 103. Princeston University Press. pp. 27–28. doi:10.1515/9780691217925. ISBN 9780691070155 – via Google Books. Few areas in Ireland can have escaped the famine as lightly as the baronies of Forth and Bargy in south Wexford in the 1840s. Indeed, a recent account claims that not only did they escape the worst, but that they "actually prospered." [...] The Forth and Bargy region was noted for its beans, and was less dependent on the potato than most of the country.
  3. ^ "Fascinating book on Yola dialect of Forth and Bargy". independent. Archived from the original on 14 December 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2022.