QUEEN'S COUNTY ANTIQUITIES

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

Relics of antiquity of every description known in Ireland are to be found here. There is a pillar tower nearly perfect, at Timahoe, in a valley near the ruins of a monastic building. On Kyle hill, about two miles from Burros-in-Ossory, is a rude seat of stone, called by the common people the Fairy Chair, which is supposed to have been an ancient judgment-seat of the Brehons. Near the south-western verge of the county is an ancient Irish fortress, called Baunaghra or "Kay's Strength," little known on account of its retired situation on the top of a high hill surrounded by a deep circular fosse with a mound or wall on the summit.

The other principal relics are described under the heads of the parishes in which they are situated. Monastic institutions, of a very early date, were numerous, but most of them have so completely fallen into decay, that even their site cannot now be ascertained. The ruins of Aghaboe, whither the seat of the see of Ossory was removed from its original situation at Saiger, in the King's county, until its final removal to Kilkenny, still exist in such a state of preservation as to afford some idea of the extent and character of the buildings.

The ruins of Aghmacart are also visible, as are traces of those of Killedelig, Killermogh, Mundrehid or Disert-Chuilin, and Teampul-na-Cailliagh-dubh, near Aghaboe. The churches of Dysartenos and Killabane have been preserved as parish churches. The site of the monastery of Leix is known only by the existence of the town of Abbeyleix: that of Timahoe is conjectured, with much probability, from the round tower there. Rostuirc was near the Slieve-Bloom mountains; Stradbally or Monaubealing stood near the town of Stradbally; Teagh-Schotin and Slatey were in Slievemargue: the sites of Cluainchaoin, Cluainimurchir, Disert Fularthaigh, Disert Odrain, Kilfoelain, and Leamchuil or Lahoil, are wholly unknown.

Among the remains of military antiquities is the rock of Dunamase, described in the account of the parish of Dysartenos. Lea castle, on the Barrow, eight miles from Dunamase, is supposed to have been built about the same period, its architecture much resembling that of the other, and it was still further secured by its natural position, being protected on one side by the Barrow, and on the other by a deep morass: it was incapable, however, of holding out against Cromwell, by whom it was taken and destroyed.

The castles of Shean, Moret, Ballymanus, and five others in the same part of the county, were built by Lord Mortimer, as posts of defence for the English tenants whom he endeavoured to settle on his estates. Shean or Sim castle was built on a conical hill: though not of great extent, it was a place of considerable strength, but not a vestige of it is now in existence. Burros-in-Ossory was a strong fort on the Nore, belonging to the Fitzpatricks, and the great pass to Munster: it was the scene of a very bloody engagement in the war of 1641. Ballygihin, Castletown, Watercastle, and Castlefleming, with several others, belonged to branches of the same family. Shanbogh, in the same district, was a castellated mansion, which served as a protection against the rapparees who infested the deep woods with which this part of Ireland was then covered. Grantstown, Ballagh, Clonbyrne, Gortneclay, Coolkerry, and Kilbreedy are in the same barony.

Castlecuff in Tinnehinch, built about 1641, by Sir Charles Coote, celebrated for his military prowess, is a very large ruin: he also built the castle of Ruish-hall. The castles of Clara, Ballinakill, Coolamona, Tinnehinch, and Castlebrack, are in the same district: the last-named contains some subterraneous apartments, which were opened and partially explored, but presenting nothing more than other small caves, and the air being very foul, no attempt was made to penetrate to the extremity of any of them.

The ruins of an old castle at Ballyadams, which gives name to the barony, are still visible; another is to be seen at Grange. Shrule castle was in the south-western extremity of the county, near the town of Carlow. The entrance into the ruins of Cloghgrennan castle separated the county of Carlow from the Queen's county. The remains of Rathaspeck castle were applied to the building of the neighbouring parish church. A conical heap of stones on the summit of a very lofty hill, near the boundary of Stradbally barony, is known by the name of Cobler's castle. The modern mansions of the nobility and gentry are noticed under the heads of their respective parishes.

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