Turtle Bunbury

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During the 18th and 19th century, some of the lands at Lisnavagh and Tobinstown in County Carlow were rented by the Germaines, a family of Huguenot extraction who came north from Clonegal. They are said to have built several houses on the land and it is for them that Germaine’s Hill (also known as Kinsellagh’s Hill) was named. A rather unsettling story from 1886 claims that, some forty years earlier, Philip Germaine was evicted by the Bunburys and that his houses were later razed to the ground to make way for the new house at Lisnavagh. The story takes place against the backdrop of the Tithe Wars, an often-deadly campaign in which Catholic tenant farmers sought to bring an end to the collection of a tenth of their annual income to pay the clergy of the Church of Ireland. While some doubt must be cast on this fiery version of events, not least because of the story-tellers evident antipathy to the Rathdonnells, there must be some smoke here also.


The lands at Lisnavagh came into the family in the late 17th century. According to a note above the main stairs in Lisnavagh today, a house was built at Lisnavagh in 1696 which may have been where William Bunbury I and his son, William Bunbury II lived between 1696 and 1755. I believe the land was then held in trust for William II’s nephew, later William Bunbury 'of Lisnavagh', who was killed in a horse fall in 1778. At the time of his death, William III was planning to build a new house at Lisnavagh, the plans of which we hold in the Lisnavagh archive. William III’s father Thomas Bunbury lived at Kill (probably the farmhouse beside where the sugar beet is often piled up on the bend in the Carlow-Hacketstown Road) so one assumes this is where William also lived between Thomas’s death in 1774 and his own in 1778. From 1778 until 1823, Lisnavagh was effectively managed by William III's younger brother, Benjamin Bunbury, the Magistrate of Carlow, who lived at Moyle (or possibly Killerig), on behalf of William III's eldest son, Thomas. This younger Thomas was mostly based in Bath and did not, I believe, ever live in Carlow, despite being MP for the county in the 1840s.


In 1886, the Freeman’s Journal, a nationalist newspaper published in Dublin ran a letter written by the Rev. Father John Phelan, P.P. Rathvilly, which the parish priest also published as part of a ‘newsletter’ to be distributed amongst the faithful flock. The letter throws open the possibility that Lisnavagh House is built on the site of a house previously occupied by Philip Germaine, one of the leaders of the resistance during the Tithe War of 1831-32. It has been suggested that Father Phelan was simply trying to make Germaine a ‘Captain Rock’ like icon for the anti-landlordism cause. However, there was more than little truth in Phelan’s story. It was allegedly based on an interview with Philip Germaine, ‘late of Lisnevagh Manor’, shortly before his death at the age of 93 on January 4th 1886.[i] The subject matter was Germaine’s prominent role in resisting the ‘despotism’ of the British administration and how, in consequence, he had his farm stock seized and was turned adrift from a few hundred acres of land. The houses he built at Lisnavagh were also apparently seized, without compensation.


The Germaine family were Huguenot refuges who moved to Ireland from France, possibly via the Netherlands and England, in about 1700. They were originally based in Clonegal, Co. Carlow, but also appear at Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, Ballyburn, Co. Kildare (Thomas, probably mid-1770s, Prumplestown) and Grangecon, Co. Wicklow It is worth noting that in the Lisnavagh rent books, the Germaine surname is also spelt Germans, Jermyns and Jermaine. One wonders whether the name O’Gorman might also derive from this.


According to the Freeman’s Journal, the family were renting land at Lisnavagh from at least the 1730s although there is no mention of them in Thomas Bunbury’s journals of 1754-1774. In 1798, Philip Germaine (1753-1819) of Lisnavagh (presumably an uncle of the man who died in 1886) was implicated in the United Irishman rebellion and came before magistrate Edward Whitty.[ii] There is no reference to the Germaine’s in the bicentennial book, ‘Clonegal in 1798’ (Duffy Press, 1998).

Whether Philip was harbouring rebels or not is unclear. He seems to have survived the examinations intact for in 1800, the Magistrate Bunburys account books for Lisnavagh indicate that Philip Germaine was to be paid for the airing (heating?) of the house at Lisnavagh, as well as for supplying turf, harrowing and improving the estate. The Widow Germaine was simultaneously paid £5-2 for ‘repairing’ Lisnavagh that year. The implication is that Philip was acting in the role of Steward at Lisnavagh, which would make sense in terms of Germaine's house (next paragraph) being the Lisnavagh Steward's house. But was Philip paid again in 1801 or was he in disgrace by then?


Added to this confusion is the present-day house of Germaine’s, on the lower slopes of Kinsellagh’s Hill, where Barbara Herring now lives. This was built as a Steward's House for Lisnavagh and is marked on the 1840s map, although I thought it was a much later building. According to an article entitled ‘Hedge Schools or Pay Schools of Rathvilly Parish’ by Miss K. OToole, Kinsellagh’s Hill was formerly known as Germaine’s Hill. She writes: ‘About half a mile to the north of Tobinstown Cross Roads, at the foot of "Germaine's Hill" on the road to Rathvilly, a school was conducted by Denis Delany, believed to be the son of Edward Delany The place is still called "Delany's Farm" or "Denny's Twin." Delany was a low-sized man with rather flat feet and he was called "Dinny Heels". When the National Schools were established, his occupation was gone, and he used to drive round in a donkey's trap to teach the children in their homes. Many of the old people up to 50 years ago, remembered him very well, but now "the very spot where many a time he triumphed is forgot".[iii]

In 1816 Denis was married in Ballon parish, probably in the Rathoe church, to Ellen Cummins (1789-1868), the daughter of George and Margaret Cummins. The Cummins were inter-related with the Nowlan family who were also at Lisnavagh at this time which may be the reason why, after their marriage, Denis and Ellen settled in the Tobinstown area of Rathvilly parish, in the townland of Acaun by Lisnavagh. Their eldest daughter Marcella Delany, born about 1820, married Patrick Kelley of Tobinstown in 1863 but had no children. Denis and Ellen's youngest child was born in 1832 but, by the time of Griffith's Valuation, Ellen was a widow and living in Acaun. It is assumed Denis and Ellen were the parents of Edward Delany who, by his wife Mary Doyle, was father to Patrick Delany, a teacher at the National School in Hacketstown according to the 1901 and 1911 census. Patrick was born in Acaun, in Rathvily parish, where he was baptized in 1863. He married Elizabeth Hughes and had at least two children -Margaret Mary (baptized at St. Andrew's in Dublin, 1899) and Edward Joseph (birth recorded in Baltinglass district, 1902).


Freemans Journal, Thursday, January 21, 1808 - Front Page: "STOLEN, on the 18th Inftant, off LISNEVAUGH, in the County of Carlow: ELEVEN BULLOCKS in condition, marked on the horn with the latters L. A. Whoever gives information of the above Cattle that may lead to a difcovery, fhall receive FIVE GUINEAS REWARD and no queftions afked, or TWENTY GUINEAS by profecuting the Thief or Thieves to conviction, by applying to Mr Phillip Germain, of the above place, or Meffrs. Byrne, Byrne and Whelan, Smithfield Dublin. 20th Jan. 1808."


Philip died on 30 January 1819, aged 66, and was buried in Clonegal. A memorial erected by his widow Eleanor Germaine describes him as ‘late of Lisnavagh’. (‘May he rest in Peace. Amen.’) The same grave holds ‘the body of Thomas Germaine who departed this life July 25th 1798 aged 76 years. Lord Have Mercy On His Soul. Amen’.

'Row 10.An upright stone, surmounted by an elaborate device, almost obliterated, under which is inscribed "Gloria in excelsis Deo"' Erected by Eleanor Germaine in | memory of her husband Philip Germaine | late of Lisnuvagh who departed this life | Janry 30 1819 Aged 66 years | May he rest in Peace Amen.

'On the grave to which the last upright relates, is a flat stone bearing the following inscription': He lieth the body of Thomas Germai |ne who departed this life July 25th 1793 Aged |76 years May he rest in pace Amen


Arguably the most reviled tax of the early 19th century was the tithe, whereby farmers, Protestant and Roman Catholic alike, were obliged to submit approximately one tenth of their annual produce for the upkeep of the clergy of the Church of Ireland. The tithe traditionally took the form of corn, eggs and poultry but the Tithe Composition Act of 1823 meant that the clergy could instead demand the monetary equivalent for the produce. Such valuations were notoriously unjust, not least as the price of corn fell by almost 25% between 1820 and 1830. The 1823 Act also greatly increased the amount of land now liable to payment.

The opening salvos of the Tithe War were fired in the Kilkenny parish of Graiguenamanagh in November 1830 when a herd of cattle were seizes in lieu of payment. The following month, the Graiguenamanagh cattle were put on sale. Nobody stepped forward to buy them. The ‘no buyer’ concept fitted well with Daniel O’Connell’s campaign to achieve freedom through non-violence. It spread like wildfire throughout Leinster, with James Doyle, the Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, openly exhorting his flock to ‘that their hatred of tithes [may] be as lasting as their love of justice’. ‘Can Ireland, the poorest nation in Europe, support the most affluent and luxurious priesthood which does not profess the religion of the people, nor minister the wants of the poor?’, he asked.

Anti-tithe meetings were held across Co. Carlow, always under the attentive eye of the authorities. Over a thousand attended a meeting in Bagelalstown. Similar numbers turned out at Newtown, Slyguff, Lourm, Ballyellen and Borris. On 22nd May 1831, police opened fire at a fair in Castlepollard, killing seventeen people. A month later, on 18 June, the Yeomnary shot dead a further fourteen people at a tithe sale in Bunclody (Newtownbarry), Co. Wexford. Shortly before Christmas 1831, the tithe hurlers struck back, ambushing a police force near Knocktopher, Co. Kilkenny, resulting in a further fifteen deaths. The meetings grew larger. Over 200,000 were reported to have attended one in Co. Cork, while 120,000 were clocked at one in Co. Longford. The government began to clamp down, imposing heavy fines and police sentences on those they deemed to be leading the campaign. O’Connell played cautiously, condemning the tithes as unjust but urging that violence and intimidation would only serve to harm his greater campaign to repeal the Act of Union.


The Rev. Captain John Whitty, a former 1798 yeoman and incumbent Rector of Rathvilly [or where was he?], was amongst those who were not prepared to tolerate the anti-tithe campaign. Perhaps he had good reason to object as, deprived of their income, many Anglican rectors were now in financial turmoil by the close of 1831. The incumbents of Naas, Co. Kildare, and Golden, Co. Tipperary, had both been murdered. At any rate, Whitty decided to challenge the campaign and initiate a seizure of fourteen cattle belonging to a Catholic famer called Philip Germaine of Lisnavagh.

Born circa 1792, Philip Germaine was a son of John Germaine (c. 1760 – c.1798) of Lisnavagh and a nephew of the aforementioned Philip. John probably moved to Grangecon, Co. Wicklow, in the 1790s, as the Registry of Deeds contains documents showing he leased land there from 1792. The younger Philip was married firstly in 1817 to Mary Ann Ryan (nee Whelan), a daughter of Patrick Whelan, Salesmaster of Smithfield horse market in Dublin. It's probably a far stretch but there are adjoining fields at Lisnavagh called 'Whelan's Bog and 'Whelan's Bank' which lie close to Germaine's. [Kaye Cole research, Source Registry of Deeds 716/489874, 1817.]

Philip was married secondly in 1825 to Maria Byrne, daughter of Joseph Byrne, also a salesmaster at Smithfield. Both marriages are documented with Settlements held in the Registry of Deeds. The latter marriage settlement deed is between Joseph Whelan, Philip, Maria, James Whelan of Smithfield, salesmaster, and John Germaine of Grange Con. (R. of Deeds 809/545601, 1825). As Kaye Cole observes, 'there appear to be family relationships between Byrnes and Whelans.'

Philip continued to rent land at ‘Lisnevagh’ and was considered a wealthy farmer by 1830. It may be that he was 'Mr. Germaine', the Steward at Lisnavagh referred to in family archives for 1830, although Germaine family historian Kaye Coyle believes this was probably another Philip, the son of James Germaine of Tobinstown.

When the Tithe Wars – namely the refusal to pay for the maintenance of the Church of Ireland - extended into Co. Carlow in 1832, Mr. Germaine was said to be the leader of the local resistance movement. It is notable that the Tithe Applotment Book, Tullowphelim (1825/8), lists a Peter Germain who rented 23.2 acres and was due to pay an annual tithe of £2, 19 shillings and 10 ½ pence.[iv]

To revert to Father Phelan’s account in 1886.

My cattle” he said with great clearness to our representative [ie: Father Phelan], “were seized in 1832 and were driven to the pound in Carlow, the county town, and were there offered for sale. The military and police, with artillery and large cannon, at least five hundred men, were under arms, guarding my cattle to and in Carlow. The seizure was to pay the minister’s tithe charge of 1.100 pounds per year off the parish, which I could not admit was a just debt. That time was like a rebellion, with the army all over my lands and through the country. Immense crowds congregated at the seizure and the sale, but no man would bid. The cattle had to be driven back to my lands. Fully three thousand people assembled on my farm and cheered and blew horns, and the mountains were covered with bonfires to give me encouragement.

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Extract from The Times, relating to the seizure of the Lisnavagh herd.

This story is backed up by an account in The Times from Thursday 24 May 1832 (see image right) which reads as follows.

In the county of Carlow, an excursion was made on Saturday last by the Sheriff [Walter Newton] and his bailiffs, to serve an execution issued at the suit of the Rev. Mr. Whitty, rector of Rathvilly, attended by two troops of dragoons, two companies of infantry and 23 policemen, all under the command of Major … [line missing here] … at 3 o’clock in the morning fires were kindled on all the surrounding hills, as far as could be seen; and when the Sheriff and his force arrived, at 9 o’clock, at Lesnavagh [sic], about 20,000 people were collected to watch their progress. [It is notable that Father Phelan’s 1886 account plays down The Times rather staggering suggestion that 20,000 people gathered at Lisnavagh, to a more modest 3,000.] Here the Sheriff seized 14 head of cattle, the property of Mr. Philip Germaine, who lately presided as chairman at the anti-tithe meeting held in that parish. (The cattle are valued at £8 a head, or £112 for the entire; the amount claimed for tithe and expenses, £34 and some shillings). No opposition, or insult, was given to the Sheriff in the discharge of his duty. He offered the cattle for sale on the spot; no purchasers, of course, appeared and finally the party returned to Carlow, driving the cattle along with them, and accompanied by the immense multitude which increased at every step. On the way, several Catholic clergymen addressed the crowd, and earnestly exhorted them to return to their homes. This advice was immediately followed, and the cattle were conducted peaceably to Carlow, where they were lodged in the yard of Mr. M’Dowel, governor of the gaol, as the Sheriff could not procure any other place.

Mr. Germaine has avowed his determination to let the law take its course, but the farmers in the neighbourhood of Graig, Ullard, &c, on the County Kilkenny side acted on a different system. Whenever they expected a seizure, they kept a sharp lookout and on the appearance of the military, alarmed the country by signals, and drove the cattle away. Thus, before a single seizure could be effected, the troops had to make several excursions both by night and day, by which they were so harassed that after six week’s exertion, at an expense of £60 per day, the collection of tithes was largely abandoned.’

The following is taken from “The Carlow Sentinel,” a Conservative newspaper and continues the story.[v]

Yesterday being the day on which the sheriff announced that, if no bidders could be obtained for the cattle, he would have the property returned to Mr. Germain [sic], immense crowds were collected from the neighbouring counties — upwards of 20,000 men. The County Kildare men, amounting to about 7000, entered, led by Jonas Duckett, Esq., in the most regular and orderly manner. This body was preceded by a band of music, and had several banners on which were ‘Kilkea and Moone, Independence for ever,’ ‘No Church Tax,’ ‘No Tithe,’ ‘Liberty,’ &c. The whole body followed six carts, which were prepared in the English style — each drawn by two horses. The rear was brought up by several respectable landholders of Kildare. The barrack-gates were thrown open, and different detachments of infantry took their stations right and left, while the cavalry, after performing sundry evolutions, occupied the passes leading to the place of sale. The cattle were ordered out, when the sheriff, as on the former day, put them up for sale; but no one could be found to bid for the cattle, upon which he announced his intention of returning them to Mr. Germain. The news was instantly conveyed, like electricity, throughout the entire meeting, when the huzzas of the people surpassed anything we ever witnessed. The cattle were instantly liberated and given up to Mr. Germain. At this period a company of grenadiers arrived, in double-quick time, after travelling from Castlecomer, both officers and men fatigued and covered with dust. Thus terminated this extraordinary contest between the Church and the people, the latter having obtained, by their steadiness, a complete victory. The cattle will be given to the poor of the sundry districts.’

According to Catherine Anne Power’s account in ‘Carlow History & Society’ (2008), a thousand people were present at the sale but:

Not one … was prepared to purchase them or ‘give them a drink’. Even the two bailiffs refused to bring the bullocks from the jail yard to the point of sale. In the circumstances Newton wrote to Dublin for Campbell, ‘the notorious cattle driver’, to come and purchase them. On his arrival, Campbell was ‘alarmed’ at the tremendous crowds marching in columns with hats bearing the slogan ‘no tithes’. The crowds, estimated at 40,000 by the Carlow Sentinel, were policed by a heavy infantry and dragoon presence amongst whom was Newton in his role as magistrate. Campbell refused to purchase the stock and returned to Dublin on the earliest coach. Newton’s involbvement in bringing Campbell to Carlow was discovered when the latter showed Newton’s letter to a ‘gentleman of the town’. In its report of the proceedings, the Carlow Morning Post sneered that ‘no one would do the dirty work for Whitty but Master Watty [Newton]’. The paper considered Master Watty’s actions as ‘a betrayal’ and he was lampooned with irreverent greed in the paper’s next two issues s a bullock at the ‘Meeting of the Bullocks of Lisnevagh’. The Carlow Sentinel implied that the ‘worthy quixotic squire’s anxiety about church concerns’ was due to his having married Bishop Jocelyn’s niece. The unsold cattle were distributed amongst the poor.

The following comes from a letter, dated 27 May 1832, written from Edward Dwyer in Dublin to Daniel O’Connell in the House of Commons.[vi]

You will be pleased to hear how well the people of Kildare and Carlow behaved at the late attempt to force a sale of Mr Germain’s cattle for tithes. Dominick Ronayne passed through them on Friday. They were drawn up in close columns in the rere (sic) of the army with the neighbouring clergymen riding in front to preserve order. Not a man tasted spirits. Of course all were sober. When the Sheriff ordered the sale to commence, not a bidder could be found. …Every man had his hat marked with NO TITHES. The Sheriff ordered the cattle home to Mr Germain and the immense multitude gave him and the army three cheers. (Mr R[onayne] says they numbered over 40 to 50,000. They dispersed in the most orderly manner, their clergymen leading the way to their parishes. You may rely upon it that, let the Parliament vote as they may, Tithes are abolished in Ireland.”

In June 1832, Walter Blackney, the newly elected MP for Carlow, presented the anti-tithe petition to the House of Commons in Westminster, urging them to revoke this ‘obnoxious system of excessive tithes’. He referred to the seizure of Philip Germaine’s cattle from Lisnavagh and warned that if the tithe issue was not resolved, loss of life and property would occur. At length, the government reduced the costs of the Established Church by suppressing ten of its bishoprics. The Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, believed the anti-tithers had effectively succeeded in abolishing the tithes by force and ensuring the clergy were now compensated directly from ‘the public purse’. Livestock seizures continued but the government had to vote £1 million ‘to make up the shortfall’. With the passage of the Tithe Rentcharge (Ireland) Act on 15th August 1838, O’Connell succeeded in having the tithe scaled down by a quarter and making landlords responsible for their collection, although the tithe continued to be a source of great resentment for many years after.


In 1974, P.J. Kavanagh, M.A., wrote an article entitled ‘Rathvilly's Contribution to the Tithe War’ for The Carolviana, Vol. 2, No. 23. He reported on various incidents involving police and tithe resisters in 1836 and 1837 in Carlow. He particularly refers to an incident on 23rd August 1837 where cattle belonging to Thomas Germaine (c. 1791-1872) of Tobinstown, cousin or brother of Philip, were seized in lieu of tithes owing, amidst still more blowing of horns. The article read as follows:

A crowd of two hundred gathered at the house of Thomas Germaine at Tobinstown, Rathvilly…where seven bailiffs had been placed in charge of said Germaine’s property which had been seized… for tithes due Rev. John Whitty…..The bailiffs were turned out of the house and put on the Public Road…(and) threatened with death….The people took Germaine’s property for safe keeping.” All this even though “Germaine is a man not universally liked in this neighbourhood…

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It is certainly notable that on an 1840s map of Lisnavagh, there are several buildings of which no trace now exists, particularly near the house today called Germaine’s. My father believes there was formerly some buildings in the Pump Field (just left of the entrance gates into Lisnavagh) but these cannot be seen on the 1840s map either.


According to Father Phelan’s article, Philip Germaine was evicted from Lisnavagh sometime between 1837 and the early 1840s. He was still listed as a resident of Tobinstown when the voting registry for the county was compiled on 1st February 1838 (along with Thomas Germaine of Tullow).[vii] When Griffith’s Valuation for Co. Carlow was published in 1852/1853, a Patrick Germaine was listed as tenants of Captain McClintock Bunbury at Lisnavagh where he occupied 104 acres and buildings valued at 5 Guineas. Also, on 15 April 1880, the marriage took place between James Bolger and Annie Germaine, with witnesses Edward Toole and Eliza Germaine, and the address given was Lisnavagh. (Thanks to Cara Links).

There was also a marriage of 1881 between Elizabeth Germaine, daughter of Patrick Germaine, farmer, of Lisnavagh, and William Dunne of Rathmore (d. 1900) with whom she had at least one son Bernard who m. Mary (unknown) and died in 1973. Bernard and Mary in turn had Bernard (who d. 1983) and Patrick (who m. Mary Anne ***).

Father Phelan states that the landlord who evicted Philip was ‘Mr Thomas Kane Bunbury, granduncle of the present Lord Rathdonnell and from whom Lord Rathdonnell has inherited his Carlow estate.’

A couple of quibbles. The landlord was not called Thomas Kane Bunbury. Thomas and Kane Bunbury were brothers. Secondly, the ‘present’ or 2nd Baron Rathdonnell did not inherit Lisnavagh from Thomas Bunbury as such but rather from Thomas’s nephew (and his father), Captain W. McClintock Bunbury.

But back to Father Phelan’s account where, he continues, ‘Mr Bunbury fancied the farm which Germaine rented, to gratify a wish for extending his pleasure-grounds and bullock walks. Several families, by the process of eviction and others by a speedier method, amongst them Germaine, were cleared out of the country for the purpose stated. Germaine had no lease; but he was powerless to resist the imperious demand for possession and as the great famine was settling down upon the land, Germaine walked forth with his wife at the bidding of Mr. Bunbury, a pauper without hope. "I got married twice on the land, "he said to our representative" and had sunk £1,800 in it for improvements, and drainage, and planting; and I never received from him or his agent one penny compensation. I was told to send in my account but I was never paid" His house was leveled to the ground and beside the spot where it stood the mansion was erected in which Lord Rathdonnell now resides. This explains the phrase :- Late of Lisnavagh Manor" .’

‘The name of Philip Germaine is well know still in the County Carlow’, concluded Father Phelan, ‘where his remains were interred yesterday in the family burial place, - Rathvilly R.I.P.’

It is not yet known where Philip Germaine went after his eviction. Paul Gorry has observed that his name does not appear anywhere in Griffith's Valuation. Mr. Gorry suggests that the Valuation Office House Book for Rathvilly parish (National Archives) might throw some light on the situation as it was compiled several years in advance of the final publication of Griffith's. The Tithe Applotment Book which should reveal how many Germaine holdings were in Lisnavagh at the time.

This notice from the Carlow Post of Saturday 10 February 187 is also clearly relevant:
Died Saturday, in her 68th year, Mrs Alica Hanlon, of Fairy Lawn. She was a member an old and respectable Catholic family, who took aprominent part in the political struggles of the County Carlow, and by their heroic devotion to the cause of civil and religious liberty, lost many a broad acre in that memorable contest. The stately mansion of Lisnavah [sic] stands on the site the home of the Germaines. During a long and useful life Mrs Hanlon possesed the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends, and in the sad season of famine her efforts to relieve the sufferings of the poor were generous beyond her means, and secured her their abiding gratitude. She bore with saintlike patience the sufferings of her last illness, and perfectly resigned to God’s holy will, calmly awaited, in the fullness of Christian hope, the summons, we trust, to a happy eternity. At her obsequies, in the chapel of Ratoath, the Rev. James Colgan was celebrant, assisted by the Rev P. Wall and Rev. A. Dwyer asdeacon and sub-deacon, and the Rev. W O’Sea as master of ceremonies. There were also present. Rev. J. Kehoe. P.P., Ballon : Rev. P. J. Mulhall, P.P., Goresbridge; Very Rev. Dr. Kavanagh, Rev. Dean Burke, Carlow College ; Rev. P. Fitzs’mons, Rev. M. J. Murphy. Rev. P. Clowry. Rev. J. Neville. Rev. Richard Coffey, Rev. P. Maher, Rev. P. Ryan, Rev. J. Delaney. -R.I.P.


Father Phelan evidently had little time for the otherwise popular Lord Rathdonnell. Father Phelan described Rathdonnell as ‘a man of quality [who] must live at Market Haarborough for the hunting season and must spend his income out of Ireland’. One suggestion is that Lord Rathdonnell perhaps did not contribute to the fund the priest was then organzing to build the new parish church in Rathvilly but I will need to look at that closer. A further insight into the parish priests’ opinion can be gauged from "Carlow History and Society" (Editor, Dr. Thomas McGrath]:

'In mid-January 1886, the Freeman's Journal reported that four tenants of Lord Rathdonnell, three of whom had been served with civil bills for six months rent, met land agent Mr. Johnson and offered him the rents less a reduction of 15 per cent and law costs involved in achieving the reductions. Johnson refused to take the rents stating that he could not agree to the reductions. Tenant John Nolan told him cattle were making half what they were getting three years earlier. Johnson had a rather different view of the reasons for their refusal to pay their rents at the normal rates ---------

The times are not so bad at all. There is a little depression to be sure, but if you would drop your leaguing, subscribing to the Land League and other funds, and keep out of the public house, you would be able to pay your rents and be better off. It's the Land League may be blamed for this work.

Fr. John Phelan, parish priest of Rathvilly, took up the tenants' cause in a letter to the Freeman's Journal where he stated that the application by both classes of tenants for the 15% reduction had met with an obstinate determined non possumus. Lord Rathdonnell's conduct in this respect contrasted very unfavourably with the action of Earl Fitzwilliam and Lord Bessborough towards their tenants on almost adjoining estates, those benevolent noblemen having given reductions to their respective tenants of all creeds and classes without any exceptions or reservations whatever of from 20 to 50 per cent. Fr. Phelan was caustic in his criticism of Lord Rathdonnell stating that the paltry abatement of 15 per cent scarcely entitled his lordship to take rank in public estimation among the kind and indulgent landlords of the country. But, sir, it is consoling to know that the days of heartless, unsympathetic landlordism are numbered and it soon will become as extinct as the dodo. Under the fostering care of a paternal Legislature the tenants' interests will be protected and the landlord's power for working evil be effectually destroyed … But, sir, it is consoling to know that the days of heartless, unsympathetic landlordism are numbered and it soon will become as extinct as the dodo.’

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Above: Valuation Office Records for Germaine's, as transcribed by Janet Yarwood.


John Langham and his wife Crystal lived in Germaines as the agent's house from 1930's. In about 1952 he succeeded to the baronetcy, retired from Lisnavagh and moved to his seat, Tempo in Co. Fermanagh.

Germaines was then let to a Mrs. Doyne and her daughter Jolly, from Coollattin or maybe the Abbey in Tullow. That came to an end in 1962 (maybe she died?), and it was let to Mrs. Lenaghan, the mother of Brian and David. They had previously owned or rented Knockanore Castle on the Waterford Blackwater. Brian had met my father at Charterhouse.

In the late 1960s my father needed a new combine, or some cattle or maybe just some whiskey, and the place was sold in 1967 to Mrs. Joan Makin from Newbury, the mother of Barbara and trainer Peter.




With thanks to Michael Purcell, Kaye Cole (Melbourne), Cara Links, Susie Warren, Sue Clement and Paul Gorry.

APPENDIX 1 - 1823 Window broke in Chapel Lane.

Carlow 1823.
Witnessed by William Humprey, Esquire, one of his Majestys Justices of the Peace for Carlow.
Whereas Roger Hughes of Carlow town, Gentleman, came this day before me and made Oath on the Holy Evangelists Saith that on Tuesday the Sixth Day of May, Thomas German , Late of Ballyh ?, Farmer, came to Francis Hughes Dwelling House in Chapel Lane in the Town of Carlow in a most Riotous and Disorderly Manner, Broke a Window Thereon and Called him and the Inmates of the House ---Several Scandalous and
Indifferent Names and Said that he would be Revenged of Him or Them. Sworn before me this 12th Day of May 1823. (signed) William Humfrey. Roger Hughes.


The Germaine Family and Carlow’s Tithe War, by Kaye Cole, B.A., M.App.Sc.

The Possible Ancestry of Philip Germaine, by Kaye Cole.

‘The Origins and Development of Bagenalstown, c. 1680-1920’, Catherine Anne Power (Carlow History and Society, editor: Thomas McGrath, 2008).

A History of Ireland in 250 Episodes’, Jonathan Bardon (Gill & MacMillan, 2009).

The Times archive.

Carlwo Rootsweb - http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/index.htm


[i] His death was recorded in Dublin South (1886/March/2/577/Dublin South) so maybe he was living with a married daughter.

[ii] See: Mary Jackson (http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/Bunbury_documents_005.htm).

[iii] http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/Hedge_School.htm

[iv] http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/Tithe_Applotment_Tullowphelim.htm

[v] Quote in The Picket Line - http://sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=10Dec09

[vi] O’Connell, D. Correspondence of Daniel O’Connell the liberator,2 vols.ed. by W.J. Fitzpatrick, London, Murray 1888. Item No. 1894

[vii] http://www.igp-web.com/carlow/1838_voters20.htm