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February 25, 2012


Kildare Parish, continued

A.D. 1176. The English Earl (i.e., Richard) died at Dublin of an ulcer which had broken out in his foot, through the miracles of St. Brigid and Columbkille, and of all the other Saints whose churches had been destroyed by him. He saw, as he thought, St. Brigid in the act of killing him. (Id.) This was Richard de Clare, Earl Strigul, commonly called Strongbow. In the Dublin copy of the Annals of Innisfallen, he is called “the greatest destroyer of the clergy and laity that came to Ireland since the time of Turgesius.” He was buried in the church of the B. Trinity, now Christ’s Church, where his tomb still exists.
A.D. 1234. Richard, Earl Marshal, of Pembroke and Strangrul was wounded on the 12th April, in a battle on the Curragh of Kildare, and died after a few days. He is buried at Kilkenny (at the Black Abbey) with his brother. (Grace’s Annals.)
Others place this event at the year 1233. “Occiditur Ricardus, Comes Mariscalli Kildairae, in bello per Geraldinos, locum et partem regis tenentes. (Clyn.)

“Post incarnatum lapsis de virgine natum
Annis nongentis tribus triginta trecentis;
In primo mensis Aprilis, Kildariensis
Pugna die die Sabbati fuit, in tristitia fati
Acciderant stallo pugne comite Mariscallo.”

Having rebelled against the king, he landed in Ireland; MacMaurice, the Lord Justice, Hugh de Lacy, Earl of Ulster, and Walter de Lacy, Lord of Meath, appointed to hold a conference with him at the Curragh; but they picked a quarrel with him, and took him prisoner, after having first mortally wounded him. (O’Donovan.)
A.D. 1254. The Green Monastery at Kildare was founded, by the Earl of Kildare, and they (his family) have a superb tomb in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in this monastery. (Four MM.) This entry seems to refer to the Grey Abbey, founded there some few years later.
A.D. 1309. A Parliament was held at Kildare, of which all record must have been destroyed, as there is no account of the business transacted, except the following in Hollinshed: “In the year 1309, on Candlemas day, the lord John Bonnevill was slaine neere to the towne of Ardscoll, by the lord Arnold Powre and his complices, his body was buried at Athie in the church of the friers preachers. In the yere following, at a parliament holden at Kildare, the lord Arnold Powre was acquit of that slaughter, for that it was prooved it was doone in his owne defense.” Bonneville was afterwards declared a felon, and his lands at Cradockstown, County of Kildare, were granted to Walter de Istelepe. (Rot. Pat. 2 Edwd. II. 14.)
A.D. 1344. In this year, by mandate, reciting that the O’Tooles, O’Byrnes, McMorroughs, and O’Nolans, had risen to oppose the English, the Seneschal of the Liberty of Kildare was commanded to proclaim, that no person should aid them with victuals, horses, or arms, that one peace or one war should prevail throughout the land, and that each adjacent county should aid anyone which was invaded or harassed by the Irish enemies.
A.D. 1600. The town suffered so severely, that the houses were all in ruins, and without a single inhabitant.
A.D. 1643. Kildare was made a garrison post under the Earl of Castlehaven, and in consequence, began to attract inhabitants.
A.D. 1647. The town was taken upon quarter, by Colonel Jones; soon after, it was retaken by the Irish, in whose possession it remained until June 1649, when it was retaken by the Lord Lieutenant.
A.D. 1652. On the 28th of April, Colonel Grace, (Command-¬in-Chief of the Irish Forces,) Colonel Gawley, and Colonel Molloy, with their respective parties, went to Kildare, gathered all the cows, garrans, sheep, swine, and other cattle, between that and the Liffey, burned and pillaged the town, got a great booty that did relieve them for many days, and if well managed, might relieve them for a long time; of cows, the least was 650, with a great number of small cattle. . . . About this very time Lieut. Colonel Doyne did carry a prey from the garrison of Monaster¬evan. (Aphorism. Discovery, Vol. 3, p. 70.)
A charter of James II., recites that Kildare has been an ancient Borough, but that its franchises, liberties, and privileges had been seized into the king’s hands by a judgment of the Court of Exchequer; and it declares that Kildare should be a free Borough, extending to the same metes and bounds as at any former period; that its Corporation should consist of one sove¬reign, two provosts, twenty burgesses, and a commonalty, and that all its inhabitants should constitute one body politic. An original Charter of the Borough, granted by one of the Henrys, probably by Henry VIII., has been found in the Record Office of the Court of Chancery, but it is so torn and obliterated as to be almost illegible. The Borough grounds extended consi¬derably beyond the town, spreading away from it very unequally in different directions, were intersected and cut into portions by other lands, and included about 3,000 acres of the Curragh, and 300 acres lying south of the town, and called the King’s Bog or Commons of Kildare. The sovereign presided in the Borough Court till 1830, since which time no officers have been elected, and the Corporation is virtually extinct. The Borough Court had jurisdiction to the extent of five marks. This Borough re¬turned two members to the Irish Parliament until the Union, when it was disfranchised, the £15,000 compensation awarded, was paid to William, Duke of Leinster. (Gale’s Corporate Sys¬tem; Gazetteer of Ireland.)
In the burial-ground attached to the Cathedral there is the pedestal of a great stone cross, the shaft and top of which are to be seen in another part of the enclosure. The cross appears to be of very ancient date, perhaps going back to the time of St. Brigid.
The curiously sculptured stone, of which an illustration is given in Vol. I. p. 14, and some monuments which stood heretofore in a chapel in the south wing, have been displaced during the recent work of restoration, and still lie in a heap in the burial-ground. The stone referred to has represented on it the Crucifixion; angels hold chalices in which they catch the sacred Blood as it flows from the Wounds in the Hands, Feet, and Side. A second group is the Ecce Homo, our Lord is placed in front of the cross, his Hands bound; and beneath, a scroll with an inscription granting an Indulgence of 26 years and 26 days, to those who should devoutly say five Paters and five Aves before this figure. On one end of this stone appears the Angel of Justice weighing the merits of an individual who is seated on the scale which the angel holds in his left hand whilst he brandishes a sword in the other. Another stone represents the full sized, recumbent figure of a Bishop. This was supposed to be the tomb of Bishop Lane, who died in 1522, but, for reasons already stated, it more probably goes back to the 13th century, —the period of the restoration of the church by Bishop Ralph de Bristol, and is intended to represent St. Conlaeth or some other of the sainted Bishops of Kildare.
There is here also an effigial monument to Sir Maurice FitzGerald of Lackagh; the recumhent figure is curiously carved in armour, the right side of the tomb, when in place, having five escutcheons, differently emblazoned. The inscription, which is somewhat effaced, is as follows:— “Domina Margareta B(utlev hoc Monument)um fieri fecit ob Me(moriam) Mauricii FitzGeralde de Laccagh Militis quondam sui Mariti, qui obiit XX die Decembris, Anno Domini 1575. Walterus Brennagh Fecit.” Thomas, the 7th Earl of Kildare is said to have married, 1st, Dorothea, daughter of Anthony O’More of Leix, and by her, to be the ancestor of the FitzGeralds of Blackhall, Blackwood, and Ballyshannon, Rathrone, Teecroghan, etc.; he married 2ndly, Joan, daughter of James, 7th Earl of Desmond. His second son, Thomas of Laccagh, was made, by statute passed in a Parliament held at Trim, in 1484, Lord Chancellor of the kingdom for life. He was killed whilst fighting for Simnel, at Stoke-upon-Trent, 6th June, 1487. His son, Sir Maurice of Laccagh, was appointed Justice of Ireland in 1519. Sir Maurice, to whom the monument at Kildare was erected, was his grandson. Lady Margaret Butler, his wife, was of the Ormonde family, and had previously been married to Rory O’More of Leix.
A mural tablet which heretofore was placed in the church porch, has the inscription: “Miseremini mei, Miseremini mei, saltem vos amici mei, nam michi hodie, cras vobis. Orate pro animabus Redmundi FitzGerald et Annae Sutton, uxoris ejus, et pro animabus Jacobi FitzGerald et Mariae Wogan uxoris ejus qui hoc fieri fecerunt monumentum. Idem Jacobus obiit 24 Junii, 1618.”
On the north side of the Cathedral there is a box-tomb, the inscription on which asks prayers for the souls of John Lee of Rathbride and Amy FitzGerald his wife. The epitaph runs round the margin and is continued up the centre, and is as follows: —“Orate pro animabus Johannis Ly de Rabrid, armiger, et Amy FitzGerald uxoris ejus. Commendamus animas nostras in manus Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi. Nicoh. Ly. —Datum VII die Maii 1612. Johannis Ly.” *Robert Leigh (1) of Rosegarland, a descendant of this John Lee, was the author of a Chorographic Treatise, which has been published in the Archaeological Journal of Ireland. From an interesting Introdtiction to it by J.P. Prendergast, Esq:, we learn some particulars regarding the John Lee, buried at Kildare. He was the State Interpreter or Dragoman, in which capacity, and also as a “messenger into dangerous places,” he had made himself useful to the authorities, by whom he was rewarded in 1571 and 1578, with large grants of land in the Counties of Kildare, King’s County, and Meath. Amongst his acquired possessions in the County of Kildare was the townland of Clonagh, where there had been a Religious House or Chapel,” dedicated to St. Fynan. This John Lee levelled the ‘tenements, etc., of the said religious house, removed the burial-place, threw down an ancient cross which had stood there, and erected a tower or small castle, in which he took up his abode. Not satisfied with the spoils of the monasteries of Clonagh and Killeigh, he is found presenting a petition in 1587, dated from Clonagh Castle, in Kildare, and his suit this time was for a grant of Rathbride, which was con¬ceded to him, and became the seat of his descendants. In Rathbride alone he possessed 670 acres of profitable, and 137 acres of unprofitable land, and he had also large possessions in Ticknevin, Ballybrack, Kilcaskin, Ballynakill, Kilpatrick, Kilmorebrangh, Morristown Biller, and Crowtonstown, In a Memorandum Roll of the Exchequer, temp. Elizabeth, is the following entry: “For as muche as it is verie requisite and necessarie to the state of this realme, in consideration of the daylie resorte of the Irishe gentlemen and others of this realme for their severall affayres to the same, to have and use an Interpreter, for the better understanding of their greves, and redresse of their causes; and for that we have had long tryall and experyance of our servant John Alie, whom we have used in that service, and he being a person most meet and convenyent for sondry respects and good considerations, to serve the Lords Justices in our absence. We, the Lord Deputie and Counsell, have condiscended and agreed that he, the said John Alie, as interpreter to the State of this realme, shall have and receave the fee of twelve pence Irish per diem, etc. Given at Carlingford the xxiii of September, 1587. Henry Sydney, Robert Weston,” etc., etc.  Stowe mentions that at the trial of Sir Bryan O’Rourke, in 1591, at Westminster, “Master John Lye of Rathbride; a gentleman out of Ireland, was appointed to interpret between the Court and the traitor.”

*The MacLaighid or O’Lees, were hereditary physicians in West Connaught.  One of them, Murough O’Lye, as he signed his surname, an eccentric inhabitant of the County of Galway in the time of Charles II., having failed to recover his mortgaged and forfeited patrimony after the Restoration, commenced the practice of medicine and surgery, and, in order to give himself fame, being in possession of an antique vellum MS., written in Gaelic and Latin, treating of medicine, and which probably belonged to his professional ancestors, he imposed on the vulgar by asserting that this wonderful book had been given him in the enchanted island called I.Brazil, whither he had, he declared, been forcibly conveyed. This Book of 1-Brazil is to be seen in the Royal Irish Academy, and, besides containing a signature of the Lee family, is curious for that mixture of astrological and medical lore which pervaded the science of medicine when Chaucer satirized Doctours of Physicke.

There are at least two former Parish Priests of Kildare interred in this burial-ground, viz.: Father Rouse, whose tomb bears the following inscription:-

“Here rests the dust of Philip Rouse, whose wealth
Was lent to Church and poor to purchase bliss;
His flock with zeal he taught whilst he had health,
In truth and friendship never was remiss.
“Died, April 18th, 1778, aged 66.”

The other is the Rev. Terence Nolan, whose remains are said to lie interred under an uninscribed stone beside the socket of the old Cross. Father Nolan was Pastor of Kildare in 1798; it is related that he and the Protestant Rector were instrumental in saving, each the life of the other, during the insurrection.


This Monastery, which stood on the south side of the town where some remnants of it are still to be seen, was erected for Franciscan Friars in the year 1260, by Lord William de Vesci, but was completed by Gerald FitzMaurice, Lord Offaly. (Ware.) There is but little doubt that the entry in the Four Masters at the year 1254,—recording that the Green Monastery at Kildare was founded by the Earl of Kildare, and that his family have a superb tomb there in the chapel of the B. Virgin,—-refers to this monastery. Gerald, Lord Offaly, above referred to, died at Rathmore near Naas, on the 20th of July, 1286, and was interred in this monastery. (Pembridge.)
Amongst the Items in the account of Brother Stephen, Bishop of Waterford, the King’s treasurer in Ireland, from Michaelmas 1277 to the Michaelmas following, is the following: “To John of Kent, for money which he had paid over by the King’s order to Robert de Ufford, the Justiciary, for the Franciscans of Kildare of the King’s alms, to wit, 44s.” (Sweet¬man, Cal. Vol. 2, n. 1496.)
1308. Peter, Lord de Bermingham died, on the 12th of April, and was interred here. King styles him “a vectorious leader against the Irish.” This appears to have been “ the treacherous Baron,” who, having invited Murtough and Calvagh O’ Conor, with 24 of the chiefs of their people to an entertainment at his castle of Carrick on Trinity Sunday, 1305, treacherously massacred them as they stood up from table, and sold their heads to their enemies. (See chapter on Balyna Parish.)
1309 Friar Michael of Kildare, a member of this Community wrote a curious Poem commemorative of the building of the walls of New Ross, by Rose, sister of Earl Strongbow; it is written in Norman French. The MS., consisting of 64 leaves of
vellum, is preserved amongst the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum. Portions have been produced in fac-simile, by Mr Gilbert in his Fac Similes of National MSS. of Ireland. A copy of this Poem, with an English translation by Miss Landon, (L. E. L.) is given by Crofton Croker in his “Popular Songs of Ireland.”
1316. On the Sunday after the Nativity of the B. Virgin, in this year, John FitzThomas, first Earl of Kildare, of the family of Geraldine, died at Laraghbrine, and was interred here. (Pembridge.) In 1294, William Vesci, Lord Justice, accused John FitzThomas of felony; they both sailed for England to have their dispute decided by the King and Council. It resulted in John FitzThomas challenging his opponent to single combat, a course approved of by the King, who named a day for the purpose. “Wherefore,” writes Hollinshed,—whose account is curious and amusing, and for the details of which he draws largely on his imagination— “Wherefore, the parties being as well thereof advertised, as the daie by the King appointed, no small provision was made for so eager a combat as that was presupposed to have beene. But when the prefixed daie approached neere, Vescie turning his great boast to small rost, began to crie creake, and secretlie sailed into France. King Edward, thereof advertised, bestowed Vescie’s lordships of Kildare and Rathangan on the baron of Offalie, saieing that albeit Vescie conveied his person into France, yet he left his lands behind him in Ireland.” In reality, it was not till 1297 that De Vesci surrendered to this King the castle, manor, and County of Kildare, to wit, every thing he had, or could have, in Ireland; and the King directed his Justiciary, John Wogan, to take possession of them. (Rot. Can. Antiq., 45, 46.) These remained in the King’s hands until the 14th of May, 1316, when, by Letters Patent, the King declared that he had granted to John FitzThomas, “Castrum et villaim de Kildare, cum terris, redditibus, et aliis pertinentiis suis, sub honore et nomine Comitis de Kildare, ipsumque prefecisse in comitem ejusdem loci.” (Lodge; Note to Grace’s Annals, by, Dean Butler.)
1320. A Provincial Chapter of the Order was held in this monastery, on St. James’s Day. (Clyn.)
1328. Thomas FitzJohn, the second Earl of Kildare, died at Maynooth, on the 8th of April, and was interred at the Franciscan Convent, Kildare, in our Lady’s Chapel, before the great altar. (Lodge.) He was Justiciary at the time of his death.
1329. On the 7th of July, Richard, the third Earl, died at Rathangan; he was interred on the right hand of his father. Lodge.)
1335. On the 12th of June, Andrew Leynagh, Guardian of the Gray Abbey of Kildare,—setting out as Nuncius Regis to the Scottish islands to treat with John de Insula “super retinentia sua et aliis dicendis et sciendis ex parte Regis,”— had an order for 60s. (Close Roll, 9, Ed. III., 36.)
1359. On the 23rd of April, died Joan de Burgh, wife of Thomas, Earl of Kildare; she was interred in the Lady Chapel at the side of her Lord. (Pembridge.)
1410. Gerald, Earl of Kildare, died, and was interred here. (Lodge.)
1520. This Convent was Reformed by the Franciscans of the Strict Observance. (Allemande.)
1543. January 31st, this monastery with its appurtenances, two gardens and two closes of land containing 3 acres, also 11 acres in Collier’s land, the moiety of the tithes excepted, were, together with the house of the White Friars, granted in capite to Daniel Sutton at the annual rent of 2s. 3d. (Chief Remembrancer.) On the Tuesday next after the feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop, same year, it was found, that the Prior surrendered this Abbey on the 30th April, being then seized of the Church and belfry, a dormitory, hall, three chambers, and a kitchen, a cemetery, 2 gardens, 2 closes, containing 3 acres, with 4 messuages, 2 cottages, and 35 acres of arable land in Kildare, annual value, besides reprises, 46s. 8d. (Chief Rememb.)
An Inquisition taken the 28th April, 1589, finds a tenement and 6 acres of land, in the town of Kildare, annual value £6; and certain lands called Collyer’s land and Shaneclone, annual value, 40s., all in this county, were parcel of the possessions of this priory. (Id.)
A.D. 1597. Henry, son of Garret, Earl of Kildare, whilst aiding the Justiciary, Lord Borough, against O’Neill, “in consequence either of a wound, or a fever, was obliged to set out on his return home; but when he had gone as far as Drogheda, he died in that town. His body was carried to Kildare, and interred with great honour and reverence in the burial-place of his an¬cestors. William, his brother, was installed in his place.” (Four MM.)
A considerable portion of the walls of this monastery remain, but they have lost all architectural features. A view taken in 1792, by Lieutenant D. Grose (Antiquities, Vol. II., Plate 25), shows it to have been then more perfect; the tracery in the east and west gables of the church being then preserved. Some ancient sculptured stones, now inserted, for preservation, in the wall of the chapel at the Carmelite convent, Kildare, are said to have been brought from the Gray Abbey; these are: 1. The upper portion of a human figure under a Gothic canopy, with a double or archiepiscopal cross; 2. Our Blessed Lord seated, bound with cords and crowned with thorns, the words Ecce Homo, at side of head, this has also a Gothic canopy overhead;
3. The Crucifixion, figures of the Blessed Virgin and St. John on either ‘side, glories around their heads,—these figures are disproportionally short. It is very probable that these sculptures formed portion of a tomb. There are two other stones displaying grotesque monsters or demons.
The Franciscans had still a Convent at Kildare in the early part of the 17th century. A note to a MS. copy of Keating’s History of Ireland, in the handwriting of Brother Michael O’Clery,—one of the Four Masters, whom Father Hugh Ward, Guardian of the Franciscan Convent of Louvain, had despatched to Ireland to collect and copy Irish MSS.,—is to the following effect :—(Translation.) “In the Convent of Kildare the writing of this book was commenced on the 4th of September, and finished on the 28th of the same month.” The year is omitted, but it must have been between 1620 and 1635, as that was the period during which Brother Michael O’Clery was occupied in this way. They were there in 1641, as we learn from the depo¬sition of the Protestant Archdeacon Golborne, that “the Friars of the Gray Abbey,” in that year, helped Dr. Rosse MacGeoghegan to carry away the Charter Chest from the Cathedral. Guardians of this Convent continued to be elected up at least to the year 1729, though probably they were only titularly so, in the latter portion of the time. In the Acts of a Chapter of Friars Minors, held at Dublin, in 1717, is the following: “In Conventu Kildariensi electus est Guardianus, V. A. P. F. Anthony Higgin. S. Theologiae Lic.”; and, in the Acts of a Chapter also held at Dublin, in 1729: “Electus est Guardianus in Conventu Kilda¬riensi, V. A. P. Christopherus Warren.”


Lord William de Vesci, who had founded the Franciscan Convent, was also the founder of the Carmelite Convent of St. Mary at Kildare, in 1290. (Allemande; Ware.) One of the first and most distinguished members of this Community was David O’Bugey, of whom Hollinshed thus writes:— “David Obuge, borne in the towne of Kildare, for his learned lectures and subtile disputations openlie published in Oxford, and Trevers, in Germany, he was taken for the gem and lanterne of his countrie. In his time Giraldus Bononiensis, being maister generall of the Carmelits, was at jar with William Lidlington, the provinciall of all the English Carmelits. Whereupon tenne of the wisest and learnedest Carmelits that then were resiant in England, being fullie elected to resist their generall, Obuge was chosen to be the forman of all the said crew. Giraldus Bononiensis understanding that, he being an Irishman, was so hot in the controversie, was egerly bent against Obuge, because he assured himselfe to have favour at his hands, by reason Obuge was borne in that countrie where the Giraldines, his kinsmen, were planted, and thereupon he was banished Italie. This storme in processe of time being appeased, the outcast Carmelite was made the generall gardian of all his fraternitie in Ireland; which countrie by his continuall teaching and preaching, was greatlie edified. Over this he was so politike a councillor, that the nobilitie and estates in causes of weight, would have recourse to him as to an oracle. He was in philosophie an Aristotle, in eloquence a Tullie, in divinitie an Augustine, in the civill law a Justinian, in the canon a Panormitane, he flourished in the yeare 1320, he deceased at Kildare, leaving these learned workes in¬suing to posteritie: ‘Sermones ad Clerum,’ ‘Epistolae 32 ad diversos,’ ‘Propositiones disputatas,’ ‘Lectiones Treverenses,’ ‘Regulae Jiiris,’ ‘Contra Giraldum Bononiensem.’ To these William Eysengreinius adds, ‘Commentarios in Biblia Sacra,’ called by Gesner, Postillos Bibliorum. Bale states that O’Buge held Chapters of his Order in Atherdee and Dublin.”
Another distinguished member of this community was Ralph or Radulphus Kelly, who was born at Drogheda, but was brought up, as Hollinshed has it, “in the knowledge of the Latin toong in Kildare, in which he profited so well that for his eloquence and wisdome he was sent to Clement the sixt, as the speaker or prolocutor of all his Order, and also was appointed the generall advocat or deputie under Petrus de Casa, master generall of the Order. After, he was advanced to be Archbishop of Cashill, in which honour he deceassed, having at vacant houres written: “In jure Canonico,” lib. 1; “Epistolarum familiarium,” lib. 1, or, as some say, 7. He died at Cashel, according to the Annals of Nenagh, on the 20th of November, 1361, and was buried there, in St. Patrick’s Church. (Ware.)
The Rental Boke of the Earls of Kildare shows that in March 1535, when the Castle of Maynooth was sacked, Lord Thomas had previously delivered part of the plate, of which there are three entries, one to a retainer, another to the White Friars of
Kildare, besides placing a large quantity in charge of O’Brian of Thomond.
An Inquisition taken on Tuesday next after the feast of St. Nicholas the Bishop, 1543, finds that the Prior surrendered this House on the 3rd of April, 1540, he having been seized of a Church and Belfry, a dormitory, a hall, and two chambers, with a messuage, a garden, and a close, containing one acre, also a cottage and six acres of arable land in Kildare, annual value, besides reprises, 3s. id. (Chief Remembrancer.) This House was granted, along with the Franciscan monastery, to Daniel Sutton. (Id.) According to an extract from a Roll in Record Office, Dublin (Apud Ma’nt, Vol. I., p. 161), the house of the Carmelites in Kildare, at the suppression of monasteries, was sold for £1. In an abstract of grants under Acts of Settlement and Explanation, 8th August, 1667, we find this Monastery referred to: “A parcell of land in or near ye Corporation town of Kildare, near adjoining to the dissolved fryery, called Monasterfigue, or White Fryery, called by ye name of Konokerbeg, with ye tolls and duties of the fairs, and also the privileges and rights thereunto belonging.” The precise site which the former Monastery occupied has not been ascertained, but the above extract affords some clue to it.
The Carmelites still possess a Convent at Kildare, and are at the present time engaged in building a Church there, at a cost of £3,500.


Kildare came into the possession of the English soon after the invasion. The castle was built by De Vesci, to whom the town and district around were granted, for protection of his extensive possessions. In the list of the lands, etc., which Earl Richard Marshall offered to the Countess of Pembroke for her dower in Ireland, “the vill and Castle of Kildare,” are included. (Close Roll. 16, Hen. III., 1232.)
1294. Calvagh O’Conor, chief of Hy Failia, then in arms against the English, stormed and took the Castle of Kildare, burnt all the Records and Deeds of the manor, and, as the old chronicler has it,— “destroyed the tallies,” a species of accounts by nitches made in pieces of wood, kept between lord and menial at a time when writing was regarded as a very high accomplishment. O’Conor appears to have held possession of the Castle till 1307, when he was defeated by the Lord Offaly, and obliged to return to Hy Failia, his own district, in the King’s County. (Seward, Top. Hib.) This Calvagh O’Conor was one of those treacherously massacred by Peter Bermingham at Carrick Castle in 1308. As already related, De Vesci fled to France, in 1294, rather than meet John FitzThomas in single combat, in consequence of which he forfeited his possessions in Ireland. It was not, however, till 1297, that he formally surrendered the castle, manor, and County of Kildare to the King, in whose name John Wogan, the Justiciary, took possession. These remained in the King’s hands till May, 1306, when he granted the castle and town of Kildare, etc., to John FitzThomas.
In 1310, William de Wellesley received, as Constable of the Castle of Kildare, a sum of £4 11s. Od., being a quarter’s salary. (State Papers.)
Clyn, under date 1346, names the Castle of Kildare as one of the strongholds of (the English in) Ireland. “Hibernia habet custodias 7 loca silicet Dubliniam, Kildariam, Clane, Totmoy, Desertum, (Castledermott), Wysefordiam (Wexford), et Wykynlo (Wicklow).”
On the 29th of May, 1390, a Writ was issued to the Earl of Kildare, “to remove O’Conor, son of Donogh O’Dymsey, the King’s Irish enemy, detained in the Castle of Kildare, to the Castle of Dublin, for his safe custody, as his escape might be of dangerous consequence.” (Lodge, I., 80.)
Father F. Slingsby,—Memoir, p. 212,—detailing the persecutions to which Catholics were subjected in his time, namely, the early part of the 17th century,—makes mention of the Castle of Kildare which, he says, was in an especial manner the home and refuge of all the persecuted; this was chiefly owing to the piety of the Countess who, having been born in the Tower of London whilst her parents were imprisoned there for their ad¬herence to the Catholic religion, never allowed the fervour of her faith to grow cold, or the ardour of her charity to be extinguished. Her castle became, not only the asylum of the neighbouring Catholics, but a sort of head-quarters for the Catholic clergy; and hence it was characteristically known throughout the kingdom as the House of Holiness, whilst by the Protestant bigots it was styled “a centre of abomination, the sink of hell.” The Countess of Kildare here referred to was Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher, 9th Lord Delvin who, by dispensation from the Pope, married her cousin Gerald, 14th Earl of Kildare.* Her father, and her grandfather, Gerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, were arrested on suspicion of disloyalty, in 1580, and committed to the Tower. Her husband died, 11th February, 1611, and was buried at Kildare, leaving but one son, Gerald, the 15th Earl, then only seven weeks old. In 1618, her child was taken from her and given in ward to the Duke of Lenox, chiefly that he might be reared a Protestant, but his pious mother had the consolation of knowing that the boy, who died in the Castle of Maynooth on the 11th of November, 1620, when he was but 8 years and 10 months old, demanded and obtained the ministra¬tions of a Catholic priest. His cousin and successor, George, the 16th Earl, who was but one month his junior, was less fortunate. He also was given in ward to Esme Stewart, Duke of Lenox, “after which,” writes Lodge, “that nobleman took care to have him educated in the communion of the Church of England, in which his illustrious family have ever since continued.” Thus it was that the noble house of Kildare lost the ancient Faith—they did not desert it, it was basely filched from them by the State, through the agency of the Court of Wards.
Robert Cowley writes to the Duke of Norfolk in 1540, (Ellis’s Letters, Vol. 2, p. 98):— “When a good gentilman called Davyd Sutton who kepith at his charge divers horsemen and fotemen, had the Constableship of the Kinges castell of Kildare. the said Robert (Brabazon) did put him oute, and for lucre took uppon hymself to bee Constable of Kildare, keeping in his handes the Constableship of Carlingford, distansing asunder lxx myles; and left not in the castle of Kildare any manner of pese of ordynance so moche as a hand-goune or any pese of artillery, not one bowe, but likking up the proffat; and O’Connor beeing thereof monyshed, entered into the towne and burnyd it, and entered into the castell and ryfled it of all the cattail therein put for refuge, and toke horses out of the castell. And oon hand-gone may have kepte theym out and saved the castell and all that was therein.” This Sutton lived at Rathbride. In 1540, the Irish Government, on account of his good services to the State, recommended him to the King, to be made of the Privy Council.
In 1643, the castle was repaired and a garrison established in it, by Lord Castlehaven; in 1647, Colonel Jones took the place upon quarter, but it was soon after retaken by the Irish, who held it till the beginning of June, 1649, when it was repossessed by the Lord Lieutenant. (Seward.)
Subsequently, the Castle of Kildare was the residence of members of the Geraldine family, the last of whom who abode there being the patriotic and ill-fated Lord Edward Fitzgerald and his French and Catholic lady, Pamella.

*She bequeathed Kilkea Castle to her cousin, Father Nugent, S.J., as a novitiate for the Order.


The old parochial district of Tully (Tulach, a hill), or Coglanstown, is partly in the present parish of Kildare. It consists of four mutually detached districts; the distance of the first district from Kildare is ¾ of a mile, S. by E.; of the second district ¾ of a mile, N.N.W.; of the third district, 2 ¼ miles, N.N.E.; of the fourth district, 5 miles, S.E. A Commandery of the Knights Hospitallers was established in the first of these divisions; the exact period when it was founded is not known, nor the name of the founder. As it was already established before the De Vesci family lost possession of Kildare, it probably owes its existence to them.
1290, October. An Inspeximus of this date shows that Geoffry de Siwaldeby was Master of Tully. (Cal. Doc. Ireland, Sweetman.)
1293. Thomas was Prior of the Church of Tully. (King, p. 38.)
1308. Dermod O’Dempsey was slain at Tully; it is said, by the followers of Lord Piers Gaveston. (Pembridge.)
1326. A Chapter of the Order was held here, on the 15th Sunday after Trinity. (King.)
1327. The Great Prior appointed Philip de Rush to be Chief Clerk of the Chapel of Tully, and principal manager under the direction of the Preceptor. (Id.)
1330-31. John FitzRichard was Preceptor. (Id.)
1333. A Chapter was held here, on the Sunday after the feast of SS. Peter and Paul. (Id.)
1334-5. Richard de Bruyn was Preceptor. A Chapter was held here this year, on the Sunday next after the feast of St. Luke. (Id.)
1337. Richard de Brun (probably the same as already named) was Preceptor. A Chapter was held here, this year. The Grand Prior granted to John de Laundrey, the office of porter in the house of Tully, together with his diet and clothing; or in lieu thereof, one mark of silver, and half a mark for shoes, to be paid annually by the Preceptor. He also granted to William FitzSymons during life, in this house, his diet and all other necessaries for himself, a servant-boy, and a horse; the diet, attendance, etc., to be the same as the esquires, and his servant and horse, the same as those of the Preceptor were served with; and that he, FitzSymons, was to serve in the said house as an esquire. (Id.)
1338. A Chapter was held here, on Sunday, being the feast of St. Luke. The same year the Grand Prior granted to Roger Philipson, in the house of Tully, the office of porter during life, with diet, and ten shillings in silver, yearly, for all necessaries; and if he should be prevented by age or sickness, from attending commons, he should then be served daily in his own chamber, with a white loaf and one of the coarser kind, a flagon of the best ale and another of the middle kind, and as much flesh-meat, fish, etc., from the kitchen, as he should choose. (Id.)
1339. A Chapter was held here on Sunday, being the feast of St. James. The same year the Grand Prior granted to Nicholas Uloys, clerk, his diet in this house, at the table of the brethren, and clothing the same as theirs; and if at any time he should not come to the hall, he should then be served in his chamber with two white loaves and two of the coarser kind, two flagons of the best ale, and two of an inferior kind, a dish of meat from the kitchen for his dinner and another for his supper; he had also leave to keep a servant, who was to diet with the servants of the Preceptor. The year following, he also granted to Gregory Tyrrell, the office of assessor of the house of Tully, with diet at the table of the esquires, clothing the same as theirs, and half a mark of silver annually, for shoes; and if he should not be able to come to the hall he was then to be served in his chamber. (Id.)
1345. A Chapter was held here on Monday next after the feast of SS. Peter and Paul. (Id.)
1349. Another Chapter was held here before John FitzRichard, the Grand Prior of Kilmainham. The Grand Prior, in this year, granted to Brother John Tyrrell, Prebend of Tally, the tithes of their Churches during life. He also granted to Robert Fitz-Adam, the office of butler in the house of Tully, together with diet at the servants’ table, or in his chamber if confined by sickness, and clothing the same as the other servants of the house. (Id.)
1471. It was enacted that Keating, the Prior of Kilmainham, be obliged, notwithstanding his privileges, to appear in the Chief bench, and to answer Malachy Malowne, Dean of Kildare, in a suit for a lease of the Commandery of Tully. (Harris’s  Collectanea.)
The last Preceptor was John Walyngton; in Patent Roll, dated 14th of July, 1540, we find a grant of “a yearly pension of £16 13s. 4d. to John Walyngton, late Preceptor of Tullie, issuing out of the hereditaments of the Preceptory.”
This commandery, with an orchard, garden, and 60 acres of pasture, 100 acres of arable, and a water-mill, with the custom of the tenths in the town and lands of Tully; 2 messuages, 1 cottage, and 80 acres of land, and custom of the tenths in and near Moortown; 2 messuages, 1 cottage, and 60 acres of land, with the custom of the tenths in Frereton; and 1 mes¬suage, 6 acres of land, in Treven and Prompellan; all which were the temporal lands of the manor of Tully; also the rectories of Tully, Downen (Duneany), Rathbride, and Calvinston, with the tithes of the same; the whole lying and situate in this county, was granted to Sir Henry Harrington, Knt., and his heirs, in capite, for the annual rent of £21 6s. 8d., he paying yearly at Naas twenty bushels of corn. (Auditor-General.)
In letters from the King to Sir Anthony St. Leger, dated Westminster, July 5, 30th Hen. VIII., His Grace directs that “David Sutton should have the Commandery of Tully, in the County of Kildare, late belonging to the Lord Saint John of Jerusalem.” (Cal. Pat. Rolls. Morrin, 65.)
Tully passed into the hands of Patrick Sarsfield in the time of Craik, Protestant Bishop of Kildare,—1560-64. Ware says of him: “He, not content with the Deanery of St. Patrick’s in Dublin, and the See of Kildare (both which he held together), exchanged almost all the manors and farms pf the Bishopric with Patrick Sarsfield, for certain tithes of no great value; by this exchange, the most ancient See of Kildare was reduced to a shameful poverty.” An Inquisition, taken at Naas, 25th of May, 1632, finds Patrick Sarsfield seized in fee of the manor or Pre¬ceptory, and land, of Tully, Fryerstowne, and Bralissan, 1 castle, 10 messuages, 1 water-mill, and 226 acres of land; also Rossberry, Scarletstown, Mooretowne, and Richardstown, 1 castle, 10 messuages, and 150 acres; the rectories of the Churches of Tully, Downen alias Downeny, Rathbryde, and Calvesstowne, with all the tithes, etc., the tithes of the townland of Ballyenlen, Fryertowne, Moortowne, near Kilkea, alias Kilkullin, Kilcale, alias Kilballane, near Connell, and Kilcork, all which are parcell of the manor of Tully aforesaid; the tithes of Rosberry, Scarletston, Mooretown, Richardstown, and Cornelscourt, and of Loghbrone, Carne, and Cornelscourt aforesaid, containing 4 messuages and 100 acres of land; the annual rents of Norny, and a certain parcell of land called Clongory, 10 acres, and the reversion after the expiration of a certain demise then made, and of 40 acres, parcell of the town of Dunlavon in the County of Wicklow, etc. The said Patrick Sarsfield died, 22nd January, 1630. Peter Sarsfield is his son and heir, aged 40, and married. (Inquis. Lagen.)
In the north of East Tully townland, is St. John’s Well; a well dedicated to St. Brigid lies in the west of the same townland. There is a small moat near the centre of this townland.
The Church of the Commandery of Tully still exists in ruins; the masonry, as usual with the houses of the military Orders, is very massive, partaking of the nature of a fortress—the walls are 4 ½  feet in thickness. The existing portion of the Church is about 56 feet long, by 27 in width, and a tower, some 20 feet square. A burial-ground is attached.


The town of Rathangan, on the Little Barrow, stands in the ancient parish of the same name, now incorporated with Kildare. The parish of Rathangan is situated in East and West Offaly; the town and most of the parish were formerly in West Offaly, but were transferred by Act Wm. I., c. 84, to East Offaly; the present West Offaly portion is almost uninhabited. The name signifies the Rath of Jomghain. The Rath is still to be seen near the present Protestant Church, and measures about 180 feet in diameter. Jomghain is a proper name, sigifying Vulnerator, and was of frequent occurrence in ancient Ireland. (O’Donovan.) It is not known who the individual was whose name is perpetuated in this instance. The following references to this place are found in the Annals of Ireland.
A.D. 801. (recte 807, O’D.) Flaithiusa, son of Cinaedh, lord of Ui-Failghe, was slain at Rath-Imghain. (Four MM.) The same event is recorded in the annals of Clonmacnoise, under date 803: “Flaithnia, mac Kinoye, King of Offalie, was killed at Rathangan;” and again, in the Ann. Ult., at 805: “Flaithnia mac Cinaeda, rex Nepotum Foilgi, jugulatus est i rRaith-¬Imgain.”
Recording the death of Margaret O’Carroll, wife of O’Conor Faly, in 1451, the Four Masters say of her that “she was the best woman of her time in Ireland, for it was she who had given two invitations of hospitality in the one year to those who sought for rewards,” (i.e., poets, minstrels, members of mendicant orders, etc.) These feasts, as we learn from Duald Mac Firbis, took place, one at Killeigh, on the Feast of Da Sinchell, the 26th of March,—at which 2,700 persons were entertained,—and the other at Rathangan; “and she gave the second invitation to everyone that came not to the first, on the feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady in harvest, at or in the Rath-Imayn, and so we have been informed that that second day in Rath¬Imayn was nothing inferior to the first day.” The description of the great feast at Killeigh is given in its proper place.
A.D. 1546. Many of the Geraldines took up arms against the Saxons, in revenge for their expulsion from their country, . . . they plundered Ballymore Eustace and Rathvilly, and all the country around them; they also plundered Rathangan, and carried away on that occasion from these places so many cows that the number could not be enumerated. (Four MM.)
During the insurrection of 1798, the rebels attacked Rathangan; they were repulsed, and some of their leaders were taken and executed.
The present Protestant Church occupies the site of the old Parochial Church, of which a small portion of the walls are still standing to the east of the present edifice. The adjoining burial-ground is still used by the Catholics, who inter on the south side, leaving the north for Protestant interments. In the Catholic portion is a tombstone, facing west, bearing the following inscription: “This stone erected by ye Rev. Simon Fitzpatrick in memory of ye deceased bodys of John, James, and Catherine Fitzpatrick deceased 1711.” It is probable that the Rev. Simon Fitzpatrick is here interred with his family, and that the date, 1711, refers to the time of his decease.
Thady Doorly, who died some fifty years ago, at the age of 126, is interred here. The statement regarding his extraordinary longevity is verified by reference to leases in which his name is inserted. Like the famous Countess of Desmond, who was 140 years old at the period of her death, this man’s end was hastened by an accident.
A.D. 1534, January 26th. Pardon to Stephen Crenan, of Rathangan, Chaplain. (Pat. Roll.)
A.D. 1536. Stephen Grenan (evidently the same person) was rector of Rathangan, as appears in .Exch. Mem. Roll.
Rathangan has been a Prebend, probably since the institution of the Chapter of Kildare. In the Taxation ascribed to the year 1294, appears: “Ecclesia de Rathemegan, Prebenda, xl. marks,” and in that made temp. Hen. VIII., “Preb. de Rathangan £40,” and “Rectory of Rathangan £12 16 8,” are given.
The Chapel of the Penal Times stood immediately within the wall that now encloses Harberton demesne, at the part where the high canal bridge now stands. Two venerable trees, still there, stood in front of the Chapel, and are found studded with nails, employed in posting notices upon them. This Chapel was built about the year 1700, as we learn from the return made in November, 1731, in which it is stated that “the Mass-house of Rathangan, wherein the priest of Kildare officiates, has been built above thirty years.” (See Vol. 1., p. 267.) It is found marked on a map of the County of Kildare published in 1752. The next Chapel was on the site occupied by the present one. It appears to have been a very humble structure, and was replaced, about the year 1826, by the existing Church.
The Manor of Rathangan came into the possession of the De Veseys, soon after the English invasion; they, no doubt, were the founders of the Castle which, with their other posses¬sions, passed into the hands of John FitzThomas, first Geraldine Earl of Kildare, in 1316. In 1329, on the 7th of July, Richard, 3rd Earl of Kildare, died here, and was interred at the Gray Abbey, Kildare. (Lodge.)
In 1534, during the rebellion of Silken Thomas, this castle was taken by the English. Hollinshed relates how “the Castell of Rathimgan having been woone, which was soone after the surrender of Maynooth, he (the Earl) caused a drove of cattell to appeare timelie in the morning hard by the towne. Such as kept the fort, suspecting it to be a bootie, were trained for the more part out of the castell, who were surprised by Thomas, that laie hard by in ambush, and the greater number of them slaine.”
In a poem composed, temp. Elizabeth, by Fearganaimm Mac Eochadh, and entitled Caithreim Aodha mic Seanin Ui Bhrain, i.e., “the Victories of Hugh, son of Shane O’Byrne,” (MS. T.C.D., H. 1, 14, p. 19,) Rathangan and other places in the neighbourhood are referred to:

“But the vigorous exertion at Bailegaidhi (Ballygaddy) caused us to give thanks to the King of Heaven. Grainsioch IJuserd (Puncher’s Grange) was plundered by you, Cuilmuine (Kilmony) is put out of form. We heard a news which raised your fame; Raith-Jomdhain (Rathangan) you consumed, Cinain. boig (Clonbulloge) and the Bothar-Cuill (Boherkill) were plundered by the grandson of Raymond, And to the spoil taken from Fiodh Cuilinn (Feiglicullen) I compare no booty,” &c.

The writer of State of Ireland, anno 1598, refers to “Rath¬angan, a castle of the Earle of Kildare’s, latelie raysed by the Rebells.”
In Belling’s History of the Irish Confederation, etc., edited by Mr. Gilbert, Vol. II., p. 138, we find the following instructions from the Lords Justices: “Directions for Colonel Gibson for the intended expedition. Win. Parsons—Jn. Borlase—You are with the troopes of horse and foote companies now designed for that purpose, to repaire into the Co. Kildare, and soe with what conveniency you can, to goe to Rathangan by easie journeys, and in your passage to kill, slay, and destroy all Rebells, and by fire or otherwise to destroy all the corne, turffe, and horses belonging to the said Rebells thereabouts, and from thence into Farrinemurchoe, and to make the like destruction on that country and thereabouts to the Barrow side, and on yr returne home, to doe the like in all the northerne partes of the county of Kildare, and soe by easie journies to scowre the Lordshipp of Maynooth, and in all these wayes to take from the Rebells all the cattle you can. In this journey your principall worck is to make what spoile you can of all the Rebell’s houses, corne, turffe, and other goodes. When you are nearest to Monasterevin, if you finde the same in distresse, you are to releive the same with corne and cattill so far as you may.” (Adam Loftus, who resided at Monasterevan, and whose name is attached to this precious document, took care to have this passage inserted.) “You are to tarry abroad in that countrie, as long as you possibly can gett provisions for your men. And to this purpose you are to doe any other thing for his majesties service that you in your judg¬ment shall think fitt during your being abroad. 4 Jan. 1642.
“Conway and Kilulta. Ad. Loftus. F. Willoughby. Edw. Brabazon. J. Temple. G. Wentworth.”
The remains of this fortress were in existence up to a comparatively recent date. It is marked on the map of the county, published in 1752, as the Castle of Offaly, and was situated upon a rising-ground near the back entrance of The Lodge, to provide materials for the building of which residence, probably led to its final demolition.
At a short distance to the south of Rathangan, near Mount Prospect, there is still to be seen a square tower, now popularly known as Offaly Castle; this fort was placed here to command an important ford on the adjoining river. Just outside the town in the direction of Monasterevan, a stream crosses the road, and is now bridged over; this is known as the Friar’s Ford, and near at hand is the Friar’s Walk. It is said that a friar dwelt here in the last century, and hence these appellations.


This ancient parish is now included in the union of Kildare. There are two places bearing the name of Cloncurry (Cluain Conaire, i.e., “Conaire ‘s meadow “) in this County, viz., Cluain Conaire Toimen, in the parish of Kilcock, and Clunin Conaire Maeldubh, the one here referred to. St. Maeldubh’s feast was celebrated here on the 18th of December,—in the Martyrology of Donegal, at that date, the entry “Maeldubh Clnain Conaire,” is found. He was also probably Abbot of Cluain Immerois (i.e., Umeras, in the adjoining parish of Monasterevan), where he was culted on the 20th of October. St. Maeldubh left his Irish Churches to evangelize the Saxons, by whom he was called Mal-dulph. He settled at Caerbladon or Ingelbourne, in Wiltshire. He was joined by Aeldheln, nephew of Ina, King of Wessex, who became his successor, and died Bishop of Sherbourne, A.D. 709. Their Monastery was named after both, Maeldelmsbrigg, changed to Malmesbury, which afterwards became the celebrated Benedictine Abbey of that name. St. Maeldubh died there, towards the close of the seventh century. He wrote “De Paschae Observatione ;” “Pro tonsura ac caelibatu ;“ “Regulae artium diversarum ;” “De Disciplin is Naturalibus ;“ besides Hymnos, Dialogos, Epistolas, and other works not now extant. (Loca Patriciana, p. 82; Ware’s Irish Writers.)
In 1206, Cornelius Mac Gelan, Rector of Cloncurry, was advanced to the See of Kildare. (Ware.) It is not stated which of the Cloncurrys claimed him as its Rector.
There is a burial-ground at Cloncurry which has ceased to be used, and, in it, the foundation of a building, probably a church, though some of the people in the neighbourhood style it the palace. Within less than half-a-mile in a straight line from this place, and also within the old parish of Cloncurry, are the ruins of the Church of Cappanarigid. This building, of which all the outer walls are still standing, measures 38 by 14 feet. The doorway is in the Western gable and has a sandstone casement with circular top. This gable terminates in a belfry, between which and the doorway is a small window. A lancet window, measuring only six inches on the outside, but deeply splayed within, exists in the east gable, and two similar windows are in the north and south walls opposite each other, towards the east end. This ruin stands in a grave-yard, in which, however, there does not appear to be any note-worthy inscription.
In Gal. of Patent Rolls, Morrin, p. 69, is found a “Pardon of Owen Keynan of Cappervarget, near Rathechangan, in the county of Kildare, harper, otherwise Owen Keynan, servant of Gerald, late Earl of Kildare, otherwise Owen the Rhymer, otherwise Owen Keynan the poet, otherwise Owen Keynan Keyeghe, the blind bard; and of Cornelius Keynan, of Cappervarget, harper, otherwise called Cornelius Keynan, son of Owen Keynan Keyeghe, otherwise Cornelius the bard. January 27th, 1541.” In a foot-note the editor adds: “In a Parliament held at Dublin, in 1475, an Act was passed for seizing the goods of the rhymners and hermits who come into the county of Kildare, and remain in the English land without license, and succour the Irish enemies with victuals.” (Orig. Stat. Roll., Rolls Office.)


On what is known as the Island of Lullymore,—an oasis surrounded on every side by the bog of Allen,—is the site of an old parochial Church, of which the foundations are still plainly discernible, in the midst of a burial-ground which is at the present time more circumscribed than formerly. A head-stone is pointed out as marking the grave of a priest, but there is no decipherable inscription. A Holy Well is stated to have been here formerly, but it is no longer to be seen. On a large boulder a foot-print is distinctly marked, said to have been im¬pressed on it by St. Patrick when passing this way. In the Taxation, temp. Hen. VIII., Lalyaghmore is set down as a Prebend of the Diocese of Kildare, and is valued at 13s. 4d.
From local tradition it would appear that there was a Religious Community of some kind here, about the commence¬ment of the 18th century. From the secluded nature of the place, the members of this brotherhood successfully eluded observation for a long while; in the end, however, they were discovered and, as the story goes, were all massacred except one, named Thomas Foran, who escaped, and is said to have carried away important Records. This monk was grand-uncle to the Thady Doorley already referred to as having died at the age of 126; this latter used to tell of his having been, in childhood, petted and fondled by this relative, the last of the monks of Lullymore.


This formerly constituted a parish, of the Church of which the site only exists in a disused grave-yard. It is referred to in Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list of Parochial Churches; and in the Taxation of the time of Henry VIII., the Rectory of Dunmurry is valued at £4 17s. 4d.


This also was a separate parochial district; the east gable of the Church, (Ballyknavin, in Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list), is still standing, in which there appears a double lancet window, the lights of which are very narrow on the outside. A grave-yard is attached, in which but few interments now take place.


In Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list this place is named as the site of a Chapel dedicated to St. Michael: “Capella S. Michaelis de Bally Ellis;” even the place which it occupied is now forgotten. There was a castle here, as appears from the old map of 1752.


This is marked as the site of a parochial church by Dr. Mac Geoghegan: “Ecclesia parochialis de Balle-nowlan.” Every trace of this Church has disappeared, but the spot on which it stood is clearly indicated, to the west of Rathangan, at a sharp curve in the road,—the deflection evidently having been made, in order not to interfere with the church ground.
At about half-a-mile east of Rathangan is the site of a chapel called Teampull–na-Seanagh,-St. John’s Chapel. This also is entered in Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list as “Teampul-na-Sumai vel Suimai, juxta Rathangan.” It is found on the map of 1752. The site is marked by a disused, and almost forgotten, grave¬yard, hemmed in by the Barrow on one side, and the modern canal on the other.
The townland of Knocknagallagh, near the town of Kildare, was formerly included in the Barony of Upper Philipstown, and King’s County; this and two other similarly insulated districts, were transferred to the County of Kildare, in the reign of William IV.
Beside the town of Kildare there is a large pond or lough named Loughminane, the formation of which is thus accounted for in a Gloss on the Feilire AEnguis in the Leabhar Breac:-
“Eighteen Bishops came to Brigid from Hui-Brinin Chualand and from Telach-nam-espoc to Loch Lemnachta, beside Kildare on the north. So Brigid asked her cook, to wit, of Blathnait, whether she had food, et dixit illa non. And Brigid had shame, so the angel said that the cows should be milked iterum. And Brigid milked them, and they filled the tubs, and they would have filled all the vessels of Leinster; and the milk came over the vessels and made a lough thereof. Inde Loch Lemnachta dicitur.”
The Gibbet-rath on the Curragh was, during the rebellion of 1798, the scene of one of the most cruel and dastardly acts con¬nected with that unhappy epoch. On the 28th of May, a large number of the insurgents, who had encamped on Knockawlin hill, surrendered their arms to General Dundas, on condition of being allowed to retire peaceably to their homes. Three days later, another large body, by express arrangement with the same honourable and humane commander, assembled at the Gibbet-rath for the like purpose. Major-General Duff, to whom the arms were to have been delivered up, making a pretext of the accidental discharge of a gun, ordered his only too willing troops —Lord Roden’s Fencibles, the City of Dublin, and the South Cork Militia, etc.,—to fire upon and charge the defenceless rebels, an immense number of whom were thus slaughtered in cold blood. At the French-furze, near at hand, there is a green grave on which the Christian Monogram is kept constantly renewed by the people. This is said to be the grave of a priest, who was one of the victims at the Gibbet-rath, shot down by the militia, “whose favourite pastime was murder. And if a priest has been put to death, the greatest joy is expressed by the whole company.” (Official Report of Lord Cornwallis to the Duice of Portland.)
According to a Return, preserved in the Public Record Office, Dublin, dated 31st July, 1798, and signed, R. Dundas, Lieut. ¬Colonel; the number of Rebels who submitted in the County of Kildare after the Rebellion, was 7,889; the arms surrendered were, 6 blunderbusses, 192 guns, 192 bayonets, 121 pistols, 201 swords, and 1,582 pikes.


In the Registry of Parish Priests made in 1704 we find JAMES FITZGERALD, residing at Kildare, aged 63, P.P. of Kildare and Dunmurry, ordained in 1669, at Dublin, by Dr. Patrick Plunkett, Bishop of Meath; his sureties were Phelim
Fox, of Newtown, Gent., and Captain Cornelius Coonan, of Kilcock.
In this same Registry a second entry gives Conly Geoghegan, residing at Tully, aged 36, P.P. of Rathangan, Tully, Feighcullen, and part of Kilmaoge, ordained in 1689, at Kilkenny, by Dr. James Phelan, Bishop of Ossory,—sureties, Richard and Roger Dooney, of Kilmony, Gents. It would appear that Father Geoghegan was not, strictly speaking, P.P. of the district men¬tioned,—a large portion of which belonged to the Parish of Allen. A Return of 1731, already quoted, states that “the priest of Kildare officiates in the Mass-house of Rathangan, which had been built about 30 years.” As the Penal Statute did not tolerate any but Parish Priests, it is not unlikely that this priest had only a qualified parochial jurisdiction, subject to the authority of the existing pastors.
The line of succession is somewhat uncertain, until the time of Father Rouse, who died in 1778. In the Return of Nov., 1731, it is stated: “in Kildare, the present Priest (name not given) being an old, infirm man, has lately got a coadjutor…The people of Tully hear Mass at Kildare, the Priest of Kildare being Priest of Tully also.” If the old, infirm man refers to Father Fitzgerald, he must, then, have been 93 years of age. There is a distinct tradition that one, at least, of the Bishops of Kildare lived at Bohurkill, in this parish the remains of the house he occupied being still pointed out; whether this tradition refers to Dr. Gallagher or Dr. Keefte, or both, cannot be decided. Dr. Doyle (see Vol. I., p. 83) expressly states that Dr. Keeffe frequently sojourned at Kildare. Not unlikely, therefore, that the Bishops themselves may supply the missing links in the parochial succession. There is a tradition that a Father Ellis officiated in the parish of Kildare in the time of Dr. Keeffe. A priest of that name is mentioned in the Return of 1731 as then residing in Kill (Vol. I., p. 265); this may have been the Priest referred to.
REV. PHILIP ROUSE was P.P. of Kildare up to the year 1778. He died April 18th, 1778, aged 66, and lies interred in the burial-ground attached to the Cathedral. His epitaph has been already given. Two Chalices, one at Kildare and the other at Rathangan, bear his name as Parish Priest.
THE REV. EDMUND BURKE, D.D., who was afterwards first Bishop of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is stated to have been P.P. of Kildare. He left Ireland early in 1787, having previously resigned his parish and his dignity of Vicar-General. (See Vol. I., p. 277.)
THE REV. TERENCE NOLAN succeeded. He died at Kildare about the year 1803, and was buried in the graveyard of the Cathedral. The stone over his grave is uninscribed.
THE REV. MICHAEL CORCORAN was the next P.P. of Kildare, whither he was translated from Balyna. He was elected Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, in March, 1815. Although he removed to Tullow, he retained Kildare, which thus became a mensal parish.
THE REV. — FANNING became Administrator, and con¬tinued in that position until 1820, when he was transferred to Raheen, Queen’s County.
THE REV. PATRICK BRENNAN next had the Administration of the parish; two years later he was appointed Parish Priest of Kildare, and, subsequently, Penitentiary of the Diocese. He died, June 24th, 1864, and was interred in the Parish Church, where a monument bears the following epitaph :—“ Viro probo Sacerdoti qui in

Part II. of the Parish of Kildare from Comerford's dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin. Typed by Brid; edited and checked by James Durney



ANCIENT KILDARE is believed to have stood a little to the west of the present town. From a passage in the Book of Leinster, quoted by O’Curry, (Lectures, p. 487,) it appears that the place was previously named Drumcree, (Druimcriadh, ie. “the Ridge of Clay.”) It received its present appellation “from a goodly, high oak,” under the shadow of which St. Brigid constructed her cell. “When the most glorious virgin, Brigid, returned to her own country,” writes her Biographer, Cogitosus, Bishop of Kildare, in the 10th century, “she was received with great honour and with the great joy of the whole Province, and there a cell was assigned unto her in which this Saint of God led a wonderful life. There she erected a monastery of many virgins, and there, in honour of St. Brigid, a very great city afterwards sprung up which is at this day the Metropolis of the Lagenians. That cell is called in the Scotic, Cill-dara, which sounds in Latin, Cella Quercus, i.e. the cell of the oak. For there was a very high oak tree there which St. Brigid loved much and blessed; of which the trunk still (circa A.D. 980,) remains. No one dares to cut it with a weapon; but he who can break off any part of it with his hands, deems it a great advantage, hoping for the aid of God by means of it; because through the benediction of St. Brigid, many miracles have been performed by that wood. The same name which this cell bore, the city also is named.” (Vita IV. St. Brigidoe, lib. II. c. 3, Tr. Thaum.) St. Brigid established herself at Kildare some time about the year 470, to which period, therefore, the town can trace its foundation.
St. Brigid was born at Faughart, now a village in the Diocese of Armagh, and County of Louth, probably in the year 453. Her father, Dubhtach, and her mother, Brocessa or Brotseach, were both distinguished for their noble descent and their Christian virtues, “Sancta itaque Brigida, quam Deus praescivit ad suam imaginem et praedestinavit, a Christianis, nobilibusque parentibus genita.” (Cogitosus.) The same is repeated in the Prologue to the Vita VI., or metrical Life of the Saint, by Cilien of Iniskeltra. (Tr. Thaum.)

“Dubhtacus ejus erat genitor cognomine dictus,
Clarus homo meritis, clarus et a proavis;
Nobilis atque humilis, mitis, pietate repletus;
Nobilior propria conjuge, prole pia.”

Dubhtach was descended of Eochad, brother of the celebrated Con of the Hundred Battles; and Brotseach was of the noble race of Dal Conchobhair or O’Conor. The parents of the Saint belonged to the district of Leinster; whether her being born at Fauchart was owing to their having a residence there also, or to their having been on a visit there at the time, cannot now be determined. Her biographer, Cogitosus, tells us that she received a good education: - “A sua pueritia bonarum literarum studiis inolevit;” and even in her childhood that extraordinary charity towards the poor, which so distinguished her in after life, manifested itself. Having grown up, she declined various offers of marriage, declaring her purpose of serving God in the Religious Life. In fulfilment of this resolution she had recourse to a holy Bishop named Maccaille, who had a Church at Cruachan-Bri-Eile, in Ifalgia, now the Hill of Croghan, where the site of his Church is still observable, and where his feast was celebrated on the 25th of April. The Bishop being satisfied as to her holy dispositions, received her to Religious Profession, by clothing her with a white mantle and placing a veil of the same colour on her head. Such was the dress of the early Irish nuns, and so it continued for some centuries after the time of St. Brigid :– “Ille, coeleste intuens desiderium, et pudicitiam, et tantam castitatis amorem in tali virgine, pallium album et vestem candidam super ipsius venerabile caput imposuit.” (Cogitosus.) The Profession of the Saint took place about the years 467 or 469. We are not here concerned about the first Communities founded by St. Brigid; the fame of her holiness having spread abroad, the people of her native place sent to invite her to found a Convent amongst them. In compliance with this request, she established herself at Kildare sometime about the year 470. Her first house there was a mere cell; after some time however, the number of those who flocked thither to serve God under her guidance became so great that she had to apply herself to the construction of a monastery of large proportions. This took place, according to Ware, in 480, but other authorities place the date somewhat later. For the details of the wonderful life of this great Servant of God the reader is referred to the Lives of the Irish Saints, by the Rev. J. O’Hanlon, M.R.I.A. The year in which St. Brigid died is uncertain; without entering into the merits of the disputed point, it will be sufficient to state that the weight of authority appears to favour the accuracy of the entry in the Annals of Ulster which assigns it to the year 523, in the 70th year of her age. “A.D. 523, Quies S. Brigidae, an. lxx aetatis suae.” The Annals of Donegal, at Feb. 1st, after tracing her illustrious descent, say, “It was Ultan of Ard-Breccain that collected the (account of the) virtues and miracles of Brigid together, and he commanded his disciple, Brogan to put them into poetry.” The Poem of St. Brogan-Cloen in praise of St. Brigid, here referred to, may be seen—both the original Irish and a Latin translation—in the I. E. Record for February, 1868. It was composed about the year 650, partly in the Monastery of St. Moedhoc, at Clonmore, in the County of Carlow. The Annals of Donegal, still treating of St. Brigid, say of her: –“It was this Brigid that did not take her mind or her attention from the Lord for the space of one hour at any time, but was constantly mentioning Him, and ever constantly thinking of Him, as is evident in her own Life, and also in the Life of St. Brenainn, Bishop of Cluainfearta. She was very hospitable and very charitable to guests and to needy people. She was humble, and attended to the herding of sheep and early rising, as her Life proves, and as Cuimin of Coindaire states in the Poem whose beginning is:– ‘Patrick of the fort of Macha loved,’ &c. Thus he says:–

‘The Blessed Virgin loved
Constant piety, which was not prescribed;
Sheep-herding and early rising,
Hospitality towards men of virtues.’

 “She spent indeed 74 years diligently serving the Lord, per¬forming signs and miracles, curing every disease, and sickness in general. The Life of Ciaran of Cluain states, c. 47, that the Order of Brigid was (one) of the eight Orders that were in Erin.” February was called in Irish, “the month of Brigid’s festival;” and Irish writers style her the Mary of Erin, and, on account of her many virtues, assign to her, after the Mother of God, the second place amongst the virgin Saints in heaven. St. AEngus in the Feilire, thus marked her feast:-

“The Calends of February are magnified,
By a galaxy of martyrs of great valour;
Brigid the spotless, of loudest fame,
Chaste head of the nuns of Erin.”

The old Brehon laws prescribe special devotion to St. Brigid, and tribute to her Convent as duties of the Kings of Leinster. Through respect for the Saint, the town and suburbs of Kildare possessed the privilege of Sanctuary:—“ Maxima haec civitas et Metropolitana est; in cujus suburbanis, quae sancta certo limite designavit Brigida, nullus carnalis adversarius nec concensus timetur hostium.” (Trias Thaum. 534.) St. Tighernach, Abbot of Clones, and Bishop of Cloghar in succession to St. Maccarten, one of the most illustrious of the Saints of Erin, was baptized at Kildare by St. Conlaeth, St. Brigid acting as Sponsor. A gloss in the Leabhar Breac on the entry in the Feilire of AEngus at the 4th of April, the feast-day of this Saint, quaintly records this event as follows:—“Coirpre, son of Fergus of Leinster, i.e. of Leix, was Tighernach’s father. Or he is of Ui-Bairrchi. Now Coirpre bore him under cover to Kildare. He came into the guest-house.  Brigid beheld a watch of angels over the head of the house, and she asked who was there. “One young man is there,” quoth the servant. “Look thou still,” quoth Brigid. Then he looked. “There is, in sooth,” quoth he, “a little babe in the young man’s bosom.” “Good is the babe,” quoth Brigid. Brigid (Conlaeth?) comes into the guest-house, and baptizes the child, and Brigid holds him at his baptism.

KILDARE CATHEDRAL. —The Church erected in the time of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth was probably constructed of wood, like nearly all the Churches of that period. The earliest description of the Cathedral of Kildare extant, is that of Cogitosus, which is given in Vol. I. p. 3, of these Collections. This description was written early in the ninth century—be¬tween A.D. 799 and 835—as is proved thus: The writer describes the costly shrines of SS. Brigid and Conlaeth as they then existed at Kildare. Now, in the Annals of Ulster the enshrin¬ing of the Relics of St. Conlaeth is recorded to have taken place in 799; and these Shrines were carried away by the Danes in 835, when half the Church was burnt, as we learn from McGeoghegan. These facts fix the time when this description was written, as between these dates. Indeed the period might be narrowed even more; this writer states that Kildare was an inviolable Sanctuary, free from all apprehension of hostile attack, a description which could not be justly applied to it after 830, when “Ceallagh Mac Bran gave an overthrow to the Clergy of Kildare within their own house, when many of them were slain.” (Vide infra.) Petrie inclines to the belief that the Church described by Cogitosus was not constructed of wood; the supposition of Lanigan that it was so, being, in his opinion, by no means authorized by the text; the evidence adduced by Petrie relative to the antiquity of stone Churches in Ireland goes far to prove that that at Kildare was of this class. It will be also observable that the plan and general form of this Church which consisted of nave and chancel, was exactly that commonly adopted in the Abbey and Cathedral Churches in Ireland, and that the deviation from the usual custom, in having two lateral doorways instead of a single western one, is pointed out as a peculiarity necessary from the circumstance of the Church having been designed for the use of two communities of different sexes who had distinct and separate places assigned them, according to the almost universal practice of ancient times. The necessity for this separation of the sexes also led to the division of the nave, by a wooden partition, into two equal portions, which were entered by the lateral doorways already mentioned; and it led, again, to the piercing of the wall or partition, which separated the nave from the chancel, with a doorway on each side of the chancel arch, in order to admit the entrance into the chancel of the bishop with his chapter, on the right or south side, and of the abbess with her nuns on the left or north side. Another peculiar feature noticed in the description of the Church is its having a number of windows, whereas the Irish Churches were remarkable for the fewness of such apertures; this peculiarity arose from the arrangements of the Church into a double nave which, in consequence, required a double number of windows to light it. (Round Towers, p. 200.)

A.D. 835. In this year the Danes of Wicklow plundered Kildare and burned half the Church. They also carried away the costly Shrines of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth. (Four Masters; McGeoghegan.) Although the Shrines of the Saints fell a prey to these marauders, the Relics—at least those of St. Brigid— were rescued from desecration, and were conveyed for safety to Down. In 1185 the Relics of SS. Patrick, Brigid, and Columba were discovered, an account of which and their subsequent translation in the year following is given in the Office of the Translation of these Saints, printed in Paris in 1620, and republished by Colgan. (Tr. Thaum.) (See Appendix to this Volume.) Dr. Lanigan thus summarizes this account. It being generally believed that the bodies of the three Saints were in Down, Malachy, its Bishop, used to pray frequently to God that He would vouchsafe to point out to him the particular place or places in which they were concealed. On a certain night, while fervently praying to this effect in the Church of Down, he saw a light like a sun-beam traversing the Church, which stopped at the spot where the bodies were. Immediately procuring the necessary implements, he dug in that spot, and found the bones of the three bodies, which he then put into distinct coffins, and placed again under the ground. Having communicated what had happened, to John de Courcey, then Lord of Down, they determined on sending messengers to Pope Urban III., for the purpose of procuring the removal or translation of these Relics to a more respectable part of the Church. The Pope, agreeing with their request, sent as his Legate on this occasion, Vivian, Cardinal Priest of St. Stephen in Monte Coelio, who had been at Down nine years before, and who was well acquainted with John de Courcey and the Bishop Malachy. On his arrival the Relics were removed with the usual solemnities, to a more distinguished part of the Church, on the 9th of June, the festival of St. Columba. They were deposited in one monument, according to the well-known distich:–

“Nunc tres in Duno tumulo tumulantur in uno,
Brigida, Patricius, atque Columba pius.”

Besides the Cardinal, there were present at this translation, fifteen bishops, together with abbots, provosts, deans, archdeacons, priests, &c. It was resolved that the anniversary of it should be celebrated in Ireland as a festival, and that the feast of St. Columba should be translated to the day after the octave of said festival, that is, to the 17th of June. (Eccl. Hist. IV. p. 275.) In the Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1293, we find the following:—“It was revealed to Nicholas Mac Maelisa, (Coarb of St. Patrick), that the Relics of Patrick, Columbkille and Brigid were at Sabhall, (i.e. Saul, about two miles from Downpatrick); they were taken up by him, and great miracles were afterwards wrought by them, and after having been honourably covered, they were deposited in a Shrine.” This Shrine of the three great Patrons of Erin remained at Down till the time of Henry VIII. when it suffered desecration, in 1538. (Haverty, c. 30, p. 365.) It is, however, stated that the head of St. Brigid was rescued by some of the clergy, who conveyed it to Neustadt in Austria, and thence, in 1587, it was taken to the Church of the Jesuits at Lisbon, to whom it was given by the Emperor, Rudolf II. A Foot of St. Brigid which had been preserved in a Church dedicated to her in the Diocese of Cashel, is now in the possession of the Archbishop of that See. A portion of the veil of St. Brigid also, is amongst the treasures of the Redemptoristine Nuns at Dublin; and in the Gold Room of the Royal Irish Academy is preserved the Reliquary of the slipper of this Saint. This interesting object (No. 1023, in Catalogue), is thus described:—“Reliquary composed of brass, shoe-shaped, on upper portion jewel settings, Figure of Christ and head of St. John in relief, incised figure of female, decorations, monogram, etc., and the legend: Hoc est Juramentum naturale, 3. Anna Domini, 1410. Lochreich—S. Brigida Virgo Kildariensis— Hibernioe Patrona.” This inscription shows that the Relic was preserved at Lochrea, and was used as a Swearing Relic; Juramentum naturale signifying, no doubt, the same as Juramentum Corporale, a name by which all oaths were called, for the confirmation of which some sacred object was touched.
A.D. 868. The Church of Kildare was rebuilt by Queen Flanna, wife of Aedh Finliath, King of Ireland. In Fragments of Irish Annals, at this date, p. l 79, it is stated that this Queen was engaged at Kildare in the rebuilding of St. Brigid’s Church, and, whilst inspecting the works, she accidentally overheard the workmen conspiring against her husband. To this incident is due, Fr. Shearman remarks, (Loca Patr. 353), this casual reference to her piety in restoring, in 868, the Church which probably was in ruin since it was burned by the Danes in 835.
A.D. 1050. Kildare with its Daimlaig, (i.e. great stone Church), was burned. (Four Masters).
A.D. 1067. Kildare with its Church burnt. (Id.)
AD. 1132. St. Laurence O’Toole was Baptized at Kildare. His Life states that he was sent by his father, Maurice O’Toole, from his residence, in or near Castledermot, to a chieftain at Kildare called Donat or Dermot, who was charged with the duty of presenting the child at the Baptismal font. As the Saint’s father and this chieftain appear not to have been on friendly terms previously, it may have been that the birth of this child was taken as an opportunity for reconciliation; probably also, in compliment to Donat and to accommodate him, the ceremony was fixed to take place at Kildare.
A.D. 1136. Kildare Church was plundered by Dermod O’Bryan. (Annals of Inisfallen.)
Our Annalists record that in 1138, and again, in 1150, Kildare was burned; we may readily suppose that its Church continued in ruins.
A.D. 1223. Ralph de Bristol became Bishop of Kildare; he found his Cathedral ruinous. It is stated of him by Ware that “he was at no small expense in repairing and beautifying the Church of Kildare.” His work might more correctly be called the re-building of the Church, as it is to this period the structure now existing is referred by those qualified to speak on such subjects.
Dr. Edmund Lane, Bishop of Kildare from 1482 to 1513, along with building a College in which the Dean and Chapter should reside, repaired and beautified the Cathedral.
 In 1600, the town of Kildare suffered so severely that all the houses were in ruins and without a single inhabitant; that the Cathedral shared in the general wreck is shown, firstly, in the Liber Regalis Visitationis of 1615, in which it is stated “Ecclesia Dioecesis Darensis situata est in villa de Kildare, et nunc admodum ruinosa est;” and again in the Report of Dr. Pilsworth, Protestant Bishop of Kildare, on the state of the Diocese, dated 13th May, 1622. “The roof of the Body of the said Church is altogether ruinous, being pulled down in the late wars. The parishioners of the same are so poor that they are unable to repair the same, unless his excellent majesty vouch safe of his wonted goodness to grant some extraordinary help and furtherance thereto.”(V.3, 1, 2; Marsh’s Library, Dublin.)
In 1641, the Cathedral suffered severely, having had the steeple beaten down by a cannonade. In March, 1642, Arch-deacon Golborne and Mr Lightborne deposed that “in the rebellion of 1641, the ornaments of the Cathedral of Kildare and the books belonging to the same, value ten pounds, also the chapter chest, containing all the evidences and rescripts of the chapter were, in December, 1641, taken away by Rosse McGeoghegan, titular Bishop of Kildare, Dempsey, his Vicar-General, William Borey, priest, and the friars of the Gray Abbey there, etc., and the Church and tithes and rents belonging to the said chapter were seized by the said Bishop, friars, and priests, to the yearly loss of the said Dean and Chapter of more than £130 per annum. (MS., T.C.D., F. 2, 6.) Dr. Rosse McGeoghegan restored and reconsecrated the ancient Cathedral of his Diocese, and there performed the sacred offices of our holy Religion. In 1643, the town was made a garrison post under the Earl of Castlehaven. In a curious Tract entitled, Triumphant Proceedings of the army in Ireland, we read that “In March, 1643, the Papists consecrated Kildare Church and sayd Mass in it. The maner was, that all Protestants’ bones were digged up, and corps buried in the Church were cast to the dung-hill; and they say it is lawful to say Mass; and thus they do in all consecration of Churches.”
The wars of the 17th century left the Cathedral in ruins. In 1686 the choir portion was fitted up for Protestant service, the rest of the building remaining in ruins, until the year 1871, when the work of restoration was taken in hands.  The following is an extract from the Report drawn up, on this occasion, by the eminent Architect, the late Mr. Street:–
“This ancient Cathedral appears to have been built in the early part of the thirteenth century. It was a simple Cross Church, without aisles, but with—apparently—a Chapel of some kind opening out of the Eastern side of the South Transept. A Tower rose above the intersection of the arms of the cross; whilst a noble Round Tower stood, and still stands, not far from the Western end of the Nave.
“The state of the fabric at present is this:—The choir is the only part still roofed and used for service. Its architectural character is of the poorest description. The rest of the Church is in ruins. The South Transept and the Nave have lost their roofs, but almost all their other architectural features still remain, either intact or in such a state as to make their restora¬tion a matter of no difficulty. The Southern elevation of the South Transept is one of great simplicity and of good character and proportion. Its window is a well-designed triplet, simple externally, but with shafts and mouldings internally. The side walls of the Nave present a very remarkable design. The windows are simple lancets, separated from each other by buttresses. Between these buttresses bold arches are formed, nearly on a face with the front of the buttresses, and with a nar¬row space between them and the face of the wall. The effect of this arrangement is to throw a very bold shadow over the window, and to produce a most picturesque effect. But the reason for it is not clear.  It looks somewhat as though the men who were building had more acquaintance with military than with ecclesiastical architecture, and as though the defence of the Church from hostile attack was a chief motive in this part of the design—a part which, to me at least, is novel. Whatever the history of the design may be, this at any rate is certain, that the effect of it is very striking and picturesque.
“The West End of the Nave is destroyed, and its place occupied by a modern wall. It probably had a window either of five or of three lights, generally similar in detail to the window in the gable of the South Transept.
“The North Transept has been entirely destroyed, some part of it within a few years, when a new Tower was built in the angle between it and the Choir. This Tower is a poor erection, and most awkwardly placed, just behind the ruins of the noble Central Tower. The Central Tower is a mere wreck; one side only—the South—is fairly perfect; the whole of the rest of it has been destroyed. It is a work of fine design and proportion, not very lofty, but, in its complete state, so large as to give a good deal of the dignity of a Cathedral to what might otherwise have looked somewhat too much like a Parish Church.
“There are various other fragments of great architectural and antiquarian interest in this building; among them I may notice some fine encaustic tiles, and several fine monuments, with sculpture on the sides or slabs.
“Having given this general description of the character of the fabric, it remains for me to indicate what would, in my judgment, be the first steps that should be taken towards its repair and restoration. I should propose to take in hand the exact and careful restoration of the whole of the ancient portion of the Cathedral. This would involve repairs of stonework, re-erection of the roofs, and flooring of the Nave and Transepts, and the removal of the Modern Tower, and the restoration of the old one. Ample authority exists for the whole of this work, so that it might really be a work of restoration, in the best sense of the word.
“A few years more, and what now remains of this interesting Church may have become a thing of the past. Each winter’s rain and frost help to disintegrate the very fabric of the walls, and that which is possible now may not be possible ere long.”
The restoration, so far as it has been executed, has been done in strict accordance with the recommendations of Mr. Street; the great central tower has been rebuilt, and, except the choir, the other portions of the Church have been roofed in, the Duke of Leinster being the chief contributor to the fund for carrying on the works. A wing has been fitted up for religious service for the dozen worshippers who assemble there on Sundays. When the Restoration proper takes place; when this old Catholic Cathedral is restored to its rightful owners and to the worship of that religion for which it was erected, the work, now left unfinished, will, no doubt, be speedily completed.

ROUND TOWER OF KILDARE—The Cloichteach of Kildare is one of the largest and most interesting of its kind. It stands near the west end of the nave of the Cathedral, and is built of two kinds of stone, 13 feet being of white granite, and the rest of a common stone of a dark colour. It is terminated in a battlement, but this, it need hardly be remarked, is a modern addition of the last century, and replaces the usual conical termination. The chief architectural feature, however, is a fine Irish Romanesque doorway. “This interesting doorway,” writes Petrie, (Round Towers, p. 233), “is built of a hard silicious sand-stone, of light colour, the ornaments of which are carved in very low relief. Its general form may be described as consisting originally of four concentric arches, one recessed beyond the other, and resting on round pilasters or semi-columns, with flat imposts or capitals. The ornaments on the external arch have been long destroyed, and their places were supplied with rude masonry at the commencement of the last century. The ornaments on the recessed arches are also much injured, and the fourth, or innermost arch is the only one now remaining in tolerable preservation. The external arch is seven feet two inches in height, and three feet eight inches in width; the second arch is six feet ten inches in height, and three feet two inches in width; the third arch is six feet seven inches in height, and two feet ten inches in width; and the fourth or innermost arch is five feet eight inches in height, and two feet one inch in width, and one foot three inches in depth. The entire depth of the doorway, or thickness of the wall, is four feet; and the height of its floor from the ground is fifteen feet.” The period to which Petrie is inclined to ascribe the erection of this tower is that when the description of the Church was written by Cogitosus, namely, the close of the eighth, or beginning of the ninth century. “Indeed,” he adds, “were I disposed to venture on assigning this doorway to an earlier period, nay, even to the age of St. Brigid, to which Cambrensis would seem to refer it, there is, I think, nothing in its style of architecture which would invalidate such a supposition, as there is no feature in its decorations of which earlier examples may not be found in the corrupted architecture of Greece and Rome.” (Id. p. 232.) That the Tower of Kildare was, in the 12th century, considered of great antiquity, even so great as the time of St. Brigid, plainly appears from a story told by Cambrensis of a falcon which was thought to have frequented its summit from the days of that Saint. (De Falcone Kildarioe.) “From the time of Brigid a certain fine falcon used to resort this place and was accustomed to settle on the top of the Ecclesiastical Tower. Whence it was called by the people the Bird of Brigid, and was held in veneration by all. This bird, as if trained for the purpose, was wont, at the bidding of the inhabitants or the soldiers of the camp, to pursue the birds which resorted the plains and rivers about Kildare, and to bring them to earth with great velocity to the no small amusement of the beholders,” etc. This story is not worth quoting except for the incidental allusion made in it to the ecclesiastical tower. It may not be esteemed out of place to state here the conclusions to which Petrie has arrived, with regard to the date of the Irish Round Towers, and the uses which they were intended to serve. They are the following: —
I. That they were of Christian and ecclesiastical origin, and were erected at various periods between the fifth and thirteenth centuries.
II. That they were designed to answer, at least, a two-fold use, namely, to serve as belfries, and as keeps or places of strength, in which the sacred utensils, books, relics, and other valuables were deposited, and into which the ecclesiastics, to whom they belonged, could retire for security in case of sudden predatory attack.
III. That they were probably used, when occasion required, as beacons and watch-towers.
For these conclusions he adduces the following proofs:— 1. The Towers are never found unconnected with ancient ecclesi¬astical foundations. 2. Their architectural styles exhibit no features or peculiarities not equally found in the original Churches with which they were locally connected, when such remain. 3. On several of them, Christian emblems are observ¬able, and others display in the details a style of architecture universally acknowledged to be of Christian origin. 4. They possess, invariably, architectural features not found in any buildings in Ireland ascertained to be of Pagan times.
For the second conclusion:—
1. Their architectural construction eminently favours this conclusion. 2. A variety of passages, extracted from our Annals, and other authentic documents, will prove that they were con¬stantly applied to both these purposes.
For the third conclusion:—
1. There are some historical evidences which render such a hypothesis extremely probable. 2. The necessity which must have existed in early Christian times, for such beacons and watch-towers, and the perfect fitness of the Round Towers to answer such purposes, will strongly support this conclusion. For details of these arguments, see Petrie’s Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland with Essay on the Origin and Uses of the Round Towers.
Colonel Montmorency, in an Essay on the subject, remarks:– “The pillar-tower, as a defensive hold, taking into account the period that produced it, may fairly pass for one of the completest inventions that can well be imagined. Impregnable every way, and proof against fire, it could never be taken by assault. Although the abbey and its dependencies blazed around, the tower disregarded the fury of the flames; its extreme height, its isolated position and diminutive door-way, elevated so many feet above the ground, placed it beyond the reach of the destroyer. The signal once made, announcing the approach of a foe, by those who kept watch on the top, the alarm spread instantaneously, not only amongst the inmates of the cloister, but the inhabitants were roused to arms in the country many miles around.” It has also been observed by Sir Walter Scott, “These towers might possibly have been contrived for the temporary retreat of the priest, and the means of protecting the holy things from desecration on the occasion of alarm, which in these uncertain times suddenly happened and as suddenly passed away.” Cambrensis, writing in 1187, twice refers to these towers as ecclesiastical towers. “Turres ecclesiasticos quae more patriae arctae sunt et alta, necnon et rotundae;” and in the legend of the Falcon, he says, “Falco. . . . ecclesiasticae turris summitate insidere consueverat.” The first intention of the Irish tower was for strength of defence and faithfulness of watch. Bells, small as these which are left to us still, were deposited in them, and thus they came to be termed cloichteachs, i.e. bell-houses or places for the housing of bells. They may have served for the safe keeping of these objects which, in the early Irish Church, and connected with her saints, were accounted amongst her most sacred treasures, and were preserved with the shrine and crozier, in these keeps of the monastery. (Miss Stokes: Origin and Use of Irish Church Towers.)

FIRE-HOUSE OF ST. BRIGID.—Cambrensis, writing in the 12th century, thus refers to this fire, c. 34, et seq: -
“At Kildare in Leinster, which the glorious Brigid renders ennobled, many miracles are deserving of being recorded, amongst which the fire of St. Brigid comes first; this they call inextinguishable, not that it could not be extinguished, but because the nuns feed it with fuel and tend it so carefully that it has ever continued inextinct from the time of the Virgin, and not withstanding the great quantity of wood that has been consumed during so long a time, yet the ashes never accumulate. When, in the time of St. Brigid, twenty nuns had served the Lord here, she making the twentieth; after her glorious transit, nineteen always remained, and the number was not increased, and when each had kept the fire in order her own night, on the twentieth night the last nun put faggots on the fire, saying, ‘Brigid, keep your own fire, for this night has fallen to you;’ and the fire being left so, is found still burning in the morning, the fuel being consumed as usual. The fire is surrounded by a circular fence of twigs, within which a male enters not, and if one should by chance presume to enter, which was sometimes attempted by giddy persons, he escapes not without enduring punishment. Also it is permitted only for women to blow the fire, and for these not with their breath, but only with bellows or fans. In like manner the young of goats are not allowed here on account of the cause of the Virgin.” Cambrensis then tells of an archer of the family of Richard, Earl Marshall, who had leaped over the fence and blown the fire with his mouth, in punishment for which he became insane and died; and also of another who, being in the act of crossing the fence, and having one foot over, was drawn back and restrained by his comrades; the foot, with the leg, became withered forthwith, and he remained maimed for the rest of his life.
Ware records that A.D. 1220, “Henry de Loundres, Archbishop of Dublin, and Justiciary of Ireland, put out the fire called inextinguishable, which had been preserved from a very early time by the nuns of St. Brigid; this fire was, however relighted, and continued to burn till the total suppression of monasteries. The ruins of this Fire-house may still be seen.” Seward, Top. Hib., states that this fire was kept here for superstitious purposes, in a small cell or house, near the Church, 20 feet square, some ruins of which are still (1792) visible. This, and other writers, assert that this fire was a remnant of Paganism; that Brigid before her conversion had been a Vestal Virgin, etc. “Such assertions,” writes Dr. O’Donovan, (Ord. Papers), “are disgraceful to the human intellect. Where is the authority for saying that St. Brigid was ever a Vestal Virgin? How can it be proved that the preservation of this fire, for the use of the poor and strangers, was not a laudable and truly Christian idea? If St. Brigid wished to light a perpetual fire, could she not have done so on the authority of the Word of God? (Leviticus, vi. 12.)” The Lives of St. Brigid show that she was remarkable for her charity and hospitality towards the poor, pilgrims, and strangers. There can be hardly a doubt that it was to provide for the wants of these that this fire was kept constantly alight, and that her community after her demise kept it still burning, partly in continuation of her hospitable practice, and partly as a memorial of their holy Founder. Cogitosus, in his Life of the Saint, says that, imitating holy Job, she never suffered the poor to go unrelieved, and that she even, for this purpose, disposed of precious vestments which St. Conlaeth had brought from Rome; an act which St. Conlaeth, who thought that the line should be drawn somewhere, considered excessive, and found fault with:– Secundum enim exemplum beatissimi Job, (Brigida) nunquam inopes a se recedere sinu vacuo passa est; nam vestamenta transmarina et peregrina Episcopi Conlaeth, decorati luminis quibus in solemnitatibus Domini et Vigiliis Apostolorum sacra in altaribus offerens mysteria utebatur, pauperibus largita est.” (Tr. Thaum. e. 39, 522.) Archbishop de Loundres, an Englishman, and but lately arrived in the country, no doubt, had this perpetual fire at Kildare represented to him as a relic of Paganism, and acting seemingly with precipitancy, extinguished it; but, as has been told, it was soon relighted and continued alight as long as the Community of St. Brigid existed.
A Close Roll, dated Dublin, 28th January, 1397, directed Robert de Clayton, Clerk of the Hanaper, to grant letters of Royal Protection to the Prioress and Convent of the Fire-house of Kildare. “Priorissae et Conventui de Fyre-house de Kildaria.”
Hollinshed, a writer of the 16th century, in his Chronicle, states:— “There was in Kildare an ancient monument named the Fire-house… I travelled of set purpose to the towne of Kildare to see this place, where I did see such a monument like a vault, which to this daie they call the Fire-house.”
Giraldus Cambrensis describes a wonderful Manuscript still preserved at Kildare in his time. There is a growing belief that the Manuscript called the Book of Kells, now preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, is the identical Book described by Cambrensis. This Manuscript, writes Dr. Petrie, (Round Towers, p. 206), for beauty and splendour is not sur¬passed by any of its age known to exist; indeed, in looking at this exquisite piece of penmanship, it is difficult to avoid thinking that it is the very manuscript so elaborately described by Giraldus. Mr. Digby Wyatt, in a Paper read before the Royal Institute of British Architects, declares that in delicacy of handling and minuteness of faultless execution, the whole range of palaeology offers nothing comparable to the early Irish and British manuscript. When in Dublin he had the opportunity of studying very carefully the most marvellous of all, the Book of Kells, some of the ornaments of which he attempted to copy, but broke down in despair. Of this very book Mr. Westwood examined the pages as he did for hours together, without ever detecting a false line or an irregular interlacement. In one space of about a quarter of an inch superficial, he counted with a magnifying glass no less than 158 interlacements of a slender ribbon pattern, formed by white lines edged in black ones, and upon a black ground. “No wonder,” he adds, “that tradition should allege that these unerring lines should have been traced by angels.” The following is the description of the book and the composition of it, given by Cambrensis:— “Amongst all the wonderful things at Kildare nothing appears to me more wonderful than that admirable book written, as they say, at the time of the Virgin from the dictation of an angel. This Book contains a Harmony of the Four Evangelists according to St. Jerome; in which there are nearly as many different figures variously illuminated in colours, as there are pages. In one part you may behold the countenance of majesty divinely depicted; in another, the mystic emblems of the Evangelists, some represented with six, others with four, others with two, wings; here, an eagle, there a calf, now the face of a man, again, that of a lion, as well as an almost infinite number of other figures, which, if you merely glance at in the usual way without taking special notice of, they will appear to be blots rather than ligatures, and displaying nothing exquisite where, notwithstanding, there is nothing but what is exquisite. But if you examine them sharply and try to penetrate their beauty, you will be able to note the delicate, beautiful, and minute interlacings, in colours still fresh and bright, so that you would be led to believe that they were indeed the work of an angel rather than of man. The oftener and more carefully I have examined them, the more was I struck with new wonder, and each time I saw fresh subjects to call for admiration.” Giraldus then proceeds to relate the story of the writing of this Book as it was told in his time:— “On the first night (preceding the morning on which the writer was to commence the Book,) an angel stood by him in sleep showing him a picture depicted on a tablet which he held in his hand, and said, ‘Think you that you can depict this representation on the first page of the book which you are about to write?’ The scribe distrusting his ability to accomplish a work so artistic and unusual, answered that he could not. The angel then said, ‘On to-morrow morning, ask your mistress to offer prayers to the Lord for you, that He may enlighten and assist you both mentally and corporally, so that you may be able to see and apprehend the task proposed to you, and be able to execute it.’ After this, the angel again appeared to him on the succeeding night, displaying the same picture and also many others, all of which the scribe, apprehending, through the assistance of Divine Grace, fixed faithfully on his memory and carefully reproduced in their proper places throughout the volume. In this way was the Book written, the angel showing the pattern, St. Brigid praying, and the scribe copying.”


The Line of Bishops of Kildare having been given in Vol. I., we have now to set down the list of Abbesses in succession to St. Brigid, as far as they could be ascertained from our national Annals. St. Brigid died, probably in A.D. 523, and in the same year is recorded the death of St. Blatha or Flora, said in the Tr. Thaum, to have been cook to St. Brigid.
A.D. 524. St. Darlugdacha, who succeeded St. Brigid as Abbess, died on the 1st February. She was honoured on the same day, (AA. SS. 229.)
A.D. 580. St. Talulla, daughter of Nadfraich, Abbess of Kildare, died. (AA. SS. 340.) In the Martyrology of Tallaght her feast is entered at the 8th January:—“Tuililatha, V., Abb. Cilli dara.”
A.D. 590. St. Comnata, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Tr. Thaum, 629.) Her feast appears in Mart. Tall. at 1st January.
A.D. 687. Gnathnat, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters; Tr. Thaum, 629.)
A.D. 726. St. Sebhdann, daughter of Corc, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 738. St. Affrica, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 753. St. Martha, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 768. Lerthan, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 792. Condal, daughter of Murchad, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 796. The Annals of Ulster state that Condata, Abbess of Kildare, died this year. This probably is a mistake for Condal.
A.D. 800 (recte, 807 O’D.) St. Fine, Abbess of Kildare, died on the 9th January. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 829. Muireun, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 833. Affric, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 853. Catan, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 883. Tuilelaith, daughter of Uarghalach. Abbess of Kildare, died, on the 10th of January. (Id.)
A.D. 907. Muirionn was Abbess of Kildare. In this year, Cormac, Archbishop of Cashel and King of Munster, bequeathed his horse to this Abbey with its splendid trappings, one ounce of gold, and an embroidered vestment. (Keating’s Hist. Ireland.)
A.D. 914. Cobhflaith daughhter of Duibhduin, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 916. Muireann, daughter of Suart, Abbess of Kildare, died on the 26th of May. (Id.)
A.D. 927. The Danes of Dublin, under Godfred, plundered this, and all the other Religious houses at Kildare.
A.D. 962. Muireann, daughter of Mac Colman, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 977. (recte, 979, O’D.) Muireann, daughter of King Congalagh, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1015. Eithne, daughter of Suairt, successor of Brigid, died. (McGeoghegan.)
A.D. 1069. The Abbess Domgilla, died. (McGeoghegan.)
A.D. 1072. Duibhoil, successor of Brigid, died. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 1112. Gormlaith, daughter of Murchadh, son of Dairmaid, successor of Brigid, died after penance. (Id.) “Among the holy females of these times, the most celebrated seems to have been Gormlat or Gormfhlaith, daughter of Morogh Mac-Maol-nambo, a Leinster Prince, and Abbess of Kildare, celebrated for her austerities, who died in 1112.” (Lanigan, IV., 54.)
A.D. 1135. The Abbess of Kildare was forcibly taken from her cloister by Dermot McMorrough, King of Leinster, and compelled to marry one of his people; in perpetrating this outrage he killed 170 of the townspeople and household of the Abbess. (Annals of (Clonmacnoise.)
A.D. 1167. Mor, daughter of Donall O’Conor Faily, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters; Tr. Thaurn.)

A.D. 1171. Sadhbh, daughter of Gluiniairn MacMurchadha, successor, of Brigid, died, after penance. (Four Masters.)
Our Annalists do not appear to have recorded the names of the Abbesses of this monastery from this time till its suppression, temp. Henry VIII.
On the 4th January, 1585, a Grant was made to Anthony Deeringe, of this monastery, with a castle adjoining, 2 tenements, 8 acres of land in the town and fields of Kildare, and 4 messuages, 44 acres in Calliaghton alias Knockencayllagh, in said county, lately demised by Redmond Oge Fitzgerald, for 21 years, at the annual rent of £3 l0s. 8d., Irish money; to hold the same for ever, as of the manor of Kells, and not in capite. (Auditor General.)
An Inquisition, taken 3rd August, 1606, finds that the last Abbess was seized of the townland of Knockinalliagh, containing 80 acres of arable, annual value, besides reprises, 40s. (Chief Remembrancer.)


It is very probable that the clergy serving the Church of Kildare, from the time of the establishment of the See, lived in Community, of which the Bishop was the Superior, or Abbot. St. Conlaith, St. Aedh, etc., are styled in our Annals, Abbots and Bishops of Kildare; but it does not appear that there was a Religious house of men, as such, founded until perhaps a century later, when the Canons Regular of St. Augustine are supposed to have established themselves there. The names are given below, of those recorded by our Annalists as Abbots of Kildare; it will be borne in mind that, of the earlier names, some were certainly, others most probably, Bishops of the See.
A.D. 519. St. Conlaeth, Abbot and Bishop of Kildare, died on the 3rd of May. The Mart. Donegal says of him:— “Roinchenn was his first name. He was of the race of Laeghaire Lorc, son of Ugaine Mor. From this Laeghaire Lorc, who was monarch of Erin, the Leinstermen are descended.” A commentator on the Feil. AEng. in Leabhar Breac, states:— “Ronchend was Conlaed’s name at first, and he is called My-Conda of Daire. Conlaed, i. Cunnail Aed, i.e. friendly Aed (Hugh) was his name, and Bishop of Kildare was he, and wolves devoured him at Sciaich Conlaed, beside Liamain (Dunlavin) in Mog-Laigen.”
A.D 520. St. Naithfraich, Abbot of Kildare, and said to have been charioteer to St. Brigid, died. (Tr. Thaum, 629.) This Saint’s festival was celebrated on the 11th December. The fable of his having been charioteer to St. Brigid is probably accounted for by the entry in the Mart. Don. at this day:– “Nadfraeich, Bishop. The Life of Brigid (c. 17) states that Nadfraeich, of the men of Tuirbhi, was her lector and her preacher; for she said after she received orders (after her Pro¬fession) that she would not take food without being previously preached to.” St. Naithfraich then was her spiritual director, not the director of her horses.
A.D. 638. St. Aedh, surnamed Dubh, or the dark, Abbot and Bishop of Kildare, died, on the 10th of May. He had been at first King of Leinster. (Four MM.)
A.D. 694. St. Loichene Meann, or the Silent, surnamed the Wise, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.) Two feasts in his honour are marked in the Mart. Tall., viz., the 12th January, and the 12th June. The latter is named in Tr. Thaum, as the day of his demise.
A.D. 697. Forannan, Abbot of Kildare, died on the 15th Jan. (Id.)
A.D. 743. St. Dodimog, anchorite, Abbot of Kildare and of Clonard, died. (Four MM.; McGeoghegan.)
A.D. 747. Cathal, son of Forannan, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 792 (recte 798, O’D.) Eudus O’Dicholla, Abbot of Kil¬dare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 799. (recte 804, O’D.) Faelan, son of Ceallach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 816. St. Airbertach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Tr. Thaum., Four MM.)
A.D. 821. Muireadach, son of Ceallach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 827. Siadhal, or Sedulius, son of Fearadhach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.) Of him Lanigan, Eccl. Hist. III., 255, says:— “Sedulius in all probability was the author of the Com¬mentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul, which are universally allowed to have been written by an Irish man of that name. Some other works, under the name of Sedulius, were probably also written by him. He must not be confounded with Sedulius, Abbot, and Bishop of Roscommon, who died in 814, whereas the Abbot of Kildare lived until 829. That the author of the Commentaries referred to, was Sedulius of Kildare seems unquestion¬able, particularly as he was living in 818, at which year, as marked by Hepidanus, the monk of St. Gall, a Sedulius Scottus was greatly distinguished.” For other works attributed to this author, see Lanigan, III., 256, n. 125.
A.D. 863. ‘Ceallach, son of Ailell, Abbot of Kildare, and the Abbot of Ja, died in Pictland. (Four MM.)
A.D. 868. Cobhthach, Abbot of Kildare, who was a wise man and learned doctor, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 870. Moreigh McBroyn, who had swayed the sceptre of Leinster, but meekly resigning, became Abbot of Kildare, died. (Tr Thaum, 629.)
A.D. 873. Lasran MacMoctigern, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 878. Suibny O’Finachta, Abbot of Kildare, —Bishop of Kildare, according to the Four MM., — died. (Id.)
A.D. 881. Scannal, styled ABBOT, by Colgan, and Bishop, by the Four MM., died on the 27th June.
A.D. 882. St Muredach, son of Brann, King of Leinster, Abbot of Kildare, died (Tr. Th.)
A.D. 883. The Blessed Tuathal, son of Ailbhe, Abbot of Kildare, died. The Danes spoiled Kildare and its religious houses, this year, taking captive, thence, the age and reverend Abbot Swyney MacDuffe Davoren, together with 280 of his clergy and community. (Tr. Thaum, 629.) This Abbot appears to have regained his freedom; we find his death recorded, as Prior of Kildare, in the year 903.
A.D. 920. Died Flanagan McRiagan, Abbot of Kildare and Prince of Moylepoile McAillilla; he was esteemed the best scribe and anchorite in the kingdom of Leinster. (Tr. Thaum., 629.)
A.D. 953. Culean McCellagh, Abbot of Kildare, was slain by the Danes of Dublin, when they pillaged the town. (1d.)
A.D. 965. Mured MacFoelan, Abbot of Kildare, of the Royal Blood of Leinster, was slain by Amlave, Prince of the Danes, and Kerbal McLorcan. (AA. SS. 107; Harris’s Ware.)
A.D. 1030. Mael Martin, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Colgan.) He was Bishop of Kildare, as appears from Four MM.
A.D. 1041. Murchad, son of Dunlang, notwithstanding all the opposition which the Abbot could make, forcibly carried from Kildare as a prisoner, Gillacomgal, the son of Donchuan and grandson of Dunlang. (Tr Thaum.)
Finn McGussan, Bishop of Kildare, who died in 1085, is styled Abbot, by Colgan, as also the five succeeding Bishops of Kildare. (Tr. Thaum, 630.)


Kildare owed its origin to St. Brigid, and may date its foundation from the period when that Saint founded her monastery there; about the year 470. Her biographer, Cogitosus, writing at the end of the eighth, or commencement of the ninth century, states that “in honour of St. Brigid a very great city sprung up which at this day, (the period above referred to), is the Metropolis of the Leinstermen.” The schools of Kildare were amongst the most famous in Ireland, as may be judged from the number of distinguished scholars who taught there and whose names appear in her records. Another remarkable thing in the history of Kildare is, the great number of times we find it to have been burnt and spoiled. Some of these burnings appear to have been accidental, these for instance which occurred prior to the time when Cogitosus wrote; if these had been acts of violence, he could not have stated, as he does, that “the city and suburbs possessed the privilege of sanctuary which no one dares to violate.” Later on, however, it was, for three hundred years and more, the object of frequent raids, sometimes, indeed, perpetrated by native chiefs, but, for the most part, by the Danes who had established themselves, at Dublin, Waterford, Wicklow, and Wexford. The subjoined entries are taken from our historical records:–
A.D. 686. The repose of Banbhan, scribe of Kildare. (Fragments of I. Annals)
A.D. 708. Kildare was burned. (Four MM.)
A.D. 720. St. Colman Banban, scribe of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 724. MacOnchon, scribe of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 770. Kildare was burnt. (Id.)
A.D. 774. Kildare was burnt. (Id.)
A.D. 777. (recte 782, O’D.) The battle of Cuirreach (the Curragh) by the side of Kildare, was fought on the sixth of the Calends of September, on Tuesday, between Rory, son of Faelan, and Bran, son of Muiaradach, wherein Mughron, son of Flann, Lord Offaly, and Dubhdachrich, son of Laidhgnen, were slain in a combat. The victory was gained by Rory. (Four MM.) The Annals of Ulster add that Bran was taken prisoner: —Bran captivus ductus est.
A.D. 799. In this year the Relics of St. Conlaeth were placed in a shrine of gold and silver. (Annal. Ult.)
A.D. 803. (recte 808, O’D.) Finshneachta, son of Ceallach, King of Leinster, died at Kildare. (Four MM.)
A.D. 825. The destruction of the Fair of Colman, by Muireadbach, against the South Leinstermen, when many were slain. (Annals Ulster.) The Fair of Colman, or Circinium Colmain, was held on the present Curragh of Kildare, in Campo Liphe where the royal fair and sports of Leinster were celebrated. The Curragh is styled, throughout the Annals of the Four Masters, Curragh Liffey, from which it may be concluded that the Curragh anciently extended eastward, as far as the river Liffey. The word Curragh has two significations, namely, a shrubby moor, and a level plain or race-course; and it appears from the derivation given in Cormac’s Glossary, that it has this two-fold signification from a very early period. (O’Donovan.) Local tradition states that the King of Leinster who was contemporary with St. Brigid, had the deformity of long ears, like those of an ass, which rendered him unpopular. He applied to the Saint for a cure, and promised, in return, to grant her any request. St. Brigid consented. She threw him into a sleep, from which when he awoke, he found he had a pair of shapely ears. He asked her what reward she desired. Brigid, wishing to be moderate, replied, that all she would ask was as much land near her cell as her mantle would cover. St. Brigid spread her mantle on the field, and lo! God caused the cloak to extend so that it covered all now known as the Curragh. The King, astonished at the miracle, at once gladly conferred on her the whole extent. This King’s grandson, Aed Dubh, who was chosen King of the Province by the unanimous voice of the Lagenians, became Abbot of the monastery established near the nunnery of Kildare. St. Brigid never prevented the neighbour¬ing people from turning their cattle to graze upon the land. Giraldus states:— “There are also here (Kildare) most delightful plains, which are called the pasturage of St. Brigid, into which no one dares enter a plough, and of which it is estimated as a miracle that although the cattle of the whole Province may have clipped the grass close to the ground in the evening, it will appear the next morning as high as ever; as if it had been said of these pastures:–

“Et quantum longis carpunt armenta diebus,
Exigua tantum gelidus ros nocte reponit.”

“And as much as the herds crop during the long day,
So much does the cold dew restore during the night.”

At the North-west extremity of the Curragh, where the road enters the townland of Rathbride, there is a square stone, raised on a small mound. It is about 33 inches by 44, and about 3 feet high. It was evidently hammered, and on top there is a hollow, about one foot square, but shallow, and evidently made with a chisel. It is called the wart-stone. Dr. O’Donovan supposes that it is the base of a cross, perhaps erected by St. Brigid to mark the limit of her pasturage. (Ord. Papers.)
A.D. 830. Ceallach Mac Bran, gave an overthrow to the clergy of Kildare, within their own house, where there were many and infinite number of them slain on St. John’s Day in harvest. (Annals of Clonmacnoise.)
A.D. 834. Caenchombrac, son of Siadhal, (Economus of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
AD. 835. The taking of the Oratory of Kildare upon Forannan, Abbot of Armagh, with all the congregation of Patrick likewise, by Feidhlimidh, by battle and arms; and the clergy were taken by him with their submission. In the same year, Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Inbher-Deaa, (the Danes of Wicklow) and half the Church was burned by them. (Id.)
A.D. 836. O’Halloran and McGeoghegan record that, in this year, a Danish fleet of 30 sail arrived in the Liffey, and another in the Boyne; they destroyed, amongst other places, Kildare, by fire and sword, and carried away the rich shrines of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth.
A.D. 843. Dun-Masg (Dunamase) was plundered by the foreigners, where Aedh, Abbot of Terryglass and Clonenagh, was taken prisoner; and they carried him into Munster, where he suffered martyrdom for the sake of God; and Kehernagh Mac-Comosgaye, Prior of Kildare, and many others besides, was killed by them during the same plundering excursion. (Four MM.)
A.D. 850. Airtri, son of Faelan, Airchinnech of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 883. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners, who carried off with them fourteen score persons into captivity to their ships, with the Prior, Suibhne, besides other valuable pro¬perty which they carried away. (Id.)
A.D. 887. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners. (Id.)
A.D. 895. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners. (Id.)
AD. 915. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners of Ceann-Fuaid, (Confey.) (Id.)
A.D. 916. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Ath Cliath, (Dublin.) (Id.)
A.D. 924. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Port-Lairge, (Waterford). (Id.)
A.D. 926. The plundering of Kildare by the son of Godfrey Port-Lairge, who carried away captives and great spoils from thence. (Id.)
A.D. 927. The plundering of Kildare by Godfrey, on the festival of St. Brigid. Same year, Dunchadh, son of Braenan, Priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 929. Onchu, Priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 940. Kildare was plundered by Blacaire, son of Godfrey, and the foreigners of Ath-Cliath. (Id.)
A.D. 962. Colman, Professor (or Lector) of Kildare, died. Same year, Kildare was plundered by the foreigners, and a great number of seniors and ecclesiastics were taken prisoners there; but Nial Ua-heruilbh ransomed them. The fall of St. Brigid’s House and the full of the Oratory of them, is what Niall purchased with his own money. (Id.) This event is thus recorded in the Annals of Clonmacnoise: —“ Kildare rifled by Genties, but O’Nerulo through merciful pitie tooke pitty on them, and redeemed all the clergi almost, for the name of the Lord, viz., the full of St. Brigid’s House, and the oratora-full, he redeemed all by his owne monie.
A.D. 965. Conor, Professor of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 977. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners. (Id.)
AD. 981. Kildare was plundered by Imhar of Port-Lairge.(Id.)
A.D. 991. Diarmaid, Professor of Kildare and Abbot of Clon¬enagh, died, of whom was said:–
“Diarmaid, stronghold of noble wisdom, a man of generous fame, of great battle;
Pity, O King of the righteous laws, that death has now approached him.” (Id.)
A.D. 998. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Ath-cliath. (Id.)
A.D. 1022. The plundering of Kildare by Donnsleibhe and the Ui Faelan. (Id.)
A.D. 1024. Donnsleibhe, son of Maelmordha, Con of Ui-Faelan, set out on a predatory excursion into Offaly, and the lord of Offaly and some of the Ui-Muireadhaigh, overtook and slew him as he was plundering Kildare. (Id.)
A.D. 1038. Flanagan, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1041. Colgrach Ua Toicthigh, Chief Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.) Same year, Gillachomhghaill, son of Donnchuan, son of Dunlaing, was forcibly carried away from Kildare, by Murchaidh, son of Dunlaing, where outrage was offered to the successor of Brigid. The two sons of the son of Faelan, son of Murchaidh, namely, Donnchadh and Gluniarn, were slain at Kildare, by the two sons of Braen, son of Maelmordha. (Id.)
A.D. 1046. Maelbrighde, priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1050. Diarmaid Uu Lachan, Professor of Kildare, died; Kildare with its Daimlaig, (stone church,) was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1063. MacDonghail, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1067. Kildare, with its church, burnt. (An. Ult.)
A.D. 1069. Cobhthach, priest of Kildare, head of the glory and dignity of Leinster, died. (Id.) The Annals of Clonmacnoise have it: “Cowhagh—Flower of Leinster.”
A.D. 1071. Kildare was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1089. Kildare was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1099. Kildare was burned in the spring of this year. (Id.)
A.D. 1103. Mac-mic-Branan, priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1104. Cosgrach Ua Cruaidhan, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1110. Feardomhnach, the most distinguished of the senior jurisconsults, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.) The Annals of Ulster have this entry thus: “Blind Ferdonach, chief learned in Lawe, and Lector of Kildare, died.”
A.D. 1126. Conor O’Cleirigh, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1127. Carroll Ua Failain was killed by the Ui-Failghe, with some of his servants and chieftains along with him, within Kildare, defending the Coarbship of St. Brigid. (Ann. Ult.)
A.D. 1135. The Abbesse of Kildare was forced and taken out of her cloisters by Dermott MacMorrogh, King of Lynster, and compelled to marrie one of said Dermott’s people; at whose taking he killed a hundred and seventie of the townsmen and house (hold) of the Abbesse. (Ann. Clonmacn.)
A.D. 1136. Kildare church was plundered by Dermod O’Bryan. (Ann. Innisfallen.)
A.D. 1138. Kildare was burned. (Four MM.)
A.D. 1143. Kildare was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1155. Kildare was burned. (Id.)

A history of the Roman Catholic Parish of Kildare by Rev. Comerford. Typed by Brid; edited and checked by James Durney


Leinster Leader, Saturday, August 23, 1913

Every little nook of the County Kildare, as well as the adjoining counties seemed to have represented in the town of St. Brigid on Sunday last, when the Geraldine Bazaar was opened by Brigadier General Waldron. The weather was beautiful at the time of opening, and all through the bazaar which was continued, up to Thursday night, there was not the slightest matter to be complained of as far as this very important feature was concerned.
At the opening ceremony Brigadier General Waldron, in a choice words dwelt on the great amount of good which was being done by the Christian Brothers in the district in the cause of education. He was very pleased to find that they were also attending to the body as well as the mind, and considered that their intention to arrange a playground was an excellent one. It was necessary to train the mind as well as the body. He trusted that the result of the bazaar would be a very successful one (applause).
Immediately afterwards, Brigadier General Waldron and Rev. Brother Alfred enjoyed a mountain side run, opening in a practical way the bazaar, at which there was much applause.
There was a very large and fashionable gathering at the opening. The arrangements of the bazaar were exceptionally well looked after and the taste shown in the selection was excellent. There was present at the opening ceremony with General Waldron, the Rev. Father P. Campion, P.P.: Rev. Father N. Staples, Prior O.C.C.: Mr. G. Moran, B.L. and Dr. L. F. Rowan.

Tea Rooms – Presidents The Misses Dunne; assistants, Mrs. Bergin (Abbey Villa) Miss Reeves, Misses Bergin, Miss Fitzpatrick, Miss McHugh, Miss Beatty, Misses Mooney, Miss O’Loughlin, Miss Byrne, Miss Dawson.
Utility Stall – Presidents – Mrs. Murphy, Mrs Talbot and Miss Boland; assistants Misses Waldron, Boland, Ryan, Breslin, etc.
Carlon Stall – Presidents, - Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Talbot and Miss Talbot; Assistants, Miss Lawler, Miss Ryan, Miss Heffernan and Miss Logan.
Frascati Stall – Presidents – Miss Hennessy, Mrs. McNabb, Miss Malone; Assistants, Miss K. Bergin, Miss R. Bergin, Miss Hennessy, Miss M.C. Hennessy, Miss L. Daly, Miss Conway, Master J. Hennessy.
The Curragh Stall – Presidents – Mrs. Doyle, Mrs. M. Deanchy, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Walsh; Assistants, Miss Gavin, Misses Doyle, Misses. Higgins and Misses Hanlon.
Pamela Stall – Presidents – Mrs Fleming, Miss Heffernan, and Mrs. O’Brien, Assistants – Miss M.A. Dunne, Miss L. Dunne, Miss K. Behan, the Misses O’Brien, the Misses Cleary, Miss M. Flanagan, Miss M. Twitchen, the Misses Grogan, the Misses Dunne, Miss R. Daly, Miss M. Hoolahan, Miss. M. Behan, the Misses Considine.
Iris Stall – Presidents – Mrs. Boland, Kildare, Mrs. J.P. Connolly, Curragh View, Miss Moore, Tully Lodge. Assistants – Mrs. J.J. Moore, Miss Peg Moore, Miss Mulvin, Miss Jones, Miss Kelly (Trim), Miss Whelan, Miss Kelly, Misses Kirby.
Side Show Assistants – (Roulette) – Misses P.J. and J.P. Moore.
Concert Committee – President – Mrs. C. Bergin, Abbey Villa, assistants, the Misses Bergin, Beechgrove, Miss Molly Bergin, Abbey Villa, Miss Fagan, Miss Holloway and Miss Maxwell.
During the time of the bazaar concerts and dances were held twice each evening. There was a full dress ball on Wednesday, which was a very great success. The Misses Bergin interested themselves very much during the bazaar and the concerts arranged by them were of the most pleasurable features.
In July 1884, the Christian Schools were opened in the town of Kildare by Brothers Michael Devoy and Ignatius Flood, in the present St. Brigid’s Hall, with 70 pupils.
Being the first Parochial school to be opened by the “De La Salle” Christian Brothers in Ireland it was during the first years of the foundation visited by many leading ecclesiastics and distinguished laymen.
The following are from the Archives: - September 1st 1884 – The Rev. Father Foley, Carlow College (the present revered Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin), visited the School.
September 9th 1884 – His Lordship, Dr. Quinn, Bishop of Maitland, Australia, called.
October 4th 1884 – His Grace the Duke of Leinster visited the Schools and residence accompanied by Very Rev. Dr. Kavanagh.
February 13th 1885 – his Lordship the Most Rev. Dr. Woodlock, Bishop of Ardagh, visited the Schools and residence.
August 26th 1885 – His Eminence Cardinal Moran, Archbishop of Sydney accompanied by his Secretary visited the Community and Schools.
November 1885 – Col. Moran, M.F. and Edmund Dease Esq. J.P. Called.
The subsequent history of the De La Salle Brothers in Kildare is eloquently and tersely told in the following letter written by the Right Rev. Monsignor Murphy, Maryboro – “I am grateful for your invitation to the opening ceremony of the Geraldine Bazaar. It pleases me to hear of the proposed alterations in connection with the Christian Brothers Schools. Nobody knows better than I the splendid work done in Kildare by the De La Salle Brothers. For more than 24 years I was a daily witness of their zeal and devotion and had full cause to admire the manifest and manifold fruitfulness of their labour. It was my privilege again and again to express in the church my grateful appreciation of the high standard of religious instruction imparted in the Monastery as evidenced in the report of the Diocesan Examiner. Indeed in respect of religious instruction your town justly claims a foremost place. I am not aware that any other parish has achieved so far the distinction of two gold medals. The secular side of education has received similar attention, with equally satisfactory results. Owing to the extraordinary increase in recent years of the population of Kildare and its vicinity the number of pupils in the Monastery is now almost double what it was during my Pastorate. Extensions therefore have become necessary. The magnificent generosity of the founders and benefactors (the late Michael Lee and William Lee names to be ever held in grateful memory) amply provided for the needs of Dr. Kavanagh’s time and of mine. Now that enlargements are required, I, who have good reason to know the generosity of the people of Kildare entertain no misgivings about the success of your Bazaar. In truth, the assurance that the project has received a warm and sympathetic welcome affords no little comfort in these days when so many sad symptoms appear in unexpected quarters of a decaying religious sense. On the beautiful pulpit of your church St. Brigid is represented in one of the carved panels teaching the children of your ancestors and so, is venerated amongst you as the patroness of the schools and one of the teachers of Catholic Ireland. The children of St. Brigid to-day in St. Brigid’s Shrine exhibit thank God renewed and increased allegiance to the holy faith she taught and illustrated and certainly are little likely to barter for a bribe the least sentilla of principal even remotely bearing upon the sacred truth. I have already given some little assistance to your bazaar and beg in addition to enclose a small cheque with my heartiest good wishes for the fullest measure of success to your praiseworthy enterprise.

The opening ceremony of the Geraldine Bazaar in Kildare Town from the Leinster Leader of 23 August 1913


Frank Taafe's 'Eye on the Past' reaches 1,000th article

His fellow columnist - and ehistory contributor - Liam Kenny, pointed out that earlier this month Frank Taaffe wrote his 1000th column for the Kildare Nationalist. This is an impressive feat in Kildare local history journalism and deserves a mention.

Nobody could put it better than Liam who said 'Congratulations to Frank Taaffe, history columnist with the Kildare Nationalist, who in early February published his 1,000th column in the paper. This is an impressive achievement  on the part of the Athy historian representing a consistent weekly output over a span of twenty years. Frank's columns are notable for their relaxed writing style grounded on years of research and local knowledge. The Kildare history community wishes Frank well as as he embarks on the "second millennium" of his history column.'

Frank Taaffe wrote his 1000th column for the Kildare Nationalist earlier this month

February 18, 2012


Christ Church Castletown:
A Russian Aristocratic Connection

James Durney

In February 2012 Kildare Library and Arts Service, received a query about an unusual name on a headstone at Christ Church, the little church inside the gates at Castletown House, Celbridge – Whengle or Wrengle. So began a search of the archives which led to this interesting tale. It was discovered that it was in fact the grave of Baron Alexis Wrangel, the son of the famous Russian White Army leader, Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel, who fought the communists during the Russian Civil War!
On June 1 2005 the New York Times carried an obituary for Baron Alexis Wrangel, who was buried in the Conolly-Carew family plot in Castletown House, Celbridge:

WRANGEL – Baron Alexis, 83, of Tara, County Meath, Ireland, died peacefully on May 27, 2005 after a lengthy illness. He is survived by his wife Diana and his sister Nathalie Basilevsky as well as an extended family. Baron Wrangel was a diplomat, author, equestrian and former U.S. Air Force Officer who was a son of General Baron Peter N. Wrangel, the last Commander in Chief of the White Russian Army during the Russian Civil War. A funeral service will be held on Friday, June 3, 2005 at St. Colmans Russian Orthodox Church, Stradbally, County Leix, Ireland. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to: The Tolstoy Foundation, 104 Lake Road, Valley Cottage, New York, 10989.

The funeral service was held on Friday, 3 June 2005, at St. Colman of Oughaval Russian Orthodox Church in Stradbally, Co. Laois. Father Peter Baulk conducted the service assisted by members of the Russian Orthodox Church in Dublin. It was in strict accordance with the rites of the Russian Orthodox Church and was attended by a large congregation, more than a hundred people. The hearse was escorted along the route from St. Colman to Celbridge under the watchful eye of the Gardaí who took it in turn to see a trouble free journey. Baron Wrangel was laid to rest in the Conolly-Carew family burial plot in Celbridge Church, which is the parish church of Baroness Wrangel’s family home, Castletown House. A bugle was not sounded on that day and no salvo echoed over the grave. The family and close friends enjoyed a pleasant lunch for the wake afterwards in the Setanta Hotel, which was built as a charity school for girls by the Lord Conolly-Carew in the nineteenth century. The family toasted the memory of the Baron Wrangel with his favourite drink, champagne.
In 1985 Baron Alexis Wrangel married Hon. Diana Sylvia Conolly-Carew, daughter of William Francis Conolly-Carew, 6th Baron Carew and Lady Sylvia Gwendoline Eva Maitland. Alexis Wrangel was the son of Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel, who was born in Mukuliai, Kovno Governorate in the Russian Empire (near present-day Zarasai), Lithuania. The Wrangel family was of the local Baltic German nobility, and Pyotr Nikolayevich was distantly related to the famed Arctic explorer Ferdinand von Wrangel.
Pyotr Wrangel was commissioned a reserve officer in the Life Guards cavalry in 1902. He fought in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I. Following the end of Russia’s participation in the war, Wrangel resigned his commission and went to live in Yalta, in the Crimea. Arrested by the Bolsheviks at the end of 1917, he was released, and escaped to Kiev. In August 1918, he joined the anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army based and was given command of the 1st Cavalry Division and the rank of major general in the White movement. After the Second Kuban Campaign in late 1918, Wrangel, nicknamed the Black Baron, was promoted to lieutenant general, and his Division was raised to that of a corps. An aggressive commander, he won a number of victories in the north Caucasus. He gained a reputation as a skilled and just administrator, who, in contrast to some other White Army generals, did not tolerate lawlessness or looting by his troops. Continued disagreement with South Russia leader, Anton Denikin led to his removal from command, and Wrangel departed for exile to Constantinople in February 1920.
However, in March 1920, Denikin was forced to resign, and a military committee asked that Wrangel return as Commander-in-Chief of the White forces in the Crimea. He assumed the post in April and put forth a coalition government which attempted to institute sweeping reforms (including land reforms). He also recognized and established relations with the new (and short lived) anti-Bolshevik independent republics of Ukraine and Georgia, among others. However, by this stage in the Russian Civil War, such measures were too late, and the White movement was rapidly losing support both domestically and overseas.
After defeats in which he lost half his standing army, and facing defeat in Northern Tavria and the Crimea, Wrangel organized a mass evacuation on the shores of the Black Sea. Wrangel gave every officer, soldier, and civilian a free choice: evacuate and go with him into the unknown, or remain in Russia and face the wrath of the Red Army. The last military and civilian personnel left Russia with Wrangel onboard the General Kornilov on November 14 1920. Initially, Wrangel lived on his yacht Lucullus at Constantinople, which was rammed and sunk by the Italian steamer Adria. Wrangel, who was on shore at the time, escaped with his life in what was widely regarded as an assassination attempt, as the Adria had sailed from Soviet-held Batum.

The Black Baron: Russian White Army leader, Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel

Wrangel then journeyed with his staff via Turkey and Tunisia to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as the head of all Russian refugees, and arguably became the most prominent of all exiled White émigrés. He settled in Brussels, Belgium, from September 1927, and worked as a mining engineer. Wrangel’s memoirs were published in the magazine White Cause in Berlin in 1928.
Wrangel died suddenly in 1928, and his family believed that he had been poisoned by his butler’s brother, who briefly lived in the Wrangel household in Brussels and who was allegedly a Soviet agent. Wrangel’s funeral and burial took place in Brussels, but he was re-interred, on October 6 1929, in the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, Serbia, according to his wishes. The story of his alleged poisoning was featured in the book KGB’s Poison Factory: From Lenin to Litvinenko by Boris Volodarsky. Alexis Wrangel also wrote a number of books, including one on his father, General Wrangel 1878-1929. Russia’s White Crusader (1987).

In February 2012 Kildare Library and Arts Service, received a query about an unusual name on a headstone at Christ Church, Castletown House, Celbridge

February 16, 2012


Kill History Group

Spring & Summer 2012

Monday 27rd  February:   An Irish outlaw in the time of Robin Hood
   - Aine Foley
Monday 26th March:  “Bishopscourt – a case for the crowbar”
        - Emer Crooke 

Monday 23rd April:    Transporation of women from Kildare to Van
Diemen’s Land in 1849
       - Cathi Fleming

Monday 28th May:    “The Congo”
     - Maj. Gen. Bill Dwyer (Rtd.)

Monday 25th June:  “Are you mad also?” - the murder of Sgt Michael
Rogan and his family 1882
-   Ciaran Mc Cabe

All meetings  take place in the Parish Meeting Room at 8.30 p.m.
(unless otherwise indicated)


The Kill History Group programme for Spring & Summer 2012


K. A, Worth, author - Grayslake, Illinois, USA, wrote to us recently:

My late grandfather, G. L. Hunt, used to own a pipe factory on Mill Lane in Leixlip. They made Falcon pipe bowls there for many years. Grandpa first became Falcon pipe distributor in the United States in 1948 and then took over manufacture in 1956. He, along with David E. Morris, (of A. Lewis, Westminster) brought the Falcon to the U.K. in 1958. Mr. Michael J. O'Brien ran the Leixlip factory for my grandfather for the duration.
I wrote a book about the Falcon in 2007, which then won an award from the Illinois State Historical Society in 2008. In the years since, I have had many requests to distribute the work as an eBook, which of course creates instant access around the world. I am happy to report that earlier this month we did issue 'Back From The Ashes: Uncovering the Lost History of G. L. Hunt and the Falcon Pipe' as an eBook, available at Amazon.co.uk at only £1.98 ... updated and expanded for 2012, it can be read using Kindle devices and with free Kindle apps for PC, MAC, iPad, iPod, iPhones, Android devices and Windows phones. (I have the ebook on both my laptop and desktop computers, and it looks great.) There is a free sample at Amazon that will allow you to preview the first three chapters at no charge.

I hope that you will take a look, and though my book is copyrighted and so cannot be reproduced on your ehistory site, you certainly could make reference to it there if you like.
Thank you kindly - Kathy Worth worthywords@hotmail.com

A reference to the pipe making factory which existed in Leixlip for many years

February 15, 2012





The family-friendly mausoleums in North Kildare ... Wolfe (Oughterard), More O'Farrell (Cadamstown), Colley (Carbury), Browne (Mainham)  differ from the 'single-tenant'  Eoghan O'Growney (Eugene Growney) mausoleum  in the staff cemetery of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. This mausoleum was built between 1903 and 1905 under the supervision of the architect William Alphonsus Scott, and  reputedly modelled on the design of the primitive early Christian St. Kevin's Church in Glendalough.
The approximate outer dimensions are 10.5 feet (3.2 metres) wide, 14.5 feet  (4.4 metres) long and 12.5 feet (3.8 metres) in height.
The door is surmounted by four lines of inscription, the upper two lines being in Celtic Gaelic script, and the lower two lines in Latin and Roman script.
The Gaelic script translates as "Pray for Eoghan O'Growney who renewed the spirit of the Irish. Born 1866 Died 1899."
The glass panels in the door and on the two sides were originally transparent, but are now opaque.
As a teenager, Eoghan O'Growney, born near Athboy, County Meath, developed his interest in the Irish language. Following service as a curate in two parishes in County Westmeath he was appointed Professor of Irish Language, Literature and Antiquities at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, in 1891.
Co-founder of the Gaelic League in 1893, he was a writer, teacher and propagandist. He achieved popular fame as the author of "Simple lessons in Irish, giving the pronunciation of each word," published initially in the 'Weekly Freeman,' and later in a  convenient and  popular pocket-size book form.
In 1890 Ireland's great political project, Home Rule, lay shattered. Parnell was dead, his popular support, and his formidable political party, bitterly divided.
The grim 1890's were arguably the most dynamic age of civic, intellectual and cultural engagement in modern Irish history, in the opinion of the writer Fintan O'Toole, who points out that  the decade saw the consolidation of the GAA, and the births of the Gaelic League, the Irish literary theatre, the Irish Trades Union Congress, the United Irish League, Inghiníne na hÉireann, the Irish Co-operative Agricultural movement, and the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association.
 In September,1903, the Gaelic League in the U.S.A. funded the repatriation of the remains of Eoghan O'Growney from California to Ireland. The extended funeral from  San Francisco to Maynooth,via the port of Queenstown (now Cobh, in County Cork) and Dublin, developed into a massive nationalist demonstration.
Again, pressure and funds from the U.S.A. forced the idea and construction of the mausoleum, which, with its transparent windows, was intended to be a regular nationalist ' pit-stop,' where the  enammeled steel casket could be viewed from the outside.
 In 1915, Pádraig Pearse selected Eoghan O'Growney as a nationalist secular saint in his graveside eulogy at the funeral of O'Donovan Rossa..." And all that splendour and pride and strength was compatible with a humility and a simplicity of devotion to Ireland, to all that was olden and beautiful and Gaelic in Ireland, the holiness and simplicity of patriotism of a Michael O'Clery or of an Eoghan O'Growney."
James Joyce took a less gushing  view, regarding the Gaelic League as a repressive clerical institution, and satirically nominating  "Soggorth O'Growney" as a mock hero of the nation in Chapter 12 (" Cyclops ") of "Ulysses."

An interesting article on the O'Growney Mausoleum at Maynooth by Declan O'Connor

February 10, 2012


Carton Observed: References to Carton House
in the pages of the Kildare Observer 1880-1935
Mario Corrigan
 There are tiny little nuggets of interesting facts that appear from time to time such as a cornice piece (possibly 13th century) from Woodstock Castle which had been removed to Carton for sake-keeping.[1] An Ogham stone found by Lord Walter FitzGerald at Donaghmore/Grangewilliam graveyard was also removed to Carton for safe-keeping with the permission of the Celbridge Board of Guardians in October 1902 and a proviso that it should be available to the public for viewing.[2] In a later article it was reported that the stone was subsequently taken to the Dublin Museum.[3] At a visit of the Kildare Archaeological Society in September of 1893 the members were entertained to a luncheon and tour of the house where a handsome portrait of Lord Edward FitzGerald the rebel leader of 1798 and a bust of his wife Lady Pamela were examined as was the stone rent table from Maynooth Castle, then in the grounds of Carton.[4] Apparently the pouch, powder-horn, sword and pistol of Lord Edward were kept in the picturesque Shell House for a time.[5] One of the most unusual little treasures at Kilkea Castle was a plastic cast of the inscription cut into the stone in the Tower of London by Silken Thomas which read, ‘Thomas Fitzger.’[6] A description of a visit to Maynooth College in June 1899 described ‘one very good picture’ in the Sacristy of the college chapel was the gift of the late Duke of Leinster (5th?).[7]
When reporting the death of the Duchess of Leinster, the Observer mentioned that the 4th Duke who created the cemetery at Carton around 11 years previous had transferred some of the remains of family members from the traditional family burial vault in Maynooth Protestant Church to Carton.[8] The throwaway mention that the cemetery mound at Carton was known as ‘Hollyhill’ is also interesting.[9] A somewhat long-winded story on the change of the position of viceroy led to a story about how when the retiring Lord Lieutenant, Earl Talbot, in 1821, could not leave Ireland before the new viceroy arrived, he went on that occasion to Carton to avoid a meeting with the new Lord.[10]
We get minor insights into the running of the estate from time to time. Some of the workers on the estate had rather important roles in the local community and at a time when the death of common folk was only recorded through crime or accident unless they were sporting heroes or of some other renown, a small notice in the Observer of 1 April announced the death on 26 March of Jane Hariette Knowldin at Carton Gardens beloved wife of Edward who according to the references elsewhere was probably the gardener at Carton at the time.[11] Mr. Alexander Black from Carton Gardens was appointed as a regular judge for the North Kildare Horticultural Society garden competition at their Annual Show.[12] Other names from Carton show up in the lists of prize winners, Bain, Geraghty, Kenny, Kelly, Lovely, Hume and Ingles for example.[13] At a Petty Sessions case in Celbridge in December 1898 against a poacher on the lands at Railpark, Maynooth, the Carton gamekeeper at the time, John Scott gave evidence against the accused (Lord Frederick, one of the magistrates, excused himself from that particular case).[14] Michael Boyd a (night?) watchman on the estate brought a case against the local midwife before the Celbridge Board of Guardians in Oct. 1910.[15]
Another former labourer on the estate was John Flaherty who sadly perished by falling through ice while a patient at Peamount Sanatorium.[16] In 1914 Lord Frederick gave the use of Carton demesne to the Maynooth National Volunteer Corps for drilling purposes.[17] A case before the District Court in Kilcock in August was bound over to the Naas Circuit Court in December of 1929. Georgina Inglis had written threatening letters to Lady Nesta and Alexander Black, gardener and Steward at Carton and George Hamilton, agent to the estate because her father, who she lived with, had been moved from one house to another on the estate. He had worked the Leinster estate for over forty years, first at Kilkea and latterly at Carton and her mother was dead. She pleaded guilty and all was bound to the peace and discharged, Lady Nesta, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Black speaking on her behalf. She had threatened violence against their persons should Mr. Cusker be installed as gamekeeper.[18] Mr. P. Cusker was installed and he made headlines in November 1930 by catching a young poacher on the demesne.[19] In May of 1933 Mr. Willie Cusker landed a 15½ lb. pike at Carton Lake which made the news in fishing circles.[20] It was Wm. Cusker who had tracked two young poachers on the preserved lands at Carton in Oct. 1934.[21] Evidence was given by David Cusker in a similar case in December that year.[22] Excursions could obviously still be arranged with permission and in early August 1931 a parochial visit from Dublin met with tragedy when a child of fourteen months was accidentally drowned in a lake on the estate.[23]
The estate featured regularly at the Royal Dublin Shows and County Shows and the Duke was often listed as a prize winner, especially in the livestock categories. The Duke was particularly successful for a time in the Spring Show Challenge Cup which he won for the first time in 1900 (also in 1910). The names of some of the prize winning Kerry Heifers – Alice II, Orchid III and Delphinium III – testify to a systematic breeding regimen.[24] This is also demonstrated also by a prize for a Dexter-Hereford cross in 1910 at Ballsbridge.[25] The Leinster Cup was presented in 1908 as a perpetual trophy.[26] The Duke was also successful in the Ulster Show in 1909 and 1910.[27] This competitive spirit also provided a catalyst for improvements in animal husbandry and agriculture in the north Kildare area and indeed the county and nation as a whole and culminated locally with the inaugural North Kildare Farming Society Ltd. Show in November 1904 and the estate now also witnessed success in the farm produce categories such as mangels, turnips, swedes, potatoes and butter. Success was also forthcoming for the oats crops at Carton.[28] By 1910 the Duke had won the Brown Cup on two successive occasions with his Kerry cow Thyme VI and a wonderful battle of the old and new worlds ensued as Stephen Brown won his own trophy in 1911 and 1913 – cattle being excluded in 1912 because of foot and mouth disease. Brown won again in the years 1914-196, losing to the Duke in 1917 before winning it back in 1919 (the show being abandoned in 1918 due to the ‘Flu’). It was again won outright by Brown in 1923.[29] This rivalry carried over to the Dublin Shows.[30]
In 1904 the celebrated Shell House Gardens at Carton were the location of the North Kildare Horticultural Society’s fifth annual flower show and Lord Frederick was listed as one of the Society’s Vice-Presidents (he also served on the County Kildare Committee of Agriculture and County Kildare Technical Committee).[31] Lord Frederick entertained a large party to lunch with Lord George, Lady Eva and Lady Nesta also present, but the Duke was at Eton.[32] The Show was held again at Carton in 1908 - a ‘brilliant success;’ and again in 1911- a ‘brilliant re-union.’[33] The estate also featured successfully at the local Naas Shows.[34] The paper ran a feature on the gardens at Carton in August 1904, taken from ‘The Irish Farming World,’ which recounted a visit to the Gardens by a large party of Dublin Seed and Nursery Employees.[35] A further feature on the Carton herd of Kerry cattle appeared in June 1908.[36] The family supported other industries and Lord Frederick, Lady Mabel and Lady Eva all bought shares in the Naas Rug and Carpet Industry which was being re-vamped in 1904.[37]
There is a sense of great sadness as the story of the passing of the demesne from the family in 1922 to Sir Harry Mallaby-Deely, M.P. Lord Edward FitzGerald became seventh Duke of Leinster almost by default. He had ‘disposed of his reversionary’ rights to the estate to Mallaby-Deely in 1919 because he was in financial difficulties and with little chance of becoming duke as his two elder brothers lived. Lord Desmond FitzGerald however was killed in the War and the sixth Duke died in Edinburgh, on 2 February 1922 aged 35 years.[38] His sale apparently ‘...had long been a secret sorrow to the Leinster family.’ Almost immediately orders were given to reduce the cost of the Carton household and demesne, though much of the FitzGerald estates had been sold off under the terms of the Wyndham Land Acts of 1903. Lord Frederick admitted that some of the labourers had been discharged owing to the enormous death duties. The new Duke told the Press he had received £67,500 and £1,00 a year as a loan for ten years and he had since offered £150,00 for the repurchase.[39]
The late sixth Duke had left unsettled property to the value of £24,602. Probate of his will was granted to Lord Frederick. While the family members were provided for he apparently also made provision for his former nurse, his former governess and also his valet if not under notice at his death. The Duke had also made a request that his successor would make adequate provision for all employees or other dependents not kept on in service of the family after his death.[40] When Lord Walter died on 31 July 1923, leaving a personal estate of £10, 178 12s. 6d., the probate of his will was also granted to Lord Frederick.[41] The long-time custodian of Carton, Lieut-Colonel Lord Frederick died on 8 March 1924 at the age of 67 years. His rather short obituary in the Observer, gave some indication of his military career – ‘He served in the Afghan war of 1878-80, and gained a medal with two clasps, and also a bronze star. He saw service in South Africa in 1881, and took part in the Egyptian campaign in 1882. For his service in the Nile expedition, 1884-85, he was awarded a medal with two clasps, and a bronze star.’ He had also been a Commissioner of National Education in Ireland and at the time of his death was Chairman of the County Kildare Committee of Agriculture.[42] His heroic return in 1882 must have been short-lived and necessitated a return to service![43] His will provided for members of the family and bequests to some of the employees of the estate and Carton household.[44]
            This is a major blow for modern researchers in terms of the coverage of the estate in the newspaper and much is given over to hunts over the demesne and other mundane references.[45] The estate was however again represented at the R.D.S. Spring Show in 1925 when the pre-war attendance figures were doubled.[46] The prizes were awarded to the Executor of the Duke of Leinster though the following year only the Duke is mentioned in the prize listings.[47] By early 1930 rumours of a Jubilee Nurses Fête offered promise of a return to former glories at Carton. It was finally set for Monday 9 June when the gardens were open to the public.[48] It was August 1932 when the Duke visited Carton again, this time with his son, the Marquis of Kildare and he suggested at the time he might return for a lengthy stay.[49] His son, Lord Kildare, returned for the Dublin Horse Show, in August 1934 and stayed at Carton, but was hospitalised after he hit a street lamp in Dublin, though neither he or his companion were too seriously injured.[50] Lord Henry FitzGerald and his wife, Lady Mabel stayed at Carton with Lady Nesta, his sister, in September of that year though it seems he seldom missed an annual visit to the demesne.[51] Lord Kildare who had just left Sandhurst visited his grand aunts at Kilkea and possibly Carton in December/January of 1935.[52]

[1] Visit of Archaeological Society to Athy in Sept. 1892, K.O. 24 Sept. 1892.
[2] Celbridge Union, K.O. 11 Oct. 1902 and 18 Oct. 1902.
[3] North Kildare - Ogham Stones at Maynooth, K.O. 22 Dec. 1934
[4] Kildare Archaeological Society, K.O. 23 Sept. 1893.
[5] Gardens at Carton, Maynooth, K.O. 13 Aug. 1904.
[6] The Leinster Family – Lords Walter & Frederick Fitzgerald, K.O. 24 Dec. 1898.
[7] The College of Maynooth, K.O. 24 June 1899.
[8] Death of the Duchess of Leinster, K.O. 23 March 1895; Death of the daughter of Lord Edward FitzGerald, K.O. 2 May 1896.
[9] Funeral of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 19 Feb. 1887
[10] The Kildare Observer (editorial), K.O. 29 Oct. 1898.
[11] Deaths, K.O. 1 April 1882.
[12] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 22 June 1901, 6 July 1901 and 17 Aug. 1901; North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 14 June 1902; K.O. 5 Aug. 1905; K.O. 10 Aug. 1907; K.O. 13 Aug. 1910.
[13] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 23 July 1904; North Kildare Horticultural Society’s Show, K.O. 25 July 1914; K.O. 2 Oct. 1915.
[14] Celbridge Petty Sessions, K.O. 17 Dec. 1898.
[15] Celbridge Board of Guardians, K.O. 22 Oct 1910.
[16] Sannatorium Patients Drowned, K.O. 23 Dec. 1916.
[17] Maynooth Volunteers – K.O. Supplement, 1 Aug. 1914.
[18] Kilcock District Sessions, K.O. 10 Aug. 1929; Threatening Letters, K.O. 7 Dec. 1929.
[19] Carton Poaching Prosecution, K.O. 8 Nov. 1930.
[20] North Kildare – Pike Fishing, K.O. 27 May 1933.
[21]Kilcock Court - Trespass in Pursuit of game, K.O. 13 Oct. 1934.
[22] Fined for Trespass, K.O. 15 Dec. 1934.
[23] Drowning at Maynooth, K.O. 8 Aug. 1931.
[24] E.g. The Royal Dublin Society’s Winter Show, K.O. 9 Dec 1899; Spring Cattle Show, K.O. 21 April 1900; The Dublin Society’s Winter Show, K.O. 14 Dec. 1901; The Royal Dublin Society’s Winter Show, 13 Dec. 1902; Royal Dublin Society Spring Show, K.O. 29 April 1905; The Spring Show, K.O. 20 April 1907; Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 25 April 1908; Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 24 April 1909; Royal Dublin Society’s Spring Show, K.O. 23 April 1910; Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 22 April 1911
[25] Winter Show at Ballsbridge, K.O. 10 Dec. 1910; Royal Dublin Society Show, K.O. 13 May 1916; Royal Dublin Society’s Summer Show, K.O. 21 June 1919; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 15 May 1920; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 20 May 1922; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 19 May 1923.
[26] Dublin Spring Show, K.O. 25 April 1908.
[27] Kildare Prize Winners at the Belfast Show, K.O. 22 May 1909; Ulster Society’s Spring Show, K.O. 28 May 1910.
[28] North Kildare Farming Society – Result of Corn Fields Competitions, K.O. 11 Aug. 1917.
[29] North Kildare Farming Society, Ltd., K.O. 5 Nov. 1904; K.O. 28 Oct. 1905; K.O. 27 Oct. 1906; K.O. 19 Oct. 1907; K.O. 17 Oct. 1908; K.O. 23 Oct 1909; Nth. Kildare Farming Society’s Show, K.O. 22 Oct. 1910; North Kildare Farming Society’s Show, K.O. 28 Oct. 1911; K.O. 18 Oct. 1913; K.O. 3 Oct. 1914; Brown won the trophy again in 1915 but it is unclear who won in 1914 - North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 2 Oct. 1915 though there is a mention in 1917 of the Brown Kerry Cup having been won by Brown for five successive years in the 1917 report in which year it was won by the Duke -  North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 3 Nov. 1917; Abandoned in 1918 because of the Flu – North Kildare Farming Society, K.O. 2 Nov. 1918; North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 1 Nov. 1919; North Kildare Farming Society’s Show K.O. 3 Nov. 1923
[30] Royal Dublin Society’s Summer Show, K.O. 21 June 1919; R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 15 May 1920.
[31] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 23 July 1904 and 30 July 1904; Kildare Agricultural Committee, K.O. 18 April 1908; Lord Frederick still Vice-President in 1912 - North Kildare Horticultural Society’s Show at Leixlip, K. O. 27 July 1912; Co. Kildare Committee of Agriculture, K.O. 16 Sept 1916; County Kildare Technical Committee, K.O. 16 Sept. 1916 Co. Kildare Committee of Agriculture, K.O. 16 Nov. 1918.
[32] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 23 July 1904 and 30 July 1904 see also K.O. 5 Aug. 1905.
[33] North Kildare Horticultural Society, K.O. 18 July 1908, 25 July 1908 and 1 Aug. 1908; Show Fixtures, K.O. 22 April 1911 and 29 July 1911.
[34] Naas Show, K.O. 14 Oct. 1916; Naas Show, 16 Oct 1920; K.O. 8 Oct 1921
[35] Gardens at Carton, Maynooth, K.O. 13 Aug. 1904.
[36] Kerries at Carton, Maynooth, K.O. 27 June 1908.
[37] Correspondence – Naas Carpet Industry – Letter from Lady Mayo to the Editor, K.O. 17 Dec 1904.
[38] Death of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 11 Feb. 1922; Carton Demesne, K.O. 17 June 1922; Late Duke of Leinster, K.O. 17 Feb. 1923.
[39] Items and Ideas, K.O. 22 July 1922.
[40] Late Duke of Leinster, K.O. 17 Feb. 1923.
[41] Lord Walter FitzGerald’s Will, K.O. 29 Sept 1923.
[42] Death of Lord Frederick FitzGerald, K.O. 15 March 1924; County Kildare Committee of Agriculture, K.O. 17 May 1924.
[43] Rejoicings in Maynooth, K.O. 21 Jan. 1882.
[44] Lord Frederick Fitzgerald’s Will, K.O. 7 June 1924.
[45] Hunting notices – K.O. 22 Nov. 1924, K.O. 28 March 1925; K.O. 4 April 1925; K.O.7 Nov. 1925; K.O. 26 Dec. 1925; K.O. 13 March 1926; K.O. 16 Oct. 1926; K.O. 12 March 1927; K.O. 29 Oct. 1927; K.O. 24 Dec. 1927; K.O. 3 March 1928; K.O. 22 Dec. 1928; K.O. 16 March 1929; Kilcock Districk Court, K.O. 7 Jan. 1928; Kilcock District Sessions, 11 Aug. 1928; Kildare County Council 17 Oct. 1925.
[46] R.D.S. Spring Show, K.O. 23 May 1925.
[47] Royal Dublin Society’s Spring Show, K.O. 12 May 1928.
[48] Carton Fete, K.O. 19 April 1930; Advert – GARDENS - and - Jubilee Nurses’ Pension Fund, K.O.7 June 1930; Crowds once again descended on the estate in June 1933 in aid of the same cause - North Kildare – Carton Demesne, K.O. 10 June 1933.
[49] North Kildare Notes – Duke’s Visit, K.O. 27 Aug 1932.
[50] Carton Visitor, K.O. 18 Aug. 1934.
[51] Visitors at Carton, K.O. 8 Sept. 1934.
[52] Distinguished Visitor, K.O. 5 Jan. 1935.

The second part of an essay which formed the background to a talk I gave at Carton in late 2010 which focused on references to Carton and the FitzGeralds at Carton in the newspaper, the Kildare Observer 1880-1935. The Kildare Observer is online and is searchable and free to access courtesy of Kildare Library & Arts Services and the British Library.


Carton Observed: References to Carton House

in the pages of the Kildare Observer 1880-1935


Mario Corrigan



 A Digital Project


Kildare Library & Arts Services uploaded the Kildare Observer newspaper to the Internet in 2010 to enhance our understanding of the history of Kildare and indeed surrounding counties but also as a means of making material more accessible. We had previously bought copies from The British Library who had the biggest collection and the project was completed with their permission and a pdf copy of the scans was supplied to the British Library for its own use. DPA. Ltd. scanned the film and applied the software. And it is hosted online by National Micromedia Ltd. It is free of charge and fully searchable. The usefulness of the site is immediately obvious to anybody interested in the history of Co. Kildare or anyone interested in Carton House and the FitzGeralds. The ability to type in a word or phrase and the enormous potential this offers allows us access not only to primary research but a system of cross referencing and unrelated, otherwise irretrievable, nuggets of interesting facts and information. As well as covering the major events of importance and the great families within the county, it introduces us to the localised somewhat overlooked world of the cottager class, the petty sessions, the accidents, sports and funeral attendees. It gives voice to the lower orders, illuminates the mundane and the forgettable and sheds new light on local placenames, public works and building works and quickly becomes a genealogists friend.

The quality of the search engine would best be described as good with possibly 70-80% percent success rate which is most likely as a result of the poor quality of the newspaper text. Therefore the online searchable version for the Kildare Observer should be not used as the sole primary research tool but the material (as with all newspaper content) should be verified using other sources.

A variety of search techniques should be employed when using the database. Basic searches conducted for example:-


         Carton House’ = 4 documents & 8 ‘hits’

         Carton’ = 450 documents & 873 ‘hits’

         Carton w/5 House’ = 10 docs and 20 ‘hits’ – nothing that would not be picked up by ‘Carton

         Duke of Leinster – 479 docs and 1598 ‘hits’

         Lord Walter – 181 docs 640 ‘hits’

         Lord Frederick – 225 docs and 954 ‘hits’


A hit means that the search term is located and w/5 means one term within 5 words of the other term included in the search. The correct way to conduct research would be to broaden the scope of the original search terms and become creative with the number and types of searches undertaken. as they generally will only search for the terms as described. It can be searched effectively by name, place, location etc. i.e. a word search and not a subject search. 


A note on the Kildare Observer

The Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser ran from 1879 to 1939 but the database, based on the microfilm holdings, begins in October 1880 and not 1879 when the newspaper was first published in Naas. There are some gaps as there tends to be in newspaper collections but generally the collection which was digitised is good. There were some very practical reasons for choosing this newspaper over its contemporary The Leinster Leader as a digital resource, mainly the term was finite – the Observer finished in 1935. Also the quality of the print both in terms of the hardcopy and their reproduction on microfilm meant the Observer was a much better option as a searchable resource. Lastly the Observer is smaller and tidier in size and presentation and lent itself to the project more easily. Traditionally the Observer is seen as a unionist or conservative counterpart to the rip-roaringly nationalistic Leader and I suppose this is true in a sense with reference to its general politics but the reporting is fairly well balanced.


Carton: Observations on a great house

The Leinster Family and indeed Carton itself were no strangers to the press and we are fortunate to have quality illustrations and articles from magazines such as the Illustrated London News, The Graphic and Vanity Fair to name but a few.[1] The Kildare Observer however gives us a tantalising glimpse into the everyday world of the big house and little cottage, the great landed families and small tenant farmers and poor cottagers. It records information that has little or no bearing on great events or national politics but of import to the history of County Kildare. We are given fleeting glimpses into the lives of the occupants and workers on the great estate and those who depended on the house, estate and family for their livelihood.

One of the first mentions of ‘Carton’ is a rather long report on the Leinster lease and the disgruntlement of the labourers and tenants on the vast Leinster estates. The beleaguered Duke (Fourth Duke of Leinster - Charles William FitzGerald 1819-1887) was defending his offer of 20% abatement on the half-years rent due. He was also reminding his tenants that they should be obliged to accept responsibility to give labourers work as he could not continue to do so. Deputations from Athy and Castledermot, headed by James Leahy, M.P., had been received by his agent at the estates Dublin Offices in 30 Lower Dominick Street. This was followed by public meetings in Athy and Maynooth where the offer of the Duke was debated. At the former one of the attendees, Mr. Plewman, gloriously commented that, “It is not in the province of the Duke of Leinster to dictate to any farmer as to how many men we will employ to make the most out of his soil.”[2] Indeed the times were changing.

But there is a constant interest in the family, quite simply - they are ‘news.’ We are privy to the goings and comings of the family members under fashionable intelligence with reports how the Duke (Fourth) and Duchess headed to England for Christmas in 1880; how the Duke (Fifth) and Duchess having returned from Constantinople (the Duchess’s sister lived there with her husband, Sir E. Vincent, financial advisor to the Khedive and the Sultan) to London would be spending the winter at Carton in 1891 and that after their sojourn in Aix-le-Chapelle in August 1892 they planned on taking up residence at Carton.[3] The Marquis of Kildare, Carton, Maynooth, was announced as High Sheriff of the County in the paper of 29 January 1881.[4] In January 1882 we note the mammoth rejoicings as Lord Frederick FitzGerald, Captain in the 60th Rifles and third son of the Duke, returned to Maynooth from five years service in Afghanistan and Zululand. The Maynooth band, whose instruments had been the gift of Lord Frederick’s grandfather, missed his train but they proceeded that evening to Carton to pay their respects and to entertain and the Leinsters mingled with them. The whole town was illuminated as tar barrels blazed the following night as the junior members of the family came down and were ‘lost in the crowd,’ Frederick happy to speak and shake hands with the people of Maynooth.[5] Apparently he became affectionately known in the town as ‘Lord Fred.’[6]

One interesting note on the prosperity of the town was indeed its connection to the great family and Carton for it was often mentioned as a positive reference or attraction in the sale of businesses or leases and indeed as an excursion destination, such as the picnic in the demesne organised by Messers. J. Watkins & Co., celebrated brewers in September 1882 and the visit of the Ancient Order of Foresters, Dublin District in May of 1885.[7] However we find a small article in 1913 which explained that dogs were not allowed to run free on the estate.[8] The demesne was reported closed in August 1899, ‘...except on special permit,’ due, ‘...to the conduct of some excursionists who, being privileged to meander through the extensive and lovely grounds, did a considerable amount of damage.’[9] Special permission was granted however to St. Thomas’s Dominican Choir, Newbridge as a surprise treat when they visited Maynooth on their annual excursion that same month.[10]

The estate was not only a tourist destination but a place where local school children were entertained on the demesne by the Duchess in October 1892 and the County Kildare Archaeological Society (some 180-200 guests) were entertained to luncheon in Sept. 1893 as they visited, Taghadoe and Maynooth. Lord Walter and the Duke (the first president of the Society 1891) were key members of the Society and on this particular occasion both made presentations and the Duke gave a tour of the house.[11] When notification was given that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was to visit Ireland in 1885 speculation on the itinerary included a visit to the Duke and Duchess at Carton.[12] In April 1899 the Duchess of York was taken for a jaunt in an open carriage to Carton from the Viceregal Lodge and was received by the young Duke who was to enter Eton the following month.[13] On Wednesday 5 July of that year the Duke and Duchess of Connaught were entertained at the house on their way back to Dublin from the Curragh.[14] As the country prepared for the Queen’s visit in 1900 a diary of the Hon. Gerald Ponsonby was republished in the Observer which recalled the Queen’s first visit to Ireland in 1849. She attended a breakfast or garden party at Carton on 10 August, walked the grounds and was entertained by among other things a local jig-dancer.[15] In 1904 the Duke of Leinster entertained Cardinal Vanutelli, the Papal Legate, at Carton after his visit to Maynooth College.[16]

There is something fascinating about the marriage reports and announcements. A FitzGerald wedding of course was extremely newsworthy and there is a large report on the marriage of Lady Alice, eldest daughter of the Duke of Leinster and his wife Lady Caroline Gower, to Major Charles J. O. Fitzgerald, of the 3rd Cavalry, Hyderabad Contingent, Indian Service. Lady Alice was dressed in white satin and brocaded silk with bodice to match and was given away by her father. The report of the actual wedding is less than a third of the whole which began with a lengthy history of the family and ended with a lengthy list of presents and present givers. Representatives of the tenantry of Maynooth and Moyglare had presented an epergne (sort of table centrepiece) the previous Saturday at Carton. It is a testament to The Kildare Observer that the list of gifts began with an illuminated address from the parishioners of Castledermot  and an address by the pupils of Castledermot school, followed by a silver service from the Carton, London and Dublin households and outdoor employees which was followed by a handsome photographic album from the tenants and employees of Kilkea Castle. Only then does the official list begin with the Duke and Duchess ending rather un-dramatically with a butter dish from Mrs. Bennie. Handsome floral arches with sentimental mottoes were erected in the main street of Maynooth with a large arch at the entrance to Carton bearing the motto, ‘The House of Geraldine’ and ‘Crom Aboo’ on the reverse. The Church was decorated by the Duke’s men and on leaving the church the party returned to Carton for the wedding breakfast.[17] Yet once again the town figured prominently in the personal life of the family. One reason for this was their actual presence, ‘Unlike many of the Irish nobility, the Fitzgeralds have always been residents in Ireland, which fact gives unusual historic interest to Carton.’[18]

An editorial in the Observer of 1883 sums up the celebrity of a FitzGerald wedding with a report from the World on the forthcoming wedding of the Marquis of Kildare – ‘All Ireland takes an interest in the Kildare-Dunscombe nuptials. It is indeed a great day for the Dunscomes [sic] (whose patronymic is Brown), in which they see a daughter of their house united to the heir of the illustrious Geraldines.’[19] The Marquis and Lady Hermione Wilhelmina Duncombe (born in 1864), eldest daughter of the Earl of Feversham (Faversham in text), were married at St. Paul’s Knightsbridge and according to the newspaper report the church had been crammed with spectators from an early hour. The wonderful description of the dresses of the bride and her ten bridesmaids, their flowers and ornaments are similar to those of modern society magazines. Once again an exhaustive list of presents and present-givers was supplied. Apparently the happy couple set out almost immediately after their wedding breakfast in 19 Belgrave Square, the town residence of the Earl of Feversham, to Eaton Hall, seat of the Duke of Westminister were it was planned they would spend a few days before returning to Kilkea Castle. On the day of the wedding the Duke had organised ‘an elegant dejeuner’ for some 400 schoolchildren in the local schools in Maynooth which was provided by a Dublin caterer. The racket court at Carton was fitted up as a banquetting hall where over 100 employees were treated to a ‘substantial dinner.’ The town was illuminated in the evening and a large bonfire lit in front of the courthouse with a fine pyrotechnic display at the Leinster Arms Hotel. The arms and legend of the Leinster family and the words ‘Cead mille failthe to the bride of Kildare’ were shown to great effect. ‘Both’ Maynooth bands entertained the crowds in the streets.[20] The town was again decorated and similarly illuminated on the occasion of the 6th Duke’s majority in 1908 on his return to Carton.[21]

Flowers from the estate were also used locally on occasion, such as the Harvest Thanksgiving Service at Maynooth or at times at Celbridge Workhouse – indeed the Duchess is recorded as having visited the house to see a woman in the hospital, wife of a blacksmith on the estate. It was mentioned in the same report that the 3rd Duke had written down observations on the workhouse when he had visited.[22]

Just as the most prominent family in the county and indeed Ireland would entertain they would often be reported at entertainments elsewhere.[23] The lands at Kilkea and Carton feature quite regularly in the reports on the Kildare Hounds and as expected shots were held on the lands.[24] The fascination of the press with the family was sometimes almost vulgar in its adoration. In 1883 apparently the Duke refused the Order of the Garter and the Observer carried a report by ‘Atlas,’ again from the World. ‘It may be doubted whether any father and son, except the late and present Dukes of Leinster, ever refused the much-coveted blue ribbon for which so many magnates have clamoured. The late Duke refused it twice…The present Duke’s refusal was based on his having already declined the Order of St. Patrick; and being the soul of scrupulousness, his Grace thought that, in view of this, he could not accept the Garter’[25] Commenting on the later death of the Duke in 1887, the Observer noted, The deceased Duke was deservedly popular among his dependents, and was personally liked by all classes of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.’[26]

The economy and administration of the local area and Maynooth Town was inextricably linked to the great house and a note on the sale of Maynooth Courthouse as discussed under Grand Jury business clearly demonstrates the power of the family in this regard. While the sale of the courthouse (property of Mr. Maunsell) was recommended there was a worry over the need for a public room for the revision of voters. A letter from the Duke at Carton allayed their fears, ‘…I am willing to buy the house on the same conditions as before, viz.―to keep it as a Town Hall, free for all business connected with county business.’ A commission was appointed to oversee the sale which had the power to settle the purchase price at one shilling.[27] The house was acquired and operated as a Town Hall for public meetings and concerts etc.[28] It was burned in March 1920 and the Duke awarded compensation of £565, with 10 guineas costs.[29]

Sales at carton of timber etc. contributed locally to the economy of the estate and the town in terms of revenue and employment.[30] A large estate on the doorstep could provide other benefits as when the men form the demesne helped save the Presentation convent and schools from fire in November 1911.[31]

The family was of course represented on the Grand Jury and were often prominent on Grand Jury committees etc. and were constantly called upon for committee and society patronage.[32] The Fifth Duke for example was President of the Kildare Archaeological Society and also the Celbridge Branch of the Unionist Alliance. At a meeting of the latter Colonel Dease, expressing his regret at the death of the Fifth Duke, told the assemblage, ‘The last thing his Grace did was to express his wish that his sons should be brought up at Carton, where they should know all their neighbours, and he hoped they would become as good Irishmen as he had been.’[33] Both Lord Walter and Lord Frederick served on at the Local Petty Sessions courts and attended a meeting of Magistrates in Co. Kildare to consider the presentation of an address to King Edward VII in honour of his visit to Ireland in July 1903. On this occasion the Royals visited Maynooth College but not Carton though Lord Frederick was among the spectators in the grounds.[34]      

A death in the family was of course a major news story but once again the details of the death of the Fourth Duke in 1887 were mostly lost in a full column re-iterating the history of this ancient family. We are told that he died at Carton on Thursday 10 February after a short illness in his 68th year and was survived by his wife the Duchess, Lady Caroline Levenson Gower. He had represented Kildare as MP from 1847-1852 and was to be succeeded by his son Gerald, Marquis of Kildare. The report simply declared the internment would take place on Saturday at 12 o’clock. Celbridge Board of Guardians suspended business for the day on Friday 11February as a mark of respect for the ‘irreparable loss,’ of their Chairman, who ‘... was a constant attendant at our meetings and in every way as chairman gave entire satisfaction to every member of this board.’[35] Ironically a letter from the Duke’s agent, Charles Hamilton, from 4 February was printed in the same issue whereby the Duke refused to accept anything less than 18 years purchase of the fixed rents from his tenants in Athy.[36] Once again his battles with his tenants over the terms of their agreements and leases proved just as newsworthy as his personal circumstances.

The description of his funeral is wonderful and re-emphasises the importance of the local newspaper as a reference tool and a means of preserving the history of the county which otherwise may have been lost. He was buried in the railed off family plot at Carton which he had constructed - ‘...a small mound within a couple of hundred yards of the house,’ which contained four simple graves for three of his daughters and one son, Lord Robert who had died in 1868. The funeral was a private affair according to the wishes of the family and desire of late Duke and, ‘Consequently none of the gentry of the neighbourhood attended.’ The plain oak coffin was borne from the house by his four sons. The Archbishop, Lord Plunket attended the funeral, read the service and performed the last rites assisted by Rev. Canon Whelan. Some one hundred people attended the funeral and these included servants, farm labourers and some people from Maynooth but ‘None of the tenantry were present.’ It was a very simple but affecting affair. Window blinds were drawn in the town and the shutters of shops closed, ‘...but no further demonstration of feeling was permitted to take place.’ Messages of condolences were received from all parts of the three Kingdoms, including the Queen and the Lord Lieutenant, the latter expressed a desire to attend, ‘...but this was not acceded to.’ Floral tributes from prominent families were received. Other tributes and marks of respect were paid at Athy and Rathangan.[37]

The death of the Fifth Duke on 1December 1893 of typhoid fever was not so well covered though motions of respect and sympathy were recorded by the Celbridge Board of Guardians, a large public meeting of people of Maynooth, the protestant parishioners of Maynooth, Athy Town Commissioners and the County Kildare Archaeological Society.[38] The public meeting passed a somewhat predictable resolution to express the townspeople’s sympathy and their sense of ‘great loss’ to be forwarded to the family the Rev. Dr. Tristram, while extolling the virtues of the much lamented late Duke, noted, ‘The income which he derived from this country was spent in this country, amongst its people,’ an example if followed by others might improve the prosperity of the country. Rev. J. Hunt, who occupied the chair, observed, ‘… that there is scarcely a family in the town of Maynooth that has not directly or indirectly experienced the advantage of having a residential duke at Carton.’[39] The details of the Duke’s will were published in the paper and Lord Frederick FitzGerald of Parkhurst, Isle of Wight and Charles Hamilton of Dunboyne were appointed executors and Lord Frederick and the Duchess as legal guardians to his son, the Marquis, now 6th Duke of Leinster who was still a minor and would be of delicate disposition throughout his life, often wintering abroad. No specific provision for the upkeep of Carton was made and this meant it fell to the trustees.[40]

The Duchess died in March 1895 at Mentone, having left Carton the previous June, for a change of air to help try and recover from the onset of illness. Renowned for her beauty, commented the Observer, she had not taken an active part in country life or the hunting circuit though she did enjoy racing at Ascot and Punchestown and the art galleries in Dublin and London. She was a socialite unlike her husband and was active in charitable works and organisations. The blinds were drawn at Carton and the gate lodges on the demesne and the shutters pulled down in the businesses of Maynooth. Another death recorded a more historic connection as it was reported Helen McCorquodale died in Richmond Surrey on 17 April 1896, daughter of Lady Pamela and Lord Edward Fitzgerald.[41] The romance of Lord Edward and Lady Pamela was ever a popular theme in the newspapers.[42] A reprint of the Dr. John Armstrong Garnett’s diary, physician to Lord Edward at his death in June 1798, records his last visit from his brother Henry and aunt Lady Lousia Connolly, Lord Clare and Dr. Lindsay. Earlier that day Lord Edward ‘...ate about a dozen heads of asparagus (from Carton, presumably also),’ an unusual little annotation of interest.[43]

From time to time however the history of the family or reports and sketches on various individual family members were a commodity an editor could rely upon and make use of.[44] A wonderful story is told in an exposé of Lords Walter and Lord Frederick about Lord Frederick’s participation with the military at an eviction in the north of Ireland. An old peasant who had been reading ‘that the men who resisted extermination were following in the footsteps of Tone and Lord Edward,’ asked him, ‘“Tell me, yer honour, aren’t you a relative of Lord Edward?” “I am,” answered the Major of the Rifles. “An’ why are ye here,” asked the peasant, ‘an’ Lord Edward such a friend of Mr. Parnell’s?” Lord Frederick was dumfounded, but managed to reply, “Well, you see, Lord Edward is dead for nearly a hundred years.” “Divil may care,” replied the peasant, “If he was alive wouldn’t he be on Mr. Parnell’s side?” “To tell you the truth,” answered the officer, “I believe he would be.”[45] On another occasion Lord Frederick was listed for having subscribed £5 to the Evicted Tenants’ Restoration Fund and his election to the new County Council in 1899 and for successive years unopposed demonstrated his and his families support in the area.[46] Another wonderful snippet records the near fatal escape from fire of the young Duke and his brothers while on a visit to Lord and Lady Feversham.[47]

Charity and public works were always associated with the family, particulalry by their public service and by the outward expressions of charity by the Duchess, Hermione who died in 1895.[48] With the onset of World War I, the family again demonstrated their charity and the Duke of Leinster pledged £1,000 to the National Relief Fund in 1914; Lord Frederick and Lord Walter subscribed £10 each; Lord George £5; Lady Mabel £2; Lady Nesta £1 1s.; Lady Eva £1.[49] A Garden Fête was held at Carton 2 September 1916 to raise funds for supplying food and comforts to the 600 prisoners of war of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and some £300 was raised.[50] It was opened by the Lord Lieutenant, who was met by Lord Frederick and the committee, and the attendance apparently ‘...was the largest ever seen in this magnificent demesne.’[51] On Monday 11 Sept. Lieut.-Colonel Lord Frederick presided over the first meeting and was subsequently unanimously elected as chairman of the County Kildare War Pension’s Committee.[52] Lord Frederick offered some 117 volumes (presumably from the library at Carton), to the Naas Free Library Committee in 1907.[53]


[1] The Graphic of 24 Oct. 1874 has a wonderful spread which includes illustrations of Carton, Maynooth Castle and the late Duke of Leinster who died on 10 Oct. aged 82.

[2] The Kildare Observer (hereafter K.O.) 25 Dec. 1880 - The Duke of Leinster and his Tenantry; also K.O. 15 Jan. 1881 – The Duke of Leinster and his Tenantry re. Kildare and Rathangan tenantry

[3] K.O. 25 Dec. 1880 and 1 Jan. 1881; Report from the World in, K.O. 31 Oct. 1891; K.O. 20 Aug. 1892; Death of the Duchess of Leinster, K.O. 23 March 1895.

[4] K.O. 29 Jan. 1881 – New High Sheriffs.

[5] Rejoicings in Maynooth, K.O. 21 Jan. 1882.

[6] Items and Ideas, K.O. 22 July 1922.

[7] K.O. 25 March 1882 – sale of leasehold interest in Leinster Arms Hotel, Maynooth; Excursion to Carton, K.O. 23 Sept. 1882 ; report of Foresters excursion with bands, athletics etc. K.O. 30 May 1885; Notes & Comments-Maynooth A Holiday Centre, K.O. 7 July 1900.

[8] Accident at Maynooth, K.O. 20 Sept. 1913.

[9] Cycling & Athletics, K.O. 19 Aug. 1899.

[10] Annual Excursion of St. Thomas’s Dominican Choir, Newbridge, 26 Aug. 1899.

[11] School Fete by the Duchess of Leinster, K.O. 15 Oct. 1892; County Kildare Archaeological Society, K.O. 9 Sept. 1893; Kildare Archaeological Society, K.O. 23 Sept. 1893.

[12] K.O. 14 March 1885 - What Society Papers Say.

[13] Royalty at Maynooth, K.O. 22 April 1899; Boy Duke of Leinster, K.O. 13 May 1899.

[14] Royal Visit to Castletown and Carton, K.O. 8 July 1899.

[15] Reminiscences of the Queen’s First Visit to Ireland, K.O. 31 March 1900; The Duke of Leinster, K.O. 28 Sept. 1901.

[16] The Papal Legate, K.O. 6 Aug. 1904.

[17] K.O. 6 May 1882 – The FitzGerald Family: Marriage of Lady Alice.

[18] General and Particular, K.O. 23 Sept. 1893.

[19] K.O. 17 Nov. 1883 – The Kildare Observer (editorial) – The Marriage of the Marquis of Kildare.

[20] K.O. 19 Jan. 1884 – The Marriage of the Marquis of Kildare; Death of the Duchess of Leinster, K.O. 23 March 1895.

[21] Duke of Leinster at Carton, K.O. 19 April 1908.

[22] Harvest Thanksgivings, K.O. 11Oct. 1890; Celbridge Union, K.O.19 May 1894.

[23] K.O. 5 May 1883 – Ball at the Curragh - It is important to point out that the reports of some of these events listed those who received invitations but not necessarily those who actually attended.

[24] For example, The Kildare Hounds - K.O. 8 Dec. 1883, 14 Nov. 1885, and 10 Jan 1891; Mention of forthcoming shoot in, Gossip, K.O. 17 Nov. 1900; Hunting K.O. 7 March 1903; Hunting, K.O. 6 Jan. 1912.

[25] Editorial – The Duke of Leinster,  K.O. 17 Nov. 1883.

[26] Funeral of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 19 Feb. 1887.

[27] K.O. 14 July, 1883 – Summer Assizes, 1883.

[28] The Late Duke of Leinster – Meeting at Maynooth, K.O. 9 Dec. 1893; Grand Concert at Maynooth, K.O. 1 Feb. 1902.

[29] Maynooth Courthouse, K.O. 6 Nov. 1920.

[30] Sales advert – Sales By E. A. Coonan, K.O. 9 Feb. 1901.

[31] Fire at Maynooth Convent, K.O. 25 Nov. 1911.

[32] E.g. County Kildare Assizes K.O. 15 March 1884 – Marquis of Kildare listed. He was appointed to a committee looking into the Athy and Castlecomer Railway; County Kildare Assizes, K.O. 14 March 1885, Marquis listed; Co. Kildare Assizes, K.O. 25 July 1914.

[33] County Kildare Archaeological Society, K.O. 9 Sept. 1893; Celbridge Branch of the Unionist Alliance, K.O., 5 May 1894.

[34] Celbridge Petty Sessions, 17 Dec. 1898; Castledermot Petty Sessions, 5 Feb, 1892; The Royal Visit, K.O. 20 June 1903.

[35] Death of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 12 Feb. 1887.

[36] The Rent Question. – The Duke of Leinster and his Tenantry, K.O. 12 February 1887.

[37] Funeral of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 19 Feb. 1887; Athy Town Commissioners-Monday, K.O. 12 March 1887.

[38] Death of the Duke of Leinster, K.O. 2 Dec. 1893; Celbridge Union, K.O. 9 Dec. 1893; The Late Duke of Leinster – Meeting at Maynooth, K.O. 9 Dec. 1893; The Late Duke of Leinster, K.O. 23 Dec. 1893; Kildare Archaeological Society, K.O. 20 Jan. 1894.

[39] The Late Duke of Leinster – Meeting at Maynooth, K.O. 9 Dec. 1893

[40] Will of the late Duke of Leinster, K.O. 10 Feb. 1894; The Duke of Leinster, K.O. 28 Sept. 1901;

The Duke of Leinster, K.O. 11 March 1911.

[41] Death of the Duchess of Leinster, K.O. 23 March 1895; The FitzGeralds, K.O. 20 May 1899; Gossip, K.O. 20 Oct. 1900; Death of the daughter of Lord Edward FitzGerald, K.O. 2 May 1896.

[42] Lord Edward FitzGerlad, 1 Oct. 1898; Items and Ideas, K.O. 22 July 1922.

[43] Lord Edward Fitzgerald, K.O. 1 Oct 1898.

[44] The FitzGeralds, K.O. 20 May 1899; The Leinster Family – Lords Walter & Frederick Fitzgerald, K.O. 24 Dec. 1898; The Duke of Leinster, K.O. 28 Sept. 1901; Items and Ideas, K.O. 22 July 1922.

[45]The Leinster Family – Lords Walter & Frederick Fitzgerald, K.O. 24 Dec. 1898.

[46] Evicted Tenants’ Restoration Fund, K.O. 7 April 1900; The FitzGeralds, K.O. 20 May 1899; Local Government Elections, 3 May 1902; The Elections, K.O. 7 June 1902; Co. Kildare Local Government Elections, K.O. 9 May 1914.

[47] The Duke of Leinster, K.O. 28 Sept. 1901.

[48] Death of the Duchess of Leinster, K.O. 23 March 1895

[49] H.R.H. Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund.

[50] Advertisements  - Garden Fête will be held at Carton, K.O. 19 Aug. 1916, 26 Aug. 1916 and 2 Sept. 1916; Fete at Carton, K.O. 26 Aug. 1916 and 2 Sept. 1916; Fete at Naas Barracks, K.O. 16 Sept. 1916.

[51] Royal Dublin Fusiliers Prisoners-Fete at Carton, K.O. 9 Sept. 1916.

[52] County Kildare War Pension’s Committee, 16 Sept. 1916.

[53] Naas Free Library Committee, K.O. 6 April 1907.



The first part of an essay which formed the background to a talk I gave at Carton in late 2010 which focused on references to Carton and the FitzGeralds at Carton in the newspaper, the Kildare Observer 1880-1935. The Kildare Observer is online and is searchable and free to access courtesy of Kildare Library & Arts Services and the British Library. 


Castletown Winter Lecture Series, 2011-2012
The Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates (CSHIHE), in association with the Office of Public Works (OPW), presents Lecture 5 of the Castletown Winter Lecture Series:

LECTURE 5      Wednesday, 29 February 2012  8.00 pm
Terence Dooley (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
‘In this black dog haunted place.’
The life of Hermione, 5thDuchess of Leinster,
at Carton, Co. Kildare 1884-1895

ADMISSION FEE:  €5 payable at the door
No booking required but seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis on the night of each lecture. Payment by cash or cheque only. Patrons are requested to be seated by 7.50pm. Join us for tea/coffee after each lecture.
Castletown is accessed via Exit 6 off the M4. Patrons should drive right up to the first wing and into the courtyard to park. Lectures are held in the newly restored Stable Wing across the courtyard.
Enquiries to the CSHIHE only
E-mail: cshihe@nuim.ie        Telephone: + 353 (0) 1 708 6706


Newbridge Local History Group

Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday 15 February in Sarsfield GAA Clubhouse at 8.30pm. Pat Byrne will give an illustrated talk on: The Villages of Bord na Mona   examples of industrially sponsored towns and villages in Ireland and the UK. Anyone interested in local history is very welcome to attend. There is ample parking and a comfortable atmosphere, and a great way to catch up on the 'old times.'
Raphael Ryan, PRO

Newbridge Local History Group meeting 15 February 2012


17th Annual  Fethard Bookfair

                 Sunday 12th February

                     Fethard Ballroom

                       2pm – 6pm 

         Dear Booklover,

              The Premier Bookfair of the Premier County is on this Sunday.

       As usual there will be over 30 dealers from every corner of Ireland

       With thousands and thousands of books, pamphlets, ephemera, postcards and anything else in the printed line they can carry. There will be something for the casual as well as the most discriminating collector on the day.  Items will range from holiday reading paperbacks to signed first editions by Heaney and Kernoff and many other well know authors.

      There will also be the launch of many new books by authors who will be only delighted to sign their works at your request.

      Excellent refreshments (homemade) are provided at the venue and there is a wonderful warm and welcoming atmosphere at the fair  which is organised by the Fethard Historical Society.

Lyonshill Books will be attending and we look forward to seeing  our many friends and colleagues there.

   Eddie and Kay Murphy

    Mob. 087 2567908




  For more info please contact Terry Cunningham, Organiser at Mob. 086 390 53 73


17th Annual  Fethard Bookfair Sunday 12 February 2012



Thursday, 16th  February, 7.15pm:  James Durney, local author, will present an illustrated talk entitled The Titanic and its Kildare connections. 
Note of the two Kildare fatalities arising from the sinking, one was a Leixlip person.

Thursday, 22nd March, 7.15pm:   Patrick Given, a brewing and distilling expert, will give an illustrated talk entitled From calico to whiskey-distilling in Leixlip.
Note that at one time Leixlip had two distilleries in operation at the same time, the only place in the county with such.

Thursday, 19th April, 7.30pm:  Mary Cullen, a distinguished retired Maynooth history lecturer with a special interest in women in history, will talk on Suffrage and the Irish Women's Movement 1860-1922.
Note that a hundred years ago this year the British Parliament rejected a proposal to give women a vote in general elections. In Ireland, in 1910, a Catholic bishop opposed giving the vote to women.
Thursday, 17th May, 7pm: Brendan Twomey, banker by day, historian by night, will give a talk on Dublin in 1707: a year in the life of the City, with some Leixlip connections, the subject of his latest book.
Leixlip and Celbridge were the places where the Dublin glitterati of the time had their country seats.
Thursday 21st May, 7.30pm: Thomas Clancy, OLN Parish Council, will give an illustrated talk on The Eucharistic Congress of 1932 and the tragic Leixlip connection.
An enormous crowd gathered in the Phoenix Park for the Congress; as some returned to their homes in Co Offaly the only fatalities of the event took place in the early hours in Leixlip..

Thursday 19th July, 7.15pm:  Seamus Cullen, well-known North Kildare local historian, will give an illustrated talk entitled  Queen Elizabeth’s Kildare Connections.

Heritage Week, 18th to 26th August: John Colgan, local historian, and another, will conduct a guided Tour of Confey Cemetery and Medieval Church.  Date to be arranged – early evening or weekend.

Thursday, 20th September: To be determined.

Thursday 18th October, 7.15pm:  Patricia Donohoe, local historian, will give a talk entitled  The Social Life of Lucan in the 19th Century.
While life in Lucan and Leixlip were quite similar during the period 1820 to 1920, more records remain of Lucan’s life, giving flesh to the story Patricia will tell.

Thursday 15th November, 7.15pm:  AGM Leixlip History Club and Patrick Guinness will talk on The Testimony of Leixlip and other North Salt folk after the Rebellion of 1641.

Tuesday, 4th December, 7.15pm:  Memorabilia Night:  Members and local residents are invited to bring along some bits and pieces of historic interest or of family sentimental value and explain their significance if known to those attending.

All indoor events are held in Leixlip Library for which the Club is most appreciative.

Leixlip History Club's programmme of events for 2012

February 09, 2012


Town of Kilcock

At a meeting of Kildare Co. Council held on 20 February 1922: Arising on the reading of a letter dated 15th December, 1921, from the Clerk, Celbridge No.1 Rural District Council it was proposed by Mr. Nicholas Travers, seconded by Mr. Mark Carroll and resolved: - ‘That the proposal of the Celbridge No. 1 Rural District Council to rename the town of “Kilcock” in its Gaelic form of “Cill-Corce” be approved.’

Kildare Co. Council Minute Book 4 May 1920-4 November 1924

In February 1922 Kildare Co. Council proposed to change the name of Kilcock to Cill-Corce


Funeral arrangements for Lt. J.H. Wogan Browne 14 February 1922

Orders by Colonel Commandant W.B.R. Sandys C.B., C.M.G.
Commanding 5th Divisional Artillery
Curragh Camp. 12th Feb. 1922
1. The following will be the arrangements for the funeral of the late Lieut. J.H. Wogan Browne, 48th Battery 36th Brigade R.F.A., on Tuesday 14th February.
2. The funeral will be divided into 4 parts: -
(a) Procession from Station Hospital, the Curragh, to R.C. Church, the Curragh
(b) Requiem Mass at the Curragh
(c) Conveyance of the body, the personnel attending the funeral by motor transport from the Church to the Gates of the Depot Barracks, Naas
(d) Procession from Gate of the Depot Barracks to the Cemetery at Naas

3. The procession in 2(a) will leave the Station Hospital at 09.15 hours.
The Gun Carriage, Pall Bearers, Firing Party, Trumpeters and following party will be found by 48th Battery, R.F.A.
The A.A.G., 5th Division is arranging for the Band
4. The Requiem Mass will be at 09.30 hours
5. As soon as this is over 2(c) will be carried out.
The A.A.G. is arranging for a crossley Car for the conveyance of the body. O.C. troops Kildare and Newbridge will inform R.A. Office by 1000 hours 13th, the total numbers requiring conveyance, when arrangements will be made for M.T. for the purpose
6. The procession as in 2(d) will leave the Depot Barrack Gate at 11.20 hours and will be formed as in para 3. 18th Battery R.F.A. will find the same detail as in paragraph 3.
The A.A.G. is arranging for the Band
The arrival at the Cemetery is timed for 12 midday
7. When the procession is well started the motor transport will move to the Cemetery in readiness to convey personnel back to the Curragh, Newbridge and Kildare
8. Officers will wear a mourning band of 3 1/2 inches

Officers at Newbridge and Kildare will wear medals.

T.K. Massy
Major R.A.
Brigade Major, R.A., 5th Division

The funeral arrangements for Lt. John Wogan Browne on 14 February 1922, courtesy of Paddy Behan. Our thanks to Paddy.

February 03, 2012


Naas Local History Group

Spring /Summer Programme 2012

Wednesday 1st February 2012: Naas Local History Group Annual St Brigid Cross making demonstration by Ronnie Kinnane and Lily Whelan. Venue: Naas Community Library,  3pm.  All welcome.

Tuesday 7th  February:  “The  tragic  killing of  Naas-born  Lt. John Wogan-Brown  in 1922”  is the  subject of  the  2012 Ger Kinchella Memorial Lecture by local writer and historian  James Durney.   Venue:  Naas  Community  Library. 7.45pm.  All Welcome.

Saturday 25th February:  St David’s  Day  “Welsh Flag Unfurling.”  Commemorating the Naas Welsh Connection. 3pm at Naas Town Hall.   Group Members.
Tuesday 6th  March:  Illustrated  talk  “The Transportation of  Women from County Kildare”  Speaker, Cathi Fleming,    7.45pm  Naas Community  Library.  All  Welcome.

Tuesday 3rd April: for an  illustrated talk on “The History of  Irish Botany”  by keen photography  enthusiast,  Fr. Jackie O’Connell.    7.45pm  Naas  Community  Library.  All Welcome

Saturday 14th April; We commemorate the 100th  anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic with a Centenary Day Seminar entitled “Titanic Disaster, The Local Connection.” A talk and display of newspaper reports, pictures and film from  Ireland, United Kingdom and the U.S.A. by Group Members.
3pm to 5pm. Naas Community Library. All Welcome.

Sunday 22nd  April:  “Punchestown  Racecourse Walking Sunday.”  We  meet  at the Parade Ring at 3pm   for a session of nostalgia and stories by Group Members. All Welcome.

Thursday 17th May: “The Co Kildare Ancestors of  Queen Elizabeth”  is the theme of  local  historian  Seamus Cullen  when he leads us on evening visit to Carbury Church of Ireland , the Colley Vault and Carbury Castle  to learn about  the  Colley family and the Royal Family Connection” 
Bus leaves  Ballycane  Church at 7pm.  Full details later. 
Tuesday 5th June: Learn about your town. Local  walk in the Jigginstown / Limerick Rd,  Aras  Chill Dara,  and  Old Gaol area.”  Led by Group members.  Meet at Jigginstown Castle  at 7.30pm.   All Welcome.

Saturday 23rd  June;  Annual Summer  history  bus  outing  down the  M9  visiting South Kilkenny and  Waterford City.   Details Later.

Further details from Paddy Behan. P.R.O.  045876365 or 0872853792

The 2012 Spring/Summer programme of events for Naas Local History Group


Naas Local History Group AGM

Naas Local History Group held their 27th Annual General Meeting in Naas Community Library on Tuesday 24th  January. The main business of the meeting  consisted of  the  officers reports and treasurer Tom Keegan gave a detailed statement of  the healthy state of the groups finances. Paddy Behan PRO gave a review of the group’s many activities and events in 2011.  He thanked the  local press and Naas Parish Newsletter for the publicity of our group during the year of  which  we are most appreciative. The group are very fortunate to be facilitated for all our indoor events in Naas Community Library and for this we are most grateful to Naas Librarian Geraldine Whelan, John Breen and Co. Kildare Library Service.  
The next business was when Group Auditor Brian Mullaney took the chair for the election of a committee for 2012. The following were elected: Chairperson: Ger McCarthy, Vice Chairperson: James Durney, Secretary: Rose McCabe, Treasurer: Tom Keegan, PRO: Paddy Behan, Webmaster: Sean Sourke, Committee members: Ronnie Kinane,  Aoife O’Malley, Anne O’Byrne.
Tributes were paid to the outgoing committee and condolences were extended to the Whelan, Treacy, and Benson families on their recent  bereavements. The evening ended with the Naas History Group Heritage Cup presentation to Naas Shoemaker Bill Glennon. A full programme for 2012 will be published soon.

A report from Paddy Behan on Naas Local History Group's 2012 AGM


History Group honour for Naas Cobbler    

By Paddy Behan 

“I am really chuffed about getting this award” was the response of  Naas shoemaker and cobbler Bill Glennon when he was presented with the Naas Local History Group’s  annual  Heritage  Cup and illuminated Scroll in recognition of his long contribution  to the craft heritage  of  Naas. Bill is the third generation of his family to carry on the cobbler-shoemaker craft and the last of many crafts to have flourished in the New Row area of the town over the past two centuries.

Making the presentation of the award at the annual General Meeting of the group. Chairperson Ger McCarthy recalled all the crafts people in the area. Ger grew up across the street from Glennons in New Row and still gets his shoes repaired there. “When I call into Bill to get a pair of shoes soled or healed, Bill keeps talking  and working away with the tools of his craft: the Last, cobblers hammer, leather knife, awl, pliers, pincers, rasp and all the other tools of his craft.”  Ger on behalf of the group wished him many more years to use them.

In his presentation citation Paddy Behan history group PRO recalled that Glennon’s bootmakers go back over a hundred and fifty years and is one of the oldest surviving businesses in Naas. Bill’s grandfather William started the business, handed it on to Bill’s father, named William also, and then he in turn passed it on to Bill who has carried on the business for almost fifty years.

Bill in a short film made a few years ago (by Sallins based photographer Daniel Balteanu, which was shown on the night) recalls his life and memories of the trade, the journey men who were part and parcel of the scene and who were employed on a temporary basis. They were continually on the move and would often leave in the middle of making a new pair of shoes.

Business picked up during the Celtic Tiger years and continues to hold its own in the aftermath. But Bill is sad at the fact that the art of the cobbler is unlikely to survive the next generation as there is no one left to carry it on. Bill’s other great interest is horseracing  and everyone is familiar  with the “back in five minutes” note on the door as he nips around to the bookies which has been part of his daily routine for longer than he cares to recall. We wish Bill and his family many years of good health and prosperity and hope that Bill will continue to craft a trade, which has been almost lost to antiquity for many years to come. 

On January 24 2012 Naas cobbler Bill Glennon was awarded the Heritage Cup by Naas Local History Group

February 02, 2012


By Charles Dickens

There are, in certain parts of Ireland and especially upon the Curragh of Kildare, hundreds of women, many of them brought up respectably, a few perhaps luxuriously, now living day after day, week after week, and month after month, in a state of solid heavy wretchedness, that no mere act of imagination can conceive. Exposed to sun and frost, to rain and snow, to the tempestuous east winds, and the bitter blast of the north, whether it be June or January, they live in the open air, with no covering but the wide vault of heaven, with so little clothing that even the blanket sent down out of heaven in a heavy fall of snow is eagerly welcomed by these miserable outcasts. The most wretched beings we profess to know of, the Simaulecs and Hottentots of Africa, have holes whereinto they may creep, to escape the heat of the sun or the winter's rages, but the women-squatters of the Curragh have no shelter, there is no escape for them but to turn their backs to the blast, and cower from it. The misery that abounds round our large camps in England is a load heavy enough for us to bear, but it is not at all to be compared to what can be seen daily in Ireland. If one of these poor wretches were to ask but for a drop of water to her parched lips, or a crust of bread to keep her from starving, Christians would refuse it; were she dying in a ditch, they would not go near to speak to her of human sympathy, and of Christian hope in her last moments. Yet, their priests preach peace on earth, good will among men, while almost in the same breath they denounce from their altars intolerant persecution against those who have, in many cases, been more sinned against than sinning. This is not a thing of yesterday. It has been going on for years, probably fifty, perhaps a hundred.
Twenty years ago, in eighteen forty-four, I remember the priest's coming into the barracks at Newbridge, with a request that the commanding officer would grant him a fatigue party of soldiers to go outside and pull down a few booths which these poor creatures had raised against the barrack wall. The priest, I am sorry to say, had his request granted, and at the head of the soldiers, on a cold winter's day, he went out and burned down the shelter these unfortunates had built. At this time it was quite common for the priest, when he met one of them, to seize her and cut her hair off close. But this was not all. In the summer of forty five, a priest, meeting one of the women in the main street of Newbridge, there threw her down, tearing from off her back the thin shawl and gown that covered it, and with his heavy riding-whip so flogged her over the bare shoulders that the blood actually spirited over his boots. She all the time never resisted, but was only crying piteously for mercy. Of the crowd which was formed round the scene, not a man nor a woman interfered by word or action. When it was over, not one said of the miserable soul, "God help her." Five days afterwards I saw this girl, and her back then was still so raw that she could not bear to wear a frock over it. Yet when she told me how it was done, and who did it, she never uttered a hard word against the ruffian who had treated her so brutally. Had any person attacked a brute beast as savagely in England, as the priest had here treated this least of God's creatures, the strong arm of the law would have been stretched out between him and his victim. Yet in Newbridge there was not even an Irishman man enough to take the law in his own hands, by seizing the whip from the priest and giving him on his own skin a lesson of mercy. For it was in Ireland, where even now inhumanity of this sort is encouraged; where dealers consider it a part of religion not to supply these outcasts with the common necessaries of life; where the man who would allow one of them to crawl into his barn or cowshed to lie down and die, would be denounced from the altar, and be ordered to do penance for his charity. I need not say what is the result of this refusal of all Christian help and pity to the fallen. It is open noonday immorality and drunkenness, and nightly licentious revellings. When all the vice is out of doors wandering shameless and defiant through the streets of Newbridge, the by-lanes of Cahir, and the purlieus of Limerick, Buttevant, Athlone, and Templemore, it becomes far more mischievous than it can be in the cellars and courts of the back streets in Dublin. It is everywhere to be seen, and what renders it less repulsive, is the very tyranny to which its victims are subject, for it is impossible at once to pity and abhor.
I will speak only of what I have seen. Last year I was in Mr. Tallon's shop in Newbridge, when one of these girls came in and asked for half an ounce of tea. She was cleanly and respectably dressed - was perfectly sober and quiet, in her demeanour; in fact, from her appearance, I should never have guessed her position. The shopkeeper had weighed the tea and was about to give it, when, stopping short, he threw it behind him, saying, "No! I'll not serve you." To this she made no reply, but meekly turned and walked away. Surmising what she was at once, I could not help saying, "Good God, do you refuse to sell a fellow-creature the necessaries of life?" "Yes," was the answer; "were she dying, I would not give it to her, or any like her." I attempted to argue with him, reminding him that it was only those without sin themselves who should cast the first stone or trample upon the fallen; but he would not listen. I called for the half ounce of tea, paid for it, and following her up the town, gave it the poor creature. Her look of thankfulness more than repaid me.
Yet in Newbridge these people are better off than in any other part of the country; for a charitable farmer who owns some small fields near the barracks, has allowed them the use of a deep dry ditch by the roadside. This they have covered over with some hay and branches of trees, which forms for them a kind of shelter from the weather.  Vastly different is it, however, in other parts of Ireland, where they can get no better shelter than a hedge affords. On the Curragh, for instance, the only protection they have from the pelting rain, the driving sleet, or the falling snow, is a furze bush; and this they are not allowed to erect or prop up by any means into a kind of covering. The moment they attempt to make a roof of it, it is pulled down by the police or under-rangers. I never believed it possible that such misery as I have here seen could be in existence even among savages. Often have I seen these women, as I went to exercise after a severe night's rain, lying by threes and fours huddled together in a ditch, or by the lee-side of a bush. I remember one morning when I was on pass, making my way across the Curragh. Going down from the Grand Stand towards the Camp Inn, I passed a rising piece of ground on my left, under the brow of which the sheep and lambs were cowering together for shelter from the sharp north wind which was then blowing bitterly. I did not observe four women lying in a bit of a hole they had scooped out, until one called after me, and asked me to give her a shilling for God's sake, as they were starving. The sight of them, wet, cold, and perishing from want and exposure, caused me to turn back and give the shilling; and I own that my remonstrance was very feeble even when she to whom I had given it jumped up, saying, "Long life to you! This will get us a drop of whisky," and ran off to get it. The mere prospect of the drink seemed to impart new life to two of them, but the other evidently cared nothing about that which gave her companions so much pleasure. Her eye was languid, her skin hot and dry, her head ached; she was suffering from an attack of fever. I left her, and walking back towards the station, met a policeman, whom I informed of her state, and he promised to get her taken to the workhouse if he could.
I discovered afterwards that an under-ranger had reported this woman's case to the police, and that information of her illness had been forwarded to Naas, when the policeman was told to apply to the relieving-officer at Newbridge. On looking for him, the constable learnt that the relieving-officer came only now and then to Newbridge, and that to find him he would have to go to Milltown. Thither the kindly man did not grudge going, and there he was told by the official that "he would see about it." Next day, finding the poor wretch still neglected, and sinking fast, he had her conveyed in a car to the Naas workhouse, where she died in a few hours after her admission. The head-ranger of the Curragh, Mr. Brown, of Upper Mount-street, Dublin, drew the attention of the poor-law guardians to the neglect of their subordinate, and demanded an inquiry into the matter, for the life of a fellow-creature seemed to have been sacrificed. The guardians refused to inquire, and that in terms which seemed to cast an imputation upon Mr. Brown's veracity. That gentleman appealed to the corroborating testimony of the police and others, and again asked for an investigation, but in vain. He then, mindful at least of his own duty to his neighbour, applied to the poor-law commissioners, and also informed the civil authorities of the facts of the case. The commissioners took no notice of his representations until the Attorney-General issued an order that the relieving-officer should be prosecuted for manslaughter. Then the poor-law commissioners dismissed him from the situation, appointing another man to succeed him, on the express condition, as it was believed, that he should live at Newbridge, the most fitting and central place of residence, and on the direct road from Kildare and the Curragh to the workhouse.
But, on the 10th of September, a woman was brought by the police before Mr. Brown on a charge of drunkenness; it was also stated that she was ill, that she had been obliged to be brought in a car from the Curragh, and that she could not possibly walk to Newbridge. Mr. Brown saw her himself, ascertained that she was very ill, and that neither a poor-law guardian nor the relieving-officer was to be found in Newbridge. Here was another case of utter destitution and illness, which could not receive the prompt attention it required because of the absence of the official whose duty it was to provide a conveyance to take her to the workhouse. A guardian was at length found, and the woman was conveyed to Naas.
On the same day, Mr. Brown reported to the commissioners that their instructions had not been carried into effect, the relieving-officer not being a resident at Newbridge, and he again asked for an inquiry. This course of proceeding did not find favour in the eyes of the poor-law guardians, the chairman stating to the members that "this case was just a little bit of officiousness on Mr. Brown's part," and in that spirit they gave their version of the whole affair to the commissioners, who had written for an explanation.
On the 23rd of that month the commissioners replied to the chief ranger's letter of the 10th, when they stated that the relieving officer did reside in Newbridge, and that they "could not find any subject deserving of inquiry." Mr. Brown would not be satisfied with this kind of reply to a representation of such permanent importance to the poor wretches for whose lives he was fighting, and so, on the 12th of October, he again wrote to the commissioners a long letter, which appeared in the "Irish Times," and contained the following facts: "Three police stations are situated on the Curragh. The constables in charge state, and can show, that they frequently are obliged to go to the relieving-officer as part of their duty. They have invariably gone from the Curragh to Milltown, a considerable round from the Curragh to Naas poor-house. The constables stationed in Milltown stated the relieving-officer resided there. The constables at Newbridge make a similar statement. The county surveyor, in whose employment he is as a road contractor, states that Fitzpatrick, the relieving-officer, lives in Milltown. … Mr. Irwin, who is contractor to the poor-law guardians, stated to me in presence of a magistrate, a police-officer, and another person, that his wife had let a bed to Fitzpatrick, and that he took it immediately after I reported him." Mr. Brown concludes his humane appeal as follows: "Gentlemen, permit me, when on the subject of the Curragh, to ask you to draw the attention of the proper authorities to the probable state of the squatters thereon in the approaching winter. They sleep in the open air, little covering over their bodies, no shelter from wet or cold except that of a furze bush. When snow falls they follow the example of the Esquimaux, they lie with their backs upwards, in order to form a temporary support, for snow to rest on, which, when accumulated thereon assists to keep them partially warm."
Thus they are exposed all the year round: if it rains for a week they have to remain in it, having the wet ground for a couch, and a few wet rags for a covering. No refuge for them; no pity; no succour. In England the publicans will suffer them to remain by their firesides while their money lasts; landlords will let them rooms while they pay rent; shopkeepers will supply them with goods while they can find money for the articles: but here, in Ireland, they are outcasts in the fullest sense of the term, abandoned, persecuted, spurned. I am well aware that these women are the dregs of society, also that some mistaken Christians will say that "any pity shown to them is at best an encouragement of vice," while others, like Scrooge, will inquire "whether the workhouse and prisons are not still in operation?" To such it is useless to make any appeal. But to those who can feel for the poor and homeless, who, to the best of their ability, attend to the Divine commands to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and raise the fallen, I appeal for at least a thought of Christian mercy towards the wretched outcasts, who exist on the Curragh, and around our barracks in Ireland.
It is not only to the female eye that a review of soldiers, with colours flying, drums beating, and bayonets glistening, appears grand and inspiring. The dress of the soldiers, the gilding on the uniforms, the regular step, and the martial bearing of the men, are as if specially contrived for carrying the feelings and good wishes of spectators away captive. Again, when we look at a camping-ground with its white tents ranged in regular order – the flags flying and bugles sounding; the galloping to and fro of mounted orderlies, the passing of general and staff officers with their waving plumes, the turning in and out of guards, combined with the pervading neatness and regularity, have we not all the elements of a spirit-stirring scene? We see then all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, with nothing of its attendant misery. But there is, as I have shown, around every barrack and camp an outlying circle of misery and sin, a haunting spectre which holds up its withered hands in mockery of all the tinsel. It has never been otherwise; for wherever large bodies of men congregate, these elements of wretched creatures will be found, whose life is a long sin and unceasing misery. It is the old story – a poor girl is attracted by a soldier when the troops come to her town. When he marches away, she leaves all – friends, fortune, and good name – to follow him; little recking of the pains that lie before her. Soon the trifle of money is spent, and then the clothes go piece by piece. When money and clothes are gone, what shall she do? She cannot dash through the ring of scorn already surrounding her, to go home and drink the bitterest dregs of her cup in the rebuke of her own kindred. The man she has followed lovingly and unwisely, had not means to support her; yet she cannot starve. Gradually the outcast sinks lower and lower, till she probably ends her days by the side of a barrack wall, or on the leeside of a bush at the Curragh. Of the soldiers who should share the blame of this, men are ready enough to remember how they are in a manner cut off from all domestic joys or pleasures, and have as a class very little forethought. Their daily bread is always found them; whether in sickness or in health they need never know what a sharp thorn hunger is. And so, being thoughtless, the soldier does not prevent women from following him from town to town, and from barracks to camp. But if guilty so far, he is not wilfully hard-hearted. I have known many a soldier go to the captain of his troop, and getting a couple of months' pay in advance, spend it on sending a poor girl back to her friends. I know also that for one or two months after a regiment has come to a fresh station there are weekly subscriptions made up among the men of each troop for the same purpose. Therefore I am sure that if a way could be shown for lessening the misery among those unhappy victims, every soldier in the army would give what he could afford. If each man would give a week's pay to commence with, and a day's pay yearly afterwards, those who had homes to go to, and  relations willing to receive them, could be sent home whenever they were willing to return, while the others would at least be provided with a roof to put their heads under.
In India these camp-followers are placed under the care of one of their own sex – a female muccadum, or overseer, who is paid so much a month out of the canteen fund. This is advantageous in more respects than one. The women themselves are comfortably housed; they are obliged to keep their huts in good order, and themselves clean and well clothed; if they misbehave they are punished; in case of disease, they are sent to a native hospital till they recover. This system modified to suit home moralities might be advantageously introduced at our barracks and camps, and would go a great way to stay the spread of disease which fills our army hospitals, and ruins the health of our soldiers. As the hour before the dawn is the darkest, so I trust that, upon the night of these unhappy squatters, the first glimmering of dawn is soon to break. That such distress should exist, and that men should consider themselves most righteous in letting it exist, and walking on the other side with their eyes carefully averted, is but a new form of the old evil, against which His followers were warned as their worst wrong against Heaven by Him who was himself alone unspotted among men.

Source:  Charles Dickens, All the Year Round, No 292, November 26, 1864


An eyewitness account of the Curragh Wrens by Charles Dickens, re-typed by Paul Cooke. Our thanks to Paul


Archive of the Chief Secretary of Ireland online

Archive of the Chief Secretary of Ireland at www.nationalarchives.ie
The National Archives of Ireland has begun to make available an online catalogue of the registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1818 to 1852. The first phase of the project is complete and can be searched at

It covers the years 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821 and 1822. As well as the online catalogue the site contains an explanation of the Office of the Chief Secretary and a historical commentary for each year completed to date.
Known as the Crowley project, it is a five year project at the National Archives of Ireland, to catalogue to international archival standards, the registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1818 to 1852, in order to facilitate public access to one of the most valuable sources of original material for research on Ireland in the first half of the nineteenth century. The project also employs a dedicated conservator to conserve the papers once they are listed.
The project was made possible by a bequest from the late Professor Francis J Crowley. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Professor Crowley was educated at Yale and Princeton, and became a professor of French at the University of California at Los Angeles. Both his parents were born in Ireland, and in his will he bequeathed most of his estate to the Republic of Ireland to be used for the preservation of records of the history of the Irish people. Work commenced on the project in September 2008. The items are available for consultation at the reading room of the National Archives of Ireland, according to usual procedures.
Cataloguing of the years 1823 and 1824 is currently in progress and these lists will be added to this website when complete.
This site is well worth a visit; a search KILDARE across all years currently available located 337 matches; a search for 1798 found 199 matches and so on.  

The first item when in the results when a search for KILDARE was done was the following:

TITLE: Claim for payment of concordatum from Katherine Armstrong, Naas, County Kildare
SCOPE & CONTENT: Petition of Katherine Armstrong, Naas, County Kildare, to William Gregory, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, requesting that her claim for financial assistance be presented to the Lord Lieutenant. ‘As a widow of an old acquaintance’ she appeals for ‘an addition to the small annuity of ten pounds already granted (through your kind interference) by Earl Whitworth’. Annotation added to back of document to state that concordatum cases will not be taken ‘into consideration until some time in the course of the ensuing month’.
EXTENT: 1 item; 2pp
DATE(S): 5 Sep 1818

The National Archives of Ireland has begun to make available an online catalogue of the registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1818 to 1852


Leinster Leader 21 October 1950
Labours Town Improvements
County Hospital

Correspondence was read in connection with the County Hospital, stating that the contract had been given out for new windows, and work would commence at once, and when same was completed the contractor for the pebble dashing of the hospital would commence work. Plans have been drawn up and sent to the Department of Health for approval for the new Nurses Residence at the County Hospital, and when same is approved the work will be advertised for contract. Negotiations were taking place with the Leinster Estate in request of a site at the Market Square for the weighbridge. It was decided to request the Co. Council to have a new public sanitary convenience erected in place the old public lavatory which has been condemned and closed.
A complaint was received that the South Green pump was still out of order, and that the contractor had them taken up the pump some months ago, and that nothing was done with it since.
It was decided to again report the matter to the Council.

An article from the Leinster Leader 21 October 1950 on the local Labour Party's recommendations for improvements for Kildare Town


The Auxiliaries – the tough men of 1919-21

The name ‘Black and Tans’ is enough to send a frisson down the spine of any Irish person interested in the troubled formative years of the Irish state. The Black and Tans were a squad recruited from Britain at the height of the War of Independence in 1920 to add muscle to the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force which was under pressure from IRA attacks. However the Black and Tans were not the only security outfit mobilised in support of the RIC during the conflict. 
Not as well known, but even more feared at the time were the ‘Auxiliaries’, or to give them their official title, the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary.  The ‘Auxies’ were recruited from ex-officer grades of the British Army; they were experienced, well paid, and to a man, tough.  It is this latter characteristic which gave them an alternative nickname which has been used as the title of a new book ‘Tudors Toughs’ by Ernest McCall, a Newtownards based author. Mr. McCall recently gave a presentation  to the progressive Monasterevin Historical Society in which he put the case that the Auxiliaries had got an undeservedly bad press in the way that the War of Independence has been written from the Irish perspective. Incidentally the ‘Tudor’s Toughs’ in the title of his book refers to Major-General Hugh Tudor who was appointed Inspector General of the RIC in May 1920 at a time when the British Government realised that it had a fight on its hands in the face of a rampant IRA which had inflicted 145 casualties on the RIC since the war had erupted in January 1919.
The Auxiliaries were recruited from an upper class of ex-British Army personnel. Most had been commissioned officers and many had been awarded bravery medals arising from service in World War One.  Following a recruiting campaign in Britain the first drafts of Auxiliaries were brought to the Curragh in the summer of 1920 for preliminary training. However there was trouble in the camp and Mr McCall speculates that there may been friction between the battle-hardened Auxiliary cadets ands the  British army units in barracks. Whatever the reason the Auxiliaries were relocated to Beggar’s Bush barracks in Dublin to continue their short induction to the realities of war on the island of Ireland.
The Auxiliaries were distinct from the  Black and Tans who were another form of reserve for the RIC. However in popular folklore the Black and Tans became a collective label for all British police forces involved in the War of Independence and it was used as catch all title for actions involving the RIC proper, the RIC Special Reserve (the true Black and Tans) and the Auxiliary Division of the RIC  otherwise known as ‘Auxies.’ The author is at pains to draw distinctions between the various constabulary forces pointing out that the Auxies had their own self-contained structure which well able to account for itself.
In twelve chapters of strongly researched material Mr. McCall sets out to revise the common interpretation of the ‘Auxies’ – that they were a violent and volatile gang who were constantly outwitted by the IRA. And some of their activities would lend credence to this stereotype – the Auxiliaries lost 17 men to a textbook IRA ambush at Kilmichael near Macroom in November 1920 while the following month they set fire to the city of Cork. However it was far from being one way traffic. In May 1921 the  Dublin Brigade of the IRA mounted a large scale attack on the Customs House. They succeeded in setting the building ablaze but were trapped by the Auxiliaries who shot dead five IRA men and captured a hundred more. The advantage which the IRA had in the early months of the War of Independence was neutralised by the Auxiliaries who brought with them the kind of combat experience that the peacetime RIC had never absorbed. According to Ernest McCall ‘Auxiliaries fought the IRA on its terms … it could not cope with the ferocity of the Auxiliaries compared to the regular RIC.’ 
Whether the Auxiliaries were more effective than nationalist rhetoric would allow is a question that historians will continue to debate. This in turn will fuel a wider debate emerging as to whether the IRA forced the British to the negotiating table or whether the opposite was the case – that by July 1921 the IRA had been fought to a standstill with the Auxiliaries playing a significant part in countering the republican flying columns. Ernest McCall’s book ‘Tudor’s Toughs’, although not perfect, puts a well-researched case for the Auxiliaries in any assessment of the winners and losers of the War of Independence. Book reviewed: ‘The Auxiliaries – Tudor’s Toughs’ by Ernest McCall, published by Red Coat Publishing, Newtownards. Series no: 226.

Liam Kenny reviews Ernest McCall's book 'The Auxiliaries – Tudor’s Toughs’ in his Looking Back series from the Leinster Leader 26 April 2011


The politics of Punchestown

Sport and politics make uneasy bed-fellows yet such is the all pervasive nature of politics that no assembly of people whether for sporting or other purposes is entirely free of political machinations. And this was certainly the case in the volatile years of the ‘Troubles’ also known as the War of Independence from 1919 to 1921. In the first of those disturbed years, the Punchestown April meeting, an annual fixture since 1850, was to find itself overwhelmed by the surging emotions unleashed by the campaign for an independent Ireland.
 The April meeting of 1919 was caught between the Sinn Féin movement in Co. Kildare and the interests of the owners of Punchestown, the Kildare Hunt Club, largely populated by the county squires of the day.  Why was the Kildare Hunt targeted by the  Sinn Feiners? The most obvious reason is that the titled gentry who made up the committee of the Kildare Hunt were associated with the apparatus of British government in Ireland.  Most were of a unionist persuasion and made no secret of their desire to keep Ireland within the British empire – others were more sympathetic to the nationalist cause but the majority of Kildare Hunt grandees belonged firmly to a social class that was tightly bound to the machinery of Empire. A core issue of the Sinn Féin campaign was its call to have republican political prisoners released.  The magistrates and Dublin Castle officials who hunted with the Kildare hounds were seen as part of the system which had interned the republicans and had kept them in jail. 
Another factor that aroused the ire of nationalists was that Gaelic football matches were policed closely by the Royal Irish Constabulary – and indeed the organisers of Gaelic Games had to apply for permits to the Resident Magistrates. No such restrictions applied to the hunting classes. To rub salt into the wound the Resident Magistrates to whom the GAA made its applications were invariably hunt members or supporters.  As a correspondent to the Kildare Observer, one Gerard Broe of Tipperstown Straffan remarked: ‘ … the supporters of athletics and football were forced by the Government to apply to a magistrate (a Hunt Club member) for a permit before advertising a fixture. This, I suppose, was not political, although the law was administered by a prominent Hunt Club member. As a keen supporter of all branches of support I would like equal rights also.’ 
Fears for the Punchestown April meeting had been expressed from early in the spring of 1919 as news of the widespread Sinn  Fein campaign of stopping the hunts came in from various parts of the country. An issue of the Irish Times in March 1919 reported on a violent melee in north Cork where the famous Muskerry hunt was stopped by Sinn Féiners. The protesters wielded hurleys, sticks and stones while the huntsmen hit back with whips. There was a similar report from County Waterford where a hunt meeting in Tramore was disrupted by protesters calling on the hunt to sign a petition for the release of Sinn Féin prisoners. The following day the home of the Master of the East Waterford Hounds was attacked and windows broken.
The trouble was not long in spreading to Kildare. An edition of the Kildare Observer of March 1919 reported that a meeting of the Kildare Hunt at Betaghstown near Clane had been obstructed by Sinn Féiners who lined the road three deep. The Hunt Club issued an ultimatum that if its sport of hunting across the Kildare countryside was to be blocked then it would pull the National Hunt meeting scheduled for Punchestown in  April. The Hunt made the case that the daily hunt meets were necessary to generate the kind of income needed to stage the race meeting. If these were going to be obstructed then the Punchestown race meeting would suffer too. In the view of the Hunt committee ‘hunting, Hunt race meetings, and Hunt horse shows stand or fall together.’ The omens were not good when word came through that the National Hunt Committee had cancelled the Fairyhouse meeting on Easter Monday as retaliation for the Sinn Féin campaign of stopping the country hunt meetings. The Kildare Hunt followed suit and abandoned the Punchestown meeting of 1919.  A headline in the Kildare Observer summed up the local reaction in suitably apolyptic terms ‘ The end of sport?’. It was not the first, nor the last time, in which politics and Punchestown would clash but it was a spectacular example of how the struggle between nationalists and unionists played out to the detriment of a cherished sporting fixture. Series no: 225. 

The influence of the Troubles on Punchestown racing from Liam Kenny's series 'Looking Back' Leinster Leader 19 April 2011


Leinster Leader 15 July 1950

Old Market House


The County Council had decided to acquire the old Market House and to erect the new weighbridge on the western side of same. The public lavatory would be closed The Engineers report on the proposed improvement of the old Market House would come before the next meeting of the County Council.

The pebble-dashing at the County Hospital had been deferred pending the erection of two new windows in the top ward. All the other works at the hospital had been carried out-lighting with a lamp for each bed, painting, radio, with head-phones and new X-Ray apparatus A new nurses residence had been sanctioned at an estimated cost of  £3,200. Work on the footpaths in the town was being carried at present and work to relieve the flooding at Hospital Street. Hoses have been restored to the two fountains in the town. In connection with the superannuation scheme one of the members the branch had not received his superannuation with retrospective payment.

Complaints were received in connection with a number of pumps which were out of order, and it was stated a contract had now been entered into for the deepening of those pumps.

It was decided to congratulate Mr. W. Norton, Minister for Social Welfare and also Mr. M Keys Minister for Local Government, on the introduction of the Social Security Bill, and the Bill to amend the County Management Act.



An article from the Leinster Leader of 15 July 1950 on Kildare Town's old Market House


The judge, the dog, and the census

Industrious readers of the Leader will have completed their Census forms by now, Sunday night last being the designated time for completing the return of domestic details and personal circumstances. The Census of 2011 takes its place in a long sequence of census collections which have remained remarkably consistent in their method despite the major changes in every other part of the governance of Ireland. The first reliable census exercise dates back to 1841 when the British flair for administration produced a model for taking a census of the population which has stood the test of decades. From that year on there was a national census carried out at ten year intervals unless war or disease intervened. The British model was taken up by the new Irish Free State and continued up to the present day, albeit with much modernisation in the way the statistics generated by the census are calculated and analysed.
While people in modern times are accustomed to filling in all sorts of forms this was not the case for bygone generations who often had little contact with the machinery of government. The taking of the census at ten-yearly intervals was therefore a remarkable enough event for it to get notice in the local press. Just one hundred years ago the census was regarded as a news worthy event qualifying for the following reference in the Leinster Leader of 8 April 2011: ‘The census enumerators were of course busy in the Naas urban district during the week but the carrying out of this work was not marked by any unusual incident.’ The conduct of the 1911 census in Naas might have been a routine affair but there was an amusing sequel to the census in Newbridge. Under an intriguing heading of the ‘The census and a dog licence’ the Leader of 29 April 1911 reported a case in from Newbridge District Court where a local woman applied for a dog licence. She told the court that she had been given the little puppy dog on 1st April. When asked why she had not applied earlier she said she had been waiting to ask the policeman who was coming to collect the census form. On hearing this explanation the judge -- Major Thackeray -- asked ‘And did you put the dog on the census form?’ – an example of judicial wit which drew laughter from the court. Fortunately the magistrate’s good humour extended to granting the lady the licence for her dog.
The census, generally taken at ten year intervals, provides a revealing insight into how the fortunes of the Co. Kildare population ebbed and flowed over time. The 1841 census recorded 114,000 people living in the county. Ten years later this had fallen to 95,000, the Famine of the late 1840s taking its toll even in the relatively prosperous lands of Kildare. The drain of emigration continued to haemorrhage people from the county so that by 1911 there was a population of just 66,000 souls in the county. The transition to the Irish Free State after 1922 did nothing to halt the drift and a low point was recorded by the census of 1936 when the Kildare population was numbered at just 57,000. Ten years later there was a recovery with an additional 7,000 recorded on the 1946 census. What had changed between 1936 and 1946 to bring about this significant jump? The influx of men to work on the Bord na Mona bogs and the labour force required by the new factories in Newbridge are likely explanations. However there was little further change until 1971 when the commuter driven growth of North Kildare town such as Leixlip and  Celbridge triggered a surge in the county’s population. Like the dials in a fast moving meter the census numbers surged: 71,000 in 1971, 104,000 in 1981; 122,000 in 1991. By then much of Kildare had become what geographers call an ‘edge city’ – an edgy sprawl of new estates, motorway junctions and shopping centres.  The years of the so-called Celtic Tiger accelerated the relentless population increase from 163,000 in 2002 to a dizzying 186,000 in 2006. The bare figures do not tell the whole story revealed by the detailed analysis published by the Central Statistics Office which showed that County Kildare had one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the country.  No doubt the growth in population will have calmed a little in the less frenetic years since the last census five years ago but there is no doubt that Census 2011 will make its mark on the records and give an exciting portrayal of the county in the second decade of the twenty-first century. Series no: 224.


Liam Kenny's comparisons of 100 years of census takings from his Looking Back series of 12 April 2011


Kildare Observer 3 March 1883
A wealthy Kildare man

The New Orleans Democrat announces the death of Patrick J. Hughes, who, it states, emigrated from the county Kildare about thirty years ago, almost penniless. By industry he accumulated a fortune of about three million dollars. He leaves behind hm a wife and two daughters.

An article from the Kildare Observer of 3 March 1883 on a wealthy Kildare man's demise


Castletown display highlights Ireland’s ruined mansions

An exciting exhibition which will run through April in Castletown House, Celbridge, will feature spectacular images of the ruined country houses which sit in the Irish landscape, reminders of the time when Ireland was the playground of aristocrats and landlords. The photographic exhibition is the work of Tarquin Blake who has been described as the ‘Indiana Jones’ of heritage exploration finding his way up lonely laneways and forest tracks to find the remains of abandoned mansions. 

County Kildare is fortunate in that most of its great houses are still in good order, albeit finding new leases of life as luxury hotels or golf courses (Killashee House, Straffan House and Carton being examples). 

However the county does have a number of ruined houses whose crumbling walls are reminders of past glories.  Some were abandoned shortly after construction, Jigginstown House outside Naas was occupied for a few years after its near-completion in 1640. By contrast houses like Donadea House had a long pedigree and survived as a residence well into the twentieth century. This span of generations is well reflected in Tarquin Blake’s evocative photographs which are displayed in one of the truly great houses in western Europe, Castletown House, which is owned by the Irish state through the Office of Public Works.

The heyday of the Irish country house began around the year 1720. At this time, the land was owned by a relatively small number of large landowners. Through plantation and conquest, the majority of landowners were Anglo-Irish Protestants. By the end of the eighteenth century it was estimated that 95 percent of all the farmland in Ireland was owned by 5,000 Protestant landowners. The land was worked by tenant farmers, whose rent payments provided the staple income of the landowner. To gain a rough financial picture of an estate, 3,000 acres of good farmland could bring in an annual income of around £4,500, -- nearly one thousand times the annual wage of a cook or house servant. With this huge income, the landowners could afford to build houses of extravagant proportions.
The beginning of the end for the big house came in 1844 when the potato blight arrived in Ireland. It destroyed the daily diet of three million people. When starving, penniless tenants could not afford to pay rent, the landlords, with their income collapsing,  were soon bankrupted. Through the 1870s periods of severe tensions between landowners and tenants became known as the Land Wars. Finally the Land Acts introduced by the Government saw land removed from the landlords and transferred directly into the hands of the farmers. With their rental income removed, the status of the landed aristocracy and of their lavish mansions began to unravel.
Through the War of Independence (1919-21) and the Irish Civil War (1922-23), the country house became a target for the IRA and many were deliberately burnt. For the surviving houses the ever increasing expense of maintenance made them unviable. The completion of the land purchase schemes for farmers meant that many of the big houses became like forgotten islands surrounded by neat Land Commission farms created by the breaking up of the expansive estates which had sustained the life style of the big house families. As the aristocratic families died out or decamped to more sympathetic environments in England, many of the houses were abandoned.  Some were demolished, while others were forgotten, lost at the back of a farm holding or hidden in the depths of forest.
However through the work of historians and photographers the heritage of Ireland’s country houses has been given a new lease of life. A pioneer in this field is photographer Tarquin Blake who found his first abandoned mansion in 2008 and has been on a mission to document Ireland’s lost heritage ever since. He explains the sometimes adventurous quest for the remains of the big houses in the following terms:

‘The first ruins I found with the help of tourist guides, then as my obsession grew I took to scouring old maps in my attempts to find these places. Exploring and photographing these ruins is really interesting: when I’m out with my walking boots on, map and GPS in hand, and a rucksack of camera gear on my back it feels like a cross between Indiana Jones and Alice in Wonderland.’

Tarquin Blake’s stunning photographs of Ireland’s ruined country houses can be found in his large format book ‘Abandoned Mansions of Ireland’ published by the Collins Press and on his website  www.AbandonedIreland.com.  However to see his photographs in context a visit to the greatest of Ireland’s big houses, Castletown House, will bring many rewards. The exhibition runs to 2 May 2011 and admission is free. Series no: 223.

* The passing of Hermann  Geissel, of Newbridge and Clane, has deprived the local history community in Kildare of an innovative and talented historian. Hermann was a founder member of the  Clane Local History Group. His forte was in surveying the landscape for earthworks and archaeological features. He had a talent for telling the story of the north Kildare landscape by identifying features overlooked  by less observant eyes. His publication (with Seamus Cullen) of a book on the Eiscir Riada, the old royal roadway that follows the glacial ridge through North Kildare, demonstrated his talents for illustration and map making at their very best. It is perhaps not surprising that a native of Germany should set high standards in local history interpretation by his meticulous observation and attention to detail. He will be fondly remembered in the Kildare local history network as a personable and committed historian with a distinctive style and exceptional talents. 

Liam Kenny in his Looking Back article from the Leinster Leader of 5 April 2011 on Kildare's abandoned mansions exhibition in Castletown House

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