The History of the Queen’s County: Castlebrack

Extract\’s from \’The History of the Queen\’s county\’
Parish of Castlebrack

The parish of Castlebrack forms the eastern portion of Hy-Regan territory. This tract was also called Dooregan, as shown on the old Map of Leax and Ophaly. Castlebrack was a part of the latter district, lying north-east of Ely O\’Carroll or O\’Carroll\’s country and not shire-ground, but comprising a part of the Slieve Bloom range. The source of the Barrow is also shewn within it. On that Map it is marked YREGAN – O\’dun, and Baun Regan is written across it, near the source of the Barrow; but that name is not to be found in any part of the territory at present. According to John O\’Donovan it is not of ecclesiastical origin, and in his opinion is not of great antiquity as it does not appear to have had a patron saint. He also thinks, that this parish had been formerly divided between the parishes of Rosenallis and Rearymore, and that the old church which lies ruined in the townland of Castlebrack had been only a chapel-of-ease to the castle, from which its name had been received.

The parish of Castlebrack, situated in the barony of Tinnahinch, contains 9,275 a. 3 r. 24 p., in the most northerly part of the Queen\’s County. A large portion of it is under bog, and the surface is mostly level, the highest ground being only 488 ft. above the sea. The river Barrow flows some miles on its western boundary. Castlebrack had five townlands with 200 acres of profitable lands, and a glebe rated at £15 per annum, worth £6 in 1657. Barnaby Dunne, Esq., was then the patron. Here a castle, once strong and stately, had been erected by the Dunne family. Its last inhabitant was a Colonel Dunne.

This parish had its name from that castle, which has been long since in ruins. A little to the north of this building stands – but of a more modern date-another old castle called Roskeen, of which little now remains. The only remarkable mansion in this parish is Cappalough. There is a remarkable moat at Castlebrack. In the beginning of the last century, the occupying tenant of the farm on which it was situated, L. M\’Evoy, found under it some subterraneous passages. In the village annual fairs are held on the 16th of May, on the 12th of August, and on the 15th of November.

This parish was a vicarage, and part of Oregan benefice, in the dioceses of Kildare, Dublin and Glendalough. The glebe-house of Castlebrack consisted only of the house and. a small garden adjoining the burial-ground. The population in 1831 was 1,855. In 1834, the Roman Catholic population was found to be 1,724 ; the Protestants numbering 126. In 1837, the tithes amounted to £210 25. 6d., of which £140 1s. 8d. was payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the vicar. (Lewis, vol. I., p. 290) In 1841, the population reached 1,924, living in 318 houses.

In 1846, the vicarial tithes were compounded for £70 0s. 10d., and the rectorial tithes for £140 1s. 8d., the latter being impropriate in General Dunne of Brittas. In the Roman Catholic parochial arrangement, Castlebrack is united with Rosenallis.