Kilbrien & Knockboy (Co. Waterford / Central)
Kilbrien and Knockboy in the Monavullagh Mountains were until very recently small isolated communities, but have undergone considerable development of late and are now in danger of becoming commuter satellites of Dungarvan.
Kilbrien thatched cottage with Comeragh Mountains behind (Photo by shadow-irl)
The townlands are known mainly for their interesting archaeological artefacts, including cairns, Standing Stones and fulachta fiadh (cooking pits).
Knockboy church is an atmospheric ruin with lintels bearing Ogham inscriptions.
Knockboy is not far from Ballymacarbry on ByRoute 3.
Modeligo / Cappagh (Co. Waterford / West)
Sleady / Sledy Castle, aka Modeligo Castle, is an impressive ruin with a moat once spanned by a drawbridge. (Photo by obnoreen)
Sleady was built in 1628 by “Silken” Philip McGrath, whose death left his widow and three daughters in possession of large fortunes.
Three officers of the Clonmel Garrison began to visit the ladies regularly about the year 1641, around the time of the I641 Rebellion but before the full-blown Wars of the Three Kingdoms had begun. Local bandits chief Uaitne Óg [“Young Greene”] persuaded the kitchen maid to signal when the drawbridge was lowered, and few nights later, as the officers arrived from Clonmel, she placed a light in a turret (pointed out to this day). The outlaws stormed in, took everything of value they could lay their hands on and eventually left, taking the three officers with them. Remains of their bodies were found a year later some miles away at a place still known as Ath na Saigdiúirí (the Soldiers’ Ford).
In the meantime the Government, suspecting the widow McGrath of betraying the officers, confiscated her estate. One of those who received a portion of the spoils was Sir Nicholas Osbourne of Cappagh, a Royalist sympathiser who afterwards married the youngest of the three daughters and so retrieved their fortunes to some extent (but whose own family home, Knockmaun Castle on the River Brickey, was totally destroyed by Oliver Cromwell before he entered Dungarvan in 1650).
Sleady Castle fell into decay. The only later occupant was Donncadh Ruadh MacConmara, a schoolteacher who gave lessons in the old castle kitchen for a short period about the year 1765.
Mountain Castle Bridge.
The old townland of Mountain Castle had an unusual Banshee in the C19th; instead of attaching herself to a particular family, as was her sisters’ wont, she would sit on a rock overlooking the River Finnisk, combing her hair and wailing eerily whenever any local of Milesian (i.e. Gaelic) ancestry was about to die, which must have kept her very busy. She probably needed throat lozenges.
The Castle Country House
The Castle Country House B&B looks like a reasonably modern farmhouse, but is in fact a wonderfully restored version of Caisléan a’ tSléibhe / Mountain Castle, incorporating much of the early C16th Tower House built by Donal McGrath.
The castle, garrisoned by rebel troops during the Confederate War and subsequently confiscated, was occupied from the mid-C18th by a family called O’Keeffe, who developed an appalling reputation for ruthlessness; the “extremely tough land distributor, John O’Keeffe of Mountain Castle” survived a pistol bullet in April only to be killed with a blunderbuss on his way to Mass in May 1838. The last O’Keeffe to live in Mountain Castle died in the early 1930s.
Castle House Gardens.
After years of neglect, the property was restored by Joan and Emmet Nugent, whose family have run it as a working dairy farm and B&B / Guesthouse since 1978. It is highly recommended by most good travel guides, not least for its beautiful riverside gardens.
Millstreet is a hamlet comprising two tiny pubs and a petrol station.
RallyConnection is a noisy training centre for rally driving and karting.
Cappagh House Estate
Cappagh House was the home of renowned Victorian ornithologist Richard J Ussher, whose father Richard Kiely Ussher served in the British Army in the West Indies, fought against the French, and had an artificial lake dug and a nearby early C16th Tower House partially restored as a folly during the Great Famine.
A wonderful old walled garden shelters a rambling orchard with many varieties of fruit trees. Areas of natural habitat on the 200-acre farm include woods where deer, foxes, red squirrels and a wide variety of birds may be seen.
The Chavasse family acquired the estate in 1944, and now run the gate lodge and mews as attractive self-catering holiday cottages.
Whitechurch House (1737), the former Irish residence of the Earls of Huntingdon, is a splendid Georgian edifice set in beautiful formal gardens and extensive wooded grounds, and now contains self-catering apartments.
Cappagh is within easy reach of Dungarvan on ByRoute 1.