Towns of Laois


Shrule Castle

Queens County c.1500's

Map of Shrule
Source: Buildings of Ireland

Walled  garden
Entrance door
Image by M. Brennan
Shrule Castle to-day (c2002)
Image by M. Brennan

Shrule Castle

Shrule Castle is a detached, five-storey tower house with an attached outbuilding to the west elevation and stands at an important crossings point on the River Barrow. It was built between 1600 and 1640 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. (1558 - 1603) by Robert Hartpole, Constable of Carlow Castle & the Governor of Queens County.  Today the Castle Square Keep still stands at Shrule but there are no remains of the  manor at Killabban.. The castle was constructed of uncoursed rubble masonry with square double-light ogee-headed, pointed-slit, slit loops and flat-headed windows. The masonry walls display a slight batter. Internally, the castle exhibits finely carved stone mantle pieces, dressed limestone doorways, an intact spiral staircase and abundant remains of render. A significant part of the masonry was dressed. Fine punch work to window, stairs and door elements was recorded.

according to the
Topographical Dictionary of Ireland
by Samuel Lewis in 1837;

SHRULE, a parish, in the barony of SLIEVEMARGUE, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 2¼ miles (N.) from Carlow; containing 183 inhabitants. This parish is situated on the river Barrow, which here separates it from the counties of Carlow and Kildare; it comprises 784 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The castle was built in the reign of Elizabeth, soon after the reduction of Leix to English government, by Sir Robert Hartpole, constable of Carlow castle, and governor of the Queen's county; his extensive possessions have since passed through female heirs into other families. The castle, once of some importance, is a massive pile, situated on the banks of the Barrow: it is now the residence of Hasting Herring Cooper, Esq. Hollymount, the seat of Wm. Fishbourne, Esq., is also in this parish. It is a rectory, in the diocese of Leighlin, forming part of the union of Slatey: the tithes amount to £46.3.1. In the R.C. divisions it is held with part of Killabin.

Col. Richard Fitzgerald M.P.

Col. The Rt. Hon. Richard Fitzgerald of Kilminchy Castle, Maryborough, Queen's County and also Mount Offaly, Co Kildare was the 5th son of Gerald Fitzgerald of Coolanawle, Queens County by his wife Mary daughter of Sir Robert Hartpole of Shrule Castle, Queen's County.

Richard Fitzgerald married first Margaret, daughter of James 4th and last Lord Kingston of Mitchelstown Castle, Co Cork by whom he had an only daughter Caroline who married her kinsman Robert Lord Kingsborough son of the 1st Earl of Kingston (2nd Creation). He married secondly Mary, daughter and heiress of Farfex Mercer of Fair Hill, Co Louth, and by her had one son Gerald who by his second wife Katherine daughter of Sir Lucius O'Brien 3rd Baronet of Dromoland, Co Clare was the father of the Rt. Hon. James Edward Fitzgerald 1st Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Richard Fitzgerald was elected M.P. for Boyle, Co Roscommon on 21st October 1763 and held the seat till he was shot in a duel in 1776 by the Earl of Kingston.

By Frank Meehan. Source Laois Yearbook 1989

Historical Family Tree


Walsh / FitzGerald / Hartpole

Mary FitzGerald was born c1504 at Shrule Castle, Queens County, Ireland. (Her Grandmother was Margaret Hartpole, born c1540. She died on: 11 FEB 1618/19)

Mary FitzGerald married Oliver Grace who was born c1498 at Ballylinch, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland  and died about 1580

Oliver Grace's Father was  John FitzOliver-Grace and her mother was Katherine Poer.  She was possibly a descendant of the Poher family who came from the region of Poher in Brittany, France.  The original family name is called `de Poher', which means someone from 'the Poher'.  Robert le Poer, who took part in the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century and was granted substantial lands in County Waterford by Henry II.

The Hartpole Doom from Celtic Folklore

There is a tradition concerning the Hartpole family of Shrule Castle in the Queen’s County (called the castle on the bloody stream, from the sanguinary deeds of the owner) that every male member of the family is doomed and fated to utter three screeches terrible to hear when dying. As to the origin of this doom the story goes that Sir Richard Hartpole about 300 years ago, in the time of the Elizabethan wars, committed many savage acts against the Irish, he being an upholder of the English faction.

One day a priest, named O’More, having come to the castle on some friendly mission, the savage Hartpole ordered his retainers to seize him and hang him up in the courtyard.

"Good God !" exclaimed the priest. "Give me at least a moment to pray ! "
"Go then," said Hartpole, "you may pray."
The priest kneeled down apart from the crowd. But Hartpole grew impatient, and ordered him to rise.
"You have prayed long enough," he said, "prepare for death."
And when the priest heard the order for his death, and saw the man approach to seize him, he swayed from right to left and gave three fearful screams.
"Why do you screech ?" asked the tyrant.

"So shall you scream, and all your descendants in your last agony," exclaimed O’More, "as a sign of the doom upon your race. You have murdered my people, you are now going to take my life; but I lay the curse of God on you and yours — your property shall pass away; your race shall perish off the earth; and by the three death screeches all men shall know that you and your posterity are accursed."

The words of O’More only made the tyrant more furious, and the priest was hung at once in the courtyard before the eyes of Hartpole. But the prophecy of doom was fulfilled — the property perished, the castle became a ruin. The last Hartpole died miserably of want and hunger, and the whole race finally has become extinct.

Source: Celtic Folklore

The information contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 1999 Michael Brennan - All rights reserved

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