Bog of Allen (Photo by Scrawb, who remarks on the train in the distance)
Lullymore (Co. Kildare / West)
Lullymore (pop. 150) is a 220ha mineral soil “island” in Lullymore Bog at the heart of the Bog of Allen.
Lullymore East Graveyard is a walled burial ground containing the ruins of an early Christian monastic settlement, said to have been founded by Saint Patrick and / or Saint Erc.
Lullymore Lodge was built as a shooting residence by the Murphy family in 1860, and remained in their possession until 1932.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council runs the Peatland World Museum, aka the Bog of Allen Nature Centre, which includes exhibitions, talks, and visits to the peatland reserve.
Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park is a family visitor attraction with indoor exhibitions, re-creations of old dwellings, walks through woodland and gardens and a historic display about the 1798 Rebellion in County Kildare. Facilities include a large playground, a tea room and craft shop.
Rathangan (Co. Kildare / West)
Rathangan (Ráth Iomgháin) (pop. 1750) is on both the Slate River and the southern Barrow Line branch of the Grand Canal, on the edge of the Bog of Allen and overlooked by Dunmurray Hill. Traditionally a quiet town best known for pleasant waterside walks and excellent coarse angling facilities, it has experienced massive population growth since the early 1990s and is now primarily a dormitory satellite of DUBLIN.
Leinster Street drops in a gentle curve from the top square at the Rath to Market Square on the banks of the River Slate. (Photo by Jonathan Billinger)
Rathangan takes its name from the Rath / ráth / Ring Fort of Iomghain, situated on the Clonbulloge Road, to the northwest of the modern town. Although conventionally dated to between 600 and 700 AD, some believe the Rath is much older. Its associations with seven named chieftains indicate it ancient importance. The massive earthworks are now surmounted by stately trees, dominating the western skyline.
The de Vesey Lords of Kildare founded a castle at Rathangan, which upon William Vescy’s attainder was granted by King Edward I to John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 5th Baron Ophaly and 1st Earl of Kildare (d. 1316). Richard, 3rd Earl of Kildare, died in Rathdangan in 1329 at the age of 12. The stronghold fell to Crown forces in 1537, in the aftermath of the abortive revolt by the 10th Earl, Silken Thomas. The ruins were finally demolished c.1765, and the stones used to construct Rathangan House.
The late C17th and C18th saw new Protestant landowners build large houses on their estates. The arrival of Quaker milling families in 1728 also influenced the architecture of the district; the old milling area is due to be redeveloped as an enlargement of the town centre.
Rathangan Lodge was built in 1740 as a hunting lodge for the 19th Earl of Kildare, Robert FitzGerald, whose son James became Duke of Leinster in 1766. The family were the principal local landlords until the end of the C19th.
Rathangan owes its unique layout to the engineers who supervised the 1784 construction of the southern Barrow Line extension of the Grand Canal, bringing increased trade and prosperity to the area.
The cottages beside McCartney’s Bridge were built in 1784, while the fine Georgian houses on the Green date to the 1790s.
Rathangan & the 1798 Rebellion
Insurgents gathered near Rathangan on Thursday 24th May 1798. The Duke of Leinster’s agent Capt. James Spencer persuaded the South Cork Militia under Captain Langton to postpone their scheduled departure for Sallins. That night rebels attacked the town from two different directions, but were driven out by the yeomen; 13 raiders were slain.
On Saturday 26th May, around 5,000 insurgents led by John Doorly of Lullymore occupied and fortified the town. 19 loyalists, including Spencer, were killed, most in cold blood. As in Ballitore, the Quaker community were harassed for provisions but otherwise unharmed. Many loyalists in neighbouring areas fled towards Edenderry.
In the early morning of Monday 28th May Lt. Col. Mahon marched troops from Tullamore to recapture Rathangan. They killed 14-16 insurgents nearby, but were twice repulsed by the rebels in the town with the loss of 7 men. Around 11am Colonel Longfield arrived with detachments of dragoons, the City of Cork Militia and 2 field pieces. After the second artillery discharge the rebels fled; about 60 were killed by the pursung cavalry.
Longfield wrote to General Dundas: “I took no prisoners. The troops are in want of everything, the Rebels having destroyed everything in or near the town.” Some of the captured rebels were hanged in the street.
The C19th Gothic style Church of Ireland edifice beside the Rath is surrounded by graves of both denominations, some dating back to 1700; amongst them are the graves of Capt. Spencer and John and Michael Doorly (buried near their great grandfather , who died aged 126).
Rathangan’s old Quaker burial ground, beside the former Meetinghouse on the bank of the River Slate, contains graves of prominent families such as the Gatchells, Hanks, Haydocks, Odlums (of Kilmoney House) and Pims.
Rathangan did not fare as badly as many communities during the Great Famine, only losing 16% of its population to starvation, disease and emigration. Troops were posted in the town to prevent looting of Canal boats carrying relief supplies.
Bord na Móna‘s increased activity in the 1940s brought an influx of rugged turf cutters from all over Ireland, especially the west. Initially housed in large temporary camps at the edge of the bog, many chose to settle in the town and raise families.
The church of the Assumption (RC) was built in 1958 to replace the Italianate church of St Patrick (1816) and its gate lodges near the market square are now used as a Community Centre.
The 1960s closure of the canal systems and the decline of bog based enterprises led to a gradual decline in the town’s fortunes, forcing local young people to emigrate. Concerned individuals organised intervention to restore old buildings and provide community services.
Killinthomas Wood is a local beauty spot, recently developed as a 200-acre amenity and wildlife area by CORE in conjunction with Coillte.
Feighcullen church (1829) is a splendic Gothic edifice designed for the Church of Irealand by the famous architect John Semple, and currently in private ownership. According to architectural historian Dr. Maurice Craig “Feighcullen is by a large margin the most accomplished and attractive church of its kind.”
Rathangan Drama Festival takes place annually in the spring.
The Rathangan Lughnasa Festival is held during the August Bank Holiday weekend, to celebrate the arts and crafts, music, literature, history, and sports of the town.
“Meggers” / horseshoe pitching is a popular summer sport in Rathdangan.
Rathangan was the birthplace of writer Maura Laverty (1907-1966), whose controversial novel Never No More (1942) about the fictional village of Ballyderrig is clearly based on Rathangan.
Rathangan is connected by road to Kildare Town on Route 10 and Edenderry (Co. Offaly) on Route 12