THE HISTORY OF ABBEYVIEW COTTAGE,
ITS OCCUPANTS AND THE TIMES THEY LIVED IN.
By Michael Dempsey (father of Oliver)
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Abbeyview Cottage is located 400 meters south of the N7 at Jamestown Cross. PLEASE NOTE A CHANGE IN ROAD NUMBERING. The N7 has recently been changed to the R445 since the building of the M7 Moterway. When travelling from Dublin leave the M7 at junction 12 (signposted Monasterevin, Athy, Rathangan), then at the roundabout take the 3rd exit crossing the bridge on to the R445, turn left towards Monasterevin, and straight through the town and continue straight for about three kilometers to Jamestown Cross Roads where you will see BOLANDS PUB on the LEFT. Turn left at Bolands Pub and travel 400 yards or meters until you see Abbeyview Thatched Cottage on the right hand side.
Jamestown was known as Ballyteigeduff until 1690 when King James the second camped here near where Jamestown House now stands, when his army were retreating south, after having been defeated at the Battle of the Boyne. According to tradition, a priest who lived in Abbeyview Cottage a few centuries ago gave this name to it, on account of the fact that there was a good view across the three miles or so to Moore Abbey in Monasterevin. Unfortunately Parish or Diocesan records are unable to tell us who this priest was or when he lived here. The only evidence to support this tradition was found in the Cottage when the house was being renovated in 1946. When a low ceiling of a small room was taken down, the attic over it contained vestments, an umbrella, black clothes, a horse's saddle, and a book of herbs, and the diseases which they cured. Also other items including a prayer book in Old French, and a minimum/maximum thermometer, and other weather recording instruments. Most of this stuff disintegrated when it was moved, so it was decided the most respectful way of disposing of it was to burn it, as was the custom in those days.
But since writing this history, and thanks to Carmela Dempsey of Seattle, Washington State, USA, we have discovered that in 1835 a Rev. Daniel Maher lived in Abbeyview Cottage. Later on during a visit to the Catholic Library in Dublin we examined the Catholic Directory for 1835 and it shows Rev. Daniel Maher as Curate in the Parish of Portarlington. The Directories of 1836 and 1837 were the same. Then his name moved to St. Mullins in Carlow. After some phone calls to Carlow I was advised to contact Fr. Aughney Parish Priest of Glynn, beside St. Mullins. He was able to confirm that Fr. Maher was PP there from 1837 to 1857 when he died, and he is buried in Glynn Church where there is a marble plaque on a wall in that church commemorating him. Fr. Aughney also sent me a copy of a page from Patrick OLearys history of St. Mullins in which Fr. Maher had practiced Ecumenism before most people knew what it meant. At that time he had a good relationship with the Rector of the other Denomination which worked to the advantage of the community of the area.
Quoting from Patrick OLearys history of St. Mullins:
It happened that the Rector received notice near the end of the week that there would be a visitation of his Bishop on the following Wednesday, and having but one for a congregation (a policeman named Cranston, who was stationed in Glynn), applied to Fr. Maher for help.
On the Sunday intervening the kindly P.P. called on his parishioners to bring in his turf from the bog and to be in early on next Wednesday with it, as he would have dinner for them.
The eventful day came and with it, as the writer was told, over forty loads of turf, with the drivers in their best coats to meet the priest.
Now boys, said he, You may heel up the turf in the yard there; I want you all to go down to poor Mr. Hawkeshaw (maybe if he was put out of this Parish we might get worse in his place) he has only Cranston to meet the Bishop, and whatever you see Cranston doing let you do the same.
They all went down to the Church, and the Bishop expressed his delight at the fine congregation he saw before him. After the Service Mr. Hawkeshaw requested his Lordshop to let them off, as they had been waiting all the morning and were cold and hungry.
The Bishop let them go and Cranston answered any questions asked.
Father Maher died on the 6th March 1858, and was interred at Glynn. The day after his burial the Rector was found standing in sorrow beside his friends grave. There was a long friendship between them, for when a warrant was issued for the arrest of Rev . Martin Doyle, P.P. of Graig, in the time of the Tithe War, he found shelter and kindness with Mr. Hawkeshaw who kept him secure for three weeks until the storm blew over.
Carmela (whose maiden name is Dempsey) visited here with her husband Terri Kelly and I had the pleasure of bringing them to visit the ruins of Lea Castle, Killenard, and Treascon where her ancestors came from in the early 1800s.
Carmela was scanning the web for information about her own ancestors who came from the Parish of Lea when she stumbled across our history of Abbeyview Cottage and the mention of Lea Killinard etc. So the following is a copy of her letter which she sent to us.
From Carmela Kelly 4th July 2001.
I read through the history of the thatched cottage but what intrigued me was your name, location, neighbors (Morans), ability to write and so on------
I am sending you a letter authored by Michael Dempsey, Louisiana, U.S.A. 1874, to Cousin James back in Ireland. Weve known for some time that the family was from Laois, formerly Queens.
Today I found a strong lead that our Dempsey Clan may be from Lea. Long distance its hard to find the town of Lea, versus the many references to Lea, the parish. In any event, I hope that you might be able to tell me .. from your own knowledge, whether you know any Dempsey families, that might be related to us, still living in the area. In 1834 Connor (Cornelius) Dempsey (born 1812) , his brother James and wife Mary, arrived in the U.S. A Brother, Peter, may have preceded them. In 1839, Michael Dempsey (born September 1822) came over with a John WhIn 1842, a brother Christopher Cornelius Dempsey (born 1816) arrived with his sister, Mary. These are the children of Michael Dempsey and Mary Moran.
I wonder if you might share our letter from Michael, with your Dempsey circle. Btw, you might be interested to know that one son of Connors, built the Dempsey Hotel, in Spokane, WA, in the late 1800s early 1900s. Perhaps writing and hotel management run in the family. Names that run in this family are, James, Edward, Michael, Cornelius, Thomas, Peter, John, Francis, Anne, Mary, Sarah, Ellen, and possibly Bridget. I hope we can help each other. Here is the letter.
Jena, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.
Oct. 16th. 1874
My dear Cousin James,
I will offer no apology for my neglect in writing to you, or some of my kindred, but confess at once that I acted bad. Thinking that you would like to know what has become of us all in America, I will endeavour to give you or some other friend or neighbor a short history of our travels and changes since we left Ireland.
When I came to the United States with Lawrence Wh..? he conveyed me to my brother James, then living in the Western part of New York 300 miles west of the city. I found him farming on a small scale; he had three horses, four cows, and some hogs --- the farm he paid rent for. His son Michael and myself worked on it, and we worked on some salt works. He paid me six dollars per month. I caught the fever and ague there. He advised me to go and see my brother Connor some 500 miles from there, and living in the State of Rhode Island. I went there scarce of both money and clothing, but I had something -- and that was the chills and the fever. Connor and his wife treated me very kindly, but I did not recover till Spring set in. They were keeping a boarding house, and Connor was running a machine in a factory, so they were making money very fast. My brother Peter came to see us on a furlong from the army. After that I lost the run of him.
I tried to work in the factory but could barely clear expenses, so I enlisted in the United States army for a term of five years. Connor wanted to take me out but I would not agree: If I made a hard bed I would sleep on it.
In 1840 I went to fight savage Indians in Florida for seven dollars; rather dangerous business, in a very unhealthy and extremely hot country. Well, nobody gets well paid for fighting even though he wins. I was blessed with good health. The fighting ceased, my pay increased, and Connor wrote to me very often. He told me when Christy and Mary came to Canada and then to the United States. Himself and family moved west to Wisconsin, a new territory, but now one of the most flourishing States of the Union. While there I sent him as he was hard run, but part of it was lost or stolen on its way. My term of five years being out, I started out to see him; but funds failed me and I stopped at St. Louis, MO. I worked at various kinds of work for a year. Then in 1846 there was war be tween the United States and Mexico. I there at 25 dollars a month, but not as a soldier. The first year I got along very well, so my pay was raised, and no outlay at all. But in 1847 some 4,000 Mexican Calvary ran on about 350 of us: we had no arms as we were in the employ of the Quarter Master, so they massacred all but 27 of us. So I left them in disgust with my money and clothes to boot, and retreated to the American Army with a sound skin, but I became careless of saving any more money.
And the next year I got a letter from my father stating the deplorable condition of Ireland on account of the potato disease. I could not send any money then, being nearly 200 miles in the Enemies Country, nor could I write at that time as our mails were interrupted by the enemy whenever they could. The war being over, I started home, yet I was receiving 75 dollars a month and found.
I thought of settling in the Southern part of Louisiana, but the Cholera was very bad in New Orleans; so I remained 300 miles north of it. One morning in March 1849 I took my gun to kill some wild turkeys, I had to cross a large river in a boat: placing gun in the boat with the muzzle facing me. One of the locks sprung and shot me in the right side, and that load of shot remains in my lungs to this day. I wrote to Connor of my sad accident, telling him of my inability ever to go and see him. He sympathized with me the accident. He also told me Mary was married and living in Boston, Massachusetts; her husbands name was Dennis Kelly, originally from Cork. He turned out a mean dog. After they had four children they settled in St. Louis, MO. He then ran away to Chicago, Illinois, and she died soon after of Cholera. The children were taken to a convent. Two boys and one girl remain there yet; the oldest boy is now grown and living in Boston, but I have learned he possesses his fathers vices.s
Christy moved to the State of Wisconsin and settled within twelve miles of Connor. He has two sons and and four daughters living; he is doing very well and worth about 8,000 dollars. In the year of 1851 Connor went to California and remained nearly two years: he made several thousand dollars, returned home, raised a large family of boys and girls, but his oldest daughter died about two years ago. His oldest son came and lived over a year with me, but he is married and and lives in Minnesota. He has three children and doing well. The next oldest son called James, a fine young man, got killed in our terrible war, another called Thomas is finishing his studies in Cincinnati, Ohio to become a Catholic Priest. Connors wife and children are still living on their old farm they have every comfort they desire but the loss of their father, he died about two months before his oldest daughter or in March1868. His disease was cancer of the stomach. James and his son Michael, also my brother Peter, I know nothing of them, whether they are dead or alive, only Peter married in Virginia about 23 years ago.
When I met my great accident I had several hundred dollars and three good horses, but before I got well I was in debt to a large amount with a broken constitution and living among strangers; the situation would seem to have very few charms worth living for, but I remained in the same place, went to work as well as I could, paid up my debts. Married in 1852, lost by death my three eldest children and two since, but we have six girls and two boys still living healthy and hearty. Four of them are going to school. I owe nothing to anyone. I have but 160 acres of land, 30 acres of cultivation. I have 30 head of horned cattle and six work oxen, plenty of hogs, and three horses. Now without boasting I am thankful to God for both my health and happiness; and I wish that you and as many like you as could come here would do so: there are homes here for thousands of families, and as something must be paid for them (as no honest man wants something for nothing) he will he able to do so and live very well in one year. All people coming here should come in Winter or early Spring. Land at New Orleans, then take a steamer to Harrisonburg on the Ouachita River. I live 20 Miles from there but everyone knows me and will direst anyone how to find me. Christy requests me to send his best wishes to you and all their family. If your mother is still living give her and Nancy my love. Remember me to all that is left of Martin Dempseys family, John Whites family, Edward Banans, and all my friends. Now to prove you are better natured than I have been write to me soon and tell me all the changes since I left Ireland. Direct to Michael Dempsey, Jena, Catahoula Parish, La.
Believe me always your most affectionate cousin, Michael Dempsey.
2)CONSTRUCTION OF COTTAGE
I expect the thatched portion of the house was built long before the priest lived there. The walls consisted of a two foot wide, 15 inch high, stone base mixed with mud, and continuing to the roof height with mud only. A number of small Scots Pine trees were used for the roof. Scotspine is a fairely hard timber, which grows well in this country. For those who may be interested, I sent a sample of Pine cones from the attic, to Harvard University and, according to them, the variety is PINUS SYLVESTRIS LINNAEUS - I am sure the people who cut the timber or erected the roof weren't too concerned about the variety, but anyhow they made a good choice. No part of the tree was wasted, the trunk was split, the lower ends were bedded in the mud wall, and the upper ends of the rafters were chiselled out to connect with the opposite rafter by way of an Oak peg hammered through. The lighter parts of the tree were used to make runners and collar ties. These also were held together with Oak dowels. Wallplates or ridge boards were not used. The tips of the branches, some with cones still attached, were used to support the first layer of roof covering. This first layer was wheaten straw, which would have been grown organically, cut with a sickle, and thrashed by hand. The grain could be ground into flour for bread making, some probably for feeding the farm animals, and some kept for seed to grow the next crop. There are also layers of Barley straw and oaten straw used during the past centuries. Scollops to hold the thatch grow in the hedgerows of the area. Nowadays we use 2 year old Hazel for the job, but earlier thatchers of this roof used Ash, Elm, or Willow, as well as Hazel. All of which stood the test of time provided they didn't get wet.
These are now known as vernacular or word of mouth buildings as people would follow the advice of an experienced builder who was known to be reliable and knowledgeable there being no printed plans or drawings available. There does not seem to have been any rulers or measuring tapes used as the distances between the A frame rafters varied probably to match the pieces of timber available to act as runners or ribs.
3)REASONS FOR USING MUD
Many of the mud walled thatched Cottages in this part of the country were constructed by tenant farmers on a strip of land parallel to the boundary of Laois and Kildare, and extended into south-east Offaly. There were a number of reasons for using mud, it cost little and was available on the site. Suitable stone was not available in the area. Stone for building needed more labour, tools, and transport, putting this option out of reach of the ordinary family at that time. Security of tenure was also a serious consideration as one could be evicted on the whim of a jealous agent, or unsympathetic landlord.
Tim Crowley, a friend of mine, calls these houses biodegradable because when they are no longer in use they melt back down to the earth leaving only a mound. .
Planning permission, as we know it was not in force at that time; but there were constrictions. Windows had to be small as glass would be expensive, hard to get and the local landlord would levy a tax on the size and number of windows in a dwelling. One of the doors would be in two halves as the top half could be opened to allow daylight in at no extra charge. I believe this is where the term "daylight robbery" originated. New farm buildings or extra stock also caused increased rent. So, what's new, one may ask? I wonder if our ancestors who fought for centuries for our independence will forgive us for allowing our freedom to be whittled away to a position where we are again paying people to dictate to us. Whether we can extend our homes, or allow an offspring to build a house on our property. A farmer can now even be penalised for cutting or removing a hedge or burying an animal on his or her own land. Excuse me for straying off the subject
Soot and ashes on the roof timbers of Abbeyview Cottage tells us that there was no chimney in the house for some time after it was built, the reason being that there was a TAX on fireplaces. The smoke went out through a hole in the roof. Thatch and mud houses were very comfortable, being able to keep warm in the winter and cool during the summer. They needed no gutters or downpipes. Material from the original part of the Cottage is now being Radio Carbon dated in the Physics Department of UCD. This material consisted of Pine Cones and thatch taken from the attic. It was the Pine Cones that were tested.
4)CARBON DATING UPDATE
We received back the result of the Carbon Dating of the Pine Cones we sent to University College Dublin in February 2001. Dr. Edward McGee, of the Radio Carbon Laboratory, stated, "The best single estimate for the year in which the cones grew was 1468. The Analytical System used allows a margin of error which could put the time of growth between 1414 and 1642"
The cones like apples, chestnuts, or heads of corn, would only survive on the parent plant for one season, so I imagine the first estimate should be fairly accurate.
At some stage the house was refurbished, ceilings were put in, and larger 6 over 6 pane sash windows were installed, as also were panel doors. (At some stage I hope to send a specimen of some of this timber to a dendrologist for ring dating). That would be different to the carbon dating of course. There was also a hatch put in between the parlour and the kitchen (believed to be used by the priest's housekeeper to pass through his meals). A stone wall bedroom with blue Bangor slates seems to have been added at that time.
The workmanship of the stonemasons and carpenters then is unbelievable. The timber in the doors and windows is still perfect and look like they could last another century.
The house needed thatching in 1994, but as the roof seemed to be getting unlevel we decided to have a look at the timber in the attic. The people who put up the ceilings centuries ago didn't leave any access to the roof space. When we bored a way into the attic we discovered a lot of timber in poor condition. Many runners and collar ties had disappeared and one of the ceiling joists over the parlour was cracked in the centre, causing the ceiling to sag.
Half of one of the valley rafters had rotted away due to the removal of the copper valley at some stage. It was replaced with galvanized iron which was unsuitable for the purpose. The copper sulphate used to preserve the thatch reacts with galvanized iron or aluminium and destroys it.
Mark Dobbyn of Ballybrittas and myself spent weeks in that space clearing out powdered straw and timber. It was a tedious job replacing runners and putting extra ones in as the thatch had to be pushed up with various jacks and levers. We replaced all the collar ties and reinforced the rafters by screwing pieces of four and a half by one and a half inch on to the side of the old rafters; all the new and old timber was treated with wood preservative. When the woodwork was secured I thatched the roof with the assistance of Mark Dobbyn and my sons Oliver and Martin. They got hands on experience of preparing scallops, pulling the straw, laying on the thatch, and making the ridge capping.
In 1999 further improvements were made, an extra bedroom was added with en suites,
and the bathroom updated, and underfloor heating installed.
6)THE OCCUPANTS AND THE TIMES THEY LIVED IN
A small outhouse in the farmyard still called The Lodge, had beds and an iron stove for men working on the farm. Long after the war of independence was over it was learned that some of the volunteers who took part in the war hid there. Even though my grandmother was not aware of this, had the British found out, it is almost certain that Abbeyview Cottage would have been burned to the ground.
About 1920 when my late father Paddy Dempsey and his older sister Kathleen, were coming home from school in Killenard, they saw trucks of British soldiers or Tans coming round a bend near the Hermitage, having heard stories about people being shot, they crept out through a gap in Nolan's hedge (now owned by the Maher family). When the truck came to the place where the children were hiding, it halted, and a group of soldiers prepared to fire their rifles through the hedge. At the same time the children stood up and the officer in charge seeing how young they were (about 8 and 10) shouted, "hold your fire lads" they are only F-----children.
About 1912 a priest arrived at the Cottage, he had a map on which there was the site of a Homestead marking a spot in the second last field of our out-farm in Ballyadden, and about 600 yards in from the road. As this site was about a mile away the family gave him a loan of the Donkey and trap to travel there. At that time there was no evidence of any building in that field. Some time later the priest returned happy that he had got clay from the home of his ancestors. He said he was now going to the White Man's Grave as a missionary. I think this would have been the part of Africa now known as Ghana. He said he would keep in contact. He sent two letters in the following year. We can only speculate on what happened to him after that. In 1978, while removing a hedge in that field, I found an old pair of Iron Pothooks, which probably belonged to the inhabitants of that place. This land seems to have been in use for about 4,000 years.
Again in 1956, I found a couple of stone axes which were used about 1,500 - 2000 BC, a few years before the Pyramids in Egypt were built. I also found a small decorated whetstone and some early Iron Age animal shoes. I sold some of those artefacts to the National Museum for the princely sum of ten shillings, 50p in today's money. 65.5 Euro Cent (Since 1st January 2002)
Dr. John Feehan, Biologist/Geologist, TCD, and Author, told me that a number of boulders weighing over a tonne each, found in the first pasture, and now pushed into the hedge, are not native to this area. He thinks they came from the Clonaslee area, and probably were part of some ancient monument. One would wonder how and why did anybody go to so much trouble moving such rocks this distance, probably before the wheel was invented. The farm my grandmother inherited was a collection of small holdings, which supported a number of families, who either died out or sold out, or emigrated in the bad old times. Those pieces of land were brought together to form a bigger farm. This process continues today and it takes more land to support the present lifestyle. The young people who would have given their lives for a piece of ground a generation ago, are now being attracted away with the prospect of earning more money in fewer hours under better conditions than their forefathers enjoyed. Happily the land is not being abandoned, neighbouring farmers would be willing to increase their farm size if they could compete with the speculators. Some of these speculators are ironically the descendants of those smallholders who moved away a few generations ago.
Another part of this out farm had a place called the Haggard. This was a small square about a quarter acre, which was left idle until 1956. When I ploughed it up I found a cobble stone floor, or yard, which I presume was the remains of another family's homestead. Again, at the entrance to the Big Field there is a stony area where I ploughed up a miniature iron for ironing clothes. This could mark the site of another holding. The pastures of the out-farm had two Hazel Scrub areas about an acre each. Nowadays those scrubs would be considered a waste of land, but to our ancestors they were very important. Apart from providing nuts and blackberries, "The Scrub" gave refuge to cattle and horses from insects and Warble flies in summer and shelter from extreme weather at other times. Rabbits, Hares, Pheasants and pigeons, could be got here and provided nutritious food for the natives when they were able to snare or shoot them. Timber for firewood, furniture making, basket weaving and scallops for thatching were also got from those scrubs.
One day my father brought his little brother to visit their neighbours Peter and Maggie Cartwright. They had just finished their dinner and Maggie gave my uncle a little dish of desert, the young fellow never having seen custard before looked at it suspiciously and then looked at Peter saying "D.U.8. shite. Peter? when Peter said he didn't, my uncle said, "nadir do I", and politely pushed the dish away from him. He was quickly brought home by his embarrassed brother, who was seven years older than him, much to the amusement of the Cartwrights.
The Cartwrights were a good-natured couple who enjoyed a bit of music and fun. One night they were having a bit of a party but things didn't go according to plan and a ballad composed by John Delaney, a man who worked in this area in the '20's', described what happened at this "ball" as he called it. My late father Paddy Dempsey (Pop) was always asked to sing this ballad, when there was a bit of a singsong. We have a tape of my father singing this song and a few years ago our neighbour Charlie Moran, got it put on a CD as a surprise for my birthday. I hope nobody will be offended if I print the words as the descendents or relatives of some of the people mentioned are still living. For the purpose of the ballad "Gawk Street" was probably the stretch of road from Jamestown Cross to the junction with Ballyadding Lane. "Beggars Bush" was an old tree near Cartwrights now long gone. The time was shortly after the "Truce" in the War of Independence.
According to the 1901 Census of Ireland, the people recorded in the house were, Peter and his wife Margaret, Margarets mother Mary Dempsey, their three children, Mary seven years old, Roseanne four years old, and Patrick one year old. In the Rath School Rollbook of Ballybrittas, there is mention of Mary 1899 (the seven year old) and James 1909, both from Jamestown. Maybe James was a brother born after the 1901 Census.
9)THE BALLAD OF CARTWRIGHTS BALL
Now all of you young people of Gawk Street draw near
To a few simple verses I pray you to hear
Concerning a dance that we had the other night
And how the irregulars tricked Peter Cartwright.
There was ladies from Dublin came down to this Ball
They sent invitations to the boys one and all
One of those ladies her name was Miss Green
She commandeered Paddy Boland to fix her machine
Another young lady we don't know her name
They say she's a daughter of Alderman Stein
She soon got acquainted I heard the boys say
With a big Civic Guard that came over from Lea.
Those ladies from Dublin were select and sublime
Used to Professors or men of that kind
But they were disappointed and at a great loss
When they met the Professors from Jamestown Cross
When the supper was over we started to dance
They took out the table to give us a chance
The boys then got busy they carried out one
When they went with the second the first one was gone
Mike Lawlor ran in with the story to tell
Be the hokey says Mag sure the "owl" gates gone as well
There's no law or order there'll never be peace
'till they take every dam thing I have round the place.
Oh out into Gawk Street poor Peter did rush
He thought he heard footsteps around Beggars Bush
Come on boys we have them he loudly did shout
But who was it but Mag who was prowling about
Be the Hokey says Peter I thought you were Hick
I was near coming down on your head with this brick
Begorren says Mag sure tis well that you spoke
Or you'd get this "owl" two-grain to the ring of your throat
Says Paddy McLoughlin I don't care a dam
If I don't get some some supper I'll stay where I am
I'm jazzin all t'evening on one little bun
How the hell could ya expect a poor divil to run
You know says Mat Weir we don't carry guns
All we've got here is a few little buns
The least we expected was something to ate
They may all go to hell with your table and gate
You know says Bill Hickey I think there's no use
I only joined up since the time of the Truce
If they bring back the forces and make an attack
I'm greatly afraid I'll be shot in the back
"Hould" on, says George Kelly, lads don't get too hot
you'll run into an ambush and get us all shot
Don't go any farther I'd rather you'd stop
For there's something inside me beginnin to hop
That's right says Jack Murphy, I feel just the same
I "et" something curious I don't know its name
Its "rowlin" inside me and growlin like hell
Sure I think its the divil that that's making me swell.
So now to conclude and to finish my song
I hope through it all that I said nothing wrong
And the next time that Maggie is giving a tare
We'll all go together and bring the Grey Mare
Maggy Cartwright was born and reared here in Jamestown; she was a daughter of Michael and Mary Dempsey (not related to our family). When I say not related I mean we are not first or second cousins, but we may well be related a few generations back. As if to prove prenuptial agreements are not a new invention, I have an agreement made 14/1/1893. Margaret (Maggy) was going to marry Peter Cartwright of Lackagh, Monasterevin, of Co. Kildare. A short summery of this agreement follows. In its original form it covers two large pages,
In the event of and in consideration of an intended marriage between Margaret Dempsey daughter of the said Michael and Mary Dempsey. The said Michael Dempsey agrees to give after his death and that of his wife his interest in his holding at Jamestown in the Queens County containing in or about 8 Irish Acres 1 Rood held under contract of yearly tenancy from Captain Hetherington together with all crops stock and implements, house and furniture thereon and therein to the said Peter Cartwright and his intended wife Margaret Dempsey. The said Peter Cartwright from the date of his marriage is to have the management of the business of the said farm. The said Peter Cartwright agrees to bring into the said place the sum of sixty pounds in the following manner. Thirty pounds in cash, fifteen to be paid to Michael Dempsey. Two two-year-old cattle representing twenty pounds in value. Ten pounds balance of a legacy left to him by his mother. Peter agrees to maintain Michael and his wife in the manner in which they have hereto lived during their lives.
Signed in the presence of Patrick Daly Solicitor, Monasterevin, by Michael Dempsey Mary Dempsey Peter Cartwright.
Margaret Cartwrights house eventually fell into ruins and a Land Commission house was built on the Holding in 1936, when there was extra land added to the farm. At this stage Billy Hickey, his mother, and an uncle, Peter Collins, moved into the place. Peter and the Mother died in the 1940s, and Billy moved out when he got married in 1949 to Mary Anne Steele from Mountrath direction. The remains of one of the gables of the old house are in the fence dividing our holding from the site next door. The other gable is incorporated in a shed in the other site.
This shed caused a bit of a court case when it was built in the 1950s. Dan Colbert, (whose brother, Con Colbert, was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising here in Ireland), was the owner at that time, employed Joe Whelan to construct the shed on a time and material basis. When the job was completed there was a dispute, which ended up in Court. Mr Colbert claimed there couldnt be the number of hours in a fortnight, which Mr Whelan was claiming. The day of the Court Case, my father was clipping the little hedge in front of our Cottage, when he saw Joe cycling past going home. My father shouted, How did the case go? Joe waved his arm laconically and without turning his head said. Im afraid they shot the wrong man This was in reference to Con Colbert, the brother. The railway station in Limerick and a road in Dublin are named after Con Colbert. Dan Colbert never lived here but he rented the house out and his hobby was to come every day where he spent a lot of time cutting Furze/Gorse bushes, and making shores to improve the drainage. One year he grew barley and it turned out to be one of the wettest in the last century. With a lot of difficulty the crop was saved but probably left no profit. After that he let the land and eventually sold it after his wife died. He then sold his house where he lived in Portlaoise and moved to Tulla Hill in Co. Clare. Dan Colbert was a retired jockey and won the Irish Grand National in 1920 on a horse called HOLSTON, and in 1921 on a horse called BOHERMORE - he later sold the house to our neighbour Ned Boland and the land to Duffys and myself.
11)MY GRANDMOTHER SARAH-ANNE COADY
My grandmother would have lived in the times depicted in stories like Angela's Ashes. Many families in this area did not experience extreme deprivation; although at one time when she was refused a loaf of bread because she hadnt the cash to pay for it, another shopkeeper offered her a 10-stone bag of flour (63.5 Kgs). Now there was a lot that could be done with this flour, apart from soda bread, she could make griddle bread, potato cakes, pancakes, scones, tarts etc. Flour was even used to stick wallpaper, and when the cotton flourbag was empty it was ripped and made into a sheet or some people even made items of underwear from them.
The Kildare Football Team were sometimes sarcastically called the flour bags I dont know if they really ever used flour bags, but they still use white gear and are now more respectfully referred to as the Lilly Whites. But there probably wasn't a parish, which hadn't families who took hardship for granted. My grandmother would share the little she had with the less fortunate. A mug of tea, a slice of bread and butter, a few eggs or potatoes was much appreciated by neighbour or traveller who came the way. With her family she would be happy to divide the pound note, now 1.27 Euro Cent, which her daughter Kathleen who was nursing in England, would send home during the 2nd World War. The pound could be divided into 8 half crowns and each of us got one. Present equivalent of half a crown would be 12.5 pence. At that time it would go a long way. That kind of generosity was widespread at that period and we often welcomed a drink or a slice of bread and jam from our neighbours on the way to or from school. Granny helped us learn our prayers and Catechism. She also read us fairy tales from Grimm, Kitty the Hare, and the stories of Victor O. D. Power. Before we had a radio my grandmother would read the News and Court reports aloud for my mother, while she was busy making bread or tart or doing some other job.
12)OUR FIRST RADIO
Our first radio was purchased in 1950; it was a Philips Electric and cost 19. People of my vintage will recall the plays, like the Foley Family, The Kennedy's of Castleross on Radio Eireann or Dan Dare Pilot of the Future on 208 Luxemburg. Hospitals Sweepstake had a half hour sponsored music programme presented by Ian Priestly Mitchell, and there were many quarter hour sponsored programmes like Donnelley's which started like this, "Its true they're the talk of the Nation, the sausages Donnelley's make. They're so good they're still a sensation with a flavour you cannot mistake, etc., set to the music of the Mexican Hat Dance. Waltons programme was hosted by Leo Maguire who had about seven records, which he played in different sequence each week, and he would finish with the 'Bold Fenian Men' march medley saying, "If you feel like singing do sing an Irish song. Mitchelstown the home of good cheese started and ended with Jimmy Shand playing Scotland the Brave. Din Joe, whose real name was Dennis Joseph Fitzgibbon, and a car dealer by day had a programme of music, funny stories and Irish dancing lessons each week. This programme invited us to "lift the latch, open the door, step right in, and take the floor"
Another popular program at that time was "The Ballad Makers Saturday Night". Taking part usually were Martin Dempsey, Joe Lynch, and Charlie Magee, singing Irish songs and ballads. Charlie lived near Ballybrittas on the Rath road in the Rustic Lodge, for a few years, and later on his brother who became a priest, Father John Magee, was secretary to Pope John Paul the second. He is now a bishop in Cork. One of Charlie's favourite ballads was probably "The Homes of Donegal". The character in the ballad travels around the country and hopes to find a comfortable place to sleep each night. Charlie would accompany himself on his guitar, and the ballad is sung in three/four time. And the first verse went something like this:
I've just dropped in to see you all I'll only stay awhile
I want to see how you're getting on I want to see you smile
I'm happy to be back again to greet you big and small
Oh there's no place else on earth just like the homes of Donegal.
I'll skip the middle verses and go to the last:
The time has come when I must go and bid you all adieu
The open highway calls on me to do the things I do
And when I'm tramping far away I'll hear your voices call
And please God I'll soon return again to the homes of Donegal.
13)RATH CATHOLIC CHURCH
Jack Adair was one of the most unpopular landlords in this country, and I heard a story of him asking one of his agents one day if he was afraid of him. The agent said he feared Jack more than God Almighty; of course this is how Jack liked to be regarded. There was the story of an altercation between Jack and the local Catholic priest, which I won't print in case it conflicts with other peoples' version. Sufficient to say that the priest gave Jack what turned out to be a very accurate prediction of events leading up to Jacks demise. Jack donated 50, towards the building fund for the new church which is now in Rath. Rumour says that this donation rather than being a token of support was to encourage the Catholics to build their church away from the original chosen site, which would have been in view of Jack's house. The site where Rath Church is built backs down close to Sallyfort stream and I believe there was as much material under the foundation as there was over the ground. In the end only the stone suppliers and masons benefited from Jack's donation.
14)THE ADAIR'S OF RATHDAIRE
The above picture is Jack Adair's grave on the right hand side of Lea Church.
The Adairs were originally from Scotland and came to this part of the world about 1690 at the time of the battle of the Boyne. George and his son John George, better known as Jack, built a State of the Art farmyard at Belgrove in 1851. To justify their investment they ejected their tenants from the best land in Ballyaddan, Rathroinsin, Belgrove, etc., expecting to run the land more efficiently in a larger unit, rather than depending on what they could extract from their tenants.
Jack himself acquired more land in Tipperary, Kildare, and Donegal, and also a large ranch in Texas called the JA Ranch. He died in 1885 on his way home from the States, aged 62 years. Thanks to Dr. Bob Spiegelman of New York we have learned a great deal more about the JA Ranch and Jacks connections with it, as well as Glenveagh in Donegal.
When the Irish Land Commission acquired the Estate in 1935 they divided it among some of the Estate employees and enlarged many of the small farms in the area. The farmyard was divided between four families, and four of the farm buildings were converted into dwellings. Later on three of the families moved elsewhere or changed from farming. As the other families left the murphy family bought out the rest of the yard. Michael Murphy Sr. was yardman on the Estate when he was a youth and he got a quarter of the farmyard in the 1935 divide, and he lived on to see his family own the whole farmyard eventually.
15)RATHDAIRE PROTESTANT PARISH CHURCH
The Church of the Ascension
Church of Ireland
When Jack died in Texas in 1885, his body was brought back to Ireland and is buried in the cemetary beside Lea Church, about half way between Jamestown and Portarlington. Two years later in 1887 his wife Cornelia got a very ornate little church built close to Ballybrittas in memory of her husband and his father. See above picture. This was often referred to as the "lump of gold" on account of the fact that nothing was spared in its construction. Cornelia died in 1921, and her ashes rest in the church which she built. A Church of Ireland service is celebrated here most Sunday mornings, the exception being if there is a fifth Sunday in the month, a combined service rotates with other C of I Churches in the area.
Recently this church has been promoted, and is now the Parish Church of Rathdaire. And for the first time in its history on the 19th November 2006 a group of young people were confirmed by the bishop, most Revd. Richard Clarke. Before her death in 1921 Cornelia expressed a wish that at some time her church would be a Parish Church, and now eighty years later her wish has come true.
Adair's beautiful house in Belgrove was accidently burned in 1887. This house was big by any standard, two storey over basement and had about 26,000 square feet of floor space. The shell of it is still standing, and the front is still in fair condition.
This photo was taken in July 2006 The building stands on private ground. At the moment it is considered unsafe to explore.
17)MY GRANDMOTHERS PARENTS PATRICK COADY AND MARY FRANCES KELLY
HOW PATRICK COADY WAS ENCOURAGED TO LEAVE BELLGROVE.
Patrick Coady was farming 52 Irish Acres (about 80 Statute Acres) close to Adairs farmyard, known as Coadys Hill. One day while he was in his field thinning turnips he heard voices on the other side of the hedge of two people talking as they walked along the road. Coady kept his head down. He heard the other person ask Mr. Adair who owned that fine strip of land there. Adair said that it was Coadys and he would soon be getting rid of him. Some time later Coady was notified that his rent was being adjusted upwards. So himself and a neighbour, a grandfather of Tom (Saddler) Behan, who had also got notice, decided to approach Adair to see if the increase could be reduced. They were getting nowhere in their negotiations and gave up. Shortly after leaving and on the way home they decided to go back and offer a little more. When Mr. Adair came out to them Coady said, It looks like we are going to get a change in the weather, the crows are doing a lot of swooping and diving around this evening. Adair said, Ah what the hell do the crows know about the weather? You hardly came back here to discuss the crows or the weather with me The men said no Mr. Adair we are coming back to offer another one shilling and sixpence an acre for the land. Adair said I told you how much the land is so take it or leave it. Coady knew well that the increased rent would quickly let him fall into arrears and like many of his neighbours let him face eviction.
After this Coady moved to Fisherstown where he remained until a fine farm at Killinure near Monasterevin became available. Patrick Coady married Mary Frances Kelly daughter of Paul Kelly of Mountrath in January 1875. In November of the same year 1875 their eldest Elizabeth was born, followed by Patrick in July 1877, and last came Sarah-Anne born September 1879. All born in Killinure. But unfortunately within seven years of their marriage both parents died, Mary Frances in 1881 and Patrick in 1882. . Coincidentally according to my late father Patrick Dempsey Patrick Coadys cousin, another Patrick Coady, from the Canal at Fisherstown, died at the same time, and their funerals met at The Hermitage Crossroads, and proceeded to Killinard Cemetary where they are buried.
After the death of their parents the children were sent to live with their grandfather Paul Kelly in Mountrath. The proceeds of the sale of the interest in the Killinure farm livestock and machinery were lodged in trust for the children in the Munster Savings Bank in Mountrath. When their grandfather heard that the Bank had gone broke he realized his savings plus his grandchildrens money was lost, he fell dead in his own yard. That was 1888. The three young children were then moved to Abbeyview Cottage in Jamestown to their fathers sisters, Aunts Mary and Julia, and their Uncle Mick Connor who was married to their Aunt Mary. Mick Connor was an uncle of Anthony Connor who lived where the Hogans live now. Julia was unmarried. Julia and Mary were sisters of Patrick Coady and Honora Cassidy, (nee Coady)who was married to Michael Cassidy, father of William Cassidy. Another sister of Patrick Coadys was Eliza who was married to John Donoher of the Foundry at Fisherstown, close to Flynn's sandpit. Their house and farmyard were still there up to the 1970's
Elizabeth the eldest of the three children was training to be a confectioner when she died at the early age of 18 years in Jamestown in 1894, Patrick the next eldest died in the early 1900s - after qualifying to be a cabinet maker. His tools and toolbox remained on the farm for many years but naturally most of them have disappeared. Sarah-Anne my grandmother married Michael Dempsey from Treascon near Portarlington, who died in 1919 after only 8 years of marriage just before their last child was born, that was my Uncle Mike. She herself died in 1963 at the age of 84, during the time of the open air dancing at Jamestown.
18)ADAIR AND HIS AGENT MALONE CONSPIRACY
According to tradition, one farmer on the Ballyaddan side of the Adair Estate near what is known as Ballyaddan Lane, was holding out stubbornly so Adair instructed his Agent Malone to get the mans papers. This was an Indenture or Contract between the tenant and the landlord to authorise the tenant to occupy that piece of land. One Sunday when the tenant was gone to mass, Malone the Agent entered the mans house and removed the piece of paper. There was probably no lock on the door which made it easier for Malone to do his job. Iremember that our cottage had no lock all the time I was growing up, anyway a neighbour used to say that a lock only kept out honest people. A few days later Adair ordered this man to vacate the property immediately or prove that he was legally there. Of course the tenant went to get his documents but there was nothing to be found. When this tenant was gone Adair was able to complete his 100 Irish Acre field which early maps show had about 12 families. His ploughmen were able to plough one circuit of this field before dinner and an other circuit in the afternoon.
19)Irish Farmerss Gazette, September 17th 1853
This picture is a recent aeriel photograph of the farmyard which it's owner Jim Murphy allowed me to copy.
Jack Adairs father, J. G. Adair, died about 1870. He had been a very forward looking man and was continually planning and experimenting to find out newer methods of farming. He exhibited a model of his dream farm in the RDS in 1852
And here is a report from the Irish Farmerss Gazette, September 17th 1853
FARMING AT BELLGROVE QUEENS COUNTY. 1852-1865
. J.G. Adair Esq., Bellgrove, Ballybrittas, Queens County, exhibited a model of a farm suited for 1,000 acres, with accommodation for twenty horses and 300 head of cattle, besides piggeries, cart-sheds, liquid-manure tanks, etc., engine-house for an 8-horse steam-engine, to drive the necessary machinery. The great merit of this model is that it has been actually erected on Mr. Adairs farm in 1852, and can now to be seen in occupation. The model is most elaborately finished; the roofs are loose, that they may be taken off, when the whole internal fittings are discovered, and small well-finished figures of the cattle, horses, pigs, and attendants, presented to view, with its gates, pumps, troughs, tanks, etc. This beautiful model was made and executed by Mr. Joshua Anderson of No. 8, North Brunswick Street, Dublin. It is highly finished, and must have cost an immensity of labour, time, and trouble. A view of the model, and a visit to the reality at Ballybrittas, will well repay the anxious inquirer in such matters in sterling information
This model was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1853 in Leinster Lawn, and remained in the RDS. for a great many years afterwards. Nowadays there is no history of what happened to it.
A few extracts from the same paper, this time in April 19th 1855, may make some interesting reading:
This model has ever since remained in the Agricultural Museum of the Royal Dublin Society, to which it is presented by Mr. Adair. The vast farming operations, which must have rendered the erection of such an extensive suit of offices necessary excited farming journalists and large estate owners.
20)CORNELIA - TEXT TAKEN FROM THE JA RANCH WEBSITE
This picture of Cornelia was sent to us by Dr. Bill Green, Curator of the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Texas, with some others, because we had been exchanging photos and information about Jack Adair with him ever since he had started preparing an exhibition on the JA RANCH HISTORY. The Exhibition started on the 17th Feb 2007
and finishes in August 2007. DUE TO CONTINUED INTEREST DR. BILL GREEN HAS INFORMED US THAT THIS HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO APRIL 2008.
Cornelia's story is on the JA RANCH TEXAS Website, from which we took these few lines. (Just type up JA Ranch and the site comes up).
Cornelia Wadsworth was born in 1837 in Geneso, New York on a farm her ancestors had purchased from the Seneca Indians. Hence, her tradition was one of keeping land in the family. In 1857, she married Montgomery Ritchie of Boston. He served with the Second Infantry Battalion of the New England Guard during the Civil War, (1861-1865). After the battle of the Wilderness, Ritchie crossed the Confederate lines and retrieved the body of this father-in-law General James Wadsworth and escorted it back to Geneseo. Just a few months later, Ritchie was killed in battle.
Cornelia Ritchie took her two sons to Europe to be educated. While there, she met and married an Irish landowner named John Adair in 1867. The Adairs moved to New York, where Adair had already established a brokerage office (borrowing large sums in Ireland at 4% interest and lending small sums at 10% interest, but Adairs Irish temper was not adaptable to New York Citys society or to the Wadsworths peaceful farm life.
Just a couple of questions here-
On reading back over the above I was puzzled by the closeness of the dates so I sent a note to Dr. Bill Green, to ask him if he could verify these dates and the reason that Cornelia should bring such young children off to Europe. The following is his reply for which I thank him very much.
The dates are correct. Cornelia was born in 1837. She married Montgomery Ritchie in 1857 and gave birth to a male child who was born dead just a few months later. I suspect the child was premature because it was born less than nine months after they married. The child was not named but is buried in the Ritchie mausoleum in Boston. Ninia had never heard of that child. Then, Cornelia and Montgomery had the other two boys before Montgomery died in late 1864, as you know. These were Jack and Dick.
Ninia is the present owner of the JA Ranch in Texas and Great grandaughter of Cornelia, Montgomery Richie is her father, and Jack Richie is her Grandfather.
Cornelia probably did not move to Paris until after the American Civil War ended in 1865. She apparently moved to Paris because some other members of her family already lived there and they continued to live there for the rest of their lives. I have no idea why all of them moved there but one of her aunts had married a Frenchman, as I recall. Montgomery s brother and his family, including his mother, moved from Boston to Paris . So, I think Cornelia just wanted to be near these family members for support. Her father, supposedly the wealthiest Union officer in the Civil War, was killed in battle just a few months before Montgomery died in 1864. Cornelias oldest son died in Paris sometime probably before she married Adair in 1867 at Paris . They met in New York City at a party but married in Paris .
I think Cornelia did not get along with at least one of her brothers who lived in Geneseo , New York something having to do with her fathers estate after he was killed.
21)THE ADAIRS - FROM JA RANCH WEBSITE
During the year 1874, the Adairs journeyed west to Colorado, riding up the Platte River from Sidney, Nebraska, visiting Indian lodges as they went and protected by an escort of Cavalry. They spent the summer inspecting potential mining investments in Colorado. The highlight of their of their trip was a buffalo hunt guided by Charles Goodnight. Around the campfire at night, Goodnight told them of the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas and explained its unique properties for a cattle ranch where the cattle could roam as the buffalo did and thrive, grazing on the surrounding plains in the summer and wintering in the shelter of the canyons. Alas the buffalo hunt ended on an unfortunate note when John Adairs horse, galloping after buffalo, stepped in a prairie dog hole and fell. John Adairs gun accidentally discharged, killing his horse. John himself sustained serious injury as a result of the fall.
22)CHARLES GOODNIGHT - FROM JA RANCH WEBSITE
Returning in 1876, the Adairs rode with Mr. And Mrs. Goodnight from Pueblo, Colorado to the place where the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River had formed Palo Duro Canyon. Just two years earlier, the Indians had been subdued on what was to become the ranch near Battle Creek. Finding it as Mr. Goodnight had represented, they formed a five year term partnership with Goodnight. Charles Goodnight was to provide the know how and the Adairs the money to purchase the land to control the grazing of at one time almost one million acres of land on both sides of the Palo Duro Canyon. John Adairs initials became the brand.
23) THE COADY, CASSIDY and LUTTRELL Connection
This picture was given to us by our neighbour Babby McLoughlin, it would be at least a hundred years old.
Hanora and Michael Cassidy had eight children, two sons became Franciscan Brothers, another, Laurence, became a Franciscan priest, the above picture. A daughter Elizabeth became a nun. Another daughter Mary, married William Flynn (whose descendants are well known in the Fisherstown/Courtwood area). Another son William (Liam Cassidys grandfather) married Margaret Rourke of Rushin Mountrath, they had twelve children. The best known of this family would be Laurence who served his apprenticeship in Dublin to the Drapery Trade, and later established Cassidys' Drapers of Georges Street Dublin. Another daughter, Nora, served her apprenticeship with "Pims" of Georges Street Dublin, and afterwards with her sisters, Nan and Kit, established "Madame Nora's" in O'Connell Street. Another son Bill, Liam Cassidy's father whose daughter Mary kindly gave me a copy of their family tree, for which we are very grateful and from which we were able to fill in many gaps on that side of the family. Thank you Mary. Bill married Nora Doyle from County Kerry and remained on the family farm in Fisherstown, until he sold it in 1929 to his cousin Bill Flynn, father of the present owner Jimmy Flynn, after 127 years in Fisherstown. The Cassidy family then moved to Ballyfoyle, near Maganey, where the farming business is still carried on.
When Sarah-Anne and her brother came to Jamestown they brought some money with them from the disposal of the Mountrath property, and which was invested in the farm to buy machinery. This included a McCormack Reaper and Binder and Hornsby Corn drill, and also helped improve buildings and clear some outstanding accounts. When her cousin Father Cassidy, son of Honora (a sister of Patrick Coadys) and Michael Cassidy, heard of the way the children's money was being used he drafted an agreement between them and their Uncle Mick. This document gave them the right to remain in Jamestown after their Uncle and Aunts had passed away.
When her Uncle Mick died his nephew Anthony Connor came to Jamestown to take possession of the Cottage and land. He contested Sarah-Annes right to inherit the holding. (Her brother and sister had already died). At that time women had no rights and no vote in elections. But with Father Cassidys help and the signed agreement she won her case.
Anthony Connor was married to Brigid Donoher of the Foundry in Fisherstown, and they had a daughter Lizzie, who married Dinny Boland of Vicarstown and grandmother of Owen Boland the Vet. Brigid Donohers sister Elizabeth, was married to the McLoughlins grandfather Tom McLoughlin, of Jamestown Cross, and another sister, Nora, was married to Ned Bolands grandfather Ned, also of Jamestown Cross..
Another sister Maria Donoher married John Shelley of Rosenallis. Her sister Catherine married first of all Garret Tynan of Jamestown, then after his death, Michael Flood of Fisherstown.
Two sisters died young.
There were three boys, John the eldest of the family and Dan and Patrick. John married Margaret Nolan and their daughter Elizabeth married Dan Luttrell father of Simon Luttrell of Fisherstown. This detailed information on the Donoher family was kindly given to us by Simon Luttrell's son Simon Noel Luttrell of Newbridge. Thank you Noel.
Eliza Coady who was married to John Donoher (parents of the seven Donoher girls and three sons) was the sister of Patrick Coady, Honora Cassidy wife of Michael Cassidy, Mary wife of Mick Connor of Abbeyview Cottage, Jamestown, and Julia Coady who remained unmarried and lived with Mary and Mick Connor in Abbeyview Cottage.
24)Sara Anne Coady
The above picture of a tapestry which hung for many years in the parlour of Abbeyview Cottage, is the story of JESUS AND THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL, done by Mary Frances (Kelly) Coady, Sara Anne's mother, while at school in Mountrath c 1850. This piece of work must have taken a lot of time and patience as I reckon there are about 67,960 stitches making up the picture. As Mary Frances died so young Sara Anne had no knowledge of her mother and this picture was very precious to her.
There was not much joy in the life of Sara Anne as her husband died before their 5th child Michael, was born. In 1932 when her eldest son George reached 21, he died of Kidney failure caused by a disease known in this area as Minayrac, with symptoms similar to Undulant fever or Brucellusis. At that time there was no medical cure for this disease. Doctor Michael Beauchamp Dooley a well-respected General Practitioner and former ships surgeon, practicing in Portarlington at that time, treated him. George had no belief in quacks but when the Doctors medicine was doing no good he agreed to try the alternative. But by the time he agreed to take the herb-bottle his condition was irreversible.
The herb, which was used to treat the Minayrac, grew in old pastures and I often picked the plants for Mrs. Switzer of Monasterevan or Mrs. Fitzgerald when I was a young lad. The plant has become almost extinct since the use of artificial fertilisers, paddock grazing, and topping of grass. On our farm a few plants still survive in the yard away from the hazards listed above. Mrs. Fitzgerald passed on the recipe and prayer to her daughter May (now married to Frank Dempsey, not related to our family). Unfortunately, by the time George got the necessary treatment there was too much damage done.
At that time also there were people who could cure Shingles, Hepatitis, Hemorrhage, Erysipelas, warts, varuca, and numerous other conditions, even skin cancer, some of which are still difficult to cure with modern medicines. Those cures were handed down from generation to generation and there is still a fair demand for them. In times when doctors and vets were few and far between, both animals and humans were treated with either faith healing or homeopathic methods. Jim Tynan, also known as the Herd Tynan, was very much in demand in those days before Mr. Con Keane set up his vetinerary practice in Portarlington in the 1940's. Jim was formally herdsman for the Adaire estate in his younger days, and was experienced in treating all sorts of diseases and conditions in farm animals. There was usually no charge for such remedies, although small gifts were accepted. Tragedy again struck when her daughter Mary died in 1939 aged 30.
25)TO SCHOOL THROUGH THE FIELDS
When we went to Rath National school, Ballybrittas, in the '40's we tried to devise short cuts; there was no way to get there without crossing Sallyfort Stream. Most of the year there was no problem as we could use stepping stones. In bad weather it was harder to get across and the older children helped the smaller ones. Sometimes there was a slip and both the helper and the helped landed in the drink. Although Sallyfort Stream was a hell of a lot smaller than the Nile or the Mississippi that Mr. O'Donnell was teaching us about, one could feel fairly miserable on a winter's morning after crawling out of it. If we went into school wet we would be put near the fire to dry. The fire wouldn't be great, maybe a few wet sods from Ferny Bog in Rathadare. We didn't complain, as most of us hadn't much better at home. Of course there were also good years and if the dry period was too long this also caused problems. The Stream and the pond dried up and on those occasions we had to carry drinking water for our animals from Fenlons meadow ditch. There was a spring there, which never went dry, and we were lucky to have this source of water in the field next to ours.
Our first teacher was Miss McCarthy. When the weather got warm she insisted we remove our shoes or boots while in school. Soon we left our footwear at home and went in our bare feet maybe from Easter to October. This didn't damage either our feet or our egos. Well at odd times we picked up a thorn, a stone bruise, or a piece of glass, but things were back to normal in a few days. It probably saved our parents a fortune in repair bills. In those days everything was repaired, even bicycle tyres were sewn with binder twine to extend their useful life.
Many of us left school after Primary, and higher education would entail the making of a straw or corn rick, or repairing a roof. Travelling one and a half or two miles to school across country was an education in itself. Coming from a farm we were interested in what was taking place on the other farms along the way. We crossed the lands at Rath House, and there we first saw a Fordson Tractor with Spadelug iron wheels ploughing with a trailer plough. Those tractors were a simple machine compared to the models out now. The engine had four cylinders, spark plugs and a magneto to supply the spark. There was no battery or self starter, a few turns of the starting handle got it running. The fuel tank had two compartments. A small one to hold petrol for starting and the larger compartment held Kerosene or T.V.O. which ran the tractor while the engine was warm during the working hours. There was an iron seat for the driver. It was here in Blands' lawn that we saw the first electric fence in our area. We could not see how a small strand of wire crossing a field could control big cattle, any doubt we had were dispelled when we tried touching this fence, and of course we encouraged others to have a go just to see the reaction to the shock,of the animals and humans, which was often very amusing
The first Combine we saw was in McLoughlins of Jamestown House. This was a Super Claas trailed machine pulled and driven by a large Nuffield tractor. It could cut corn, bag the grain, and bundle the straw, replacing about fifteen to seventeen men who usually took part at a thrashing. It could also be brought around from stack to stack to thrash corn that had already been cut.
We watched with interest as the men in Blands' farm hand dug a silage pit and used the sods to make the sides and end. The grass was gathered and carried in on a buck rake, the men spread the grass with forks and tightened it down with a big horse. The resultant silage was cut out and carted to the cattle in the winter. The smell of this stuff was distinctive to say the least, and if it got on our hands or clothes it lingered.
I FIRST GOT INTERESTED IN BEES WHEN I WAS ABOUT 4 OR 6 YEARS OLD. At that time Dick O'Connor or Frank Carroll senior would give my parents some sections of honey at some stage during the honey season. This was the nicest stuff I ever tasted and when I heard it was made by bees I thought it wouldn't be too difficult to get into bees myself on a small scale for a start. The field at the back of our house had a lot of white clover so there was plenty of bees there every sunny day. I went out to the field with a matchbox and some sugar. None of the bees volunteered to get into my box and I was surprised when some of them stung me for helping them into the container. For a good while I didn't seem to be making much progress, when I had three bees and tried to capture more, the first couple escaped. I brought home the few I had captured and was disappointed when they forgot to come back when they were allowed out to collect honey for me.
After that I gave up the idea, as there seemed to be something slightly wrong with my plan. When I was much older I found out that I was short of about 30,000 workers, a queen and some drones. Things rested so, and about twelve years later Dick Connor invited me to go to collect a swarm of bees in Ballyaddan lane. We brought the necessary equipment and when we reached the place where the swarm was hanging there seemed to be thousands clinging to each other in the shape of a big Rugby Ball. Dick broke away a few branches to allow a wooden box he had to fit under the swarm. He gave the bough the bees were hanging on a quick shake and practically all the bees feel into the box. He put a lid on the box and turned the whole thing upside down, wrapped a cloth around it and tied it securely to prevent the bees from escaping. We then brought the swarm to Dick's place where he had an empty hive waiting. A board was placed on front of the hive resting on the landing board to form a ramp. A piece of white cloth was then put on this ramp. When he shook the bees from the box onto this ramp the bees looked confused for a few minutes, then a .few started to walk up the ramp and enter the hive. Shortly the whole swarm was moving in the right direction and I suppose they were all gone into the hive in a quarter of an hour. The whole operation looked so simple I was surprised more people weren't involved in Bee keeping.
This rekindled my interest in bees, but it was about 1962 when I got two hives from Pat Finnegan. Now the problem with these bees was they did not like either humans or animals coming within a hundred yards of their hives. It would take a small book to explain how relations between those bees and myself improved to a stage where I could work with them in my vest on warm sunny days and get up to 80 or 90 lbs., of honey in a year.
Talking of bees reminds me of the local fellow who went to a certain part of the country on a holiday, he booked into a B&B and the following morning with his breakfast the lady of the house gave him some toast and honey. He mustn't have been impressed with the amount of honey he got, because when he saw it he said to the lady, "you must keep a bee Missus"
Occasionally Mr. O'Donnell would ask us to write an essay describing birds' nests. This was one of our favourite subjects, as we would know where the different birds had their nests. According to the Wild Life Conservancy, there was 85 species of breeding bird in Laois (1968-72). It would take a book to hold the details of birds we could recognise but I will mention a few. The wren had a cosy little nest made of moss complete with roof
and lined with cows' hairs or small feathers set in a low hedge or bank. The Magpie had a similar shaped nest but it was made of thorns and located on the tallest Blackthorn or Whitethorn bush.
Crows seemed to choose tall trees that had no branches on the trunks anywhere in reach of young lads. We believe they laid black eggs but found out later that they were dark green with dark spots. Blackbirds' and Thrushes' nests are very similar to each other, the thrushe's nest being finished with smooth plaster, with five smooth eggs of a lovely green colour with dark spots. Wood Pigeons made very little attempt, and only arranged a few sticks on which two white eggs were balanced. The Plover made even less attempt, they just laid four eggs, light brown with dark spots in the middle of a ploughed field, and was practically invisible. Moore Hens or Water Hens build their nest at water level at the stream or pond. The baby chicks are like little balls of black fluff and start to swim as soon as they are hatched. Moore Hens seem to have a long-range weather forecast system and if they build the nest a foot or two over the water, very often the water will rise to that height before the eggs are hatched. The Crane we were told left two holes in the bottom of its nest to let its legs hang out. I later found one of these nests with four green eggs like duck eggs, but no holes. The parent simply folds their legs and sits on the nest. The Cuckoo made no nest; she simply deposited her eggs in other birds' nests and allowed her young to be reared by foster parents.
I suppose the first birds that facinated me were the swallows. Outside the back door of the Cottage was a turf shed and each year one or two pairs of swallows built their nests on the collar ties of this shed - and other sheds on the farm. If the weather was wet they would get enough mud to build their nests in about a week, and it was then lined with cattle hair or small feathers. I still look forward to the arrival of the swallows - about Good Friday each year. With them comes the hope of a good growing season, and a pleasant summer.
If mud is scarce in hot weather they sometimes refurbish an old nest where five
white eggs with brown spots are laid. About thirteen days later the babies hatch out. Their eyes are closed and they are completely naked. The parents feed them midges at the start and gradually work up to bigger flies. Eventually they are eating about two and a half times their own weight in flies each day. If swallows and other birds - and spiders - didn't eat flies the earth would be covered several feet deep with flies at the end of the Summer.
If I were asked to nominate a wild bird for an Oscar, it would probably be the Mallard. I am walking along the bank of a stream, about thirty yards ahead I see a duck limping out into the field. I think it has a broken leg and quicken my steps to get a closer look. The duck is keeping a safe distance ahead of me so I make a sprint after it; at this stage the duck tries to fly with one wing so I think it also has a broken wing. I rush up to catch it but it rises a few yards flutters on 25 or 30 yds and nose dives into the ground a few times. By this time I am probably 100 yds more from where the duck came out of the stream. At this stage the duck makes a remarkable recovery and flies down stream another few hundred yards, having lured me away from it's nest of eggs or young brood.
I am not the first or last to be tricked by a bird. Maybe I have said enough about the birds. I will say something about the Bees later!
The hedges in addition to making fences between roads and fields and separating farms gave shelter to animals and birds, provided flowers and fruits in different seasons. We would pick Hazel Nuts, Blackberries, Wild Strawberries, Damsons, Crab Apples, Cherries, Rose Hips, Elderberries and other berries and buds on our journey to and from school.
Web sites are not new, although of course the ones we studied on our way to school were a far cry from the WWW types, which the modern generation talks about. The best examples could be seen on a wire fence on a foggy morning. Most of those were works of art, but when the moisture dried off with the heat of the sun, these websites were a deadly trap for flying insects coming in contact with them. The Gossamer in a spider's web is still a mystery to scientists who have not succeeded in creating anything to match it for strength.
Many of the sounds we heard in our youth have now disappeared. Some of the old houses had crickets, which chiruped especially if it was going to rain, they were harmless little creatures and looked like Grass Hoppers or Locusts, silver grey in colour and ate crumbs which they found on the floor when we went to bed at night. Outside you heard the Grasshoppers (green in colour) in summer. The Corncrake could be heard day or night and would be found in the meadows or corn crops. The Partridge was heard mostly at dusk. The sound of the Cuckoo is rarely heard nowadays, although we heard one a few weeks ago over in Treascon near Portarlington. The sound of the Skylark singing as she raised herself hundreds of feet into the air until she was practically invisible, on a summer's day, is now drowned out by the noise of the big John Deere, Massy Ferguson, or Ford Tractors as they go about their business. These tractors in turn are being replaced by the earthmovers clearing the way for motorways, large building schemes, and super shopping centres which squeeze the small shopkeepers out of existence. These shopkeepers would have kept our parents and grandparent alive by giving them goods on credit for a month or even a year, and then still gave them something off the bill when it was being cleared. Then at Christmas there was always something extra put in the basket as a gift. Contrast this with the modern barcode machine and its owner who does not care whether your father came home from hospital or if little Mary got her first Communion. His main object being to meet the income target for the week.
Any bird or animal we found on our travels might be brought home to recuperate or be domesticated. I remember on one occasion Granny was not amused to find a number of half reared squealing Jackdaws in the boiler house, she ran into the house to tell my mother that "that fellow" referring to me, "has some divil out in the shed". After they explained to me that the parents of these birds would be worried about their children, I returned them to their nest. Another time she was even less impressed when she was confronted by a large injured CRANE (or Heron) which I brought home.
The next time she reacted like this was probably some time after we got the radio, I decided it would be handy if I could listen to it when I was in bed. I brought a cable from the speaker of the radio and connected it to a sort of an extension I made from some brown paper, a magnet and some light copper wire. One day Granny came into the room and heard this thing talking and playing music, she went to my father and said "Eh Paddy, will ya see what dat fella has in his room" My father thought it was a great yoke as long as it didn't electrocute somebody or burn down the house. Another time I caused a bit of alarm when Willie Lalor and my father were listening to a football match. I had some ingredients in a polish tin beside the open fire which was there at the time - when I put a spark to the tin there was a bit of an explosion causing both the tin and the lads to jump. My father said not to mind that fellow, he's always messing with something.
28)SKITTLES AT JAMESTOWN CROSS
A man my own age Jimmy McLoughlin of Jamestown Cross emigrated to England not long after leaving school, and he sent me a poem of his recollections of the area before he left. He called it "Playing Skittles". Maybe somebody would like to share it with me.
Vividly I see each face as it were but yesterday
Though fifty years have crept along I'm sad to say
Now most of them have passed, they who lost the toss
The men who once played skittles here at Jamestown Cross
They gathered here as was their fare
When the good days work was done
An hour of relaxation hard earned by everyone
Tobacco was the magnet, it was sold in Boland's Bar
By paper tube or old clay pipe the odour drifted far
and brought a smile of comfort as each forgot his loss
The men who once played skittles here at Jamestown Cross.
Each story told to better the one that's just been told
Perhaps exaggerated so that the line would hold
Untruths they were forgiven if a laugh they did provide
As often those stories came from far and wide
Some talking of digging trenches, some of life in other lands
And some of trips to Gaelic games and how the crack was grand
Some would sigh with envy why the sea was not their boss
The men who once played skittles here at Jamestown Cross
Others sat and listened as the evening sky they read
Rain or the lack of it was their daily bread
Innate in their profession, farmers good and true
They knew their soil, they knew their flock, the sky they also knew
By this lonely bower I smell their tobacco smoke
And smile again remembering a nigh forgotten joke
Ever mindful of their laughter and their child-like play
the men who once played skittles here at Jamestown Cross.
29)SPORT AND PASTIMES
There was always some sport or pastime to occupy the locals at different times during the year. A Gaelic football club was formed here in Jamestown about 1938; I suppose it was considered to be an offshoot of Ballybrittas, which had been going since the 1900's. Although the catchment area of Jamestown was very limited they produced some very good Club and Intercounty footballers. I believe a Laois team that was once narrowly
defeated by Kerry had eight Jamestown players, and somebody was supposed to have said, "It was a pity the whole Jamestown team wasn't playing". Some of the names that come to mind are -
Andy Whelan, Faun, Tom and Con Hughes, Jack Kenna, Aidan and Kieran ODonnell, John Lawlor, Kevin, Rich, Arty and Ned Connor,Mick Flynn, Willie Lawlor, John and Paddy Mulhall, Big Tom Tynan, Bill and Dick Connor, Dick and John Slevin, Dan Donoher, Tom McLoughlin (Spring), Joe and Paddy McLoughlin, Ned Owen and John Boland, Willie Frank and Louis Duffy, Tom Whelehan, Liam Tynan of the Canal. Tom, Billy, and Mick Murphy, Tim Connell, Sean Fenlon, Dan Coneally, Mick Kinsella, Joe Molly. The list could go on and on.
There was always the track and field sports as well. A few of the more successful locals back before my time might be Dick O'Connor long jump and sprint, his brother Bill a good middle distance runner, and Tom Kinsella long distance, competed well in Ireland and on the Continent. Dick O'Connor was better known to his friends as "Danno" on account of the fact that he was good at wrestling, and every young fellow of that generation wanted to emulate Danno Mahony, the Irish Whip, World Heavy-weight wrestling champion. O'Mahony was tragically killed in a car accident near Portlaoise Hospital on the 3rd November 1950 while on a visit home from the US to Ireland.
Even those who were not actively involved in sport could get excited about the Grand National, Derby, or The Agha Khan Cup. In 1947 as we had no electricity we went to the few houses which had battery radios to hear the commentry by Michael O'Heir on the All Ireland Gaelic Senior Football Final between Cavan and Kerry played in the Polo Grounds in New York. The next day Mr. O'Donnell asked us to write an essay on the game for our homework. There probably isn't one of those essays surviving today, but anyway Cavan won the game by 3 points and their captain was John Joe O'Reilly.
The previous year 1946 there was even more excitment in this area, our County Laois team was doing well in the championship, and some of the Jamestown players were contributing to the success. In the first round Laois played Dublin in Athy. The Goalkeeper was local man Andy Whelan and he stopped a penalty during the game. Other Jamestown players were John Lawlor and Faun Hughes. Laois went on to win the game. They defeated Louth in the Leinster Semi Final and Kildare in the Leinster Final. They were defeated by Roscommon in the All Ireland Final. One local fan disappointed at the way some of the Laois Defenders played said "What greater honour could a man achieve than to leave his guts hanging on the crossbar in Croke Park on an All Ireland Final Day". The Laois Minor Team were defeated that year in the first round. Local players Aidan O'Donnell, and Dan Donoher, were playing, Dan had a problem marking Ollie Freeney, who went on to play for many years with the Dublin Senior Team, and Aidan O'Donnell was promoted to the Laois Senior Team the next year, and played on that team for several years after. There wasn't many cars around here at that time, so every able bodied man tried to get hands on a bicycle to travel to the games.
About 1949 or 50 the O'Dempsey Club was formed in Killinard, this weakened the Jamestown Club as any player on the North side of the N7 was allowed a free transfer to the new Club. A number of other players defected to Annanough in Vicarstown, one of the stronger clubs in the County.
The O'Dempsey Club took its name from a Pipe Band which had been in the district from the beginning of the last century,the pipe band in turn took it's name from the O'Dempsey clan which was associated with this area for over a thousand years. A few of us had joined this band and were being trained by Pipe Major Frank Dunne father of Mick Dunne, well known Sports Journalist, and grandfather of Eileen Dunne, RTE News Presenter, and Drum Major Jim Bailey. Owen Boland, Bobby Connor, Dick Weldon and myself, cycled up to Killenard and were enjoying the music lessons with the other new members. Unfortunately, when the football club started there was a fall off in band practice, leading to the demise of the band
The more experienced or regular members of the band that spring to mind were: Jim Kearney on the big drum, leading Kettle Drummer Jim Bailey, then there was Christy Weir, John and Tom Tynan, John and Denis Dunne, Alf and Michael Whelehan, Ned Kearney, John and Dick Slevin, etc. The band played at matches, sports, St.Patrick Day parades, competitions, etc.
After learning the scales, we learned the notes of "Let Erin Remember" or "The Minstrel Boy" The first few notes were the same for either - ECA ABC CDEED CDEFEC ACBA -
There was no luxury coaches available to us at that time and our mode of transport would be Dick Kearney's beet lorry. Some wooden seats would be put into it, and we all piled in with our equipment and headed for the venue where we were going to play.
Twenty years later another Football Club was formed in Courtwood three miles south of the N7, at this stage the Jamestown Club fizzled out. Any of the above clubs produced some outstanding players and had varying degrees of success, but unfortunately its hard to have fifteen or twenty outstanding players at one time in the one club.
Gaelic Football is a seasonal activity, but in addition to the Skittles remembered by Jimmy, there was Horseshoes, or Meggars, Pitch and Toss, Cards were played on the grass opposite Bolands before the main road was widened. Many of us also took part in Fishing, Shooting, or Swimming, as the Season allowed.
I wonder has the wheel turned full circle as again we have a Football Club in Ballybrittas, this time it is Soccer and they have just won the Premier League Final - January 2002 - This is the Leinster Football League, Premier Division.
30)OPEN AIR DANCING
Open Air Dancing took place at Jamestown for a few years in the early 1960's. This attracted crowds from the locality and as far away as Kildare, Kilkenny and Dublin. Dancing from 8 pm Sharp, to 11-30 pm. Sundays and Thursdays, May to October, Admission was 1/6 (one shilling and six pence), which would be worth about 9 Euro Cent. The Master of Ceremonies was Dick Freeman who was Ordinance Survey Mapping in the area at the time, Dick and his family gave the Club every help and encouragement while they were living here.
A record player was bought, and Elvis Presley singing "Wooden Heart" and Jim Reeves singing "Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone" were popular at the time, also Chubby Checker singing "Let's twist again like we did last Summer". The patrons let us know that they preferred "live music" - and so the first group to provide "live" music was Peter Finnegan with a group which included Brendan Breen who was all Ireland Accordian Champion at the time. Johnny Reid and his Showband volunteered to do a spot one night when they were passing the way.
Many local musicians played here, such as Michael Fitzpatrick, Denis Donoher, Christy Weir, Jim Baily, Richard O'Connor, Martin and Gerry Kelly, Michael White, and I am probably leaving some out but I am sure somebody will remind me.
Refreshments consisted of minerals either orange or lemonade. Eventually the novelty of the open air dancing began to fade as about that time the Reynolds brothers constructed a number of State of the Art Ballrooms. e.g. Dreamland, Danceland, Roseland, Fairlyland, etc., these had maple floors, comfortable mineral bars, and employed the top Show Bands, such as the Royal Show Band, The Miami, Cadets, etc. All this was much more attractive than open air dancing or the local halls, or the like of Coleman's Loft in Ballintogher, where my father met my mother in the 1930's
31)THE ODEMPSEYS (or Dempseys)
According to the Annals of Clonmacnoise, Dermot ODempsey gave the Cistercian monks of Rosglas now Monasterevin, land on which to build a monastery in 1178. A small proportion of this land still surrounds the more modern building of Moore Abbey which is now a nursing home, but was home of the famous tenor, Count John McCormack, for a while in the twentieth century. Originally the site extended from Oghill near Monasterevin to Rath, in County Laoise. The old church in the graveyard in Ballyadden may have been part of the catchment area of that congregation of monks at the time.
In the early 1600s, the Dempseys occupied most of the land between Courtwood and Cloneygowan and from Lea Castle to a castle in Glenmalire near Ballybrittas. They were mainly engaged in the production and export of cattle sheep horses and timber. They had ambitions to increase the size of their territory but they were unsuccessful in a couple of attempts to capture Geashill Castle and the lands of that area. On their own they might not have been much threat to the Pale but in todays business language terms if there was a take-over or merger, the Capital might come under threat. The Pale, or area under English control, was a boundary surrounding Dublin, the rest of us were beyond the pale or according to my encyclopaedia beyond the bounds of civilized behaviour.
About 1640 Cromwell was sent here to break the power of the ODempseys in this area. Cromwell was going to blow up the castles in Lea, Ballybrittas and OMoores Castle at Dunamace. The ODempseys were prepared to give Cromwell a run for his money, but his task was made easier by a traitor in Lea Castle who lit a fuse to a keg of explosives under the castle and lowered the drawbridge on his way out. Once out expecting to be rewarded for his work he went to Cromwells men. They killed him as one who could not be trusted.
Several thousand people lived around Lea at that time, but Cromwells army succeeded in clearing all evidence of a town from the area, and there are only green fields to be seen surrounding the ruins of the castle at present.
Cromwell then proceeded to blow up the castle at Glanmalire near Ballybrittas, and from Cromwells Hill he then blasted the little Catholic Church in Ballyadden about half a mile south. While on the subject of Ballyadden, people my age who visit the cemetery there will remember seeing and admiring a little headstone about four foot by three foot, which had the tools of a carpenter carved on it. A lot of people like myself were so fascinated by the carvings we forgot to note the name. Unfortunately, about forty years ago the stone disappeared and I am hoping through the miracle of the Internet or something, somebody out there may be able to let us know the present whereabouts of the stone. Even a photo or description of the name or names inscribed on it would be much appreciated.
Only the ruins of this church remain surrounded by the graves of generations of local people including some of the Dempseys, who harassed and robbed those sent in by Cromwell to replace the natives. The proceeds of this activity i.e. mainly sheep and horses, were distributed amongst the poor, similar to what Robin Hood did in his time. Two of the Dempsey brothers Daniel and Charles, better known as Cahair Na Capall were hanged in Portlaoise in 1735 for what nowadays might be considered antisocial activities. Cloneygowan, Dempseys other castle, and Dunamace, the home of the OMoores, were next on the list for demolition. The Dempseys then dispersed in all directions in this country and beyond, with the exception of my ancestors who remained in Treascon across the river Barrow from Lea Castle.
If we take a recent landline Phone Directory as a guide to where the Dempseys are now living in Ireland, the majority of the 1169 subscribers listed live in the 01 and 05 areas, 360 and 338, with the lowest concentration 28 living in the 06 area. Very few use the O in front of their names nowadays as is the case of the OConnors, ODonnells, OBriens, or OConnells, etc.
After a couple of generations we lose contact with our relations, and eventually the connection between different families is lost. Unfortunately a lot of records of births and baptisms were lost after the reformation, penal times, and more recently the War of Independence and the Civil War. We ran into trouble again in 1798 when a group of men were arrested for taking part in the Rising, including an uncle of my gr.gr.Grandfather. He was Michael Dempsey of Treascon. After being arrested his little dog, which tried to follow him, was shot by his captors. The group were hanged drawn and quartered in the square in Portarlington. Michael was thrown into a horses cart to be brought home by his wife, there was still life in his body but he died in the cart on the way back to Treascon. A little monument in the square in Portarlington commemorates this event and was unveiled by George Dempsey the oldest surving member of the Dempseys of Treascon who is a first cousin of my fathers.
The other members of the United Irishmen executed the same day, Darby Hyland of Kilmullen, John Costello of Lea, Robert Foster of Lea, Peter and John Fannin of Lea, were brought to Dublin to be executed.
A lot of what I write has been handed down by word of mouth and I may be the first to put the information on paper
The green pastures around Lea Castle testify to the fact that ethnic cleansing is not a new phenomenon, likewise the deserted hills and valleys around Glenveagh in Donegal which Jack Adair cleared about 250 tenants to make way for the black faced sheep which would be less troublesome and more profitable than the native tenants; or the one hundred acre field Jack created in Ballyadden from the land of the tenants who he pushed out. This field was later divided by the Irish Land Commission among the local farmers and farm labourers.
Lea Castle was built about 1260 and only about 25 per cent of it remains standing
Only the ruins of this church remain surrounded by the graves of generations of local people including some of the Dempseys, who harassed and robbed those sent in by Cromwell to replace the natives. The proceeds of this activity i.e. mainly sheep and horses, were distributed amongst the poor, similar to what Robin Hood did in his time. Two of the Dempsey brothers Daniel and Charles, better known as Cahair Na Capall were hanged in Portlaoise in 1735 for what nowadays might be considered antisocial activities. Cloneygowan, Dempseys other castle, and Dunamace, the home of the OMoores, were next on the list for demolition. The Dempseys then dispersed in all directions in this country and beyond, with the exception of my ancestors who remained in Treascon across the river Barrow from Lea Castle.
34)LEA CHURCH WHERE JACK ADAIR IS BURIED
On the right hand side of Lea church is buried the landlords, and on the other side are the rest of the community, with Tommy Sharpe dividing the two sides as he is buried at the back of the church.
Patrick Coady had seen his neighbors in Ballyaddan run themselves into arrears trying to pay extra rent only to be evicted by Adair, so he moved to Fisherstown where he remained until a farm became available at Killinure House close to the boundary of Laois and Kildare.
This farm extended from the River Barrow at Bolnagree and was dissected by the Grand Canal, the N7 Road, and the back road to Monasterevin and the railway from Dublin to Cork, etc., at the other side of the farm. My Grandmother Sarah Anne Coady, her brother Patrick, and Elizabeth her sister, were born there.
When Patrick Coady vacated his farm in the Adair Estate (because of Adair increasing his rent), Adair leveled the dwelling house farm buildings, and hedges, and erected a two story house for his farm steward. After the estate was divided in 1935 this house and some adjoining land were allocated to Tom Behan and his wife who reared a fine family there..
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