« Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal Home »


FAMILY HEIRLOOM IS NOW BACK WHERE IT BELONGS

Leinster Leader 16 February 1995
 
 
 
Family Heirloom is now back where it belongs
 
By Eimear Vize
 
A family heirloom, which represents a period of strife and community triumph in Kilcock, is now safely returned to its town of origin.
            The historic sword is the source of numerous stories circulated in the Rochfort family for generations, one of the oldest families in Kilcock.
            After many years in New Zealand, the sword was recovered and now claims pride of place in the home of Frank Rochfort, a direct descendant of a man who snatched it from the hands of an English officer as he attacked during a raid on Kilcock in the late 18th century.
            The Rochfort family arrived in Kilcock in 1690, the year of the Boyne engagement between the Duke of Orange and King James II. Travelling across north Leinster, they settled in Kilcock at Church Street, then known as Boherboy from the old Gaelic name ‘Bothar Bui’, or the Yellow Road. Successive generations lived there, also acquiring a large portion of the lands of Branganstown, which they farmed extensively.
            The farm buildings were behind their Kilcock house and so the cow-herd were driven into Kilcock each morning and evening, for milking, providing for the town its daily supply of milk. Even Maynooth College tapped into the Rochfort milk supply until lit acquired its own cow-herd.
            Frank still retains the name on the fields of his farm which have been handed down through the generations. There is the Tumbling Field where his house stands, behind that is Currahawn, the bottom field, the commons field at Branganstown corner, Kiln Field, Pigeon Field and the Well Field. A mass path crossed these fields in olden times and some of the stone stiles still exist along the path. Frank voices his regret that none of these stiles were repaired so that people could once again walk this sacred path.
            With great nostalgia he talks about the return of the historic sword which has been in his family for generations. During the Rebellion of 1798, the town of Kilcock and surroundings areas witnessed their share of pillage, burnings and tragic deaths.
            Kilcock was a stronghold of the Defenders in 1793-94, a secret oath-bound organisation of which Hedge School Master, Laurence O’Connor, was the organiser. He was captured in 1795, and following a brief trial, he was executed in Naas Gaol.
            It was during this period of National and local unrest that the Rochfort sword was claimed. A skirmish between the townspeople and members of the British Army resulted in a sword being wrestled by a member of the Rochfort family from the hands of an English Officer, just as the officer was about to lunge the weapon at a member of the local community.
            The man who gained possession of the sword was a Grand Uncle of Frank’s father. Frank recalls great childhood stories of those distant and troubled times, and these tales have been passed down generation after generation, along with the sword. In 1957 Franks’ brother, Michael Rochfort, emigrated to New Zeland. In later years, when on a visit to Ireland, Michael asked if he could return to his new home with the weapon, to show his children the fabled sword he had told so many stories about.
            Frank gladly gave it to him, and so it left Kilcock town for a distant shore. Since then Frank has often spoken of the sword, and wished it back in Kilcock. He wrote to his brother, expressing his desire to recover the sword and its leather scabbard, and bring it back to its place of origin in Kilcock.
            At Christmas, a package arrived at Frank’s home. It had been sent by courier from Michael Rochfort in New Zealand. On opening it, Frank was overjoyed to see once again the sword in which so much interest had been shown by his family. Frank wishes to retain it in the Kilcock area and hopefully it can be exhibited in his home town for future generations.
           
 
 
 
 

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2