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June 30, 2006

Kildare Archaeological Society Website

A link to the Website of the Kildare Archaeological Society.


Homepage for the Kildare Archaeological Society, containing details of programming, Council of Officers, Availibility of Journals, Membership etc.

Kildare County Council Heritage website.

A link to the wider heritage functions of Kildare County Council.


A guide to Kildare County Council's various actions and involvements in the Heritage of the County.

Grey Abbey Conservation Project website


For those with a particular interst in Kildare town, and the surrounding area, a link to the Grey Abbey Conservation Project Website.


A link to the Grey Abbey Conservation Project Website, containing historical and archaeological material relating to Grey Abbey and Kildare Town, as well details on the work of the Project.

Kildare History and Heritage website

For those who have a further interest in the Heritage of the County, a link to the Heritage page on Kildare.ie



A link to the Heritage page, detailing the Kildare History and Family Research Centre, a section of Kildare Library and Arts Service.

CLONGOREY-08/10/1898 A newspaper article noting the resolution of the Clongorey evictions

The Kildare Observer 08/10/1898
The Clongorey Estate
The Clongorey Plan of Campaign tenants, writes the “Carlow Nationalist”, after a struggle extending over a period of ten years, are at length within measurable distance of restoration to their farms. After protracted negotiations, in the course of which many difficulties arose, and during which many apparently insurmountable obstacles presented themselves, a golden bridge has been constructed by which both parties to the unfortunate dispute may pass out of the positions they have occupied for such a length of time. The settlement arrived at is on the basis of the purchase of their holdings by the tenants. The price agreed on is 20 years’ purchase of the entire estate, or at least all that portion of it that had been held by tenants. The price is a high one, but the tenants were placed in such a position that no other course was open to them if they were not to abandon their old homes forever. During the summer months a valuer of the Land Commission has been engaged in making a careful examination of the holdings, and on his report the body named has agreed to sanction the advance of the loan with the reservation that in the cases of a number of the smaller holdings a cash deposit of 10 per cent of the purchase money should be made. This condition caused a hitch, for the poor tenants were, of course, not in a position to make the payment required. Some staunch friends who have never ceased working in their behalf came to the rescue and smoothed over the difficulty by providing the sum needed, about £420. Nothing remained to be done but to perfect the agreements with the Land Commission, and nearly all of these have been signed. Five or six of the tenants who did not adopt the Plan of Campaign, and who have remained in possession, are also purchasing their farms. There were 20 families evicted, and of these 49 are available for reinstatement, one family having gone to America. This is a wonderful record of endurance and staying power, and a splendid testimony to the tenacity of the Irish race. Driven out of their holdings and deprived of their means of living, for some time they were partially sustained by the political organization which administered the Evicted Tenants’ Fund, but for many years past they have maintained themselves almost together by their own exertions- by road-making, by the cartage of goods, and in fact by every honest line of industry that offered. As we have said, it is a most creditable record, and one that gives the lie to the assertions so often made: that the Plan of Campaign tenants were a set of dishonest and idle fellows who wished to live in luxury at the expense of the landlords.
Although they will shortly be given possession of their farms the Clongorey people will be confronted by an extremely hard task. A long period of severe and unremitting toil awaits them before they are again settled on the soil from which they have been rudely divorced. Their houses for the most part have ceased to exist, and in cases where the homestead and farm materials were composed of perishable materials nothing but a heap of clay marks where they stood. In one case the valuer asked the tenant did his farm contain a house, so completely had all traces of it been obliterated. Still people who have survived the hardships of eviction for ten years may be trusted to establish themselves once more on the soil.

An article from the Kildare Observer heralding the end of the Plan of Campaign for the long-evicted Clongorey tenants, and detailing the conditions of the settlement.

[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe]

June 28, 2006

BALYNA, PARISH OF - Comerford's "Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin"

        THE name of this Parish is said to be derived from Bel-an-atha, “the mouth of the ford;” it comprises a union of the old parishes of Cadamstown, Carrick, Mylerstown, Ballynadrimna, Nurney, and Kilreny.
Some portions of the walls of the old Parochial Church still remain, but they present no architectural features calling for description. An extensive burial-ground is attached, in which several priests lie interred. The following Epitaphs are found there:-
1.      “Here lieth Lewis Dempsy, Parish Priest of Cadamstown, Kilreiny,       Carrick, etc., and Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kildare, aged 77 years. Ruled his flock 47 years, and died the 5th day of May, 1704. Requiescat in Pace.”
      “Here also lieth Dominick Dempsey.”
2.“To the memory of the Revd. Philip Farrell, Parish Priest of Balyna, and Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kildare.”
3.“Hic jacet pulvis in pulverem reversus, R.D. Michaelis Kennedy, Parochi Parochiae Ballynae, charactere et virtute venerabilis, nomen regiis ex proceribus ad eum descendit, Sacerdotali cum dignitate et honore decessit, Anno aetatis suae sexagesimo septimo, sui sacerdotii quadragesimo quarto, Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Milesimo octingentesimo decimo septimo, Martii die vigesimo, descendit at suos, cum eis requiescat in pace.”
 Here also is the place of sepulture of the More O’ Ferrall family; the late Right Hon. Richard More O’ Ferrall erected a mausoleum, tablets on the side panels of which contain records of various members of the family.
The O’ Mores of Leix had strenuously resisted the attempts to bring their territory under the control of the Government of Dublin, through statutes passed towards the middle of the 16th century, authorizing the Crown to dispose of Leix, and to convert it into a shire under the name of the Queen’s County. Against the military occupation which followed these enactments, the O’ Mores rose in arms 19 times successively, and members of that family were amongst the most prominent leaders in the wars of Elizabeth. The Plantation of Leix was not finally effected till the reign of James I., when numbers of the O’ Mores and the other septs of the district, were deported to Kerry, Clare, and Connaught. A memoir by one of these exiles in June, 1610, written in Kerry and in the Irish language, is extant in MS., in the Royal Irish Academy. In it he records that the banishment and extirpation of all the survivors, men, women and children, of Leix, was then finished; that the Governor and the Sheriff of Leix had been occupied during a week, in destroying the people, seizing their cattle and all they possessed in their own land; and that an order had been made to hang everyone of them found there. Calvagh, the father of Roger and Lisagh O’ More, had previously acquired in the County of Kildare the castle and town of Balyna with various adjacent lands, previously the property of the Delahoids. These possessions were inherited by his eldest son Roger or Rory, who married a daughter of Sir Patrick Barnewall. (Gilbert) Rory O’ More was the chief military leader of the Confederate Catholics in the reign of Charles I. T. D’Arcy McGee remarks of him that “he was the heir of a line of brave ancestors, whose father and grandfather had both died in defence of their Church and country. Carried into Spain when a child, he returned soon after Charles’s accession. Educated in all the science of that age, with the son of Hugh O’ Neill as his friend and fellow-student, he grew up in patriotism as in years. His favourite project was to unite the Milesian and Anglo-Norman Catholics in one brotherhood. To this end he gave up his natural right to the land of Leix, and with his brother Lysagh [or Lewis], made a home at Ballyna, near the Boyne. He rode from castle to castle reasoning and exhorting with men of various minds. So clearly did the people understand his labours that this was their watchword:-“Our trust is in God, and our Lady, and Rory O’ More.” (Attempts to establish the Prot. Reformation in Ireland, p.182) Sir H. Parnell (Penal Laws, p. 113) says-“Roger O’ More possessed all the qualities of the heroic-character, talents, promptitude, courage, and love of country; his person was remarkably graceful, his aspect dignified, his manners courteous.” The Lords Justices at Dublin, in Feb. 1641-2, by proclamation, denounced Roger, alias Rory O’ More of Ballyna, as one of the first actors in the Rebellion, and offered a free pardon and £400 to anyone who would kill or cause him to be killed, and bring his head to them; they further offered £300 to anyone who could give evidence of having slain him, but without being able to produce his head. After the battle of Kilrush (in Co. Kildare), on the 15th April, 1642, in which the Confederate Army was unsuccessful, O’ More retired on his own district, and died at Kilkenny during the ensuing winter. His daughter, Anna, was mother of Patrick Sarsfield. The daughter of James, the last O’ More, who died in 1779, married Richard O’ Ferrall, of Ballinree, County Longford, of whom the present direct descendants, (freat-great-grandsons,) are Ambrose More O’Ferrall, Esq., of Balyna; Edward More O’ Ferrall, Esq., of Lisard, County Longford, and Dominick More O’ Ferrall, Esq., of Kildangan Castle, Monasterevan. The residence of the O’ Mores was a place of refuge for the Bishops and priests, in times of persecution. We see (Vol. I., p.41), that Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests at Balyna, in 1678, 1679, and 1680.
The Parochial Church of Carrick, a considerable portion of the walls of which remain, dates back probably to the 13th century. It was about 60 feet long by 25 broad. Two small windows, both Gothic, but of different styles and seemingly of different periods, exist in the southern wall. The door appears to have been in the northern wall, and a small, narrow window, now built up, a little out of the centre, remains in the western gable, which latter rises into a still perfect belfry. This ruin stands in a burial-ground in which the Rev. Andrew Duggan, who died of fever at Carlow in 1837, lies interred with his relatives.
Adjoining the Churchyard is the ruinous Castle of Carrick-Oris, formerly belonging, as its name indicates, to the Berminghams. “It was,” writes Sir W. Wilde, Boyne and Blackwater, “originally a tall, oblong square tower or keep, a portion of the southern end of which is still perfect, measuring about 32 feet in length. From the extent of the ruins upon the northern side, it must have been nearly 90 feet long; the walls are upwards of 4 feet thick. This was the court of Pierce Bermingham in 1305,and consequently the seat of the treacherous Baron, so bitterly complained of by O’Neill and the other Irish Chieftains in their remonstrance to Pope John XXII.” The following, from the Four Masters, shows how richly this Sir Pierce Bermingham merited the opprobrious epithet applied to him:- “A.D. 1305. O’ Conor Faly (Mortough), Maelmora, his kinsman, and Calvagh O’ Conor, with twenty-nine of the chiefs of his people, were slain by Sir Pierce McFeorais (Bermingham), in MacFeorais’s own castle, by means of treachery and deceit.” According to Grace’s Annals, the massacre was perpetrated by Jordan Comin and his comrades, at the court of Peter Bermingham at Carrick in Carbria. In the Remonstrance sent by the Irish Chieftains to the Pope in 1315, it is referred to as an instance of the treachery of the English to their Irish neighbours. It is stated in this document that Peter, who is called the treacherous Baron, invited Mauritius and his brother Calvacus, to an entertainment on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, and that, the instant they stood up from table, he cruelly massacred them with twenty four of their followers, and sold their heads at a dear price to their enemies; and that, when he was arraigned before the King of England, no justice could be obtained against such a nefarious and treacherous offender. (Note to Four MM.) The Hill of Carrick, (Carraig, “a rock,”) derives its name, according to Sir W. Wilde, from a large block of trap rock, called the Witch’s Stone, which stands upon its northern brow just over the great lime-stone quarry. With due deference to Sir W. Wilde’s opinion, it is much more likely that the name refers to the hill itself, which is an immense mass of limestone. This stone, Sir W. Wilde remarks, is evidently the same kind of stone as the large mass of trap which is to be found about 10 miles off, near Philipstown, to the south-west of this hill; but whether it is a boulder and was carried to this spot by natural means, or was transported her by art for some sacred purpose in Pagan times, as we know was frequently the case, it is difficult to say. The legend is, that a witch cast this stone from the hill of Croughan, at some of our early Saints, and that it lighted here. Some mischievous quarryman split the Witch’s Stone by blasting it, some years ago. For this wanton act he was obliged to leave that part of the country. Near the summit of the hill is pointed out the mule’s leap, when running off with a Saint from the Church of Carrick. Eight holes, marking, it is said, the places of the mule’s feet and showing a distance of about 10 yards between the place from which it sprung and where it lighted, are still to be seen, and it is said that no grass ever grows upon these footprints. The locality is worth observing, not for the nonsensical story of the mule, but because there is evidence of some masonry-probably the foundation of an ancient oratory-existing between the two sets of foot-marks….. The peasantry used to show here a large stone with some indentations in it resembling the print of a hand, which they said was lifted by St. Columbkill.

 A few hundred yards below the ruins on the hill of Carrick, in the angle formed by the junction of the roads leading to Edenderry and Carbury, we find the Holy Well of Tober-cro, or Tober-crogh-neeve, “The Well of the Holy Cross,” a beautiful spring shaded with flowering briars and wild white-roses. Although it is now totally neglected and its site scarcely known, it was once highly venerated and its healing virtues greatly esteemed……..At a place called Glyn, where the roads meet, in an open space shaded by trees, we find Lady’s Well (the Well of our B. Lady), a memorable spot in days gone by. It immediately adjoins the road and is shaded by a splendid sycamore tree. A fair and Patron are held here in August. Holy Wells abound in this locality-Trinity Well, Lady’s Well, Toberaulin (the beautiful well), Tobercro; and not far from the point where the Yellow river pours its waters into the Boyne, we have, on the Kildare side, the Well of Tobernakill. (Boyne and Blackwater.)
At Kinnefad (Ceann-atha-fada, “the head of the ford,”) in this parish is another Stronghold, in ruins, of the Berminghams, thus referred to by Sir W. Wilde:-“Kinnefad is a large square block of building, measuring 47 feet by 39, on the outside, the external walls being quite perfect. It appears, from its few and narrow windows, as well as its general design, to have belonged to an earlier era than the modern part of the Castle of Carbury, when strength influenced the builder more than attention to comfort. Kinnefad Castle stands beside a shallow in the river which the local traditions say was often the scene of fierce conflict. Lord Downshire’s agent at Edenderry has in his possession several weapons of great antiquity, dug up near this place, celts, sword-blades, spear-heads, etc. About a mile from Kinnefad Castle, and half-a-mile from the Boyne, the road passes by the Castle of Grange, a fortalice of a somewhat later age than that just described, part of which is still inhabited by one of the Tyrrells, a family of repute in the ancient kingdom of Meath. We have not been able to discover any references to either of these two buildings in the historic annals.”
The site of the old parish Church is marked by the present burial-ground. This place appears in Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list of parochial Churches as Ballyamoyler. A Castle stood here, of which some remains are visible; it is referred to in the Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1475;-“A circuitous hosting was made by O’ Donnell, i.e., Hugh Roe, the son of Niall Gaw, . . . . . He remained for some time in Offaly, plundering and ravaging Meath on each side of him. He demolished and burned Castle Carbury and Ballymayler,” etc.
This is another of the ancient parishes which make up the present parish of Balyna, and which, it appears probable, gives its name, in a contracted form, to the union. In the townland of Ballynadrimna, or Ballynadrimney, as it is frequently spelled, there is a small portion of the ruins of the old Church, in a burial ground which is still used. In the Royal Oak townland there is a well called Bride’s Well, but which, remarks Dr. O’ Donovan, is not remembered as a holy well. The people say there was a castle in Royal Oak townland, but none of it now remains.

 The fine Church of Broadford has been build by the present respected pastor, the Rev. Felix Tracy, in substitution for the humble Chapel that previously stood here.
Is the site of an old Church, no portion of which has survived. In the burial-ground, which now marks the site, the only noteworthy epitaph appears to be the following:-“This monument was erected by John Commins, in memory of the Rev. James Commins, Parish Priest of Castle-Town, in the County of Westmeath, who departed this life July 18th, 1791, aged 52 years. God be merciful to his soul!”
(An Urnaedh, “the Oratory”) old parish forms the portion of the present parochial district called Clogherinkoe. This latter appellation is derived, according to some authorities, from Clogharrinceadh, “the dancing-stone;” others have it to come from Clogha-Rointe, “the stone (or Castle) of the divisions.” Here, too, a fine Gothic Church, erected by Father Tracy, takes the place of the old Chapel which may be seen hard-by. This old Chapel was either build or enlarged in 1749, as we learn from an inscription over the doorway:-“D.D. P.P. 1749.” The initials are those of Dominick Dempsey, the then P.P., who is interred in the same grave with Lewis Dempsey his predecessor, and, very probably, his near relative, at Cadamstown. It was enlarged in 1808 by Rev. M. Kennedy, P.P., as is commemorated by another tablet. It is very likely that one of the six Mass-houses, stated to have been built subsequent to 1714, in the parishes of Carbury and Balyna, stood here. See Return of 1731, Vol. I., p. 364.
At the village of that name stands the parish Church, a fine building in the Gothic style, erected by the late Parish Priest, the Very Rev. Michael Flanagan, V.G. A tablet placed over the grave of the founder within the Church bears the following inscription:-“This monument is erected by the parishioners of Johnstown, Broadford, and Clocrincoe, as a tribute to the many virtues of their late lamented pastor, the Very Reverend Michael Flanagan, Vicar-General of Kildare and Leighlin. He exercised the ministry of Jesus Christ amongst them with untiring zeal for forty-eight years. His grave is made, as he wished it, in this Church of his own erection. Here he prayed and sacrificed for his people, and here he hoped not to be forgotten by them or their children. He died on the 2nd of August, 1855, in the 73rd year of his age. May he rest in peace. Amen.” Another monumental inscription in this Church touchingly tells its own tale; it is the composition of the present revered Bishop, to whom Father Butler was singularly endeared:-“Beneath are deposited the mortal remains of the Rev. James Butler, Admr. of Carlow. Died the 13th of April, 1860, aged 37 years. His meekmess, zeal for education, and tender sympathy for the afflicted, were eminent amongst the many virtues which adorned his character. This monument reveals the affectionate remembrance of him in this Parish, where his first years in the holy ministry were zealously spent. A memorial window in the Cathedral of Carlow attests the reverential affection which his flock justly entertained for this beloved Pastor. In a short space he fulfilled a long time. His memory shall be in perennial benediction. May he rest in peace.”
Was the site of an old Church-dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, as its name implies-regarding which nothing seems to be handed down to us. The surrounding ground was formerly, but is no longer, used for interments.
There was a Chapel situated in the townland of this name, dedicated to Saint Fynan, and served by a resident community of priests, but whether regulars or seculars does not appear. This religious house was in being in the year 1396. About that time the priests belonging thereto procured for themselves and their successors certain lands in perpetuity, without having obtained the King’s consent, and contrary to the Statute of Mortmain.-Monast. Hib. This was a burial-place of note; and in war-time the circumjacent inhabitants were exempt from the customary burdens of the country. In 1571 and 1578 large grants of land, in this and the neighbouring counties, were made to John Lye, amongst which was the site of this religious establishment. In the centre of the enclosure was a stone cross and two yew-trees, from one of which hung a bell. John Lye levelled the tenements, bounds and limits of the said religious house; threw down and destroyed the cross and trees, and erected a small castle, in which he took up his residence. We find him writing from “Clonagh Castle, in Kildare,” in1587, petitioning for a grant of Rathbride, in which he succeeded. By an inquisition taken at Naas, in 1613, it appears that John Lye, was seized of certain tenements and some 300 acres of land in Tichnevin, Ballybrack, Ballynakill, Kilpatrick, Kilcaskin, and Kilmorebrannagh. “And the said John Lye was also seized of 20 acres, along with common pasturage in the Townland of Clonagh, held of Thomas Birmingham, and a Chapel called The Chapel of St. Finnan, in the Townland of Clonagh, together with 9 messuages, 2 enclosures, and an orchard belonging to the said Chapel. . . . . .The said John Lye died on the 7th of May, 1612. John Lye, junior, his son and heir, was then aged 9 years.” This purloiner of Church property lies buried at Kildare, where the inscription on his tomb piously requests prayers for the repose of his soul. Further information will be found in the Paper on Kildare.
DAVID DE LA HOIDE was a native of the Barony of Carbury: his family having held the property there afterwards assigned to O’ More, of Leix. Holinshed, his contemporary, thus refers to him: “David Delahide, an exquisite and a profound clerke, sometime fellow of Merton College, in Oxford, verie well seene in the Latine and Greeke toongs; expert in the mathematicals, a proper antiquarie, and an exact divine; whereby I gather that his pen hath not been lazie, but is daily breeding of such learned books as shall be available to his posteritie. I have seene a proper oration of his in the praise of Master Heywood being Christmas lord (of Misrule) in Merton College, entituled –‘De ligno et foena.’ (This title was in allusion to the name Heywood); also Schemata rhetorica in tabulam contracta.” From Harris’s Ware we learn that Delahoide was admitted a Probationer of Merton College, anno 1549, and in 1553 took his degree of Master of Arts. But he was expelled Oxford in 1560 for denying the Queen’s supremacy, and from thence retired to his native country.

THE VERY REV. LEWIS DEMPSEY, V.G., was appointed P.P. in 1657. He died the 5th of May, 1704, aged 77, having had charge of the parish for 47 years, and was interred at Cadamstown.
RICHARD HALDER succeeded. He appears in the Registry of 1704 as residing at Garisker, aged 62, P.P. of Cadamstown, Carrick, Mylerstown, and Ballynadrimna; received Holy Orders in 1675, at Ghent, from Nicholas French, Bishop of Ghent, and his sureties were James Cullen, of Clonegath (in the Parish of Monasterevan), Gent., and Captain Richard Archbold of Birr-town. Dr. French, above referred to, was the exiled Bishop of Ferns. He became coadjutor to the Bishop of Ghent about the year 1666, and died in that city on the 23rd of August, 1678, aged 74. Further details and copy of the inscription on his tomb, may be seen in Brady’s Episcopal Succession, Vol. I. P. 378. When Father Halder died has not been ascertained, except that it occurred previous to the year 1731.
LEWIS DEMPSEY was probably the next in succession. He is named in the Return of 1731. (See Vol. I. p.264.) The time of his death is also uncertain, except that it took place before 1749.
DOMINICK DEMPSEY succeeded. The inscription at Clogherinkoe old Chapel shows that he was P.P. in 1749. He lies interred at Cadamstown, in the same grave with the first Lewis Dempsey; the inscription on the tomb gives no particulars respecting him.
EDWARD DEMPSEY was P.P., and probably the immediate successor of Dominick Dempsey. In the graveyard at Harristown, Parish of Monasterevan, a tombstone is placed to the memory of Lewis Dempsey, aged 94. The year, unfortunately, is illegible, but appears to be 1777. At the bottom is added-“Edvardus Dempsey, parochus de Cadamstowne me fieri fecit.”
PHILIP FARRELL, V.G., either immediately succeeded or immediately preceded Edward Dempsey. He is interred at Cadamstown.
MICHAEL CORCORAN was the next P.P. From the inscription on his tomb at Tullow (see Vol. I., p. 92,) we learn that previous to his appointment to the pastoral charge of Balyna, he had served on the Mission in Dublin;-he is also stated to have displayed great prudence in guiding his flock at Balyna during the troubled times of 1798. Father Kearns, though a native of Wexford, had acted as assistant Priest in Balyna previous to the Rebellion, in which he took an active part, and for which he suffered death at Edenderry. He endeavoured to arouse the people of this parish to take the field, but only partially succeeded, owing to the dissuasions of Dr. Corcoran. On the death of Father Terence Nolan, P.P. of Kildare, circa 1802, Dr. Corcoran was translated to that parish, and continued there until he was chose Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin in March, 1815. He died at Tullow, 22nd of February, 1819.
MICHAEL KENNEDY succeeded Dr. Corcoran as P.P. of Balyna. He died on the 20th of March, 1817, in the 67th year of his age, and 44th of his priesthood, and was interred at Cadamstown.
MICHAEL FLANAGAN, V.G., was the next Pastor. He died, 2nd August, 1855, aged 73, and rests at Johnstown.
THE REV. FELIX TRACY, the present respected Parish Priest, succeeded Dr. Flanagan.

A transcript of Rev. M. Comerford's 1883 History of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, relating to the R.C. Parish of Balyna.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed by Breid Kelly and Maria O'Reilly; edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

June 27, 2006

KILCULLEN- 1846,Slater's Commerical Directory of Ireland

          Or Kilcullen-Bridge, is a market town, partly in the parish of Carnalway, barony of South Naas, but chiefly in the barony and parish of Kilcullen, county of Kildare, 27 miles S. S. W. from Dublin, 11 ½ N. E. by N. from Athy, and 7 S. by W. from Naas; situated on the main road between the cities of Dublin and Cork, and on the banks of the Liffey, at a short distance from the great bog of Allan. The river is crossed by a good stone bridge of six arches, whence there is a fine view of the mansion of William Henry Carter, Esq. and of the remains of New Abbey, erected by Sir. Rowland Eustace, in 1460, for Franciscan friars. Old Kilcullen, now but a sorry hamlet, was formerly a walled town, and conferred the title of baron on Thomas Fitz Eustace, afterwards Viscount Baltinglass. The ruins, which crown a hill within about a mile of the south bank of the Liffey, consist of part of an old monastery, an ancient round tower, and many curious sculptured stones.
The places of worship, in connection with the town, are the parish churches of Kilcullen and Carnalway, situated about a mile and a half in opposite directions from the town, two plain buildings, and a small but neat Roman Catholic chapel. The charitable institutions are a dispensary, and a small fever hospital, and a well conducted school, in connection with the Church Education Society. The market is held on Saturday, and the fairs on February 2nd, March 25th, June 22nd, September 8th and 29th, October 2nd, and December 8th. The population of the parish, in 1841, was 3,430, and the town 1,056 of that number.
POST OFFICE, William Henry, Delaney, Post Master.- Letters from DUBLIN arrive every afternoon at half-past one and night at eleven, and are despatched thereto every morning at two and noon at twelve.- Letters from CORK arrive every morning at two, and are despatched thereto every night at eleven.-Letters from WATERFORD arrive every morning at ten minutes before one, and are despatched thereto every night at ten minutes before eleven.
And their Ministers.
PARISH CHURCH, Kilcullen- Rev. Wm. N. Sherrard, rector, the Glebe.
PARISH CHURCH, Carnallaway- Rev. Thomas H. Torrens, rector, the Glebe.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL- Rev. John Murtagh, parish priest; Rev. John Tyrell, curate.
CONSTABULARY BARRACKS- Denison Hilliary, head constable.
DISPENSARY- Marmaduke Bell, medical attendant.
FEVER HOSPITAL- Marmaduke Bell, medical attendant.
SESSION’S HOUSE- George Egan, clerk.
Passing through Kilcullen
To DUBLIN, the Royal Day Mail (from Cork), every day at half-past twelve, and the Night Mail, every morning at two- the Royal Mail (from Waterford), every morning at ten minutes before one; all go through Naas and Rathcool.
To DUBLIN, a Coach (from Waterford), every evening at half-past five-a Caravan (from Dunlavin), every morning at six, and one from Carlow at ten; all go through Naas and Rathcool.
To CARLOW, a Caravan (from Dublin), every afternoon at half-past five; goes through Castle-Dermot.
To CORK, the Royal Day Mail (from Dublin), every afternoon at half-past one; goes through Athy, Stradbally, Abbeyleix, Rathdowney, Templemore, Thurles, Cashel, Caher, Mitchelstown, Fermoy and Rathcormic- and the Night Mail, every night at eleven; goes through Timolin, Castle-Dermot, Carlow, Leighlin, Kilkenny, Callan, Clonmel, Clogheen, Kilworth, Fermoy, Rathcormic and Glenmire.
To DUNLAVIN, a Caravan (from Dublin), every evening at twenty minutes past six.
To WATERFORD, the Royal Mail (from Dublin), every night at ten minutes before eleven, and a Day Coach every forenoon at half-past eleven; both go through Athy, Castle-Comer, Kilkenny, Knocktopher and Ballyhale.
To and from DUBLIN and CASHEL, Carts, for the conveyance of goods, pass through Kilcullen at uncertain periods, but have no house or office of call.
The nearest Station is the KILDARE, on the Dublin and Cashel line, about eight English miles distant.

A description of the town of Kilcullen, along with places of worship, public institutions and coaches and caravans serving the area.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe; final edit Dee O'Brien]


June 26, 2006

LUSITANIA - The stories of two Kildare men who survived the sinking of the ship

Leinster Leader 29/05/1915
Saved from the Lusitania
Kildare Men’s experiences
        Your representative had a very interesting interview a few days since at Kildare with Mr. Martin Mannion who had the experience of going down with the ship when the Lusitania was torpedoed and after some few hours swimming was able to get on to a raft and he has now arrived safely home. Mr. Mannion will be remembered by many sporting friends in the County Kildare, as before he left for America he was attached to the stables of the popular Curragh owner, Mr. Michael Dawson.
Mr. Mannion said he left the Curragh and went to the States in 1911. “At that time” he said “I sailed, bye the bye, on the Laurence, the ship which brought Dr. Crippen from Canada at the time of his dramatic arrest”. I was in the smokeroom of the Lusitania speaking to Mr. Turpin, of Maryborough, when the disaster occurred. The cry immediately arose that the ship had been torpedoed, but I said I had no chance when asked to move for the boats as unfortunately I had been severely injured in an accident a little time previously in America and had been wearing an artificial leg for some two weeks. I told Mr. Turpin (Maryborough) also at the time that I would stand no chance. The scenes on the ship I will not attempt to describe but when the final turn and list of the Lusitania came I found myself in the water and even before I realised the plunge I was swimming. I have fortunately always been a good swimmer. I went down with the ship but, thank God, I am saved. After going down with the Lusitania I continued to struggle for 4 ½ hours. You can scarcely understand what it means-the swimming in the open sea for such a long time, but I do not remember. The experience is a sorrowful one in every way, and one which will be, no matter how long my life may be, with me. I thought when I was cast into the water on the sinking of the ship that I had no chance of life, but, thank God, it was otherwise. One thing was against me and that was the very severe accident I had met with which necessitated the amputation of a foot. With all that I came through there surely is a small little bit of a silver lining in the clouds as we are told it is in almost every case it seems, and in mine I saved life, I am glad to say. In one sad case I succeeded in pulling one man out of the water who was caught between two boats at the time. I got him in on to our boat and did all I could for him with the assistance of others, but he died eventually in my arms.
I am thanking God for my escape and do not think that I can ever be sufficiently grateful. When we struck the Irish land again you can imagine our joy. I need scarcely say that we Irish, with the other survivors bid the old land with an added blessing. “The top of the morning” in such a heartful manner that perhaps very few Irishmen ever did before.
Mr. Mannion although very severely shaken is recovering from the effects of his very awful experiences.
Mr. Tom Mc Cormack who was rescued from the Lusitania arrived safe at Robertstown, of which he is a native, on Saturday last looking none the worst of his terrible experience. Except that he is suffering from rope burns on the fingers caused in winding himself from the sea on board the trawler (Indian Empire) which rescued him. He was 2 years in America and was returning on a holiday to see his friends. It was believed he was the only County Kildare man on the Lusitania. He tells a very exciting tale of his experience. He was standing on the main deck when the vessel was struck by the first torpedo. Very soon after he noticed her listing to the star-board and before he could realise what had happened a second torpedo struck her, after which he noticed her going down, stern foremost. He then rushed to his bunk for a life belt and found it full of water. When he returned to the deck the passengers were rushing madly for the upper deck to the boats. The ship had by this time so far gone to stern and star-board that it seemed like climbing the roof of a house to get up the deck. Seeing no chance to save himself except to take the water he threw off his coat and boots and jumped into the sea from a height of 40 feet. He estimates that he was about three minutes under water. When he rose to the surface he swam about amongst hundreds of people mostly in life-belts, some dead and more dying, until he met a trunk which he mounted. He was not long on it when it cast him off and he continued swimming about for two hours when he picked up a life-belt which enabled him to take a rest until he was secured by the Indian Empire at about 6 p.m. having spent about 3 ½ hours in the water. His valuable gold-watch stopped at 2.25 p.m.-this was about the time he jumped into the water. He states that he was a few minutes in the water when the Lusitania took her final plunge with a terrific explosion of her boilers, blowing one of her funnels high in the air. He was then about 5 perches from her. When rescued he found that he was not much the worse of his terrible experience, except that his limbs were numbed. He was brought to the Cunard office at Queenstown and thence to a hotel where he was well treated. Mc Cormack states that the saddest thing of his experience was the parting with two little aged about 10 years, who clung to him and whom so far as he could see had no one in charge of them. He had to shake them off before taking the plunge. He states that before he left the vessel the propellers were high out of the water. Being a good swimmer he made no effort to reach any of the lifeboats, leaving his chance by that means to the women and children. While in the water shortly before he was rescued he noticed that the greater number of those who were floating about in life-belts were either dead or dying (especially women and children). A good number of those who were rescued alive died before landing and some died soon after. Poor Mc Cormack’s savings in America (£100) and all his effects went down with the Lusitania, the only articles he saved with his life were his shirt, trousers and socks. It is to be hoped that when the relief fund is being distributed he will not be forgotten. He is now depending on friends for his maintenance as owing to the rope burns on his fingers he will be unable to do anything for months. As a boy Mc Cormack was an expert swimmer. He had every confidence that he would be able to save his life if rescued within a reasonable time. This will bring home to all young persons the importance of learning to swim well.

An article from the Leinster Leader describing the experiences of Messrs. Martin Mannion and Tom Mc Cormack, who were on board the ill-fated ship.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

June 22, 2006

1901 Retrospective view of the previous year - 05/01/1901

Kildare Observer 05/01/1901
A Retrospect
             With the dawning of Tuesday, we were also ushered into a new year, which marks the beginning of a new century, and accordingly the prophets are abroad with their predictions and speculations as to the future. The question, of course, naturally forces itself on one’s mind-will the coming year or the coming century be one that will compare favourably with its predecessor as far as this country is concerned? The nineteenth century has been one remarkable in most respects, and so has its last year-the old year just dead. It is not within our power to predict even what the new year will bring, much less the new century-we will leave that to the “prophets”-but if there be any truth in the assertion that “the best of Prophets of the future is the past,” a retrospect of the past twelve months may perhaps give us an insight into the ensuing year, or, at least, may form a basis of what may be expected, and guide us accordingly in out conclusions. Of course we now refer only to mattes local. If, locally in point of progress and economy, the coming twelve months is as successful as the past has been, we may enter on the first year of the new century with hope abundant. The advent of the new form of local government had the effect of stirring up the spirits of the people, into whose own hands the management of local affairs has been placed, and the new power given them has been utilised, so far as Co. Kildare is concerned, with a fair amount of judiciousness. But that is only what might be expected, for during the first sweepings of the new broom, as it were, things of course look well, but after a little wear will the broom be made to sweep as clean as at first? We only hope that it will. There has been a very natural endeavour on the part of the new boards to eclipse the efforts of the old bodies in the successful management of local affairs, and this is a useful spirit of conceit that should be encouraged. As we have intimated, the new bodies have done very good work, and we can only hope it will continue, and that in the coming year they will profit by the lessons of the past. The County Council has done some useful work during the past twelve months, having got pretty well into working order. The attendance of the members has been remarkably good from all sides of the county-from Athy, Ballytore, and the southern district, and from Celbridge, Leixlip, and Kilcock, in the north of the county, as well as from the divisions immediately adjoining Naas. Accordingly the subjects that come before that body for consideration receive the combined attention and experience of practically the full Council. One of the principal duties that the Council discharged during the year was the election of a secretary, the choice from a number of good men falling on Mr. J. T. Heffernan, who had himself been a councillor of great worth. And, so far, Mr. Heffernan has justified the action of the Council in selecting him for the very important post he now holds. The formation of the Agricultural and Technical Instruction Committee was another important undertaking, and in this the Council seemed to have acted well up to the dictates of wisdom, for no better selections could perhaps have been made than those who were placed on the committee; for, judged by the work they have already done, they are men of practical experience and administrative ability. The foundation of the scheme for the promotion of instruction in agricultural and industrial matters has been laid and promises well. An Organising Secretary will be elected at the meeting of the council on the 14th  January, after which the provisions of the Agricultural and Technical Instruction Act will be put into practical force in the county. This in itself is a record piece of work. The endeavours of the council to open up the disused jail premises in Naas as an auxiliary asylum for the care of harmless lunatics at present confined in local workhouses did not, we are sorry to say, meet with success owing to opposition that came from Carlow and from the Inspectors in Lunacy, who have ridiculously extravagant ideas as to what such an institution should be. Into the merits of this we will not enter, as we recently published an able paper from the pen of Mr. S. J. Brown, the able chairman of the Co. Council, which is explanatory of the whole subject. But we must express the hope-so clearly has Mr. Brown shown the absolute necessity for the alleviation of imbeciles in workhouses and the feasibility of converting the disused jail into an institution for their exclusive reception-that this matter will not be allowed to drop, and that it will be taken up during the new year with renewed vigour. The proposed re-opening of the County Infirmary at Kildare is a question that has proved a very contentious one and has well nigh created dissension in the council. Our readers are familiar with the details of the project. The southern portion of the county desire to have to old infirmary reopened, while the northern portion strenuously object. Much has been said in favour of and against the proposal, but the great barrier to the project seems to be that owing to the vast improvements made in the local workhouses in Naas, Athy, Celbridge, Baltinglass, and Edenderry-which unions are wholly or partly situate in Kildare county-and with the addition of the very useful and philanthropic hospital at the Curragh Edge-the Drogheda Memorial hospital-there is no necessity for a further institution that must be supported out of the rates at great cost. Though the Co. Council at a recent meeting threw out the proposal that matter does not end there but is being vigorously pursued by the promoters in Kildare and will probably come on again at the next meeting of the council on the 14th inst. The county seems to be evenly divided on the subject if we take the votes of the county councillors as a criterion, and in that case it is likely the scheme will not be allowed to drop without a struggle to the very utmost end. These are but a few of the matters that have occupied the attention of the council during the past year, and with them the council dealt in a manner that shows the members are thoroughly alive to the importance of the trust placed in them by the ratepayers. As the Council progresses it gains of course in experience, and is perceptibly profiting thereby. Thanks to the interest the members evince in their duties, and with the valuable aid afforded by the able chairman, the Council is perhaps one of the most successful in the administration of county work that exists in Ireland. Death has robbed the Council of a valued member in the person of Mr. Joseph T. Dowling, Newbridge-one of the most painstaking, conscientious, and intelligent of members. His place has been filled by the co-option of Dr. Rowan, Chairman of the Newbridge Town Commissioners-a selection that has given eminent satisfaction. The Naas Town Board cut itself adrift during the year from all connection with the Naas No. 1 Rural District Council. On April 1st the township became urbanised, and in consequence the town body has now greatly extended powers. This change was due to the progressive spirit of the town, and has been thoroughly justified if we may judge by the after results, though the urbanisation scheme did not come into effect until April last, as we have said. Yet in that short period the Urban Council has made remarkable improvements. Two streets, we may say, of pretty and comfortable houses for the accommodation of artisans have been erected; Naas Water Supply Scheme has been completed, and proved a great success; bye-laws have been framed for the township; appliances for the extinguishing of fires have been procured, and a scheme for the formation of a fire brigade set on foot; a number of labourer’s cottages in the township have been acquired; and the board has elected a Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Smyth, and a Town Surveyor in the person of Mr. J. J. Inglis-a man of proved ability in his profession. So that it will be seen from this necessarily brief survey that the town board has been most progressive and up-to-date in their transactions. All those improvements were without doubt essential to the progress of the times, and to the forward spirit that has taken hold of the people. That spirit of self-improvement which is remarkable not alone in Naas, but throughout the whole country, is to a large extent due to the absence of political strife, the existence of which for a space of a decade of years previously occupied the time and mind of the Nationalist community to their own detriment, because of the consequent neglect of their own immediate economic affairs. The change that has come is one for the best, the people profiting largely by the conduct of the past-a past which they have evidently come to recognise as one unfruitful of any good, but prolific in discord and discontent. Newbridge, too, has perceptibly progressed during the past year. An interesting spirit sprung up, resulting in the town board formulating two very essential schemes for the benefit of town and community-a water supply and sewerage system, and a scheme for the providing of housing accommodation for the working classes. At no time within the last decade of years has the board manifested such a deep interest in the welfare of the town as the present body, and we trust that they will not flag in their energies, but rather increase their endeavours to carry on the work so earnestly begun to a successful issue. Kildare by a lucky chance is becoming a rising town. A new military barracks, which will accommodate a couple of thousand men, is being erected, and will have the effect of closely allying the town to the Curragh Camp, where, for over a twelvemonth extensions on a large scale are being made. The big building in Kildare obviously increases the importance of the town. With creditable foresight, the local representatives on the Naas No.1 Rural District Council anticipated the requirements of the new barracks in the matter of the water supply and lighting, and accordingly set on foot a scheme for an increased water power, and lighting, and accordingly set on foot a scheme for an increased water power , and the erection of an electric light installation. These will vastly improve the town, and from computations that have been made will prove a source of revenue to the rates from the rents received through the military. Athy, too, is about to have its water supply. Last year a scheme for this purpose was inaugurated, and is being pushed forward with all speed. The wonder is that such an important and well-developed town as Athy should have remained so long without a waterworks. Baltinglass has been gradually developing of late years, and thanks to the enterprising and pushing spirit of the principal inhabitants of the town and district the old bridewell was converted into a town hall, racquet court, billiard and reading rooms, which supply a long felt want, and we are glad to state that the venture has so far met the expectations of the promoters, for the institution is being cordially supported by the public. Dunlavin maintained its old reputation in matters sporting, and inaugurated an athletics meeting last year in addition to its old standing coursing meets, which proved a big success despite the disagreeable weather which prevailed on the occasion. Likewise did Celbridge hold its sports, and being favoured with glorious weather proved a great attraction. In connection with Celbridge we must not forget the very useful society started there early last year. We refer to the Horticultural Association, whose first show was held in Castletown demesne by kind permission of Mr. Kelly, the new and hospitable tenant of the stately Conolly mansion, and, needless to say, the function met with remarkable success. This association will hold its annual show in different centres each year in the north of the county, and judging by its initial effort it is destined to do some good work in fostering horticulture in North Kildare. Ballymore-Eustace, thanks to the facility given by Mr. George Wolfe, High Sheriff, and to the energy of Mr. Patrick Driver and Mr. Thomas Grace, has procured its water supply, which is sure to prove a boon and blessing to the town. It will be readily seen that all the principal towns in Co. Kildare have come to recognise the necessity for a water scheme in their midst. The different local boards in Naas, Athy, Newbridge, Celbridge, Baltinglass, Edenderry, &c, have been very successful in the discharge of their new duties under the Local Government Act. Death has removed a few-fortunately only a few-of the members of our local boards, including Mr. Stephen Murphy, Co. Councillor, of Rathangan; Mr. James Malone, Celbridge Board of Guardians; Mr, Denis Headon, Silagh, Ballymore-Eustace, of Naas Board of Guardians, each of whom was a valued public representative. Amongst the notable persons identified with the county that have passed away during the last year are Surgeon Wheeler, Captain the Hon. Maurice Bourke, R. N., and Mr. David Mahony, for many years the pillar of the Kildare Hunt. In Parliamentary affairs the General Election effected a change in the representation of North Kildare, Mr. Edmund Leamy ousting Mr. O. J. Engledow. And in referring to Mr. Engledow we are reminded that he, with the assistance of several influential gentlemen in the county, brought about a settlement to the long standing dispute on the Clongorey estate, and the tenants are all now happily reinstated. In Church circles the Rev. H. B. Kennedy, B. D., for some years the Rector of St. David’s, Naas, has removed to St. Andrew’s, Dublin, and is succeeded by Ven. Archdeacon Torrens. The church has been enhanced by the erection of a valuable organ recently dedicated by his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, the instrument proving a great acquisition to the church. It will be thus seen from this brief outline that, on the whole, the last year of the nineteenth century has been one eminently satisfactory as regards this county. The success of the old year reflects abundant hope and promise for this, the first year of the new century, and we trust that the schemes on which all our public bodies may embark will meet with the full measure of success which will give an impetus to the public generally to further persevere in their legitimate enterprises and undertakings for the benefit of Kildare county in particular and Ireland in general.

An article from the Kildare Observer looking back over the events of the previous year.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

1916 RISING - Kildare County Council Reaction

Kildare Observer 3/6/1916
The Dublin Rebellion.
         Mr Healy proposed the following resolution: -“That we, the members of the Kildare Co. Council, strongly deprecate the recent deplorable action of a section of our countrymen in resorting to force of arms. At the same time we strongly appeal in what we consider the best interests of this country and the Empire as a whole to the Government to extend the greatest possible clemency to the rank and file, who, we believe, were deceived into taking part in the rising. That we take this opportunity of again recording our unabated confidence in Mr. J. E. Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party, and thoroughly endorse the attitude they adopted during the crisis we are passing through.”
Mr. Phlean said there was one thing he wished to refer to in connection with the matter. That was the evidence of Major Price, which was a disgrace to Ireland. He said that the magistrates appointed recently failed to do their duty, and that they were men of no position or principle He (Mr. Phlean) considered that was a scandalous thing for a man, and especially an Irishman, to say. He did not know whether Major Price was an Irishman or not. He was a man who had control in administration, as he was a go-between between the military and the police. It was no wonder that they should be rising in rebellion when they were governed by men who held such opinions of our Nationalists and Catholic fellow-countrymen. The Lord Lieutenant said he had to depend on the Press for information while holding an office which cost £20,000 a year.
Mr. Conlan said they should look to the future, and he expressed the hope that the efforts to bring about a settlement would be successful. He thought they should encourage the men entrusted with the work of arriving at a settlement. They should sink all personal and party differences in the hope that a golden future may emerge from the present disastrous period.
The Chairman said he had intended to speak to this or some such resolution but as it had been dealt with he did not think it necessary to prolong it. He agreed thoroughly with Mr. Conlan when he said that they should look forward to the future, and try and let the past be the past (hear, hear).
The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Leinster Leader article regarding resolution passed in Kildare County Council denouncing the actions of certain individuals during the Rising.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed by Sarah Luttrell; edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

COMERFORD - Dedication and Preface from Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin

Dedication and Preface from Rev. M. Comerford's Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin:

Most Emt. & Most Rev. Patrick Francis Moran,

                                    THE COMPILER



          This Volume contains a brief historical notice of the Parishes (22) comprised in the Diocese of Kildare; a similar notice of the Parishes of the Diocese of Leighlin being reserved for a third Volume. The sources from which the facts, here strung together, have been collected, are necessarily various; amongst which are the Works of the Irish Annalists, those of Colgan, Ware, Archdall, Cardinal Moran, and O’Donovan’s valuable notes to his edition of the Four Masters, and also those made by him in connection with the Ordnance Survey, now preserved in MS. in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy. The particulars regarding the present condition of Monastic and Church ruins, etc., have been obtained chiefly by personal examination; in making which, the ready kindness, in every instance, of the clergy, and the valuable assist­ance accorded by them, justly claim the Writer’s grateful acknowledgment.


         The Most Reverend, the Bishop of Lita, having kindly under­taken to offer a copy of the First Volume of these COLLECTIONS for the acceptance of our Holy Father, the Pope, has favoured the Writer with the following letter: -  











  “Rome, 8th November, 1883.


        “It affords me sincere pleasure to inform you that, on last Monday, I had the honour of an audience from the Holy Father, and that I presented to him your valuable work on the Bishops of the United Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin. His Holiness was graciously pleased to accept it with thankful­ness. And, although he does not understand the English lan­guage, he was pleased to receive your work, even as a proof of that love of ecclesiastical studies which it discloses in its learned author, and which he ardently desires to see imitated, as far as possible, by all members of the clergy.

 “Wishing you many years to labour so fruitfully for God’s honour, the salvation of souls, and the advantage of our ecclesiastical literature, I remain, with great respect,

 “Yours very sincerely,






























































































































































































Transcript of the Dedication and Preface from Comerford's 1883 History of the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

June 21, 2006

ALLEN, PARISH OF- Comerford's "Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin"

        THE Parish, now known as that of Allen, comprises the old parochial divisions of Kilmaoge, Rathernon, Feighcullen, and Pollardstown.
The district of Allen was a place of note in the remote pre-Christian past. Its chief topographical feature is the Hill from which it takes its name, Almhuin, ie., “the great neck.” This Hill, which commands an extensive view of the Mountains of Wicklow, Carlow, and Slewmargy, as also of the plains of Magh-Ailbhe, Magh-Liffei, and Magh-Breagh, is chiefly remarkable as having been the site of the royal residence of the renowned Fionn MacCool. There are now but faint and uncertain traces to indicate the existence of this royal palace; the Hill having been cultivated to its very summit, will account for the disappearance, to a great extent, of its former earth-works. A small mound, called Suidh-Fin, or Fin’s chair, occupies the highest point of the Hill. Fionn was, according to Duald M’Firbis, the great-great-grandson of the Lagenian monarch, Nuada Neacht. His father was Cumhail, and his mother Muirn, of the fair neck, daughter of Teige, otherwise called Siogmond. Finn was married to Ailbhe, daughter of King Cormac-Mac-Airt, who commenced to reign in A.D. 227, and was the commander of the Fenians, or standing army, of his royal father-in-law. He was born in the third year of the reign of Conn of the hundred battles, and was killed in the last month of the reign of Fiacha Sraintine, or as some state, before the death of Cairbre Deffechair, King of Ireland, which took place in the year 284. The Four Masters thus record this event:- “A.D. 283. The sixteenth year of Cairbre, Finn, grandson of Baisgne, fell by Aichleach, son of Duibh-Dreann, etc., at Ath-Brea upon the Boinn (Boyne).” Besides his palace at Allen, Finn had another at Magh-Elle, now Moyally, in the King’s County. The celebrated Finian poems, on which MacPherson founded his forgery, are ascribed to the two sons of Finn, Oisin and Fergus, and his kinsman, Caeilte, as well as to himself. Some of the real poems are still extant in the Book of Leinster.(1)
Almha (Allen) came into the possession of Finn by right of his mother. In an Irish poem called Oisin’s Buile, or Rhapsody, published by Miss Brooke, p.94, Almhuin, or Allen, is described as a splendid palace:-
“I saw in my time
With Fionn, for all sorts of drinking,
Ten hundred goblets and fleasgs
With cneasaib of gold,
There were twelve Breans,
Great was the number in one Dun,
In the possession of the son of Teige’s daughter,
Of Almhuin of noble Fenians.
There were twice six fires
Exactly in each house,
And one man and one hundred
At each of these fires.”

“The life of Colum(cille) c.11, states that the celebrated prophet Finn Mac Cumhaill foretold him, when he let the celebrated hound, Bran, after the wild stag, and he followed him to the river Sen-Ghlean Choluim Cille, but he did not follow him over across the river; it was then Finn foretold the birth of Colum Cille, from whom that valley should be named, and that he would bless many places in Erin and Albhain. And Bealach-damhain (the path of the stag) is the name of that place from that forth.” (Mart. Donegal)
A.D. 526. The Battle of Almhuin was fought by Moreartach Mac-Erc, as were also the battles of Moy-alve and Cinn-Eich (now Kineach, near Castledermot). (Four MM.)
A.D. 718. After Fearghal, son Maelduin, son of Maelfithrigh, had been ten years in sovereignty over Ireland, he was slain in the Battle of Almhuin by Dunchadh, son of Murchadh, and Aedh, son of Colgan, an heir presumptive to the sovereignty. The number which the race of Conn brought to this battle was 21,000, and the number brought by the Leinstermen was 9,000. Of the death of Fearghal was said:- “Dunchadh, son of Murchadh the Noble, Aedh, son of Colgan of the Red Swords, slew Fearghal of valiant fight, in the victorious battle of Almhuin.” (Here follows a long list of the chiefs who fell with Fearghal.) “Seven thousand was the number that fell on both sides.” (Four MM.)
The Annals of Clonmacnoise notice this battle under the year 720-“Before King Fohartagh began his reign, the battle of Allone was fought, wherein King Ferrall was slain be the Lynstermen, on Friday, the 3rd of the Ides of December, in the year of our Lord 720. King Ferrall had in his army 21,000 men well armed, and the Lynstermen, 9.000. These were they that were slain on the king’s side, first, King Ferrall himself with 160 of his guard, etc. There were nine that flyed in the ayre, as if they were winged fowle, and so saved their lives.”
The following details of this battle are given in Fragments of Irish Annals, copied by Duald McFirbis, and translated with notes by Dr. O’Donovan:- “Long indeed was this muster of forces being carried on, for each man of Leth-Chuinn, which means the north half of Ireland, to whom the order came, used to say-‘If Donnbo come on the hosting I will.’ Now Donnbo was a widow’s son of the Fera-Ros (2), and he never went away from his mother’s house for one day or one night, and there was not one in all Ireland of fairer countenance, or of better figure, form, or symmetry than he; there was not in all Ireland one more pleasant or entertaining, or one in the world who could repeat more amusing or royal stories than he; he was the best to harness horses, to set spears, to plait hair, and he was a man of royal intelligence in his countenance, of whom was said:-
‘Fairer than sons was Donnbo,
Sweeter his poems than all that mouths rehearse,
Pleasanter than the youths of Inis-Fail,
The brilliancy of his example took the multitude.’
His mother did not permit Donnbo to go with Ferghal until Mael-mic-Failbhe (3) was pledged for his return alive, and until he pledged Colum-Cille for himself that Donnbo would return safe to his own house from the province of Leinster. King Ferghal proceeded on his way. Guides went before him, but the guidance they afforded him was not good, through the narrowness of each road, and the ruggedness of each pass, until they reached Cluain-Dobhail, at Almhain. And Aedhan the Leper, of Cluain-Dobhail (4), was there before them. The hosts ill-treated him; they killed his only cow, and roasted it on spits before his face; and they unroofed his house and burned it; and the Leper said that the vengeance which God would wreak on the Ui-Neill, on his account, would be an eternal vengeance; and the Leper came forward to the tent of Ferghal, where the Kings of Leth-Chuinn were before him. The Leper complained of the injuries done him in their presence; but the heart of none of them was moved towards him except the heart of Cubretan, son of the King of Fera-Ros; and for this Cubretan had no reason to be sorry, for of all the kings who were in the tent, none escaped from the battle except Cubretan alone. Then Ferghal said to Donnbo, ‘Show amusement for us, O Donnbo, for thou art the best minstrel in Ireland at pipes, and trumpets, and harps, at the poems, and legends, and royal tales of Erin; for on tomorrow morning we shall give battle to the Leinster-men.” “No,” said Donnbo, ‘I am not able to amuse thee to-night, and I am not about to exhibit any one of these feats to-night; but wherever thou shalt be to-morrow, if I be alive, I shall show amusement to thee. But let the royal clown, Ua-Maighleine, amuse thee this night.’
“With respect to the Leinster-men, they repaired to Cruachan Claentha (the round hill of Clane), for the Leinster-men would not be defeated if they should hold their council there, and proceed from thence to battle. They proceeded thence to Din-Canainn (Duncannon, between Clane and the hill of Allen), and thence to the battle.
“On the following morning, the battalions on both sides met. The valorous deeds of the heroes of Leinster and Leth-chuinn are very much spoken of. It is said that Brigid was seen over the Leinster-men; Colum-Cille was seen over the Ui-Neill. The battle was gained by Murchadh, son of the King of Leinster. Fergal himself was killed in it; and it was Aedh Menn and Donnchadh that slew Fergal himself, and Bile, son of Buan of Albain (Scotland), from whom Corrbile at Almhain is named (5). Aedh Menn was also the person who slew Donnbo. 160 soldiers were killed on the occasion. The Leinster-men killed an equal number of Leth-Chuinn in this battle; i.e., 9009 of them ran mad, and 100 kings. The hill of Ferghal is at the place.  The clown was taken prisoner, and he was asked to give a clown’s shout, and he did so. Loud and melodious was that shout, so that the shout of Ua-Maighleine has remained with the clowns of Erin from that day forth….The clown’s head was struck off. The reverberation of the clown’s shout remained in the air for three days and three nights, from which comes the saying: ‘The shout of Ua-Maighleine chasing the men in the bog’.
It was at Condail (Old Connell, in County Kildare) of the Kings, the Leinster-men were that night, drinking wine and mead, merrily, and in high spirits after gaining the battle; and each of them was describing his prowess, and they were jolly and right merry. Then Murchadh, son of Bran (the King of Leinster,) said- ‘I would give a chariot of (the value of) four cumhals, and my steed, and battle-dress, to the hero who would go to the field of slaughter, and would bring us a token from it.’ ‘I will go said,’ Baethgalach, a hero of Munster. He put on his dress of battle and combat, and arrived at the spot where the body of King Ferghal was…The young warrior then heard the most delightful and entrancing piping and music in the bunch of rushes next to him. ‘I ask who art thou,’ said the young warrior. ‘I am the head of Donnbo,’ said the head; ‘and I made a compact last night that I would amuse the king to-night, and do not annoy me,’ ‘Which is the body of Ferghal here?’ said the young warrior. ‘Thou mayest observe it yonder,’ said the head. ‘Shall I take thee away,’ said the young warrior, ‘thou art the dearest to me.’ ‘Bring me,’ said the head; ‘but may the grace of God be on thy head if thou bring me to my body again.’ ‘I will, indeed,’ said the young warrior. And the young warrior returned with the head to Condail the same night, and he found the Leinster-men drinking there on his arrival. ‘Hast thou brought a token with thee?’ said Murchadh. ‘I have,’ replied the young warrior, ‘the head of Donnbo.’ ‘Place it on yonder post,’ said Murchadh, and the whole host knew it to be the head of Donnbo, and they all said, ‘Pity that this fate awaited thee, O Donnbo! fair was thy countenance; amuse us to-night as thou didst thy lord last night.’ His face was turned, and he raised a most piteous strain in their presence, so that they were all wailing and lamenting! The same warrior conveyed the head to its body, as he had promised, and he fixed it on the neck (to which it instantly adhered), and Donnbo started into life. In a word, Donnbo reached the house of his mother. The three wonders of this battle were-The coming of Donnbo home to his house alive, in consequence of the pledged word of Colum Cille, and the shout of the clown, which remained reverberating three days and three nights in the air, and nine thousand prevailing over twenty-one thousand.”….One hundred and eighty died of sickness and cold after the Battle of Almhain.
A.D. 727. This Dunchadh was King of Leinster for one year, at the close of which he fell in battle at Allen, by the sword of his brother Faelan, the ancestor of the Ui-Faelan or O’ Byrnes. Cellach, son of Dunchadh, gave Tallaght, County Dublin, to St. Maelruain, to found a monastery “in honour of God and St. Michael,” about the year 769. He died in 771, and was buried at that Church. (Loca, Patr. 258; note 2)
A.D. 942. The Irish totally destroyed the Danish city of Dublin. (Four Masters.) In a poem, commemorating this event, Braen, King of Leinster, is said to have marched his warriors from the Hill of Allen:-
“Braen, of Carman, to the destructive battle,
From the Hill of Almhain passed with his hosts.”
Dr. O’ Donovan, in a letter, dated Kildare, 28 Nov. 1837, (Ord. Survey Papers, R.I.A.), from which some of the facts here introduced have been taken, relates the following anecdote:- “
“About two years ago, an old man of the name of Donnelly dreamed, or pretended to have dreamed, that Fionn MacCool’s treasure was buried in a cave near the south-west extremity of this hill, and communicated his vision to the people in the neighbourhood. He told them that in order to make his way to the treasury, it would be necessary to blast some rocks which stopped the mouth of the cave, for which purpose it was necessary to collect some money. A sum was collected; the landlord, who wanted to have some stones quarried, consented; the work went on, while Donnelly was present with a loaded gun to shoot Finn MacCool’s enchanted dog, Bran, which was watching the treasury, as soon as they should penetrate as far as it. People went out from Naas to see the operation, and lent money to have it carried into execution, but after a long and laborious effort, no cave or treasury could be found. Donnelly, however, declared that the fates might have sported with his imagination on the present occasion, as to the exact spot where the treasure lies, but he expects a second revelation, in which the prognostics will be more distinct and vivid.”
In the townland of Carrick, into which the south-west extremity of this hill extends, there is a holy well called after St. Colman, which was visited by pilgrims on SS. Peter’s and Paul’s day. Over it there grow several old trees and bushes, and near it stands a large rock with a cave, from which the townland received its name. Dr. O’ Donovan thinks that this is the Carric Clumain mentioned in the Dinnseanchus of Tara, where it says that “the Cross of the Holy Pilgrim Fergus who had been in Carric
Clumain, lies near the Sheskin of Tara (6).” He believes that Clumain was the saint who first lived in the rock, and gave it and the well his name, and that the pilgrim Ferugs might have succeeded him. There is little doubt that this rock was anciently called Carric Clumain. The family of O’Clumain in Sligo, now anglicise their name to Coleman. In a field adjoining, there is a second well, accounted Blessed, to which pilgrims resorted for cures, especially of diseases of the eyes, up to a few years ago.
The present Tower on Allen Hill, stands in the centre of an old raised mound. When digging the foundations the workmen came upon a cist-vaen, at the depth of nine feet from the surface, in which was found a human skeleton, which they put back into its place. The summit of the Hill is very level and was formerly surrounded by earth entrenchments, which have been levelled in recent times. According to Kilcolgan, the name of the Dun which crowned the hill was Dun-mor-na-thian. There are two other circular duns, one on each side of the hill; the one in Dunbyrne, which gives its name to the townland, is of extensive dimensions, and the entrenchments noteworthy, even in their present condition; the other dun, which is on the Feighcullen side, is nearly effaced. The Tower, already referred to, was erected in 1859, by Sir Gerald Aylmer of Dunadea, aided by the tenantry; the purpose for which it was erected, does not clearly appear. Numerous trite inscriptions are scattered over its sides as for example:- “Astra Castra; Numen Lumen; Omne Bonum Dei Donum; Quid tibi, id Alteri; Nisi Quia Dominus; Sine Cruce Sine Luce; Lux venit ab alto; Qualis vita finis ita; Si Deus Quis contra?” etc., etc. A brass plate has “G. G. A. 1860. Exegi monumentum oere perennius;” and another records that on “Sept. 16th, 1861, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales ascended this Tower.
The death of King Laeghaire (A.D. 463) is recorded to have taken place between the hills of Eire and Albha; the latter is the Hill of Allen. It had been predicted that he should die between Ireland and Scotland, and, to escape the fulfilment of that prophecy, he never went on foreign hostings; but the prophecy was fulfilled by his dying in the place above-named, the names signifying Ireland and Scotland, respectively.
What makes this locality especially interesting is, that it was, during a lengthened period of the penal times, the place of refuge for the successive prelates who governed the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin. The great J.K.L. touchingly refers to this circumstance in a letter dated Allen, 6th of May, 1823: “I am here placed in the centre of an immense bog, which takes its name from a small hill under whose declivity the chapel and house are built, where I now write. What perhaps interests me most in the wide and vast expanse of the Bog of Allen is, that it afforded, for nearly two centuries, a place of refuge to the apostolic men who have gone before me in preaching the faith, and administering the sacraments to a people in every respect worthy of such pastors. The haunts and retreats frequented by the Bishops of Kildare in the times of persecution are still pointed out by aged inhabitants of these marshes with a sort of pride mingled with piety; and they say-‘There he administered Confirmation; here he held an assembly of the clergy; on that hill he ordained some young priests, whom he sent to France to Spain, to Italy; and we remember, or we heard, how he lived in yonder old walls in common with the young priests whom he prepared for the mission. He sometimes left us with a staff in his hand, and being absent months, we feared he would never return; but he always came back, until he closed his days amongst us. Oh! If you saw him; he was like St. Patrick himself.’ What think you, my dear friend, must be my reflections on hearing of the danger, and labours, and virtues of these good men, and what a reproach to my own sloth, and sensuality, and pride! They of whom the world was not worthy, and who went about in fens and morasses, in nakedness, and thirst, and hunger, and watching, and terror, will be witnesses against me for not using to the best advantage the blessings which their merits have obtained from God for their children. Their spirit, indeed, seems to dwell here, and in those remote and uncultivated districts there are found a purity and simplicity of morals truly surprising. From five to six o’ clock this morning the roads and fields were covered with poor people, young and old, healthy and infirm, hurrying to see the Bishop, and assist at his Mass, and hear his instructions. They thought he should be like those saints whom they had seen or heard of to have gone before him”-(For continuation of this beautiful letter, see Dr. Fitzpatrick’s Life of Dr. Doyle, Vol. 1, p.239, New Edn.) Dr. Doyle, in an unpublished MS., thus refers to Dr. Gallagher; who was Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin from 1737 to 1751. “For some years previous to his death, he resided for part of each year in a small hut of mud walls, thatched with straw or rushes, near the Bog of Allen, to which he might fly when sought after by the myrmidons of the ruling faction. The remains of this cabin still exist on the road from Allen to Robertstown; they form a sort of ill-shaped mound or mounds, on the right hand as you proceed, and are separated by a ditch from the highway, as it passes over a small eminence which looks down on the vast moor or bog expanded just below.”
The place where Dr. Gallagher’s humble residence stood has been ascertained to be in a field immediately outside the village of Killmeoge, to the right of the road to Robertstown. Its mud walls were standing, within the memory of persons still living.
Dr. Mark Forstall, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, writing on the 5th June, 1680, describes a hut which he had erected for himself in terms strikingly similar to those employed by Dr. Doyle, and which would lead to the conclusion that the same locality, if not the very same structure, is referred to by both:- “We are here in a worse plight than before-hardly can we subsist even amongst friends, who are terrified even more than they need by our presence. On this account I have constructed for myself a hut or thatched hovel, in a marshy wood; there I took up my abode, but was attacked by agonizing pains that brought me almost to the point of death. Sick though I was, I have abandoned the place, for I could no longer endure my sufferings there.”
In a Government Return made on the 27th of November, 1731, it is stated that-“In the parish of Kilmaogue there is a Mass-house, built since the first year of King George I., one officiating Popish Priest in the Wood of Allen, in the said parish, and a Friary of three or four Friars.” The so-called Friary was most probably the little community composed of the Bishop and those ecclesiastics whom he was preparing for the future duties of the mission. The Mass-house referred to in this Return stood in the Townland of Grange-higgin; it is found marked on an old map of the County of Kildare, published in 1752. It was a structure of the humblest kind, and was thatched.
The Church which succeeded it was built in 1783, as an inscription on the west gable testifies-“This Chapel was built in the year of our Redeemer, 1783, the Revd. Will. Lawler, Parish Priest. The prayers of this congregation are to be offered for ever for all those who gave their charitable help towards it, the parishioners who honestly paid their contributions, and the Priest who gave fifty pounds of his own.” This Chapel continued in use up to Easter Sunday, 1872, when Mass was celebrated for the first time in the new Church, erected at a cost of about £4,000, and dedicated to the service of God under the title of the Most Holy Trinity.
In the burial-ground attached to the former Chapel are interred the Rev. William Lawler, P.P., the Rev. John Lawler, P.P., the Rev. Denis Dunne, P.P., and the Rev. John Moore, over whose remains are placed the following inscriptions:-
“Reliquiae Revdi. Gulielmi Lawler, Parochi de Allen, Dioecesis Kildarensis Decani, publicis parochiae impensis, hic tumulantur. Obiit die 11 Decembris, anno 1802, aetatis anno, 75.”
“Et etiam reliquiae Revdi. Johannis Lawler, qui vices hujusce parochiae per viginti octo annos gerebat, et qui, scientia et morum simplicitate omnibus charus, e saeculo migravit die 12mo. Julii, A.D. 1830, aetatis suae 75. Req. in Pace.”
“To the memory of the Rev. Denis Dunne, P.P. of Allen and Milltown, who, after a protracted illness which he bore with Christian Resignation, departed this life the 31st August, 1839, in the 47th year of his age, and the 23rd of his missionary labours. Requiescat in Pace.”
Four pewter chalices have been found in this locality, one much more ancient than the rest, and are preserved as memorials of the times of persecution.
Cill Maedhoc, i.e., “the Church of St. Maedhoc,” or Mogue. It has not been ascertained to which saint of that name the old Church of this place was dedicated. The present Protestant Church is built upon the site of the Catholic Church of the olden time. The adjoining burial-ground continued to be used by Catholics until very recently. In building the range of houses opposite the Church, large quantities of human bones were found, proving either that the burial-ground extended formerly in that direction, or that this was the scene of a battle.
A few perches from the village of Kilmeague, to the east, a castle, erected and occupied by the Fitzgeralds of Allone, a branch of the Geraldines, formerly stood; some small portions of it still remain. This was a place of considerable strength and importance; in 1649 it made a stout and, for some time, a successful resistance to the Parliamentary forces. General Hewson, writing to Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons, under date the 3rd of March, 1649 (50), says:-“About the latter end of December I marched with a party of 1,000 men horse and foot, into the Island of Allan, and summoned Killmaog therein, but finding it not feazable to storm without guns, I marched to Rathbride and Ponsers Grange, and took them, and placed two strong garrisons there, which did give me good footing in the County of Kildare….I marched upon Tuesday, the 26th of February, with a party of 2,000 foot and 1,000 Horse towards the County of Kildare, and took with me one culverin, and one semi-culverin, and one mortar piece; the enemy fired their garrisons of Fort Lease, Blackreath, and the forementioned Castle of Killmaog, in the Island of Allan; but I shall easily make it tenable againe, it being very useful for your service”-Contemp. Hist. of Affairs in Ireland-1641-52, Vol.3, p.369.
(Fiodh Chuilinn, i.e., “Cullen’s Wood.”) – This was the site of an ancient Church, the ruins of which existed within the memory of some still living. They were pulled down on the occasion of the erection of the present Protestant Church. In the Martyrology of Tallaght we find one of the early Irish saints identified with this locality:-“Beoain Mac Nessain, i Fidh Cullen.” His feast was celebrated on the 8th of August. The rude Baptismal trough used at this Church in primitive Christian times, is now preserved at Allen. In a field adjoining the Church, the foundation of an extensive building can be traced, regarding which, however, history and tradition are silent. In Patent Roll, 1st August, 5 and 6 Philip and Mary, we find Rodolph Rowley presented to the Vicarage of St. Keny of Feycullen, in the Diocese of Kildare, vacant by the decease of Donald O’Doyn, the last incumbent, and in the presentation of the Crown, in full right.-Morrin. And again, on April 22nd, 5th of Elizabeth, the presentation of Oliver Fitzgerald to the Vicarage of Fecullen, in the Diocese of Kildare, in the donation of the Crown pleno jure.-Idem. In the year A.D. 956, a great battle was fought here, which is thus recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters-“A victory was gained over the Ui-Dunchadha, the Ui-Failghe, and the Clann-Ceallaigh, at Fidh-Chuilinn, namely, over Domhnal, son of Lorchan, and Domhnal, son of Maelmordha, by the Ui-Faelain, namely, by Murchadh, son of Finn,”etc.
This is also the site of a Church, chosen as such probably by St. Patrick himself. The foundation of an old Church may still be traced here. The place is much used as a burial ground. As it is close to Allen it very probably contains the ashes of Dr. Gallagher, and perhaps also is the last resting-place of some of his immediate predecessors in the Episcopate of Kildare. The following inscription appears there on a tombstone:-“I.H.S. There lyeth ye body of Rev. James Reyley, who departed this life ye 9th Jan., 1729. Erected by Maurice Fitzgerald.” Local tradition states that there are four priests buried at Crosspatrick, three of them having been interred in one grave. Four slabs of red granite, each having a Celtic Cross in relievo, have been lately discovered here. It appears probable that they are of ancient date.
Ruin of a Church, 34 feet in length by 26 feet in breadth. The greater portions of the E. and W. gables remain. In the W. Gable is a triple lancet window, 6 feet long by 6 inches wide on outside-splayed within. A similar window appears to have existed in the E. end. There is a recess in the S. wall beside the place where the altar stood. A portion of a stone vessel, probably a Baptismal font, remains; it is 1 ½ feet square, and is pierced in centre. The adjoining ground is used as a place of interment. On a headstone the following curious inscription appears:-“I.H.S. Connell baptized by St. Patrick in ye 5th cent., King Laeogarius of Tara, Conall of Domnach Patrick Cairbre, the three sons of King Niall of the fourth century. Here lies the body of Patrick Conall, of Airther North, who departed this life 1710, aged 50 years, and his wife also, Margaret Geoghegan, of Ballinagore, Westmeath, departed this life in the 78th year of her age, she being of the family of Jamestown. Wm. Conall Maguire, aged 73, and his wife, Bridget Terens. May Patrick, Bridget, Collumkill, pray for the souls of these families. This erected by Patrick Conally, of Old Connal.” At top, the name Gobaun O’ Neill is inscribed.

The only indications of the Church which formerly stood here, are detached portions of masonry lying about. But few interments now take place here. The dates range from 1758 downwards. At Rathbride is a well, esteemed holy. It was formerly named from St. Brigid, but is now generally known as Father Moore’s well. Father Moore was a curate of this parish, and resided at Rathbride; he died on the 12th March, 1826, aged 47 years, as the inscription over his grave at Allen testifies. There is a stone crucifix, three feet high, placed beside the well under a bush; four wooden crosses stand at some distance from each other around the well-and a number of ex voto crutches, etc., have been left by pilgrims, as memorials of favours supposed to have been obtained. This place is still much resorted to. A paragraph appeared in a popular series some years ago relating to this locality; the writer states amongst other things, that the former name of the well was the Black Well-“It is traditionally stated,” he continues, “that Mass used to be celebrated in the Dark Grove in this townland, between the years 1580 and 1598. The place now known as the Cemetery of Rathbride, was first used as a place of interment for Catholics at the period alluded to. Upon the accession of James I., the Catholics built a small Chapel in the cemetery, but, in 1605, it was razed to the ground by an armed force, at the instigation of Bishop Pillsworth, who, however, on his death-bed, gave expression to feelings of sincere regret for the part he took in that proceeding.”
About a mile from Crosspatrick, in the direction of Carbury, on the left, is Grangeclare. This name is included in a list of church sites drawn up in 1640 by Dr. Ross MacGeoghegan, then Bishop of Kildare. The foundations of an extensive building are still traceable, but whether the building was of a sacred or secular character does not appear. A curiously-wrought oak door, was found here some thirty years since; it was purchased and sent to England for exhibition. Three hand-bells of a peculiar shape, and apparently of ancient date, judging from the description given of them, were also found at this place.
A modern chapel of ease was erected here in “1817, by the Rev. John Lawler, P.P., and the subscriptions of the faithful,” as an inserted tablet testifies. Two priests lie here interred-the Rev. Patrick Kelly, who died on the 22nd June, 1837, aged 26; and the Rev. Joseph Fitzgerald, deceased the 22nd February, 1853, aged 29. A portion of the east gable of an old Chapel of the penal times still stands near to the modern Chapel. At a short distance, the foundations are clearly traceable of the old Church of Milltown, the Ballymuillen mentioned in Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list of Churches.

A small portion of the west gable of the old Church is still standing, showing a window and a bell-ope. It is stated that the walls of this Church, as also that which stood at Crosspatrick, were deliberately pulled down to supply building materials for the village of Kilmeague. Few interments now take place here.
The site of a disused burial-ground is here pointed out. This is in the neighbourhood of Derrymullen, and most probably is the church-site indicated by Dr. MacGeoghegan as “Insula S. Baruchani juxta Dyre-an-mullyn.” A holy well, which was here in former times, has become dried up, or, as some say, has moved away half-a-mile further, in consequence of some act of desecration.
In the townland of Ballytigue North, in the centre of the bog, a spot is pointed out, called “the priest’s corner,” where Mass used to be celebrated in penal times.
The following return of the state of Popery in this district was made in April, 1766-In Pollardstown, 1 Protestant family, 13 Popish, do. In Kilmaoge and Rathernon, 45 Protestant individuals, 1,159 Popish. Signed, Jn. Jackson, minister of said parishes.
The P.P. of this place, registered in 1704, was NICHOLAS EUSTACE, residing at Raharaine (Rathernon), aged 52, P.P. of Raharaine, Killmage, Facullen, and part of Tully, and part of Morristown, ordained in 1677, at Abula, in Spain, by the Bishop of Abula; and his two sureties were Captain Cornelius Coonan, of Kilcock, and Maurice Eustace, of Lipstown, Gent. There does not appear to be any evidence to show when Father Eustace died. It is very probable that the Rev. James Reyley, interred at Crosspatrick, who died on the 9th of January, 1729, was the succeeding P.P. The succession after his death is also uncertain. Local tradition preserves the names of two Priests who officiated in the parish about this period, and who are said to be interred at Crosspatrick, viz., Father Vicars and Father Netterville. Most likely these discharged the duties of pastors until the appointment of FATHER WILLIAM LALOR. The inscription on his tomb at Allen omits to mention the time of his appointment, but it was antecedent to April 21, 1766, as we find him mentioned in an official return of that date as P.P. of this parish. He was Dean of Kildare; he died on the 11th of December, 1802, aged 75.
THE REV. JOHN LAWLOR SUCCEEDED.  He continued in the government of the parish up to the period of his death, which took place on the 12th of July, 1830, being then 75 years of age. Dr. Doyle, in his letter from Allen, already quoted, makes the following reference to this simple and holy priest-“This Superior of mine is quite an antique character; he is past 70 years, of a robust, active, and athletic frame, and rude and simple in his manners, like those we read of in olden times. He has spent nearly 40 years in the ministry in this neighbourhood, and has retained his first fervour and piety unimpaired.

 His books of piety are literally worn out with use, while the rest of his library is eaten with the moths, or has been removed by some of his literary friends, who supposed they did him no injury by depriving him of what he seldom used. He counts himself the last of his brethren, and discovers merit in everyone except himself. He sometimes rails at his people, who return him the compliment; but he never inflicts a wound which he does not run to bind up and heal. I saw him to-day at Mass, the most humble and devout of all who surrounded him, kneeling amongst the children upon the ground. How cheerfully could I obey such a man till death should separate us.” Father Lawler sometimes even attempted versification. There is at Harristown graveyard, in the Parish of Monasterevan, of which district he was a native, a head-stone erected by him in 1786, bearing a rhyming inscription, to the memory of his parents and other relatives there interred.
THE REV. DENIS DUNNE was the next P.P. He died on the 31st August, 1839, in the 47th year of his age, and the 23rd of his missionary labours, and was succeeded by the REV. EUGENE O’ REILLY, translated from the Parish of Myshall. Father O’ Reilly died, June 21st, 1871, and was buried in the new Church, at the Gospel side of the High Altar. To Father O’ Reilly succeeded the present estimable pastor, REV. JOHN FARRELL.

(1) On Ben-Edar, the ancient name of the Hill of Howth, Criffan, Monarch of Ireland, had his residence in the first century; the level plateau on the top of the Hill is called “Old Bailey (Baile, i.e., fortress) Green.” It was the Faitche or Campus Martius of the ancient fortress; on it was marshalled the Fenian Militia, who here under their Chief, Fin-MacComhal, kept watch and ward, to repel the Roman invaders, then expected to our shores. For a century before this period, there was a “Mac-Murrogh” lurking in the Roman camp in Britain, and telling the masters of the world that with one legion they could enslave his own countrymen, an advice which they seem to have kept in mind, awaiting only a more favourable time to act upon it: “Ex-pulsum seditione domestica, unum ex regulis gentis exceperar, ac, specie amicitiae in occationem retinebat-Saepe ex eo audivi, legione una ex modicis auxiliis debellari obtinerique Hiberniam poss.”-Tacit, Vita Agric. C. 24.; I.E.R., Jan., 1870, p.163; Moore’s Hist. Ireland, Vol. I.,P.118.
(2) A tribe inhabiting the district round the present town of Carrickmacross
(3) Tenth Abbot of Hy, in succession to St. Columbkill.
(4) 2 June. Aedhan of Cluain Domhail, at Almain, (vivens A.D. 718). He is of the race of Corbmac Cas, son of Oilioll Oluim. (Martyrology of Donegal).
(5) Corbille, i.e., “Bile’s Pit.” This would now be anglicised Corbilly. There is a place of this name in the neighbouring parish of Newbridge.
(6) The Fergus referred to in the Dinnseanchus was the poet of that name, who was one of St. Patrick’s first converts, and who, together with Dubhtach, assisted the Saint in the revision and reformation of the Seanchus Mor.

A transcript of Rev. M. Comerford's 1883 History of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, relating to the R.C. Parish of Allen.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed by Breid Kelly and Maria O'Reilly; edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]


1916 RISING - 06/05/1916 Arrest of seven Naas inhabitants following the events of Easter Week

06/05/1916 Leinster Leader
Arrests in Naas
        The police in Naas and the vicinity have been exceedingly active during the week in ascertaining the identity of all persons passing through the district and the object of their journeys. On Saturday morning the police, in conjunction with the military authorities, visited a number of houses in Naas and took into custody seven well-known inhabitants of the town, viz. Messrs. M. O’Kelly, Editor; C. Byrne, Mono-Operator; R. Furlong, Farm Labourer; P. Grehan, shopkeeper; T.J. Williams, Journalist; A. Sweeney,- P. Mooney, Chauffeur. These were conveyed to the police barracks and subsequently removed under heavy military escort to the Naas military barracks where they were detained. Afterwards an active search was carried out by the p[olice authorities of all the houses in which the persons detained had resided and in some cases their places of business were subjected to a similar search. On Monday evening motors conveyed the prisoners from the military barracks to a destination unknown. One of them, Mr. T.J. Williams was released after the removal of the others, the authorities expressing themselves as satisfied that he was not connected with any of the societies responsible for the recent disturbances.

A Leinster Leader article describing the arrest of several individuals suspected of involvement in the 1916 Rising.

[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe]

June 20, 2006

FRANCIS BACON - County Kildare connections

 The County Kildare homes of Francis Bacon
        A visit to the newly extended and refurbished Dublin Municipal Gallery also known as the The Hugh Lane Gallery, in Parnell Square, Dublin indicated that the artist Francis Bacon (1909‑92) who is the subject of a major installation at the gallery had some Kildare connections, not terribly well known. He was born in Dublin, but his parents moved often between various houses in Ireland and Britain during his childhood and as an infant he lived for a short time at Cannycourt House, near Brannockstown, and later for periods at Straffan Lodge where he lived until 1926 when, according to one account, his father (a British army officer and bloodstock dealer) banished him after seeing him dressed up in his mother's underwear in front of a mirror, an event which gives some indication of his later directions in both his personal and artistic lives ....
Bacon lived most of his life in London where he became one of the avant‑garde artistic set, producing work which was abstract and often dark and disturbing. However his fame grew in international circles and long before his death in 1992 his work had become highly sought after. His studio, a chaotic mess of artistic and domestic detritus, was shipped and reassmbled with exacting accuracy in a special vault‑like room in the Parnell Square gallery where it is often for viewing. There are other intriguing Kildare links which may bear further research. In between living at Cannycourt and Straffan Lodge he lived with his maternal grandparents at Abbeyleix ‑‑ his grandfather is named as one Kerry Supple, who, being a relatively unusual name, may well be connected to the Kerry Supple who was Inspector of the RIC in Naas during the 1916 period ...'

A piece by Liam Kenny outlining the little-known links of the renowned artist Francis Bacon to the County of Kildare, particularly the areas of Brannockstown, Straffan and Abbeyleix.

[Compiled and typed by Liam Kenny; edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]



NAAS - 17/05/1958 Portrait of Fenian Unveiled at Devoy Barracks

17/05/1958 Leinster Leader
Portrait of Fenian Unveiled
        A portrait of John Devoy, after whom Naas Military Barracks is called, was unveiled there on Wednesday by Colonel A.T. Lawlor, O.C., Curragh Training Camp.
The painting, which is the work of Mr. Thomas O’Connor, was presented by the Officers’ Mess which includes F.C.A.
Those present at the ceremony included Lt. Col. J.G. Mac Donald, O.C., Devoy Barracks; Lt. Col. T.J. O’Hanlon, Executive Officer, Curragh Training Camp; Commdt. J. Nolan Area Commander, F.C.A.; Very Rev. P.J. Doyle, P.P. Naas; Rev. L. Newman, C.C., do; Rev. S. Swayne, C.C. do.

Leinster Leader account of the unveiling of a portrait at Naas.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

1798 REBELLION - 23/10/1798 Newspaper account of some events during the Rebellion

23/10/1798 Freeman’s Journal
        A letter received from Sligo yesterday, mentioned, that it is now believed in that quarter, that the vessel in which was Napper Tandy, has escaped to France.
There have been discovered among the French troops taken prisoner on board the vessels captured by the squadron of Sir J.B. Warren, above 70 Irishmen. Six of them, it is said, are from Belfast, and one of them J.T. a cidevant merchant, who amassed a considerable fortune in trace.
It was yesterday reported that Holt, who has been so long a desperate leader of insurgents in this country, having been suspected by some of his followers, that he was about to betray them, they hung him in their camp.
The dispatches that came to hand of Buonaparte’s, gave a most desponding account of his situation. Without reinforcement, he said he could not expect to get forward to India, or back to France.
We find, that wherever a system of midnight plunder and violence prevail most, the evil may very much be ascribed to the absence of the principal Noblemen and Gentlemen, whose influence on their tenantry, and others of a superior class, would conduce greatly, if not altogether, to the peace of the country, and the security of its inhabitants. If the country is abandoned to the vicious and ill-affected; if no resistance be made to the progress of depredation, by those who are most interested, it is not to be expected that subordination and a respect for the laws will be speedily restored. This is not the first time that we have observed on this subject, and it will be an happy circumstance for the country, if the adoption of our advice will prelude the necessity of repeating it.

An article from the Freeman's Journal detailing some events of the Rebellion and comments on the general situation in the country.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

1798 REBELLION - 25/10/1798 Newspaper account of Rebel hanging

25/10/1798 Freeman’s Journal

        A Rebel, named Patrick Daly, was on Friday hanged at Kilcullen Bridge. He was convicted on trial by a Court Martial, of having been one of a gang who robbed and destroyed the Mailcoach at Red Gap, on the 13th of September last. In carrying off the plunder, he had found means to conceal from his companions a portmateau containing upwards of 300l.-but, being afterwards accused and tried by them for the fact, he was sentenced regularly by a Rebel Court Martial to be flogged for the fraud; he contrived, however, to escape out of their powers, and was actually hiding from their pursuit, when he was seized by a party of the army.









Freeman's Journal account of a Rebel execution at Kilcullen Bridge, October 1798.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

1916 RISING - 6/5/1916 Newbridge man's eye witness account of the Rebellion

06/05/1916 Leinster Leader
A Newbridge Gentleman’s Experience
A Gentleman from Newbridge who was in Dublin on a holiday during the week end when hostilities broke out stated to our representative on Monday night there were three police shot in Stephen’s Green. He had been with his wife in Blackrock when the trouble arose and they managed to get as far as Ballsbridge by tram and then started walking in the direction of Kingsbridge when they met a carman who drove them, after some little persuasion, to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, and then alighting they walked on in the direction of Kingsbridge when they encountered the military-a sergeant informing them that they could not get out of the city that night.
They were then fortunate enough to get into a hotel near Kingsbridge where they were accommodated and very kindly treated. There were in the hotel over 100 persons at the time. The machine guns were firing outside in the city. One elderly man when the rattle of the guns was heard in his nervousness moved his chair time after time in front of the windows. I said jokingly continued the gentleman, if anybody is to be shot in this place to-night it is as well be shot in bed with the result that a number, including the old man, sought refuge amongst the blankets and that particular old man on the following morning when breakfast was in sight said fervently, “Thank God, I am able to breathe life again.” The gentleman in question with whom your representative had the interview said he was very fortunate on the occasion, as having got into Lucan he met a motor car on its way to Newbridge and with his friends he eventually arrived home safely. While on the previous evening he was passing O’Connell bridge it was not held exactly by either party. It would appear at the time that the parties were on either side of the bridge and neither were firing. There seemed for the moment to be a truce. The Riot Act was not, as far as he knew read. Afterwards he saw a party, not the military, who were holding O’Connell Bridge, and they must have been the citizen army. The fight was going on in the Post Office district. The Dublin Police were not on the streets as usual as the city was under Martial Law. When our informant arrived in the neighbourhood of Kingsbridge at about 4 o’clock the machine guns were being used freely from the direction of South Dublin Union. It was said that Lieut. Ramsay, R.I.F., had been shot dead from the South Dublin Union neighbourhood. He saw three Sinn Feiners dead in the Union district. They had no special uniforms. There were a number of soldiers killed or wounded. A clerk working at the Post Office had said that he was put out at 11 o’clock with revolver at his head. One pedestrian had a narrow escape when a sergeant of the R.I.F. was skimmed by a bullet. It actually struck his cap and glanced off his scalp. The troops were rushed from the Curragh, while a Brigade of Artillery arrived from Athlone on Tuesday morning. The furniture was taken out of the shops to make barricades while barbed wire entanglements were also arranged in the streets. The one thing that struck our informant was the fact that there was an utter disregard of danger in the city to a very great extent. We actually saw while the severe firing was coming from Stephen’s Green bullets coming over the heads of children who were whipping tops, etc. in the streets. We were indeed glad to get out of the city. There were 35 men killed in James’ Street and we were held up in that direction for some time. Captain Anderson, a well-known Tipperary officer, was killed. He had served during the South African war and had but returned from the present war. A few members of the cavalry were killed in Sackville Street. From the South Dublin Union to Sackville Street and on in the direction of Kingsbridge men were firing from tops of the houses and from inside. I heard the machine guns throughout and it was said that the Sinn Feiners had them too. When the motors came along the street they were immediately seized by the Sinn Feiners and in some instances when they could not be used for their ordinary purposes they were utilised as barricades on the streets. There was steady firing in Dublin all throughout Tuesday.

To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising we have posted an article from the Leinster Leader dated May 1916.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe]

June 17, 2006

BALLITORE - Donation of vauable map to Ballitore Library and Museum

The accompanying dedication for the Brookings Map in Ballitore


Map of Dublin


Charles Brooking, 1728




This map referred to by Mary Leadbeater (neé Shackleton) in her Annals of Ballitorre (1766) has been donated by the Chinn family to the Ballitorre Quaker Library and Museum in memory of  Kathleen Elizabeth Chinn  (neé Shackleton) 1925 - 2000, born at the Rectory in Carlow. She lived her early life at Glen Mona Moone, married in 1957 and moved to Bedford, England. She was laid to rest at  St Mullin’s Church Timolin alongside her husband Hillary William Chinn  (1926-1994), who took a very keen interest in the Quaker and Shackleton heritage of Ballitore.


This map is referred to in the final Paragraph on Page 28 of the Annals of Ballitore (1766) ‘I hardly recollect the ancient mansion; the large room like that apartment which in similar residences in Yorkshire is called "the hoose"  (neither parlour or kitchen ) in which was a closet, and in that closet an owl; the parlour where the afternoon meeting was held, with its sashdoor opening into the garden, and the map of Dublin ornamented by pictures of its re-markable buildings, &c. over the chimney-piece.  





Brookings Map.jpg

Before cleaning and conservation work was carried out. The original map is 145 cm x 61 cm

Charles Brooking's map of Dublin is almost as famous for its accompanying cartouches as it is for its early survey of the capital. County Kildare Library and Arts Service are extremely grateful to Richard Chinn for donating the map in accordance with his mother's wishes. It has been carefully cleaned and conserved by Liz D'Arcy and is now framed and mounted for visitors to see in Ballitore Library and Quaker Museum. This is the original map that hung above the fire-place in Abraham Shackleton's house in Ballitore. Abraham Shackleton, a native of Yorkshire, had opened a boarding-school in 1726 in Ballitore which was to establish the village as a famous place of learning. Its most famous student was Edmund Burke.

Charls Brooking was the father of the famous painter of the same name. He had moved from England to Dublin in the 1720's and his map of the city was published in 1728. He died in 1732.

The map includes cartouches of most of the famous buildings of the city and the coats of arms of the various artificers. No doubt it was used in the education of the young pupils at Ballitore and and Kildare Co. Library and Arts Service appreciates the generosity of the Chinn/Shackleton family in returning it to its early home.


Kildare County Library and Arts Sevice are grateful to Richard Chinn and his family for the generous gift of a 1728 Map of Dublin which had once proudly hung above the fire place in Abraham Shackeltons House in Ballitore.

NAAS - 1939 Convent Centenary

 Leinster Leader: 30/09/1939
Naas Religious Ceremonies
Quarant Ore and Convent Centenary
Lord Bishop of Diocese Presides
His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, presided at and participated in Solemn High Mass which was celebrated at the Church of our Lady and St. David, Naas, on last Sunday.
The occasion was the conclusion of the beautiful devotions of Quarant Ore and the celebration of the Centenary of the Convent of Mercy, Naas.
The sacred edifice was thronged with a devout congregation who followed the impressive and inspiring ceremonies with rapt attention.
After the first Gospel, an eloquent tribute was paid to the Sisters of Mercy by Rev. Father Counihan, S. J., one of the Jesuit Fathers conducting the Mission in the Parish.
The music of the Mass was rendered with great devotion by the Church Choir. During the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, which took place immediately after Mass, his Lordship, the Bishop, intoned the Te Deum, which was sung by the Choir.
Jesuit’s Tribute to sisters
The beautiful ceremonies of the Quarant Ore were held in the Church of Our Lady and St. David, Naas, last weekend, when scenes of a marked religious fervour were witnessed. The ceremonies commenced on Friday with Solemn High Mass at eight o’clock followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, with a Guard of Altar Boys and Children of Mary.
On Saturday, High Mass, "Pro Pace," was celebrated, and on Sunday, Quarant Ore concluded with High Mass, in the presence of His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, who participated in the Mass. Immediately following High Mass, there was a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Te Deum in celebration of the Centenary of the Naas Convent of Mercy, 1839-1939.
The celebrant of the Mass was Rev. Father Phelan, C. C., the deacon was Rev. Father Boylan, C. C., and the sub-deacon, Rev. Father Murphy, C. C. Very Rev. L. Brophy, P. P., V. F., Newbridge, was Master of Ceremonies. His Lordship, who occupied a crimson draped throne, erected in the Sanctuary, had as his assistants, Very Rev. L. Kehoe, P. P., Clane, Rev. Father Shuley, S. J., and Rev. Father Counihan, S. J., the two Fathers conducting the Mission in the Mass. During the Mass his Lordship gave the usual indulgence of forty days on the usual conditions.
At the conclusion of the Mass, procession of the Blessed Sacrament took place, the Sacred Host being carried by his Lordship under a Canopy borne by the Christian Brothers.
On the return of the procession the Te Deum was intoned by the Bishop and sung by the choir in Plain Chant. The Tantum Ergo, which followed, was founded on the slow movement from Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. After the Blessing, the choir sang Haller’s "Sacris Solemnis."
Music of the Mass
The choir once again distinguished itself by its perfect rendering of the sacred music. The Proper of the Mass, the Gloria and Credo were in Plain Chant with a choral arrangement for the "Incarnatus Est," and the "Vitam venturi Sacculi." The remainder of the Mass was from Griesbacher’s Missa Mater Admirabilis in honour of the Feast of Our Lady and the Centenary of the Convent.
The Offertory Motet was an "Ave Maria" for eight-part double choir, by the famous Austrian Composer, Bruckner. This is probably the first time this Motet has been sung outside Central Europe. It was sung at the Zurich Festival last July, and was the only short vocal composition of Bruckner sung at the Bruckner Festival at Linz, 1936.
A huge congregation thronged the Church for the sacred ceremonies, which were followed throughout with rapt attention. At the earlier Masses great numbers received Holy Communion and all during the Quarant Ore period there was a constant stream of worshippers to pay homage to the Blessed Sacrament. The Altar of Repose was beautifully decorated with blooms and flowers, provided by the good Nuns of the Convent of Mercy.
The Sermon
After the first Gospel of the Mass Fr. Counihan, S. J., preached on the Centenary of the foundation of the convent of the Sisters of Mercy at Naas. He said that probably no diocese in Ireland had a finer tradition of convent life than the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. It was here in this diocese that St. Brigid had her first community of nuns. Within the walls of her monasteries here the young Irish girls not merely learned the beliefs of the newly brought faith of St. Patrick, but were trained in all those arts and sciences necessary for their home life. St. Brigid might well be the foundress of all domestic and vocational schools. A tradition of good Catholic motherhood must have begun in those far off days that persisted down through the centuries despite dark and difficult times. In the last century this tradition received an impetus from that trinity of great foundresses, Nano Nagle, Catherine Macauley and Mary Aikenhead who founded the congregations of Presentation, Mercy and Charity nuns.
Ninth Foundation
This Convent in Naas was the ninth foundation of Catherine Macauley. Here in this spot had gone on for one hundred years that convent life which had helped so considerably to model and shape our Irish girls into valiant women-true followers of Mary of the Gael. It is good for us today to examine into the work of our nuns here and so be well informed in this age of lying propaganda and disgusting insinuation. What had this Convent done? What had been its output for God and for Ireland?
First and before all this Convent has sent up an interrupted prayer to God. Every convent is a power-house of prayer. Just as you see our country covered with a network of wires and transforming stations to give people light, heat and work energy, so too our country is thickly sprinkled with religious foundations that draw down God’s grace to illuminate, enkindle and energise souls for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.
Here too the Sisters of Mercy have in sunshine and in shower looked after the sick and poor. In the cholera years they tended those stricken by the awful disease and ministered by the bedside of the dying. With what charity they did so you yourselves were witnesses during the epidemic of flu in 1918.
Furthermore during all these hundred years the young girls of the parish have all learned their Faith, and have been trained to go out into life well equipped for their work in every calling. From this Convent girls have gone to spread the faith at home and abroad fired with the spirit of zeal and enthusiasm that was kindled here by the Nuns. Back to this Convent in all their difficulties and sorrows and disappointments girls could always go knowing that the warmest of warm hearts were there to help them. And when as mothers of families they brought their young children to the Sisters of Mercy, they knew that they were placing them in the safest of safe keeping.
But the sisters have done much more than all this for God and Eire. They have given and give today-what our country needs most-a striking example of thrift and industry. Criticism is sometimes today levelled at all Religious foundations both of men and women. Why these magnificent buildings, these extensive lands, these beautiful gardens? People forget that these are the result of great industry, thrift and hard work-all blessed by Almighty God. Girls, who could have settled down in comfortable homes, gave themselves and their fortune to God. Whenever you gaze upon a beautiful convent such as this one in Naas remember that it is the accumulation of years of work and thrift, that it is all for God and the extension of his Kingdom on earth, that it is for our Catholic Nation, that it is for your parish here, for your children. It has been built, and is carried on, by love and sacrifice. It is the fulfilment of Christ’s words to his own disciples-"Amen, I say to you, that you who have followed Me and have left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold and shall possess life everlasting.
Years of Glorious Work
With joy and gratitude we ask you all to join in our good wishes today to these dear daughters of Catherine Macauley in Naas, on the completion of a hundred years of glorious work for faith and fatherland.
Show your gratitude to the community in a practical way. First of all, pray for them and their work. Prayer, in the words of our late Holy Father, is the first, the second and the third need in the Church of Christ. Then co-operate with them in their training of the young. Keep the girls regularly at school so that the work may go on steadily and satisfactorily. Leave your girls at school here until they are sixteen years of age and over. The Nuns have now in very recent times opened a Secondary School. Avail yourselves of the inestimable advantages of the entirely religious atmosphere of this school, so necessary to your girls in their dangerous years. It is a pity that so many of the boys and girls quit the educational system of the Nuns and Brothers at too early an age in order to prepare in vocational schools for careers in business, office and factory. Co-education during these years is undesirable. We have got on well in the past without it. It may be all very well for the very young, but if it can be avoided at the age of secondary pupils it certainly should be, and is, in all our Nuns and Brothers schools and colleges. We have heard and read of the failures in Faith and morality of girls who leave our shores, and I have heard it suggested, though I do not entirely subscribe to the opinion that such failure may be due to lack of control at this dangerous age because the girls have not continued on and completed their course in the Convent Schools. You can co-operate too by upholding in the homes the authority of the Sisters. Discipline is much needed today. Don’t love the bodies of your children more than their souls. Think more of the adornment of their souls by all Christian virtues than of the adornment of their bodies.
The Sisters of Mercy have stood the Parish well. It is for the parish today to stand faithfully by the Sisters. They are standing by you today as Mary stood by the Cross of Jesus, for they know that in ministering to you they are ministering unto Him. They have taken on the mantle of Mary’s Motherhood conferred on them, through Mary, on Calvary, and no one can say that they have failed in one iota to carry out that commission. We all unite with the Sisters today in singing to the Lord-
"Praise the Lord all ye nations;
Praise Him all ye peoples."
Mission Success
The Mission for Naas, conducted by the Jesuit Fathers, continues to be a wonderful success, and throughout the week there were magnificent attendances at the morning and evening devotions. The Mission will conclude on Sunday next.

Leinster Leader article of the  30 September 1939 on the occasion of the Centenary of the Sisters of Mercy in Naas.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe; final edit Dee O'Brien]

June 08, 2006

ATHY - Newspaper article on the industries in Athy in 1898

Leinster Leader: 26/03/1898

Athy and its Industries

A Review of past History and a Description of Modern Manufacturers

The Past and Present

Athy is one of the most interesting, as well as one of the quaintest of Irish provincial towns. It can trace its history back to the "immemorial past"-back to the far-off days when Ireland gained world-wide renown was the "insula sanctorum". Tradition brings it back even further, to the time when our pagan forefathers worshipped, in groves of Oak, with the fervour, which subsequently characterised their religious beliefs under a higher and nobler form. You cannot enter this, the largest town of Kildare, without being convinced that you tread on sacred ground-that the houses, could they speak, might unfold a tale of entrancing interest and relate accounts of heroic self-sacrifice and noble usefulness for which no parallels can be found in later days. On the left bank of the Barrow where the river is fordable and is spanned by a bridge of five arches stands White’s Castle, built in the 16th Century by Gerald, Eight Earl of Kildare, whilst on the right bank you see the Dominican Convent which reminds you of a monastery built in the town in the 13th Century by the families of Boyle and Hogan, soon after the establishment of the Order, but which has now disappeared. Two miles from the town is Rheban Castle, situated on the west bank of the Barrow. Rheban, we are told, was one of the inland towns of Ireland in the Second Century, and was found on Ptolemy’s map. Here, therefore, are a few monuments, a few living witnesses, which bear testimony to the antiquity of the district, and the importance, which attached to it at an early point in our history. The population of the town in 1831 was 4,494, in ’41, 4,698; in ’61, 4,124; and according to the last census, 1891, the number of inhabitants is now 4,866; so that unlike the majority of other Irish towns, it seems so far as the number of its inhabitants is concerned, to have lost nothing by the agricultural depression of recent years, or by emigration.

Athy derives its name from an Ancient Ford called Athlegar, which means "the ford towards the west," and near which a great battle was fought in the 3rd Century between the Septs of Munster and Leigh. It must have been a bloody engagement too, because there are no protecting hills where the resources of strategy could have been exhausted and the encounter should, bien entendu, take place on the open plain. Retreating from the battle of Clontarf Donagh O’Brien and his forces crossed the ford at White’s Bridge. Besides the monastery of the Dominicans already referred to there was a monastery for Crouched Friars founded on the west bank of the Barrow in 1253 by Richard de St. Michael, Lord of Reban. This building has disappeared, and on the site it once occupied a modern and handsome structure, the Christian schools, now stands. The site of the Dominican Monastery is taken up by a pretty building known as "The Abbey," and inhabited by a Mrs. Hinckson, a Protestant lady. In 1315 the town was plundered by Robert Bruce after the fierce and warlike Scot had defeated the English at the battle of Ardscull in which some distinguished men fell on both sides. On the side of the Scots there fell Sir Fergus Andressan and Sir Walter Murray, and on the side of the English, Raymond le Gros and Sir Wm. Prendergast. All of those worthies were buried in the Dominican Monastery. No wonder that Athy people as they pace and promenade along the spacious and beautiful walks on the banks of the Barrow should be given to romance, and inclined to occasionally conjure up pictures of mailed warriors who once made red with blood the waters of the Barrow, or of "Chiefs and ladies bright," of amorous swains and unsophisticated "Debas," who in mysterious days of yore trod the same ground and gazed on the same scenes. White’s castle, previously mentioned, is so called on account of having been enlarged in 1506 by a member of the White family. It was held by the Irish under O’Neill in 1648, but was taken in 1650 by two of Cromwell’s commanders, Colonels Hewson and Reynolds. At the time of the plantation consequent on the confiscation of the lands of this country by Cromwell’s blood-thirsty followers it was probably in this castle that the following letter, mentioned in Cusack’s history, and dated "Athy, March 4, 1664-5," was written being intended for publication in London-"I have only to acquaint you that the time prescribed for the plantation of the Irish proprietors, and those that have been in arms and abettors of the rebellion, being near at hand, the officers are resolved to fill the jails and to size them.

I presume we shall be very tender about hanging any but leading men, yet we shall make no scruple about sending them to the West Indies and help to plant the plantation that General Venables it is hoped hath reduced." This is an important and suggestive communication when viewed in the light of subsequent developments. Whatever consignment of Irishmen may have reached the West Indies, Athy, today, swarms with O’Briens, and O’Reillys, and Lalors, and Kavanaghs; so it is through the ages.

Irishmen may be defeated in bloody fray and in unscrupulous diplomacy, but when their extirpation seems well-nigh, phoenix-like, they arise again and cover their would be victors with confusion. Now, it is interesting to note that 100 years ago, Thomas Reynolds, the infamous informer and base betrayer of the United Irishmen, was in imprisonment within the walls of this same castle. He was already giving private information and his incarceration was merely a piece of finesse in order to compel him to come forward and give parole evidence. After his arrest on the 5th May, he wrote a letter headed "Athy, Saturday, 4 o’clock," to his patron Mr. Cope, in which he said; -"I have this day been arrested and thrown into the common jail here....I request, I entreat you to send down here an immediate order for my acquittal and release and further protection." Such were the words penned within this historic building by that incarnate ruffian, the erstwhile occupant and mandee of Kilkea Castle, near Athy, at the close of the last century. Surely White’s castle has a history, and in truth a remarkable one.

In 1616, at the instance of Sir Robert Digby, the inhabitants of Athy were incorporated by a charter in which the corporation is grandiloquently dubbed "The Sovereign, Baliffs, Free Burgesses, and Commonality of the Borough of Athy." The old order of things has made way for the new, and we have now a board less majestically titled, but more vigorous and active. The capable body that now administers such of the local affairs of the town as come within its scope under the Towns Improvement Act is in many respects a model one, its chairman being that able courteous, and broad-minded gentleman, Mr. Thomas Plewman. Until the union the borough sent to the Irish House of Commons two representatives. After the Union £15,000 was awarded as compensation for the abolition of the elective franchise. Of this sum the Duke of Leinster-by the way his successor is landlord of the town-received, as proprietor of the borough, a sum of £13,800, and Lord Ennismore, £1,200. A Court of Record was held here until 1827 for adjudicating in actions for any sum. The Summer assizes for the county were formerly held in the old courthouse, but the place of sitting was long since transferred to Naas. The new county gaol completed in 1830 at a cost of £6,000 was given by the Duke of Leinster and the remainder contributed by the county, is now derelict, so far as the purposes for which it was built are concerned, being merely occupied by a caretaker. The last governor was a Mr. Carter. When we read that the tithes of Athy and the "rural parishes of Ardree and Churchtown" amounted to £544 2s 6d in the early part of the century we can only reflect what a very heavy burden has been removed from the shoulders of the Catholic inhabitants by the Church Disestablishment Act of ’69.

Woodstock Castle is a fine old ruin situated on the west bank of the river, and is supposed to have been built by Thos. Fitzgerald, seventh Earl of Kildare. It was taken in 1647 by Owen Roe O’Neill, and the garrison slaughtered. Tradition has it that there is an underground passage between this castle and the Abbey (a distance of over a quarter of a mile), but the best authorities state that this is merely a myth. The ancient monasteries have practically vanished, but the Dominicans have now a fine presbytery and handsome chapel on the west side of the river. The Christian Brother’s Schools are on the west bank of the river, and is supposed to have been built by Thos Fitzgerald, seventh Earl of Kildare. It was taken in 1647 by Owen Roe O’Neill, and the garrison slaughtered. Tradition has it that there is an underground passage between this castle and the Abbey (a distance of over a quarter of a mile), but the best authorities state that this is merely a myth. The ancient monasteries have practically vanished, but the Dominicans have now a fine presbytery and the handsome chapel on the west side of the river. The Christian Brothers’ Schools are on the west side of the river also. There are five Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, whilst the town also contains meeting houses for Methodists and Presbyterians.

Athy’s Industries

Reminiscences of an historic past, however attractive to the antiquarian, have but a passing interest for the "practical man," and we may therefore pass to those features of Athy, which appeal to the mind of this product of the "commercial era." The industries of Athy, as they exist today are not numerous, but they are fairly flourishing. The flour, Indian meal and oatmeal mills of Messrs H. Hannon and Sons constitute by far the most important industry of the district. There are three mills-the Ardreigh (Athy) mills, in which flour alone is manufactured; the Plumperstown mills, also used for the manufacture of flour, and the Athy mills devoted solely to the manufacture of Indian meal.

The Ardreigh Mills were purchased from the Messrs Haughton in 1895, and since then they have been gradually growing in popular esteem, so that their present proprietors have been able to look back upon over two years of continued prosperity. During last year over 8,500 barrels of wheat were manufactured into flour of every quality-Acme, Champion, Rollo Firsts, X L and Prime Foreign for bakers, and Extra Firsts, Prime Irish Retailers (patents) Households, Seconds, Thirds, and Wholemeal for retailers. Practically all the wheat consumed in Athy comes from the flour mills of Ardreigh of the Messrs. Hannon, whilst an extensive trade is also carried on with Athy, Stradbally, Castlecomer, Monasterevan, Kildare, Portarlington, and Edenderry.

Of the total quantity of wheat manufactured in the mills last year 1,000 were native-grown. This has given such an impetus to the wheat growing industry in the district that it is calculated that the acreage under this cereal has been trebled this year. The farmers are well satisfied with the price they obtained, and have resolved to devote a larger area to the cultivation of this grain in future. No wheat produces such a white flour as the native, and the best results are obtained mixing it in small proportions with the foreign article. The Messrs. Hannon find that they not alone are able to compete with, but that they are able to beat foreign producers and manufacturers in fair competition in the open market. This is saying something for Irish enterprise, and covers an idea of the era of prosperity, which might be established, did the example of the Messrs. Hannon meet with a more general emulation. Certainly we would be considered the richer did less bags bearing the well-known brand "San Francisco, U.S.A.," enter the country. The mills were fitted up with the most modern machinery by Henry Simon, of Manchester. I got my information with regard to them from Mr. H. Hannon who waxed enthusiastic over the great benefits, which would accrue to the country from the establishment of industries on a large scale. The manager of the mills, Mr. Price, explained to me the process of manufacture in a most lucid and intelligent manner. Writing towards the end of the last century a celebrated doctor and litterateur gave expression to the statement-"The bread of Nice is very indifferent, and, I am persuaded, very unwholesome. The flour is generally musty and not quite free of sand. This is either owing to the particles of millstone rubbed in grinding, or to what adheres to the corn itself on being threshed on the common ground." Well, as regards the Ardreigh Mills there’s no danger of sand entering the composition of flour manufactured therein, as, the wheat goes through a most elaborate cleaning process, whilst as to mill-stones-none exist-they have been long since discarded. The wheat arrives by barge on the Grand Canal, and Mr. Price explained how it is then placed in elevators, thence to the receiving separator, where the dirt is removed by a preliminary cleaning. The separator is known as the Ureka Dustless Receiving Separator, and can treat 100 barrels of grain in an hour. It is then placed on the various lofts for storage, and subsequently drawn off and mixed to produce the different qualities of flour required. It is then again drawn off and cleaned by a "Dustless Milling Separator," is transferred thence to a divider, next to the cockle and barley cylinders of which there are eight, after which it is thoroughly washed by a scourer. It then goes to a whizzer, where it receives a partial drying. The damp in completely expelled by a Simon Dryer-a patent which is to be found in very few Irish mills, and which dispenses with the old tedious system of kiln drying. The dryer is about 50 feet long, and extending from the bottom of the building upwards, and whilst the wheat which is conveyed from the whizzer by means of an elevator, falls gradually through an opening in which it is played upon by hot currents of air. It falls from the dryer into bins, where it is allowed to remain for a few hours, after which it receives a final cleaning by a brush machine. The final stages in process of manufacture are quickly got through. The corn goes successively through brakes, scalpers, and purifiers, when finally the flour and semolina are separated from each other by a centripetal dressing machine. In the mills the most perfect cleanliness was observed. Mention must be made of the courtesy and business tact of the managing clerk, Mr. Dobbin, to whose energy and resource not a little of the success which has attended the firm is owing. About twenty men are constantly employed in the mills.

The Plumperstown Mills

During last year 9,338 barrels of wheat were manufactured into flour in the above mills. The principal markets are Carlow, Tullow, Baltinglass, and Castledermot. The price paid for wheat in this and in the Ardreigh mills last year was £1 0s 6d per barrel. With this the farmers were well pleased, and the result is that the stimulus afforded through purchasing has induced them to treble the area under the growth this year. Four hundred tons of Indian corn were manufactured into meal last year.

The Athy Mills

In Athy Mills 400 tons of Indian corn were treated last year, whilst a large quantity of oats was also manufactured into meal. There are, of course separate mill wheels for the manufacture of Indian Meal...................


and turning stone. The best patent oat meal, pe...., flaked do, and mixed do are manufactured ,and the flaked is packed neatly and conveniently in cotton bags in weights of a stone, a half stone, and a quarter stone.

The Maltings

The Maltings of Mr. M. J. Minch, M. P., and of Mr. John Whelan, Plough Hotel, Carlow, are important local industries. Those of Mr. M. J. Minch keep about 50 men in constant employment throughout the year.



The Brickworks

The Brick-making industry in the district received an important impetus in the year ’93, prior to which it had become well nigh paralysed owing to the competition carried on by English firms under more advantageous circumstances. Before ’93 it was found that the sale of home made bricks in the district was gradually declining. This was owing to two causes. One was that the machine made bricks of England were larger and therefore more economical for building purposes, and the other that the new and improved process of manufacture by machinery gave the manufacturers or vendors an opportunity of placing on the market an article at the minimum price. In ’93, however, the thinking men of the district put their heads together, and with the co-operation of friends outside, formed a company to manufacture bricks on the newest and most improved methods, and a sum of £120,000 has since been expended on machinery and buildings on a site on the Monasterevan road at the northern side of the town. Mr. Maurice Dominick, J. P., Great George’s street, Cork, is Chairman of the Company; Mr. Joseph Doyle, Curragh Camp, V. C. , Mr. Thomas A. Seagrave, late manager of the Hibernian Bank, Athy, and Mr. Robert Anderson, Castlemitchell, being other directors. Mr. S. Telford, T.C., a gentleman who takes a deep interest in the fostering of local industries, is Managing Director. Mr. Anthony Reeves, the courteous secretary and general business manager, took me over the extensive premises and explained the process of manufacture from the time the clay is wheeled from the field in lorries until the bricks come forth burned and ready for the market. About forty men are in constant employment throughout the year, and an average of £50 weekly is paid in salaries and wages. The working men earn from 10s to 20s per week, and as the work is perfectly healthy it can easily be seen what a boon such an industry is in the district. Mr. Reeves spoke in the highest terms of the treatment his company received from the Great Southern and Western Railway. Prior to ’93 the rate was 15s; it is now only 6s, this concession being made by the railway people in order to assist in the development of the industry. The railway company are also going to run a siding from the railway up to the brickworks, a distance of 400 yards. With a preferential rate and an article than which no better can, in the opinion of experts, be placed on the market, it is no wonder that the industry is developing. Although the weekly output of bricks amounts to 80,000 Mr. Reeves assured me that the supply was quite unequal to the demand. The principal market is Dublin, where the products of the company are now used by all the leading builders. The National Bank, Rathmines, at present in course of construction, is being built by bricks manufactured by the company. Octagon, bull-nose, and every variety of moulded brick are made. The five huge tanks on the premises are capable of holding material sufficient to manufacture 400,000 bricks. Those to which we have referred are the principal industries of Athy. The good they do could only be thoroughly understood and appreciated should they but cease to exist for a month. Mr. Plewman, whose photo we reproduce, is an active member of the Town Commission of which he is Chairman. He has taken a prominent part in organising the fairs and markets, and does much to add to the general weal.

An article from the Leinster Leader 26 March 1898 on the local industries in Athy

[Compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe; Final edit Dee O'Brien]

Kildare Country Houses and Gardens

List supplied by Liam Kenny



Celbridge Lodge

Celbridge, Co Kildare

Henry McDowell

Tel: 01-6288347

Open: April 1-16, May 1-31, June 5-30, daily, Sept 1-10, 1pm-5pm. At other times by appointment.

Fee: Full €6, Concession €3


Coolcarrigan House & Garden

Coolcarrigan, Coill Dubh, Naas, Co Kildare

Robert Wilson-Wright

Tel: 045-863524

Open: April 14-23, May 8-28, Aug 14-Sept 3, Oct 2-8, daily, 9am-1pm.

Fee: Adult €8, OAPs €5


Farmersvale House

Badgerhill, Kill, Co Kildare

Patricia Orr

Tel: 086-2552661

Open: Jan 13-Feb 1, May 1-31, June 8-16, daily, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Full €6, Concession €3



Naas, Co Kildare

Patrick Guinness

Tel: 045-879463

Open: April 11-June 9, daily, 10am-2pm

Fee: €5


The Glebe House

Carnalway, Kilcullen, Co Kildare

Simon & Ciara Durham

Tel: 045-481197

Open: Feb 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23 & 28, March 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 29 & 30, May 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28 & 30, June 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 & 29, Sept 2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 & 28, Oct 3, 10 & 17, 10am-2pm

Fee: Free



Ballitore, Co Kildare

Carolyn Ashe

Tel: 086-8308676

(Guest House)

Open: All year except Christmas


Harristown House

Brannockstown, Co Kildare

Noëlla Beaumont

Tel: 045-483614

Open: Jan 30-Feb 24, 2pm-6pm except Wed, 9am-1pm, May 1-June 9, Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri, 2pm-6pm, Wed, Sat & Sun, 9am-1pm

Fee: Full €6, Concession €3


Kildrought House

Celbridge (Village), Co Kildare

June Stuart

Tel: 01-6271206, 087-6168651

Open: Jan 16-Feb 4, July 3-Aug 11, daily, 10am-2pm, Last tour 12.30pm

Fee: Full €6, Concession €3, small groups by arrangement


Leixlip Castle

Leixlip, Co Kildare

Desmond Guinness or Fionn Burke

Tel: 01-6244430/6246873

Open: March 1-3, 6-10, 13-16, 20-24, 27 & 28, Mon-Fri, May 2-28, 30 & 31, Sept 18-29, daily, 9am-1pm

Fee: €8, Concession €4, (guided tour and guide book provided)


Moone Abbey House & Tower

Moone, Co Kildare

Countess Jenifer Matuschka

Tel: 059-8624131

Open: May 1-31 & Sept 1-30, daily, 12noon-4pm

Fee: Full €5, Concession €2


Moyglare Glebe

Maynooth, Co Kildare

Martin Hayden

Tel: 01-8722238

Open: June 1-July 31, daily, 8am-12noon

Fee: €10, Concession €6


Steam Museum/Lodge Park Heritage Centre

Lodge Park, Straffan, Co Kildare

Robert C Guinness

Tel: 01-6288412

From our Correspondent in America!! Liam Kenny has sent a list of houses/gardens in Co. Kildare which are open for visitors under the relief scheme for heritage properties. It is not an easy list to source and contains a few lesser known properties which might make interesting destinations for local historians over the days of summer.


June 02, 2006

NAAS - 25/10/1902 Town Hall Improvements and Free Library

 Leinster Leader: 25/10/1902
Naas Town Hall-Extensive Improvements Contemplated
Free Library Scheme-report of the Committee
The Council approves of the new plans
At the meeting of the Naas Urban Council on Tuesday last, Mr. R. Sargent presiding, a very important report was received from the committee appointed to make arrangements for the provision of a Free Library in Naas, in accordance with the terms of the Carnegie grant. The committee, as will be seen from the report, first contemplated establishing the Library in the water tower, but failing to find space available, they hit upon a plan which will be far more acceptable to the people of the town. They propose to augment by the funds at their disposal a loan to be raised by the Urban Council, the joint amount to be used in enlarging the Town Hall and providing a library there as well as carrying out some much needed improvements in that building. It should be mentioned that the plans of the new arrangements, executed by Mr. Inglis, are of a very complete character, and that the existing space of the town hall is economically and advantageously utilised, while the additions provide for an imposing frontage, a greatly enlarged assembly hall or theatre, a library and reading room, and a prefect system of sanitation throughout the building. The outside members of the committee present at Tuesday’s meeting were Rev. D. Gorry, C. C. (chairman), Rev. Mr. Elliott, Mr. J. Whiteside Dane, and Mr. H. Farrell.
The Clerk read the report as follows:
Gentlemen, Your committee appointed for Urban Technical Instruction and Free Library purposes beg to submit to you the following scheme for the latter purposes. It was at first thought that there would be room in the water tower for the Library, but it has been found that the entire building there would be required for Technical Instruction purposes alone, and in consequence your committee had to look elsewhere, and so doing were of one mind that the position chosen for such Free Public Library should be as central as possible in the town, and easy of access to the many who are certain to avail of it when open. Your committee therefore suggests that the middle floor or left wing of present Town Hall building should with certain alterations and additions be utilised for the purpose. It was found that these apartments could only be made available by making considerable alterations in the present front and internal arrangements in the Town Hall, which afforded an opportunity of making much needed improvements in that building. The plans therefore put by your committee at their suggestion by Mr. Inglis will not only provide admirable rooms for library, and add considerably to present appearance of building, but greatly enlarge the present assembly and ball rooms, and provide much needed accommodation. Apart from the library rooms proper, the improvements, etc., to other portions of the Town Hall building as per plans are as follows: Three doors are provided to assembly hall, and present seating accommodation will be increased by 25 per cent. The first part when reserved can be approached by a new corridor without passing through back of hall. It is proposed to slope portion of floor so as to give a better view of platform from back of hall. Dressing rooms and platform can be entered through corridor without disturbing audience, and cloak room is provided near entrance to reserved seats, and a lavatory in connection with dressing rooms. The hall will be ventilated on "inlet and exhaust" principles. The existing accommodation in "League of the Cross" is improved by the building of a full sizes permanent billiard room instead of the temporary one at present in use, together with the provision of necessary lavatory accommodation. A rate collector’s office is provided near the main entrance to Town Hall, and Town Sergeant’s quarters, which will be increased by the provision of a scullery, w. c., and enclosed yard together with a store for fuel to be used in Town Hall.
The accommodation to council chamber and town clerk’s office will be increased by the introduction of a small room to be used as a store, particularly when large apartments are handed over during Hunt Club balls.
The floor space of the ball room will be increased by 20 per cent, and an entrance and spit provided, instead of one door as at present.
The lighting of Catholic Institute billiard room will be improved, and necessary lavatory accommodation provided.
Your committee have secured for the carrying out of the suggested plans a sum of over £500, £150 of which has been subscribed locally and £350 thereby secured from Mr. Carnegie. This sum of £500 must be expended on the Library alone, but the necessary staircases and passages, which will be a vast improvement on the existing ones, will also lead to and be of advantage to all the other apartments in the Town Hall building. Your committee expect many additional subscriptions locally, and whatever surplus there may be over and above £500 will be available for the additions and improvements to what may be called the non-library portions of the building, as suggested by plan. In view of your council sanctioning the above scheme, and in view of the important alterations and improvements to present buildings as embodied in plans, your committee suggests that your council will set aside such a sum of money as will secure the carrying out of so considerable a scheme.
D. Gorry, C.C. (chairman)
Mr. Inglis having explained the plans to the members of the council, Mr. Quinn inquired if he had prepared an estimate of the probable cost.
Mr. Inglis said the cost for Library accommodation would be £530. The total cost in accordance with his prepared plans would be £1,169, and this included £111 for the finishing of the front of the Town Hall.
Mr. Quinn: How much of that would the council have to provide? Mr. Inglis: The difference between £530 and £1,169.
Mr. Quinn: It would be over half. Chairman: Of course, if it is got it will have to be got on a loan. Mr. Staples said that he supposed if they made the improvements they would charge an additional rent. Clerk: yes, you will want to revise the hall prices. Mr. Inglis: The League of the Cross get a good deal of the benefit. I do not know if they pay any rent at all. Chairman: A nominal rent. Clerk: They pay £1 2s 6d. Chairman: They put some things up there themselves.
Mr. Brown having introduced the deputation from the committee, Father Gorry said: Gentlemen, our only business here on the part of the committee is to help you in the consideration of the different suggestions offered in the report; and as far as we can to influence you for the good of the town to advance the money that is required to carry out the plans before you. The present building is-well I think I am not far wrong in calling it a blot on the main street of Naas. The little expense that might be incurred in carrying through the scheme would, if spread over the ratepayers, cost little, especially in view of the sum that is at present in hand for part of the scheme. We have given our very careful consideration as to how much the scheme might cost, and the more we think of it the deeper, we are impressed with the fact that this is a grand opportunity for the people of Naas to carry out long-desired and greatly needed reforms in this building. We are here to do all we can to assist you.
Mr. Cane: It appears to me that the Town Hall is in such a state that it requires something to be done with it. I think that the plans prepared by Mr. Inglis are most excellent. They provide for a great deal of accommodation. They give a better assembly hall, a library, they provide for a better cloak room downstairs, a proper stairs, offices for your rate collector, and sanitary accommodation in addition to a new front to the town hall. Having regard to the fact that you have got £500 which will be spent in the place, it certainly appears to me that now would be the time to provide the additional money and carry out the entire scheme. The committee’s object would not be properly carried out unless the council will help to carry the scheme out in its entirety-in fact, I believe that it would fall to the ground. It appears to me that these improvements would be a great advantage to the people of the town in every possible way. Not only the accommodation provided in the League of the Cross rooms would be an improvement, but by carrying out the entire scheme you will have a decent and respectable institution, instead of what I might say is a disgrace to the town. If you carry it out you will be the means, amongst other things, of providing good entertainments for the people. At present no large company can come to Naas, because the accommodation is not large enough to realise sufficient to pay them. You all know that a library would be a great advantage to the people of the town, and with £500 in hand you should not lose a good chance of making your Town Hall what it should be. The plans appear to me to be excellent ones, having regard to the material on which Mr. Inglis had to work.
Rev. Mr. Elliott: Mr. Chairman, it strikes me that as business men you should not lose this opportunity. By taking advantage of it you are acting in the best interests of the Urban Council. We are a committee appointed to try to establish a Free Library, and we have got £500. We are asking you to spend the greater part of that money on this building. In fact, I think that the Town Commissioners would be reaping a greater advantage that the committee by being asked to spend the latter’s money on their building. This is an opportunity of doing work that was contemplated many years ago, and I do not think you should neglect it. This building is central, and is suitable for a library. Would it not be a very pleasant thing for the members of the Town Council themselves, while waiting for a meeting or anything of that sort, to drop in and have a read (laughter), and perhaps meet some of the people they represent there, and have a chat with them (laughter). I do not think that the councillors will be found fault with by the ratepayers if they help on this much-needed improvement.
Chairman: The Committee have put a lot of matters before us-the things they have done and the money they have been the means of providing, amounting to about £500. From Mr. Inglis’s calculations it would take between eleven and twelve hundred pounds to carry out his plans, and generally the actual working out runs the higher than the estimate. Are the ratepayers of the town prepared or anxious to lay out this seven hundred pounds? That it would improve the Town Hall and give it a good appearance, and give us a good deal more in the interior, I have no doubt, and it would be an advantage to the town. I cannot see any objections to it if we can borrow the money, but I do not know what the general body of the ratepayers will think of it, and that will have to be considered. We are here of course to do what the majority of the ratepayers think, and it is what the majority of them agree to that we should do. For myself I think it would be a very good and a very wise think; we are getting nearly half the money practically, I might say, as a gift.
Mr. Brown: Perhaps the better way would be to have a resolution before the meeting, and then we can make any observations we wish on that resolution. We could not decide today as to the amount; that would be too rapid, and the resolution, which I will now propose, will, I think, be free from any objection of that kind. Mr. Brown then proposed that the report of the committee be adopted and approved of, and that the question of the amount to be expended by the council be considered at the next meeting. Continuing, he said: that will give ample time for the examination in detail of the plans by any member of the council who is not acquainted with them, and of course any ratepayer who desires to see them can do so. The question of the amount will then come up properly at the next meeting, having been previously placed on the agenda paper. Our chairman has expressed his own personal view of approbation of the scheme, and I think it would be difficult for any other member of the council to come to any other conclusion. If the amount required did even go up to £700. I say that the town would be getting good value for that amount. To put it shortly, the ratepayers would be getting £1,200 for £700. And apart altogether from the advantages conferred on the community by the establishment of a Free Library, there will be an absolute monetary return from the outlay which will fully repay the instalments of principal and interest necessary to clear off the loan, and even leave a surplus. As you may observe from an examination of the plans, very substantial advantages will be conferred on the bodies that use the Town Hall, and for these advantages we may reasonably expect that they will contribute more than they do at present, and from that source there should be a substantial sum available towards repaying the interest and principal of the amount. We will suppose that you had had to borrow £700, for the sake of argument. That sum of money would be advanced at 3 ½ per cent, which is about the rate at which money is advanced, and this would mean £25 per annum. Then we would require to have a sinking fund to pay off portion of the principal, which would bring the amount we would have to pay to about £40 for the first year, and this, of course would be gradually reducing, so that six per cent would be the maximum repayment. I am satisfied that the increased returns would not only bring in this amount, but leave a surplus. As was pointed out by Mr. Dane, the Town Hall is not used at all to the extent that it would be if it was a more suitable place for public entertainments. Our average lettings are on the increase now, but not only would we have an increase on that number, but our tariff might be increased owing to the increased earning power of the hall. From this point if view the hall would be vastly improved by giving separate entrances, reserved seats and a cloak room. Besides these advantages we have increased accommodation for our offices, and the further improvement of this room, which has been already so much improved, and there will not be a pen up of this £50, which has been placed at the disposal of the committee, which will not go to improvement of the town hall, even taking the library out of the question. In moving the resolution I will say this-that if I thought that any portion of the expense would fall upon the poorer ratepayers of this town, I’d be the last to recommend it. On the contrary, I believe that instead of being a burden to them it will be a relief to them, because, as I have said, the increased receipts from the town hall will more than pay the instalments of the money that we will have to expend.
Mr. Staples: I have been speaking to a great many ratepayers, and they appear to be very anxious that this should be done.
The Chairman then put Mr. Brown’s resolution to the council, and declared it passed unanimously.
Chairman: I am sure we all feel thankful to the committee for the good work they have done, and for the pains they have taken to put the plans before us.
Mr. Brown: I think we should pass a vote of thanks to Mr. Carnegie for his generous donation towards the establishment of a Free Library.
The vote was passed.
In answer to the Chairman, Mr. Brown said it would not be necessary to put the Public Libraries Act into force. They had already done that as far back as 1897. They had struck a rate of a penny in the £. Chairman: It was never collected.
Mr. Brown: It went back into the rate. There is one thing I might say. We have been speaking here as if £500 was the only amount available. But I might add that the public spirit, the patriotism of Naas is not yet exhausted. There are a great many people who, when they know what we are doing, will come forward with subscriptions. I believe that.
Chairman: Wont they say that as it is coming out of the rates now they need not subscribe any more? Mr. Brown: But my point is that there will not be a penny on the rates. Chairman: Let us hope so. Mr. Brown: Even so, that would be no answer for the people who can afford to subscribe. Let it be remembered that by far the larger part of the £150 has come from outside the town of Naas. Naas would not have done anything beyond what was expected of it if it subscribed that amount itself; but the resources of the town have not been exhausted, and I believe that if there is an effort made between this and next meeting there will be a great increase on that £150. I ought to mention now that Mr. Dane has set us a very good example, which I hope will be followed. He gave £5 for the establishment of a free library, and when he found out that our plans were intended to benefit the town hall he gave £5 more. As far as I am concerned I am prepared to increase the subscription that I originally gave.
Mr. Staples said he believed there would be many additional subscriptions when the plans were made known.
Father Gorry: There is some public spirit left in Naas, and I have no fear that we will get plenty of additional subscriptions.
The council adjourned.

Leinster Leader article in October 1902 on the proposed improvements to Naas Town Hall and the Free Library Scheme.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe; final edit Dee O'Brien]

GRACE - Ancestors of Peter Grace of Athy, emigrated 1860-1862


Ancestors and Descendants of Peter Grace

Who Emigrated from Athy, Ireland to New Britain, Connecticut

In 1860-62


Chapter I



Edward A. Daniel

Rockville, Maryland, USA


May 30, 2006



Now will I praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time;

All these were glorious in their time, each illustrious in his day.

Their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants.

The Book of Sirach

Chapter 44, verses 1, 7, 11.



This is a history of the life and times of the family of Peter Grace from the countryside of Athy, County Kildare, Ireland, descended from Anglo-Normans who settled in County Kilkenny in the 12th century. This history traces the family from the mid 1700’s into the 1940’s, through the famine of the 1840’s, their emigration to the United States at the time of the American Civil War, and their settling in what became the hardware manufacturing center of the nation. The Graces were farmers in Ireland and factory workers in America; occupations that demanded long hours of hard manual labor and offered no luxuries. By the mid-20th century, through hard work and opportunities that a free society provides, many of his descendants achieved the American Dream: home ownership, a college education, and professional careers including medicine, education, and public service. Through their years in the U. S., the Graces maintained their Irish heritage and involvement in civic and church life.

Their story will be told in three chapters that deal with their life in Ireland, emigration to America, and life in New Britain. Only the first chapter has been completed. It follows this page.

This genealogy is of the maternal ancestors of my wife, Patricia Grace Ryan. A previous history traced her paternal ancestors, the Ryans of Franklin County, Vermont, who emigrated in 1815 from Thomastown, County Kilkenny. Since Thomastown is only thirty miles from Athy, and since the Grace’s were originally from Kilkenny, the families might have met in Ireland in ancient times. In modern times however, these families did not meet until 1929 in the United States, when Kathleen, great-granddaughter of the first Grace emigrant, met and married Francis, great-grandson of the first Ryan emigrant.

People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.

Edmund Burke, Irish statesman



Little is known about "our" Graces when they lived in Ireland except as can be gleaned from church records and tax listings or from histories of Athy and County Kildare. This chapter provides some history of the family lineage and the lands where they resided for at least one hundred years before emigration. This chapter also puts their lives into historical perspective, describing living conditions and events that occurred during their years of Ireland’s long and contentious history under British rule.

Graces of Old Irish genealogy sources indicate that under ancient name of le Gros or le Gras, there have been Graces in Ireland as far back as the 12th century. They were Anglo-Normans. When Strongbow invaded Ireland in 1171 he was accompanied by a son-in-law, Raymond le Gros, who was granted the area of present-day County Kilkenny for his faithful service. Grace’s Castle was soon built in Kilkenny City; remnants of its foundation are now part of the County courthouse. In 1315 a second Raymond le Gros was killed at the Battle of Ardscull in County Kildare and was buried in Athy. In the 15th century, an Oliver Grace was Head Abbot at the Jerpoint Cistercian Abbey at nearby Thomastown, Kilkenny, and in the 17th century there was a Robert Grace who owned 32,000 acres in that county. In modern times, the most renowned (and wealthiest) Grace was William R. Grace. Born in County Cork and emigrated to the U.S. in the mid 1800’s, he started a very successful shipping line, W. R. Grace & Co., now a large diversified chemical company. In 1880 he became the first Catholic to be elected mayor of New York City. It is presumed, but not proven, that the Graces of New Britain are of the same lineage of these earlier renowned Graces.County Kildare During the 15th and 16th centuries English administrative control in Ireland extended only within an arc of land about 40 miles from Dublin. This area was called the Pale; beyond it were the "wild" areas of Ireland controlled by factions of Gaelic and Norman chieftains. County Kildare, including the southern-most region around Athy, was within the Pale. Kildare was, and remains, a county blessed with good soil, gentle topography, rivers and rail access to Dublin.

Athy Athy (AH-tie) has been settled since the 12th century. In 1417 White’s Castle was built as a military outpost on the edge of the Pale. In 1515 King Henry VIII granted a charter for new fortifications, and in 1613 King James I granted a charter creating the borough. In 1791 the Grand Canal was built along the River Barrow, connecting Athy to the Royal Canal which extended to Dublin. Athy was a market town, its economy based on agriculture, primarily grain grown in the fertile countryside of the Barrow valley. In 1846 a railroad was built through Athy, improving the shipment of farm products to Dublin and Waterford. Gristmills ground corn into meal for export to England. Compared to the rest of Ireland in that era, Athy was a rather prosperous area. Athy was the largest town in County Kildare with 3,900 residents in 1851. From the 15th century into the late 1800’s Athy and most of Kildare was owned by the powerful Fitzgerald families, headed by the Earl of Kildare; later the Duke of Leinster (pronounced Linster). The Duke owned enormous areas of land. In the 1800’s he lived at Leinster House near Dublin but also had several manor houses near Athy including Leinster Lodge, Kilkea Castle, and Dollardstown House. These houses were well known to "our" Graces as they lived near them from 1805 to 1862.

The Rebellion of 1798 A major event that touched the Graces of Athy was the short-lived and abortive Irish rebellion in 1798, organized by a revolutionary group, the Society of United Irishmen. The rebellion is significant in Irish history because it included the first of many attempts to solicit foreign military support (French, in this case) to overthrow British rule. Several hundred died in the turmoil. Although most residents in Athy did not support the rebellion, there were many who did. Two major players in the rebellion had connections to Athy and the first shots in the rebellion were fired a few miles north of the town. Loyalist troops stationed at Athy were involved in several of the battles, and the town became a haven for loyalist residents in the surrounding countryside who took refuge from the fighting that swirled around them.

The Graces could not have been ignorant of all this activity. The earliest "documented" ancestor, Michael, and his four younger siblings were in their 30’s at the time of the rebellion, the same age as many of the rebel leaders. They lived in Goulyduff, a farming area two miles west of Athy. One of the insurgents was Patrick O’Kelly from Kilcoo, adjacent to Goulyduff. The Graces surely heard rumors of impending turmoil as insurgents tried to recruit local followers and as loyalist troops from Athy ruthlessly searched them out. Michael’s father might have been among those whose farmhouses were searched by soldiers looking for information about Society members or collaborators. If suspicious information was found, suspects were strung up and flogged to get more information, and then their homes were burned. As a further warning to potential collaborators, several local men were "pitchcapped," an excruciating punishment in which hot tar was poured into a dunce-like paper cap on the head, causing the scalp to be ripped off the skull when the tar cooled and the cap was removed.

One of the prominent leaders of the United Irishmen was Lord Edward Fitzgerald, 35-year old son of the Duke of Leinster whose landholdings included Goulyduff. Edward had been wounded in 1781 while serving in the British Army during the American Revolution. After his return home he embraced the ideals of liberty and became active in the cause for Irish freedom. One night during the rebellion Dollardstown House was attacked and ransacked by Crown loyalists. At the time, it was occupied by Patrick Dunne and his wife Mary (Fitzgerald), a cousin of Edward Fitzgerald who was known to have been a visitor to the house. Mary’s travail during the attack was dramatic: "The mistress of the House, despite being heavily pregnant at the time, escaped through the back of the house and attempted to make her way across the fields to Kilkea Castle. Before she could reach safety, she gave birth to a son."

A few months before the actual outbreak of the rebellion, the insurgency had been betrayed by an informer, 27-year-old Thomas Reynolds, who (paradoxically) claimed to be another Fitzgerald cousin. He lived at Kilkea Castle, rented from Edward’s father, the Duke of Leinster. Reynolds had joined the rebel organization and surreptitiously conducted training in the fields at Kilkea, but soon became disillusioned with the cause. Prior to the outbreak of the rebellion, loyalist troops occupied Kilkea, fearing that the rebels might use it as a staging site. It was later attacked by insurgents but remained under loyalist control.

Seven years after the rebellion ended, Michael Grace married and settled down on a two acre plot of land bracketed by the two Fitzgerald houses that had been scenes of strife in 1798: Dollardstown House, occupied in the 1800’s by Andrew Dunne (descendant of Patrick and Mary Fitzgerald Dunne) and, a few miles to the south, Kilkea Castle then occupied by Patrick Dunne.

The Plight of Small Farmers As noted above, the region of Athy was long the domain of the absentee owner, the Duke of Leinster. Even as late as the 1880’s, and despite legal reforms intended to divest land ownership to local farmers, the Duke still owned 70,000 acres in County Kildare. Land in the Athy region that was not owned by the Duke was owned mostly by other absentee owners. Under this system, small farmers such as the Graces were at the mercy of the appropriately termed "landed gentry" (gentlemen who owned the land). For historical reasons, very few Irish farmers in the 1800’s owned their own land. This was particularly true for Catholics who from the late 1700’s until 1829 were legally prohibited under the Penal Laws from buying or inheriting land. As a result, the vast majority of Catholic farm families in the 1800’s were confined to pitifully small acreages leased from distant owners.

The circumstances of small farmers of that era are described in Emigrants and Exiles; Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America. The book’s author describes farming conditions in Ireland in the 1840’s ranging from the more prosperous large farms to the smallest holdings of two acres or less. The description may have fit Michael Grace on his two-acre plot near Dollardstown:

"At the bottom of the farming population [in all of Ireland] were some 310,000 small-holders who occupied from two to ten acres of land, and perhaps another 100,000 more families who in 1845 tilled over 30,000 joint tenancies.… Together these petty cultivators accounted for more than half of all farmers.

Except in a few Ulster counties, virtually all smallholders were Catholics, usually sub-lessees and mere tenants at will. Given their limited acreage, smallholders tilled the soil primarily for subsistence and paid inflated rents through supplementary occupations like cottage industry, hired fieldwork for wealthier farmers, the distillation of poitin [liquor], or the occasional sale of milk, butter, eggs, or young livestock. … The general absence of barns and other outbuildings meant that smallholders collected little manure [for fertilizer] unless they lodged their livestock inside their houses at night—a common practice among the poor. Few men of this class owned horses or plows or could afford to hire labor; consequently they were dependant on the aid of relatives and neighbors to till the soil with "loys"---primitive spades adapted for bare feet. Smallholder living ranged from spartan decency to desperate poverty."

This description of the plight of the smallest farms is a sobering tale of conditions that, as bad as they were, became much worse in the late 1840’s and into the 1850’s.

The Famine of the 1840’s The most heart-wrenching epoch of Irish history was the catastrophic famine caused by failure of the potato crops in the 1840’s, the decade in which the first five children of Peter Grace and Mary Casey were born. Over successive years beginning in 1845, fungus destroyed the potato crops, Ireland’s primary source of food and sole income of many of the poorest farmers. Out of a population of nine million, an estimated one million died of starvation or related disease, and two million emigrated to other countries.

Fortunately for the Graces, County Kildare was not impacted nearly as much as the western counties because it was not solely dependant on the potato. Kildare’s fertile soil supported corn, grain, and cattle, and its proximity to Dublin made it a source of export to foreign markets. Inexplicably, exports to England of Irish grain and grain-fed cattle continued despite widespread famine at home. This too probably contributed to better-than-average living conditions in Kildare through the years that have also been called the Great Hunger (An Gorta Mor in Gaelic) in the western counties.

In 1847, Ireland-born Lord Dufferin, then a student at Oxford University and later a respected British statesman, toured Ireland with a fellow student to view and report on the Irish famine. Their report (excerpt below) noted that although conditions in Athy were "sorrowful enough," and that even though "some deaths too had occurred," Athy was not as bad off as areas in the southwest of Ireland, especially Skibbereen in County Cork. The comparison was valid; over 25,000 died in Skibbereen from starvation and associated disease; "only" 1205 died in the Athy workhouse and nearby fever hospital during the years of the Famine.

"We have just returned from a visit to Ireland, whither we had gone in order to ascertain with our own eyes the truth of the reports daily publishing of the misery existing there. We have found everything but too true; the accounts are not exaggerated--they cannot be exaggerated-- nothing more frightful can be conceived. The scenes we have witnessed during our short stay at Skibbereen, equal any thing that has been recorded by history, or could be conceived by the imagination. Famine, typhus fever, dysentery, and a disease hitherto unknown, are sweeping away the whole population. …

… We were advised to proceed at once to Skibbereen, in the county of Cork, which was reported to be the very nucleus of famine and disease. Finding, however, that the Cork coach did not start till eleven o'clock on Monday, we … [went instead]…early in the morning to a village about 45 miles distant from Dublin… The name of this village was Athy. … Here we ascertained that the population of Athy has been divided into districts, to the poor of which tickets are issued, entitling them to two meals of Soup in the week. Above a thousand poor persons mainly look to this kitchen for support. Had we stopped at Athy, one would have brought back to England sorrowful intelligence enough, but not so bad as is usually represented in the newspapers. There were misery and hunger it is true, some deaths too had occurred, but still the village seemed brisk and lively, more distressed than famished…"

[Narrative of a Journey from Oxford to Skibbereen During the Year of the Irish Famine, by Lord Dufferin and the Hon. G. G. Boyle, 3rd Edition, 1847. Available on-line]

The above might explain why Kildare was not a major source of Irish emigration in the 1840’s and 50’s, and why our Graces did not leave until 1860. We can only surmise that they benefited from the comparatively "good" conditions in County Kildare and survived the famine period in reasonably good health.

Ancestry of "Our" Graces Church records show that our line of Graces lived in County Kildare since at least 1760. Earlier ancestors most likely lived in County Kilkenny; an 1852 tax list shows 240 Grace families in Kilkenny compared to only 12 in Kildare. Records of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Athy disclose that Graces were members of this parish at least as early as 1701, when an Ann Grace married James McNamara.

Church records show that our line of Graces lived in County Kildare since at least 1760. Earlier ancestors most likely lived in County Kilkenny; an 1852 tax list shows 240 Grace families in Kilkenny compared to only 12 in Kildare. Records of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Athy disclose that Graces were members of this parish at least as early as 1701, when an Ann Grace married James McNamara.

James Grace and Margaret __________: The earliest record that is positively known to be of "our" Graces is the baptism on September 4, 1760 of Michael Grace, the first-born of James and Margaret Grace. The family is recorded as living in the townland of Goulyduff, a 170-acre rural area in the civil parish* of Churchtown two miles west of Athy. James and Margaret also had four other children: William (1762), Pat (1764), and twins James and Laurence (1765). No other information is available on this generation.

Michael Grace and Kitty Powel: On February 22, 1805, at the age of 45, Michael Grace married Catherine "Kitty" Powel. They had three children; Thomas (Feb. 4, 1806), Peter (June 30, 1808), and Margaret (July 11, 1811—all baptismal dates), recorded as born in the townland of Nicholastown, three miles southeast of Athy. Being five miles from Michael’s parents in Goulyduff, Nicholastown must have been Kitty’s home; the lease on the rented land on which she and Michael lived was probably her dowry. Michael must have died before 1838, because a tax register that year lists Kitty Grace in Nicholastown living on land next to a Laughlin Powell, most likely her father. Both parcels were listed as "near Dollardstown."

Peter Grace and Mary Casey: On April 30, 1839, Michael and Kitty Grace’s second son, Peter, age 31, married Mary Casey, age 17, in St. Michael’s Church. (Witnesses were John Kavanagh and Catherine Nowlan.) Between 1840 and 1857 Peter and Mary had eight children (listed at the end of the chapter), one of whom died in childhood. Baptismal records list Nicholastown and Dollardstown interchangeably as the children’s birthplace. In the 1852 tax valuation Peter Grace is recorded as a tenant farmer on two acres of land in Nicholastown. The corresponding map shows this land near the western edge of the townland, within a few hundred feet of Dollardstown House. Most likely this was the same plot of land where Michael and Kitty had lived. Peter rented his land from Laughlin Powell, believed to be his maternal grandfather, who in turn leased it from John T. Vesey. Powell also rented an adjacent 10 acres from Vesey, absentee owner of the entire 962 acres that comprised Nicholastown as well as 3000 acres elsewhere.The Graces’ closest friends seem to have been the Kavanaghs, nearby farmers who lived on 21 acres rented from John Vesey. Patrick Kavanagh was the Godfather of Peter Grace’s brother Tom. John Kavanagh was best man at Peter’s wedding, and Mary Kavanagh was Godmother of Peter and Mary’s son Peter (II).

It is probable that in order to provide for his large family, Peter Grace worked on the nearby farms that Andrew Dunne, occupant of Dollardstown House, rented from the Duke of Leinster. The Grace children may have attended the Catholic school in Athy (which the Duke helped establish), where they would have learned English, not Gaelic.

Irish Houses as Models for the White House Research for this genealogy disclosed that features of two Irish mansions whose owners had "land connections" to the Graces, were used in the design of the White House in Washington, D.C.

The Veseys were based near Dublin at Lucan House, a large stone mansion built in 1780. The unique (for that era) oval dining room in Lucan House is said to have been the influence for the Oval Office in the White House in Washington, D.C. This is quite possible, since the architect of the White House was James Hoban, a native of Kilkenny who studied architecture in Dublin during the time Lucan House was being built. In 1784, not long after the house was finished, Hoban emigrated to the United States. In 1792 he was commissioned to design the "President’s House," one of the first public buildings to be built in the capital city of the new nation. Hoban patterned its exterior design on Leinster House,** the ancestral Dublin home of the Duke of Leinster. Thus, design elements of the White House were patterned after the mansions of two Irish "landed gentry" who owned the ground where Peter Grace and his children were born and raised, and to whom the family paid land rent for over one hundred years.

Emigration The next chapter, when completed, will describe when Peter and Mary Grace and their children emigrated from Ireland, and what their journey must have been like. [The names and characteristics of the ships, and the departure and arrival dates are known.] Typical of many immigrant families, they did not come to America all at once. Peter and the two oldest sons came first, in March, 1860. Mary and the youngest ones "kept the home fires burning" near Dollardstown until it became their turn to leave, 14 months later. At that time, Mary had the emotional task of making a last visit to the grave of their daughter Mary Ann. One other child, Robert, was left in Ireland, probably with the Kavanagh’s, to come over by himself in 1862 at age 15. He may have been sick and unable to travel when Mary left, and shipping disruptions during the American Civil War might have further delayed his ability to leave Ireland.

From the time Peter and the oldest sons left Ireland, it would be 28 months before the entire family was reunited. Sadly, Peter died only 18 months after his entire family was safely settled in America.



The modern expression "beyond the pale," meaning ‘beyond acceptability’ or ‘outside the norm’ stems from this period of Irish history.

From the brochure "Athy Heritage Town Trail," Athy Heritage Company Ltd., ca. 2000.

Much of the information in this section is due to the cooperation and assistance of Mario Corrigan, historian and Head of the Local Studies Department, County Kildare Library.

Years later, O’Kelly wrote a history of the rebellion, mentioning several families in the Athy area who were jailed as suspected collaborators when the uprising began.

Source: www.Dollardstown.com. According to family history the son later became a priest and served as papal secretary to Pope Pius IX.

Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society, Vol. II, "Kilkea Castle," Lord Walter Fitzgerald, 18__, pp 20, 21, quoting from Reynolds' son’s 1838 biography of the elder Reynolds.

In 1852 Dollardstown House was still owned by the Duke of Leinster, who leased it and 350 adjacent acres to Andrew Dunne. The house remained in the Dunne family until the death of Laurence and Margaret (French) Dunne in 1908. It is now [2006] owned by James Behan.

Kirby Miller, Oxford University Press, 1985, pages 49 and 50.

Townlands were areas of not more than several hundred acres, usually owned or overseen by one person. Civil parishes (not the same as religious parishes) were larger administrative areas that included 15 to 20 townlands.

The 1838 "Schedule of Tithe Applotments," taxes to support the Church of Ireland.

General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland … for Portions of the Unions of Athy and Baltinglas, County Kildare, 1852, commonly referred to as "Griffith’s Valuation." Source: Family Research Center (Mormon), Kensington, MD, film #101755. The corresponding map is from the Irish government’s Ordnance Survey map series; Office of Land Valuation, Dublin.

Entries in the 1870 census of New Britain Connecticut note that all members of the family could read and write.

Both mansions still exist.














 NAME      BORN                BAPTIZED*          GODPARENTS           ENTERED USA        DIED              AGE

Michael                               17 Jan 1840           Robert Casey               14 Mar 1860       bef 1922

                                                                              Margaret Casey

Thomas                               29 May1842          Richard Malone            14 Mar 1860   11 Oct 1922        79

                                                                              Bridget Casey

Mary Ann                             23 Nov 1844          William Grace               died in Ireland bef 1861   under 17

                                                                             Jane Dowd

Robert                                  14 Jan 1847          Patrick Anthony              1 July 1862     bef May 1930

                                                                              Catherine Monahan

Peter (II)                               13 May 1849         John Cash                      14 May 1861     bef Oct 1922

                                                                               Mary Kavanagh

Terence   5 Dec 1852       12 Dec 1852         James Casey                 14 May 1861    bef Oct 1922

                  "at 11pm"                                          Margaret Walsh

William    2 Mar 1855         4 Mar 1855            John Powell                    14 May 1861   15 June 1933       78

                                                                               Nancy Chanders

James     29 Sep 1857       4 Oct 1857            Michael Grace (uncle?)    14 May 1861  after Oct 1872

                                                                               Nanny Dunne

Timothy     after 1861                                                                                   born in USA    before 1870?



*Records of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Athy, County Kildare, Ireland

Ed Daniel a retired civil engineer who lives in Rockville, Maryland has been in touch with the Local Studies Dept. for information regarding the history of his mother's family, the family of Grace who lived in County Kildare in the 18th and 19th centuries, first in Goulyduff (2 miles west of Athy) and later in Nicholastown (near Dollardstown House), 3 miles south of Athy. Here are his findings so far.

June 01, 2006

Graveyard Seminar - 15 June 2006 Keadeen Hotel

Caring for God’s Acre



Caring for God’s Acre


Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge,

Thursday 15th June 2006


The aims of this seminar are to provide the participants with a knowledge of the main provisions of legislation, policy and procedure relating to the graveyards and to offer advice to those caring for or maintaining graveyards. There is no charge for this seminar but places are limited so booking is essential.


To book please complete this booking form (available through Bridget Loughlin) and return by Thursday 8th June to:

Bridget Loughlin

Heritage Of. cer, Kildare County Council, Áras Chill Dara,

Devoy Park, Naas, Co Kildare.

Tel: 045 980791, email: heritageofficer@kildarecoco.ie


This seminar also hopes to promote best practice in the management of natural, built and cultural heritage in historic graveyards and to raise awareness of the diverse heritage contained in these graveyards. This is an action of the County Kildare Heritage Plan 2005-2009



9.30-10.10 Registration


10.00-10.10 Welcome by Ger Smith, Chairman of County

Kildare Heritage Forum


10.10-10.40 "Graveyard Management Legislative

Framework & Archaeological Considerations"

Victor Buckley, National Monuments Section,

Dept of Environment, Heritage & Local Government


10.40-11.10 "Graveyards Full of life" -Ecology of Graveyards

Eanna Ni Lamhna, Freelance Botanist & Journalist


11.10-11.40 Tea/Coffee


11.40-12.10 "Conservation of Architectural & Ecclesiastical Ruins"

JohnCronin & Associates


12.10-12.40 "Symbols of Death- Recording Graveyard Memorials" -

Offaly Graveyard Recording Project

Amanda Pedlow, Offaly Heritage Officer


12.40-1.00 Open forum – Questions and Answers,

Chaired by Cllr. Seamus Moore

This free seminar is sponsored by Kildare County Council &

The Heritage Council.

A seminar on the care and conservation of graveyards will be held on the 15 June 2006 in the Keadeen Hotel. It is organised by the Co. Kildare Heritage Officer, Bridget Loughlin, and is an action of the County Kildare Heritage Plan. The event is sponsored by Kildare Co. Council and the Heritage Council.

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