An interesting Donation – The Diaries Of James Archbold O’Reilly

by mariocorrigan on December 20, 2006

Having corresponded with Dr. William Archbold of Australia regarding queries he had relating to the Archbolds of County Kildare I asked if he might submit a piece for the ‘ehistory’ website. He kindly donated three CD-ROMs – James Archbold O’Reill’s Diaries; The Three Bees and The Archbolds of Roseville. These contain many useful references to County Kildare and an insight into the effect of transportation on a Kildare person at the beginning of the 19th Century. The Local Studies Dept. of Kildare County Library is extremely grateful to Dr. Archbold for his gift. I have included here some references from volume 9 of James Archbold O’Reilly’s diaries which have references to Naas and the surrounding district and also some background information from the introduction.
The Diaries Of James Archbold O’Reilly of Boyne Lodge, Co. Meath.
Edited by: Dr. William D. Archbold PhD.

Personal Details Of Diarist.

James O’Reilly was born on his father’s modest estate "Rahattan" in Co. Wicklow on the 17th November 1765. At the time of writing his diaries, "Rahattan" appears to be still part of his real estate portfolio for he speaks of visiting there to collect the rents.
The actual number of children born to his father John and mother Jane nee Archbold is unknown, but he does mention a brother Richard … two elder sisters, Judith Thunder, and Mary Somers, and a younger sister Emily Drake. He appears to have kept in close contact with them all.
There are some connections of genealogical interests in O’Reilly’s lineage. The most notable are the Byrnes and the Commerfords. While through his Archbold progenitors he is connected to many of the Anglo-Norman Gentry of Ireland. To mention but a few, the Ball family who produced at least two Mayors of Dublin. The Lattins of Morristown Lattin, the Alcocks and Bambers. One of Jane’s brothers, Richard Lattin Archbold married Mary Caufield a close relative of Lord Charlemont Caufield. The noted papist and legendary beauty Lady Elinor Palmer’s mother was an Archbold also. The "Eadestown" Archbolds were very close relatives of the "Davidstown" Co. Kildare branch of the Archbold clan.

The addition of "Archbold" to his name.

James for the greater part of his long life was known as James "Archbold" O’Reilly. This annexure to his name resulted from his rather long sojourn at "Eadestown" in Co. Kildare. "Eadestown" and its Townlands were the family estate of the Archbold family for over two hundred years. Sometime early in his childhood he went to live with his maternal grandparents James and Elizabeth (nee Lattin) Archbold. It appears that most of his early life was spent with them, consequently he became known as "Archbold" O’Reilly". It is obvious from the comments made about his grandparents that he was extremely fond of them. Therefore, he was pleased to add to his name James O’Reilly the annexure of "Archbold". He resumed the name of James Archbold O’Reilly on the death of his grandfather in 1780.
On The 3rd November 1796, James married Cecilia Drake. Her family were well connected and came from Gentry stock. The Nangles, Somers and the Barnewalls to mention a few were prominent people in their own right. The Drake’s estate was "Roristown" which was adjacent to "Boyne Lodge" in Co. Meath.
Between the years of 1796 and 1825, Cecilia gave birth to eleven children. Most of them remained unmarried, the question of, was it for lack of opportunity or choice is not clear. Richard Lattin O’Reilly was the only son to marry and Cecilia was the only daughter.
James was somewhat of a insomniac, he would go to bed quite early and then wake about 2.00AM – 3.00AM, and by candlelight he would write down his reminiscences of the day or days, and often resort to reverie of past years.
As we have seen there were 24 volumes in total, the first eight were entrusted to Rev. Dr. John Miley a clergyman living at, The Church House, Marlborough St., Dublin, who was a close acquaintance of the O’Reillys and they unfortunately have disappeared. Regrettably, so has volume No. 10. This is a little difficult to explain as the other 15 volumes survived.

EXCERPTS – Folio Numbers refer to page numbers in the Diary


NAAS April 23rd 1840 4 OClock morning

Having arrived here on the 21st instant I went on to my son Johns where I dined and whose looks and spirit I was grieved to perceive, were not so good as when I last seen him. Yesterday the 22nd I went again there in order to meet tenants and to demand possession of my land from Griffin which latter was refused me, The Tenants of this neighbourhood not paying me within a good deal of what I expected to receive. Not having had time before I left Town to draw out the necessary receipts, I had to labour hard the night I arrived here and yesterday Morning before I could proceed on to Newtown.
And this day I return, please God, to Town having written two letters to dear Anne Drake since I left, detailing my proceedings up to last night, and one to Boyne Lodge this time yesterday morning also. And although anxiously occupied and undergoing some fatigue I feel thanks to God, well, considering all I go through, as expressed and described in these my writings often agitated in my feelings, which instead of sympathy to soothe them I meet with reviling where with reason I should expect the contrary on the subject of the projected foreign trip particularly which every Coming day will prove the almost utter impossibility of my undertaking with any regard to how I am personally or by my circumstances at liberty to undertake, not having one person in my family competent to make my absence no injury to my affairs.
My son John, whose local knowledge of one branch of them might be made serviceable, is from bad health inefficient and in other points incompetent to the transaction of them generally. And all resting upon my poor self. How could I with any degree of safety quit the scene and proceed as I was required to do to a distant region with a group of five in family where the deficiency (possible) in remittances would produce consequences fearful to contemplate!
But relying on a bounteous Providence I will proceed on in my course for general good, and as my object during my remaining days is with that view, I shall leave the result to Him who reads my heart and knows my motives.

SYDNEY AVENUE April 25th half past 3 OC Morng

Contrary to my expectations I did not return here till yesterday as on going to Newtown finding Mr Cleary there who pays me rent for the Farm of Coolreagh and being often urged by him to view those Lands, the ancient meanings of which the river Liffey had in part obliterated, I proceeded there driven by one of Mr Clearys sons who sent his Car to Naas for me and after the lapse of perhaps 47 years!! I once more stood on this Farm which I use to when a boy to be sent to by my Father (who then occupied it) to look after his business. This Farm, Coolreagh he originally took a lease of from his friend Mr Lattin at a certain rent and upon a long lease, and with whom he entered into an agreement in the year 1788 to pay £100 a year or thereabouts in addition to the rent during Mr Lattins life for the purchase of the fee in reversion at his death, and which I continued to pay till March when Mr Lattin died in Paris, Of this perhaps more hereafter.
Well I did proceed to view the disputed meaning of which I had a clear recollection, and having sent for a Mr Odlum who occupies the Lands adjoining and who met me in a friendly spirits we adjourned to another day till a Mr O’Kelly who now owns the fee of this Farm formerly the Estate of Lord Mornington, should be present. After viewing Coolreagh in a hasty manner I returned to Naas and finding the Evening Coach for Dublin too full, I went on to dine with my poor son John and returned early, as I resolved to come off by the early Coach to Town which I did. And having seen Wm Walsh there in order to state the result of the business with Griffin, I came on by The Train here where I found dear Fanny better, thank God, and as a proof that she and Anne had written to say they would this day go in to Town by The Train to see Cecilia &c.
I felt unwell and weary after reaching this yesterday. My little after sleep so useful to me, had been interfered with at Naas by the move of a Troop of the 17th. Lancers from The Hotel there at a very early hour. I should have lay down on my reaching this place but for the necessity of answering letters from Boyne Lodge received in my absence which tired me still.

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