Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Pat Purcell Papers
Ardoyne Parish
Counties Wicklow & Carlow


Short History of

Ardoyne Parish

(in Counties Wicklow and Carlow)

 Diocese of Leighlin

Price _   One Shilling

For the benefit of Parish Funds

(Front cover)

I. Ardoyne Parish

As Dr. Comerford observes, the townland of ARDOYNE in County Wicklow probably takes its name from the Gaelic word ARDAN (pronounced ARDAUN), meaning a hillock, in reference to the very considerable hillock on Mr. Thackaberry's land just north of the road running east from RATHGLASS bridge to TULLOWGLAY.

This seems too large to be a moat that is the mound thrown up in prehistoric times to mark a burial site. Moreover, as all books on the subject point out, an artificial mound can only be made by digging a circular trench and throwing up the material inside. There is, however, no real sign of excavation here except towards the east. The land falls away from the mound on all sides, and the writer is disposed to think that the mound is a natural one.

It is generally known as ARDOYNE rath, a rath being the circular rampart that surrounded ancient dwellings. The flat top, some 20 paces by 20, is certainly such a place as might have been chosen for ancient dwellings. No sign of a rampart now exists but any settlement there may have been, could presumably have been, surrounded by a palisade. The writer has no special knowledge of these matters, and has not been able to learn that the site has ever formed the subject of expert investigation.

Reference may be made in connection with this chapter to Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, by Dr. Comerford, the learned Bishop of Carlow. vol. Ill p.395, (pubd.. Duffy of Dublin 1886).


The register of St. Thomas' Abbey in Dublin, now in print, shows that about the year 1210 William de Burgh granted to that institution the Church of St. Edmond at Ardoyne, Diocese of Leighlin, together with a caracute of land with which he had endowed it, and certain appurtenant (though unspecified) tithes of mills and fisheries.

The ruins of this church, or possibly of some later one on the same site, still exist a few hundred yards from Mr. Thackaberry's mound on the opposite side of the road, and they are now a protected monument under the charge of Wicklow County Council.

Dr. Comerford writing in 1886 noted that one gable, being the archway giving entrance to the west end of the church, was still standing, and that the foundations of the other walls could still be traced. This continues to be the position (1967) except that one side of the gable only now stands, the other being represented by a heap of rubble.

In the surrounding burial ground occasional interments still take place. The latest tombstone inscription is dated 1915 but the writer recalls a funeral here within the last ten years.

The reference books show that William de Burgh, who granted St. Edmond's to St. Thomas' Abbey, was a brother of the then Earl of Kent. He was one of the many younger sons and dependents of the Anglo-Norman knights who, landing at Waterford from 1172 onwards, occupied Ireland on behalf of Henry II. He is on record as owning land in County Carlow about 1185. The family, it may be noted, continue to the present at Oldtown, near Naas.

To sum up the church of St. Edmond at Ardoyne was founded before 1210 possibly by the de Burghs as their own place of worship since they endowed it with land, and were later in a position to grant it away. Nothing is known as to the circumstances in which it was abandoned but it is likely to have continued in use till the Reformation of 1537 when all catholic churches were closed.

The Ancient Monuments Branch of the Board of Works in Dublin have no record of this old church while Wicklow County Council, who protect it, know nothing of its history, neither do the de Burgh family.

A caracute was 100-120 Irish acres of agricultural land—say 160-200 statute. It did not include Woodlands or bogs.

Three tombstone inscriptions in the old burial ground which were legible in 1893 but are so no longer are printed in the Journal for that year of the Society for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead in Ireland.


The present parish of ARDOYNE was formed on January 10th 1832 out of portions of BARRAGH and FENAGH parishes. It was described as a district parish, a term now obsolete, and was placed under the charge of a perpetual curate to be nominated alternately as vacancies occurred by the rectors of Barragh and Fenagh, each of whom was required to pay the curate thirty-five pounds a year.

The townlands transferred to the new parish from Fenagh were, so far as can be ascertained, ARDOYNE, BALLIVANGOUR, TULLOWCLAY, part of RATH and part of KNOCKLOW.

No list of the townlands transferred from BARRAGH can be traced.

The parish from its formation included, as now, townlands in both Co. Wicklow and Co. Carlow.


The new parish needed a new church and churchyard. The site chosen for these was on land belonging to Lord Fitzwilliam being part of an area of three hundred acres held on long lease by the REVELL family of ARDOYNE in the Half Barony of SHILLELAGH, County Wicklow.

In October 1833 Lord Fitzwilliam and Mr. William Revell, the then tenant, gave an acre and ten perches for the new church and churchyard free of charge save a token payment of five shillings a year (which has never been asked for).

Those signing the conveyance on behalf of the parish were John Legate, of the Black Lion, and Thomas James, of Tullowclay, churchwardens.


Holy Trinity Church (C of I) Ardoyne

The new church was built in 1834 with a grant of £900 from the Board of First Fruits, an ecclesiastical corporation which administered funds for such purposes.

It was described in LEWIS' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1849, as a neat, though plain and small building in the early English style, the roof of the interior being enriched with tracery.

It was designed to seat 132. The petition praying for its consecration was signed by: — H. G. Stokes, Minister. William Revell, R. W. Jones, churchwardens. George B.  Dawson, John Jonson -(?)-, (third signature illegible), parishioners.

The church was consecrated by Dr. Elrington, the last Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin on 24th June, 1835, being dedicated to the Holy Trinity. (Later in the year Ferns and Leighlin were joined with Ossory under a single bishop).

Map of Ardoyne c.1900

The first perpetual curate was Rev. M. G. Stokes.

In 1845 the Rector of Fenagh (Rev. C. W. Doyne) transferred to Ardoyne the rent charges on the Fenagh townlands taken for the new parish in 1832. These amounted to £84.9.6 p.a., and the Rector of Fenagh was thereon discharged from the payment of £35 p.a. which he had previously been required to make.

In 1870, the perpetual curate for the time being having died, Ardoyne was linked with Aghade parish, the two being held jointly by the Rector of Aghade, with a curate residing at Ardoyne.

The documents relating to the acquisition of the site from Lord Fitzwilliam, the consecration of the church, and the transfer of the rent charges are in the archives of the Representative Church Body in Dublin. The writer has Photostats which he could show to anyone interested.

Despite enquiry he has not been able to find out what rent charges were.

The original seating plan was drafted by Mr. William Coe whose grand-children still reside in the parish.


For the years 1835 when the church was consecrated to 1870 when it was linked with Aghade there are no records in either parish or in the diocesan archives at Kilkenny. Some information may, however, be gleaned from the notes recorded by the bishops at their periodical visitations, copies of which are in the archives of the Representative Church Body though the series seems incomplete. These vary little from visitation to visitation. The only matters of much interest are—

1850 - Membership - 260
Morning prayer every Sunday. Average attendance - 75.
Evening prayer every Sunday. Average attendance - 6.
On the roll of the Sunday school - 40.
A parish day school is supported by subscriptions, an occasional sermon and the Church Education Society.
Churchwarden—Thomas Jackson of Black Lion.

1852 - Churchwardens: William Revell of Ardoyne and William West, of Broomville Lodge. (Archdeacon's note).

1860 - Population - 265.
Day School. On roll 34, Average attendance - 14.
Churchwardens: William Revell of Ardoyne and Thomas Agar of Caledon.
1864 - School closed at present, the master having been dismissed.
Average attendance lately not more than 8 (Archdeacon).

1867 - School efficiently conducted. (Archdeacon)

1869 - School not very efficiently conducted.

1870 - Churchwardens: E. V. Alcock and William Drury.

From 1870 when the parish was linked with Aghade some further information is to be found in the proceedings of the joint vestry meetings though business was mostly of a, routine nature of small interest now. Important matters are:—

1870 - Collection for a church bell.

1872 – “The drawing of a new font offered as a gift by a lady of the congregation was approved." This is presumably the present granite font at the west end of the church. The writer has not been able to ascertain the lady's name, and he fears that it has now perished.

1894 - "The evening congregation has increased probably due to better lighting, oil lamps having been substituted for candles." (Archdeacon)
Sunday school: 30 on roll.
Day school: 17 on roll.

1905 - Brass lectern in memory of Mr. James Eustace of Newstown given by some of his friends.

1918 - The organ was provided through the exertions of Mr. Oulton, the joint rector, who was a talented musician. Resigning in 1918 when he had been selected for an appointment in York Minster, he fell a victim to the great influenza outbreak in the autumn of that year. He died on November 4th, 1918, his wife on November 7th, and their infant son on November 8th. The organ, as an inscription on the cover shows, was dedicated to the memory of all three. A year or two later when the instrument arrived from England the country was in the throes of disorder, and all trace of it was lost. The writer was told by Miss Butler that it was not until after many months that it was found in its packing cases in a goods shed at Limerick Junction.

1924 - The altar, given by his wife, commemorates Mr. Maurice Eustace of Newstown (son of Mr. James) who died in this year.

1926 - Miss Twamley was elected the first lady churchwarden.

1932 - Part-time sexton appointed at £20 p.a. plus a ton of coal.

1934 - The field between the church land gifted by Lord Fitzwilliam and Mr. Revell in 1833 and the curate's house (see next chapter), till then rented from the Fitzwilliam estate at £2-15-0 p.a., was bought at 20 years purchase (£41-5-0). The field is intersected by the stream which forms the county boundary; part is therefore in Wicklow and part in Carlow.

1940 - Safe bought for the vestry.

1942 - Communion rail in memory of Thomas and Elizabeth Twamley given by their children.

1947 - Pulpit and reading desk given by Mrs. Eustace, of Newstown, in memory of her son Captain M. J. R. Eustace, Royal Artillery who was killed in action in 1942 at the siege of Singapore, aged 21. He was the son of Mr. Maurice above.

1951 - Electric lighting installed.

1965 - Kosangas heating system given by Mrs. Sunderland in memory of her husband, and of her son Leslie who was tragically killed in a shooting accident. Up to this year the church was being warmed by oil stoves.

Reference has been made above to those memorials only which have taken the form of church furniture or equipment. There are in addition a window depicting the ascension to the memory of Mr. Cecil Eustace and his son Hardy, the reredos to the memory of Mr. Roland Eustace, and a number of wall tablets. A pair of ceremonial chairs in the chancel commemorate Canon Shaw who was rector of the linked parishes from 1918 to 1941.


This is how the curate's residence at ARDOYNE was described for many years, it being repeatedly emphasised that it was not glebe that is the property of the benefice. It seems, however, to have become glebe in 1870 when ARDOYNE was linked with AGHADE.

The house was built in 1844 at a cost of £310 (with another £50 for outbuildings) by means of subscriptions collected by Sir Thomas Butler, Bart., of Balintemple. The subscribers were : the Bishop of the Diocese £104; Lord Fitzwilliam £100; Sir Thomas Butler £50; Mr. Robert Eustace of Newstown £25; Mr. J. Duckett £10; Chief Justice Doherty £50. The Chief Justice in addition gave the site for the new parsonage (some two acres) which lay across the boundary stream, and so in County Carlow.

The house was occupied rent free by the curates until the last (Rev. T. W. Lowe) resigned in 1915, and the post was abolished. It was thereafter let to various tenants, and finally to Miss Maud Butler, of the Balintemple family, who remained for some twenty years until she removed to Dublin in 1949. It was then in 1952 sold to Mr. S. Agar, of the Caledon family, who in turn in 1957 parted with it to Mr. Jeffares, the present owner. It is in all respects as it was when built in 1844.

The writer has not been able to ascertain what connection Chief Justice Doherty had with the neighbourhood beyond his ownership of the land he gave for the parsonage. A native of Dublin and a barrister of King's Inn, he practised on the Leinster circuit, and represented Kilkenny and New Ross in the House of Commons, before his appointment to the bench.


The day school adjoining the church was built on a portion of the Wicklow land gifted by Lord Fitzwilliam and Mr. Revell in 1833. The writer has not enquired from the diocesan education office when it was built as the point is not very important. But it is likely to have been put up along with the church, probably with the aid of a grant. It was in existence in 1850, and in 1870 was insured for fifty pounds. It has the appearance of a small central block that has been added to.

Its standards during the years 1850 to 1870 may be inferred from the reports in chapter VI above. But good or bad many generations of children were educated in it up to the date .in the nineteen forties when, the number of pupils having fallen below the minimum needed to qualify for a grant from the Education Department, it was, after a hundred years, closed.

In 1954 it was let for a year or two to a tenant but has since stood vacant. It is an old structure with one end cracking away from the rest of the building and threatening to fall. At the general vestry meeting in 1965 a sub-committee was appointed to make recommendations regarding its future but they could not think of any purpose for which the building is likely to be needed again, and proposed that it be left to disintegrate. This report has not yet been considered by the general vestry.

Times having changed there are not now enough children in the parish to make a separate school practicable. At present there are only two families with children of primary school age, and they go to the church school at Aghade.


In the nineteen fifties the Church of Ireland appointed a sparsely populated areas committee to consider the better use of clerical manpower, and the reduction of overheads in small parishes.

In consequence to its recommendations, AGHADE and ARDOYNE were in 1961 linked with TULLOW parish under a single rector residing at Tullow. The union is now called TULLOW, AGHADE and ARDOYNE. Each parish, however, preserves its separate identity, and is responsible for its own finances.

The total of men, women and children in ARDOYNE parish is now sixty-one.


Up to this point these notes have been concerned with ecclesiastical administration, boundaries, buildings and personnel. Boundaries, however, are constantly changing: buildings are abandoned and left to fall as witness in the near vicinity the ruined churches at AGHOLD, ARDOYNE, KELLISTOWN, BARRAGH and CLONMULSH; while clerics come and go and are forgotten.

Fundamentally it seems to the writer (though other views are possible) a parish should be seen as the people whose interest in the local church organisation is intended to serve, and it is they who lend stability and continuity to a countryside. The writer in this connection has been impressed during the course of his researches by the continuity of life in ARDOYNE, and it had been his intention to entitle this chapter 'Some old Ardoyne families'. So many, however, would qualify under the heading that this history would become too long, and it must suffice to give one example which the writer believes that all will be glad to see on record.

In 1764 Mr. Terence Bail was overseer of roads in BALLON, BARRAGH and AGHADE. After two hundred years his descendant Mr. William (Bill Bail to the whole parish) now lives at Craans in ARDOYNE.


Here these short and simple annals end. The history of a small country church of no great antiquity can be of little interest to the world at large, and these notes have been put together by the writer for the benefit of his fellow parishioners.

The parish is entirely rural, consisting of farms and cottages. There is no village, and only an occasional general shop at a crossroad. The church itself stands on a little frequented byroad in the midst of fields. The only evidences of the modern age are the excellent roads, the telegraph poles and a petrol pump.

Once indeed a ripple from the great world reached the parish, and the writer would not like to lay down his pen without noting it. In 1809 during the Napoleonic wars, at a time it seems when recruits were hard to come by, the aid of church councils was invoked. A special payment of five pounds was offered to each man enlisting in the army reserve, and forty pounds were allotted in this connection for Ballon, Aghade and what is now the Carlow part of Ardoyne, with what result is not known.


The writer is greatly indebted to Miss Willis and Mr. Briggs of the Representative Church Body for their help in tracing records at the Church of Ireland's headquarters: to the rector of the union for lending such old Ardoyne papers as exist; and to Miss Marie Coe for undertaking several investigations, and looking over this history in draft.


Newstown House,
Parish of Ardoyne
January, 1967



1835 - Henry George Stokes
1837 - James Armstrong
1866 - Humphrey Eakins Ellison
1869 - Samual Russell McWilliam. He died January 24th, 1870 whereon temporary arrangements of some kind were presumably made till 1872 when the parish was linked with AGHADE under the rector of that parish.

The rectors of the new union were:

1872 - John Jeffcott Dillon
1890 - Alfred Edward Bor
1899 - Thomas Edward Winder
1902 - Hon. Benjamin John Plunkett, later Bishop of Tuam, and subsequently of Meath.
1907 - John Cromie Cooper
1915 - Richard Arthur Oulton
1918 - William Arthur Shaw
.1941 - Desmond Hilton  Patton,  later Archdeacon of Carlow.
1951 - Francis Thomas Shannon who resigned in 1961 when Aghade and Ardoyne were linked with Tullow under one rector.
1961 - Canon R. G. Studdert, Rector of Tullow, Aghade and Ardoyne.


It has been stated in chapter V above that from 1872 when Ardoyne was linked under one rector with Aghade there was a curate resident at Ardoyne. The writer has not sought to make a list of these gentlemen but notes the Rev. Vernon William Russell, Trinity College, Dublin, and Trinity College of Music, London. Resigning in 1888 he was received into the Catholic church, and after study in Rome was ordained for the Archdiocese of Westminster. In 1924 he was appointed Master of the Cathedral Music, and took charge of the cathedral choir. He retired in 1939, aged 78, and died in 1958 at Golden in County Tipperary. Father Russell was a gifted organist, and broadcast regularly from the B.B.C. (Times newspaper).

The last curate but one was Rev. Ambrose Benson, member of a well known family of Irish clerics.
The last was Rev. T. W. Lowe who resigned in 1915.


Twice in these notes mention has been made of the Black Lion. This is a locally well known crossroad named in the Gaelic Ballagh Leighin (the Leinster Road). The words, however, were long ago anglicised into Black Lion. Mr. Doyle's shop on one corner was formerly a police post of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

Source: Submitted by M. Purcell and transcribed by M. Brennan 2009

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