The History and Interesting
Tales of
Clonroche & Area

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The Earliest Times

The first people arrived in County Wexford c.5000 b.c. Known as the Mesolithic period these people survived on a diet of fish and were in the main living along coastal and river areas. The Neolithic period began c. 4,000 b.c. The inhabitants of the county were now beginning to farm and grow crops, and move inland. About three miles from the village, in the townland of Ballybrennan there is a portal tomb or Dolmen (right) which has survived from this period.

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The Celts arrived in Ireland c.500 b.c. Evidence of their being in this area are highly visible with the many raths or ringforts. There are ringforts at Coolaught, Raheen, & Rathturtin to name but a few.


Motte + Baily

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The Norman Invasion

The Normans landed in Wexford in 1169. They came from around Carmarthenshire in Wales under the leadership of Strongbow at the invitation of the then King of Leinster Dermot McMurrough. They introduced the feudal system to Ireland and made grants of lands to the mercenary leadership. The names of Rochford, Sinnott, Walsh, Codd, Stafford etc were introduced into Ireland at this time. Two miles from the village of Clonroche, in the townland of Kilegney can be seen a defensive motte & bailey which has survived from this period.


The Early Landlords.

In the Civil Survey of 1654/56 the Castle at Ballyboro was the inheritance of James Butler who owned the whole parish of Kilegney in 1641. The Butlers were the Monfin branch of the Butlers of Kilcash or Ormonde who owned vast tracts of land in south east Ireland stretching from Roscrea to Wexford.

One member of the family, Piers Butler, owned the Castle at Kayer (Wilton) and it is said Henry VIII requested the Earl of Surrey to arrange a marriage between Ann Boalyn and Piers Butler of Kayer

The lands of Chaple were owned by William Doran, Irish Papist, living at Chapple. He owned the townlands of Clonroche, Ballymackessey, Rahingrough, Chapple and Tomfarney. Both families were dispossess after the Cromwellian wars and sent to Connaught together with thirty others from the area.

The townland of Clonroche was known since 1589 as Clone Roche, 1606 Cloneroiste, 1654 Clonrock, Clonroch. It was thought for some time the name refers to Roches Meadow but a better translation comes from a mixture of Irish and French meaning rocky pasture which best describes the nature of the shingle soil


Oliver Cromwell

Cromwells troops accepted the surrender of Enniscorthy Castle (below) on 29 September 1649. The landholders of the time were dispossess and their lands granted to the soldiers to pay them for the campaign. The lands of Clonroche were granted to Andrew Ram on the 8th July 1668 and Ballyboro was granted to William Leigh on the 13th August 1668.

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Enniscorthy Castle

The Shapland Carews

 Robert Carew was of Welsh extraction and was granted conciderable lands in Waterford on the 9th February 1668. On the 7th February 1669 Carew purchased the lands of Ballyboro from William Leigh and on the 5th July 1670 he purchased Clonroche and Ballymackessey from Andrew Ram. This Robert Carew died in 1673

His son Robert Carew married Ann Lynn from Ballinamona near Waterford city. He died in 1708. His son Robert married Elizabeth Shapland, daughter of a wealthy Wexford tin merchant. This Robert Carew died in 1710 and Elizabeth married John Mutlow of Woodstown House near Passage County Waterford in 1729. She had no children by this marriage and died in 1765.

Her eldest son from the Carew marriage died in 1740 with no family. His younger brother, the first Shapland Carew was carrying on a legal and political career in Dublin. He married Doherty Dobson and returned to take over the estate at Ballyboro. In 1770 the mansion house was built on the opposite side of the Forestalstown river and the townland was renamed Castleboro. He died in 1780

His only son Robert married Ann Pigott from Dysart Co Laoise in 1773. He was elected to Parliament several times between 1776 and 1800 for Waterford City. After the act of Union he represented county Wexford fom 1806/1807 and from 1812 to 1820. He was a Liberal and campaigned against the Act of Union. He died aged 77 in 1829.

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His son Robert married Jane Cliffe from Bellview in 1816. He was educated at Eton, had two sisters Ann Dohority and Jane. His aunt Elizabeth was married to Blacker of Woodbrooke. He was Lord Lietutantnt of County Wexford. He was elevated to an Irish Peerage in 1834 and was bestowed a British Peerage on the 9 July 1838 and so became the first Lord Carew of Castleboro. He died 2 July 1856.

His son Robert was born on the 28 January 1818. Educated at Eton he married Emily Ann Bart, daughter of Sir George Philips Bart MP of Weston. They had two sons Robert Shapland and George Patrick. He died 9 Sept 1881 and his wife died 24 November 1899.

Robert Shapland Carew born 15 June 1860 suceeded to the estate. He was granted a BA degree from Cambridge. He married Julia Mary Lethbridge from Tounton England on 27 June 1888.

Under the Ashbourne Act parts of the lands of the estate were sold in 1914. After the sale of prize cattle herds, furniture and effects in 1921 the Carews left Ireland. They had no family Lord Carew died on 29 April 1923. The title passed to George Patrick Carew who died on the 21 April 1926 without heir so the direct line of the Shapland Carews of Castleboro came to an end.


Castleboro House

Carew built Castleboro House on the north side of the Forestalstown river in 1770. He re named the estate, which was in the townland of Ballyboro, Castleboro at this time. An accidental fire took place in 1840 and destroyed all but the west wing. Immediate plans were drawn up by Daniel Robertson, a Kilkenny architect, who incorporated the surviving west wing into his plans.


The grand centre of the building presents the appearance of a Venetian Palace, about ninety foot in length and at the front extends a facade of elegant and elaborate workmanship. A projection of a semi-hexagon figure occupies about one third of the front while the mansion extends a similar distance on each side A highly ornamental entablature runs along the entire building above the second story and is supported in the centre by four Corinthian columns with very rich capitals and by two pilasters of the same order on the right and left extremities. A very rich and highly ornamental cut stone string course runs above the first story with rosettes and scrolls. The north front displays a lofty and magnificent portico supported by six columns of the Corinthian order.

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Architect Robertson suffered from gout and whilst the building was in progress it was said he was pushed around sitting in a wheelbarrow with the plans in one hand and a bottle of fine wine in the other.Castleboro was laid out with four stepped terraces with manicured grass bank on each side desending to an artificial lake. In the centre of the third stood a magnificent fountain flanked by two smaller fountains with pools on the immediate upper terrace. This was truly a magnifiecent sight on a bright summers day.

During the Throubles of the 1920's the Carews sold off the prize cattle heards and furniture and effects and lived full time in England. A group of local IRA sympathisers, believing free state troups might billet there, burned the mansion on Monday night February 5th 1923.

The derlict ruins of this once magistic building still remains and with the Blackstairs mountain range as a backdrop, the rolling green pastures surrounding it and the peace and tranquility of is setting it is still a wonderful place to visit.



Patrick Kennedy, author

Patrick Kennedy was born in 1801 in Kilmyshel near Bunclody. In 1807 the Kennedy's moved near Cloughbawn. In 1810 they were living on Coolbawn Estate near the river and his neighbour was Father James Murphy who was curate in Kilegney, a very large parish at that time. In 1814 the Kennedys moved to Courtnacuddy. When he first came to the parish Kennedy attended a school run by Mrs Bowers. This school was attended by both Catholic and Protestants, Mrs Bowers teaching the children the catechism without comment. He attended school in Taghmon for about two years before returning to the school of Mr Hugh O'Neill which was held in the catholic church until a new school was built in 1816 by Carew who endowed it with four acres of land and allowed £15 per annumn to the master. About 120 boys and 30 girls attended the school and 84 boys subsequently became teachers This school was in the Chaple Lane and was later under the auspices of the Kildare Place Socieity and both Catholic and Protestant were again attending this school.

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On 19th March 1819 Kennedys friend O'Brien who was principle in Tombrick offered Kennedy a teaching post in the school whilst he was sent to the teachers training school in Kildare Place, Dublin

Kennedy was called for training in 1821 and after six months was appointed Junior Assitant to the Superintendent at a salary of £50 per year. In 1839 Kennedy was appointed Superintendant but but left after a short period to set up a bookshop at 8 Anglesea Street Dublin where he remained until his death on 29 March 1873.

Kennedy is rembered for his books "Banks of the Boro", "Evenings on the Duffery" and Legendary fictions of the Irish Celts where he describes the events, happenings and the social history of the period 1812 to 1822.

These books were reprinted some years ago and are available at your local liberary



Danial O'Neill and the Pittsburg connection

Daniiel O'Neill was born on new years day 1830 the eldest of twelve children. He was son of Hugh O'Neill who taught Patrick Kennedy in the schoolhouse in Cloughbawn. He like his father became a teacher. He had a drink problem and was dismissed from Cloughbawn National School and emegrated to America. He went to Pittsburg Penn where he secured a job as a reporter from Col J Hernon Foster who was propritor of the Pittsburg Dispatch with Reece C Fleeson. Both men were propritors, publishers and editors and their office was on 4th street. The Dispatch was first published on 8th February 1846 and by 1851 it had a circulation of 15,000 copies.

The Dispatch shared the forth floor of the building with another Pittsburg paper the Evening Chronicle which was published by John B Kennedy. After five years with the Dispatch O'Neill changed over to The Chronicle to become it's city editor.

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Pitssburg Dispatch

When the American Civil War broke out O'Neill moved south to become war corrispondent. After the war O'Neill purchased shares in the Dispatch and later gained ownership with a collogue from the Chronicle Alexander W Rooke.

Daniel O'Neill entered politics and sat on the Pittsburg City Council for several years. He lived in Lynden House on Penn Avenue which was completed one year before his death in 1877. The Pittsburg Dispatch ceased publication on 8th February 1923


Father Thomas Hore and The Iowa Connection

Thomas Hore was born in 1796 in Broadway, in south County Wexford. He studied for the priesthood in St Kiernans College, Kilkenny and completed his studies in 1820. In that year the diocese of Richmond, Virginia USA was founded and the president of St Kiernans College, Dr Patrick Kelly, was appointed first bishop on the 11 July of that year. He brought Thomas Hore with him and ordained him to the priesthood on his arrival. Having spent six years in Richmond Fr Hore returned to Ireland and was appointed curate of Camolin.

Cloughbawn Church

On the 18 May 1844 he was appointed Parish Priest of Annacurra in south Wicklow. Famine was at it's hight at this time in Ireland and Father Hore saw the only way to alleviate the peoples distress was to emegrate to America.

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Their planned destination was Little Rock in the state of Arkansas. On the 20th October 1850 a large number of men, women and children set sail from Dublin to Liverpool. On November 2 Father Hore and his people borded the Ticonderoga bound for New Orleans.

On December 5th they arrived in New Orleans and made the 400 mile trip up the Missisippi river to Arkansas. On there arrival in Little Rock they met disapointment as most of the land was already occupied and suitable places could not be found. Most of his party stayed in St Louis while Father Hore searched for suitable land An alternative site for his colony was found in Iowa where he purchased over 1,100 acres of land for $1.25 per acre in Lafayette and Taylor. On 24 February 1851 he purchased a further 700 acres and on 16 April he aquired a further 300 acres. However when he contacted the parties in St Louis only eighteen families joined him. They arrived in March 1851 where the new homesteads were built and the area named Wexford.

Father Hore returned to Wexford and spent some time in Caim before being appointed parish priest to Cloughbawn where he died in 1864 and is buired under the floor of the parish church (left). A commemeration plaque is attached to the church wall in memory of him but no mention of his pioneering exploits in the new America is given


James Bently Gorden

James Bently Gorden was a native of Derry. He received his BA degree from Trinity College Dublin in 1772.

He was appointed Rector of Kilegney in 1799 immediately after the 1798 Insurrection. A literary man he was the author of four books, History of Ireland to the Union Published 1805; History of Rebellion in Ireland in the year 1798; published 1801, History & Geographical Memoir of the North American Continent. & A History of the British Isles from the Earliest Accounts to the Present Times

His history of 1798 is a very famous work and often quoted by scholars of this period.

Gorden lived in Boro Hill House, planted Ballymackessey Wood, died in April 1819 and is buried in the old Kilegney Church yard

John Harrison V.C

Born at Castleboro 24 January 1832 the son of a carpenter on the Carew Estate he joined the Royal Navy when he was eighteen years old.

As a Leading Seaman serving in the Indian Mutiny he won the Victoria Cross Medal on January 16 1857. He attained the rank of Boatswain's Mate and Petty Officer before he was discharged from the Navy 13 January 1859.

He obtained a post in Customs & Excise but a wound sustained during the relief of Lucknow left a mark on his health. Unmarried he died at his home 5 Stafford Place, Westminister on 27 December 1865 and is buried at Bromton Cemetery, West London

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1798 in Clonroche