Parish of Maryborough (Portlaoise)
Source: Rev M Comerford "Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin" Vol. 3 (1886)
THE present parish consists of a union of the ancient
Parishes of Borris, Dysart Enos, Straboe, Kilteale, Kilcolmanbane, and
AD. 1553. "A hosting was made by O'Brien (Donnell) into Leinster; and he had a conference with the English at the Fort in Leix, and he parted with them in peace."-Id.
In 1556, an Act of Parliament was passed (3rd and
4th Philip and Nary) disposing of the countries of Leix, Glanmalire, Irrey,
Sleumarge, and Offaly, "which were of late wholly possessed by the
O'Mores, the O'Conors, the O'Dempseys, and other rebels, and now, by the
industrious travail of the Earl of Sussex, Lord Deputy, brought again
into the possession of their majesties." This statute enacted inter
alia, "that the new Fort in Leise be, from henceforth for ever, called
and named Mary Burgh." This town still continued to bear its previous
Irish name of Port-Laoighise, i.e., Fort-Leix, and to be known as such,
up to the commencement of the present century.
A.D. 1570. Queen Elizabeth granted to the inhabitants of Maryborough a Charter of incorporation, which conferred upon them all the privileges enjoyed by those of Naas, Drogheda, and Dundalk, together with a market on Thursday.-Lewis's Top. Dict.
An Inquisition taken at Maryborough, 14th Aug., 1570, finds that Gingkene Hedrington, late of Ballyrone, died seized of the Castle of Ballirone and certain towns and lands in that locality, amounting to 484 acres, etc. "He held all the aforesaid castle, houses, etc., of the ladie Quene, as of her castle and manor of Maryboroughe, by the service of the twentieth parte of a knight's fee, and which was evicted and taken from the rebels the Moores, late called Leix, and were parcel of her crowne and inheritance as by authoritie and effecte of an Acte of Parliament holden at Dublin, within this realme of Ireland, the third and fourthe year of King Philip and Quene Marye, more at lardge appearethe. The saide Gingken and his heirs male are hounde to paye yearely unto the hands of the subtreasoror or Generall Receiver of Ireland, for and to the use of the said ladie Quene, her heirs and successors, for all the saide premises the some of £11 7s. 2d., Irish, and also he, and his heirs male for ever, shall give on custom plowe day, yearly, to the use of the Castell of Maryborough, for every plowe that is then plowing on the grounde. He and his heirs male are bounde to have, keep and manteyne, contynally upon the said castle, lands and all the aforesaid premises, thre horsemen of English native, both of name and blode, for the better inhabitinge and preservinge the premisses; and they shall have good and efficient horses and harness, and, uppon lawful warninge, geve attendannce with moste parte of their houshould and familye, in there defensable array, with the dayes victualls, to attend for the defence of the saide countrye. The saide Gingkene Hedrington was slayne by certayne rebells of the Moores, and died the 12th of Julye in the year aforesaid. David Hedrington is the sonn and heire of the said Gyngkin, and is of the adge of 22 yeares and above."
A.D. 1580. John, the son of the Earl of Desmond plundered Port-Laoighise, after having slain some of the guards of the town. He carried away from them accoutrements, armour, horses, weapons, and various wealth. In short, he plundered seven castles in Leix in (the course of) that day."-Four Masters.
"A.D. 1597. Captain Tyrrell, Captain Nugent, the Kavanaghs, the O'Conors Faly, the O'Mores, and the Gavall-Ranall (the O'Byrnes of Ranelagh, Co. Wicklow), were making great war, plunder, and insurrection in Leinster . . . On the 7th of December they slew two bands of soldiers that were stationed in Port-Leix."-Id.
"A.D. 1598. A great hosting was made by the Earl of Ormond, to place provisions in Port-Leix. When they had advanced a certain distance on their way, they were met by Owny, the son of Rory Oge, son of Rory Caech O'More; by Redmond, the son of John, son of John of the Shamrocks, son of Rickard Saxonagh (Burke); and by Captain Tyrrell, namely, Richard, the son of Thomas Oge Tyrrell. On this expedition the Earl of Ormond lost more than the value of the provisions in men, horses and arms; and it was with difficulty the Earl himself escaped, after being wounded."-Id.
In the Description of Ireland, Anno 1598, we read-" The new planted inhabitants have bene so molested coutinuallie with the multitudes of the first natives thereof, and the Omoores, and especially at this present, as that they have in a manner recovered the countrie again and expelled all the Inglysh inhabitants saving 3 or 4 which contayne themselves within their castles till they be relieved from Ingl. These Omoores was almost extinct, but they have increased againe chieflie for lack of good government . . . The chief Towne is Marie borrow ruled by a Portrie, and wherein is a Fort guarded with 150 Footmen or Sometymes 200, as need requireth, and some few Horsemen." Sir Henrie Power is named as Lieutenant and constable of the Fort.
In 1600, all the country of Leix, except the town of Maryborough, was in the hands of Owny MacRory O'More, the chief of the name. The Four Masters, in recording his death in that year, thus refer to him-" The same Owny, son of Rory Oge, son of Rory Ceach O'More, who had been for some time an illustrious, renowned, and celebrated gentleman, was slain by the Queen's people in an overwhelming and fierce battle which was fought between them on the borders of Leix, in the month of August in this year. His death was a great check to the valour, prowess, and heroism of the Irish of Leinster and of all Ireland. He was, by right, the sole heir to his territory (of Leix), and had wrested the government of his patrimony by the prowess of his hand and the resoluteness of his heart, from the hands of foreigners and adventurers, who had its fee-simple possession passing into a prescribed right for some time before, and until he brought under his own sway and jurisdiction, and under the government of his stewards and bonnaghts, according to the Irish usage; so that there was not a village, from one extremity of his patrimony to the other, which he had not in his possession except Port-Leix alone."
"In 1635, the Corporation of Maryborough obtained from Charles 1st a grant of two fairs. On the breaking out of the war in 1641, this was one of the places held by the Confederate Catholics; it was seized by Owen Roe O'Neill in 1646; in the Journal of the Irish Rebellion it is said that the General (Owen Roe O'Neill) gave up the castle, the town (Kilkenny), and the hostages into the hands of the Nuncio. Everything being arranged, they received his blessing, and all the troops marched on Monday, Sept. 28th They went to Port-Leix. Before surrendering the town, Sir Phelim, the Colonel of the Horse, called on the garrison to surrender. They replied that they would not, until they saw the General and the cannon. The troops now arriving, a drummer was despatched to demand, formally, the surrender of the place. The Governor demanded hostages from the General, and accordingly Bryan O'Neill, MacHenry, and MacTurlough of the Fews, were sent. Sir William Gilbert then came to the army and, on seeing the force and the cannon, he agreed to capitulate, receiving permission for the garrison to carry away all their moveables. Port-Laoighse, was given in charge to Phelim O'Neill, MacDonnell, and MacHenry. In 1648, the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics agreed to the proposed Truce with Inchiquin, and soon after publicly ratified the Peace with Ormonde. All this was done despite the most emphatic remonstrances of the Nuncio. The Nuncio had reason to fear even for his personal safety, for which reason, he with the Bishop of Clogher privately took his departure from Kilkenny on the 8th of May, 1648, passing over the city wall which adjoined his residence, and pursuing his journey, accompanied only by two attendants, in a litter which awaited him outside one of the least frequented gates of the city. (Rinuccini MSS.) He halted for a short time at Ballinakill, from which place he addressed a letter to General Preston exhorting him to uphold the Catholic cause, and thence he proceeded to Maryborough, were Owen Roe O'Neill was then encamped with a small body of troops hastily collected. This fortunate escape, which reminds one of Paul's, from Damascus, was made precisely seven days after the Nuncio's rejection of the Truce, and, on the 27th of May, be pronounced sentence of excommunication and in interdict against all who adhered to the said cessation, and remitted same to be published in Kilkenny. This document, issued from Kilminsie in the vicinity of Maryborough, was fixed on the church doors of Kilkenny. . . On the twelfth day after his arrival in Kilminsie, while the Nuncio and O'Neill were in private conference, a messenger rushed into the apartment and announced that Preston, with 10,000 men, was marching on Birr, within four miles of the camp. Preston, however, did not advance, and ignorance of O'Neill's numerical inferiority saved the latter. Bidding a sad farewell to the Catholic General, whom the severance made weep like a child, the Nuncio, with an escort of 200 Horse, commanded by Henry O'Neill, set out from Kilminsie, Henry Roe O'Neill's house, for Kilcolgan."-Meehan's Confederation of Killkenny. New Ed. p. 255. Maryborough was subsequently re-taken by Lord Castlehaven; and, in 1650, the fortress was taken by the parliamentarian troops under Hewson, by whom it was entirely demolished. Under the Charter of Elizabeth, the Corporation consisted of a burgomaster, two bailiffs and an indefinite number of burgesses and freemen, assisted by a town clerk, sergeant-at-mace, and inferior officers. The burgomaster and bailiffs were to be annually elected on Michaelmas-day, from the burgesses, by a majority of their number, by whom also vacancies in that body were filled up, and freemen admitted only by favour. The burgomaster and bailiffs were by the charter compelled to take the oaths of office before the Constable of the Fort or Castle of Maryborough, which office though now a sinecure is still (1837) retained;* or, in his absence, before the burgesses and commons of the borough; the former is justice of the peace within the borough, and, with the two bailiffs, escheator, clerk of the market, and coroner. The town clerk is also sergeant-at-mace, billet-master, and weigh-master, to which office he is appointed by the burgomaster. By the Charter, the Corporation continued to return two members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when the franchise was abolished. The borough court, which had jurisdiction to any amount, was discontinued towards the close of the last century; and in 1829 the members of the Corporation had so diminished in number, that no legal election of officers took place, although the townspeople took upon themselves to elect a burgomaster, bailiffs, and other corporate officers; and in 1830, one burgess and two freemen of the old corporation held a meeting, at which the former was elected burgomaster by the latter, who were also elected bailiffs by the former, the townspeople also elected the same number of officers without any legal authority in either case. About 200 acres adjoining the town were formerly a common, which was enclosed at the Union, one half being divided between Lord Castlecoote and Sir John Parnell, Bart., and the remainder distributed equally among the 13 freemen, reserving a small rent for the widows of freemen, and since that period no freemen have been elected.- Lewis's Top. Dict. The property of the corporation was usurped by those who, by their office, were bound to preserve and defend the rights of the inhabitants to its possession. "The property attached or incident to the inhabitant householders of that place," writes Gale-Corporate System,-" as described and admeasured in the maps and records of the Down Survey, were of the most extensive and valuable nature, and usurped by the families of De Vesci, Parnell, Coote, etc. The first usurpation was brought about by a breakfast given to the exclusive and monopolizing burgesses, who having made an illegal transfer of a large portion of the property on that occasion, the shrewd Lady de Vesci observed, perhaps rather greedily, "as they, (the burgesses,) had given so much for a breakfast, why not try the effect of a dinner?" In a Return of all claims for compensation on account of representative franchises on the suppression of parliamentary boroughs, in 1800, we find the Right Hon. Sir John Parnell, Bart., and the Right Hon. Charles Henry Coote, receiving £7,500 each for the suppression of the members for Maryborough.
The only remains of the old Fort of Maryborough are a portion of a bastion and the walls; in the adjoining Presentation Convent another tower, which probably formed portion of this stronghold, is incorporated with the conventual buildings. A view taken in 1792, by Lieut. Grose, shews more of the building to have been then standing than exists at present.-Plate 83, Vol. II.
The original Parochial Church is supposed to have stood in the townland of Borris, but of this structure there are now no remains. An Inquisition taken at Maryborough, 11th May, 1692, finds, amongst the possessions in that locality, of William Earl of Limerick, attainted of high treason in the preceding year, was "part of a messuage called the Mass-house in Mary-borough, with a small portion of land belonging to it, then held as tenant by James Dunne;" it is very likely that the site referred to is that now occupied by a burial-ground, where stands the square tower of the former Protestant Church. The present Parish Church was built by the Very Rev. Nicholas O'Connor; the chancel and the façade with its flanking towers, were erected by the Very Rev. Dr. Taylor. Father O'Connor, Dr. Taylor, and Father Doyle, P.Ps. and V.Fs. are interred in the church. Their graves are marked by the following epitaphs :-
The Ridge graveyard is one of some antiquity. In it are interred at least three P.Ps. of Maryborough-(1) Father Malone, who, according to the Registry of 1704, was appointed "about the 1st Nov. after the conditions of Limerick." The inscription on his tomb is the following: "Here lyes ye body of the Revd. Darby Malone, who parted life J- 8th, 1723, aged 76 years. (2) Father Barron: "This stone was placed over the body of Revd. James Barron, Parish Priest of Maryborough for 30 years, by his parishioners. He departed this life the 25th March, 1789, aged 69 years. Requiescat in pace. Amen." (3) Rev. Jas. O'Neill, over whose remains appears a long and laudatory epitaph, setting forth that after first ministering in France, on his return he was appointed to the Parish of Mary-borough, of which he was P.P. upwards of 40 years. He died 23rd December, 1829, aged 96 years.
Sir Charles Coote, in his Statistical Survey of the Queen's County, P. 106, remarks that "the Ridge of Maryborough is a great curiosity, composed of limestone gravel, and runs about eight miles uninterruptedly, and above twenty, with small chasms, towards Tullamore and beyond it. The country, on both sides of the Ridge, is in many places moory; it appears to have been formed by the ebbing and flowing of water, and in some places it divides the upland from the moor. It is at the base from 60 to l00 feet wide, and slopes up gradually to the summit, where it measures above 20 or 30 feet in breadth, and is the leading county road; this must formerly have been of great moment, in the high country, to the garrison-town of Maryborough, which yet has the vestiges of its strongholds and towers; one round tower is still preserved, and part of a square one which was very strong; here the governor resided, and had a grand court. The gardens are yet taken care of," &c.
The foregoing description no longer applies; the square
tower having been completely obliterated some 50 years ago.
In the townland of Kyle there was formerly a chapel, the site of which is now marked by a heap of stones. This town land lies to the left of the Ridge-road leading from Maryborough to Mountmellick, and about one mile from the former. It is locally known by the name solely of Kyle, without any terminational designative to distinguish it from any other Kyle in this parish.-Ord. Surv. Letter.
In Liber Regalis Visitationis, 1615, it is stated: "There is a publique schoolmaster in this (Leighlin) Diocese, placed at Mariborough, the chiefest town in the Queen's County. The schoolmaster's name is Taylor, Bachelor in Arts, of good sufficiency, he bath a good nomber of schollers resorting to the schoole by reason of the English plantacion in the same and good disposicion of the inhabitants." The report on the same occasion regarding the Diocese of Kildare states :-
In 1824, the Presentation Convent was founded in this parish.
The ancient parochial district of Dysert, or Dysert-Enos, derived its name from the celebrated saint and Hagiologist, St. Aengus, surnamed Ceilé-de, or "the servant of God," who built himself a cell here, in the latter part of the eighth century, and where he resided for some considerable time, or else, to which he retired from time to time from Clonenagh for purposes of greater seclusion and mortification. Amongst his other religious observances whilst at this place it is related that he recited every day the entire psaltery, reciting the first fifty psalms in his Oratory, the second fifty under a great tree adjoining thereto, and the third fifty with his neck tied to a stake, and half his body plunged in a vessel of water. The precise spot which was hallowed as the abode of the saint, is not known, but many things lead to the belief that it was that now occupied by the burial-ground of Dysert, in which is the ruin of a comparatively modern Protestant Church, within whose walls may be distinctly traced the foundations of a smaller and much older edifice, no doubt the ancient parochial Church of Dysert. The saint removed from here to Tallaght, in the County of Dublin ; finally he returned to Clonenagh, over which he was appointed Abbot, and at the same time, as Dr. Lanigan shrewdly conjectures, presided over a monastery that had sprung up at Dysert-Enos. Amongst the reasons that would lead to this conclusion is the fact that an ancient round tower stood at Dysert up to almost recent times. In a "Memoir of a Map of Ireland," by D. A. Beaufort, LL.D., published at Dublin in 1792, the author gives a list of Round Towers, marking with an asterisk those that he had himself actually seen; the Round Tower at Dysert is amongst those thus marked.
"A.D. 1033. Conn, son of Maelpadraig, Airchinnech of Mungairit and Disert-Oengusa, died."-Four Masters. O'Donovan identifies this as Dysert-Enos, Queen's County, but O'Curry thinks it more likely that it was another place of the same name in the County of Limerick, near to Mungret, named in the passage. In his Life, St. Aengus is stated to have founded a monastery in Munster; and in the Introduction to the Bodleian copy of the Feilire it is mentioned that "once upon a time he fared from Disert Oengusa in Munster to Cool-Banagher, &c." "It was frequently the case," says Dr. Reeves, "that the same ecclesiastic was superior of two or more monasteries situated in different provinces, which owed their connection to the fact of their having been founded by a common saint, though geographically apart."
At Dysert stood a castle of the Piggotts, to whom large possessions in this district fell after the massacre and expulsion of the O'Lalors and the other Irish natives. A small portion of the walls of this stronghold still remain on the brow of the hill facing Dunamase. The following Inquisition, taken at Mary-borough, 7th Sept., 1607, indicates the grants made to Piggott by Queen Elizabeth in 1577, the year, be it noted, in which he was concerned with Cosby, Hartpole, and others, in the perpetration of the massacre of Mullaghmast:-
In State of Ireland, Anno 1598, Robert Piggot of the Desert, is named amongst the Principal Irish Gentlemen in the Queen's Co. In the Aphorismical Discovery, Vol. I., p. 128, is given the subjoined account of the taking of Dysert Castle by Shane O'Neill in 1646:-
The few who escaped with their lives from Mullaghmast owed their safety to the shrewdness of Harry Lalor of Dysart: "He, remarking that none of those returned who had entered the fort before him, desired his companions to make off as fast as they could in case they did not see him come back. Said Lalor, as he was entering the fort, saw the carcasses of his slaughtered companions; then drew his sword, and fought his way back to those that survived, along with whom he made his escape to Dysart, without seeing the Barrow."- Account given by Fr. John Whelan, P.P. of Portarlington, See Vol. 2, p. 316.
This ancient parish now forms portion of the union of Maryborough. The site of the old church is in Straboe townland, where some remains of it may still be seen, surrounded by an ancient burial-ground. The castle of Shean (Sidhean, i.e. "a fairy mount,") stands within this parish, on one of those high conical hills so common in the vicinity. This was one of the eight castles erected by Roger Mortimer, in 1346, as defences of his chief fortress and residence at Dunamase. Sir Richard Preston held it of Roger Mortimer, in 1397, as of the castle of Dunamaske, in right of his wife Margaret. In Patent Rolls (Morrin, 523,) we find the Queen writing to the Lord Deputy, March 5th, 1569, granting licence for George Delves to alienate the castle of Shyan, with the lands adjoining, also a letter of Attorney, dated April 9th following, whereby George Delves authorizes Sir William Fitzwilliams to surrender the letters patent made to him by the Queen, of the castle and lands of Shyan; and again, a record of the surrender of this castle and lands, and other lands in the county of Leix, on 20th April, same year; finally a memorandum of Sir William Fitzwilliams having appeared before Robert Preston, Lord Chancellor, desiring the said letters patent to be cancelled-April 22nd, 1569. "The Shyan," is named amongst the chief castles in the Queen's County, in Description of Ireland, Anno 1598; and in the Carew Cal. of the same period, Whytney of Shyan is named as the owner and occupant. Daniel Byrne, the clothier, who made his fortune by clothing Cromwell's army, purchased the estate known as the Lordship of Shean, from young squire Whitney, who was much indebted to him, leaving him the castle as a residence. Soon after, Whitney invited Byrne to dine with him there, and contrived that Byrne got neither knife nor fork; being entreated by Whitney to help himself, he said he had plenty of meat but nothing to cut it with. Whereupon Whitney answered: "Why don't you draw out your scissors and clip it, sir?" For this affront, Byrne ordered him to quit the castle next morning. (Note to Four Masters, A.D. 1578.) Shean castle shared the fortunes of Dunamase; it was amongst those that surrendered to Owen Roe O'Neill, in 1646; in 1650, it was taken by the parliamentary forces under General Hewson, who demolished the outworks but left the castle standing. Though not of great extent, it still was of considerable importance, being strongly built, and from its elevated position, easy of defence. "It continued for centuries," writes Camden, (Britanica,) "in its pristine state, till it came into the hands of the present proprietor, Dr. Charles Coote, Dean of Kilfenora, who has revived it with new splendour, and added at vast expense such embellishments to its fine situation as make it an ornament to the country and a delightful residence." A fine engraving of this castle is given in Grose's Antiquities. Plate 84, Vol. 2.
In A.D. 1477. The son of Owny O'More was slain at Baile-Daithi, by MacPierce Butler and Art O'Conor. (Four Masters.) Baile-Daithi, here referred to, signifies the town of Dathi or David, now Ballydavis, in this parish. (O'Donovan). There is a remarkable natural phenomenon in this locality called the Sluggera (i.e. "the Swallow-hole,"); it is a large opening in the earth into which a considerable stream rushes and is lost. Previous to the erection of the new Heath Chapel by Rev. N. O'Conor, some 50 years ago, the district chapel stood on the Ballydavis side of the Great Heath. The building still exists, having been converted into a National School. The burialground adjoining is still occasionally used. Within the present Heath Chapel, the Rev. Joseph Farrell, a writer and preacher of eminence, lies interred. His grave is marked by a handsome tablet bearing the following inscription:-
For brief notice of Fr. Farrell, see Vol. I., p. 234.
This ancient parish is situated partly in the barony of Maryborough East, and partly in that of Stradbally. Of the old church, only the east gable and some small portions of the sidewalls are standing. The dimensions (interiorly) appear to have been 36 feet in length, and 20 feet broad. In the N. side-wall, a narrow rude window yet remains, measuring 3 feet in length by 1 foot in breadth on the outside, but wider within. In the remaining gable there is a large rent or opening, near the ground, and over it a window of the same kind and proportions as the one just referred to. So far as conjecture may now be hazarded, a choir-arch seems to have turned over the lower opening, and under the window. This old church was used for Protestant service in the 17th century; the Liber Regalis Visitationis of 1615, describes "the church and chancel in repair." The name of this parish is surmised to mean Cill-Tidil, i.e. the Church of St. Tiedil; in the calendar, 'the seven Bishops of Cill-Tidil,' are commemorated, but, as there are other places so called, it is impossible to decide to which of them the entry refers. In the townland of Ballymaddock, in this parish, are the ruins of two distinct buildings, quite contiguous to each other; one is locally known as the Monastery, the other is the castle of Ballymaddock. There is no evidence to show that a religious house existed here, nor do the ruins themselves afford any proof of their having been designed for that purpose. The probability is that it was an ancient castle or castellated mansion. The other building is designated on the Ordnance Map, 'the house of Cahirnacapul, in ruins,' but is more generally known in the district as Squire Weaver's house, a name, no doubt, derived from a former occupant. From Harris's William III., it appears that John Weaver, Esq., lived at Ballymaddock in 1691, but this edifice dates further back than his time. In 1617, Richard Cosby executed a lease of the lands of Ballymaddock, in favour of John Allen, for a term of 20 years; this Allen may have been the builder. The outlaw, Charles O'Dempsey, surnamed Cahir-nacapul, is said to have found an asylum here during the tenancy of a FitzGerald who was, according to the tradition, his uncle. A large Rath is to be seen, near at hand, and, in an adjoining field, an elevation, which appears to have been formerly a place of interment. On the townland of Corrigeen the country people point out an object which they have been accustomed to call a Druid's altar. It rests one edge partly on a ledge of rock, whilst its other edges are supported by large blocks of limestone, of which material also, the covering flag is composed. On top it has an irregular lozenge shape, and measures, diagonally, 8 ft. 9 inches in length, whilst the extreme diagonal breadth is 7 ft. 4 inches. In thickness it varies from 8 to 17 inches; it slopes at an angle of about 20 degrees.
The ruins of the old Church of Killmurry (the church of Mary) stand in the townland of the same name, in a small, disused grave-yard. It measures, interiorly, 40 feet by 18. It possesses no architectural features worthy of note. On the townland of Ballythomas are two large Raths; there is also an old mansion of the 17th century; it has been remodelled in recent times, in which process, one of its storeys with its castellations have disappeared. It is stated that Lord Dunboyne, Bishop of Cork, lived here, in seclusion, subsequent to his apostacy. The old natives tell of his woe-begone appearance, and of his stealthy walks down by the hedge-rows, to recite the Divine office. A portion of this townland bears the name of Killpatrick, which name appears in Inquisitions of the 16th century. The foundations of the old castle of Kilmartyr, formerlya dependency of Dunamase, are still observable on the town-land of that name. At Loughshinahawn, according to local tradition, a village formerly stood, the site of which is still called Old Town. The Lough, indicated in the name of this locality, has been drained in recent times; beside it stood, in the middle of the last century, the rude thatched chapel or Mass-house of the district. A stone holy-water stoup, used in this chapel, was to be seen there quite recently.
This parish adjoins that of Kilteale, by which it is bounded on the east and south. Within the townland of Killeny proper, are the ruins of the old parochial Church, which appears to be one of great antiquity. A writer engaged in the Ordnance Survey supposes the name to be derived from a Saint Ethne, and that the Irish form would be Cill-Eithne. With this conjecture, however, Father O'Hanlon is not disposed to agree; he inclines to the belief that the Patron is a St. Lassar, seventh daughter of Branin, venerated at Cill Ingine Branin, ie., "the Church of the Daughter of Branin," on the 17th of March, according to a commentator on the Feilire of Aengus- "Cum Patricio in hac die; Lassair nomen septimae filiae Branin; and in Cill Ingine Branin in Laiges she is." The ruin measures 371/2 feet by 18, interiorly; the east window, which is of very rude design, measures 3 feet in length, by only 10 inches in width on the outside, widening considerably inside. An enclosure, of which the walls are about 24 feet square, is still to be seen outside the western gable. A shallow fosse and low ditch enclose the burial-ground, now almost disused for interments. This church was used for Protestant service; in the Lib. Reg. Visit. of 1615, the church and chancel are returned as in repair, and provided with a communion book in the Irish language. The Return of 1704 gives John MacAllin, residing at Emo, aged 50, as P.P. of Killeny for past seven years; he was ordained in 1674, at Ard-Patrick, Co. Louth, by Dr. Plunkett. His sureties were Murtogh Brennan and Morgan Fogarty, both of Boly, farmers. The old mansion of Killowen, in this parish, lately fallen to ruin, was the residence of Mr. Joseph Dunne,-accounted by local tradition, and not without strong evidence of probability, to have been the lineal descendant of Teige Keagh O'Doyne, and consequently the chief of the Hy-Regan. O'Donovan was personally acquainted with him in 1833, when he was 87 years old. "He was," O'Donovan writes (note to Four MM., 1448), "one of the largest men in Europe, and had been an officer in the French service in his youth, but for the last 50 years of his life resided on his farm at Killowen. He had several sons, remarkable for their great stature, strength, courage and intelligence, but they all died unmarried." Immediately over this mansion, and on the northern side of Killowen hill, which rises to a height of 718 feet, a cavern opens near its vertex, and slopes towards its centre. This cavern is narrow at its entrance, but after a descent of some fathoms, opens into a saloon 20 or 30 feet high, and upwards of 30 feet in diameter; on one side a dark precipice breaks sheer down, 50 or 60 fathoms, to a subterraneous and quite inaccessible lake -(Gazetteer of Ireland). Most of the foregoing facts relative to the Parishes of Killeny and Kilteale are derived from a Paper by Father O'Hanlon, read before the R. I. Academy, June 24th, 1872.
The old Parochial Church thus named is situated to the southeast of Maryborough, from which it is distant about two miles. It is called Kilcolmanbane to distinguish it from the adjoining Parish of Kilcolmanbrock. It is generally supposed that these two parishes received their names from two saints of the name of Columban or Colman, one of whom was ban or fair, and the other breac, or freckled, and this supposition is rational, but we have no reference in the Irish Calendars to two Saints Colman distinguished by the epithets ban and breac. That there was a St. Colman, a distinguished and much venerated soldier of Christ, in Leix, at an early period, is certain. From a passage in the Four Masters, at the year 1067, referring to a reliquary sacred to Saints Mochua, Fintan, and Colman, these appear to have been regarded as the three principal Patrons of the people of Leix.-(O'Donovan.) The old church lies at the rere of Lamberton Park; it consisted of nave and chancel, and was of small proportions. There are no architectural features in the few feet of each of the walls which remain; the interior of the building has been appropriated and enclosed for purposes of interment.
The ruin of the Castle of Ballyknockan is in this parish; it is now reduced to very small proportions, but in the Description of Ireland; Anno 1598, and the Carew Cal., we find it then ranking amongst the chief castles in the Queen's County, and the residence of Sir Thomas Colclough. Edward Brereton of Laghtiog, was one of the principal gentlemen of the Queen's County at the close of the 16th century.
Dun-Masg, i.e. the fort or Dun, of Masg, son of Augen Urgnuidh, the fourth son of Sedna Sithbhaic, King of Leinster. It is the name of a lofty isolated rock, on which formerly stood an earthen fort, or stone castle, but which now contains the ruins of a strong castle, situated in the territory of Ui-Crimhthannain, in the barony of East Maryborough.-O'Donovan. Dunamase is the Dunum marked on the map of Ptolemy, a work of the second century, reproduced by Ware. "It is well known," Dr. Joyce remarks, "that Ptolemy's work is only a corrected copy of another by Marinus of Tyre, who lived a short time before him, and the latter is believed to have drawn his materials from an ancient Tyrian Atlas." "The rock on which the castle stands, is an elliptical conoid, inaccessible on all sides except the E., which in its improved state was defended by the barbican. On each side of the barbican were ditches; and where they could not be continued for the rock, walls were erected. To the S. and S. E. were two towers, the latter protecting the barbican. From the barbican you advance to the gate of the lower ballium: it is 7 feet wide, and the walls 6 feet thick; it had a parapet, crenelles and embrasures. The lower ballium is 312 feet from N. to S., and 160 from W. to E.; you then arrive at the gate of the upper ballium, which is placed in a tower, and from this begin the walls which divide the upper and lower ballium. On the highest part was the keep, and the apartments for the officers; there was a sally-port and a prison. The only remains of this ancient castle and fortress are some of the walls and gates, which are yet venerable in their ruins. The present possessor (A.D. 1795) however, Sir John Parnell, Bart., has lately begun to rebuild a considerable part of it, after the ancient model."-Seward's Top. Hibernica. "Sir John Parnell has (1792) very much improved the aspect of this rock by clothing it with trees, and on the eastern side he has built a banqueting room."-Ledwich.
Judging from the appearance of the ruins, the principal works of fortification seem to have been constructed at an early period of the Anglo-Norman ascendancy; yet, though they may be ascribed with probability to William de Braos, Lord Brecknock, who flourished about the middle of the 13th century, they must have undergone many changes in the course of the hostile collisions of the subsequent ages. An artificial fort of some kind appears to have, from the dawn of record, crowned this bold and singular elevation; but it must long have been of the rude description which derived all its essential strength from the nature of the site, and which frowned contempt on the world below with the same sort of security which the eyry gives to the eagle. In later, though scarcely less rude times, the rock was the chief stronghold of the O'Mores, princes or toparchs of Leix; at the period of the Anglo-Norman invasion, it was held by MacMurrough, King of Leinster, and was regarded as his principal fortress; after the conquest, it passed successively to the Earl of Pembroke and Lord Brecknock, and was constituted by the latter the head of a lordship and the seat of baronial courts; and during succeeding centuries it was the scene of many a sanguinary conflict, and was possessed alternately by the Irish and the English, continually vacillating in its fates with the frequent and changeful preponderance of strength between the two great contending parties.- Gaz. Ireland.
The Annals of Clonmacnoise give this event as follows:-
On the arrival of the English, Dunamase was in possession of Dermod MacMurrough, and fell into the possession of Strongbow on his marriage with Eva; their only daughter, Isabel, espousing William, Earl Marshall, Dunamase, with the adjacent territory, came into possession of the said Earl. This castle came, with large estates in Kildare, to William de Braos or Bruce, lord of Brecknock, who married one of the daughters of the last Earl of Pembroke; and he it was who about 1250 built the castle, and erected it into a manor.
In 1264 Maurice FitzGerald seized the persons of Richard de Rupella, Lord Justice of Ireland, John Cogan, and Theobald Butler, in the church of Castledermot, and confined them in the castles of Dunamase and Ley, then in possession of the Geraldines. In 1325 Dunamase was taken by Lysagh O'More; in 1329 it was again wrested from him.
Lord Mortimer having married the only daughter of Lord Brecknock, acquired possession of the estates of that nobleman, and had for his principal residence the Castle of Dunamase. He, before passing into England, entrusted Lysagh O'More with the care of his estates. O'More took advantage of the opportunity to resume possession of his patrimonial inheritance, and accordingly, in one night, seized upon eight castles in Leix, of which Dunamase was one, thus becoming, as Clyn words it, from a servant a lord, and from a subject a prince. This Lysagh O'More was killed in 1342 by his own servant. The event is thus recorded by Friar Clyn: "A.D. 1342. Parum ante Natale Domini, obiit Leysart O'Morthe a proprio servo in ebrietate occisus, vir potens, dives et locuples, et in gente sua honoratus. Hic fere omnes Anglos de terris suis et hereditate violenter ejecit, nam uno sero VIII. castra Angliorum combussit, et castrum nobile de Dunmaske domini Rogeri de Mortuo-Mari destruxit, et dominium sibi patriae usurpavit; de servo dominus, de subjecto princeps effectus." About two years subsequently, the O'Mores were again dispossessed, but in 1346 again took up arms for the recovery of their rights. Lord Walter Bermingham and the Earl of Kildare, collecting their forces, destroyed his country with fire and sword, and compelled O'More, at Athy, to acknowledge that he held his manor of Bellet, and his other lands in Leix, of Roger Mortimer, as of his manor of Dunamase. "On receiving possession of Dunamase, Lord Mortimer added greatly to its strength, who also, agreeable to the English policy of the day, established a tenantry of soldiers around him for his protection. He built the castles of Shaen, Moret, Ballymanus, with five others, which were always garrisoned to be ready to repel an insurrection, and were circumjacent to, and dependent on Dunamase, it being the residence of the lord, who made this the seat of civil as well as military jurisdiction, discharging official duties in person, and occasionally was represented by a seneschal; thus it became a complete manor. The castle being always guarded by a numerous garrison, had all the internal appearance of power and pomp, and nothing was wanting in outward show to complete its pre-eminence. Such was its consequence and situation after being recovered from the O'Mores, and so it remained for many years, the powerful support and dependence of the English interest."-Frazer's Guide through Ireland.
For more than two centuries after, this fortress was a bone of contention between the Irish and the English.-(Ledwich.)
In 1606 an engagement took place at Aughnahely, beside
the rock of Dunamase, between the O'Mores and Crosby. Owny MacRory O'More
having, in 1596, inflicted a crushing defeat at Stradbally bridge on Alexander
Cosby, who, together with his son Francis, was slain (for description
of which see chapter on Stradbally), Richard Cosby, who succeeded to the
estate, and became leader of the kerne, eager to revenge the deaths of
his father and brother, challenged the O'Mores to fight a pitched battle.
They met, in 1606, in the Glen of Aughnahely, near the rock of Dunamase,
and the engagement was the most bloody ever fought between these rivals.
After a long and doubtful conflict, fortune declared in favour of Cosby.
The O'Mores were defeated with considerable loss, and seventeen of the
principal of the clan lay dead on the field." - From Narrative of
Admiral Cosby, given in Hardiman's. Irish Minstrelsy, Vol. 2, p. 165.
A State Paper (quoted in the Hughes MSS.) records an "Agreement"
between Cosbie and the Seven Septs of Leixe at Mollin O'Lalour (this place,
which is near Cullenagh, is still called Lalor's Mills) upon St. Patrick's
Day, 1607-8, whereby they were transported to Tarbert, in Co. Kerry. To
this Deed are attached the signatures of 102 of the O'Mores: Keadaghe
McJames O'More, Murtoughe McRowrie O'More and two sons, Patrick McConnell
O'More and two sons, Pierce MacKedaghe and son, Lisaghe McMortough's six
sons, Owen McShane's five sons, etc. There were also the names of 39 O'Kellys,
87 O'Lalours, 13 O'Dorans, 43 Clandeboys (McEvoys), and 5 O'Dowlings.
A fine specimen of the Celtic earthwork, usually styled Rath or Dun, still exists within about 150 yards of the Rock of Dunamase; that this work must be referred even to pre-historic times there can be little question, as, within its outer circle or breastwork a pagan sepulchral chamber, containing human remains, and the most beautiful cinerary urn in design and execution ever discovered in Ireland, was found. It was sometimes the custom of our pagan ancestors to deposit the remains of a deceased chieftain within the ramparts of the family Rath. The skull, which was presented by the late Dr. O'Donovan to Sir William Wilde, is described by the latter as equal in symmetry and general development to some of the finest Grecian models. This Rath is the only relic of pagan times to be found in connection with the old Fortress.-(Id.)
The tribe called the Ui-Crimhthannain were seated round the Rock of Dunamase.-O'Donovan. Some of our earliest Saints were connected with this locality. In a poem attributed to St. Moling (Introd. Boromha Tract), St. Tacan, one of the seven companions left by St. Patrick with St. Fiacc, is thus referred to:-
At date, 16th Sept., the Martyrology of Donegal notes
two Laisrens, one, Abbot of Hy, the other of Manadroichet, and of Inbher-men,
a locality in Hy-Crimthanan, Barony of E. Mary. borough. This latter was
son of Lughtech, sixth in descent from Oilill Cetach, son of Cathair-mor.
He died A.D. 604.- Loca Patriciana.
SUCCESSION OF PASTORS
REV. PAUL CASHIN appears to have been P.P. of Maryborough in 1656, and probably for many years previous, as he was then advanced in years. In the year named he was arrested and transported to the Barbadoes.
From the Wadding MSS. Vol. 1. (Franciscan Lib. Dub.) we learn that in June, 1556, 96 priests and religious, who were detained in prisons, were sent to Carrickfergus, and were thence transported to Jamaica.*
REV. DARBY MALONE is the next P.P. on record.
He is named in the Registry of 1704, as residing at Carrignepark in the
Barony of Maryborough, aged 53, P.P. of Borris, Straboe, Disert, Kilteale
and Kilcolmanbane, from "in or about the 1st of November after the
conditions of Limerick and ever since." He was ordained in 1678 at
Balyna, Co. Kildare, by Dr. Marcus Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, and his
sureties were Lewis Dunne of Ine, farmer, and Edward Gray, of Maryborough,
merchant. Fr. Malone died in 1723, aged 76, and is interred at The Ridge
* On the 6th of January, 1652-3, the Irish Government, by Declaration, put in force the sanguinary English statute, 27th Elizabeth, which declared all R.C. Priests to be guilty of high treason, and their relievers, felons. Twenty days were given them to clear out of the kingdom. Five pounds was the reward payable to any person lodging a priest in gaol In consequence of the great increase of priests towards the close of the year 1655, a general arrest by the justices of peace was ordered, under which, in April 1656, the prisons in every part of Ireland seem to have been filled to overflowing, On the 3rd of May the governors of the respective precincts were ordered to send them with sufficient guards from garrison to garrison to Carrickfergus, to be there put on board such ship as should sail with the first opportunity to the Barbadoes. One may imagine the pains of this toilsome journey by the petition of one of them, Paul Cashin, an aged priest apprehended at Maryborough, and sent to Philipstown on the way to Carrickfergus, there fell desperately sick, and being also extremely aged, was in danger of perishing in restraint for want of funds and means of relief. On 27th August, 1656, the Commissioners having ascertained the truth of his petition, they ordered him sixpence a day during his sickness; and In answer probably to this poor prisoner's prayer to be spared from transportation, their order directed that it should be continued to him in his travel thence (after his recovery) to Carrickfergus, in order to his transportation to the Barbadoes.-Prendergast's Cromwellian Settlement, c. vii.
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