Towns of Laois



(Oregon Civil Parish)

Co Laois

Rosenallis - thatched house

Rosenallis - Church of Ireland. Source: Google street view.
Rosenallis - burial ground of the Society of Friends (Quakers)

Images by by MacClure

Rosenallis - Church of Ireland


Rosenallis is a village situated on the northeast end of Capard Ridge in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois in what William Bulfin in his book “Rambles in Eirinn”, called “The Smiling Midlands”. This village is not on the normal tourist trail, and therefore, little discovered; but several viewing points in the vicinity provide a wonderful vista of the lush green central plain of Ireland. It is said that you can see six counties from the “Stoney Man” on the Ridge of Capard – the finest viewing point in the centre of Ireland – and which is also on the “Slieve Bloom Way” walking trail.

If it’s peace and quiet you want, then you will find it here – up the mountain road, up over the woods and meadows and tillage fields, up into the freer, purer air, up where you will meet the busy bee flying homeward laden with honey sucked from the heather and the blazing yellow bloom of the golden furze.

Visit the Barrow valley nearby (two miles) and walk to it’s beautiful waterfall – the Clamphole Falls. Visit the Cathole Falls on the Owenass river (three miles) and picnic on the banks of it’s dark pool, or enjoy a swim in the cool mountain water.

If you are a “walker”, there are walks of varying distances from two miles – ten miles – twenty miles to do, depending on whether you have one day or two days or more to spend in the area. There are local B&Bs in which to stay and the Irish Tourist Office in Port Laoise will assist you with accommodation.

The name “Rosenallis” according to early Irish writers, Comes from the Irish “Ros-Fionn-Glais” (The wood of the clear stream). Saint Brigid founded a church and a convent here and there was also a round tower. The ruins of the church and tower were still standing in the year 1819. They were later removed. A well in the village is called “Saint Brigid’s Well”. William Bulfin urges us to “Quench our thirst at the village well. It is a spring more refreshing than the deepest draught of the rarest wine in Europe”

After the Williamite wars against James II (1689-1692) – General Ginkel is said to have quartered his soldiers in Rosenallis village and he himself stayed in Capard House (two miles distant) owned by Robert Pigott. A copy of the treaty of Limerick was kept in Capard House up to the 1960’s when it was handed over to the National Museum by the then owner Mr. Charles de Jenner who died in 1973 and is buried in the estate grounds. The present owners of Capard Estate are Mr. John Farrington and Mr. Tom Dobbyn.

Capard House, Summergrove House and Derry House are the three big houses in Rosenallis Parish, each occupied and each with a very interesting history.

The present village of Rosenallis is of Quaker Origin, and dates back to the coming of the Society of Friends to Ireland under the direction of their founder William Edmundson who came to Ireland from Scotland and settled first in Virginia in Co. Cavan and then settled in Mountmellick and Rosenallis in 1659. William Edmundson died in 1712 and is buried in the Quaker burial ground in Rosenallis, the oldest in Ireland. The plaque near his grave reads – "Near this spot is buried William Edmundson, the first member of the Society of Friends who settled in Ireland. Died 31st of 6th Month 1712 (old style). Aged nearly 85 years." The Quaker burial ground on the outskirts of village, remains a true monument to these early settlers.

Two houses in the village have plaques over their doors dated 1730 and 1733 – the latter house was the last two storey thatched house in the locality. In 1831, the village had 19 families and population of 101. By 1841 the number of houses had risen to 254. In the Great Famine of 1845 to 1847 the Quakers gave great assistance to the local starving people by running a “soup kitchen” in the house dated 1733, which is now known as “The Rambler’s Rest”, a local public house and grocery.

Indeed, the large iron cauldron used for making the stew or soup with it’s chains for hauling it up over the fire and the ladles for ladling out the soup are still in the possession of the proprietors Philip and Bernadette Lynch. The other public house in the village “Shelley’s” was a refuge and a “safe house” for priests “on-the-run” during the Penal Days in Ireland. Mrs. Shelley still has in her possession certain items belonging to that time so, if you are visiting Rosenallis from Ireland or abroad, you will receive a very warm welcome from the people of the locality and you will not regret having come here.

Source: Rosenallis Online

Rosenallis or Oregon Civil Parish
County Laois or Queen's Co, Ireland
According to Lewis Topographical Dictionary, 1837

ROSENALLIS, or  OREGAN, a parish, in the barony of TINNEHINCH, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER, on the road from Emo to Birr, through Clonaslee; containing, with the greater part of the post-town of Mount-Mellick (which is separately described), 8463 inhabitants. The parish is said to have derived its name from Rossa Failgea, eldest son of Cathavir O'More. The north-eastern extremity of the Slieve Bloom mountains is included in it. The Barrow rises in Tinnehinch hill, and after receiving the tributary stream of the Owenass, or Onas, quits the parish near Mount-Mellick.

The soil is cold, but capable of great improvement by the application of lime, which is much used, as is also a compost of clay, bog mould and the refuse of the farm-yard. In the Slieve Bloom mountains are quarries of a soft white sandstone, which hardens when exposed to the air, and is susceptible of a high polish; it is in great demand throughout the country for chimney-pieces and hearth-stones; a coarser kind is used for flagging. Another peculiarity of these mountains is the fertility of their northern side, which is interspersed with neat farm-houses and cultivated enclosures to its summit, while its southern side is mostly a heathy waste. Iron ore was formerly raised, but is not now.

There is a large tract of bog in this district, affording an abundant supply of fuel. Tillage is more attended to than grazing: there are but few flocks of sheep. The chief crops are potatoes, wheat, barley and oats. Near Mount-Mellick are three public nurseries.

Besides the fairs which are held in the last-named town, there is one at Tinnehinch on Oct. 29th solely for pigs. Comfortable farm-houses are thickly scattered through the parish, and there are several good mansions, of which the principal are Capard, the residence of John Pigott, Esq., situated on the side of a hill commanding an extensive view of the adjacent country, with the towns of Mount-Mellick, Maryborough, Portarlington, Mountrath, and Monastereven; Rynn, of Mrs. Croasdaile; Summergrove, of J. Sabatier, Esq.; and the Glebe, of the Rev. Geo. Kemmis. The manufacture of woollen cloths, stuffs and cottons is carried on chiefly in Mount-Mellick and its vicinity; there are also breweries and distilleries.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Kildare: the rectory is impropriate in Gen. Dunne; the vicarage, united with those of Castlebrack, Kilmanman, and Rerymore, is in the patronage of Thos. Kemmis, Esq. The tithes amount to £398. 15. 4 3/4., of which £265. 16. 11 1/4. is payable to the impropriator, and £133. 18. 5 1/2. to the vicar; the parishes of the union constitute the barony of Tinnehinch, and the tithes of the benefice amount to £336. 3. 3 1/2. The glebe-house, at Camira, is a commodious building on an elevated piece of ground near the village of Rosenallis, and has a glebe of 180 acres annexed to it, besides which there are 356 acres of glebe, including mountain land, in the other parishes of the union.

The church, at Rosenallis, is a neat building, and has been lately thoroughly repaired by means of a grant of £578 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: there is a chapel of ease at Mount-Mellick. In the R. C. divisions Rosenallis is the head of a union or district, comprising parts of the parishes of Rosenallis, Castlebrack and Rerymore; the other part of the parish is in the district of Mount-Mellick; there are chapels at Capard and Mount-Mellick. The Society of Friends have an enclosed burial-ground near the village. Besides the schools at Mount-Mellick, there are two in Rosenallis, one of which is a national school. At Rosenallis is a station of the constabulary police.

Within the grounds of Cappard are several raths, and brass coins of Jas. II. were dug up near the mansion a few years since. A remarkable togher or bog-pass, in the neighbourhood, is pointed out as the place where an engagement took place between parties of King William's and King James's forces, in which the latter were defeated.

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Source: Irish Midlands Ancestry

The information contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© MICHAEL BRENNAN July 2001. All Rights reserved

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