J. Stirling Coyne & N. P. Willis
c. 1841
Volume I, Chapter V-11 | Start of chapter

Leaving Kilcock, the coach-road passes through the neat little town of Maynooth, chiefly remarkable for containing the modern college of St. Patrick, in which the Irish Roman Catholic clergy are now, with few exceptions, educated. The ruins of the ancient Castle of Maynooth, once a principal fortress of the bold Geraldines, ancestors of the present Duke of Leinster, are an object of great interest to every visitor acquainted with the eventful history of their noble owners. What stirring tales might be recounted of the long race of warriors who kept their state within these princely towers, beloved by their friends and followers, and hated and feared by their enemies! Indeed, the peculiar temperament of the Geraldines was eminently suited to secure popular affection: easily displeased, but sooner appeased—warm friends and bitter foes, turbulent subjects—mild governors—liberal, brave, pious, and merciful. The anecdote recorded of the fiery Gerald, the eighth earl of Kildare, would be equally characteristic of any other of the family.

"In a rage with one of his followers, an English horseman seeing the chafed earl in his fearful mood, offered Master Boice, a gentleman of his household, an Irish hobby (pony), on condition that he would go up to his lord and pluck a hair out of his black beard. Boice, who knew his master, and felt how far he might venture on a Geraldine's nature, even while boiling in the heat of his choler, approached his lord and said, 'Here, my master, is one who has promised me a choice horse, if I snip one hair out of your honour's chin.' 'One hair,' quoth the earl, 'I agree to; but mark me, Boice, thou malapert varlet, if thou pluckest more than one, I promise thee to bring my fist from thine ear.'" It was said of this stout earl, that he was made by Henry VIII. ruler over all Ireland because Ireland could not rule him; and that he excused himself for burning the cathedral of Cashel by assuring his majesty he would not have done so, were he not informed that the archbishop was therein.

Within a mile of the town of Maynooth is Carton, the spacious but irregularly built mansion of the Duke of Leinster; it stands in the midst of a noble demesne, laid out with judicious taste, and offering to the eye a great variety of scenery, partaking, however, more of the graceful and tranquil than of the wild and magnificent in its character.