Parish of Ballyadams
Source: Rev M Comerford "Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin" Vol. 3 (1886)
THE parish now so named comprises the old parochial divisions of Ballyadams, Tullomoy, Ballyquillane, Fontstown or Balmtubber, Tecolme, and part of Rathaspick.
This name is written Baile-Adam in the Four Masters; it signifies Adam's town or residence, but we have no account of the Adam from whom the name is derived. Perhaps he was Adam O'More. Lewis (Top. Dict.) states that this parish is sometimes called Kilmakedy, which would mean "the church of the flat-topped hill." The old church of Ballyadams is about three or four hundred years old. It is about 60 feet long, by 18 feet broad, and consists of a nave and choir, the latter being 22 feet in length. There is a Sacrarium in the usual place on the Epistle side of the altar, and a small lancet window close to it in the southern wall. A very pretentious monument of the Bowens is placed on the north side of the choir; it originally had recumbent effigies of Robert Bowen and Alice Hartpole his wife, but these have been destroyed. Around the three sides of the tomb are eight recesses, containing miniature figures of members of the Bowen family, with their names inscribed overhead. At top are placed the armorial bearings of Robert and Allis, or Alice, Bowen, with the date 1631, under which is the following inscription:
Another account of Ballyadams Church (the preceding is taken substantially from the Ord. Surv. papers), states that it was built by Robert Bowen, who was a Catholic. Perhaps he meant it to be, in some sort, in expiation of the share he had in the massacre of Mullaghmast, and the despoiling of the native Irish. The monument was erected by his son, Sir John Bowen, still remembered as Shawn-na-phica, or "John of the pike," from the very free use he made of that weapon in dealing with the unfortunate Irish in 1641. Alice Hartpole, the wife of Robert Bowen, was a daughter of Robert Hartpole, of Shrule, Constable of Carlow Castle in 1577. Ballyadams Church was subsequently used for Protestant service.
On the hill opposite the church, to the north, are
the ruins of the Castle of Ballyadams, which is said to have been built
by the O'Mores. The ruins consist of embattled walls, with projecting
towers, and a lofty keep. This stronghold was taken by the Geraldiues
in the rebellion of Silken Thomas. In 1546, as we learn from the Four
Masters," The Lord Justice (Sir William Brabazon)
with a great army into Leix, whither the Earl of Desmond came with a numerous
army to join him. They remained for fifteen days plundering that country,
and they took Baile-Adam, a castle belonging to the O'More, and left warders
From the Lord Protector and Council, to the Lord Deputy and Council of Ireland
An Inquisition, taken at Maryborough, 14th January, 1622, finds that Robert Bowen was seized in fee of the following: - the castle, town and lands of Ballyadame, the town and lands of Rathgilbert, the castle, town and lands of Ballentobrid alias Fontstowne, parcel of the lands called Dirrearowe, the towns of Crevagh and Ballitarsney, the town and lands of Killaganor, and the town and lands of Downebrinne, Ballintle, Killmohoide, Farraghmore, and Monestrebane; all which premises contain a total of 902 acres. These were (with other possessions) granted to the said Robert Bowen and his heirs in tail, by letters patent of Queen Elizabeth, dated 31st of August, 1578, and are now held of the king in capite by military service . - . The aforesaid Robert Bowen had a grant of the patronage of the parochial churches of Fonstowne alias Ballentobrid, and Killmoheide, and of the town and lands of Rossebrannagh, containing 5 acres, besides wood and brushwood, mountain or bog, &c., with a water-mill, parcel of the possessions of the late religious house of St. John of Athye, but by what right of tenure the jury is ignorant. . . . He was also seized in fee of One tenement and one garden within the town of Maryborough, which he holds of the king as a burgage. The said Robert obtained licence of the king to alienate all the aforesaid castles, towns, lands and tenements, as by letters patent bearing date the 22nd May, 1608, appears; by deed dated 2nd May, 1617, he enfeoffed George Hetherington of Tully, David Hetherir~gton of Ballirony, and henry Brereton of Loghtioge, of all the foregoing, for the use in said deed set forth. The said Robert Bowen died on the last day of July 1621. John Bowen is his son and heir, was aged 48 at the time of his father's death, and was married. The said possessions passed to the said John under the deed referred to.
BALLINTUEBER alias FONTSTOWN
Is an ancient benefice included in the present parish of Ballyadams. Fontstowu, i.e. "the town of the fount or well," is merely the English translation of the older Irish name Baile-an-tobair. In the ancient Taxation of the Diocese (see Vol. 1, p. 238) the Rectory of Fonston alias Ballintobber, is set down at £10 2s. Od., and the Vicarage at £3 is. Od. And in the Return of Dr. Ram, S.D. 1612, the Vicarage of Fontstowne is estimated at £7 sterling, tempore pacis, but reduced to £3, propter Rebellionem. The Protestant Church of Ballintubber occupies the site of the primitive parochial church; this is evidenced by the fact of Catholics being still interred in the burial ground attached to it.
The district now comprised in the Barony of Ballyadams is the ancient Ui-Buidhe, so called from an ancient sept who were seated there. Colgan states that the Church of St. Abban was located in the territory of the Ui-m Buidhe. AA. SS. p. 617.
A.D. 1010. Faelan, son of Dunlaing, lord of the Ui-Buidhe, died-(Four Masters.)
A.D. 1014 An army was led by Ua-Neill, i.e. Flaithbheartach, with the men of Meath and Breagha about him, into Leinster; and he plundered the country as far as Leithghlinn, carried off spoils and prisoners, and slew the lord of Ui-MBuidhe, and many others.-(Id.)
A.D. 1046. Conchobhar Ua Loingsigh, lord of Dal-Araidhe, was slain by the son of Domhnall Ua Loingsigh, in Leinster (i.e. in Ui-Buidhe), in violation of (the guarantee of) N jail, son of Eochaidh, King of Uildia, and of Diarmaid, son of Mael-na-mbo.
This living is styled" Rectoria seu Capella de Tullomoy" in Dr: Ram's Return, already referred to. At a short distance from the present parochial house, the site of the old church is pointed out, in a grave-yard which is no longer used.
An Inquisition taken at Maryborough, 18th of March, 1623, finds Henry Davells of Killeshin seized, inter alia, of the rectory .E Ballyquillane, with all the lands and holdings belonging to it, "which rectory extends into the town and lands of Ballyquillane, Cloghpooke alias Cloghpoole, Tomelevane, Nenagh, Ballecollen, and Curragh." The ancient church of this parish still exists in ruins at Clopoke. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. In Pat. Rolls, Edwd. 71. (p. 163, Morrin), we find Bernard Dempsie presented to the Vicarage of St. Mary of Bealaquillane, Nov. 24th, 1550. This church consisted of a nave and chancel; the nave measured 38 feet by 18; the chancel, which has a round-headed arch, 24 feet by 15. The door was at the south-west. There are traces of an east window, and also of two lancet windows in the nave, 9 inches wide on the outside, one in the north, the other in the south wall The remains of several priests repose in the graveyard in which this ruin stands; over some of whom the following inscriptions appear:-
The Rev. William Comerford, a native of this district, who died at Carlow College, 19th of April, 1794, is also interred here.
In the immediate vicinity of Clopoke is a place called "the Mass field," where the faithful used to assemble for the celebration of the divine mysteries in the penal times.
The following description of the Dun of Clopoke (i.e. "the fort of the goblin's stone"-O'Donovan) is given in Goughs Camden :-" The Dun of Clopoke, about five miles from Dunarnase, is a curious object; it is a conical hill of limestone, its diameter on the summit is 312 feet, and round it ran a wall.
Its base was defended by a double entrenchment; from the base to the top it measures in some places 150 feet, being very precipitous and strong on every side. Under the N.E. side of the hill is .a cave running 36 feet, and about 10 feet wide at the mouth,-a receptacle for robbers in former ages. The monument, Clough Leachdain, is about 8 feet high, and is situate in the middle of a field near this Dun." "The rock was artificially fortified," writes O'Donovan (Ord. Survey Letters), "and still exhibits portions of an earthen work on its extremities at the top. The cave, which appears to be a natural one, is, as yet open, runs to an extent of 7 or 8 yards into the rock, and is from 5 to 6 or 7 feet high. It is said this cave runs farther into the rock than at first appears to am observer, and that a narrow passage, leading from it, gives admission to an internal part which is extensively wide, and the height of a man. The stone from which the Dun probably took its name, stands in a field about half a mile distant. The name by which it goes now, is liagan, which is a generic name for all such standing stones. It is about 7 ½ feet high, of unequal breadth, being about 4 feet 2 inches on one side in the broadest part, and about 22 inches on another side, which seems to be all of an equal breadth. Some persons who dug the earth around it out of curiosity to find bow much of it was sunk in the ground, reported that there was as much concealed as appeared over ground. This is the Clogh liahdan in the passage quoted from Gough's Camden."
In the Vita Tripartita of St. Patrick, written by St. Evin, it is stated that St. Fiacc, Bishop of Sletty, used to go, on Shrove Tuesday, to a cave on the hill of Drum-Coblai, bringing with him five barley loaves mingled with ashes. At the end of Lent he returned to Sletty to celebrate the festival of Easter with his brethren, bringing with him a portion of one of the loaves. The learned author of the Loca Patriciana identifies the cave at the Dun of Clopoke as that to which St. Fiacc used to retire for the penitential observance of Lent. It is distant about 7 miles north-west of Sletty. There lingers still, he remarks, in the locality a tradition that in long ages past a Saint used to retire to this cave to pray and fast, after which he returned to his distant church by a subterraneous passage leading south, which is supposed to be still in existence.-(,See Loca Patr. 19 5-6.)
"On the other side of the valley," writes Daniel O'Byrne.- Hist. of Queen's County"southwards, is the Dun of Luggacurren, on the north side of which is a cave 6 feet high, by 4 in width. The cave . . . is about 80 feet above the level of the plain, and about 200 feet below the summit of the Dun." In March, 1881, a Cist-vaen, or pagan Irish tomb, was discovered on the farm of Mr. Kilbride of Luggacurren. It contained a quantity of human bones, some of which, especially the frontal of one skull, and some femora, were in a good state of preservation. It also contained two earthenware urns, richly ornamented with zig-zag pattern (one of which, through the kindness of Mr. Kilbride, is in the possession of the writer), and some bronze rings.
About two miles south of Clopoke is an ancient place of in-terment, called Shanavally (old town). On a mountain flagsstone is traced the device of a Celtic cross, the rest of the stone being left in the rough. .Local tradition assigns this to mark the grave of a bishop.-(O'Byrne, Hist. Queen's Co.)
The O'Kellys were from a very early period seated in the neighbourhood of Luggacurren, their territory, termed Feran O'Kelly, or the country of O'Kelly, described in O'Heerin's topographical poem, as like the fertile Land of Promise, is traditionally described as extending from the ford of Ath-Baiteoige to the ford of Ath-fuiseoige, near Luggacurren. This territory is shown, on an old map of Leix and Offaly, as extending from Ballymaddock southward to the hills of Slewmargie, and as comprising Ballymaddock, the Park, the churches of Grange and Oghteoge, the church of Clopoke, and the Castle of Coragh. - (O'Donovan-note to 4, MM. ad an. 1394.) In Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, it is related that an O'Kelly of the reign of Elizabeth married a daughter of O'Byrne of Glenmalure, Co. of Wicklow, and for her reception built a dwelling in a week, the site of which is still known by the name of shanagh-clough, or "the old stone." A dispute having arisen between the wife of O'Kelly and a man named Macgloud, who was in her husband's employment, he in revenge conspired with FitzGerald of Morett (not of Kilkea, as Hardimau erroneously states), who under the guise of friendship visited O'Kelly. O'Kelly received him kindly, and had him to act as sponsor to his child; the child and its mother were found dead in their bed the same night. O'Kelly does not appear to. have suspected FitzGerald of having had anything to do in compassing the death of his wife and child, as he, shortly after, accompanied FitzGerald to Morett. FitzGerald having brought O'Kelly to the ramparts of the castle, had his head struck off. He then wrote to the Queen, informing her that he had despatched a chief rebel, named O'Kelly, who was in close alliance with the O'Mores; whereupon he received from her Majesty a grant of O'Kelly's territory. It appears that John Bowen of Ballyadains, whose daughter was wife of FitzGerald, bated O'Kelly, and made use of his son-in-law to make away with him. The O'Mores avenged O'Kelly by slaying FitzGerald and burning his oastle. FitzGerald, the subsequent owner of Luggacurren, called Short Garrett, sold the estate to Sir Walter Whelan, who again sold it to Daniel O'Byrne. This Daniel 'O'Byrne was son of Loughlin O'Byrne of Ballentlea, near Red Cross, in the County of Wicklow. Loughlin had two Sons, Denia and Daniel. Denis inherited the estate of Ballentlea; Daniel, who was a clothier, amassed a large fortune, chiefly by army contracts. Daniel's son, Gregory, was created a baronet, and 'lived at Timogue Castle. Sir John, grandson to Sir Gregory, married a daughter of Sir Peter Leyster of Pointon, Cheshire, whose son, Sir Peter, assumed the name of Leyster. During his minority the Irish property was sold, and other property purchased in England. The Marquis of Lansdowne became the purchaser, in whose family it still remains.-(O'Byrne.)
For further interesting and amusing particulars regarding this branch of the O'Byrnes, see information supplied to O'Donovan from MS. written by O'Byrne of Fallaghbeg, who was born in 1716.-Note to Four Masters, ad ann. 1578.
Adjoining Corbally are the remains of the old church of this parochial district, the name of which signifies "the house of St. Colum, Colman, or Columba,"-these names being radically the same. The saint who gave name to this place is, most probably, St. Colman of Oughaval, Parish of Stradbally, who was of the family of the O'Mores of Leix, and a disciple of St. Columbkille, under whom he spent some years at Iona. He established himself at Stradbally about the middle of the 7th century.
Of the church at Tecolme only the west gable remains, in which was the doorway. Mounds indicate the outlines of this church, from which it appears to have been about 36 feet long by 18 wide. It is called in the locality, Teampull. A graveyard, in which it is situate, has ceased to be used for intermen Us.
This parish is partly in the union of Ballyadams;
other portions being in the Parish of Doonane and in that of Clough, Diocese
of Ossory. The name signifies "the Bishop's Rath." In the Martyrology
of Tallaght, on the 16th of February, 'is registered, Oengus Epa. Ratha
nae Espuc, i.e., "Oengus, ..Bishop of Rathaspick." In the Martyrology
of Donegal, too,
"The monastic ruins of Rathaspic,-the Bishop's fort,-on the estate of Sir William Grace, Bart.," writes Brewer, "formerly presented an interesting object. Its ivy-mantled walls, high belfry, and large east window, were conspicuous in the scenery. From the materials of these ruins the adjoining church has been lately erected. In the topographical collections of Sheffield Grace, a faithful representation of these very ancient ruins, as they appeared previous to 1813, is preserved. Their Gothic simplicity, and apparent antiquity, with the broken outline of the monastery walls, present a happy subject for the pencil. The monastery was apparently on a small and humble scale, and was probably only a cell subordinate to the more considerable establishment of Old Court, situated in the townland of Clonpierce, about two miles from hence. To the family of O'More the foundation of both is ascribed. At the distance of about 150 yards are the remains of a Rath. This probably is. the feature which enters into the name of the place. Under the site of the buildings connected with -the former church, three vaulted chambers continued, until 1813, in perfect preservation; in one of which was a well of remarkably fine spring water. In these vaults were found, some years back, two cumbrous door-keys, with curiously constructed wards and handles, together with an ill-shaped drinking vessel and some coins. In the adjoining fields have been also found many pieces of ancient coin, a short dagger or sword of brass, and a pin, five inches long, with a chased brooch of brass, adorned with yellow stones. About a quarter of a mile north of the church is Mill-town Castle or Ballyvuilling, consisting of a square tower and some other remains of a fortified mansion, with a modern dwelling-house annexed."
In Gough's Camden it is remarked that "at Milltown have been found many brass rings and heads of halberts, tokens of the engagement of Ballylehane." The Grace family, the descendants of Raymond le Gros, have been settled at Shanganagh,-re-named from them, Gracefield,-since the 17th century.-(See chapter on Aries). Amongst the P.Ps. registered in 1704, as then in the Queen's County, we meet with John Brady, residing at Shanganagh, in the Barony of Ballyadams, aged 28, P.P. of Tankardstown, ordained in 1697 at Cork, by John Baptist Sleyne, Bishop of Cork, and he had as sureties, Richard Keating of Shanganagh-more, Farmer, and Edward Keating of the same, Farmer. It appears probable that Fr. Brady acted as chaplain to the Grace family, and that he entered himself as P.P. of Tankardstown to evade the terms of the penal Law, which forbade any but P.Ps. to remain in the country.
SUCCESSION OF PASTORS
KEDAGH MOORE, as we learn from the Registry
of 1704, then aged 59, was appointed in 1680 to the united parishes of
Ballyadams, Fonstown, TulIy, Clopoke, Tecolme, and Rathaspick; he was
ordained in 1674, at Kilkenny, by Dr. James Phelan, Bishop of Ossory;
he resided at Corbally; and he had as sureties, Henry Toole, of Luggacurren,
Gent., and Theobald Denn of Killabban, Gent. Roger Moore, who is buried
at Clopoke, and Bryan Moore, buried at Arles, are stated to have been
brothers of Kedagh. Fr. Moore died in 1709, aged 64, and was succeeded
MOORE is the name of the next P.P. of Ballyadams of whom we have an account. The Returns of 1731 (See Vol. I., p. 268) state that in Tullomoy there was one priest, name not given, who said Mass in a private house. In Dean Skelton's List of 1733 (Vol. 1., p. 274,) Moor, junr., is given as PP. of Clopoke. This may have been the Rev. William Moore, P.P. of (name obliterated) who died on the 19th of April, 1766, aged 66, and is interred at Arles.
JOHN BRENNAN is named as RP. of Tullomoy and Ballyquillane, in a Return of 1766 (See Appendix). The time when this p astor died has not been ascertained. He was living in March, 1770, as we learn from a letter of Dr. Keeffe of that date (Vol. II., p. 251). The line of succession for some time after the demise of Fr. Brennan is uncertain. A Father Dooley is supposed to have succeeded Fr. Brennan. It is also stated that Rev. James O'Neill, who became P.R of Maryborough in 1789, had charge of the parish of Ballyadams for some -time previous. Rev. Win. Travers, P.P. of Baltinglass, from which place he had to fly in 1798, ended his days in this parish.
REV. JAMES BYRNE, Parish Priest of his native parish, Luggacurren, Ballyadams, and Wolfhill, died on the 7th of February, 1816, and is interred at Clopoke;-(Note by his grand-nephew, the late Rev. James Kilbride, P.P. of Clonmore).
REV. MAURICE HART succeeded. He presided over the parish for 29 years, and died in 1844. His remains lie interred in the chapel of Ballyadams.
REV. EDWARD FENLON was the succeeding P.P. He died on the 7th of April, 1874, aged 74, and is interred at Ballyadams.
REV. THOMAS KEHOE, the present pastor, succeeded, having been translated from the parish of Clonbullogue.
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