The Plunkett family has been associated with Royal Meath for at least seven centuries. Although
not indigenous to Ireland, the Plunkett name has become distinctly
Gaelic over the course of time and there are no Plunketts anywhere in the
world who are not of Irish origin. Some hold that the original Plunketts
were Danish merchants who arrived by longship before Brian Boru gave
the Vikings such a hiding at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. (1) Others say
they were a family of Norman warriors who came via England to Ireland
during Strongbow’s invasion in the late 12th century. These horsemen
were famed for riding small white Iberian horses, known as jennets, or
blanc genet in the French. In time, blanc genet was corrupted to planc-chet
and from that to Plunkett. That might sound far-fetched but, for instance,
my own family name of Bunbury is a corruption of the name ‘Boniface’s
Borough’ so the blanc jennet explanation cannot be ruled out.
As to their rise through the ranks of Irish society, the Plunketts had certainly achieved high status by 1316, the year Robert the Bruce’s brother Edward attempted a combined Scottish, Welsh and Gaelic Irish attack on the Anglo-Norman elite in England. Many of the rebels who were subsequently prosecuted for aiding Bruce’s ill-fated invasion came before the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, a man from Louth by name of Thomas Plunkett.
The earliest link between the Plunkett family and Crickstown, County Meath, is Christopher Plunkett, described variously as ‘of Killeen’ and ‘of Crickstown’, who lived for just 27 years between 1440 and 1467. He was a grandson of Sir Christopher Plunkett, Knight, one of the most influential men in Ireland during the War of the Roses. Sir Christopher served as Deputy Governor under Sir Thomas Stanley in 1432, and again under Richard, Duke of York. Sir Christopher’s wife Joan was a daughter and sole heiress of Sir Lucas Cusack, Lord of Killeen, and heiress of Dunsany Castle.
Sir Christopher and Lady Joan had, with other children, John, who inherited the Lordship of Killeen and was father of Christopher of Crickstown, and Christopher, who inherited the Lordship of Dunsany. (2) According to family lore the boundary between the Killeen and Dunsany lands was fixed by a race between the wives of the two brothers, Lady Killeen and Lady Dunsany. Each woman started walking from her own castle and the boundary was put up at the meeting place. For the record, Lady Killeen was credited with gaining a few extra yards for her husband.
But those were dark days in both England and Ireland as the War of the Roses raged across the lands. The Plunketts were awkwardly placed. Sir Christopher had been an ally of the Yorkists in the 1430s, but his second son was created a Baronet by the Lancastrian leader, Henry VI, in 1439. In the spring of 1461, Henry VI was deposed and imprisoned by his extremely tall cousin Edward, Duke of York, who was duly crowned Edward IV. On Palm Sunday, just over three weeks later, some 65,000 Lancastrian and Yorkist soldiers met for a do-or-die battle on a snow-covered plateau near the village of Towton in Yorkshire. A staggering 28,000 men are said to have died that day in what is considered to have been the bloodiest battle in English history. Amongst the corpses were those of Sir William Welles, sometime Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and his brother Lionel, 6th Baron Welles, former Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. By his marriage to Anne Barnewall ‘of Crickston’, Sir William Welles was father of Elizabeth Welles (c.1440-92) of Newcastle, Co. Meath. And on May Day 1464, Elizabeth was married in Crickstown to the aforementioned Christopher Plunkett (1440-67).
Christopher Plunkett’s mother-in-law was Anne Welles (née Barnewall) ‘of Crickstown’. The fates of the Barnewall and Plunkett family were very much inter-woven between the 14th and 18th centuries, not least through
Crickstown itself. The Barnewall family were of Norman origin and
came to Ireland at the time of Strongbow’s invasion. (6) By the 14th century,
the family had reached County Meath where Reginald de Berneval, of
Drumenagh [Drimnagh], married Jannetta Cusack of Killeen. (7) Reginald
and Janetta’s grandson Christopher was raised ‘in the King’s hands’ as a
child and knighted Sir Christopher Barnewall. (8)
His son and heir was Sir Nicholas Barnewall, Knight, of Crickstown. A devoted
Yorkist during the War of the Roses, Nicholas was rewarded on 1st August
1461 when appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in
Ireland. This was just over three months after that awful battle at Towton
and less than four weeks after Edward IV’s Coronation in London. (9)
In 1487, Sir Nicholas’s son and heir, Sir Christopher Barnewall, nearly blew the whole lot when he backed Lambert Simnel’s extraordinary ill-fated attempt to seize the Crown from the Tudor monarch, Henry VII. Simnel, a humble baker of unknown parentage, was a dead ringer for one of the so-called ‘Princes in the Tower’, the true heirs to the throne who had inexplicably vanished. Sir Christopher was one of many Anglo-Irish leaders who planned to install Simnel as puppet king while they reasserted Yorkist dominance in England. However, in June 1487, just weeks after 10-year-old Simnel was crowned ‘King Edward VI’ in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Henry VII’s army annihilated the Yorkists at the Battle of Stoke Field. (10) Sir Christopher was exceedingly lucky to be pardoned.
The Barnewall connection to Crickstown continued down through the centuries, often by inter-marriage with the Plunketts of Rathmore and the Cusacks of Portrane.(11) By the 17th century, the Barnewalls – like the Plunketts – were beginning to ‘suffer for their fate’. Many went to Europe to serve as soldiers in the French and Spanish armies. Others became monks, such as Barnaby Barnewall, who studied divinity in France and became Superior of the Irish Capuchins in Ireland. During the Confederate Wars of the 1640s, Sir Richard Barnewall, 2nd Baronet Barnewall, of Crickstown, commanded a cavalry regiment of a hundred horsemen on behalf of the Royalists.(12) He was attainted by Cromwell’s Parliament and stripped of his lands, including Crickstown, although 2,000 acres were returned to him following the Restoration of Charles II.(13)
It is sometimes said that the religion of a Plunkett can be adjudged by whether they spell the name Plunket (Protestant) or, with two t’s, Plunkett (Roman Catholic). Fact or fiction, it was certainly a hazardous surname to have when the Christian church fragmented into its Protestant and Catholic parts in the wake of Henry VIII’s Reformation. In 1539, for instance, Richard Plunkett, Abbot of Kells, Co. Meath, was forced to relinquish all his monastic property to the powers that be at Dublin Castle. (He deftly held onto the Book of Kells which was later handed over to Trinity College Dublin by a Gerald Plunkett). The 1654 Civil Survey of Meath shows that a large portion of the area of Big and Little Lagore, including Crickstown, was owned by Joseph Plunkett, ‘an Irish Papist of Norman stock’. Most of these lands were transferred to the Bolton family in the 1690s, following William of Orange’s victory over the Jacobites.
However, no Plunkett paid a higher price for his religion than the Blessed Oliver Plunkett, former Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland. In 1681, he was arrested on a trumped up charge of treason, tried by a kangaroo court in London and charged with having ‘compassed the invasion of Ireland by foreign powers’. On July 14, 1681, he became the last Roman Catholic martyr to die in England when he was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. His head was later returned to Louth and has rested in St Peter’s Church, Drogheda, since 1921. Of relevance to this tale is that the Blessed Oliver’s private secretary was his cousin Dr Michael Plunkett (1653-1727), parish priest of Ratoath for 23 years.
The immediate ancestor of the Plunkett family of this tale was Laurence Plunkett, JP, of Harlockstown, Ratoath, Co. Meath and Rathcool (Harlockstown 259 acres & Rathcool 7 acres in Griffiths Valuation) and his wife, Alice King of Crickstown. They had at least four sons - Richard, Matthew (of whom more anon) and two sons who went to Australia during the Gold Rush. One of Laurence's grandsons was Major Richard A. Plunkett, MRCVS, who qualified as a vet in London on 12th July 1899 and served in South Africa for an unknown period with the A. Veterinary. D. during the Boer War.
Laurence and Alice's eldest son Richard appears to have inherited Harlockstown or part of it. He appears in a list of 'Property Owners Dublin County circa 1870' by which time Harlockstown had been reduced to 116 acres. On 2nd October 1867, he was married in the Roman Catholic Church, Malahide, to Christine Archer, daughter of the late Andrew Archer, Esq. of Cottrellstown, county Dublin. (Irish Catholic Chronicle And People's News of the Week, Dublin, Ireland. Saturday, 12th October 1867). Richard and Christine later moved to Boranstown House (which they called Laurelmount) located on a hill overlooking the bog opposite Crickstown on the Slane-Ashbourne road.
On 11 January 1905, Richard and Christine's daughter Ellen Frances Plunkett [19 Dec 1871 - 23 March 1954] married Thomas Frances Crinion [1853 - 17 Dec 1934] of Rushwee House, Rushwee, Slane, Co. Meath. They had two sons, Michael Francis (1907-1991) and Richard Charles (1908-1993), and two daughters, Christine (1911-2003, a Loreto Nun) and Helen (1913-2004, an Army Nurse). This information was kindly provided by John O'Grady whose great-grandmother Teresa Crinion O'Grady was a sister to Thomas Francis Crinion.
The next brother Matthew Plunkett, a Roman Catholic herdsman, was probably born in Phibsboro, in the north of Dublin City, in about 1853.14 He appears to have been based at the Smithfield market in Dublin during his younger years, before finding work with the Bobbett family between Hansfield House, Clonsilla, and Crickstown, Co. Meath. As a herd, Matthew must have regularly herded the Bobbett cattle on the hoof down the Navan Road onto the Old Cabra Road, through the squalid tenements of Stoneybatter and into the cattle market at Prussia Street in Dublin. The original Prussia Street market was built in 1861, while an abattoir was constructed alongside it in 1881, when Matthew was 28-years-old. From Prussia Street, many of those cattle would have continued down through the Dublin Docklands to the North Wall boat for Birkenhead. Dubliners often cursed the cattle who ‘brought the countryside with them in their stomachs and left it on the streets.’ Many of the houses built in Dublin in the 1880s incorporated a foot scraper on the outside dividing wall between every two houses to enable residents to scrape such effluent from their shoes. The cattle market changed rapidly from 1897 when the Craigie brothers established their auction house on the site.18 By the 1920’s Prussia Street was the largest cattle market in Europe, with many dealers coming from England, Holland and Germany.
However, it is also possible that the Bobbett herd were affiliated with the Lucan Dairies, founded by the Nash family of Finnstown House, Lucan, in the late 19th century. (19) This seems even more likely given that Matthew’s second daughter Margaret – Ted’s grandmother- later found work as a domestic servant to the Barrs of Finnstown.
In 1889, 36-years-old Matthew Plunkett married Mary Henry, a County Louth woman nine years his junior. The Henrys ran a tailors shop in Termonfeckin so no doubt Mary was adept at ensuring Matthew was dressed dapperly when he went to work in the mornings. At this time, the Plunketts are said to have lived at Harlickstown, Co. Meath. Later that same year, the Plunketts were presumably as shocked as anyone in Ireland by the revelations that Charles Stewart Parnell, MP for Co. Meath, President of the National Land League and ‘uncrowned king of Ireland’, had been having an adulterous affair with the wife of one of his lieutenants. Parnell was obliged to resign and died within two years.
In the 1901 census, Matthew was listed as living in Killegland with his wife Mary, mother Alice and some of his children. Also in Killegland, in another house, was Andrew Plunkett who is believed to have been his nephew, being the eldest of twin sons born to Richard Plunkett of Harlockstown
By 1911, Matthew and Mary were celebrating 22 years of marriage and caretaking William Bobbett’s house at Sutherland, Kilbrew, Co. Meath.(20) They shared the house with six of their eight children, five sons and a daughter, namely 19-year-old Hugh and 16-year-old Patrick, both described as labourers, 14-year-old Matthew, 12-year-old John, 9-year-old Mary and 6-year-old James. The four younger children were at school at the time of the Census. Everyone could read and write, but nobody claimed to speak Irish. Mathew described himself as a ‘Herd and Caretaker.’ We know all this from the Census form, which Constable James Hagerty collected from 58-year-old Matthew on 3rd April 1911. At this time, their eldest daughter Alice was working for the Laws in Ardcath, while 18-year-old Margaret (grandmother of Ted) was working for the Barrs at Finnstown. The Plunketts appear to have been the only people with an address in the townland of Sutherland in 1911, although there was an unoccupied building nearby. Their residence was a small, three room cottage, graded 3rd class by the census, although it probably had sturdy walls (of stone, brick or concrete) and a decent roof (of slate, tile or iron). One window faced out from the front of the dwelling. The house, which has since been knocked down, stood in Crickstown, close to the Sutherland River, between Curragha and Blackwater. (21)
This was a popular terrain for huntsmen. In January 1861, for instance, The Irish Times reported on the Meath Hunts chase of a fox ‘through Kilbrew to the chapel of Curraha, and straight for Bobbett’s Cover, through Mr Rooney’s of Sutherland, where the carths were shut’. (22) Similarly, the Ward Union was noted to have been in pursuit of a stag in the Sutherland vicinity in 1873 and again in 1909. No doubt John McCarthy was amongst them.
William Bobbett, Matthew’s employer, was a prosperous Dublin cattle and sheep farmer who owned 62 acres at Crickstown (spelled ‘Creekstown’) from at least 1862. Bobbett was one of the most prominent magistrates in north Dublin from the 1880s until his death in 1924. He was an active promoter of agricultural science. In August 1888, for instance, he invited ‘all sheep farmers interested in the cleanliness of the sheep and the growth of the wool’ to attend ‘a Public Exhibition of the dipping of 300 sheep’ at his main demesne, Hansfield House in Clonsilla. On show would be ‘Hayward’s Improved Powder Dip… so extensively used in South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand’.(15) However, the Bobbett family finances nosedived in the early 20th century and, in 1906, the ‘fattening farms of land, together with modern dwelling houses and excellent out-offices’ at Creekstown [sic] were put up for sale.16 The following year, Bobbett put Hansfield House, plus 300 acres of first-class pastureland, up for sale. The sales blurb claimed that ‘more racing winners, both steeplechase and flat, have been trained over the course on this farm during the last six years than over any other private training course in Ireland’. One imagines young Hugh Plunkett, of whom more anon, cut his cloth with such horses. Whether the Crickstown lands were sold in 1906 or not is unclear but it is notable that Matthew Plunkett was still caretaking Bobbett’s house at Sunderland in 1911. William Bobbett died at ‘an advanced age’ and was buried in Glasnevin on 16 Sept 1924. His obituary in The Irish Times recalled him as a man ‘respected for his integrity, and as a generous friend and a really clever advisor’.(17) He had been Chairman of the Lucan and Blanchardstown Petty Sessions Court, and was a well known figure in the Dublin Cattle Market and business world.
Matthew and Mary’s eldest child Alice Plunkett was born in 1890, the year after their marriage. By the time she was 21, Alice was working as a domestic servant for Michael Augustine FitzGerald Law, gentleman, of Beamont, near Julianstown, Co. Meath. He was a grandson of a former Governor of the Bank of Ireland and his wife, Mary, was a daughter of Samuel Dobrée, scion of a prosperous merchant banking family from Guernsey.
Alice was exactly the same age as the Law’s eldest son, Captain Robert Law (1890-1973). Like his two younger brothers, Robert was educated at Haileybury, a boarding school 20 miles from London, returning to Beamont during the holidays. During the First World War, he served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and won a Military Cross. A fearless eccentric, he later went to West Africa where he shot twelve bull elephants but got charged by the thirteenth which left him badly mauled. He later emerged from the jungle with a hoard of ivory, claiming he had survived by eating an exclusive diet of bananas, which fruit he never ate again. He subsequently eloped with Audrey Beatrix Wallis of Drishae Castle, Millstreet, Co. Cork, sold Beamont and settled on the Boyne at Rossnaree, Co. Meath, where members of the Law family still live today.
In 1911, the only residents of Beamont apart from Alice Plunkett and the Law parents were Mr Law’s unmarried sister Ellen, his 18-year-old son Michael (fresh out of Haileybury) and two other servants, Mary Griffin and John Charles Williamson. The younger Michael served in both wars, becoming a captain in the Royal Scots Fusiliers and married a Christian Scientist from Australia called Kathleen Manning. (23)
Nothing further is yet known of Alice save that she never married and was later employed as a priest’s housekeeper in Kilcurry and later in the Parish of Haggardstown on the outskirts of Dundalk. Her niece Nancy McCarthy went to live with her during this time.
On Christmas Day 1915, a temporary ceasefire between British and German forces enabled the soldiers to leave their frozen, blood-soaked trenches and indulge in a free-for-all football game in no-man’s land. Whether news of this unlikely event ever reached the Plunkett household in Meath is unknown but, just under four weeks later, Matthew and Mary’s eldest son Hugh signed up with the Irish Guards, known far and wide as ‘The Micks’.
Born in 1892, Hugh had been grooming
horses since childhood, primarily for
the Rodgers family of Park House on the
Skryne Road outside Ratoath. Pat Rodgers
was one of the biggest farmers in the
area, famously drawing water into his
yard from a windmill on the banks of the Broadmeadow River. (24) Hugh’s equestrian abilities were no doubt boosted by his fathers’ connections to William Bobbett’s stud at Hansfield. During the First World War, the Rodgers of Park House supplied many horses to the British Army. One presumes 23-year-old Private Hugh Plunkett (No 10860) sailed for France with some of these horses.
Europe, Hugh’s Company of the Irish Guards (Number 5) joined the 3rd
Reserve Battalion. Life on the Western Front was monotonous, intensely
cold and extremely depressing, with the number of casualties mounting
daily from endless shelling, machine guns, sniping, mortaring, mining
and raids. A groom’s life was made even more miserable by the horrific
fate of the horses. Between the Somme in July 1916 and the Armistice in
November 1918, the British Army recorded 58,090 horses killed and 77,410
wounded by gunfire. Poison gas accounted for a further 211 killed and
2,220 wounded, while hundreds more were killed by aeroplane bombs.
On 20 November 1917, the British Army commenced a new line of attack
using tanks which were about to replace horses as the mount of choice
for the British soldier. The Battle of Cambrai involved two weeks of
intensive fighting and concluded with the first successful use of tanks by
the British to prove that the Hindenburg Line could in fact be penetrated.
However, the battle – which military historian Liddell Hart described as‘one of the landmarks in the history of warfare, the dawn of a new epoch’– also showed the Germans how their new infantry tactics could make for
a staggeringly effective counter attack. Alas, for Private Hugh Plunkett,
this experimental battle marked the end of his short life.
‘There was not any need to tell us we were for it. We knew that, and we knew we was to be quick. But that was all that we did know– except we was to go dancin’ into the great Wood in the wet, beyond the duckboards. The ground, ye’ll understand, had been used by them that had gone before us –used and messed about; and at the back, outside Bourlon, all Jerry’s guns were rangin’ on it. A dirty an’ a noisy business was Bourlon’.
A Survivor of Cambrai on the Battle of Bourlon Wood.
On the morning of 27th November, the newly formed 2nd Battalion of the Irish Guards advanced into the woods of Bourlon Ridge in an attempt to drive the Germans out from the far side. The enemy had placed two
divisions of men on the ridge with another two in reserve. As Hugh
Plunkett and his comrades charged into the woods, machine gun bullets
lacerated the stumps and trees they sheltered behind and shells rained down upon them. Many were shot dead as they tried to wade across the boggy earth, or wounded by splinters from exploding trees. Worse still, ‘the officer with the compass’ appears to have lost his bearings. In the skies above, the Sopwith Camels and Bristol Fighters of the Royal Flying Corps were locked in battle with the squadrons of the notorious Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen.
Gradually the Micks pushed the German enemy backwards out of the forest but at a devastating price. Machine guns kept opening up on them with vicious consequence and suddenly the thin line of the Irish Guards realised they were utterly surrounded and that the enemy were now closing in. Rudyard Kipling, whose only son Jack died fighting for the
Irish Guards, later described how the remnants of the Irishmen in the forest quickly ‘split into little fighting groups… dodging, turning, and ducking in dropping coppices and over the slippy soil, while the shells impartially smote both parties.’ Kipling believed that if the Germans had silenced their guns for long enough, they would have realised the game was up and the Irish Guards were beat. But they did not stop and so what remained of the battalion was able to escape. However, Private Hugh Plunkett was one of over 170 Irish Guardsmen who did not make it back from the dark forest that day. At least 25 men were killed, including two officers, while 146 were reported missing (of whom many were inevitably dead). (25) A further 142 were wounded but retreated safely. With a total of 322 casualties, this was the first complete defeat the Guards had sustained. In total, some 89,000 British and German soldiers died at Cambrai. The British 40th Division did reach the crest of the ridge but were held there and suffered over 4,000 casualties for their efforts in three days. If Hugh Plunkett survived the previous night, he could not have survived the next days’ onslaught. As the British troops began to lay wire and dig in to their new positions at Bourlon, the Germans fired over 16,000 rounds into the wood. His name is recalled on the memorial at the Louverval Military Cemetery near Cambrai.
With Hugh dead, the eldest of the Plunkett boys was now Matthew and Mary’s fourth child, Patrick Plunkett, who was born in 1895. He subsequently settled in Crickstown on the Ashbourne Road with his wife Elizabeth and raised a small family. His brothers Mattie (1897-1979) and Jack (1898-1974) also lived in Crickstown. All three brothers devoted their lives to agriculture, working on farms in the area. It is hard for 21st century eyes to appreciate that up until the 1970s, Ashbourne was a tiny village of less than 400 people. With their boyish smiles and cloth caps, the Plunketts were presumably well-known figures in the locality right up until their deaths in the 1970s. Jack was first to go, aged 74, in 1972. Patrick died next, aged 82, on 21st March 1977. And Mattie passed away six months after Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of Britain in 1979. (26)
The youngest son James Plunkett, known as Jimmy, was born in 1904 and served in the Free State Army during the 1920s. At the end of that decade, he emigrated to Manchester and found work with British Insulated Callenders Cables Ltd (BICC), now Balfour Beatty. He was based in Trafford Park, the world’s first purpose-built industrial park which was built along the southern side of the Manchester Ship Canal. Between 1933 and 1938, the BICC were employed in the construction of the British National Grid, as well as making electric power cables, telecommunications cables and metals. During the 1950s, Jimmy contracted Parkinson’s and was obliged to retire early. He and his wife Una live in Wythenshawe, a massive council housing estate close to the airport in the south of Manchester City. Their son, also Jimmy Plunket, both lived and worked in Old Trafford, where he had three sons, Timothy, Nicholas and Roger. Jimmy and Una's daughter Joan Plunkett married fireman Ged McGrath and moved to Preston where they had three children, David, Una and Chris. Ged passed away from a sudden coronary in 1970 while Joan McGrath died from cancer in 2008; those who knew her described her as 'wonderful' and ‘a “corker”, full of life’. Their eldest son Dr. Dave McGrath is now a world authority in Golden Age Spanish literature, as well as father of James and Elizabeth, and granddad to Jake. Chris, their youngest son, is headteacher of a large secondary school in Cumbria.
Born in 1902, Matthew and Mary Plunkett’s youngest daughter Mary
found work after the Irish Civil War in the village of Scotstown in north
County Monaghan. She never married and it is not yet known what she
was working at. In 1938, Scotstown had a blacksmith and a Royal Irish
Constabulary barracks, with just four officers stationed there. Electric power arrived there in 1948. (27)
Born in 1893, (Mary) Margaret Plunkett was Mathew and Mary Plunkett’s second child. By 1911, the 18-year-old was working as a domestic servant to 56-year-old Patrick Barr, a Scots Presbyterian farmer living at Finnstown, near Lucan, and his wife of 18 years, Charlotte. The Barrs had no children. Margaret subsequently married Michael McCarthy, the butcher of Ratoath, Co. Meath, and lived at Johnstown. They had six children - Hughie, Johnny, Dinny, Mosie, Susan and Peggy – before Mrs Margaret McCarthy died on 23 April 1947, aged 54. For more on Michael and Margaret McCarthy and their children, click here.
1 MacLysaght heartily dismisses this possibility which was first mooted by Campion in the 16th century.
2 The 1st Lord Dunsany married the daughter and heir of a younger son of the 3rd
Earl of Kildare. Dunsany which is less than a mile distant from Killeen.
3 See: Flach Family Tree: http://genealogy.jamesflach.com/getperson.php?personID=P2763092849&tree=FFT&PHPSESSID=371d561d7047b4a1a142a700c0c84582;
4 Flach Family Tree: Christopher Plunkett: http://genealogy.jamesflach.com/getperson.php?personID=P2763092839&tree=FFT&PHPSESSID=371d561d7047b4a1a142a700c0c84582
5 In 1485, the Lancastrian leader Henry Tudor – father of Henry VIII – won a decisive victory over the Yorkists to bring an end to the War of the Roses. Four years later, Nicholas St Lawrence, 16th Baron Howth (1460-10 July 1526), had his claim to their Howth estate confirmed by Royal charter. In the summer of 1504, Nicholas fought at the battle of Knockdoe in Co. Galway. Five years later, he was created Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Both Nicholas and Genet are said to have died in Howth on 10 July 1526 but no further details are yet forthcoming as to how they perished. Their son, Christopher succeeded as 17th Baron Howth. Nicholas and Genet also had a daughter Alison, born in 1508. In 1520, Alison St Lawrence (1508-1530) married John Netterville of Dowth, Co. Meath. Their daughter Margaret Netterville married Walter Forster of Dublin. See: http://trees.ancestry.com/pt/AMTCitationRedir.aspx?tid=4869425&pid=-1531876161. Flach: http:// genealogy.jamesflach.com/getperson.php?personID=P2763092834&tree=FFT&P
6 They descend from Alanus de Berneval, a successful soldier and “Companion in Arms” to the original Norman Invader, William the Conqueror. Alanus’s greatgrandson, Sir Michael de Berneval, commanded one of the Anglo-Norman
regiments during Strongbow’s invasion of Ireland. According to the annals, he
landed at Berehaven, Cork, shortly before Strongbow himself landed in Wexford.
7 Reginald contributed towards the expedition to Mallow, under Walter de Bermingham in 1372 and in 1374 paid royal service to the expedition to Kilkenny under William of Windsor. In the 14th century, ‘the custody of forty eight shillings rent issuing out of Lucyansiston, Meath’ was held by Nicholas de Berneval (Barnewall), ‘of Roger, Earl of Ulster, the King’s Ward’. Nicholas’s brother Ulphram (or Wolfram) succeeded to Drumenagh [Drimnagh].
8 Sir Christopher married Eleanor, daughter of Sir Nicholas Rochford, Kt. of Rathcoffey, co. Kildare, and Kilbride, Co. Meath.
9 Sir Nicholas Barnewall, Kt. of Crickstown, Chief Justice, married Ismay, daughter and heiress to Sir Robert Serjeant, Kt. Castleknock, co. Dublin. 1461 was also the year in which the Barnewalls secured the peerage of Lords Trimleston, a title whose future is presently open to question. (Memoranda Roll, 21 Henry VII).
10 Sir Christopher was fortunate to be pardoned for his treason. He is next to be found fighting alongside the 8th Earl of Kildare against the de Burgh family at the battle of Knockdoe in Co. Galway in August 1504. Over 5,000 men were killed in this brutal battle, primarily from the pioneering use of gun-powder. It is quite possible that Sir Christopher was among those slain as his son and heir, John Barnewall, was Lord of Trimlestown by 1505. (Memoranda Roll, 21 Henry VII).
11 Sir Christopher Barnewall, who was in possession of the title in 1488, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Plunkett, Kt., of Rathmore, County Meath. His son, Edmund Barnewall, of Crickstown, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Plunkett, Kt. of Dunsoghly. Edmund was in turn succeeded by his son, Sir Christopher Barnewall, whose wife, Catherine Fleming, was a daughter of the 13th Lord Slane, sister and sole heiress of the 14th Lord Slane and heir of her grandmother, Elizabeth, who married Christopher Plunkett of Crickstown. In 1559, the Dunsany title passed to Christopher, 6th Baron Dunsany, whose wife Elizabeth was a daughter of Sir Christopher Barnewall, Kt, of Crickstown.
12 The Baronet Barnewall of Crickstown title was created for his father on 21st February 1622-3.
13 Sir Richard Barnewall, 2nd Bt, died in 1679 and was succeeded by his son Sir Patrick Barnewall, 3rd Bt, who received further compensation in the form of a land grant of 1261 acres in County Galway. However, his son Sir George Barnewall appears to have been the 4th and last Baronet Barnewall, of Crickstown, dying on 22 October 1735, unmarried and without issue.
14 Matthew Plunkett of Crickstown may have been a sister of Julia Plunkett, a mother of the Quinns of Park gate Street, whose husband who worked in Guinness. It seems likely that Matthew Plunkett of Crickstown was a brother of James Plunkett, a Clerk, who was born in Meath in 1858 and, by 1911, was a 53-year-old widower living at 1 Ulster Street, Phibsboro, Dublin with his four sons, three daughters and a servant girl. In 1911, his eldest daughter Alice Plunkett (24) was a National Teacher, while his two older sons, Edmund (20) and Peter (18), were also clerks. The other children Hubert (15), James (13) and Christina (10) were at school, although no profession is given for Jane (22). The servant was 39-year-old Ellen Goss. When Hubert Plunkett died on 29th Oct 1952, his address on his Mass Card was also given as 1 Ulster Street, Phibsboro. Jim Lacey, author of 'A Candle in the Window', which looks at the local history of the Barony of Castleknock, writes: 'I believe Hubert Plunkett lived in the railway cottage at Reilly's Crossing on the Ratoath Road between Cabra and Finglas I remember him opening and closing the level crossing gates in the 1950s and 60s. I think he may have had other duties as an ex R.I.C. Mr. Harris performed these duties more often.' Is this the same Hubert Plunkett?
15 The Irish Times, Wednesday, August 29, 1888, p.1. Bobbett must have been a reasonable employer as, in 1904, The Irish Times reported on the death at Hansfield of 104-year-old Thomas Doyle, a native of Donard, Co. Wicklow, who had been‘the faithful servant for 46 years of William Bobbett, JP, and family’. It was surely unusual to have a servant’s death recorded in the Irish Times. (Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, January 23, 1904).
16 The Irish Times, Thursday, October 18, 1906, p.10
17 The Irish Times, Saturday, September 20th 1924. His sons Patrick Bobbett, MD, and William Bobbett, and nephew, John Malone of Trim lead the mourners. Plenty of other Beveridge, Bobbett, O’Hagan, Rooneys, Spences, Wards and a T. Plunkett were in attendance.
18 The Ganly Craigie Auction Company was established by John, Arthur and Alex Craigie in 1897.
19 In 1902, the Reverend William Donegan described Lucan as “a thrifty village ? independent of agricultural labour [with] more than £1,000 derived from industrial establishment [weekly]”. He goes on to say: “There is a large and prosperous industry on the grounds of Mr. Nash, of Finnstown, for Lucan Mineral Waters. Mr. Nash is the proprietor also of the Lucan Dairies, branches of which are extensively working in the’ city and suburbs of Dublin and in provincial towns”. The Lucan Dairies continued to prosper until the 1960s when purchased by the American company WR Grace (subsequently purchased by Unilever).
20 Mathew spells his name Mathew under ‘Name and Surname’ but then signs himself ‘Matthew Plunkett’ at the end of it.
21 By 1985, Sutherland was the home of the Landers family. Jim Landers and John Landers are buried in St Andrew’s of Curraha [Curragha], as is Brian O’Connor of Sutherland.
22 The fox ‘was found in Green Park, where he was run into and killed, after as fast a
hunt as has been in these parts for some time, the distance nearly 8 miles’. The Irish Times, Monday, January 14, 1861.
23 The Laws’ second son, Major Francis Cecil Law, also served in the war and won the Distinguished Service Cross in 1915. The Laws only daughter Violet married William Aitken of Edinburgh and had one daughter, Mary Rose, who married Jack Halpenny and lived at St Peter’s Terrace, Drogheda.
24 Pat Rogers had stables and a yard in the centre of Ratoath, as well as lands at Big Lagore, Tankardstown, Paddocks, Glascairn, Balfstown and Brownstown. Park House, which he built, was later home to the Moorehead family. Pat’s son, Frank, moved to The Paddocks, Kilbride Road, while his son, Charlie, set up the racing stables at Balfstown. Charlie trained all of Miss Doherty Paget’s horses during World War II.
25 The officers were Cary-Elwes and AF Synge.
26 John Plunkett of Crickstown, Ashbourne, died on 28 Nov 1972, aged 74. He was buried at Saint Andrew Cemetery, Curraha, Co. Meath, where his wife Alice (née Ryan) was also buried after her death on 17 August 1990 aged 88. Alice was the daughter of a farmer from Trim; her brother had land near Mooretown Lagore. Their son Sean Plunkett lives at Crickstown today. Matthew Plunkett died on 21 November 1979, aged 82. His wife Nora died on 4th January 1960, age 59, and they had a son and two daughters. Patrick’s widow Elizabeth passed away at home on December 30th 1982 and was buried in Curraha. Their children Patrick and Rita Plunkett live on the Ashbourne Road today, while another son Matthew lives in Skerries, Co. Dublin. Saint Andrew Cemetery, Curraha, County Meath, Ireland. Recorded by Frank Carroll, Jul 05, 2005 http://www.interment.net/data/ireland/meath/standy/index.htm
There is a good history of the Taaffe family of Co.Louth and Meath in the M.A.H.S journal Vol XIV No.2 published in 1960 by a Rudolph Taaffe
The author would like to extend particular thanks to Siobhan Ryan, Pat Connolly and Harry McCarthy for providing the information upon which this story is based. Harry McCarthy has accrued considerable information on both the Plunkett and McCarthy families and, in November 2009, he organized a memorial mass for his great-uncle Hugh Plunkett who was killed in action during the First World War. He would also like to thank the following for their advice and assistance during the writing of this history.
Tony Darby (Ratoath Historical Society)
Mary Dinneny (née McCarthy)
Beryl Donnelly (Secretary, Ratoath Heritage Group)
Ann Kanavagh (Ashbourne Historical Society)
Middlesborough Council (Tee Valley Indexes)
Ratoath Chamber of Commerce
Noel Ross (County Louth Archaeological & Historical Society)
Susan Wilson (Office of CEO, Cheeverstown House)