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The name "Queen's County" (or simply "Queen's") was changed to "Laois" in 1921. It is sometimes spelt "Laoighis" and is also known as "Leix".

Following the Government of Ireland Act 1920, 26 of Ireland's 32 counties left the United Kingdom and formed the Irish Free State. In 1949 this became the Republic of Ireland

Laois is an inland County of some 664 square miles, its name appears in various forms such as: Laois, Leix, Queens County and Laoighis to name but a few. In ancient times the O'Moore tribe name of Ui Laoighis was applied to their territory, this name being derived from a famous Ulster ancestor named Lughaid Laoighesach, descendant of a renowned Conall Cearmach chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster.

Queens County is in the Province of Leinster bounded on the north by Co. Offaly (King's County), on the east by Co. Kildare and Co. Carlow. On the south by Co. Kilkenny, and on the west by Co. Tipperary and Co. Offaly. Its greatest length, between east and west by the southern border, is about 34 miles, and it's greatest breadth, between north and south, is about 30 miles.

Physically, the county is centred on the valleys of the upper Nore and Barrow rivers; most of the Slieve Bloom mountains, with some of the most beautiful and secluded landscape in Ireland, are in Laois.

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Abbeyleix is known as the Town of the Fountains. The Fountains of Abbeyleix are intertwined with the landlord history of the town and reflect the esteem in which the de Vesci's were held. The most prominent of these is the monument to John 2nd Viscount de Vesci.John 2nd Viscount de Vesci Interestingly, there is an unusual link between the fountains of Abbeyleix and The Market House. According to an account written by W.G. Hartford in the 1960's, when John Robert, 4th Viscount de Vesci passed away, the townspeople, in time honoured fashion, held a collection to erect a fountain in his memory. Ivo de Vesci, John Robert's nephew, who had just inherited the de Vesci estate, thought it more prudent to refurbish The Market House and pledged to add the monies required to that which had been already collected for the fountain. Thus, in 1906 the Market House was refurbished and dedicated to John Robert instead of the planned fountain. This was the first of many wise decisions on the part of Ivo de Vesci and The Market House remained in use as a centre for the community from 1906 to the present day. We are grateful to Mike Hartford for this information on the writings of his grandfather, a most interesting man.

The Market House. This edifice had a practical use on market day and yet it was also a further reminder of the de Vesci influence in the town of Abbeyleix as it carries cut stone plaques of the de Vesci crest. The market was the life's blood of the town. Early in the life of the new town of Abbeyleix the landlord applied for a licence to hold a market in the town. He got permission to hold six markets or fairs per year, in addition to a Saturday market. This essentially put the town on the map economically and these markets or fairs remain in the living memory of the town. The Market House is being refurbished at present and will become a dedicated library for the people of Abbeyleix. It is hoped that this work will be completed by September 2007.

The Rev Wingfield. One of the longest serving pastors in the annals of the Church of Ireland in Abbeyleix was the Rev Wingfield. His ministry lasted over forty years and it could be argued that he presided over the greatest period of change in Abbeyleix. So prominent was he that he is included in the Fountains of Abbeyleix.

In 1770 John Vesey, 2nd Viscount de Vesci decided that the old town of Abbeyleix was an unsuitable town for his tenantry, and unlikely to prosper. His decision to built a new town was both bold and decisive and the results of this decision has given us the Planned Estate town that is Abbeyleix today. The concept of the Planned Estate Town is not unique in Ireland, other notable Planned Estate Towns would be Westport in Co. Mayo and Adare in Co. Limerick. There is also a strong link between Abbeyleix and Blessington, Co. Wicklow, which was built by Archbishop Michael Boyle, the last ecclesiastical Lord Chancellor. Michael Boyle's secretary was one Denny Muschamp who was married to a daughter of the Archbishop and whose daughter Mary was in time married to Bishop Thomas Vesey. When the couple married Denny Muschamp gave them a present of the former Abbeylands at Abbeyleix, which he had acquired in a land deal circa 1674.

The story of the North National School begins with the 3rd Viscount and his marriage to Lady Emma Herbert, daughter o f the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. The de Vesci's were intent on the development of the new town of Abbeyleix, to the extent that the terms of marriage of the 3rd Viscount to Lady Emma included an agreement from her father to build a terrace of houses in the new town. Today, Pembroke Terrace remains one of the most striking pieces of architecture and represents a significant piece of the built heritage of Co. Laois.

Source: Abbeyleix Heritage


St Canice founded the first church on the site of Aghaboe in the 6th century and it became an important religious centre.  The tower of the present Protestant church retains original 13th century portions.  Decorative stonework was removed from the church, which stands on the site of the former Augustinian church, to adorn Heywood House, Ballinakill in 1773. Also of interest is Aghaboe House and Adam de Hereford's motte.


Aghanure is locted just south of the village of Ballylynan. The Irish word for Yew, iubhair, is found in several townland names in Laois: Aghanure, 'the ford of yew'.

There is the remains of an old windmill in Aghanure. It was built on the edge of a limestone quarry which extended with time around the tower until eventually the latter was ledt perched on a solitary island pinnacle of rock, where it still stands today.


Ballaghmore Castle (1480) the chief seat of the Mac Gillpatricks (Fitzpatricks) Lords of Upper Ossory. Strategically placed on the Bealach Mor, the great road to Munster. Partially restored it in the 183Os. Ely was murdered by a tenant, and the castle was neglected. It was bought by the present owners in 1990 and restored. Ballaghmore Castle is situated mid-way between Roscrea and Borris-in-Ossory.  A ‘Sheila-na-Gig’, a pagan fertility symbol to ward off evil is carved in stone on the front south-facing wall. Nearby is a very small church, said to be a converted school house.  It is beautifully kept with tiny galleries, and a sexton's house at the back. North of the castle on Kyle Hill is the legendary Brehon's Chair.



.Ballinakill is a fine example of a 17th Century market town.  The ruins of Ballinakill Castle are of a late seventeenth-century castle built by the Dunnes (but never inhabited) on the site of one destroyed by Cormwellian troops under Fairfax. The towns broad main street and large central square reflect Ballinakill's standing in the 17th century as an important centre. The configuration of streets round the large rectangular square is eighteenth-century. The town's entrance from Abbeyleix is marked by two trees known as Toll Trees where a toll was paid by visitors to the town. The town had important fairs, a brewery, woollen and tanning factories. A monument in the square is dedicated to the local men who died in the 1798 rebellion.
Italianate gardens at the towns edge were created in 1906 by the famous landscape designer Lutyens for Colonel Poe at a cost of 250,000 and are a rarity in Ireland, the gardens are opened by appointment.


Day-Lewis was born in Ballintubbert, Laois, Ireland. He was the son of the Reverend Frank Cecil Day-Lewis (December, 1872 – 19 April 1938) and Kathleen Squires. After Day-Lewis's mother died in 1906, he was brought up in London by his father, with the help of an aunt, spending summer holidays with relatives in Wexford. Day-Lewis continued to regard himself as "Anglo-Irish" for the remainder of his life, though after the declaration of the Irish Republic he chose British rather than Irish citizenship on the grounds that 1940 had taught him where his deepest roots lay. He was educated at Sherborne School and at Wadham College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1927.


The old name for the townsland of Ballyadams was Kylemehyde and it was situated in the district formerly called "Ui Buidhe". The Anglo Normans took possession of this area in the late twelfth century and were still there up to the mid fourteenth century. They built a castle at Kylemehyde. In 1346 the O' Mores, O' Connors and O' Dempsey's attacked and destroyed the castle of Kylemehyde When the O' Mores regained control of this district in the reign of King Henry Vii (1485-1509), it is thought, the more ancient part of the present castle was by an Adam O' More, hence the name Ballyadams or the Town of Adam.

Following the rebellion of Gilla Partick O' Moore Chief of Leix, who was in possession of Ballyadams, in1546 the O' Mores and O' Connors burned the town of Athy. The Lord Deputy and the Earl of Desmond led a large army into Leix and took Ballyadams Castle. In 1549 a Welsh man John Thomas a p Owen, later called John Thomas Bowen, was constable of Ballyadams In 1551 John Thomas Bowen obtained a twenty- one years lease of the Castle of Ballyadams.

This John Bowen was a cruel and brutal man and was called " or John of the Pike, by the Irish because he always carried a pike when he ventured out. He died in 1569 and was succeeded by his son Robert. Robert was Sheriff of Queens County in 1579, he died in 1621. The monument in the old church of Ballyadams was erected to his memory in 1631. Robert's son, Sir John Bowen was Knighted on 13 November 1629 and was Provost Marshal of Leinster and Meath.

In 1643, the Confederates under Lord Castlehaven were attacking the Grimes or Graham Castle at Ballylinan, Lord Castlehaven states, "While this place was putting in order, I went with a party of horse to Ballyadams, a Castle about a mile distant belonging to Sir John Bowen, Provost Marshal an old soldier, and my long acquaintance. I went to speak with him and after some kind expressions, told him I must put a garrison into his Castle. He flatly denied me and calling for his wife and two very fair daughters, he had desired only one favour, that in case I was resolved to use violence, I would show him where I intended to plant my guns and make my breach. I satisfied his curiosity and asked him what he meant by this question. Because saith he swearing with some warmth, I will cover that, or any other your Lordhship shoots at, by hanging out both my daughters in chairs. 'tis true the place was not of much importance, however this conceit saved it." There is also a poem written about this incident.

About 1700 the castle was granted to Katherine Bowen who had married Pierce Butler from Tipperary. The present owner David Butler is a direct descendant of Pierce Butler. The castle was attacked by insurgents in 1798 and the Butler family didn't live there after that.

There is some evidence to suggest, that the castle was built around the end of the Fifteenth Century, by an Adam O'More. The two round tower date from around this time and are the oldest part of the present structure. The tower on the left contains a winding stone stair-case and leads right up to the turret, which is approx. sixty five feet high, the one on the right contains many small rooms. The wing on the right appears to be the oldest and was built towards the end of the seventeenth Century by the Bowen family. The one on the left was built by the Butler Family at a later date.

Austin Cooper, the antiquary, visited the castle on the 10 August, 1782 and made the following entry in his Diary. "At Ballyadams is a large Castle; the front consists of two large round towers between which is an entrance, and over it a wall is carried in a line with the exterior limits of these towers, so as to form a machicolation over the door.

Adjoining these towers on each side are two large modem wings, one of which is kept in repair as a lodge by Mr Butler, the present propriotor; the other was never finished". He also states that the inside of the castle is in a bad state of repair.



This village dates back to the 18th Century. The only remaining evidence of a former great estate is the ivy-clad ruins of the estate house and Rathdaire Church of Ireland church, commissioned by Corniela Adair.


A small rural parish at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. It features Ballyfin House; one of Irelands most magnificent houses built in 1822 for Sir Charles Coote.  The Patrician Brother now owns the house.  Another site of historical interest is the folly, a circular medieval tower surrounded by a Moat and the College Conservatory added by Richard Turner in 1850.

A parish, in the barony of CULLINAGH, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 2 miles (N. E,) from Abbeyleix, on the road from Monastereven to Durrow ; containing 3544 inhabitants, of which number, 714  are in the village.
It comprises 8625 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and contains several high hills, the largest of which, Cullinagh, gives name to the barony. The village, which lies low, contains 132 houses; it is a constabulary police station, and has a patent for a market, but no market is held. Fairs are held on Jan. 6th, April 2nd, May 15th, the first Wednesday in July (O. S.), Aug. 15th, and the second Wednesday in Nov. (O, S.), chiefly for cattle and pigs. At Cullinagh are some cotton mills and a bouting-mill, both badly supplied with water; in the former about 50 persons are employed, of whom two-thirds are children. But the inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agricuture the soil consists of a rich loam and a deep black earth, and is equally productive under tillage and in dairy husbandry.
The system of agriculture is improving; there is but a small tract of bog, not more than sufficient to supply the inhabitants with fuel. The dairy lands are sometimes appropriated to the fattening of black cattle. Limestone is quarried principally for burning; and grit flagstone is found in the mountains. A thin stratum of coal has been discovered, but has not been worked, though there is near it a mineral vein ; much of the same kind of coal is found in the mountain of Cullinagh, where works were commenced but have been discontinued some years.
The chief seats are Blandsfort, the residence of J, T. Bland, Esq., in whose family it has continued since 1715; and Rockbrook, of L, Flood, Esq.
The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Leighlin, and in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes amount to 415.7 shillings 8 and a pence. The church is a neat plain edifice in good repair. There is neither glebe-house nor glebe.
In the R, C, divisions the parish is in the union or district of Abbeyleix ; the chapel is a spacious edifice.
In the village is a school endowed with lands in Cappaloughlan, bequeathed by Alderman Preston: the school-house is a large slated building, erected at an expense of 500 ; about 20 boys receive a classical and English education under a master, whose stipend is 55 per annum, each boy paying 4 yearly in addition. There are also a scriptural and a national school, in which are
about 81 boys and 50 girls.
Sir Jonah Barrington, late Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, and author of" Personal Sketches of His Own Times," and other works relating to Ireland, resided at Cullinagh

Ballylynan  or ballylinan

Ballylinan is an ancient town-land centred on the present day village and a gateway to the beautiful yet haunting area of Slieve Margy.  An earthen-ware urn was found in the area in 1786 containing a great number of silver coins dating from AD862 to AD870 inscribed “O’Laghis King” (the O‘Mores) and “Dunamaise”.

Ballylehane was the scene of the great slaughter of the O'More Clan (300 killed) in 1315. But in 1346, the castles of Lea, Kilmeade and Ballylehane were taken by the O'More, O'Connor and O'Dempsey clans. This castle came into the possession of the Hovenden family in the mid 16th Century. Ballyadams Castle was built in the 15th Century. The castle was taken by the Earl of Desmond in 1548 after the O'More's had burnt the town of Athy. By 1551 it was in the possession of a Welshman, John Bowen, the renowned Shane-a-pika. Ballylynan Castle was said to belong to the O'More's but it fell to the Grimes or Grahams after the Battle of Agharoe (the field of blood). The landlords of Ballylynan were the Weldons who came during the reign of King James I, and they remained landlords up to the 1920s. When the Weldon estate came into being at the end of the 17th Century,

Ballylynan was no more than a small cluster of cottages. It owes its development to two factors, the proximity of Rahen House, main house of the Weldon Estate, and its location on the Athy- Castlecomer Road which provided access to the mines.

Images of Ballylinan


According to The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland: Adapted to the New Poor-law 1844-1845 Ballyquillane, an ancient parish, 3 miles south of Stradbally, barony of Stradbally, Queen's co., Leinster. It is touched or traversed by the road from Thurles to Athy. It was a rectory in the dio. of Leighlin, valued in the king's books at 1 5s.; but it has been so completely incorporated with some adjoining parish, that no trace of it appears in documents of the last 20 years.

An Inquisition taken at Maryborough, 18th of March, 1623, finds Henry Davells of Killeshin seized, inter alia, of the rectory.  Ballyquillane, with all the lands and holdings belonging to it, "which rectory extends into the town and lands of Ballyquillane, Cloghpooke alias Cloghpoole, Tomelevane, Nenagh, Ballecollen, and Curragh."

The ancient church of this parish still exists in ruins at Clopoke. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. In Pat. Rolls, Edwd. 71. (p. 163, Morrin), we find Bernard Dempsie presented to the Vicarage of St. Mary of Bealaquillane, Nov. 24th, 1550. This church consisted of a nave and chancel; the nave measured 38 feet by 18; the chancel, which has a round-headed arch, 24 feet by 15. The door was at the south-west. There are traces of an east window, and also of two lancet windows in the nave, 9 inches wide on the outside, one in the north, the other in the south wall.

The remains of several priests repose in the graveyard in which this ruin stands; over some of whom the following inscriptions appear:-

"Roger Moore, Priest, to our griefe is dead, and in this narrow grave he now takes his rest. Let all that read this, with devotion pray, God rest his soul in peace. Amen say. He was born in 1640. Died December 10th, 1706."

"Here lies the body of Rev. Gerald Byrne, Parish Priest of Stradbally, Dunane, etc. for 15 years. Departed, July ye 24th, 1724, aged 57 years. Also the body of his nephew, ye Revd. William Byrne, Parish Priest of Stradbally, Esker, etc., for 19 years. Departed ye 11th of February, 1775, aged 56 years."

"Here lies the body of the Rev. Father Edmond O'Kelly, who departed this life Feb. ye 13th, 1775, aged 32 years."

"Here Lyeth the body of the Rev. Patrick Kelly, who departed this life, March ye 7th, Anno Domini 175-, aged 74. Also the body of Rev. John Kelly, his nephew, who departed ber ye 9th, 1763, aged 32 years. Also, ye Rev. Francis Kelly, who departed ber 9th, 1784, aged 40."

The Rev. William Comerford, a native of this district, who died at Carlow College, 19th of April, 1794, is also interred here.

In the immediate vicinity of Clopoke is a place called "the Mass field," where the faithful used to assemble for the celebration of the divine mysteries in the penal times.

Dun of Clopoke

The following description of the Dun of Clopoke (i.e. "the fort of the goblin's stone" - O'Donovan) is given in Goughs Camden:-" The Dun of Clopoke, about five miles from Dunarnase, is a curious object; it is a conical hill of limestone, its diameter on the summit is 312 feet, and round it ran a wall.

Its base was defended by a double entrenchment; from the base to the top it measures in some places 150 feet, being very precipitous and strong on every side. Under the N.E. side of the hill is .a cave running 36 feet, and about 10 feet wide at the mouth,-a receptacle for robbers in former ages. The monument, Clough Leachdain, is about 8 feet high, and is situate in the middle of a field near this Dun." "The rock was artificially fortified," writes O'Donovan (Ord. Survey Letters), "and still exhibits portions of an earthen work on its extremities at the top. The cave, which appears to be a natural one, is, as yet open, runs to an extent of 7 or 8 yards into the rock, and is from 5 to 6 or 7 feet high. It is said this cave runs farther into the rock than at first appears to am observer, and that a narrow passage, leading from it, gives admission to an internal part which is extensively wide, and the height of a man. The stone from which the Dun probably took its name, stands in a field about half a mile distant. The name by which it goes now, is liagan, which is a generic name for all such standing stones. It is about 7 feet high, of unequal breadth, being about 4 feet 2 inches on one side in the broadest part, and about 22 inches on another side, which seems to be all of an equal breadth. Some persons who dug the earth around it out of curiosity to find bow much of it was sunk in the ground, reported that there was as much concealed as appeared over ground. This is the Clogh liahdan in the passage quoted from Gough's Camden."

In the Vita Tripartita of St. Patrick, written by St. Evin, it is stated that St. Fiacc, Bishop of Sletty, used to go, on Shrove Tuesday, to a cave on the hill of Drum-Coblai, bringing with him five barley loaves mingled with ashes. At the end of Lent he returned to Sletty to celebrate the festival of Easter with his brethren, bringing with him a portion of one of the loaves. The learned author of the Loca Patriciana identifies the cave at the Dun of Clopoke as that to which St. Fiacc used to retire for the penitential observance of Lent. It is distant about 7 miles north-west of Sletty. There lingers still, he remarks, in the locality a tradition that in long ages past a Saint used to retire to this cave to pray and fast, after which he returned to his distant church by a subterraneous passage leading south, which is supposed to be still in existence.-(,See Loca Patr. 19 5-6.)

"On the other side of the valley," writes Daniel O'Byrne.- Hist. of Queen's County" southwards, is the Dun of Luggacurren, on the north side of which is a cave 6 feet high, by 4 in width. The cave . . . is about 80 feet above the level of the plain, and about 200 feet below the summit of the Dun." In March, 1881, a Cist-vaen, or pagan Irish tomb, was discovered on the farm of Mr. Kilbride of Luggacurren. It contained a quantity of human bones, some of which, especially the frontal of one skull, and some femora, were in a good state of preservation. It also contained two earthenware urns, richly ornamented with zig-zag pattern (one of which, through the kindness of Mr. Kilbride, is in the possession of the writer), and some bronze rings.


About two miles south of Clopoke is an ancient place of in-terment, called Shanavally (old town). On a mountain flagsstone is traced the device of a Celtic cross, the rest of the stone being left in the rough. .Local tradition assigns this to mark the grave of a bishop.-(O'Byrne, Hist. Queen's Co.)

The O'Kellys were from a very early period seated in the neighbourhood of Luggacurren, their territory, termed Feran O'Kelly, or the country of O'Kelly, described in O'Heerin's topographical poem, as like the fertile Land of Promise, is traditionally described as extending from the ford of Ath-Baiteoige to the ford of Ath-fuiseoige, near Luggacurren. This territory is shown, on an old map of Leix and Offaly, as extending from Ballymaddock southward to the hills of Slewmargie, and as comprising Ballymaddock, the Park, the churches of Grange and Oghteoge, the church of Clopoke, and the Castle of Coragh. - (O'Donovan-note to 4, MM. ad an. 1394.) In Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, it is related that an O'Kelly of the reign of Elizabeth married a daughter of O'Byrne of Glenmalure, Co. of Wicklow, and for her reception built a dwelling in a week, the site of which is still known by the name of shanagh-clough, or "the old stone." A dispute having arisen between the wife of O'Kelly and a man named Macgloud, who was in her husband's employment, he in revenge conspired with FitzGerald of Morett (not of Kilkea, as Hardimau erroneously states), who under the guise of friendship visited O'Kelly. O'Kelly received him kindly, and had him to act as sponsor to his child; the child and its mother were found dead in their bed the same night. O'Kelly does not appear to. have suspected FitzGerald of having had anything to do in compassing the death of his wife and child, as he, shortly after, accompanied FitzGerald to Morett. FitzGerald having brought O'Kelly to the ramparts of the castle, had his head struck off. He then wrote to the Queen, informing her that he had despatched a chief rebel, named O'Kelly, who was in close alliance with the O'Mores; whereupon he received from her Majesty a grant of O'Kelly's territory. It appears that John Bowen of Ballyadains, whose daughter was wife of FitzGerald, bated O'Kelly, and made use of his son-in-law to make away with him. The O'Mores avenged O'Kelly by slaying FitzGerald and burning his oastle. FitzGerald, the subsequent owner of Luggacurren, called Short Garrett, sold the estate to Sir Walter Whelan, who again sold it to Daniel O'Byrne. This Daniel 'O'Byrne was son of Loughlin O'Byrne of Ballentlea, near Red Cross, in the County of Wicklow. Loughlin had two Sons, Denia and Daniel. Denis inherited the estate of Ballentlea; Daniel, who was a clothier, amassed a large fortune, chiefly by army contracts. Daniel's son, Gregory, was created a baronet, and 'lived at Timogue Castle. Sir John, grandson to Sir Gregory, married a daughter of Sir Peter Leyster of Pointon, Cheshire, whose son, Sir Peter, assumed the name of Leyster. During his minority the Irish property was sold, and other property purchased in England. The Marquis of Lansdowne became the purchaser, in whose family it still remains.- (O'Byrne.)

For further interesting and amusing particulars regarding this branch of the O'Byrnes, see information supplied to O'Donovan from MS. written by O'Byrne of Fallaghbeg, who was born in 1716.-Note to Four Masters, ad ann. 1578



Borris-in-Ossory is a single street village roughly half a mile long. The village originated as a cluster around the castle of the Fitzpatrick's, which was built in 1589. The village grew along the eighteenth century coach road and depended on the woollen trade


This name is derived from Bocluain, "the cow pasture:" cluain, strictly means a fertile spot surrounded, or nearly so, by bog. -(Joyce.) The Martyrology of Donegal has two entries, both probably relating to this place, at the 20th of November: -" Easconn Eps. o. Bo-Chluain i .Laoighis" (Easconn, Bishop of Bo-Chluain in Leix); and again :-" Fraochan Eps o Bo-Chluain i Laoighis" (Fraochan Bishop of Bo-Chluain in Leix.) To this, the gloss adds: -" i.e. to the east of Cluain-Eidhniach (Clonenagh), or of Inis-mac-Earca." There is an ancient and still used cemetery at Buclone, but no traces of a church are observable, nor is there any local tradition as to one having stood here


This picturesque Georgian village offers to its visitors both a warm welcome and sites of historical interest.  A castle built here in 1182 by Hugh de Lacy became the centre of an important Norman Borough.  The ruins of the St Coedus church still stand in the old cemetery at Churchtown. Also of interest is Gash Gardens.


The most important monastery of ancient Leix. Founded by St. Fintan (d.603), its location on the Slige Dala (road of the assemblies) ensured its importance in early medieval Ireland. It enjoyed the patronage of the O'Mores, descendants of the Loigis kings, into the sixteenth-century. It was the monastic home of Oengus the Celi De (see Coolbangher). The Book of Leinster or Lebar na Nuachongbala started life here before moving to Oughaval near Stradbally. Today there are two graveyards the ruins of an early church, and a recently fallen penny tree.   Local tradition tells of the existence of seven churches, which today have all disappeared.  Close by stood a tree, which had a cavity in its trunk, where water was found.  This so-called well of St. Fintan was believed to have had healing properties ascribed to it.

PREVIOUS to 1828, the district now constituting the parish of Ballyfin formed a portion of the parish of Clonenagh. In June of the above-named year, the Right Rev. Dr. Doyle erected Ballyfin into a separate cure. The present chapel is the third that has stood on the same site. In a Return made in 1731 (See Vol. I, p. 268), it is stated that there were then two Mass-houses in the parish of Clonenagh, both built subsequent to the accession of George 1st, 1714; of these one was at Ballyfin. In another Return made in 1765, by Robert Henry, Hearth-money Collector (see Appendix), three Mass-houses are said to have been then in the parish of Clonenagh. The original chapel was replaced by another in 1774, as we learn from an inscribed slab which now forms portion of a stile leading into the burial-ground. The following is the inscription: -" I.H.S. Haec domus re-edificata a R. D. Lauris Colleton, B.T., Ano Dmni 1774. Vocatur Aula Spiritus Sancti." The structure bearing this high-sounding title was an humble cruciform, thatched chapel. Archdeacon Colleton, here referred to, died in 1788, and is interred at Clonenagh.

The Rev. Christopher Doyle, who was appointed Curate here in 1818, and subsequently Administrator in 1823, built the present parish chapel. It appears to have been proposed to erect it on another site, which however could not be effected in consequence of an objection on the part of the landlord. The following is his reply to Dr. Doyle on the subject: -" Mr. Wellesley Pole presents his compliments to the R. Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, and in reply to his communication respecting the chapel at Ballyfin, begs to observe that it stands on Mr. Wellesley Pole's Estate rent free, and that the Priest has also a few acres of land for which he does not pay rent. It has always been Mr. Wellesley Pole's practice to give every possible indulgence to his R. Catholic Tenants, and he has never made any distinction between them and his Protestant Tenantry. Under these circumstances he does not think it desirable to make any change. If the chapel of Ballyfin is to be put into repair, Mr. Wellesley Pole has no objection to subscribe for that purpose.

Within the chapel a mural tablet has been placed to the memory of a priest who was a native of this parish: -" This monument has been erected by Matthew Lalor of Clonagown, in memory of his uncle, the Rev. James Lalor, who departed this life, March the 27th, 1826, aged 26 years." This priest, to whom Dr. Doyle refers in complimentary terms (see Vol. II, p. 246), had been appointed curate of Ballinakill in October, 1825.

A fine massive chalice in use in this chapel bears two inscriptions; one, requesting prayers for the Lady Brigid, Vis-Countess Dillon Clanrickard, and for Rev. Dr. Edmund O'Reilly, with the date, 1749. The second inscription records that Elizabeth Delany, mother of Dr. Delany, Bishop of the Diocese, purchased this chalice, and made a gift of it to the Chapel of Ballyfin, in 1795 :-" Ora pro Ilustrissa D.D. Brigida V.-Com. Dillon Cln Rickd. et pro Edmundo O'Reilly, S.T.D. 1749. Hunc Calicem emit Elizabetha Delany, mater Rdmi. D.D. Delany, Epi Kilds donoque dedit Capellae de Ballyfin, 1795." The Lady Brigid, to whom the above inscription refers, was daughter of John de Burgh, 9th Earl of Clanrickarde; she married Richard, 9th Viscount Dillon in 1720. -(De Brett's Peerage.)

Ballyfin was originally part of the demesne lands of the O'Mores, chieftains of Leix. In the reign of Elizabeth this estate was granted to Patrick Crosbie in reward for his services against the O'Mores; but his great-grandson, Sir John Crosbie, Bart., having espoused the cause of Charles I., he was attainted by the Parliament, and the said attainder never having been removed, the king on the restoration became entitled to his great estate, of which Ballyfin was granted to Piriam Pole, brother of Sir John, and second son of Sir William Pole, of Shute, in Devonshire. His son, William Pole, pulled down the castle which had been erected by the Crosbies, and built a modern house on the site, which was destroyed by fire, and rebuilt by his son, and forms the north wing of the present edifice. He married Anne, daughter of Henry Colley, of the noble family of Mornington. He died in October, 1704, and was succeeded by Periam, his eldest son, who died unmarried on the 24th of April, 1748, and was succeeded by his brother, William, who, the same year, married Lady Sarah Moore, daughter of Edward, 5th Earl of Drogheda, and was, soon after, made a member of the Privy Council, and Governor of the Queen's County. He much improved Ballyfin, planting woods, sinking the lake, and adding to the house. Dying in 1781, without issue, he left the estate to a distant cousin, the Hon. William Wesley or Wellesley, younger son of the Earl of Mornington, who assumed the name of Pole. The family of the present owner, Sir Charles Coote, acquired it by purchase. Most of the furniture of the saloon and ball-room was made for George IV when Prince of Wales.-(Anth. Hib. July, 1794; Gazetteer of Ireland.)

*The grant from the Cromwellian Commissioners was thus confirmed by the Act of Settlement, 18 Cha. II., "Peryam Pole, of Dublin, esq.-The town and lands of Eyrye. Ballyfynne, alias Baliytinne, and Camaloand, 1, 198a. 1r. 28p. (1941a. and 33p. stat.) prof. 2056a. 2r. 32p; unprof. 24 5s. 3d. bar Maryborough, Queen's Co. Inchy, and Rathvadocke, part of the same, I96a. (317a. 1r. 38p. stat.), prof. 45a. 3r. l6p, unprof. 3 19s. 4d. bar Stradbally, same Co. Acragar, 259a. 3r. 24p. (420a. 3r. 24p. stat.), prof. 43a. 1r. 24p, unprof. 5 5s. 2d.; bar Portnahinch, same county.-Total rent, 33 9s. 11d. Date, 27 June, 18th year (cert. 19 May, 1666)



Clonreher lies just to the north of Port Laoise in a farmyard and is easily visible from the minor country road that passes it. The main body of the four storey tower contains a hall over a vaulted cellar and loft. Granted to John Dunkirley in 1550, this former O'Dowling castle was later held by the Hartpoles.


A parish, in the barony of MARYBOROUGH WEST, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 3 1/4 miles (S. E. by S.) from Mountrath: the population is returned with the parish of Clonenagh. It is situated on the road from Dublin to Limerick, and is bounded on the south-west by the river Nore, over which is a neat bridge, here called the Poor Man's Bridge. There is a large tract of valuable bog. It is a rectory, in the diocese of Leighlin, and is part of the union of Clonenagh, for which and Clonagheen there is but one composition of tithes. The schools are also noticed under the head of that parish. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Mountrath.


Image: designed the l9th Century church of St John the Evangelist in Coolbanagher.  The church contains a Dawson mausoleum, and the original church plans.  It features an ancient carved font as well as urns designed by Gandon, which have been moulded and installed. Skirting the grounds of Shaen Castle are the ruins of Coolbanagher monastic settlement, immortalised by its association with Oengus the Celi De. As he travelled along the Slige Dala from Clonenagh on his way to Tallaght at the end of the eight-century he visited Coolbanagher. In the churchyard he had a vision of angels hovering over a freshly-made grave of a man who had venerated the saints: as a result he decided to compile his Felire or Calendar of Saints, which he completed in Tallaght, and which still survives as a major source for ancient Irish ecclesiastical history.Other places of interest locally include Shaen Castle and the Hartpole Tower House.


This serene village is an ideal backdrop for the magnificent Tower House.  It dates roughly from 1425 and is believed to be the former residence of the ’MacGillapatricks' of Upper Ossory.  Nearby are three other tower houses, Gortnaclea, Kilbreedy and Aughmacart.

Donaghmore Workhouse Museum

A wonderful little village and was the location for the film "All Things Bright and Beautiful". The village was originally a Norman fortification.  A workhouse museum presenting an eerie window on past workhouse conditions. Originally built as a workhouse, the museum has been restored by Glanbia.

Dun of Clopoke

DUN-CLUIN-POIC, or the Dun of Clopoke, as it is now called, situated in the Queen's County, province of Leinster, about four miles south of Stradbally. It was a fort or castle of a branch of the family of O'Mores, ancient chieftains of Leix. It consists of an insulated rock, in which are some natural caves; on the top is a plain, formerly surrounded by a wall, composed of rock stones, without cement, with a grand entrance from the south, There does not appear ever to have been any building of lime and stone erected on this Dun, but the several edifices were constructed entirely in the ancient Irish stile. That it was a habitation some years before the establishment of Christianity in this island is extremely probable, as in an adjacent field is an ancient tomb-stone, with an inscription in druidic characters, signifying Hy Mordha, the great King.  (Source: A Topographical and Historical Hibernian Gazetteer c1835)


Durrow is a planned estate town, developed under the patronage of the Viscounts Ashbrook. It features a fort granted by charter in AD1245 with a fine suite of buildings around the village green.  Edward O'Brien has already written an excellent in depth history about DURROW in his book called 'An Historical and Social Diary of DURROW County Laois 1708 - 1992'. Published by Millfield Press. ISBN 0 9519728 0 4.

Castle Durrow House

Emo Court and Gardens

A late eighteenth century village developed around the gates of Emo Court under the patronage of the Dawson's.  The Catholic Church is hard gothic, designed by J.S. Butler in 1861.  The mile long avenue leading to Emo Court Gardens feature giant Californian Redwoods planted in 1863.


GRAIGUE in 1837 was a suburb of the town of CARLOW, in the parish of KILLESHIN, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER; containing 1976 inhabitants. It is situated on the right bank of the river Barrow, over which there is a bridge into the town of Carlow, but is entirely exempt from the jurisdiction of the sovereign of that borough, although included within its limits for electoral purposes by the act of the 2nd and 3rd of William IV., cap. 89. It comprises 114 acres, and includes 234 houses, a large flour-mill, two tanyards, and a distillery which manufactures more than 36,000 gallons of whiskey annually. It is a constabulary police station, and has fairs on Jan. 6th, Feb. 18th, April 1st, and Oct. 6th. The parochial church (a handsome new building with a curious arched roof of stone), the R. C. chapel, and the parochial and national schools, are in the village; near which about 600 of the men who were killed in the attack upon Carlow, in 1789, were buried


GRANGE, or GRANGEMONK, also called MONKSGRANGE, a parish, in the barony of BALLYADAMS, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 4 miles (N.) from Carlow, on the river Barrow; containing 240 inhabitants. The parish comprises 841 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at 490 per annum. It is a vicarage, in the diocese of Leighlin, and in the gift of G. Hartpole, Esq., in whom the rectory is impropriate. The tithes amount to 55. 7. 8, of which 36. 18. 5 is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the vicar. There is neither church, glebe-house, nor glebe. In the R. C. divisions it forms part of the union or district of Mayo, or Arles and Ballylinan. There is an old churchyard, which is the burial place of the Hartpole family, also the ruins of a castle

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Irish Midlands Ancestry
(Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society)
Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland
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MICHAEL BRENNAN July 2001. All Rights reserved

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