Baltracey Quakers – Hewetson School – Clane Churches – Trench familys of Co. Kildare –

The Baltracey Quakers by Seamus Cullen

The Society of Friends or Quakers, as they were more widely known, became established in Ireland from the late 1600s. Following the wars of the 1640s there was a shortage of merchant class citizens in the country, and this void was filled by planters and emigrants from England. Many of these people joined the Society of Friends, and within a short time Quaker families spread throughout the county.

Quaker communities sprang up in the northern half of Kildare with Meeting Houses at Edenderry, Rathangan, Baltyboys (near Blessington) and Timahoe. These rural Quakers were mainly engaged in farming, milling and brewing as well as small merchant businesses.

Prominent among the Edenderry Quakers was a branch of the Watson family, who originally moved from Cumberland to Carlow in the pre-1640 period.

Samuel Watson

Samuel Watson (1659-1732) prospered in Edenderry and leased land in the immediate neighbourhood. One estate was at Ballinamullagh, Carbury, which he acquired in 1715. It had an area of 462 acres (185 hectares), and the lease was for the lives of two of his sons, William and Benjamin. Benjamin died shortly after and William subsequently took over the management of the farm. This William married his (unrelated) namesake Mary Watson from Derrygarron, Rathangan, in 1720. Mary was the daughter of a Colonel Tom Watson who served in King William’s campaigns in Ireland in the 1690s.

A letter in the Watson family possession, dating from 1853, gives an account of this Colonel Watson as follows:

Colonel Watson came over to Ireland with King William […]. Though pressed by the King to accept of an estate refused it and purchased the interest of land from the natives and settled at Derrygarron (in English a horse grove) it was mostly in wood of oak. Colonel Watson was […] cousin to the late Marquess of Rockingham. After the battles were over he was disgusted with wars and joined our Society [the Quakers].

William and Mary had two daughters and a son, William (II). However, William (I) seems to have contracted an illness and died in 1729, aged 31. His will has survived and in it he left his estate to his son, with provision for his wife and daughters.

Also prominent among the Edenderry Quakers at that time were the Eves family. They originally came to Ireland from Leicestershire in 1660 and settled in County Wicklow. Two Eves brothers, Joseph and John, moved to Edenderry in the 1715 period and became successful businessmen. Another brother, Caleb, later followed them and in 1731 married William Watson’s widow Mary. Caleb then moved into the Watson house at Ballinamullagh and managed the farm. The next year a son, Mark, was born to the couple.

In 1734 Caleb purchased Baltracey Town land from a Dublin Baronet named Sir William Fownes. This town land is situated six kilometres south of Kilcock and has an area of 707 acres (283 ha), all arable land. Fownes had acquired Baltracey in 1707 from the previous owner Margaret Eustace. She was the widow of a prominent Jacobite officer, Sir Maurice Eustace from Castlemartin, Kilcullen, whose family had held the Town land from the medieval period. Fownes made many improvements to the estate, laying out orchards and plantations, building dwelling houses and possibly the original Baltracey House, a stone-walled slated farmhouse situated a quarter of a mile (400m) north-east of Baltracey Cross on an old road system. Beside this house was a farmyard consisting of barns, stables and a pigeon house. (Fat pigeons made up part of the payment which the Eves were required to pay Fownes for some years afterwards.) In about 1730 Fownes built a new corn-mill on the Baltracey River. This mill was probably built on or close to the site of a previous mill mentioned in the Civil Survey of 1654 and would have been one of the main attractions of this estate to the Quakers.

The Eves-Watsons moved to Baltracey, successfully managed the estate and operated the corn-mill. They were not isolated from fellow Quakers, as Timahoe was only five miles away and two families there were related to them. William Watson’s two paternal aunts, Sarah and Ruth Watson, were married to Henry Russell from Hodgestown and Robert Wyley from Gilltown, respectively. Timahoe was also their spiritual centre as they attended meetings in the Meeting House on a regular basis. In 1744 Elizabeth Watson, eldest daughter of Mary Eves, married Joseph Toplinson from Edenderry, and the next year her sister Mary married Isaac Haughton from Castlebibbon. Both weddings took place at the Meeting House in Timahoe. In 1747 their brother William Watson married his stepfather’s niece, Margaret Evens from County Wicklow. However, this marriage was not in accordance with their religion as the couple were married by a priest and as a result lost their membership of the Quaker religion. The couple lived in Baltracey with William working as a successful proprietor of the mill. His mother, Mary Eves, died in 1757 and was buried in Edenderry. Tragedy struck the tiny communities later that year when Mary and Caleb’s son Mark, who was heir to the estate, died at the age of twenty-three. With Caleb’s death in 1762 ownership of his estate passed to a relative, also named Mark Eves, from Co. Wicklow. It appears that William Watson, Caleb’s stepson, retained certain rights to the Estate but was not considered as the heir.

The Eves and Watsons continued to run the estate together. William Watson and his wife, Margaret, had nine children between 1748 and 1771. The community was not without its scandal when in 1775 Mary Watson, the eldest of the family, was expelled from the Quaker religion because she had dishonoured the community. The following is an account of this affair from that year:

Whereas Mary Watson, Daughter of William Watson of Baltracey, near Timahoe, was Educated in Profession of us the people called Quakers and did some time frequent Our Religious meeting but for want of taking heed to the Spirit of Truth in her heart which would have preserved her, Did join with the Temptation of the Enemy of her happiness so as to cohabit with a man in A criminal manner by whom she has had a child. Wherefore in order to clear the Truth we profess from the Reproach Occasioned by her Disorderly and Wicked Actions and for a Causion [sic] to Others We are concerned thus publicly to Testify against her and Deny her to be of Our Society nevertheless We Sincerely Desire that she may come to a true Sight and Sense of her misconduct and Witness that Godly Sorrow which Worketh True Repentance and thereby Find mercy with the Almighty.

After this incident the Watsons seem to have discontinued to practice their religion. Samuel, the second eldest son, was the first of this generation to get married in 1784 when he married his second cousin, Margaret Russell, from Hodgestown, Timahoe. Mark Eves that year leased Balfeighin Estate which is situated one kilometre north of Kilcock, and Samuel and his wife Margaret went to live there in the original Balfeighin House which dates from that time. In 1788 Thomas, William’s eldest son, leased land at Pheopstown from the Prentice family. This estate, situated just over three kilometres north of Balfeighin, is known as Larchill and is adorned with follies and artificial lakes. The follies pre-date the Watson ownership, but Larchill House dates from this time and was most likely built by the Watsons. Two years later, in 1790, Mark Eves let the area of Baltracey known as The Mill Land to William Watson’s daughters, Nancy and Sarah. The present Baltracey House is situated in this area of land and the oldest part of the building was built at that time by the Watsons. The two youngest Watson sons, Mark and William (III), had moved to Dublin and set up businesses. Mark subsequently leased Larchill for some years from his brother, Thomas.

William, having successfully served his apprenticeship as a haberdasher and tape manufacturer, went into business and opened a shop named The Spinning Wheel at No.30, New Row, Thomas Street, and he re-joined the Quakers in 1793 and married Margaret Wright from Co. Wexford. The couple then lived over the shop until William died at the early age of 29 in 1801, leaving three daughters under six and a fourth born later that year.

Mark Eves let the remainder of the Town land, known as Baltracey Farm, to Peter Doyle, a grazier by occupation and a member of the Quaker Community from Carlow in 1792. Included in the area of land was the original Baltracey House, outhouses, barns, stables, pigeon house and also orchards and gardens. A marriage was arranged between William’s daughter, Margaret, and Peter Doyle, and the couple took up residence in Baltracey, though it is not clear in which house. Mark Eves had also obtained the lease of Raheen Old, a neighbouring Town land, in 1794, from Revd. Richard Cane, Rector of Larabryan, Maynooth, and two years later made an agreement with Robert (“Robin”) Aylmer of Painstown which would result in the lands reverting to the latter at Mark’s death.

In 1793 the tiny community was shocked by the death in child birth of Margaret Doyle. The couple had been married for less than a year. Margaret’s baby, a daughter, survived and was named Margo.

The trying years of the late 1790s did not pass untroubled for the community. In 1796, when there was considerable Defender activity in the general area, the house of Mark Eves at Baltracey was attacked, which resulted in some damage to his property. It appears that during the attack Mark threatened to shoot at his attackers (he “fired a gun threat”). This was contrary to the laws of his religion, and a committee of Quakers was appointed in March of that year to investigate the matter. In the following August the committee also reported that Peter Doyle of Baltracey and Alexander Wiley of Timahoe kept firearms for the defence of their persons and property, and furthermore, that they had expressed their intentions to use them if necessary. This was not in accordance with the Quaker religion, and both men were expelled.

The following month, Mark Eves, who was in the process of making a claim for damages caused during the robbery of his home earlier in the year, was visited by at least one elder of his religion. Proceeding with the compensation claim was not regarded as proper by the Quakers. The inconsistency of his application was pointed out to him, and he appeared to see it was improper. He then expressed regret at not having consulted with his fellow Quakers on the matter, and from this it appears that he dropped his claim.

Mark Eves passed away in 1800, and under the terms of his will transferred the freehold of the Baltracey estate to his cousins, the Eves brothers William, Joshua and Samuel, from Edenderry. Mark’s lease of Balfeighin was subsequently acquired by its occupant, Samuel Watson. Samuel’s wife, Margaret, died the same year and was buried in Timahoe. They had two children, Samuel E. (Eves) and Anna. Their father remarried in 1805 to a widow from Kilcock named Ellen Kelly.

Peter Doyle died in 1805. His daughter, Margo, then aged 12, inherited the lease of Baltracey farm and it is likely that she was brought up by her relatives, the Watsons. (Her grandmother, Margaret Watson, was then still alive. Her husband, William Watson (II), had died in 1798.)

A marriage was arranged in 1811 between Margo Doyle, then aged 18, and Samuel E. Watson, her first cousin. Their marriage arrangement would unite the three estates then in the family’s possession. Thomas Watson, the senior member of the family, and his brother Mark transferred Larchill to their nephew, Samuel E., and the house there became the residence of the newlyweds. Samuel senior transferred the lease of Balfeighin to his son, Samuel E., while Margo Doyle brought to the marriage the lease of the greater part of Baltracey.

In 1820, Samuel E. Watson inherited half the estate of his uncle, Samuel Russell, in Hodgestown, Timahoe. This brought together four estates with a total area of 1,627 acres (650ha). Thomas Watson died in Baltracey House in 1822, and with the death of his sister, Nancy, four years later, finally brought to an end over ninety years of residence by the Quaker families in the Town land.

In 1828 the corn-mill was let by James Webb, a nephew of the Watsons, to Samuel Walsh who had earlier moved into Baltracey House, together with his family. Margo Doyle Watson died childless in 1820 and her husband, Samuel E., died in 1836 at Larchill. They were both buried in the Quaker cemetery at Timahoe. Samuel E. had one sister, Anna, who had married Richard Neale, from Coolrane Mill, Mountrath. Anna’s eldest son, Samuel Neale, became the heir to the Watson estates, but he had to fulfil one important stipulation, laid down by his uncle’s will, in order to inherit the property. This required him to change his surname to Watson, and failing to comply with this stipulation, the estates would then be offered to his younger brothers, with the same arrangement. Samuel complied with his uncle’s wishes and changed his name by deed-poll and thus inherited the Watson estates. Samuel Neale Watson, as he was now known, married Susanna Davis in 1840 and lived mainly in Dublin.

The freehold ownership of Baltracey town land passed to Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Eves of Edenderry, at this time. Following Elizabeth’s death in 1854, the estate passed to her two unmarried daughters, Sarah and Jane. Her only son, Thomas, was disowned and disinherited for marrying outside the Quaker religion. In 1854, Sarah and Jane re-let the mill and the Mill Land at Baltracey to their tenant, Samuel Walsh. Two years later, they also re-let the former Doyle estate to Samuel Neale Watson. With the passing of the Land Acts of the 1880s, the Eves and the Watsons lost considerable control of their estates to the tenants, finally losing the freehold following the Land Act of 1903.

Samuel Neale Watson died in 1883. His heir, Samuel Henry, kept up the family tradition in milling when he married Margaret Goodbody, a member of that prominent milling family, the Goodbodys of Clara. Samuel Henry’s son, Cecil, was a well-known Dublin Quaker and pacifist all his life.

Baltracey Court Laundry-thestewartsinireland.ieBaltracey Court

The Court Laundry

He founded the Court Laundry in 1906 and was a model employer. In 1920 he added the name Neill to his surname, in recognition of his grandfather’s family, changing the family name to Neill-Watson.

Only one local tradition of the Quaker families in Baltracey survives. A raised area in a field close to the original Baltracey House has been traditionally referred to as ‘Quaker burial ground’. This area has not been enclosed since at least 1837, and no record of Quaker burials in the locality exists. It is likely to have been a children’s burial ground and may have been used by the Quaker community to inter stillborn babies.

Today, over two-and-a-half centuries later, three surviving buildings, Larchill House, the present Baltracey House and the original but now roofless Balfeighin House, remain as a reminder of this once prosperous Quaker family.

Quaker House in East Kilbride Co Wicklow

This is a former Quarker Farm House situated in Kilbride in East Co. Wicklow off the N11.

Quaker Graveyard Ballymurring East Co Wicklow

Ballymurrin Quaker Cemetry close to the farm house above.

Quaker family of Pim Headstones in Ballymurring Graveyard East Co

The Pim family grave Headstones in Ballymurrin Graveyard

It is interesting to note that the Quakers decided that no further headstones would be erected on graves as can be seen below.

Quaker graves in Ballkymurrin Graveyard East Co Wicklow No Headstones

No Headstones or grave markings. In order to find a specific grave one would have to search the records.

Betaghstown and Hewetson Schools  of Co Kildare

No images available of the Betaghstown School

The name Betaghstown comes from the District of the Alms House.
Under the Bircher (not sure if this spelling is correct) Laws, Alms Houses were established at certain locations, usually at a crossroads. To each was attached a tilling and pasture district which was to supply the Alms House.
Betaghstown is located midway between Clane Village and Kilmurry on the road to Staplestown Co Kildare, a couple of miles west of Clane village.
The Alms House had substantial lands and house. Griffith Valuations list a number of tenants paying rent for land and houses.

List of Hewetsons.
1658 John Hewetson Kildare Esq.
1688 Thomas Hewetson Kildare Esq.
1721 Moses Hewetson Betaghstown Kildare Gent
1730 Mary Hewetson Annaghs Kilkenny Widow.
1744 Margaret Hewetson Betaghstown Kildare Widow.
1753 Michael Hewetson Coolbeg Donegal
1754 Christopher Hewetson Thomastown Kilkenny
1761 Rev Nicholas Hewetson Grange Wexford Clerke.
1769 Christopher Hewetson Clonquisk Carlow Esq.
1770 Constance alias (Hunt) Hewetson wife of Moses
1776 John Hewetson Dublin Cutler
1783 Patrick Hewetson Betaghstown Kildare M.D.
1786 Eleanor Hewetson Dublin Widow
1789 Robert Hewetson Capt. Queens Co Regiment of Dragoons Dublin
1791 Hestor Hewetson Dublin Widow
1793 Sarah Hewetson Alias (Cridland) Hewetson
1600’s Rev William Hewetson vicar of Werburgh’s Church Dublin.
He had three sons, one of which was Moses who set up the original Hewetsons School in Betaghstown.
The school was located at the rear of Conneff’s House in Betaghstown.

The Hewetson’s Burials.
Mylerstown Churchyard, Barony of Carbury from Lord Walter Fitzgerald

Except for the foundations a trace of these church ruins has disappeared. A short distance off on the opposite of the public road stands one lofty angle of the castle of the Bermingham Family, the former Proprietor of this district.
There is but one interesting in the churchyard that of a Protestant Clergyman which lies almost invisible beside the western end of the south wall of the old church. It is much sunk in the ground; and the lettering which is incised is nearly illegible; it reads’ :- HERE LIES YE BODY OF YE Rnd LEARNED PIOUS HVMBLE DIVINE MR CHRISTOPHER HEVETSON WHO DIED MARCH 12TH 1698 AGED 66
‘The initial H is cut in relief.’ p348 ‘In answer to a query in the “Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society” as to who this Rev. Christopher Hewetson was, the following information was given in vol. iv, p. 373 of that “journal” by Sir Edmund T. Bewley.

The Rev. Christopher Hewetson whose tomb is in the churchyard of Mylerstown was the eldest son of the Rev. William Hewetson M.A. Rector of St. Werburgh’s, Dublin (1660-1676) by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of the Right Rev, Thomas RAM D.D. Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin.

The Rev. William Hewetson was the eldest son of the Rev. Christopher Hewetson M.A. Vicar of Swords, County Dublin, Treasurer of Christ Church (1596) and Prebendary of St. Patrick’s (1604) by his first wife Susan Sigin, of Southampton. (Funeral Entry Ulster’s Office).

The Rev. Christopher Hewetson, the elder died 5th April 1633 (Funeral Entry Ulster’s Office) and was buried in the chancel of the Parish Church of Swords, where a gravestone with an inscription was laid in 1694 by his grandson, Michael Hewetson, Archdeacon of Armagh. The inscription (which will be found in the “Journal of the Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in Ireland” vol. i, p.349) erroneously states him to have been “Chancellor” in the Christ Church and give 1634 as the year of his death instead of 1633.
By his second marriage with Rebecca OKES he was the father, with other issue, of Christopher Hewetson of Thomastown, County Kilkenny who was the grantee under Acts of Settlement of extensive estates in the County Kilkenny, and was the ancestor of the Hewetsons of Thomastown, County Kilkenny and Clonruske, County Carlow.
The Rev. William Hewetson, the Rector of St. Werburgh’s had in addition to the Rev. Christopher Hewetson, the subject of the present note, at least three other sons, two of whom, viz., Moses and Michael deserve some notice. Moses Hewetson, one of the sons, lived at Betaghstown in the parish of Clane, County Kildare; and by his marriage to Margery Newcombe he became the father of a daughter, Grizzel- who married John Aylmer of Mount Pleasant, Betaghstown – and three sons, of whom the eldest, Patrick Hewetson, Dr. in Physic, succeeded him at Betaghstown. Patrick entered the University of Leyden as Medical Student in 1726 where he pursued his studies until 1730, He afterwards took the degrees of M.B. and M.D. in the University of Dublin and he died in 1783 unmarried. By his will dated the 23rd July, 1770, he devised his Betaghstown and other estates (subject to a life interest to his sister Grizzel Aylmer) to found the boarding-school for children of poor Protestant parents referred to by Canon Sherlock in his note, vol. iv, p. 320 of the “County Kildare Archaeological Society’s Journal.” Grizzel Alymer [p. 349] having subsequently died in his lifetime, had by a codicil to his will dated 29th September, 1781 gave a life interest in the lands to Moses Cahill. The Venerable Michael Hewetson M.A. Archdeacon of Armagh (another of the sons to be noticed) was in succession, Rector of Swords, Rector of Clashran, and Archdeacon of Armagh. An interesting account of his life will be found in the “Memoirs of the Hewetson, or Heswon, Of Ireland,” by John Hewetson, Esq. (London 1901) from which a great portion of the above information has been taken.
It will be seen however from the statements at pp. 80, 110 and 118 of this book that the inscription on the Mylerstown tombstone was misread in the year 1863 as “Here lies the Body of the learned and Pious Divine of M…..l H…..o.., age 66” and was supposed to mark the resting place of the Archdeacon of Armagh.
As the latter undoubtedly erected a schoolhouse at Swords in 1700, it is evident that the portion of the inscription containing the date cannot have been deciphered.
The erroneous reading of the inscription was made at the time the Rev. John Keble was writing the “Life of Bishop Wilson” the intimate friend of the Archdeacon in early days and had been made use of by him in determining the death of Archdeacon Hewetson.
The Rev. Christopher Hewetson, the real subject of the inscription was Curate of Carbury, County Kildare and married Anne Janns, by whom he had issue a son William and three daughters, Elizabeth, Deborah and Jane. At the time of the making of his will, which is dated 4th November 1698 he was living at Clonuff, County Kildare and he thereby expressed a desire to be buried “in the churchyard of Mylerstown close to the church door, without any solemnity saving the office appointed in the Common Prayer Book.”
The will and a codicil dated 4th March, 1698 were proved by his widow, Anne Hewetson on 22nd April 1699: That is a little more than a month after the date of his death as recorded on the tombstone. Mr. John Hewetson, the author of the “Memoirs of the House of Hewetson” was ignorant of the fact that the testator was in holy orders and he has described him in his book as “Christopher Hewetson. Esq.”
In the codicil (which as well as the will, is in his own handwriting) he describes himself as “Christopher Hewetson of Clonuffe, in the County Kilkenny, clerk” [italics for clergy] and in the will he refers to salary due him by Rev. Nicholas KNIGHT, Vicar Carbury, for serving his care.
William Hewetson of Clonuff, son of the Rev. Christopher Hewetson succeeded to the estates which his father had inherited from the Rector of St. Werburgh’s; and on 9th June, 1703, he [p 350] purchased for a sum of £832 the town and lands of Ballinderry, in the Barony of Carbury and County of Kildare containing 237a 2r 0p.
He married first by licence dated 7th February, 1667, Anne Roe; and secondly by licence dated 20th May 1676 Elizabeth Calder; but whether he left issue by either marriage the family memoirs do not state. The query which this note is intended to answer will have served the purpose, not only of calling attention to the interesting “Memoirs of the Hewetson Family” but of restoring to the Rev. Christopher Hewetson the memorial which under the high authority of the Rev. John Keble has for the last forty been ascribed to Michael Hewetson, Archdeacon of Armagh.
‘Edmund T. Bewley’
Administrator Note: My thanks to Ray Tyrrell of Sallins for providing me with the information on the Hewetsons.

Patrick Hewetson Doctor of Physics 1697
In 1697 Patrick Hewetson Doctor of Physics was born. He died 1783 aged 85 years.
In his will of 1770 he created an endowment for a charity school at Betaghstown.
Five boys and girls were enrolled but instead of an education they were made to earn their keep by working on the lands.
1795 The School was closed due to litigation after an inspection found that no education classes were taking place.
1796 Trustees were appointed.
1798 The premises were leased by the Army for five years.
1805 Rev Dr Charles Lindsay re-opened the school with Mr William Cox B.A. as its Head Master.
1812 The Schools Commissioned expressed disaffection with the schools performance. In the intervening seven years Rev Isman Baggs, William Mitchell, George Fisher and George Logue succeeded Cox.
1815 The State Inspector had complained to the Trustees and failed in his case against the Trustees with the Court of Chancery.
1 child had died and 2 were dismissed.

1819 The Endowed school was suspended due to the misbehaviour by both sexes. Eventually all of the children were sent home.
1824 The Lord Chancellor decreed that girls would be excluded from the school. The Court of chancery passed a decree allowing for its revival.
1833 Hewetson School Betaghstown was burnt down.
Sadly I have not been able to obtain any pictures of the old Betaghstown School
1836 The school reopened with twelve boarders, the Head Master being Thomas Bonyne staying forty-three years.
1837 The Clane Parish School was run by Robert and Margaret Clayton in a house known as Tower House on the Green in the village of Clane, which is now the home of the Cash family.
1879 William Leeson appointed Head Master
1880 Hewetson School at Betaghstown and Clane Parish School merge and in
1882 moved to a new site on the Millicent Road.
1891 Thomas Cooke-Trench donated the site on the Millicent Road for the New School on a 999-year lease.

 Hewetson School 

Hewetson School Main

Hewetson School History

Dr Patrick Hewetson – 1699-1783 was brought up in Betaghstown Clane Co Kildare. In 1734 he qualified as a doctor of medicine in Trinity College Dublin and was elected a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1735. He became President of the College in 1746.

He never married and, on his death, he bequeathed his considerable estates for the foundation of a charity school to be run at his home, at Betaghstown. He also left estates in Cavan and Offaly for the upkeep of the Charity School. The land involved almost six hundred acres.

Function of the School
The school was to cater for as many poor boys and girls as the trustees thought fit, and they were to be brought up in the Protestant religion. They were to be taught reading, writing and arithmetic, and when they were properly educated and qualified they were to be apprenticed to trades under Protestant Masters and Mistresses.

Mr Moses Cahill.
The charity school did not go into operation until about five years after Patrick Hewetsons died because of mismanagement by his only surviving executor, Moses Cahill, who had been a good friend to Patrick Hewetson in earlier years but had let him down just before he died in 1783. Moses Cahill got probate from the Courts. Then he took possession of the lands at Betaghstown and Drumcorbane in Co Cavan and he took the rents that should have gone to the school for him.

Healy-Hutchinson Education Report.

About five years after Patrick Hewetson died the Healy-Hutchinson Education Report to the Dublin Parliament drew attention to the fact that the Hewetson endowment was not being put into use. The report said that Dr Patrick Hewetson, who had died on 30th March 1783 had left nearly £2,000 personal property in the trust of T Dalrymple Esq., Attorney, the Primate of All Ireland and Bishop of Kildare, for the support of the charity school to be built on the lands at Betaghstown. In the report the value of the endowment amounted to £397 annually.

Chancery Case

In 1795 The Archbishop of Armagh and the Bishop of Kildare took legal action to try to enforce the correct use of the Trust funds. A favourable decree was given in 1796 but no action was taken to improve matters. The building of the charity school was put off until such time as the estates were covered and secured. The Bishop of Kildare allowed the demesne at Betaghstown to be used as a barracks for troops as there was unrest in the county at that time.
After all expenses had been paid the money left from the Hewetson charity amounted to about £3,500. The rents collected each year produced about £300.

Dr Charles Lindsay
The Rev Dr C. Lindsay became Bishop of Kildare in 1804. He wanted to have sole control of the Hewetson Endowment for himself and to use the lands as he wanted.
Before becoming Bishop he had connections with the Hibernian School of Soldiers’ Children. Here he had introduced a scheme that the children should work within the school for their keep. The scheme was used in most other Protestant Charter Schools and in the Foundling Hospital Dublin.
The Bishop suggested that this scheme could be used in the Charity School at Betaghstown. He knew that in England, pauper children were bound out as apprentices to learn the art and trade of agriculture. He also considered that any kind of manual labour was a trade.
The Archbishop of Armagh agreed in general with the scheme, believing that there would be great demand in Ireland for farm labourers and domestic servants.
It was therefore decided that the school would be run in the same way as the Foundling School and the Royal Hibernian Military School, and that the pupils in the school were to be of the lower class of people in Ireland. The boys in the school were to become farm labours and the girl’s domestic servants.
The school was to proselytise poor Catholic children. The Archbishop of Armagh and the Bishop of Kildare said that would be justifiable because when Dr Hewetson made his will in 1770, there was no need for a charity school for the sons and daughters of the Protestants in the Clane area. The will stated that the school was to be run strictly in the Protestant faith but it did not say that the children taken into the school were to be sons and daughters of Protestant people.

The Archbishop gave the Bishop of Kildare permission to run the school according to this plan – receiving and using school funds without interference until 1812. He was then informed of a report on the school made by the Archbishop and other commissioners of the Board of Education. The Bishop of Kildare regarded this as an insult as he felt he was being checked up on and that he was not trusted so he wrote to the Archbishop saying he wanted nothing more to do with the school.

The Archbishops Report
The Archbishop’s Report said much about the running of the school by the Bishop of Kildare during the years 1805-1812. The report stated that no children had been instructed in the school and no children had been apprenticed out, which had been the wish of Dr Hewetson. It was also stated that it was not Dr Hewetsons wish that the funds would be used for an agricultural establishment.
In fact this was a mild description of what had been happening under the Bishop of Kildare’s rule.
He had taken four girls and five boys out of the Hibernian Military School to be apprentices for him. He himself recorded that ‘the boys been inured to labour under my tuition in the extensive gardens of the Institute in the Phoenix Park, and in like manner the girls so taken by me from the institution had been formed to the most robust of women’s daily and domestic occupations’.
As a result of the report the school closed down. The Bishop’s agent collected and retained the rents from the estate during this time.

Commissioners for Endowed Schools
In 1813 the act for the appointment of commissioners for the regulation of the few endowed schools in Ireland was passed. (Act 53, George III). The Act stated that it was lawful for the Commissioners of those schools to examine and manage the funds of the schools and apply them in their right ways. They had to visit and regulate the schools regularly. They decided to investigate the use of the funds of the Hewetson Bequest. The Trustees were notified, but neither of them turned up. Master’ at that time, Mr George Logue, was questioned by the Commissioners. He told them that the school had been disbanded.

The next report made by the Commissioners suggested that it would be better if girls were excluded from endowment. Directions were given for the organising and running of a school on twenty acres at Betaghstown. The rents obtained from the demesne (about £300) were to be used for this purpose. A fee of £10 was to be paid with each boy being put out as apprentice to a proper master or mistress.
It took a further report from the Commissioners in 1836 before the school was reopened – this time with twelve boarders. Steps were taken to recover monies that had been misappropriated and finally the Archbishop of Armagh received about £2,000 for the Trust.

(Administrators note 🙂

The following query came from Graham Marshall (May 2011) in reference to the following paragraph!! “The charity school did not go into operation until about five years after Patrick Hewetsons died because of mismanagement by his only surviving executor, Moses Cahill, who had been a good friend to Patrick Hewetson in earlier years but had let him down just before he died in 1783. Moses Cahill got probate from the Courts. Then he took possession of the lands at Betaghstown and Drumcorbane in Co Cavan and he took the rents that should have gone to the school for him.”
This paragraph does not match the report “by the Commissioners for enquiring into the state of all schools on Public or Charitable Foundations, in Ireland, House of Commons 1809 – 1812 p311” which indicates that a 1782 codicil to Dr Hewetson’s testament granted a life-rental of the residue of his estate to Moses Cahill. On Moses’ death in 1793 one might question the actions of Michael Cahill and his daughters and the right of the Rev. Joseph Forsyth to claim lands which were leased to him. Whether Moses Cahill had a right to grant the lease might also be questioned.

Removal from Betaghstown.
In 1881 the manager of the school, Rev Ambrose Cooke proposed that the school at Betaghstown be abolished and its funds transferred to the Protestant Parochial School in Clane.
The number of Protestant Anglicans in Clane at the time amounted to 180. The school was supported by subscriptions and had no connection with the Commissioners of Education.

The two-acre site was given for the premises of the new school at Millicent, which is just outside Clane. The lands were to be leased for 999 years at a yearly rent of ten shillings. The school was to be for boys only and was to provide choir boys for the church that was to be built on the lands of Millicent by Thomas Cooke-Trench.
The school was completed at a cost of £1,556 in 1882. £1,256 was provided by the Hewetson Endowment and £300 was provided by Mr Thomas Cooke-Trench.
There was to be an annual income of £310 obtained from a number of sources, which included the rents from the demesne at Betaghstown.

The school was big enough for fifteen boarders and twenty-five day boys, and a master’s residence was attached to it. The master in the school was to play the organ in the new church at Millicent. The church was too dedicated to St Michael and All Angels and the boys’ choir was to be robed.

Hewetson School Original Entrance.

Hewetson School Entrance -

The Running of Hewetson School.

The first Headmaster of the new school was Mr Edward Leeson and his wife was schoolmistress. Mr Leeson was paid £120 annually, from which he paid Mrs Leeson and the servants.
Dr O’Connor was appointed as medical attendant for the sum of £5 per year.
Summer holidays were from 23rd July to 18th August.
Trustees decided which boys were to be accepted into the school. The boys were to be from Protestant backgrounds and were to be brought up in the Protestant faith.
The school was in debt for some time but in 1884 the balance in favour of the school was £21. Farmers were badly off at the time so the Trustees allowed a reduction of 30% to help these families. This eventually led to a permanent reduction of 20% for farming families.

Selling of the Hewetson Estates.
In 1886 it was proposed that the tenante could buy their lands over a number of years and that the area called ‘The High Bog’ should be sold for £250 if possible.
It was proposed that the money from the sale should be invested in real securities in England as approved by court.
In 1888 Mr Drury, the agent for Hewetson Estates was dismissed. There was some doubt about his behaviour and the school was in financial difficulties. Mr Drury was replaced by Mr Willis. The school was so badly off that no boarders were kept unless someone outside the school was paying for them. Expenses were kept to a minimum and only eight pence per day was allowed for each boy’s food. The Headmaster’s salary was reduced to £80, which was increased to £100 in 1889 when the situation improved.

Change of Headmaster.
In 1890 Mr Leeson retired. The Rev W Sherlock, Rector of Clane, appointed Mr Atkinson on a temporary basis, to be replaced on the 1st of February by Mr West.

First Meeting of the Governors.
The first Governors meeting of the new Hewetson School was held on 15th April 1890, at the Synod Hall Christ Church Dublin. At this meeting it was decided that the boys elected by the Trustees would pay an annual fee of £15 each.
It was decided that a seal should be made for the school. This seal still exists and is kept by the Principle.
It was announced at this meeting that Canon Sherlock has applied to the Commissioners of Education to place the school with the Board of National Education, so making it a National School.

Building of the Gymnasium.

Hewetson School

Gymnasium with the Junior School on the left hand side.
In 1894 a sum of £120 was provided for the building of a gym beside the school. In 1925 a stage and a ball alley were added to this building.

Hand Ball Alley

Hewetson School Ball


In 1894 A Mr West was appointed Headmaster. Later that year Mrs West and her three children drowned in the River Liffey near Blackhall on the Castlesize – Clane Road. As the drowning took place at night speculation locally was that Mrs West committed suicide. This however has never been proven.

Death of Thomas Cooke-Trench
In 1902 Mr T Cooke-Trench died. Since the removal of the school to Millicent he had attended every meeting of the Trustees. He had done much for the school.
In 1903 Mrs Cooke-Trench offered to sell the land, on which the school was built, to the Trustees. This was accepted and the terms agreed.

In 1904 negotiations began concerning the sale of the Betaghstown lands to the tenants. Agreements were signed in 1907.
In 1910 the Trustees decided to take all the money from the sale of Betaghstown in cash.
In 1913 Canon Sherlock resigned on grounds of ill health. He was followed in Clane Parish by Rev Canon Craig.
In 1915 the Headmaster Mr West resigned and later Mr and Mrs T Boyd Watson were appointed Master and Matron.
In 1917 the school estates were finally disposed of for a sum of £6,000.
The Watsons resigned in 1920.
The new Headmaster and Matron were Mr and Mrs Simpson from Rathmichael National School Dublin.

Extra classrooms were built as an extension to the gym so that six extra boarders could be taken in to the school.
In 1924 Mr Simpson resigned and was replaced by Mr John Crawford. The roll now stood at 30 pupils

Hairy Acre

Hewetson School Grounds

The area known as “The Hairy Acre”
In 1932 a field next to the school was purchased for £50 to provide a football ground and general outdoor play area. This was known to one and all as the ‘Hairy Acre’.

 Tennis Courts

Hewetson School Grounds

One of two Tennis Courts which were for the use of the “Boarders” only.
In 1942 a transport system was provided to bring twelve children from Coolcarrigan to the school.
During Mr Crawford’s years as Headmaster and under the management of Archdeacon Handy the school flourished.
Mr Crawford retired in 1959 and was succeeded by Mr G Anderson.

Strange Happenings – Believe it or believe it not

During the late 1950s,  Mervyn Stewart of Millicent, on leaving school one afternoon found Mrs Crawford (wife of the Hewetson School Headmaster) lying in the garden of the school. On his way home he told Mrs Hempenstall (Sextons wife) of his find, but she did not believe him, gave him a clip around the ears and told him to stop telling tales. On arriving home he told his Mum (Lillian) who took off on her bicycle up to the rectory to find Mrs Handy (Rectors wife). They both then proceeded up to the school where they found Mrs Crawford dead in the garden as Mervyn had said. (Mervyn never got an apology I think his ears still hurt from the belt he got that day!!).

The Banshee


That evening the Banshee appeared near the Stewart’s house. The following morning the boys were called to a church choir practice to prepare for the funeral. So off the three boys set walking as they usually did up the half-mile to the church.
It was a bitterly cold morning, with a clear blue sky, not a cloud to be seen, with a northeast wind coming in that would cut one in two was how it was described. We were well wrapped up against the cold with our layers of clothing, caps, gloves and boots.
Just yards from the house they came upon a rare but scary sight.
Close to the Stewart house in Millicent was a triangle of grass at the end of the Long Mile road where it meets with the road from Millicent Bridge to Millicent Cross on this beautiful sunny day at about 11am was this grey almost white female ghostly form, save for the dark pools of her eyes, ephemeral in appearance, with long flowing grey hair which she was combing, wearing a long grey dress, sitting on a stone bench, and wailing, the wailing was such that it put the fear of God in-to all of us, and we ran like hell from the site back home. We did not know what to believe. Mother was surprised to see the three boys back so quickly, what’s wrong she asked, and in our halting and stuttering scared voices we told her of what we had seen. It’s only the Banshee she said, we had no idea what she was talking about, she then went on to explain, the Banshee follows certain families and often appears when a member of the followed family dies, so the Banshee followed the Head Masters Wife Eva’s family, that’s why you are required for the choir practice today as the funeral is tomorrow. So off you go, you have nothing to worry about she said.
Off the boys went, back towards the Triangle, when they got there, they were still scared, but were very surprised to see the Triangle totally empty, no seat, no person, no wailing, they looked at one another, did we really see the Banshee ?? they asked one another. They looked around the site but they could find no trace of her. Off they went to the church, and never spoke of the incident again.

Eva Crawford Head Stone

Both Mrs (Eva) Crawford and John Crawford are buried in St Michaels & All Angles Graveyard.

When Mr Anderson came to the school the roll stood at twenty-five pupils. He set about teaching them to play football and they won the Church of Ireland U 13s Cup in 1961 and 1962.
In 1964 Mr Anderson resigned. With no applications being received for Master and Matron, Mr Sydney Blain was appointed Principle and Mr and Mrs James Campbell were appointed as warden and matron jointly. Mr Blain stayed for two years and moved to the position of Principle of the Teacher Training College in Dublin.
Mr Blain was succeeded by Loftus Warren who also stayed two years and moved to Athy Model School. He was replaced by Mrs Barber who became the first Headmistress of the school. By now the boarding facilities of the school were no longer needed and by the 1960s boarding was phased out. Mrs Barber died just two months after her retirement in 1980. She was succeeded by Mrs Elizabeth Cody.

At the time of the writing of this article the school had seventy-eight pupils on the roll, with three teachers, when the old dormitories and other areas been converted into classrooms. It was hoped for further development work and funding for same to be carried out in 1994.

(Notes by Bob Stewart).
I had no idea that Hewetson School at Millicent had such a colourful and sometimes inglorious history. Moses will not be my financial adviser.)
The Rev Canon Herbert Newton Craig MA was rector of Donadea and Clane from 1913 until 1928: he was also the Dean of Kildare at that time. He also baptised me in St Peter’s Church Donadea in 1923, the year Donadea Parish was amalgamated with Clane Union.
On Mr Watson my sisters Margaret and Florence referred to this Headmaster as a tyrant, there was great rejoicing in Kildare when he retired, but his replacement Mr Simpson was no better.
The transport system for the school was operated by Mr Eddy Kidd at a cost of £300 per annum, which was paid for out of the Aylmer Bequest Fund. Eddy operated the transport system until he died. He was succeeded by Mrs A M Woodbourne until her retirement in 1978. The system is now run by the State.

(Administrators note 🙂

All of the Stewart’s boys and girls from Millicent attended Hewetson School from the mid 1950’s and were mainly taught by Mr John Crawford in the senior school before they departed into the great big world of commerce.) Bob Stewart also attended Hewetson School and was a member of the church choir (a long tradition within the Stewarts families.) Sadly Bob died in December 2011 in St. Albans England and his ashes were interred in Drumagohill Cemetery Donadea in May 2012.

If you are looking for information on Kildare’s history go to Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal, An Electronic Journal for the publication of material relating to the history, archaeology and heritage of Co. Kildare.
History and Family Research Centre (Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives) part of Kildare County Library & Arts Services
Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal Home

Pumping Water the Old Way.

Kildare Hewetson School Donkey drawing Water 2

At Hewetson School up until the late 1950’s water required for the school was pumped up by animal power a system that is still in use today in countries such as South Africa. The system was later replaced by an electrical pump.

Kildare Hewetson School Old Water pump

Old Donkey Draw Pump

Hewetson School in 2009

The following is an article written by the late Bob Stewart 9th January 1995) a former pupil of Hewetson School. Indebtedness to Mrs Elizabeth E Cody M.A. Dip.Ed (TCD) Headmistress of Hewetson School for her paper and for her co-operation.

The current Hewetson School stands on about three acre site about a mile out of Clane Village on the Millicent road built in 1882 after the closure of Betaghstown School. It joined up with the Church of Ireland in Clane. At the time of writing seventy-seven pupils attend the school and there are three teachers.

History of Clane Churches & St Michaels & All Angels

This page covers the following topics: History of Clane Church and the Building of St Michael’s And All Angels Church, Clergy, Caragh Church, Sermon by Archbishop George Otto Simms, The Lang Family, Births, Marriages and Burials.

History of Clane Church and St Michael’s and All Angels Church

Clane St Michaels & All Angles Church 5-thestewartsinireland.ieClane St Michaels & All Angles Interior 2-thestewartsinireland.ieClane St Michaels & All Angles

Clane Village

Clane Village 2-thestewartsinireland.ieKildare Clane

520 St. Ailbe, Bishop of Ferns, founded an Abbey in Clane, and made St. Senchel the Elder its first Abbot.

1035 The Danes plundered Clane.

1162 Synod held at Clane under Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh, assisted by twenty-six Bishops and many Abbots.

1266 “Gilbert de Clane factus est minister.”

1272 Franciscan (new) monastery founded by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, third Lord Ophaly.

Clane abbey ruins - thestewartsinireland.ieClane

Clane Abbey ruins 1846

1302 “Master Adam of Clane,” Prebendary.

1542 Monastery Broken Up, and tithes set.

1549 Nicholas Owyne, Vicar de Clane.

Clane Tower

Clane Old Church and Tower

St. Michael’s and All Angle’s Church, Millicent Clane Co Kildare.

Clane St Michaels & All

For some years prior to 1880 it had been felt by the parishioners of Clane that large room existed for improvement in their parish church. So long ago as 1869 an eminent architect had been consulted, and plans for its improvement were submitted by him. But difficulties arose which were not at the time overcome; and it was not till eleven years after that it was finally resolved to abandon the old church, and build a new one on a different site.

It would occupy too much space to enter into all the reasons for this resolution; but the parishioners were mainly influenced by the overcrowded state of the churchyard, which forbade extension of the building in any direction, and rendered internments impossible without disturbing older graves. Suffice it to say, that at three largely attended meetings of the Select Vestry, held in 1880 and 1881, resolutions were unanimously passed – at the first accepting the offer of a new church, at the second approving of the plans, and at the third adopting the present site. This last resolution was passed on the 20th June 1881, and on the same day operations were begun, and were steadily carried on through two years and a quarter.

One of the most gratifying features of the whole proceeding has been the unanimity of the parishioners, and the deep interest which each and every one of them has shown in the work. “He maketh man to be of one mind in an house.”

The church, of which the tower is visible for a considerable distance on all sides, stands on a rising ground in a prominent and central position in the parish. The Wicklow Mountains bound and give character to a view of much homely beauty. The chief material is the grey limestone of the neighbourhood, mostly from Mr. Henry’s quarry in the adjoining townland. The quoins and external dressings are of Cumberland red sandstone, the saving arches being of a black stone from Mr. Kirkpatrick’s quarry at Celbridge, which also supplied the lime.

The sand was given, free of charge, by Mr. Manders, from his strand at Millicent Bridge. Internally, the walls were originally plastered, but little of this now remains. The dressings of the windows and doors, the arches, stringcourses, pillars, & c., are of white Bath stone. The steps, pulpit base, and platform at lectern and font are of Portland stone; the external steps and the bowl of the font are granite. The column and base of the font and kerbstone of the footpace are of red Cork marble. The walls throughout are lined with brick.

The roof is of pitch pine, covered with Welsh slates: the doors, floor, and fittings of Riga oak. The walls externally are of uncoursed ashlar, giving an idea of great strength and solidity

Those who have studied Lord Dunraven’s “Notes on Irish Architecture,” and have learned that we possess a national style of architecture capable of exquisite beauty, especially adapted to buildings of moderate size, will not be surprised that an Irishman, building in Ireland, adopted the style closely allied to the Norman, and which is technically known as Hiberno-Romanesque. The architect did not hesitate to depart from this where there seemed sufficient reason.

Thus the leaning jambs, so marked a characteristic of the Hiberno-Romanesque, were not adopted. He could find no models for the woodwork, as time and political disturbances have destroyed all, which could have served as such.

The ground plan of the church is cruciform. This is unusual in the ancient Irish churches. There is, however, an example of it in Cormac’s Chapel at Cashel, one of the best specimens of this style, as also one of the best preserved; though there, as here, the transepts are shut off from view of the worshippers.

The Baptistery is formed by a projecting chamber at the west end. There is a roomy porch at the western extremity of the south side. The south transept is carried up into a tower, which is surmounted by a pyramidal roof and weathercock: and a cross of the circular form, so common in Ireland, forms the finial to each gable.

There are three entrances, one for the congregation through the porch, another in the south transept, which forms the vestry, for the clergy and choir; and one in the north transept, leading to the furnace and tower.

Over the inner porch door, on the tympanum, is reproduced some of that curious interlacing ribbon work, so characteristic of early Irish Christian art, and which has been well depicted by O’Neill in his ancient Irish crosses. More of the same work has been introduced about the east window and elsewhere in the church.

The pattern on the pulpit desk, of which an illustration will be found on the opposite page, has been adapted from the Cross of Tuam, and is one of the most perfect specimens extant of this very curious and interesting work.[i]

The following lines, by the late E.P. Shirley, hang in the entrance porch: –

When to the House of God ye come, a prayer in secret say; On bended knee His grace implore, for thus ‘tis meet to pray. Leave at the door your weekly cares; God loves the pure in heart; To those who wholly look to Him He will true grace impart? Aloud, but humbly, answer make, as Common Prayer directs,

He who sits silent or asleep, the way of life neglects. In standing posture give your alms, and standing sing God’s praise: Be not afraid to lift your voice, the gladsome hymns to raise. Bow at the Holy Name which God in our poor nature bore, And silently His blessing ask, ere that ye seek the door. Thus ever use the House of God, in prayer and joyful praise; He best will pass the coming week who these few rules obeys.

The first thing to be noticed on entering the church is the Baptistery, its position being emblematic of our entrance into the spiritual Church through the waters of Baptism.

It is an oblong chamber, 6 feet deep by 12 wide, joined to the nave by an archway of nearly its whole width. In the centre of the archway stands the font. The Baptistery, arched with red brick, and covered outside with red sandstone, has five lights, filled with stained glass.

In the centre is the figure of our Lord receiving a child; on the left are two figures from the Old, and on the right two figures from the New Testament – Noah, Naaman, Nicodemus, and St. John Baptist. Of these, all, except Naaman, are either mentioned or alluded to in the Baptismal Service; and Naaman, whose cleansing in Jordan was a signal type of Holy Baptism, nearly lost the promised blessing because he despised the appointed means. The font forms an interesting link with the long past.

The bowl, rudely formed of granite, was found bedded in the wall of the old church, and had evidently belonged to some former building, having all the appearance of great age. On the sides were holes drilled, apparently either for handles or to fasten down a lid, a feature recorded of other ancient fonts.

The base was found with it, but was too much broken to be used again. It has, however, been carefully preserved. It was sufficient to show what the mounting had been, and this has been reproduced in red marble. There were many scruples about placing a chisel to the bowl; but it had originally been of such very rude construction, and had since been so much battered, that it seemed hardly fitting for its position without some touches.

The upper part was so broken that it was found necessary to reduce it in height by four inches. This has, however, improved the proportions. It has been lined with lead, and provided with a wooden cover. Above the Baptistery in the west wall is a wheel window, also filled with richly coloured glass.

The only figure, the Dove, is in the central compartment, directly over the font. The choir is divided from the nave by an arch of three members, of great richness and beauty. The carving is all, with slight modifications, from ancient Irish sources.

Another richly carved arch, supported by corbels, divides the choir from the chancel; and two archways, on the right and left, lead to the transepts. These are, however, filled on the left by the organ front, and on the right by a corresponding oaken screen, surmounted by glass, enriched by interlacing ribbon-work. This shuts off the south transept, and forms it into a vestry.

Behind the organ one flight of steps descends to the heating chamber; while another ascends and leads across the choir to the bell-ringers’ chamber, and second story of the tower.

A gong from the vestry below notifies to the ringers when service is about to begin. Over the ringers’ chamber is the clock chamber, and over it again that for the bells.

There are at present but two bells, and there is no clock. Into the wall of the vestry is built a fireproof safe, for the preservation of the parochial records and church plate. A marble bason beneath, for washing the latter, is so arranged that it can only be used when the safe is open, thus preserving it from any meaner use.

Clane St Michaels & All Angles Interior

This is a picture of the Interior of St Michaels & All Angels Church

Clane St Michaels & All Angles

The choir seats face north and south, the westernmost forming prayer desks for the clergy. They, together with the organ front, vestry screen, pulpit, and the Holy Table, are the work of Mr. Hayball of Sheffield. Two steps lead up from the nave to the choir; another from the choir to the chancel: there is a fourth at the Communion rails; and the “footpace,” or raised platform on which the Holy Table stands, forms a fifth. A credence niche receives the elements for the Holy Communion till the appointed time for placing them on the Holy Table. The floor under the seats is made of oak, grooved, and tongued together. (Administrators Note: The current editor of this web site was a member of the church choir along with his four other brothers and twin sisters, also other members of the Stewart clan were choisters including Bob Stewart who has contributed a number of articles to this web site.

Cooke Trench wanted a robed boys choir at service on Sunday mornings, and other religious days, and this was one of the driving forces in the providing of both the site and the church which could be seen with an unbroken view from Millicent House where he lived).

The best form of roof was a subject of much consideration. A waggon roof seemed imperatively demanded by the style; but this, as usually made, is a heavy and far from pleasing feature. A hint was, however, taken from Romsey Abbey, which has resulted in the present roof. The principal rafters, solid and richly carved, are of semi-circular form.

These, with the intersecting purlins and deeply carved bosses at the intersections, make a framework of wagon form; while lightness and grace are obtained by leaving the spaces between open, so that the eye travels up to the very ridge-board. The common rafters, besides being supported by the foot pieces, rest on two sets of purlins, and the collar-ties on a third. The whole is sheeted with inch and quarter sheeting, closely tongued and grooved together; and, to prevent the possibility of draughts entering, as they so often do through an open roof, as well as to maintain an even temperature, a thick layer of felt is placed between the sheeting and the slates.

A device has been adopted, by means of which putlocks for a scaffold can be thrust out from inside the tower in a few minutes, in case repairs, cleaning, or painting are required. This scaffold is reached by a permanent iron ladder, from a leaden platform on the roof of the choir. The burial ground, containing IA. IR. 4P., is partly planted to the north and east, so that the young trees may blend with the older ones behind them.

It will be many generations before the whole space is required, and the trees can be gradually cut away as the graves press upon them.

St Michaels Enterance Gate 5

The Lych Gate

The only entrance is through a lych gate of unusual length.The church standing on ground considerably higher than the road, it was necessary that there should be steps up to it.

These, as well as a level platform in the middle, are covered over. A low wooden gate gives admission. On the platform, in the middle, it is intended that the coffin at funerals should make its last halt, whilst waiting for the clergy to come out to meet it. An inscription above points to the great Day of Resurrection, and reminds the mourners that the sleep of death can only last “till the day break, and the shadows flee away.”

Archbishop Trench 1-thestewartsinireland.ieArchbishop Cheveneaux

Archbishop Cheveneaux Trench

Nearly the last administrative act of Archbishop Trench was to consecrate this church and burial ground on Michaelmas Day, 1883. In connexion with the day, it has been dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels. The Archbishop shortly after resigned his See in consequence of failing health, and, after a few troubled years, entered on his rest.

Before the Church was consecrated, one benefactor to the parish had passed away, having expressed a desire that this might be his place of rest. The then Incumbent, the Rev. Ambrose Cooke, was, five years later, laid just opposite the vestry door, through which he had so often passed to loving and faithful services.

Two of the three Parochial Nominators of the time also lie within the churchyard. Mr. Alexander Miles, the excellent clerk of the works, to whose ever thoughtful and anxious care so much of the success of the building is due, is also buried here. He had made it abundantly clear throughout that his work was to him no mere task, but a real labour of love; and when, two years after he finished it, he felt that he was dying, he directed that his remains should be brought here for burial, and that they should be laid as near to his old workshop as possible – a wish which was carefully complied with. of the three Parochial Nominators of the time also lie within the churchyard.

Mr. Alexander Miles, the excellent clerk of the works, to whose ever thoughtful and anxious care so much of the success of the building is due, is also buried here. He had made it abundantly clear throughout that his work was to him no mere task, but a real labour of love; and when, two years after he finished it, he felt that he was dying, he directed that his remains should be brought here for burial, and that they should be laid as near to his old workshop as possible – a wish which was carefully complied with.

We have to record the death of two more who are closely associated with the church: one the Rev. R. F. Wilson, who preached one of the three sermons at the time of the consecration, and whose handsome gift to the church is recorded later on. He died in 1888. The other, his brother-in-law, the Very Rev. Jeffry Lefroy, Dean of Dromore, seeing that no pulpit had been provided at the time of the consecration, then and there offered, and subsequently gave, the very beautiful one which is amongst the chief ornaments of the church. Within two years he too had entered on his rest. Many other offerings have been received.

A subscription was made in the parish for a new organ, which included £40 from the Rev. W. Sherlock, and £20 from the Vicar, Mr. Henry undertaking to make up any deficiency in the sum required. The Beresford Trustees made two grants, amounting together to £300, which about covered the cost of the original glass.

The massive Communion Table of carved oak was the gift of His Grace Archbishop Trench. The three altar cloths, worked by Mrs. Cooke-Trench and her sisters, were given by them. The former also gave the Communion linen and the copper pitcher for filling the font, as also the glass over the vestry screen.

The service-books, richly bound, were given by Miss Acland, of Oxford. The eagle lectern was the joint gift of Lady Heathcote and Captain (now Colonel) C. G. Heathcote. The surplices for the choir were provided by Mrs. Jeffry Lefroy; the font cover by A. M. Heathcote, Esq.; the kneeling mats at the altar rail were the work of Miss A. M. Cooke, daughter of the Vicar. Mats for the chancel were worked by the Misses Henry, Misses Sherlock, and others. The bell from the old church was melted down and added to, and a second, which, it is hoped, may prove only the beginning of a complete chime, was given by the four sisters of the builder of the church, in memory of their parents. It bears the following inscription:


Two Florentine vases, made specially for the church, were the gift of Mrs. E. D. Heathcote. Some brass vases, of Indian work, were given by the Misses Heathcote.

A tower did not, on account of the expense, enter into the original design; but it was made a possibility by a gift of £250 towards its cost by the Rev. R. F. and Mrs. Wilson.

R. F. W. – A stone let into its wall with their initials M. W. is in memory of the fact.

The Messrs. Samuels, Registrars of the Diocese, obtained the necessary faculty, but declined to make any charge for doing so.

An alms-box, carved by Miss Kathleen Scott, has been presented to the church through the exertions of Miss Rose Sherlock. A beautiful carved shell, brought from Bethlehem by a friend of Dr. Bernard,[iii] was presented by him to the church for use in Baptism.

The carved text over the hanging place for surplices in the vestry as at once the work and gift of Miss H. M. Heathcote.

Of the twenty-two lights in the body of the church, nine were filled with stained glass before the church was consecrated; nine more have been given since, and only four now (1894) remain to be filled. Of the nine given since, two in the nave, and the four side-lights in the chancel, were given by Mrs. Cooke-Trench, two of the latter being a memorial of her sister Jennetta Alethea Heathcote, who died in 1887; one by Mrs. G. P. Heathcote; one by Mrs. W. W. Rynd, in memory of her husband, who died in 1884; and one by R. W. Manders, Esq., in memory of his father, Isaac Manders, of Casamsize, who died in 1887.

The two chairs inside the communion rails were carved forty years ago by the builder of the church for its predecessor in Clane. The two, of curious construction, outside the rails had belonged to an old Italian church, and were purchased by him in an old curiosity shop in Assisi. It seemed most fitting that they should be restored to their original use.

Mr. J. F. Fuller, the architect, is to be congratulated on the excellent proportions and general harmony of the building. Miss Stokes brought her profound knowledge of the subject to bear in many useful suggestions. Thanks are also due to Professor Barrett, who kindly came from Dublin to superintend the erection of the lightning conductor.

Many others, both of those who are and of those who are not of our branch of the Catholic Church of Christ, laboured there during the two years and a quarter that the church was in building for an honest living, as those who wished to leave behind them work as good as they could make it. May not this common object of interest and subject of work prove hereafter a bond not easily broken? To these also our thanks are due.

At their meeting on March 27th, 1883, the Select Vestry passed the following resolution:

“ That the seats in the new church be free and unappropriated, and that it be the duty of the Churchwardens to seat the congregation, in accordance with the Statutes of the Church of Ireland.”

In a country church, where there is but little change in the worshippers, it is well that each should have his accustomed place; but the above resolution prohibits any ownership of seats, which have thus been declared free and unappropriated, and there is no distinction between rich and poor.

On Saturday, the 29th September, 1883, the church, as has already been stated, was consecrated by Richard Chenevix Trench, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Kildare. The form of service used was that prescribed by the Church of Ireland. The hymns sung were “Christ is made the sure foundation,” “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” and for the recessional hymn, “The Church’s one foundation.” The Archbishop preached from the text, “To what purpose is this waste?” The general tone of his sermon may best be gathered from the two following extracts: –

“And not otherwise is it when this inner devotion of the heart finds utterance in some costly offering of the hands; when anything which at all transcends the common rate is rendered back to Him from whom all good things proceed, and to whom they belong. The world will allow and praise any prodigality which is bestowed upon itself; but when it is for God and for Christ, when the costly cedar is overlaid with the pure gold in the temple of the Lord, when the alabaster box of precious ointment is broken above the head of Christ, and no drop kept back, but all poured out, and not on His head only, but on His feet – even then, while the whole house of the Church is filled with the odour of the ointment, there will not be wanting some who will join in the cry, ‘To what purpose is this waste?’” And again – “But you, brethren beloved of the Lord, who will worship from day to day, and from year to year, in the courts of this House, you will give all diligence that, great as is the outward glory which it wears, it may have another and a higher glory still. ‘The king’s daughter is all glorious within.’ Her apparel may be of wrought gold; but this is nothing. Faith, and Hope, and Love: it is these, which make her glorious indeed. Truth and beauty: it is well when these two are wedded here – truth in doctrine and discipline, beauty in form and outward service.

But if ever these should be divorced, as divorced by evil accident in some ages of the Church they have been, let us pray God that we may have grace to cling to the truth, and to let the beauty go. For better the sternest, the ruggedest, the most unattractive presentation of the Faith, which has yet fast hold of the central truth, than the fairest and the loveliest, in outward semblance and show, which has allowed any vital portion of this to escape.”

In the former of these extracts the preacher rejoices in the beauty of the House, and justifies its cost: in the latter he points out how useless these may become if they stand alone.

On the following day, Sunday, the sermon in the morning was preached by the Rev. Robert F. Wilson, from the text, “They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” In the evening the Archdeacon of Kildare preached, taking as his text, “I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

Space does not allow of any farther extracts here; but the three sermons were printed in full, and circulated amongst the parishioners as a memorial of the day. On Monday the Archbishop held a Confirmation in the church. The services of these three consecutive days will not be easily forgotten by those who took part in them.

We have now to consider the internal decorations; and this it will probably be best to do, irrespective of whether these were supplied before the consecration of the church or since. We have to consider them, first, as to their material and workmanship, and secondly, as to their motive and the lessons which they are intended to keep before our eyes.

The material is mainly the glass in the windows; mosaic of three kinds; the marble and alabaster on the walls, and onyx round the window in the Baptistery; wood and stone for carving; and the materials for sgraffito and cloisonné work. These, also, indicate the several kinds of workmanship.

The angels in the spandrels of the east windows are of Venetian mosaic, and were executed by Capello, from the design of Messrs. Heaton, Butler, and Bayne. This mosaic was intended as a memorial to Lady Helena Trench, who died while the building was in preparation. It contains in the corner the words “H. T., Obt. 17th March, 1881.”

The vine above it, as also the pavement of all the open portions of the floor, is of marble mosaic, by Messrs. Burke & Co., of London and Paris, and was laid by Italian workmen. The design of the floor immediately outside the Communion rails, as also the border round the Baptistery, are from St. Mark’s, at Venice. The third kind of mosaic is that round the walls of the Sanctuary, and is of glass by Messrs. Powell, of Whitefriars.

The merely ornamental carving is mainly from ancient Irish sources; but in addition, we have the corbels of the arch which divides the choir from the chancel, and which represent the symbols [iv] of the four Evangelists. Over the south door is a very beautiful carving of the Good Shepherd, from a drawing by Mrs. R. F. Wilson. The figures on the pulpit were carved in Bruges.

The sgraffito and cloisonné work were both revivals of ancient arts. The artist of the former was Mr. Heywood Sumner, and of the latter, Mr. Clement Heaton. The process of sgraffito is this: the artist first draws his cartoons full size, and, with a needle, punctures round all the main outlines; this he hangs by fixed points against the wall, which has been previously covered with a substantial coat of Portland cement. He then proceeds to dab the outlines all over with a muslin bag, containing dark powder; this, passing through the holes, leaves upon the wall a rough outline of his design.

Having removed the cartoon, and placed it beside him, he proceeds to cover the wall with a coat of cement, variously coloured in patches according to the colour he wishes to appear when the work is finished. As soon as this is dry, he covers the whole with a creamy coat of Parian cement. He then restores the cartoon, and again dabbing it with the powder, produces an outline exactly over the previous one. Then, while this upper coat is still soft, with a sharp instrument he cuts it away in places where he wishes the colour to appear.

It will thus be seen that the whole is composed of the hardest and most durable cements, and that there is no surface colouring. The work should therefore be nearly imperishable. The name, “sgraffito” is an Italian word, meaning “scratched,” and refers to the final cutting, or scratching away, of the upper coat of cement. The pattern work on the west wall of the chancel over the arch, and on the four walls of the choir, is also in sgraffito, by amateur artists.

The cloisonné work at the east and west ends of the nave is a revival of a very ancient Irish art. It may be seen in a minute form on the Cross of Cong and other relics. On a large scale it is worked on sheets of copper or zinc. To these are soldered ribbons of the same metal set on edge, forming the outlines of each shade of colour. Into these divisions (cloisons) is then poured over melted enamel. The sheets have then only to be secured in their position. In the design at the east end there is over a mile of copper ribbon thus soldered on.

So much for the material and workmanship; and now for the nature and lessons of the designs.

The Baptistery has of course its own lesson, which has been already referred to; but in the rest of the church two main ideas prevail: the first is the glorification of our Lord’s humanity, and the second, the office and ministration of angels. The dedication of the church seemed to render this natural.

At their meeting on Easter Monday, 1885, the Select Vestry passed the following resolution, which will best explain how the first of these principles has been carried out in the windows:

“That in case of anyone wishing to present a window (memorial or otherwise) to the church, we adopt the following scheme, in order to secure unity of idea; and, as churches are often injured by diversity of style in glass, we would urge on intending donors to employ Messrs. Heaton, Butler, and Bayne, 14 Garrick Street, London, who have made all the glass hitherto supplied. It is proposed to devote the north side to characters from the Old Testament, and the south to characters from the New.

As the east end is devoted to the Transfiguration, which was the glorification of our Lord’s humanity, each window should point, as much as may be, to this.”


1. St. Thomas, teaching faith in the unknown and incomprehensible

2. St. James. With St. John, the greatest of the Apostles, and witnesses of the Transfigurations.

3. St. Peter. With St. John, the greatest of the Apostles, and witnesses of the Transfigurations.

4. St. Matthew, first Recorder of the Incarnation, &c.


1. Adam, type and cause of the humanity, and the only man who at any time was sinless.

2. Isaac, type in sacrifice.

3. Joseph, type in undeserved suffering, and in humiliation, followed by glory.

4. Joshua, type in name, and leading through death to victory.

5. Solomon, type of Prince of Peace.


1. St. John, the other witness of the Transfiguration, and also of his glory in heaven. The other Apostle-Evangelist. Special teacher on Holy Communion in his Gospel. Specially connected with St. Mary.

2. St. Mary, the means or instrument of Incarnation, also type of womanhood


1. David, type as king or prophet.

2. Melchisedek, type as king and priest. His gifts, also, typical of our gifts in Holy Communion.

The cloisonné work on the east end of the nave, which figures our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, bears witness to the final consummation of His glorification.

The sgraffiti to the north and south of the chancel, representing – one, His Baptism, when the heavens were opened, and His Sonship proclaimed; the other, His victory over death – have still the same guiding idea. The vine,[v] above the east windows, reminds us how we have been made one with our glorified LORD, and of our consequent privileges and responsibilities.

The office of the angels, as revealed to us in Scripture, appears to be two-fold: first, the unending song of praise, in which we, both living and dead, are permitted to join; and secondly, the ministrations to men, which received its highest fulfilment when, after our Lord’s Agony, an angel came and ministered unto Him.

The angels over the cast windows, with their ceaseless song of “Holy, Holy, Holy,”[vi] show the first of these offices. In each window in the nave is also an angel with some musical instrument, likewise representing Praise; and in the cloisonné of the east end two angels offer to the ascending Christ, one the crown and sceptre, and the other the orb.

On the opposite wall we have the two archangels named in Holy Scripture, St. Michael,[vii] the warrior archangel, ever ready, at the Divine Word, to contend with the powers of evil that assail us; and St. Gabriel,[viii] the special messenger sent by GOD to Daniel, “greatly beloved,” to comfort him by the promise of the Coming of Christ, and again to the Blessed Virgin, to announce to her that she was to be the human instrument of that Coming.

These two seem, as it were, to watch the congregation as they worship, ever ready to defend and to help, to bear our prayers to heaven, to bring back a message of Love and Hope, and to minister to us even as they did to our LORD.

The figures on the pulpit represent five great preachers. St. Patrick, as the great preacher of the Irish, occupies the central position. On either side of him are St. Peter and St. Paul, preachers to Jew and Gentile in the New Testament; and beyond these, the prophets Isaiah and Jonah, preachers to Jew and Gentile in the Old Testament.

It will thus be seen that all the figures and incidents depicted in the church have a distinct Biblical source.

There is no repetition of decorative work. Every stroke of the chisel represents thought and care on the part of those who gave it. Of the seventy-five carved stone capitals, and eighty-four bosses, corbels, and finials (or 226 of both, if we include the wooden ones in the roof), no two are alike, save those in the chimney and four high up on the tower.

These were carved in Dublin before they came down, on account of the difficulty of afterwards getting at them. Even the principal rafters, alike in other respects, have each their distinctive mid-rib.

And now, if there be any who would still say, To what purpose was this waste? let them remember who it was who first used these words, and what was our Lord’s answer to him. Or, some there may be who, from natural bent of mind, or perhaps from early associations, prefer for themselves a less adorned House of Prayer.

May not such, remembering that many others find outward decency and comeliness a real help to their devotion , best serve God by making a willing and hearty sacrifice of their own predilections? It may well be that amongst ourselves there are some who have silently made this sacrifice. If so, our special thanks are due to them for their kindly forbearance.

If, during the present generation, this fair spot prove a bond of brotherly kindness and union; if the beauties of art, and the still more glorious beauties of nature, cause the soul to flow out in more fervent adoration towards Him Who gave both; if others are stirred to improve the outward fabric of their churches; if, when all who have had to do with it sleep quietly beneath its shade, the parishioners of Clane have still a loving pride in their parish church; then, and not otherwise, will the objects with which it was undertaken, and has been carried through, be wholly fulfilled.

But if, in God’s providence, disturbances or persecution should arise, and, even in our day, men should break down the carved work thereof with axes and hammers, the thought will still be sweet that while we had the power we contributed even a little to the rearing up again of the old historic and apostolic Church of St. Patrick; and in faith we will lay us down to rest “till the day break, and the shadows flee away.” T.C.T.


[i] For a full description see “Journal of Kildare Archaeological Society” for year 1893-4.

[ii] Isaac Manders, died 1887, and Hugh Henry, died 1888.

[iv] “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” – REV. iv. 7; see also EZEKIEL i. 10.

[v] “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” – ST. JOHN xv. 5.

[vi] “And the living creatures…are full of eyes round about and within: and they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy.” – REV. iv. 8.

[vii] “And Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.” – REV. xii. 7. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses.” – ST. JUDE 9.

[viii] DANIEL ix. 21; ST. LUKE i. 26.

[The original booklets contain many beautiful line drawings and images which are almost impossible to produce here but it can be viewed in the Local History Dept. in Kildare Co. Library; I hope people will find the information alone as useful]

A reprint of the original pamphlet produced to celebrate the consecration of the Church of St. Michael and All Angels at Millicent, Clane in 1883. The reprint dates to 1894 and was re-typed for us by Evelyn Purcell. I would like to thank Evelyn for her efforts and also to David Frasier and Seamus Cullen for drawing my attention to the fact that the Church is 125 years old this year.

Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal An Electronic Journal for the publication of material relating to the history, archaeology and heritage of Co. Kildare. History and Family Research Centre (Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives) part of Kildare County Library & Arts Services Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal Home

The Trench family

Thomas Cooke-Trench

Thomas cooke

Thomas Cooke-Trench

In 1891 Thomas Cooke-Trench owners of the Millicent Estate donated 2 acres of land south of the Sextons residence for the erection of a Glebe later the Church Rectory..


Robert Trench (1782-1823) was a son of William Trench 12st Earl of Clancarthy.  Trench was highly decorated (KCB, KTS), a lietenant-colonel in the 74th Regiment, and had played a prominent role in the Peninsular War 1808-14. Robert Trenches’ sister Ann was married to William Gregory who was a major land owner and also that of Wildegoose Lodge. He was an under-secretary to Sir Robert Peel and also a sherriff.P99. 130

  1. S. Trench was the manager of the Bath estates in County Monaghan in 1849 p 49

1891 New Vicarage (St. Michael’s) begun; 1892, finished.

1913 Rev Herbert Newcome Craige M.D. Dean of Kildare

1928 Rev Francis M Morran M.A.

1929 Rev Percy Coster M.A.

1934 Rev Brian L Handy M.A. Later Arch-Deacon of Kildare in

1947 Church badly damaged by fire following a break-in by intruders.

1974 Rev Brian L Handy M.A. Later Arch-Deacon of Kildare in 1960 Retired. 1976 14th July Rev Brian L Handy M.A. died and alongside his wife Joan both are interred in Clane churchyard.

1974 Rev Paul Sexton Cardew B.A.

1979 Rev Samuel Fred Gillmore.

Other dates and activities.

1923. Donadea Parish Church amalgamated with Clane.

1924 Sir W Goulding (of Millicent Demesne), donated the woodland beside the graveyard to St Michael’s & All Angels Church.

1939 Eddie Kidd operated the transport for children from Donadea area to Hewetson School Clane.

1941 Mrs Lang the Sexton retired with George Hempenstall taking over the position.

Closure of Caragh Church

Caragh Church

1957 The parish church at Caragh was amalgamated with Clane.
1964 Caragh church was closed.
This is picture of the former Caragh Church as it is in 2010, it’s now used as a warehousing facility.

Caragh Children Grave Head Stone

Caragh Childrens Grave

Some years ago the remains of one adult and a number of children from the then Caragh Orphanage were re interred in St Michael’s & All Angels churchyard. It appears that the grounds at Caragh were not consecrated or approved for burials

1958 Mrs Woodbourne took over the transport for children from Donadea area to Hewetson School Clane.

Busy Archbishop Presides at Cermonials in Millicent

Taken from the Leinster Leader 2/10/2008 by Liam Kenny

The Church of Ireland community has always had a significant presence in Co. Kildare, the Leader from time to time carried reports of harvest festivals and other liturgical events held under its auspices.

One such events featured in an issue of the paper in early October 1958, representatives of nearly every neighbouring parish turned out to meet their beloved,

Archbishop George Otto

The Rev. George Otto Simms,

when he visited St. Michael’s Church, Millicent, Clane.

The occasion was the Pastoral Dedication Festival and the Church was decorated with a wealth of autumnal floral splendour. That together with the unique magnificence of the interior of the edifice rendered a very impressive background as the procession of sixteen robed clergy, headed by the St. Michael’s Choir boys wended their way up the isle to take their respective places at the East end.

The Service was conducted in part by the Rector, the Rev. Chancellor B.L.Handy MA and the Rev. R.J.J.F McConchy, BD, rector of All Saints, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

The Lessons were read by the Rev. W. Burrows, MA, Rector of Crumlin, and the Rev. W.F. Reid, Rector of Carbury. Miss Frances Moore of Greystones was congratulated on her proficient organ accompaniment.

Dr. Simms in his homily drew inspiration from the landscape between Sallins and Clane. Speaking on the text ‘Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord’ Dr. Simms said it could be any person walking from Sallins who might ascend the hill on which this most beautiful church stands, surrounded by its exquisitely maintained grounds, and gazing across to the wonderful mountains could not, unless he was very dull in mind be anything else but uplifted in spirit.

Then as their church, like the beautiful old Mother Church of St. Brigid in Kildare has the Christianity and ever open door, he might enter, pause a while and find rest and holy quietude from the busy world outside.

At the conclusion of the service his Grace pronounced the Blessing and after the Service, Chancellor and Mrs. Handy entertained all to tea in the rectory.

[iii] Archbishop King’s Lecturer, T.C.D.

(Administrators Note: On the Millicent road about 100 meters up from the Butterstream river bridge in Clane Village towards the Hewetson School is a laneway on the right-hand side. On that strip a land in the 1940’s was a stone. Stories within the Stewart household said that this was where the original foundation stone for St Michaels & All Angels church was laid. In 2009 a new cross with 2000ad inscribed on it has been placed on this site. What I wonder happened to the original stone ?).

With the Tower being funded by Rev R F & Mrs Wilson. The church on the existing elevated site was opened for services in 1883.

LANG – The Millicent Connection by Joseph Lang and Julia (nee Harvey).

My paternal grandfather Joseph Lang was born in 1864 in Cavan – and my grandmother Julia Harvey was born in 1876 and was from Portlaoise. Joseph joined the RIC in 1882, aged 18. We’re not sure how or where he met Julia, however they married in 1903 and lived for some time in Ferns before moving to Killaloe.

They had five children – three boys Arthur, William, (my dad) and David – and two daughters, Elizabeth and Frances. The 3 boys were born in Killaloe and the two girls were born in Kildare following their eventual move here.

Their initial move to the Kildare region was to Brannockstown in 1915. The youngest boy, David, sadly died at the age of 7 from meningitis and is buried in the churchyard over at Brannockstown. The children attended school in Carnalway. There was a message on the back of the group picture – from ‘Carrie’ which was obviously one of the class, but no further details available.

They also spent some time in Avoca around 1916, in Dunganstown in 1917 and Baltinglass – we assume this was due to Joseph being moved around being a member of the RIC.

In early 1918, they were living in Baltinglass at which stage Joseph had been pensioned from the RIC. Julia heard of an opportunity as Sexton at St. Michael & All Angels Church, Millicent.

Millicent Church Sextons

Former Sexton’s House now a Church Hall.

The application was made to the then Church Attendant, Canon Craig. Canon Craig wished to interview both Julia and Joseph and interviews were arranged for Joseph to be interviewed on a Tuesday and Julia on the Thursday. Joseph set off on Tuesday morning for his interview, taking the train to Sallins. He duly arrived for the interview but failed to make a good impression and it was felt that the job would not suit the family. We’re not really sure what it meant that he didn’t make a good impression, but my dad suspected that he stopped off at Manzers and took a couple of drinks on board on his way to the interview. Perhaps it was the background and uncertainty of life in the RIC then that made him slightly ‘feckless’. He may have also missed the structures that life as a sergeant in the RIC had given him.     However, the result was that Canon Craig ultimately felt that he would not be suitable.

Canon Craig immediately wrote to Julia telling her not to come for the interview on the Thursday – the letter was sent by special messenger to the Baltinglass Post Office. But she didn’t receive the letter and duly set out to Millicent for her interview.       When she arrived Canon Craig asked her did she not get the letter.  She said ‘What letter?’ He took pity on her and invited her in for a cup of tea as she had made the journey needlessly. They got talking – his son was the same age as Archie, her eldest, and they appeared to be very alike. She came across as a hard working woman, resolute and with great strength and determination, committed to providing for her family.  He was very impressed with her, and as a result he offered to put her appointment as Sexton of St. Michael & All Angels to the select vestry for approval. She subsequently received a letter confirming this appointment. The house – which is now the parish hall – was their home and, according to my dad, she moved the family on a donkey drawn cart to Millicent to take up her appointment. She held that post until her retirement in 1941 – 23 years

It is worth noting that the letter asking her not to come for the interview never did turn up – to this very day.

The four children went to Hewetson School – Elizabeth played the organ in the church for some time and the children sang in the choir from time to time. Joseph – who naturally had to come as part of the deal – was the general handyman – grave digging being one of the jobs he had.  Dad told us of a time walking home from school on a very warm day, when Joseph and another man were digging a grave.    They were taking a breather and were sitting on the side of the grave with their legs dangling down into it.        Joseph called dad in and gave him a shilling to go into Clane to Manzer’s and buy two bottles of Guinness.

A particular memory that dad was very proud to recount was that on one September day in 1918, at the end of the first World War, and as peace had just been declared, the rector of St. Michael & All Angels met him on the road coming from school – he was then just 12 years old. The rector asked him to go into the church and up to the clock tower and to ring out the bell which would signal the coming of peace to a war weary world. It was a story that our dad was very proud to recount and indeed at his funeral service in September 1991, the then Archbishop of Dublin Donal Caird who gave the eulogy also recounted it – as dad had obviously been telling him of the incident at some stage during his subsequent tenure with the Representative Church Body.

The family was growing up, and Straffan House employed we believe all of them at some stage. Joseph died in 1939 and is buried here in the churchyard. On Julia’s retirement in 1941, my Dad bought a bungalow for her out on the Prosperous Road where she lived until 1946 when she moved to Lisburn to live with her daughter Elizabeth, who had married and moved there a couple of years earlier. Frances had also moved north to Lurgan to marry. Julia subsequently died in Lisburn in 1967.

Straffan House Co Kildare

Straffan House The-K-Club - thestewartsinireland .ie

Straffan House (now the K Club) provided work to a huge number of local people – including my father and his siblings on leaving school. The first five generations of Barton’s owned both the estate at Straffan and the family’s 37-hectacre vineyard in St Julien near the Gironde north of Bordeaux.

My Dad got his first job in 1923 at Straffan House where initially he was employed as a junior butler. His brother and sisters were also employed for some time there too. This is where my dad’s knowledge of wine first started. On his death in a hunting accident in 1927, Bertram Barton left the Straffan estate to his eldest son Derrick. However, following Bertram’s death, the scale of the losses on the estate, became apparent. The staff of 50 outdoor and 16 indoor employees was unsustainable. Derrick Barton laid off most of the staff but not before he arranged alternative employment for them across his many contacts and friends.      My dad was introduced to a Judge Kenny in Cabinteely, Dublin, where he worked as butler for about four years.

Kildare Street Club Dublin

Dublin Kildare Street Club -

He then took a post in the Kildare Street Club, where he eventually became Head Wine Waiter, a post he held for several years – up to 1940. And it was there he met my mother, Elizabeth, who also worked in the Club as a housekeeper. After they married, he applied for and got the post of Caretaker in the Representative Church Body on St. Stephen’s Green. He retired from the RCB in 1985 after 44 years.

However, every weekend that he worked in Dublin, until my grandmother moved to Lisburn in 1946, he cycled from Dublin to Millicent to visit her, and to tend to the garden and to help with the fowl that she kept too. Even after mum and he had married and they had three young children, he regularly made that trip on a Friday evening to Millicent. It must have been some journey on a bicycle – but it was just something that he did.

There was a 150th Anniversary of the church on the grounds of Straffan House back in the mid-1980s and dad, mum, David and I attended it. Robin Eames gave the address that night. There were refreshments later in a church hall and I was approached at one stage by a woman who asked me was I from Dublin – and as I was did I know a Willie Lang. I said ‘yes I do, he’s my dad and he’s standing behind you’. They had worked together as teenagers at ‘the big house’. It was amazing to listen to them reminisce and remember people that they knew what must have been at least 60 to 65 years earlier.

All through our lives, we knew of my father’s love for St. Michael & All Angels – he was very proud of his connections and we often came to services here through the years – or if there was a specific event or celebration taking place. Sadly my brother David lost his first child, a baby boy (David Neville) in September 1980 and he was brought to be buried with Joseph here in this lovely churchyard. It seemed a very fitting place for him to be.

When he died in 1991, there was no hesitation as to dad’s arrangements.

 St Ann’s Church Dublin

Dublin St

St. Ann’s Church in Dublin was our parish for all the years he lived in Dublin – he and mum were married there, we were all baptised there, and both my sister Anne and David were   married there. So whilst his funeral service was held there, we always knew that he wanted his final resting place to be here in the churchyard of the parish that he loved and which held so many memories for him and meant so much to him.  When mum died in July 2010, we proudly brought her here to be with him again.

Seamus Cullen’s Personal Web Site


Know your Town land – Millicent


Millicent is a well known town land located almost half way between Clane and Sallins. It is situated in a picturesque setting with the river Liffey forming the boundary almost in a semi-circular direction in the south and south-east section of the town land. One of the reasons that the town land is well-known is due to the presence of the architectural renowned Church of St. Michael and All Angles. However, this building is a comparatively recent constructions dating from the 19thcentury, but the known history of the town land goes back beyond that period for several centuries. Throughout history it had connections with many well-known individuals and also a slight connection with King Brien Boru and King James II. The original name of the town land was Newtown which was often referred to in records as Newtown de Clane. It is likely to have obtained this name in the early medieval period possibly due to a movement to the town land of residents from the medieval settlement of Clane.

Medieval Period

An early reference to Newtown dates from 1395 and relates to a dispute concerning tenements in a number town lands in the area of Clane. Another documentary source from 1533, names an individual by the name of Walter Dale as having a small income from Newtown of Clane. It is known that the Franciscans from the Abbey in Clane were granted property in Newtown of Clane and following the dissolution of the Abbey by Henry VIII, the property was granted to Robert Eustace and Thomas Luttrell in 1542. An interesting grant of lands in Newtown de Clane to Thomas Challoner from 1587 includes a grant of an ‘Ash Grove’. This indicates that there was an important and valuable plantation of Ash trees in the town land. At the time Edmund Eustace was the freeholder of the lands.1


Civil Survey

The Eustace family retained the ownership of the town land into the 17th century. According to the Civil Survey of 1654 the town land of Newtown was held by Christopher Eustace who lived at Newlands, close to Two mile house. The estimated area of the town land was 263 acres of Irish plantation measure. This was divided into 150 acres of arable land, 103 acres of meadow and 10 acres described as pasture heath. The value of the land as they were let or said to be let in the year 1640 was put at £36 4s.2 However it did not include all of the present town land, as an area the southern portion of Millicent today was in a separate town land named Horestown.3At the time the northern and part of the western boundary of the town land was marked by a highway called Crostany.4 It is likely this highway extended westwards from Clane to Caragh and was named after the ancient town land of Crostany which was situated today in an area of Firmount West.5 There were two structures of note on the lands of Newtown, firstly a Castle with a Hall adjoining. The site of this castle according to the Down survey map was in the area of Millicent house. The second structure in the town land consisted of a corn mill which in the year 1640 had a letting value of £5 per annum.6

Petty’s Down Survey Map, 1654

In 1659, Newtown of Clane had a population of 43, in which four individuals were described as English. There was one member of the gentry named Humphrey Mills living in the town land.7 It is likely he was one of the many English born Cromwellian supporters that were granted land under the Cromwellian plantation. With the restoration of the monarchy most of the previous owners regained their estates. For a short period in the late 17th century the town land passed to James Duke of York later James II. His ownership ended with his abdication and flight from Ireland in 1690.

In the early years of the 18th century the town land passed to Colonel Robert Harmon a military officer from county Carlow.8 A gravestone erected by Colonel Harman survives today in the ‘Old Church’ yard of Clane now the cemetery in the grounds of the Abbey Community Centre. It commemorates the memory of his faithful servant and soldier, John Hitchcock, who was born in England, and died in 1743.

Name changed to Millicent

It was during the ownership of Colonel Harman that the name of the town land was changed. Documents show that by 1755 the town land was known as Millicent. According to Archdeacon Sherlock the origin of the place name Millicent is unclear, although it is believed that it may well be connected with an the ancient name of a corn mill known as Mullina-fooky. The ancient corn mill was situated at Millicent Bridge and the name comes from Poka or Pucks Mill. The Irish name Púca referrers to fairies. According to the Manders family who lived in nearby Castlesize the local folklore tradition regarding the corn mill was that a good natured Puck or Phouca used to grind corn left there overnight.9

MPs from Millicent

Taylor and Skinners Map, 1777

In 1728, following his retirement from the army, Colonel Harman served as High Sheriff of county Kildare. He was elected to Parliament in a by-election for the Borough of Kildare in 1755 and served this constituency in the Irish Parliament in College Green, Dublin until the election of 1761. By that time he had moved to county Longford where he had inherited property. He continued his parliamentary career in that county until his death without issue in 1765.10 The oldest part of Millicent House dates from the ownership of Robert Harman and it is clearly marked as a substantial house on Noble and Keenan’s Map of 1752. Other subsequent owners also left their imprint on the house and evidence of this is well documented.

For a short period in the 1750s Robert Harman let Millicent house to Sir Edward O’Brien of Dromoland Castle. Sir Edward was a direct descendent of King Brien Boru and he used the house a residence while engaging in his leisurely pursuits in Dublin and Kildare.11 Following the death of Robert Harmon, the ownership of Millicent passed to a close relative Rev Cutts Harman, Dean of Waterford. In 1768 he sold the leasehold to Michael Keating who was originally from county Tipperary. Six years earlier in 1762 Keating had married Marie Burgh from Berth near Athy and moved to the county. In 1777 he was elected to Parliament in a by-election for the Borough of Harristown. The following year in 1778 he served as High Sheriff of county Kildare. He held the seat in Parliament until his death in 1781.12

Griffith family

The next prominent figure to reside in the town land was Richard Griffith who purchased the town land in 1782. He had been a successful trader for the East India Company and also made a fortune trading on his own behalf.13 Like the two previous owners of the town land he also served in Parliament. In 1783 he was elected an MP for a Borough in Limerick and remained in Parliament until 1790. He served as High Sheriff in 1788, also continuing a tradition of his predecessors in Millicent. Regarded as a liberal landowner he was friendly with and socialized with local United Irishmen such as Archibald Rowan, Wolfe Tone and Wogan Browne. His role in the local 1798 rebellion as a Yeoman Captain is well known. Although he fought gallantly against the rebels in Clane during the rising his legacy has been blighted due to his role in the arrest, trial and execution of his neighbour Dr. Esmond.  Seven hundred sheep from the farm at Millicent were taken by the rebels, obviously to feed the rebel army in their camp. Griffith, nevertheless, obtained generous compensation from the Government. However, luck seems to have deserted him in the years following the rebellion. He lost his fortune said to be in the region of £90,000 on shares in the Grand Canal and by 1808 had sold Millicent House, probably because of diminishing financial resources.14

Millicent House

His son Sir Richard Griffith (1784–1878), was to become Ireland’s most distinguished engineer and surveyor. He best remembered for producing a famous geological map of Ireland and his valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland, the Griffith Valuation is a major source of information to genealogists today.15

19th Century Millicent

Many changes occurred in Millicent in the 19th century, the old bridge was demolished and replaced by the present bridge. It was unsuitable for modern traffic at the time due to the fact that the width of roadway across it was narrow and its arches were lofty which gave it an awkward rise in the middle.16 In the mid to late 19th century the possession of Millicent was held by the Cooke-Trench family. The greatest legacy of Thomas Cooke-Trench who died in 1902 was his involvement in the construction of St. Michael and All Angles Church which was built in 1884 on land that he donated for the purpose.


  1. Thomas Cooke Trench, Correspondence to the Editor, JKAS, Vol. III, p. 131.
  2. Robert Simmington, The Civil Survey AD 1654–56, Vol. VIII, County Kildare(Dublin, 1952), p. 151.
  3. Walter FitzGerald, ‘Notes, the Millicent and Firmount town lands’ in JKAS, p. 424.
  4. Simmington, Civil Survey, p. 151.
  5. FitzGerald, Millicent, p. 424.
  6. Simmington, Civil Survey, p. 151.
  7. Seamus Pender, Census of Ireland, 1659(Dublin, 1939), p. 398.
  8. Cooke Trench, Correspondence, p. 131.
  9. Sherlock, ‘Some notes on Fords and Bridges over the River Liffey’ in JKAS, Vol. VI, p. 301.
  10. Thomas Ulick Saddlier, ‘Kildare Members of Parliament 1559–1800’ in JKAS, Vol. VII, pp 400–401.
  11. Grania R. O’Brien, These my Family and Forebears – the O’Briens of Dromoland, pp 70–71.
  12. Saddlier, ‘Kildare Members of Parliament 1559–1800, continued’ in JKAS, Vol. VIII, p. 71.
  13. Tony McEvoy, ‘Richard Griffith c. 1752–1820’ in Fugitive Warfare(Clane, 1998), p. 106.
  14. Ibid, pp 106,111.
  15. Ibid, pp 105,109.
  16. Sherlock, Fords and Bridges over the River Liffey, p. 301.



CLANE, a post-town and parish (formerly a markettown), in the barony of Clane, county of Kildare, and province of Leinster, 4 miles (N. N. W.) from Naas, and 14 miles (W. S. W.) from Dublin; containing 2121 inhabitants, of which number, 1031 are in the town.

This place, which gives name to the barony, is of very great antiquity, and appears to have derived its present appellation from Cluaine, in the Irish language signifying a “sanctuary,” or “sacred retreat.” The town most probably owes its origin to the foundation of an abbey in the sixth century, by St. Ailbe, who made St.

Senchell the elder its first abbot; and in which a great synod was held in 1162, under Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh, assisted by 26 bishops and a great number of abbots, when a decree was passed that no person should be admitted Professor of Divinity in any college in Ireland, who had not studied at Armagh. In 1272, a Franciscan convent was founded here by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, the third Lord Ophaley. This establishment flourished till the dissolution, and was, with all its appurtenances, assigned, in the 24th of Hen. VIII, to Robert Eustace, John Trevor, and others in capite. A castle was built here, but at what time or by whom does not appear; it added greatly to the importance of the town, but has long been in ruins. The town, in which a few houses were burned by the king’s troops during the disturbances of 1798, is pleasantly situated on the river Liffey, over which is a bridge of six arches, and in 1831 comprised 225 houses neatly built. The woollen manufacture is carried on to a small extent. The market, from its vicinity to that of Naas, has fallen into disuse; but fairs, chiefly for the sale of cattle, sheep, and pigs, are held on March 28th, April 28th, July 25th, and Oct. 15th. A constabulary police station has been established in. the town; and petty sessions are held by the county magistrates every alternate Saturday.

The parish comprises 2380 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the greater portion is under tillage, the soil is fertile, and the system of agriculture improved.

There are quarries of good limestone, which are worked with success; and limestone, lime, and sand are sent to Dublin by the Grand Canal, which passes within two miles of the town. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Kildare, episcopally united to the vicarages of Mainham and Clonshamboe, and to the rectory of Killybegs, together forming the union of Clane, the patronage of which is disputed by Lord Kingsland: the rectory is impropriate in the representatives of Lord Falconberg.

The tithes of the parish amount to £188.11.10½.

of which £99.2. 11½. is payable to the impropriators, and £89. 8. 11. to the vicar. The church, an ancient structure, has been lately modernised; it is a neat edifice with a tower and spire, and is kept in repair by a small estate called Economy Lands, now producing about £60 per annum. The glebe-house is a handsome building: the glebe lands for the union comprise 29 acres In the R. C. divisions this parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parishes of Clane, Balrahan, Ballynefagh, Timahoe, and Mainham, and containing three chapels, situated respectively in the three first-named parishes; that of Clane is a plain cruciform building in good repair. The parochial school is maintained by subscription among the Protestant inhabitants; the school-house is a building of stone, erected at an expense of £300. A Roman Catholic free school, formerly supported by the Dublin Patrician Society, is now under the National Board of Education; the school-house was built in 1819, at an expense of £300; and there are two schools supported by subscription.

In these schools are about 200 children; and there is also a pay school, in which are 52 children.

At Betaghstown is an endowed school, which was suspended for several years, but, in 1824, the Court of Chancery passed a decree for its revival. A dispensary is supported in the usual way. Of the Franciscan convent, founded by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, the skeleton of the conventual church is standing; in the body of the church, and serving as the headstone of a modern grave, is the lower half of the effigy of a crusader, probably part of the monument of the founder previously noticed.

About a mile from Clane, but in the parish of Mainham, is Clongowes Wood College, formerly Castle Browne, the seat of Wogan Browne, Esq., by whom it was greatly enlarged and beautified in 1788, and from whose brother and heir, Gen. Browne, it was purchased and opened as a college for the education of the sons of the Catholic nobility and gentry, in 1814. The building, to which large additions have been made for the accommodation of the students, is a spacious quadrangular structure, flanked at the angles by four lofty towers, and is pleasantly situated in the centre of an ample and richly wooded demesne. The principal corridor is more than 300 feet in length; the hall for study is above 80 feet long and 38 feet wide, and is lighted by a double range of windows on each side; the refectory is of the same dimensions, and the apartments of the students are spacious and lofty. The college chapel is 80 feet in length, and is divided into a nave and aisles by two ranges of Ionic columns; it has a fine organ, and the tabernacle on the high altar is wholly of marble and agate. The college contains an extensive library and nraseum, with a theatre for lectures in natural philosophy and experiments in chymistry, for public exercises in declamation, and musical concerts of the pupils.

The institution is under the direction of a president, a minister or dean of the college, a procurator or bursar, and a prefect or general director of studies; there are six professors in the classical department, a professor of mathematics, and a professor of natural philosophy and chymistry. There are also three prefects, whose duty is to superintend the conduct of the pupils during the hours of study and recreation.

from Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.

The civil parish of Clane contained the following townlands.


Clane (Co. Kildare / Northeast)


Clane (Claonadh – bend / slope) (pop. 5000), an attractive C18th planned village at a riverside crossroads, has grown rapidly in recent years and is now mainly a commuter satellite for DUBLIN. However, a dynamic Community Council has helped Clane to maintain its role as a commercial and recreational hub for the region. (Photo by Sarah777)

The River Liffey meanders past Clane, where it is spanned by the handsome arches of an old stone bridge. There was an ancient ford at this point on the river, and in prehistoric times a peninsula jutting into a now dried up lake nearby seems to have been regarded as a place of some importance. Nowadays the Liffey walk is a great way to observe some lovely scenery.

Clane History

Saint Ailbe, said to have been fostered by wolves, established an Abbey here c.520 AD, possibly incorporating an earlier monastic community founded by a pre-Patrician missionary. The first abbot was Saint Senchel the Elder.

The Abbey grew in importance, and was plundered by Danes as late as 1035, although the marauders were themselves killed by locals on their way back to Dublin.

A General Synod of the Irish Church was held here in 1162, presided by Gelassus of Armagh, attended by Laurence O’Toole of Dublin and 25 other bishops, together with many abbots. They decreed that no one who had not been trained at Armagh should lecture in theology, a decision which further confirmed the newly established Primacy of Armagh.

The Barony of Clane was originally part of the medieval barony of Otymy, granted by Strongbow c.1176 to Adam de Hereford, who gave it to his brother Richard de Hereford. It was partitioned between his two granddaughters, who married Sir John Staunton and his son Adam.

Clane grew into an important medieval town ruled by its own Provost, Bailiffs and Commons.

The old Abbey was supplanted in the mid-C13th by a Franciscan Friary, founded by the FitzGerald Lords of Ophaly. It possessed a church, chapter house, dormitory, store, kitchen, two chambers, a stable, an orchard and about 70 acres of land. A General Chapter of the Franciscan Order was held here in 1345.

The Friary was rebuilt c.1433. After King Henry VIII’s 1540 Dissolution of the Monasteries, the chapel, church and part of the dormitory were destroyed and the stones used to repair the ‘King’s castle in Maynouthe‘. Even though their medieval monastery was in ruins, the Franciscans kept their connections with Clane until well into the C18th, and the site continued to be used as a cemetery.

The 1798 Rebellion affected Clane less than neighbouring Prosperous, although the roof of the Church of Ireland edifice, also known as the Abbey, was set on fire on 24th May, and some skirmishes took place. The ruined church crowned the Village Green for over a century.

Both the RIC Barracks (already vacant) and the new Garda Siochána Barracks were burnt down at different stages of the Troubles.

Part of the old Abbey was used for CoI worship until 1883. The restored  tower is the most prominent landmark in Clane, while the Abbey Gardens were replanted in 2006 as a Garden of Peace & Rememberance.

The church of St Michael & All Angels (CoI), designed by JF Fuller in the Hiberno-Romanesque style, and consecrated in 1883, was built by Thomas Cooke-Trench, and contains a communion table gifted by his cousin, the poet Richard Chenovix Trench, Archbishop of Dublin. Featuring examples of Cloissone and Scraffito artwork, the church has strong appeal for enthusiasts of the Victorian Arts and Crafts Movement and the work of Clement Heaton and Sumner.

The church of Ss Michael & Brigid (RC) was built in 1884 on the site of a smaller edifice erected in 1895.

Clane also has a splendid new Community Park.

Clongowes Wood

Clongowes Wood (derived from “Cluain na nGabhann”  – “the clearing / meadow of the smith”), documented in 1414 as “syla de Clongow”, was an estate held the Wogan family and then by a junior branch of the Eustace family of Castlemartin, but was confiscated from James Eustace for participating in the 1641 Rebellion, when his 90-year-old mother was murdered by Crown troops breaking open her jaws to get a key to a secret stronghold.

The property was acquired in 1667 by a Dublin barrister called Browne and renamed Castle Browne / Castlebrowne. His descendant Michael Browne married Catherine Wogan of Rathcoffey, and the family becagme the Wogan-Brownes.

Clongowes Wood College (Photo © Jolanta W. Wawrzycka)

Clongowes Wood College was established by the Jesuits in 1814. The choice of location may have been influenced by the fact that there were at that time two Jesuits in the Irish Province from the parish of Clane – a Fr. Aylmer from Painstown and a Fr. Esmonde from Clane. The latter was the son of Dr John Esmonde, a 1798 Rebellionleader in Prosperous, who was hanged that year on Carlisle Bridge in Dublin.

The prestigious boarding school for boys grew rapidly, and in its almost 200 years of existence has educated leaders in every profession and in public life. Its most famous pupil was James Joyce.


A double row of lime trees (planted 1840) flanks the avenue through the grounds, which take in parts of the C15th ditch of the  Pale. (Photo © Jolanta W. Wawrzycka)

The college has an interesting museum of antiquities and a lovely chapel featuring Stations of the Cross by Sean Keating and stained glass windows by Evie Hone and Harry Clarke.

Betaghstown is the location of several attractive Victorian houses.

Mainham was probably named after Maighend, Abbot of Kilmainham, whose brother Saint Ultan Tua, famous for keeping a stone in his mouth to stop himself speaking during Lent, was buried in Clane. It is the location of an Anglo-Norman motte and a ruined medieval church.

The Wogan Mausoleum, an altar tomb displaying the figures of a man and a woman, dates from the mid-C18th.

Firmount House was built in late Victorian style by Major Henry, who owned the first motorcar in Clane – a White Steam.  During WWI the mansion was used as a Military Hospital, and local folklore claims that the first airplane to land in Ireland arrived in the big field in front, carrying a high-ranking officer. Later a TB sanatorium called St Conleth’s, the house is now the Dublin Regional Civil Defence Headquarters, responsible for reacting in the unlikely event of Ireland’s capital being attacked with nuclear weapons. The ground floor windows have been blocked and wooden floors replaced by reinforced concrete.

Millicent House

Millicent House, built in the Georgian style, was the residence of Richard Griffith after he retired from trading in the East Indies in 1786. His wife was well-known as a writer.

Griffiths was commander of the Sallins Yeoman Cavalry during the 1798 Rebellion; his lieutenant was his neighbour Dr. Esmonde, a secret leader of the United Irishmen, who reappeared after leading the notorious torching of the Prosperous barracks “in his usual place at the right of the troop” with “his hair dressed, his boots and breeches quite clean and himself fully accoutred”. Griffith was “speechless with astonishment and indignation”, and subsequently gave evidence against Esmonde, for which Millicent House was attacked and plundered by rebel sympathisers.

His son, Sir Richard Griffith, was a renowned geologist and civil engineer, most famous for his Geological Map of Ireland and his Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland, commonly known as Griffith’s Valuation, an invaluable esource for historians and genealogists.

Millicent House was owned in the mid-C19th by the Cooke-Trench family.


The Wolfe Tone Memorial.

Bodenstown Cemetery is where Theobald Wolfe Tone is believed to be buried next to his brother Matthew, a failed merchant who shared his political views and was executed in Dublin in 1797. Republicans of various political and paramilitary persuasions congregate for commemorations and windy speeches at Tone’s graveside every summer, traditionally observed by a posse of plainclothes police officers and a few bored journalists. The old parish church was built as a replica of an Anglo-Norman stone church in Gower, Wales

Firmount House

Few now remember the place which Firmount House, south of Clane, had at the centre of the nation’s emergency planning when the Cold War posturing between the nuclear powers of NATO and the Soviet Pact was at its most threatening in the late 1960s.

Firmount has a colourful history: a Major Henry who built it brought the first motor car to Clane; it was later a British military hospital and by the 1940s, a TB sanatorium. Firmount has been vacant since 2007




Ancient History of Kildare page covers the following topics: Kings of Leinster, End of the Abbacy, Boundaries—Origins as Diocese, Initial Norman structures. Beginning of the County, Changes in Boundaries, Monastic Houses, The Fitzgeralds, Religious change, Elizabethan Kildare, Wars of the 1640s—See also: Irish Confederate Wars

Ancient History of Kildare

Map of County Kildare

Map of Co

Map of County Kildare

An inland town on Ptolemy’s map of Ireland of 100 AD may be Rheban on the Barrow river, the only written records from pre-Christian County Kildare. The estimated date for the abandonment of the sacred pre-Christian site of Knockaulin/ Dún Áilinne is 400 AD, the traditional date for foundation of the monastery at Cill Dara is 490 AD, the date for the death of first Bishop Conlaed ua hEimri, (St Conleth) is 520 AD and the estimated date for the death of foundress Naomh Bríd/ St Brigid, is 524 AD (also dated 521 and 526, traditionally February 1). The rise of Kildare sept the Uí Dúnlainge after 633AD helped promote the cult of Naomh Bríd, giving her status as one of three ‘national saints’ of Ireland and increase the status of the two monasteries where they had influence, Kildare and Glendalough.

The first biography of Naomh Bríd, Vita Brigitae, already containing familiar wonder tales such as the story of how her cloak expanded to cover the area now known as the Curragh of Kildare, was compiled in 650AD by Cogitosus for Faolán mac Colmáin the first of the Uí Dúnlainge kings of Leinster. In 799 a reliquary in gold and silver was created for relics of Conlaed (St Conleth). Further south the death of Diarmait (St Diarmuid), anchorite scholar and founder of Castledermot created a second major monastic site in the county. There were also about 50 local saints associated with pattern days and wells in the county. Kildare is home to five surviving round towers at Kildare town, Castledermot, Old Kilcullen, Taghadoe near Maynooth and Oughter Ard near Ardclough.

Kings of Leinster

The Uí Dúnlainge claimed descent from Dúnlaing, son of Enna Nia. Their positions as Kings of Leinster were unopposed following the death of Aed mac Colggan in the Battle of Ballyshannon, on 19 August 738. The dynasty then divided into three kindreds, amongst which the kingship rotated from c.750 until 1050. This is unusual in early Irish history, according to Professor Francis John Byrne of University College Dublin, for it was the equivalent of “keeping three oranges in the air.” 14 Uí Meiredaig kings (later to become the O’Tooles) were based at Mullaghmast/Máistín 9 Uí Faelain kings (later the O’Byrnes) were based at Naas/ Nás na Ríogh and 10 Uí Dúnchada kings (later the Hiberno-Norman FitzDermots) were based at Lyons Hill/ Líamhain. The influence of the family helped secure place-myths for prominent Kildare landmarks in the heroic and romantic literature such as the Dindeanchas, Dinnshenchas Érenn as one of the “assemblies and noted places in Ireland”

Kildare North

In 833 Vikings raided Kildare monastery for first of sixteen times, the second and most destructive raid following three years after, and the power of the Uí Dúnlainge waned after the battles of Gleann Mama, beside Lyons Hill in the north of the county in 999 and Clontarf in 1014. After the death of the last Kildare-based King of Laighin, Murchad Mac Dunlainge, in 1042, the Kingship of Leinster reverted to the Uí Cheinnselaig sept based in the south east.

In the Gaelic-era “Triads of Ireland”, Kildare was described at line 4 as: “The heart of Ireland”.

End of the Abbacy

In 1132 Kildare monastery was destroyed by Diarmait Mac Murchada /Diarmait MacMurrough, King of Laighin, when he forced the abbess to marry one of his followers and installed his niece as abbess. It was the end of the only major Irish church office open to women, in 1152 the Synod of Kells deprived the Abbess of Kildare of traditional precedence over bishops and when the last abbess of Kildare, Sadb ingen Gluniarainn Meic Murchada, (niece of Diarmait Mac Murchada), died in 1171 the Norman invasion of Ireland brought the famous abbacy to an end. Gerald of Wales/ Giraldus Cambrensis visited Kildare in 1186 and described the (later lost) Book of Kildare as the “dictation of an angel.” He also recorded the sacred fire of Kildare, the pagan nature of which was subject of iconoclastic suspicion as early as 1220 when it was extinguished by Henry de Londres, archbishop of Dublin. According to folklore, it was rekindled and continued to burn until the Protestant Reformation in 1541.

In 1162, the then King of Leinster presided over a Synod in Clane Co. Kildare, at which a Papal Legate and twenty-six bishops were present.(from Strongbow the Norman Invasion of Ireland by Conor Kostick, page 76.


Irish Monastery Skelligs

Boundaries—Origins as Diocese

The first attempt to define the borders of Kildare was in 1111 when a sphere of influence for Kildare diocese was defined by the synod of Raith Bressail. For a short time Kilcullen was also a diocese.

Initial Norman structures

After the Cambro-Norman invasion removed the Uí Dúnlainge dynasty from power in 1170, Diarmait Mac Murcada’s Norman allies led by Strongbow divided Kildare amongst themselves: the Barony of Carbury to Meyler FitzHenry, Naas Offalia to Maurice Fitzgerald, Norragh to Robert FitzHereford and Salt (Saltus salmonus – Salmon Leap) to Adam FitzHereford. In 1210 Kildare became one of original twelve Norman counties of Ireland, originally known as the “Liberty of Kildare”. The Normans introduced the feudal system which was the usual landholding system in Western Europe at the time.

In 1247 the estate of Anselm Marshall was subdivided; Kildare was assigned to Sybilla (fourth daughter of William Marshall and Isabella, heiress to Strongbow and Aoife). Sybilla was already dead so the “Liberty of Kildare”, including what is now counties Laois and Offaly, passed to her daughter Agnes and husband William de Vesci. In 1278 the “Liberty” (later County) of Kildare was restored to Anges de Vesci. On her death in 1290 her son William succeeded to the Lordship of Kildare.

Beginning of the County

In 1297 William de Vesci surrendered the “Liberty of Kildare” to the English crown. “County Kildare” came into being and was defined as such by an Act of Edward I.

Shortly afterwards De Vesci fled to France, leaving the FitzGeralds of Maynooth to become the pre-eminent family in the county. John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 5th Baron of Offaly, was created first Earl of Kildare on May 14, 1316.

The Norman settlers also had their own literature. In 1200-25 the “Song of Dermot and the Earl” was drafted in Norman-French, and mentioned parts of Kildare. Soon after 1300 the “Kildare Poems” were written in medieval English.

Changes in Boundaries

The 1297 boundaries of County Kildare included much of the present counties Offaly and Laois. These were shired as King’s and Queen’s Counties in 1556.

Final form

County Kildare assumed its current borders in 1836 when it was reassigned three detached sections of County Dublin (including Ballymore Eustace) and one detached district of Kings County (the western Harristown and Kilbracken), while a detached district of Kildare, around Castlerickard, was reassigned to County Meath.


Moore Abbey Monastraven

Monastic Houses

The establishment of a Cistercian Abbey at Monasterevan by the O’Dempsey’s in 1189 and an Augustinian priory in Naas in 1200 brought a new monastic tradition to Kildare. In 1202 Great Connell Priory Augustinian priory, set to become one of the finest in medieval Ireland, was founded by Meyler FitzHenry. In 1223 the last Gaelic bishop of Kildare, Cornelius MacFaelain, was succeeded by Ralph of Bristol and control of the church remained in Norman hands. In 1253 a Dominican friary was established at Athy and in 1302 a Franciscan abbey at Castledermot. In the early 14th century, the Kildare Poems, comprising some of the earliest written documents of English in Ireland, are thought to have been composed by Franciscan monks from Kildare.

The Fitzgeralds

In the years leading to the ascendancy of the FitzGerald family (1470–1535) Kildare came virtual capital of Ireland. The Irish Parliament sat in Naas on twenty occasions between 1255 and 1484, and there were also sittings in Kildare in 1266-67 and 1310, 12 in Castledermot between 1264 and 1509, Ballymore Eustace in 1390 and Great Connell Priory in 1478. English King Richard II took the submission of Irish chiefs at Great Connell Priory Augustinian Priory in 1395. in 1481, Gerald FitzGerald, Gearóid Mór, eighth earl of Kildare, was appointed English King’s Deputy in Ireland by Edward IV. The principles of the county, Edmond Lane, Bishop of Kildare, the Prior of Great Connell Priory and Gearóid Mór all assisted in coronation of Yorkist pretender Lambert Simnel in Dublin but were pardoned by the new king Henry VIII after Simnel’s defeat.

In 1488 Gearóid Mór became one of first to use guns in Ireland, importing six handguns from Germany for his personal guard and using cannon to destroy Balrath Castle in County Westmeath. When he was established in 1496 as Lord Deputy of Ireland, English King Henry VIII’s man in Ireland, the king allegedly said “if all Ireland cannot rule this man, let him rule all Ireland.” In 1504 Gearóid Mór defeated Clanricard and O Bríain in Knockdoe, Co Galway, the most important battle of his career. Gearóid Mór built Athy castle to secure his southern frontier in 1506 but died in Athy in 1513 from gunshot wounds received in an engagement with O’Mores and was succeeded by Gearóid Óg. Gearóid Óg established Ireland’s first University at Maynooth in 1518.

Even at the supposed height of their power, accusations by rivals that the family was plotting against Henry VIII bedeviled the FitzGerald dynasty. Gearóid Mór spent two years and Gearóid Óg 11 years in all as the King’s prisoner in the Tower of London. In 1534 Gearóid Óg was recalled to London once more (February), leaving his 20-year-old son Silken Thomas in charge. Thomas declared rebellion (11 June) on false information that his father had been executed. In 1535 Maynooth Castle, stronghold of Silken Thomas, was bombarded by cannon for 18 days and taken by William Brereton. Rathangan castle was also taken before Thomas submitted in October. Despite a guarantee of personal safety, Silken Thomas and five uncles were executed in the Tower of London in 1537. Thomas’s younger brother Gearóid was smuggled to Tuscany. The FitzGerald lands were confiscated and the biggest share-out of Kildare land since the Cambro-Norman conquest took place. In 1552 Gearóid the only survivor of FitzGerald family, was restored to his ancestral title and possessions.

The best DNA evidence may be hidden in Australian outback
Charles Lysaght PUBLISHED 19/02/2006




Oscar Wilde once said that Burke’s Peerage was “the best thing the English have done in fiction”.
Such was the prevalence of infidelity among the nobility in those pre-pill days that many children
born to noble wives were not sired by their husbands. But no legal notice was taken of irregularity.
Neither wife nor husband was allowed to give evidence of non-access thereby bastard-ising the wife’s
offspring. Certainty was paramount; truth and justice the occasional casualty.

Such was the ordered world of 1884 when Gerald FitzGerald, fifth Duke of Leinster (great grandnephew
of the rebel republican Lord Edward) married Hermione, a beauty destined to die young and who is
still commemorated by the Hermione public lectures on art given every year at Alexandra College, Dublin.
She had a daughter, who died in infancy, and then three sons, Maurice, Desmond and Edward. Maurice,
who succeeded as sixth Duke when Gerald died in 1893, became incapacitated and died in a mental hospital
in 1922. Desmond, the golden boy of the family, was killed in 1916 serving in the Irish Guards.

So Edward, the third son, became seventh Duke. He was widely reputed to be the child of another nobleman
to whom the unhappy Hermione had formed an attachment. He had already disgraced himself running up gambling
debts and marrying May Ettridge, the pink pyjama girl of the Shaftesbury Theatre, whom he soon deserted,
leaving her with their only son Gerald.

Edward, always strapped for cash and soon to be bankrupt, did not support them, so May had to work in night
clubs to which she brought her son. The family trustees intervened and, incredibly, got the courts to take
Gerald, then five, away from her to be reared by a widowed great-aunt at Johnstown Castle in Wexford.
Over time, Gerald, known by his courtesy title Marquess of Kildare, became a stiff, rather aloof adult,
as respectable as his parents had been unrespectable.

He broke the family link with Ireland when he sold Kilkea Castle in 1960, and settled in Oxfordshire where
he built up a successful aviation business. When Edward died in 1976, an American teacher called Leonard
FitzGerald challenged Gerald Kildare’s right to succeed as Duke of Leinster.

Leonard said that his father was Duke Maurice, who had supposedly died in the mental hospital in 1922,
but who had, Leonard claimed, been exiled to America and lived on until 1967, claiming privately that
he was the rightful heir but had abdicated the title.

Not true, answered Gerald and his advisers, you are the son of Charlie Tyler and your father, the son
of a bandsman, was fantasising when he changed his name to Maurice FitzGerald and claimed a noble lineage.

In the event, Leonard did not pursue his claim and Gerald was duly summoned to the House of Lords as
Duke of Leinster. He died, aged 90, in December 2004 and would in normal course be succeeded by his
son Maurice. However Leonard’s son Paul, a property developer, has reactivated his family’s competing
claim with the difference that he contends that his grandfather (alias Charlie Tyler) was, in fact,
Lord Desmond FitzGerald, who was reputedly killed in the First World War. This claim rests on the
improbable hypothes is that the family had made Lord Maurice and Lord Desmond swap identities as teenagers
and that Maurice, not Desmond, was killed in 1916.

It is fair to state that Paul FitzGerald has nothing to gain financially from his claim as all “the
entails” – passing great family properties like Carton House and vast acres to whoever is Duke – have
ceased to exist. He has spent quite an amount of money pursuing it and is clearly acting in good faith.

His case rests on what his grandfather Charlie Tyler (who began to call himself Maurice FitzGerald when
he was 30) hinted and said about his origins, buttressed by allegations that there was an Establishment
conspiracy to conceal documents he lodged in 1930 in the Lord Chancellor’s Office to protect his son’s
right of succession.

The case made for Charlie Tyler by his descendants was convincingly demolished after a painstaking
investigation of all the documents by Michael Estorick in a book called Heirs and Graces published in 1981.

However, Estorick does not exclude the possibility that, as so often happens with claims of kinship
based on family tradition, there is some foundation for the story but that it has become distorted.
He speculates that Charlie Tyler may have been conceived by the bandmaster’s wife as a result of an
affair with Lord Charles FitzGerald, the black sheep brother of the fifth Duke who seems to have lived
out his life as a remittance man in Australia.

The one concrete piece of evidence Paul FitzGerald now produces is a report of photo comparisons tracing
family members through life carried out by a forensic imaging specialist at the University of Louisiana.
But this specialist rates her conclusions only as definite possibilities and states emphatically that they
cannot be considered positive identification or court-worthy testimony.

Apart from the documents said to be lodged in the Lord Chancellor’s Office since 1930, Paul FitzGerald’s
only other hope is DNA evidence. This enables one to tell whether persons are related on the male line
and has a potential to do more damage to the claims of hereditary peers than Tony Blair and New Labour
ever did. In this case, however, there is the difficulty, already noted, that Hermione’s third son,
the wicked Duke Edward, may not have been a son of her husband, the fifth Duke. If that is so, the DNA of
his male descendants (including the late Duke Gerald and his heir Maurice) will not match Paul’s, even if
Paul is who he claims he is. Paul’s best bet may be to find the descendants of Lord Charles hiding in the
Australian outback.

Coolcarrigan House Coolcarrigan Co. Kildare

Home of the Wilson Wright family.

Coolcarrian House is situated a few miles from Hortland where Richard & Francis Stewart lived. We are all aware of the stories of the activities which took place in Richards house during the troubles, i.e., Robert Monteiths hidy hole, the Rebels storage under the floorboards.

In reading James Durneys “The Civil War in Kildare”, he records that Paddy Brennan OC Mid-Kildare Brigade occupied Coolcarrigan House with the men of the 4th & 6th Battalion. This was during the bombing of the Four Courts in Dublin in 1922.

Coolcarrigan became the headquarters of the IRA Rebels during this time so the area was a hot bed of rebel activies. So it is not suprising that other houses in the area were being used for the storage of arms & ammunition with or without the concent of the occupiers.

It was interesting to note that the owner of Coolcarrigan House at that time was Lady Jane Wilson Wright, who was a cousin of Sir Henry Wilson, chief of the imperial staff, who was gunned down by the IRA in June.
The house was garrisoned by about 40 men from the 1st & 6th Battalions and the formed a defensive position at Timahoe Cross.

Coolcarrigan House along with the Stewart house in Hortland were a few of the Protestant households in the area which were not torched by the Rebels during 1922.


Religious change

After King Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church in 1533 after his decision to remarry, the Pope appointed Franciscan Dónall O Bóacháin bishop of Kildare. When he died Thady Reynolds was appointed and initially recognised by Henry VIII. Reynolds refused to break with Rome in common with most Irish bishops and while he continued to minister Henry VIII appointed William Miagh in opposition as the first Protestant bishop of Kildare. Some later documents refer to his 1550 successor Thomas Lancaster as the first Protestant bishop, partly because he was Kildare’s first married bishop and partly because Henry VIII also disliked Lutherans until his death in 1547. By 1550 Edward VI was formulating a more Lutheran state religion.

When the English crown turned back to Catholicism under Queen Mary in 1555-58, Thomas Leverous became the first native Kildare bishop in 400 years, being of Norman descent. From 1558 the new Queen Elizabeth I ascended the throne and as he refused to take the Oath of Allegiance he was deprived of his see. In 1570 the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis finally declared Elizabeth to be an illegitimate heretic, and from this point on it became harder for Kildare’s landed families, most of whom were Catholic, to be simultaneously loyal to the queen and also to be observant Catholics. Kildare’s numerous Norman families became known as Old English, to distinguish them from newer arrivals conformed to the state religion.

Elizabethan Kildare 

Queen Elizabeth 1

Queen Elizabeth I granted charters to Naas in 1568 and Athy in 1613. In 1576 the earliest record of grazing rights on the Curragh named Robert Bathe as the beneficiary. In 1580, during the Second Desmond Rebellion, 200 Spaniards who had arrived in Smerwick in the Dingle Peninsula as part of the 1579 Papal invasion force and marched to Naas were massacred by the English crown forces at Fód Spáinigh. In 1581 Catholic martyrs Fr James Eustace and Fr Nicholas FitzGerald were executed in Naas.

Wars of the 1640s—See also: Irish Confederate Wars

Kildare suffered greatly in the civil wars of the 1640s that ravaged both Ireland and Britain -see Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

Thomas Wentworth-thestewartsinireland.ieFitzwilliam Wentworth House panaramic

Lord Deputy Thomas Wentworth came to reside at the uncompleted Jigginstown House in Naas, Ireland’s first royal palace, in 1637. When he was recalled and executed in 1641 it remains unfinished and today only the basement is still standing.

The wars began in Ireland with the Irish Rebellion of 1641 that broke out in October of that year. The early fighting in Kildare saw small bands of Irish Catholic rebels attacking English troops and Protestant settlers, followed by a punitive English expedition led by the Earl of Ormonde. In early 1642 Ormonde led out his royalist forces to subdue Kildare; burned the town of Lyons Hill, gave up Naas to his soldiers to plunder, reduced Kildare cathedral to ruins through cannon-fire and sent parties to burn Kilcullen, Castlemartin, and “the entire county for 17 miles in length and 25 in breadth”. Butler garrisoned Naas and then defeated the Confederate Irish forces under Lord Mountgarret in the Battle of Kilrush (April 15). When Father Peter Higgins of Naas was hanged, he became the county’s third famous Catholic martyr.

In May 1642, the landed Catholic rebels set up their own government at Kilkenny known as Confederate Ireland. Most of the Kildare landowners participated in this assembly. The English position was weakened by the outbreak of the English Civil War, the recall of many of their troops and the split of the remaining forces between Royalists and Parliamentarians.

The Parliamentarians were the more hostile faction to the Confederates and a truce known as the first Ormonde Peace, a ceasefire between Royalists and Irish Confederates, was signed at Jigginstown House in Naas (Sept 15). The ceasefire broke down in May 1646 and Confederate forces marched through Kildare to besiege Dublin. The Royalists then handed the capital over to Parliamentarian troops in 1647 and the Confederate armies tried to eliminate this hostile force. Owen Roe O’Neill took Woodstock Castle in Athy briefly in 1647. Thomas Preston also took Maynooth castle in that year and hanged its garrison. However, Preston’s Leinster army was destroyed, losing 3000 killed at the battle of Dungans Hill, on the road between Maynooth and Trim in August 1647, crippling Confederate power in the area. Kildare landowner and Confederate cavalry officer Garret Cron Fitzgerald was killed early in the battle. In 1648 Owen Roe O’Neill refused to ally his army with Ormonde’s royalists and the moderate Confederates, and engaged in a brief war with them which fatally weakened the Confederate cause.

In 1649, Oliver Cromwell landed in Dublin with over 10,000 Parliamentarian troops and began a thorough re-conquest of Ireland. In 1650 Naas and Kildare surrendered to Cromwellian forces. Cromwell’s Dublin-based commander John Hewson took Ballisonan Castle by force. Athy and Castledermot were captured without opposition.

This page on Kildare History covers the following topics: Lands Redistributed, Diocese of Kildare, Georgian Kildare, Constituencies, Industrial Revolution, Population Growth, Historical Populations by Year, University, Canals, 1798 Rebellion, Emmet Rebellion of 1803, Military Camp, Local Politicians, Railways, Sporting Revolution, Athletes and Horses, A New State, Towns and Trends, Coats of Arms and Genealogical Notes

Lands Redistributed

The first major map of Kildare, The Down Survey was completed in 1656. It served as the basis of more redistribution of land confiscated after the Cromwellian conquest, in line with the Adventurers Act (see also Plantations of Ireland). After the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, further estates in Kildare forfeited included those of Talbot, Dongan, Tyrrel, Eustace, Trant and Lawless who continued to support the losing Jacobite cause. The best known buyer of land from the new grantees was the Donegal-born lawyer and estate agent, William Conolly, who built what was then the largest private house in Ireland at Castletown House, Celbridge in 1722-28.

Diocese of Kildare

The Catholic diocese of Kildare first united with Leighlin Diocese to the south in 1676 when Mark Forstall, bishop of Kildare, was also appointed administrator of Leighlin by St Oliver Plunkett. He was arrested in 1678 and again in 1681 for ‘having exercised papal jurisdiction.’ The union was formalised in 1694 when John Dempsey was appointed bishop of Kildare and administrator of Leighlin, despite penal laws. The last Catholic bishop to reside in Kildare was James Gallagher, much of it in hiding near the Bog of Allen. His Sixteen Irish Sermons (1736) is the major Irish language theological work of the age and has gone through 14 editions by 1820. The Anglican/Episcopalian Diocese of Kildare merged with Dublin in 1846 after the death of the last Church of Ireland bishop of Kildare, Charles Dalrymple Lindsay. In 1976 the Church of Ireland diocese of Kildare separated from Dublin and joined to Meath.

Georgian Kildare

Kildare enjoyed prosperity during the 18th century, as the focus of economic life turned to the large landed estates and market towns.


Carton House

The Earl of Kildare purchased and started reconstruction of Carton House near Maynooth in 1739. Henry Boyle Carter purchased and started reconstruction of Castlemartin near Kilcullen in 1730. The running of horse races on the Curragh, well established for centuries, was formalized in 1717 when the duties of the Ranger of the Curragh were extended to supervising “the proper conduct of the King’s Plate”. Maps of the county compiled by Noble & Keenan in 1753 and Alexander Taylor in 1783 show the advent of arterial drainage and the boglands of the north west of the county being reclaimed for agriculture.

Turnpike (toll) roads were laid from the 1730s, largely in line with today’s main roads. In the late 1700s the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal passed through the county on the way from Dublin to the Shannon. The county was run by landowners on the grand jury system. While much of Ireland had a problem with absentee landlords living and spending their rents mostly in Dublin or London, most Kildare landlords lived on their land and reinvested more of their income locally.


In the Parliament of Ireland (1297-1800), by 1684 Kildare was represented by two men for Kildare County, and two each for the boroughs of Naas, Kildare, Athy and Harristown. Therefore the county had 10 seats in the 300-seat Irish House of Commons.

In the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801-1918) Kildare became the single constituency of Kildare in 1801-1885, returning 2 members; two constituencies of North Kildare and South Kildare, returning one member each;

In 1918 both elections were won by members who sat in the First Dáil

From the 1921 election and the creation of the Irish Free State the county has been merged with other constituencies, or has been divided: Kildare–Wicklow 1921-22 Kildare 1923-37 Carlow–Kildare 1937-48 Kildare 1948-97 Kildare North 1997- Kildare South 1997-

Industrial Revolution

Industrial projects were started by largely Quaker families at Ballitore by Abraham Shackleton in 1726 while Robert Brooke was assisted by a £25,000 grant from the Irish Parliament in building a cotton mill and town of 200 houses at the newly named town of Prosperous in the 1780s. Turnpike roads were built from the 1730s. John Wynn Baker opened Kildare’s earliest factory, manufacturing agricultural instruments at Loughlinstown, Celbridge in 1764. John Cassidy established a distillery in Monasterevan in 1784. In 1729 Ireland’s first turnpike road was created from Dublin to Kilcullen. In 1756 the year that construction work on the Grand Canal commenced in the north of the county a 31-year-old Celbridge-born brewer Arthur Guinness leased a brewery at Leixlip in 1755 and bought a second brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin. In the 1790s the Royal Canal was dug from Dublin along the north of the county and the first railways were laid in the 1840s.

Population growth

Early estimates of Kildare’s population include GP Bushe’s 1788 return of the number of households in Kildare at 11,272 (population afterwards estimated at 71,570) and DA Beaufort’s household returns of 11,205 in 1790, and estimated population at 56,000. Mason’s Statistical Survey of 1813 calculated the number of households at 14,564, and the population at 85,000 with figures for towns: Athy 3,192, Naas 2,018, Maynooth 1,468, Kildare 1,299. The first census in 1821 recorded a population of 99,065 (Athy 3,693, Naas 3,073, Kildare 1,516, Maynooth 1,364).

Historical populations Year Population. %±

1653 11,983 —1659 13,825 15.4% 1788 71,570 417.7% 1813 85,000 18.8% 1821 99,065 16.5%             1831 108,424 9.4% 1841 114,488 5.6% 1851 95,723 -16.4% 1861 90,946 -5.0% 1871 83,614 -8.1%       1881 75,804 -9.3% 1891 70,206 -7.4% 1901 63,566 -9.5% 1911 66,627 4.8% 1926 58,028 -12.9%         1936 57,892 -0.2% 1946 64,849 12.0% 1951 66,437 2.4% 1956 65,915 -0.8% 1961 64,420 -2.3%          1966 66,404 3.1% 1971 71,977 8.4% 1979 97,185 35.0% 1981 104,122 7.1% 1986 116,247 11.6%        1991 122,656 5.5% 1996 134,992 10.1% 2002 163,944 21.4% 2006 186,335 13.7%




Maynooth College

Maynooth, which had been the site of Ireland’s first ‘college’ in 1518, was re-established by the government as a seminary for Catholic lay and ecclesiastical students in 1795, with Kildare-born Fr John Chetwode Eustace among first professors. In 1817 Maynooth’s lay college closed and it functioned solely as a Catholic seminary for 150 years. In 1910 it became a constituent college of the National University of Ireland and reopened for lay students in 1967. Nobel Peace prize winner John Hume is among its alumni. In 1812 Clongowes Wood College near Clane was founded by the Jesuit order as a centre for second-level education. James Joyce and three Taoisigh of the Republic are among its alumni.

What is not generally know, is that when the Chuch of Ireland was dis-established and most of its lands were confiscated by the State, as a result of the sale of these lands a substantial sum of money was given to the creation of Maynooth College. The English realised that they could not beat Catholism or Irish out of the Irish so they decided to set up a mirror image University similar to Trinity College Dublin, which was Maynooth College.



Grand Canal

Work on the Grand Canal began in 1756 and it reached the Kildare border in 1763. In 1779 the first section of Grand Canal was opened to goods traffic, from Dublin to Ballyhealy, near Celbridge and in 1780 to passenger boats. Ten years later the Naas branch of the Grand Canal completed. The canal reached Tullamore in 1784, and a southern branch known as the Barrow navigation reached Athy in 1791.

Traffic on the Grand Canal peaked at 120,615 passengers in 1846 and 379,045 tons of cargo in 1865. The canal was motorized in 1911-24 and closed for commercial traffic in 1960. The Grand Canal remains open for pleasure boats and restoration of the Royal Canal was completed in 2006. Both were seriously affected by the advent of railways in Kildare from the 1840s.

 Grand Canal

Royal Canal at Kilcock.

Work began on the Royal Canal in 1789 and it reached Kilcock in 1796, but this more northerly line was never a commercial success.

1798 Rebellion and Emmet Rebellion of 1803—See also Irish Rebellion of 1798

Support in Kildare for the United Irishmen’s revolutionary democratic movement at the time of the 1798 rebellion has been estimated at 10,000. It has also been suggested that Valentine Lawless who inherited Lyons near Ardclough was a prominent member of the government in waiting should the rebellion succeed. United Irish leader and later informer Thomas Reynolds lived at Kilkea, Lord Edward Fitzgerald returned to Maynooth in 1796 to organise the United Irishmen and Theobald Wolfe Tone was buried at his godfather’s family plot at Bodenstown. In the years leading up to the rebellion there were anti-militia riots in riots in Kilcullen and Ballitore. Lawrence O’Connor was executed in Naas for plotting against the English administration in 1795. In December 1797, 1,500 guns and 3,000 bayonets were captured on a boat on the canal at Athy.

The first shots of the 1798 rebellion were fired in Kildare. On May 23, the signal for rebellion was given when mail coaches were seized at Johnstown and Maynooth. Kildare rebels attacked Kilcullen and Prosperous by Sir William Griffiths of Millicent, they were repulsed at Naas and Clane, and a force under William Aylmer was eventually defeated at the battle of Ovidstown on June 18. 350 surrendering prisoners were slaughtered in the Gibbet Rath massacre at the Curragh despite an initially successful effort by General Dundas to defuse the rising with a policy of mass pardons. In turn, the two loyalist garrisons at Rathangan were also slaughtered after surrendering. The fighting in Kildare did not end until the surrender of William Aylmer in mid-July.

In 1803 Kildare-men recruited by Michael Quigly participated in a brief United Irish uprising organised by Robert Emmet. Maynooth was the only town successfully seized by the rebels (July 23–25) and Kildare troops under Nicholas Gray marched to Thomas Street in Dublin to participate in the ill-fated rebellion. Emmett’s uniform was later found at Rathcoffey. The most prominent victim of the Emmet rebellion, Arthur Wolfe, Lord Kilwarden, was buried at Oughterard in Ardclough.

Curragh Camp Curragh

Military Camp

Traffic on the Grand Canal peaked at 120,615 passengers in 1846 and 379,045 tons of cargo in 1865. The canal was motorized in 1911-24 and closed for commercial traffic in 1960. The Grand Canal remains open for pleasure boats and restoration of the Royal Canal was completed in 2006. Both were seriously affected by the advent of railways in Kildare from the 1840s.

One outcome of the rebellion was the establishment of a temporary military encampment at the Curragh in 1805. In 1816 a new town came into being with the building of a military barracks near a bridge over the Liffey – it was to be called Newbridge. In 1855 a permanent encampment was built for 10,000 infantry on the Curragh.

Local Politicians

Kildare had ten parliamentary representatives in old Irish House of Commons – two for the Kildare County and two members each from Athy, Harristown, Kildare Borough and Naas. Two of the most powerful figures in 18th century politics resided in the county, Speakers of the house William Conolly at Castletown House near Celbridge and John Ponsonby at Bishopscourt near Kill. The post-1801 Act of Union Kildare county constituency had two seats in the British House of Commons. The La Touche and Fitzgerald families controlled local politics through the first half of the 19th century until challenged by Balyna-born Richard More O’Ferrall. Naas Corporation, controlled by the Bourke family, was dissolved in 1840. In 1898 Stephen J Brown was elected first chairman of the first Kildare County Council to be directly elected. With the rise of the Home Rule movement and the establishment of a nationalist newspaper, the Leinster Leader in Naas in 1884, William Cogan and Otho Fitzgerald were succeeded by Home Rule Members of Parliament Charles Henry Meldon, James Leahy and James Carew, owner of the Leinster Leader and founder of the Irish Independent newspaper. Old Railway Station at Athboy Co.


The first sod on the new railway line from Dublin to Cork was turned at Adamstown near the Dublin-Kildare border in January 1846. By June the line had been completed to Sallins. The first train ran to Carlow in 1846 and to Cork in 1850. The third worst rail accident in Irish history occurred at Straffan Station in 1853, when a goods train ran into the back of a stationary passenger train killing 18 people, including a nephew of Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell. As rail traffic declined Straffan Station was closed in 1947 and Hazelhatch and Sallins stations in 1963. Kildare was also served by the Tullow Extension, running south from Naas, through Harristown (for that area and Kilcullen) and on to Tullow in County Carlow. Main article: Dublin Suburban Rail

In 1995 a section of the line was opened for a new Dublin area commuter service, the Arrow, and Sallins and Hazlehatch stations reopened as part of the “Southwestern Commuter” line. Another reopened line runs westwards, serving Leixlip, Maynooth and Kilcock, continuing towards Enfield, County Meath.

Sporting Revolution


Horse Racing at the Curragh 1944

The Turf Club was founded at the Curragh horse racing circuit in 1790 to regulate the racing of horses, but attempts to establish an Irish 1000 guineas in 1815 and an “O’Darby Stakes” in 1817 were unsuccessful until the most important flat race in the country, the Irish Derby was established on an annual basis from 1866 on. The Turf Club regulated to famous bare knuckle contests involving Dublin prize fighter Dan Donnelly against Tom Hall in 1814 and George Cooper in 1815, drawing estimated crowds of 20,000 to the Curragh. In 1846 the first railway excursion organised for a sporting event worldwide ran on the new Great Southern and Western Railway line to Curragh races. The first annual ball of the Kildare hunt was held in 1860, soon to become the social event of the year in the county. Punchestown Races were reorganised and reconstituted as ‘Kildare and National Hunt Steeplechases’ in 1861. The first day of the 1868 meeting attracted an estimated 150,000 spectators.

Athletes and Horses

Cricket clubs were established from the 1850s on and Ireland’s first golf course laid out on the Curragh in 1852 by Musselburgh club member David Ritchie. In 1871 County Kildare Cricket Club was formed “for the promotion of cricket, football, archery, pigeon shooting, lawn tennis and, if possible, polo. Kildare men were winning sporting fame in the USA included Clane-born Jack Kelly, alias Jack (Nonpareil) Dempsey who won the world middleweight boxing title in 1884 in Great Kills, New York, held the title for seven years and inspired a later heavyweight boxer to borrow his name. In 1893 Clane born Tommy Conneff ran a new world mile record of 4 minutes 17.8 seconds, a record that was to stand for 20 years. In 1903 the fourth Gordon Bennett Cup Motor Race staged in Athy, setting new speed records of over 60 MPH. The GAA was established in the county in 1887 and Kildare GAA helped establish Gaelic football as a major sport meeting Kerry three times in 1903 GAA All Ireland “home” final attracting attendances of 12,000, 18,000 and 20,000. In 1995 the annual staging of the European Open golf tournament was moved to Straffan from Birmingham and the course staged the Ryder Cup in September 2006. Kildare was designated the “Thoroughbred County” by its county council in recognition of its equine tradition. In 2000 Kildare-trained racehorses won the leading races in England and Ireland over jumps and on the flat, Ted Walsh from Greenhills, Kill won the Irish (Comanche Court) and English (Papillon) Grand Nationals while Sindaar, trained by John Oxx on the Curragh, won the Irish and English Derbies. Kildare’s reputation as a stud capital was undamaged by the high profile kidnap of English derby winner Shergar in 1983.


Car Racing at the Curragh


Motor Bike racing 1959


Motor Bike Scrambling at the Curragh

A New State

Kildare did not participate in the Fenian rebellion of 1867, though John Devoy was born at Kill. Incidents in the Land War such as the Clongorey evictions politicised the largely agricultural county and one of the first politicians elected to the new Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann in 1922, Hugh Colohan, was a veteran of the Clongorey campaign. Several Kildare politicians have held high rank since independence including Dónal Ó Buachalla, last Governor General of the Irish Free State, who had led a column of volunteers from Maynooth to participate in the 1916 Easter Rising, Art O’Connor, appointed Minister for Agriculture by the first Dáil in 1919 and briefly leader of Sinn Féin after Eamon de Valera founded Fianna Fáil in 1926 before he, too, joined Fianna Fáil, William Norton leader of the Irish Labour Party 1932-60 and Tánaiste 1948-51 and 1954–57, Alan Dukes leader of Fine Gael 1987-90 and Minister for Finance 1982-86, Gerry Sweetman Minister for Finance 1954-57, Charlie McCreevy Minister for Finance 1997-2004 and later EU commissioner, and Paddy Power Minister for Forestry and Fisheries 1979-81 and Defence 1982.

Towns and Trends

Kildare’s population plunged to a low of 57,892 in 1936. Athy, Kildare’s most populous town since records began, was briefly overtaken by Naas as Kildare’s largest in 1901 (Naas 3,836, Athy 3,599) but regained its position by a small margin in 1926. By 1956 Newbridge was the largest town with a population of 4,157, (Athy 3,948, Naas 3,915). In 1986 Leixlip became the largest town, and Celbridge was recorded as the fastest growing town in Ireland. Naas was the largest town in 1996 only to be overtaken by Newbridge again in 2002 when the census recorded a highest ever population of 163,995 for the county, a 21.5pc increase on 1996. Infrastructural projects helped change the demographics of the county. The Kildare leg of the dual carriageway to Naas opened in 1963 and was followed by Ireland’s first section of motorway, the Naas Bypass in 1983, the Newbridge bypass (1993), Kildare bypass (2003) and Monasterevan bypass (2004) on the M7, the Maynooth bypass (1994) and Kilcock- Kinnegad bypass (2005) on the M4.

Coats of Arms and Genealogical Notes

Kildare Coat of

Arms connected in some way to the county, as taken from the Irish Book of Arms. The original listings provide specific locations for families, and clues for future research. Among those in this section with rough sketches of coats of arms are Joshua Allen; Aylmer of Kilcock; Borrowes of Gilltown; Bourke of Naas; Burdett of Ballymany; Clements of Killadoon; O’Coonor Henchy of Stonebrook; Cooke Trench of Millicent; Anne Crofton of the line of Croker of Backwestern; De Burgh of Oldtown; De Courcy of Robertstown House; Eustace of Kilcock; Finny of Leixlip; James Fitzgerald of Carton; Margaretta Foster; Greem of Millbrook; Dr. George Lewis Jones of Kildare; Kennedy of Baronrath; Lawless of Cloncurry; Mansfield of Morristown Lattin; Palmer of Rahan; Wogan-Browne of Castle Brown; Arthur Wolfe; Joseph Leeson; Alice Howard of Wicklow; John Henniker; John Stratford of Baltinglass; Richard Wingfield; Bayly of Ballyarthur; Somerville of Clermont; Spedding; Stoney of the Downs; Deane of Glendaragh; Tynte of Tynte Park; Warren of Ballydonarea; Henry Maynard, Baron; Bagenal of Carlow; Burton of Burton Hall; Delany of Bagnalstown; John Dawson, Baron Dawson; Kavanagh of Borris; Robertson of Huntington Castle; Vigors of Burgage; Philip Wharton; and Wolseley of Mt. Wolseley.

Estate maps Estate maps of Kildare, Maynooth, and Carton House dating from the 18th and 19thcentury survive in the National Library of Ireland, in the Irish Architectural Archive and in repositories outside the state such as Cambridge University Library, with a small selection reproduced (Andrews 1986 & Horner 1995). Notable estate maps include:

“A survey of the town of Kildare belonging to his excellency James, Earl of Kildare”. Kildare, 1757, John Rocque, National Library of Ireland, MS 22004 (5)

“A survey of the town of Maynooth”. Kildare, 1757, John Rocque, Cambridge, University Library, MS Plans x.4.

“Maynooth, 1781”, by Thomas Sherrard, Cambridge, University Library, MS Plans x.4. “Proposed Redevelopment of Maynooth”, c. 1757, Cambridge, University Library, MS Plans x.4.

“Maynooth, 1773” by Bernard Scalé, (Carton)

“A survey of the town of Kildare, the estate of his grace the duke of Leinster”, Kildare, 1798, by Thomas Sherrard, National Library of Ireland, MS 22004 (6)

“Kildare”, 1817 by Sherrard, Brassington and Greene, National Library of Ireland, MS 22004 (7)

“Survey of the town and town-parks of Maynooth …“, c. 1821, by Sherrard, Brassington and Greene, National Library of Ireland, MS 22004 (12)

1655 French maps Copies of a series of nine maps from 1655 reproduced from the originals held in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris at a scale of 80 to 160 perches to an inch and including the baronies of Kilcullin, Carbury, Claine Great Connel Kilcah, Norrogh & Rabane, Ikeathy & Oughterany, Naas and Salt. Copies are available for consultation at the Local Studies Library.

Noble and Keenan Map of the County of Kildare, 1752. Copies are available for consultation at the Local Studies Library, and the Map Library, Trinity College Dublin.

National Library of Ireland Surnames (Part I of II)

The following is a listing of surnames for which there are manuscripts, periodicals or information of some kind at the National Library of Ireland. This list will be updated on a regular basis, however, what you see is what you get: I’m afraid that I am unable to provide more information than what is listed here. Sorry, folks. Aylmer (2)

(1). “Burke’s Colonial Gentry”, see p 754. (Balrath, Meath).

(2). Kildare Journal, vol. III, p 178. (Donadea).

The Murders at Wildgoose Lodge.

Agrarian crime and punishment in pre-famine Ireland by Terence Dooley.

The occupiers of Wildgoose Lodge were a family called Lynch and it assumed the Judith escaped the destruction of the house by fire and the burning to death of the rest of the Lynch family. The local Ribbonmen torched the house following Lynch senior informing the authorities of the names of men who had raided his house and stolen money and arms. Three men were executed for this crime.

Following the fire one of the informers was a young lady who was given safe passage to New Brunswick. She eventually came back to Ireland where a sum of £28 7s 8d was paid to the Honorable Robert La Poer Trench for the ‘expense of sending Judith Lynch back to Ireland.

Informers were used extensively by the authorities but they ran the risk of being killed by the local Ribbonmen.