CLANE, PARISH OF – Comerford’s “Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin”

by niamh mccabe on August 11, 2006

THE Parish now so called comprises the ancient parochial districts of Clane, Mainham, Dunadea, Timahoe, Dunmurghill, Ballynefah, and Balrahen.
In ancient records the name of this place is given in two forms; Claen-Damh, i.e., “the field of oxen;” and Claen-Ath, i.e., “the field of the Ford.” It is referred to in the Forbais Edair, “The Siege of Howth,” an ancient historic tale, which Professor O’ Curry treats of in his 12th Lecture (MS. Materials of Irish History). This passage is summarized in the Loca Patriciana, (note p.113). The Ford of Clane was in the first century the scene of the tragical death of Mesgegra, King of Leinster, who fell here in single combat with Conall Cernach, the champion of Ulster, who had pursued him hither whilst flying from the siege of Howth. Aithirne, the Ultonian poet, surnamed Ailghesach, or the Importunate,-so called from the fact that he never asked for a gift or preferred a request but such as it was especially difficult to give or dishonourable to grant,-had been sent to the court of the King of Leinster at Naas, for the purpose of picking a quarrel with the people of that Province. He had been hospitably received by King Mesgegra, and had many gifts bestowed on him; but this only made him the more importunate, and at last he insisted on getting 700 white cows with red ears, a countless number of sheep, and 150 of the wives and daughters of the Leinster nobles to be carried in bondage into Ulster. To these tyrannical demands the Leinster men apparently submitted; but having pursued Aithirne to Howth, they rescued their women. The Ulster men, however, having been reinforced, the Leinster forces were routed. Conall Cearnach, the most distinguished of the heroes of the North, pursued Mesgegra to take vengeance for the death of his two brothers who had been slain at Howth. He overtook him at the Ford of Clane, where a combat ensued between them in which Mesgegra was slain and beheaded. Conal placed the king’s head in his own chariot, and, ordering the charioteers to mount the royal chariot, they set out northwards. They had not, however, gone far, when they met the queen of Leinster, attended by 50 ladies of honour, returning from a visit to Meath. “Who art thou, O woman?” said Conall. “I am Mesgegra’s wife,” said she. “Thou art commanded to come with me,” said Conall. “Who has commanded me?” said the queen. “Mesgegra has,” said Conall. “Hast thou brought me my token?” said the queen. “I have brought his chariot and horses,” said Conall. “He makes many presents,” said the queen. “His head is here, too,” said Conall. “Then I am disengaged,” said she. “Come into my chariot,” said Conall. “Grant me liberty to lament for my husband,” said the queen. And then she shrieked aloud her grief and sorrow with such intensity that her heart burst, and she fell dead from her chariot. The fierce Conall and his servant made there a grave and mound on the spot, in which they buried her, together with her husband’s head, from which, however, he extracted the brain. This queen’s name was Buan, or the Good (woman); after some time, according to a very poetical tradition, a beautiful hazel tree sprung up from her grave, which was for ages called Coll Buana, or Buan’s hazel. The Tumulus beside the river at Clane is supposed to mark the grave of King Mesgegra and his queen.-(O’ Curry, p. 170, & seq.)
A Monastery was founded at Clane at a very early period. Colgan refers to a Church having been here before the middle of the sixth century. It is recorded that St. Ailbe of Emly, whose death is assigned in our Annals to have taken place in the year 527, resided here for some time, and, on leaving, presented his cell to St. Senchell, who afterwards founded a monastery at Killeigh, and died there on the 26th of March, 549.
The Martyrology of Donegal, at May 18th, records “Bran Beg of Claenadh, in Ui-Faelan, in Magh-Laighen,”* and at Decr. 23rd, “Ultan-Tua and Jotharnaise, two Saints who are at Claonadh, i.e. the Church which is in Ui-Faelain, in Leinster. This is the Ultan-Tua who used to put a stone in his mouth at the time of Lent, so that he might not speak at all.” Fr. Shearman, Loca Pat., remarks that Taghadoe, i.e. Teach Tua, or “Tua’s house,” near Maynooth, would mark his connexion with that locality rather than with Clane; but he might have been, as then was usual, abbot of both communities. These two Saints were brothers of Maighend, Abbot of Kilmainham, and were sons of Aed, son of Colcan, King of Oirgallia, vivens A.D. 518. Aed became a monk at Llan Ronan Find, where he died, May 23rd, 606. These dates throw some light on the Monastery of Clane. (Note, p.114.)
A.D. 702. A battle (was fought) at Claen-ath, by Ceallach Cuallann, against Fogartach Ua Cearnaigh who was afterwards King of Ireland, wherein Bodhbhehadh of Meath, son of Diarmid, was slain, and Fogartach was defeated. (Four Masters.) In the Annals of Ulster this event is thus recorded:-“A.D. 703. Bellum Cloenath, ubi victor fuit Ceallach Cualann, in quo cecidit Bobhcath Mide mac Diarmato. Fogartach nepos Cernaig fugit.”
A.D. 777, (recte 782) Banbhan, Abbot of Claenadh, died. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 1035. Clane was plundered by the foreigners; but the son of Donnchadh, son of Domhnall, overtook them, and made a bloody slaughter of them. (Id.)
A.D. 1162. A Synod of the clergy of Ireland, with the successor of Patrick, Gillamaclaig, son of Ruaidhri, was convened at Claenadh, where there were present twenty-six Bishops, and many Abbots, to establish rules and morality amongst the men of Ireland, both laity and clergy. On this occasion the clergy of Ireland determined that no one should be a lector in any Church in Ireland who was not an alumnus of Ard-macha (Armagh) before. (Id.) The following is a passage from Colgan on this subject:- “Concilium Cleri Hiberniae, praesidente Comorbano Patricii, Gelasio Roderici filio, servatur in loco Claonadh dicto; in quo comparuerunt viginti-sex Episcopi, et plurimi abbates; et praescriptae sunt tam clero quam populo Hiberniae constitutiones, bonos mores, et disciplinam concernentes. Illa etiam vice clerus Hiberniae sancivit ut nullus in posterum in ulla Hiberniae Ecclesia admittatur Faerleginn (id est, Sacrae Paginae seu Theologiae Professor) qui non prius fuerit alumnus, hoc est, Admachanam frequentaverit Academiam.” (Trias Th., p. 309.)
The site occupied by the lately disused Protestant Church, is supposed to mark the place on which the primitive monastery of Clane stood. A burial-ground is attached, in which the only noteworthy monument is that of the Wogan family. It is an altar tomb; at top there are armorial bearings with the date, 1618. An inscription in raised capitals, lower down, is as follows:-
On the front of the tomb six human figures are represented, three males and three females. The former to the left-and over each are the initials of their names: N.W., I.W., W.W., E.W., M.W., I.W.
     Another stone, with elaborately carved armorial bearings, and bearing the date 1716, is (now) placed over the older inscription already given. More details concerning this family will be given later on.
A.D. 1258. The Monastery of Claen, in Leinster, in the Diocese of Kildare, was founded for brothers of the Order of St. Francis. (Four Masters.) The founder was Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, second Lord of Offaley. Lodge (Vol. I., p. 63) assigns the date of its foundation to the year 1271, and further states that the founder, who died, on the 18th of July, 1287, was interred at Kildare; King, however (p. 309) appears to be more correct in saying that he was interred at Clane. Archdall mentions that “the effigies of the founder remained, about the beginning of the 18th century, on a marble monument, which was placed in the midst of the choir, in this friary. A fragment of a cross-legged, recumbent effigy has been found within the graveyard, and has been put, no doubt, in its rightful place, in the original Gothic recess. The family of O’ Hogain (Wogan) came afterwards into possession and patronage of this priory and estate. (Wadding’s Annal. III., 531.)
A.D. 1346. A Provincial Chapter of the Order was held here. (Id) Clyn, (Annales), says that a general chapter was held here in 1345; wherein it was ordained that the Franciscan Monasteries of Kilkenny and Ross should be assigned to the wardenship of Dublin. It appears probable that these two entries refer to the same assemblage.
In Acts of a Chapter of Friars Minors held at Dublin in 1717, it is recorded that “In conventu . . . .Clane, electus est Guardianus, V.A.P.F. Michael Nugent.” And in the Acts of Chapter, also held at Dublin, in 1729, amongst the guardians elected was, “In Conventu de Clane, V.A.P. Michael Dormer, S.T.L.”
June 15th, 24th Henry VIII., this friary with its appurtenances, tithes excepted, in Clane, the Newtown of Clane, Mucherath, Flesheston, and Langetown, in this county, etc., were granted for ever to Robert Eustace, John Trevor, Richard Field, Robert Roche, and Edward Browne, in capite, at the yearly rent of 2s. 4d. Irish money. (Auditor Genl.)
An Inquisition taken, 9th May, 34th Henry VIII., finds that the Warden, 20th March, 31st of same reign, was seized of a church, cemetery, chapter-house, dormitory, store, kitchen, two chambers, a stable, an orchard, 4 acres of pasture, 2 messuages, 3 gardens, 2 other messuages, and 2 gardens, 54 acres of arable land, and 1 of pasture, in Clane; 4 acres in the Newtown of Clane; 12 acres of arable in the Moche-Rathe (alias Michael Rath,) near Clane, 3 acres in Flesheston, near Clane;
and 6 acres in Langtown, all in the County of Kildare; the lands within the precincts, and the 44 acres, and the 4 other acres in the Newton, being free of tithes, were worth, besides reprises, 30s.; and the other premises were valued at £3 annually. (Chief Remembrancer.)
Archdall states that the Seal of this Convent was in being at the beginning of the 17th century, on which was the following inscription: Sigill. Coiatis, Frum. Minor. de Clane.-Hortus Angelorum.
A considerable portion of the ruins of this monastery still remain. The place is used for interments. A mural Tablet, to the memory of members of his family, has been placed here by a former Parish Priest: “Posuit Revdus. Dns. Andreas Ennis, Parochus de Clane, etc., A.D. 1738.”
The sites of three Mass-houses all built since 1714-two of which were thatched edifices-are pointed out at Clane; one lately disused, bears the date, 1805. A stately and beautiful Gothic Church, designed by Mr. W. Hague, has just been completed at an outlay of some £7,000, through the zealous exertions of the present Pastor, the Rev. Patk. Turner.
There is a Well, reputed Holy, called Sunday Well, on the W. side of the Liffey, beside the moat or Tumulus already referred to. A Patron and Stations used to be held at it within the memory of some still living. It is not unlikely that St. Patrick blessed this well, and used it in baptizing his converts, when he passed here on his way to Naas.
Clane appears to have been a town of note at an early period. To a letter addressed to King Henry V. on behalf of Lord Furnivall, dated the 26th of June, 1417, amongst the signatories are found the Commons of Clane. (Original in Ellis’s Letters.) It was a Corporate town then, or very soon afterwards, as appears from another Document addressed, by the chief persons in the County of Kildare, to Richard, Duke of York, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, dated the 23rd of January, 1454, giving an account of the state of the country. This document is signed, amongst others, by the Portrieves and Commons of Clane. The following is a copy of this curious memorial; the original is still extant, being preserved amongst the Cottonian MSS., in the British Museum. A fac-simile of it has been reproduced, with many seals pendant from it, by Mr. Gilbert, in his Fac-similes of National MSS. of Ireland, Part. III., xli.:-
“Rights hye and myghty Prince and oure righte gracious lorde, Richard Duke of Yorke, we recomaunde us unto you at louly as we can or may; and please youre gracious Hynes to be advertised that this lande of Irland was nevir at the poynt fynally to be destrued sethen the Conquest of this lande, as it is now, for the trew liege people in this partiss dar ne may not appier to the Kynges oure said soverayn lordes Courtes in the said lande, ne noon other of the trew liege people ther, to go ne ride to market Tounes, ne other places, for dred to be slayne, to take other spouled of thar godes; also the mysrule and mysgovernaunce had, done, and dayly contynued by dyvers gentlemen of the Counte and youre liberte of Mith, the Countes of Kildare and Uriell, and namly of a variance had betwix therle of Wiltesshire lieutenant of this said lande and Thomas fitMorice of the Geraldynes for the title of the maners of Maynoth and Rathmore in the Counte of Kildare, hath caused more destruccionne in the sayde Counte of Kildare and liberte of Mith within shorte tyme non late passed, and dayly doth, than was done by Irish enemys and English rebelles of long tyme befor; and is likely to be fynall destruccione of the sayd Counte of Kildare and liberte of Mith. For Henry Bonyn Knyght, constituted Tresurer of the sayd lande, under the grete Seall of the sayd lande assembling with hym Edmond Botiller cosyn Germayn to the said Erle of Wilteshire and William Botiller cosyn of the said Erle, with ther sequeie, of the which the moost partie was Irish enemyes and English rebelles came into the said Counte of Kildare and ther brant and destrued dyvers and many Townes and Paroche Chirches of the trew liege people, and toke dyvers of them prisoners and spouled them of their godes. And after the departre of the said Henry and Edmond, the said Wylliam abydyng in the said Counte of Kildare, by the avice and counsaill of the said Henry and Edmond, did so grete oppressionne in the said Counte of Kildare and in the Counte and Liberte of Mith that vijxx (a) Townes and more which was well enhabite in the feste of Seynte Michellass passed been now wasted and destrued. And for asmuch as thes parties so destrued, with a lytell partie more that remaynath not destrued, in the said Counte of Kildare, is the dayly sustenance of the Cite of Dyvelyn, (b) and the destruccionne of hit is like to be the fynall destruccionne of the said Cite, and the destruccionne of the said Cite wilbe cause of the destruccionne of the said lande, which God defend. The Maire and Comens of the said Cite wrote dybers tymes unto the righte reverend ffader in God John archiebiesshop of Ardmagh, depute lieutenant to the said Erle of Wiltesshire, to have this remedyed: at har instance the Kyng oure said Sovereyn lordes Consaill here, wrote to the said depute lieutenant for dyvers of thes oppressionns and mysgovernaunces that they shuld be remedyed, and he remedied them not. Also the said William Botiller after this destruccionne so done assessed upon smale Villages and Townes in the said Counte and Liberte of Mith, and in the said Counte of Kildare, certeyn summes of money to be reryd according to hys wyll, be cause of which he and his men rered in dyvers of the said villages grete and notable summes of money and in dyvers villages toke all the plowbestes and other bestes of the said villages, and the moost sufficiaunts husbandes, and held tham his prisoners, and ostages ther, to that ende that they shuld make fyne and raunson with him; uponthe which matere the said Maire and Comens compleyned also by mouth to the said Depute, and ther upon he ordeyred no remedy. And for as much as all this mysrule done by the said Henry, Edmond, and William, by statutes and lawes made in the said lande as well in the tyme of our said Sovereyn lorde as in the tyme of hys noble progenitoures, in trayson, and also who soever of the trewe liege people here, knowying such mysrule, wold not aryse to arrest such mysdoers, shuld bee deemed felones, the lordes and gentles of the Counte of Kildare consyderyng the emynent myscheve and ffynall destruccionne of the said Counte, and also the desolacionne of the said Cite, desired the said Maire and Comens to come into the said Counte of Kildare to put away the said William with his sequele and to abride all this mysrule; upon the which they went with the said lordes and gentles, and by the grace of God, avoided all the said mysrule out of the said Counte. Also please your Hynes to be advertysed that the said Wyllyam Boteller, Nicholas Wogan, David Wogan, and Richard Wogan, came with dyvers Irish enemys and English rebelles to the Castell of Rothcoffy ther, as Anne Wogan sumtyme wyffe to Oliver Eustace, then beyng the Kynges widue, was dwelling, and brant the yates of the said place, and toke hir with them and Edward Eustace, son and hire to the said Olyver, and sonne and heird apparent to the said Anne, and of the age of viij. yeres and yie holdeth them as prisoners, and toke godes and catals of the said Anne is to the value of Vc. (c ) marks. Also the said Henry with a grete multitude of people, armed in manere of were, came to Osbornestone in the said Counte, an ther toke and emprisoned Christophre Flatesby, and destrued and wasted the said Towne and toke all godes and catals of the said Christophre to the value of Cii. (d)
“Beseeching youre gracious remedy and help upon all thees materes; and for asmuch as thees materes been trewe and that it wold please youre Hynes to yeve faith and credence to thes premises, We NICHOLAS, Priour of the Hous of Conall, EDWARD FITZEUSTACE, Knyght, PORTREVES and COMENS of the Naas, PORTREVES and Comens of Clane, WILLIAM FITZEUSTACE, CHRISTOPHRE FLATESBY, NICHOLAS SUTTON, WALRAN FITZEUSTACE, JAMES SAUUERE, and JOHN WHITE, have put to this oure Seales. Written at the Naas the xxiij day of Januery, the yere of the reane of the King oure Soverayne lord that now is xxij to.”
The following extract from a letter-missive from the Parliament of Ireland to King Henry VI., dated 1435, refers to the same subject:- “Thies ben the articles of the Message of Irelande. First, that it please our sovraigne lorde graciously consider how that this lande of Ireland is welnegh destrued, and inhabyted with his enimys and rebelx in so much that yr is not left in the neithir parties of the Countees of Dyvelyn, Mith, Loueth, and Kyldare that youyn to gadir oute of the subjection of the sayd enemyes and rebelx scarisly xxx miles in lengthe and xx miles in breede ther as a man may surely ride other (or) go in the said Countees to answerre to the Kynges writtes and to his commandements.”
The town of Clane in A.D. 1515, stood on the bounds of the English Pale. In “State of Ireland, and Plan for its Reformation,” (State Papers, Ireland, Hen. VIII.Vol.I., p.I), the Pale is described as stretching “from the town of Dundalk, to the town of Darver, to the town of Ardee, always on the left side, leaving the marche on the right side, and so to the town of Sydan, to the town of Kells, to the town of Dangan, to Kilcock, to the town of Clane, to the town of Naas, to the bridge of Kilcullen, to the town of Ballymote, and so, backward, to the town of Rathmore, to the town Rathcoole, to the town of Tallaght, and to the town of Dalkey, leaving always the marche on the right hand, from the said Dundalk, following the same course to the said town of Dalkey.”
The earthen Rampart of the Pale may still be traced, for the length of about a mile, between Clane and Clongoweswood College, and again, in the parish of Kilcock. 
This district, formerly called Druim-Urchaille, in the vicinity of Dunadea, is associated with the missionary labours of St. Patrick. Having founded Churches and provided for the spiritual wants of his converts in Ulster and Meath, the Apostle of Ireland next directed his course towards Leinster. His course is traced in the learned researches of the author of Loca Patriciana, where it is stated that he passed into this Province between Kilglyn, near Kilcock, and Cloncurry. The Book of Armagh thus details his progress:- “Et perrexit ad fines Lageniensium ad Druim Uirchaille, et point ibi domum martyrum quae sic vocatur, quae sita est super viam magnam in valle, et est hic petra Patricii in via.” (Betham’s Antiq. Researches.) The Egerton tripartite adds that he remained a night at Druim Urchaille, in the house, or dun, of some petty toparch. An ancient Church-site crowns the ridge top at Druim Urchaille; the representative, perhaps, of the Martertech above referred to; it soon became a place of ecclesiastical importance, and continued so until the close of the ninth century, when, sharing, as it may be supposed, the fate of the neighbouring Churches in the devastations of the Danes, it sank into obscurity. (See Loca Patr. Part VII. Passim.)
In the Litany of St. Aengus, Ceile De, “the seven holy Bishops of Drom Airchaille,” are invoked. These seven Bishops, according to McFirbis, were descended from Conal, the grandson of Cairbre Niager, King of Leinster. The Annals of the Four Masters have the following entry:-“A.D. 837. Domhnall, son of Aedh, Abbot of Druim Urchailli died.” The name of this place signifies the Ridge of the Greenwood. The foundation of the Church which stood here may still be traced in what was formerly called the Foxcover field, now planted, and also an ancient road leading from it, now meeting the modern road at Dunadea demesne wall. Donmorchill was a Prebend of the Diocese of Kildare, and in the taxation, temp. Hen. VIII., is valued at 6s.
The original Church of this locality was probably founded by St. Mochatoc of Inisfail, one of the seven companions whom St. Patrick left with St. Fiacc of Sletty after his consecration. This Saint is referred to in the Trias. Th. as St. Patrick;s Chaplain. The Martyrology of Donegal gives his feast at Dec. 12th. He died about the close of the fifth century; his relics were preserved in Inisfail, in Wexford Harbour, until the year 819, when, in consequence of the incursions of the Danes, and to preserve them from desecration, they were removed to the Church of Sletty.  (Loca Patr. P. 225.) In Dr. MacGeoghegan’s List, Dunadea is called the Church of St. Peter; the ruins of the old church, and the cemetery, still used, are situate within the demesne, and close to the Castle of Dunadea. The inscription on the Alymer tomb, which formerly stood in this Church, and has been removed to the modern Protestant Church adjoining, gives the year 1626 as the date of its erection, but the portion of the ruin still standing would indicate a greater antiquity. Dunadea was a Prebend of the Diocese of Kildare, and is valued at £2 in the taxation of Henry VIII. The Aylmer tomb is in the shape of an altar and reredos. At one end is sculptured the Crucifixion, and at the other, the Blessed Virgin; on the front are figures representing the four Doctors of the Church. On the reredos are kneeling effigies of Sir Gerald Aylmer and his lady, with their children. The following is the inscription: “Pray for the soule of Dame Julia Nugent, daughter to Sir Christopher Nugent, 1˚ Baron of Delvin, and wife of Sir Christopher Aylmer, Knight and Baronet, by whom he had issue Andrew and Julia Aylmer. She deceased the 10 of November, Ann. Dom. 1617.
“The Inscripte.
“Pray for the soul of Sir Gerald Aylmer, Knight and Baronet, who built this chapel, tomb, and monument, and withal the Church and Chancel adjoining thereunto Ann. Dom. 1626. Deceased the 19 day of August, Ann. Do. 1634.”
“This Monument was removed from the old Church Nov. 1812, by Sir Fenton Aylmer, Bart.
“Stay passenger thy hastie foote,
This stone delivers thee,
A message from the famous twaine
That here entombed be.
Live well, for virtue passeth wealthe,
As we do finde it now,
Riches, Beautie, worldlie state,
Must all to virtue bow.”
An engraving of this monument is given in the Anthologia Hibernica, Vol. II., p. 81. An Inquisition, 5 & 6 Phil. and Mary, gives the name of “Richard Floras, Vicar of Dunedea.”
Dunadea Castle, the seat of the Aylmers, is an ancient castellated pile with some modern additions; it has no pretension to architectural beauty. It sustained a siege in 1691, when the wife of Sir Andrew Aylmer displayed much bravery in its defence. The Baronetcy, which is in a younger branch of the family, was created in 1621. The Aylmers of Dunadea were staunch Catholics until the commencement of the last century, when the faith was iniquitously and dishonourably filched from them by the Court of Wards, a branch of the Court of Chancery. In the same way Protestantism had been introduced into the Ducal House of Leinster a century previous. Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer, the 4th Bart., married, in June 1681, Lady Helen Plunkett, daughter of the Earl of Fingall, and, dying of the small-pox, 11 June 1685, was succeeded by his son, Sir Justin, then but three years old. He was left under the guardianship of his mother, who took him and his brother into France for their education, where they remained during the troubles of King James’s reign; notwithstanding which, she and they were outlawed for high treason, but, on her petition, the outlawry was reversed. In 1702, Sir Justin married Ellice, daughter of Sir Gerald Aylmer, of Balrath, Bart., and died in 1711, leaving two sons, Sir Gerald and Peter Justin, who, having been handed over by the Court of Wards to the custody of Matthew, Lord Aylmer, a Protestant, were, by him, reared in that religion. Dunadea Castle was a place of refuge for the Bishops and Priests of the Diocese of Kildare during the times of persecution. Of the P.P.s registered in 1704, three are stated to have been ordained in 1680, by Dr. Mark Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, at Dunadea. These ordinations probably took place in the Chapel of the Castle.
A MS., T.C.D. (fol. 2,6) states that “William Pilsworth, M.A. (Protestant), Prebendary of Dunadea, his wife and ten children, were stripped of everything in the Rebellion of 1641, and turned out of doors. The rebels threatened to hang him on his refusing to go to Mass, and he was actually tied to the gallows, when he was rescued by a priest whom he did not know.” (Cotton’s Fasti.)
At Blackwood, in this Parish, are the remains of a castle; an inscription over the doorway in raised lettering is as follows:-
“This Castle was made by Piers FitzGerald of Ballysonan and Elinor FitzGerald his wife, this 20 of August, 1584.” Underneath is a Shield with a St. Andrew’s Cross as a device. By an Inquisition, taken at Naas, 13th. Octr. 1637, it appears that this Piers FitzGerald died the 17th March, 1593, leaving James his son and heir; this latter died 24th April, 1637, and was succeeded by his relative, Piers FitzGerald, then 27 years of age, and married. Another Inquisition, also taken at Naas, 30th Decr., 1663, shows that the “townes and lands of Blackwood, Courtduffe, and Coolecorgan, 790 acres, and Geidenstowne, 297 acres, were, on the 23rd Octr., 1641, in the possession of Pierce FitzGerald of Ballyshannon, in the Co. Kildare, Esq., who, in Easter tearme in the 18th yeare of the raigne of Charles I., was indicted and outlawed of high treason, whereby all the premises aforesaid became forfeited to the sayd King, and are now in the hands of Lisly Dungan, widow, by a decree of the Courte of Claymes.” Pierce FitzGerald was a member of the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics which assembled at Kilkenny on the 10th of January, 1647.
This parochial district adjoins Dunadea, to the east. The site of the former church is marked by a disused burial-ground. In MacGeoghegan’s list it is named the Church of St. Mochuo: “Ecclesia Sti. Mochuo de Barryn.” In a Return made in 1731, by Dean Winter, Protestant rector of Dunadea and Balrahin, he says: “In my parish of Balrahin Francis Dillon lives, and has been the Parish Priest these ten years. There is a private Popish chapel at Rathcoffey, where he constantly officiates.” Rathcoffey was the residence of the Wogan family. The Wogans were of Welsh extraction, and settled in Ireland towards the close of the 13th century. Sir John Wogan was thrice Viceroy of Ireland in the reign of Edward I. R. Wogan was Lord High Chancellor in 1443. Colonel Wogan, a member of this family, saved the king’s life in the battle of Nazeby. Young Charles Wogan, afterwards Sir Charles, a near kinsman of the Colonel Wogan just named, and nephew of Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, was a Roman Patrician and Senator, and Colonel in the Spanish army. It is related of him, that “with but 1400 men, he held out for four hours against 20,000, losing half his soldiers, and thus secured a victory and conquest for the Prince he served.” His greatest exploit, however, was his rescuing from prison the Princess Clementina Sobieski, the fiancée of his master, Prince James Stuart, in reward for which he obtained the rank of Roman Senator. Mr. Gilbert thus refers to this event:- “An interesting episode in European History of the early part of the last century, was the liberation of the youthful Princess Clementina Sobieski, grand-daughter of John Sobieski, King of Poland, from detention at Innspruck, in the Tyrol. She was detained there by order of the Emperor Charles VI., in the hope that she might be induced to marry a nobleman in the Hanoverian interest, instead of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart, claimant to the throne of England, her affianced husband. The marriage of Clementina had, early in 1718, been negotiated for the Prince by his devoted adherent, Sir Charles Wogan of Rathcoffey, in the county of Kildare. Wogan had engaged in the unsuccessful Jacobite movement in Scotland, in 1715, was taken prisoner at Preston, and confined in the Tower of London, where he was placed in irons, and his trial and execution were expected to follow. With the assistance, however, of a few fellow-prisoners, who took the guard by surprise, he regained his liberty, evaded pursuit, and reached France in safety. Through the influence of England, all efforts to obtain the release of the Princess Clementina were frustrated. The task of liberating her was voluntarily and secretly undertaken by Sir Charles Wogan, with the approbation of her father and her affianced husband, both of whom gave him their authorization, as well as letters, desiring the Princess to place implicit confidence in him. By the Imperial orders, the safe custody of the Princess and her mother was intrusted to the General in command of the Tyrol, who consequently maintained a continuous military guard at their residence. The Privy Councillors of Innspruck were also charged with the safe keeping of the ladies, amongst whose domestics, for further security, they introduced secret agents. For this perilous enterprise Wogan obtained the co-operation of his relatives, Major Richard Gaydon, Captain Lucas O’ Toole, and Capt. John Misset, of the Irish Regiment of Dillon, then on the continent. After various difficulties, the release of the Princess was, in April, 1719, effected by Wogan, at midnight, in the midst of one of the most severe snow-storms and tempests ever known in the Tyrol. Notwithstanding innumerable obstacles, Wogan, with the Princess and his companions, succeeded in reaching Italian territory, where they were in safety. “The marriage took place in the same year, at Fiascone, at which Pope Clement XI., god-father to the Princess, officiated. All Europe was in admiration of the exploit (writes Father Hogan, S.J.), and the Duke of Wharton complimented Sir Charles Wogan upon it, thus:-
“Great in your verse as on the martial scene,
Whose essay was to free a captive Queen.
“Many documents,” Mr Gilbert observes, “connected with the Princess Clementina Sobieski and her escape, are extant among the Imperial Archives at Vienna and Innspruck. In recognition of their services on this occasion, a diploma of citizenship of Rome was conferred on Wogan and his three companions. This honour of Roman citizenship, it is stated, had not for many centuries been conceded to any foreigner in Italy. Sir Charles Wogan was the author of productions in Latin, French, and English, and some letters passed between him and Dean Swift. Four pages from the elegantly-executed official diploma of citizenship above referred to, have been reproduced in the Facsimiles of National MSS. of Ireland, Plate C.
Archibald Hamilton Rowan purchased the manor of Rathcoffey from Richard Wogan Talbot of Malahide, and built upon it the present mansion, having levelled, with the exception of an ancient gateway, the old castellated and fortified pile which had long been the residence of the Wogan family. This castle was captured in 1642 by Colonel Monk, afterwards Duke of Albemarle, on which occasion he made seventy prisoners, most of whom were executed in Dublin as rebels. (Gazetteer of Ireland). In the list of the Council of the Confederate Catholics assembled at Kilkenny, in January, 1647, the name of “Nicholas Wogan of Rathcoffey,” appears.
The old parochial Church of Mainham, or Menham, still exists in ruins. It was about 65 feet in length, by 18 in width. A tower with a stone staircase, stands on the south-eastern side, and appears to have been designed rather for military than ecclesiastical purposes. This church-ruin stands in the midst of an extensive burial-ground. We find here the grave of a former Parish Priest, over which a tablet bears the following inscription:
“Underneath lies the body of the Rev. Mark Kennedy, for 12 years P.P. of Rathcoffey, Clane, and Staplestown. He died, August 26th, 1821, aged 45 years.” A remarkable tumulus adjoins the churchyard. Here also is the mausoleum of the Browne family, who purchased Clongoweswood Castle from the Eustaces and changed its name to Castle Browne. In a Return made in November, 1731, by John Daniel, rector of Clane (see Vol. I., p.263), it is stated that “there was a mass-house at Menham, in which some 10 or 12 priests officiated on solemn occasions.” This Mass-house, or its immediate successor, still remains, having been converted into a smith’s forge. It is only a mud-wall structure, and is thatched. The Browne mausoleum stands outside the precincts of the grave-yard, for which an inscription, placed over the doorway, supplies the explanation; it is to the following effect:-“The within monument was prepared by the directions of Stephen Brown, Esq., the day it bears date, which he designed putting up in the opposite church, or adjoining to it, and said Brown apply’d several times to his minister, the Revd. John Daniel, for his consent, which he refused him unless said Browne would give him five guineas for soe doing. A gentleman whose character is remarkably well known, as well as his behaviour on several occasions to said Browne, and the clergyman in the dioces whose passion would prevent their Church to be imbelished, or enlarged, and to deprive themselves and their successors from the burial fees, and he has been the occasion of oblidging said Browne to erect said monument on his own estate of inheritance, which said Browne thinks proper to insert here to shew it was not by choyce he did it. May the 1˚ 1743.”
Rev. Mr. Daniel’s Return mentioned that “there was a private chapel at the house of Mr. Browne, at Castle Browne.” On the restoration of the Society, in 1814, the Jesuits purchased this place, and it is now the great educational establishment known as Clongoweswood College, the Fathers having given it back its previous name.
The old parochial Church here was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin; it is entered in Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list as “Ecclesia Sanctae Mariae de Ballynaffaghy.” The present Protestant Church occupies the site of the old Church, a small portion of the walls of which latter is still standing, to the east end.
The site of this Church is marked by a grave-yard, in which some of the walls of the Church remain, but are quite featureless. This Church, as we learn from the list of Dr. MacGeoghegan, was dedicated to St. Kynog:-“Ecclesia Sti. Kynogi de Tymochuo,” though its name_Tech-Mochuo, “Mochuo’s house,” would imply a connection with another Saint.
The Registry of Parish Priests of 1704, returns two names for the district now included in the parish of Clane-namely, (1) KEDAGH MOLLOY, residing at Dunadea, aged 51, P.P. of Dunadea, Downings, Timahoe, and Ballinafah; ordained in 1682, at Rome, by Cardinal Orpegna; and his sureties were, Colonel John Wogan, of Rathcoffey, and Nicholas Wogan, of the same, Gent.; (2) JOHN PORTER, residing at Clane, aged 48, P.P. of Clane and Mainham, ordained in 1683, at Franne, Co. of Meath, by Patrick Farrell, Bishop of Clogher,-and he had for his sureties, Patrick Wogan, of Richardstown, Gent., and Patrick Foley, of Mainham, Gent. Kedagh Molloy was still P.P. in Nov., 1731. A return of that date (see Vol. 1,p.263), names him as such, and states that he had been so for the preceding 40 years. The same return says that in the parish of Balrahin, “Francis Dillon lives and has been Parish Priest these ten years.”
ANDREW ENNIS appears to have been the next P.P. The inscription at the ruins of the Franciscan Monastery at Clane, already quoted, refers to him as the Parish Priest in 1738.
THE VERY REV. WILLIAM DUNNE, V.G., is the next Pastor of whom we have an account. It does not appear when Father Ennis died and Dr. Dunne succeeded. The latter died in the year 1793.
REV. JOHN DUNNE succeeded; he died in 1797.
REV. JOHN LALOR was, probably, P.P. after Fr. John Dunne; he became Parish Priest of Allen on the death of Dean William Lalor, in 1802.
REV. JOHN ROBINSON next had charge of this parish; he was translated to Monasterevan in 1810, in succession to Rev. Charles Doran and was succeeded by-
REV. MARK KENNEDY, who died, August 26th, 1821, and was interred at Mainham.
REV. MALACHY MCMAHON was the succeeding Pastor. He was P.P. of Suncroft, but consented to take charge of this parish at the request of Dr. Doyle, chiefly with a view of putting down Ribbonism, then rife in this neighbourhood. In a letter written to a personal friend, during his visitation in May, 1823, Dr. Doyle thus refers to Father McMahon:- “I came last night to the house of Rev. Mr. McMahon,- a splendid mansion, bestowed on him by Dean Digby, of the Established Church. After Mass I set out on my mission, to a district which no Bishop had visited perhaps for a century before. The inhabitants had been rude, wild, and intractable, but this good little man had gone amongst them without scrip, or coat, or money in his purse, and formed them into a new people, like the primitive Christians.” –Life of J.K.L.,p.242, 2nd Edn. Vol.II. Having accomplished the object of his mission, Fr. McMahon returned to Suncroft, where he died, Feb. 18th, 1868, aged 108.
REV. MAURICE KEARNEY was appointed P.P. on the retirement of Father McMahon, in 1824. He died, October 19th, 1842, and was interred in the parish Chapel at Clane. By his will he left a large sum,-accumulated chiefly through successful traffic in cattle-dealing,-to Carlow College, for the education of priests for the foreign missions.
REV. EDWARD CONROY, previously Administrator of Carlow, succeeded to the parish, on the death of Father Kearney. He died, December 15th, 1872, and has for his successor the present zealous Pastor, the REV. PATRICK TURNER, translated thither from the parish of Rhode.
(a)     vijxx. i.e. 27.
(b)     Dyvelyn, i.e. Dublin.
(c)     Vd. ie. 500
      (d)    Cii. i.e. 200.

A transcript of Rev. M. Comerford’s 1883 History of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, relating to the R.C. Parish of Clane.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed by Breid Kelly and Maria O’Reilly; edited by Niamh Mc Cabe]

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