Nineteen-mile-house becomes New Inn becomes Enfield.

From about 1730 Ireland experienced a series of communications developments that pro-foundly altered the opportunities to move around the island. The earliest initiative came with the building of the turnpike roads—Ireland’s first system of planned long-distance routes. The first Turnpike Act, providing for tolls to be levied on traffic along the route, was passed in 1729 and related to the roads from Dublin to Navan and to Naas and on to Kilcullen. Over the next decade, further turnpike acts provided for the extension of these routes and for further radial routes from Dublin. Many of the turnpike road developments involved the building of new sections of higher-quality road—developments that are also distinguished by their long, straight stretches. The legacy of the early turnpikes is still evident along some major routes, for example from Kilcullen to Athy, and from Kinnegad to Mullingar.

Directories and newspapers describe the transformation that came with the turnpikes. Long-distance hire services and dedicated route coaches are advertised from the late 1730s. Twice-weekly stagecoach services from Dublin to Drogheda, Kinnegad and Kilkenny were being advertised in 1737. It cost 5s.5d. to Drogheda and Kinnegad. A once-weekly service to Athlone operated from 1738, becoming twice-weekly about 1750. The Kinnegad service extended to Mullingar in 1747; by the early 1750s this service was running four times weekly.
All these services departed from Dublin inns: the Kinnegad coach set up at the Raven, Smithfield. The coach for Athlone left from John Vaughan in New Church Street, ‘facing Tom of Lincoln’. Significantly, and perhaps ominously, departure times from Dublin were advertised, but in the early years there is no mention of an estimated arrival time. You arrived when you did, and you were never late because there was no schedule—surely something that might appeal to some modern carriers.

What these and other examples suggest is that, in the 1730s and ’40s, coaches could rarely make more than 30 or 40 miles in a day; even in the 1760s and 1770s, when the turnpike roads were well established, journeys of about 60 miles in a day were good going. On the Great Connaught Road, Kinnegad represented a day’s journey in the 1730s, and a decade later Mullingar could be reached in a day. But even in the 1780s a winter journey to Longford required an overnight break at Mullingar.

With the growth of coaches came a parallel growth in communications-related services. Travellers had to have somewhere to eat and rest, and, just as importantly, horses had to be refreshed and changed. The response to these requirements is seen in the growth of the inn system. Inns were already established along some of the main routes in the second half of the seventeenth century, but the turnpike roads gave them a new impetus. Just how significant that was is illustrated by the run of advertisements for new and refurbished inns that appear at frequent intervals in newspapers from the mid-1730s.

Inns developed early along all the main roads out of Dublin. The role of inns as staging posts for both men and horses clearly had a bearing on their spacing. Along the Great Connaught Road, inns can be identified at five to ten mile intervals. They included those at Leixlip, Maynooth, Kilcock, Enfield, Clonard and Kinnegad. Over time, however, inns in different places dominated. In the early years there were short intervals between changing stages. In the 1750s the new Kings Arms in Leixlip could offer a good first stage. Later, as coaches improved (steel springs were being advertised as state-of-the-art in the 1770s), intervals lengthened and Maynooth could become an alternative first stage. Beyond Kilcock, there was no obvious candidate for a second or, certainly in earlier years, third stage. The need for an inn between Kilcock and Clonard/ Kinnegad was the opportunity for the emergence of Innfield—now Enfield—as a vital staging post on a hitherto rather village-poor section of road.

A good example is that for the Leinster Arms, the new inn opened at Maynooth in 1777 (Dublin Journal, 29 Nov.–2 Dec., also 27 Feb.–1 March). Richard Vousden, the proprietor, promised the public ‘good four post beds and bedding, constantly well aired’, as well as the best wines and ‘the best meats the markets can afford’. But he also gave prominence to the location of his inn and its wider context on the road west:

‘He has got stables at the New Inn, where he means constantly to keep chaises and horses, which will enable him to drive that long stage between Maynooth and Kinnegad with more expedition, without advancing the expense to the travellers. He hopes the impartial public will consider he was the first that set up chaises on that road. Post chaises, as usual, in Maynooth, and also at the New Inn, which is mid-way between Maynooth and Kinnegad. Post chaise and pair at thirteen pence a mile, four horses at nineteen pence halfpenny. Gentlemen may be accommodated with horses to their own carriages at the above price.’

The ‘New Inn’ referred to here was at what was then ‘Nineteen-mile-house’, now Enfield.

Canal House at Enfield 1984
Enfield railway Station

Summerhill Man accused of Robbing coach near Enfield, Tried in Trim.

Roger O’Connor was born at Connorville, co. Cork in 1762. Arthur O’Connor, the leading United Irishman, was Roger’s younger brother. His two other brothers, Daniel and Robert, were pro-British loyalists. Roger entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1777, and was called to the English bar in 1784. With his brother Arthur, he joined the United Irishmen, in which he displayed some gifts for organization; he was involved in setting up the short-lived radical newspaper The Harp of Eirinn. Roger was imprisoned at Cork, was tried and acquitted. On his liberation in April 1798 he went to London, and the Home Office again decided on imprisoning Roger. He was sent from place to place in the custody of king’s messengers, and was finally committed to Newgate in Dublin.

In April 1799, with his fellow prisoners, O’Connor was moved to Fort George in Scotland. In the same year he managed to publish Letters to the People of Great Britain. After some years’ imprisonment, during which his health suffered, he obtained an early release.

Strongly influenced by the French revolution, Roger O’Connor rented Dangan Castle, Summerhill, Co.  Meath with the intention of entertaining Napoleon there, following the expected French invasion of Ireland.  In 1809 Dangan was burned shortly after Roger had taken out insurance for £5000 on it. It was a serious fire that destroyed part of the house. Roger’s son, Francisco, wrote in his autobiography 60 years later that he had accidentally started the fire himself when melting lead to create bullets but it was probably purposely set on fire for the insurance. Another time he forced his landlord Colonel Burrows or his agent to call to Dangan to pay his rent. In 1813, the agent, Mr. Humphrey Doyle, postmaster of Trim, called to Dangan and  received the rent of £750, mostly in one pound notes, from O’Connor but was robbed when he left the house, of course it was thought that O’Connor had arranged it but never proven. Roger then eloped with a married lady.

In a sensational development, he was arrested at Trim in 1817 for having headed a band of his retainers in robbing the Galway coach at the turnpike gate at Cappagh Hill,  near Cloncurry on 2 October 1812. The robbery of the Galway mail had taken place in 1812, ten miles from O’Connor’s residence at Dangan; but the mail-bags, and some of the fire-arms, were subsequently found in Dangan.  Ten highway men had attacked and held up the coach..  Two notorious characters, named Owen and Waring, were apprehended for a robbery in 1817, tried in Dublin, and found guilty. They received sentence of death, and the day of execution was appointed; but before the fatal hour arrived they charged Mr. O’Connor with being the captain of the banditti who had robbed the Galway mail. Roger was arrested and tried in Trim. Roger was acquitted, although there were grounds for believing that he had planned the affair to secure certain letters. The son of O’Connor’s agent later asserted that this raid was made by O’Connor not for money, but in quest of a packet of love letters written by his friend Sir Francis Burdett, which were likely to be used in evidence against Burdett at the suit of a peer who suspected him of criminal intimacy with his wife. Sir Francis Burdett hurried to Ireland as a witness on O’Connor’s behalf at his trial at Trim, and Roger was acquitted. The trial was published and is available on line.

The family no longer felt welcome in the area. Francis and his brother Feargus decided to leave, stealing horses from their brother Roderic, travelling to London and asking to be taken in by family friend M.P. Francis Burdett. Burdett looked after them. The already seriously damaged Dangan castle and grounds rapidly fell into a state of irretrievable disrepair after O’Connor’s departure.

In 1822 O’Connor published The chronicles of Eri, being the history of the Gael, Sciot Iber, or Irish people: translated from the original manuscripts in the Phoenician dialect of the Scythian language. The book is mainly, if not entirely, the fruit of O’Connor’s imagination.

Roger’s first wife, who he eloped with on the day that he met her, was Louisa Anna Strachan. He had one son by Louisa – Roderick O’Connor who lived for a time on his Dangan estate, before emigrating to Van Diemen’s Land where the family still have a huge farm, The Queen even stayed there on a visit to Australia in 1954. Today the 17,200ha Connorville property is run by Roderic O’Connor, with his wife Kate, her daughters India and Phillipa Rofe. Roger married secondly in 1788, Wilhelmina Bowen of Bowenscourt. Francisco (Francis) O’Connor, the supporter of South American independence movements, and Feargus O’Connor, the Chartist, were sons of the second marriage. O’Connor died at his home, Knockenmore Cottage, Kilcrea, co. Cork, 1834, and was buried in Kilcrea Abbey.

The Railway comes to Enfield

The railway reached Enfield in 1847, when the Midland Great Western Railway opened between Broadstone Station in Dublin and Enfield railway station (opened on 28 June 1847). Upon the opening of the railway, canal boats ceased all passenger traffic between Dublin and Enfield. The canal was sold for £300,000 to the Midland Great Railway Company. The Railway bought it as a strategic move to subsume the transportation business of the canal and planned to drain it and lay tracks over its route. This did not occur, partly because the line of the canal had too many unsuitable bends.

The Mullingar line was opened for public traffic as far as Enfield on July 2nd 1847. The first and second class carriages were divided into passenger compartments, some with beds, and designed to a high degree of quality and style. Some carriages were for the exclusive use of women.

The Midland Great Western Railway operated 538 miles on mostly single track stretching across Ireland from Broadstone station in Dublin to Afton, Galway and Clifden, with branches to Sligo, Achill and elsewhere. The company was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1845 and by 1847 had opened the first 25 miles of track from Dublin to Enfield. And by 1851 it had reached Galway

A water tower exists at the Mullingar end of the station, still used by occasional steam trains. There is also a passing loop. Although no stations now exist between here and Mullingar, a passing loop remains in use at Killucan, between Enfield and Mullingar.

Business at the stations at Hill of Down and Enfield was boosted by the cattle trade. On the Dublin-Galway line there were stations at Hill of Down, Enfield and Ferns Lock. In 1877 the railways in Meath reached their fullest extent when a branch line from Enfield to Edenderry was completed. The Midland and Great Western Railway Company was absorbed by Great Southern Railways in 1925.

The line was extended to Hill of Down by the end of 1847 and to Mullingar in October 1848. In 1877, a branch line from Nesbitt Junction (about 2 km (1.2 mi) west of Enfield) to Edenderry was opened. Officially opened in 1877 by the Midland Great Western Railway, the line was known as the ‘Nesbitt Line’ after Miss Catherine Downing Nesbitt of Tubberdaly House, Rhode. She contributed £10,000 (two-thirds of the cost) for the construction of the branch line from Enfield to Edenderry in order to convey prize cattle to the RDS. The line finally closed in 1963. The Edenderry branch line and Enfield station closed in 1963, although there had been no regular passenger service to Edenderry since 1931.

Passenger services from Enfield resumed in 1988.


SIGNAL BOX – Detached single-bay two-storey signal box, built c.1930.

WATER TOWER – Cast-iron water tank, set on single-storey base, built c.1850, now disused.

WATER TOWER – Cast-iron water tank set on a cast-iron pier, c.1910, with cast-iron ladder. Now disused.

WAREHOUSE – Detached single-bay single-storey railway warehouse, built c.1850, with single-bay addition to south-west.

STATIONMASTERS HOUSE – Detached L-plan two-bay two-storey house, built c.1890, with lean-to porch to recessed bay and having bay window to projecting bay.

WORKERS HOUSES – Pair of semi-detached three-bay single-storey former railway worker’s houses, built c.1850, with central breakfronts.

Lewis Topographical Dictionary 1837

ENFIELD, a post-town, in the parish of RATHCORE, barony of LOWER-MOYFENRAGH, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 5½ miles (W.) from Kileock, and 20 (W.) from Dublin, on the mail road to Kinnegad: the population is returned with the parish. The Royal Canal passes close by the town, which comprises about 50 houses, the property of J. H. Rorke, Esq. of Johnstown, in the immediate vicinity. Here is a station of the constabulary police.

RATHCORE, a parish, partly in the barony of Upper Deece, but chiefly in that of Lower Moyfenragh,  county of Meath, and province of Leinster, 5 miles (S. W.) form Summerhill, on the road to Edenderry; containing, with the post-town of Enfield (which is separately described), 3455 inhabitants, of which number, 73 are in the village of Rathcore.  This parish, which is situated on the Royal Canal and on the road from Dublin to Athlone, is bounded on the south by the river Blackwater, which here separates it from the county of Kildare.  It comprises 14,303 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the land is of good quality and the greater portion of it under tillage; the system of agriculture is improved, there is no waste land, and but a very moderate portion of bog: there is a quarry of good limestone at Newcastle.  The principal seats are Johnstown, the residence of J. H. Rorke, Esq.; Rahinstown, of R. G. Bomford, Esq.; Ryndville, of R. Rynd, Esq.; Newcastle, of C. Lennon, Esq., and Ballinderry, the property of the Hon. R. T. Rowley, and the residence of Thos. Murphy, Esq.  The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is appropriate to the see.  The tithes amount to £807.13. 10., of which £438.9. 2½ is payable to the bishop, and £369.4. 7½ to the vicar.  There is a good glebe-house, and the glebe comprises 41 acres, valued at £62.2 per annum.  In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union of Rathmolion; the chapel is a spacious and handsome edifice, situated at Kilcorney, on the estate of Lord Decies.  A school-house is now being erected near the church, from funds chiefly supplied by the vicar and by John Bridges, Esq., of London; there are four private schools, in which are about 180 children.

Big Houses of the Area


Ardrums House is in the townland of Ardrums Great and the civil parish of Rathcore, near Enfield. Henry Purdon acquired Ardrums about 1800. Henry was residing there in the 1830s. In the 1850s Ardrums was in the possession of his son, Bartholomew Purdon. Bartholomew married Maria Trotter, daughter of Doctor Trotter of Summerhill, at Laracor in 1847 and he died at Ardrums in 1904. They had four boys and three girls. David William Purdon succeeded his father in 1904. David had been a colonel in the Indian Army. He served during the Rumpa Rebellion 1881, in the Burma War 1887-88, and in Great War, 1914-19. David died in 1948 and was buried at Agher churchyard. The estate was sold shortly afterwards.


Ballinderry House is located between Longwood and Enfield. In the 1830s Ballinderry House was described as a handsome dwelling, the residence of Mr. F.C. Murphy who in 1836 was making extensive improvements in the way of drainage etc. The house was described as standing on a good site and was sheltered by some trees around it. Murphy held the townland of Ballinderry, 491 acres, from Lord Langford. In the 1850s William Walsh held the house and over 200 acres from Richard T. Rowley. In 1901 and 1911 William Walsh and his family resided at Ballinderry House, probably a son of the William who held the lands in the 1850s.


Johnstown house is located just outside Enfield in the south of the county. In fact the village of Enfield is in the townland of Johnstown. Jim Prendergast, who was born in Johnstown House in 1940,  has written a history of the house.

The house was erected in the middle of the eighteenth century and altered in the middle of the nineteenth century. A square blockish house the house has a pedimented doorcase and four chimneystacks. One room contained a good plasterwork ceiling. There is an extensive range of stone built stabling and farm buildings.

Francis Forde, originally from Co. Down, attended Trinity College, Dublin and then joined the army. His regiment, the 39th, were the first of the King’s regiments to be sent to India. When  his regiment was recalled to England Forde was invited to take charge of the East India Company’s army in Bengal.  Robert Clive had met Forde in the Carnatic in 1756 and his high opinion of Forde’s military abilities was shared by others. Forde  fought the French successfully to oust them from the Northern Circars and Forde’s expedition had contributed to the failure of the French siege of Madras. Forde’s successes against the French were repeated against the Dutch. In 1760 Forde returned to England, where he was reunited with his wife and his children. Colonel Francis Forde purchased the lands at Johnstown in 1761 and erected the house. In 1769 he was appointed one of three supervisor to the administration of India. The ship carrying the three men disappeared in December 1769.

In 1770 a Dublin merchant, James Halpin, purchased the house and the lands of Innfield. James Halpin died in 1822 leaving the estate to his sister, Constance, who was married to Andrew Roarke. Andrew’s son, James Halpin Rourke inherited the estate in 1826. Following the famine and its economic consequences Rourke was forced to lease the house and lands to Rev. James Rynd. Rev. Rynd converted one of the rooms into an oratory.

James Rourke Junior inherited the property in 1860 but within four years he was bankrupt and the estate had to be sold under the Encumbered Estates Court. The estate totalling 3071 acres included lands at Castlemartin, Tankardstown and Johnstown, Co. Meath and Tyrrellstown, Blakestown, Hartstown, Co. Dublin and Newtown, Co. Kildare.

Col. John Ennis M.P. purchased the house and some of the estate in 1864 for his daughter, Margaret, and her husband, Edmund Waterton. John Ennis was a Dublin merchant and a Governor of the Bank of Ireland.

Michael Colgan purchased the house and property in 1896. Seven years later in 1903 Thomas Ruttledge purchased the house.  House and estate were sold to the Land Commission in the early 1920s and it was expected that the house would be demolished. Patrick Prendergast purchased the house in 1927. When the Prendergast family purchased the house in the 1920s there were many stories about the house being haunted so a priest was asked to say Mass in the house. Patrick died in 1966. The upkeep of the house was too expensive and the property was sold in 1985. The house passed through a number of owners before being developed as a hotel.


Posseckstown house is just outside Enfield on the road to Trim. In the civil parish of Rathcore it was the property of Mr. Kettlewell in 1835 and leased to Mr. Rynd and Mrs Domegan, Enfield. The red brick house was probably built about 1870. William Potterton purchased the property in 1923 and when his son died the property passed to his sister, Alice Weld, and then to her daughter, Mona Foster. 


Ryndville House stood in the parish of Rathcore, near Enfield in southwest Meath. The house was demolished in the 1970s. 

The Rynd family originated in the Enniskillen area of Co. Fermanagh. James Rynd Grange Beg, Westmeath and Miss Hester Fleetwood of Parktown, Meath, were married on 3 December 1793. They settled at Ryndville. Hester, daughter of Robert Fleetwood, was his third wife.   James died in 1814. His widow died in 1850, surviving her husband by thirty six years. Their son, Robert Fleetwood Rynd was born 1798. The family were buried in Rathcore.

Robert Fleetwood Rynd married Maria Longworth Dames  of Greenhills, Co. Offaly (then King’s County) in 1831. The thatched church of the Roman Catholic community at Jordanstown was situated on the Ryndville Estate. In 1832 Robert Fleetwood Rynd gave the sum of twenty pounds towards the erection of a new chapel at Jordanstown.

In 1835 the townland of Jordanstown, Rathcore parish – the townland was the property of Robert Fleetwood Rynd, his demesne was called Ryndville which comprised about half the townland. The remaining half he tilled himself. The townland has 472 acres. Mr. Rynd also held 800 acres from Mr. Kettlewell in Possextown townland. Half of this was in pasture with the other half in tillage.

Robert Fleetwood Rynd  died in 1875 while his widow Maria died in 1893. In 1876 the representatives of R. F. Rynd, of Ryndville held 1,426 acres in County Meath. Their only son, James Fleetwood Rynd, was a colonel in the Leitrim Rifles, received a B.A. from Trinity and was called to the Irish Bar. He died in 1908 aged 75 years. His sister, Maria Jane, married Frederick Cockayne Elton who reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the British army. He was also one of the earliest recipients of the Victoria Cross.  Elton received the award for the bravery he displayed while fighting the Russians in the Crimea in 1855. Robert and Maria’s daughter Elizabeth married Arthur Hume while another daughter, Emma Arabella, married Major Francis Topping in Toronto, Canada.

As James Fleetwood died without an heir the estate went to his sisters. Maria Jane lived at Ryndville after her brother died. Maria Jane died in 1924 aged 90. Elizabeth Hume, lived at 63 Dawson Street, Dublin and she died in 1936, aged 101.

A related Rynd family held lands nearby at Mount Armstrong in county Kildare. A possible relative was Francis Rynd who invented the hypodermic syringe in 1844. Relatives of the Ryndville family now live in Wales.


Newcastle gives its name to Newcastle Woods. Newcastle is situated just off the Clonard road out of Enfield. It is a tower house. The fact it is called Newcastle means there was an old castle somewhere. Atower house is a fortified residence in the form of a tower, usually four or five storeys high, and for the most part slightly more rectangular than square in plan. They were constructed by a lord or landholder and were often partially or completely enclosed by a bawn. The majority date to the 15th and 16th centuries AD. Newcastle is located on top of a broad hill. This is a three-storey tower house that survives complete with an overgrown and obscured parapet and base-batter. It is vaulted over both the ground floor and the first floor and has a semicircular stairs tower projecting from the centre of the East wall.  

A wall, bonded with the stairs tower extended E and another wall, bonded with the SE angle extended S, creating a bawn of unknown extent which was to the SE of the tower house. A wide carriage doorway is inserted in the N wall at the ground floor, which has a light in a round-headed embrasure in the West wall. A round-headed doorway in the North wall leads to a garderobe chamber that is plastered, suggesting that it may have been used into the eighteenth or nineteenth century as might an inserted corner fireplace at the NE angle. A garderobe was a toilet – the word sounds like the modern word wardrobe and it was where people stored their clothes. The ammonia and other gases given off by the put of waste killed ticks and lice in the clothes.!!

The stairs continue to the wall-walk with no lights, but the parapet is overgrown with ivy, and no features can be distinguished, although brick is evident at many points.

According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Sir Richard Barnwall of Crickstown owned 252 acres at Newcastle in Rathcore parish, and on the premises were ‘one Castle and some Farme houses and Cabbins’. Sir Richard also owned land at Possixtowne (180 acres), Johnstowne (Jordanstown) (163 acres), Conellstowne (108 acres), and Kilcorny (100 acres) in the same parish.

Sirr Richard Barnewall, (1602–79), politician, was eldest son of Sir Patrick Barnewall of Crickstown, Co. Meath and his wife Cicely, daughter of William Fleming, Lord Slane. Elected to the 1640 parliament for Co. Meath, Barnewall helped draft the articles of impeachment against leading members of the Dublin administration. Along with a number of catholic MPs, he attempted to initiate dialogue with the insurgents after the outbreak of the Ulster rebellion in October 1641. Frustrated in these efforts by the hard-line policy of the lords justices, Barnewall attended meetings at the Hill of Crofty and Tara, helping to forge an alliance between the Ulster rebels and the Pale nobility. He was also responsible for raising troops in the baronies of Ratoath and Dunboyne. Officially expelled from the Irish parliament on 22 June 1642, and outlawed in November 1642, Barnewall played a prominent role in the establishment of the confederate association. He moved to Kilkenny, and attended the first general assembly there.

During the summer of 1649 Ormond sent Barnewall and Sir Luke Fitzgerald (from Clonard) on an ultimately successful mission to treat with the general of the Ulster Irish, Owen roe O’Neill, who had opposed the peace settlement. In 1651 the new royalist commander, marquis of Clanricarde, appointed him commissioner for Leinster with full authority in both civil and military affairs. The following year he negotiated a surrender with the forces of the English parliament, which officially ended the war in the province. Barnewall forfeited his land and property, but none the less received 2,500 plantation acres in Connacht in 1656. After the restoration of Charles II, he was named in the 1662 act of settlement as meriting special favour. Along with many Catholics, however, Barnewall experienced difficulties in recovering any lands, and his case required further clarification in the subsequent act of explanation. He died peacefully in July 1679. His heir Sir Patrick was MP for Co. Meath in the 1689 Jacobite parliament.