Wills & Leases Index

Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

County Carlow Genealogy
Glimpses from Leases/Wills

By Seamus Murphy

In this article local historian Seamus Murphy traces Carlow's history, its people, their properties and dealings. We request that people who hold old deeds should loan them to Seamus.

Sources of information, on the ownership and occupation of property, are very limited.

However, in 1708 the Registry of Deeds was established. This office has a record of all leases, wills and mortgages registered there since that time. The memorials, which are the official title of these records, are invaluable to researchers.

Leases, define the site, gives the names, addresses and occupation or trade of the participators and the rent to be paid. A very important historical aspect of leases are the signatures of the people involved, and the signature of the witnesses to the lease.

Early leases were very often given for a period of three lives. The names 'mentioned in this section of a lease are also very interesting, because not only are members of the families concerned mentioned, but other names are also used. The ages of people, especially if they are very young are often included in the lease.

The existence of two early 18th century maps of Carlow1 is of considerable assistance to researchers on Carlow leases or Registry of Deeds memorials.

The writer proposes to identify some sites in Carlow, from information obtained from leases and Registry memorials. The growth of the town, and the changes in street names, will be most noticeable.

Local tradition says that there were a number of gates in the defences of Carlow. However, to date, I have only been able to identify the sites of two gates. They are the Dublin Gate and the Tullow Gate.

Dublin Gate.

A memorial2 of an indenture of lease bearing date 26th September 1712 made between the RT. Hon. Henry, Earl of Thomond in the Kingdom of Ireland of the one part and Thomas Conyers of the Towne of Catherlogh in the county of Catherlogh, merchant, of the other part, whereby the said Earl by virtue of an Act of Parliament made in Great Britain in the ninth year of her Majesties reign, instituted an act to enable the Earl of Thomond to make leases for three lives, with the convenant renewable thereof for ever and grants in Fee Farm of the Lands and Hereditaments in the said Kingdom of Ireland comprized in his marriage settlement and in persuance of the power therein given him and of all other powers which the said Earl of Thomond had in that behalf did for several considerations therein mentioned grant, bargain, sell release and confirm unto the said Thomas Conyers plott of ground without Dublin gate in the Towne of Catherlogh aforesaid adjoyneing to the Towne Wall commonly called the Widow Gray's Plot, also two other small plots next adjoyning to the said former plots, also one other plot called Heritage plot nearing on the south with the Towne wall, on the west with the river Barrow, on the north with the lane leading from the Dublin gate to the Barrow, and on the east by the Towne Street together with all gardens thereunto belonging (except as therein expected) To hold to the said Thomas Conyers his heirs and assigns forever in the rent of three pounds above taxes together with six pence per pound receivers salary and doing suite and service at the court of Leet and Court Baron of the said Earl his heirs and assigns and grinding corn at the mills of Catherlogh belonging to the said Earl, Which said lease is witnessed by McDonnell of the Temple London. Burdett Jodrell late of the City of Dublin esq. deceased, and Thomas Moland of the same Gent".

The plots referred to in this memorial can, with reference to later leases, and from the maps mentioned in note 1, be identified as occupying the area where St. Brigid's Hospital and its grounds are at present.

The Dublin Gate must therefore have been at the north end of Dublin Street adjacent to St. Brigid's Hospital, and the town wall was where the wall, dividing St. Brigid's property from the holdings to the south, is situated today.

I have quoted this memorial in full to show the type of information which the memorials contain, also to show the changes which have taken place in spelling.

In all ensuing leases and memorials I will only extract the necessary information, but will use the street names and personal name as they appear on the original documents.

Tullow Gate.

This memorial3 refers to a deed between the Earl of Thomond and John Browne Esq. of Catherlogh for a plot of ground where Browne lived, situated near the Tullow Gate in the town of Catherlogh; fronting and bounded by the street to the south, 102 ft. within the Gate and 157 ft. without the Gate, bounded on the East by the lane leading to to Dublin Gate, with Mosely's old castle and garden on the north and with Robert Newton's plot on the West.

From the measurements we can deduct that this plot, the lease of which was granted on 26th September 1712, stretched from College Street to near Crotty's bakery and that the Tullow Gate was situated near the gable of the present day Garda Barracks.

Another interesting lease in the area is one granted to Richard Scoole in 1712.

This deed4 states that the plot bounded on the east by the Town Wall, and as there is a distinct division in property lines, especially in early ordnance maps, the East Wall must have been at the wall dividing Finegans and the Bank of Ireland from the Garda Barrack; This property line continued to the river Burrin.

The Mediaeval Walls of Carlow

Market Place.

Another site which is identified from the Thomond leases is the site of the market place which was given for the use of the Borough of Catherloch.

In September 17125 Thomas Conyers of Catherlogh, merchant was given a lease of Peter Moore plot. This plot was 21 ft. in Dublin Street and 53 ft. in Tullow St., with permission for Conyers to erect a building, the lower part to be left open and free for market place for the use of the Borough of Catherlogh.

According to the measurements and also Colombine's map6, this site is now the shop and dwelling of E. J. Nolan.

The County Library.

In 1712 Richard Scooley7 got a lease of Gibb's plot in Dublin St. The plot measured 102 ft. on its eastern boundary and was bounded here by Dublin St. Mrs. Masterson's was the next property to the north. Edmund Jones was on the west and North Cot Lane was on the south.

The next mention that I have is were Edward Vermon Scooly leased a plot of ground in Dublin St., Carlow in 1794 to James Tynan.

This is described as formally called Danks plot and Schooley's plot, bounded on the north by the house formally inhabited by Mathew Bolton and then by John Herring, on the south by Old Post Office lane, on the east by Dublin Street and on the west by the widow Flanagan's holding.8

Next we have a lease between James Tynan, smith and farrier and Thomas Gurly9 in which Tynan "demised, granted and farm let to Thomas Gurly that piece or plot of ground where the new Assembly Rooms now stands." This plot was 52 ft. in Dublin Street and was 71 ft. front to rear and was bounded on the east by Dublin Street, on the west by the part of Dank's plot and Schooley's plot, which was still occupied by James Tynan, on the north by Thomas Dunn's holding and on the south by Old Post Office Lane.

In 181010 Thomas Gurly obtained from John Largan a. plot of ground in Old Post Office Lane, bounded on the east by the new Assembly Rooms, on the west by John Brownriggs holding and on the north by Thomas Dunne's holding.

This property continued to be part of the Gurly estate until 1919. In that year, George Bernard Shaw, who in 1899 had inherited the Gurly properties from his uncle, Walter John Gurly, transferred his interests in the Assembly Rooms to trustees acting for the Technical Instruction Committee.

Bernard Shaw requested that the building be used for public purposes, and that the front facade be preserved, if possible.11

Methodist Church Site

In 1712 the Earl of Thomond granted a lease to Thomas Moland.12 The property in question is 40 acres I.P.M. without the Dublin Gate, in Gallow's Hill, formerly called Thomas Holliday's plot. Also a field without the Dublin Gate adjoining the Glebe lands, subject to leases to John Butcher and Alex Rochford.

Gallows Hill, according to local tradition was the area now occupied by St. Dympna's Hospital and the Strawhall Industrial Estate.

The field mentioned must have been the field later known as Green Bank. The grounds of the Courthouse occupy the Glebe land.13

By 1766, part of this field was the property of the Earl of Hillsborough, as in that year he granted a lease of a dwelling house and out houses, to Thomas Prichard, painter of Carlow.14

In 1782 the lease was conveyed to Thomas Gurly, by Thomas Prichard's widow, Susanna.14

The next available mention is where Walter Bagenal Gurly and his son Walter John Gurly leased a dwelling house and premises in Athy Street, Carlow, to William Farrcloth, builder, Carlow, in 1861 for a period of 999 years.l5

At this time the property is described as being formerly in the possession of Charles McCabe, then owned by Thomas Putchard and afterward in the possession of Thomas Gurly.

In 1861 the buildings were described as being "in ruins" and are situated next to the Courthouse plot in Athy Street, Carlow.


The Moreen is that part of Carlow which is situated between the Barrow and the Burrin and is nowadays occupied by Coal Market (Kennedy Street) John Street, and Ballymanus Tce.

In December 1721, James Quinn and his son, John Quinn both Weavers gave a lease of part of the Moreen to John Carr and James Crowder.16 The plot was bounded on the east by Dudley Costelly, on the south by the road leading to the castle, on the west by John Ellon's garden and North as far as the ditch backwards.

The Quinns in 1722 gave a lease to Peter Bernard merchant of a plot in the Moreen where on the new walls are built on Batchellors Walk joining the Barrow, together with that part of the Moreen, bounded on the east by Timothy Lalor's garden, northeast by Mrs. Bernard's garden and the Churchyard wall, on the south by Walter Walsh's plot and on the west by the drain extending from the Ash tree, that is on Walter Walsh's plot, to Batchellor's Walk and North by Batchellor's Walk.17

The next lease was made between John Quinn of Graigue, weaver and Joseph Ralph of Killeshane (Killeshin) for a plot in the Moneen bounded on the north by the Barrow, on the east by the Churchyard, on the west by the road leading to the Barracks, and south by Castle Street and Mrs. Crumley's plot. This lease was granted in June 1723.18

In the late 18th century and early 19th century Thomas Gurly obtained leases in this area of the town. In 1945 George Bernard Shaw transferred ownership of the sites which were still part of the Gurly estate, to Carlow Urban District Council.

St. Patrick's College

On the 30th September 1786 a lease for land known as Winnett's field, which was described as being "near the town of Carlow" was signed between William Fishbourne and most Rev. James Keeffe.19

St. Patrick's College was built on this land. The initial area leased was 4 acres I.P.M., but additional land was leased in 1798, 1806 and 1814 and finally the Shamrock Paddock was acquired in 1965, to give the spacious grounds which the college has today.


An assignment was made by Edward Heapenny to Rev. Henry Staunton, in August 179120 for the residue of a lease for 999 years granted by Sarah Pum to Edward Heapenny.21

The site was bounded by Chapel Lane on the .west, by the College grounds on the north and east and by Edward Heapenny's premises on the south.

Fr. Staunton erected the post Penal Chapel on the site. In 1828 construction of the Cathedral of the Assumption was commenced on the same site.22

It is interesting to note that while the Dean Staunton assignment says that the site measured 79 ft. on Chapel Lane, the measurements on College Street today is somewhat wider.

Birthplace of most Rev. Michael Comerford

Most Rev. Michael Comerford died in August 1895 aged 65 years.23 James Comerford, Dr. Comerford's father, lived in Brown Street, where the future Bishop was born.24

From information in the following leases, it will be shown where James Comerford occupied premises in Tullow Street and Brown Street.

In December 1803 Michael Fitzgerald, farmer, Barrack Street obtained a lease of a dwelling house in Tullow St. with its stables and yard for the lives of Michael Fitzgerald and Edmund and Martin Brennan, aged 8 years and 10 years, sons of John Brennan of Paupish, farmer.

In March 1811, Thomas Fitzgerald, who had acquired a lease from Michael Fitzgerald in 1806, leased the property to Edward Bolger, carpenter and publican.

Edward Bolger in turn conveyed his title and interest to Thomas O'Brien,- shopkeeper in May 1812.

By January 1819 we find Thomas O'Brien transferring his interests to James Comerford, chandler, for the remainder of terms of lives mentioned.

In October 1840 James Comerford whose address is given as Brown Street conveyed his interest to John Rose of Carlow.

This conveyance states that John Fitzgerald, merchant, Tullow Street demised and farm let the house in Tullow Street, where James Maxwell formerly lived, to Michael Fitzgerald, for the lives of Michael Fitzgerald and Edward and Martin Brennan, sons of John Brennan Paupish, Carlow. The property by mesne assignment was transferred to Thomas O'Brien, merchant, Carlow and by lease of 27th January 1819 made between Thomas O'Brien and James Comerford. James Comerford gained possession and now sells his rights to John Rose, reserving out of the conveyance, a small plot demised by Thomas O'Brien to Edward Bolger and now in the possession of Mr. Byrne.

The property is bounded on the east by Richard Davis's holding, on the west by Edward Bolger's holding on the north by the plot in the possession of Mr. Byrne and on the south by Tullow Street.

Edward Brennan is the only survivor of the lives mentioned in the lease of 28th December 1803.

The house mentioned in these leases can be identified as, 146 Tullow Street, from the information contained in the land leases and by reference to leases of adjoining properties, some of which were Gurly properties.

From the extracts of leases and Registry of Deeds given in this article it is hoped that the reader will gain knowledge of how the town of Carlow expanded and take a deeper interest in the buildings and streets which constitute our town.


1 Two eighteen century maps of Carlow Town.. A. A. Homer.
2 Registry of Deeds 26-439-1611.
3 Registry of Deeds 13-355-5940.
4 Registry of Deeds 20-9-9527.
5 Registry of Deeds 14-95-5253.
6 Two eighteen century maps of Carlow Town.
7 Registry of Deeds 20-10-9529.
8 Deed of Gift Tynan to Connolly 1803.
9 Lease Tynan to Gurly 1805.
10 Lease Tynan to Gurly 1810.
11 Carloviana 1948 p.55.
12 Registry of Deeds 13-298-5787.
13 Molands Map Two eighteen century maps of Carlow Town.
14 Renewal of lease Marques of Downshire and Walter Bagnal Gurly 1825.
15 Lease Gurly to Faircloth 1861.
16 Lease Quinns to Carr and Crowder 1721.
17 Lease Quinns to Bernard 1722.
18 Lease Quinns to Ralph 1723.
19 Registry of Deeds 385-529-255912.
20 Registry of Deeds 439-114-384353.
21 Registry of Deeds 398-443-263361; 403-444-268691
22 Carlow Cathedral 1833-1983, p.12.
23 Carlow Cathedral 1833-1983, p.23.
24 Carloviana 1958 p.21.

Source: Carloviana 1984/85 edition

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