Longwood located in south-west part of county Meath, about 50k north-west of Dublin city, 8km south-west of Trim and 10km east of Kinnegad. The river Boyne flows 2km to the east and the Blackwater 1 km to the east. Today four roads converge on the village and in medieval times Longwood was on the route between Clonard and Trim. Longwood evolved as a market town holding a Fair and serving the local rural community.
The Irish name for Longwood, is Maigh Dearmhaí which means the plain of the oak. The English name Longwood also recalls that connection to trees. Oak trees have been recovered from bogs and on river sides in the area. Other tree related names in the area include: Derringlig – doire an luig meaning the oakwood of the hollow, Ballyclare, the town of the plain; Ballinderry, the town of the oak wood and Moneymore, the great brake or shrubbery.
J.P. Farrell’s history of Longwood GAA and more published in two volumes entitled “Strong Backs” is a great source of sporting, social and political history. “Killyon – A Window on the Past” by Killyon ICA is an excellent local history. The Longwood Killyon Magazine is available on line with many interesting articles, a number of historical ones by Tony Leonard and others. The Longwood Architectural Conservation Area Statement of Character is also available on line and deals with the buildings of Longwood Village. I have tried where possible not to repeat the information in these publications so this book should be read in association with those publications.
One of the big things I discovered during my research is that there is no surviving Schools Folklore Collection for Longwood National School. This was a project carried out by local school children who recorded the folklore of their area. There are records for all the schools surrounding Longwood but none from Longwood itself. This can be an immense source for local material and what happened in Longwood is not known. I think that the project was carried out but the results lost at some stage over the past 80 years. I have tried a number of avenues but they do not seem to be anywhere.
With thanks to Fr. Michael Kilmartin, Bishop Michael Smith, Meath County Library, Val Foran, Brona Burke, Meath Chronicle, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Dublin, Dundalk, V Rev Joseph Clavin, PP, Tom Stack, Chaplains Office, Department of Defence, Maura and Tom Maguire.
Archaelogical Monuments and Remains
A barrow or a mound was a circular or oval earthen or earth and stone mound with no external features. They are funerary in nature and contain and/or cover burials. Excavated examples have been dated to the Bronze and Iron Ages (c. 2400 BC – AD 400). At Croboy there is a mound named as Croboy motte but it is more likely to have been a mound barrow. It is an earthen mound with a diameter of twenty metres and a height of five metres. The mound could have been used as a motte in Anglo-Norman times.
At Ballymahon there is the remains of a mound which has been much quarried and is now sub-rectangular measuring twenty metres in each direction.
Ringforts or rath are a roughly circular or oval area surrounded by an earthen bank with an external hollow. They functioned as residences and/or farmsteads and broadly date from 500 to 1000 AD. There is a ringfort at Clonguiffin. The ringfort at Ballyclare consists of a slightly raised subcircular structure defined by remains of a bank with an external hollow. The ringfort at Clondalee Beg consists of a raised circular area with a diameter twenty metres with an entrance at southeast.
Reconstruction of Ringfort
Field system are a group or complex of fields which appear to form a coherent whole. These date to any period from the Neolithic (c. 4000-2400 BC) onwards. There are surviving field systems at Clonguiffin which consists of rectangular areas defined by banks and ditches covering about four acres and three possible house platforms recognised. At Boolykeagh cropmarks show an oval enclosure probably a field with other field ditches radiating out from it, covering an area of about 10 acres.
Moated sites were square, rectangular or occasionally circular area, sometimes raised above the ground, enclosed by a wide, often water-filled, ditch, with or without an outer bank and with a wide causewayed entrance. They date to the late 13th/early 14th centuries and were primarily fortified residences/farmsteads of Anglo-Norman settlers. There is a moated site at Ballinderry.
A burial ground was discovered at Moyfin. An area was subject to archaeological investigations at a sand and gravel quarry in Moyfin in November 2012. The remains of eight individuals were recorded in-situ. All were aligned east-west with the head to the west which is a general, though not exclusive, indication of a Christian burial rite. They were poorly to moderately preserved, with no fully complete individuals: all were buried in simple dug graves. Three radiocarbon dates indicate that the burial site was in use in the period AD 1440 – 1670.
St. Fintina and her Nunnery.
In early Christian Ireland a nunnery was founded at Cluain-Guifthinn, Clongiffin, by St. Fintina. Cluain means meadow which was usually an area near a river which flooded in the winter and was used for cutting hay off in the summer. Guiffin is translated as sweet voiced so this could be the sweet voices of the singing nuns. Many monasteries were located near rivers as at Clonguiffin. This may have been a crossing point on the river and travellers may have stayed at the nunnery while traversing the country. The buildings would have been of mud or timber and so have disappeared over the centuries. At Clonguiffin there was a ringfort overlooking the Blackwater river. It is described as a raised oval area truncated by river. These ringforts functioned as residences and/or farmsteads and broadly date from 500 to 1000 AD. This one possibly guarded a crossing on the river and the local chieftain here may have endowed St. Fintina’s foundation.
Very little is known of St. Fintina. Her festival is marked in the Martyrology of Donegal as November 1, the feast of Fintina of Cluain Guifthinn. In another early source she is described as “chaste Fintina” which means she remained a virgin. The monastery may have included virgins and pious widows.
The nunnery is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters in 766 when Coblaith, daughter of Cathal, abbess of Clonguffin, died. In 777 Tailefhlaith, daughter of Murchadh, Abbess of Clonguiffin died. In 847 Maelmedha, daughter of Aedh, abbess of Clonguffin, died. The reference to daughter might actually mean daughter but it could also mean daughter in Christ, which would mean they were nuns serving under the abbess.
Nunneries and monasteries were often associated with the local clan or tribe who controlled the lands of the area and usually they had one of their own as abbess or abbot to ensure the lands remained in the family’s hands.
Nunneries in early Christian Ireland were generally small in comparison to the male monasteries and there was less of them in comparison to the mens’ institutions. Nunneries seem to have functioned similarly to male monasteries and so were places of fosterage, centres for learning, patrons of the arts and sites of hospitality. The most prominent female saint in early Ireland was St. Brigid. It is said she took holy orders at nearby Fartullagh, Co. Westmeath. According to tradition around 480 AD she founded a monastery at Kildare. Brigid, with an initial group of seven companions, is said to have organised communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland. The area between Kildare and her birthplace in Louth included Meath and there are a number of local holy wells dedicated to her and a good number of her churches as well – Kilbride, the church of St. Brigid.
In medieval times Clonguiffin became part of the property of St. John’s Priory, Trim. The field system in the townland may date to this period rather than the earlier period of St. Fintina.This field system consists of rectangular areas defined by banks and ditches covering about four acres with three possible house platforms.
When the Post Primary school at Longwood came into existence it was named St. Fintina’s Post Primary School by Fr. Clavin in memory of a nun by that name, who had a nunnery in Clonguiffen.
In 1971 human remains were discovered while ploughing on a farm at Clonguiffin. The site was known locally as the “nunnery” and a number of earthworks were once visible in the field.
St. John’s Priory
In medieval times the lands of Longwood were owned by the monastery of the Hospital of Crutched Friars of St. John the Baptist, Newtown by Trim. At the time the monastery was dissolved in 1540 there was an inventory of property made and this included one castle, six houses, forty acres arable, sixty acres pasture, bog, and underwood, in Longwood, otherwise Mordarvy. The monastery also held 120 arable acres and 20 acres of pasture at Clongiffin. Four tenants occupied the land and had to give 16 days ploughing, 16 days carting, 8 “hookedais”, 4 “turfdais”, 4 “wedyngdais” and 8 hens to the monks. There was also a watermill there on the Blackwater. These lands were granted to Raymond Birmingham. This mill continued in existence and is on the first Ordnance Survey map of 1836 but by 1900 was replaced by Clongiffin House.
In 1566 Queen Elizabeth granted the lands of St. Johns including Longwood alias Moydervy to Thomas Plunkett. In 1612, King James granted to Sir Christopher Plunkett, one castle, six houses, forty acres arable, sixty acres pasture, bog, and underwood, in Longwood, otherwise Mordervie, otherwise Moydervy, and the rent of 12s. 3d. for the customs of said lands; parcel of the estate of the hospital of St. John the Baptist of Newtown, near Trim. In the Longwood Killyon Magazine Jimmy Farrell contends that the castle was on the south side of the street of Longwood at Daffy’s corner facing St. Oliver’s Road and the six messuages or houses were also located on the south side of the street, running up[ the current street towards the Green.
A hospital was founded at Newtown, Trim, in the thirteenth century by the Crutched Friars, an order originally established to nurse the Crusaders and redeem Christian hostages. Wearing a cross on their tunic they became known as the Crossed or Crutched Friars.
The principle remains are a large square keep with two towers which was much altered after the monks had been forced out and the building converted to a private residence. Behind the keep are the remains of the hospital building, stores and a chapel with a beautiful triple window. At the roadside is a three storied round watch tower which commanded one of the approaches to Trim.
The first contemporary record of the priory is in 1281 when there was a grant of alms from the manor of Magathtreth. In 1513 Edmund Dillon was prior of this monastery. Edmund was the brother of Thomas Dillon who was the prior of SS Peter and Pauls at about the same time. At the time of the suppression of the monasteries their brother, Robert Dillon, was granted St. Johns. At the time of the dissolution the priory held a church, two towers, a hall, storehouse, kitchen, brewhouse, two granaries, a pigeon-house and a haggard. The priory and its possessions were granted to Robert Dillon who later disposed of it to the Ashe family who made their home in the main keep. After being abandoned by the Ashe family the keep was said to have been inhabited by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Meath. After the Battle of the Boyne the building was granted to one of King William’s men. During his first night in the holy spot he saw a ‘most horrid vision’ and at dawn of day he ordered his horse and rode away never to return.
St. John’s Priory, Newtown, Trim.
The church was dedicated to St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas of Myra was patron of Mariners, Travellers, Brewers, Pawnbrokers and many others. His cause was introduced to Ireland by the Normans.Thomas Mareshall was priest in 1389, Hugo O’Kervane (1412), and Christopher Gaffney, who was presented in 1557.
Around 1400 John Tathe was deprived of his position as rector of Castlerickard by the Pope as he “did not well understand and intelligibly speak the language of the majority of his parishioners.”
In 1580 Myles Pemberton the curate in charge of Kilyon parish resided in Castlerickard Rectory as there were no residential buildings at Killyon. The earliest description of the church is from Ussher (1622), who describes the church and chancel as ruinous when Myles Pemberton was the rector. According to Dopping (1682-5) the church of St Nicholas was ruined and the graveyard was not enclosed.
In 1733 Castlerickard church was in “sorry order but here was service every Sunday afternoon”. The rector’s house, The Glebe House, was constructed in 1790. In the early 1920s the Glebe house was sold into private hands.
James Elrington was rector of Castlerickard from 1800 until his death in 1805 and he was interred at Castlerickard. In 1806 Castlerickard was in perfect repair. In 1836 the church is described as a small secluded building with a small graveyard around it. It was able to hold 80 people. Robert Allen was incumbent from 1873 rill his death in 1878 and he was interred at Castlerickard.
Within the church there was a shield in the vestry commemorating William Richard Swifte who died 18 February 1890 aged 82. The east window had a representation of Our Lord walking on water and calming the storm. A small round painting appeared at the bottom of the window apparently representing two boys being drowned in the sea near a pier. The inscription read “This window was erected by the loving parents of Edward Thomas Eddie and Richard Vernon Kellett by their sorrowing parents.” Theodore Kellett and his wife Annie Elizabeth, nee Kellett, were married in Dublin in 1867 and lived at Broadfort House, Ballinakill, Enfield. They had eight children, two of whom are commemorated in the stained glass window. Richard Vernon Kellett was born in Meath in October 1875 and died at the age of 20 in March 1896. He died of TB. He was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin, in a grave which now also holds his parents remains. Edward Thomas Kellett was an older brother, born in his mother’s native Monaghan in 1870. He entered the Mercantile Navy and died at sea in May 1896. The window dates to about 1900 and was made by the Mayer firm in Munich. The window was removed and re-erected in 1979 in the church of Upper Cumber, Claudy, Derry.
The church dates to about 1820 and occupies the site of the medieval church, The church was de-consecrated on 3rd February 1977. The parish was united with Killochonigan (Ballivor) in 1922 and with Rathmolyon and Laracor in 1956. The church was deconsecrated 3 February 1977.
Both denominations are buried there. The huge pyramid shaped mausoleum to the Swifte family is actually a form of a tetrahedron is stunning. Dating to about 1815 it is a limestone pyramid on a triangular ground plan having skewed coursing with lozenge shaped raised panels on all three sides, one bearing the incised inscription ‘Swifte’. On the north side of the graveyard is the headstone to Georgina Nelson 1859 aged 20 years who lived at Castlerickard. A portion of the bank was removed to bury this lady in unconsecrated ground as she committed suicide the night before her wedding as she was told she was not a true daughter of the Nelson family but illegitimate.
Reconstruction of motte and bailey castle
Castlerickard motte is located to the east of the churchyard. Castles and churches are often found together in medieval times. Each castle lord liked to have his own church. The dedication of the church to St. Nicholas suggests an early medieval date for the castle. A motte was an early castle and consisted of an artificial, steep-sided, earthen mound on or in which is set the principal tower of a castle. They were constructed by the Anglo-Normans in the late 12th and early 13th century. As this is an early motte and is located in Moyfenragh this motte may have been constructed by Hugh de Lacy, the first Norman Lord of Meath. Castlerickard motte is located on a bluff overlooking the Blackwater River, giving it a commanding view. Flat topped its top measures about ten metres in diameter and it is about 33 metres diameter at the base. A bailey protected the base of the motte on two sides. A medieval field system extends to the east and north. The rectangular field system defined by scarps, banks and ditches covers about 25 acres. A sunken roadway runs north through the fields.
Castlerickard means Richard’s Castle. Who the Richard was is not known? It could possibly be Richard II who was also known as Richard the Lionheart, which could explain Lionsden as a place name. Castlerickard was on the road between Trim and Clonard. A castle was mentioned in the Civil Survey of 1654-5 and is drawn on Petty’s map of 1655. The castle was visible on the map of Beaufort in 1797 and also on the Thompson map of 1802 but it is not present on the first Ordnance survey map of the 1836 so it was removed in the early 19th century. This castle was located on the hill to the northeast of the motte in a field locally known as castle hill.
Attacks by the O’Connors
In 1556 and 1557, Queen Mary Tudor took the lands of the Gaelic clans the O’Moores and O’Connors and gave these lands to loyal English settlers. The arrival of these new settlers to Ireland however created a lot of unrest as the Irish clans wanted their land back and often attacked the new settlers. However, the plantation was not a great success. The O’Moores and O’Connorsretreated to the hills and bogs and fought a local insurgency against the settlement for much of the following 40 years.
In 1581, Arthur Brereton, landowner, said that the O’Connors had taken 600 of his cattle, in September, and that they had burned his house and town of Killyon, as also his house and town of Castlerickard, with his stuff, writings, and thirty horses, with corn, the tilth of twenty-four ploughs, and they had wasted (destroyed) his poor tenants. He asked for relief and the Queen’s bounty to enable him to build and fortify Castlerickard. More money was spent protecting the Planters than was raised by them.
In 1611 Christopher Plunkett was granted the right to hold a Fair at Longwood by King James I. This was one of the early grants of fairs in Meath, most are after this date.
In 1810 the fairs were Fairs held 1 February, 1st July Whit Tuesday, 12 July 11 December. 11 December the Christmas Fair and the Green packed with stall-fed cattle.
In 1910 there was a protest by Longwood ratepayers to a proposal that the local council take over the Green. This move was defeated.
Tolls were paid to the Edgeworth landlords. Eventually the tolls were abolished when men from Athboy and Kildalkey refused to pay them. The Fair Green belonged to the Edgeworth family until 1952 when they gave up possession at no charge to Fr. Clavin who transferred ownership to the Diocese of Meath.
There was a building called The Shamrock Hotel which catered for people and it was located near the fair green.
Soldier Killed in Longwood 1644
The 1641 depositions chronicle the harrowing events of the uprising by Catholic landowners against plantation settlers in the early 17th century and are now in Trinity College Dublin. The rebellion, which began on October 22, 1641, led to more than a decade of violence and was one of the excuses used by Cromwell for coming to Ireland. The Eleven Years War, also known as The Irish Confederate Wars were fought between the Irish forces, the English forces and the Royalist forces and concluded as a war between the Irish and the forces of Cromwell. A number of major battles occurred locally: the Battle of Port Lester near Ballivor (1643), the Battle of Dungan’s Hill in Summerhill (1647) and the battle of Tycroghan near Clonard (1650). In 1647 Colonel Jones and marched himself towards Trim, and on the 6th October he summoned Castle Rickard, which surrendered, and several other garrisons also. James Maguire had been in command of the Irish rebels at Castlerickard and later became Sub-Sheriff of Westmeath.
The depositions taken in the 1650s record the claims for compensation by the Protestant settlers who suffered at the hands of the Catholic rebels. While many certainly do chronicle real events others were exaggerated in order to secure increased compensation and the first one below seems to have been old scores being settled.
Edward Wesley was accused of killing an English soldier at Longwood about St. Patrick Day 1644/5. As these were unsettled times he was not arrested until 1653 and confined in Dublin Gaol. A number of witnesses came forward to give evidence. Walter Cusack of Rathregan, Dunshaughlin, said he had been in a victualing (eating) house in Dangan, Summerhill, when Edward Wesley and Teige Flannigan arrived about 12 midnight and when challenged about what he was going at that time of night Wesley said they were looking to sell the coat of an English soldier they had killed near Longwood. Robert, Walter’s brother said the Wesley was looking for the price of a knife for the coat and that Wesley had knocked the English soldier on the head, thereby killing him. Roger McNamara also of Rathregan, Dunshaughlin, said he did not hear Wesley admit to killing the soldier but he said he had taken it from an English soldier and when told by his master, Garret Wesley, that it was an ill thing to have done particularly when there was a ceasefire in existence, said the soldier would never come to complain about it. William McEvoy, Ballinskeagh, Dangan, said that it was not right for Walter Cusack to accuse Wesley of such a crime and he, McEvoy, was sure Wesley was not guilty.
Edward Wesley said he had been at the victualling house in Dangan and there had been a number of people there who fell to drinking into the night. The night ended in quarrelling and Wesley being a boy escaped and returned to his master’s house. He had not seen Tiege Flannigan that day or night. He had slept in the same bed as Edmond McGeraghty as he usually did. He denied that he had killed an English soldier and said he supported the English cause, had never showed any coat to any person and had never heard of any killing of an English soldier at Longwood. Unfortunately it is only these pieces of evidence that have survived, we do not know if Wesley was found guilty and executed or not.
In another deposition Myles Pemberton of Longwood put in a claim for agricultural products, corn, hay, turf, and other goods which were taken by Barnabie Scurlock of Scurlockstown, Christopher Plunkett of Longwood and others in 1641.
Hugh Cooke of Slaine Clonie, in the lordship of Moygar, parish of Trim, had been robbed of cattle and beasts, horse, corne and hay by John Rochford of Castlerickard, Walter Fagan and William Fagan of both of Branockstowne farmers, Mr Thomas Nugent of Dallystowne and others.
John Crawford of Donnlistrim, in the barony of Moyfenrath swore that Irish rebels had taken household, livestock and agricultural produce worth £155. He named the culprits as Lawrence Hammond of Trim, Christopher Burnell of Castlerickard, Christopher Lynch of Donore and Nicholas Hussey of Gallow.
To Hell or to Connacht
Cromwell came to Ireland in 1649 and one of the problems he hoped to solve was payment for his soldiers and those who invested in his campaign. He did this by ordering the lands of Ireland confiscated and allocated them to his soldiers and supporters. Naturally those who already owned the lands were not happy with this and when Charles II came to the throne after Cromwell’s death they sought to have their lands restored but this proved to be a difficult fight.
In 1641 Sir Luke Fitzgerald of Ticroghan, Irish papist, (Roman Catholic) held Ballinabarney, 100 acres, 60 arable and 40 pasture and other lands in the vicinity. There was an eel wear at Ballinabarney. Sir Luke was born about 1586. His daughter, Helena, was a daughter in law of Eoghan Roe O’Neill who was the leader of the Irish Forces in the 1640s and had returned from France to fight for Catholic rights. Sir Luke took an active part in the activities of the Confederate Wars of the 1640s. He was a regular correspondent with Ormond, one of the leaders of the Irish army. Sir Luke was one of Ormond’s emissaries to Eoghan Roe O’Neill in 1649 to negotiate a peace settlement. For his activities Sir Luke was outlawed in 1642. Sir Luke held most of his lands in Westmeath but also held lands in Meath. He held 8,560 acres in the barony of Farbill, Co. Westmeath. Sir Luke held 3092 acres in Ballivor, Kildalkey and Donore.
Like most Catholic landowners Sir Luke’s lands were confiscated by Cromwell and he was sentenced to be transplanted to Connacht. He was granted 2031 acres in the barony of Athenry; 2034 acres in the barony of Kilconnell and the barony of Ross, all in the county of Galway. Lady Mary Fitzgerald wrote that as a result of the transplantation all the gentry were forced to live under the sky or in conditions resembling siege conditions.
After the death of Cromwell and the restoration of Charles II as king the new ruler was forced to attempt to solve the land problem in Ireland. Those who lost their lands under Cromwell sought to have it restored as they had been loyal to the Royalist cause. Charles II made a Declaration in 1660 restoring former owners to their lands. Charles attempted to restore the previous landowners but often did not force the issue as the new owners were a strong political force. Charles II in his 1660 Declaration stated that Sir Luke’s son, George Fitzgerald of Ticroghane, was to be restored to his estates. In 1661 Mary, widow of Sir Luke Fitzgerald, made petition for the restoration of her husband’s lands. The Fitzgeralds could not be restored and pleaded for a pension or the quick rents of the estate. Luke’s eldest son, George, served Charles II while he was abroad. He retrieved some estate lands following the restoration of Charles II in 1660. This was a difficult and lengthy process. In some cases he purchased his own lands back from the English soldiers who had been granted them by Cromwell.
In 1641 Garret Lynch held 467 acres in Donower. Laurence Leynes (Lynch) of Donore was outlawed in 1642. Garret Lynch of Donore was included in a 1664 list of nominees for restoration provided to Ormond as he had taken no further action after the cessation of 1643. Garret Lynch is recorded as having lost all his lands according to the Books of Survey and Distribution. Not being transplanted he may have stayed on as a tenant on lands he previously owned.
In 1640 Sir Dudley Loftus of Killyon, Protestant, held Killyon, 172 acres of which 130 was arable, 20 pasture and 2 bog. There was a ruinous stone house, a castle, a mill and a wear. Sir Dudley Loftus also held Ballinah, 23 acres of which all was arable. Archbishop Adam Loftus, chaplain to Queen Elizabeth I and first provost of Trinity College, was the founder of the family in Ireland. Sir Thomas Loftus, third son of Archbishop Loftus, was granted lands at Killyon and Clonard in 1610. His son, Dudley, married Cecilia, daughter of Sir James Ware, Auditor-General of Ireland. And they had one son Thomas; and two daughters, Elizabeth and Eleanor. Eleanor married three times, the last time to Edward Tyrell of Westmeath and their daughter, Catherine, married Richard Edgeworth of Longwood. Sir Dudley died in 1648, and was succeeded by his only son, Thomas Loftus, of Killyan and Clonard who married first, Susanna Elkenhead, and secondly, Letitia Digby, daughter of the Bishop of Elphin.
By his first wife, Susanna Elkenhead, he had children including his eldest son Dudley who succeeded him and married Anne Smyth. Dudley Loftus, died in 1714 and was succeeded by his eldest son , Thomas, who married firstly to Alice, sister of Robert Rochfort, first Earl of Belvedere, and when she died in 1748, he married secondly, in 1759, to Jane, daughter of Robert Perceval, esq. of Knightsbrook and had a son and successor, Dudley of Killyan. Thomas served as MP for the borough of Clonmines from 1727 until 1760. He was also Governor of the newly erected Dublin Lying-In Hospital, today better known as the Rotunda Maternity Hospital from 1757 until his death in 1768. He was Sherrif of Meath in 1739. His son, Dudley, married Lady Jane Gore, daughter of the Earl of Arran and they had three children a son who died young and two daughters. The estate then went to Edward Loftus of Annerville, Clonard and when he died in 1824 to William Loftus of Kilbride, Wicklow. General William Loftus fought on the British side in the American War of Independence and took part in the battle at Bunker Hill. He fought against the rebels on Vinegar Hill, Wexford in 1798 and was later appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London. General Loftus died in 1831 and was succeeded by his son, Colonel William Loftus of Kilbride, Wicklow.
Theophilus Jones was granted 59 acres at Dunower. Sir Theophilus Jones, was son of Lewis Jones, bishop of Killaloe, a brother of Colonel Michael Jones, one of the parliamentary leaders who had taken the castle at Castlerickard in 1647 and Henry Jones, Bishop of Meath. Theophilius served in the parliamentary forces in Ulster, was the commander of the garrison of Kells in 1646. Serving with Cromwell Theophilius became governor of Drogheda when it was taken in 1649. He was involved in the siege of Clonmel and accepted the surrender of the last garrison to fall in 1653. Jones was one of the signatories inviting Charles II to come to Ireland and was one of the commissioners who went to negotiate with the King in May 1660. Sir Theophilus Jones of Osberstown, Naas, Co. Kildare, was Member of Parliament for Meath in 1661. On 21 January 1661 he was confirmed in all lands ‘settled or intended to be settled’ upon him, ‘by gift, grant or order of any power or usurped power’.
The property of Croboy was held by the Lynch family, this is a branch of the Lynch family of Lynch’s Knock, Summerhill. In 1613 Christopher Lynch of Croboy died, leaving Robert, his son and heir, then aged twenty-four and unmarried, and he was the head of the Meath family during the awful visitation of Cromwell. In 1641 Robert Lynch of Croboy held 660 acres of which 300 bog, 240 arable, 100 pasture and 20 woods, one castle and some cabins.
Robert Lynch was forced to give up his estates and to accept a certificate transplanting him and his family into the County of Roscommon. The will of this Robert Lynch or Leyns, bears date in 1667, and commences with a ‘sweet reminiscence’ of his old home, directing his interment “in the sepulchre of my dear mother, children, and grand-children, in the church of Clonard, without any great cost or solemnity; being banished into Connaught, and deprived of my estate, and stript of all my moveable goods and substance.” The estate of Croboy was granted by patent of Charles the Second chiefly to Charles Barker.
Charles Barker was a soldier in Cromwell’s army and he was granted Croboy which was later confirmed by Charles II. His son, Oliver Barker, succeeded him. Oliver married Mary McManus of Maynooth Park in 1714. Their son is remembered in a plaque in Clonard Protestant church – Lieut. Col . James Barker 2nd Queens Royal Regiment of foot. Oliver was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles Barker, born 1716, married Mary Nugent of Balnacara, Co. Westmeath and they had one son, Oliver, who left Ireland and went to serve in the Austrian Army. When Charles died he was succeeded by his younger brother, Richard who was born 1719, married 1755 Alice Cusack of Clonard and their son, Oliver born 1756 succeeded to the Croboy estates. Oliver married twice firstly to Elizabeth Herbert and secondly to Margaret Coote, widow of Thomas Coote. The eldest son Richard Barker succeeded to the estates at Croboy but moved his family to Dunboyne. Born in 1785 he married Mary MacFarlane of Stirling, Co. Meath in 1817 and their eldest son was William Oliver Barker.
In 1640 the following held the lands of Longwood:
Edmund Darcy of Clondaly Irish Papist, held Clondaly 270 acres of which 150 was arable, 60 pasture, 20 woods and 40 bog. There was a castle, a mill and some cabins.
Lord Netterville of Ballygarth, Irish Papist held Ballinderry, 103 acres of which 60 was arable, 30 pasture, 3 meadow and 10 bog.
Nicholas Plunkett of Longwood, Irish Papist held Clonguiffin, 250 acres of which 120 were arable, 120 pasture, 4 meadow and 6 bog.
The family tradition as that in Queen Elizabeth’s time two brothers, Edward and Francis came to Ireland, probably under the patronage of leading noblemen Essex and Cecil. Edward Edgeworth became Bishop of Down and Connor in 1593. He was succeeded by his brother, Francis Edgeworth, who married Jane Tuite who founded an Irish Convent at St. Germain’s, near Paris. Their son, John, settled at Crannalagh Castle, co. Westmeath and he was High Sheriff of the county 1646 and M.P. 1646-49. His son, Sir John, was knighted by Charles II, in 1672. The family established themselves at Kilshrewely and Mostrim/Edgeworthstown, co. Longford. Sir John escaped being killed by the rebels in 1641. He was a baby and the rebels wanted to smash his head against a wall but a lowly family servant said that was too quick a death and said he would bury him in the bog up to his head and let the crows pick out his eyes and brains. The servant did as he said but when the rebels had gone; retrieved the baby and hid him in a basket of eggs and so took him to Dublin safe from rebels’ hands. On an excursion to London Sir John and his wife took a mortgage on their lands in Lancashire and brought the entire sum in cash to London with them in a stocking. The stocking was placed at the head of the bed and the cash quickly disappeared as the husband was young, handsome, very fond of clothes and also liked to gamble.
The second son, Robert, was his father’s favourite. Robert Edgeworth married 1692, Catherine, only child of Sir Edward Tyrrell, Baron of Lynn, Westmeath in 1692. Edward Tyrrell of Lynn Westmeath was created a baron in 1680. Tyrell was married to Eleanor, the daughter of Sir Dudley Loftus of Killyon and they had one child, Catherine. Edward Tyrell was found guilty of rebellion, having sided with Catholic King James against William and Anne. Tyrell died an untried prisoner, on 6th February, 1691. His estates were confiscated and his title obscured. Robert convinced Catherine to become Protestant and he devoted his energies to recovering her estates. A proportion of his property, Longwood Co. Meath, was by special Act of Parliament, in 1702, restored to his daughter Catherine, and her husband Captain Robert Edgeworth. They had at least two sons, Edward who settled at Kilshrewely, Longford who was disinherited because he married a Catholic. The second son, Packington took ownership of the Tyrrell lands at Longwood. Robert married secondly Isabella Barnes of East Winch Hall about 1708. In 1711 Capt. Robert Edgeworth of Longwood, Co. Meath leased some of his lands to his brother, Henry Edgeworth. In 1713 Robert was elected M.P. for St. Johnstown (Longford) as a Tory and was re-elected in 1715 and served until 1727. Sir Thomas Gifford, of Castlejordan, in 1716 married Eleanor Edgeworth, daughter of Robert Edgeworth, and Catherine Tyrrell. Robert Edgeworth was described as “He had no notion of good breeding, was outrageously rude and abusive to persons he disliked, had a strange disposition to fighting and quarrelling and was quite void of fear of any man living, but was most childishly fearful of apparitions and goblins especially after he killed Mr. Atkinson in a duel in Clontarf Wood, after which time he would never lie without a lighted candle in his room and a servant either in his chamber or within his call… He hated many people, loved nobody, nor nobody loved him.” “His religion sat very loose upon him and was very little interwoven with moral virtues of any sort.”. Robert tried to get the property of his older brother, Francis. Francis wrote “family feuds are like a ship. Divisions are her leaks and while mariners fight the sea rushes in and drowns all.” Robert Edgeworth died in July 1730.
Packington Edgworth married Mary Moore and held the lands in 1740. The Edgeworths had adopted Kilglass as their family burial place by the 1740s. The first recorded burial there of the family is John Edgeworth son of Packinton Edgeworth who died 9 December 1746 aged 12 years.
Robert’s mother, Dame Anne Edgeworth, died in 1714 at Longwood, in 1714. According to family tradition her sixth son, Essex Edgeworth, a clergyman, was father of Henry Essex Edgeworth, Monsieur de Firmont, the celebrated Abbe Edgeworth. When Henry was three or four years of age, his father changed his religion. Henry joined the church and became vicar-general of the diocese of Paris and friend of the royal family and stayed with them during the French Revolution. In 1791 he became confessor to Princess Elizabeth and when Louis XVI was condemned to death he was able to obtain permission to celebrate mass for him and attend him on the scaffold.
The family were related to the Edgeworths of Edgeworthstown – to Richard Lovett Edgeworth the inventor and to Maria Edgeworth the writer and author of Castle Rackrent.
In the 1850s Louisa Edgeworth and Packenham Edgeworth were the principal landowners in Longwood. In 1875 Robert Edgeworth died aged 73 years and was buried in Kilglass. His wife, Anne Edgeworth, died in 1899 aged 91 years. In 1876 Rev. Essex Edgeworth, Kilsmewley House, Edgeworthstown, owned 296 acres in Meath.
There was a large house belonging to the Edgeworths at the Trim end of the village with an entrance way off what became the Trim road known as the lodge walk and the main entrance avenue off the Enfield Road. In front of the houses was a demesne with an artificial lake. Sir Malcolm Edgeworth is reputed to have lost the house in a gamble. The winner took off the copper roof and left the house to fall into decay.
Some of the estate was disposed of about 1910 by Thomas N. Edgeworth as a result of Land Commision intervention.
The Fair Green belonged to the Edgworth family until 1952 when they gave up possession at no charge to Fr. Clavin who transferred ownership to the Diocese of Meath. Tolls were paid to the Edgeworth landlords but eventually the tolls were abolished when men from Athboy and Kildalkey refused to pay them.
Located between Rathmolyon and Longwood Tobertynan is a straight forward Georgian house, castellated in the early 19th century. Tobertynan consists of two storey over basement central block with cylindrical corner towers. Erected about 1780 by the Nugent family, in 1786 it was the residence of Mr. Donellan. About 1800 Tobertynan was purchased by Francis McEvoy. The McEvoy family added the four towers at the corners of the house. The McEvoy arms and motto ‘Bear and forbear’ are carved on a plaque over the central window in the main front.
Francis McEvoy was the son of Edward McEvoy of Dring, Co. Longford. Francis, a distinguished surgeon, was one of the founders and later President of the Royal College of Surgeons. Francis married Anne Featherstonhaugh of Bracklyn castle. Their son, Edward, died unmarried and the estate went to James McEvoy, brother of Francis, of Frankford in 1808. He married Theresa, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Sir Joshua Coles Meredyth, 8th Baronet. James died in 1834 while his widow lived on until 1896, surviving her husband by sixty two years. Their second son, Joshua, married Mary Netterville, only daughter and heiress to the 7th Viscount Netterville and took the name Netterville. In 1852 Richard Gradwell of Dowth Hall married Maria Theresa, elder daughter of James and Theresa. In 1856 Barbara Frances, the younger daughter of James and Theresa, married Sir Bernard Burke who was Ulster King at Arms and editor of Burke’s Peerage.
James was succeeded at Tobertynan by his widow and then his son, Edward Francis McEvoy. In 1835 Tobertynan house was described as a handsome mansion house in the centre of the demesne. About half the townland was laid out as a park with trees.
In 1850 Edward Francis McEvoy married Eliza Theresa Browne of Mount Hazel, heiress to that estate. Edward McEvoy attended Cambridge and served in the 6th Carabiniers Dragoon Guards. He then served as MP for Meath 1855-1874 as an independent.
While serving in the Dragoon Guards Edward was friendly with Roger Tichborne. Roger lost his life when his ship went down in the South Atlantic. His mother was distraught and advertised widely believing that he had not died. A man claiming to be Roger Tichborne arrived from Australia and the mother welcomed him but there was a huge legal case to claim the assets of Roger Tichborne and it was proved that the man was an imposter. It was a very famous case in the late 19th century. Edward McEvoy knew him for an imposter and was a very important witness against the claimant at the trial.
In 1876 Edward McEvoy of Tobertynan held owned 2,411 acres in Meath, over 300 acres in Leitrim and also lands in Longford. The Empress of Austria visited Tobertynan while staying at Summerhill. At that time there was a lily pond, thatched summerhouse, a statue of Mercury and a tower which was possibly a folly on the outer lawn.
Fr. Charles Houben, a Passionist, became a regular correspondent with the McEvoys. In thanksgiving for the birth of their daughter, Pauline, Edward and Eliza erected a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes on a Scots Pine tree in the woods at Tobertyrnan in 1868, ten years after the apparations at Lourdes. Fr. Charles blessed the shrine. Fr. Charles became a saint when he was beatified in 1988.
Pauline, the only surviving child of Edward MacEvoy was brought up at Tobertynan, by governesses. She could play the piano and talk French, the two accomplishments required of a young lady at that period. Pauline Mary McEvoy married George de Stacpoole on 1 December 1883.
The de Stacpoole family were linked to Limerick from the 13th century. Richard de Stacpoole was created a Viscount by Pope Louis XVIII in 1826 and a Papal Marquis by Leo XII in 1828 then a Papal Duke by Gregory XVI in 1830. Richard de Stacpoole spent £40,000 to rebuild “St Paul’s without the walls” and also repaired the main bridge over the Tiber and the restoration of the fountains which had been out of action, since Napoleonic times. Richard 1st Duke de Stacpoole died July 1848. George de Stacpoole, only son of the 3rd Duke, was born in Paris in 1860. He was the grandson of Richard de Stacpoole, of Mount Hazel, Co. Galway, whom Leo XII created a Duke of the Papal States in 1830.
George de Stacpoole met Miss Pauline McEvoy of Tobertynan in Dublin where he had established a base for hunting with the Meaths and the Wards. After their marriage in 1883 they went to live at St. Wandrille, Normandy, as his father, the real owner, was by this time a priest. Stanislaus was Domestic Prelate to Pope Pius IX in Rome and on his deathbed asked his son George to use the title of count. George and Pauline’s eldest child Gertrude was born at St. Wandrille. By this time however, Pauline was getting tired of living abroad. Her own mother Elizabeth McEvoy missed her very much in Ireland and she offered her son-in-law her Mount Hazel property, provided he would live there. The couple moved to Mount Hazel and there they raised their family of six children. Pauline had taken a fancy to a house opposite St. Columbus Church in London but thought that the bells might disturb her. The church was a Scottish Presbyterian church – a denomination which does not use bells. Instead they purchased a house in Cadogan Gardens. The fourth Duke de Stacpoole wrote his autobiography “Irish and other memories” which was published in 1922. He presented the Sultan of Turkey with a St. Bernard dog. The dog did not like the heat and the Sultan had a tunnel constructed to generate a cooling draft. When the Sultan was deposed after the First World War he took the St. Bernard dog into exile with him. In 1920 Tobertynan House was raided by intruders during the troubled times. The items stolen were recovered and returned by the Irish Volunteers.
They had six children. The fifth Duke, George Edward Joseph Patrick de Stacpoole, was born on 8 March 1886. He was the son of George and Pauline Stacpoole. He married Eileen Palmer on 12 November 1915. He served as Captain in the Connaught Rangers during World War I. Two of his younger brothers were killed during the war. Another two brothers also served in the war. He was a member of the Irish Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Committee. He died on 3 April 1965 aged 79.
The sixth duke, Major George Duc de Stacpoole, died in July 2005 and was buried in Roundstone, Co. Galway. George was born in 1916 in the middle of the First World War that claimed his uncles Roderick and Robert. Educated at St Gerard’s in Dublin and then at Downside. He was an accomplished soldier and continued the de Stacpoole tradition of service with Irish regiments. He became a regular soldier with the Royal Ulster Rifles and one of the few Catholic officers in that regiment. During the Second World War, and afterward, he served in Afghanistan, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Malaya. It is said that he kept his coffin in his bedroom at Tobertynan.
After a spell at school mastering he returned to his family home, Tobertynan, in Meath, where his father wanted him to run the farm, a strange career move as he was not familiar with agriculture. His sister got a judgement of his competence from the Herd, a man called Healy, who said “Ah, he’ll be fine when he learns the difference between a heifer and a bullock”.
With the sale of Tobertynan, George moved to the family’s summer home, Errisbeg House, and with his mother and son Richard around him, he embarked on a series of commercial ventures. His son, Richard, became the 7th Duke de Stacpoole and resides at Errisberg House, Roundstone, Co. Galway.
Tobertynan was sold by 6th Duke de Stacpoole in 1962 and then passed to Land Commission and then into private ownership. In 1998 Tobertynan House on 51 acres was sold prior to auction for around £750,000.
Located near the Hill of Down in south-west Meath, Killyon house is a three storey T-shaped plan house. Incorporating a medieval tower house the house has an eighteenth century porch. The house dates to the early or mid eighteenth century to which is added a nineteenth century ballroom. Architect William Farrell would seem to have been involved in Killyon Manor as well as the Mangan’s house at Clonearl. London architects, Warwick & Hall, were employed by Captain Arthur Tilson Magan in 1907 prepare designs ‘in the English manner’ for the reconstruction of Killyon Manor,
Archbishop Adam Loftus, chaplain to Queen Elizabeth I and first provost of Trinity College, was the founder of the family in Ireland. Sir Thomas Loftus, third son of Archbishop Loftus, was granted lands at Killyon in 1610. His son, Dudley, married Cecilia, daughter of Sir James Ware, auditor-General of Ireland. Their eldest son, Thomas Loftus, was MP for Clonmines 1727-60 and resided at Killyon. His son, Dudley succeeded to the estates.
In 1817 Elizabeth Georgina Loftus, daughter of Dudley Loftus of Killyon Manor married Colonel Thomas Lowther Allen of Kilmer and was widowed at age of 21. She then married William Henry Magan of Clonearl, Daingean, Co. Offaly. Together they owned very large tracts of the best grasslands in Ireland, and other valuable properties, including one hundred and sixty-five acres of Dublin.
They built and staffed a great house, and filled it with treasures. William was known as ‘The Magnificent’. Killyon House was not inhabited in 1835 and its offices were nearly in ruins. The river was dammed to make a feature of the water. When Clonearl was burned in 1846 the family’s main seat became Killyon.
William Henry Magan died in May 1840. His heir was William Henry known as ‘William Henry the Bad.’ He married Lady Georgina Hill in 1849. William was an M.P. and High Sheriff of Westmeath. He is said to have treated people with contempt and shod his horse with shoes of gold. His mother was known locally as the four foot faggot and did much to alleviate the suffering during the Famine. When she died her coffin was supposed to have had nails of gold.
William led a wild life, dying childless in 1860 at 42 years of age. The Magan fortune then returned to his mother, Elizabeth Georgina Loftus Magan. In 1876 Mrs. E. G. Magan, address Killyon, Hill of Down, Co. Westmeath, owned 4,418 acres in Co. Meath, 5604 acres in Westmeath, 2374 in Kildare , 1023 in Offaly and 165 in Dublin, a total of 13584 acres. She managed the estates until she died in 1880, designating her only surviving child, Augusta Elizabeth Magan as her heir.
Augusta inherited all the Magan estates, twenty thousand acres and valuable houses in Dublin at the age of 55. She had been betrothed to Captain Bernard of Castle Bernard, Co. Offaly but he chose to marry a widow instead. It is said that a wedding feast had been prepared by Augusta for her marriage at 77 St. Stephen’s Green, now Loretta Hall. When the groom failed to arrive Augusta closed up the room and the house and it was not re-opened until after her death in 1905. ‘I remember an auction in Dublin in an old house in St Stephen’s Green next door to the Iveagh’s (the Guinness family) – a house which had a strange history,” remembered Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall, of Killeen Castle in her memoirs.
“An old Miss Magan had just died, who many years earlier had been a Dublin beauty. The story was that she had been engaged to a young man with whom she was very much in love. On the day of the wedding, he failed to appear. The house was shut up for many years and the lady lived as a recluse. When she was dying she asked to be buried in her bridal dress. After the funeral they opened the Stephen’s Green house, and, it was said, found the wedding breakfast still spread for the guests who had not come 30 years earlier.”
Colonel Bernard died in a horse riding accident at Mullingar in 1882 and so this wedding must have been set for well before that date. His coffin was wheeled along the railway platform on a trolley. Lady August acquired the trolley and it remained in her sitting room for the rest of her life. Augusta lived in her bed-sitting room, just one room in the whole of the house. She eventually became a recluse in Killyon manor. She was kind to her staff and to animals. Augusta mismanaged the estates and left them in shambles by 1905, when she died without an heir. Her will specified that her cash, investments, personal possessions, and household contents were to be sold, with the proceeds going towards the building of hospitals, including one to the memory of Colonel Bernard. Accordingly, the entire contents of both the Dublin townhouse and Killyon Manor were auctioned in Dublin in 1906, but the houses were in such a mess that the contents of each room was sold as it was, unseen by the purchasers. Sovereigns and £5 notes were found in all sorts of places including teapots, kitchen utensils and even chamber pots. She buried the family jewels and the estate was reduced due to mismanagement and no funds were available to build a hospital, never mind three. After her death the estate was contested.
A relative of the Magans, Colonel Arthur Shaen Magan purchased the house and the surrounding parkland. Arthur Tilson Shaen Magan, born in 1880, married Kathleen Jaen Biddulph. Arthur achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army Service Corps. He served during World War I and was mentioned in dispatches. In 1926 the estate was sold by the Land Commission. He lived at Correal, Co. Roscommon. Following Colonel Magan’s death at Killyon in 1965 his son William Morgan Tilson succeeded to the estate at Killyon.
William Morgan Tilson Magan was born in 1908. He married Maxine Mitchell in 1940. Educated at Sandhurst, he reached the rank of Brigadier in the British Army. He served in India. He fought in the Second World War and served in Palestine in 1946-7. In 1951, Magan was appointed to M15 as director of the overseas department and was engaged in Malaya, Kenya, Nyasaland, Borneo and Aden. He served as Assistant Under-Secretary in the War Office from 1953 to 1968. He was awarded an O.B.E. in 1946 and a C.B.E. in 1958. He lived at Killyon House and at St. Michael’s House, Tonbridge, Kent. As one of the last of the family to live there William published the story of the house and family in a book entitled ‘Umma-More’. He died in 2010 aged 101.
The manor was sold about 1970 to Lord Rivers Carew who lived there for a period. It was then purchased by the Purcell family who have restored the house and gardens.
Lionsden House is located at Castlerickard, near Longwood in south west Meath.
The house was erected in 1788 by Godwin Swifte IV. John O’Donovan said the name Lion’s den was a fancy name. O’Donovan preferred Irish names. Beaufort’s map of 1797 showed Lion’s Den. The name could be a play on Richard the Lionheart or through the Fitzleon family. A two-storey over basement house it has bow ends.The ground floor accommodation includes an entrance hall, a drawing room, a living room, dining room, kitchen, utility room, back hall, bathroom, boot room and boiler room. Upstairs are six bedrooms and bathroom. There are two rooms in the basement. The house is vaguely similar to Roristown, Trim. Lionsden was the centre of a small estate which had canals, two ornamental lakes, a fishpond and a dovecote. Lionsden is currently accessed by what was the back entrance. The main entrance to the house still stands with its original gates but its gate lodge has been removed. There is a dovecote and a lake near the house.
Godwin Swift was the first of the family to be associated with Lionsden and Castlerickard. He was the uncle of Dean Jonathan Swift. The main seat of the Swifts was Swiftsheath, Co. Kilkenny. The Dean’s second cousin was Deane Swife, born in 1707, who met Jonathon in 1720. Jonathon described him as a “puppy” probably more like the modern word “pup”. Despite this Jonathon gave him a loan of funds based on the security of Lionsden estate. Deane Swift wrote an Essay on the life of Jonathan Swift and edited Swift’s works which included the bulk of Swift’s letters.
Captain Henry Hoener de Mamile, of Nancy, France married Anna Marie Caroline Swifte in Belgium in 1833. The couple moved to Lionsden about 1835, shortly before the birth of their second son Oswald. They gave him the second name of Napoleon. Anna Marie died in childbirth in 1849. Their children seem to have emigrated to Austriala and America. In 1854 Honeur De Mamiel held Lionsden from Godwin Meade Swift.
Goodwin Meade Pratt Swift of Swiftsheath, Co. Kilkenny was granted a patent in 1856 for an aerial chariot or apparatus for navigating the air. He constructed what he called an “aerial chariot” which consisted of a boat-shaped carriage with one wheel at the front and two at the rear with silk covered wings. The device was drawn forward by an aerial screw or propeller turned by a winch and gear system. He constructed his chariot in the dining room of the house and then widen the doors to get the device outside. He had it hoisted to the top of Foulksrath castle and had his butler climb inside before pushing it over the edge. It plummeted to the ground and the butler broke his leg. The butler received a pension for life.
In Castlerickard church there was a brass tablet which read: ‘Godwin Meade Pratt Swifte, Viscount Carlingford, natus 13th August 1805, obit July 4th 1864. In Castlerickard churchyard the Swift family vault is surmounted by a large three-sided pyramid. The stonework fits tightly together, to form an almost smooth surface. Erected about 1815 the pyramid is inscribed ‘Swifte’ on west elevation. In 1901 the house was vacant but owned by the Swift family. In 1911 the house was vacant.
Rev. John Payne
John Payne, rector of Castlerickard, was a poet, architect, musician, engraver and painter. Payne was born in 1701, the son of William Payne, portrait painter, of Dublin. He was admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, at the age of fifteen in 1715. After graduating in 1720 he took holy orders. He became curate at Powerscourt and subsequently incumbent of the parish of Castlerickard, Co. Meath, where he remained from 1762 until 1771. He possessed an informed knowledge of building, so that in 1750 he was able to act as clerk and surveyor of quantities for improvements to the horse barracks at Trim. In 1753 he prepared a manuscript set of twelve designs for small country houses, which was published anonymously, in Dublin in 1757 as Twelve Designs of Country Houses of two, three and four rooms on a floor, proper for glebes and small estates, with some observations on the common errors in building. The Old Rectory, Loman Street, Trim was built in 1751 using the finest materials, to a design by architect Rev. John Payne. Payne also painted in oils and water-colour, being particularly adept as a flower painter. Payne died in 1771 in his house in Dorset Street, Dublin.
Longwood first staged race meetings in 1782 when a full five day meeting stretched from Tuesday 24th to Saturday 28th September 1782. The course was initially in the fields on the edge of the village, after which races were run on the Enfield course and the Moyvalley course. The meeting opened with a 10 Guineas Weight for Age Handicap which was won by Mr Heney’s Enchantress, while Gipsy defeated Latitude in the feature race the next day. Further meetings followed in 1785 on the old course from Monday 19th to Thursday 22nd September 1785, with good Ordinaries served each day and a Ball on Monday and Wednesday evening. A real hunters meeting was staged from Tuesday 25th to Friday 28th September 1787 with races run in heats over 3 miles, although shortly after this meeting racing lapsed in the village. Racing returned in the latter part of the 19th century, although meetings had more of a point to point feel about them and certainly contained pony racing. The card on Tuesday 10th April 1877 was typical, offering three weight for age handicaps over 3 miles and a pony race, all run on the Enfield course. Steeplechase meetings took priority in the 1880s and one of the last meetings of note was held on a course half a mile from Moyvalley on Tuesday 15th August 1893 when the feature race was the Longwood Hurdle. By Whit Monday 1896 the races were combined with Athletic Sports.
Defenders and United Irishmen in the 1790s
Originally from Belturbet George and Thomas Knipe became Protestant rectors of the adjoining parishes of Clonard and Castlerickard. Thomas Knipe was the son of John Knipe, gentleman and Ensign in Cavan Militia, graduated from Trinity College and then became curate at Clonard in 1792. He later served in Nobber, Enniskeen and then was rector of Kilbride, Castlecor and vicar of Oldcastle from 1800 until his death in 1832. George graduated from Trinity and then served in Kilmore diocese until 1784 when he became rector of Castlerickard. He married Miss Battersby in 1768 and they had four children; John, George, Frances, Anne before her death in 1771 and then George married a lady named Alicia.
The Defenders originated in Armagh in 1784 to protect Catholic residents from attack by the Protestant “Peep O’Day Boys.” A conflict between both groups in 1795 resulted in the formation of the Orange Order. Many of the Defender groups morphed into United Irishmen groups in the 1790s, inspired by the French revolution and its ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The Defenders were particularly active in Meath in the early 1790s. In Meath sectarian attacks were made on those of the Protestant faith, raids on large houses for firearms and against bad landlords. The rise of the Defenders was the popular response to the application of draconian law and order measures These attacks were met with the introduction of the local loyalist miltia who doled out their revenge. The militia and yeomanry were designed as a domestic defence and peacekeeping force. Extremism thrived. A riot on 22 January, 1793 at Coolnahinch on the Meath-Cavan border, resulted in 38 Defenders being killed.
In October 1792, at the peak of the Catholic agitation, a Catholic meeting was held at Trim, a town bitterly described some years later as “remarkable for being the residence of great numbers of the descendants of the prostitutes of Cromwell’s army”. At the end of that year a number of Protestant gentlemen, including Rev. Thomas Butler, formed the County Meath Association to counteract Defenderism. Rev. Butler, the chaplain to the bishop of Meath, was killed on 24 October. Active magistrates like Butler were prime targets. The Defenders were a secret society but bribes, free pardons and safe passage often loosened the tongue of the informer or encouraged someone to lie for advantage.
A number of Defenders attacked the home of Rev. George Knipe in Castle Rickard and he beat them off with two of the Defenders being killed, one body was left behind but the attackers took one body with them.
In August 1795, the Times of London reported that Mr. Knipe, a gentleman of the county of Meath, was fired upon on the previous Monday, as he was going to Athboy, by some villain unknown, and the shot providentially only grazed his forehead. His having prosecuted some Defenders a few days ago, to conviction, for an attack upon his house, is supposed to have caused this blood-thirsty attack upon his life. Another newspaper said that Rev. George Knipe was riding from his house to Summerhill, to attend a meeting of the well-disposed inhabitants of that neighborhood, who were invited by the magistrates to take the oath of allegiance, and express their abhorrence of defenders. He was, about midway between his house and Rathmolion, fired upon by some person concealed behind a hedge, with a blunderbuss. A Proclamation was issued later that month promising a pardon for information relating to the shooting of Reverend George Knipe, at Castlerickard.
In late February 1797 Rev Thomas Knipe reported disturbances in the Clonard area involving the ‘French Militia’. They made ‘one dreadful distinction between Protestant and Papist (Catholic),’ according to Knipe, while they robbed papists, they robbed and endeavoured to murder Protestants “and in some instances they have unfortunately succeeded.” In March 1797 James Kane of Newtown provided information that Thomas Flinn of Killyon and Thomas Tracy swore a number of men from Ballivor to organise a body of men to support the French when they landed. Rev. Thomas Knipe wrote to Dublin Castle in April saying that “two strangers have been seen at Flinn’s house on Saturday last. He has a brother in Dublin, which I think should be taken up and his papers secured.”
On the evening of 30 April 1797 Rev. George Knipe arrested two insurgents near Clonard. Later that evening he received a message saying that the Defenders would take revenge. At midnight three hundred armed men attacked his house at Castle Rickard. Knipe managed to hold off the force for two hours. Twelve or thirteen men entered the house and Knipe was shot dead.
In May 1797 a proclamation was issued offering a reward for the apprehension of those responsible for the murder of George Knipe. The Clonard yeomanry scoured the country and arrested five local men, one of whom was shot while trying to make an escape.
John Tuite, alias Captain Fearnought, from Broadford, was captured and was brought to trial but one trial or court martial failed to convict him and he was brought before the court again at the 1799 Summer Assizes in Trim. The evidence of John Coghlan, one of the gang, stated Tuite was a United Irish leader, though as the alias suggests he had earlier been a Defender. Coughlan said the attack had been planned for at least a week and Tuite acted as captain of the group. Coughlan and a number of others were dispatched to the rear of the house to prevent Knipe escaping. The group were armed with swords, blunderbusses and pistols. Tuite broke down the front door with a smith’s sledge and crowbar. Knipe’s wife was dragge4d from her bed and threatened with death. Coughlan heard several shots. When he came to the front of the house there Coughlan saw Tuite fire a pistol into the head of Knipe as the body lay on the ground saying “There lies the body of a heretic, which I hope to have the nation quelled of in short.” Two men then came with blunderbusses and fired into the body and the body appeared to rise with the force of the charge. According to Coughlan the reason Knipe was killed was because he was a “heretic” and that a man had been shot by Knipe at his house. “It had been published in the Committee that he was the head of an Orange Lodge and that his brother Thomas Frederick Knipe was also an Orange man and was to be commander in chief… that he would bring a 100,000 men from the north and that the two Knipe’s would destroy Ireland”. Coughlan had acquired a labouring job in His Majesty’s Ordnance in Dublin since the attack, no doubt a reward for informing on Tuite. Rev. Thomas Knipe gave evidence that Lieutenant Tyrrell was in charge of the militia forces that night and he taken his forces towards Kildare. Knipe took two policemen towards his brother’s house but was forced to withdraw as he was vastly outnumbered. Thomas Knipe had heard the rumour that he and his brother were going to bring an army of 100,000 men into the country to put all the people to death. Knipe also said he had received information from Coughlan in relation to Tuite in June 1797 and had gone to Tuite’s house but Tuite had fled to England. Tuite was captured in Dublin when he returned from England. A number of relatives of Tuite gave evidence that he had been at home in bed on the night of the 30 April and had stayed in as his wife was sick. The jury retired for five minutes and returned with a verdict – Guilty. The sentence – death by hanging and the body to be chained as an example to others. The following say the prisoner confessed his guilt to the magistrate and late on Saturday 27th July he was executed and his body hung in chains.
In 1797 an Act was passed in Parliament to provide an annuity to Alicia, widow of the Rev. George Knipe, rector of the parish of Castlerickard, a magistrate “most cruelly massacred on account of his meritorious exertions as a magistrate” – and for their children, John, George, Frances and Anne. The annuity was given to Thomas Knipe, clerk, of Church Hill, Clonard, Co Meath, and others in trust. Tony Leonard has the story of the murder at Castlerickard in the Longwood Killyon magazine.
The Battle of Clonard took place in 1798 as part of the United Irishmen’s rebellion. To the east of Clonard stood a heavily fortified building, guarding an important bridge across the river Boyne where the high sheriff of Kildare, Lt. Thomas Tyrrell, based himself and his garrison. On 11 July 1798, this building was attacked by a large group of rebels who had travelled from Wicklow and surrounding areas. The Sheriff, his family and a small garrison put up a spirited defence in a battle that proved to be a turning point in the rebellion. The defenders held out until Col Blake arrives with 50 Northumberland Fencibles and the Kinnegad and Mullingar cavalry. The causalities on the rebel side amounted to 160 men and many more wounded. The rebels were pushed back and most retreated to the Hill of Carbury and spent the night there. A smaller group fled to Longwood and from there to Culmullin, Dunshaughlin where they again came under attack from Brigadier General Meyric’s forces. Joseph Holt, a United Irish leader, rescued a young Wicklow woman from the clutches of the military at Longwood and received two wounds for his trouble. One of the rebels, John Doorley, was captured as he was crossing the Boyne. The Yeomanry smuggled him out of Longwood in a cart covered by hay. The people of Longwood closed their doors in fear of the Yeomanry. According to a story Dooley said “Is it possible that where I’d get wine yesterday I wouldn’t get water today.” Then a door opened and a Mrs. McGuire came out with wine and said “Yes and today too.” The Yeomanry hit the wine out of her hand and knocked her to the ground. It was said that a local girl, Anne O’Keeffe, was taken by the yeomanry for assisting Doorley and was never seen again. Doorley was taken prisoner at a spot called “Durley’s Bush” near Longwood, and taken to Mullingar where he was hanged. Tony Leonard has the story and a poem in the Longwood Killyon magazine.
The Defenders faded out following the defeat of the 1798 rebellion but their influence survived in the formation of similar groups like the Ribbonmen.
The Royal Canal passes to the south of Longwood. A number of families moved to the area while working on the construction of the canal.
Work began on the construction of the 146 km long Royal Canal, to connect Dublin, with the upper River Shannon in 1790, and the canal was completed in 1817. It operated in competition with the Grand Canal which ran an almost parallel route never more than 30 km to the south, and with the Grand, was made redundant by the advent of the railways in the mid-19th century.
The Royal Canal was raised in the shadow of its big brother. In the 1750s the idea of a waterway linking Dublin to the north Shannon was rejected, and instead the more southerly Grand Canal was built.
In the 1780s a director of the Grand Canal Company quit to build a rival waterway. But the route of the Royal Canal wasn’t precisely planned, the project amassed huge debts, and the founding company was ultimately dissolved.
In 1801 the canal company asked the newly elected Directors General of Inland Navigation for financial aid and they sent their engineer, John Brownrigg, to inspect the works. At this time the canal ended at the aqueduct over the Blackwater but the line was laid out across the Boyne and on towards Kinnegad. He said that the line was “as bad and as expensive as can be imagined” and the directors of the canal company were persuaded to alter the line to the north, away from Kinnegad. Some of the line had actually been excavated. It is possible to trace parts of the abandoned canal and to see the point at which it diverged from the present line about halfway between Blackshade Bridge and Hill of Down. A grant of €95,856 was given to the company with a proviso that the canal must be completed to Mullingar without further aid and that docks should be constructed at the junction with the River Liffey in Dublin. The Royal Canal finally met the Shannon in 1817, costing far more than its rival. It never saw as much traffic either.
Ribbontail Pedestrian Bridge
The Dublin-Sligo railway line follows the canal too. The Midland Great Western Railway Company bought the whole waterway in 1845 to build a track on the land beside it. But the arrival of trains to Ireland undercut the canal boats – even the light “fly boats” took eight hours to ferry passengers from Dublin to Mullingar.
CIÉ closed the Royal Canal in 1961 and was rapidly falling into disrepair until 1974 when the Royal Canal Amenity Group in conjunction with CIE set about redeveloping the disused waterway as a public amenity. The western end dried up, locks decayed, and there were even plans to build a motorway on the Dublin city section. But campaigners fought to save to it, and in 2010 the full canal reopened. The towpath is now a long-distance walking trail, the Royal Canal Way, running from Dublin to the Shannon.
The Boyne Aqueduct was completed in 1804 and carries the Royal Canal over the River Boyne near Longwood. The river at this point is about 40 ft wide and flows through the central arch of the aqueduct. The designer, Richard Evans, was faced with the problem of providing a structure capable of withstanding not only the forces applied by the canal waters, canal traffic and the dead weight of the masonry, but also the considerable lateral forces resulting from the river. This multiple-arch aqueduct is an interesting feat of late eighteenth-century engineering in Ireland. The dramatic form and location of the aqueduct is enhanced by the adjacent multiple-arch railway bridge. The aqueduct forms an interesting group of related structures with the single-arch canal bridge, lock and canal workers’ house. The high quality masonry is a notable feature of the bridge.
The Ribbontail footbridge was built to bring Massgoers to the church in Longwood. There was a road which continued on the far side of the canal originally but these two lanes faded out of use when the canal made them cul de sacs. It may have been named after the Ribbonmen, a secret agrarian society that fought for farm workers’ rights.
A major breach of the embankment, east of the Longwood Road Aqueduct, occurred in June 1993. Its repair over the following months by the OPW was the biggest restoration project on the canal in any single location. When the canal was in commercial use, the harbour beside the Longwood Road Aqueduct was known locally as “Boyne Dock”.
Most Perfect Miser from Longwood
The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1811 recorded the death of a native of Longwood. The article was repeated in many newspapers around the world.
“Augustine Pentheny, Esq. who died on the 23d of November, 1810, in the eighty third year of his age, at an obscure lodging in Leeson-street, Dublin, was a miser of the most perfect drawing that nature ever gave to the world. He was born in the village of Longwood, county of Meath, and became a journeyman-cooper. Very early in life he was encouraged to make a voyage to the West Indies, to follow his trade, under the patronage of his maternal uncle, another adventurer of the name of Gaynor, better known among his neighbours by the name of “Peter Big Brogues,” from the enormous shoes he was mounted in on the day he set out on his travels. Peter acquired an immense fortune and lived to see his only child married to Sir G. Colebrook, chairman to the East India Company, and a banker in London, to whom Peter gave with his daughter two hundred thousand pounds. His nephew, Anthony, acquired the enormous sum of three hundred thousand pounds in the islands of Antigua and Santa Cruz.
Anthony Petheny saw mankind only through one medium—money. His vital powers were so diverted from generous or social objects by the prevailing passion of gold, that he could discover no trait in any character, however venerable or respectable, that was not seconded by riches; in fact, any one that was not rich he considered as an inferior animal, neither worthy of notice, nor safe to be admitted into society. This feeling he extended to female society, and, if possible, with a greater degree of disgust. A woman he considered only as an encumbrance on a man of property, and therefore he could never be prevailed upon to admit one into his confidence. Wedlock he utterly and uniformly rejected. His wife was the public funds, and his children dividends; and no parent or husband ever paid more deference or care to the objects of his affection. He was never known to diminish his immense hoard, by rewarding a generous action; or to alleviate distress, or accidental misfortune, by the application of a single shilling. It could scarcely be expected that a man would give gifts or bestow gratuities, who was a niggard of comforts tohimself. The evening before he died, some busy friend sent a respectable physician to him. The old miser evinced no dislike, until he recollected the doctor might expect a fee; this alarmed him, and immediately raising himself in the bed, he addressed his “medical friend” in the following words: “Doctor, I am a strong man, and know my disorder; and could cure myself, but as Mr. Nangle has sent you to my assistance, I shall not exchange you for any other person, if we can come to an understanding; in fact, I wish to know what you will charge for your attendance until I am recovered.” The doctor answered “eight guineas.” “Ah Sir,” said the old man, “if you knew my disorder you would not be exorbitant; but to put an end to this discussion, I will give you six guineas and a half.” The doctor assented, and the patient held out his arm with the fee, to have his pulse considered, and laid himself down again.
Old Pentheny’s relations were numerous, but, in his opinion, wholly unqualified, by want of experience in the management of money, to nurse his wealth, and therefore he bequeathed the entire of it to a rich family in the West Indies, with the generous exception of four pounds annually to a faithful servant, who had lived with him twenty-four years. In his will he expresses great kindness for “poor John,” and says he bequeaths the four pounds for his kind services, that his latter days might be spent in comfortable independence. He appointed Waller Nangle, Esq. and Major O’Farrell, his executors, and the Right Hon. David La Touche and Lord Fingal, trustees. Like Thellusson, (A Swiss banker who moved to London) he would not allow his fortune to pass to his heirs immediately, as he directed that the entire should be funded for fourteen years, and then, “in its improved state,” be at the disposal of the heirs he had chosen.”
The Church emerges from Penal Times
An L-shaped chapel appears on Larkin’s map of 1812. Tradition states that this was a thatched structure and suffered much damage during the great storm of December 1822. It was re-constructed and a slate roof added. In 1837 the church was described as “a large plain edifice.” It had an unusual “L-shaped” plan.
The present church was erected in the first years of the 1840s by Fr. John Hackett and has been renovated a number of times. Fr. Thomas Cassidy installed a new ceiling, a porch, new seats, an altar and a bell in the latter part of the 1800s. a heating system was installed by Fr. Rooney. It faces onto the road behind railings.
Former parochial house on the north of the main street was erected or re-constructed in 1845 when the property was leased from the Edgeworths by the parish priest, Fr. John Hackett who gave it to the parish after his death.
In 1704 Rev. Dominick Farrell was registered at Trim as “Popish Priest of Castlerickarde” after his death the parish was attended by the Dominican friars of Donore. Rev. Michael Fleming was born in rthwe neighbourhood, educated at Louvain and returned to Donore as Parish Priest and Vicar Forane. He die dof dropsy aged 57 in 1793 and was buried in Killyon. Rev. Laurence Shaw as made administrator of the parish but it was too big so Bishop Plunket formed a new parish of Longwood and appointed Rev. Thomas Hitchcock O.P. as administrator. Hitchcock was a learned priest and had led many conferences of the diocesan clergy. In December 1810 Fr. Hitchcock was suspended by the bishop but he refused to submit to the bishop. On 22 August 1811 the Bishop declared that the Rev. T. Hitchcock, O.P., late administrator of Longwood, was to be destitute of jurisdiction, and confirmation was refused to the children he presented, whose parents abetted his disobedience to the bishop since the previous St. Stephen’s Day, when the bishop deprived him of the faculties of the diocese. From that day he remained disobedient, deceived the unfortunate flock, and on the 22nd of August, declared he would continue to be their pastor, when a number of the flock were not ashamed to tell the bishop publicly that they would adhere to him. In July 1812 Bishop Plunket testified at Trim that Hitchcock was a suspended priest and was neither parish priest nor administrator. In September 1812 Hitchcock at length relented and went to see the Bishop at the parochial house in Rathkenny and on his knees asked pardon for the scandal he had given by his schism.
Rev. Peter Ham succeeded and he in turn was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Meighan as administrator. In 1833 Rev. Meighan was translated to Kildalkey and was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Flood who was moved to Moynalvey in 1842. Rev. John Hackett came to the parish in 1842 and was known to his colleagues as “The Old Spaniard” as he had been educated at Salamanca. He had previously been parish priest of Moynalvey. He died in 1854 aged 74.
In 1815 Mr. A. Atkinson made a tour of Ireland and published a guide entitled “The Irish Tourist”. In this area he visited Lady Jane Loftus at Killyon, describing the house as “a neat villa” with “a demesne enriched by a wood of oak and other valuable timber, which covers an area of about thirty acres.”
Returning from Killyon to Trim Mr. Atkinson came upon “a piece of mechanism” at the junction of several roads” at Castlerickard. This mechanism served two uses that of a time-piece and a finger post. Near the top was a sundial which bore the inscription:
“Hail Castlerickard, you alone may boast
That no other place have such a finger post!!
Beside an index pointing out the way,
By Sol’s assistance you shew the time of day!!”
Marquis of Bath’s estate in County Monaghan in 1851
A sketch of Ribbonmen drinking whiskey at a meeting in a barn on the
Ribbontail Bridge was erected to facilitate Mass goers from south of the canal to attend Mass in Longwood and was probably named after the ribbonmen who breached parts of the canal as it was constructed. Anti-canal feeling ran high in the early days, amid fears that the canal would bring in thieving, heathen undesirables and carry away locals and their livelihoods. Ribbonmen would pelt the bargees from the bridges with stones and filth. Some clever Ribbonmen in Longwood breached the canal walls to let the water out, then offered themselves as handymen for the repair job at 14 shillings a week. That scam only stopped when the company put a ban on hiring local labour. In 1807 a Canal Hotel was opened at Moyvalley, between Enfield and Kinnegad. In the 1820s a local policeman was billeted there due in an effort to counteract local Ribbonmen who were regularly attacking boats.
The Ribbon Society was principally an agrarian secret society, whose members consisted of rural Irish Catholics. The society was formed in response to the miserable conditions in which the vast majority of tenant farmers and rural workers lived in the early 19th century in Ireland. Its objective was to prevent landlords from changing or evicting their tenants. In 1822 new tenants were blocked from entering farms in Summerhill while at Duleek 400 people gathered to restore a farmer to land from which he had been evicted. Ribbonmen also attacked tithe and process servers, and later evolved the policy of Tenants’ Rights. They were most active between 1835 and 1855. The name is derived from a green ribbon worn as a badge in a button-hole by the members. The Catholic clergy of Meath opposed the secret society. In 1822 new tenants were blocked from entering farms in Summerhill while at Duleek 400 people gathered to restore a farmer to land from which he had been evicted.
In January 1819 a group of men attacked the house of Andrew Golden in Longwood in response to a disputed piece of property belonging to a man called Neal. In August of that year Patrick Murphy was tried for the arson of the house and outbuildings. Maria Golden, daughter of the owner of the house testified firsts and she was awoken to the noise of broken glass as the window of the bedroom in which she and her mother slept was broken. There were loud shouts form outside “Hand out the arms, you old rip” to which her mother replied they had no guns. Maria recognised the voice as Patrick Murphy of Longwood. Her mother told her “Hold your tongue; if he thinks he knows you, or hear you mention his name, he will come and murder us.” The group of men departed only to return shortly afterwards with lighted turf and the house and outbuildings were set on fire. Her mother, Elizabeth Golden, then gave evidence identifying Patrick Murphy as one of the attackers. A man named Plunkett gave evidence of staying in the Golden’s house that night and he also identified Murphy by his voice. Plunkett’s wife shouted up from the court for him to stop giving evidence and say nothing to injure the prisoner. The night after the trial Plunkett’s house was burned to the ground and his wife and infant child were lucky to escape. Murphy received a sentence of death.
In 1821 Major Daniel O’Donoghue, Lion’s Den, Clonard, County Meath, chief magistrate of police for counties Meath and Westmeath, to the Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, reporting the lawlessness of the vicinity of Blackwater Bridge, County Meath. Also reporting commencement of repairs by the Royal Canal Company, to the breach which was maliciously made in the canal bank. Notes that the directors refused to employ locals for the work, much to the anger of the neighbourhood, and states that an attempt was therefore made to prevent the repairs taking place.
In 1830 John Barker, Chief Constable of Trim, reported a suspected “Whiteboy” (another agrarian society like the Ribbonmen and sometimes the terms were used interchangeably) attack on Richard Coffee, farmer, Clongiffin, Longwood.
In July 1838 a secret meeting of the Ribbonmen was to be held at the home of Anthony Casey in Longwood. The meeting was held the night following the July Fair in Longwood. Constable Richard Senior had received information about the holding of the meeting and made his way to the house. The back door and front door were locked and a sentry, Michael Geraghty, was asleep at the front door. Geraghty was later tried by the Ribbonmen and he said he had been given too much whiskey to drink and that is why he was asleep. Constable Senior listened outside the windows to the proceedings. He heard a number of names and a toast: “The Black Rabbit; may she never be caught; Black and all black.” The Constable was able to get a finger to push back the bolt of the front door and he entered the house. He found about twenty men there with one man in a bed and discovered him to be a leading Ribbonman, John Mulligan, arrested him and discovered secret passwords for the last three months. The passwords of the society changed every three months to guard against spies. Constable Senior also discovered James Gilshenan who had a prayer book in his possession which the Constable believed was used for swearing oaths.
Fairs seem to have been meeting places where information was transferred from one are to another. At the January Fair of 1839 a meeting was to be held in Nicholas Duignan’s Public House. The chief Constable Mr. walker and a force of police raided the pub where they found a very crowded room and arrested James Geraghty and Thomas McCann. McCann dropped a piece of paper with the passwords for the next three months for the organisation.
Similar land reform societies were to exist in the mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Meath and Ireland, a number of which were described as Ribbonmen.
Schools and Education
In 1824 there were two schools in Longwood, one was just outside the village on St. Oliver’s road. The schools were in mudwalled thatched houses. The schools were attended by 79 Catholics and 10 Protestants. In 1824 there was a school each in Killyon, Croboy and Clondalee. The first national school in Longwood was what is now the Parish Hall on the Fair Green. It commenced about 1830 and in 1842 Fr. Hackett P.P. applied for recognition as a national school. The school building was erected in 1856 and opened on 8 June 1857. It contained two rooms each measuring 26 ft by 18 feet. The next school building was erected on the Fair green in 1925. It originally operated as two schools, one for boys and one for girls but these schools were amalgamated in 1937. Glass and timber partitions were installed at that time to create four classrooms.
A flat roof extension was added in the late sixties to accommodate toilets and cloakrooms for the children.
The school was completely refurbished in 1997 due to its age and condition at the time. It reopened in 1998 with 95 pupils and 4 teachers.
In 2008, the school embarked on another phase of development and a 12 classroom school was built on a green field site on the Enfield Road. The old school last operated as a Primary School on Tuesday, June 9th 2009. An extension consisting of four classrooms and two support rooms was added to the new school in 2015/2016 and opened for use in September 2016.
Longwood Village from Alexander’s map of Kildare 1828
Longwood in the 1830s
In the mid 1830s the first complete mapping of Ireland was carried out by the Ordnance Survey. They carried out research into each townland, its owners, the type of farming and the meaning of the townland name.
The name Boolakeogh was said to have been derived from the blind dairy.
Mr. Nugent of Castlerickard held Ballyclare, which was principally under pasture and let to tenants on leases of three lives or 31 years.
Castlerickard was mainly under tillage. All of Blackditch was under tillage. Derringlig was the property of Lord Portarlington. All in tillage except the riverside which yielded good crops of hay.
All Brackinriney was under tillage. The name Brackinriney was derived from Breacach na Raithnighe meaning the speckled land of the ferns. It was the property of Godwin Swift. Brackenrainey is known locally as Brock, meaning badger.
Ballymahon means the town or home of the Mahons. It was the property of Godwin Swift. There is a field in the townland called “The Bullring”.
Ballinderry, owned by Lord Longford was principally under tillage. Moyfin translates to the fair plain.
Freagh, meaning heath, was the property of Mr. Nipe and mainly under tillage.
Dunore, comes from Dun Uabhair, the fort of pride. It was the property of Mr. Lambert but let to Mr. Murry on a lease for ever at 13 shillings per acre.
Lionsden was the property of Godwin Swift. Lionsden had a good mill on the Blackwater near the junction of the Boyne and Blackwater and on the road from Trim to Longwood. It appeared to do good business and was well supplied by water.
Longwood was the property of Mr. Edgeworth and it was principally under tillage and yielded fair crops of oats and barley. Croboy means yellow hut. Ballasport was owned by Captain Ogle but rented to Mr. Fetherston “at some trifling rent with a lease for ever.”
In 1836 Longwood was described as “an indifferent village with about 83 houses, where fairs are held 4 timers yearly.” It contained “a Police Station. Petty Sessions are held here every second Thursday.”
Part of Longwood was in Kildare County
County Meath assumed its current borders in 1836 when a detached district of County Kildare, around Castlerickard, and to the east of Longwood, was reassigned to County Meath.
The 1836 Field Name books of the OS place the townlands of Derrinlig and Blackditch in the barony of Carbury, Co. Kildare but in the civil parish of Castlerickard. Also part of the townland of Longwood and a small oblong piece of ground, adjoining the east side of Longwood Village. It consists of the lawn before the cottage of Mr. Edwards, which was called by some Longwood Court.
Act 6 and 7 Will. IV. 1836/7 Statute of Parliament ordered consisting of the townlands of Tenagh, Blackditch, Derrinlig, and part of Longwood, in the parish of Castlerickard, in the baronies of Upper and Lower Moyfenrath, be annexed to and incorporated with the said barony of Upper Moyfenrath, in the said county of Meath: from the barony of Carbury, county Kildare.
1752 map of Longwood section in County Kildare
Larkin’s Map of Meath 1812
Map of Kildare County showing Longwood area as part of Kildare by Alexander 1828
In 1837 the Police station was located at the corner of Main Street with St. Oliver’s Road where the antique shop is now.
A new Barracks was constructed at the top of the street. In 1922 Lar Giles and his company of men took over the barracks after it was abandoned by the British. In 1923 two members of the new Garda Siochana took up their posts in Longwood station. Garda John Hynes and Garda John O’Brien were among the first members to serve in the village.
A new modern Garda station was erected at back old Barracks.
Lewis’s Dictionary 1837
Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland is the first detailed study of its kind for Ireland. It was published in 1837, before the Famine (1845-50), so it is very important for historians and genealogists of the early nineteenth century. Lewis gives details about every parish, town and village in Ireland, including numbers of inhabitants, the economy, history, topography, religion and parish structures, administration and courts, schools, and much more.
CASTLE-RICKARD, a parish, partly in the barony of Carbery, county of Kildare, but chiefly in the barony of Upper Moyfenragh, county of Meath, and province of Leinster 4 3/4 miles (N. E.) from Clonard; containing 554 inhabitants. This parish, which derives its name from an ancient castle, of which there are no remains, is situated on the river Boyne, and on the road from Edenderry to Trim.
The seats are Castle-Rickard, the residence of G. Lucas Nugent, Esq.; and Lion’s Den, of Godwin Swift, Esq. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes, amount to £170. The church is a plain edifice in good repair. The glebe-house was built in 1790, by aid of a gift of £100 from the late Board of First Fruits; and there are two glebes, comprising 10 acres. In the R. C. divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Kildalkey. There is a hedge school at Inchmore of about 50 boys and 40 girls.
KILLYON, a parish, in the barony of Upper Moyfenragh, county of Meath, and province of LEINSTER, 3 miles (N. by E.) from Clonard, on the road from Trim to Kinnegad and on the river Boyne; containing 818 inhabitants. It comprises 2534 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the land is generally fertile, and there is some meadow and pasture land of superior quality on the banks of the Boyne; there are several patches of bog. The Royal Canal passes through the southern part of the parish. Killyon House is the property of the representatives of the late Lady Loftus, but is at present unoccupied. The parish is in the diocese of Meath; the rectory is impropriate in Lady Loftus’ representatives, and the vicarage forms part of the union of Clonard. The tithes amount to £138. 9. 2 ½., of which £92. 6. 1 ¾. is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the vicar. In the R. C. divisions it is part of the union or district of Longwood, and has a chapel. About 40 children are educated in a private school. There are some remains of the old church.
In 1750 the population of Meath was about 80,000, by 1840 it had risen to more than twice that, the famine then occurred and a trend towards a decline in population became established so that by 1951 the population had dwindled to 66,000. Between 1841 and 1851 the population of Meath fell from 183,116 to 140,750, a drop of 23%. This decline continued into the following decades with the population dropping to 95,558 in 1871, a drop of nearly 50% in a thirty year time period. The population was effectively halved in this short time period.
The potato blight was discovered in Meath as early as October 1845. In that year about half the potato crop of Meath was diseased. The first great crisis occurred in the following spring. Meath was less effected by the failure of the potato crop than other counties, as it was not as dependent on the crop for its food supply. In Meath 5% of the land area was used for potatoes in comparison to 21% in Cork.
Blight appeared in the crop again in the summer of 1846 thereby renewing food shortages. The yields in 1847 were high but not a great deal had been planted, as there had been little seed from the previous year. The crop failed again in 1848.
The potato was the main stay of the diet of the agricultural labourer and cottier class and dominated the diet of at least a third of the population. Townlands which had a high percentage of labourers and small holders had the highest levels of death and emigration.
Many died in workhouses or fever hospitals, from diseases such as typhoid, than starvation and were buried in mass graves. Many others died in their homes and were interred in unmarked graves. Approximately 20,000 died in Meath as a result of the famine in the years 1846-51.
The government responded to the famine by providing work relief and charities by supplying food. The poor law system was not permitted to provide food or other relief initially. Meath was one of the eighteen counties to apply for the half-grant scheme for public works by the end of May 1846. In Trim Poor Law Union, the guardians provided outdoor relief in the winter of 1846-47, contravening the 1838 act in their attempts to respond adequately to the suffering in the union. Public works undertaken include the sinking of the Knightsbrook river and the construction of new roads and bridges. The worst areas to be affected by the famine were the areas in the north of the county.
An act to provide for a support system for the poor of Ireland was passed in the British parliament in 1838. This led to the formation of poor law unions and the election of boards of guardians. County Meath was divided into five unions namely Navan, Kells, Trim, Dunshaughlin and Oldcastle, each of which were to provided a workhouse for the destitute poor of their area. Some portions of the county were also served by workhouses in adjoining counties.By mid-1846 the workhouses were still only half full. In December 1846 the Trim guardians were directed to obtain additional workhouse accommodation. It was in that month that the number of Trim inmates exceeded the 500-person capacity of the workhouse. An additional workhouse was required for Trim as was also the case in the adjoining unions of Kells and Navan.
Stoneyford Bridge was said to have been erected by labourers from West of Ireland during famine with construction finishing in finished 1848.
A famine fever hospital was constructed at Killyon where a wooden structure capable of accommodating thirty patients and two nurses and a wardsmaid. A plaque to commemorate the site was erected by Killyon ICA in 1997.
Although Ireland’s road network was well developed by 1800, there were still areas that were not well served by roads. A direct route from Trim, the county capital and main market town in the area, to Longwood was needed and a new road or new line was constructed cutting across the existing system in a straight line. This was a planned road. The Board of Public Works took over the grants scheme for newly built roads in 1832 and by 1848 was responsible for the administration of 1,600 kilometres of roads.
During the Famine the Irish Board of Works created employment by making new roads for the provision of famine relief. The Longwood-Trim Road could date to this period but more likely dates from the 1850s. There is a suggestion locally that the road was laid out as the basis of a railway line connecting Trim to Edenderry but I personally doubt this interpretation.
The Midland Great Western Railway reached the area at the end of 1847. On the Dublin-Galway line there were stations at Hill of Down, Enfield and Ferns Lock. Hill of Down railway station opened on 6 December 1847 and finally closed on 10 November 1947. The station, adjacent to the small village and the Royal Canal was closed by CIE in 1947, but it remained a block post until the late 1970s following the transfer of the Galway & Mayo line services to the Cork main line. Both platforms and tall signal cabin were still extant in the early 1990s, but these, along with the station buildings have all be demolished. Only the up platform with its raised section, and goods platform to the east of the station remains. 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. Passengers services on the Enfield-Edenderry branch ceased in 1931 and the line was closed in the great railway cull of the early 1960s. The railway at the Hill of Down had been built in the nineteenth century through Magan property. One of the conditions on which the land was transferred to the railway company was that the Magans should have the right to stop any train, express or otherwise, at the Hill-of-Down station, for their own convenience, either to board it or alight from it. This right was exercised by the family. In 1857 an accident occurred at the station when a passenger named Davis fell from the train and died as a result of his fall. Bad lighting and the passenger’s lack of caution were blamed for the accident. The last station master was Peter Logan.
Kilglass Graveyard, Longwood, is the burial site of Philip Gray, whose funeral was one of the launching points for the foundations of the Fenians and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Gray, a Young Irelander, had taken part in the 1848 and 1849 rebellions. Dying in 1857 his burial in Kilglass was where Thomas Clarke Luby made his first public speech when delivering the oration at the grave-side. Luby went on to become the deputy leader of the Fenians, James Stephens who was also at the funeral became the movement’s leader.
Philip Gray was born in Dublin in 1821. His family were from Meath, his mother was O’Carroll. Gray was involved in the major political movements of the day. Daniel O’Connell led a campaign for the repeal of the Union and for an independent Irish parliament. In November 1841 Philip Gray was inducted as a member of the Loyal National Repeal Association. Gray walked to Tara to hear Daniel O’Connell speak in 1843. Gray along with a number of nationalists became disillusioned with constitutional methods. The Young Irelanders broke away from the O’Connell’s Repeal movement. Their goal was independence of the Irish nation and they held to any means to achieve that which were consistent with honour, morality and reason. At the beginning of 1847 they formed an organisation known as The Irish Confederation.
Gray joined the Swift Confederate Club in 1847 and became its secretary. His branch was one of the most active and militant in Dublin. Gray studied military texts, and used this information in drilling bodies of men every evening in the Club premises in Queen’s Street. Gray believed in action not words.
In 1848 Gray was working in the railway office in Drogheda. Rebellions broke out across Europe. In 1848 Gray attempted to instigate a rebellion in Meath and when he failed he headed south to Tipperary. After the failure at Ballingarry in July 1848 he joined up with the Waterford rebels. John O’Mahony entrusted the command of the Waterford insurgents to Gray and John Savage. An attack was made on Portlaw police station. Gray was forced to undergo many hardships while eluding capture by both the police and military in County Waterford for four months in the autumn and early winter of 1848. He was poorly fed and exposed to all sorts of weather.
Philip’s brother, John, was involved in attempting to link the Navan and Dublin Confederate Clubs to organise a rising in Meath. Like Philip Gray, Thomas Clarke Luby supported O’Connell and his repeal movement before becoming involved in the Young Ireland movement. During the 1848 rebellion Luby was involved in the unsuccessful raids on the Dunshaughlin constabulary barracks and on the town of Navan.
Philip Gray returned briefly to Dublin where he established a provisional directory of a new secret society. He was forced to flee to Paris, where he consulted with rebel leaders; John O’Mahony and James Stephens.
Gray returned to Ireland in 1849 and again began to plan another out-break in the autumn of that year in the company of James Fintan Lalor. Gray travelled the country promoting the new organisation. They were then joined by Luby, Joseph Brennan and a dozen other members who had been active in the Swift Confederate Club. The group attempted to organise a protest for the visit of Queen Victoria in August 1849. A plan was hatched to kidnap the Queen and hold her captive in county Wicklow.
In September 1849 an attack on the police barracks at Cappoquin took place and this was the final act of that movement. The loss of the element of surprise doomed the assault to failure. This movement petered out in 1850. Gray returned to Dublin, and secured a clerkship at an office in Smithfield Market. The long hours of work indoors affected his health.
In 1856, Stephens returned to Ireland with the purpose of establishing a new secret revolutionary society determined to secure independence for Ireland. Gray proposed the establishment of a memorial fund to finance Stephen’s attempts at organising a militant national movement. Stephens was annoyed at this as he thought the time had not yet come for such a move. Stephens met Gray at Peter Langan’s Timber Yard in Lombard Street, Dublin. Gray introduced Stephens to Thomas Clarke Luby.
Gray’s health was undermined by the hardships he suffered on the run in Tipperary and Waterford. On the morning of St. Patrick’s day 1855 Gray burst a blood vessel and lost an immense amount of blood. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered he went to spend the summer with his relatives in Meath. and afterwards held a position in the office of newspaper The Tribune, which campaigned for tenant rights. The newspaper ceased publication in 1856. Gray commenced attending lectures on Chemistry at the Museum of Industry in Stephen’s Green.
In January 1857 he fell ill at his home in Lombard Street, Dublin and received the sacrament of Extreme Unction on the eighteenth. He suffered great agony for the last week of his life dying on 25 January 1857, in his thirty sixth year. His brother, John, who had also fought in ’48, had his remains conveyed to Enfield by railway where it was met by friends and relatives. The crowds grew larger as they approached Kilglass where his remains were interred beside those of his father under a spreading tree. It was said that the grave also contained his grandfather or uncle who had fought in 1798 and been hung by the Yeos. Today Gray’s grave is unknown and unmarked.
James Stephens and Thomas Clarke Luby attended the service, at which Luby spoke. At the service, Stephen’s insisted that Luby give the oration, which later Luby regarded as a poor and halting attempt. Thomas Clarke Luby wrote an account of Gray’s life for the Irish-American newspaper, The Irish News, in March 1857.
Stephens was concerned at the lack of recognition of the cause with the Irish press entirely ignoring Gray’s passing and mention of the rebellions. An attempt was made to raise money for a monument to Gray to promote the cause, but without press coverage, this was unlikely to be a successful endeavour. In March 1857 Stephens wrote to his fellow Paris exile, O’Mahony, in the United States broaching the idea of launching a Gray monument fund there. O’Mahony wrote that Gray “could never be made to understand that we were beaten. It was he who worked hardest of all to retrieve the lost cause.” The Gray Fund went nowhere but Stephens and O’Mahony established an operative link. This twinning of the IRB and the Fenians was triggered by the funeral of Philip Gray and this led on to 1916 and our move towards nationhood.
The Red Flag
Bridget Connell was a sister of Jim Connell who wrote the Socialist anthem “The Red Flag”. In May 1889 Bridget who was living at Ardenew married William Fagan of Donore, Longwood. That same year saw Jim Connell write the first two verses of ‘The Red Flag’ while on the train between Charing Cross and New Cross, and finished it later that evening. It was soon adopted as an anthem by labour and socialist groups throughout the English-speaking world. He is said to have visited his sister and her family at Lionsden.
Meath people were devoted to Charles Stewart Parnell, who had entered Westminster as their MP in 1875. The loyalty of many of them was unaffected by the divorce court revelation in 1890 of his adultery with Katharine O’Shea, which caused the split that continued even after his death in 1891. The election campaign of 1892 was a bitter and divisive. The anti-Parnellite Patrick Fulham was elected to represent south Meath but the Independent Parnellite candidate James Joseph Dalton, John Redmond’s Australian brother-in-law, complained of clerical intimidation.
In Longwood Fr. Thomas Cassidy PP read the sermon of Bishop Nulty before the last gospel at the 10.30 Mass on 3 July 1892. Three hundred men gathered at Kill church and marched to Longwood. They attacked a number of Protestant houses and stoned houses of known Parnellite supporters. They were met on the Fair Green in Longwood by a small group of Parnellite supporters. That afternoon a meeting was held on the Fair Green with Patrick Fulham, the anti-Parnellite candidate present. There was a strong contingent of local priests also present and Fr. Cassidy P.P. Longwood was asked to chair the meeting. An inquiry was held in Trim. The hearing of the South Meath petition began on 16 November, with Healy acting for the respondents, and went on for twelve days, receiving massive newspaper coverage. The judgement found that Bishop Nulty and his priests had practised ‘spiritual intimidation’, which was ‘gross, open, palpable and all-pervading’. The election results were overthrown and new elections held.
In January 1893 James J Dalton was selected as Independent candidate in the election held following the unseating of Fulham. The Longwood nominators were: Stephen Dunne, Ml Dunne, James Jiles, John Roarke, Thomas Killane, Thomas Gill and Edward Crosby. Dalton lost to the anti-Parnellite, Jeremiah Jordan.
At the next election, in July 1895, Jordan narrowly lost the South Meath seat to Parnell’s older brother, John Howard Parnell. Mr Parnell was proposed by Thomas Murray, of Tandragee and seconded by Laurence Hope of Clonguiffin, Assentors: Denis Foran Longwood, Philip Cosgrave, Ballyclare, John Hannon Longwood, James Flynn, Longwood, Thomas Foster, Castlerickard; John Denny, Ardenew. Parnell went on to win the seat.
Larry Hope established a stud and training facility at Clongiffen in the late nineteenth century. He came from Rathmolyon and took over his sister’s property at Clongiffen. In 1893 Laurence Hope married Lizzie Byrne of Naas and they had three children, Patrick who was educated at Castleknock, emigrated to Australia and died there; Anna Maria Nancy who was educated at the Loreto Convent in Navan and a second daughter May (Hilda Nary), also educated at Loreto Navan and who married Pat Nugent who continued the stables at Clongiffen. In 1907 Laurence Hope married Marcella Barrington of the Hotel Enfield. He bred consecutive Irish Grand National winners Princess Hilda and Mavis Meath, carrying a record weight of 12st-12lbs to victory; won Ireland’s premier steeplechase in 1899and 1900at Fairyhouse were trained at Clongiffen by Larry Hope. He also had the distinction of winning the Irish Grand National as a jockey when he piloted Springfield Maid to victory in 1892. A mare called Dorothy Vane, which had won the Scottish Grand National, was bred there. In 1911 Larry and his wife Marcella lived at Clongiffen with eleven horse trainers, a farm servant and two house servants. Larry died of a heart attack in 1915. Marcella Hope died in 1941. Pat Nugent became invalided in 1946 and the stables closed their doors. Mary Dolores Nugent died in 1990.
The stables were re-opened in 1990 by Winston Honner and the racing tradition continues to today at Clongiffen with his son Robert. Thomas Holton wrote an interesting article entitled “Hopes Jock” in the Longwood Killyon Magazine.
World War I
Michael Dixon, Sergeant in the Connaught Rangers, was born in Longwood. He enlisted as a war time volunteer but probably had previous military experience. He served in France from December 1915. He died at the Battle of Messines, leading a squad of the Connaught Rangers in an attack on a German pillbox near Wytschaete. He was killed in action, 7 June 1917, aged 39. His memorial is in Wytschaete Military Cemetery.
Joseph Ebbitt, sometimes written as Abbott, was a Sergeant in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Born in Longwood he enlisted in Dublin and served in France from 20 December 1915. He was killed in action on 28 March 1918. He was awarded the Military Medal at the Battle of Messines. His memorial is in Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres.
Patrick Flynn was a sapper with the Royal Engineers and so was responsible for responsible for tasks such as building and repairing roads and bridges, laying and clearing mines. Born in Longwood he enlisted in Battersea, Surrey. He died of wounds on 26 September 1918 and is remembered at Queant Communal Cemetery British Extension.
Patrick Hussey was a private in the Leinster Regiment. He was born in Longwood and enlisted in Edenderry. Hussey served in France from 25 October 1914 and was killed in action, Loos, France, 10 January 1917, aged 26. He is remembered on Panel 127, Loos Memorial.
Michael Killeen was a private in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Born in Longwood, the son of John and Mary Killeen, Longwood. At the time of the war he was married to Jane Killeen, 33, Constitution Hill, Dublin. His occupation before he enlisted in Dublin was a coal labourer. Serving in France from 14 December 1915 he was killed in action, 23 October 1916, aged 39. With no known grave he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
William Smyth was a private in the Leinster Regiment. Born in 1898 he was the son of Patrick and Anne Smyth, nee Gallagher, Dalystown, later of Clonee, Ballivor and later of Donore, Hill of Down. His father’s occupation was Farm Labourer. Enlisting in Trim he was killed in action, 30 May 1918, aged 20. His cousin, James McManus, Dalystown, Trim, was also killed in the war.
Robert Andrew de Stacpoole. 2nd Lieutenant, Connaught Rangers, was born in 1892 at Mount Hazel, Co. Galway, the fourth son of George, Duke de Stacpoole and Pauline May, nee McEvoy, Mount Hazel, and Tobertynan House, Longwood. Robert was educated at Downside, Wimbledon College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant, Connaught Rangers, in 1911 and promoted Lieutenant at the start of the war in August 1914. Serving with the Expeditionary Force in France he was killed in action at Verneuil, during the Battle of the Aisne, 20 September 1914, aged 22.
Roderick Algernon Anthony de Stacpoole. 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Regiment of Artillery (Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery), was a younger brother of Robert Andrew and fifth and youngest son of George, Duke de Stacpoole and Pauline May. Made a 2nd Lieutenant R.F.A. in August 1914 he joined the 1st Battery with which he went to France in November. Killed in action, Neuve Chapelle, France, 1915, aged 19 he was mentioned in dispatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field. One of his officers wrote: “If you see Humphries tell him how deeply the whole brigade regret the death of the high-spirited boy de Stacpoole. In years only a child, with the face of a girl, he had the heart of a hero. He was killed carrying a telephone across an open fire-swept field. Having put his men in safety, he took the post of danger himself.”
Their elder brother, George Edward Joseph Patrick Stacpoole served as Captain 3rd Battalion, Connaught Rangers during the war and survived. He lived at Tobertynan House. Another elder brother, Edward Hubert Michael Stacpoole, served as a Captain in the Leinster Regiment and survived the war. Another elder brother, Francis Gustave Stacpoole, served in the war as Lieutenant in the Irish Guards and was wounded but survived.
There were many seriously wounded and most suffered some sort of injury, physical or mental.
Thomas Allen, Longwood
Thomas Allen, was born in Longwood about 1885. While he was very young his mother died and both he and his sister were taken to their grandparent’s house at Ballasport, Hill of Down where Thomas attended the local school and was later apprenticed to boot maker, Pat Halpin of Clondalee. Thomas appeared on the 1901 census as an apprentice to Halpin and was living with the Halpin family.
Having learned his trade Allen re-located to Dublin and lived with his aunt, Kate Quinn, at 19 Monck Place, Phibsborough. He got a job as a boot and shoe operator in Winstanleys. A few years later Thomas married Margaret Anderson, who also worked at Winstanleys, and they had four children: Tommy, Jack, James and Eileen. Allen joined the Irish Volunteers and was attached to C Company of the Dublin Brigade. He was said to have been very enthusiastic and so in 1914 he was given the responsibility of organising and training volunteers in east and north Co. Westmeath. Every Saturday when he finished work at Winstanleys he took the train to the Hill of Down and spent the rest of the weekend training the Volunteers under his charge.
In July 1914 Allen was involved in getting arms ashore at Howth. He and a number of other Volunteers set off for Howth on Saturday 25th July. They attempted to hire a boat despite the weather conditions being unsuitable. They were told they were there to meet a boat bringing in arms. Late in the evening a messenger arrived and told the men to go back to the city but to remain together. All the men went to Allen’s house and stayed there overnight. They slept little as there was a constant stream of messengers arriving to see Allen. At 7.00 a.m. the men set off for Fairview to join their companies. The ship carrying the arms had been contacted and arrived later that day.
In 1916 Allen entrusted the mobilisation papers to his cousin, Miss Bee Quinn, who took them to the train to the Hill of Down on Good Friday 1916. Because of confusion within the leadership of the Volunteers the rising did not begin until Easter Monday. Allen joined his company at Parnell Square on Easter Monday where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant with orders to assist in the occupation of the Four Courts. Commandant Ned Daly with the 1st Battalion seized the buildings at the Four Courts and the force managed to survive the bombardment by British artillery that destroyed large parts of the city centre. This was a strategic position as it controlled the main route between the military barracks to the west of the city and the headquarters of the rising at the GPO. Four days after the rising began Allen was shot in the Records Office, (now Courts 22 and 23), during a machine gun attack by soldiers advancing through Smithfield. Allen, Thomas Smart and another Volunteer were barricading a window overlooking Hammond Lane and had almost completed the work when a burst of machine gun fire came from Smithfield direction hitting Allen.
Fellow Longwood native, Eamonn Duggan, attempted to obtain medical assistance from the Richmond Hospital but a British officer in charge of the telephone exchange refused to allow the message to go through. Medical assistance was eventually obtained but it was too late for Allen. His loss was greatly mourned by his company and one of his companions described him “He was one of our best, always so active, always so reliable as a man and as a Volunteer. His friends and confidants were legion, and he was beloved by all the members of the Company.” Aged twenty nine Thomas died in Richmond Hospital and his remains was interred in Glasnevin cemetery.
Early in 1917 his aunt sought permission from the British military authorities to exhume the body for re-burial in Longwood. She was required to sign an undertaking that there would be no military display at the funeral. The body was taken to St. Joseph’s Church, Berkeley Road, and on 6th January the funeral left for the train journey home. It is said that his father who was in the USA paid for his body to be reburied in Longwood. Allen’s body was returned to Longwood in a lead casket for burial at Kilglass cemetery, just outside the village. Some reports say that there was a public display of anger at the re-burial while other reports say it passed off quietly.
Later a local committee was formed to erect a suitable marker for his grave. Tommy Kelly, an old IRA Volunteer, from Kilcock, Co, Kildare carved the magnificent Celtic cross which stands over the grave. Kelly was not a stone mason and this was the only headstone that he ever made. Jim Riley, a Longwood Volunteer in the old IRA, provided the transport, a horse and cart to bring the headstone to the grave. An annual commemoration was held at Kilglass on Easter Monday until 1934 and then there was a break until 1959. Members of the Old IRA, FCA and GAA took part in the ceremonies in the 1980s. In 1990 the Celtic cross was attacked by vandals and broken into pieces but the grave was refurbished in 2004 by Meath Commemoration Committee. Thomas Allen was survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. One of his sons, John, lived in Dublin where he worked as a chemist and another son emigrated to the US. Another son moved to Manchester. Allen’s uncle was James Quinn of Hill of Down while his aunt, Kate Allen, lived at Inan, Longwood. His wife, Margaret Allen, died in 1953 and is buried in Kilglass cemetery, having survived her husband by nearly fifty years. In 1920 Mullingar Urban Council re-named Gas (or Spoutwell) Lane to Thomas Allen Road in honour of the 1916 hero.
Éamonn Duggan is often said to have been born in Longwood but this is incorrect. Part of his early years were certainly spent there. His mother’s first cousin was Anne Dunne, wife of Laurence Giles of the Brock and this created his strong local connections particularly to the Giles family. Edward John, know later as Éamonn, Duggan was born on 2nd March 1878 at Richill, Co. Armagh and baptised two days later. His father, William, a policeman was a native of Wicklow and stationed at Longwood, Co. Meath. His mother was Margaret Dunne who married William at Longwood on 19th October 1874. In 1875 William was despatched to Armagh as he could not serve in a county from which his wife came. Margaret’s father was John Dunne, a shopkeeper and William’s father was Edward Duggan, a policeman. Éamonn’s grandmother was a Farrell from Lionsden. The couple’s second son, Éamonn’s brother, William, was born in Longwood in 1879. Éamonn’s father, William, took his pension in 1893 after 30 years and 3 months service.
In 1911 Edmond John Duggan was living with his parents on St. Brigid’s Road Upper in Drumcondra. His siblings, William, Margaret and James, were also living there. There were six children born but only four survived and they were all living at the family home in 1911.
Duggan was educated locally before beginning work as a law clerk. He qualified as a solicitor in 1914 and began to practise at 66 Dame Street, Dublin. In 1915 he took a case for tenants of the Swifte estate near Longwood, in order to get their rights to their lands recognised.
In 1914 Duggan joined the First Dublin battalion of the Irish Volunteers as a private. In 1915 he was appointed Adjutant of the 1st Battalion and received his first commission as an officer in the Volunteers. He became a close personal friend of Edward Daly, the commandant of the Battalion. His work as Adjutant brought him into contact with Eamon de Valera and Thomas McDonagh.
Joe Giles of Longwood was Duggan’s godson. Duggan visited the Giles home on Easter Sunday 1916, the night before the Rising, and as he departed handed his godson a £1 note, a huge sum at the time.
Duggan was attached to Commandant Daly and so was serving in the North Dublin Union in the initial days of the Rising and then in Father Matthew Hall. Duggan supervised the prisoners including seven British officers. One of the officers, Colonel Brereton, later said that Duggan and the other volunteer officers were “high-minded educated gentlemen, incapable of acts of brutality.” One of the prisoners taken there was Lord Dunsany who as he was wounded was transferred to a Dublin hospital for treatment. Duggan said the Volunteers were treated like princes by the nuns in the neighbouring convent.
Duggan was at the Four Courts when fellow Longwood native, Thomas Allen, was shot. Duggan attempted to get medical assistance from the Richmond hospital but a British officer in charge of the telephone exchange refused to allow the message to go through. Medical assistance was obtained but it was too late for Allen.
In Duggan’s area the Volunteers held their own and suffered few casualities with the heaviest fighting occurring on Friday night and Saturday morning. From 9.00 am Saturday there was a lull in the fighting and in the afternoon Daly received news that a British officer wished to see him. Accompanied by Duggan Daly was informed of the surrender of the GPO. The men under Daly were reluctant to surrender but obeyed orders. The men formed up with their officers at their head and marched to O’Connell Street and then to the front of the Rotunda Hospital. On Sunday morning they were marched to Richmond Barracks.
Duggan’s fiancée, May Kavanagh, was active in Cumann na mBan in the Colmcille Branch and served during 1916 from 23rd April to Saturday 29th April in the Fr. Mathew Hall, Church Street area undertaking first aid and kitchen duties under the command of Edward Daly. Born in 1892 May was a great support to her fiancée and later husband in his activities.
The trials began on Monday evening; Duggan together with Joe McGuinness and Pierce Beasley was sentenced to three years penal servitude. After trial the three prisoners were sent to Kilmainham Jail where they spent two days. They heard the shots from the yards of the execution of the leaders of the Rising. The prisoners were then sent to Mountjoy for a week before being dispatched to Portland Prison where they began their punishment in silence. In December 1916 Duggan was transferred to Lewes where the prison regime was relaxed and here Duggan discovered that de Valera had not been executed. With de Valera, Duggan began an organised attempt to break down the prison regime and fight the authorities.
In early 1917 a campaign to be recognised as prisoners of war began. Duggan was removed to Maidstone Gaol where he was put to work with the ordinary criminals. Duggan refused. He went on hunger strike and on the third day the authorities surrendered. In June 1917 the British released the prisoners and Duggan returned to Dublin. He resumed his work as a solicitor and one of his first cases he acted at was the inquest for the next of kin of his friend and comrade, Thomas Ashe.
In the Autumn of 1917 Duggan was appointed as Director of Intelligence for the IRA and when the role became full-time in January 1919 Michael Collins took over the position. Duggan remained a senior officer in that section.
Duggan campaigned for the Sinn Féin candidate Eamon de Valera in the Clare by election. He wrote at the time “The enthusiasm on our side is terrific and the result is a foregone conclusion”. Duggan addressed an aeriocht at Newcastle, Mullagh in September 1917 and gave an address on Sinn Féin policy. In February 1918 a branch of Sinn Féin was established in Longwood by Duggan and others.
On St. Patrick’s Day 1918 Duggan addressed a major meeting in Kells on the case for a sovereign independent state. He said “Ireland is a distinct nation, whose just right is sovereign independence. This right has been asserted in every generation, has never been surrendered and has never been allowed to lapse.” Also speaking at the Kells meeting was John Sweetman.
Eamon de Valera nominated Duggan as his substitute on the executive of the Irish Volunteers while de Valera was in prison from May 1918 to February 1919 and from June 1919 to November 1920 while de Valera was in America.
In September 1918 Edmund J. Duggan was selected to stand for Sinn Féin in the South Meath constituency. Duggan met the editor of the Meath Chronicle ahead of an article on his candidacy. Duggan met the newly reformed Sinn Féin club in Trim, which had one hundred members in attendance.
In November 1918 Duggan addressed a meeting at Summerhill. He said “We are living at a time of great possibilities for Ireland as well as for all small nations… President Wilson has said that there must be no Government without the consent of the governed and I ask you is Ireland governed by the consent of the people? … Our claim to nationhood is a good one…” At the meeting in Longwood Duggan was introduced by the parish priest, Fr. Rooney, while the meeting was chaired by Laurence Giles. Dugan was well received by his home crowd. A large banner in the village declared:
“Record your vote for Duggan,
Stop the party muggin
Let you men be true men
And Ireland will be free”
Duggan held his election rally in Trim. After the voting was over in Trim two Volunteers were designated to guard the ballot boxes but the authorities objected. Following a discussion with the Police Inspector Duggan agreed to the withdrawal of the Volunteer guards. The counting of votes took place in the Courthouse, Trim. At six o’clock Duggan was announced as the new M.P. for South Meath with a majority of 3691. Duggan addressed the crowd from the steps of the courthouse and congratulated South Meath on taking its stand that day with the rest of Ireland in demanding its right to independence. Duggan and his election agent were carried shoulder high first to the Sinn Féin headquarters and then to the Central Hotel. In Ballivor the result was greeted with a torchlight procession to a large bonfire at Shanco hill. On Sunday night a victory ceili was held in the Town Hall, Trim. At the first meeting of the Dáil on 21 January 1919 Duggan read the declaration of independence in English.
Duggan at First Dail 1919 He is 6th from left standing
In late 1920 during the night of the “roundups” where the British authorities arrested nationalist leaders and sent them to English prisons, Duggan and Michael Collins were in Vaughan’s Hotel in Parnell Square. They were detained by a Belgian priest singing a number of songs and so were saved from arrest. Collins left the hotel on his bicycle. As Duggan walked home to Drumcondra, Collins came after him and informed him of the raids taking place that night. Collins said that the house where he had been staying was surrounded and suggested that they both go to watch proceedings. Duggan questioned the wisdom of such an action as Collins might be recognised by the authorities. Duggan took all of Collin’s papers in case he was caught and Collins spent the night in the house of Seán McGarry, who had already been arrested that night. Collins said he would be safe there as the Black and Tans were unlikely to raid the same house twice in the one night.
May Kavanagh married Eamonn Duggan on 20th October 1920. Collins wrote the couple a note “with every good wish for your happiness and contentment.”
In November 1920 Duggan was arrested and taken to the Castle and interrogated for three hours and Captain Hardy, head of the “Murder gang” threatened to murder him. His office was cleared by the military and his solicitor’s practice destroyed. He was then lodged in Mountjoy where he remained until the Truce. During this period Duggan’s wife, May, was given special daily visits to carry out his legal business but she was able to take secret messages in and out daily under cover of taking shorthand notes. She also carried notes for Arthur Griffith who was also in Mountjoy at the time. While imprisoned Alfred Cope, a British civil servant, visited them and discussed the possibility of a truce.
For the May 1921 election Duggan remained in jail. Duggan was moved to Brixton jail which enabled him to instruct T.M. Healy in an appeal case before the House of Lords. While at Brixton Duggan occasionally dined at the House of Commons and encouraged peace talks. Duggan was released along with Arthur Griffith and Eoin McNeill at the end of June. Together with Robert Barton he was involved in making the final arrangement for the truce. He and Barton met General Macready at Parkgate and succeeded in getting his approval to the nationalist terms. The following day Barton and Duggan laid down to General Tudor, head of the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans how his forces were to behave during the Truce. Duggan accompanied de Valera to London for talks with the British Prime Minister, Llyod George, in July.
In September 1921 an aeriocht was held at Athboy at which Michael Collins and Eamonn Duggan were due to deliver addresses but as the Dáil was discussing Anglo-Irish arrangements they both had to cancel.
Duggan and Anglo-Irish Treaty Negotiation Team
In October 1921 Duggan was appointed as a member of the delegation, despatched by de Valera to London to negotiate a treaty between Ireland and Britain. After months of negotiation Griffith was first to agree to sign then Collins and Duggan. Duggan’s appeal to another delegate, Robert Barton, resulted in him signing the treaty. Duggan signed the Treaty at the delegation’s lodgings at 22 Hans Place in the early hours of 6 December 1921. Duggan took the boat to Dun Laoighre with a copy of the treaty. The British wanted a second copy of the signed treaty and Duggan had gone to Dublin so Dan McCarthy had a copy of a concert programme signed by Duggan and the signature was removed from the card and added to the copy of the treaty. This led to claims in later years that Duggan had not signed the treaty and therefore it was not binding on the Irish people. Duggan rushed to Dublin city centre where he handed the copy to Eamon de Valera who was attending a function at the Mansion House. De Valera showed no interest in the document and Duggan asked him to read it as it was about to be published. Meath County Council held a special meeting to call on the Dáil to ratify the Treaty. Vice–Chairman, Martin O’Dwyer, praised Duggan for his role and the way he acted through trying and difficult negotiations.
Speaking of the Treaty in Trim in 1923 Duggan said “Mr. de Valera told us the day we were appointed that we had a duty to perform that with an army and a navy behind us we would find almost impossible to perform. After an anxious two months in London, with the fate of this country in our hands, the fate of every man, woman and child in this country now and for generations in our hands the fateful night of December 6th came and we had to say yes or no… We had to consider that the force available in this country had brought us to a certain point and was not able to carry further. We knew that – General Collins knew it – I don’t know if the British Government knew it. We considered where we were going. Were we to throw away all that we had secured? What prospect was there of getting more? What was the alternative? I think you all know what the alternative was. I know what the Irish people would have said to us, and what you would have said to me if we said “no” that night. There would not be much interruption at a meeting in Trim today if the Black and Tans were back. The Treaty was signed and ratified by the elected representatives of the people.” With regard to the national territory in 1924 Duggan said that “The plenipotentiaries, British and Irish, first endeavoured to work out a scheme for the unification of Ireland, involving however, the continuance of self-government in the North-East. The representatives of North Ireland, however when invited by the British Government, refused point blank to enter into discussions unless the proposal was previously withdrawn.” In March 1922 Duggan and Griffith met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland to discuss employment relief for Catholics, re-organisation of police and the cessation of IRA activity in Northern Ireland.
Anglo-Irish Treaty with Duggan’s signature
Duggan accompanied Collins and Kevin O’Higgins to the handover of Dublin Castle in January 1922. Duggan served as Minister of Home Affairs in the Provisional government from January to September 1922. In the June 1922 election Eamonn Duggan, 15 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin, was selected as a candidate in the Louth-Meath constituency. He was elected on the first count as was the Labour candidate, Cathal O’Shannon. Duggan was made minister without portfolio.
In the 1923 election Duggan headed the poll in Meath with a large majority. In October 1923 Duggan entertained his election workers at a function in the Central Hotel, Trim. At the 1923 monster meeting in Trim Square Duggan said “We must look forward to the future and not back to the past.” His speech was interrupted by hecklers on a regular basis.
Many of his queries in his work as a TD related to the breaking up of estates and re-distribution of lands under the Land Commission and sorting out pensions for men who had served in the National Army.
In May 1926 Duggan was appointed as secretary to the Minister for Finance. Following the 1927 election Duggan was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Executive Council and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence. He also carried out the duties of Chief Whip. He again topped the poll in Meath.
In 1933 he felt he could not fight another election and was not a candidate. Captain Patrick Giles of Longwood became his successor as T.D. for Meath. Shortly afterwards Duggan became a member of the Senate, a post he held until 1936 when it was dissolved. He described his 1916 experiences on a radio programme broadcast in April 1936.
Duggan was involved in local politics in Dun Laoighre and he was elected the first chairman of the borough council in 1936, a few weeks before his death. In June 1936 he was addressing a meeting of Fine Gael local election candidates when he collapsed and he died shortly afterwards. His wife and son survived him. May died 25th October 1970.
He was interred in Glasnevin cemetery and a wooden cross was recently erected over his grave. A modern industrial estate in Trim was named the Eamon Duggan Industrial Estate in his honour.
Duggan and Michael Collins at Dublin Castle Handover
Two local policemen killed at Battle of Ashbourne
Two local policemen were killed at the Battle of Ashbourne in 1916. This was the biggest engagement outside of Dublin. The battle occurred on April 28, 1916 when Fingal Volunteers under the command of Thomas Ashe attacked the RIC barracks at Ashbourne, Co. Meath. Police reinforcements were gathered in Navan and then proceeded to Ashbourne where they came under attack by the rebels. The police fought until their last cartridge had been expended but suffered many casaulities. They then surrendered and the wounded were driven to Navan.
Constable James Gormely, Longwood, aged 25, had 4 years service and was killed at Ashbourne. James Gormley, was born 23 February 1891, Ballintogher, Sligo. He worked in farming until the 2 September 1912 when aged twenty one he joined the RIC. Gormley went to the RIC depot in Dublin’s Phoenix Park where he underwent basic light infantry training. He served most of his career in County Meath listing postings in Slane and Enfield over the next three years. In April 1916 James was stationed at Longwood. He wrote to his sister, Kate, from Longwood on 10 April 1916 “Well I have got a letter from my mother today asking me to come home and work on the lands. She says she cannot get any man for any money to set potatoes or anything. Well my position at present requires a lot of thinking. As I would not like to go home now and settle down to work. It would not be worth giving up a good job to be in mud and dirt for the remainder of my life. So I don’t know what to do.” Three weeks later he was dead. Gormley was ordered to report to Slane as part of additional security measures demanded by the Marquiss of Slane as a result of the Rising. At 11 a.m. on the morning of the 28th of April James armed with his RIC Enfield Carbine and Webley Revolver boarded one of a convoy of cars provided by the local gentry and set off in the direction of Dublin. At Kilmoon they halted and were told by locals that “the rebels were in Ashbourne and eager to fight them.” At approximately 12.30 the column pulled up short of the Rath Cross roads and the RIC began to disembark. Constable Gormley was shot and died instantly. Gormely’s body remained overnight in the Ashbourne barracks before being taken to Navan. He was buried with full police honours two days later on the 30th of April in the RIC plot in Navan. James Gormley’s brother was an active member of the Ballintogher Volunteers, many of whom turned out for a Requiem Mass for the dead constable. Constable J. Murphy of Longwood Barracks was wounded in the action. In the Kildare Observer on 13 May 1916 a small article appeared stating that “’The sympathy of the people of Donadea goes out to Constable John Gormley, of that station, recently stationed in Naas, on the death of his brother, Constable James Gormley, who was killed in the Co. Meath affray.”
Sergeant John Young was a native of County Cavan, born in 1872 and joined the Royal Irish Constabulary on the 16th November 1896. He was killed at the Rath crossroads on the 28th of April 1916. He had been stationed in Killyon RIC Barracks in County Meath for six years and it was while stationed at Killyon that he was promoted from acting to full Sergeant in October 1913. Prior to that John Young had served in various barracks and posts in Counties Down and Armagh as well as in Belfast city before being reassigned to Meath in 1908. He lived in Killyon with his wife Katherine, a Donegal woman, and their two children Patrick born in 1913 and Mary born in 1915. On Thursday the 27th of April 1916 he received orders together with Sergeant Martin Coyleand Constable Martin Gara of the Killyon Barracks to report to County Inspector Alexander Gray in Slane and reinforce the contingent under his command. On the morning of Friday the 28th John was assigned to the motorised unit assembled by Gray to intercept a rebel force of unknown size reported to be in the vicinity of Ashbourne.
Armed with an RIC Enfield Carbine and his Webley service revolver as well as his handcuffs and truncheon and carrying a 50 round bandolier, Sergeant Young boarded a touring car provided by the local gentry and sat with his carbine and helmet on his lap as he was driven towards Ashbourne. Arriving at the Rath crossroads he exited the car and took cover and as a result survived the initial engagement but during the remainder of the battle he was injured several times by buckshot. He fought on into the latter part of the action until he was hit by rifle fire as he attempted to take cover in the labourer’s cottage above the crossroads. After the surrender he was given the last rights by Fr. Murphy. John Young was 42 years old when he died and was survived by his widow and their two young children. The family were awarded his pension in July 1916 backdated to the 29th April. The Inspector –General of the police sent a message of sympathy to his widow on the death of her “gallant husband while bravely performing his duties in pursuing the rebels.” He was buried with full Police honours in St Marys Cemetery, Navan together with RIC Constables: James Hickey, James Gormley, and Richard McHale who also died with him at the Battle of Ashbourne. (With thanks to Tola Collier)
The Independence Struggle
Four of the Giles brothers of Longwood, Jack, Michael, Laurence and Pat set up the Irish Volunteers in Longwood in 1917, under the guidance of Eamon Duggan. Jack and Michael became part of the Trim Volunteers, as they worked there, in J & E Smyth’s. Larry and Pat were sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood by Mr. P. J. Conway. They had to take a secret oath, to get an Irish Republic, on a bible. Mr. Conway was a very respected member of the G.A.A and school master in Longwood.
Sean Boylan was the driving force behind the Republican movement in Co. Meath. Trim formed the Second Battalion, of which Longwood was the 22nd Company, and Paddy Giles was in charge of this company, as Captain. The GAA grounds became the main arena for drilling in Longwood. The link between the GAA and Republicanism in Longwood is quite clearly indicated by Paddy Giles becoming secretary of Meath County Board of the GAA in 1919 and later this position was held by Sean Boylan. However, there were very few arms. In order to overcome this problem, the local Volunteers made raids on a house-to-house basis. It was known who had guns. The few local Protestants George Foster and Danzel were not member of the Volunteers, but were forced to hand over their gun by masked local Volunteers. Secured guns were hidden in various dumps such as at the Giles’ farm in the ‘Moate’ field or river fields.
Due to the continued shortages of arms, it was decided to capture Ballivor Barracks. The raid on the barracks, which took place in 31st October 1919, was a joint effort by two companies; Trim and Longwood. The Longwood company were to guard the approaching roads to Ballivor. At about ten o’clock that night Mooney, Pat Fay and Stephen Sherry approached the front door of the barracks, knocked on the door, and gave a password used by those on good terms with the police. They also gave the name of a local farmer, saying that he had come in to report a cattle drive, which was quite common in the area at the time. The ploy was successful and Constable Agar opened the door, he tried to close it again, but in the ensuing melee he was shot through the heart and died at once. The rest of the group rushed the barracks from both front and rear. The sergeant and two constables were locked inside a day room by the Volunteers. Others of the raiders quickly gathered a revolver, five rifles and a large amount of ammunition and made a hasty getaway, in the direction of Kildalkey. Michael Giles was with the Trim Company who rushed the Barracks and Pat and Larry Giles, Mosey Fagan, Pat Corrigan took part, from the Longwood Company. Agar’s death was regretted by all who took part. He had only been in Ballivor one week, when the incident took place. The Meath Chronicle condemned the incident ‘Meath repudiates responsibility for these outrages and every decent citizen has a duty to denounce them’. There was also strong condemnation from the local councils. Nor was there support from amongst the general public for the Volunteers’ action. Fr. Farrell, PP of Ballivor condemned the activities from the altar the following Sunday. Bishop Gaughran at early Mass in Mullingar Cathedral on the Sunday following the raids invoked the curse of God on those involved: ‘the society engaged in this diabolical work’ he raged, ‘brings God’s curse only on the perpetrators of such deeds but also on all who actively co-operate with them.’
In April 1920 rural police barracks throughout Meath were attacked and burned. Killyon Barracks was one of those destroyed on the night of Easter Sunday 3 April.
The most significant and most successful operations carried out by the Meath Volunteers in Meath during the independence struggle was the taking of Trim Barracks on 26th September, 1920. The hurling pitch in Trim was at the Fair Green which adjoined the Police Barracks and the men from Longwood and Trim played under the walls of the Barracks. All three Giles brothers; Mick, Pat and Larry, Kit McEvoy and Mosey Fagan, Longwood Unit, were involved in the actual taking of the barracks, as part of Section One. They were all armed with revolvers; .45s and .32s and were instructed to climb the wall and rush the back door and if possible overpower the police. However, they were confronted by Head Constable White with revolver drawn, he was ordered to halt, but he refused, he was, then shot through the lung. Larry Giles remembers, he had started to ascend the stairs and the gunshot wound left blood stains on the wall. White said ‘I didn’t deserve this.’ He was carried out onto the Fair Green and medical aid from a doctor, Dr. T. J. Lynch and spiritual aid from a priest and was brought to hospital Section of the local Workhouse. The Barrack was quickly taken. The other two sections had felled trees to ensure no aid could be given from other barracks. Jimmy Fagan, a Longwood Volunteer, cut down trees on the Longwood-Trim road. The night before, he was ‘seen’ in Longwood village, to give himself an alibi. The Volunteers who had taken part had cycled from their outlying villages the night before and spent the night before lying under the wall of the barracks. Larry Giles remembers, it was cold and wet, but that they all felt excited and prepared for the event ahead.
The remaining police were put in the ‘lock up’ and the ‘gun room’ found, Larry and Pat Giles, with about 12 others removed the ammunition, included a box of grenades twenty five rifles and carbines, twenty shotguns and six revolvers, ammunitions for all arms and some bayonets. The Volunteers returned to their villages and resumed their usual activities, to allay suspicions. Larry Giles and Jimmy Fagan were questioned by the ‘Tans’, they were ‘pulled’ into Reilly’s yard (J. Dargan’s) about the events of Sunday morning. They were on their way to a football match in Walsh’s field, despite having been up all night. They were exhausted, but their excitement with the success sustained them.
In January, 1921, there was an attack on Longwood barracks. Longwood barracks remained in the use by the RIC, (usually 3 Catholics and one Protestant) and about 30 Black and Tans for the duration of the’ Troubles.’ Just before closing time on Saturday night 8 January 1921 a dozen IRA men took up their position around the village. According to Larry Giles, Longwood Barracks was regularly, shot at from corner of ‘Kit Maguire’s, across from road from ‘Antique and Curio Shop’ by the Giles brothers, Pat and Larry, Mosie and Jimmy Fagan and Pat Corrigan. They approached the village through fields, masked. Lar Giles and Jimmy Fagin started shooting at the Barracks from the graveyard end of the village. The Police force returned fire. A second section of the IRA were in Murphy’s pub across the road from the barracks in the hope that the defenders of the barracks would venture out and then be cut down in a hail of fire from point-blank range. The Black and Tans sent signal flares to Trim barracks for aid through the chimney. The attack was not successful.
‘The Tans were, in general, a rough crowd, with some nice fellows’. Larry and his mates were frequently searched. He, also, related, that attacks on the Longwood barracks were not attempted on ‘pay day or the day after, as the ‘Tans’ were more dangerous and reckless, as they were heavy drinkers. An interesting anecdote, was that the Giles dog, a black Irish wolf hound, named Finian, accompanied the Black and Tans on their patrol, a dozen Black and Tans with one RIC patrolled the roads in single file with ‘Finian’ bringing up the rear, fully armed.
Michael (Mick) and John Giles was member of the Trim Volunteers. Mick was in charge of arms. He sent out rifles to the Giles farm via Paddy Farnam, using Smith’s bread van. Evidence was found in his living quarter in Trim, a written note. He was court martial led and spent two years in an Irish jail. The Brock farm, of the Giles brothers was raided the following week. A young sergeant, while, holding Larry and Pat, at gunpoint, put his hand up into the thatch of a shed and found cartridges that were taken from Trim barracks, the previous Sunday. The sergeant said, ‘you’ll hang for this’ and put Larry and Pat under arrest. When the ‘Black and Tans’ returned from the search of the farm, he said no more, and they departed. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the matter, as evidence of the arms ‘dump’ was found in the Moate field, a written list of arms, with the Giles’ name on it. Both Larry and Pat were arrested. Pat was court martialled and spent one year in prison in Perth in Scotland. During which time he had to work very hard, he had to pull a plough himself, he and 40-50 other Irish rebels were treated very badly by their Scottish wardens. Yet their spirits were good, due to the comradary and their ‘cause’. Unfortunately, an ongoing part of the independence struggle was the prevalence of spies. The above incident, which resulted in the imprisonment of Pat Giles, is believed to be the result of information given to the RIC in Longwood of the arms dump in the ‘Moate’ field, for money.
After the Truce was signed in July 1921, the Tans and RIC evacuated Longwood Barracks. Local troop of Volunteers led by Larry Giles marched formally into the barracks and took over policing. Larry Giles became the Adjudant (i.e. clerk) of Longwood. Larry Giles retired 6 months later, due to family circumstances. Pat and Mick remained in the Curragh and Mullingar (in the army), both were captains.
(With thanks to Mary Hayes)
IRA sort out Tobertynan Thieves
The Duc de Stacpoole
In April 1920 news reached Sean Boylan that the Duc de Stacpoole’s house at Tobertynan, Longwood, had been robbed and that six shots were fired though the ceiling. His housekeeper was so badly shaken that she was taken to Mullingar Mental Hospital. A number of similar incidents had taken place in the general area about this time. John Egan of the Boardsmill Volunteer Company was suspicious of two local men – Michael Higgins and Hubert Quinn, as he had seen them out early in the morning. Boylan met the Duc de Stackpoole in Trim and introduced himself and told him he would have the stolen property returned. The Duc said that the police were working on the case to which Boylan replied “They will do nothing; they are in collusion with the robbers.” Boylan rounded up Higgins and Quinn and then two more suspects. He interrogated the prisoners and they admitted their guilt. One prisoner was released and led Boylan to the missing items. Two more men were implicated, the six had been roaming the country with the knowledge of the police in an attempt to have the robberies blamed on the IRA. Boylan contacted William McLoughlin of Trim, who had a side car, to collect the stolen property. There was a large amount of stolen property and Boylan had to make a number of trips. On one occasion as Boylan returned the goods though the back door of Tobertynan the police were at the front door. McLoughlin grew exhausted with the work and the Duc was asked for a loan of his side car and driver. They went to the brother of one of the robbers and forced him at gun point to reveal where the Duc’s clothing had been hidden. It turned out to be within sight of the Longwood RIC Barracks. The local police sent news of Boylan’s activities to Trim and a lorry load of military were dispatched but Boylan took a different route. When Boylan had returned all the Duc’s missing items with the exception of a silver horse shoe which could not be traced, the Duc offered Boylan £5 as a reward. Boylan refused saying “We are acting on behalf of the Irish Government and are Volunteers. You ought to join us” The Duc relied “I would be with you only for your burning of the police barracks.” Boylan said “You lost two brothers in the war; what benefit has it brought to Ireland” The Duc replied “My brothers fought for Ireland” but Boylan disagreed “They fought for England.” The Duc finished the conversation saying “I won’t discuss it further with you.” The Duc wrote a letter of appreciation to the Irish Times and the British Government are supposed to have cut his pension as a result. Michael Collins complimented Boylan on his work in the case and said it had brought great credit to the IRA. Two of the thieves were stripped and flogged and compelled to do three weeks unpaid farm work.
Attack on Police Barracks
An attack was made on the Police Barracks in Longwood on Saturday 8 January 1921. The barracks was one of the few who managed to survive in rural villages as the police came under pressure from the IRA. The barracks while not threatening communication was a thorn in the side of the local rebels. The barracks was in a very exposed position with a good range of vision and fire from all sides. The whole local company mobilised for the attack and armaments consisted of three rifles, ten shotguns and a number of revolvers. The rifles had been captured in a raid on the police station in Ballivor. The shotgun men and the revolver men crept as close as possible while the rifle men occupied positions 50 to 100 yards away. Lar Giles and Jimmy Fagan, started shooting from the graveyard end of the village and gradually retreated further and further from the barracks. All were in very exposed positions some lying on the ground. The attack began soon after 10.00 p.m. and came as a surprise to the police. The building was very well protected with steel shutters on the windows and strong doors and surrounded by a wall of sand bags. About a dozen policemen were stationed in the barracks at the time including six Auxiliaries. Signal flares were set off by the defenders in an attempt to summon help from Trim. After twenty minutes firing the police was called on to surrender but they refused. The firing continued for an hour but the police remained behind their defences. The IRA weapons were collected and dumped in a tunnel. The attack raised the moral of the IRA and damaged the moral of the police. Immediately after the attack the garrison was increased and new defences including a barbed wire barrier were created. Those who took part in the attack included Pat Giles, Larry Giles, Moss Fagin, Jimmy Fagin, William Murray, Patrick Corrigan, C. McEvoy, Michael McEvoy, Thomas Donnelly, John Grogan, Peter Grogan, P. Heavy, Edward Bird, John Costello and Christopher Boylan.
In late January there was an attack on a number of police men on Haggard Street, Trim. The Longwood men were detailed to guard the Longwood Road and after the ambush they retreated to Longwood on their bicycles. Halfway home they decided to go off road and hid in a field until it was completely dark.
Captain Patrick Giles
Born on the 4th of October 1898 Patrick was the son of Lawrence and Anne Giles (nee Dunne) Brackinrainey, Longwood. His mother’s first cousin was Éamonn Duggan’s mother, Margaret Duggan, nee Dunne, and this created a strong local connections between Duggan and the Giles family. Patrick was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood by Mr. P. J. Conway, the school master in Longwood. Patrick was for a time the Secretary of the County Board of the GAA in 1919. He became involved in the nationalist cause probably as a result of his father’s activities and Eamonn Duggan. Joining the IRA in 1917 he took part in a number of actions in Longwood, Ballivor and Trim. He was promoted to Captain in 1920 and was arrested in 1921 and sentenced to three years penal servitude.
He was promoted to Captain in 1920 and was arrested in 1921 and sentenced to three years penal servitude. He was deported to Perth prison but was released before the Treaty was signed.
Patrick took the Pro-Treaty side in 1922. He joined the Army shortly afterwards and retired some years later with the rank of Captain. Following the Curragh Mutiny in 1924 he was discharged and at this time took up farming at Drumlargan, Summerhill. In 1934 he was elected to Meath Co. Council and was also appointed a member of the Co. Board of Health. At the election result Captain Giles said he “would be working with a lot of old friends in the opposite camp from which I have been separated for many years. They were all good comrades a few years ago and he hoped that they would be good comrades again.”In the 1930s Captain Giles supported the Blueshirt movement locally.
In 1933 Duggan felt he could not fight another election and was not a candidate. Captain Patrick Giles of Longwood became his successor as T.D. for Meath being elected to the Dail in 1937 as a Fine Gael TD for the Meath-Westmeath constituency. As a Deputy, he was one of the most independent members of his party. He spoke frequently in the House, and his speeches did hit the headlines.
In the 1930s and 40s he opposed the provision of lands purchased by the Land Commission to families outside Meath. He accused the Rathcairn scheme of being little to do with the spread of the Irish language and more to do with ensuring an increase in the Fianna Fáil vote in the area. He wanted 1916 and War of Independence veterans to have priority then local people. He fought for the IRA veterans throughout his political career.
When Butlins proposed a holiday camp for Mosney Captain Patrick Giles outlined his objections to this “foreign combine” in an article for the Catholic Standard headlined ‘Holiday Camp and Morals’. “Holiday camps are an English idea and are alien and undesirable in an Irish Catholic country – outside influences are bad and dangerous,” he wrote.
In August 1955 Captain Giles said in Navan “”The public in Ireland think that we political people have great hatred for one another. That is not so.” said Captain P. Giles, T.D., in seconding the vote of thanks to Mr. de Valera and the other speaker at the Muintir Na Tire Week in St. Columba’s College, Navan. “Mr. de Vnlera and myself have our differences in political opinion but these do not amount to hatred. As a matter of fact I love the man and consider him a great national figure,” continued Captain Giles. Captain Giles said that since they won freedom in this country great work had been done. Cumann Na Gaedhal, Fianna Fail and the Inter-Party all had a hand in that work and they all deserved the nation’s thanks.”
Speaking in Trim in 1957 during an election campaign he said “Forget cheap politics and unite as, one family to weed out our many inherent weaknesses.””
He retired from the Dail for health reasons in July, 1961 and in November 1961 a presentation dinner was held in his honour in Navan to mark his retirement from the Dail.
Captain Giles died in 1965 and at the time of his death was vice-chairman of Meath County Council and was also vice-chairman of the Co. Committee of Agriculture.
The chairman of Meath County Council Senator P. Fitzsimons, said the death of Captain Giles came as a great shock to all the councillors. “No matter how much they differed from him politically, everyone had a wholesome respect for his opinions. He had always expressed his views very forcibly and displayed a tremendous knowledge of local authority affairs.” Jimmy Tully, T.D, said he always admired and respected Captain Giles for speaking what was on his mind. He was a spirited debater who expounded his views on any particular topic without fear or favour. No matter what argument or controversy he indulged in at council meetings, he never harboured spite or bitterness afterwards. The Meath Chronicle recorded that “Capt. Giles was certainly one of the most controversial figures ever associated with the public life of Meath—and one of the best liked. As a politician and a Co. Councillor, he never pulled his punches and never spoke with his tongue in his cheek.”
Meath Cricket League was founded in 1862. In 1901 Booley Keogh had a cricket team and are recorded as Baley Keeagh in the Drogheda Independent. Cricket was played in the summer. Cricket was played in Longwood in the 1920s and 1930s and was more popular than the GAA. When the Longwood hurling team were knocked out of the championship the players went and played cricket. At the start of each season the cricket players had to apply to the County Board to be reinstated. A blind eye was turned to those who played cricket as they were breaking the “Ban” on the playing of foreign games imposed by the GAA. The game was played on the green up till the 1960s. In 1934 Paddy Monaghan was given a six month ban for watching a cricket match at Ballyclare. His team mates stood by him and most of the Longwood senior hurling team in 1935 were suspended for playing cricket.
“Always wallop the stranger” is one of the ways that Longwood Law is described. It is said to have arisen when a solicitor at the Court in Longwood expressed his discomfort that he and his client were the only two in the court from outside Longwood and said “I am a stranger here. My client is a stranger here. And it seems to be the Law of Longwood that the stranger will be walloped.”
The earliest printed record of this law was a case against a Jewish pedlar in 1931. The pedlar originally from Lithuania travelled around the midlands buying and selling small items. Louisn Cravitz of emonville raod off South Circular Road, Dublin, was charged by the police with being a wandering merchant, charge dismissed, selling dirty eggs, charge dismissed, overworking his horse, charge dismissed, cruelty to his hen which he kept in a sack with her head sticking out, fined two shillings and sixpence.
A Story of the Lough in Crowboy
From Andrew Rispin, Ballivor from the Schools Folklore Collection from the 1930s
In the lock of Crowboy there was a man named John Sellars. This man used be on the bog very early in the morning and very late at night and this evening he saw lovely girl with long golden hair walking round the lock; he saw her the second evening too and the third evening he dressed himself up and said he would talk to her and try would she talk to him. When he went over to her she said “O John you are nearly late, this is my last evening out” and she said “I will go with you if you promise me never to let me see this lock again”. He said to her “I will marry you tomorrow”. He invited several of the neighbours and he told the priest and he married them in the house.
The girl lived and worked with him the same as anyone else. She told him that her mother and herself were taken by some magic hand into the lock and she was now twenty-one and her mother dead She told him she had to change into a fish for four hours every day and she had three days when she would be twenty-one to see if anyone would claim her on the bank. She warned him every morning never to let her see the lock. She lived with him very happy for a month and this Sunday evening they went for a walk to the black hills that over look the lock.
All of a sudden he saw a great light just at the lock and all at once she said “O John I see the lock. Goodbye”. On the spot she fell on the ground and took the form of a pike and went like a flash into the lock. Three years after that Sellar died and was buried in Clondalee on the bank of the Deal when he was buried a lovely girl came out of the Deal and wept over him and splashed into the water again.
Rev. Fr. Matthew Clavin P.P. 1945-76.
Fr. Matthew Clavin was a native of Ballinamill, Streamstown, Co. Westmeath in the parish of Castletown-Geoghan. Son of Joseph and Mary (nee Farrell) Clavin Matthew Joseph was born 12th October 1891. His father’s occupation is given as farmer and miller. The Clavins purchased the property at Ballinamill in the early 1800s. Matthew was the oldest boy, there was an older sister Anna Maria, and younger brothers and sisters – Patrick, Joseph, Josephine, William, Angela and Madeline. His sister, Josephine, died in Tullamore Hospital in 1949. His father died in 1939 and his mother in 1950.
Matthew was educated at St. Finian’s Mullingar and Maynooth. In his early days Fr. Clavin was an excellent sportsman playing golf, handball, hurling and football. Ordained in 1920 he served in Rochfortbridge and Slane before his appointment as chaplain to the new National Army in 1922.
Fr. Clavin blessed the first tricolour unveiled at Gormanstown after it was taken over by the Irish forces. In 1927 he served again in Slane and subsequently went to Delvin where he was a noted player of golf. In 1936 he was appointed Diocesan Catechist and served in Milltown 1944-45. In 1945 Fr. Clavin was appointed P.P. of Longwood in succession to Fr. John Gilsenan who had been transferred to Kinnegad parish. Fr. Clavin retired in September 1971 as Pastor Emeritius and lived in the parochial house in Longwood until his death on 26 June 1976 aged 84.
Work in Longwood Parish
A new organ was installed in Longwood Church in 1945. The interior of the church was re-plastered in 1946. A native of Longwood, Most Rev. John Kyne, was appointed bishop of Meath in 1947 and he was welcomed at Longwood by Fr. Clavin. Later that year a crozier was presented to bishop on behalf of his native parish. The exterior of the church was re-plastered in 1948 and a new wall erected to replace the north-west wall, a new apse was installed in the sanctuary and a new sacristy was built.
The church was re-dedicated on the feast of St. Thérèse, 3 October, 1949 by Bishop Kyne. The cemetery was also consecrated on the same day. In 1969 a new heating system was installed in the church. In 1973 plans for a new parochial house were agreed by Fr. Clavin and the construction was completed in June 1975.
Work in Killyon Parish In 1949-51 Killyon church was renovated but soon afterwards it was decided to erect a new church. A local student, James Fehilly, was commissioned by Very Rev. M. Clavin, to design a new church for Killyon. His revolutionary design was accepted by Father Clavin. The new church was built by direct labour. The parishioners dug the foundations; mixed and poured the cement; made the concrete blocks; attended on the tradesmen; took care of the drainage work and carried the materials to the site; all the work being voluntary.
The first sod on the site was cut on 18th April, 1954. On the day the putting in of the foundations commenced, eighty of the parishioners were on the job, and there was a daily average attendance of three or four. The rate of progress was decided by the flow of funds. The completed building, including the furnishing, cost less than £16,000. Its estimated that if the work had been carried out by contract the cost would have been in the region of £30,000.
Even the organ was bought and paid for—by the children of Killyon —as a result of a weekly school raffle organised by Mrs. Fehilly for prizes presented by adult parishioners. The church was solemnly blessed by the Bishop of Meath, Most Rev. Dr. John Kyne, and dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption in March, 1957.
In 1947 Fr. Clavin bought two Nissan huts for £160. One was erected beside the National School in Killyon and the second across the road from the Longwood National School on a plot of ground rented from Gus Foran. Fr. Clavin then approached Paddy Byron, the head of Meath V.E.C to develop a vocational school at Longwood. Liam Carey was appointed to conduct classes in Drawing and Woodwork. On three afternoons per week boys undertook classes and then two evenings a week Carey gave night classes in Killyon and Longwood. Mrs. T. Herbert organised classes for girls from 5.00 to 7.00 and then night classes from 7.00-9.00 for adults in crafts, needlework and cookery.
Fr. Matthew Clavin P.P. Longwood and Meath Vocational Education Committee founded the school in 1952. Initially the school catered only for girls but in 1956 boys were enrolled in the school. In 1957 an exhibition of finished work was held by the students of Longwood Vocational School. The exhibition was divided into three sections, domestic science, wood work and building construction and general commercial subjects. The display was officially opened by Very Rev. M. Clavin, P.P., Longwood, who presented Department of Education certificates gained during the year in the school curriculum subjects. Addressing the assembly of parents and pupils, Father Clavin paid tribute to the exceptionally high standard attained in the short life of five years.P. Hayes was appointed teacher of Woodwork and Building in 1956. A new wooden pre-fab was added on to the existing structure.Classes were held in many outlying districts.
Longwood Vocational School Nissan Huts
In 1966 the school moved into new accommodation on a two-acre site of parochial land. The school was renamed St. Fintina’s Post Primary School in memory of a nun by that name, who had a nunnery in Clongiffen. In Longwood the first significant increase in enrolment occurred in 1963, which coincided with the beginning of the new regulations concerning entry to apprenticeships. The new school was completed and opened in September 1966.
With the introduction of free education, two prefabricated classrooms had to be erected in 1967. By 1982 there were seven prefabricated classrooms in use at Longwood Vocational School and an extension was planned. Longwood Vocational School commenced a Leaving Certificate course in 1970.
Construction of a new school to be named Coláiste Clavin commenced in July 2015 on the site adjacent to the primary school. It is fitting therefore that Fr. Clavin be honoured by remembering his name in the title of the new school. The building has been designed by Jackie Carroll of McCarthy O’Hora Architects, Portlaoise and is a very modern design with a number of unique architectural features which will fit naturally into the surrounding landscape. The contractors are Ganson Engineering based in Balbriggan.
Dr. John Kyne, Bishop of Meath, 1947-66
Most Rev. Dr. John Kyne, Bishop of Meath and native of Longwood, Co. Meath, became the first President of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and the first President of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. Bishop Kyne led the first diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, the first such pilgrimage from an Irish Diocese to Lourdes.
John Anthony Kyne was born on 4 November 1904 in Longwood, the son of John and Mary Kyne. Bishop Kyne’s father was John Kyne, the Royal Irish Constabulary Sergeant in Longwood. Born in Mayo about 1864 he could speak Irish and English and had been a shop assistant and grocer prior to joining the RIC and served in Carrick on Shannon, Trim and Bellewstown before being appointed to Longwood. John was the son of Thomas Kyne, a merchant of Headford, Co. Galway. At the Police Barracks in Longwood John Kyne was sergeant and there were four constables. John Kyne later served as clerk of the Petty Sessions at Longwood. He died in 1931 aged 67.
Bishop Kyne’s mother was Mary Glancy (sometimes recorded as Clancy) and she married John Kyne in Dangan, Roscommon in 1891. A teacher, Mary’s father was Patrick Glancy, a farmer. The couple had twelve children. Mrs. Kyne died in 1941 aged 73.
Bishop Kyne’s brother, Francis, joined the British army, rising to the rank of Major and retired to live in Birmingham while another brother, Patrick, settled in London. Another brother, Thomas, joined the Indian Civil Service after completing a degree at the National University, later settling at Bromley, Kent, where he died in 1936.
Born in 1912 Ulick Fursey Kyne, known as Fursey, was educated at St. Finian’s College and the Irish College Rome where he was ordained in 1936. He was appointed curate at Kilbeggan and then at Moynalty. In 1942 Fr. Fursey Kyne became a British Army chaplain and served in France and the Low Countries during the war. On his return he was appointed curate at Dunshaughlin. From 1957 to 1959 he served on the Emigrants’ Mission in London as a roving chaplain working with Irish hotel staff in Bayswater and Paddington. Fr. Kyne was subsequently appointed curate at Duleek and Beauparc. In 1966 Fr. Kyne was appointed parish priest of Oristown and died in 1968 aged 55.
Three of the Bishop’s sisters became nuns. Maisie, one of his sisters, became Mother M. Therese Poor Clares, Gainsborough, England, formerly Mother Abbess, Poor Clare Convent, Cavan. She also served in Ballyjamesduffand Stamullen. Another sister, Eveline, became Sr. M. Finian, Carysfort Training College, Convent, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Another sister, Sister Cecelia, joined the Convent of Mercy, Rochfortbidge, in 1918 where she became a teacher and died at the early age of 35 years in 1929.
Bishop Kyne and his brother Ulick
A sister, Margaret (Millie) Kyne, joined the British Civil Service and worked in London and Liverpool. She obtained a B.A. at London University. She retired to Longwood and died in 1969. Another sister, Mrs. Louie Quinn, Longwood, died in 1978. Louie Quinn was a national school teacher at Killyon N.S. and wife of Florrie Quinn. A sister, Nora, married John J. Quigley N.T., Oldcastle. When he died Nora back to Longwood, and then to Dublin.
John (Jack) Kyne attended the local school on Longwood where the teacher was Mr. Conway. He showed a prowess for mechanics, being able to dismantle and re-assemble a clock. He was awarded a scholarship to St. Finian’s College, Mullingar. In 1922 he won a scholarship to study for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome and the Pontifical College of Propaganda, where he won prizes for moral theology, scripture and canon law. Ordained in 1927 Fr. Kyne returned to Ireland where he became curate in Navan before joining the staff of St. Finian’s College in October 1928 for a period of two years.
In 1930 Fr. Kyne was appointed Vice-Rector of the Irish College in Rome, a position he held for seventeen years. Dr. Kyne travelled extensively to work in the church until 1939. During the tense war years Dr. Kyne’s skills in negotiating ensured the safety and wellbeing of the students at the college in particular when the Germans occupied the city. Kyne was regarded as a rock of common sense. He received the title of Monsignor in 1939 and was appointed Papal Chamberlain in 1940. Supply of food for the college was a problem and Mgr. Kyne grew vegetables to supplement food at the college and is said to have kept a few pigs although this was against the law. Rabbits were bred in the handball alleys. Students had to travel through Portugal to go to Ireland or return. A complication was the Irish summer villa in Formia, south of Rome, which became the headquarters for the German command defending Monte Cassino. The caves behind the Villa were used for interrogation and torture. It all demanded very difficult diplomacy on the part of Mgr. Kyne and the Rector Mgr. McDaid. That they succeeded in retaining both properties intact was an enormous achievement.
Bishop of Meath Dr. John D’Alton was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1946 having been consecrated Bishop of Meath in 1943. Ten months later, on 20 May 1947 Dr. John Kyne was announced as the new Bishop of Meath. At the age of 43 Bishop Kyne was the youngest member of the Irish Hierarchy when he was appointed to Meath. His consecration took place in the Church of St. Ignatius on 29 June 1947 where Kyne had been ordained priest in 1927. The consecrating prelate was Cardinal Rossi, secretary to the Consistorial Congregation. Kyne was the first Bishop of Meath to be consecrated in Rome since the Reformation and only the second one for an Irish diocese since the Reformation, the first being Dr. William J. Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin from 1885 to 1921. A number of the Kyne family and Meath priests flew to Rome to attend the consecration.
On the day following his consecration Bishop Kyne made a broadcast to the people of Meath on Vatican Radio which was re-broadcast by Radio Éireann. The Bishop concluded, with his blessing on Ireland and on his Diocese: “From these “sacred sights”, my thoughts go out to the priests and people of my native Diocese, to the priests and people of my native Longwood, and to all who sent messages of good wishes from North, South, East and West.”
After his consecration Bishop Kyne was received by the Pope who presented him with a Pectoral Cross. Pope Pius XII told him before he left Rome that he was going back to “a profoundly Catholic people.”
Bishop Kyne began by initiating a building programme for churches beginning with the chapel at the Mosney Holiday Camp, new churches were constructed including Kells, Dunderry, Horseleap and Dunboyne. New schools were also constructed including Kilbeggan N.S., Whitecross, Stamullen; Sacred Heart, Drogheda; St. Joseph’s National School, Kingscourt andSt. Seachnall’s N.S., Dunshaughlin. New windows and a new graveyard in Clonard were blessed by Bishop Kyne.
Bishop Kyne at Gormanstown Camp 1947
There were huge welcoming ceremonies for the new bishop in his native diocese. At Longwood hundreds of people welcomed him and he stopped to pray in St. Mary’s Church where he had been baptised. He then crossed the road to say a prayer at his parents’ grave. He was welcomed by the parish priest Fr. Clavin and the priests of nearby Kinnegad and Summerhill. Addressing parishioners from a platform in the centre of the village he said “I certainly did not expect anything like this. I can tell you I am sincerely grateful to you all. Here in Longwood there is no room for deception or pretension, you all know me and I know you all, we are all friends together.” He returned to Longwood in October to receive a special crozier presented to him by the parish. The design of the crozier top was a representation of a Celtic dragon turned with the form of a shepherd’s crook. Mounted in the centre is an elongated cross—an unusual design for a crozier. The cross pierced through the dragon, convoying the overcoming of paganism through the powers of Christ.
Bishop Kyne at the turning of the first sod for the new church in Dunboyne, 1955.
Bishop Kyne led the first Meath Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, in September, 1948 and each year he led the pilgrimage to Lourdes. Following Mass in St. Mary’s Church, Navan, the 450 on the first pilgrimage were led by Navan Boys’ Band to Navan railway station, crossed the Irish Sea from Dun Laoghaire on to London, where they stayed overnight. They crossed the English Channel, travelling on to Paris.
En route, Bishop Kyne celebrated Mass in the Cathedral of St. Joan of Arc in Orleans. There were twenty three invalids with the group on that first visit, who travelled separately by air from the main group – the first invalids to arrive this way from Ireland. Bishop Kyne also led the Diocesan pilgrimage to Knock each year.
In October 1948 Bishop Kyne presided at a Mass on the Hill of Tara to commemorate the 1798 Rebellion. He unveiled an inscribed limestone cross on the site where a memorial was to have been erected. The Taoiseach, John A. Costello, and Éamon de Valera spoke at the event. Twelve thousand people were gathered on the Hill to witness the ceremonies.
During the Holy Year in 1950 Bishop Kyne led a group of 700 pilgrims from Meath to Rome. In the 1950s Bishop Kyne purchased Clonard House as the bishop’s residence giving Cathedral House to priests of Mullingar parish.
In December 1950 Fr. Callery, Parish Priest Ballinabrackey held a meeting in Mullingar to revive the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. Bishop Kyne attended and made patron, promising to be an active member of the Society. In 1955 Bishop Kyne provided the foreword to “Riocht na Midhe,” which was the first volume of the Meath Archaeological and Historical Society. A journal of this kind, Bishop Kyne said, would “foster a proper respect for relics of the past, and for the proper motives.”
In the 1950s the American bishops made an urgent appeal to the Irish bishops for Sisters to staff the religious schools in their dioceses and Dr. Kyne despatched sisters from his diocese to various school in America. Bishop Kyne despatched five Mercy Sisters from Navan to Daytona Beach, Florida to become teachers in the new school there.
In January 1951, representatives of the Piper’s Club, Dublin, travelled to Mullingar to meet a group of local enthusiasts with a view to forming a branch of the Piper’s Club in Mullingar. After a lengthy discussion it was decided to form an organisation which would embrace all traditional instrumentalists. The first Fleadh was arranged in Mullingar in May 1951. The aims of the Fleadh were to restore to its rightful place, the traditional music of Ireland and to arrest “the decadent trend” evident then in Irish life. The first standing Committee of Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann was elected by members of the Pipers’ Club in October 1951, at Arus Ceannt, Thomas Street, Dublin, with Most Rev. Dr. Kyne, as President. At a meeting in Mullingar, in early 1952, it was decided to change the title of the organisation from Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. Its objectives were and still are the promotion and preservation of traditional music, song and dance. Today Comhaltas is established on four continents with in excess of 400 branches worldwide. Branches organise classes, concerts, ceilithe, sessions and festivals at local level.
Bishop Kyne was a great supporter of the Irish language movement. In 1952 when he opened Feis Midhe he said “If we want to be a big force in the world, we will have to base all our efforts on the restoration of Irish language and culture. It is our heritage and it is our duty to do all in our power to ensure that the heritage is not lost to Ireland or the world.”
In 1953 Bishop Kyne, as patron of the Meath Drama Festival said “Some may think that taking part in plays is somewhat frivolous and trivial. That is a fallacy because, after all, the gems of literature are enshrined in the plays of the world.” “Irish men are natural play actors – and I mean that in the good sense of the word” Bishop Kyne said at the opening of the Festival some years later.
Bishop Kyne was a supporter of Munitir na Tire seeing it as a means of “curing the festering sores of emigration and unemployment.” In September 1961 Bishop Kyne blessed and opened the new Mullingar Creamery. He was concerned at the plight of emigrants and he thought that parents should do their utmost to keep young people at home. Bishop Kyne suggested that the Church Holidays should be the public holidays, saying “Knock out the bank holidays and the Church holidays will provide nicely-spaced holidays for the community over the year.”
In October 1963 Bishop Kyne departed for Rome and attended all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council, but suffered from poor health towards the end of the event. Dr. Kyne considered that the whole Council should be secret. On November 1964, Dr. Kyne told a press conference held by the bishops on return from Rome “foreign newspapers have given a false account of the Council and they should be discounted by all people.” On his return to Ireland in December Bishop Kyne was admitted a patient to the Mater Private Hospital. In his Pastoral Letter in March 1965 Bishop Kyne wrote that the “Vatican Council has begun a programme to give added vigour to our Christian life… These changes have not been made from a love of novelty. They have been proposed because of your privilege as member of the church of Christ. Christ is always present in His church… We must share in an external manner too. For this reason certain parts of the Mass are now in our own languages. This makes possible a fuller and more active participation with the sacred act of the priest at the altar. It is your duty to use this opportunity, to join together in public prayer, to make the responses to the priest, to listen attentively when he reads the word of God. It will require reverence and discipline. It will impress on you that you must always be in good time for Mass. It is necessary that all pray reverently and in a voice that befits the people of God united in common worship. When the congregation stands or kneels together they are giving expression to the public character of the holy sacrifice. I ask of you, therefore, that you persevere in the good resolutions you have made today.”
As bishop Dr. Kyne was the patron of a number of organisations including the Westmeath Co. Board G.A.A.; Meath Cycling Board, Mullingar Brass and Reed Band, Mullingar Show and Westmeath Branch of Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Bishop Kyne with Fr. Peyton in 1954
Bishop Kyne died 23 December 1966 aged 62. He had been in failing health for some time. The front page of the Westmeath Examiner stated “The late Dr. Kyne was a beloved Bishop. Unassuming, always shunning the glare of publicity, while at the same time making friends with those whom he came in contact, not least of them being the children of the town, he was held in the highest esteem… A lover of the language he spoke it to those who were able to converse in it, and he said the prayers at the Children’s Mass, in the Cathedral, in Irish. He had many wonderful traits and he was recognised for what he was, a kindly, understanding and charitable bishop.”
President Éamon de Valera and Taoiseach Jack Lynch attended the funeral which was celebrated by the Bishop of Clogher, Most Rev. Dr. O’Callaghan. Bishop Kyne’s nephew, Rev. Michael Kyne S. J. Oxford was sub-deacon at the Mass. The bishop’s remains were interred on the eastern side of the Cathedral, next to that of his predecessor, Most. Rev. Thomas, Mulvaney, who died in 1943.
On the formation of the Irish Free State, the Land Commission was reconstituted by the Land Law (Commission) Act, 1923, which also dissolved the Congested Districts Board. Provision was made for compulsory purchase of land owned by non-Irish citizens. Untenanted land could now be compulsorily purchased and divided out to local families; this was applied unevenly across the country, with some large estates surviving if the owners could show that their land was being actively farmed. The Irish Land Commission adopted a policy of re-settling farmers from congested areas in the west of Ireland and transferring them to the midlands, where the Land Commission had bought and sub-divided large farms.
Estates broken up in the Longwood area included the Moore estate, Moneymore; Charles Gasteen estate Moneymore; the Montgomery estate, Kilmur, Ballivor; the Murray estate, Tanderagee, the Weily estate Cullentra; Doyne estate, Castlerickard and the De Stacpoole Estate, Tobertynan. In the early 1960s concerns were being raised at Germans purchasing estates in county Meath. In some cases the previous tenants of the estates were given lands, in other cases economic migrants from the west or south of Ireland were given farms, in Longwood many came from Clare and Mayo. Migrants were not automatically welcomed in by all the community and some partly erected Land Commission houses were knocked down overnight. There were those who felt the lands of Meath should be for the people of Meath. Charles Wiley opposed the Land Commission taking over his estate at Cullentra.
Our Lady’s Well, Killyon
A church at Killyon is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV. Ussher describes the church and chancel of Killian as ruinous. According to Bishop Dopping (1683-5) only the church walls were standing and it was not enclosed. The church of Killyon is within a subrectangular graveyard that has only modern boundaries of wooden and wire fences. The graveyard has headstones dating from 1757 to 1977. A headstone in the church erected in 1787 commemorates seven members of the 18th century Dominican friary at Donore, the earliest date being 1737. The holy well is to the east of the ruin.
In Killyon Manor grounds Lady Well is situated at the side of the avenue to the house, near the graveyard. Near the site of the well is a pre-historic tumulus and the site may have been the site of a chieftain’s residence. A local tradition states that at the time of Saint Patrick the residence was donated to Liadhán, who founded a church here. The first bishops of Clonard/Meath had their residence at Kiollyon. Legend says that one August morning a priest was about to say Mass in the little church at Killyon when he discovered there was no water. The nearest well was some distance away, but when he went outside the church, the priest discovered that this well had sprung up no more than ten yards away from the gable of the building.
In the 1830s John O’Donovan noted the holy well in the churchyard at Killyon. He described the well at the gable of the old church and it was said to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary. According to O’Donovan St. Kieran of Ossory founded the church of Killyon for his mother, Liadain.
In the 1930s pilgrims visited the Killyon well on August 15th and did the rounds. While reciting the Rosary pilgrims walk in a circle on the five flat stones which surround the well, saying fifteen Hail Mary’s, three at each of the five steps. Pilgrims then blessed themselves with the water. Large crowds attended the well in the 1930s, many taking water in the hope of a cure of toothache or some other pain. The water in the well was very low until it rises up on the 15th August.
In the 1940s a pattern was held every August when the parishioners marched in procession from Killyon Church. Having reached the well the Parish Priest recited the Rosary. Afterwards a sports meeting was held in the G.A.A. grounds, not far from the well. In the Marian Year of 1954 Fr. Matthew Clavin P.P. erected as statue of Our Lady and reconstructed the stonework around the well. The well was again restored in 1999.
There was a holy well in Croboy which is called St. Brigid’s Well, recorded by a school child in the 1930s. It was said to have the cure of warts. The person who had the warts had to put a straight pin into the well for every wart they had. The pins were then left in the well and the warts would disappear. No pilgrimages took place to this well.
St. Brigid’s Stone was uncovered opposite Killyon School in 1994. Tradition states that St. Brigid met St. Brendan at this spot in Clondalee. Brigid allowed Brendan’s sheep drink from her well under the stone. One of the sheep tried to get away and Brigid intervened. She slipped and the marks from her fall are to be seen on the stone. St. Brigid is also associated with St. Finian of nearby Clonard. Finian studied under Brigid at Kildare before founding his monastery and school at Clonard.
Although there must have been a well dedicated to Tynan in the locality today there is no trace of such a well. There is a pilgrimage to a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in the townland. Fr. Charles Houben, a Passionist, became a regular correspondent with the McEvoy family of Tobertynan House. In thanksgiving for the birth of their daughter Edward and Eliza McEvoy erected a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes at a Scots Pine tree in the woods at Tobertynan in 1868, ten years after the apparitions at Lourdes. Fr. Houeben, who was beatified in 1988, blessed this shrine. Edward died in 1899 and Eliza died in 1904. Their daughter, Pauline, married George, fourth Duke de Stacpoole and their son, George, restored the shrine in 1939. The fourth Duke died in 1929 and Pauline died in 1944. In the 1980s a pilgrimage began to the shrine on the first Sunday in May.
Councillor George de Stacpoole, 5th Duc de Stacpoole
George Edward Joseph Patrick de Stacpoole, 5th Duc de Stacpoole was born on 8 March 1886. He was the son of George de Stacpoole, 4th Duc de Stacpoole and Pauline Mary MacEvoy. He married Eileen Constance Palmer, daughter of James Palmer, on 12 November 1915. He died on 3 April 1965 at age 79. He was educated at Downside School, Bath, Somerset, England. He gained the rank of Captain in the service of the 3rd Battalion, Connaught Rangers. He fought in the First World War. He was decorated with the award of Knight of Honour and Devotion, Sovereign Military Order of Malta. He succeeded to the title of 5th Duc de Stacpoole [Papal States, 1831] on 3 April 1929.
In 1933 George ran for the Dail. He held the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for County Galway and also for County Meath. He lived at Tobertynan, County Meath, Ireland. In 1928 George de Stacpoole was elected to Meath County Council to represent the Farmer’s Party, in 1934 he had become Duc and was elected as the Fine Gael candidate, and in 1942 he was re-elected as a Farmer’s candidate, in 1945 he was elected under the farmer’s party Clann na Taluin, party, in 1950 he ran as an independent and failed to get elected. Tobertynan estate was acquired by the Land Commission in the early 1960s.
Bob Maguire 1899-1984
Bob Maguire took voters to the poll in 1918 in a horse and cart to vote for Eamonn Duggan. Bob believed that Eamon Duggan never signed the Anglo-Irish treaty and of course he was right about one copy. Bob Maguire was elected chairman of Longwood GAA club in 1935, served to 1938 and then became Club President. Elected to Meath County Council in 1934 as Fianna Fail councillor, he served until 1942 and did not run in that election. In 1943 Robert Maguire married Kathleen Rispin in Ballivor Church.
Returning to local politics in 1950 when he was again elected a councillor for a five year period and again did not contest the next election.
Mr. Lowe who was a native of Longwood, was first elected to Meath Co. Council in1979 and served until 1985 when he lost his seat after a period of ill-health. However, he regained his Co. Council seat at the last local elections in 1991. A dedicated Labour representative, Mr. Lowe was a party member since the age of 16 and had campaigned with all the party leaders since the time of the late William Norton. He was current chairman of Labour’s Constituency Council, a position he had held for some years. He was also a, member of Meath VEC, chairman of Longwood vocational school board of management and had served as a member of the former Meath Co. Committee of Agriculture from 1974-’85. He worked with Meath Co. Council’s outdoor staff and for many years as a maintenance craftsman at the Agricultural Research Institute, Grange, retiring from that position in 1985.
He was a former chairman of the horse section at the Royal Meath Agricultural Show, Trim, and also a safety committee member. He was keenly involved with Scurlogstown Olympiad.
A talented stage performer, Mr. Lowe contributed songs and comedy sketches in the former Longwood annual revue, “Country Capers.” He also used his entertaining talents to fund-raise for pilgrims to Lourdes and ran functions for local causes. He was a popular Santa Claus with children in Longwood and Clonard for several years Mr. Lowe took a keen interest in horseracing and was a regular racegoer, not just in Ireland, but at English tracks like Aintree and Epsom. He was part-owner of the successful point-to-pointer, “Kerryman”.
His unexpected death took place in the James Connolly Memorial Hospital, Blanchardstown, in March 1994 having collapsed at his home in Longwood as he prepared for the Trim parade.
At the time Labour Deputy Brian Fitzgerald paid tribute to Mr. Lowe thus: “Apart from losing a great colleague, I have lost a great personal friend.”
Meath Co. Council’s Labour chairman, Mr. Jimmy Cudden, described Mr. Lowe as an excellent and very popular councillor. He was respected by all members of the Co. Council irrespective of party politics and also by officials, stated Mr. Cudden.
Vincent was born in Dunsany in 1935. He attended the local national school, where his mother Lucy was the principal. After finishing national school, Vincent attended secondary school in St Patrick’s Classical School, in Navan. He studied commerce in UCD. A number of years later he completed a Higher Diploma in education at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
Vincent’s teaching career started in 1958 in Ballinasloe. In 1959 he returned to his native county to teach in St Oliver’s Post Primary, Oldcastle. The following year he transferred to the Vocational School, Longwood where he became teacher in charge. He later went on to become principal at St Fintina’s vocational School, Longwood and worked there until his retirement in 2000. Throughout his teaching career he was an active member of the TUI.
During the course of his life he was actively involved in many aspects of his local community including the GAA, community council, Longwood country capers, Killyon church choir, the Pioneer Association and Meath Social Economy. His contribution to his local community was appreciated by the people of the locality.
Vincent was always a willing participant with community projects, big or small. Vincent had many interests and hobbies throughout his life he took a keen interest in sport, having first attended Meath football matches as a young child with his uncle Vincent in the early 1940s. He remained an avid Meath supporter throughout his life. He rarely missed a Meath match, travelling the length and breadth of the country to support his team. He instilled a love of Meath football in his children and grandchildren.
He was also a keen horseracing fan attending Fairyhouse annually with his family, and other meetings when he got the opportunity.
Through his love of photography he recorded both family and community life. During the summertime Vincent enjoyed saving turf in the local bog and spending many hours tending to his garden. He enjoyed family holidays during the summer in his caravan and in later years he enjoyed visiting Achill. After he retired he took a new found interest in flying and made many trips abroad. Vincent lived in Killyon for 53 years, where he enjoyed the support of a kind and close knit community. He died in 2015.
Living at Cullentra, Longwood Seamus Murray was co-opted to Meath County Council in 1992 to fill Noel Dempsey’s seat. Re-elected in 1999 and 2004 and served as chairman in 2002, he served as party whip until he lost his seat in 2009. He was a member of Irish Delegation of EU’s Committee of the Regions (CoR) from its inauguration in 1994, Member of Meath VEC (chairman from ‘04 – ‘06), Mid-East Regional Authority (former chair), Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly (former chair) and North-East Regional Drugs Task Force. Seamus was a member of the board of management of Boyne Community School and St Fintina”s, Longwood. Seamus Murray played a lot of handball and was heavily involved in athletics.
His specialty was the marathon. Seamus ran his first marathon at the national championships in Timahoe, Co. Laois in 1981. Winner of Meath senior medals in athletics with both Na Fianna in Enfield and Fr. Murphy’s of Athboy, Seamus ran a total of thirty marathons. He represented Ireland on numerous occasions in this discipline. Seamus ran marathons in Dublin (eight times), London, Belfast, Portugal, Italy, Moscow and Brussels among other places. He represented Ireland in both Portugal and Italy.
By Jimmy Geoghegan on the launch of Strongbacks – Longwood County Meath and the GAA. 2011. Meath Chronicle It’s a story of mystery, intrigue, triumph and tragedy and now it is finally about to be revealed. After years of research and writing Jimmy Farrell is about to publish what he calls his “life’s hobby,” a two-volume book on the history of Longwood GAA – and other matters. Bearing the title of ‘Strongbacks: Longwood, County Meath and the GAA’ the publication has taken over three decades of hard graft to put together.
Not that Farrell has looked on the project in that way. For him it is a labour of love. “I’ve researched the history of the club as much as I could from any available sources. It has been a hobby of mine for so many years. Some people play golf, some people take to the drink. I took up the history of Longwood GAA,” he told the Meath Chronicle.
Farrell, who is now a semi-retired, dry stock farmer, has spent a sizeable chunk of the past 30 years sifting through the Meath Chronicle files and other papers looking up everything and anything about Longwood. He has followed up on little snippets of information he learned from local people, verifying stories he heard as a youngster.
“When the cows would go dry in the winter I would have time on my hands. I used to spend one or two days a week in the library in Navan or at least bits of days,” he explained.
Now the first of the two volumes are about to appear and the people of Longwood and beyond will have a chance to look back on how the local GAA club survived some turbulent times – and more than once flirted with extinction.
Like any thriller worth the paper it’s printed on, Farrell’s book contains the tale of a mysterious death.
He recalls how in 1928 a man died following what he describes as “a desperate row” that exploded during a hurling game between Longwood and Enfield.
“An Enfield player ended up dead and there were several players half-killed, the row took place on the field between spectators, players, everybody. It was all hushed up,” he said.
“I went to the trouble of looking up the death certificate, the verdict was meningitis and moves were made to quickly hush the whole thing up. There was no inquest,” he explained.
As far as Farrell can make out, the first reference to the GAA in the Longwood area was in 1904 – the year the club was founded. He had heard whispers of other clubs in neighbouring parishes up and running in the 1880s and 1890s, although he found no hard evidence.
The fledgling club endured some turbulent times and it almost became a victim of the intense political struggles that periodically erupted through the decades.
One of the issues that Farrell shines a light on was a bitter dispute that took place in Longwood in the 1930s between “Blueshirts” and followers of Fianna Fail. The row split the club, but only briefly. Afterwards there was an agreement to keep separate politics and sport.
The first major success achieved by Longwood was a JHC title in 1928. It helped to put the club on the map. Other failures and frustrations had to be endured before the next major success was savoured.
In 1936 Longwood got to the JFC semi final and won the game. However, their vanquished opponents Dunshaughlin put in what Farrell calls a “low mean objection.” It was based on the fact that in their official line-out Longwood had named ‘Hubert Bird’ as one of their players. He was known far and wide as simply ‘Hubie Bird.’ Dunshaughlin used this to object and claim that Longwood had fielded an illegal player. Their objection was upheld by Meath Co Board and Leinster Council.
“What I was told actually happened is that there was a Blueshirt element on the Co Board and they wanted to get at PJ Conway and Bob O’Dwyer (two prominent Fianna Fail members of the Longwood club). The Board re-arranged the semi-final, but didn’t tell anyone in Longwood. The match was fixed, Longwood didn’t turn up and were thrown out of the championship for failing to play. This is a story I grew up with.”
Undaunted Longwood eventually went on to win the JFC in 1939.
Further progress was made in 1942 when Longwood won the IFC defeating Carlanstown, but again an objection was lodged against them. The basis of the objection was once more, “the Hubie Bird thing.” This time Longwood had strong allies in the Co Board and the objection was thrown out.
“When I was growing up there were mills, hay-making, people would be meeting up a lot more and these events would always come up in conversation. I would hear my father talking about the teams of that era and saying we would never be a patch on them and all that sort of stuff – and he was probably right.”
First appointed as Longwood GAA club’s official historian in 1983 Farrell doesn’t pretend to hold any objective high ground. He is unapologetic in stating that he sees things from the Longwood perspective.
He was delighted to see the club enjoy success in recent years even reaching an All-Ireland Club JFC semi-final where they lost out to Castlegregory, although he felt it was a “tragedy” they didn’t win the Meath IFC last year.
An All-Ireland semi-final was all a long way from the mid-1970s which Farrell described as the lowest point in the Longwood’s history when “lack of numbers, lack of finance, lack of interest” almost resulted in the club going out of existence.
Farrell himself has played his part. “I wouldn’t go as far as saying I played, I togged out.”
The cost of publishing his book was lower than Farrell had expected and he is very confident that the project will at least break even. He was helped along the way by many people including editors Susan Brennan from Kilmessan, Nola Cummins, the author’s sister and his cousin Mary Hayes. Professor PC Power, Farrell’s father-in-law and well known Longwood clubman George Stagg also gave advice.
And where did the title of his book come from? The author says he took the name ‘Strongbacks’ from French historian/philosopher Fernand Braudel who founded the Annales School of history. “Braudel used to say great political events were only crests of foam, eddys of froth carried by the tides of history on their strong backs. There was a photograph of a German tank I remember at school and it’s driving past a farmer with a pair of horses ploughing in the field. The real history is probably the guy tilling the field, it’s not the German army invading Poland. The farming will keep going on and on.”
The author added that he is holding onto the film rights just in case the book tops the bestselling lists!!
Michael ‘Stoney’ Burke
By Jimmy Geoghan 2015 Meath Chronicle Anyone driving through Longwood can hardly fail to notice the sign that hangs over one of the three public houses in the village. The sign reads simply: ‘Stoney’s Bar and Lounge’. Those who wish to take time out and go in for a beverage or two are most likely to be served by the man of the house whose portrait is painted on the sign – Stoney Burke himself. For those who don’t know him, he is easy to recognise; he’ll be the one with the luxuriant moustache, one of the distinguishing features of a man who is widely known well beyond his local community. Last summer, he celebrated 50 years as a publican in the village. Another distinguishing feature is the nickname, Stoney. It’s a monicker that attached itself to him many moons ago and stuck.
He says he would have to look around and check if someone addressed him by Michael, the name he was given at his baptism. “Longwood is a great place for nicknames and years ago a local man, Master Conway, who was a retired national school teacher, started calling me Stoney,” he explains. The sobriquet came from a American TV programme that was very popular in 1964 when Michael Burke first arrived in Longwood to start life as a publican. He ran what was then a pub and grocery and he’s still there – although for many years now he has restricted himself to the sale of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as the grocery part of the business was dispensed
From a family of 12, Michael grew up in the parish of Kilcloon. His father, Paddy, inherited a farm and decided to give it to the young Michael. “My father wanted to give me the farm of land but I was only a young lad and I had no financial means to develop it,” he recalls. “We wanted some sort of business that might employ a few of us and we heard about this pub and grocery in Longwood.” “We sold the 57 acres and used the £5,000 we got to take over the pub and grocery. The cost of the place was roughly what we got for the farm. “A sister of mine, Catherine, came down to run the business with me; she had been working in the post office in Kilcock. At one stage, I was one of the youngest people in the country to have a pub licence,” he says. Michael married local woman Brona Quinn, who worked as a teacher in Killyon and they have three children – Coleman, Niamh and Michael junior, the Meath footballer, who has also represented Ireland in shinty.
Sitting in his home just around the corner from the bar and lounge, Stoney Burke shakes his head in disbelief when he thinks how the business has evolved over the last 50 years. He feels, with good reason, that the golden era is now gone. There was a time when the rural or village pub was the social centre for the local community. But that day is gone.
More people drinking at home, added to ever more restrictive drink-driving laws, have served to erode the rural publican’s trade. And yet there is still a place in the scheme of things, he feels, for a well-run public house premises that is clean and welcoming.
He reflects back on the old days when relatively restrictive on Sundays. Pubs were allowed to open from 12.30pm to 2pm and then they had to close again for two hours – the infamous ‘holy hour’.
There was a time, he recalls, when it was rare to see a woman in a pub as a happy, relaxed into turkey at Christmas or if they did, it was to just to a snug, away from the men. That also has changed in more recent years.
You have to have a certain temperament to survive in the business – you have to enjoy meeting people and listening to their stories. To get away from it all, Stoney still enjoys a game of badminton and he plays regularly, even though he has turned 70.
There have been some dramatic moments during his time behind the bar and none more dramatic than one night in 2009 when his premises went up in smoke. A fire started in the old fireplace and quickly spread. Leading up to the blaze, Mickey Burke was living in the accommodation above the pub but because he had broken his leg playing for Meath, he had moved back bar to the Burkes’ home place where there were no stairs to negotiate. “It was devastating, yet only Michael broke contact us his leg he might have been staying in the pub at the time, he could easily have been overcome by smoke. We were lucky,” says Stoney Insurance was in place and a pristine new pub: was reconstructed from the ashes. Few people are more passionate about the GAA than Stoney, especially when it comes to his beloved Longwood and Meath. In 1959, he carved out a unique piece of history for himself in the annals of Meath GAA when he played in the minor and senior championship football in the green and gold – on the same day. Originally selected as the goalkeeper for a Leinster MFC encounter with Longford at Mullingar, the young Burke then had to answer his county’s call for the senior game between the two counties immediately afterwards.
“It all happened because Eddie Mooney, the regular Meath senior goalkeeper was injured and couldn’t take his place and Meath had no sub goalkeeper selected on their panel.
“Fr Tully with was in of charge of the senior team at the time, both teams were togging out in the same dressing room, and Fr Tully came over to me and said you’ll have to go out and senior level again. The selectors were in a terrible stew, but unfortunately, we lost that game and were out of the championship.
While he held his place for a few National League games, Stoney Burke was never to play inter-county championship football at senior level again. He laughs when he compares how teams haphazardly ‘prepared’ for inter-county games in his day and how modern footballers such as his son Mickey goes about it with their diets and demanding fitness regimes. It’s like comparing the Stone Age with the Space Age.
A treasurer with Longwood GAA Club for 30 years, he was one of the chief driving forces behind the club purchasing a piece of land just outside the village and making a, home there. For decades previous to that, the club depended on the generosity of a local farmer to loan them a field.
Times have certainly changed alright, says Stoney.
Clarke, Aidan. The Old English in Ireland 1625-42. (Ithaca, N.Y., 1966).
Inchiquin, Blog: Battle of Ticroghan June 1650. inchiquin.blogspot.com/2008/09/battle-of-tecroghan-june-1650.html
Kerrigan, Paul. Castles and Fortifications in Ireland, 1485-1945 (Cork, 1995)
Lenihan, Padraig, Confederate Catholics at War (Cork, 2001)
O’Siochru, Michael. God’s Executioner – Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland (London, 2008)
Scot-Wheeler, James. Cromwell in Ireland (Dublin, 1999)
‘Adventurers who Drew Irish Land’ in K.S. Bottigheimer, English Money and Irish Land – The ‘Adventurers’ in the Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland. (Oxford, 1971)
A.W.M. Kerr, An Ironside of Ireland, the Remarkable Career of Lieut.-General Michael Jones. Governor of Dublin and Commander of the Parliamentary Forces in Leinster 1647-1649 (London, n.d c. 20th century)
A. W. M. Kerr, An Ironside of Ireland, the Remarkable Career of Lieut.-General Michael Jones. Governor of Dublin and Commander of the Parliamentary Forces in Leinster 1647-1649 (London, n.d c. 20th century)
T. Reilly, Cromwell an Honourable Enemy (Dingle, 1999) p. 244.
Cal. S. P. I. 1660-1662
R. Butler, Some notices of the Castle and of the ecclesiastical buildings of Trim. (Trim, 1854).
W. Fitzgerald ‘Miscellanea’ in Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society (1899-1902)
Anon., A bloody fight at Balrud-Derry in Ireland: where Sir Henry Titchburne was shot in the belly, his Sonne slain, Colonel Trevor, and divers Officers and Gentlemen killed, others taken prisoner. (London, 1647)
J.P. Farrell Strong Backs Longwood County Meath and the GAA 2 volumes
Fenian Heroes and Martyrs by John Savage. (Boston, 1868)
‘The story of Philip Gray’ by Tony Leonard Longwood/Killyon Magazine 1994
Nicholas Anthony Leonard “Philip Gray – a forgotten revolutionary son of Meath”Ríocht na Mídhe XII (2001)
Olive C. Curran History of the Diocese of Meath 1860-1993 (Mullingar, 1995)
Thomas Stack, A Case Study of a small Vocational School in County Meath in the Context of Major Educational and Demographic Change (1995, unpublished).
P. Lenihan, Confederate Catholics at War 1641-49 (Cork, 2001)
Anon., Admirable, Good, True and Joyfull Newes from Ireland. Being an exact Relation of the last weekes passages in Ireland dated from Dublin May the 8. 1642 (London, 1642)
D. Murphy, Cromwell in Ireland (Dublin, 1902)
R.C. Simington, The Transplantation to Connacht 1654-58 (Dublin, 1970)
J. O’Harte, The Irish and Anglo-Irish Landed Gentry when Cromwell came to Ireland (Dublin, 1884)
‘A Catalogue of the reports and schedules addressed to the Second Court of Claims’, in Irish Record Commission Report viii (Dublin, 1819)
Ó Loingsigh; Séamus. The 1798 Rebellion in Meath. (Meath Archaeological and Historical Society, 1997)
The Land and People of County Meath, 1750-1850 Peter Connell, 2004