More Minor than Major -Lesser Laois Houses

Till the 14th Century Aghaboe was probably quite a significant town, centred around St Canice’s Abbey.  It stands on the Slighe Dhála, one of the five great bronze age, or possibly stone age roads, and crossed Ireland from Loop Head to Tara.  To the South of Aghaboe a townland called Boherard (the great cow path or high road) suggests that a road branched off here to the south – maybe towards Cashel or Kilkenny – there are the remnants of a chain of medieval churches at Cuffsborough, Bordwell and Kilbreedy to the Motte of Monacoghlan and on down to Aghmacart.    The  bronze age structures found at Cuffesborough  during the construction of the M8, especially the circular 17m diameter structure, suggest the area had been a centre of habitation for millennia.

Though the only visible evidence of the medieval town is the abbey and the motte, aerial photography in dry summers shows the layout of the town.  At an angle North East to the present house are a row of buildings that were converted into barns at one stage,  which would appear to be town houses dating from at least the 17th Century.  The one nearest to the present house retained raised and fielded plaster panelling of the early 18th century, and evidence of a stone spiral staircase in the south wall.

In the 1640 survey of Upper Ossory recorded by Ledwich, it appears that Aghaboe was in the possession of Mr. Carpenter.  From the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1874 we learn that the Rev SC Harpur communicated the existence of a silver chalice belonging to the Parish church of Aghaboe Queen’s County with the following inscription Ex dono Ursula Carpenter Viduae Joshua Carpenter nuper de Siginstown in Com Kildare armi .  Ecclesice parochiali de Aghaboe 14 Maij 1663 Daniele Nilon Sa: The Doctore Rectore.  Joshua Carpenter died in 1655 and is buried in St David’s Church in Naas and was of Sigginstown, (aka Jigginstown) where he was the steward of Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford and very unpopular Lord Deputy of Ireland.   Wentorth had been attainted for treason and executed in May 1641.  The next few years were pretty dreadful for Carpenter as well, who was also charged with treason and imprisoned in Dublin Castle.  Sir George Radcliffe intervened with Ormonde on Carpenter’s behalf, causing the charges to be dropped in 1644 (whilst he was charged with treason he could not give evidence on Wentworth’s behalf).    So what brought Joshua to Aghaboe.  A possible connecrtion is Wentwoth’s brother George, to whom he was close, who married Anne Ruish, sister of Strafford’s great friend Eleanor Loftus, second daughter and co-heiress of Sir Francis Ruish, of Ruish Hall, at Castletown, M.P. for Offaly, and of the Privy Council in the reign of King James I.  It is tempting to conjecture that Wentworth’s agent, whose many building projects included Jigginstown and Black Tom’s Cellars at Dunlavin, might have also built the early houses at Aghaboe, to which his family may have moved after Wentworth’s fall and Joshua’s imprisonment – the funeral entry in naas tells us that Josua Carpenter, Esq., was borne at Liaie in Devonshere ; hee tooke to wife Ursula, daughter of Richard Vinegor of Sackfield Hall, in the Nine Parishes, SufFolke, Esq., by whome hee had issue foure sonnes, viz. John, Thomas, Josua, and Phillipp ; and five daughters, Cissillia, Anne, Arabella, Ursula, and Mary

Next door in Cross lived Anthony Cashin whose family were the ancient proprietors of Aghaboe under the Fitzpatricks.  Conoly Cassin of Aghaboe was a doctor of physic who like many others fled from Ireland to France on the arrival of Cromwell and returned on the restoration.  He practiced in Dublin where he published a medical text in 1667


Aghaboe House from the Incumbered Estates sale particulars

The Vicarage of Aghaboe belonged to the Carr family, who took up the vicarage for their own family on several occasions – the vicar of Aghaboe, in 1744, was Thomas Carr. In 1841 George Carr.  Sheffield City Archives holds a marriage settlement dated 3 November 1812 relating to land at Aghaboe between  The Rev. Thomas Carpenter Carr of Aghaboe and Frances Susanna Mongan, daughter of the late John Mongan of the County of Monaghan.   This last gives us the clue as to how the Carrs came to the area.    Joshua Carpenter’s granddaughter Ursula, daughter of Thomas Carr (son of Sir George Carr of Yorkshire) of Donore, in the County Kildare, died on the 26th of May, 1675, “and was buried the 27th of the same month in the towne [? tomb] of her grandfather, Josua Carpenter, Esq., in the chancell of the Nase [church]. (from the funeral entry).   The ‘Dublin Evening Post’ of 11th April 1797 noted that John Carr of Mount Rath was searching for a distiller.  ‘Saunders Newsletter’ of 9th December 1805 published a letter of thanks from John Carr of Mountrath to the Globe Insurance Company for making good his losses following a fire in his corn stores, a mere three days after taking out the policy. The following year the ‘Saunders’ edition of 8th December 1806 advertised a sale at the Excise Office of 12,000 gallons of seized spirits, distilled by John Carr of Mountrath, under seizure for non-payment of excise.  He was finally declared bankrupt in August 1811, and emigrated to Canada.  In 1797 Thomas Carr was recorded as having 593 acres between Aghaboe, Cross and  Friar’s Land

But where do the White family fit into this jigsaw?  In 1657, during the last years of Cromwell’s protectorate, Charles White arrived in Ireland from Oxford.  Whether he was a soldier, a cleric or an adventurer is not at present known.  He married a Miss Lyons of Meath and acquired Kilmartin and Raheen, just outside Borris in Ossory, which remained the main family home till the 20th Century.  By 1748 his grandson Charles was living at Aghaboe, married to Elizabeth Spunner from Milltown House at Shinrone.    Charles’ second son Robert  who was born in 1748 and married Charlotte Hamilton (dau of James Hamilton of Sheephill & Holmpatrick) in 1779 died at Aghaboe in 1814.  Ledwich noted in the statistical Account of Aghaboe in 1798 that the parish contained some plain comfortable houses, as Mr. Robert White’s, at Aghaboe;   In 1825  James White, late of Aghaboe, in the Queen’s County,  died and the property was inherited by his brother Hans White, named in honour of his illustrious Hamilton ancestor –   the Rev Hans Hamilton,  who was the son of Archibald Hamilton of Raploch, and first protestant vicar of Dunlop in Ayrshire.  His name was actually John, which is Johannes in Latin, and so shortened to Hans.

Hans White, who married Anne Armit, daughter of John Armit  of Dublin in 1825, was killed in a riding accident 4 years later in 1829  It was reported that he parted from friends at 1 o’clock in the afternoon who came upon him minutes later lying in the road just by his own gates, having fallen from his horse.   His eldest son,  General Sir Robert White,  was commissioned into the 17th Light Dragoons on 15 October 1847.  He fought and was severely wounded at the Battle of Alma in September 1854 during the Crimean War. He was also badly wounded at the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854 in the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade.   He went on to be Commander of the 22nd Brigade, based at Norton Barracks in Worcestershire, in 1873  and General Officer Commanding Eastern District in September 1882.   In 1868 General White married Charlotte, the daughter of the Rev John Meara of Headfort, Co Galway.  They had 6 children: Hans Stannard White, Robert FH White, Henry Ernest White (who married Lord Ashbrook’s daughter and lived at Knockatrina)  and 3 other children

One would assume that Ledwich himself was leasing Aghaboe House, but that conflicts with Robert White being there.  Ledwich writes about his orchard and farm at Aghaboe, but maybe it was on the site of the current glebe house, that was not built till 1820.  Ledwich does note that it was very hard for a Vicar to find accommodation in the parish, and that one might have to live at some distance.  He himself was brought up at Oldglas, where Granston Manor is now, about 6 miles away, which he then rented when he was first appointed to the Vicarage.   The 1786 Post Chaise Companion says “At Aghaboe on the R is the seat of the Reverend Dr Edward Ledwich near the church”  That surely has to be Aghaboe House.  In 1777 Taylor & Skinner show it as being the seat of the Rev. Dr  Carr.  Maybe the Whites had a house on the site of the present Grange.

However  in 1854 Aghboe was sold under the Incumbered Estates Act by Robert White (presumably the General).  It was bought by Parnell Maillard of Huntingdon, Portarlington,  who leased it to Jerimiah and Anna Maria Dunne.  Their son Francis Xavier Dunne was a private in the Machine Gun Corps and was killed in the battle of the Somme in 1916.  Hans White, the general’s son,  acquired the freehold in 1876, but the Dunnes remained tenants until Anna Maria Dunne’s death in 1926.  For the next 10 years Hans White’s brother Robert FH White leased it to Thomas Collier, and then from 1935 to 1968 to John Baggot.  The house was then abandoned and fell into a state of dereliction before being rescued in the 1980s by Mike Fitzpatrick, an American descendant of a local family.  Sadly in the intervening years much of the finest interior detail had been pilfered by thieves and vandals – the very fine Adamaesque black marble fire surround reappeared mysteriously in a house in the suburbs of Waterford City, and shutters and bannisters were senselessly smashed by omadhauns.

The main house at Aghaboe was built at two district periods – the seven bay South front  facing the road is the earlier, perhaps around the 1730s when the Whites moved in, or more probably dating from a far earlier time – the 1630s maybe, but was done up in the 1730s. The South front has a fine Kilkenny limestone door case, possibly of Colles manufacture, with a fanlight in the pediment that was probably put in in the 1750s.   The north front is of 5 bays, the centre bay having an arched door on the ground floor, above which is a Venetian window beneath a shallow pediment.   Twelve paned sash windows on the ground floor, with smaller 6 paned windows upstairs, and a steep tall roof with coved ceilings in the bedrooms.    The staircase is on the north side of the house, rising round three sides of the hall with a cut string and ramped hand rail. It is very similar to the nearby Cuffsborough House.  The rooms all have shouldered doorcases and a heavy chair  rail, and had raised and fielded panelled shutters with  4 panelled doors upstairs and 6 panelled doors downstairs.

Some of the yard buildings have very fine chalk pointing, a detail which suggests a date of the 1760s.

The Buildings of Ireland Survey describes Aghaboe thus:- “Detached seven-bay two-storey Georgian house, built c.1730, with pedimented doorcase. May incorporate seventeenth century fabric. Double-pitched and hipped roof with replacement fibre-cement tiles and nap rendered chimneystacks. Replacement nap render to front elevation wall over random rubble stone. render removed to rear, with cornice to eaves. Square-headed window openings with limestone sills, limestone voussoirs three-over-three and six-over-six timber sash windows. Round-headed door opening with pedimented stone doorcase and timber panelled door with overlight.”

Aghaboe Grange

Detached three-bay two-storey Victorian house, built c.1880, with veranda to front having gablet over entrance. Double-pitched and hipped slate roof with nap rendered chimneystacks and overhanging eaves. Nap rendered walls. Square-headed window openings in segmental-headed recessed arches with two-over-two timber sash windows.  It was built by the General, Sir Robert White, and is now the home of Roger White.

Grange_HseImage source: Source:

Aghaboe Glebe

Where Ledwich’s successor John Morris lived, who became Vicar in 1791, we do not know.  However by 1806 he was residing in Wales by permission of the Bishop for the benefit of his health and his duties were discharged by his Resident Curate The Rev Thomas Jackson at a Salary of 75 per annum.  (Carlisle’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1810)

Morris’s successor Joseph Thacker built the glebe-house by aid of a gift of £100 and a loan of £1350 from the Board of First Fruits in 1820;   Thacker was still there in 1840, according to Lewis’s Topography.  The glebe house is a simple 2 storey over basement 3 bay house with a hipped roof, with a fanlight over the front door.









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