Rynn House

Arnold Horner’s recent book Mapping Laois reproduces a map of the demesne of the earliest pre 1800 Rynn House, Rosenallis, in the foothills of the Slieve Blooms, with huge fish ponds.  It seems to be in a different location from the house called Nutgrove on the 1840 OS map, and from the house called Rynn on the 1890 OS map (apparently where the glasshouses were in the walled garden).  He proposes that the fishponds might be relics of an early 18th or late 17th century garden.   If any readers have  any snippets or nuggets,  please let me know.

Lodgefield map from the NLI circa 1790

Much of the information and pictures  below are courtesy of Peter Moss from his web site http://www.mossclan.co.uk

Henry Croasdaile   (1708-1778) the eldest son of Thomas Croasdaile of Ballinroan, Woodford, Co Galway,  married  Mary Despard, dau of Richard and Elizabeth (nee  Warburton)  Despard of Cranagh circa 1730, about 12 miles south of Rynn.   http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D228430.

The had a son Richard who was High Sheriff of Queen’s County in 1772 and married Elizabeth Sandes in September 1775.  Burkes says that this Richard inherited Rynn.  However other evidence suggests that the Croasdailes already owned Rynn by the early 1700s 

Henry’s father Thomas Croasdaile   (1684-1740)  witnessed a land sale in 1721 of Robert Jackson of Mountmellick,  so Croasdaile presumably had interests in Laois at that time.

McRedmond, Louis. “Irish Appeals to the House of Lords in the Eighteenth Century.” Analecta Hibernica, no. 23 (1966): 245-55 led me to a case of “Despard, Croasdaile , Croasdaile  , Shaw, and Ringrose vs Ormsby et Uxor.  1715,” which brings the Croasdailes into Laois before about 1710, and give them an association with the Despards.

After hearing Counsel, upon the Petition and Appeal of William Despard Esquire, Thomas Croasdaile Esquire, Henry Croasdaile Gentleman, Robert Shaw Esquire, and John Ringrose Gentleman, Executors of the last Will and Testament of Thomas Croasdaile Esquire, deceased, from several Orders and Decrees made in Her Majesty’s Court of Exchequer in Ireland, in a certain Cause, wherein Arthur Ormsby Esquire and Dorothy his Wife, William Usher Esquire and Lettice his Wife, were Plaintiffs, and the Petitioners, together with the Executors of the last Will and Testament of Sir Henry Waddington Knight, deceased, Simon Lord Bishop of Elphin, Gilbert Ormsby Esquire, William Butler and Dame Abigail his Wife, Relict of the said Sir Henry Waddington, and others, were Defendants; praying Relief in the Premises; and that the Orders and Decrees abovementioned, and all subsequent Orders and Decrees made in Pursuance thereof, may be reversed: As also upon the Answer of the said Arthur Ormsby and Dorothy his Wife, and William Usher and Lettice his Wife, put in thereunto; and due Consideration of what was offered thereupon:

Judgement affirmed, with Costs.   It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the said Petition and Appeal shall be, and is hereby, dismissed by this House; and that the Decrees; Orders, and Proceedings, therein complained of, shall be, and are hereby affirmed: And it is further Ordered, That the said William Despard and other Appellants shall pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Arthur Ormsby and other Respondents, the Sum of Sixty Pounds, for their Costs. More here

The War of the Spanish Succession and Clare’s Dragoons

It also appears that the Croasdailes were definitely at Rynn by 1715 from  the story of Patrick O’Meighan

Patrick Molaise O’Meighan was the fourth son of Christopher The O’Meighan. He was born at Ballagh Castle, Rossinver in County Leitrim in 1693. After the Treaty of Limerick, the family lost their estates. Patrick was taken down to Tipperary by his mother Margarita, along with his brothers Rourke and William.

Later the three boys were brought out to France by their brothers James and Charles. After spending some months with James and his family, Patrick joined the Queens Dragoons Irish Brigade which was commanded by his cousin Sir Oliver, Count O’Gara. Patrick served in the French Army and was discharged in 1715.

(Ed Note Christopher’s widow, Margarita O’Reilly and the three youngest children moved from the Ballaghmeehan (now Rossinver) area of County Leitrim to a farm called Kilcoran, just west of Cahir in County Tipperary, which had been purchased for them by a family friend. James married Elizabeth Russell. One of their children was Guillaume Alexandre de Mehegan, a noted professor, writer, and political activist.)

He transferred to the regiment of Viscount Clare and took part in the Battle of Ramilles in 1706. He shot the horse from under the Duke of Marlborough and would have killed that Duke but for the fact that he himself was shot and left for dead by a fellow Irishman in the English Army named Field Marshal The Honorable Richard Molesworth. Thus the great Duke’s life was spared to bring last minute victory to the English which they would not have achieved had an Irishman not saved Marlborough’s life. The colours of Clare’s regiment were hung in the Abbey of Irish Benedictine Nuns in Yrpes.

After the battle, Patrick was taken prisoner by the English. An English Army surgeon saved his badly shattered leg and took a bullet out of his arm. (He walked for the rest of his life with a limp.) When he recovered, he was released on bond as was the custom of the time – on the condition that he would not try to escape or rejoin his regiment, or the French or Spanish forces. He accepted the conditions of the bond, and – since he had no money – he remained around the English camp doing odd jobs in the Mess for the Officers. In fact, he became a second manservant to the Colonel – speaking in both Irish or French, depending on what language the Colonel spoke to him. Croasdaile wanted to become fluent in both languages and was glad to speak with O’Meighan who was fluent in both. Croasdaile told him he would give him some land and make him a Farm Steward on his estate if ever they got back to Ireland alive

At the close of the hostilities and the Treaty of Utrecht in 1715, Patrick was released from his bond and rejoined his regiment but was discharged on account of his injuries. He went to La Salle to visit his elder brother James who was governor of that town. While staying with his brother, he met and married Bridget Fitzpatrick, daughter of Florence Fitzpatrick of Ossory (who had also been in the Irish Brigade). After his marriage, he remained for a while with James and his family, before returning to Ireland.

On his return to Ireland, he spent some time with his mother before getting in contact with his old friend Colonel Croasdaile. Croasdaile was delighted to see him and made Patrick and his wife welcome. True to his word, he gave Patrick a large farm and cottage at nominal rent, for three generations, and made Patrick his tillage steward. So he then settled in Rosenallis in Queen’s County. By this time Patrick had two daughters, who stayed with their grandmother (Ed – Mary (Butler) Fitzpatrick. She was a sister of Major Piers Butler of Urlingford Castle & niece of Lord Galmoy, wife of Thomas Fitzpatrick of Castletown) Patrick O’Meighan died in 1744.

A man hunt in the Slieve Bloom

Daniel Meehan, who was employed on Henry Croasdaile’s estate in the 1770s, was presumably his son or grandson.  His descendants were still livening near Clonaslee at the time of Griffith’s Valuation in 1840 and in the 1911 census. The current generation is said to live near Portlaoise.

He recounted the incidents that led to Henry Croasdaile being dismissed as a Justice of The Peace.  “A priest hunter was in the Rosenallis area in search of an outlaw cleric and his inquiries led him to Rynn and the estate of Henry Croasdaile, where he sought to recruit the Justice into a hunt for the clergyman known to be sheltered by Richard Pigott of Capard. Croasdaile calmly beckoned the young Daniel Meehan and told him to saddle two horses, one for the Justice and one for himself, and to bring his hounds around to the front of the house, clearly giving the priest hunter the notion that he was preparing to join the search. While waiting for Meehan to return, Croasdaile casually engaged the man in small talk for several minutes. Seeing the lad trot up on a horse with a second in tow, a pack of excited, barking hounds clustered about the horses’ legs, his demeanour changed utterly and he quickly mounted his beast, stared down at the priest hunter and said:

“Sir, I have hunted the deer. I have hunted the hare and the fox. I have hunted the wolf.  But you sir, are the first man I will have hunted. Get back on your horse, because I will give you a sporting chance before my hounds start to chase”.

The startled, terrified man quickly did as commanded and leapt on to his mount, galloping away down the avenue without another word. Croasdaile then turned to the young Meehan and told him that they would ‘drive that vile wretch from the neighbourhood’. Clearly relishing the experience, he yelled `Tallyhoe!’ and took off after the priest hunter with a pack of yapping dogs in his wake. Meehan followed at a gallop and up ahead he saw the panic-stricken priest hunter tumble from his horse, but with one foot caught in his stirrup so that the animal dragged him the last few yards along the avenue and through the gate. The undoubtedly bemused Meehan rode ahead of Croasdaile and secured the runaway horse, then freed the battered, bruised and trembling priest hunter’s foot from the stirrup. Croasdaile arrived moments later and the pack of yelping dogs surrounded the terrified man, but were trained not to attack without command. The priest hunter pleaded for mercy as Croasdaile’s horse danced slowly around, towering over the terrified man. The Justice then warned the man never to show his face in Rosenallis or to come near the estate again or he would not get off so lightly. He told Meehan to help the man to remount, and the now-ragged priest hunter fled to Maryborough where he laid his complaint.   “When I approached this Justice (Croasdaile) and asked for a privy interview, on learning my business, spoke to me in a loud menacing voice and with oaths declared that he had foxes and wolves and deer to hunt and that he would in no wise hunt men. Then he used by body very shamefully.” (Grand-Jury Records, removed to Record Office or Royal Irish Academy). Henry Croarsdaile’s name did not reappear in the list of magistrates till 1775, and he died in 1778.

Burn the house down!

There is a family story told about Henry’s son, Col Richard Croarsdaile, by John Lloyd Croasdaile (1894-1960)  that around 1800 his grandfather had his servants move the dining table out onto the lawn, set fire to the house, and the guests all dined as they watched the house burn down.  Apparently it was a method of getting rid of a guest who had overstayed her welcome.  But Richard Croasdaile had actually planned to demolish and rebuild the house anyway before the guest came and her unexpected visit interrupted his plans, and since she over-stayed her welcome which held up his plans to rebuild, he decided he would kill two birds with one stone.  

There are no accounts of agrarian unrest at Rynn in the 1830s.

The Dublin Evening Post  reported on Thursday 25 September 1823  that Major Henry Crossdaile  of Rynn had a game licence

In May 1853 Richard’s grandson John Croasdaile, Esq., of Rynn, was appointed a JP.  That year he commissioned Sandham Symes to design a new house for him.  Symes, who was trained by William Farrell and was a kinsman of Glascott Symes of Clonageera. He married Anna Jane Townsend, daughter of Richard Townsend and Helena Trench (a daughter of Dean Trench of Glenmalyre) in 1858. He died in 1889 and the house was inherited by their oldest son Lancelot Croasdaile and sold on his death in 1928


General Advertiser 7 May 1853
The back of the house
The house as designed by Sandham Symes
images ww.mossclan.co.uk They must have decided that balustrade above the porch on the earlier photographs was de trop
By the time the 1890 OS map was surveyed the east wing had gone.

An account of Rynn house from John Farrell who was born and raised in Rosenallis in a house overlooking Rynn house estate

“My Great Great Grandfather was a land steward for Croasdailes in the second half of the 19th century.  He lived in a house in Nutgrove, and his Grandson still lives in the same house. So from stories relayed to me by my Great Grandmother some years ago, it was obvious that the Croasdaile family were very good to my ancestors.

When I was at primary school I was lucky enough to get a photocopy of a typed manuscript of the history of Rosenallis by Fr. L.H. Croasdaile signed by him.  If you see the white fence posts in the picture, well I rescued some of them from the path of a bulldozer some 25 years ago.  They are made of Wrought iron, and my G Grandmother told me that when she was young that fence ran all the way from the main road to the house.  It was painted white and looked beautiful as the horse drawn carriages went down the avenue to Rynn House.

If you look in the townland of Nutgrove on Griffith’s Valuation of 1840, the first name is Thomas Scully, he was my 4th Great Grandfather and the second name, James Wisely was my 3rd Great Grandfather. Also the Royal Irish Constabulary record relates to my 2nd Great Granduncle who was born in Nutgrove in 1843, he reached the rank of Head Constable, as you will see he was recommended for enlistment by J. Croasdaile J.P. who was probably his employer up until then.

I have every reason to believe that there was no animosity what so ever (between generations of Croasdailes and the local people), and any accounts that I ever heard were accounts of generosity and kindness, and I would not believe that any local people would have burned down Rynn House. Its a great pity that Rynn House was ever demolished. I still don’t know if the Land Commission or the new owners had it demolished, I would guess the land commission demolished. A family of graziers called Corcorans got 75% of Rynn House estate when it was divided up in the 1930s. 

 As a young lad I earned pocket money running after cattle for different members of the Corcoran Family. So I know every inch of Rynn estate land. My Grandfather also herded cattle for Corcorans. My Grandfather was allowed to cut firewood for his own use in this wood so I spent a lot of time in this wood cutting down trees with bow saws, with my Grandfather.”

It is said that Jim Corcoran’s brother was a Land Commission functionary.

The organ in the catholic church in Rosenallis was built in 1946 by Fr Lancelot J Croasdaile , SJ,  the son of Lancelot Croasdaile b 1858 who married Mary Josephine O’Rourke.  He also wrote a book on the History of Rosenallis.

Rynn House in the 21st Century – a time of enlightened conservation?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s