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Durrow Parish, Co. Laois (Queen’s Co.), Carrigan, 1905

Source: Carrigan “The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory” Vol. 2 (1905)

This parish is a union of the two civil parishes of Durrow (except the townland Rath, and portions of the townlands of Castlewood, Grenan and Fermoyle, which belong to Ballyragget,) and Aghamacart. Its area is 15,210 statute acres. In 1901, the population was 2,195, of whom 1,889 were Catholics.

In the Annals of the Four Masters, Durrow is referred to as Daurmhagh Ua nDuach; and, in the Martyrology of Donegal, as Dermhagh Ua nDuach. Both forms of the name signify the same thing, viz., the Oak Plain in [the territory of] Ui Duach. The present Irish name is simply Daurmhagh, or Dermhagh, which the local Irish speakers pronounce Dhroo, in the nom. case, and Ghroo, in the gen. case. Durrow, in the King’s Co., the site of St. Columbkille’s famous monastery, is also written Daurmhagh, or Dermhagh, in all Gaelic records, “Coluimcille” being sometimes added for distinction’s sake. Another Dermhagh is Dunderrow or Dun-Durrow, in the Co. Cork, the Irish form of which is Dun der maigi, that is, Dermhagh Fort.’ Still another Dermhagh is Durrow, in the Co. Waterford, as is evident from its local Irish sound, which is exactly the same as that of Durrow in Ui Duach.

St. Fintan was formerly the Patron of Durrow. His feast was celebrated here, according to Bishop Phelan’s List, on the 16th Nov. It is impossible, however, to identify the Saint with any degree of certainty. The likelihood is, that he is identical with a St. Fintan, by some, surnamed Moeldubh. St. Fintan Moeldubh was the second Abbot of Clonenagh, having been appointed to that office by the founder of the monastery himself, St. Fintan macGaibhrene ui Echach, as he lay on his death-bed:
“When, therefore, his [i.e. St. Fintan macGaibhrene’s] death was near at hand, knowing the day of his departure, he called his people around him, and, with the permission and blessing of the brethren and the saints who had come to visit him, their holy father, he himself appointed in his seat after him, a man noble by race and morals, and named by the same name, i.e. Fintan Moeldubh.”

In 599 or 600. St. Fintan Moeldubh administered the last rites of the Church to St. Canice, when dying, at Aghaboe. At this time he may have been in charge of the monastery of Durrow for he cannot have succeeded to the abbacy of Clonenagh till some years later, if it be true, as recorded in the Three Fragments of Annals that St. Fintan macGaibhrene ui Echach did not die till 610. St. Fintan Moeldubh died, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, in 626.

The difficulty of a satisfactory identification of the Patron of Durrow is rather increased than otherwise by our Irish Martyrologies, as will appear from the following:
(a) The text of the Calendar of Aengus, at Oct. 20th, has the quatrain:
Moeldubh-great that shout!-
A fair sun at that mountain
Of those splendid Eoganacht.”

On this passage, Aengus’s scholiast, in the Leabhar Breac, comments as follows:
“Fintan Moeldubh, i.e. Fintan Moeldubh in Ui Duach in Ossory, and of the Eoganacht Chaisil is he, and at Dermag Hua nDuach in the north of Ossory he is. Or, Fintan and Maeldubh are two saints, and in Cluain Immorroiss in Offaly is Maeldubh, and, quod verius [est], he was also brother of St. Comhghan of Glenn Uissen.
“Now as to Maeldubh, some say that he was of the Eoganacht Chaisil. However, according to the truth of the history of the men of Ireland, he is of the seed of Brian, son of Echaid Muidmedon. ……………Maeldub, son of Amalgaid, son of Fothad, son of Conall glun, son of Brian, son of Echaid Muidmedon.
“And it is that Maeldub that took Fechin of Fore into fosterage with him, and sent him to learning.”

(b) The Martyrology of Donegal, at the same day (Oct. 20), commemorates Fintan and Maeldubh, as two distinct saints, thus:
“Maeldubh, son of Amhalgaidh, of Cluain-Immorrois in Ui Failghe; or of Dermagh in Ui Duach in the north of Ossory. He was of the race of Brian, son of Eochaidh Muighmedhoin.
“Fionntain, of Derrnagh in Ui Duach.”

(c) Similarly, at the same day, the Martyrology of Tallaght has the two separate entries:

(d) Again, on the same day, the Calendar of Cashel has:
“St. Fintan Maeldubh of the territory of Eoghanacht Cassil, and the instructor of St. Fechin:
that he is also sprung from the same territory of Munster, Marianus O’Gorman and Aengus Increased, testify at the cited day.”

These extracts help to establish one point, at least, and that is, that the feast-day of the St. Fintan, venerated as patron at Durrow, was not the 16th Nov., as Bishop Phelan’s List states, but the 20th of October.

The traditions of Durrow throw no light on St. Fintan’s history; neither do they preserve the memory of his festival day. His holy well, called “Fintan’s Well,” or rather “Fantan’s Well,” is within Lord Ashbrook’s demesne, at the distance of about 100 yards from Durrow bridge. At its head, firmly embedded in the earth, is the rough limestone pedestal of a small cross; the socket is 5 in. long, and about the same in width and depth. The cross itself has been long missing. The small inch lying between the holy well and the river Erkina is called [St.] “Fantan’s Island.”

The Martyrologies of Donegal and Tallaght, at April 19th, enter the feast of “the Sons of Erc of Dermhagh,” but supply no clue by which the identity of this Dermhagh might be established.
In Dr. Geoffry Keating’s account of the Synod of Drom Ceat, held towards the close of the 6th century, St. Columbkille is represented as giving his pastoral staff to Scanlan Mor, King of Ossory, with instructions to deposit same with his (Columbkille’s) religious community at “Dearmhagh in Osradihe.” Although all, or almost all writers, who treat of the Synod, make mention of the presentation of the staff, through Scanlan Mor, to the monastery of Dearmhagh or Dermhagh, they are not, however, unanimous in assigning this Dermhagh to Ossory.

Some of them, while not particularizing the Dermhagh intended by the Saint to be the repository of his staff, even furnish unquestionable data to enable us to identify it, at once, and, we believe, correctly, not with Dermhagh in Ossory, but with Dermhagh in the King’s Co. The author of the Vita Quinta Sancti Columbae, for instance, writes that St. Columbkille directed Scanlan Mor to deliver the staff “to his disciple, St. Laisren, Abbot of Dermhagh” (“monens ipsum demum ut baculum S. Laisreno, discipulo suo, monasterii Dermagensis tunc rectori, retradat”)2. Now, at this very time, St. Laisren, St. Columbkille’s disciple, was abbot of the Columbian monastery of Dermhagh, in the King’s Co. Hence it follows, at least, from the Vita Quinta, that it was to Dermhagh in the King’s Co., and not to the Dermhagh in Ossory that the staff was to be presented. We may add that there is no tradition whatever, in the latter Dermhagh, of any connection with St. Columbkille, or of any special devotion having been ever practiced to him here; which could scarcely be the case if it had been the site of one of his monasteries, or if at any time it had possessed such a priceless relic of the saint as his pastoral staff.

THE MONASTERY OF DURROW – The foundations of what was traditionally known as “Durrow Monastery,” remained till 1835, about 60 yards north-west of the churchyard of Durrow, between the base of the “Castle Hill” and the small stone bridge crossing the Erkina (river) at this point. The monastery was founded by St. Fintan; but nothing further appears to be known about it. If it survived the middle of the 12th century, it was probably destroyed soon after, in 1156 or 1157, when the army of Muircheartach O’Lochlainn, King of Ulster, burned Daurmhagh Ua nDuach and other monastic centers in its neigbourhood.

DURROW CHURCHYARD – The ancient parish church of Durrow, dedicated to St. Fintan, stood within the present churchyard. No trace of it remains. It must have been taken down close on two centuries ago; for, in 1731, its site was occupied by the Protestant parish church of Durrow, which is described as being then “new built and decently pewd. and flagged.”(2) This latter church continued in use till between 1792 and 1798, when it was replaced by its present successor.

The following inscriptions may be read on the monuments here:
(1) Here lies ye body of ye Revd. Mr. Martin Delany ………………….
………………………..Decsd. Aprl. ye 3rd, 1751,
agd. 64 yrs. May his soul rest in Peace.”

This monument is an altar-tomb, now deeply sunk in the ground. The covering slab, on which the inscription occurs, is broken in pieces, and its surface partially chipped off. Portions of the second and third lines, dotted above, and which gave Father Delany’s title as P.P. of Durrow and Aghamacart, have been erased; the words and letters given in italics, are lost, either by the chipping of the flag, or the disappearance of some of the broken pieces. Beside this tomb is a horizontal slab, probably marking the grave of Father Delany’s relatives, and inscribed to the memory of Nicholas Delany, who died in 1707, aged 37 years, and of his wife, Mary Delany, otherwise Fitzpatrick, who died in 1736, aged 64.

(2) “Here lies the body of the Rev. William Shee, who was 35 years Parish Priest of Durrow & died 16th of February, 1786, in the 60th year of his age. Requiescat in pace. Amen.”

(3) “Hic jacent reliquiae Revdi. Domini, Domini Patritii Mortimer, Parochi Parochiae de Durrow. Honorem Dei zelavit pariterque salutem proximi. Amator suorum magis quam sui, virtutem et religionem excoluit verbo et exemplo. Non more mercenarii sed boni pastoris invigilavit gregi sibi credito orphanis adjutor, consolator senibus et inaestis vixit carus amicis flebilis et illis. Obiit Un – iomo. Kal. Aprilis, anno Domini millesimo octingentesimo undecimo, anno aetatis suae quinquagesimo octavo. Requiescat in pace.”

(4) “Here lieth the body of Mrs. Agnes Ridgway, wife of John Ridgway deceased, some time agent vnto the Right Honorable the Earle of Londonderry, mother of Mr. John Ridgway and Mrs. Jane Taylor of this parishe. Arvinin departed this life the 7th day of November, 17__.”

This last inscription is much obliterated, but the missing parts, except the last two figures of the date, are supplied above in italics. It belongs to the first half of the 18th century.

The oldest monument here is a broken slab lying flat on a grave at the west-end of the churchyard. At its top is the sacred monogram I.H.S., and over this is a plain incised cross. The inscription, in incised Roman capitals, is imperfect. With the missing portions, as far as now possible, supplied in brackets, it reads as follows:-

(5) “[HERE . LY]ETH . YE . BODY . OF .
[THIS] . LIFE . YE . 3ITH . OF . IVLY . ALSO .
[YE . BO]DY . OF . JAMES . DVN . HER .
[SON] . WHO . DIED . YE . 4TH . OF
[AVGV]ST . & . IN . YE . 18TH . YEAR
[OF . HI]S . AGE . 1728.”

Marking the same grave is a headstone inscribed: –
(6) “God be merciful to the soul of Edwd. Dunn, of Aharney, who depd. this life the 27th of Septr., 1784, aged 76 years. Also his wife, Elizabeth Dunn, alias Lawler, who depd, this life the 22nd of June, 1774, aged 64 years; with three sons and two daughters. Also Michael Dunne, who depd. June the 1st, 1804, aged 65 years.”

The ancient stock, to which these two last monuments belong, is traced to three brothers who removed from O’Dunne’s Country of Iregan, (now the parishes of Clonaslee and Rosenallis, Queen’s Co.), to the neighbourhood of Durrow, during the second half of the 17th century. Of the brothers, one settled down in Clonageera, beside Durrow, the other two in Aharney. Their present representatives are Mr. Michael Dunne, of Durrow, son of Patrick, of Durrow (1822-83), son of John, of Clonageera and Durrow (c.1770- c. 1850); and Mr. Patrick Dunne, of Aharney, son of John, of Aharney (1794 -1873), son of Michael, of Aharney (1739-1804).

(Note: None of the above inscriptions could be read in 1998)

THE MANOR OF DURROW – The Manor of Durrow is found in possession of the Bishops of Ossory as far back as the early part of the 13th century. Their right thereto was contested in the law courts, for several years, about this time, by the Earls Marshall; but, apparently without success. The following references to this lawsuit are found in the Calendar of Documents, Ireland, 1171-1252:
“1230 (April). William, Earl Marshall, attorns John de Bereford and Reymund Sprot in the plaint in the King’s court, Dublin, between the Earl, plaintiff, and the Bishop of Kilkenny, tenant, touching the manor of Dernan” [i.e. Dervagh, or Durrow].
“1234 (Oct. 18). Gilbert, Earl Marshall, attorns William de Evesham and Richard FitzWarin, against Walter, Bishop of Ossory, tenant of the manor of Dervagh.”
“1237 (Ap. 11). Gilbert Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, attorns Richard Walerand, in a plaint in the court of Dublin, between him and the Bishop of Ossory, of the castle and manor of Dervach.”

“Many times I’ve looked upon thee, “Where thou washest saintly Durrow,
Gazed all seasons on thy face, Glidest past the Fenian grave;
From thy cradle midst the mountains, Where the fortress of the Ormondes
To the ending of thy race. Proudly towers o’er thy wave.
And thou wert ever lovely, “Where thou lingerest, caressing
Ever beauteous to my eyes, Fairy Woodstocks wooded side;
‘Neath the leaden grey of rain clouds. Where between the waving willows
Or the glow of sunset skies. Thou art lost in Barrow’s tide.
“When the moonbeams in the harvest, “Thou art lovely, thou art lovely,
Shimmering, tipt thy silver ripples bright Past all measure; mother Nore,,
When the autumn even’s purple In thy pools and in thy shallows,
Faded in the calm twilight. In the pastures by thy shore.
“On thy banks ’twere sweet to linger,
Sweet to stem thy summer stream
Sweet to woo, and wed, and die beside thee,
Thou, of waters, fairest queen.”

“1237 (June 8). Gilbert, Earl of Pembroke, puts in his place Richard Walerand, in a plain summoned before the Justiciary, between the Earl, plaintiff, and Walter, Bishop of Ossory, of the castle of, and 4 carucates of land in, Dervath.”
“1238 (March 22). The King to Maurice Fitzgerald. Justiciary of Ireland. Gilbert Marshall Earl of Pembroke, having impleaded in the King’s court, Dublin, Walter, Bishop of Ossory, touching the Bishop’s manor of Dervagh, the Bishop took exception that he was not bound to answer, because William Marshall, late Earl of Pembroke, Gilbert’s father, gave by his charter, now produced, to Hugh, formerly Bishop of Ossory, a release of all plaints touching lands and tenements. This charter was not denied in the Court; nevertheless the King’s justices proceeded in the plea. The King thereupon commanded that the Justiciary should not allow the Bishop to be injured in the King’s Court, and that the plaints should not proceed. The King, however, having learned from the Earl that the Bishop did not produce the charter in court, commands the Justiciary to grant over of the charter if produced, and according to its tenor to do what ought to be done in conformity with the custom of Ireland. Otherwise the Justiciary shall cause the plaint to proceed according to the tenor of the King’s writ therein.”
The result of this litigation is not recorded; but as the manor of Durrow continued in possession of the Bishops for centuries afterwards, the victory must have rested with them.

In 1245, Geoffry de Turville, Bishop of Ossory (1244-50), had a grant from the King of a yearly fair in his manor of Derevald (i.e. Durrow) for six days, namely, on the day of St. Swithin and five following days (15-20 July), and a weekly market on Thursday.I The Catalogue of the Bishops of Ossory credits Bishop de Turville with building the manor of Durrow and acquiring much land therefor; here, however, it is clearly in error; for, even before this Bishop’s Episcopate, the castle and manor of Durrow were held by his predecessors, as the documents above quoted fully prove.

Some time between 1468 and 1478, a Perambulation, or Fixing of the Boundaries, of part of the Manor of Durrow, was effected by Bishop David Hackett. The Red Book of Ossory has a contemporary memorandum of the proceedings, written in Latin, and extremely hard to decipher. Stripped of contractions, this document is as follows:

“Ad perpetuam rei memoriam per praesens scriptum cunctis fiat manifestum presentibus et futuris quod Reverendus pater, David, Episcopus Ossoriensis, metas dominii terrarum ecclesie Ossoriensis Manerii de Dirvagh, coram me, Thoma Loundres, Notario publico, et testibus fide dignis tunc presentibus, fieri fecit per subscriptas personas, videlicet:
Tirrelaum filium Donati Irryghe mcGillephadrik,
Tatheum Ruffum, eiusdem Donati ffihium,
Dermicium mcPaderisse,
Dominum Donatum mcKeve, presbiterum,
Tatheum nigrum mcGillephadrik,
Dominum Kervallum, Rectorem de Bordwell,
Geffredum mcGillephadrik, sue nacionis capitaneum,
Kervallum, filium eius,
Johannem mcTecc, ac
Dirvaill, filiam Donati riavr:
Qui iurati dixerunt quod didicerunt huiusmodi limitaciones a senioribus suis, videlicet:
Dicto Donato mcG.
Padyn Ayghre,
ffilia Edmundi Botiller, uxore quondam mcGillephadrik,
Willelmo mcCowchogery,
Malemor mcMalaghlyn,
Gille Donato mcLucas,
Dirvayll iny Aodye,
Dermicio mc mek Dermyd Carryghe,
Johanne mcKeve, Rectore quondam de Dirvagh,
Donaldo mc mcGryuyn,
Luca mcCarroke,
Willelmo mcGillakegh:
Que quidem persone sic limites ordinarunt: Incipientes a Glan telwe usque ad Quercum Tricrecatum ; et ab illo loco deveniunt tendentes Barr ne Beghe, a parte sinistre manus ; et abhinc usque ad Liscomyn, a altera parte fosse noue ; et abhinc usque ad Knokenoran deveniunt tendentes Garuam et Pratum, ex parte manus dextere.”

For a perpetual memorial of the thing, be it plain to all both present and to come, by the present writing, that the Reverend Father, David, Bishop of Ossory, made a perambulation of the demesne lands of the Manor of Dirvagh, which belong to the See of Ossory, before me, Thomas de Loundres, Notary Public, and in presence of witnesses worthy of credit, by the undersigned persons, viz.:
Turlogh, son of Donnogh Riabhach McGillephadrik,
Teige Ruadh, son of the same Donnogh,
Dermot McPaderisse,
Sir [now Rev.] Donnogh McKeve, [McEvoy ?], Priest,
Teige Dubh McGillephadrik.
Sir Carroll, Rector of Bordwell,
Geoffry McGillephadrik, chief captain of his nation,
Carrol, his son,
John McTecc, and
Dirvaill, daughter of Donnogh Reamhar (i.e. the Fat):
Who declared on oath, that they had the knowledge of these boundaries from their elders, viz.:
The said Donnogh McGillphadrik,
Padyn Ayghre,
The daughter of Edmund Botiller, formerly wife of The McGillephadrik,
William, son of Cowchogery,
Malemor, son of Malaghlyn,
Gille Donnogh, son of Lucas,
Dirvayll, daughter of Aodh,
Dermot, son of the son of Dermyd Carryghe,
John Mckeve, formerly Rector of Dirvagh [i.e. Durrow],
Donald, son of the son of Gryuyn,
Lucas McCarroke,
William McGillakegh.
And those persons fixed the boundaries as follows:- “Beginning from Glan telwe on to the Three Bounds’ Oak; and from that place they come along by Barr ne Beghe, on the left hand; and thence to Liscomyn, on the other side of the new ditch; and thence they come to Knokenoran, along by Garua and the [Callow] Meadow.”

This document has reference only to the portion of the old manor of Durrow lying north of the Erkina River, and which, with the exception of Coolnabehee, belongs to the Durrow estate to the present day. “Glan telwe” is now represented by the Course Wood, the Course, and the Obelisk Field. The name signifies the Glen of the Tulach, and is apparently derived from a small artificial Tulach, or mound, now planted with trees, towards the east side of the Obelisk Field. “Quercus Tricreca[tus],” or the Three Bounds’ Oak, must have stood at the point of meeting of Durrow Glebe and the townlands of Course and Lughnamuck. “Barr na Beghe” is now Coolnabehee, the hill of the birch. The “fossa noua” of new ditch still remains, separating Coolnabehee from the portion of the townland of Kylermugh formerly called “Liscomyn”. The lis or rath of Liscomyn may be observed a little farther on towards Ballacolla, on the rising ground to the right. “Garua” is the old name of the part of Ballygauge joining Kylermugh and Coolnabehee ; but it is now preserved only in the name of a hill there called Awrdh-a-Ghawrhoo, or the hill of Gawr-hoo. “Pratum” is the Callow meadow Stretching along the west side of Knockanoran.

From an entry of about 1350, in the Red Book of Ossory, the Manor of Deruagh (Durrow) is shown to have been the most valuable of the temporalities of the See of Ossory. The yearly rental yielded by it to the Bishop, at that time, was £53 12s. 2d., which, in present currency, would represent at least twenty times the same amount.

Of the long connection of the Bishops with Durrow, such memorials still survive as the “Bishop’s Meadows”, the “Bishop’s Road”, and the “Bishop’s Wood”, all in Lord Ashbrook’s Demesne; also the “Bishop’s Well”, in the Derry Wood.

The old Episcopal Manor-house, or Castle, of Durrow was demolished during the 18th century. It stood on the “Castle Hill”, about mid-way between Lord Ashbrook’s Mansion (erected in 1716) and the old churchyard. A cave or large sewer, arched and paved with stone, and 5ft high by 4ft in width, led thence, by Lord Ashbrook’s lodge-gate, through Durrow Square. Part of this passage was destroyed when the foundations of the lodge were being cut (about 1850), but the remainder has been left uninjured.

About the time of the Reformation the manor of Durrow was alienated from the See, and granted in fee-farm to the Earl of Ormond, subject to a rent of £5 to be paid annually to the Bishop of Ossory for the time being.

During the second half of the 17th century, between 1660 and 1688, the manor was separated from the Queen’s Co., to which it had hitherto belonged, and was annexed to the Co. Kilkenny. This was done by Act of Parliament, at the instance of the Duke of Ormond, whose object was “to repress the outrages committed against his tenants by the Fitzpatricks, who, then tried in the Queen’s County, were always acquitted, but, when brought to Kilkenny, never escaped with impunity.” It was only in 1846 that the manor, or estate, of Durrow was restored to the Queen’s Co., by the Ordnance Survey Commissioners.

THE ASHBROOK FAMILY – Sir William Flower (son of George Flower, an English officer, who came to Ireland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth) paid 6s. hearth-money for his house (i.e. the old castle) at Durrow, in 1664. He held the place merely as tenant to the Duke of Ormond. He died June 10th, 1681, and is buried in the church of Finglas, Co. Dublin. He was succeeded by his nephew (“ejus a fratre nepos “) and heir, Captain Thomas Flower, to whom “for the sum of £1,000, a mortgage from the Earl of Arran of £100 a year, rent, upon the lands of Durrow and Ballyspellan, in the County of Kilkenny, was granted.”‘ He paid “£34 6s. 8d. rent, and £2 4s. 3d. accates, to the Duke of Ormond, for Durra, &c., Michaelmas, 1698.” At his death, June 22nd, 1700, he was succeeded by his son, William Flower, Esq., who, on the 19th Feb., 1708, “had a release of the lands of Durrow and others from James, Duke of Ormond, to him and his heirs for ever, at the rent of £68 13s. 4d., with three fat beeves, or £4 8s. 6d. per annum in lieu thereof, at the Duke’s election, &c., being the rents and duties reserved when the premises were granted by lease to his grandfather” [father?]. He built the family mansion at Durrow, in 1716; was Sheriff of the Co. Kilkenny, in 1731 ; was created Baron of Castledurrow, in 1733 ; and, at his death, April 27th, 1746, aged 61 years, was buried in Finglas. His son, Henry, second Lord Castledurrow, created Viscount Ashbrook, in 1751, died in the following year, and was succeeded by his son, William, second Viscount Ashbrook, born at Durrow in 1744. He married Elizabeth Ridge, an Oxford ferryman’s daughter, remarkable for her beauty and for the many accomplishments with which she graced the high position to which she had been raised. Her portraits, as ferry girl and as Viscountess, are preserved with greatest care, at Durrow castle. Her husband, the second Viscount Ashbrook, died in 1780. They left two sons,

(a) William, the third Viscount, who died without issue, in 1802 ; and
(b) Henry Jeffrey, who succeeded as fourth Viscount, and died in 1847, aged 81, leaving an only son and successor, Henry, the fifth Viscount. He died in 1871, aged 65. He had, besides three daughters, the following sons:
(a) Henry Jeffrey, the sixth Viscount, born March 26th, 1829, who died without issue.
(b) William Spencer, the seventh and present Viscount, born March 23rd, 1830.
(c) Hon. Robert Thomas, of Knockatrina, Durrow, born 1st April, 1836.

THE TOWN OF DURROW – Down to the beginning of the 18th century, Durrow was never anything more than a small village. It developed into a town between 1720 and 1760. In 1800 it numbered “218 houses, some let in perpetuity, many ruinous but [there was] neither trade nor industry, nor encouragement to them.”1

The Census Returns give the population of the town of Durrow, as follows: –

In 1841 the population was 1,318.
” 1851 ” ” ” 1,085
” 1861 ” ” ” 869
” 1871 ” ” ” 956
” 1881 ” ” ” 738
” 1891 ” ” ” 607
” 1901 ” ” ” 559

In the Course Wood, half a mile north-east of Durrow, there is a quadrangular area, about half an acre in extent and enclosed by an earthen rampart, to which tradition has always pointed as the site of an ancient Monastery or, as some say, Nunnery. Very faint traces of foundations in the smooth surface of the east side of the enclosure, gave confirmation to the popular belief. Thanks to Lord Ashbrook, and Messrs. St. George and Brownrigg, his agent and sub-agent, respectively, the site was thoroughly cleared of earth and rubbish, in the month of August, 1901; and what remains of this ancient religious foundation may now be examined by all.

The main building ran north and south, and was 62 ft. in external length. Its northern end was hollowed out to a considerable depth, so as to form an underground room 191/2 ft. long, on the inside, by 15 ft. – the floor, which was tiled, being fully 8 ft. lower than the original level of the ground; the walls contain four square-shaped recesses, three large and deep, and one small, all evidently intended for cupboards. This room must have served the purposes of a refectory. Leading up out of it, on the south side, is a solid stone stairway, 4 ft. 7 in. wide, consisting of eight steps, and communicating above with the room opposite, which was presumably a kitchen. The stairway branches off at either side, near the top, into another small, narrow stairway of three steps, one leading towards the west, the other towards a small passage off [what we suppose to
have been] the kitchen, communicating probably with an upper storey of the building.
Running west from the underground room, and adjoining it, may be traced the outlines of the foundations of another house, 29 ft. long, internally, from east to west, and 19½ ft. from north to south. That this was the chapel there can be no doubt. One small piece of the masonry remains, showing that the entrance door was in the south side-wall, 6 ft., on the outside, from the angle of the west gable.

This Monastery was probably not in use later than the 9th or 10th century. Its name is no longer remembered. The rental books in the Estate Office, Durrow, throw no light on the matter; they merely show that, as far back as 1770, the townland containing the monastery was known as the “Course Wood,” and that it lay along another townland, then called the “Race Course,” and now known as the Course. In the 15th century and later, however, the Course Wood, the Course, and the “Obelisk Field” formed but one and the same townland, stretching from the Nore on the east, to Knockanoran on the west, and appearing in the Red Book of Ossory as “Glan telwe.”

Dunmore is an ancient Irish topographical name, but its application in the present instance is quite modern, being of no earlier date than 1730, or thereabouts. What is now known as Dunmore Demesne was represented in the middle of the 17th century by the townlands of “Knockanure, Colowny and Kilteigan” with part of another townland called “Rahinlosky.” Knockanure (hill of the yew tree), is probably marked by the hill (297 ft.) nearly midway, in a straight line, between Dunmore House and Coolooney bridge; Colowney (Owney’s angle) lies along the left bank of the Gully river, at Coolooney bridge, and is partly in Kylebeg and partly in Dunmore Demesne; Rahinlosky (the burned fort) is on the right bank of the Gully river and is broken up between Moyne, Dunmore Demesne, and the Swan; Kilteigan takes in Dunmore House and its immediate surroundings.

From the fact of Dunmore House being situated in “Kilteigan,” both the House and Demesne are known to Irish speakers as Kyle-thachawn, that is, the Church of St. Tachan (Cill tacáin). St. Tachan was one of a band of seven missionaries left by St. Patrick with St. Fiac of Sletty. He is specially named in connection with the territory of Ui Criomhthannain, now included in the Baronies of East Maryborough and Stradbally, Queen’s County, thus:

“O Tacan, illustrious pilgrim,
Who art in the land of Ui Criomhthannain,
That enemies come not in our way,
Be thou not avoiding us.”

St. Tachan’s church in Ui Criomhthannain, was situated in the parish of Curraclone, in a townland which appears in records of the early part of the 17th century as “Kiltighan” and “Kiltigan.” The Saint’s church and churchyard at Dunmore, are said to have been situated partly on the site now occupied by the south-western division of Dunmore House, and partly on the tennis-ground adjoining.

Dunmore House was founded early in the 18th century by a gentleman named Drysdale. It was subsequently occupied by Dr. Maurice, Protestant Bishop of Ossory, who died here in 1756, and lies buried in Durrow. Dr. Maurice was succeeded by his relative Captain (afterwards Sir) Robert Staples, ancestor of the present proprietors.

Nearly opposite Dunmore House, on the left bank of the Nore, is the ancient churchyard of Rathkilkeedy.

A little less than half a mile to the south of Durrow, in the townland of Clonageera, the site of a “monastery” is still pointed out. Some slight fragments of the walls of the monastic church remained, in the “Wilderness,” about 200yds almost due west of Clonageera House, till 1865, when they were cleared away. The site is now known to but very few. A little to the north, 150 yds. or so, is a grey old wall, part of the fence separating the Shanachluch (Old Building) field in Capponellan from Clonageera. The Irish form of Clonageera is Cluain na GCaoracwhich signifies the Lawn of the Sheep. Capponellan means the tillage plot of the O’Nealans (Ceap’ ua Nialláin).

In Irish it is called Thinvweer, i.e. Tig an Maoir, the House of the Maor or Steward. The word tigh is very often used to signify an ancient church, as well as a house; and, it is not improbable that it may be used here in the former sense, as an ancient burial ground, with rude head-stones deeply sunk in the ground, was come upon in the townland, about 1860, in the northern angle of the field called the ” Seven acres.” This field is also called the “Battlefield”; and human remains, evidences of the conflict from which the name is taken, have been frequently found beneath its grassy surface, towards the centre.

In the same townland of Tinweer, two or three perches from the Derry Wood, in the third field from the public road to Ballinaslee, a hollow is pointed out in which there was a chapel of the early penal days. It was attended by Friars, and hence was called the ” Friary Chapel.” How long the Friars ministered here is unknown but constant tradition handed on, through many generations, from sire to son, tells how they at length received the crown of martyrdom, at the hands of the priest-hunters, in a little cave where they lay hid, beside their humble temple. The chapel floor remained undisturbed till 1858. The site is now under cultivation.

Ballinaslee, called by Irish speakers Bollianaslee, i.e. Baile na Sluighe, the town of the slaughter, is the only townland of Durrow parish, situated in County Kilkenny. Here beside the Nore, there is a ruined 13th century church. Its walls are fairly well preserved except that the chiselled coin stones have been removed, and there is a big breach in the north wall. It is a rectangular building, measuring, on the outside, 52 ft. 9 in. in length, and 28 ft. in width, the walls being 3½ ft. thick, and the side-walls 11 or 12 ft. high. There is a Gothic doorway, chamfered on the outer edge, towards the middle of the south wall; it is 6½ ft. high and 3 ft. 4 in. wide. There is a flat-headed window of chiselled stone, in the east gable, measuring, on the outside, 3 ft. 1½ in. in height and 7 in. wide: there is another window of same pattern and dimensions high up in the west gable. The church was strongly built of large, rough stones and grouting. There is a graveyard at the south side but it has no inscribed head-stones.

The people call this church ” Ballyclippoge Church,” but what Ballyclippoge means, the writer cannot say, unless the word is a contraction for Beul-atha-Chille-Lappoge, i.e., the Ford of the Church of St. Lappoge or Lappan. There is another Ballyclippoge at the Derry Wood, one mile nearer Durrow town; it contains but about sixteen acres, and has no trace of a burial ground. It is very probable that both Ballyclippoges were portions of one and the same townland in ancient times.

A little to the south of the church, on the bank of the river, there is a beautiful well, believed to have been holy in former times; its present name is “Shea’s well.”

Ballinaslee became See-lands in the time of Hugh de Rous, Bishop of Ossory.

At the west side of Ballinaslee road, along the rocky hill over Hasting’s house, there are remains of a very ancient settlement of some aboriginal tribe. These consist of several half-obliterated stone forts (known everywhere throughout Ireland as cashels and cahirs), mostly circular, and grouped around the principal cashel, which is a large, irregularly-shaped quadrangle. A chapel was erected at the northern extremity of this ancient village, far back in the penal times, probably towards the close of Queen Elizabeth’s reign; it stood north and south, and was about 60 ft. long and 18 ft. wide; all the walls except the north gable, still remain to a height of about 2 ft.

Killiny, though now merged in Aghamacart, was formerly a separate parish, known as the Parish of “Killenny and Cahir,” and consisting of the townlands of Ballykealy, Derreen and Carrhooreagh, Killinymore or Tubberboe, Killinybeg or Knocknagralee, and Newtown. The local English sound of the name is Kyle-iny (accent on first syllable); the Irish sound is Kyle-íná (accent also on first syllable). The name may represent the Irish Cill-finnce that is, the Church of St. Finneach, and may be derived from St. Finneach Duirn, Bishop, whose feast occurs on Feb. 2nd. It may also represent Cill-finci, the Church of St. Fainche or Finche, Virgin. The holy nuns, Finche and Rechtin, were patrons of a Church in Magh-Raighne, in Ossory, in 910. A St. Finnche or Fuinche, virgin, surnamed Garbh, was commemorated at Ros-airthir, in Loch Erne, on Jan. 1st; another St. Fainche or Finche, virgin, is mentioned in the Martyrology of Donegal on Jan 25th and another St. Fainche, virgin, was venerated at Clonkeen, in the Eoghanacht of Cashel, on Jany. 21st. The pedigrees of two virgin saints named Fainche, descended from Colla Uais, Monarch of Erinn, are given in the Book of Leinster.

In the course of centuries the original patron, whether Bishop Finneach, or the Virgin, Fainche or Finche, was laid aside and the church placed under the patronage of St. Brendan, Abbot (May 16th), according to Bishop Phelan’s List, in which we find:
“Patronus Ecc1esiæ de Killeen et Cahir, S. Brandanus, Abbas, 16 Maii (Killeen, alias Killenny).”

At the Reformation the church and parish of Killiny belonged to the Augustinian Canons of the Priory of Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny. On the 26th June, 1577, James and Edward Cuffe were granted several rectories belonging to the said Priory, and among them, Kylline (Killiny) in “the country of MacGilpatricke;” and in Dec., 1591, Piers Hovenden received a grant of the same rectory, under the designation of ” Killenny in M’Gilpaterick’s country.”

The parish church of Killiny stands in ruins in the townland of Killinymore, otherwise Tubberboe. It consisted of nave and chancel. The nave is 43 ft. long, on the outside, and 27 ft. wide, the walls being 3 ft. thick, and the side-walls 12 ft. high. The west gable and all the adjoining portion of the north side-wall are gone to the very ground. In the south side-wall, near the west end, there is a doorway, round-headed, on the inside, and 7 ft. high, and broken on the outside; there is a flat-headed window of unhewn stone towards the east end of the same wall, measuring 3 ft. 5 ½ in. in height on the outside and 6 in. in width, and splaying internally to the width of 6 ft. The east gable of the nave was pierced by two doors, one of which, 6 ½ ft. from the north side-wall, was curved at the top, was 6 ft. 9 in. high by 4 ft. 5 in. wide, and was built of rough stones; the other, 4 ft. 2 in. south of this, is now destroyed. All this gable, except a small part of the south end, is later by some centuries than the side-walls which, judging from the character of the masonry, are certainly not later than the year 1200. Only portions of the foundations of the chancel remain; they show it to have been about 32 ft. long by 19 ft. wide, the walls being 2½ ft. thick. The entire ruin is thickly covered over with strong, old ivy.

The interior of the nave has been appropriated as a burial place by the Philippses of Rapla, the Lodges of Graigueavoice and the Palmers of Derreen. The oldest of the tombs has:
“Here lyeth ye body of Mr. Jos. Lodge of Derrin [i.e. Derreen], husband to Mrs. Frances Lodge, a1s Reeves, who departed this life ye 8th of July, 1733, aged 72 years.”

The graveyard has been walled in by the Board of Guardians, and is still used for interments by some old Catholic families in the neighbourhood. A few perches to the south are the remains of an ancient gateway which, perhaps, led to the presbytery attached to the church.

“Tubberboe well,” from which the townland of Tubberboe takes its name, is about 350 yds. to the south-west. It is sometimes called Tubberig and Tubberach. On the Ordnance Map it is called “St. Johns Well;” and very old people still call it by its name. Down to the early part of the last century the people used to assemble to pray and pilgrim at this well “on St. John’s day in Summer.” From this it follows that it was dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The same Saint may also have been substituted for St. Brendan, as patron of Killiny church. St. Brendan’s connection with the church is now quite forgotten.

There is another well near the church, but it is not accounted holy; its name is Tobaracausha, or the cheese-well.

In Irish it is called Bollee-chaelee, i.e. baile Ui Chaelluiodhe or O’Kealy’s town. A considerable fragment of Ballykealy Castle is still standing. The castle and townland of Ballykealy were forfeited by John mcKeallagh Fitzpatrick, in 1653. The local tradition is that the castle belonged to a branch of the Fitzpatricks, known as the “Criffins”, to distinguish them from other branches of their clan; and that its last occupant was Dhunnacha Chriffin, that is, Donnchadh, the decendant of Criomhthann Fitzpatrick. The “Criffins” are buried inside the ruins of Aharney church.

Cahir (the Stone Rath), an ancient townland, now obsolete as such, comprised, according to the Down Survey Maps, all the present townland of Newtown except the part which stretches along, and is bounded by, Derreen. In the field formerly called “Caar Hill” (that is, Cahir Hill), but now best known as “Newtown Hill”, and the “Castle Hill”, there is a church yard, which ceased to be a burial place for adults very long ago, but continued to be used for the interment of unbaptized children till 1800, or thereabouts. It comes to within a few perches of the public road from Durrow to Cullahill; has no enclosing trench, fence, nor headstones; and can only be distinguished from the rest of the field by some low mounds and the tell tale richness of the grass. Human bones have been found in large quantities wherever this churchyard has been interfered with. The church that stood here was a parish church in ancient times. On the 2nd July, 1516, William McGilpadricke, Canon of Ossory, acting as Papal delegate, held a court in the parish church of Cahir, to investigate the rival claims of two aspirants to the Archdeaconry of Ossory. Scarcely a trace of Cahir church now remains.

Cagher (Cahir), containing 253 acres, the property of Keallagh McShawn Fitzpatrick; and Newtown and Raheenbrannagh, containing 242 acres, of property of the Lord Baron of Upper Ossory, having been forfeited by their respective owners, in 1653, were granted by Cromwell to Captain Thomas Evans.

“Carr Castle” stood on the highest point of the “Castle Hill”. In 1657 it was “in some repaire.” Seven years later it had become the residence of the all-but-beggared Lord of Upper Ossory, whom we find paying 4s. hearth-money for two hearths in “Kahar”, in 1664. A noted robber named McCann had his den here in the 18th century, and from this circumstance the castle was known as “McCann’s Castle”. A considerable part of the castle remained down to about 1820; only one or two very small fragments of it are now in evidence.

The “Nunnery” of Newtown, or Cahir, stood close to the bounds of Raheenleeagh and Gurteen, on the small grassy angle, a quarter of an acre in extent, formed by the junction of the Gowl with the Raheenleeagh stream. An artificial trench, now filled up, formerly insulated the little angle, making it a regular delta. All around, in winter time, it is an immense waste of water and marsh. The Irish name of the nunnery is Kyleadhizzha (Cill a’ Doire), the Church of the Oak grove. Its history is unknown. The ruins still remaining consist of a very small quadrangular apartment, like a turret, its walls 4 ft. thick and very rudely built; it is nearly levelled with the earth, except on the south side, where the wall is 10 ft. high. A few places west of this there is a clump of whitethorns, which seem to mark the site of another building.

The churchyard of “Kyleogue” or “Killogue” is situated in the townland of Ballybooden. The church had disappeared, not even a trace of its foundations being left. But few interments take place here now. There is but one inscribed tomb; it dates about 1850. Some years ago the holy water font, recovered from the Gowl river, to which, perhaps, pious hands had committed it, to save it from desecration, was again brought back to the churchyard; it is of freestone, very rough with bowl 12 in. in diameter and 7 in. deep. On the Ordnance Map this church is called “Keelogue,” but this form of the name is incorrect. The meaning of Kyleogue is uncertain. Possibly the Irish form of the name is Cill Aedhóg, that is, Church of St. Aedhog, Maedhog or Mogue. There is a Templeoge near Dublin, which may also represent Teampull Aedhóg.

In Irish it is called Cullh-achill. The name appears only once under the Irish form, and that is in Keating’s pedigree of the Lords of Upper Ossory, where Finghin MacGillapatrick is entered as “Finghin na Cul-choille,” or Finghin of Cullahill. It signifies the Hill (or Hill-Back) Wood, and evidently had its origin in a forest that in ancient times clothed Cullahill Mountain and extended thence, along the base, as far as Cullahill castle and village. Dr. Joyce’s explanation of the name, viz., Coll-choill, hazel wood, is incorrect, because Keating writes not coll, but cul; and, besides, coll is masculine and should be preceded, in the genitive, not by na, as above, but by an. The true Irish form, then, is Cul-choill, gen. Cul-choille.

CULLAHILL CASTLE – the principal stronghold and residence of the Mac Gilapatricks of Upper Ossory, is a very massive keep, built on the solid rock. It occupies the south-west angle of a partly circular courtyard or bawn, 50 perches in area, and surrounded by a wall thick, strong and loopholed, and at present from 6 to 12 ft. high. It stands nearly north and south, is about 90 ft. in greatest height, and is built of limestone and grouting, the coin-stones being all well chiselled. The south wall, most of the east wall, and about half the west wall, remain to full height; the north wall in which is the ruined entrance door, and the other parts of the east and west walls are gone to almost the first storey. At the base, the castle measures, externally, 48 ft. by 41 ft., and internally, 25 ft. by 18 ft., which gives each of the four walls the immense thickness of eleven and a-half feet. In the second storey the walls are nine feet thick.

The first storey is roofed over by a great, lofty semi-circular stone arch, now broken in the centre it was lighted by the doorway, and by a loop in the south wall, 31 in. high on the outside and 31/2 in. wide. The second storey was at first roofed over by another lofty stone arch, but this was removed some centuries ago, a boarded floor resting on projecting corbels having been substituted for it; an examination of the walls, out of which it was hacked, will show where the arch rested. There was a wide fire-place here, part of the original work, but it is a mere breach at present.

In the third storey there is a fire-place with cut-stone chimney-piece, which, together with the chimney flue, was added at a date long after the erection of the castle. The fire-place and chimney in the fourth storey are part of the original work, but are much injured. The fifth storey or garret, like all the other storeys, is very lofty. There is a large rectangular passage in the west wall, resembling a chimney shaft, and reaching almost from the top of the castle to the ground; it has an external outlet below; its use was in connection with the kitchen, (which was probably the uppermost storey), and the lavatories.

Originally the second and third storeys had each a narrow loop, or lancet window, in the centre of the south wall, but these were subsequently replaced by square cut-stone windows, divided by single upright mullions, arid ornamented with label mouldings. Light was admitted by these windows, to their corresponding storeys, through two lofty, round-headed archways. Over them, in the same wall, is a rectangular window of cut-stone, with no dripstone and no dividing mullion and contemporaneous in age with the castle itself; it served to give light to what was, at least at first, the great state room in the fourth storey. Over this last is another cut-stone window, but as the central arch-stone has fallen, it is impossible to say whether it was Gothic or ogee-headed; it is part of the original work, and lighted one of the many passages constructed in the thickness of the south wall.

Altogether there still remain six loops in the west wall; one in the south-west angle; another in the south-east angle; seven loops and four windows in the south wall; and eight loops in the west wall. Scarcely any of the loops are more than 4 or 5 in. wide. Other windows and many other loops must also have been in the portions of the wall now thrown down. All the doors remaining are flat-headed none of them Gothic. There was no spiral stairway; but very narrow flights of stone stairs in the thickness of the east wall gave admission to the different storeys. Some of the stairs are now destroyed; and it is only with considerable difficulty and danger that access can he had, by the aid of a ladder, to the top of the building.

On the south end of the east wall, outside, at a height of about 40 ft., there is a rude carving, in relief, of the head, breast and arms of a female, such as is found in the walls of many of our old castles, and to which the people, in some places, give the name of Sheela nhee Gow (Sheela Smith). For defensive purposes the castle was enclosed, at a distance of 2½ or 3 ft., by a wall 8 ft. high, with an external batter at top; three sides of this wall are standing, that to the south having a low, stone-roofed, and loop holed turret, still perfect, at each end. The castle draw-well is in the centre of the courtyard; it was filled up long ago with loose stones, which have been recently removed to a depth of 25 ft.; but the bottom has not been yet reached.

The date of the erection of Cullahill castle cannot be fixed with certainty, but if it be assigned to the year 1425 there cannot be much of an error. Finghin MacGillapatrick, who died about 1450, and who was great-grandfather of Brian, first Lord Baron of Upper Ossory, may be assumed to have received his soubriquet of “na Cul-choille,” or “of Cullahill,” from having built the castle here and made it his chief residence. The changes already noticed in the internal arrangements of the structure, and in the windows of the south wall, were probably effected by Brian just now mentioned, or by his son and successor, Brian Oge, second Lord Baron of Upper Ossory.

From its foundation, to the middle of the 17th century, when it is said to have been cannonaded and wrecked by the Cromwellians, its history is that of the Chiefs of the MacGillapatricks. It was, no doubt, the ” Castrum McKilpatryk,” or Castle of MacGillapatrick, for the “breaking” of which the Sovereign and citizens of Kilkenny received a reward from King Henry VI., in 1441. In 1517, it again came in for hard usage from the Kilkenny men, its lord’s relentless foes, who, invading his territory in warlike array, took the castle of “Coolkill in Ossory” by force, and bore away with them one of its principal gates that they might set it up as a trophy of their victory in the Kilkenny Tholsel of the time.

According to the Down Survey Books, Cullahill castle was “out of repaire,” that is, was ruinous and uninhabited, in 1657.

THE CASTLE CHAPEL or, as it is called, ” the Church,” stands, in ruins, about 100 yds. west of the castle. It was the private chapel of the Catholic Lords of Upper Ossory. Its walls, though roofless since Cromwell’s time, are in excellent preservation. It is a rectangle, measuring 65½ ft. by 30 ft., externally, and 58 ft. 3 in. by 24½ ft., internally; the side-walls are 11 or 12 ft. high. The east window is of cut-stone and chamfered; it was divided by an upright mullion; the external frame is 6 ft. high and 2 ft. wide; the arch-stones are gone; there is a very plain dripstone. There is a piscina at the Epistle side of the altar; it is of cut-stone, Gothic, and slightly ornamented. The doorway, in the south wall, is destroyed, on the outside. There is an ogee-headed lancet window, of cut-stone, high up in the west gable. Corbels for the support of a gallery project from the sides. In point of antiquity this chapel is clearly coeval with the castle. Interments formerly took place within the chapel, and outside it to the south; but, for at least a century and a-half, no one has been buried here.

The neighbourhood preserves no tradition relative to either castle or chapel. This is very strange, seeing that there is here, with the possible exception of Aghaboe, the finest collection of ruins in Upper Ossory, and one so long and intimately associated with the old chiefs of the district.

This townland has three sub-denominations. viz., Rathkile, Timcroe and Thawrla. In the “Rath field,” in Thawrla, there is a round rath 33 yds. in diameter, within which the Ordnance Map marks the site of an ” Abbey in ruins.” The foundations of a building, 40 ft. from east to west, by 21 ft. from north to south, are still distinctly traceable inside the ring. The tradition of a church or abbey having ever been here, has died out. There are two ancient draw-wells close to the rath; one is in the same field and is called the Closh ; the other is in the next field to the south, beside the fence separating Thawrla farm (84 Irish acres) from the Co. Kilkenny, and is called Lughany. At the Kilkennv side of the same fence, there is, in the townland of Coolnacrittia, another well, nearly opposite Lughany, and known as Gliggizha (Gliogaire, the babbling well). Lughany and Gliggizha are the two wells “Tubbernahbruddy” and “Tobberballerahane” between which the boundary fence separating Kilkenny County from Upper Ossory ran in 1621, as it does today.

The name Thawrla appears to be formed from Teamhair (pronounced Thawr), the Irish name of Tara, and commonly used by Irish speakers to denote an elevated spot commanding an extensive prospect; the la or lach at the end of an Irish word frequently conveys the idea of abounding in. Hence, Thawrla may possibly mean a place well suited for, or commanding, an extensive prospect; and as part of Thawrla farm attains an elevation of 633 ft., the name, if our explanation of it be correct, has not been inaptly applied.

“In Cormac’s Glossary it is stated that the teamhair of a house is a grianan (i.e. balcony), and that the teamhair of a country is a hill commanding a wide view. This meaning applies to every teamhair in Ireland, for they are all conspicuously situated and the great Tara in Meath, is a most characteristic example. Moreover, it must be remembered that a teamhair was a residence, and that all the teamhairs had originally one or more forts, which, in case of many of them, remain to this day.”

The Rath of Thawrla must have been given over, at an early date, by its owner for religious uses.

The fine rath of Rathkile, locally Rawchile (the hazel rath), is almost on the bounds of the Co. Kilkenny. Timcroe (Bush of the cattle-pen) is an angle in Oldtown, bounded by Rathkile, Coolnacrittia, and the Gowl river at Barton’s mill.

The “Nunnery” of Addrigoole stood in Addrigoole “Kiln field,” beside the road to Aghamacart, about 4 perches north-west of the lodge-gate of Belmount House.

The site of “Addrigoole churchyard ” is partly in the Kiln-field, and partly on the road just mentioned, which, it appears, runs through the ancient cemetery. The ” Nunnery ” is still well remembered in tradition, though its foundations have been uprooted for much more than a hundred years. The churchyard was obliterated before 1805, but its site at once becomes apparent whenever the “Kiln field” is under cultivation.

The townland of Addrigoole, anciently Gortaddrigoole, was appropriated, with other lands, and several churches and chapels, to the Nunnery of Kilkilliheen (Ferrybank), by David Fitz Milo, Baron of Overke, about the year 1240. In FitzMilo’s grant the name appears as Gortedro-Godelli. In 1540 the Abbess of Kilkilliheen is found surrendering, inter alia, “one messuage, with 10 acres of arable land, pasture and meadow, and the appurtenances, in Adrygowle, of the annual value, besides all reprises, of 5s.” In 1557 the possessions of Kilkilliheen Nunnery were handed over, by royal letters, to the Corporation of Waterford; and thus it happens that this body, to the present day, enjoys the fee simple of Addrigoole townland.

At what time the Nunnery of Addrigoole flourished, whether before or after 1240, or both before and after this date, is unknown. Fitz Milo’s singling out this remote townland for presentation to the Kilkilliheen Nuns, about 1240, would, perhaps, go to prove that it had been previously the site of an ancient Irish Nunnery.
As to the meaning of the name, “The land enclosed between two branches of a river,” writes Dr. Joyce, “was often designated by the compound Eadar-dha-ghabhal, [Adragoul] or Eadar-gabhal, [Addergoul] i.e. (a place) between two (river) prongs, and this has given names to many places in the various forms Addergoole, Adderagoole, Addrigoole, &c”

The Martyrology of Donegal, at Oct. 26th, commemorates ” St. Reachtan,” (Virgin ?), “of Eatar-gabhail.”

A monastery is said to have been founded here, about A.D. 550, but no vestige of it remains. In 1156, or 1157, Aghamacart was burned in the savage raid made on Ossory by Muircheartach macNeill Ua Lochlainn. A Priory for Canons Regular of the Order of St. Augustine was established here, under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin and St. Tighearnach, or Tierna (April 5th) about the time of the Anglo-Norman Invasion. Archdall attributes its foundation to Q’Dempsey (chief of Clanmaliere); but, “it is very hard to believe,” John O’Donovan justly remarks, “that the priory of Aghamacart was erected by O’Dempsey, from whose country it is at least 25 miles distant; and it is, moreover, probable that MacGillapatrick, Lord of Ossory, and not O’Dempsey, was the founder.”

Circa, 1225 P____, Prior of Akethmacart, was one of the witnesses to a charter by which Peter, Bishop of Ossory (1221-31), granted half the Church of Claragh to the Prior and Canons of St. John’s Abbey, Kilkenny, and the other half to the vicar of the said church.

1251. King Henry III granted letters of simple and unlimited protection to the prior and canons of Fertakerach (Fertagh) and Ackidmackarth in Ireland.

“Frater Willelmus. Prior Monasterii de Aghmecarte. Ordinis S. Augustini, Ossor. Dioc.” is mentioned in some extracts, Ex Chartis Jacobi Comitis Ormoniae, in the Brit. Museum; but there is nothing to indicate the period in which he lived.

1455. Dermot O’Meathair (i.e. O’Maher), formerly rector of Donnaghmore, in Upper Ossory, was Prior of Athumicharth, Ossory Diocese, on the 12th June, 1455, when Pope Callistus III, by Brief of said date, permitted him to exchange Priories with Patrick Obnagi, Prior de Insula Viventium, i.e. of the Holy Island of Moonahincha.

1466 (May 28th). James Ybury, otherwise MacConbuaga, priest of Ossory Diocese, having bound himself to pay to the Camera Apostolica the annats of the Priory of the Blessed Mary of Aghmacart of the Order of St. Augustine, said Diocese of Ossory, vacant by the death, outside the Roman Court, of its late Prior, Patrick Obnocy, otherwise Obnoecy it is ordered that he have a provision of same (Priory), and of the Rectory of the parish church of Glassro, in said Diocese, which latter he has held for the last five years and still holds, without canonical appointment.
This appointment will appear from the following to have been without effect.

1481 (March 31st). William Obrothe (i.e. O’Brophy), priest of Ossory, is appointed, by Papal Brief, Prior of the Monastery of St. Tigernacius, otherwise of the Blessed Mary, of Achanncayrtt, of the Order of St. Augustine, vacant by the death of Patrick Obnogy.

1516 (Sept. 25). The seal of the Priory of St. “Tygernasius” of Aghamacart, is attached, at this date, to the definitive sentence of William McGilpatrick, Canon of Ossory, in the dispute relating to the Archdeaconry of Ossory.

1525. Donald O’Phelan became Prior he was still living in 1542.

1540. Suppression of the Priory.

1574 (March 9th). Sir Barnaby Fitzpatrick, Knt., subsequently second Lord of Upper Ossory, had a lease from the Crown of the site of the monastery of Agmacarte in Upper Ossorye, the lands of Agmacarte and the tithe corn of the rectory of Agmacartye with the tithes of Cowlekill ” (Cullahill).
1586 (Sept. 16th). A similar lease was granted to Daniel Kelly, the soldier who slew the great Earl of Desmond.

1601 (Ap. 10th). A patent of same was passed to Florence, Lord of Upper Ossory.
The only landed property in possession of the Priory of Aghamacart, consisted of the two townlands of Aghamacart and Cannonswood (i.e. the Wood of the Canons Regular) about 744 stat, acres. The only rectory appropriated to it was Aghamacart, that is, all the present civil parish of Aghamacart, less the part of it included in the old parish of Killiny.

Two plates of the ruins of Aghamacart Priory towards the close of the 18th century, have been given to the public, one in Grose’s Antiquities of Ireland, published in 1791; the other in the Irish Penny Journal of Dec. 4th, 1841. Both sketches show the present Protestant church, and a very high square castle that stood opposite its north gable, at a distance of about 20 yards; they also show a ruinous building attached to the east wall of the castle, and extending thence, eastward, for a considerable distance.

The castle, which was most likely the residence of the Canons, is stated by these who remember it, to have been as high and almost as large as that of Cullahill. It collapsed from the very foundations about the year 1850. The building attached to it on the east side, was the Priory Church, or, as the people call it, ” the Friars’ Chapel.” About 30 ft. of the east end of this chapel yet remains. It was 18½ ft. wide internally. The fragment of the north side-wall shows traces of three small broken windows. The east gable has a window, now built up, measuring, on the inside, where it is round-headed, 4½ft in width and about 10 ft. in height; on the outside it is framed with cut-stone, has a label moulding, is about 22 in wide and 5 ft. high, and is divided by an upright mullion, now removed, into two narrow ogee-headed lights. Springing out of the southern extremity of the east gable, at a height of 12 ft., there is part of a Norman arch, which led, through the east end of the south side-wall, into some apartment, perhaps a side chapel, or transept, now thrown down. The south side-wall has been destroyed. What now remains of this “Friars’ chapel,” has been converted into a stable or carhouse, for the convenience of those who attend service in the adjacent Protestant church.

The ancient PARISH CHURCH of Aghamacart stood in ruins till the episcopate of the Protestant Bishop, Dr. Pocock (1756-65), who had the chancel fitted up as a parish church. This chancel, which still serves as the Protestant church of the district, stands, most strangely, due north and south. It measures, internally, 34 ft. by 23 ft., the side walls being 15 ft. high, the south gable 3 ft. 8 in. thick, and the east side-wall 3 ft. thick. The east side-wall has two large Gothic windows, framed, within and without, with chiselled limestone; it, as is very likely, they were traceried originally, the tracery has disappeared. In the middle, between those windows, is a cut-stone locker, chamfered on the edges, and measuring 16 in. every way. No windows now appear in the west side-wall; but, at the north end, a slab, 26 in. by 29 in., exhibiting a carving of rich foliage, in relief, serves as a lintel over a small fire-place; its original purpose apparently was to ornament the top of a statue-niche.

There was a fine gothic cut-stone window, high up, in the south gable, to the rere of the ancient altar, but its tracery has been removed and some modern work substituted for it; on the outside it has a hood moulding, ending at each side in foliage similar to that to be seen at Pottlerath church. Underneath this window a modern door has been broken out, which is now the main entrance to the church. The north gable is six feet six inches thick. It’s one feature of interest, and that the most interesting feature among the ruins of Aghamacart, is the choir-arch so massive and solid. It is perfectly round at top, of beautifully chiselled limestone, chamfered at the edges, and ornamented underneath with two semicircular ribs, one single, the other double, both ending at the sides in plain carvings its width is 11 ft., and height, to the apex of the arch, 12 ft.

The gateway, which Archdall describes as “a well-turned arch of good workmanship” stood at the north-west side of the graveyard, but has been taken down.

The burial vaults at Aghamacart are said to have been extensive and to have probably penetrated far under the building to the north of the Protestant church. Only one vault is now to be seen here; it belongs to the Fitzpatricks of Coolcashin, and hasp over the doorway, the following inscription, of about 1770:
“Pray for the souls of the Fitzpatrick family interred in this Vault.”
The vault itself, however, appears to be much older than the inscription, and may have been built early in the 17th century to receive the remains of Florence, Lord Baron of Upper Ossory, or Geoffry Fitzpatrick, Esq., of Tintore, both of whom were buried at Aghamacart.

There are very many monuments here, but none dating beyond 1761.

The broken castle, about 40 perches south of the churchyard, probably marks the position of the Grange, or farm house, belonging to the Priory.This castle was perfect, or nearly so, till 1801, when it fell. One of its walls still stands to a height of 20 ft. One small field south of the castle stood the Priory mill, known as the Black Mill. Its modern successor was used as a fulling mill, by the present proprietors, till not many years ago.

About 100 yards north-east of the graveyard, at the opposite side of the road to Cullahill, there is a small fertile field called the ” Infirmary field “; this is said to have been the site of the Priory Infirmary. In very dry summers, the foundations of houses may be distinctly traced here, beneath the surface. Tradition states that here, too, were a church – perhaps the first church ever built in Aghamacart – and a churchyard.

There was, till lately, a well near the churchyard, to the south-west, called Causey [i.e., Causeway] well.” There is another well, a very large one, south of the churchyard, near the Gowl bridge, and known as ” Inch well”; the bell of the Priory chapel is believed to have been secreted here, at the time of the Reformation, and to have never been brought to the surface since.
St. “Tierna’s well,” a holy well dedicated to the patron of Aghamacart, is in Shanbally, in a field bounded on one side by the Gowl, and on another by Oldtown it is now neglected; it was formerly a couple of perches more to the south, but it removed to its present position, owing to some act of profanation.
Bishop Phelan’s List has:
“Patronus de Aghmucart, S. Tigernus, Abbas, Aprilis.”

The Martyrology of Donegal commemorates no St. Tighearnach on the 5th April; but it mentions St. Tighearnach, Bishop of Clones, on April 4th; St. Tighearnach of Doire-Melle (in Lower Breifne), on Nov. 4th; St. Tighearnach, priest, on March 17th ; and St. Tighearnach of Boirche, on May 13th. The Martyrology of Tallaght enters St. Tighearnach of Airidh, at April 8th.
The public road from Aghamacart, by Cannonswood, to Carrick, is called Boher-a-hyarra (bothar a Ceara), or the Road of Blood, from a murder committed here centuries ago, which has been invested with peculiar horror and detestation owing to the fact that the murderer and his victim stood to each other in the relation of “gossips,” that is, one was god-father of the other. The scene of the murder is pointed out on the highest point of the road, a little to the south of Cannonswood cross.

There is a very fine rath here, consisting of a circular area 55 yards in diameter, enclosed by two lines of circumvallation separated by a fosse 20 ft. deep and the same in width. Its name is “Rathkilmurry,” that is, the Rath of Kilmurry, or, of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Church. The rath was evidently the residence of some old Irish chief, who presented it, for the site of a church or monastery, to one of the early Christian missionaries. At present the enclosed area is perfectly smooth, showing no trace of foundations or graves. There is no tradition that it was ever the site of a religious building; but the name is quite sufficient to show that ” Mary’s Church ” once stood within the ring of the grand old fort.


DURROW – The ” Mass-Pit” in Derreen is well known. It is one mile from Durrow town, and a few perches from Bishop’s Wood. Mass was scarcely celebrated here later than the year 1700. It is the tradition of the district that a Bishop, while offering up the Sacred Mysteries in this Pit, was seized on by the persecutors, who dragged him into the adjoining wood, tied him to the “Bishop’s Tree,” and left him there till death relieved his sufferings. The Bishop’s name is quite forgotten. Possibly he was Dr. Edmund Tanner, Commissary of the Pope, and Bishop of Cork and Cloyne. Dr. Tanner was a prisoner for the faith in Clonmel jail, but having effected his escape, continued to discharge his duties, as Commissary and Bishop, in various parts of Ireland, during the succeeding four years. At length, entirely worn out with privations and labour (“inedia et labore omnnino confectus “), he died in Ossory Diocese, in the year 1579, in the 55th year of his age and 5th of his Episcopate.

Mass was also said in a quarry, in Roughpark “grove,” about 100 yards from Capponellan Wood; the quarry is now levelled. This appears to have been used as a Mass-station as late as 1750.

Mention has been already made of the chapel at the Rocks in Ballinaslee, and of the Friary chapel in Tinweer. Both of these were most probably in use in the 17th century and not later.

There was no chapel in the town of Durrow till about the middle of the 18th century. The site for a chapel was then granted, free of rent, by a Protestant gentleman named Roe, who himself held it, by a lease for ever, from the Ashbrook family. This chapel, which stood on the site of the present Court House, continued in use down to 1839.

The present parish chapel was begun in 1836, and, through the tireless exertions of the P.P., Father Dowling, and the C.C., Father Michael Phelan, was built and roofed, in about three years time. It was first used for the celebration of Mass, on Easter Sunday, 1839, but was not fully thrown open to the people till the middle of the following May.

CULLAHILL – The oldest Mass-station in this district is close to Cullahill village, on the left of the road to Johnstown. Its name is Cool-an-eye-shing, or the Mass Hill. And here it may be remarked that the Irish word, Aiffrionn meaning the Mass, though elsewhere pronounced Affërin, is sounded Affézhin in South Kilkenny, and Eye-shin (accent on first syllable) always in the rest of our Diocese.
There was another Mass-station 150 yards north of Maynebog bridge, and a few perches east of the Gowl river. A “Mass-bush” grew on the hill, directly over the hallowed spot, till it decayed away, through age, in 1880; its site has been since marked by a small heap of stones, thoughtfully placed here by Mr. Michael Moore, who owns the land. Father Traynor, the P.P., used to celebrate Mass here in the early part of the 18th century.

Mass was also said on Thomas Kelly’s land, in Gurteen, under a large sceach, still growing. An old man named Dunphy, born in 1790, used to tell that his father, when a child, heard Mass here.

The first chapel of Cullahill dates from somewhere about 1740. It was older, by a few years, than the old chapel of Durrow, and was, therefore, for a time, the parish chapel. It was enlarged and rebuilt in 1765, as appears from the much-obliterated inscription on a slab that had been fixed into the wall, over the entrance door. In June, 1837, it was taken down to the ground. The present chapel was then commenced, on the same site, by Father Dowling, P.P. Five months after, or in Nov., 1837, the nave was covered with the roof, and from that time, served, for all purposes, as the district chapel; the transepts and sanctuary were completed a little later on. The founder, Father Dowling, is buried here; his monument has:
Here are interred the remains of Rev. Paul Dowling, P.P., of this parish 16″ [recte 14] “years. who departed this life 29th June A.D. 1846 in the 33rd year of his sacred ministry, aged 58 years. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.”


A small silver chalice in Durrow, dating about 1750, has:
“This Challice belongs to the Parish of Durrow.”
Another chalice, in Cullahill, of same pattern, and perhaps a few years later in date, has:
“This Challice belongs to the Chapel of Cullehill P.R.W.S.” [i.e. Pastor, Rev. Wm. Shee].


REV. CONNOR O’DORAN – As “Sir” [i.e., Rev.] “Conogher O’Doran,” he appears in the list of Ossory priests in 1604. Another list of “seditious priests,” drawn up between Sept. 14th, 1612, and April, 1613, informs the Government that “Conhore O’Doran. priest. [is] usuall with my Lo. of Upper Qssory.” Cullahill castle was at this period the residence of the Lords of Upper Ossory, and hence must have been the locus refugii of this ancient pastor.

Rev. EDWARD MOLLOY was “Pastor Ecclesiae de Athamacart,” i.e. P.P. Durrow, in August, 1669. He was still living, August 31st, 1695, at which date William Fitzgerald, of Lisdowney, mentions him in his will.

Rev. HUGH TRAYNOR was P.P. before July 3rd, 1701. In 1704 he resided at Cullahill, and was then 50 years of age. He also lived in Maynebog, where the people point out the site of his house, about 50 yards north of the Mass-bush. The tradition is that Father Traynor was a native of the North of Ireland, and served on the mission there for some time; and that his appointment to Durrow was brought about by the Protestant Incumbent of Aghamacart, also a North of Ireland man, who had been an old neighbour and a great friend of his. Having governed the parish for a long period, the venerable pastor, bowed down under the weight of 77 years, and feeling his end approaching, made his last will as follows:
“In the name of the Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
I, Hewh Trenar of Cullihill, in the Queen’s county and Barroney of Upper Ossory, cleark, being sick of body, sound of memory, senses and reason, do make this my last will and testament in the manner and form following.
First of all I bequeath my soul to almighty God, my creator and Redeemer, and my body to be buried in the church of Aghamacart according to the discression of my exrs. and I doe recall, annull, by these presents all other wills formerly made by me.
“Item. I leave and bequeath for works of charity five pounds to be distributed according to the discression of my exrs. to wit, Mr. Thady Fitzpatrick of Ballibouden, Mr. John Fitzpatrick of Ballikely and his brother Denis.
“I dispose of all the rest of my goods and chattels according to the discression of my four-mentioned executors, as witness my hand and seale this 16 day of June, 1731.
Witnesses present “Hugh Trener.
“Patrick Ruth.
“Philip Trener.”

Father Traynor rests, as he directed, in Aghamacart. His grave is within the Protestant church – a roofless ruin at the time of his death – in the north-east angle, beside the choir-arch. A slab with inscription is said to be over his remains, but it is now covered by the boarded flooring of the church.

VERY REV. MARTIN DELANY, the next P.P., was a member of the Diocesan Chapter, having been Canon of Aghoure in 1748. He died April, 3rd, 1751, and is buried with his friends in the old churchyard of Durrow.

VERY REV. WILLIAM SHEE, V.G., was born in 1726; was ordained, at Seville, in Spain, by Dr. Dominick Perez, Suffragan Bishop of Seville, in 1750; and was appointed P.P. of Durrow by Dr. James Bernard Dunne, Bishop of Ossory, in 1751. On the 8th January, 1762, he was given charge of the district of Ballyouskill, but resigned same on the 4th May, 1764. He became Canon of Killamery and Vicar General of the Diocese, on the 24th Dec., 1773; and was promoted to the Treasurership of the Chapter, July 12th, 1775. He died Feb. 16th, 1786, and is buried in the old churchyard at Durrow.

REV. PATRICK MORTIMER was born most probably in Parliament Street, Kilkenny. He studied in Paris, and was ordained by Dr. Troy, in Maudlin-street chapel, Kilkenny, on the 13th June, 1778. He was C.C. Rathdowney in 1782 and down to Oct., 1783, when he was changed to Freshford. From Freshford he was promoted to the pastoral charge of Durrow, March 14th, 1786. He died March 21st, 1811, in his 58th year, and is buried beside his predecessor in the old churchyard at Durrow.

VERY REV. KIERAN MARUM, D.D., subsequently Bishop of Ossory, became P.P., Durrow, April the 3rd, 1811, and was translated to St. John’s, about the middle of June following.

REV. MICHAEL WALTON, who succeeded, was born at Higginstown, Clara, and was brother of the Rev. Thomas Walton, who died C.C. Ballyhale in 1807, and uncle of the Rev. John Walton, P.P. Castletown, who died 1880. He was ordained by Dr. Lanigan in one of the last years of the 18th century. His curacies were Aghaboe in 1798 and 1799; Upperwoods; and then St. John’s from 1801 to June, 1811, when he became P.P. of Durrow. He retired from the mission in March, 1821, and died with his friends in Higginstown, Nov. or Dec., 1834. He is buried in Templemartin in his native parish.

REV. WILLIAM GRACE The parish was vacant for about a year after Father Walton’s departure, till the appointment of the Rev. William Grace as P.P., May 18th, 1822. Father Grace was translated to Kilmanagh, in April, 1824.

REV. JEREMIAH HOSEY became P.P. April 17th, 1824, and was translated to Ballyragget, in May, 1832.

REV. PAUL DOWLING was born in Bridge Street, Ballyragget; studied in the Maudlin-street College ; and was ordained about 1814. He was C.C. St. Canice’s, in Nov. and Dec., 1814; St. Patrick’s; St. John’s; Durrow; Aghavillar (1817-19); Durrow, a second time (1819 to May, 1822); and Gowran from 1822 to May, 1832, when he became P.P., Durrow. He died in the Presbytery, Cullahill, on SS. Peter and Paul’s day, 1846, in his 58th year, and is buried in Cullahill chapel.

VERY REV. PATRICK BIRCH became P.P. Durrow and V. F., Aug., 25th, 1846. He was translated to Johnstown and Galmoy, May 26th, 1851.

REV. JAMES WALSH was nephew to the Very Rev. Robert Power, P.P. Johnstown and of the Rev. William Walsh, P.P. Mooncoin, and was born at Newpark, Cashelgannon, in the parish of Ballyhale. He studied in Birchfield, where he began Logic in Sept., 1827. He was ordained early in 1831. He was C.C. Slieverue (May, 1831-1832); St. Canice’s (1832-33); Ballyhale (1833-37) Slieverue (1837-40); Adm., St. John’s (I840-43) C.C. Ballyhale (1843-47); and of Inistioge from 1847 to Aug. 13th, 1851, when he was collated to Durrow. He died April 25th, 1861, in his 57th year, and is buried in Durrow chapel.

REV. MICHAEL DEMPSEY was born in Loon, parish of Castlecomer; studied in St. Sulpice, Paris; and was ordained in 1825. Having spent some years on the French mission, he returned to Ossory, in Nov., 1829, and was appointed to a Professor’s chair in Burrell’s Hall. Subsequently he was Chaplain to the Presentation Convent, Kilkenny, (1831-40); C.C., Danesfort (1840-41); Lisdowney (1841-44); and Ballyouskill from 1844 till his appointment as P.P. of Skirke, in 1849. He was translated to Durrow, May 24th, 1861, and he died here, Aug. 19th, 1869, aged 71 years. He is buried in Durrow chapel.

REV. JAMES RYAN, the next P.P., was born in Tullamain, Callan, about 1814. He began Logic in Birchfield in 1838, and in the following year passed on to St. Kieran’s College, where he finished his ecclesiastical studies. He was ordained about 1843, and was, soon after, appointed C.C. Galmoy, where he laboured zealously twenty-three years, till his promotion to the pastoral charge of Durrow, Sept. 25th, 1869. ‘He died after a brief illness, on the 25th July, 1885, and is buried in the parish chapel.

VERY REV. JOHN SHORTALL, present P.P., succeeded Aug. 15th, 1885, and was appointed VF of the Northern Deanery, May 14th, 1892