ByRoute 12.1 Co. Meath (S) // Co. Offaly

 Johnstown Bridge (Co. Kildare / Northwest)

Johnstown Bridge / Johnstownbridge (Droicheas Baile Sheáin), a small village just south of the county border, takes its name from a structure spanning the Meath Blackwater River.

The 1798 Rebellion saw a group of Wexford insurgents under the command of Fr Mogue Kearns (formerly a priest in the local parish of Balyna) of this marching northwards through the village shortly before their ultimate defeat on 12th July.

St Patrick’s church (RC), built in 1830, is a handsome austere Gothic edifice that would not look out of place in New England.  (Photo – Richard Skohan)

(In the same Balyna parish, St Mary`s church  (1856) in Broadford and St Brigid’s church (1860) in Clogherinkoe are also impressive; the grounds of the latter feature rather striking topiary!).

Johnstown Bridge is

Moyvalley (Co. Kildare / Northwest)

Moyvalley, on the southern side of the Royal Canal, is the northernmost village in County Kildare. 

Balyna House & Estate

 

Balyna House, a splendid Italianate  mansion, was erected in 1890 to replace a burned down Georgian edifice.

 

The mansion now forms part of the Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort, a modern complex that includes pleasant little townhouses available for self-catering accommodation.

 

The estate was granted by Queen Elizabeth I to Callough O’More in 1574 and passed by marriage to his More-O’Ferrall descendants in 1796. Richard More-O’Ferrall was Governor of Malta 1846 – 1856, while his sons achieved distinction in the Imperial Austrian and Royal Sardinian  armies.

 

Balina was owned by the Bewley family of Dublin café fame from 1961 to 1984, then by the Labour TD and Minister Justin Keating until 1991, when it was acquired by the Jackson family.

Furey’s Pub in Moyvalley is a good place to eat unpretentious food.

Moyvalley is close to Longwood (Co. Meath) on ByRoute 13.

Williamstown Gardens, recently renovated by Sheila and Paul O’Brien, are laid out around Williamstown House (c.1760), a winged Palladian edifice attributed to Nathaniel Clements. The grounds feature a splendidly Gothick beech walk, a young arboretum, an old deer park and sensitively restored C18th gardens, including a potting yard, a model potager / vegetable garden, a meditation garden with a “Path of Life”, a water tree fountain, an exquisite temple, a sundial and a woodland spring garden. (Photo – www.ireland-guide.com)

Ballinderry House, built c.1743 for  Garret Tyrell‘s wife Mary (née Pearson), was damaged by insurgents during the 1798 Rebellion.  Despite subsequent alterations, it remains a good example of a prosperous C18th farmhouse, set with its attendant outbuildings in mature landscaped grounds.

Carbury & Derrintum (Co. Kildare / Northwest)

Carbury / Carbery (Cairbre), a small village with several photogenic buildings in unspoilt countryside, shares its name with the small surrounding barony.

Carbury / Carbery Hill, aka Fairy Hill, is the location of two Bronze Age barrows and a medieval motte. The hillside was the site of an  insurgent campground during the 1798 Rebellion.

Castle Carbery

 

The hilltop Castle Carbery ruins visible today are mostly of a C17th Tudor style fortified mansion. (Photo – Richard Skohan)

 

The stronghold is thought to have been founded by Meiler FitzHenry, who was granted the area by Strongbow. It was acquired in the C14th by the de Birmingham family, who added a cylindrical tower to the square keep; Sir William Birmingham was created Baron Carbery in 1541.

 

In 1588 the property was granted to the Colley / Cowley family, patrilineal ancestors of the Dukes of Wellington. The family extended and altered  the complex over the years, and finally abandoned it in the late C18th.

Carbury gave its name to a small community in Bottineau County, North Dakota, near the border between the USA and Canada. Founded in 1901 as a station on the Great Northern Railway, it never had more than 50 inhabitants, and is now an abandoned ghost town.

Newberry Hall

 

Newberry Hall, a magnificent Palladian mansion, probably designed by Nathaniel Clements, was built c.1760 for Arthur Pomeroy MP, who had married Mary Colley in 1747. He was created Baron Harberton, of Carbery in 1783, and Viscount Harberton in 1791. A contemporary described him as “gentle, sensible and good-humoured” and his wife as “a dry stick of a thing who never commends anything and shows great conceit of her understanding“.

 

During the 1798 Rebellion it was looted by insurrectionists, who murdered two dairymaids, Mary and Esther Grattan, the only Protestant employees on the estate.  One of the sisters was shot, and the other drowned in a pond near the entrance. A year later four men were convicted of the murders and hanged beside  the same pond.

 

Trinity Well, the  traditional source of the legend-shrouded River Boyne, and a place of pilgrimage from the earliest times, is on the Newberry Estate.

 

The property has changed hands several times, and after 100 years of Robinson family ownership, was recently put up for sale at an asking price of €7.5 million, and was purchased for an unknown amount. (Photo – The Irish Times)

Derrintum is the address of the Turn Inn, a family-run establishment with a good reputation for superior Pub Grub.

Derrintum is linked by the R403 with Allenwood on ByRoute 11.

Ballindoolin House & Gardens

 

Ballindoolin House was built in 1822 by Humphrey Bor, whose forebears came to Ireland from Holland in 1620 and lived for many years in who nearby Carrick House, now vanished. The property was acquired in the 1890’s by the family’s land agent, William Tyrrell, whose ancestors lived for many centuries in Grange Castle  and whose Molony descendants still live in Ballindoolin.

 

The estate is roughly divided into almost equal areas of parkland and fine broad-leafed woodland; the name has the same origin as Dublin – Baile Dubh Linn, “the town of the black pool”.

 

Ballindoolin’s gardens, restored in 1997 to a design by Daphne Shackleton, feature a lovely walled vegetable garden with an interesting old melon pit, a lavender path, herbaceous borders, espaliered fruit trees, an unusual late C18th dovecote, a lime kiln, woodland walks and a nature trail explaining the Celtic lore of trees.

 

The ground floor of the house can be toured, and there is an interesting museum, a gift shop and a coffee shop where visitors can sample delicious home made jam.

Carrick Hill is the site of Carrickoris Castle, now little more than a ruined shell. This was where Sir Peter / Piers Bermingham / McFeorais (“the treacherous baron” referred to in the Irish Princes’ Remonstrances to Pope John XXII in 1315) held a great banquet in 1305 at which the brothers Mauritius  and Calvacus O’Connor Fahy and as many as 27 other leading Gaelic clansmen were murdered by their host and Jordan Comin, who sold their heads to the English authorities. 

The ruined parochial church of Carrick, dating from the C13th, is surrounded by an atmospheric graveyard.

Carrick is linked by the R401 with Kinnegad (Co. Offaly) on ByRoute 13.

Grange Castle

 

Grange Castle, a late C15th tower house with early C17th embellishments, was purchased from Walter Bermingham  in 1735 by Thomas Tyrell, whose family retained ownership until 1988.  (Photo – Kathleen Walkup‘s bleak New Irish Journal)

 

It is the focal point of a seven-acre complex of walled enclosures, restored for the most recent Millennium to highlight a historic walled garden, a splendid labyrinth, a Georgian cottage, parklands, walkways, stately oak trees, old-fashioned shrubs and wild flowers.

 

Unfortunately, although the castle remains intact (with a well-restored Great Hall), the site has been seriously vandalised by hooligans.

Kinnefad, straddling the border between Counties Kildare and Offaly, is the location of a ruined Bermingham family Tower House with well-preserved walls overlooking a ford on the River Boyne. Local tradition recalls fierce battles here, and weapons (sword blades, spear heads etc.) found on the site are conserved by Cambridge University.

 

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