Hollymount House

By Brendan Ward

We are delighted to welcome Brendan Ward back, who has kindly written a great history of Hollymount

Hollymount House is about five kilometers north west of Carlow town in the fertile Barrow valley. It is a three bay two story over basement Georgian house with a full height bow at the rear. There are two entrances to it with distinctive gate pillars at each. The gate lodge at the eastern side has been very sympathetically restored in recent years. It may be a modest house but its occupants have made a significant contribution to political and military history.

The first reference to the house is in Charles Coote’s Statistical Survey of Queen’s County, published in 1802, where he states that “Charles Ward was about to build a capital mansion house” at Hollymount. Unfortunately Charles didn’t get to spend much time in his capital mansion, if at all, because by 1811 it was occupied by the Fishbourne family.

Charles Ward was a large farmer and tenant of Robert Hartpoole of nearby Shrule Castle. He had apparently been trying to buy out the farm of 400 acres since the 1780’s. The Hartpooles were related by marriage to the Stratfords of Belan House, Moone Co Kildare. Belan House was a large mansion indeed with a demesne of 1300 acres and twelve gate lodges but the story of how the house had gone into decline by the time of the famine is for another place. After a legal dispute the Hollymount lands fell into the ownership of Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough, who had plans to build a woolen and cotton manufacturing centre there on the lines of what he had established in Stratford on Slaney, Co Wicklow but these never came to fruition.

1838 OS Map with the “Thrashing Mill”. The Hot House suggests serious gardening (unless it was a sauna!)

I am grateful to Kay Cole for her article on the Fishbourne family in the 2013/2014 edition of Carloviana, the journal of the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society (which is now available online), for the information that follows. In 1811 Robert Fishbourne leased Hollymount and about 424 statue acres from Charles Ward for £800 a year. Robert was a grandson of Joseph Fishbourne who originally came to Carlow around 1738 and worked as a glazier in St Mary’s Church of Ireland amongst other properties. Joseph’s son William (Robert’s father) subsequently began dealing in land and built up a substantial property business. Robert’s second wife was Maria Eustace of the well-established Castlemore Eustace family in county Carlow and he went on to live the life of a typical member of the gentry of the time. The Emo Hunt used to meet in Hollymount for breakfast before setting off to hunt in the countryside. An extensive agricultural enterprise is suggested by the presence of a thrashing mill for corn in the grounds of the house on the Ordnance Survey map of 1839. William Fishbourne is also recorded as operating a thrashing mill in the nearby townland of Coolhenry.

Robert also served on the Carlow Grand Jury for almost thirty years. The Grand Juries were an unelected body made up exclusively of local landlords who took on the role of a local authority like the county councils of today. Robert’s son Joseph was a member of Carlow Poor Law Union which was involved in the running of the Carlow workhouse and his brother William was also involved in local politics for many years.

The elegant three-bay bowon the rear facade is not visible on the 1838 OS map, so maybe it and the large hall with an oval stucco ceiling centre-piece with mermaids, were possibly done for the Fishbournes,

By the time of Griffith’s Valuation in 1850 the house was occupied by Alex Mc Mahon and owned by the representatives of William Fishbourne. William was the eldest son of Robert but had died by this time. Alexander St. Leger Mc Mahon was born in county Laois but married Catherine Maria Fishbourne daughter of Robert in Calcutta, India in 1828. The St. Leger part of the surname came from Alexander’s mother who was a daughter of Colonel George Charges and Lavinia St Leger. Lavinia was a sister of Major General Anthony St. Leger, (1731 -1786), the founder of the famous flat race which is still run every year.

Robert Moore Mc Mahon, the son of Alex, was born in Calcutta but the family returned to Hollymount presumably from imperial service of some sort. Robert first wife Elizabeth died in 1878 and they had one son Alex. Robert went on to marry Alice Mary Winter and they had five children. Robert Mc Mahon was a Liberal Unionist candidate, opposed to Gladstone and Home Rule, in the 1892 general election in the Carlow constituency when he secured 813 votes as against 3,738 for John Hammond the sitting nationalist MP.

Listed as living in Hollymount at the time of the 1901 census were Robert Moore Mc Mahon, JP aged 69, Alice Mc Mahon 42, Alexander JL Mc Mahon 31, Helen Mc Mahon 18 and Phyllis Mc Mahon 5. There were also three servants listed: Margaret Carpenter 36, Bridget Wall 22 and Mary Moore 20.

By the time of the 1911 census Robert Moore Mc Mahon describes himself as “nearly blind” and unable to read. Also listed as living at Hollymount were: Alice Mc Mahon, Kathleen Mc Mahon 27 and Joan Ethel Mc Mahon 8. The latter appears to have had a Governess all to herself: Lydia Edith Owen 22. The number of servants interestingly had increased to four and none of them were there ten years previously: Ann Jones 32, Elizabeth Bolton 26, Margaret Keating 26 and Francis O’Meara 23. That census also lists a James Bell as a Steward and a William Byrne as a Coachman (the latter is also in the 1901 census).

The Eastern Entrance, after the excellent restoration of the railings and stone piers
Before the restoration of balls and railings

In 1909 Helen Mc Mahon married Donald Ramsey Mc Donald. He was born in Kensington, London in 1884 and educated in Harrow. He joined the army in 1903 eventually becoming a Major. In the 1st World War he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and a Military Cross (MC). He retired in 1930 and the couple returned to live in Hollymount. They had two sons: Major John Robert who was killed in action in World War 2 aged thirty and Lieutenant Roderick William who went missing from HMS Courageous in 1937 when only twenty five. Their father had died in 1934 and Helen Mc Mahon lived on until 1969.

The gate lodge

Hollymount House is now a stud farm and thankfully appears to have changed very little since first built by Charles Ward over two hundred years ago.


I have passed Rossleighan countless times …. on the way to the dump!  But I have never actually seen it.  It is included because of its relevance to the social history of Clonreher and Lamberton. This post is more about genealogy and the human condition than architectural history. Though I would love to be able to put up a photo of Rossleighan if any one has one that they would let me use.

The 1838 OS survey shows a small farmhouse at Rossleaghan. The present house, and Rossleaghan Villa on the opposite side of the road, now a care home,  are probably both post 1850.     The “Ross” part of the name is easy – it means a wood.  The OS letters of 1838 suggests Ros liathán, ‘wood of the grey man’.  The Irish Places Names prefers Ó Liatháin’s Wood – a name anglicised to Lyons.   The townland belonged to the Kelly family Clonreher, and passed by inheritance to the Bunburys, the Tydds and the Moores, who were certainly resident there up to 1930

Note the glass houses! (top left)

The earliest reference in the press is to the appalling behaviour of the Foran and Whelan families in 1833

On Monday last an inquest was held in Maryborough, to inquire the cause of the death of Daniel Molloy, (upwards of 70 years old,) who expired on the previous Friday night in a ditch near Maryborough.  Molloy was turned out by his relatives, with whom he had lived for nearly 20 years, and was refused admission into any other house; He lay for twenty-nine days and nights previous to his death in the open fields, where he was left to perish by his unnatural relatives in a populous vicinity. The jury found that the said Daniel Molloy came to his death from emaciation, and exposure of his person in a ditch in the open air ; where he was suffered to remain for weeks previous to his death, abandoned and forlorn, by his relatives and friends, viz. Catharine Whelan, Elizabeth Whelan, Margaret Whelan, Daniel Foran, Thomas Foran, James Foran, senior, and James Foran, junior.  The persons named were committed by the coroner to the county gaol. — Dublin Evening Post – Thursday 26 September 1833.

The following year later James Foran was fined 5/- and committed to jail for assault on 24 Nov 1834.  He is in the papers again in 1847, when hunger was biting – the potato crops of autumn 1845 and 46 had failed, and the country is 18 months into the famine. 

A carrier named Martin Hughes, from Ballinakill, was robbed by three men of a bag of rice, and a jar of whisky, on Monday night, in the vicinity of Maryborough. Constable Johns and Sub-constable Gibbon, having heard of the robbery immediately proceeded to Rosleighan, the scene of its perpetration, accompanied by Hughes.  From the spot where Hughes was robbed, they traced the tracks of two men to a dung-heap near Mr. Clark’s barn (John Clark who was leasing Clonreher).  Here the jar of whisky was found buried. From the dung-heap the tracks were again traced back, a distance of about perch,(200 m – a perch is 40 rood and a rood is 5 m)  to the house of men named Foran in that neighbourhood.  No other tracks intervened, either forward or backward, the time. On entering the house, Thomas Foran and his two brothers were seated at the fire, Hughes pointed out Thomas, as one of the men who robbed him ; he also pointed out a pitchfork behind the door, which he said resembled the one with which one of the three men struck him.   Kings County Chronicle – Wednesday 17 February 1847

On the same day the paper ran two other famine related stories:-

The pay clerk of Maryborough East, has paid upwards of £l,800 on the relief works in the Barony, since the 14th November last. It would be interesting to know what the usual cost of relief was per quarter.

A small girl was robbed of a stone of flour, on the Woodville road, near Maryboro’, on Sunday evening. The person who robbed her also attempted to take her cloak.   In the same locality, on Monday evening a boy named Keys was robbed of a bottle of whisky, and 2s 6d worth of bread, which he was taking to Mr. Samuel Campion, of Lalor’s mills. Kings County Chronicle – Wednesday 17 February 1847

A year later the situation is even more desperate.  Evening Standard – Monday 03 January 1848

On the afternoon of last Thursday a carrier named John Doran was attacked by 20 men at Rosleighan, near Maryborough, and plundered of nine sacks of oatmeal, the property of James Sheane, Esq ., of Mountmelick. The Maryborough police, after a diligent search, succeeded in recovering two sacks of the meal, concealed in a field about a mile from the scene of outrage. We understand that the executive has refused, except on extraordinary occasions, to give military escort if the absence of police to protect provisions in their transmission from one town to another; but recommends that special constables be sworn in for that purpose, particularly at the cost of the owners of the bread- stuffs transmitted. If millers are not afforded sufficient protection in the transmission of their flour and meal, society will be soon reduced to a deplorable state, for of what use will money be if we cannot get food to purchase . This is the third plunder of provisions within the last fortnight, on the road between Maryborough and Mountmelick.

On Friday morning, Timothy Boughan set fire to an out-house Rosleighan, the property  Rev. J, T. Moore;  He then gave himself up to the police Maryboiough ; stated what he had done, and said his object was to get himself transported. The offender is from Streamstown, County Westmeath.  (about 60 km away)  Southern Reporter Tuesday 06 November 1849

Rev John Tydd Moore inherited his father’s massive estate in 1846.  It appears that he was a very enlightened landlord, and as a result by 1851 he was negotiating the sale of the main estate at Lamberton for £14,000 to clear the debts that had accrued during the famine.  This is probably when Rossleaghan Lodge was built. 

On the 15 June 1853, at St. Thomas, Dublin, the Rev. Arthur Moore, eldest son of the Rev. John Tydd Moore, of Lamberton Park, in the Queen’s County, to Harriette, relict of Major Murray, of Baliina, County Mayo. Published: Reading Mercury    At this stage he had definitely left Lamberton, but the social standing that it gave still reflected on the family.  For instance Magan of Umma More  will give a far longer line of credit that Magan of North London, or even than Magan of Castletown. The importance of place is part of the Gaelic psyche.

On 23 Aug 1856 there was a deed of conveyance for property near the town of Maryborough in Queen’s County between the Rev. John Tydd Moore of Rosleighan Lodge, Queen’s County and Thomas Turpin of Maryborough.

lt is seldom that we have had to record a more terrific thunder-storm than occurred in the neighbourhood of Maryborough on Friday evening last. At nearly five o’clock it commenced, and the oldest inhabitant, even those who have seen foreign parts, never recollect to have witnessed such continued vivid and violent lightning coupled with most awful thunder. It continued with scarcely any intermission till nearly midnight, and part of the time the most copious rain poured out of the heavens, actually forming rivers in the driest places. Even horses and other animals were nearly paralysed with fear and the horses actually screamed with fright. We have as yet heard of no damage done, excepting what has happened to the small but beautiful greenhouses and conservatories belonging the Rev. J. T. Moore, Rossleighan Lodge.

Soon after six o’clock the dreadful fluid struck down one of the chimneys of a range of greenhouses, 80  feet long, bursting the chimney ; entering the house through the glass at the end, it ran, conducted the wire trellis, up and down the inside, destroying most splendid crop grapes, just ripe, as well the vines and other lovely plants ; Most providentially the gardener and attendants had at the beginning the storm, made for their homes, dreading the torrents rain, otherwise it is more than probable that some of them would have been attending their charge these houses, as is their habit.

Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent – Tuesday 18 June 1861. cf Clonraher 1877

His wife’s mother had had a very long life – Rebekah Bockett had died at Southcote Lodge in 1857 at the age of 92. 

Southcote Lodge, Berks, the childhood home of Mrs Moore

His sister in law was not so lucky, dying on 7 Jan 1862, aged 56,  at Rathregan Rectory, Dunshaughlin. – Augusta Bockett had married Rev John H Dunn, then of Coolrain, in 1843.  Later in 1862 John Tydd Moore suffered a stroke.    In the Leinster Express October 11, 1862  Rossleighan is advertised to let, its owner suffering from ill health and having to leave.   Money is still a problem and 14 February 1863 the Landed Estates Court was inviting creditors to apply for payment from the sale of  The Rev. John Tydd Moore’s property at Derrytrasna (Moore Valley House) to Edmond, Patrick and Walter Sweetman. 

12 January, 1865. The Freeman’s Journal reported that the unfortunate man had taken his own life. “Rev. John Tydd Moore, incumbent of the valuable living of Erke, in the diocese of Ossory, committed suicide on Friday morning last in his residence near Maryborough. He rose about 9 o’clock, and was supplied with his shaving materials by his valet, who then saw nothing strange in his appearance or conduct. Sometime afterward a housemaid entered the room and found him lying on the bed with his throat completely severed and the razor which he had used beside him. At the inquest which was held the following day a verdict of ‘temporary insanity’ was returned. The unfortunate gentleman was the eldest son of the late Hon. Arthur Moore, for many years a puisne judge of the common pleas. The living which is worth 500l. per annum, reverts to the Crown.’

Charlotte Moore stayed on, running the farm.  Her son Rev Arthur was serving in a parish in Mayo and about to be promoted to be Dean of Achonry (Killala).  On 22 July 1866 her daughter Caroline died, aged 45, the wife of Richard Hawkesworth, Esq., of Forest, Mountrath. 

As soon as they are old enough the Dean sends his sons down to look after their grandmother and run the farm.  They rather let him down. On 17 February 1877 there are five suits by Murdoch Campbell against the Moore brothers and four counter-suits in the courthouse. 

Whilst Murdock Campbell’s ploughman was having lunch Arthur Moore, whose family had retained the shooting rights over Clonreher, removed the steel pointed sock from the plough.  The following day he was pretty beastly to the ploughman. A week later Campbell met Arthur on the farm and asked had he come to take off another sock from the plough.  Moore responded his father never was a blacksmith, implying that Campbell’s was, and that Campbell himself was a puppy, and that everyone in the country knew he was a puppy. The next day John and Arthur Moore called up to Clonreher.  Campbell thought that they were there to apologise, instead of which Arthur punched him.  Fortunately John Kavanagh, Mr. Campbell’s gardener, came up, and an end was put to the affair. 

In Court the Moore’s lawyer, John Roe, described Campbell Murdoch as “pampered, ignorant, and inflated”.  His version was that Campbell said Arthur Moore was a puppy in a muttering manner. Moore told him to repeat it, but he did not.  Moore then told Campbell he was a contemptable  puppy.  The upshot was that Moore was fined £5, though the rows continued for the following year. On reading the case as reported it is very hard to be sympathetic to the Moore brothers, who seem to be a complete pair of wallys.

Saturday, May 29, 1880   the house is advertised to let for 5 years  in the Leinster Express.  It does not let and the Freeman’s Journal – Friday 07 May 1897 announced “The Lord Chancellor has appointed Captain Arthur Moore, Rosleighan, Maryborough, to the Commission of the Peace for the Queen’s County”. 

At Exmouth, Devon, Charlotte, widow of the Rev. John Tydd Moore, M.A., Oxon, Rector of Eirke, Ireland last surviving daughter of the late John Bockett, Esq., of Southcote Lodge, Beading, aged 86, on the 9th inst., Reading Mercury – Saturday 17 June 1882

Her son, Dean Arthur Moore died a month later on 7 July 1882 at Rossleaghan  aged 63, of Pneumonia, still with his deanery in Ballymote where he had been since 1872

Harriette Moore, one of the Dean’s daughters, married Francis Gethin in Feb 1882, with her sister Elizabeth Charlotte Moore as one of the witnesses, just before the death of her father and grandmother.    On 14 January 1885 the Dean’s youngest daughter Caroline married Robert Persse Fitzpatrick, son of the Rev Frederick Fitzpatrick and Olivia , Lord Headfort’s daughter.  Once again Elizabeth was witness. 

The Dean’s sons now owned Rossleaghan jointly, but Arthur seems to have joined the regular army and travelled.  John remained at home with ever increasing money troubles.  In 1889 the bank sent in the sheriff to seize property and discovered that he made over everything that he could to the housekeeper Mary Pilsworth Leinster Leader – Saturday 26 January 1889.   A trailer seized by the sheriff’s bailiff had to be relinquished after Mary Pilsworth (the sister of the apothecary in Portlaoise, she had worked for the Moores for nearly 40 years)  swore an affidavit claiming that the goods had passed to her under a bill of sale in consideration of wages due.  It was a bit mean of John Gore to put Mary through this at the age of 69 – though Moore was in his mid thirties!

 In April 1901 John Gore Moore married Henrietta Galway, daughter of William Galway from Ardee, and they had 4 daughters.  Henrietta  had a miscarriage in the Adelaide and died in 1912.  Moore  was still resident at Rossleighan in March, 1916  when the Nationalist was reporting on his problems with horses and Mr Jessop.  War and revolution rather push his story out of the press!

Clonreher Castle – an indefinite history

The Weekly Irish Times  on Saturday 19 September 1908  reported that, on their annual outing, Lord Walter Fitzgerald told the Kildare Archaeological Society, so far as Clonreher Castle was concerned it had no definite history.

Clonreher as photographed by Helen Roe

Andrew Tierney in the Buildings of Ireland begs to differ.  As the corner towers mimic a scaled down version of Fort Protector he suggests a colonial builder such as John Dunkerley, Sovreign of Naas, who was granted land here in 1563.  Unlike Coolbanagher Castle, whose ruins were demolished after the storm of 2014 rather than being made safe,  (a disgrace for which Laois should blush)  Clonreher is still in reasonable condition though repointing and remedial treatment of mural cracks should be carried out without delay to avoid another embarrassing tragedy.  The images of the cracked tower were taken in 2018 and are borrowed from irelandinruins.blogspot.com

Urgent remedial work is essential – “Property has its duties as well as its rightsThomas Drummond

Dunkerley’s grant actually refers to the castle of Clonreher,  and Fitzwilliam’s accounts note that Dunkerley owes £253 for “victualling his fort in Leix” in 1565. It may have been built post 1547 as an outer defence for Fort Protector.   Or it may have been built by the O’Dowling – there is an account that Sir Ralph Bagenal took it from the O’Dowlings.  Bagenal, the Lieutenant of Leix and Offaly under Edward VI, had been dismissed for denying the Papal supremacy in 1554, and sought refuge in France, where he lived by selling at a great sacrifice a property worth 500l. a year. 

The rath was probably the original O’Dowling residence – From Helen Roe’s “Tales and Customs of Laoighs”, Folklore of Ireland Society , June 1939 

Near Portlaoighise, there is a rath on the land of Clonreher. The ground was being adapted for a coursing club, and some of the trees growing on this rath were cut down. One tree fell and killed the man who was felling it.  When the tree trunks were being drawn away from the field the chains holding them broke; the tree trunks rolled off the cart, and killed the man who was drawing them away. For many years a certain amount of ill luck followed all the coursing meetings held on this field, and quite recently one of the original promoters of the scheme was found dead on the banks of this rath. (Frank Kelly, in  August 1933).

Daniel Byrne-Rothwell’s 2012 article on Clonreher gives a full account of the early history, though he does not mention that it is also claimed as the birthplace of St Fintan of Clonenagh (Carloviana-No-22-197 p10)        

The Fiants of Queen Elizabeth  in 1576 record Thomas Myrrick as in possession  and it is granted to Robert Hartpole.  https://www.logainm.ie/

It was granted to Sir Pierce Crosby in 1628, but was already in the possession of his father Patrick Crosbie (aka Mac Crossan, hereditary Bard to the O’More)  before 1600 (Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland of the Reign Charles I p 360)

Clonreher Castle was “slighted” (made indefensible) in 1656 by the Cromwellians and the lands confiscated. In 1664 Phillimore’s calendar of wills records the will of Richard Crosbie of Clonriher, Queen’s Co. Charles II granted Clonreher to Thomas Dongan, Earl of Limerick (1634 – 1715) in 1670. Dongan, Governor of New York under Charles II and James II, forfeited Clonreher together with his many estates, in 1692 for his support of James II (they are a fascinating family worthy of a post of their own – the name come from the Norman – Dungeon!)

We are now approaching the period when the current house was built, and there are two stories that don’t quite work within the available timeline.   The first is the duplicitous Dunne. 

This is a story told by Daniel O’Byrne in “The History Of The Queen’s County”;  the Castle passed to the Dunne family, and that the last member of the Dunnes who possessed Clonreher was married to a lady of remarkable beauty.   Their three daughters married into ‘respectable’ farming families with gentry connections. Catherine Dunne married into the Conways, Winifred Dunne to the Dalys and Sarah Dunne to the Mihens (Meehan).  Catherine Conway’s daughter married a Kelly and their daughter Margaret Kelly  1770-1847 married Walter Byrne, grandson of John Byrne of Timogoue, (brother of Sir Gregory Byrne, Cromwell’s tailor – but that’s another story!)

The point of this story is that the dastardly Dunne had “a doxy”, a secret mistress, a servant in the castle, who bore him a son, and he married her after his wife died, and the son, becoming a protestant, was able to exclude his half sisters from their inheritance.  If this happened it would have had to be post the Popery Act of 1703. 

But by 1714 John Kelly is resident at Clonreher.  The Conservation Plan for Fort Protector  (Laois Heritage Society) lists him first in 1714  “George Thornton of the City of Dublin and John Kelly of Clonreher leasing a great stone house formerly used as an inn.”   He was still dealing in property in  May 1725.  According to Burke’s Peerage in 1724  Mary Kelly, the daughter of  John Kelly of Clonreher  married Benjamin Bunbury, son of Mathew Bunbury and Anne Blount.

Turtle Bunbury writes:- When Benjamin Bunbury died in 1765, he had no male heir to the Kilfeacle estate and instead left the property to his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Richardson. His wife survived him by seven years. Her death was recorded as follows in the Freeman’s Journal (courtesy of Bob Fitzsimons):   20-22 Oct 1772. DIED At Clonteer near Maryborough, Mrs Bunbury, by whose death a fortune of £1000 per annum devolves to Benjamin Bunbury Esq.; late Lieutenant in the 3rd Regiment of Horse.

In 1777 her niece’s husband John Tydd is resident, who moves to Lamberton in the early 1790s. More research is needed into when and to whom it was granted after the Williamite confiscation.

It is probable that the house was built by John Kelly, and I suspect in the 1730s  Tierney is succinct:-“Five bays, two storey with dormer attic. Tall narrow openings, sashes set close to the wall. Eaves course of cogged brick.  Bulky stacks in the gable-ends, of characteristic T-shape. Small attic windows flank them, and there is evidence for dormer windows on the front, since removed. Late C18 joinery. Staircase with ramped handrail and scrolled tread-ends, continuing up to the attic.” 

Clonreher by Daniel Byrne Rothwell Note the ghosts of the dormers!

After Tydd moves to Lamberton there is then silence for  50 years till we read that Mr. George Craig, of County Fermanagh, married Sarah, sixth daughter of Mr. John Miller, Clonrear Castle, Queen’s County. 31 August 1840  Dublin Morning Register

There was a John Miller who was the postmaster in Portlaoise, but this was a different person. 

Deaths:- In Clonreher, near Maryborough, in her 70th year. Mrs. Miller, wife of Mr. John Miller.   Clare Journal, 26 August 1844

In 1846 John Miller of Clonreher is on the Grand Jury

Murdoch Campbell (1808-1874) was a Glaswegian brought to act as steward to Sir Charles Coote at Ballyfin, Co. Laois.   The inscription on his gravestone in Ballyfin Church of Ireland church states that  ‘by his sole genius and resources he designed and constructed all the works of beauty and solidity in the demesne’.   According to Mulligan these works would have included ‘almost certainly the tower, the ornamental rockwork, the menagerie and kennels’.

In 1846 his son Murdoch jnr  was born.  In  June 1849  Murdoch was a merchant in Mountmellick, selling John Cassels Coffee.  It is not clear whether he had left the Coote’s employ, or just had an additional job. 

In 1850, at the time of Griffith’s valuation, John Miller is still in Clonreher, leasing it from Rev John Tydd Moore.  The Rev John Mooore, who financial straights are dire, is in a house worth £2/5/-  (as opposed to the £12/15/- valuation put on Clonraher,  George Hamilton, whose house is valued at £4.00 is  living at Cappagh North –  R32 P2KC.  His son, George Moore Hamilton, born in 1848 and died at Clonreher, a bachelor, in 1905.  George Hamilton’s father may have been William Hamilton whose sister Mary (b1771) married Philip Lyster (d 1838), and his brother James married Mary Ann Randall in 1842.  His grandparents were butchers in Birr.  It would be interesting to see how they are related to the Hamiltons of Roundwood.

Griffith’s Valuation – The Hamiltons are at 6 and Rev John Tydd is at the arrow on the bottom right – Rossleighan

At the launch of Murdoch jnr’s  agricultural machinery business in June 1870 Mr Fitzpatrick, Maryborough, said he would not like to see those who had partaken of Mr Campbell’s hospitality separate without drinking the healths both of father and son. He had known Mr Campbell, senior, for a period of at least thirty years, and a more honourable, upright man he never met in all his life, or one more competent to discharge the duties of his position. To show that he was a man well competent to manage such extensive estates as those of Ballyfinn , he would mention that in the famine years when the landed proprietors held a meeting at Maryborough, in accordance with the notice in Labouchere’s letter (well worth a google!), Sir Charles Coote was one of those proprietors who did not borrow a penny from the Board of Works , but of his own ample means employed all the hands on his estates and in the neighbourhood for the purpose of making drains and roads, and otherwise improving the soil. As sole manager Mr Campbell had superintendence of all these works. The Deerpark contained about five hundred acres, and all with the exception of a small portion, was under bog, furze -in fact it was a wide waste. This was valued by himself (Mr Fitzpatrick) in the year 1840 at £26, and in 1843 , by Griffith’s valuation, it was valued at a sum less than that. But by Mr Campbell’s management these lands have been all squared into fields of thirty and forty acres in extent, all bounded with neat thorn-quick hedges, and intersected by well made and well kept farm roads ; and from the soil at one time so wretched , he produces as fine crops of wheat, oats, turnips, clover, and so on, as the country could show. The farm buildings which were erected under Mr Campbell’s superintendence do credit to the Ballyfinn estates ; and the extensive system of stall-feeding pursued is highly remunerative. It would be almost impossible to describe the numerous improvements effected under Mr Campbell’s supervision, but it was a patent fact to every one conversant with the Ballyfinn estates, that his conduct of affairs, and his kind advice to all who sought it, was most beneficial to both employer and employees. He (Mr Fitzpatrick) was delighted to find himself there that day to witness the mowing match got up by Mr Campbell, junior, who he hoped would yet take up his father’s place in the esteem of the gentry and farmers of this county, and he also sincerely hoped he would be as successful as his best friend could wish in his new undertaking

It is possible (but unlikely)  that the Campbells arrived at Clonreher before 1860 and that Ms Cummins was actually a Miss Campbell.    

Births Cummins—At Clonreher, Queen’. County, the wife of Wm. H. Cummins, Esq., of son.  Dublin Evening Mail – Monday 09 December 1861. 

They were definitely there by 1865, as tenants of Dean Arthur Moore :-

In the Presbyterian Church Portlaoise Charlotte McLeod Campbell (25) dau of Murdoch Campbell m John Wallace, an Edinburgh solicitor, the son of William Dick Wallace  9  Aug 1865

At Rutland Square Church, Dublin (Findlater’s Church, the Presbyterian church which had opened in 1864) , – On the 9th Inst  by the Rev. Dr Kirkpatrick, Mr William Rodger, C.E, Glasgow, to Susanna Dick, second daughter of Murdoch Campbell, Esq. of Clonreher Castle, Queen’s County Ireland.   Greenock Advertiser – Tuesday 15 December 1868

Anne Campbell beloved wife of Murdoch Campbell Snr d Apr 25 1869 aged 63 at Clonreher

In July 1870 the Leinster Express reported on Campbell’s new business:-  “On Tuesday last a very interesting exhibition of mowing machines was held on the lands of Clonreher, at which a large number of the gentry and farmers attended, by the special invitation of Mr M. Campbell, jun., who has been for some time engaged extensively in selling agricultural machinery of every invention and best make, together with artificial manures and farm seeds as imported by the most eminent firms in the kingdom.  The commodious offices and yards attached to the residence of Mr Campbell, jun., at Clonreher, enables him to keep on stock a large quantity of each of these articles; and as he keeps on hands a supply of the duplicate portions of the machines, this concern must prove a much desired boon to the agriculturists of Maryborough and the wide district of which that town is the centre; and young Mr Campbell, we are sure, will be encouraged and supported in this wide district, which was so long left without such an establishment as that he is now starting. At the present Mr Campbell is largely supplied with implements suited to the requirements of the present season, and it is sufficient to show that these are of the best manufacture , and sold at the most reasonable rate of market profit, when we say that several sales of combined reapers and mowers, together with hay tedders, hay rakes, &c, were effected. At about eleven o’clock Mr Campbell sent his machines to cut down a five acre field of new meadow hay, and the grass being rather thin , the exhibition was one well calculated to afford the many experienced farmers present an opportunity of judging the capabilities of the machines at work. Mr Campbell, we believe, is agent for all the different machines made, but on this occasion he only showed those manufactured by Wood and Samuelson, two of the most, celebrated makers in the world. On the other hand, in justice to another eminent maker, we shall give Samuelson’s machine all the credit due to it—and that is a great deal. The improvements in this year’s machine are very decided,  and are of a three-fold character. They are:—1st. A system of draught which takes all weight from the hocks of the horses, at the same time materially lessening the dead draft of the machine. 2nd. The ” inclined-cut” sickle, a novel means of obtaining a lower cut than in any existing mower , with the important advantage of having the sections riveted to the top of the knifebar instead of the bottom ; this is the only position in which a section can be sharpened by a grindstone at all. 3rd. Running the sickle on hardened steel slips, which leave a clear wedge-shaped space between the sickle and the beam. By this means all clogging matters are discharged from beneath the sickle, which is always quite free in its bed, even in the worst bottomed meadows , and the draft rendered extraordinarily light when the cutting is the worst. These slips are removable, and they completely prevent the wearing into the beam by the sickle. When at work the great advantage of these improvements are noticeable to the observer, and as the same advantages extend to the reaper, there need be no hesitation in pronouncing that this machine has almost approached perfection. The prime consideration for farmers is the price of these machines, and as these two great machines axe equal in that respect, the only way to satisfy themselves is by attending such an exhibition as that at Clonreher, and which we understand , will be repeated at no distant day. The five acres of meadow were soon cut down, by the two machines , which were at once purchased up by two gentlemen on the ground.

10 April 1873 Margaret Cunningham Campbell married Thomas Thompson Lagan, a teacher, the son of James Lagan, a builder from Dundee, in the C of I church, Portlaoise.

July 1874 Murdoch Campbell snr dies, his son James Campbell present.

The Queen’s County Show is now being run by young Murdoch:- Mr Murdoch Campbell is the respected proprietor of the Queen’s County Agricultural Implement Manufactory, and being an extensive and enthusiastic agriculturist, besides being deservedly popular, we are sure he will afford complete satisfaction. The show on Wednesday last was a proof that Mr Campbell is the right man in the place which Mr Mowbray made so hard to fill after himself.   Kilkenny Moderator – Saturday 18 August 1877

On Oct 5 1874 Margaret Spelling (nee Coffey) of New Road Maryborough had a daughter Mary whose father was, according to the birth certificate, Murdoch Campbell of Clonreher.  On 5 June 1875 the death of the 8 month old Mary Murdoch, a servant’s child, of “diseases of the head” was recorded by the illiterate Margaret Spelling of New Road Maryborough

I suspect Murdoch of misbehaving!  However he was an interesting character. As well as being a businessman, land agent, and Senior Deacon in the Maryborough Masonic Lodge, he found the time to do a spot of inventing: In November 1873, The London Gazette reported that he had applied to patent a type of briquette.

Longford Journal – Saturday 30 June 1877 THE RECENT LIGHTNING.. A very large sycamore or beech tree, which is quite close to one end of Clonreher House attracted the lightning, which entered through one the chimneys to an upper room, and continued its course downwards to two rooms immediately underneath. In the upper room a large metal fire grate was completely torn from its bed by the dangerous fluid, and broken into five distinct pieces, whilst in the same room a mirror which lay on chest of drawers at the opposite side was broken into fragments, and the glass slavered in every possible direction. The woodwork of this mirror had completely disappeared, and not trace of quicksilver could be found on the fragments of the broken glass. Continuing its downward course, the lightning burst into the centre room, made clean breach right out through a portion of the brick and solid wall, struck a metal spout reaching from the roof to a water barrel on the ground, and killed an unfortunate grimalkin (an archaic name for a cat, for those who, like me, didn’t know!) who had sought what it probably considered refuge under the barrel from the fearful rain. In the room on the ground floor extensive damage was done, a beautiful Brussels carpet being rendered almost valueless, a massive mahogany chair twisted into shapeless mass, the gilt moulding torn into atoms, and the wall paper stripped from roof to floor. At the time of these occurrences a pigeon in flight was struck and killed, as well as a turkey and duck the ground underneath, and three servants of Mr. Campbell who were in the stables.

So tempting to end here – I am reminded of an account of a raid by the O’Byrnes on the village of Tallaght in 1805 which reported that they had carried off 7 cows, 5 garron (horses)  several goats and sheep and, almost incidentally, 3 women.    However this article actually ends with the fact that they were flung violently on the ground, but, very fortunately, did not receive further injuries than the shock of the sudden fall.

cf with the storm of 1861 at Rossleaghan

Murdock jnr married Elizabeth Williams Kerr, though when and here is not quite clear. 

QUEEN’S COUNTY. ROBERT J. GOFF has been favoured with instructions from Murdoch Campbell Esq (who proposes to give up horse breeding),  to sell his horses peremptorily by Public Auction, On WEDNESDAY, Feb 13  1878 At CLONREHER CASTLE.  This is the year after he and his landlords the Moores had been abusing each other in the fields and in the courts.

Patrick Kelly (b.1853) was an R.I.C. man whose hobby was making iron farm implements. He resigned from the force and, in 1883, bought Campbell’s Queens County Agricultural Machinery.               

Murdoch jnr had died in July 1880 at the age of 34 in hospital in Dublin, leaving a wife and appointing his brother in law  Francis Alexander Williams Kerr as executor.  His wife died 5 months later in Nov 1880

His brother James Campbell had married Elizabeth Robinson and moved to Love Lane (now Donore Avenue) in The Combe.  Their son, named Murdoch McKenzie Campbell, was born in 1873.

Elizabeth Williams Campbell’s brother Francis Alexander William Kerr, of 69, Kildare Street, Dublin, attempted suicide in Dungarvan on Tuesday 5 May 1883  by throwing himself into the river.  He was, fortunately, rescued by some people who were present on the quay. Constable Roothe arrived soon after and took the young man in charge. He was examined by Dr Holland, who certified that he was suffering from delirium tremens and was immediately afterwards conveyed to hospital, where he has since been located.

STATUTORY NOTICE TO CREDITORS. In the Goods Elizabeth Williams Campbell, (formerly wife of Murdoch Campbell), late of Lower Mount-street, in the city Dublin, formerly of Clonreher Castle, the Queen’s County, Widow, Deceased. NOTICE is hereby given, pursuant to the statute 22nd and 23rd Vic, can intituled Act to Further Amend the Law Property and to Relieve Trustees,” that all persons claiming be Creditors, or otherwise to have any claim or demand against the assets of above named deceased Elizabeth Williams Campbell, who died on the 17th day of November, 1880, are hereby required furnish their particulars (in writing) of such claims or demands, or before the Ist day of May, 1881. the undersigned Solicitor for Francis Alexander Williams Kerr, of Kilmore near Enfield, in the county of Kildare, Gentleman, one of the next-of-kin of said deceased, to whom Letters Administration and with the will annexed. were granted forth of the Principal Registry of the Probate and Matrimonial Division of the High Court of Justice in Ireland, on the 31st day March, 1881. And Notice is hereby given that the said Administrator will, after the said 1st day May, 1881, proceed to administer the Estate

Clonreher in 1838
Clonreher from Google Maps 2021

Clonreher, “formerly in the possession of John Miller”  was available on lease of 41 years from Sept 1883    Dublin Daily Express – Saturday 08 November 1884, but did not sell. The Estate of Francis Alexander Williams Kerr, owner, the National Bank, petitioners. Part of the Lands of Clonreher, in the barony Maryborough East, held under lease for unexpired term of 41 years, from 29th Sept, 1883. containing 189 a 3a 17p; annual profit rent, £90. Sale adjourned, the highest offer being £650   Dublin Daily Express – Saturday 08 November 1884 

The sale in 1893

By Saturday 21 July 1906  George Neville Jessop (1882-1940) of Clonreher House was exhibiting at the Waterford Show. On Valentine’s day 1905 he had married Geraldine Lloyd Roe, daughter of John Roe of Oughterard, who described herself, rather remarkably, as a philatelist in the 1911 census.   Her sister Matilda had married John Bourke, a banker from Banagher.   Her grandfather, John Lloyd Roe had been born at Middlemount in 1816 and in 1841 married Belinda Smith, daughter of Westropp Smith of Newgrove, Dunkerrin, a charming house of the middle size in grave danger of extinction, possibly due to the proximity of the motorway, though the road is in a cutting at that point, so the noise should not be intrusive.


The Lord Chancellor has appointed Mr. George N. Jessop, Clonreher House, Maryborough, to the Commission of the Peace for that county.  Saturday 22 May 1909  Weekly Irish Times

In 1930 GN Jessop sold to Basil William Broomfield ((1882- 1967)  from Irey, near Ballyfin. 100 years previously brothers Humphrey Broomfeld, Basil Broomfield, Joseph Broomfield & Henry Parnell Broomfield had all served in the Queen’s County Militia, the very colourful Henry going on to serve in the regular army before settling in Borris Cottage, Portlaoise.

Let us hope that the beauty and historic importance of both the house and the castle are recognised so that future generations will bless the name of their conservators, not curse the name of their vandals. It would be very sad if 21st century custodians allowed the craftsmanship of the 16th century and 18th century to be obliterated by neglect.

Lamberton – An insane earl, an honest politician and a brewer’s bevy of literary daughters!

In 1670 Castilliana, the daughter of Martha Pigott of Dysert and Henry Gilbert of Kilminchy, married Charles Lambart , the 3rd Earl of Cavan, whose father had just been declared insane.  The first Earl, who thought his eldest boy would spend everything on booze and gambling, made his younger son Oliver trustee.  Oliver’s pleasure was to make his bother’s life a misery.  Hence the insanity, perhaps not unfamiliar to others with brothers! Their son Richard Lambart (1676-1742) was born at Lamberton House.  He was co-appellant, with his cousin Thomas Pigott, in the 1725 House of Lords litigation over the Kilcromin (Lamberton) estate.   He married Margaret Trant of the Kerry family whose father Richard Trant served under William of Orange  and was Governor of Barbados.  Her uncle Sir Patrick Trant was a Catholic and a staunch supporter of James, which led to the confiscation of his 58,000 acres in Laois and Offaly in 1692. The civil servant in charge of its distribution was William Connolly, the gaeilgeoir publican’s son from Donegal who became speaker of the House of Commons and built Castletown House in Celbridge.  Castilliana Lambart died in 1742 and is buried at Lamberton.

Kilcrimin (Lamberton) in 1726

In Horner’s Mapping Laois a map in the NLI collection of 1726 showing Kilcrimin, (Lamberton).  It shows a late 17th Century 5 bay 3 story H shaped house with a window in a central pediment, and pediments on the advanced bays at either end. 

In 1744, there was a deed concerning Lamberton  – ROD Volume 116.4.79201 needs to be consulted post Covid! 

Taylor & Skinner shows it as the home of Mr Sherlock.  In 1768 Richard Sherlock of Lamberton was appointed a Justice of The Peace and was High Sheriff of Queens County for 1771.

Buy Irish – 1779

Dublin Evening Post – Tuesday 21 September 1779 lists Richard Sherlock as a gentleman of Queen’s County who had signed up to a “Buy Irish” campaign.  He seems to have had terrible problems with dishonest staff – or maybe he was a dreadful employer.    He was still on the Grand Jury in June of 1783 and October 1786

His brother was William Sherlock (1745-1788)  (m Helen Pakenham of Tullynally in June 1768, who died in 1777 having produced 4 sons and a daughter – so sad)  of Sherlockstown, Co Kildare, a house lived in in more recent times by Stephen O’Flaherty of Mercedes fame. 

On 17 Dec 1750 his sister Catherine married the Rev William Grattan (d 1761)  of Drummin, Carbery, Co Meath, an estate still owned by his descendants. 

Richard Grattan’s home, Drummin, Carbery

A copy of his will, appointing Sir John Parnell of Rathleague as executor, dated 2nd July 1791,  is held by London Metropolitan Archives  ACC/0976/172.     Betham’s Extracts records that he named his wife as Anne Martin, and his nephews as Richard Grattan (JP) of Drummin and Rev. William Grattan. This Rev. William Grattan was the son, as was Richard Grattan JP, of Rev. William Grattan and Catherine Sherlock.  Also named in Richard Sherlock’s will was his niece, Ellinor Sherlock of Marlboro Street, and her son William Sherlock.

Sherlockstown in its present form

John Tydd, a very active MP, whose name appears in the papers as a Parliamentary committee chairman on a monthly basis, was living at Clonreher Castle in August 1787  but by 1 January 1791 he owns Lamberton, and is offering a reward for the return of a heifer, stolen or strayed. 

It would be interesting to establish his relationship with John Moore.  When Lamberton was being sold through the Incumbered Estates Court in 1854 there were two outstanding mortgages in the name of John Moore dated 21 July 1790.  One from Richard Sherlock for £1400 and one from Lady Hester Westenra for £1667. John Moore is also mentioned in John Tydd’s will.

John Tydd was son of French Tydd, Esq., of the King’s County (by Elizabeth Moore, his wife), who was fourth son of Thomas Tydd, of Knockerley,  (in the direction of Cloughjordan) in the King’s County (by Mary French, his wife), and grandson of Francis Tydd, of Faganstown, county Limerick (who died in 1702) by Elizabeth, his wife, sister of Peter Padfield.   From  “Parliamentary Memoirs of Fermanagh and Tyrone” Lord Belmore 1887

He had graduated from Trinity in 1764 and in the Autumn of 1771 he and his lifelong friend Henry Grattan went on a trip to France to observe Louis XV’s attacks on democracy (and maybe to have fun!)

In May 1772 he married Diana, daughter and co-heir of Benjamin Bunbury, Esq., of Kilfeacle and Mary Kelly of Clonreher Castle.

In July 1795 he was created a baronet and in 1799 he became Paymaster of Corn Bounties , and a sum of £800 was voted to him on 22nd February 1799.

In 1801 Charles Coote wrote in his “Survey of the Queen’s County”     Lamberton, the seat of Sir John Tydd, Bart.   The house has a commanding aspect and takes in all the prospect of the Dysart Hills and the Rock of Dunamase.  The entrance to the demesne is elegant and the offices are planned with so much convenience as I have not seen before.  The gardens and shrubbery are certainly in the very best style of any in the country and the hot houses and fruiteries in uncommon taste and elegance. An extensive deer park has been capitally enclosed and is well stocked.   I think Lamberton is altogether the neatest and best laid down demesne in the county.  Sir John Tydd has planted an excellent enclosure and the trees are got up and thriving vigorously which appearance of wood has a fine effect. 

He apparently adored Lamberton so much that when he was wheeled through the grounds in a bathchair shortly before his demise, he lamented , “Oh, Lamberton, Lamberton, must I leave you?” He died in 1803 was buried in St. Anne’s, Dublin. He  left Lamberton Park to his widow, Diana, for her lifetime and then to his cousin, Arthur Moore

The Hibernian Journal on September 13, 1805 reported on as follows:

‘A most daring robbery was lately committed at Lamberton, in the Queen’s County, Ireland, the seat of Lady Tydd. The robbers (three or four in number) having entered Lady Tydd’s bed chamber window by means of a ladder, about one o’clock in the morning, compelled her Ladyship to conduct them to an apartment in a distant part of the house, which they rifled of cash and bank notes, to the amount of £200 and upwards.’  By the time the Calcutta Express got the story in April 1806 the amount had increase to £2000!

By early 1806 her cousin and heir, Arthur Moore, is also living at Lamberton, presumably to give her some security.  In July 1808 she moved to Cheltenham and thence to Rivers Street in Bath in September 1808 where she died on 22nd October 1821.

Lamberton, form O’Hanlon’s Queen’s County, photographed in the early 1900s when it was empty. Compare with the OS map above – the bay window was added in 1860, as were the label moulds above the windows. I wonder about the balustrade?

Some suggest that Lamberton Park was re-modeled by Judge Arthur Moore after he moved to Lamberton, or by Richard Sherlock before he sold it, but the house and late Georgian gate screen that impressed Coote was almost certainly built by Sir John Tydd. All that remains are the elegant pair of quoined V-jointed ashlar carriage pillars with carved swagged friezes. On each side the straight-walled screens contain postilion openings and the whole is framed by more rustic convex quadrants. 

The Moores at Lamberton Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown!

1016 Gahan O’More, lord of Leix, slain.
1017 Cearnach O’More, lord of Leix, slain.
1026 Aimergin mac Kenny mac Cearnach O’More, lord of Leix, slain.
1041 Faelan mac Aimergin O’More, lord of Leix, blinded; died in 1069.
1063 Lisagh mac Faelan O’More, lord of Leix, slain
1069 Macraith O’More, (?) lord of Leix, slain.
1091 Kenny O’More, lord of Leix, slain.
1097 Aimergin O’More, lord of Leix died.
….within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp …

By the end of the 17th Century the Mores had been integrated into the new normal – the immigrants had taken over.  They no longer ruled Upper Ossory.  They were reduced to several estates around Stradbally and Timahoe, centred on Moore Valley.     Lewis and Margaret Moore lived at Prospect, looking East to the Wicklow Mountains. They had three sons.  Pierce died in Dublin in 1799, unmarried.  Ponsonby joined the army and died in Egypt in 1801 (not before inscribing his name on a temple in Luxor, where it remains to this day (as do the names of his brother officers – he wasn’t a solo run tagger).  Arthur went on to become a lawyer and politician.

Lewis’s sister Elinor married Arthur Mosse, eldest son of William of Orange’s chaplain Canon Thomas Mosse and brother of Bartholomew Mosse , founder of the Rotunda Hospital, the first maternity hospital n Europe.  They lived at Annefield.

His sister Christian married Lewis Moore of Cremorgan and their son married Copperfaced Jack’s (Lord Clonmel) sister. He is of course the person after whom the Harcourt Street nightclub where the nurse meet the garda is named.  His sister Elizabeth married French Tydd, one of several children of Thomas Tydd from Offaly,  in 1736.

Arthur Moore went to The Royal School Armagh, graduated from Trinity in 1781, was called to the Kings Inns in 1788, the Middle Temple 1801 and promoted to the bench in 1816.  It is strange that he did not go to Kilkenny College, which would have been the obvious elitist boarding school t send him to. I wonder why he did not go there.

In 1798 he was elected to the House of Commons of Ireland for the borough of Tralee. An opponent of the Act of Union, he was one the members co-opted to sit in the 1st Parliament of the United Kingdom. He was slow to take his seat in Westminster, but did so by June 1801. He did not seek re-election in 1802. It was as bad as he had expected!

From July 1816 to February 1839, he served as a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. He died at Lamberton in 1846 at the age of 86. 

He married Francis Stoney from Portland House, Lorrha and  Emmell Castle in Offaly (well haunted like so many Offaly castles!) and they had 4 children.  Her eldest brother was the appalling Andrew Robinson Stoney who probably murdered his first wife for her money and then married the widowed Countess of Strathmore of Glamis Castle.   He imprisoned her in her own house, raped the maids, invited prostitutes into the home, fathered numerous illegitimate children and inspired Thackeray’s novel Barry Lyndon (brilliantly turned into a movie by Stanley  Kubrick with locations including Huntingon Castle and Powerscourt)

The Dreadful Andrew Stoney

The oldest daughter Frances Margaretta Moore (b November 1794 ) married firstly George Ede of Merry Oak, Southampton (who died in 1821 at the age of 29)   and then in 1827 Rev John Balfour Magennis of Chanter Hill, Fermanagh, son of Richard Magennis and Lady Elizabeth Cole of Warrington.  They had two daughters Florence and Geraldine.  Their second daughter Eliza married Capt. William Persse of Moyode Castle (a kinsman of Lady Gregory and father of Walter Blakeney Persse Of Bagenalstown House) at Lamberton in 1816. 

Their son Arthur married Anna Maria Milbanke in 1825, the daughter of a Yorkshire baronet and his wife, a Herring of St Elizabeth, Jamaica, huge plantation owners of Puritan stock.  He may have died young, as they disappear from the family history.

Also in 1825 Sir  Walter Scott stayed at Lamberton Park.—From Lockhart’s life of Scott (page 57)  “I must especially note the hospitality of Judge Moore, at Lamberton, near Maryborough, because Sir Walter pronounced its beneficence to be even beyond the usual Irish scale; for, on reaching our next halting place, which was in indifferent country, we discovered that we need be in no alarm as to our dinner at all events, the Judge’s people having previously packed up in one of the carriages a pickled salmon, lordly venison pasty, and a dozen bottles of champagne.”

The judge’s eldest son and heir the Rev. John Tydd Moore, was born in 1793, graduated with an MA from Oxford in 1817,  and married Charlotte Bockett of Southcote Lodge, Berkshire on 26 October 1818 at St Mary’s Reading. 

He seems to have spent a few years relaxing at Lamberton with his father. In Sept 1820 he gives Lamberton as his address when applying for a Game Certificate. 

On 20 August 1828 The Sun reported that Rev. John Tydd Moore,  has arrived at the Hyde Park Hotel, from Lamberton Park, Queen’s County.  At this stage he has just been made Vicar and Rector of Eirke, an interesting parish.

His new home the Glebe House at Eirke or Erke, 5 miles South of Rathdowney, had been built in 1790 for the Rev John Ridge.  John’s brother William was the steward of the estates of Lord Ashbrook at Durrow Castle.  The Ridge brothers descended on Durrow in about 1770 to look after the interests of the Flower family of Castle Durrow.  Born on Noah’s Ark Island in the Thames near Oxford, they were “Water Gypsies” boatmen and fishermen by birth.  Their lovely sister had married the young Viscount Ashboork, Lord Castledurrow, in 1766 after a three year courtship.  He died in 1780, leaving two sons and four daughters.   The Water Gypsy by Julie Ann Godson is worth reading.  In it she notes that when she first started researching the tale of the lord and the fisher girl one archivist sneered “Such things happen all the time – in Downton Abbey”  Rev. John Ridge died in September 1826.  By 26 Sep 1826 Rev Moore Morgan, Glebe House, Dunlavin had written to Henry Goulburn, Chief Secretary, seeking promotion in the church and suggesting the living of Mountrath or the living of Eirke, following the death of Rev Ridge. Noting that his current position is worth £600 per annum, with a new house and the privilege of a stall in Saint Patrick’s [Cathedral]. Mentioning Lady Grantham as a referee.    What an avaricious and temporal bunch are some clergymen!

Erke Rectory, recently restored from ruin

Rev. John Tydd Moore does not seem to have been too avaricious.  In 1830, after a very bad harvest, he totally suspended the collection tithes and church dues. 

In 1834 he took a lease on Spiddal Lodge (from Martin Morris ancestor of Lord Killanin and Mouse Morris), and the exclusive right to the fishing on the River Spiddal, which he sold in 1854.   His father had died in January 1846 and he seems to have moved to Lamberton.  In 1847 he  superintended the dispensing of famine relief, and realising that the corn meal was unpalatable at once got fifty barrels of oats harvested, threshed and milled, and made a present of it to make the Indian meal more palatable. His generosity had a price, and the debts were mounting up. The Incumbered Estates Court beckoned!

John Tydd Moore is of Lamberton in 1851 but is busy negotiating a sale with James Butler (1810-1881), the brother of Lord Dunboyne of Knappogue Castle.  Butler was clearly a fashion icon – his movements are followed in the national press as closely then as Kim Kardashian’s are now.

The Lord Chancellor on the recommendation of Lord Lieutenant has appointed the Hon James Butler, of Lamberton Park, to a magistrate for the Queen’s County, Feb 1854. 

The Hon. Mr. and Mrs. James Butler and family have left Ely Place for Lamberton Park 16 February 1854 

The family are the 18 year old  Isabel Georgina  (who married Henry Maurice William Oppenheim, grandson of Solomon Oppenheim, founder of the Oppenheim Bank (and strangely no relation of the Tory MP Philip Oppenheim, whose ancestry is Lithuanian, (though his mother Sally Oppenheim was born Sally Viner in Dublin in 1928 – I do love a red herring!)),  16 year old Rosalinda Eleanor,  19 year old James William Fitzgerald Butler, who went on to join the army and died at 35 leaving 4 children,  and the 14 year old Emily. 

The Earl of Morley has appointed Fitzgerald Butler. Esq., eldest son of the Hon. James Butler, Lamberton Park. Queen’s County, to commission in the South Devon militia.

The Honourable Mrs. James Butler and Miss Fitzgerald Butler have left Lamberton-park, Queen’s Co., for Torquay. South Devon   Tuesday 05 September 1854

The Hon. Mrs. James Butler and family have left Lamberton Park accompanied by Sir Edward Fitzgerald, Bart., of Carrigoran, county Clare. Tuesday 06 March 1855.  Sir Edward is her brother.  The house at Carrigoran was demolished in the 1980s by Sisters of Charity who run it as a nursing home.  Bishop Eamon Casey famed for his red Ford Capri and for stripping Pugin’s 1850’s  decorated plaster from Killarney Cathedral and leaving the walls naked, spent his last years here.

24 April 1855 James Butler bought the entire estate for £14,000 through the incumbered estates court.

The Hon. Mrs. James Butler and Miss Fitzgerald Butler have left Lamberton Park, Queen’s County, for the Continent, accompanied by Sir Edward Fitzgerald, Bart., of Carrigoran, County Clare, and Colonel Fitzgerald. Freeman’s Journal -10 September 1855 

Thomas Kaily, Judith Kaily, William Church, were indicted for stealing turnips Lamberton, the property of the Hon Captain Butler. Thomas Kaily pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to one months’ imprisonment, with hard labour. Judith was acquitted, having acted under the control of her husband.   Kings County Chronicle – Wednesday 02 July 1856. 

The Hon. Mr. and Mrs. James Butler, Miss Butler and suite, left Lamberton Park, on Tuesday last, to meet some friends at Shannon Grove, the residence of Hubert Butler Moore, Esq.  Wednesday 15 September 1858

The Hon. James Butler, J.P.—This gentleman, having sold Lamberton Park to Mr. Sweetman, of Fitzwilliam Square in this city, intends, with the Hon. Mrs. Butler, Miss Fitzgerald Butler, and suite, to leave Ireland for the purpose spending the winter Italy.   Dublin Evening Mail – Monday 22 November 1858

The Butler’s Sale in 1858

He died in at 10 Boulevard Longchamp, Nice on Feb 11 1891 where he had lived for 30 years.  His grandson had married Miss Agnes Howard of Ersham House, Canterbury on Dec 30 1890 in Nice.

It seems that being High Sheriff for Queens County almost goes with owning the house. For in 1860 Michael James Sweetman of Lamberton is appointed High Sheriff – I wonder is he the first Catholic in that position?  Sweetman gives his address as Fitzwilliam Square, but the Dublin Evening Post – Saturday 23 September 1848 records him as being of Longtown, Sallins Co. Kildare.

The Sweetman’s home is Sallins

He was the 5th child of Michael Sweetman of Francis Court Brewery &  Margaret Blackney youngest daughter of James Blackney of Ballycormick, Carlow.  Born on 20 July 1829, at the age of 20 he married Mary Margaret Powel, the only daughter and heiress of the brewer Michael Powell, of Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, and Richview, Clonskeagh (the house is still there, in the midst of the office park, and the gate lodge became the home of Miami Showband front-man Dickie Rock).

Sweetman planned to make the 100 year old classical house rather more contemporary. By May 1860 the house has been stripped.  They kept their townhouse at 15 Windsor Terrace, Dun Laoghire, overlooking the sea.  On June 15 1864 Michael Joseph Sweetman was born.

Then tragedy struck. Deaths – on the 3rd Aug 1864 , at Windsor-terrace, Kingstown, Michael James Sweetman, aged 45.

Mrs Sweetman moved with her children to Lamberton.  Three of the girls became successful writers.  Mary who married a Catholic Tory politician, Francis Blundell of Little Crosby, Lancs,  wrote under the name M E Francis and recalled their childhood at Lamberton in “The things of a child” (1918)  Agnes married Egerton Castle and they wrote dozens of novels together. 

Mary Frances Blundell

The death has occurred at Santa Margherita, Genoa, Mrs. Egerton Castle, the well-known writer, who collaborated with her late husband in numerous novels. Sirs. Egerton Castle has not long survived her husband. was in September, that died in London. They were remarkably successful their novel-writing collaboration. and produced continuous output stories which found much popular favour. Such work as “The Pride Jennico” (the first of long list in which Mrs Castle was associated with her husband). “Incomparable Bellairs,” “The Hath Comedy,” The Secret Orchard,” “ The Star Dreamer.”Flower the Orange,” Love Gilds the Scene,” French Nan,” The Golden Barrier.” testify to the happiness of their association. Some the stories were dramatised. “The Secret Orchard.” however, was first written for the. stage, as admirers of Mrs. Kendal will remember. “The Pride Jennico,” other hand, appeared primarily novel, but when subsequently converted into a play it ran for three seasons in America. “The Bath Comedy,” dramatized under the name “Sweet Kitty Bellairs.” had also a long run success in New York.  Northern Whig – Wednesday 03 May 1922.  Egerton was practitioner of reconstructed historical fencing, captain of the British épée and sabre teams at the 1908 Summer Olympics, and a collector of Bookplates.

Agnes & Egerton Castle, his épée and his bookplates

Elinor became a poet.

In 1873 the family moved to Brussels, finally closing up Lamberton in 1885.  In 1893 O’Hanlon wrote:- “Like Rathleague, Lamberton’s house and woods are now in a sad state of neglect and decay” The Poetical works of Lageniensis.   During this period the farm was managed by Thomas Russell – primarily let for grazing.

The farewell sale in 1885

In 1911 there is just a caretaker in residence, the 46 year old John Whelan.  The house is recorded in the census by the enumerator as having 40 windows to the front.  The owner is Mary Sweetman of Manson Place, Queensgate, South Kensington.

When Mrs Sweetman died in 1912 Elinor moved back to Lamberton and remained there till her death from Pneumonia in 1936 at the age of 75.    On her death her niece, Marie-Louise Egerton Castle (1885-1969) (also a writer), moved in with her 10-year-old daughter and her husband Antoine, Count de Meeûs d’ Argenteuil whom she had married in 1922.   His family were successful Brussels merchants who built Domaine d’Argenteuil near Waterloo.  They also had their own resident priest at Lamberton, Fr Rougest.

Domaine d’Argenteuil

They ran a charcoal business at Lamberton (good bye oak and beech trees!) and in February 1943 hosted the National Ploughing Championships.  

By February 1944 the de Meeûs family were living in Clyde House, Clyde Road – a huge pile with a 2 storey coach house and ½ an acre of garden.  They sold Clyde House in October 1945 and returned to Belgium at the end of the war.

A dark shadow arose in the East.  A scrap iron merchant, David Frame, had arrived in Dublin from Glasgow in 1902.  He reopened Hammond Lane Foundry and gave employment to many.  He was keen on ploughing and sponsored a cup for the Ploughing Championships.   He also probably destroyed as many country houses as were burnt in the troubles.  Being a wheeler dealer type, if his cow died he wouldn’t be happy till he had sold the skin to a tanner and the bones to a gelatine manufacturer.  Every time he bought a large country house (Bellevue at Delgany,  Tara Hall in Meath, Brockley, Lamberton, .. it would be fascinating (and deeply depressing) to do a complete list) a demolition sale followed – every brick, every stone, every floorboard had a value.  Unfortunately he was incapable of seeing the value of the whole – only the ingredients. 

Not that it is likely that it would have survived as Oliver J Flannigan was baying for the land of Brockley Park and Lamberton – “The God-given right of the landless labourers and deserving poor to the land”  I am reminded of Eliza Doolittle’s father in Pygmalion / My Fair Lady:-

I’m one of the undeserving poor: that’s what I am. Think of what that means to a man. It means that he’s up agin middle class morality all the time. If there’s anything going, and I put in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story: “You’re undeserving; so you can’t have it.” Buy my needs is as great as the most deserving widow’s that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband. I don’t need less than a deserving man: I need more. I don’t eat less hearty than him; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, cause I’m a thinking man. I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low. Well, they charge me just the same for everything as they charge the deserving. What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything.”

OJ would probably not have embraced Sinn Fein’s Land Nationalisation but Mugabe’s Land redistribution in Zimbabwe would probably have thrilled him – or maybe not;  If he had met an African,  might he have been a white supremacist?  “There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair’s breadth what orders you make” Oliver J Flannigan Dáil Éireann, 9 July 1943.

In January 1 1944 the fire brigade dealt with a chimney fire at Lamberton – a futile exercise as within 4 months the house was a pile of rubble, pitch pine rafters, joists, flooring, door frames, massive mahogany panelled doors, six marble mantel pieces (two Adam’s); several lots of slates ……

Strangely it is not the end of the story – In 2002 the Conroys built a county house on the site of the old house.  The first grand country house in Laois of the 21st century.

Lamberton – Google Street View 2020

Rathleague, Parnell’s home

Rathleague House , near Portlaoise,  built by the Parnells, supporters of Catholic emancipation, anti unionist and liberal landlords was described in the 18th century as being one of the finest mansions in the county – though as that is the height of the description, we haven’t the remotest idea what it actually looked like. 

The Rath at Rathleague

According to The Placenames Database of Ireland  Rathleague means the stone fort,  and it is wonderful to report that much of it still exists on the eastern boundary.   The folklore collection gives a great example of how oral history and a story teller’s imagination can conflate to give a completely false story    Rathleague is situated about two miles out the New Road. This is how it got its name – when the Normans were in Ireland they had many gods. They used have them in forts or raths. They had one at Rathleague in a rath. They used to call it Rain God. As the Normans did not know much about this part of Ireland they had to mark it somehow This is how they knew Rathleague, It was about three (League) miles from the Normans’ camp which was on the Stradbally Road. From then on onwards it was called Rathleague.

The Kildare Rental in Mac Niocaill’s Crown Surveys of Lands lists William Kelly as occupier in 1518.  By 1569 it was in the possession of Francis Cosby

In Pender’s Census of 1659  Thady Dwigin gent, is of Rathleague.   Though totally absent from the current phone book (in the civil records the last one recorded is Michael Duigin of Errill reporting the death of his 80 year old father in 1888), the Duigins or Dwigins were certainly once a Laois family.  In 1688 John and Mary Dwigin are taking a case against Edmond Morress (MP for Queen’s County in James II’s 1689 “Patriot Parliament” and killed at the Battle of Aughrim)  the Attainders of 1691 name Matthew Dwigin of Dunamase,  and James Dwigin of Clonenagh was one of the 15 parish priests registered in Laois in 1704 under one of the earliest penal laws, the Registration Act to prevent the further growth of popery.

Dwigin was probably a tenant of Walter Warneford, a Wiltshire Cromwellian who was based at Mountmellick.  In 1716 his grandson or great nephew Edmund, winding up some of his Irish affairs, had all his lands mapped. He died in 1726 in Mountmellick, having sold Rathleague to John Parnell in 1716.  In 1728 there was an act of the Irish Parliament “Exemplifying the will of Edmund Warneford”.   The Warneford family remained Laois landlords till the 1920s, and in the 1890s nearly half their income (£2000 pa) came from Laois tenants. An English Family Through Eight Centuries  F. E. Warneford, Elisabeth McDougall  1991

Their seat was Warenford Place in Wiltshire.  In 1960, the James Bond author Ian Fleming bought the then derelict Warneford Place and built a new house which he named Sevenhampton Place, incorporating some elements of the original building.  It now belongs to Paddy McNally, the Donegal businessman who made a fortune from Formula 1.

Warneford Place

On 9 April 1716 Thomas Fisher of Rathleague wrote his will (pr 18 July 1718).   Wife: Sarah. Son: Henry. Daughters: Margaret & Elinor. Son-in-law Charles Lester. Daughter: Anne Lester. Brother: James Fisher. Daughter: Mary. Son: William. Grandson: John Luttrell. BENTHAM 1.23 F 1700-1754 p21/70.  Presumable his brother was  James Fisher of Mountrath who died in 1721 and whose daughter married James Calcutt.  (BET 1.23 F 1700-1754 p32/101)  They were probably Quakers whose family had arrived in Ireland in the 1650s from Elton near Chester (see Searching for the Ancestors of Thomas Fisher Jackie L. Fisher 2005).

A Deed, dated 15 March 1727, in the Deeds Registry, “…last Will and Testament of our father, John PIGOTT, Esq’r, deceased, bearing date the 2nd day of March 1708, the sum of £200 sterling was left to me John PIGOTT as a portion, and the sum of £300 stg was left to me Ann PIGOTT as my portion, also a dividend to each of us of £30 more, our shares of our sister Frances PIGOOTT’s portion deceased…”      The Deed was witnessed by Pigott SANDES of Dysart in the Queen’s County, Esq, Warner WESTENRA of Rathleague in the Queen’s County, Esq, and Patrick DALY, a servant to Richard, Earl of Cavan (by whom the monetary shares had been delivered to John and Ann). But Ann PIGOTT alone signed and sealed it.  Warner Westenra was the MP for Maryborough  from 1727 to 1760,  and married Hester Lambert, daughter of Lord Cavan in 1738, whose grandmother was Castilina Gilbert  of Kilminchy, 2 miles from Rathleague.  He was presumably at Rathleague whilst he was building Heath House into which he moved later that year. 

The first Parnell in Ireland was a Cromwellian from Congleton, 30 miles east of Chester.  His grandson was Thomas Parnell (1679-1718) Archdeacon of Clogher, author of the ” Hermit,” and friend of Pope, Swift, Addison, Congreve, and Steele.  “The most capable man,” wrote Oliver Goldsmith in his Life, “to make the happiness of those whom he conversed with, and the least able to secure his own.” His wife (Nancy Minchin), a beautiful and amiable lady, died when he was thirty-two years of age, and thereafter a melancholia settled upon him, and he became mentally disordered (a sickness that he treated with alcohol). He suddenly died at Chester in 1717, when on his way from London to Ireland, and was buried there, in his thirty-eighth year, having being predeceased by his two sons.

Thomas’ sister Margaret married William Burgh, brother of Thomas Burgh the surveyor-general  (Trinity College Library, Steevens’s Hospital, etc. )

His brother John Parnell (1680-1727) married Mary Whitshed (d 1768) one of 13 children of Thomas Whitshed and Mary (Quin), and by the terms of the marriage settlement John had to invest  £1250 in land, which brought about the acquisition of Rathleague and Tonnikele (Tennekill).  Mary’s brother Lord Chief Justice Whitshed and John Parnell were both distinguished judges (quite different from a learned judge – even the most ignorant buffoon who gets a seat on the bench is a learned judge!)  Despite the Westenra and Fisher occupations, Parnell seems to have bought Rathleague in 1716. 

Sir John Parnell ,(1717- 1782) his only son , who succeeded him in 1727 at the age of 10.  He was created a Baronet in 1766 and married Anne Ward in 1744, daughter of Michael Ward (1683–1759) of Castleward, Co. Down and brother of Bernard Ward who built the present Castleward.    It was he who was responsible for beautifying the estate and creating the delights that, were they still there, would make Rathleague one of the most important gardens in Ireland.  He also started the herd of Bakewell’s Leicestershire cattle. 

The diary of his first journey in England is now in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. The diary of his second set of English travels in 1769-70 is now in the British Library in London. There is also in The London School of Economics , Coll. Misc. 38:  The handwritten journal of Sir John Parnell entitled ‘Journal of a tour thro’ England and Wales,’ anno. 1769. 

A contrived Arcady at Shenstone’s The Leasowes – Virgil’s Grove

The books are full of memoranda about farming methods and implements and the way in which he might employ them at home. They also contain dozens of sketches of fences, gates and buildings as well as of garden features he had seen in England or which he planned to execute on his return to Ireland.

Parnell particularly liked the root seats that Shenstone had created at The Leasowes in the West Midlands.  Made up of natural stone (as an entrance way), branches, roots, and sodded at the top,  growing climbers to look like a natural bower but (naturally enough) designed as shelter from the rain.

Horner’s “Mapping Laois” reproduces Byron’s 1789 survey.  It shows a pleasure house, a lake with a boat house, a sunken fence (or ha-ha), and a pigeon house.   The last two are now underneath the M7.  The Silver Hall, originally a marshy field where a treasure is said to be buried beneath a tree, between the house and the lake, was clearly inspired by Shentone’s Virgil’s Grove.

Patrick Bowe, the garden historian, has written on Rathleague.  Parnell planted extensive woods and created an artificial lake that was notable for attracting great numbers of wild fowl. Around his house, he laid out gardens, erecting a circular temple in the Doric style as a new focal point for his demesne. (The flat Temple Field with a big pit surrounded by bushes was at the back of Conroy’s Farm).   The latter was criticised by Richard Colt Hoare, owner of the famous English landscape garden at Strourhead. He wrote in his Journal of a Tour in Ireland that its architecture was bad, that its columns were too slender and that it had an inappropriate balustrade on top. Rathleague House was destroyed in a fire in the 1840s and was only partially rebuilt. The temple was finally demolished in the middle of the 20th  century. Another of Parnell’s projects was at the Rock of Dunamase.  Cromwellian soldiers virtually destroyed the medieval castle on top but Parnell set about the conservation of what remained, reconstructing part of the castle using medieval fragments such as cut stone window and door surrounds from the ruins of other nearby medieval structures and creating a banqueting hall – guaranteed to give SPAB and contemporary conservationists a conniption.

Arrived at Parkgate (Merseyside), the 15th inst. in the Prince of Wales, from Dublin, to be interred in the family vault in the church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, in this city, the remains Lady Parnell (who died at Rathleague, the Queen’s county, the 20th inft.) relict of the late Sir John Parnell, and mother of the present Right Hon. Sir John Parnell, Bart. Chancellor the Exchequer in the kingdom of Ireland. Her Ladyship was an affectionate wife, a tender mother, and a sincere friend, whose death is much lamented by a numerous circle of acquaintance  Chester Courant – Tuesday 28 April 1795

His son Sir John (1744- Dec 1801), the second baronet, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Irish Parliament in 1787 – a brave and honourable man who, in a time when nepotism was accounted almost a virtue and a sign of parental solicitude, resolutely refrained from using his public power for the betterment of his family. He opposed the Act of Union, and was dismissed from office and accused of treason by Castlereagh.

Sir John Parnell, 2nd Bt (1744–1801)
Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (Lucca 1708 – Rome 1787) National Trust at Castleward

He education started with a year at Harrow in 1758 before going on to two years at Eton (1759–60)  He married Laetitia Charlotte Brooke in 1774, and together they had four children.

Sir Charles Coote’s General View of the Agriculture and Manufactures of the Queen’s County:, published in 1801, is not madly enthusiastic  :-  Sir John Parnell occasionally resides at his seat at Rathleague.  The timber is very fine here and the land greatly improved but the mansion house is very old and indifferent A rich plantation of exotics cover the banks of an extensive lake

Their eldest son John Augustus was born crippled and deaf mute. The large walled garden was converted into a safe space for him. John Augustus died in his late 30s in 1812.

It appears that the Parnells may have let the house. “Arthur Moore Mosse, known as Trotty Mosse ( from a mincing gait in his walk ) , drove out from Maryborough to Tinakill and held a long conference with Patrick Lalor, the object of which was to try to persuade him to give up his opposition to tithes”. His great uncle was Bartholomew Mosse
The OS 1835 Map

In April 1801,  the 2nd son  Henry Brooke Parnell was in London when he married Caroline Elizabeth Dawson, Lord Portarlington’s daughter, from Emo. In 1812 he inherited the baronetcy and followed a political career in London, being created Lord Congleton in 1841.  He published works on financial and penal questions as well as on civil engineering.  In later years he seems to have spent most of his time in London, and his agent William Clarke was living at Rathleague in 1837, according to Lewis.  Congleton hung himself with a silk handkerchief from his bedpost in his London house in 1842 at the age of 65, suffering from ill health and depression.   

His son John Parnell, 2nd  Lord Congleton, was born in London on June 16th, 1805 and whist at university in Edinburgh in the 1820s embraced rather fundamentalist Christianity, which culminated in the formation of the Plymouth Brethren in Dublin’s Aungier Street.

Back in Laois, on June 19, 1831 Robert Turpin (his mother was Martha Clarke) the sub sheriff for Queen’s County, died at Rathleague.  The duties of this position included presiding over evictions and elections, the appointment of gaolers and hangmen, and the executions of capital punishments He was only in his 30s and he left his widow, Marianne Odlum with three children under 5 years old.  Very tough. 

In 1834  William Clarke of Rathleague  is a juror and on March 12, 1836  the Leinster Express advertises “Whitefooot  will stand this Season at _RATHLEAGUE, near MARYBOROUGH, the residence of Wm Clarke  mares £1  grooms 2/6 “, followed by regular advertisements for stallions over the next number of years.

Freeman’s Journal on Tuesday 28 April 1846 reported that “On last Wednesday, on the part of the Right Hon. Col. Dawson Damer, William Clarke, of Rathleague, Esq., distributed a large sum of money amongst the gallant colonel’s tenantry, for the purpose of buying seed potatoes. On the other hand a couple of years later, perhaps the worst year of famine, his pursuit of people for pulling grass does seem just a tad unreasonable.

List of 1870 Landowners shows a George Clarke of Rathleague, who was presumably the son and heir born to The Lady of William Clarke, Esq. of Rathleague, near Maryborough,  03 May 1837, although there was also  a  William Clarke of Rathleague, a coroner in the 1870 and making the headlines in the Dublin Weekly Nation in May 1880 for seizing Mr. Redington’s cattle for the sum of £40, half a year’s tent. Clarke many years ago became owner of the small property of Pallas, on which Mr. Redington was the principal tenant.  The more Reddington improved the land, the more Clarke increased the rent.  Richard Lalor, the Parnellite MP, denounced Clarke and the land laws.  Redington sold up in 1884-

DESIRABLE INVESTMENT. WH. COBBE WILL SELL BY AUCTION, On MONDAY, 3rd MARCH. 1884, By direction of Mr. Thomas Redington, of Pallas (Within one mile of Maryborough), HIS INTEREST in his valuable Farm, containing about 87 Acres of good arable and grass Land, held by Statutory Lease, at the reduced Rent of £55, being well laid out, cultivated, and highly manured (no second corn crop has been taken during 20 years); residence, thatched cottage, with kitchen, parlour, and several bedrooms, well furnished with iron bedsteads, hair mattresses and feather beds. ALSO, Same time, all his valuable farm horses, and a good high-stepping harness horse, cattle, several springers, new milch cows, 2 two year old heifers, yearling do., calves, &c.; pigs, superior white Yorkshire brood sow, and several store do.; good croydon, by Lawler,  2 side cars, several farm carts and harness, ploughs, harrows, grabbers, and numerous other articles.

In the 1901 census, the Stuart family were living at Rathleague. Present were:

Mary Elizabeth Stuart (daughter of George Wilkinson from Cappakeel), aged 42, a Farmer, widow,
Hannah Frances, daughter, aged 17,
Olive A.M., daughter, aged 14, (who died in 1902)
Georgina, daughter, aged 9,
William, son, aged 6,
Anne Wilkinson, mother, aged 71, a widow, (Anne was the daughter of Edward Luttrell, a farmer, and she was living at Cappakeel in 1858) In 1830 Edward, William and Richard Luttrell, and Edward and William jnr, were all resident at Cappakeel and signatories on the anti repeal of the union petition. One of their farms at Cappakeel was sold in 1884
QUEEN’S COUNTY. Sale Lands, Dwelling-house, and Out-offices, BY AUCTION. On TUESDAY, the 4th of MARCH. 1884. Held under Lord Portarlington (the best of landlords). HENRY ODLUM has been instructed Mr. Robert Luttrell who is removing to his new Farm at Emo. to sell his right, title, and interest, in all that part of the LANDS OF CAPPAKEEL. New Inn (now in his possession). Containing 100 (Irish) Acres with excellent turbary. held at the low Rent of £53 13s. 9d. These Lands are of good quality for tillage or pasture, the tillage land being all in a most forward state for cropping. There is workman’s house on the holding. The Dwelling-house is partly slated, and contains six rooms, kitchen, dairy, and scullery, the out-offices are in good order and extensive, with turf shed. At the same time win he sold one Rick of Oat Straw, and one Turnip Pulper.
Also at Rathleague in the 1901 census were
Charlotte Stuart, sister-in law, aged 71, not married,

And Denis Conroy, a 32 year old  RC servant.

Elizabeth, the 2nd surviving daughter of the late Benjamin Stuart of Emo, died at her brother William’s house at Coolbanagher April 1879. Her older sister Charlotte died in Cincinnati in 1908. 

The Stuarts had married in 1882 at the Cof I church in Coolbanagher.  One of the witnesses was Susan E Meredith; her brother James had married Anne Meredith of  Ballyduff, near Stradbally.  Maria Keegan, who lived at Rathleague in the 1940s was born a Meredith.  William Stuart had died in Sept 1900, aged 68.

Mrs Stuart carried on farming for a few years but decided to emigrate to the USA via Canada on the ship Megantic in August 1910, together with her daughters Frances and Georgina, son William mother Ann Wilkinson, and sister in law – these last two were 80, and she was over 50. Her next of kin in Ireland was recorded as Mr Onions, Borris House, Maryborough.  An amazing adventure.  I wonder if they prospered in Ohio?

By 1908 John William Gregg, son of the Bishop of Cork and educated at Repton and Cambridge, was running Rathleague as a stud farm.    He had married Mary Studdert in November 1893.  Her father was Major Charles W Studdert of Aylesbury Road and Cragmoher, Corofin.  An odd advertisement in the Pymouth Gazette 16 Oct 1902 led me to reading about the Boer War remount scandal  “The furniture and live stock belonging to Major Studdert. Cragmoher House, have been sold by auction by the Sheriff of Clare, under an execution in connexion with the purchase the Yeomanry remounts. They fetched £900. Mrs. Studdert was the purchaser.”


More is likely to be heard of the scandals connected with the purchase of remounts for the Yeomanry, which recently led to charges against Major C. W. Studdert and his two sons at Dublin.  Evidence was given showing that Major Studdert bought horses at £8/10/ a piece and sold them to the Government at £30, but the proceedings were abandoned on the defendants paying the Government £2,000, with £1,000 cost. In the House of Commons last evening, however, Mr. St. John Broadrick, the Secretary of State for War, intimated that the persons implicated in the transactions forming the basis of the proceedings against Major Studdert would be prosecuted when the necessary evidence had been collected.

Cragmoher was gutted by fire in the 1980s, but has since been restored

In the 1911 census
Gregg John W R 40 Male Head of Family Church of Ireland
Gregg Mary 40 Female Wife Church of Ireland
Gregg Elenor Mary 16 Female Daughter Church of Ireland
Gregg Florence Amy 9 Female Daughter Church of Ireland
Gregg John B 9 Male Son Church of Ireland
Studdert Agnes S 43 Female Sister in Law Church of Ireland
Callaghan Mary 43 Female Servant Roman Catholic
O’Neil Mary 23 Female Servant Roman Catholic
Bracken John 26 Male Groom Roman Catholic
Rankin Joseph 26 Male Groom Roman Catholic

Their son Private Robert Stoddart Gregg  was killed at the age of 20 in 1916, serving with 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Saskatchewan Regt.).  JW Gregg died on March 8th 1924

The Greggs were followed by Hamilton’s, Jacksons, and Keegans according to The Leinster Times which on Aug 23 1941 reported:- The Parnell estate included  at one time the lands of Cullenagh. These lands were acquired by John Toler, Lord Norbury, the notorious ” harming judge.” The remainder of the estate has in recent years passed to the tenants under the Land Purchase Acts. The demesne lands at Rathleague were acquired some few years ago by the Land Commission for division, which has since been carried out, and the residence was disposed of by sale, Mr. Joseph P. Hannan, Rosleighan Park, being the purchaser.

That purchaser was presumably the Keegan family – “KEEGAN – June 20, 1944, at her residence, Rathleague House, Maryborough, Maria Keegan (nee Meredith), beloved and loving wife of George Charles Keegan, formerly of Coolbanagher and Kinsale.” Times Pictorial, Saturday, July 1, 1944.  Her widow died November 3, 1954,  Keegan, George Charles, at the residence of his son-in-law, Robert Levis, Newtown, Naas.  George Charles Keegan from Wexford had been a teacher at the National School in Emo when he met Miss Meredith in 1896, the 4th of 16 children of Thomas Meredith who was farming at Emo. 

In 1946 it was advertised for sale and was bought by GH Jackson who bred greyhounds, and Mrs Jackson gave butter making classes.  The Jacksons had left, I think for Maida Vale, by 1950. 

The next owner was Mrs A Twiss.  In 1957 her son Major Robert Twiss (born 1919) of the Royal Army Service Corps had been sent to observe the nuclear explosions on Christmas Island.    He gave the Leinster Express an account of his 105 hour flight home.

It began on August 21 when, said the Major: ” I lost a complete day in my life when we crossed the International date line.”   Fiji was the next stopping place and he had time to view the fuzzy haired natives on the volcanic island and to see the cane and pineapple plantations. Disaster nearly overcame them shortly after take-off and the pilot had to jettison two tons of fuel when an engine stepped.  Their second attempt wont smoothly and nine hours later the plane touched down in Brisbane for a night’s stop. Major Twiss described the city as somewhat like a large provincial English town, with- single decker German-type trams in operation.   From Brisbane on to Darwin where the countryside changed from green to bush and from 8,000 feet ” looked like a complete desert.” . After a night in Darwin the plane set course North to Singapore over Borneo, and two days later continued to Colombo.

Next stage took them to Bangkok and on over the Bay of Bengal to Calcutta for refuelling. Then began the longest “hop” over North India to Karachi—18 hours—and on. through the Gulf of Oman, where the view was clear as crystal.     The plane followed the Tigress to Rabbanya, R.A.F. airfield in Iraq and resumed over the vast arid mountains of Turkey. The journey continued over Ankara, Silonika and Mount Olympus to Corfu Island, crossing the Adriatic to Italy. A comparatively short hop over the Alps—after joining in a fiesta in Brindisi—-brought the world trip to an end.   

From Patrick Meehan’s Members of Parliament for Laois & Offaly

The Sunday Independent reported that Mrs Emily Audrey Twiss’s estate was proved at £8,403 in Sept  1970.  Nationalist and Leinster Times Friday, August 23, 1974  Mrs A Twiss of Rathleague  won the Connemara Pony prize at the Abbeyleix show and again in 1976,  the year that 11 year old Sarah Twiss won the 1st Prize for best toy, puppet or whittled article..    Mr & Mrs Richard Twiss sold Rathleague on 30 acres  in 1989 for just under £150,000

A more contemporary view, with a glimpse of the 18th century yard

It can be hard to work out who lived in which farm at Rathleague.  The Conroy family farmed at Rathleague. Leinster Reporter – Saturday 02 February 1907  William McKenna is giving up farming and selling his stock at Rathleague. The longest on the lands may well be the Haslams.

6 March 1879  Henry Haslam born at Rathleague, son of  Philip Haslam and Jane Griffin.  She was the 17 year old daughter of William Griffin, a labourer, and he the son of Henry Haslam from Rathleague.   The Haslams appear in Laois during the reign of Elizbeth I and Thomas Haslam was lay rector at Cremorgan in 1616.  Later in the 17th Century there were Haslams in the Mountmellick Quaker records, and they have been at Rathleague for about 200 years. They had a 4 roomed house with three windows across the front, according to the 1901 census.  

The tragic end of Elizabeth Jane Haslam, 29,  at Rathleague, Maryborough. was investigated by Dr. Higgins, Coroner for Queen a County, yesterday. The deceased’s father-in-law stated that she had been depressed after coming there on her marriage in November. Her husband left on the 3rd May and wrote stating that he was taking hie passage to New York. The medical evidence showed that death was due to carbolic acid poisoning, and the jury found that the deceased was of unsound mind at the time.   May 1905.   Such a sad story.  Two years older than Henry, they had married at Castleflemming on Wednesday 16 Nov 1904, 6 months earlier.   She was from Clonmore, Errill, the daughter of farmers William and Charlotte Moynan.  Henry remarried on Monday 5 December 1910 (when did Saturday become popular for weddings?)  Sarah Jane Brennan  of Fontstown, Athy. 22 May 1920 Jane Haslam of Rathleague widow aged 59 died, her son Henry Haslam of Rathleague present                  

Rathleague Lodge, originally called Tennekill is just north of Sheffield Cross, and opposite the site of Sir John Parnell’s lake. It is still Tennekill on Cahill’s Grand Jury Map of 1805.  Tigh na Coille, the house in the wood, seems to be a very uninspired name since most of Laois was apparently solid woodland in the 1600s!     Anyone driving along the R425 from Sheffield Cross can’t miss it – the beautiful trees, the stone walled garden and the massive gable chimney stacks wrapping the more delicately drawn house.

It is described in the Buildings of Ireland as a detached five-bay two-storey house, built c.1810, on an asymmetrical plan incorporating fabric of earlier house, c.1740, with two-storey split-level return to rear. Extended to rear. Stable complex to rear site. Walled garden to site. Double-pitched slate roof with nap rendered chimneystacks. Roughcast walls, re-rendered c.1970, painted, with rendered quoins. Square-headed window openings with limestone sills and replacement six-over-six timber sash windows, c.1900. Tripartite window opening to centre first floor. Round-headed door opening with timber pilaster doorcase and timber panelled door with sidelights and fanlight. Timber panelled internal shutters to window openings (none to Wyatt-style window opening); Entrance/Stair Hall with timber staircase having ramped handrail and square section balusters; open arch to right; plaster cornice to roof to room to front with decorative centrepiece; black marble fireplace to room to left and to Garden floor; black stone fireplace to room to right. Set back from road in own grounds; landscaped grounds to site; wrought iron railings to forecourt. Group of detached single- and two-storey rubble stone outbuildings to site, one dated 1740. Walled garden to site with red brick dressings.

The earliest reference to it so far found is when it was lived in by Malachy Delaney who was agent to the Parnells and the Stubbers of Moyne.  Clearly of man of some importance.  From the  Leinster Express Saturday, February 25, 1860 “- In Dublin, Patrick Boland, Esq., of _Arran Quay to Mary, only daughter of the late Charles, Hyland Esq., of Queen-street, and grand-daughter of James Delany, of Tennekilly, Esq., Queen’s County”

The Delaney family deserve at the very least a PhD thesis! The surname Delaney, and its variations, are the Anglicisation of two different surnames, the Gaelic Ó Dubhshláine, and De l’aulnaie of Norman origins. The Norman name means “from the alder grove”, and the Gaelic comes from the words “dubh”, meaning black, and “slán”, meaning defiant, or farewell or from the river Slaney, or just a name – Black Slaney

Malachi’s parents were Martin Delaney and Barbara Albrin of Mountrath.  He married Jane daughter of John Sabatier of Mountmellick in about 1720.  His brother Daniel married Rachel Sharp, the sister of Anthony Sharp of Roundwood.  Their son was Sharp Delaney a Colonel in the American Revolutionary War and the first Collector of Customs in Philadelphia by George Washington.  Malachi was also the grandfather of Lt Col Anthony Gale, the 4th commandant of the US Marine Corps!

Whilst researching this Malachi Delaney I kept being led astray by an equally interesting Malachi Delaney, the son of a farmer between Narraghmore and Mullaghmast.  He had served with distinction in the Austrian Army and returned to Ireland in time for the 1798, when he was one of the officers commanding the rebels in Naas.

Early in 1801 he accompanied Robert Emmet travelled throughout Europe raising support for the  Republican cause.   

Saturday last, Malachy Delany, Esq. surrendered himself in the Court of King’s Bench, to take his trial for having been an officer with the Insurgents, in the county Kildare, during the rebellion. This gentleman had formerly been an officer in foreign service, and it now between fifty and sixty years of age. He was lodged in the New Prison, and is to be transmitted to Naas for trial. Saunders’s News-Letter – Wednesday 16 February 1803       He was acquitted, but then we read that everyone’s least favourite Irishman got involved, Major Sirr (the man who arrested Lord Edward Fitzgerald).

Lieut. Brown, of the Barrack Division in consequence of Information given Major Sirr, has apprehended Malachy Delany, Esq. late of the county of Kildare. Mr. Delany was tried and acquitted at the last Spring Assizes of the county of Kildare.   Nine prisoners, who appeared to be of some Respectability, were lately brought to Kilmainham, from Naas, in carriages, under strong military escort.  Two carriages also arrived at the same time from the North-road, with five prisoners, strongly escorted.—Our private letters state that Mr. Carr, a gentleman of fortune in the county of Westmeath, and Colonel Nesbit, a gentleman of the first respectability in one of the Northern Counties, have been apprehended in their respective dwellings.    Chester Chronicle – Friday 14 October 1803

He appears to have been released.  From The Star  – Saturday 04 April 1807  “Died at Finglas Malachi Delany formerly an office of distinguished merit in the Austrian Service”

Malachi Delany died in 1784, but his son seems to have continued on at Rathleague for a while before the Purdons moved in.  I had wondered if the walled garden at Rathleague Lodge might have been constructed for John Augustus (the deaf mute son of Sir John).

General Sir Charles Coote’s 1801 View of the Agriculture and Manufactures of the Queen’s County gives us a rough date for the remodelling:- Mr Halpen, Sir John Parnell’s agent, has built a handsome house and offices near the road which are very ornamenta.

On Sat 1st April 1809- Mrs. Purdon, Rathleague, Queen’s, wife of Edward Purdon, daughter of John Wrixon, of Welshestown, near Charleville, a lady very sincerely regretted by her honourable family connexions and numerous respectable acquaintance.  Her husband was “The Distributor of Stamps” for Queen’s County, (nothing to do with postages and everything to do with Stamp Duty,  William Wordsworth was the distributor in Westmorland!  The Purndons had only married in March 1804.  

The remnant of the Barrington estate at Cullenagh was sold to Sir John Parnell, soon after Col. Jonah Barrington’s s death in 1764 (Sir Jonah Barrington’s grandfather).

Samuel Jones Bernard Anderson, (his full name comes from the announcement of his death in Kentish Weekly Post, Tuesday 08 January 1805, which also announced that his nephew James Dowling Anderson had died)  the Catholic agent of Sir John Parnell, moved into Cullenagh, and fitted up a small chapel in the hamlet of Cullenagh adjoining, for the accommodation of himself and the Catholic tenants.  Apart from being Parnell’s agent Anderson also had a Worsted Mill there.  May 23, 1778 he was advertising a reward for the apprehension of Thomas Dungan a worker who had run away with a quantity of cloth and thread stolen from his looms.

Anderson took the Oath of Allegiance at Portlaoise on 6 Oct 1775 and was a delegate at the Catholic Convention in Dublin in 1792 Archivium Hibernicum  Vol. 67 (2014), pp. 319-340  Gleanings on the personnel of the Catholic Convention, 1792-93   C.J. Woods. He may have been a relation of Bernard Anderson ( 1722 ? – 1803 ) , late of Moate, Ballinakill, Queen ‘ s Co . , who d . in Queen St., Dublin , March 1803.

In 1774 the Irish parliament passed an act that would allow Catholics (“Papists”) to swear their loyalty to the King. Several clergy took the oath, while others adamantly refused. Between 1774 and 1793 Catholic Relief Acts were passed to reverse some of the Penal Laws. The acts, however, applied only to those who had taken the oath.

By 1830 Rathleague Lodge was the residence of Major Barrington.

John Barrington, abt 1710-1784 had 16 children with his wife Sibella French, including Jonah Barrington who ended up in France and John Barrington  who built Castlewood at Durrow.   However the Barringtons at Rathleague cannot have been direct relations of the Cullenagh Barringtons. 

The most likely kinship was a James Barrington, Coachmaker, Landowner (Freeholder 14 Apr 1774), b. Raheenlusk, Co. Wexford, abt. 1743; mar. Stradbally, 1 Sep 1768, Letitia Gray, dau of William Gray of Maryborough, and Margaret Pigott of Dysart; (Though if this is correct Letitia was only 16 at the time of her marriage) 8 children born at Stradbally: Richard Barrington, b. abt. 1770, William Barrington, b. abt. 1773, Henry Barrington, b. abt. 1778, John Barrington, b. abt. 1779, 3 further sons, Letitia Barrington, b. abt. 1782;living 1810 [AB, FT, Freeholders in Queen’s County, Gordon Kinship, McBride (1973), LDS, marriage settlement, ML]  This branch were descendants of the Roundhead Major Thomas Barrington, John Barrington’s ggg uncle.

Major Richard Barrington of the 56th was Lt Barrington in 1804.  He served in India from 1815 (Bombay Gazette – Wednesday 26 June 1816 Capt. Richard Barrington promoted to Major),  and arrived back in Porstmouth in 1826. He died at Rathleague 30 Apr 1837.    He had at least two children, a son William and a daughter Kate.    On his death his brother John seems to have moved into Rathleague. Richard Barrington, of Lower Ormond-quay, Dublin, Solicitor, married Kate, daughter of the late Major Barrington, of Rathleague Lodge, in the Queen’s County, and formerly of the 56th Regiment in June 1840.  Barrington was practicing at 24 Dominick Street in 1825. 

June 1837

Maria Barrington eldest dau of John Barrington, and niece of Major Barrington died at Rathleague Lodge in July 1838. John Barrington himself died at Rathleague Lodge aged 60 “of an attack of the liver” 6 Aug 1842, leaving a large family to deplore his loss.  In 1846 the Barringtons apparently sold the remainder of their lease

14 March 1846

Leinster Reporter…Saturday, November 28, 1908; John Scott has sold his farm at Rathleague

Shortly after this Rathleague Lodge was bought by the Maher family.

Me Jewel Dunrally, Laois’s Viking Longphort

The country was flat and not very fertile. The only pretty views were the banks of the river.  This spot, though somewhat interesting, required a clear sky and a summer sun to render it agreeable and though Mr Grattan used to visit it in fine weather and enjoyed the walks along the border of the river, he did not approve of as a residence, preferring Enniskerry which was more picturesque and more convenient to Dublin. Memoirs of the life and times of the Rt. Hon. Henry Grattan, Volume 3 by Henry Grattan the Younger. p332

It should be pointed out that when the author of these words, Henry Grattan Jnr, needed a Laois address for Grand Jury matters, he happily used Dunrally  :-  High Sherriff of Queen’s County for 1859  –  Henry Grattan, Esq., Dunrally Fort.

I am reminded of the Official ITA Guide to Ireland (the original Failte Ireland) published in the 1950s.  After waxing lyrical about Kildare over half a dozen pages it dismisses Laois in 9 words:-  Leix There is little to detain the tourist in Leix.

Dunrally was sold by the Cosbys in 1782 to Henry Grattan who he had been awarded £50,000 by the Irish Parliament for securing Ireland’s legislative independence from Great Britain, (sadly lost by the Act of Union and to this day still not regained by Northern Ireland!)  The estate at that time belonged to Admiral Phillips Cosby but was probably being run by his cousin and eventual heir Thomas Cosby of Vicarstown, the Admiral at that time being tied up with the American Revolutionary War.  The land had been taken from the O’Mores by Francis Cosby in 1549, during the reign of Edward VI, before Mary Tudor became Queen.   By the beginning of the 18th Century the Cosby finances were rather stretched so much of the Vicarstown area was set to William Dod, but they hung onto the 7 acres around Dunrally.  Since before 1641 family called Radley had been living there – Pole Cosby refers to them as fowlers, but game keepers or water bailiffs might be more accurate.    The Cosbys let Dunralley to a Capt Harrison – but why not let Pole tell the story.

Capt. Harrison’s lease expiring by his not living there, it came back into my father’s hands, and very fond he, my Uncle Loftus and I were of it, Capt. Harrison was the first who built here, he built a mud wall house of 2 rooms but never finished them, he also made a little ‘avenue through the wood, planted a few ash and gave the fosse a poor scouring, but my father widened the avenue & planted it with limes on each side, added a large Parlour and sashed the whole house, boarded 8 rooms; ceiled and plastered every room, laid out the Garden in the fort, built a Kitchen and larder without doors, and I scoured and widened the fosse, and made a little narrow path walk on each side of the fosse one on the inside and one on the out and I also made many little meander walks through the woods on each side of the avenue, and here we used to come with much company and bring cold meat and dine and go a boating in two good boats which my father had there and my father, mother, sister and I and company wo’d stay there for a week sometimes 2 sometimes 8 weeks or a month, and I sometimes wo’d stay there for a week or 14 days by myself and sometimes I would have a friend with me and so my Father kept it till I was married, and his fouler Patrick Hyland and Foster used to live here in the Kitchen, my Father also built a stable, and I got a draw Bridge and named it Monbijou.   According to Tierney’s Pevsner it was so named after the Prussian pleasure house of Queen Sophia  Dorothea, constructed in 1703, which Pole had visited.

Monbijou, Berlin

In 1782 Henry Grattan refused the Viceregal Lodge in Dublin but instead he accepted the cash offer which he used to buy estates in Laois (on the advice of his friend and trustee Sir John Tydd of Lamberton)  and Wicklow.  The summer house was rebuilt during the 1780s   Andrew Tierneys description is “Long single-pile house of five bays. One and a half storeys, with (originally) gabled dormers. The roof was hipped. On the windowless NW wall are four narrow brick chimneys, two of which survive almost to full height. The end bays and outer chimneys appear to belong to a late c19 phase”  It is a delightful place, a long walk in from the road, and very flat, but the ruins are heavily overgrown

The house is on the RHS of the fort, heavily overgrown

Lewis in 1837 records  “James Grattan, Esq., M. P., who has a pretty shooting-lodge here, has erected a handsome bridge over the Barrow at Dunrally .

Proposals Requested – 1819

The fort was finally abandoned when Henry Grattan’s granddaughter Pauline Grattan Bellew built Grattan Lodge in Vicarstown in 1877 as a more convenient residence. 

Newpark, Portlaoise, A special for International Women’s Day

So it’s the 8th of March  –  International Women’s Day.  Who knew that Portlaoise had connections with Andrea Praed the first Ozzie writer to explore gender and cross-cultural conflicts, the advent of theosophy and the groundswell of feminist opposition to the legal bonds of marriage?!

My attention was drawn to Newpark House by a couple of submissions on the Council’s Draft Development Plan

We act on behalf of John Killeen in this matter. 

Newpark House and Apartment blocks known as St. Michaels & St. Margarets is an existing apartment development in the centre of Portlaoise. The two-blocks were built in the late 70’s and currently house 10 apartments, a mixture of 1&2 bedroomed apartments. My client is looking to do extensive renovations and alterations to the site to include additional apartment development on the grounds within the vicinity of these two units. Opposite our development at The Maltings site the land within the vincinity of same has been zoned Residential 2, we are seeking a expansion of this zoned area to include the entirity of our site. We make this submission on the grounds that the site is bound on two sides by road frontage and we will be seeking to develop off Harpurs Lane with the new development. Attached find location map of same.

The area to be developed

Newpark House is a period style dwelling located in the centre of a privately developed housing scheme known as Newpark, built in the 1970’s. Newpark House was converted to a mixture of flats and bedsits over a period from the early 80’s to the mid 90’s.  The dwelling has undergone extensive internal works along with external works which was carried out in a piecemeal fashion without proper consultation.  The roof needs urgent attention and was covered down with a canopy covering 20 years ago which has now deteriorated and will now need to be replaced in full. The owner John Killeen is respectful to the history of the dwelling house however, this will need major reconditioning works in the near future and has gone beyond the former original features which the house was built to. We are seeking this to be removed from the records of Protected Structure in order to perserve its current use as a place of residence for 7 individuals and the building needs to be adjusted to meet their needs.    

I apologize if I offend, but I do tend to wonder if the owner John Kileen has any notion of the history of the house of which he is so respectful ! One of the earlier houses in Portlaoise, Newark was built for Rev Thomas Harpur, around 1820. 

A large tract of land , known by the, name of the Green, on which great hurling parties formerly assembled.  The Green is let out in parks.  On a part of it is a very neat house, the residence of the Rev. Thomas Harpur, built by Mr McClean.  Leinster Express Saturday, November 05, 1831; Page: 4

Thomas was probably the son of Rev Epharim Harpur (d 1810), a Presbyterian, who lived outside Portarlington.  The Rev Singleton Harpur, who died following a fall from his horse in Monkstown in 1806, who had been chaplain to the Royal Irish Regiment in 1785, was a relation.  George Harpur of James Street  Dublin (d 1823) must have been another relative:- “On the 25th March 1826  in Maryborough, by the Rev. Thomas Harpur, Robert Galbraith, Esq., of Mountpelier-hill, to Miss Hannah Harpur, of Stradbally, eldest daughter of the late George Harpur, Esq. of James’s street, Dublin,”  From Freemans Journal, October 18, 1823 we know that George Harpur’s executor was Elizabeth Broomfield, the wife of Henry Parnell Broomfield.  They were clearly related to the Broomfields who were faming at Ballyfin in the 1820s. These Broomfields, who were regularly recorded as Bloomfield, had 4 children. Humphrey who married Elizabeth McGuiness in 15 Apr 1816 and emigrated to Australia, Basil, of Irey, south of Ballyfin,  who signed a “Declaration against Repeal of the Union, 1830”, Joseph, & Henry Parnell Broomfield who married Anne Ince (who d 1855) (probably daughter of Richard Ince, Draper and Ironmonger of Maryborough) on 12 April 1852; lived at Borris Cottage Maryborough.


St Margarets & St Michaels – the North and South Pavilions – wouldn’t they look so much better if they were pure Palladian!

Bridget Harpur of Urney, Portarlington, who married Thomas Pilkington of Toar in 1768 might have been a sister or an aunt.  Their son Captain Abraham Pilkington fought at Waterloo.

Thomas Harpur of Newpark,  Portlaoise had married Hannah Colvill of Clontarf in 1815.

Hannah’s father was William Colvill (1737–1820), corn merchant and MP, the second son of William Colvill (1675?–1755), an agent at Newtownards, Co. Down, and his wife Jane, daughter of John Thompson of Blackabbey, Co. Down.

Having lost a good part of his £5000 inheritance in the slave trade (and serve him right!), Colvill joined a firm of flour merchants, Wyld’s of Molesworth Street, Dublin, and eventually succeeded to ownership of the business. He was a director of the Grand Canal Company at its foundation (1772) and became involved (1790) in the Barrow Navigation Company, in which he invested between £20,000 and £30,000.

He was also a founding director of the Bank of Ireland (1783). In the 1790s he was a supporter of Catholic relief and an opponent of the union of Ireland with Great Britain.  I guess it’s not unreasonable to assume that it was his money that paid for the construction of Newpark.

In 1845 one of their daughters, Hannah Harpur, died at Newpark.  1851 in her 65th year Thomas’s sister in law Margaritta Colvill died at Newpark.  The Harpurs were still there in 1861 when  “a son was born to the lady of J Harpur Esq”, a brother to Thomas Singleton Harpur, born 1851, who emigrated to Australia in 1877. 

To divert – or maybe not!

Matilda Harpur born 1828, was one of five children of Thomas Harpur and Rosa Adams of Tullyhogue, Cookstown, who had married on January 24 1823 .  Rosa died in 1835 and Thomas moved to Dublin where he married Mary Jane Speer, the daughter of a solicitor.  In 1840 the all sailed for Australia on the Lord Western.    In 1846 Matilda married Thomas Lodge Murray Prior (originally of Rathdowney).  Their daughter Rosa Praed (1851-1935) achieved international literary fame as the first Australian author to explore gender and cross-cultural conflicts, the advent of theosophy and the groundswell of feminist opposition to the legal bonds of marriage.

From the genealogy of the Greer family of The Grange, Co Tyrone, we have Mary the daughter of Thomas Harpur of Moy and his wife Sarah Clements of Brackaville marrying John Greer on 5 June 1816.

Thomas Harpur of Moy showed of his invention – a machine for working eight pumps – to the RDS in May 1811.

Then leaping forward to 1853 there is an advertisement n the Australian papers :_   INFORMATION WANTED. A gentleman just arrived from Quebec, Canada, wishes to be informed of the address of either MR WILLIAM HARPUR or MR CHARLES HARPUR of Moy, county Tyrone, Ireland. He was requested to insert this advertisement by TOBY CAULFEILD, a particular friend of his and would therefore be most happy to communicate with either of the above gentleman. Please address to Mr. J.S. Waterson at O’Dowd and Klinefalter’s, Market Square west, opposite Montefiore & Co., William Street [Melbourne]  1853

All of which might suggest that these Hapurs had little to do with Hapur’s Lane in Portlaoise. 

And yet in the National Library of Australia there is “Information and correspondence, relating to Hybla, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, associated with Thomas Harpur’s family (Thomas Harpur was Praed’s grandfather) (File 51) – Box 42 (MS 8363)”  And Andrea Praed thought that Thomas Harpur of Newpark was her gg grandfather.

For further confusion there was a Thomas Harpur who printed the famous 18th Century Volunteer fabric at his mills in Leixlip.

And from Saunders’s News-Letter – Monday 28 October 1799 we learn that Basil. HARPUR, late of No. 1 Dame-lane, has removed No. 5, Dame-lane, corner of Trinity-Place for the convenience of carrying on his business more extensively. He respectfully acquaints his Friends and the Public, that he has opened his house by the name of The QUEEN’S COUNTY TAVERN and CHOP HOUSE, in the most extensive manner,

Moving on towards the 20th century

Richard Edward and Jane Eleanor Odlum (nee Hinds) were living at Green Mills when their first son William Perry was born in 1878, and still there in 1882,  but were at Newpark, when their son Arthur Wellesley was born on the 2th Sept 1884  .  They had been married in the parish church in Castletown in November 1875.  Her father, who lived in Church Street till his death in 1903 at 88,  had had a shop on the South side of the Main Street, Portlaoise from at least 1837 – a grocer, earthenware dealer, and seedsman.

Richard Odlum left school at the age of 14.   He was the financial and business manager of Odlums, speculating on wheat futures making a lot of money in the process. He had a good brain for decision making but he was an autocratic and two of his sons, Arthur and Harold, rebelled and fled to Canada.  In In 1897 the Odlums  added a new kitchen and scullery onto the back of Newpark.    Jane died in 1919 and Richard Odlum died on 24 Feb 1924

In 1909 the Odlums’ daughter Jane Evelyn had married Rev Robert Robinson Tilson.  (b 1871) of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland.

In 1926 Mabel Gee of Newpark was applying to be a Dispensary Nurse, so the Odlums were probably letting Newpark.

The Rev Tilson, Rector of Maryborough, died in 1920, leaving his widow Evelyn with four young children.  They lived at Tower Hill, Portlaoise – their son married Deena Jessop,  (whose sister had married Edgar McKeever of Moor Hall Ardee in 1933) their daughter Sylvia married Buce Williamson of Belfast,    Eleanor graduated from Trinity in 1938.  When the grieving widow married Peter Louis Sharp in the 1940s (who died in 1951) they moved back to Newpark.   She and her family were still there in the 1950s – in 1951 she was looking for an experienced cook who could use an Aga; by 1956 she just needed a general cook!  She died in 1960.  Is that when Newpark’s downward spiral started?

Wouldn’t it be great see Newpark sympathetically restored and the magical walled garden once again a place of beauty.  Does anyone else think that it could become swish offices and the garden be vested in the local community?

Morton, Doxey or Gray – who was the lord of Rockbrook?

Driving from Dublin to Laois in the 1980s – Friday evening torture.  Cutting through the car park and past St David’s Castle in Naas.   I never discovered a back double through Monasterevan.    But the worst traffic was at Portlaoise.   So I avoided it by taking a left turn just before the Rock Inn and following the old coach road; that tranquil road down to Sheffield Cross and Ballyroan, was a sweet balm.  There was a ruined house on the left as you left Ballyroan, but though I must have passed it 100 times a year back then, I never stopped to look at it.   Driving past recently for the first time in many years I saw an anaerobic digester and a new house on the site.   I am pretty sure that the original was a two storey, 5 bay house.  Was there a breakfront with a central pediment?  Or was that at Dunkerrin?  I can’t remember.   The moral is photograph, photograph, photograph. 

Arthur Young’s 177s report can never be forgotten.  “Slept at Ballyroan, at an inn kept by three animals who call themselves women; met with more impertinence than at any other in Ireland. It is an execrable hole.”   Even Barrington was not enamoured: – “A Mrs Moll Harding kept the “natest” inn in Ballyroan close to my father’s house.  I recollect to have heard a passenger (they are very scarce there) telling her that his sheets had not been aired.   With great civility Moll Harding begged his honour’s pardon and said they certainly were and must have been well aired for there was not a gentleman came to the house the last fortnight that had not slept in them.”  Laois Inns did not do too well in Tripadvisor precursors.   In 1806 Colt Hoare wrote in his Tour of Ireland “The Emo Inn is a single house.  A good inn and well supplied with post horses though I think I may apply to it what was once said to a Cistercian monk Albior exterius quàm interius – the outside is whiter than the inside; “ in other words, it was a filthy godforsaken dive!

The Freeman’s Journal 1809 Rathmoyle is just outside Abbeyleix

The gables of the 17th Century Preston School still stand to the west of the main street. 

One of the gables of the Preston School

The Prestons and the Nangles intermarried on a regular basis – the Preston family managed to hold on to their estate lands through the centuries despite being staunch Catholics. The head of the family is the Viscount Gormanston, the first Viscountcy created in Ireland.    The Nangles, Barons Navan,  were also a Norman family.   John Preston, great nephew of the 4th Viscount Gormanston (1537-1599), married Mary Nangle, daughter of Jocelyn Nangle of Kildalkey who had been outlawed after the 1641 rising – he was a great great nephew of the 4th Viscount Gormanston.  It was always suggested that when she married Preston she brought with her the lands of Tara and Ardsallagh in Meath, and Emo in Laois.  In Chris Booth’s blog https://chrisb2701.wordpress.com/    he shows that in fact the owner of Emo Park in 1641 was Thomas FitzGerald (Catholic), and by 1670 ownership had transferred to Alderman John Preston (Protestant).     As to the lands in Meath, Mary’s father may have got some of the lands back on the Restoration, as a loyal monarchist.   But there were several Nangle siblings, so she probably would not inherited much, and her brother Walter inherited the Kildalkey estate.

John Preston’s fortune came from purchasing property from the English soldiers and adventurers who had no interest in settling in Ireland. Preston was Mayor of Dublin in 1653-54 and was elected as Member of Parliament for Navan in the restoration parliament of 1661. When Charles II was restored to the throne, John Preston was confirmed in his occupation of 7,859 acres of land in Meath and Queens County under the Acts of Settlement In 1666.  He set up the Preston Schools in 1686, the year of his death, so the suggestion that “as his defective land titles might be questioned in time, he set aside 1000 acres of his gains from the Nangle estates to endow two Protestant schools, judging that any government would be reluctant to question the title to land used for such a worthy purpose.” is probably not correct.   (navanhistory.ie/ and bellinterhouse.com).

His granddaughter Anne married a Dublin banker (Oh, the shame!) by the name of Ephiram Dawson from whom the Earls of Portarlington are descended. Their son incidentally married the daughter of another banker, Joseph Damer, decribed by Walpole as a miser and a usurer!

In the 1836 Selection of Reports and Papers of the House of Commons: Education ; 3, Volume 3, published The Preston School is described as being in a large slated house that cost £500.  The modern school-house was a presentable and comfortable two-storied house, having many rooms above and below, while its extension towards the rear was considerable. The building was then centrally placed in the town of Ballyroan  (O’Hanlon).  The master, Arthur Hutchins, was paid £122 15s.  John Duffy and Charles Duffy who ran rival schools in Ballyroan received £10 pa and £16 pa respectively.  Canon O’Hanlon was sent to the Preston School at the age of 13, in 1834 and describes Hutchins- Mr. Hutchins was rather a tall man, of lithesome shape, and having a good set of features, in which seriousness and vivacity were at once blended. His motions were restless, both within and without the house, and when walking abroad his thumbs were placed in the armlets of his vest, while the tips of his fingers were continually tatooing his breast on either side. In dress he was a stylish gentleman of the olden time, wearing a long-skirted black broad-cloth frock-coat with lappels, a waistcoat and pantaloons to match, a black silk stock, with shirt collars protruding on either side of his cheeks. His shapely silk hat was worn with a jaunty air, and his boots were highly polished ; but probably the most noticeable appendage of his dress was a cambric frill, snowy white, and elegantly crimped, which escaped in full display from the upper part of the vest. An earlier pupil had been Jonah Barrington. Of Charles Duffey’s school O’Hanlon wrote that Duffey put great importance on good manners and his students learnt to bow and curtsey to all the ladies and gentlemen travelling through on the mail coach, to the passengers’ delight.

 Carrying on past the very fine, though much overgrown, Norman motte on the right and up the hill, past the silhouette crib which incorporates the site of a medieval castle according to the OS map, and  to the left is Rockbrook.

The earliest reference to Rockbrook is in the Freeman’s Journal of 1765, followed by Taylor and Skinners 1770 Road Book when it is shown as the seat of Mr Gray.  However Finns Leinster Journal on Saturday, July 31, 1773; lists Thomas Morton  of Ballyroan subscriber.  In, of all places, the Pymouth archives office, there is a marriage settlement of 1 January 1791 between John Morton of Dublin, surgeon, and Rebecca Ingram of Limerick, which includes Rockbrook alias Rockfarm , Newtown and Ballyroan , barony of Cullinagh, Queen’s county, and other land of John Morton in Queens County. 

Freeman’s Journal 1765

In 1776 William Gray of Ballyroan was one of those seeking the office of County Coroner. Was William Wilson’s 1786 The Post-chaise Companion mistaken to list:-“At Ballyroan , on the L. is Rockbrook , the seat of Mr. Gray.”? Or should it have been Morton?

Barrington also wrote of the Mortons at Rockbrook:- Mrs Mary Morton, a very worthy domestic woman, told me many years since that she had but one way of ruling her husband which as it is rather a novel way and may be of some use to my fair readers I will mention in her own words.  “ You know,” said Mrs Morton, “ that Tom is most horribly nice in his eating and fancies that both abundant and good food is essential to his health.  Now when he has been out of temper with me he is sure of having a very bad dinner.  If he grumbles I tell him that whenever he puts me into a twitter by his tantrums I always forget to give the cook proper directions.  This is sure,” added she, “of keeping him in good humour for a week at least.”  Personal Sketches of His Own Times, Volume 3 pg 368

By 1820 according to the Post Chaise Companion it was once again the seat of Mr Gray and Mrs Morton was then at Knapton (which is where Barrington had been born).

 In fact  in December 1808,  it was reported that William Gray, Esq of Rockbrook. Queen’s County, was married to Miss Julia Sophia Portington, of York Street, Dublin and in 1810 William Gray of Rockbrook got a  Game Licence.  They had several children and Gray served as a magistrate.  However the Rockites made life a little tricky for him and there is a letter of 1829  in the Chief Secretary’s archives  about an outrage committed on 2 sheriff’s officers ‘who had been placed in charge of the Premises of William Wall Gray at Ballyroan’.     The next letter in the archive shows the church VERY militant in the form of Rev Pierce Goold, Finnoe Glebe House, Borrisokane requesting firearms to protect his family, explaining ‘as from very contracted means with a very large Family to support I cannot afford even for the sake of my Females to remove them into any of the neighbouring Towns for Protection. I therefore have determined to make the best Defence I am able with my three Sons very young lads’.  Thankfully the Lord lieutenant was opposed to vigilantes and decided that “he cannot consent to the distribution of arms to  individuals”.

In 1833 the newly graduated Corkonian Dr Henry Croly, fourth son of John Croly of South Cregg, Fermoy and Margaret Johnson, and serving as a Dispensary Doctor in Roscrea married the Gray’s eldest daughter, Isabel.  Soon after William Gray and some of his family headed for Canada. 

Warner W. Gray, Esq., of the  Irish Light Infantry, third son Wm. Wall Gray, late Rockbrook House, Queen’s County was married to Meliora  the daughter the late Mr William Thompson of Roscommon  in  December 1838, by which time his father and at least one of his brothers was in Ontario.    William Wall’s death at Lac Amiens, Upper Canada, after a long illness was reported in the Dublin Monitor – Thursday 30 July 1840. 

A grandson William Wall Warner Gray married Louisa Madeline Atkinson in Canada around 1861. They were the parents of at least 3 sons and 4 daughters. He died on 3 February 1901, in London, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada, at the age of 90. He stars in a Freemasonry Report of the London District, Ontario.  May 26th 1875  “ I had the painful duty to perform in St John’s Chapter No 3 to suspend Comp William Wall Gray during pleasure of Grand Chapter for being drunk and for unmasonic conduct I therefore recommend that Grand Chapter will confirm the same.”

One of the earlier Grays of Laois, and maybe the almus pater,  was Edward Gray of Portlaoise, noted in the Dublin Journal of Monday, January 05, 1733 as Treasurer to the Trustees of the Turnpike. The family also had a distillery in Portlaoise – which pretty much destroyed the town in 1782!

Mr L  Flood briefly took Rockbrook, and was recorded as being there in 1837 by Lewis’s Topogaphy.  This was probably Luke Flood, the youngest son of Luke Flood of Rondwood, who had married Olivia Warren in Abbeyleix in September 1827 (prompting Lord Norbury’s remark about rabbits resulting from a flood getting into a warren!)    Finns Leinster Journal Sep 15, 1827; Page: 3.  It was maybe the same Luke Flood who was living at Woodville, Portlaoise in 1818, when he got a game licence, and at Moneyclear, near Balinakill in 1834.

At some point James Doxey lived here (his brother Thomas lived at Clonbrin, just West of Ballyroan).   They were the gg grand children of  Hercules Doxey (d circa 1684 at Killone, near The Heath) who arrived probably as a Cromwelian soldier.  In 1703, although he had married the daughter of a Pole from Ballyfin, Alexander Cosby of Stradbally was so broke that he decided to let Stradbally to Major Lyons and join the army. He borrowed £300 from William Doxey of Raheennahown, between Clopook and Luggacurren to buy a Captain’s comission. It is very hard to work out exactly when James Doxey could have lived at Rockbroock.  He left for Quebec with most of his family in 1818, which is when apparently William Gray was there with his young family.

On 22 Nov 1723 John Doxey acquired a lease to 170 acres of land in the Barony of Cullenagh from Samuel Freeman of Dublin , to hold for a term of 86 years .  

William Doxey, husband of Elizabeth McDaniel, assigned the interest in his property in Ballyroan on June 16 1759 to his two sons Samuel & Hercules Doxey .  Samuel married Isabella Copperthwaite in 1765, and was at that stage living in Clonbrin. 

Deborah Greenham, prob. b. abt. 1745; mar. 1768 Hercules Doxey, brother of Samuel of Mountrath she was bur. 26 Nov 1831, Abbeyleix Parish. Son: James Doxey, b. 1773 prob. Ballyroan, d. 20 Jun 1849 aged 76; mar. Abbeyleix, 3 Jul 1792 Frances Sutliff, b. abt. 1777 of Abbeyleix, dau. of Thomas & Maria/Mary Sutliff of Abbeyleix Parish.

O’Hanlon, in his Legends of Ballyroan, writes of Jemmy Doxey, but gives no indication that he might have lived at Rockbrook.

 Leinster Express April 11, 1863; records the death of the 68 year old Hercules Doxey of Ballyroan, son of the late James Doxey of Rockbrook, the year after his sister Eliza, then living at 62 Waterloo Road, Dublin had married Francis Reynolds of The Parade Kilkenny.  


By 1841 the Preston School had moved in, under the direction of the Rev Mr Lyons.  It did not flourish and at some time must have closed down.  A last gasp by Mr Stoker to reinvigorate it in 1891 was followed by its sale in 1894 to the McMahaon family, who still have it.  The School moved to Abbeyleix and is still remembered in the name of Preston House, it’s home till 1966.

The agent is the father of Lucy Gertrude Franks, one of the founders of the ICA and of The Country Shop on Stephen’s Green

Before leaving Ballyroan, let’s not forget its most famous academic.   Rev Daniel Barrett, rector (or possibly curate) of Ballyroan died in 1759/60. His widow Rossamund Gofton went to Dublin with their 7 year old son, John, better known as Jacky.    At 17 he entered Trinity, and remained there for over 50 years,  becoming Professor of Greek and Professor of Hebrew and Vice-Provost,

“By a strange irony, Jacky Barrett lives on in people’s memories not nearly so much as a scholar and divine, but as a dwarf whose appetite for food was as great as his hunger for literature, and whose love of money was in a proportionate degree.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1900. For more see https://www.tcd.ie/library/epb/blog/the-ancient-odd-fish-of-the-college/

Old Derrig, by Brendan Ward

We are delighted to welcome Brendan Ward to these pages and very grateful for the following article that he has written, – an account of a once very fine and certainly very historical lost Laois house.

Old Derrig

Old Derrig was situated less than three kilometres from Carlow town on the Castlecomer road. It was on the left hand side just after a bridge. The house itself has been replaced by a two storey dwelling and the entrance which had a gate lodge has also been modernised. There is another older entrance to it if you turn left further on at the Mall pub.

It was a three storey five bay gable ended house with a pedimented doorcase and was considered to date from the early 18th century but there may also have been a much older house there. A Benjamin Fisher who was a Magistrate for Queens County lived there around 1750. This is the same family and its legatees who also owned the nearby Springhill House previously featured on this site. (Robert Clayton Browne of Browne’s Hill had acquired the Galbraith’s library which included, in a copy of “The Irish Statures”, the details of the family’s births and marriages. It starts with Mary Rossell, born in Dublin in 1691, then Elizabeth Rossell born at Old Derrick in 1693. The Rossells were early Quakers, with a Samuel Rossell appearing on 15 Oct 1661 at Clonmore, Queen’s County – Ed.)

Old Derrig has had many occupiers down through the years. In 1814 a Captain Benjamin Galbraith of the Carlow Militia lived there. His father was Samuel Galbraith who married four times and his second wife was a Frances Fisher which might explain how his son came to live there. It is best known however as the home of John Doyle, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin or “J K L” as he was more commonly called. He lived there from 1822 until 1826  before moving into Braganza in Carlow town. There were just thirteen acres of land with the house at the time. To this day some locals still refer to Old Derrig as the “Bishop’s palace”!

In the 1830’s Captain Fitzmaurice of the Royal Navy, who apparently fought under Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar, lived there. The Fitzmaurice family feature strongly in the history of Springhill House and indeed lived in quite a number of the houses in the area down through the years. By the time of Griffith’s Valuation in 1850 the house was in the ownership of the Thomas family and there are three headstones for members of that family in the private graveyard which still exists in the centre of a field opposite the house on the road over from the Mall.

The next occupants of the house were the Fishbourne family. Joseph Fishbourne originally came to Carlow in the 1730’s and worked as a glazier in St. Mary’s Church of Ireland. His descendants prospered and eventually became prominent members of the local gentry.  As well as being major property owners they also acted as land agents. Robert Fishbourne, a grandson of Joseph, lived in Hollymount which is not far from Old Derrig and other members of the family also lived in Ashfield Hall in Arles.

 Members of the Haughton family lived in Old Derrig after the Fishbournes and were there until the turn of the century. John Haughton had established the Barrow Mills in nearby Graiguecullen in 1834. These were subsequently taken over by the Shackletons but the Haughtons  also ran a number of other mills in the area. Writing in the 1959 editiion of Carloviana, the journal of the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society, Mary O’Hanlon describes how Frederick Haughton was killed outside the avenue to the house in 1894. She tells of how a local woman threw a bag of thistles over the hedge and when his horse took fright he was killed in the subsequent fall. (His uncle, Samuel Haughton, was a very distinguished geologist, physiologist, and mathematician, and worked with Austrian astronomers taking observations of the evening light phenomena at Honololu, Old Derrig and Dunsink – ed)

Old Derrig was unoccupied then for a period and in 1907 was available for lease for a sum of  £40 per annum. The house had obviously deteriorated even at that stage because it was also stated that a sum of around £500 would be needed to improve it. It was still in the ownership of the Thomas family and was used to house Belgian refugees from the 1st World War. They worked with local farmers but appear to have eventually left the area.

Photographs from the early 1970’s indicate the poor condition of the house before it was subsequently demolished.

An overdoor from the drawing room