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
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.
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
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
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.
Mediaeval Walls of Carlow
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Birthplace of most Rev. Michael
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
- 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
- 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;
- 22 Carlow Cathedral 1833-1983, p.12.
- 23 Carlow Cathedral 1833-1983, p.23.
- 24 Carloviana 1958 p.21.