Parish of Borris-in-Ossory
Source: Carrigan "The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory" Vol. 2 (1905)
It at first consisted of the two districts of Borris-in-Ossory and Knockaroo, cut off from Aghaboe, in Summer, 1855. The townlands of Clononeen, Springfield, Gortavotha and Kyleogue South, and portions of Mundrehid, Caher (Retrenched) and Caher (Custodia), were added from Camross, later on in the same year. The boundaries of the parish then remained unchanged till May, 1875, when Skirke, or Killismestia, detached from Rathdowney and made a separate parish in 1840, was broken up, and part of it restored to Rathdowney, and the remainder permanently annexed to Borris-in-Ossory.
The parish at present embraces the entire civil parish of Skirke, with portions of those of Aghaboe, Donaghmore, Rathdowney, Rathsaran, Kyledillig and Offerlane. It lies mostly within the Barony of Clandonriagh, but includes also a part of Clarmallagh and a small part of Upperwoods. Its area is about 17,266 statute acres.
The earliest reference to Borris-in-Ossory is found in the will of Brian Oge, Lord of Upper Ossory, made in 1581, in which he bequeaths to his Lady the castle or "house of Borreidge."' On the 2nd January, 1626-7, Borris and about ninety other townlands in Upper Ossory, wrested from the old proprietors, were granted by Charles I. to his favourite, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and were at the same time erected into a manor to be known as the Manor of Villiers. The stirring events in connection with the siege of Borris castle by the Irish in 1642 have been noticed already.
Under Cromwell's regime the Duke of Buckingham was confirmed in the manor and lands of Villiers. In 1693, a Catholic gentleman named Owen Carroll, who came from the neighbourhood of Seir-Kieran, took a lease of the entire manor from the Duke's representatives, George Rodney Bridges, Esqr., and the Right Hon. Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury, his wife, for 31 years, at a yearly rent of £1750 and about 1705, he further took a reversionary lease of same, for 11 years, from the said George Rodney Bridges, Esqr., and John Bridges, his son. Mr. Carroll had been an active supporter of the Jacobite cause, and was, in consequence, outlawed by the Williamites, on the 11th of May, 1691, under the description of "Eugene Carroll, of Kilmaine, Queen's [recte King's] County, Esquire;" but he must have, soon afterwards, received a Royal pardon.
On becoming tenant of the manor of Villiers he settled down in Borris-in-Ossory, either in Borris castle, or in the central portion of Borris House, which adjoins it. He had one son, Barnaby, his heir; and one daughter, Susannah, wife of Mr. John Grace, of Borris, brother of Mr. Michael Grace, of Gracefield. By his will, dated from Borris-in-Ossory, Dec. 1st, 1722, and proved Nov. 29th, 1723, he directs his remains to "be decently buried in the church of St. Kieran [Seir-Kieran] near my ancestors;" he appoints his "dutifull son, Barnaby," his sole executor, and bequeaths him all his rights, &c., to the manor of Villiers in Ossory, and his right, &c., "to the town and lands of Clonbrone, with their appurtenances, set by me to David Prichet of Killyan, in the King's County;" he bequeaths £1,000 each to his four grand-children, Owen, Oliver, Elizabeth and Eleanor Grace, both whose parents were then deceased ; he leaves his nephew Daniel Carroll £200 ; and lastly he leaves £20 "to be disposed of in charitable uses," and five guineas to [Father] "John Cassin of Borris aforesd., gent., to furnish him with mourning."
Barnaby, his "dutifull son," is well remembered in the traditions of Upper Ossory. Owing to the penal laws, which pressed so heavily on his humbler coreligionists, but which had special terrors for Catholics of wealth and position, he had to practise his religion with the greatest possible secrecy. For a time he succeeded in doing so, without detection, though his movements were closely watched by those who expected to reap benefit from his downfall. He was at length betrayed by one of his own maid-servants, in reality a spy, who had entered his employment solely for that purpose. One Sunday morning she saw him, through the key-hole, in his parlour attending at Mass and receiving Holy Communion. She forthwith reported her discovery to the proper quarter; and Barnaby Carroll's doom was sealed. His cattle and sheep and all his belongings, throughout the whole manor of Villiers, were seized and sequestered, and he himself had to consult for his safety by a hasty flight. Bearing with them what gold they possessed, a considerable amount, he and his lately-wedded wife made their way to France, whence they never returned.
Only the shattered first storey, and fragments of the second storey of Borris castle remain. The walls are now 25 or 30 ft. high, but, when entire, they were probably more than double this height ; they are all built of rough, unhewn stones, even the quoins being untouched with a chisel. All the doors, windows and loops are destroyed. The ground storey is, internally, about 40 ft. from north to south, and about 25 ft. from east to west it is divided, longitudinally, in the centre by a wall, now nearly destroyed, from which sprang two lofty parallel arches of stone running the whole length of the building and supporting the second storey. In the north wall, near the north-east corner, was the entrance door; it led, in front, into the eastern division of the ground floor, and, on the left, to a long, straight stairway, in the thickness of the east wall, by means of which the second storey is reached. The south wall is but 5 ft. thick the east wall, containing the stairway, is 7 ft. thick. Probably this castle dates from the 15th century or even earlier. Fitzpatrick, its owner and occupant, is traditionally said to have been a cruel, stern man.
Beside the castle is the very large, lofty mansion called Borris House. It consists of a centre and two wings. The centre is the original house, and was at first thatched and much lower than it is at present. It is not quite certain whether it was here or in the castle that the Carrolls lived. When Barnaby Carroll's faith brought him under the ban of the penal laws, about 1730, three vultures named Richard Despard, William Carden, and Walter Stephens, swooped down on his ample substance to seize and devour it. Stephens, or Squire Stephens, as he was afterwards called, took possession of the evicted papist's home in Borris Carden found Lismore more suited to his tastes; Despard's share in the plunder is unknown. Stephens, for some time at least before his death, resided in the old part of Borris House. He was succeeded by a friend of his named William Smith, who raised the old House and added one of the wings. Smith, at his death, left his property to one King who had to adopt the name of Smith, and thus became King-Smith; he added the second wing. Since King-Smith's time, about 1795, Borris House has been occupied by a great many different tenants.
About 1850 the Duke of Buckingham sold out his estates in Upper Ossory. At the sale, a Dr. Carroll, of Dublin, no relative, however, of Owen and Barnaby, purchased the Borris Castle Farm, 347 Irish acres, and 50 other acres in its vicinity. The property has descended to his son, the present owner.
Borris House is built over the foundations of a demolished portion of Borris castle or of another castle adjoining it. Underneath the House are ancient cellars, still intact and utilized as store rooms.
RILLIG.-About 100 yds. south-east of the castle, at the south side of the Dublin road, stood the Castle chapel. Its walls were removed a century ago or more, to build Borris mill, and it is said that in consequence the mill has brought ill luck to all who have worked it ever since. Only slight traces of the chapel appear, but still quite enough to mark its site distinctly. They show it to have stood east and west, and to have been 45 ft. long and 21 ft. wide. There is no fence enclosing it, and no trace of a churchyard; unbaptized children are, however, buried here. It is called " the Rillig," i.e., Rellig or the graveyard.
The "Priest's Garden" is about 200 yds. east of the Rillig, and 300 yds. east of the castle ; it measured 4 or 5 acres, but its fences are levelled, and it is now divided by the Dublin road, part being in the Rillig field, and part in the Castle lawn. There can be but very little doubt that the priest from whom it was named and whose name is forgotten, was Dr. John Cassin, P.P., Upperwoods and Aghaboe, and that the house in which he dwelt in his old age, and in which he closed his last day, must have stood on this very spot.
The Down Survey Maps of 1657 show a cluster of several large houses, on and around the site of Borris castle, from which it appears that even then there was a village of some kind here. "This place," says Lewis, "was formerly of some importance; being bounded on the north by the river Nore, and encompassed on every other side by bogs, it formed the great pass to Munster."
ANCIENT ROAD-The mail coach road from Dublin
to Limerick passes through the one long street of which Borris consists.
A little over a hundred years ago the old road, instead of running as
at present, came on from Roscrea, through Ballaghmore (Ossory), to the
old bridge of Munniamore and thence over the Nore bridge to the west end
of Borris town ; it then turned on to the left, between the town and the
Nore, and thence by the north side of Derrin castle to Cashel, where part
of it is still untouched between Cashel graveyard and the Brandybush Fort;
and thence it continued to Rushall, Castletown, Mountrath, &c. This
appears to have been the original course of the ancient Pass from Tara
to Munster referred to in Gaelic records as " "Bealach mor in
Qsraidhe" (the Great Pass of Ossory),
According to O'Donovan, the Irish form of the word Borris is buirghiar, which word means burgage land. Burgage is described as "a tenure in soccage proper to cities and towns, whereby lands or tenements are held of the King or other lord for a certain yearly rent." Irish speakers in County Kilkenny call Borris-in-Ossory "Burras-mooar- Usseree" (búirghiar-mor-osraidhe), or Borris-more-in-Ossory. There are a Borrismore in Urlingford parish, and a Borrismore and a Borrisbeg in the parish of Conahy, near Three Castles Bridge. In Kilkenny, the Irish speakers call Borris, in Co. Carlow, Biurrasodhrone (Borris in Ui-Drone), and Borrisoleigh they call Burrcasolheeach (Borris in the territory of the Ui-Luighdheach).
DERRIN CASTLE, now a ruin, was a large three-storeyed house of the early part of the 17th century. The side-walls of the top storey have been taken down. The gables at each end are surmounted by diamond-shaped chimney-stacks. Its last occupant is traditionally said to have been Dorothy Hedges, who lies buried at Aghaboe since 1675.2 Extensive traces of foundations appear all around the castle. Derrin most probably represents Doirín (a little oak-grove), a common townland name generally met with under the form Derreen.
The church of Knockseerach stood on the summit of a bare, rocky hill, 615 ft. over the sea level, and taking in a truly magnificent view of the Queen's County, Tipperary and Kilkenny. The south and west walls are entirely uprooted; the north side-wall is 18 in. high all along. The east gable, which just appears over the surface, was cut through in the centre, with a view to the construction of a burial vault, in 1897. The cavity thus formed shows that the foundations and floor of the church are fully 4 ft. beneath the present surface ; that the east gable is 3 ft. 2 in. thick, and built of stone and lime mortar or grouting; and that part of the ancient altar, 3 ft. thick, and built of stone and clay mortar, still remains up against it (that is, the east gable) on the inside.
The external width of the building is 25 ft. The entire length is 50 ft., but of this only 38 ft. of the east end can be called the church proper, a strong, thick wall having cut off 12 ft. of the west end, apparently for a presbytery. This church is of the hoariest antiquity, and its erection is locally attributed to its patron saint himself, viz., St. Kieran of Ossory.
Knockseerach graveyard is all a sheet of rock, without as much as a single inch of earth to cover it. The graves have to be quarried, and then, having received their tenants, are filled up with rocks, not even a scraugh being available to lay over the top. Nevertheless it was, till recently, a favourite place of sepulture, and corpses have been known to have been carried here for interment from very long distances. There are about a dozen inscribed monuments, the oldest of which dates from about 1750. The graveyard was enclosed with a good wall about 20 years ago.
There is a " St. Kieran's Bush," a hawthorn, in the north-west corner of the burial ground. "St. Kieran's Well" is three or four hundred yards to the north, in the townland of Derryvorragan; it is a holy well, and was formerly frequented on the 5th of March. Four or five hundred yards north-west of the well, there is a rock on which St. Kieran is said to have left the impression of his two knees as he knelt there in prayer.
During the penal times, in the early part of the 18th century, Mass used to be said in the Black Quarry, immediately outside Knockseerach graveyard wall, to the south west.
KYLEBEG AND KILCOTTON
The townland of Kylebeg derives its name from a church that stood here many centuries ago. The site, known to but very few, is in "the old churchyard," in Mr. Bennett's "old meadow," about 20 perches north of the townland of Carhooreagh and adjoining a field in Kylebeg called "the ferny hill." There is no trace whatever of the church; and the churchyard has nothing to distinguish it from the surrounding land save a slight unevenness of surface, an aged hawthorn, and some remains of a trench or fosse.
Kilcotton represents the Irish Cill-Catain, that is, the Church of St. Catan or Caddan. The Martyrology of Donegal commemorates a St. Catan on Feb. 1st, and another saint of the same name on Dec. 12th. There is no church-site in Kilcotton, nor is there any tradition that such was ever here. From this it may be safely concluded that Kylebeg and Kilcotton, which adjoin, are but sub-divisions of one and the same original townland, and that the church of Kylebeg was the ancient church dedicated to St. Catan.
The Church of Lismore (the great Lios or fort) is 46 ft. 9 in. long, internally, by 22 ft. 4 in. wide, and had no division into nave and chancel. Part of the east gable has fallen, bringing with it most of the east window, which, judging from what remains, was a few feet high and very narrow. The north side-wall is gone to the foundation. The eastern half of the south side-wall is very much damaged the western half stands to its original height, about 9 ft., is 34 in. thick, and is excellently preserved. The west gable is 27½ ft. wide and 32 in. thick. The entrance door is in this gable, but, strange to say, not in the centre of the wall, being 4½ ft. nearer to the north than to the south end. It is round-headed, inside and outside, the arch being turned with thin, small flags laid on end; it is 5½ ft. high; one of the sides is broken away, but the remaining side shows a decided incline after the usual fashion of Celtic doors. As far as it is now possible to form an estimate, the original width of the door, at the ground, must have been 3 ft. 3 in., and at the turning of the arch 3 ft. 1 in. In the centre of the same west gable, high up, there is a small, very narrow window, flat at top, and splaying internally; its sides are broken and its dimensions, consequently, cannot be taken.
The east gable and the adjoining half of the south-side-wall, batter to a height of three feet, are built of stones of ordinary size, and present no appearance of very high antiquity. The remaining half of the south side-wall and the west gable, rise perpendicularly from their foundations, are built of very small, thin flags and hardest grouting, and, taken in connection with the inclined entrance door, must be assigned to a date anterior, perhaps by some centuries, to the Norman Invasion.
This church was dedicated to St. Canice and hence was known as Kilkennybeg that is, the Little Church of St. Canice-in contradistinction, no doubt, to the Saint's more important churches at Aghaboe and Kilkenny. The name Kilkennybeg still remains attached to the field adjoining the church on the south, and separated from it only by a modern fence ; the field itself in which the church is situated is sometimes called " the Lawn," and sometimes " the Church Field."
The only inscribed monuments in the graveyard are
two or three altar-tombs of the middle of the 18th century.
The "castle" or rather castellated house, of Grangemore, is a four-storeyed building of the beginning of the 17th century. The walls are 3 ft. thick ; the doors are defended by port-holes; the chimney-stacks are lozenge-shaped. Its ancient proprietors were the Phelans.
The townland of Mundrehid lies in the Barony of Upperwoods and civil parish of Offerlane. Being situated on the north bank of the river Nore, it originally belonged to the territory of Leix, and was not annexed to Ossory till about the ioth century. There was a monastery here in early times. The Four Masters record the obits of two of its Abbots, thus: -
The latter abbot was probably identical with St. Mainchen, surnamed the Wise, of the Church of Disert Gallen, parish of Ballinakill, whose feast day is the 2nd of January.'
St. Laisren (pronounced Leshareen), also called Laisre, Molaisre, Molaisse and Laserian, the founder of Mundrehid monastery, and, later on, the patron of Mundrehid church, was son of Lughdech, son of Nathi, a descendant, in the sixth degree, of Cathaoir Mor, Ard-Righ of Erin. He must not be confounded with his namesake, the patron of Leighlin Diocese, who was son of Cairrill, a prince of Uladh, and whose festival occurs on the 18th April. The acts of the life of St. Laisren of Mundrehid are not recorded. His feast day is Sept. 16th, on which the Martyrology of Donegal commemorates him, thus:
The text of the Feilire of Aengus on the same day has:
On this passage the scholiast of Aengus comments thus:
From these extracts it is plain that Mundrehid, or Mena-droichid, signifies the bridge over the river Mén (pronounced Mayne), now the "Thoorthawn river," which, rising in the Slieve Bloom, and flowing between the townlands of Ballyduff and Thoorthawn, crosses the public road at Mundrehid, under a modern bridge or droichid, and soon empties itself into the Nore. It may be well to note that Mén is the nominative case; Meana (pronounced Mayna) is the genitive form.
At the junction of the Thoorthawn river, or-to give
it its ancient name- the Mén or Mayne river, with the Nore, there
is a wide stretch of boggy land, which, till the deepening of the bed
of the Nore, in 1847, was a great swamp or lake. A slightly elevated tract
of grass land, of wonderful fertility, fringes this bog, at the west side
of the Mayne river ; on it stood the ancient monastery of Mundrehid and
The Church stood in the "Churchfield," but only its foundations are now visible. It was 14 yds. long by 7 wide. The east and west gables and north sidewall, all built of very rough stones, remained fairly perfect till 1872, when they were taken down and the materials carted to Mundrehid House. A fence lately constructed by the south side of the church, separates the "church field " from the "old church field" and leaves the graveyard, which is a full acre in extent, almost entirely in the latter. Any gravestones that may have been here were removed several years ago, the graves all levelled, and the graveyard itself was converted into a potato garden, by the unchristian vandal who owned it. The old name of this church was Eglish, i.e., eglais (in Latin. Ecelesia) or the Church, as appears from the Down Survey Books. In 1838 the name had assumed the form of Teampul na h-eaglais, i.e., the Church of Eglish, which is somewhat tautological. An old man whom the writer met in the neighbourhood, in 1896, pronounced the name exactly Thomple-nay-galish. (accent on nay).
About 100 yds. east of the church, nearer to the Nore, is the "Friar's Garden." It is a quarter of an acre in extent, and is the richest piece of land in Mundrehid. Almost touching the church and graveyard, to the west, is Gortavoatha, a field of two acres, which had evidently been connected with the monastery; there was a moat in it, but it was small, and is now nearly blotted out.
All memory of St. Laisren, or Leshareen, the patron,
Mundrehid castle is situated on the part of Mundrehid townland which belongs to the parish of Camross. It has been all removed except a piece of one of the side-walls, 20 to 30 feet high, 5 feet thick, and rudely built of thin flags. In Mundrehid bog, a little to the rere of the castle, a large three-legged bronze pot, and a bronze sword, 2 ft. long, with rivet holes for the securing of a handle, were found not many years ago; they are now carefully preserved at Mr. Walpole's, Mundrehid House. A slab removed from O'Duigin's castle of Cloncouse, to the garden of Mundrehid House, has the following inscription, which, though apparently incomplete, is, nevertheless, perfect
"I.H.S. 1636 I.N.R.I. JOHN."
Teige M'Fynyne [Fitzpatrick], of Moydrehed, gentleman, and Fynyne M'Teige [Fitzpatrick], of same, Kern, had "pardons" on the 30th June, 1556. By Inquisition of March, 18th, 1613-14 it was found that Teige McDonnell [Fitzpatrick] and Fineen duffe McDermot [Fitzpatrick] of Moyndrohit, were then seised of the town and lands of Moyndrohitt. In 1641 the Duke of Buckingham, jointly with Teige Fitzpatrick, held the townland of Mondrehitt and Eglish, 957 ac. Dr. Thady Fitzpatrick who died in 1674, ancestor of the Fitzpatricks of Ballogh and Ballybooden, was son of Teige Oge of Aghkipp, son of Dermot of Ballyrelin, son of Teige Oge mcTeige of Mundrehid.
John O'Donovan, in his Ordnance Survey Letters, writes, in reference to Skirke' parish:-" I have no historical reference whatever to this parish, nor do I believe that any is to be found. The name appears to be identical with Sciric, in the County of Antrim, which is mentioned in the Lives of St. Patrick, but we know nothing of its meaning." The parish anciently belonged to the Priory of St. John's, Kilkenny. At the suppression of the religious houses, in 1540, the Prior of the said Priory of St. John's was found seised, inter alia, of the Rectory of Scaricke (Skirke) of the annual value, besides all reprises, of £3 10s., and of the advowson of the same; these were leased to Walter Cowley of Brownstown, gent., on the 6th April, 1541, and were subsequently granted, for ever, to the Mayor and Corporation of Kilkenny city.
The old church of Skirke, which ceased to belong to the Catholics at the Reformation, collapsed quite unexpectedly, about the year 1835. The east gable is standing; it is 28½ ft. across and 3 ft. thick, and so densely covered with ivy that none of its features are apparent. Some fragments of the south wall, which was 43 in. thick, and contained the entrance door, yet remain; all the rest of the building has been uprooted, the materials being utilized in the erection of the graveyard wall.
In the graveyard is an altar-tomb inscribed
There is another monument here erected by Rev. Martin Bergin, P.P., Aghaboe, to his parents Andrew Bergin and Margaret Delany.
There also lies in the graveyard a slab of cut-stone, chamfered at the edges, which was formerly part of a chimney-piece in Skirke castle. It was brought here, for preservation, by some thoughtful person, when the castle was being demolished. It has an inscription, still perfect, in large, raised Roman capitals, of which the following is an exact copy:
The inscription is 17th century work. The date should probably be read "1 Julii' 12," i.e., 1612.
The Blessed Virgin, under the title of her Assumption, is the Patron of Skirke. Her holy well, called " Lady's Well," is a little to the north-east of the church. The old holy well was destroyed more than a century ago; but ever since, a well of pure spring water, now known as "Lady's Well," rises up to the height of a yard, in the partially decayed trunk of one of the old ash trees that grew over it; it never goes dry; the people hold it in great veneration.
Skirke was much frequented by pilgrims on the pattern day, Aug. 15th, till about 1830. Even still " rounds " are occasionally made here. The pilgrims began their devotions at the south-west angle of the old church; they then went round the church, left-hand wise, three times, on their bare knees; and then finished their "rounds" at Lady's Well.
"St. Molua's Well" is in Castlequarter, in the next field to Lady's Well. It, too, is holy. The fact of his holy well being so near the church would go far to show that St. Molua was the original patron of the church and parish of Skirke.
The MOAT OF SKIRKE, 100 yards south of the church, is a very large circular rath, enclosed by a fosse and internal rampart. At the north side, but within the enclosing fosse, is a high earthen moat or citadel with another fosse around its base. In the centre of the rath stands a large, rough pillar-stone, 8 ft. high. Two other pillar stones, but smaller, are pointed out at a short distance beyond the enclosure. Altogether this very fine rath covers ¾ of an Irish acre. It was evidently the residence of some chief of note in early times. It much resembles Portnascully rath, in Mooncoin parish.
In the Castlequarter of Skirke, a little to the east of the Church, stood Skirke castle, the ruins of which were removed early in the 19th century. It belonged to the O'Duigins or O'Deegans, during the first half of the 17th century. Dyrmot O'Duygan McWilliam, of Skirke, husbandman, had a pardon, June 10th, 1601. John Dwygin, Irish Papist, forfeited part of the townland of Skeirke and Rathintubbride in 1653. He is probably the John Duigin mentioned on the slab described above, lying in Skirke graveyard.
O'Heerin states that the family of O'Duibhginn or O'Duigin were originally seated in the Co. Wexford. It is handed down by tradition that one of the name secured an estate in Upper Ossory by his marriage with a lady of the MacGillapatricks. John O'Dovygen of Ballaghmore, gent., was "pardoned" in 1566. He is the first member of the Ossory O'Duigins of whom records make mention. Teige O'Duygyne and John oge O'Duygyne, yeomen (i.e., farmers), brothers of Corbeh of Kill (now Kyle of St. Molua), were pardoned in 1585-6. During the next twenty years several others of the name, in Upper Ossory, had pardons. William O'Duygen of Kilballeduff (now Kyle of St. Molua), husbandman, perhaps father of Dyrmot O'Duygan mcWilliam above of Skirke, was pardoned in 1601; he was again pardoned as of Killclanfert (i.e.. Killclonfert, another name for Kyle of St. Molua), in 1602 and by inquisition of 1613-14 he was found to have been seised of the townland of Balliduffe [otherwise Kilballeduff above].
His son, Philip O'Dwigin fitzWilliam, gent., pardoned in 1602, died Dec. 24th, 1629. By inquisition of Sept. 24th, 1631, it was found that he had been seized during his lifetime, of the fee "of the townlands of Ballyduffe, Killclonecoise [recte Kill or Kyle and Cloncoise, now Cloncouse] and Rahyn, containing 4 messuages, 630 acres of arable and pasture lands, and 1340 acres of wood and moor; that John Duigin his son and heir was 24 years old at the time of his (Philip's ) death, and married ; that Ellis, late wife of the said Philip, had her dowry out of the premises and £10 yearly as jointure; and that the premises were held of the King in free and common soccage.
The said John, son of Philip, lived in Cloncouse, in the old 17th century castellated mansion, now in ruins, known as Cloncouse castle. He was most probably the founder of this castle, and was certainly the person commemorated on the inscribed stone removed from Cloncouse to Mundrehid and already referred to.1 He forfeited his estate under Cromwell in 1653.
The Cloncouse family were long the custodians of the
Mionn-Molua, or Bell of St. Molua, of Kyle. This precious relic came from
his maternal grandmother, who was descended from the O'Duigins of Cloncouse
castle, to the very Rev. John Egan, P.P., Birr, and V.G. of Killaloe;
and was by him (who died 1870) presented to the late Mr. T. L. Cooke of
Birr. The people of Kyle and its neighbourhood were accustomed to swear
on or before the bell, in cases of dispute, down to the beginning of the
19th century. The manner of swearing was to place the right hand on the
bell and to call God and St. Molua to witness the truth of whatever was
asserted. The false swearer of such an oath would, according to popular
belief, be immediately, visibly and terribly punished; and cases have
been cited in proof of this belief.2
It is also called Garranmaconly, that is, the Grove of the Son of Conghalach. Garran castle consisted of five storeys, and had no stone arch; the windows, doors and chimney-pieces are all of cut-stone; the walls are but 5½ ft. thick. The north and east walls collapsed to the foundations, about 1863, leaving the remaining walls still perfect. This castle, which appears no older than the middle of the 16th century, belonged to the Lords of Upper Ossory. It was occupied, in 1601, by John Fitzpatrick, who subsequently removed to Castletown.3 Barnaby Fitzpatrick, Irish Papist, forfeited Garran McConlly, 305 ac. and, with it, the townland of Lisballyteige, Garnreagh and Skeirkhill, 139 ac., under the Cromwellian regime. In 1665 one "Peeter Buckley" paid hearth money for 4 hearths in Garran. The castle was occupied by the Vicars family near the end of the 17th century.
Garryduff, or the Black Field, borders on the County of Tipperary. In a part of the townland, 40 Irish acres in extent, and known as Clooneen (the little meadow), is "Clooneen graveyard." The church of Clooneen is gone, leaving no trace behind. Part of the churchyard has been enclosed by a stone wall by the Board of Guardians. There are several head stones, but none inscribed. Interments are very rare. Outside the graveyard wall, to the north, beside the little stream, is a holy water stone of the most primitive description, being nothing more than a bowl-shaped hollow, 14 in. in diameter and 6 in. deep, cut into the extremely rough surface of a bluish limestone rock several feet long and 2 ft. wide.
In the western part of the second field south of Clooneen
graveyard, is a plot ¼ of an acre in area, full of little hillocks
and called " the Old Street." An irregular enclosure in the
same field, an acre in extent, and known as "the Orchard," is
the site of the ancient and long obliterated Monastery of Clooneen. There
is a tradition that the cut-stone window-frames of this monastery were
carried away to Aghaboe and again set up in the Abbey there. South-east
of the Orchard, and, again in the same field, a low pillar-stone standing
upright on a hillock marks the entrance to a cave.
Ballinakill, in this neighbourhood, probably represents the Irish Beul atha na cille, i.e., the ford of, or leading to, the church. Part of the townland is called Ballyweskill. Ballymullen, another townland in this neighbourhood, appears as Bealamullin, in the Down Survey Books, from which it is evident its Irish form is bheul atha a' mhullin, or the Mill ford.
Rathnaleugh, according to Dr. Joyce, means the fort of the leamh, or marsh rnallows. There was a church here which the old people call Kilclaena, that is, the bent or inclining church, or the church (in the townland) of Claenagh. In the Down Survey Books the name is written Kilklienagh. The church which must have been founded here in a very far-off age, has disappeared as completely as if it had never been. The churchyard is almost on a level with the surrounding field, and preserves no trace of the fence that once enclosed it; there are some rude headstones. The last adult buried here was a woman named Judy McCann, who is said to have been 6 ft. 3 in. in height, and to have possessed great bodily strength and endurance; she died about 178o.
Locally the churchyard is best known as the "Yew Tree Graveyard." It is so called from a venerable yew tree that grew, about 6o yards to the west, over the "Yew Tree Well." An ancient road led from the Co. Tipperary, over a togher or causeway at this well and thence through Rossmore, &c. St. Patrick once travelled along the road. When he came to the togher, being both weary and thirsty he sat down by the well to rest himself, and partook of its clear, pure waters. Ere resuming his journey he took a yew rod, which he had been carrying in his hand, and planted it in the bank beside the well. The rod took root and grew into a great tree which, after shading the Yew Tree Well for many centuries, at length decayed through old age, and rotted away completely about the year 1838. This bit of local tradition gives some reason for concluding that Kilclaena or Kilklienagh church and well were dedicated to our National Apostle.
In 1653 Edmund Fitzpatrick, Irish Papist, son of Florence, Lord Baron of Upper Ossory. and ancestor of the present Lord Castletown, forfeited Castlefleming, Shianderry. Cooletrim, Brockerry, Knockie, Knockicar and Dirrine Morisha, 932 ac.; Garriduffe, 232 ac.; Bealamullin, 700 ac. I r.; Rathnaleugh and Kilklienagh 217 ac.; part of Tullecomene and Rahinsheara and part of Culowly.
This name probably signifies Awley's Corner (Cuil-amhleibh) There is an ancient church in "the church field" in Coolowly (Plot). It stands east and west, was well built of good limestone, and measures internally, 38 ft. long by 21 ft. 3 in. wide, the walls being 3 ft. thick and the side walls 9 ft. high. A considerable portion of each gable still remains, together with some fragments of the south side-wall. There was no division into nave and chancel. The entrance door, now destroyed, was in one or other of the side-walls. There was a narrow loop, 20 in. high, in the west gable, 4 ft. from the ground and directly over it, at a height of 2 ft. was another narrow loop now a mere breach. Of the narrow east window only one of the frame-stones, cut and chamfered, remains in situ. The site of the church is all rocky. There is no appearance of a graveyard.
About 100 yards south of the church is an irregularly-shaped oval enclosure, 60 perches in area and raised 2 or 3 ft. over the surrounding land; it is defended by a fosse and external rampart. The enclosure shows no trace of buildings or foundations; it may have been the burial place belonging to the church.
There was a castle in GORTNALEE (field of the calf), near the road from Donnaghmore to Killismestia chapel. The walls, built of green stone, remain to a height of 4 ft., but are very ruinous they are from 4 to 5 ft. thick. Internally the building was 30 ft. by 20 ft. It is probably very old.
KILLISMESTIA signifies Smeeshth's (i.e., Smithwick's) Wood. There is a Thubhcrasmeeshtha, or Smithwick's well, near Tullow, parish of Freshford. There is a curious enclosure on Mr. Lowrey's land, in Killismestia. It is shaped like a rath and is flat at the top. At one of the corners is a small chamber about 5 ft. square, its walls being 3 ft. thick. This is probably the site of Killismestia castle, which is entered on their maps by the Down Surveyors.
KILLADOOLY clearly signifies the Wood of the O'Dooleys Raheenshaera. Fitzpatrick's Raheen, and Ballymeelish, the Town of Myles (Milis).
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