Ballivor – Places of Interest  – Áiteanna Stairiúil Bhaile Íomhair

The town of Ballivor owes its foundation to a decision by the local landlord, the Earl of Darnley, to provide a site for a new Protestant church at the cross roads in Kilballivor townland in 1820. A site for a new Catholic church was also provided. Previous to this there were just a few scattered buildings at the cross roads, one of which was an illegal bar, a shebeen. The Earl of Darnley was one of the biggest landlords in Meath owning 25,000 acres in the county.

Community Centre – Ballivor Community Hall is fronted by the Health Centre which was the first Ballivor National School opened in 1864.  In 1957 a new three teacher school was opened nearby which has been part converted into a retirement home. The original school was then used as a hall by the parish and in 1975 the building was leased to the Community Council who added major extensions which were opened in 1981. At the rear is the Community Garden  

Health Centre

Site of NEC Factory. NEC Semiconductors commenced production of  integrated circuits at a new plant in Ballivor in 1976. NEC was one of the first IDA backed companies to come to Ireland. NEC was a subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturing giant NEC Electronics. In 2006 the decision was made to close the plant with the loss of 350 jobs. Now Gael Form.

NEC Factory

Bord na Mona houses – The bog has been part of Ballivor’s economic and social life for generations. Bord na Mona began operations at Robinstown, Ballivor in 1946. Bord na Mona was established in 1945 and began to develop the mechanised saving of peat, primarily in the midlands of Ireland. The extensive boglands to the west of Ballivor were taken over by Bord na Mona and developed to produce moss peat for horticultural purposes. In 1956 eight houses were constructed for workers in Ballivor.

John Quinn’s House – John Quinn was born in Ballivor and is well known as a writer and broadcaster. He is an author of adults and children’s books including  “Goodnight Ballivor, I’ll sleep in Trim” and  “The Summer of Lily and Esme”.

St. Columbanus Church – The Church was erected in 1821 and the Parochial House constructed at the same time. Fr. Laurence Shaw O.P. was the parish priest at the time.

The house to the right of the church was the Courthhouse – This building was used for the petty sessions on a regular basis. The Petty Sessions handled most of lesser legal cases, both criminal and civil and were usually presided over by a prominent landowner or gentleman.

The site of the RIC Police Barracks –  In 1919 the RIC police barracks in Ballivor was attacked by the IRA.  During the raid Constable William Agar received a gunshot wound to the heart and subsequently died of his injuries. The building was burned in 1922.

The Glebe on the Trim road – This was the residence of the Protestant clergyman and was erected in 1821. The townland of Glebe contains 34 acres. The son of one of the last resident rectors, Charles Edward Thompson, became Master of the Rotunda Hospital in 1952.

The gate lodge to Elmgrove on the Mullingar Road. The main house was the residence of the Browne family. The original house was demolished in the 1920s and replaced by a new house. The Brownes acquired lands in Ballivor at the end of eighteenth century.

Cowplot – The Cowplot was given to the local people in 1913 as a commonage when the Browne Estate was broken up by the Land Commission. It became disused and was transfer to other community usage. Giggles, the Ballivor Community Childcare Centre, opened in 2003.  A new sixteen teacher National School was opened in 2010.

Ballivor GAA – The present Ballivor Football Club was founded in 1929 but football goes much further back. St. Columban’s Park, Ballivor, was opened in 1975 and a new pitch has been acquired on the Mullingar Road at the Cowplot in recent years. Paddy Dixon was a member of the first Meath senior football team to win an All-Ireland final, in 1949. He played a crucial role in Meath`s first All-Ireland success as centre-back.

Paddy Dixon

Killaconnigan is the old name for the parish and is where the original church and burial ground for the parish was situated.   This graveyard is on the road to Coolronan, near Elmsgrove House.

Other significant people associated with the parish include: Margaret Conway, Local Historian;    Sean Conway, President of the Irish Vocational Education Association; Michael Dargan, Chief Executive of Aer Lingus; Máire Brüch, Astronomer and Meadhbh Conway Piskorska, head of children’s and education programmes at Radio Teilifis Éireann.

St Kinneth’s Church  – The Church was consecrated in 1823. In 1956 the parish was united with Athboy and the Church closed in 1990.

St. Kinneth’s

Ballivor-Kildalkey Credit Union –  The Credit Union was founded in 1974 and had 156 members in its first year. The Credit Union has recently merged with St. Mary’s Navan Credit Union.

Gate Lodge to Parkstown House

Gate lodge to Parkstown. Parkstown House was the seat of the Parr and Taylor family. Parkstown House is a detached  five-bay three storey country houses erected about 1710.

Protestant School on Athboy Road  is now a private residence.

New Cemetery on Athboy Road was opened in 1930.

Monsignor Henry A. Brann – Brann was born at Parkstown, Ballivor, in 1837. When he was twelve his family emigrated to America. Brann studied for the priesthood  and was the first student ordained at the American College, Rome. He became pastor of Fort Washington and then the parish of St. Agnes, New York City. Brann donated the white marble statue of Our Lady and the aisle altar to Ballivor Church.

Portlester Castle, on Kildalkey /Athboy Road,  was held by the de Mortimer and later the Eustace and Fitzgerald families. In 1643 the Ulster army led by Owen Roe O’Neill defeated Lord Moore leading an Irish Protestant force at the Battle of Portlester in the Irish Confederate Wars. Only the castle mound remains.

Thomas Poynton, native of Carranstown, Ballivor settled in Hokianga, New Zealand, in 1828. Ten years later the first Catholic Mass in New Zealand was celebrated by Bishop Pompallier at Thomas Poynton’s house, marking the formal arrival of the Catholic faith to New Zealand. Archbishop Liston of Auckland unveiled a plaque at the Poynton homestead at Carronstown, Ballivor in 1954.

Nazi Germany spy, Hermann Göertz, parachuted into Ballivor in the summer of 1940. He was to act as liaison between the IRA and Germany.  Captured by the Irish police in 1941 Göertz committed suicide in 1947 rather than be returned to Germany.

Clonycavan Man, an Iron Age bog body, was discovered near Ballivor in February 2003, Displaying signs of a ritual death, Clonycavan Man was dated to 392-201 BC. He had a distinctive hairstyle and used a type of hair gel. His remains are on display in the National Museum, Dublin.

Donore Castle is built on the north bank of the Boyne. In 1429 King Henry VI promised a grant of £10 to every one of his subjects who built a castle to certain dimensions before 1439 in Counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Louth. As this castle roughly conforms to these measurements, it is quite probable that it is one of these ‘£10 castles’. Donore Friary – The Dominicans of Trim re-founded their friary at Donore in the early eighteenth century and it survived for more than one hundred years with its monks serving the local parishes.

For further information consult: “Killaconnigan alias Ballivor. A history of Ballivor Parish” by Bríd Hiney and M.J. McGearty.

St. Columbanus

St. Coilumbanus

Saint Columbanus was an early Christian missionary. Born in Leinster and while still young entered Bangor monastery in Co. Down and studied there under Comgall for many years. At the age of 57 he set off to Europe in 590 to spread the Gospel.  Columbanus stopped nine hundred miles from home to establish a monastery in Burgundy. According to legend his own home was in a bear’s den. Squirrels and doves played in the folds of his cowl. Birds nestled in his hands and wild beast obeyed his orders. Columbanus founded monasteries at Luxeuil and Fontaines. These monasteries were known for their beautiful handwriting and illuminated copies of the gospels. In 610 the king of Burgundy, angered at the saint’s condemnation of the immorality of the court, banished him from the country.   Columbanus angered the king by refusing to bless his illegitimate sons. For that he was ordered to be deported.

Columbanus’s travelled twice across France, up the Rhine to Switzerland, across Lake Constance to Austria, southwards through the Alps and Northern Italy till he founded his last monastery at Bobbio. He even composed a rowing song for the journey on the Rhine and copies of this rowing song still survive today.

 Bobbio became one of the most famous monasteries in Europe.

A number of the writings of St. Columbanus, all in Latin, have survived; they include his Rule, letters, poems and sermons. “Pray daily, fast daily, study daily, work daily” was part of St. Columbanus’s rule. There was only one meal a day and this was taken in the evening but Wednesday and Fridays were fast days throughout the year and during Lent Saturday also became a fast day. The smallest infringement of any of his rules resulted in the recitation of three psalms. Columbanus was reluctant to give up the Irish method of calculating Easter. He even wrote to the Pope on the matter. He incurred the wrath of the local French archbishop by insisting that the abbot had the power in the monastery not the bishop.

Columbanus died in Bobbio in 615 and his remains still rest in the modern church. One of Columbanus’s friends a monk called Jonas wrote a Life of St. Columbanus, the first Irishman to be the subject of a biography. There is copy of the Gospels copied at Bobbio during St. Columbanus’s time now in Trinity College.

Ballivor’s church is dedicated to St. Columbanus, the only church with that dedication in all the Diocese of Meath.  Two hundred years ago in 1821 Lord Darnley donated the land, on the southwest side of the crossroads, for the construction of the church of St. Columbanus. Lord Darnley donated half an acre and £100 towards the erection of the church.  The school and graveyard and a small terrace of houses are also named after St. Columbanus.

St. Columbanus inspired the missionary outreach to the Far East. The Missionary Society of St Columban is based at Dalgan Park near Tara. In the Columban chapel in Dalgan, Co Meath there is a little statue of the patron. Fr. James Kearney O’Neill of Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, founded the Order of the Knights of St Columbanus in 1915. There are a number of Primary Councils in the Meath diocese including Trim, Navan, Kells, Drogheda and Mullingar. The Knights have their own meeting rooms in Cannon Row, Navan.

Bobbio where Columbanus’ last monastery was founded is twinned with Navan and a number of visits between the two towns have taken place.

Robert Schuman. one of the founders of the European Union, said Columbanus  was the Patron Saint of all those who now seek to build a United Europe”  In June 2008, in a reflection on the life of St Columban, Pope Benedict said there was good reason to call Columban a European saint.

The Columban Way or Turas Columbanusis apilgrim route begins in Bunclody, Co Wexford, crosses Mount Leinster to Myshall, Co Carlow and continues through the midlands and Bangor, Co Down. It marks the first phase of the European Columban Way which has its final destination will be Bobbio, the resting place of St Columbanus. At present Clonard and Dalgan park are on the route and I have been asking for the inclusion of Ballivor.

Thomas Poynton

Thomas Poynton was born at Carranstown Ballivor in 1802. Having worded as a thresher/reaper he and fourteen others were caught up in some local unrest possibly Whiteboy activity. They were tried, convicted, and transported from Cork to New South Wales for seven years. convicted in 1822 and sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. A seven year sentence was handed out for relatively minor crimes such as stealing two pigs or assault. Aged twenty he arrived in Sydney aboard the ship “The Countess of Harcourt”.  The ship departed Cork on 3rd Septemnber 1822 and arrived after a trip of 109 days in on  21st December 1822 but Poynton cannot be found on any of the convict lists. Other Meath convicts travelled with him.

Convicts were then assigned to various local people who they had to work for. If they were of good behaviour they got their certificate of freedom usually after their sentence was served.

After receiving his ticket-of-leave in 1827, he married Mary Kennedy, of Irish born parents in Sydney. Thomas Poynton left in 1828 for Hokianga, New Zealand, to begin trading in timber. Mary was horrified when the first thing she saw when she landed was a woman’s head on a pole. Their first daughter, known by her married name – Mrs McDonald – was the first European child born in New Zealand and died in 1902.

The Poyntons bred cattle and milled timber on the Mangamuka River. They got on well with the Methodist missionaries who worked locally. The Poyntons farmed 4,450 acres and regularly travelled back and forth to Sydney, Australia where they had their children baptized in the Catholic faith. For ten years there was no priest to attend to the family. Poynton’s wife, a native of Wexford, took her first two children on a journey of over two thousand miles of ocean to be baptized at Sydney. There would have been two or three vessels going to Australia every week but it was still a major journey. Hearing in 1835 of the arrival of Bishop Polding in Sydney, Poynton went to see if the services of a priest could be obtained for the Catholics, about 20 in number, in the Hokianga district. On a Sunday he would read aloud the prayers of the Mass and instruct other Catholics in the Hokianga from books that Bishop Polding had given him. Every evening the Poyntons, along with some Pākehā and Māori neighbours, would say the rosary together. A friend of Poynton’s, Thomas Cassidy, also a native of Meath wished to marry the daughter of a Maori chief but would not do so unless they she had been baptised into the Catholic faith. In 1835, Thomas Cassidy of Waima took his partner, Maraea Kuri, to Sydney so that they could be married and have their first baby baptised. Poynton went to Australia to witness the marriage. Years later Cassidy was killed by his wife for his continual drinking and womanising.

The bishop sent Poynton’s request to Rome, not knowing at the time that Rome had already decided in 1833 to set up in the Pacific the Vicariate of Western Oceania, which would include all islands south of the Equator lying between the meridians of the Cook Islands and the east coast of Australia. It might perhaps have been more logical to make New Zealand a part of the Australian mission, but in fact it was lumped in with the south-western Pacific and its first missionaries were French.  In 1835 New Zealand was included in the newly created Vicariate Apostolic of Western Oceanica.

In the following year its first Vicar  Apolostolic, Mgr. Jean Baptiste François Pompallier, set out for his new field of labour with seven members of the Society of the Marist Brothers, which only a few months before had received the approval of the pope. With four Marist priests and three brothers Pompolier sailed from Le Havre on 24 December 1836.On 10 January, 1838, he, with three Marist companions, sailed up the Hokianga River, situated in the far north-west of the Auckland Province.

When Bishop Pompallier arrived at Totara Point in the Hokianga in January 1838, he celebrated the first Mass in the living-room of the four-roomed cottage belonging to the Poyntons. Hearing that the Bishop along with a priest and a brother had arrived in the Bay of Islands three days earlier, as many Hokianga Catholics as possible squeezed into the small room for Mass. Others, outside, joined in prayer through the open windows. Following the Mass, the Poynton’s baby daughter, Catherine, became the first baby in New Zealand to be baptised by a Catholic priest. A week later when the Poynton’s son, Edward, suddenly died, he became the first Catholic in the country to receive a Church burial.

The first Catholic Mass was celebrated by the Bishop on 13 January that year at Thomas Poynton’s house at Totara Point on the Hokianga River, marking the formal arrival of the Catholic faith in New Zealand. Bishop Pompallier later recalled that on the second day after his arrival on the shores of New Zealand, at Hokianga, he offered up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the house of a “Catholic Irishman.”

The Methodist missionaries operating among the Maori people considered the Bishop’s arrival as an intrusion into their territory and organised a group of thirty native warriors to appear before Poynton’s house on the morning of January 22nd, while the bishop was preparing to say Mass. The Maori chief made a speech saying the bishops and his companions had been sent by a foreign chief (the Pope) to deprive the Maoris of their land and make them change their old customs. Bishop Pompallier replied that he had come as a friend and did not wish to deprive them of their country or anything belonging to them. One old story has Poynton calling up natives loyal to him to repulse the other tribe and also repulse the Methodists!

The bishop moved inland where he began converting the Maoris. Within six years twenty thousand natives were baptised or were being prepared for baptism.

Treaty of Waitaingi

The Poynton family lived through a period of unrest by the native Maori but seem to have got on well with their native neighbours. They lived in the area where the Treaty of Waitaingi was signed between the Maori and the British. One Maori chieftain Heke said the treaty was not being abided to and cut down the British flag and this led to a short war. Poynton used to boast that he drove cattle through Heke’s fortress to the troops on the other side so that they would have food. The Maoris did not think it was correct for their enemies to be without food.

The Poynton family moved to Auckland, and by 1849 owned 132 acres on the North Shore, 67 acres around Lake Pupuke where he grew sheep and wheat. Thomas is described as the first Pakeha farmer in the area. In Takapuna the Poynton family prospered and became pillars of society. They donated 10 acres to the local Catholic Church and their status in the community is remembered by Poynton Crescent and the Poynton Retirement home. Poynton was a great supporter of Home Rule for Ireland and he followed the story closely. In 1889 the leader of the Irish Home Rule party, John Dillon, visited Australia and New Zealand and he was given a great welcome by Thomas Poynton who great appreciated the visit.

Mary Poynton died in October 1890 at the age of 79. Poynton lived on until 1890 when he was ninety and ended his days at Takapuna, near Auckland. They are buried side by side in this cemetery as the first Catholics to do so. They left two daughters. Their Poynton property provided land for Sisters of Mercy Mount Carmel Convent from 1922, and later Carmel College from 1957. North Shore Hospital opened in 1958 on part of the original Poynton farm.

In February 1938 the centenary of the arrival of the Catholic faith to New Zealand was celebrated with a Mass on the spot where the first Mass had been celebrated one hundred years earlier with nearly six thousand Maoris attending. In 1954 Archbishop Liston of Auckland unveiled a  plaque marking the site where the family home once stood. The Poynton family were still in the area living at Ballyhealy, Delvin and Cloneycavan

 In 2008 the Bishop of Meath, Dr. Michael Smith, visited Poynton’s grave in New Zealand.

A plaque to record the site in which Thomas Poynton was born is on a low wall at the roadside at Carranstown, Coolroonan about 3 kilometers west of Ballivor.  

Some Distinguished People

Dr. Henry A. Brann Henry A. Brann was born at Parkstown, Ballivor in 1837. He went to America in 1849 with his family where they settled in the New York area. He  trained for the priesthood in Paris and Rome and was ordained in June 1862 in Rome, the first ever ordination at the American College.  He returned to the U.S. where he worked in parishes and colleges. In 1866 as pastor he built the Church of St. Cecelia in Englewood and began the building of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Hackensack. Dr. Brann served as director of the Seminary at Wheeling, West Virginia while the bishop from there attended the Vatican Council.  In 1870 Dr. Brann returned to New York and was appointed pastor at Fort Washington where he built St. Elizabeth’s Church. 

He served there for nineteen years but at the same time  acquired fame as a lecturer, preacher and writer. He published many books and pamphlets. In 1890 Dr. Brann was appointed pastor of St. Agnes’s Roman Catholic Church in East Forty-third Street, a position he held for thirty-two years until his death in 1921. In 1910 he was created domestic prelate by Pope Pius X.

In Trim church there is a small window of the Sacred Heart high above the exit door off the right side aisle leading to the Sacristy. The window is very high and the associated plaque is near floor level.  The inscription reads “This window has been erected to the memory of James Brann, Ballivor, by his son, Right Rev.d Monsig.r Henry A. Brann D.D. St. Agnes Church, New York 1912 RIP.”

Rev. Fr. Colum McKeogh

Rev. Fr Christopher Columbanus McKeogh SMA died peacefully 2011 in St Theresa’s, African Missions, Blackrock Road, Cork. He was 76 years of age. Fr McKeogh was born in Parkstown, Ballivor, Co Meath on 16 November 1934 to James and Lena McKeogh (née McLoughlin). He was the last born of five children. The local parish church is dedicated to St Columbanus and he was given this as a second name at his baptism on 18 November 1934. Within the SMA he was always known as Colum.

He attended Ballivor National School and then moved to the CBS in Trim for his secondary education. After completing his Leaving Certificate, Colum entered the African Missions Novitiate in Kilcolgan, Co Galway.

After ordination he was appointed to Benin City diocese, Nigeria, to join the teaching staff of the Immaculate Conception College, Benin City. When Colum resigned from teaching in the late 70’s, he took up fulltime pastoral work.” After a Sabbatical in 1981-1982, Colum returned to Benin City diocese. In 1984 he was asked to be part of the founding group of SMA missionaries invited by Bishop Hallett CSsR to work in Rustenburg, South Africa. In 1988 Colum returned finally to Ireland and, after a Sabbatical, was appointed to the Promotion team, travelling all over Leinster collecting funds for the Society’s missionary work. He did this work for fifteen years, based at the SMA House in Maynooth and later in Ranelagh. His return to Ireland afforded Colum the opportunity to reconnect with his beloved Meath team.

Máire Conway Brück

Máire Conway Brück Máire was daughter of Thomas and Margaret Conway of Ballivor. Thomas was principal in Ballivor while Margaret was principal in Coolronan. Astronomer, eminent historian of astronomy Dr Mary Brück died on 11 December 2008 at the age of eighty-three after a short illness. Máire Teresa Brück née Conway was born on 29 May 1925 in Ballivor. She was the daughter of Thomas and Margaret Conway, the oldest of their eight children. She attended St Louis Convent in Monaghan. From school she attended University College Dublin where she studied physics.

After graduating, she pursued doctoral research in solar physics at the University of Edinburgh, where normal academic life was resuming after the war. This work resulted in the thesis Studies of Hα Line Profiles in Prominences, for which a PhD was awarded in 1950. Following the award of her doctorate Mary Conway, as she then was, took up an appointment at the Dunsink Observatory, Dublin, where she continued her solar work. While at Dunsink she met her future husband, Prof. Hermann Alexander Brück, then Director of the Observatory, and they married in 1951.

While at Dunsink Mary Brück made her first foray into popular astronomy, broadcasting a series of radio programmes for children, The Sun, Moon and Stars, on Radio Éireann (now Radio Telefís Éireann) in the mid-1950s. These broadcasts were the first popular astronomy programmes in Ireland and found a receptive audience. In the early 1960s, she broadcast a second series on the then-new topic of Spaceflight.

In 1957, Prof. Brück was appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh (ROE), posts that he held until his retirement in 1975. His family relocated to Scotland with him, moving into the purpose-built residence for the Astronomer Royal in the grounds of the ROE on Blackford Hill.

Although she now had three children of her own as well as two stepchildren, Mary Brück continued to pursue an academic career. In 1962, she was appointed a part-time lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, later becoming full-time and retiring as a Senior Lecturer in 1984. From 1984 to 1987, she was a Fellow of the University and more recently an Honorary Fellow.

Mary Brück’s own particular interest was women in astronomy and much of her work subsequent to The Peripatetic Astronomer was in this area. She wrote Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics (2002), a masterly piece of work that is likely to remain the definitive study of its subject. Her final book, Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy, a collection of biographical essays on various women astronomers, is to be published posthumously later in 2009. She remained active until shortly before the end, regularly attending meetings and giving talks.

Matt Kiernan Matt Kiernan was from the townland of Coolronan near Ballivor in Co. Meath. He was born in June 1898. He became a member of the Garda Siochana and in later years lived at Cabra, Dublin 7. Matt was noted as a maker and player of Uilleann pipes and also played the whistle. Matt started making pipes in the 1920’s. Matt died in The Mater Hospital in Dublin on Thursday 17th July 1986.  

The German Spy

Herman Goertz had worked as an interrogator of allied prisoners in 1918. When the war was over he returned to law, studying at Heidelberg, Paris, Edinburg and Kiel, specialising in international law. In 1935 Goertz was convicted of spying on the RAF at the Manston airbase in England and served a four year prison sentence. Released in February 1939 he was deported to Germany. The following year Goertz was parachuted into Ireland to liaise with the IRA. His intended landing site was Tyrone.

When Goertz landed outside Ballivor on 12th May he was wearing his Luftwaffe uniform and medals in the mistaken belief that he would be shot if caught in civilian attire. Goertz who was in his late 40s asked a startled local if he had landed in Northern Ireland. The farmer asked the German agent “You wouldn’t happen to know Ballivor?” Goertz made an unsuccessful search for the ‘Ufa’ radio transmitter which was attached to the second parachute. The IRA sent out a team of men to try to discover the radio. Local people reported of men looking like “detectives” searching the fields in the vicinity during the hours of darkness.

Goertz made his way on foot to Laragh, County Wicklow where he met Iseult Stuart, daughter of Maud Gonne and sister of Sean McBride. Stuart put him in touch with the IRA and republican sympathisers. Goertz’s mission was to act as a liaison officer to the IRA in order to secure their support during an invasion of Britain. Historians suggest that Goertz was deliberately allowed to wander around the country so the Irish army and police could find out who his contacts were. He remained at large for a total of eighteen months.

In May 1940 the Gardai raided the Templeogue home of IRA member, Stephen Carroll Held, who was working with Goertz. Led by a Special Branch officer, Michael Wymes, they discovered a parachute, papers, Goertz’s World War I medals, and a number of documents about the defence infrastructure of Ireland. Papers included files on possible military targets in Ireland, including airfields and harbours and plans of the so-called “Plan Kathleen”, an IRA plan for the invasion of Northern Ireland with the support of the German military. Held had brought this plan to Germany prior to Goertz’s departure but his superiors had disregarded it as unfeasible. Plans for the German invasion of Ireland and codes were captured with Goertz. The Taoiseach Eamon de Valera was immediately informed.

Goertz went into hiding, staying with sympathizers in the Wicklow area and purposefully avoided contact with IRA safe houses. Goertz was arrested in Clontarf on November 12, 1941. He was initially detained in Mountjoy jail, but following the escape of a comrade in 1942, Goertz and nine others were transferred to a small prison in Athlone Military barracks and continued to be held there until the end of the war.

While interned in Athlone Goertz practised suicide techniques with a fellow prisoner, carved an elaborate tombstone for his own grave and, according to his diary and dreamed of taking over the leadership of the IRA. The Irish military intelligence milked him for any useful information. A message smuggled into Athlone informed him that he had been promoted to the rank of major, Goertz cried on receiving the message. He sent out coded messages which were read and decoded by the Irish forces.

When he was paroled in 1947, he went to live with his friends, the Farrell sisters, Bridie and Mary, in Dublin but was soon informed he would be deported to Germany. Goertz was terrified of being sent home to Germany, where he feared he would be tortured or executed by Allied or Soviet investigators. Frustrating the Allies attempts on a number of occasions though the High Court it was decreed that he would be extradited.

On May 1947 Goertz reported to Aliens Registration Office in Dublin. Terrified that he would be turned over to the Soviets, he then swallowed a cyanide capsule right in front of the Garda Officer, Michael Wymes.

He died at Mercer’s Hospital soon after. His funeral took place to Deans Grange Cemetery three days later but in 1974 his remains were exhumed and re-interred at the German Military Cemetery at Glencree, Co. Wicklow.

Mr. Wymes went on to become Garda Commissioner and father of Michael Wymes, of Bula mining company and Bective House.

Kilmer Lodge

Kilmer or Kilmur Lodge, Ballivor was described in 1835 as a neat and comfortable house of ‘modern architectural style’. Stones from the abandoned Dominican abbey of nearby Donore were used for the upper storey of Kilmer House. Four storeys high, the house was erected in 1790 by Richard Allen, who resided there until 1812. It was then occupied by his son, T. Louther Allen, Colonel 18th Light Dragoons, until 1817 and after that it was inhabited by a caretaker. In 1818, Mr. Coffey was in residence at Kilmer and Bishop Plunket dined there in August on his visitation of the parishes of Meath.

In 1820 Elizabeth Loftus, daughter of Dudley Loftus of Kilyon Manor, married Colonel Thomas Lowther Allen of Kilmer. Allen died shortly after the marriage leaving Elizabeth a widow. In 1835 Kilmer townland and house/lodge were the property of Alexander Montgomery who resided in Dublin. Alexander Montgomery married Frances Tisdall of Charlesfort. Alexander Montgomery, son of Alexander Montgomery of Kilmer House, was born in 1846 and became a Justice of the Peace and High Sherrif of Meath in 1888. Henrietta Ann Montgomery, eldest daughter of Alexander Montgomery of Kilmer married Claud Chaloner of Kingsfort in 1875. Henrietta Ann’s brother, Archibold Vernon Montgomery of St Mary’s Abbey in Trim, was active in the Meath Protestant Orphan Society in 1864, was elected its President in 1935 and died in office in November 1943.

Parkstown House

Parkstown House is located just outside Ballivor on the road to Trim. Casey and Rowan described Parkstown as a tall thin three storey gable ended house. Bence-Jones pointed out the  pedimented doorcase and niches at the centre of each floor. Erected about 1770 the house has internal doors with Art Nouveau glass panels. In 1721 Francis Fleetwood of Parkstown leased the townland of Parkstown to Thomas Bomford of Rahinstown. Fleetwood held lands at Colronan, Cornelstown and Crossenstown. In 1786 Robert Fleetwood held Parkstown. Robert married Catherine Margaret Hopkins. Their daughter, Hester, married James Rynd of Dublin and their son, Robert Fleetwood Rynd, lived at Ryndville.  

The name Fleetwood continued down the generations in the Rynd family. In the early 1800s a Robert Fleetwood married Maria Rynd but they seem to have lived in the parish of Rathcore. In 1805 Michael Campbell of Parkstown married Miss Dowdall, daughter of George of Causetown, Co. Meath. In 1835 the house was the residence of Mr. Campbell. In 1854 William Hone leased Parkstown House and the townland of 346 acres from the Earl of Darnley.  In 1911 Mary Anne Parr and her family lived at Parkstown. Mary Anne was a widow aged 83 in 1911. In 1928 B.C. Parr sold Parkstown. Bernard Cecil Parr, was the son of Bernard W. Parr of Ballyboy House, Rathmore. The house was described as “ the residence which is picturesque situate, is approached by front and back avenues and contains a large hall, two sitting rooms, five bedrooms, two dressing rooms, kitchen, dairy, W.C. Laundry etc.”  Bernard C Parr married Sidney Bell of Dublin in St. John’s Pro Cathedral, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1932.

Elmsgrove House

Elmsgrove house, Killaconnigan, Ballivor was the residence of the Browne family. In 1794 the Bishop of Meath, Dr. Plunkett dined at Mr. Brown’s of Killaconikan on his visitation of parishes. In  1815 Bishop Plunket confirmed Mr. Browne’s youngest daughter on his visit to Elmsgrove. Bishop Plunkett stayed at Elmsgrove again in 1816. The Brownes of Elmsgrove were connected to the Brownes of Clongowes Wood. In the 1830s the house was the residence of Mr. Browne, J.P. A fine house, it was described as being  pleasantly situated with the attached grounds pleasantly planted. Contiguous to the house is a graveyard. In 1876 Anthony Browne of Elm Grove held 1,017 acres in County Meath.

Killaconnigan Graveyard is about ½ mile from the small town of Ballivor off the Mullingar Road.  It is situated on a fort and has some considerable earthworks around it.  The Elmgrove demesne surrounded it in the old days but Elmgrove House was demolished some years ago and the land divided.  This demesne had south and west entrances with gate-lodges; and on the east wall of the south gate lodge there still exists the coat of arms of the Browne family which was an eagle displayed.  Unfortunately the head of the bird is no longer to be seen.  The Brownes were the owners of the Elmgrove demesne in years gone by.  A footpath leads up to the graveyard from the bye-road and a circular path encloses the slight remains of Killaconnigan church and the graves. 

The Earl of Darnley

John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley who granted the site for St. Columbanus Church

Arriving in Ireland in 1649 it is said that Cromwell camped on the Hill of Ward. There is tradition that John Bligh received Rathmore Castle and estate from Cromwell on the Hill of Ward. It was believed that Bligh was granted all the land he could see from the top of the hill. He could see Rathmore, Athboy, Ballivor and Kildalkey, 28,000 acres in all and his descendants held the lands until 1908.

John Bligh of London established the family at Rathmore and Athboy. John’s son, Thomas, married one of the Nappers of Loughcrew. He was Member of Parliament for Meath from 1695 to 1710. John’s grandson also John married Lady Theodosia Hyde, Baroness Clifton, in 1713.  He held the office of M.P. for Trim between 1709 and 1713 and was then M.P. for Athboy until 1728. He was then made Baron Clifton  in 1721 and Earl of Darnley in 1725. The family came into possession of Cobham Hall in Kent and the family mainly lived there visiting their Irish estates only occasionally. Initially living at the castle at Rathmore but this burned down in 1676 and sometime later the family moved to Clifton Lodge. The house is named after Clifton in Bristol, one of the places the family held lands after the marriage to Theodosia Hyde.

Thomas Bligh, younger brother of the first Earl, was a general in the British Army and represented Athboy in the Irish House of Commons for sixty years. He established the family at Brittas in Nobber where they resided until about thirty years ago. There is a memorial to him in Rathmore Church.

Captain William Bligh of the Mutiny on the Bounty fame was a relation of the Earls of Darnley. But the actual relationship is unclear.

The 3rd Earl of Darnley, an eccentric bachelor, who suffered from the delusion that he was a teapot. In 1766, when he was nearly fifty and had held the family title and estates for nearly twenty years, Lord Darnley suddenly and unexpectedly married; and between 1766 and his death in 1781 he fathered at least seven children, in spite of his initial alarm that his spout would come off in the night. According to a manuscript in the possession of the Tighe family, on the night of his marriage, John Bligh “imagined himself to be a fine China tea pot, and was under great fears, lest the spout should be broken off before morning!”

 John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley succeeded in 1781. In 1829 he unsuccessfully petitioned Parliament for the title Duke of Lennox, through his descent from the 6th Duke of Lennox’s sister, Catherine. Two hundred years ago in 1821 Lord Darnley donated the land for the construction of the church of St. Columbanus. Lord Darnley donated half an acre and £100 towards the erection of the church.  He also donated a site and funding for a Protestant church. He also applied for permission to hold a regular fair at Ballivor.

Edward Bligh, 5th Earl of Darnley was M.P. for Canterbury between 1818 and 1830. He presented a petition from Kildalkey, Meath, for Catholic relief, in 1827.He and his fiercely religious wife devoted themselves to the Evangelical beliefs which had come to play an increasingly important part in his life. The fifth Earl was walking in his park in Cobham Hall when he saw a woodsman cutting up a tree. He took the axe for the woodsman to show his friends how to cut off branches, the axe slipped, cut off his toe, he became infected with tetanus and died a few days later.

A mock obituary had appeared in the Sporting Times, following Australia’s inaugural Test match victory in England. “In affectionate remembrance of English Cricket,” it read, “which died at the Oval on 29th August 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” Ivo Francis Walter Bligh, 8th Earl of Darnley, Ivo Bligh, the eighth earl of Darnley, was captain of the England cricket team in 1882 and made the throwaway remark joking that he had come “to regain the ashes”.

At Melbourne Lady Clarke and her close friend Florence Morphy, the Clarkes’ music teacher, playfully handed Bligh a small urn. Here, they told him, were the ashes he’d come for, it had been a veil, that she and her friend Lady Clarke burnt that day. As for the urn itself, Lord Darnley thought it was a scent bottle, probably taken from Janet Clarke’s dressing table. It is now in the Lord’s, basically for safe keeping.” The urn is not used as the trophy for the Ashes series, and, whichever side “holds” the Ashes, the urn remains in the MCC Museum at Lords.  Since the 1998/99 Ashes series, a Waterford crystal trophy has been presented to the winners.

In 1896, Edward Henry Stuart Bligh,succeeded his father as the Earl of Darnley and “spent money like water”, greatly reducing the wealth of the Darnley family.

Esme Ivo Bligh, 9th Earl of Darnley gained the rank of Major in the Royal Air Force, but was later a pacifist. He was a painter, musician and flower-breeder. He was 6′ 7″ tall.

The current holder is Ivo Donald Bligh, 12th Earl of Darnley, who was born in 1968. He succeeded as the 12th Earl of Darnley, in2017.

They sold Cobham Hall in Kent in the 1950s and settled in Herefordshire.

Darnleys sold the town of Athboy in 1909. The Estate offices were open until 1948. It is where the Old Darnley Lodge Hotel is now.

Townlands in Ballivor owned by Lord Darnley

Clifton Lodge, Athboy. Irish Home of the Earls of Darnley    

Big Ballivor

Carranstown Little






Ballivor Village





Ballivor men who died in the Great War

BLIGH, John. Private, Northumberland Fusiliers, 26th Tyneside Irish Battalion, 26/799. Secondary Regiment: Labour Corps, transferred to 396904, 783rd Area Employment Coy. Born: Dublin, 1878. Brother of Patrick Bligh, Kilmer, Ballivor. Enlistment location: East Street, South Shields. Enlisted 10 December 1914, aged 36. Occupation: Labourer. Height: 5 foot 8 inches. Died as a result of a fractured skull, 1st Northern General Hospital, 17 March 1918. Age: 51. Memorial: Q.U.372; Newcastle-upon-Tyne (St. Andrew’s and Jesmond) Cemetery.

BLIGH, Thomas. Private, Coldstream Guards, 2nd Battalion, 2829. Baptised Ballivor, 25 May 1878. Son of Andrew and Anne Bligh, nee Kearney, Ballivor. Residence: Ballivor. Enlistment location: Dublin. Killed in action, France & Flanders, 27 August 1918. Age: 40. Memorial: III.A.22; Croisilles British Cemetery.

CONLON, Owen. Private, Leinster Regiment, 7th Battalion, 5016. Baptised: Ballivor, 4 January 1890. Son of John and Elizabeth Conlon, nee Dempsey, Ballivor village. Father’s occupation: Agricultural Labourer. Residence: Ballivor. Occupation: Farm Servant. Enlistment location: Trim. Killed in action, France & Flanders, 8 March 1917. Memorial: K.5; Pond Farm Cemetery.

CUNNIFFE, John (Jack). Private, Royal Munster Fusiliers, 2nd/4th Battalion, 18291. Formerly Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 10th Battalion, 25123. Baptised Athboy, 20 January 1887. Son of Michael and Elizabeth Cunniffe, Clifton Lodge, Athboy and later of Cloughbrack, Ballivor. Father’s occupation: (1901) Land Steward, (1911) Farmer. Occupation: Clerk. He had passed two exams in accountancy when he joined the Dubliners in 1914. His brothers, James and Michael, also fought in the war and survived. Enlistment location: Ranelagh, Dublin. He was engaged in the battle of Beaumont Hamel in March 1918. Surviving the battle he was mortally wounded near St. Omar and died in St. Omar Hospital. Died of wounds, France & Flanders, 24 April 1918. Age: 31. His remains were repatriated to Athboy for burial in the family plot. Memorial: V.A.68, Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.  

GANNON, William. Private, Royal Irish Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 5122. Baptised Ballivor, 10 March 1889. Son of Michael and Elizabeth Gannon, nee Kiernan, Ballivor and later of Patrick Street, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Residence: Warrentown, Co. Meath. Enlistment location: Boyle, Co. Roscommon. Killed in action, France & Flanders, 21 March 1918. Age: 29. Memorial: Panel 30 and 31, Pozieres Memorial.

McMANUS, James. Private, Leinster Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 5216. Baptised Trim, 15 September 1898. Son of Patrick and Ellen McManus, nee Cosgrave, Dalystown, Castlerickard. Father’s occupation: Farmer and Agricultural Labourer. His brother, Patrick, also served with the Leinsters and was wounded by a bullet through the knee. Surviving the war he died in 1978. Their cousin, William Smyth, Donore, Ballivor, was also killed in the war. Enlistment location: Mullingar. Died of wounds, France & Flanders, 4 June 1918. Age: 19. Memorial: I.F.24; Ebblinghem Military Cemetery. Award: Military Medal. McManus, James Cpl DCM Leinster Regiment (Trim Church of Ireland, Roll of Honour)

MAHON, Matthew J. Private, Irish Guards, 2nd Battalion, 12151. Baptised Ballivor, 14 November 1888. Son of John and Mary Mahon, nee Duffy, Coolronan, Ballivor. Father’s occupation: Farmer. Occupation: Farmer’s son. Husband of Kate Mahon, 11, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin. Enlistment location: Dublin. Killed in action, France & Flanders, 23 March 1918. Age: 30. Memorial: Bay 1, Arras Memorial.

SMYTH, William. Private, Leinster Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 5408. Baptised Trim, 16 August 1898. Son of Patrick and Anne Smyth, nee Gallagher, Dalystown, later of Clonee, Ballivor and later of Donore, Hill of Down. Father’s occupation: Farm Labourer. Enlistment location: Trim. Killed in action, France & Flanders, 30 May 1918. Age: 20. Memorial: F.11, Cinq Rues British Cemetery, Hazebrouk. His cousin, James McManus, Dalystown, Trim, was also killed in the war.

John Joseph McNabb

John Joseph McNabb was a native of New York City.  He was born on April 25, 1925. His mother, Elizabeth Conlon, was from Ballivor. Elizabeth Conlon was baptised at Ballivor on 22 March 1887, the daughter of John Conlon and Elizabeth Dempsey. The other children in the family with their dates of birth were Patrick 1877, John 1878, Mathew 1881, Michael 1885, Joseph 1888 and Owen 1890. Owen became a Private, Leinster Regiment, 7th Battalion, in World War 1. He enlisted in Trim. He was killed  8 March 1917 and his memorial is K.5; Pond Farm Cemetery.

Siblings Elizabeth and Joseph Conlon arrived in New York in 1913, a few months apart. On the lists of incoming passengers, each stated that they were joining their brother Patrick, and that their nearest relative in their place of origin was Michael Conlon. Joseph and Patrick both married.

Elizabeth married a man named McNabb in 1929.  A child, John Joseph McNabb, was listed in the 1930 census.

When he was seventeen John Joseph joined the Navy in New York in June of 1943, likely just out of school. He served in the submarines. The USS Tang sank 33 ships – more than any other American submarine – before its luck ran out. On Oct. 24, 1944, the submarine was credited with sinking 11 ships during one battle while attacking a Japanese convoy in the Formosa Strait off the coast of China. But USS Tang’s last torpedo turned out to be faulty. It turned around and struck the submarine. His submarine, the USS Tang, was lost on October 25, 1944. During an attack on the enemy, one of their own torpedoes went awry and hit them. There were a few survivors who were picked up and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp. McNabb drowned, at the time of his death, his rank was Fireman, First Class.

The ship went down by the stern with the after three compartments flooded. Of the nine officers and men on the bridge, three were able to swim through the night until picked up eight hours later. One officer escaped from the flooded conning tower and was rescued with the others.

The submarine came to rest on the bottom at 180 feet, and the men in her crowded forward as the after compartments flooded. Publications were burned, and all assembled to the forward room to escape. The escape was delayed by a Japanese patrol, which dropped charges, and started an electrical fire in the forward battery. Thirteen men escaped from the forward room, and by the time the last made his exit, the heat from the fire was so intense that the paint on the bulkhead was scorching, melting, and running down. Of the 13 men who escaped, only eight reached the surface, and of these but five were able to swim until rescued.

When the nine survivors were picked up by a destroyer escort, there were victims of Tang’s previous sinkings on board, and they inflicted tortures on the men from Tang. With great humanity, O’Kane states, “When we realized that our clubbings and kickings were being administered by the burned, mutilated survivors of our own handiwork, we found we could take it with less prejudice.”

The nine captives were retained by the Japanese in prison camps until the end of the war, and were treated by them in typical fashion. The loss of Tang by her own torpedo, the last one fired on the most successful patrol ever made by a U.S. submarine, was a stroke of singular misfortune. She is credited with having sunk 13 vessels for 107,324 tons of enemy shipping on this patrol, and her Commanding Officer was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

John Joseph McNabbFirst Class Fireman, 708 47 11, was awarded the Purple Heart for his sacrifice. A fireman means a person has a license to operate High Pressure Boilers. A fireman would have worked in the engine room. Elizabeth went back to Ireland in the summers of 1947 and 1955.

 Archaeological Features

Ballivor Townland – There are three earthworks in this townland. An earthwork is an anomalous earthen structure, usually raised and occurring in a variety of shapes and sizes, that on field inspection was found to possess no diagnostic features which would allow classification within another monument category. These may date to any period from prehistory onwards. It might not be an antiquity, and the possible earthwork

Carranstown Great –  Ringfort – rath. Situated on a slight North West facing slope. This rath is not depicted on any map but is visible on aerial photographs and later series. The SW quadrant of an enclosure survives as a D-shaped grass-covered area defined by a fosse. There is an entrance ramp and causeway at South West. It is truncated by field banks at North and East and does not survive visibly in adjacent fields. In the interior of rath there is a bullaun stone that is flush with the surface (dims 1m x c. 0.8m) with a single basin.

Carranstown Great – Castle. Three structures at Carranstowne in Killaconican parish are depicted on the Down Survey (1656-8) barony map of Lune. According to the Civil Survey (1654-6) Michell Rochford owned 160 acres there in 1640 including ‘an Ould Ruinated Castle’. Within the same parish he also owned 60 acres at Robinstown, 113 acres at Clonegrany and 70 acres at Killballiver, and he had a share in 710 acres at Culronan with three others. Carranstown Castle is depicted as the South West corner of a building on the 1836 ed. of the OS 6-inch map, and it is situated in a level landscape. It is now a subcircular, grass-covered cairn. There are old drainage ditches in the surrounding field.

Clonycavan. Enclosure. Located just off the summit of a hill on a South East facing slope. A circular embanked enclosure (ext. diam. c. 45m) is depicted faintly on the 1836 edition of the OS 6-inch map where it is described as a ‘Fort’, and a rectangular hachured feature is depicted on the 1912 edition of the map. It was described in 1969 as a rectangular grass-covered defined by a low, widely spread earthen bank with rounded corners and some old quarries in the perimeter. There was no recognisable fosse but there was an entrance at East.

Clonygrange – Ringfort – rath. Situated on a fairly level landscape with a canalised section of a small stream just to the South. This feature is not represented on any edition of the OS 6-inch map but is visible on aerial photographs. This is a subcircular grass-covered area defined by an earthen bank. The inner and outer banks are truncated by the stream.

Coolronan – Ringfort – rath. Located on a low rise with rock outcrop. This is a slightly raised rectangular and grass-covered area. It is defined by earthen banks but the perimeter has been quarried at North. There is no visible fosse or identifiable original entrance, but it is likely to have been a rath.

Coolronan – Castle – motte and bailey. It is situated on a slight South East -facing slope. This is a circular flat-topped, grass and scrub-covered mound  defined by a fosse. A grass-covered bailey  may have been attached to the East and South East where it is defined by a slight scarp.

In April 1966 human remains were discovered in a sandpit at Coolronan. Six skeletons were discovered in a supine position with the arms by the sides and aligned South-North. The skeletons were reported to have been arranged in a row. They represented four adults and two children. They all appeared to be male. Some animal bones were included in the assemblage.

Killaconnigan – Church – Graveyard- Cross.  A church at Killocanegan is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV. Ussher (1622) describes the church as in reasonable repair, but the chancel was a ruin. According to Dopping (1682-5) the church and chancel of Killshangan alias Killeconegan were ruined and it was not enclosed. Cogan (1862-70) records that the church was dedicated to St. Kineth or Cionaodh, whose pattern was celebrated on 16th November. The co-incidence of the name and date is not known in the martyrologies, but the name is likely to be derived from Colum Cille, one of the most popular Irish saint. The church is marked on a map in 1767 which is in the NLI.  Some small cairns are the last remnants of the parish church, but no foundations are visible. There is one loose piece of window surround with a glazing-groove and bar-holes. A small limestone cross with octagonal cross-sections to the stem and arms is probably a finial cross and is set in the ground at the centre of the graveyard near the cairns. The graveyard is a D-shaped area defined by a straight earthen bank at North West, a low earthen bank at NE and a path E-S at the base of the slope. Headstones date from c. 1770 to the present.

Muchwood – Ringfort – rath. . It is depicted as an oval embanked enclosure, only on the 1836 edition of the OS 6-inch map where it is described as a ‘Fort’. This is a raised oval and grass-covered area.  An old grass-covered quarry has destroyed the perimeter. There is an entrance causeway.  

Muchwood – Burial ground.: Situated on a fairly level landscape. It is indicated faintly on the 1836 edition of the OS 6-inch map as an oblong area  where its described as a ‘Grave Yard’ and it is indicated as the site of a grave yard on the 1912 edition. It was described in 1969 as ‘A few fragments of irregular grass-covered earthen and stone banks indicate site’

Muchwood – Earthwork. Situated on a fairly level landscape. This feature is depicted as a D-shaped area on the 1836 edition of the OS 6-inch map where it is described as a ‘Fort’. It is depicted as having a D-shaped pit or quarry in the centre that is open to the road. It had been completely quarried away by 1969.

Portlester– Castle –  Situated on a level landscape near the Stonyford River. Described in the Civil Survey (1654-6) as ‘a ruinated castle and bawn about it and a large thatch house and some cottages’. It was owned in 1640 by Sir Luke FitzGerald along with 182 acres there together with other land in Killaconican parish at Crosantown (125 acres), Parkestown (84 acres), Moyfiagher (152 acres) and Muchwood (108 acres). There are no visible remains of the castle structure though it possible that elements of it have been incorporated into Portlester House. Two window spandrels of late medieval date have been reused as opposing corner arch stones over an external doorway and a further carved fragment of a lion – probably the crest from a memorial – lies in the rockery adjoining the house; all undoubtedly came from the former fabric of the castle. Portlester House is known to the owners as the site of a castle.

Robinstown Earthwork – Situated on a level landscape with a canalised stream. It is represented on the 1836 edition of the OS 6-inch map as a circular embanked enclosure where it is described as a ‘Fort’ and as a hachured feature on the 1912 edition. This is an oval, flat-topped mound that was overgrown with blackthorn bushes in 1969 (SMR file). The blackthorn had been removed by 1995.

Robinstown  –Enclosure – large enclosure. Situated on a level landscape with a canalised stream to the South. It is not depicted on any edition of the OS map but is visible as a feature on aerial photographs. This is a large grass-covered area defined by an earthen. There is an entrance.

Archaeological Features from the published ‘Archaeological Inventory of County Meath’ (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). Compiled by: Michael Moore.

St. Kinneth’s Church

When the new village of Ballivor began to develop around the RIC barracks, it was decided to build a new Protestant church to serve it. Accordingly at a vestry meeting held in the old thatched church in Killaconnigan on the 25th October 1819, it was decided to build a new church one mile from there. At the time, the only other buildings there were a shop and a shebeen. John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley [1767 – 1831] donated the land on the northwest side of the crossroads and paid £200 towards the cost of the church, which is dated 1821.  

Lord Darnley also gave the land opposite, on the southwest side of the crossroads, for the construction of the Roman Catholic church of St. Columbanus, also built in 1821 [a few years before Catholic Emancipation] and still in use. At the time St. Kinneths was being built, John Repton was adding buildings in the park at Cobham, and while it is most unlikely that he was involved in any way with St. Kinneths Church, it is likely that Darnley must have taken perhaps mere than just a passing interest in its design and building between 1819 and 1821. In August 1791, Darnley married Elizabeth Brownlow, who donated the Church Plate which bears the inscription ‘The gift of Elizabeth, Countless of Darnley 1823’.

The Board of First Fruits gave a loan of £700 towards the building of the church. About fifty churches were built by the Board of First Fruits at this time in the counties of Meath, Louth, Longford and Westmeath. Only six of those had spires, St Kinneth’s being one. Such Spires added considerably to the expense of a church and appear to have been adopted very much as a symbol of parochial status, and in this case it is quite possible that Lord Darnley’s gift was for this. The loan was repaid by levying a cess of three pence per acre for seventeen successive years on all landowners, Protestant and Roman Catholic alike.

The church is absolutely typical of the Board of First Fruits, a three-bay box with a west tower, as seen all over Ireland, only the spire making it out as something rather grander. In ‘The Building’s of Ireland – North Leinster’ it is described as follows: “1821. Pretty hall and tower church. Stocky three stage tower with diagonal buttresses, pinnacles and needle spire. Three bay hall with the usual blank north wall and three decorated windows on the south side. Plain Interior.”

The walls are rendered, and the pitched roof is covered with natural slates. The tower is also rendered, and has ashlar stone buttresses, string courses, castellations and pinnacles. The traceried windows are set in pointed arch openings with stone surrounds and hood mouldings. The tower has timber battened doors and louvers to the bell chamber. The cast iron gates and railings with octagonal stone piers are set in a rubble stone boundary wall.

The architectural form of the building is enhanced by the retention of many original features and materials. The ashlar masonry was clearly executed by skilled craftsmen as were the traceried windows and cast iron railings and gates.

The interior is very simple, and all the fittings have been removed. A simple gallery, originally for a small band of musicians (organs were only introduced around the middle of the 19th century), remains at the west end, but this has a crude, and probably later, timber front of very little merit.

The church closed in the early 1990s and the building was then used by the Ballivor Historical Society as a computer training facility. It was acquired in 2004 by Meath County Council.

St. Kenneth’s Church Renovation Committee was established in 2012 to clean up and restore the church for community use.

Clonycavan Man

                                                 Reconstruction of Clonycavan Man’s head by Dr Caroline Wilkinson.

Clonycavan Man, an Iron Age bog body, discovered in Meath in February 2003, displayed signs of a ritual death. His discovery provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to come face-to-face with a resident of Meath from two thousand years ago.

Clonycavan Man was discovered on 21 February 2003 on a tram screen at Ballivor Bord na Móna Works by operatives after it had been removed in a block of peat extracted using a mechanical digger. The forearms, hands, lower abdomen and legs were missing, believed to have been hacked off by the machine. An archaeological examination of the find spot did not uncover any additional material, however the body may have been moved by machinery.

Ballivor Bog

The body was found in Clonycavan townland, in the civil parish of Killaconnigan, Co. Meath. The find site was on the borders of the bog, a common site for Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age habitation. As depicted in the mid seventeenth century maps of Sir William Petty Clonycavan would appear to have been an island of good land within the bog. It is possible that Clonycavan Man was buried on the boundary between the productive and the bad land. There is a large expanse of bog in the western half of the townland, which continues to the Westmeath border and beyond. In 1835 one quarter of the civil parish of Killaconnigan was recorded as bog. Ballivor bog, covering an area of 630 hectares, is located south of the R156 road which connects Ballivor and Raharney. The bog is surrounded on its eastern, southern and western side by farmland and on its northern side by Carranstown bog. It was on the eastern border of the bog that Clonycavan Man was found. Parts of a human body, bones and hair, possibly remains of a bog body, were discovered in nearby townland of Coolronan in 1952. Bog butter was also uncovered at Coolronan in 1952.

Clonycavan Man was dated to 392-201 BC. Of slight build he was 157 cm (5ft 2 inches) tall. He could have been as tall as 175 cm (5ft 9 inches) as the body may have shrunk in the bog. He was over 25 years of age and his body was naked when found as were most bog body finds. Analysis of hair showed that for the four months prior to his death his diet was rich in plant material and vegetables, suggesting that he died in the summer or autumn before the onset of the meat rich winter diet. Clonycavan Man had been in excellent health with no disease or medical problems.

 His body and face were contorted and flatted due to the weight of the peat and his skull had dissolved in the bog. Forensic anthropologists and forensic artists used a state of the art computer system to recreate the facial appearance of the man. The head was reconstructed from the crushed head and soft tissue of the body. The reconstruction displayed a forward-facing profile and not a very strong chin not unlike a modern face.

This adult male was killed by three blows by a heavy cutting object such as an axe, to the nose, to the top of the head, plus one to his chest and also disembowelled. Three was a sacred number for the Celts and other non-‘Celtic’ people. The first blow may have caused unconsciousness. A second blow was made across the front of the head. Then a third blow was inflicted across the face, over the bridge of the nose and running under the right eye. The nose had been literally crushed and the bone had been broken. There is also a sharp cut running across the cheekbone under the eye. One side of his head had been shaved, possibly to prepare for the three blows by an axe. From the angle of the blows, it seems that he was kneeling in front of his attacker. The most common injuries suffered by the sacrificial victims are blows to the head.

Cloneycavan’s nipples were pinched and then sliced. Oldcroghan Man suffered similar injuries. The body suffered a 40cm long cut to his abdomen which suggested disembowelment.

Clonycavan Man had a distinctive hairstyle, at the back of the head the hair was cut to about 2.5 cm long with the rest of hair about 20cm long gathered into a bundle on top of his head. His hair was shaved across the front of his forehead. His hair is extremely fine and swept back from the front to form a sort of a bun on top of his head, in a tall arrangement. This has been christened by some commentators as a ‘Mohawk’ style. Fragments of a hair tie were discovered which had been used to keep the hair in place, wrapped around the hair to secure it on top of the head towards the back. A number of Continental bog bodies have either had their hair cut or partly shaved before death.

Clonycavan Man used a type of hair gel, plant or vegetable oil mixed with pine resin, perhaps to give him the impression of height. The pine resin came from trees which grow in the Pyrenees in south western France or Spain. This elaborate hairstyle may have been part of the ritual to prepare him for sacrifice.

Clonycavan Man had short stubble on his upper lip and longer stubble just under his chin, perhaps a moustache and goatee beard. The stubble may have been part of the ritual where the victim stopped shaving days in advance of his death. Clonycavan Man is one of the Iron Age bog bodies of northern Europe linked by their ritual death and burial. Clonycavan Man provides additional information on this phenomena. They all suffered brutal ritualistic deaths. Like many of the other bog bodies he was a member of the social elite, perhaps a priest-king. A religious role is more likely as a king might have taken part in military training and his body might bear the consequence of such training. His death may have been dedicated to the goddess of fertility, as a sovereignty ritual or to mark a boundary. The fact that he was had lived to his mid-twenties without performing manual labour or take part in military training suggests that the society he belonged to was quite sophisticated and well developed.  

The Clergy of Killochonigan/Ballivor

Bishop Dopping reported in 1682 that the Church and chancel were ‘downe but the people are repairing the Church.’ In the meantime the services were held at Portlester. A new Church was consecrated on 21 Oct. 1823. The presentation belonged to the Earl of Darnley.


1329             William de Castro Martini


 1485            Matthew Boylan

 -1622          Alexander Sharpe

1670-1722   Alexander Norris: lived at Clonard where he was rector

1733             Philip Johnston

1799-1814   Arthur Conolly


A  Perpetual Curacy was established in 1817, the Earl of Darnley having the patronage.

1817-47       Joseph Green: licensed 24 Sept. 1817.

1847-53       Henry Purdon Disney: licensed 17 June 1847; resident in Labrador at 1851 Visitation.

1853-73        Orlando Thomas Dobbin: licensed 5 May 1853.


1874-84       Johns Evans Preston: instituted 18 Sept. 1874.

1884-92       Anthony Drought: instituted 10 Sept. 1884

1892-1914   Richard James Merrin: instituted 7 July 1892.

1915-55       Charles Edward Thompson: instituted 7 March 1915.


-1749           Philip Reade

1792             Edwin Thomas

1852             Francis Herbert Nash

Castlerickard was united with Killochonigan from 1922 and Clonard was added to the Union in 1933. In 1956 this union was dissolved and Killochonigan was united with Athboy. The Church was closed following Service on 22 February 1990.


William de Castro Martini was rector of Killochonigan in 1329. A year later he was appointed Canon St John’s, Beverley in York and in 1331 he was appointed a Canon in Ossory.


Alexander Sharpe was made a deacon and priest on 26 April 1621 in the diocese of Down. He was a vicar of Clonard 1619-33 or later and became vicar at Killochonigan in 1622. He was described as holding an ‘MA, a preacher of good life and conversation.’ He became rector of Balsoon in 1627. He married and had a son, Charles who also became a clergyman. Alexander’s daughter, Margaret married Philip Carr, who was murdered (Depositions 1641).

Alexander Norris was made a priest on 6 June 1669. He became vicar of Clonard and rector of Castlerickard 1670-1722. He was also vicar of Killochonigan 1670-1722. He served as rector of  Almoritia 1676-1722 and was appointed rector of Moyvore in 1693. He married and had children including one son who was born in 1692. Norris died in 1722.

Philip Johnston was born in Co. Limerick in 1681, the son of Henry Johnston. He was educated by Mr Cashin, Limerick and went to Trinity College where he was awarded a BA in 1704. He became vicar of Killochonigan in  1733.

Arthur Connolly was the son of Rev. Arthur Connolly who was curate at Finglas 1746-62. Connolly was educated by his father and went to Trinity College and received a BA in 1762. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1768 in the diocese of Limerick. He was a curate in Athy 1768-82. He was a vicar in Donard 1782-1814. He served as vicar of Killochonigan 1799-1814. He was vicar in Aglishmartin in the diocese of Ossory 1799-1814. He married Charlotte Haughton of St Andrew’s parish, Dublin  on 14 May 1767, and had issue, including Rev. Arthur Connolly who was curate at Donard 1807-14. Connolly died 11 April 1814.


Joseph Green was born 1784 in Co. Tipperary, the son of Joseph Green. He was educated by Mr Lynch and received a BA from Trinity in 1806 and an MA in 1832. He was a curate at Killeagh 1810; a curate at Castlerickard 1817 and perpetual curate at Killochonigan 1817-47. He married and had children including a son Joseph who attended Trinity College and received a BA in 1837. He died 1847.

Henry Purdon Disney was born in 1807 in Dublin. He was son of Thomas Disney of Knocklodge, Co. Meath. He was educated by Mr Craig and then at Trinity College where he received a BA in 1828 and an MA in 1832. He was curate at Drumlease in the diocese of Kilmore in 1835. He was curate at Tynan in the diocese of Armagh 1836-40. He was perpetual curate at Kildarton in the diocese of Armagh 1840-47. He was perpetual curate at Killochonigan 1847-53. He became a missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Newfoundland 1850-52. He was curate at Newfoundhamilton in the diocese of Armagh 1854. He died11 July 1854 of typhus fever.

Orlando Thomas Dobbin was born in 1807 in Armagh, son of Leonard Dobbin, farmer. Educated by Mr Needham he attended Trinity College and received various degrees: BA 1837, LLB 1841, LLD 1844, MA and DD 1857. He was ordained deacon in Manchester for the diocese of Meath in January 1853 and priest for Meath in February 1853. He was perpetual curate Killochonigan, 1853-73 and then retired. He was curate in charge of Tullow in the diocese of Dublin, 1876-78. He married Eliza who died 26 February 1900. They had a child, Indiana. He died 7 October 1890. He published: The Codex Montfortianus: a collation of this MS with the next of Wetstein (London 1854), Auricular Confession not an Ordinace of the Church of Ireland: a Letter addressed to the Earl of Eglinton (London 1858).He edited: The Dayspring: a series of Meditations on Holy Scripture (Liverpool 1852).


John Evans Preston was born 1849, the son of Rev. Decimus V. Preston and was educated at Trinity College where he received a BA in 1869 and an MA in 1879. He was ordained a deacon for the diocese of Kilmore in 1871 and a priest for the diocese of Down in 1872. He was curate Killinkere in diocese of Kilmore 1871-72. He was incumbent in Mullagh in the diocese of Kilmore 1872-74. He was incumbent in Killochonigan 1874-84. He was incumbent in Julianstown 1884-1927. He married Elizabeth Adelaide (died 6 June 1888), daughter of Rev. John Taylor, LL.D, rector of Killinkere, 9 October 1872. They had children Decimus William, who is buried in Ballivor. Their daughter, Elizabeth, married Rev. Richard S. Hipwell, Archdeacon of Meath 1946-61. Another son became a Jesuit priest. Preston died 1927.

Anthony Drought was born in 1857, the son of Thomas and Mary Drought, of Plunketstown, Co. Kildare. He was educated at Trinity College where he received a BA 1879, Divinity Test (2) 1881 and an MA 1895. He became a deacon in 1881 and was ordained a priest in 1882 for the diocese of Meath. He was curate in Trim 1881-84 and incumbent in Killochonigan 1884-92. He was incumbent in Kilmessan 1892-1905 and incumbent in Rathgraffe 1905-23 when he retired. He married Emily Margret who died 24 November 1938 and they had children. He died 16 November 1940.

Richard James Merrin was born in 1866, in Co. Dublin; son of James, farmer, of Rosemount, Dundrum, Co. Dublin. He was educated at Wesley College, Dublin and Trinity College where he received a BA in 1887, Divinity Test (2) in 1888 and an MA in 1901. He was made a deacon in 1889 and a priest in 1890 for the diocese of Armagh. He was curate atDonaghmore in the diocese of Armagh, 1889-91. He was curate in charge in Kinnegad 1891-92. He was incumbent in  Killochonigan 1892-1914. He was incumbent in Navan 1914-17. He married Sophia Elizabeth, who died 3 August 1928, daughter of Rev. Benjamin Nicholson White-Spunner, on 17 June, 1891, at St Michael’s Church, Donaghmore where her father was incumbent 1887-91. They had children: Zoe Isabel, born 31 March 1892 and Benjamin Damer, born 25 March 1893. He died 3 February 1917.

Charles Edward Thompson was born 1876 and educated at Trinity College where he received a BA in 1900, passed a Divinity Test 1901 and was awarded an MA in 1912. He became a deacon on 29 June 1901 and was ordained on 6 January 1903 for the diocese of Limerick. He was curate at St Lawrence’s, Limerick 1901-03. He was acting chaplain for the Forces 1903-04. He was assistant chaplain for the Mission to Seamen, Hong Kong 1907-09 and chaplain from 1909-12. He was incumbent Portnashangan and Portloman 1913-15 and incumbent at Killochonigan 1913-55, with Castlerickard from 1922, and Clonard from 1933. He married and had a son, Eric. He died 22 June 1955.


Philip Reade was born 1704 near Trim, the son of Philip Reade. Educated by Mr Sheridan, Dublin and at Trinity College where he received a BA in 1729, an LLB and LLD in 1747. He was curate of Killochonigan in 1749. He married Margret Fetherston of Bracklin Castle, Co. Westmeath, and they had children, including John. He died on 4 May 1781.

Edwin Thomas was born in 1767 in Dublin. He was educated by Mr. Ford and at Trinity College where he received a BA in 1788 and an MA in 1832. He was curate at Killochonigan in 1792. He was rector at Ballynacourty in the diocese of Ardfert in 1797-1847. He married Jane, daughter of Robert Reeves of Blessington, Co. Clare, and had children, including Rev. Francis Heaton Thomas and a daughter Catherine Georgina. Edwin died 15 December 1843 at Charlemont Place, Dublin.

Francis Herbert Nash was born in 1821 Co. Derry. He was son of Rev. Richard Herbert Nash, Chaplain of Magdalen Church, Leeson St, Dublin 1807-15. He was educated at Trinity College and received a BA in 1843 and an MA in 1847. He became a curate at Agher 1848 and was curate at  Killochonigan in 1852.He married Leonora Anne, daughter of Rev. George Brabazon, rector of Paynestown 1822-51, on 2 Dec. 1849. He wrote The Scriptual Idea of Faith (Dublin 1848).

Taken from Clergy of Meath and Kildare. Biographical Succession Lists. Compiled by Canon J. B. Leslie and revised, edited and updated by W. J. R. Wallace.