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Rathvilly – A Journey Through Time


With 22 townlands covering almost 10,000 acres, the parish of Rathvilly has a history that stretches back to earliest times. In this talk, Turtle provides an overview of this rich tapestry, documenting everything from dolmens and ringforts to the 1980s band In Tua Nua.

From the contested theory of Rathvilly’s sacred tree, he traces the events leading up to St Patrick’s supposed conversion of King Crimthan Mór in Rathvilly, and sheds some light on how the introduction of Christianity sowed the seeds for centuries of religious devotion and conflict.

The saga continues with the arrival of the Normans, incessant medieval conflict and Silken Thomas’s Rebellion, a potent symbol of Ireland’s tumultuous relationship with English rule. The Tudor conquest and the Cromwellian invasion represent pivotal points in Rathvilly’sstory.

1798 brings us to the United Irishmen uprising, a defining moment of Irish rebellion against British rule. The arrival of the railway opened Rathvilly to new horizons, connecting it with the wider world and ushering in an era of modernity. The construction of the St Patrick’s Church is also highlighted.

Turtle recounts how Rathvilly echoed with the ensuing calls for independence, an echo that reverberates in the tales Michael Collins, Michael Fay and Kevin Barry, who shaped the nation’s fight for freedom. He also takes in the Tidy Town awards and the creation of the new Rathvilly Heritage Interest Group.

This talk took place in Lawlors of Rathvilly on Wednesday 17 January 2024.

Rathvilly prior to the construction of St Patrick’s Church, with the chapel visible to the right of what is now Centra.


The Very Rev. Fr. Cullen preparing Rathvilly for its Tidy Town victory, with Martin Cody, Miley Brennan and Joe Toole.


Weeping ash by St Patrick’s Church, Rathvilly.


Phelan Street, Rathvilly, was named for Father Phelan in 1903.


Celtic Cross over grave of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, St Mary’s, Rathvilly.