PARISH OF NAAS.
THE name Nas, the Celtic form of Naas, to which the article le or the was prefixed in mediaeval times, is explained in Cormac’s Glossary as denoting "a fair, or place of meeting." From a very remote period until the 10th century, Naas was the chief residence of the Kings of Leinster. Their palace is supposed to have stood at what is popularly called the North Moat of Naas. The town was the capital of the district called Airther Life, and, after its desertion by the Kings of Leinster, continued to be the residence of the local chiefs. The Dun or Fort of Naas was built by Luighdeach Eithlenn, whence it was called Lis Luighdech. It was burnt by Cormac MacArt (King of Ireland from A.D. 254 to 277), to avenge the crime of Dunlang, King of Leinster.
In the Life of St. Fechin, of Fobhair, who died of the conall buidhe, or great plague, in A.D. 664, an account is given of his visit to Naas, his obtaining the liberation of certain captives, etc. A stone cross, erected to commemorate these events, was standing in the market place until late in the seventeenth century. "Crux lapidea in Platea Nazensi Sti. Fechini dicta." (AA., SS., 20 Jan.) At the sacking of Naas in 1577 by Rory O’ More and Cormac O’ Conor, it is related that the former sat at the market cross to witness the scene of destruction.
In A.D. 705, King Congal devastated Naas, and carried away hostages from Leinster. (Annals of the Four Masters.)
Under date A.D. 861, the same Annals record that "Muiregan, son of Diarmaid, Lord of Nas and Airther Life, was slain by the Norsemen;" and at the year 904 they relate that "Cearbhall, son of Muiregan, King of Leinster, was killed." Cearbhall was the last King of Leinster who resided at Naas. An old Irish MS. Poem preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin (H.1, 17, fol.98) records that "Nas is without a king ever since Cearbhall was slain."
It was this king who, in the preceding year, gained the celebrated battle of Ballymoon in which Cormac, King and Archbishop, lost his life. This is alluded to in the following lamentation on the death of Cearbhall:-
"Great grief that Liffe of ships is without Cearbhall, its befitting spouse,
A generous, staid, prolific man, to whom Ireland was obedient,
Sorrowful to me the hills of Almhain and Ailleann without soldiers,
Sorrowful to me is Carman, I do not conceal it, as grass is on its roads.
Not long was his life after Cormac who was dishonoured,
A day and a half, no false rule, and one year, without addition,
Ruler of a noble kingdom, King of Leinster of the troops of heroes;
Alas! That the lofty chief of Almhain has died through a bitter painful way.
Sorrowful for brilliant jewels, to be without the valiant, illustrious lord of Nas.
Although dense hosts have been slain; greater than all their sorrows is this Sorrow"
"Some say that the manner in which Cearbhall was slain was this: As he was going through the street of the stone step east-wards at Kildare, having a proud steed under him, when he came opposite the shop of a fuller, there, the fuller sent the congua (instrument) out, the horse being opposite it outside; the proud steed started back, so that he (the king) struck against his own javelin, which was in the hand of his own horse-boy, and Cearbhall died of that wound at the end of a year, and he was buried among his fathers in the cemetery of Nas; hence it is said:-
"There are nine kings of famous career, in Cill-Nais of shining lustre;
Muiregan, a hero without mistake, Ceallach, and Cearbhall the sensible,
Colman, Braen, and Bran the lively, Finn, Faelan, Dunchadh the bold,
In Corban’s Church, I have heard, their warlike graves were made."
–Fragments of Irish Annals, p.223.
This Cill Corban, or Church of Corban, the burial-place of the Christian Kings of Leinster, was at Kill, near Naas. The name of Corban who probably was one of our early Irish Saints, is still preserved in the name of a back street in Naas, called Corban’s Lane.
The town of Naas, and the country immediately around it, formed at the time of the English invasion the toparchy or subordinate principality of the sept MacEithlenn or MacCallan. After the Anglo-Saxon conquest, this district was granted to William Fitzgerald, son-in-law to Earl Strongbow, and passed successively to the families of De Londres and De Preston. Soon after the arrival of the English, the town was fortified, and at various subsequent dates it was made the site of various embattled or military dwellings. The presence of King John at Naas is noted in the State Papers of 1206-"Thursday, June 24th, at Naas, to the Earl of Salisbury, 10 marks paid to Robin de Camera, when the king lay in a tent;" and at June 26th, the payment at Naas, "to Robert de Burgate, for play, 5s., on account of the debt due to him." (Sweetman’s Cal. State Papers.) On 6th July, 1226, King Henry III. Granted to William Barun, "that he have till the king’s majority a fair at the manor of Nas, for eight days, from the vigil and during the octave of the Apostles SS. Simon and Jude"-that is from October 26th to November 4th.
"Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, his brother Edward, the Earl of Moray, John of Menteith, John Steward, and Philip Mowbray, encamped at the Salmon Leap and stayed there four days; they fired the town and plundered the church. . . . At last they went towards Naas. . . . . . They burned Naas and plundered the churches, and opened the tombs, staying two whole days." (Grace) Pembridge states that they opened the graves in the church-yard, in search of treasure, "ad quaerendum thesaurum".
In 1316 Naas was plundered by the Scots.
In 1419 a Parliament was held at Naas, under the presidency of Richard Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin, who was then Lord Deputy. There is no record of the business transacted on this occasion beyond that of granting a subsidy of 300 marks.
In 1534 Naas, which had been previously seized upon by Lord Thomas Fitzgerald, then in open rebellion, was re-taken by the Lord Deputy Skeffington.
A.D. 1561. William Florence was Constable of the Castle of Naas. Pardon of same, June 13th, 4˚ Elizabeth. (Pat. Rolls., Morrin, p. 462.)
A.D. 1575. Intense heat and extreme drought prevailed in the summer of this year; there was no rain for one hour, by night or day, from Bealtaine to Lammas (from 1st of May to1st of August.) A loathsome disease and a dreadful malady arose from this heat, namely, the plague. This malady raged virulently among the Irish and English in Dublin, in Naas of Leinster, Ardee, Mullingar, and Athboy. Between these places many a castle was left without a guard, many a flock without a shepherd, and many a noble corpse without burial, in consequence of this distemper. (Four Masters)
In 1577 Naas was to a great extent reduced to ashes by an irruption of Rory Oge O’ More, dynast of Leix, and Cormac O’ Conor, dynast of Offaly. Between 700 and 800 houses, which were chiefly thatched, are stated to have been destroyed.
Sydney gives the following account of the burning of Naas on this occasion:-"Rorie Oge O’ More and Cormocke Mack Cormocke O’ Connor, accompanied not with above 140 men and boyes, on the third monethe, burned betweene Vii. And viii C. thatched howsies, in a market towne called the Naas; they had not one horseman, nor one shot with theim; they ran through the town, beinge open, like haggs and furies of hell, with flakes of fier fastened on pooles ends, and so fiered the low thatched howsies; and being a great windie night, one howse took fiere of another in a moment; they tarried not half an houre in the town, neither stoode they upon killinge or spoylinge of any. There was above fyve hundred mennes boddies in the towne manlyke enough in appearance, but neither manfull, nor wakeful as it seamed; for they confesse they were all aslepe in their bedde, after they had filled themselves and surfeyted upon their patrone day; which day is celebrated, for the most part, of the people of this country birthe, with gluttonye and idollatrye as farre as they dare."
On the 1st February, 1641, the Republican Lords Justices, Parsons and Borlase, sent out the Earl of Ormonde with a powerful army on an expedition to the county Kildare, where, "pursuant to orders, he burnt Newcastle and Lyons, and gave up Naas to his soldiers to plunder, having sent out parties to burn Castlemartin, Kilcullen Bridge, and, in short, all the country for 17 miles in length and 25 in breadth." (Carte’s Ormonde, Vol. I., p .246) Need we, therefore, wonder at finding that in the following year the borough of Newcastle, as well as the adjoining village and castle of Lyons, and the town of Naas, "were reported as great receptacles for the prime gentlemen of the Royal party in Kildare"? Borlase, the Protestant historian, relates the following affecting incident in connection with this expedition:-"In this expedition to the county of Kildare the soldiers found a priest, one Mr. Higgins, at Naas, who might, if he pleased, have easily fled if he apprehended any danger in the stay. When he was brought before the Earl of Ormonde he voluntarily confessed that he was a Papist, and that his residence was in the town, from whence he refused to fly away with those who were guilty (that is, of the rising of 1641), because he not only knew himself very innocent, but believed that he could not be without ample testimony of it, having by his sole charity and power preserved many of the English from the rage and fury of the Irish; and therefore he only besought his lordship to preserve him from the fury and violence of the soldiers, and put him securely into Dublin, though with so much hazard, that when it was spread abroad among the soldiers that he was a Papist, the officer in whose custody he was entrusted was assaulted by them, and it was as much as the Earl could do to compose the meeting. When his lordship came to Dublin he informed the Lords Justices of the prisoner he had brought with him, and of the good testimony he had received of his peaceable carriage, and of the pains he had take to restrain those with whom he had credit from entering into rebellion, and of many charitable offices he had performed, of all which there wanted not evidence enough, there being many then in Dublin who owed their lives, and whatever of their fortunes was left, purely to him. Within a few days after, when the Earl did not suspect the poor man being in danger, he heard that Sir Charles Coote, who was Provost-Marshal-General, had taken him out of prison and caused him to be put to death in the morning before, or as soon as it was light, of which barbarity the Earl complained to the Lords Justices, but was so far from bringing the other to be questioned that he found himself upon some disadvantage for thinking the proceeding to be other than it ought to have been." This Father Higgins was a Dominican. His fate is thus recorded in the Hib. Dominicana, page 561:-"Father Peter Higgins, an alumnus of the Dublin Convent, at the commencement of the war was taken prisoner by the heretics, and although not accused of any crime, but on the contrary, many of the heretics proclaimed his innocence, yet was he condemned to death, and having thrice confessed to his prior and received absolution from him-for he made his way into the prison in disguise-publicly professing his innocence and his firm adherence to the Catholic faith and our holy Order, he was hung in the public place of Dublin, on the 23rd of March, 1641. His constancy under torment, and the joy expressed in his countenance, moved many of the heretics to tears; but on the other hand rather excited the fury of those who vented their rage on his body by all sorts of insults; and refusing to allow it to be buried in the city; and as it was carried out of the gate, one broke the skull with a bullet from a gun and inflicted divers other like injuries."
This same year another (1) Dominican Father of the same name, The Rev. Father Peter O’ Higgins, Prior of Naas, obtained the palm of constancy in Dublin. This pious and eloquent man was arrested and brought before the Lords Justices, Parsons and Borlase, charged with dogmatising, or, in other words, seducing the Protestants from their religion. Now, when they failed to sustain any capital charge against him, they sent to inform him that if he abandoned his faith he might expect many and great privileges, but all depended on his embracing the English faith. That they were resolved to sacrifice him he knew right well; so that on the very morning of his execution, the messenger came to his prison with the terms proposed by the justices. O’ Higgins, in reply, said, "Alas! I am not so weary of life as to wish for speedy dissolution; but if your masters are so anxious to preserve me, return and ask them to forward, in their own handwriting, an instrument leaving life and death to my own option; so that if I shall have renounced the Roman Catholic religion in presence of the gibbet, the terrible circumstance in which I have been placed may extenuate the guilt attaching to what is deemed apostasy." The justices, thinking he was shaken in his mind, ordered the conditional pardon to be handed to him on the first step of the ladder, and it was so handed to him by the executioner. He bowed courteously on receiving it, and loud was the exultation of the heretical mob who thought they were about to catch a convert. Now, when he stood exposed to the view of God and man, he exhibited to all around the instrument which he held, and, commenting on it with warmth, convicted his impious judges of their own avowed iniquity. Knowing well that there were Catholics in the crowd, he addressed them in such words as these:-
"Dear brethren, children of the Holy Roman Church, since the day I fell into the cruel hands of the heretics who stand around me, I have endured much hunger, great insults, dark and foetid dungeons; and the doubt as to what was the cause seemed to me to render the palm of martyrdom doubtful; for it is the cause, not the death, that makes the martyr. But the omnipotent God, the Protector of my innocence, and who ordereth all things sweetly, has so arranged that although I have been accused as a seducer and a criminal by the laws of the land, yet to-day in me it is the Catholic religion only that is condemned me to death. Behold here an undoubted witness of my innocence-a pardon signed by the king’s representatives offering me not only life, but large gifts if, even now, I renounce the Catholic religion. But I call God and man to witness how freely I reject this, how gladly I now embrace my doom in and for the profession of that faith." Having thus spoken and thrown the pardon to a friend in the crowd, he desired the executioner to do his office. When the body was hanging and the executioner pulled at it several times, yet, heaving a loud sign, he uttered Deo Gratias, and so, having disappointed the expectation of the heretics, he went to his God. (Dom. A Rosario, translated by Father Meehan, p. 199.)
Another member of the Dominican community at Naas, the Rev. Thomas Bermingham, had the happiness of suffering many things for the sake of Christ. In the Acta Cap. Gen., sub anno, 1656, Mon. Dom., we are informed that "in this year the venerable servant of God, Father Thomas Bermingham, died in exile for the faith, in great reputation for sanctity. After the example of the early fathers he was most assiduous in prayer and a great mortifier of his body, which he often beat even to blood. He watched and fasted much, and slept on a hard board. He by prayer obtained aid for the Catholics who were besieged in Naas. [Elsewhere it is related that the inhabitants being hard pressed by the enemy, he caused the image of St. Dominic to be carried in procession, whereupon the saint appeared to both besiegers and besieged, and so terrified the former that they fled in disorder.] At length he was taken prisoner by the heretics who thirsted for his blood. They stripped him of the habit of his order, and in derision clothed him in that of the Friars Minors, and amongst the insults and blows of the soldiery, he was dragged to Dublin, where he was long kept a prisoner, and at length was sentenced to be transported to the Barbadoes to be there sold as a bond slave. But a ransom having been paid for him by the Lords Constantine and Felix O’ Neill and Hugh O’ Rorke, he was sent to Spain, whence he proceeded to Rome, and having visited the most celebrated shrines in Italy, he ended his course, and departed to eternal life."
Subjoined are the passages in De Burgo’s Hib. Dom., relating to Fathers Higgins, O’ Higgins, and Bermingham, pp. 561, 574:-
"P. Fr. Petrus Higgin (coenobii Dubliniensis Alumnus,) qui post initum a Catholicis Regni Hiberniae pro fide et Patria libertate bellum, ab hereticis captus, post tetrum carcerem, et diuturnam inediam, nemine licet accusante, quin potius plurimis ex ipsis hereticis innocentem verbo et scripto acclamantibus, facta ter sacramentali Confessione Priori suo, simulato habitu ad eum accedenti, et Absolutione toties percepta, publice de innocentia sua, Fide Catholica, et Ordine Praedicatorum, quem professus est. testimonium reddens, patibulo in Foro civitatis Dubliniensis suspensus, obiit die 23 Martii 1641. Ejus in tormentis constans animus, et animi in vultu expressa laetitia, ex ipsis haereticis complures ad lacrymas, et singultus movit; alios ad majorem rabiem, qui in defunctum cadaver furorem suum resumentes, nedcum ludibrio omnium exposuerunt. Sepulturam ei intra civitatem denegarunt, extra portas cum duceretur sclopeti ictu caput ei fregerunt, variisquee id genus injuriis affecerunt." (Acta Capituli Gen. Romae, 1644, p. 119.) "Eodem anno (1641) R.P. Fr. Petrus O’ Higgin (non idem qui supra) Prior Nassensis, eximiae constantiae palmam Dublinii adeptus est. Adductus Proregi ibidem, et quod orthodoxam Fidem seminaret in populo accusatus, tentatur lautis promissionibus si ad sectam Anglicanam transire vellet, quod ubi constantissime recusavit, damnatus ad laqueum glorioso certamine Victor obiit." Acta Gen. Capit. Romae, 1656, p. 157. "De eodem haec habet, Daniel noster O’ Daly, alias Dominicus de Rosario-R. P. Fr. Petrus O’ Higgin, Prior Conventus Nasensis, et Verbi Domini Praedicator eximius, ab haereticis captus, ante Proregem Hiberniae Dublinii sistitur tanquam Dogmatizans contra Religionem Anglicanam, de seductione populi accusatur, in carcere aliquanto tempore detentus, cum in illum authentice probari nihil posset, quo secundum leges regni capite plectendus fuisset, libertatis usura, et muneribus magnificis a Prorege donandus declaratur, si abdicta Religione Romana Anglicanam sectam amplecti vellet. Mane Diei quo ad patibulum ducendus erat, a Prorege destinatur nuncius ad patrem in carcere benigna conditio proponitur: verum intrepidus et prudens Pater respondens quasi veneficus incantans sapienter: Hodie, inquit, ad patibulum ducor, nec ulli dubium esse potest quin natura, mortis impatiens, vita nihil charius extistimet, nec meae me vitae taedium adeo urget, ut ad mortem properare cupiam nisi necessitas cogat. Sponsionis suae Authographum ad me mittere Dignetur Prorex, optionem vitae aut mortis penes me integram et inviolatam relinquens, ut si vitae meae cupidus religionem abdicavero, saltem ipsa mortis praesentia me a calumnia quodammodo excusare videatur. Prorex jam ratus hominem animo consternatum, et pene victum, actutum executionem jubet, Schedulam sponsionis sub praemissa conditione signat, Authographum mittit, ascendenti magnanimo Patri primum gradum Schedula porrigitur, Schedulam subridens accipit. Exultant haeritici, ad partes suas abscitum hominum ducturi in triumpho forte, et Catholicis candalum verentur: Verum homo Dei sui compos ascensum non declinat, hilarior sursum nititur, in aperto jam, editoque vertice constitutus, chartulaur a Prorege signatam manu ventilans, injusticias haereticorum obloquitur confidenter, judicemque suam de iniqua sententia ex propria scriptura condemnat, Catholicos circumstantes effatur in hunc modum:-Charissimi fratres, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae cultores, ex quo tempore in saevas adstantium haereticorum manus incidi, inedias longas, contumelies plurimas, et caceres obscuros, et faetidos pertuli, incerta mihi paenae causa dubiam quoque martyrii Palmam fecisse videbatur. Martyrem enim non facit paean sed causa. Providens autem Deus omnipotens innocentiae meae Protector, disponens omnia suaviter ita rem gessit, ut quantumvis seductor accusatus, aut legalibus regni criminibus impetitus, hodie sola in me Religionis Catholicae nota damnatur ad mortem, ecce authenticum innocentiae meae testem, Libellum incolumitatis et sponsionis proregiae Authographum, quo amplissimorum munerum cumulates cum vitae usura profertur, si jam a Religione Catholica deseivero. Deum autem testor, et hominess quam securus et constans haec respuo, quam lubens et gaudens in et pro hac Professione hunc Agonem amplector. His dictis, projecta e manibus ad amicum quendam, executorem jubet officium suum actutum praestare. Excusso autem et vibrato deorsum corpore, multisque desuper impulsibus carnificis quassato, suoque tandem pondere non parva quiete pensili, alto quodam suspirio eructat Deo Gratias, sicque delusa Proregis astusia, et haereticorum expectatione confusa, migravit."
"P. Fr. Thomas Bermingham, Anno 1655, exul, non sine odore eximiae probitatis animam, multo pro Fide aerumnis ac laboribus exercitam, Deo redditit. Erat is insigniter eruditus, ac mire deditus orationi, in qua noctes integras consumebat. Rigidus carnis suae domitor asperimis disciplines ad sanguinis effusionem creberrime se affligebat, jejuniis et abstinentia exhaustus. Somnum in duro scamno, et ligneo cervicali libabat potius quam capiebat. Incendii Conventus Nasensis (cujus tunc erat Prior) vi precum extinctionem impetravit. Similiter obsessae civitati Nasensi orans praesidio fuit, quando promisso civibus et militibus coelesti auxilio contra Fidei hostes in orationem procubuit, ipso delatae Thaumaturgae Imaginis Sorianensis Anniversario die (scilicet die 15 Sept. quo commemoration miraculosae istius Imaginis a Fratribus Praedicatoribus celebratur), obtinuit, quod S. Pater Dominicus palam appareret in fastigio templi, ipsis quoque inimicis conspicuus, ex quo paulo post civitas ab obsidione liberata fuit. Demum ab haereticis captus, ac direpto proprio Ordinis habitu, vestem Patrum Minorum S. Francisci indutus, inter scommata, ludibria, militumque barbaras petulantias veluti agnus Dublinium adducitur, ubi instar fatui exagitatus, conjectusque in carcerem, demum cum aliis Confessoribus subiit sententiam Deportationis ad Insulas Barbadas; at Lytro per Dominos constantinum et Felicem O’ Neil, et D. Hugonem O’ Roirk oblato, in Hispanicum littus emissus, Romam adiit, ac visitatis sacratoribus Italiae Locis, vitae cursum feliciter explevit."-Capit. Generale Romoe, 1656, p.154.
Further information regarding Father Bermingham will be found in the Contemporary Hist. of affairs in Ireland, 1641-’52, part i. p. 256. He is there stated to have been Prior of the convent at Athy when that house was attacked by Preston, in 1648.
In 1648 Naas was garrisoned by Ormond for King Charles, but in 1650 it was captured for Cromwell by Colonels Hewson and Reynolds.
Some interesting relics of these penal times are still preserved in the parish; an altar-stone bearing the inscription J.M. 1647; and also a beautiful little silver chalice, only six inches in height, and permitting the cup to be unscrewed from the base. It bears the following inscription-"Pater Joannes mac Sihi me fieri fecit, Anno Dom. 1685."
In 1798 one of the first overt acts of insurrection was an attack made on the 24th of May on Naas, by a party of United Irishmen, under the command of a farmer named Michael Reynolds. The garrison, composed of the Armagh militia and the local yeomanry, succeeded in repelling the attack after a severe action in the streets of the town. The insurgents retreated with a supposed loss of 150 killed and wounded. Disgraceful military executions and other excesses followed. (Life of St. David, by Fr. O’ Hanlon).
Naas is a borough of great antiquity, and probably by prescription. It has charters of Henry V., Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I. The borough limits, according to the charter of Elizabeth, include "all the lands, tenements, rents, and services, and all and singular other hereditaments, which were (then) known, accepted or reputed as part and number of the town of Naas, or within the precincts thereof," but it neither defines the included lands, nor indicates how far they extended from the centre of the town. They certainly comprised a considerable district around the whole town, and probably extended three miles north and as far south; they have for a long period been practically unknown. The following very curious document, the original of which is in the possession of G. P. L. Mansfield, Esq., of Morristown Lattin, indicates the corporate boundaries of Naas. It is endorsed Naas Corporation, and is without date.
"Memorandum how ye rod and maise was carried round ye Corporation. From Johnstown foard up by ye red mill and followed ye mill rase to Browns parke up to Buttermilk hill, from which under ye laken Ballkeain to Craddoxtown foard up ye watter corse to Broadfield, true George Clarke’s parke to ye old mill of Killishey one farm land of Mr. Greadon’s to ye Earl of Kildare’s bush on ye road of Kilcullen to Thomas Burke, Esqrs land to ye yealow acre, and from that by ye mill rase to Siginstown gate, from which to Eglenton’s medow to Cloran Clarles leding down by attemosoge and ye Commons to ye Nox, from thence by ye mill rase to ye back of Osborstown Groffs to ye foard of Sallens from that by ye draine to Johnstown foard."
The Corporation according to the charter of Elizabeth, was styled "The Sovereign, Provosts, Burgesses, and Commonalty of Naas," and consisted of a sovereign, two provosts, and an indefinite number of burgesses and freemen.
The following particulars relative to the Corporation of Naas, are taken from the Patent Rolls, Morrin, p.526:-
Privileges sought to be granted to the town of Naas. "That the burgesses and commons may erect and fortify the borough with foss, and walls of lime and stone: that the town shall be a free borough town, and the burgesses and commons shall have all liberties and free customs belonging to a borough town; that they may, every year, on the feast of St. Michael, the Archangel, choose and make, of themselves, a Sovereign and two Portrieves to keep the borough, and to hold the courts concerning the same, and to do and execute, as justice shall require, all other things in the same borough which shall touch the same or the burgesses." "That the said Sovereign and Portrieves, the day of their election, immediately after the election of them, before the burgesses and commons, yield a corporal oath upon the Holy Evangelists, well and truly to behave themselves towards the Queen, her heirs and successors, and of all the liberties and free customs of that borough, and also in the execution of their offices. That the Sovereign and his successors for the time being, shall have authority and power to have a mace carried before him and his successors, within the said borough and the franchises. That the Sovereign, Portrieves, Burgesses and Commons shall be one corporate body, and shall have perpetual succession. That all lands, tenements, rents and services, with their appurtenances, which unto the day of this privilege granted, have been parcel of the town, or within its precinct, shall be within the franchises’ jurisdiction and liberty of the town and borough. That the Sovereign and Portrieves shall have the returning of all the Queen’s writs and mandates, and execution of the same, which by any means shall touch the said borough, so that no sheriff or other minister of the Queen shall execute his office there for anything pertaining to the borough, but in default of the Sovereign and Portrieves, unless for the Queen, her heirs and successors. That the Sovereign, Portrieves, Burgesses and Commons of the borough shall have jurisdiction and cognisance of all manner of pleas personal, and also power and authority to hold before the said Sovereign and Portrieves all pleas of any cause growing or coming within the town, borough or franchises, and the precinct thereof. That they may make one process and execution upon all such pleas personal as the Mayor and Portrieves of the town of Drogheda have used or may use. That the Sovereigns, Portrieves, Burgesses, and Commons shall have jurisdiction to hold plea of assizes in nature of frisca forcia of the lands within the town, and authority to hold the said assizes before the Sovereign and Portrieves, and that they make one process and execution upon the same, as the mayor and sheriffs of Drogheda have uesd, do use, or may use. That they may have all manner of issues, profits, and amerciaments of the said plea personal, and of the assizes aforesaid, and also the goods of infangethefe for ever, for reparation and fortification of the walls and ditches of the town, and for the paving thereof. That the Sovereign and Portrieves shall be justices of the peace within the town, and borough, and franchises, and that they may do that which belongs to the office of justice of the peace in all points within the town. That the Sovereign, Portrieves, Burgesses, and Commons shall have a market on Monday, every week, in the town or borough, at a certain place to be appointed for that purpose. That the Sovereign and Portrieves shall be escheators and clerks of the market, and have correction of all manner of weights and measures within the town and franchises, and may do that which unto an office of escheators and clerks of the market pertaineth, and that no other shall be escheator or clerk of the market within the town or franchises, but the said Sovereign and Portrieves; provided that their doings may be discussed in the Queen’s Bench, and there corrected as shall appertain. That the Sovereign and Portrieves shall be coroners within the said town or borough, and franchises of the same, and may do all that belongs to the office of coroner in all points, and that none others shall be coroner within the borough and franchise. That they shall not plead nor be impleaded elsewhere than within the said borough, before the Sovereign and Portrieves, for trespass or contracts, or any other matters personal done within the borough or franchises. That the Sovereign or Portrieves, by themselves or their deputies, may take and receive all the customs under written; for every horse sold within the town or franchises, two pence; for every cow, two pence; for every goat, one penny; for every pig, one half-penny; for every sheep, one farthing; for every sack of corn, one half-penny; for every hide or skin of the value of an ox-hide, one half-penny; for every body of a cert or plough, so sold, one penny; for every pair of wheels, one penny; for merchandise of the value of two shillings, one half-penny; for merchandise of the value of five shillings, one penny; and all other customs and profits of all things sold within the said town and franchise of the same, as the bailiffs of Dundalk receive and levy within the town and franchises of Dundalk; the said Sovereign and Portrieves, and their successors, yielding and paying yearly for the said customs to the Queen, so much yearly rent as the former who now hath the same doth pay.
"That the Sovereign, Portrieves, and Burgesses, or the most part of them, shall have authority to make and ordain such laws, customs and orders within themselves, from time to time, as shall seem good unto them for the behoof and profit of the borough, so as the same be not contrary to the Queen’s Majesty’s laws, and if occasion require, to moderate or revoke any of them at their discretion. That it shall not be lawful for any manner of person that comes to the town to buy there on the market day, any wares or cates, saving for his present sustenance, but between 8 o’clock before noon, and 3 o’ clock afternoon, except it be of a freeman of the town, upon pain of forfeiture of the things so bought to the use of the borough, for reparation thereof. That no foreign merchant or merchants shall, by retail, sell to any merchant, wares that come from beyond the sea, within the borough or franchises, without licence of the Sovereign or his brethren. That all waifs and strays that shall lawfully fall within the said town or franchises thereof, shall go and be taken to the maintenance and reparation of the town. That it shall not be lawful for any person dwelling within the said borough to use merchandise, or any other faculty, handicraft, or occupation there, except he be admitted and allowed as a freeman by the Sovereign and his brethren."
"The Queen’s Majesty hath accorded to these articles. Signed W. Cycyll. Oct. 29, 1568"
Accordingly the Queen, on the 18th July, in the eleventh year of her reign, granted a charter conformably with these articles, to the Corporation of Naas, but which is not to be found on record; it ordains that all the lands, tenements, rents, and services, and all other hereditaments which then were known, accepted or reputed as part and member of the town or the precincts thereof, should from thenceforth for ever be within the franchises, liberties, and jurisdictions of the town and borough; and contains the schedule of tolls above enumerated. In the Patent Roll 2˚ Henry V., a. 103, is a grant to the Portrieve, Burgesses, and Commonalty of the town, of tolls upon all things coming to the town for sale, for 20 years, for the purpose of walling and fortifying the town. This charter establishes the fact of the existence of the Corporation so long ago as the year 1414. In an act of the Lord Deputy and Privy Council, dated 16th April, 7˚ James I., a petition of the Sovereign, Portrieves, and Burgesses to the Privy Council in England, is recited, praying, amongst other matters, "that the villages of Osberston and Gingerstown might be contained within the liberties of the town." The Council after granting part of the request, by omitting to notice particularly that portion of it which sought for the extension of the limits, conclude by saying that "as touching the residue of the requests, they did not think them fit to be granted."
In 1833 it was found that no burgesses and only two freemen were resident within the borough, that only eight burgesses and seven freemen were anywhere in existence, and that six of these burgesses and three freemen were members of Lord Mayo’s family, whilst all others were his nominees and creatures. No instance was known, at the date of the Municipal Corporation Inquiry, of a Dissenter or a Catholic having been admitted to the burgeship or freedom. Two members were sent to the Irish Parliament, nominally by the borough of Naas, but really by Lord Mayo, and the £15,000 of compensation for disfranchisement at the period of the Union were paid to John Earl of Mayo, the Hon. And Rev. Richard Burke, and the Sovereign, Portrieve, Burgesses, and community of the Borough of Naas. (Gale’s Corporate System,clxi.) The town of Naas gives the title of Viscount to the Earl of Mayo. The Parliamentary representatives of Naas in 1560 were Draycot and John Sherlock; in 1585 James Sherlock and Lewis; in 1613 Wm. Latten and Chr. Sherlock. The following were amongst the notabilities of Naas in 1618:-The Provost of Naas, Ash; jurors for the king, barony of Naas-Eustace, of Mullagheash, Sherlock, Kenna, Latten, Kelly, and Walter Archbold, all of Naas; barony of Connell-Eustace, of Siggenstown. The coroners for County Kildare at the same date were Fitzgerald of Osberstown, and Fitzgerald of Blackhall. (State of Ireland in 1598.)
In the course of his apostolic journeyings, St. Patrick paid more than one visit to Naas. The Tripartite Life tells that, passing from Meath, the Irish apostle went afterwards to Naas. "The site of his pupal (or tent) is in the green of the fort, to the east of the road; and his well is in the north of the fort, where he baptised Dubhlang’s two sons, Oilill and Illann, and Oillil’s two daughters, Moaghain and Fiedelm, and their father dedicated them to God and Patrick from their consecrated virginity, and he (Patrick) blessed the veils on their heads." Father Shearman (Loca Patriciana) remarks that all these places may still be traced. The spot where the tent of St. Patrick was pitched is that now occupied by the Protestant Church, which lies to the east of the moat, between which and the church is the street representing the road mentioned in the extract. The dun, or fort, is the north moat, nearly opposite to the church. The green, or faitche, of Naas, lies south-east of the dun, extending to the south moat; and the fair green, which occupies, with a portion of the main street, the old place of assembly for military and civic purposes. St. Patrick’s well is at a considerable distance from the moat, towards the north, in the lands of Oldtown; this was the scene of the baptism of the two sons of King Dubhlang. At Millbrook, at the eastern verge of the town, is another holy well, called Sunday well, where St. Patrick also baptised some of his converts on this or a subsequent occasion. The Vita trip. Relates that St. Patrick sent for Faelan, the steward of the fort, that he pretended to be asleep, through derision, and that St. Patrick said: "I would not wonder if it were his last sleep," and so it proved; they found him dead. Hence the saying, still in use in Colgan’s time: "Like the sleep of Faelan in the fort of Naas."
MONASTERY OF TULACH-FOBHAIR.
The first religious foundation at Naas of which there is any record was a monastery, founded in the 7th century, by St. Fechin of Fobhair, at Tullagh Fobhair, which is stated by Colgan (AA. SS. P. 142) to have been near Naas. This monastery was built upon a tract of land given for the purpose by the King of Leinster. A mill, according to the old record, formed part of the grant. Father O’ Hanlon (Life of St. Fechin, Jan. 20) concludes that the spot where this monastery stood is identical with the present Millbrook. The well, blessed and used by St. Patrick in baptising his converts, being here, may have led to the selection of the place as one already in some sort set apart for religious purposes.
PRIORY AND HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN.
In the 12th century a Baron of Naas founded a priory, which afterwards had an hospital attached to it, under the invocation of St. John the Baptist, for Canons Regular of the order of St. Augustine (Ware). The site on which this house stood is close to, and nearly opposite, the present Catholic church, and to the rere of the parochial residence. This monastery suffered severely in 1316, when Naas was sacked by Edward Bruce, but it was afterwards restored. It appears to have been at all times poor in worldly possessions. Some 40 years ago a handsome silver chalice was found in the ruins of this monastery. Elaborate armorial bearings are engraved on the cup, and around the foot runs the inscription: "Joannes et Catharina Fleming, me fieri fecerunt. Orate pro eis, 1729."(7)
ANNALS OF THE PRIORY OF ST. JOHN.
A.D. 1317. William de London granted to Thomas, then Prior, the mill of Kilcussey, for the term of twenty years; on the 10th July a licence was granted to John Roche, Geoffrey de Brett, and William de London, to make over to the Prior, three messauges, with their appurtenances, in Naas, together with the advowson of the rectory and vicarage of Tylaghty (King, p. 205).
A.D. 1326. Some lands in Walterstown and Stoningstown, in the county of Meath, were granted, by licence, to this house, in pure and perpetual alms (King). In the same year King Edward III., for a fine of 40s., from Thomas, prior of the very poor house of the Hospital of St. John, and through a motive of charity, granted a licence to him to acquire from Master Maurice Jakis(8) one messuage, together with a mill, 100 acres of arable land, 40 of meadow, and 400 of pasture, in Walterstown and Styvenstown (King)
A.D. 1337. John, who succeeded Thomas as prior, sued William de Enedeken de Stowl for a messuage, two acres of arable land, three of meadow, and the moiety of a mill in Walterstown and Bernardstown, near Norney, which the said William had obtained by disseizing Thomas, predecessor of the present prior (King).
A.D. 1344. King Edward III. Did, for a fine of 20s., further grant to this very poor hospital a licence to acquire certain lands in Walterstown and Styvenstown (King).
A Patent Roll, 26th July, 31st of Henry VIII., records the surrender of the hospital, monastery, or house of St. John the Baptist, of Naas, of the order of St. Augustine, by Thomas Poswyck, Prior, with the consent of the Convent, with all its possessions in Naas, Siggenstown, Walterstown, Tresteldermot (Castledermot), Edeston, and the rectories or churches of Naas and Whitechurch, in the county of Kildare, and all goods, chattels, utensils, ornaments, and jewels. Endorsed on this surrender is a memorandum, that the Prior and Convent assembled in the chapter-house, voluntarily acknowledged the previous surrender, etc. (Morrin, 134-5.)
On the 23rd of August following, a pension of £9 Irish, was granted to Thomas Poswicke, late Prior of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist of Naas; and 40s.to Lawrence Byrley, one of the friars of the same late hospital; payable out of the rents and profits of the church and rectory of Whitechurch, in the county of Kildare. (Id., p. 59.)
By a Patent, dated 23rd October, 1553,the possessions of this house, amounting in the whole to the value of £35 18s. 2d, were granted to Richard Mannering. (Harris’s Collect.)
From an Inquisition, temp. Elizab., it appeared that 5 acres in Styvenstown and a mill in ruins, annual value, 6d., parcel of the possessions of this hospital, had been for a long while concealed by Edward Misset, of Dowdingstown (King).
A convent for Dominican friars was erected in Naas, under the invocation of St. Eustachius, by the family of Eustace, who endowed the same, in 1355 (King). It stood in the centre of the town. De Bugho, in Hib. Dom., published A.D. 1762, remarks that "a public inn is now erected upon part of the foundation." The site of this monastery is supposed to be the place now occupied by the Hibernian Bank. Every vestige of the building has disappeared.
An Inquisition, dated 9th May, 34th year of reign of King Henry VIII., finds that Richard Walshe, the last prior, was, on 30th March, 31st of same king, seized of a church and belfry, chapter-house, hall, store, kitchen, and cemetery; also of 5 messuages, 10 gardens, 15 acres of arable land, 3 of pasture, a mill and watercourse, and the —-of same, in Naas, all tithe free; annual value, besides reprises, £5 (Chief Remembrancer). And, on the Tuesday after the feast of St. Nicholas, Bp., the same year, it was found that on the 30th April, 31st of same king, the prior was seized of a church and belfry, hall, 2 chambers, and a kitchen; also of 3 gardens, 5 acres of arable land, and one of pasture, in Naas; annual value, besides reprises, 14s. (Id.)
This friary, with its appurtenances, and 5 messuages, 11 gardens, 15 acres of arable land, and three of pasture, were granted together with the Gray Friary of Clane, to Sir Thomas Luttrell, Knt., and his heirs, etc., in capite, at the yearly rent of 9s. 4d. Irish money (Auditor General, 15th June, 34th Henry VIII).
The following is the notice, somewhat abbreviated, of this Convent given by Dr. De. Burgo, in his Hib. Dom., p. 293. "De Nasensi Caenobio S. Eustachii in Kildarensi Comitatu Lageniae, anno 1356. Nasa, Hibernice Nass (id. est Cataracta) Anglice Naas, Burgus est mercatorius, ut vocant, seu emporium non minus concinnum quam exiguum, Baroniae ejusdem nominis caput, in Agro et Diocesi Darensi, titulum praebens Baronis, qui insimul Vicecomes est de Gormanstown, Jenicus nempe de Preston, Catholica Religione clarus. Nundinae ibi habentur bis in anno, scilicet feria secunda Pentecostes, et die 22 Novembris. Est municipium, unumque ex memorati comitatus seu Agri, con-capitalibus, ut ita loquar, Oppidis, ibi siquidem aestivi, ut vocant, seu potius antumnales, judicum Concessus, vulgo Assisae, singulis annis habentur, quadragesimales vero, sive vernales, apud Athyam. Scriptores, quot invenire potui, de Hiberniae Domibus Regularibus utcunque agentes uno affirmant ore, Caenobium Fratribus Praedicatoribus Nasae Anno Redemptoris 1356, fundatum fuisse. Idque factum ab illustri Eustachiorum familia omnes quoque diserte referunt, dempto Waraeo, ajente duntaxat, quod Eustachii illius fuerint Patroni. Traditio insuper loci, ac laudatae gentis fert, dicatam fuisse ejusdem Caenotii Ecclesiam in honorem S. Eustachii romani Martyris, per universam Ecclesiam speciali festivitate die 20 Sept. venerati, a quo Eustachii, vernacule Fitz-Eustace, tam Hiberniae quem Angliae, recta Linea descendunt, ut ex temporum constat Historiis, librisque Genealogicis, variisque aliis Monumentis, speciatim ex sepulchrali Inscriptione in Ecclesia nostra S. Sixti de Urbe. Waraeo, scriptori alioquin accurato, mendum excidit circa Situm hujus Caenobii, quod extructum ait non Nasae, sed juxta Nasam ad Collis rotundi radicem; cum tamen non Fratrum Praedicatorum, sed Eremitarum S. Augustini fuerit Caenobium istud, cujus maenia ad memorati Collis rotundi radicem etiamnum videre est, vidique haud semel de re hac diligenter inquirens. Immo Praediolum, quod eo loci moderni habent Patres Augustiniani, conventualiter pro rerum conditionibus viventes, praelibatum Collem in se continet. Atque Patres tam Praedicatores, quam Eremitae, quam etiam Parochus, incolaeque loci, uno ore affirmant, id fuisse Caenobium Augustinianum, Dominicani vero Caenobii Rudera in ipsomet esse burgo Nasa, quod Augustinianis, adjudicavit Waraeus, unum cum altero confundens. Ibi porro nunc est Diversorium, supra partem fundamenti antiquae domus Dominicanae constructum. In dissolutione hujus Conventus a gubernio Acatholico primitus facta, latifundia ejus concessa fuere Thomas Lutterell Equiti Aurato, qui eadem Joanni Travers, Armigero, assignavit," etc.
In 1756, as we learn from De Burgo, Hib. Dom., p. 294, it was determined to revive the Dominican Convent of Naas, and a community was appointed, consisting of four fathers. These were-Rev. Father Hugh Reynolds, Prior, 50 years of age, and 24 professed; Rev. Father Praedicator Generalis Patrick O’ Ferrall, a member of the Longford Convent, aged 54, professed 35 (he died in 1759); Father John O’ Reilly, aged 32, professed 13; and Father William Eustace, aged 30, professed 10. This latter was appointed Prior in 1758.
As no site could be obtained at Naas, Father Reynolds established himself on a Common near Newbridge. The new convent was nothing better than a mud cottage. From this humble beginning have arisen the present spacious convent and college of Newbridge. In all official documents the old name of the Conventus Nassensis is still preserved.
A house for Friars Eremites of the Order of St. Augustine was founded at Naas in 1484 (Allemande, Ware). This, from its proximity to the north moat, was called the Monastery of the Moat. The ruins of this monastery were still standing within the memory of many yet living. An engraving of it, as it appeared in 1792, is given in Grose’s Antiquities (Vol. II., plate 30). Dr. Ledwich, in the accompanying letterpress, says:-"Scarcely anything is standing but the belfry and a wall. The belfry is entered by a Gothic arch, on each side of which is a staircase leading up to the rooms, in number three." The tower and ruins were demolished in 1835, probably from their lying in the way of the canal bridge and the road leading to it. The burial-ground, called the Abbey graveyard, which was attached to the Augustinian Church, is still used for interments.
On the suppression of Monasteries, the possessions of this house were found as follows:-
In Naas two tenements or cottages, in the occupation of John Lattine, of the yearly value of 10s., one cottage in tenure of Barn. Whitnel, yearly value, 5s.; one cottage in tenure of Nic. Walsh, yearly value, 5s; one house in tenure Nic. Ashe, yearly value, 5s.; one cottage in tenure of Walter Lewis, yearly value, 10s.; one cottage in tenure of Jack Robbins, yearly value, 6s. 8d.; one cottage in tenure of Henry Walker, yearly value, 6s.8d.; one cottage in tenure of James Ashe, yearly value 6s. 8d.; one cottage in tenure of Pat. Kelly, yearly value, 6s.; one cottage in tenure of widow of Thomas Duff, yearly value, 3s.; two cottages in tenure of Robert Ashe, yearly value, 4s.; one cottage in tenure of Thomas Rawcester, yearly value, 3s.; two messuages in tenure of widow of Richard Bane, yearly value, 4s.; one cottage in tenure of Thomas Edwards, yearly value, 1s.; two cottages and 1 ½ acre of land, in tenure of Will. Browne, yearly value, 5s.; two cottages in tenure of Chr. Sutton, yearly value, 6s.; one cottage in tenure of Donald Scullid, yearly value, 1s. 8d.; two cottages and one tenement in tenure of David Sutton, yearly value, 3s.; one cottage in tenure of – More, yearly value, 1s. 8d.; two cottages in tenure of Will. Walsh, yearly value, 1s.; one cottage in tenure of – Sampson, yearly value, 1s.; also, twenty acres of land in le Maudelins, and Parish of Naas, in the tenancy of Nicholas Walker, yearly value, 16s.; sixty acres of land in Goingerstown, in the county Kildare, annual value, £1 10s.; fourteen acres and three stangs in Naas, in tenure of Phil. Grant, yearly value, 8s.; three acres in tenure of John Lattine, yearly value, 1s. 8d.; three acres in tenure of Robert Dowlin, yearly value, 1s. 8d.; three messuages and twenty acres of arable land in Oughterard, yearly value, 1s. (King) (9)
By an Inquisition taken in the 23rd year of Elizabeth, it was found that three acres of arable land, of the yearly value of 10d., part of the possessions of the Monastery of the Moate, and adjoining the town of Naas, were in the possession of Hugh Molton and till that time concealed. (King.)
By an Inquisition taken at Kildare, 24th year of Elizabeth, James Eustace, late Viscount Baltinglas, outlawed and attainted, was found seized of the land called the Abbey of the Moat, of the land called the late Abbey of St. Augustine’s in Naas, and of the late Abbey of St. John’s, and of St. Catherine’s land.
On June 6th, 26th year of Queen Elizabeth, a lease of this friary, for the term of fifty years, was granted to Nicholas Aylmer. (Auditor General.)
In the passage from the Hib. Dom., already quoted, De Burgo, writing before 1762, remarks that the little farm which the Augustinian Fathers then held, and where they lived a conventual life, as far as the circumstances of the times permitted, actually included the Moat from which their former monastery had derived its name. A parliamentary report, dated 1766, makes mention of a Popish Priest and two Friars as resident in Naas. In the Register of Marriages of the Parish of Kilcock, we find Father John Nowlan, Prior of the Eremites of St. Augustine, at Naas, entered a having celebrated a marriage in 1781: "Dec. 20, 1781, Johannes Nowlan, eremitarum Sancti Augustini et Prior, Nasensis."
PARISH CHURCH OF ST. DAVID.
The parochial church of Naas, since the Norman invasion, has been dedicated to St. David. The early Irish Church practised great devotion to St. David. His name appears in the calendar of Irish Saints. He was of Irish extraction through his mother; his birth and future career were foretold by St. Patrick; he was on terms of affectionate intimacy with St. Finian, of Clonard, St. Aidan, etc. Besides all this, many Irishmen repaired to his monastery to place themselves under his spiritual direction. It is supposed that the present Protestant church occupies the site of the mediaeval church, and that portions of the walls of this structure are built into the modern church. There are strong reasons for judging that the parish church of Naas, in the early Christian era, was dedicated to St. Patrick. The Egerton Tripartite (quoted by Father Shearman), recounting the miracles of our national Apostle, makes mention of the Dominica of Naas. This would, in itself, go far to prove that the original church was under the invocation of St. Patrick. Dr. Joyce (Irish Names of Places) would deduce additional proof of this from the fact that the great fair of Naas was (until a few years ago) held on St. Patrick’s Day. It is conjectured that William Fitzmaurice, on whom Naas was bestowed by Henry II., finding the old church of St Patrick either ruinous or destroyed, rebuilt it, and on the occasion, substituted St. David, the patron of his father’s native country, Wales as the titular. (Loca Patr.)
There were three chantries(10) attached to the church of St. David, viz., that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that of the Blessed Trinity, and that of St. Catherine. These chantries were largely endowed. An inquisition held at Naas on 31st July, 6th year of Elizabeth, finds that the Maudelines of Naas contain four messuages and twenty acres of land, and form portion of the possession of the chantry of St. Mary, of the church of St. David, at Naas; that the representatives of John Donkerly are in possession of said messuages and lands; that there are ten messuages and cottages and one dove-cot in the town of Naas, which belong to said chantry; that three messuages adjoining the Green of Naas, with seven cottages on land within the town of Naas, and three waste land messuages, and also fifteen acres of land in the town of Naas, belong to said chantry. The same inquisition finds that Gyngerstown, adjoining Kerogher, contains four messuages and ninety acres of land, and belongs to the chantry of the Blessed Trinity at said church; that there are six messuages with one small orchard within the town of Naas, and one tenement adjoining the Green of Naas, which belong to the chantry of St. Catherine at said church; that there are fifteen acres of land in the town of Naas which belong to the said chantry, and three messuages which belong to the before-named chantry of St. Mary.
Inquisition, 7th July, 1606, finds that in the Church of St. David, in the town of Naas, were three chantries, viz., the Holy Trinity, St. Mary, and St. Catherine; and the priests or presbyters of the said chantries have acquired for themselves and their successors the following lands, etc., in the town of Naas, viz., two tenements, late in the tenure of John Latin, annual value, 5s.; a tenement, late in the tenure of Bartholomew White, annual value, 3s.; a tenement, late in the tenure of Nicholas Walsh, annual value, besides reprises, 8d.; a house, late in the tenure of Nicholas Ashe, annual value, 2s.; a tenement, later in the tenure of Walter Lewis, annual value, besides reprises, 5s.; a tenement, late in the possession of James Robins, annual value, 2s. 4d.; a tenement, late in the tenure of Henry Walker, annual value, 2s. ; a tenement, late in the tenure of James Ashe, annual value, 2s.; a tenement, late in the tenure of Patrick Kelly, annual value, 12d. ; a tenement, late in the tenure of the wife of Thomas Duffe, annual value, 12d.; two tenements, in the tenure of Robert Ashe, annual value, besides reprises, 3s. 4d.; a tenement, in the tenure of Thomas Rositer, annual value, 18d.; two tenements, in the tenure of the widow of Richard Bane, annual value, 2s. 6d.; a tenement, in the tenure of Thomas Edwards, annual value, besides reprises, 12d.; two tenements and an acre and a-half of land, in the tenure of William Brown, annual value, 2s. 6d.; two tenements, in the tenure of Christopher Sutton, annual value, besides reprises, 4s.; a tenement, in the tenure of David Sculllie, annual value, 18d.; two tenements, in the tenure of David Sutton, annual value, 3s.; a tenement, in the tenure of —-, daughter of —-More, annual value, 12d.; and two tenements, in the tenure of William Walshe, annual value, 9d.; also 20 acres of land in the Maudlins and Parish of Naas, in the tenure of Nicholas Walker, annual value, 5s.; 60 acres of land in the townland of Gengerstown, and the whole of the said town, in the tenure of James Sherlock, annual value, besides reprises, 10s.; 14 acres and three stangs of land in the townland of Naas, in the tenure of Phillip Graunte, annual value, 3s. 6d.; and 3 acres in the aid townland, in the tenure of Robert Dowling, annual value, 9d.; also that the proctor of the said church of St. David did usually receive the rents and profits of the said lands, etc., for the use of the said priests, and the provost and burgesses of the town of Naas did nominate the said priests or incumbents. (Chief Remembrancer.)
Of the old Church of St. David it may be said that nothing now remains, except, perhaps, some portions of the walls built into those of the modern edifice. From an inscription placed in the present unfinished colossal tower, commenced one hundred years ago by the then Earl of Mayo-Ruinam inveni, pyramidem reliqui-it may be inferred that the ruins of the old church tower were in existence at that date. The bell bears the inscription: R.P.W.C. 1674. Os meum laudabit Dominum in Ecclesia S. Davidis de Naas: "My mouth shall praise the Lord in the Church of St. David at Naas." The initials preceding the date have not been explained. A fine black marble Baptismal font in this church appears to be of considerable antiquity.
In a list of the parochial churches and chapels in the diocese of Kildare, drawn up by Dr. Roche M’Geoghegan, Bishop of Kildare (1629 to 1644) the "Ecclesia parochialis Sti. Davidis de Naas" and the "Capella Sti. Trinitatis de Naas" are given.
The adjoining burial-ground contains some monumental records of interest, dating mostly from the close of the 17th century. A small slab bedded in the earth bears the following inscription:- "Petrus Walshe Me Fecit-Anno Domini, 1696." If this be in reality a gravestone there are reasons for thinking that it marks the last resting-place of Father Peter Walshe, whose action in connection with the Remonstrance, or Declaration of loyalty is matter of history. This stone being placed at the eastern end of the grave, would indicate the burial-place of a priest. The details of that unhappy and disedifying episode need not be here gone into. That Father Walshe made himself the creature of Ormonde, the implacable enemy of Catholicity, to try to force that obnoxious and oft-condemned document on his fellow-Catholics, was a subject of regret, and, let us hope, of salutary repentance to himself afterwards. In the archives of St. Anthony’s, Louvain, is preserved a document, dated 13th March, 1688, in which he formally, and in presence of appointed witnesses, retracts and expresses regret for every error contained in his writings, at the same time declaring his unfeigned submission to the authority of the Holy See. (Brenan’s Eccl. Hist. Ireland, Vol. II., p. 214.) From the Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland, 1641-52, we learn that Father Walshe was a native of Naas. To quote the unknown author’s quaint and unsparing expression, he was "a son unto a poore and beggarly channtler in the Naasse and one Goodie N. his mother, a Protestant, an English drabbe." Unless it be known that he died at an earlier date or elsewhere, it may be inferred from the above that, finding himself abandoned, in his old age and impaired health, by his heartless patron, Ormonde, Father Walshe retired to his native town, and ended his days there at the date above given.
OTHER MONUMENTAL INSCRIPTIONS AT ST. DAVID’S,
"Here lieth the body of Mr. Thomas Moore deces, 16th Sept., 1699." This is in raised letters, the same as the foregoing.
"Here lieth the body of Garret O’ Reilly, who departed this life the – of June, 1778, aged 58."
"I.H.S. This stone and burial-place belong to Gerald Archbold, of Naas. Here lieth the body of said Gerald Archbold, who departed this life the 9th of December, 1775, aged 65."
"Gulielmus Latton de Morristown, Anna Lutteral de Lutterelstown-quorum Miserere Deus.-me fieri fecerunt-S.P.Q.S. Domum eternam. The former stone, erected by W. Latton and Luttrell, of Morristown, in the year 1600, being broken, this was fixt by Patrick Latton and Jane Alcock, of the same place, Anno 1719. Here lyeth the body of John Latton, eldest son of the above Patrick Latton, who departed this life the 7th day of July, 1731, in the 21st year of his age. Here also lyeth the body of the said Patrick Latton of Morristown, Esqr., who departed this life the 19th day of June, 1732, in the 64th year of his age. Also the body of his son, George Latton L. Lattin, Esqr., who died July 8th, 1773, aged 59. Also the body of his wife, Catherine O’ Ferrall of Ballyna, who died Nov. 12th, 1800, aged 66 years."
But by far the most interesting, though unfortunately, undistinguishable, grave is that of Dr. Leverous,-Bishop of Kildare from 1554 to 1577. This saintly and venerable prelate lies interred at St. David’s, Naas, as we learn from Ware and others. For details of the life of this distinguished Prelate, see Vol. I., p. 23, et seq.
In the second year of the reign of Elizabeth, having refused the oath of supremacy, he was dispossessed of all his temporalities and compelled to fly to concealment. He sojourned from some time at Adare, where he supported himself by keeping school, and where his assistant was Richard Creagh, afterwards Archbishop of Armagh. He subsequently returned to his diocese, where he continued to discharge the duties of his sacred office, exposed to continual danger, until, broken down in health by unceasing labours, he breathed his last in a poor hut at Naas, about the year 1577, at the age of 80, and was interred at St. David’s. Fr. John Holing, S.J., in a most interesting paper on the "Irish Martyrs during the reign of Elizabeth," preserved at the Irish College of Salamanca, (inserted in Spicilegium Ossoriense, Vol. I., p. 82), pronounces a high eulogium on Dr. Leverous, and states on the authority of trustworthy persons, that the holy Bishop’s grave was glorified by many miracles. How sad to think that the hallowed spot where this saintly Prelate’s relics are laid is unmarked and even unknown!
A square tower near the church, the only remnant of the former fortifications, belongs to the De Burgh family, and has been converted into the Parsonage.
An almshouse for poor women was founded at Naas in 1590 by Wm. Latto, of Morristown, and Anne Lutterell, of Lutterellstown, his wife. This charity still exists. Several members of the Latton family bequeathed small sums in perpetuity for the support of its inmates, and there is at present a charge on the Latton estate of £20 per annum for that purpose, and still regularly paid. The house was twice pulled down, first in 1787 to widen the street, and again in 1798, during the rebellion, to enable the Artillery to put their guns in position. The Government, in 1802, allowed a small sum to rebuild the house. There are three inscribed stones set in the front wall. The first bears the names of the founders and date of foundation:- "Gul. Latton, de Morristown, et Anna Lutterell, de Lutterellstown, me fieri fecerunt. Anno MDXC." The inscription on the second stone is not decipherable. On the third we have a Scriptural text:-"Wealth maketh many friends, but the poor man is separated from his neighbour." Prov. xix.4. When the house was pulled down in 1798, Mr. Thomas Plunkett, sub-agent of the property, took charge of these stones, and had them restored when it was rebuilt.(11)
At Jigginstown, formerly called Sigginstown, are the ruins of a palatial building commenced by the unprincipled Earl of Strafford in the reign of Charles I., but never completed. The bricks of which it is composed are said to have been brought from Holland, and owing to the excellence of the material the building remains almost as perfect as when the work was suspended nearly 250 years ago. There is also at this place a small dilapidated building called Castlerag, perhaps a corruption of Castlecrag, of which nothing further is known.
In the Returns to an Inquiry issued 6th Nov., 1731, by a committee of the House of Lords to ascertain the present state of Popery in this kingdom (see Vol. I., p.266), it is stated that "in Naas Mass is said within the ruins of an old abbey; in other places in some cabin or under a shed at the back of a ditch." The old abbey referred to was probably the Monastery of the Moat. An humble chapel was afterwards built on the site now occupied by the school of the Christian Brothers, which continued in use till the present fine church was erected. The first stone of this Church was laid August 15th, 1827. More than twenty years later the steeple was commenced, and was completed on the 31st December, 1858. It is 200 feet in height, and is modelled after that of St. Andrew’s, Ewerby, Lincolnshire. A detailed description of this Church, which is dedicated under the joint patronage of St. Mary and St. David, will be found in the Life of St. David, by Father O’ Hanlon, P. 156 et seq.
From another Return to the House of Lords, dated 6th April, 1766, also preserved in the Pub. Record Office, Dublin, it appears that at that date the "number of Protestant inhabitants who were housekeepers of the parish of Naas was 280; the number of Popish inhabitants was 2,570. There were one Popish priest and two friars." This return is signed by Wm. Donnellan, Vicar of Naas.
SUCCESSION OF PASTORS.
The Bishop, DR. LEVERUS, most probably discharged the duties of Pastor of Naas from the time when he went to reside there until his death in 1577.
There is no record of the succession of Pastors up to the time of the Registration in 1704. As the Dominicans seem to have clung tenaciously to the locality of their previous convent, it may be supposed that they ministered to the spiritual wants of the Catholics of Naas in the interval, amongst whom was FATHER PETER HIGGINS who was taken prisoner at Naas, in 1641, and executed by Sir C. Coote.
From the Registry of Popish Parish Priests, made in 1704, we find that JOHN HYLAND was Parish Priest of Naas, that he resided at Naas, that he was thirty-six years of age, that he was ordained in 1694 at Paris, by Francis Harley, Archbishop of Paris, and that his two sureties of £50 each were Patrick Daly and George Moore, of Naas, gentlemen. The report of 8th Nov., 1731 already, referred to, states that at that date there was a "reputed Popish priest who officiated at Naas, but unregistered and unlawful;" This would lead us to suppose that there was no secular priest at Naas at that time. The report of 1766 makes mention of a Popish priest and two friars. This Pastor was probably the REV. DENIS DEMPSEY. He was certainly P.P. four years later. On a chalice still in use is the inscription:- "Dionysius Dempsey me fieri fecit pro Parochia de Naas, 1770." This Father Dempsey was still P.P. at the close of 1786. (Lease in the Parochial Archives.)
The next P.P. was DEAN PATRICK DUNNE, a native of the parish of Arless, in the Queen’s County. His name as P.P. of Naas, appear in another lease, dated 17th June, 1801.
The succeeding Pastor was the REV. WILLIAM FITZGERALD, who was translated to the parish of Carlow in 1814, by Dr. Murphy, bishop-elect of Kildare.
To Father Fitzgerald succeeded FATHER GERALD DOYLE, who continued to rule the parish to the time of his death, which took place on the 18th October, 1858, in the 80th year of his age. To this zealous and single-minded priest the parish of Naas is deeply indebted. He has left behind him numerous evidences of his unwearied interest in the religious welfare of his flock. The fine parochial Church, with its noble spire, which he erected, the community of the Sisters of Mercy, which he founded, the school-houses at Naas and Sallins, built by him, are so many monuments, oere perrennius, to signalise his pastorship. A costly monument to Father Doyle has been erected in the parish church by the parishioners. It consists of a recumbent effigy of the deceased in marble, under a canopied niche of Gothic design, and the following inscription on a brass tablet:-"Orate pro anima Reverendi Geraldi Doyle, Parochi de Naas qui obiit XVIII˚ die Octobris, Anno Domini MDCCCLVIII., Aetatis suae LXXX˚, Ministerii vero LIII˚."
To Father Doyle succeeded the REV. JAMES HUGHES, a native of Carlow, and for many years Dean of the College in his native town. During his pastorate the schools of the Christian Brothers were established in the parish. The interior arrangement and decoration of the parish church show the educated taste of Father Hughes, under whose superintendence they were carried out. He died in May, 1876, and is interred in the south aisle. Over his grave there is a tablet bearing the following inscriptin:-"Hic in pace Christi quiescit Rev. Jacobus Hughes, Ortus vii. Idus Mar. An. MDCCCX. Sacerdotii dignitate auctus, Kal. Jun. MDCCCXXXIII. Ad munus Pastorale provectus XIV. Kal. Dec. MDCCCLVIII. Integritate morum, Pietate, studioque Divini cultus ornatus, exitu placidissimo decessit III. Nonas Maii An. MDCCCLXXVI. R.I.P."
The present much respected Pastor, the REV. THOMAS MORRIN, was appointed on the death of Father Hughes.
[NOTES – included as footnotes denoted by asterisks
(1) That this Father Peter O’ Higgins is another person from the Father Peter Higgins mentioned before is clearly proved by De Burgo, Hib. Dom. P. 562.
(2) In the list of the chief persos in the County Kildare, given in the "State of Ireland, A.D. 1598," we find the names of "Fleming of the Naase," and "Sherlock of the Naase.
(3) This Maurice Jakis was Canon of the Cathedral Church of Kildare. He it was who first built a bridge over the Liffey at Kilcullen, and another over the Barrow at Leighlin.
(4) The low rate at which these tenements are here valued will not appear so strange, when the price of articles of food and merchandise is taken into account: thus, at the commencement of the sixteenth century the price of 12 pigeons was 4d.; of 100 eggs, 6d.; of a lamb, 6d.; of an ox, 11s. 8d., etc.
(5) The term chantry is applied sometimes to an endowment providing for the chanting of Masses, but more generally it refers to the chapels in which these Masses were celebrated. These endowments ordinarily provided for the erection of a chapel in which the founder was interred, and for the remuneration of priests appointed to celebrate Masses in it for the repose of his soul. These chapels were sometimes separated by railings from the main building, and sometimes they formed distinct chapels projecting from the church.
(6) Communicated by G. P. Lattin Mansfield, Esq., of Morristown Lattin, who inherits the Lattin property by right of his mother, the daughter of Patrick Lattin. Patrick Lattin died in 1836, leaving no male issue.
(7) In the list of the chief persons in the County Kildare, given in the "State of Ireland, A.D. 1598," we find the names of "Fleming of the Naase," and "Sherlock of the Naase.
(8) This Maurice Jakis was Canon of the Cathedral Church of Kildare. He it was who first built a bridge over the Liffey at Kilcullen, and another over the Barrow at Leighlin.
(9) The low rate at which these tenements are here valued will not appear so strange, when the price of articles of food and merchandise is taken into account: thus, at the commencement of the sixteenth century the price of 12 pigeons was 4d.; of 100 eggs, 6d.; of a lamb, 6d.; of an ox, 11s. 8d., etc.
(10) The term chantry is applied sometimes to an endowment providing for the chanting of Masses, but more generally it refers to the chapels in which these Masses were celebrated. These endowments ordinarily provided for the erection of a chapel in which the founder was interred, and for the remuneration of priests appointed to celebrate Masses in it for the repose of his soul. These chapels were sometimes separated by railings from the main building, and sometimes they formed distinct chapels projecting from the church.
(11) Communicated by G. P. Lattin Mansfield, Esq., of Morristown Lattin, who inherits the Lattin property by right of his mother, the daughter of Patrick Lattin. Patrick Lattin died in 1836, leaving no male issue.
[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; edited by Mario Corrigan and Niamh McCabe; typed by Maria and Breid]
The Chapter on the Parish of Naas from Rev. Comerford’s, Collections relating to the Dioceses of KILDARE AND LEIGHLIN.