Offaly 100 years ago

Extracts from Offaly 100 years ago, a reprint of the Chronicles of Offaly from 1890.


We have 7 extracts in total linked below.


The full book is available for purchase from


There are several mistakes though out the documents from the copying process and corrections are welcome.


Originally published in 1890, republished by Offaly Historical Society in 1989.

Broughal Castle, which is near Frankford, was the chief seat of the O’Mulloys to 1537, when the Lord Deputy made an incursion into Leinster and surprised it. It has been variously called Braghall, Broghill, Braghaly, and Braghalloe. Hospitality was profuse at this castle in the 16th century, as we find, notwithstanding a scarcity of provisions, the O’Mulloys entertaining 1,000 men in it at Christmas. Edward Bermingham resided here in 1610, but in 1667 the lands were granted to Sir William Petty. The present resident owner is Christopher J , Banon, a young gentleman who has had a great deal of unpleasantness with his tenantry during the agrarian League troubles, and until very recently had two armed policemen continually in his company for protection. Before he came to reside on his property the castle was rented by Captain F. Sandes Dugmore and his wife, a niece of the celebrated Lord Brougham. The Captain came over to Parsonstown first to indulge in the ancient and regal pastime of Falconry, joining heartily therein with Captain Hamilton, the then R.M. He afterwards stood for the representation of Portarlington, having Mr. A. Mitchell as his legal conducting agent; but was defeated. Taking more decidedly to politics, immediately when the Land League started, he made the Broughal district an animated place for a considerable time, being assisted by a lady member of the League, in the person of Miss Hanna Reynolds, which lady and Captain Dugmore were ultimately committed to Tullamore gaol. The feeling kindled at this time, from 1879 to 1882, has been kept alive almost up to the present time, for even in the present year they were branded as cowards in the League Press for abandoning the ” Plan of Campaign,” inaugurated by Messrs. William O’Brien, M.P., and John Dillon, M. P. The Plan, shortly stated, con- sistel in this :——-The tenants on the several estates were to confer together as to what rent (if any) they should pay. On coming to an agreement they were to act in a body, and if the landlord refused to accept the reduced amounts, which often attenuated to a comparatively small proportion of the sum legally due, they were to pay him none, but lodge the refused sum with a League trustee, thereby depriving themselves individually of the power of paying any whatever without the liberty of the unknown trustee. As a matter of history, it may be added that the Government sternly set itself to oppose this ” plan,” and are still engaged in the struggle, which has entailed an immense amount of hardship and loss on thousands. But such troubles about land are not new to Ireland ; indeed they have existed from the earliest era of the Brehon laws. And we find that in King James the First’s reign the Government saw the necessity for ameliorative measures. For we find that a land scheme was elaborated with much care, and a preamble to one of the statutes says :-—-” Whereas in former times . . – the natives of this realm of Irish blood were for the most part in continual hostility with the English, and with those who did descend of the English, and therefore the said Irish were held and accounted and in divers statutes and records were termed and called Irish enemies. Forasmuch as the cause of the said difference and of the making of the said laws and statutes doth now cease, in that all the natives and inhabitants of this kingdom, without difference or distinction, are taken into his Majesty’s protection, and do now live under one law, by means whereof a perfect agreement is or ought to be settled betwixt all of his Majesty’s subjects in this realm. And forasmuch as there is no better means to settle peace and tranquility in this kingdom, being now inhabited with many worthy persons born in his Majesty’s several kingdoms, than by abolishing, the said laws and giving them free liberty to commerce and match together, so that they may grow into one nation, and there be so utter oblivion and extinguishment of all former differences and discords between them ; be it enacted… that all the said laws be ever utterly repealed.”

Unfortunately land and religious troubles were ingrafted into the people, and ” high and low, Irish chieftain and Irish peasant, together with the descendants of many of the English settlers of the various earlier settlements, were proscribed on the ground, as some assert, of their religion, and others because of their treasonable plottings, their estate passing into the hands of the Puritan soldiery. The half- depopulated country, was colonised by Saxons. This led to reprisals of a sanguinary character coming down the stream of generations from father to son, and the present situation, though vastly improved compared with past times, is at least in part due to the revengeful crimes of both sides in the years now dead for ever, but which live in the heavy legacy of care and poverty that have been left to posterity.”

Originally published in 1890, republished by Offaly Historical Society in 1989.

At Derrydolney, in 1632, then Derealneye, we find that Daniel Molloy occupied a castle, and in 1846, when the old dwelling-house was being repaired, a stone bearing the following inscription was laid bare:—-” This house was erected by Phillip Molloy and Mary, his wife, the year of our Lord 1684, in the three-and-thirtieth years of Charles II., by the grace of God, King of England and Scotland, and France and Ireland, defender of the faith.” ‘ Another stronghold of this clan was on an island near Annamore in Drumcullen.

Originally published in 1890, republished by Offaly Historical Society in 1989.

Kilcormuck, now Frankford, or Kilcormuch, Killkarmick and Killharmick in old documents, means “Cormack’s Church.” Arch-dall in his Monasticon states that a monastery was founded here for Carmelites, or White Friars, by Odo, the son of Neilan O’Molloy, head of his sept. Rory, of the founder’s family, died here in 143l; and in 1454 Odo, the founder, died and was buried before the high altar. On the 5th May, 1479, died Charles O’Molloy, the son of Sina, ‘a brave man, and blessed with every human perfection.’ He was interred here at the upper end of the choir, on the north side. In 1525 Charles O’Molloy and his followers forcibly drew Hugh and Constantine O’Molloy out of this church and inhumanly put them to death ‘ before the gate of the convent.’ Charles, the head of his sept, was interred here in 1542 ; and in 1567, Arthur O’Molloy, also head of his sept, died. When the R. C. Chapel was being erected at Frankford a great quantity of human bones were exhumed, and re-interred. According to the Four Masters, “Saighir, Chiarain, and Kilcormac were burnt by the English and O’Carroll in 1548.” On the suppression of the various tribes, the Abbey and its lands were granted to Robert Leicester, and on the attainder of Thomas Leister the lands were sold to the Hollow Sword Blade Company, and the rectory conveyed to trustees for the endowment of poor livings. However, a large portion of the estate passed by marriage to the Magawley family, who founded Frankford, and were descendants of the former lords of Calrie, on the borders of this county and Westmeath, whom O’Dugan describes :——” The fair MacAuley rules over the entire of the “ports of Calrie.” Frankford is now on the estate of Surgeon- General A. A. Stoney, J.P.

Originally published in 1890, republished by Offaly Historical Society in 1989.

This document still requires a lot of work to convert into correct text format.

The PDF version is available here Frankford Polling District(347KB) for the moment, and this page will update with the full version once finished.

Originally published in 1890, republished by Offaly Historical Society in 1989.






Gortnamona, formerly Mount Pleasant House, is the residence of his Honor Wm. O’Conor Morris, County Court Judge of Roscommon, the present representative, in the female line, of the ancient and Princely House of the O’Conors of Offaley. Its ancient name, however, was that which heads this sketch. The mansion, a stone structure of the Georgian period, of which we give a sketch as above, was built in 1804, by the late Maurice Nugent O’Conor, maternal grandfather of the present owner, and is the latest of four dwelling places, including the ruined Castle of Pallas, occupied on this spot by the O’Conor family. On the roof there is this curious inscription :—



“ O’Connors once they ruled the country round,

Their brows with roses and with laurels crowned,

But fickle fortune while she changeth things

She took their honours, but she left them Kings.”


The Demesne, rising from Lough Pallas, is of large extent, and is remarkable for the beautiful undulation and the admirable distribution of the plantations. With the adjoining Demesne of Pallas, which once formed a part of it, it makes up a panorama of peculiar grace.

We have in this publication devoted so large a share of attention to the eventful careers of the O’Conors that a few words must suffice here, the reader being referred to the fuller sketch in the Directory.

Before the Norman Conquest this House were Chiefs of 7 the Principality of Hy-Failge, or Offaley, a large territory extending from the borders of Kildare to‘ the Shannon. Their principal Seat appears to have been near the Hill of Croghan. They are thus referred to by the bard O’Heerin :


“ The Lord of Offaley, a land of mirth,

Not unknown to the poets,

Is O’Connor, the mainstay of the green plain,

Who rules at the green mound of Cruachan.”


The O’Conors of Offaley maintained and even increased their power during the period between the Conquest and the reign of Henry VIII. They frequently intermarried with the Norman Houses of Kildare and Ormonde; and more than once carried their Celtic forays to the verge of Dublin. In the reign of Henry VIII. their decline began: their Chief, Brian, was involved in the rebellion of “ Silken” Thomas, his brother-in-law, Earl of Kildare; and a few years afterwards the Clan‘ were nearly destroyed by Sussex, one of Mary’s Lieutenants, the Principality of Offaley being then made Shire-land and colonised as the King’s County. The second rise of the great House of Kildare was due to the care and piety of Lady Mary O’Conor, wife of Brian. This lady preserved the last scion of the Kildares in the wilds of Offaley, and the honours and part of the lands of the Family were restored to him ultimately by Elizabeth. The O’Conors of Offaley continued to suffer during the Elizabethan period. One of the chiefs, Cathal, perished in the Armada; another won a desperate battle against the English at Tyrrellspass; and Maurice, John, and Cahir were the last of the race, who, in 1600, bore the rank of Princes. The Family, however, still retain part of their ancient possessions ; a grave in the Churchyard of Killeigh-—a foundation established by the O’Conors in the 14th century——records the death of Donagh O’Conor, in 1596, with this epitaph :—-

Hic jacet, heroum claro de stemmatc natus,

Donatus, patrioe cum dolorque sum,

and several Inquisitions made in the seventeenth century refer to them as considerable owners of land in this County. In 1689-90 Colonel John O’Conor represented Philipstown in Tyrconnell’s Parliament, and is supposed to have been slain at Aughrim ; and the present owner of Grortnamona is lincally descended from that gentleman, specially identified by the well-known Charles O’Connor, of Balanagare, in the person of his grandson, as the representative of the Princes of Ofialey,
Maurice, the eldest son of John, conformed to Protestantism, went to England, made a fortune at the English Bar, and recovered part of the old lands, giving them the name of Mount Pleasant in the place of Gartnamona, or Cappagaraane, but the present learned representative of the family has ignored the modern importation, and restored the old name to the place. Maurice married Mary, third daughter of the fourth Earl of Fingall, and left a son John, who, having married Mary, niece to the Hon. Anthony Malone, died about 1765. The eldest son of John was the late Maurice Nugent 0’Connor, a name still remembered with respect in the King’s County. This gentleman married Maria, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Burke, of Marble Hill, County Galway, sister of the Countess of Clanricarde, the Viscountess Strangford, and Lady Tichborne, of Alresford, and was for many years a leading member of our landed gentry.
Mr. O’Connor had great political and social influence; played a conspicuous part at County Elections—in fact it was chiefly owing to him that Mr. Bowes Daly was often returned for the King’s County -——and distinguished himself for his steady support of Roman Catholic Emancipation. He died in 1818; and his King’s County estate has’ through his daughter Elizabeth, devolved upon his grandson, Judge O’Connor Morris.

Originally published in 1890, republished by Offaly Historical Society in 1989.

There lies buried in this graveyard Murrough 0’Conor, Lord of Offaley, a Prince who frequently defeated the English and the Irish, according to which party he belonged at the time. It is said in the annals that “having gained the victory over the world and the Devil, he died at his own fortress ” and was buried in the then Monastery of Killachaidh. We find though that it did not take him very long to repent, for only a month previous to his death he marched into Leix, where he attacked the English and defeated them with slaughter, and ” his people gained prizes of arms and accoutrements.” O’Connor then returned home, and having been taken ill retired to the Friary of Killaghey, entered amongst the monks, and took the habit, dying a month after a Friar, and according to the Masters ” After a well- spent life.”

Originally published in 1890, republished by Offaly Historical Society in 1989.

Ballyboy, whose old orthography was Baile-atha-buidhe, the town of the yellow ford is on the Silver River. There are traces in history that it was once of some importance, and that money was struck 200 years ago One of the coins has on it ‘, Tho. Maire, of Ballybov, Tenner ” and another ” Rob. Hutchinson of Ballyboy, March.” William III. is supposed to have honoured this town by sleeping in a small ill-lighted room, which was said to have been in existence up to a comparatively recent date.