The History of the Queen’s County: Cloydagh

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

Parish of Cloydagh

This parish is situated, partly in the barony of Slievemargy, in the Queen\’s County, but chiefly in the baronies of West Idrone, and of Carlow, in the County of Carlow. The former section contains 788 a.0r 28p., and of these 245 a. 2r 33p.-a small part of Cloghgrennan are detached in the Queen\’s County, yet contiguous to the Carlow portions of the parish; while 1r. 32p. are islands in the River Barrow, which flows from north to south through it (the parish of Cloydagh is described by Mr. Thomas O\’Connor in a letter, dated Leighlin Bridge, June 20th, 1839 in \’Letters relating to the Antiquities of the County of Carlow containing information collected during the Progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1839) The Carlow barony section contains 1265 a. 2r 11p, and of this area 27 a. 1r. 32p are in the River Barrow; while the West Idrone barony section comprises 2889 a. 2r. 29p., and of this area 22 a. 0r. 8p., are islands in the River Barrow. It is also called Clody or Clogrennan, as the Clogrennan hills lying to the east and south of the Slievemargy range slope down steeply on the Queen\’s County side to the River Barrow. The principal peak is 1038 feet above the sea-level. The soil is good with limestone substratum. Coal is procured at the Bilboa colliery. The lands along the Barrow are very fertile, as are those uplands immediately near, but they become barren as you ascend the summits, from which most charming scenic effects are obtained, as in one place the elevation is considerably above the district lying eastwards.

This parish was a vicarage and a separate benefice in the diocese of Leighlin, the diocesan being the patron. Popularly, it is now called Clogrennan. Cloydagh had a residence in 1616, and it was an impropriate rectory, Keating being the vicar. The church and chancel were in good repair, and a Communion Book was possessed. That old church of this parish is now to be seen in ruins, and surrounded by a burial-ground, within the beautiful demesne of the Rochfort family.(some inscriptions on the tombs are given in Ryan\’s \”History and Antiquities of the Co. of Carlow, chap xxxi., pp. 334,335). The ornamental grounds skirt the public road from Carlow to Leighlin Bridge, and they extend along the western banks of the River Barrow. They are also on the slope of the Cloghrennan Hills. The former old church of this parish was in a good state of preservation in the summer of 1839; and at that time the measured length of the structure inside was 59 ft. 6 in., and its breadth was 18 ft. On the east gable was to be seen a large window, topped with a pointed arch. On the inside it began within two feet from the ground, and was 5 ft. broad in the lower part. On the outside it commenced within 4 ft. from the ground, and was 4 ft. broad in the lower part, rising to a height of no less than 12 ft. Near the west gable and in the south side wall there was a door having a pointed arch. There was another door opposite to it in the side wall, the opening running to the top of the wall, the upper part of which had been destroyed. The church was built of chiselled granite.

Here, also, on the banks of the River Barrow is to be seen Clogrennan Castle, now in ruins and covered with ivy. This formerly belonged to the Ormond family; Sit Edward Butler had raised the standard of revolt against the English Government in the sixteenth century. He held this castle, but it was taken from him by Sir Peter Carew in 1568. In 1641, it was besieged by the Irish. It was relieved, however, by Colonel Sir P. Wemys. At this place, the Marquis of Ormond mustered his forces, before proceeding to Dublin in 1649, when the battle of Rathmines took place. It is said, that after his defeat at the battle of the Boyne, James II. encamped at a place known as Bawn Ree ; however, for this statement, there seems to be no confirmation.

There is a grave-yard in the townland of Cloghrea in this parish, and it is only a short distance eastwards from the River Barrow. No vestiges of a church are within it. The Protestant church here was built in 1800, through a gift of £461 10S. 9 1/2 d. from the Board of First Fruits.

Some thirty years later, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners added a grant of £167 5s. 11d. for repairs. The glebe-house was built, in 1813, by a gift of £400, and a loan of £360, from the Board of First Fruits. The glebe comprised six acres, subject to a rent of £4 4s. an acre. The hamlet of Milford on the River Barrow is within this parish, and celebrated for its extensive flour-mills, which in the beginning of the last century carried on a flourishing trade by means of canal-boat communication with Dublin. At another spot, Killeeshal Fort on the west side and near the arrow is a remarkable circular enclosure.

In 1831, the population of this whole parish was 1422; the number in Carlow barony being 204, and in West Idrone barony being 903. Consequently the remaining 315 lived in the barony of Slievemargy. In 1834, the Roman Catholic population was 1,168 for this whole parish, while the Protestants numbered 343. In 1837, the estimated area of this parish was 4737 statute acres, of which 290 were woodland and 324 moorland, the remainder being arable and pasture; while 3764 acres were applotted under the Tithe Act, and they were valued at £3774 per annum. In 1841, the population of this whole parish was 1499. living in 240 houses. The population was thus distributed, viz. :-

That of Carlow barony section was 211, in 27 houses; that of Idrone West section 997, living in 161 houses, while that in Slievemargy barony was 291, living in 52 houses. In 1846 the rectorial tithes were compounded for £184 12s. 3 3/4 d., being impropriate in Colonel Henry Bruen and W. Fishbourne, Esq. The vicarial tithe composition was £92 6s. 1 3/4 d., with a glebe valued at £25 4s. ; the gross income being £117 10s. 1 3/4 d and the nett being £77 17s: 8 3/4 d. At present the incumbent has an annual stipend of £250. A Catholic chapel is in this parish, belonging to the Union of Old Leighlin, Wells, Clonmulsk, and Cillinane; and the religious history of the Union is traced under the heading of the Parish of Leighlin, by the Most Rev. Dr. Comerford.