The history and antiquities of the county of Carlow, Ireland

To the disadvantage and to the discredit of Ireland, literature has heretofore been but little cultivated or encouraged by her inhabitants. To the disadvantage, because mental culture is one of the most effectual agents in the civilization and moral regeneration of any people:

Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes

Emollit mores, nee sinit esse feros. Ovid.

To the discredit, because a neglect of the arts, sciences, literature, betrays an absence of those noble, intellectual aspirations which mainly distinguish man from the lower orders of creation. These positions are incontrovertible, and therefore, any elaborate support of them would be superfluous.

I shall now briefly advert to the past and present state of that branch of literature to which the following work appertains.

The prospect in this case is far from cheering. While in Great Britain, every county, and many baronies, parishes, cities, towns, villages, and even private houses,* have had their historians and antiquaries, little, indeed, has been done in Ireland. With the exception of Smith's histories of Cork, Waterford, and Kerry, published in the last century, and others " few and far between," the local records of the country yet remain to be collected, its ancient structures are yet to be visited, explored, and accurately portrayed. It is not difficult to account for the immediate cause of this circumstance: public support has not been forthcoming; and even now, the attendant difficulties are such as would, perhaps, deter most persons from the pursuit: in fact, no small share of enthusiasm is necessary to carry a work on antiquities, (or indeed on any other subject), in Ireland, to a successful conclusion. The example of our English and Scotch fellow subjects, however, was striking; the deficiency existed; and the author, feeling an interest in his native county, resolved at all hazards, to collect its history and survey its antiquities. The present volume is the result of his determination.

Knowing that in too many instances writers have been led into gross blunders by improperly attempting to describe places and structures which they had never seen,* the author resolved on visiting every ancient place, or building, in the district to which his work relates. He has, accordingly, traversed the shire from north to south, and from east to west; from Rathvilly to St. Mullins, and from Old Leighlin to Hacketstown have been attentively explored; and if he has failed in obtaining comprehensive information on the present state of the antiquities of the county of Carlow, it has not been from deficiency in physical exertion, Like Sir Walter Scott, (in his rambles through the border country, when collecting matter for his exquisite works), the author adopted the pedestrian mode in his survey; by far the best where minute inquiry is the, object; though he cannot say, that he has often walked thirty (Scotch) miles a day, as Sir Walter is stated by one of his biographers to have frequently performed Such, in short, was the ardour of the author's search for information, that the humorous lines applied by Burns to the facetious antiquary Captain Grose, might with equal justice have been applied to him. A mass of matter, however, has by this means been collected, relating not merely to the ancient structures, but to most of the time-honored burial-grounds of the county.

Regarding literary information, the most approved original works have been consulted; manuscripts have been inspected; the public records have been searched; and application has been made to every accessible source. As relates to one authority, Keating, a word or two is necessary. The precise degree of credit due to him, it is difficult to ascertain. O'Reilly styles him neither more nor less than the "Herodotus of Ireland", while Sir Richard Cox says, "as for the histories that treat of the times before the English conquest, Doctor Keating's is the best;" but an important qualification of this opinion follows: " it is after all," says Cox, "but an ill-digested heap of very silly fictions."

Who shall decide when doctors disagree?
Certainly, we, ourselves, have detected very serious flaws in Heating's chronology, and there is assuredly, a want of verisimilitude in many of his statements; but we conceive, that we should not be justified in altogether rejecting him as an authority; which would, besides, be at variance with the practice of several modern writers of judgment.

The fact seems to be, that his history of Ireland is a compound of truth and error; from which the latter should, if possible, be cautiously winnowed, while the grains of valuable historical fact should be
Regarding the result of his applications to individuals for local information, the author cannot complain. While he certainly is not enabled to say that success was invariable, or that intelligence was, in all instances, freely communicated, he is, assuredly, not compelled to make a report so unfavorable as that of Mr. Dutton, author of the Survey of the county of Clare, who thus writes in the preface to that work: "Had I," he says, "not considered myself bound to fulfill my promise to the Dublin Society, this survey of the county of Clare would never have been published; that ungracious illiberal silence, with regard both to the hundreds of letters I wrote, and to the reiterated verbal applications I made, (and which to the disgrace of Ireland, is complained of in almost every survey that has been published), would otherwise have urged me, at an early period, to decline all further progress. Some, to whom I applied, (whose rank in life should have placed them above such gross ignorance), asked me what a survey was, what it was about, &c. ; and soma, very wittily, wished to know, was it to take an account of all the pigs in Ennis and Killaloe, with a multitude of other remarks equally sagacious and liberal." The author of the present work, unquestionably, did not, in all cases, meet an enlightened disposition to afford useful or interesting information ; but, to the credit of his native county, he can with truth assert, that in no instance did he encounter barbarism such as that related by Mr. Dutton. Let us hope that the day will speedily arrive, when the gentry of Ireland, universally, will duly appreciate the advantages of mental cultivation, and the benefits arising from the diffusion of useful literature.

The history concludes at the year 1800, for the following reasons: firstly, it is usual to close every work of the kind at some well-defined era ; and secondly, the present generation must be perfectly acquainted with the transactions of the last thirty years. The chief and important feature in the history of our county since the Union, we will, however, mention. It consists of a recent effort on the part of the Romish priests and the agitators to destroy the ancient and salutary influence of the gentry over their tenantry, and to usurp the power of returning the county members to parliament. In this latter, they completely succeeded at the general election of 1831; and they have since maintained their unjust and pernicious ascendancy A detail of the causes which ensured their first success and subsequent supremacy, is needless, and would occupy more space than could be well afforded in this place. It will suffice to observe, that the gentry themselves, are not altogether blameless in the affair. This, in the spirit of true friends, we think it our duty to state.


Table of Contents

Dedication iii.

Preface v.

Geographical Sketch of the county of Carlow 11

Hy Cabanagh and Hy Drone anterior to the English invasion of the twelfth century 15

From the arrival of the English, A.D. 1169, to the death of Henry II. A.D. 1189 40

Reign of Richard I. A.D. 1189, to A.D. 1199 57

Reign of John. A.D. 1 199, to A.D. 1216 59

Reign of Henry III. A.D. 1216, to A.D. 1272 63

Reign of Edward I. A.D. 1272, to A.D. 1307 72

Reign of Edward II. A.D. 1307, to A.D. 1327 73

Reign of Edward III. A.D. 1327, to A.D. 1377 78

Reign of Richard II. A.D. 1377, to A.D. 1399 84

Reign of Henry IV. A.D. 1399, to A.D. 1412 87

Reign of Senry V. A.D, 1412, to A.D. 1422 87

Reign of Henry VI. A.D. 1422, to A.D. 1460 89

Reign of Edward IV. A.D. 1460, to A.D. 1483 89

Reign of Edward V. and Rich. III. A.D, 1483, to A.D, 1485 90

Reign of Henry VII. A.D. 1485, to A.D. 1509

Reign Henry VIII A.D. 1509, to A.D. 1547 91

Reign of Edward VI. A.D. 1547, to A D. 1553 100

Reign of Mary. A.D. 1553, to A.D. 1558. 102

Reign of Elizabeth.- A.D. 1558, to A.D. 1603 103

Reign of James I. A.D. 1603, to A.D. 1625 114

Reign of. Charles I. A.D. 1625, to A.D. 1649 149

The interregnum. A.D. 1649, to A.D. 1660 183

Reign of Charles II. A,D. 1660, to A.D. 1685 187

Reign of James II. A.D. 1685, to A.D. 1688 221

Reign of William III. A.D. 1688, to A.D. 1703 232

Reign of Anne. A.D. 1702, to A.D. 1714 254

Reign of George I. A.D. 1714, to A.D. 1727 262

Reign of George II. A.D. 1727, to A.D. 1760 269

Reign of George III. A.D. 1760, to the year 1800 286

Present state of the Antiquities of the County of Carlow 326

Some account of the respectable families who have been long resident in the county of Carlow, and who possess property in it 356

Appendix 376


Read the Book - Free

Download the Book - Free ( 14.5 MB PDF )

The county of Carlow, formerly termed Catherlogh, is situate in the kingdom, of Ireland, and province of Leinster. It is twenty six. Irish miles in length from north to south, and twenty-three in breadth from east to west. It is bounded on the north and northwest by the: Queen's county and the county of Kildare, on the west by the county; of Kilkenny, and on the east and south east by the counties of Wicklow and Wexford. The number of baronies in the county, is six, viz.: Carlow Forth, Idrone East, Idrone West, Rathvilly and Saint Mullins. The quantity of acres in each, according to a survey made in 1789