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bandsome country mansions peeping from their leafy screens, enliven the picture.
Leaving Mountmellick to the south, the Barrow bends in a somewhat tortuous course towards Portarlington. The country around is rather level, but numerous plantations diversify the
In its approach to the town it glides by the demesne of Garryhinch and Barrowbank, while about a mile south the eye is attracted by a richly-wooded mount, called Spire Hill, from the obelisk erected upon it by Lord Carlow, who employed the poor in this work during a season of scarcity. This hill has some tasteful walks around and upon it, and forms a conspicuous object throughout the country. Emo Park, the seat of Lord Portarlington, is a place worthy its noble owner.
The geographer would find some difficulty in discovering why this town is named Portarlington. Tradition records a small quay, or landing place, on the Barrow, as the source, unde derivatur portus, and Arlington was the title of a former Lord of the soil. The territory of Coolatederry and Kilmalooge having descended to Lewis, Lord Clanmilira, as tenant-in-tail of Terence O'Dempsy, was declared forfeited on this nobleman being attainted of treason in 1641 ; and by letters patent, dated 5th November, 1674, Charles II. granted the forfeited estates to Sir Henry Bennett, created Lord Arlington. Thus bis title, with the prefix Port, gave the name to this town. This nobleman was a distinguished statesman, Secretary of State for twelve years, a Knight of the Garter, and Lord Chamberlain. Finding it, we suppose, much pleasanter to reside in England than among the bogs and woods of Ireland (for this district was particularly remarkable for growth of timber - Cooletoodera signifying the “woody nook ")—Lord Arlington, about the year 1687, sold his exten. sive estates around Portarlington to Sir Patrick Trant, descended from the Dingle family of that name. This Sir Patrick was a zealous officer for the House of Stuart, and obtained such odium from his exertions to maintain the cause of James II., that, on the accession of William III., he was
outlawed, and attainted of treason.
That odious mass called Phillipstown;
Pray take (and welcome) Tullamore."" The district speedily assumed a thriving aspect from the industry and active habits of the colonists. That great boon to farmers, security of tenure, was granted by lease of lives renewable for ever,
with low rents, about half-a-crown the Irish acre, & small fine on each renewal, and abun. dance of turf. The country, we have observed already, abounded in tiin. ber. The oak, ash, elm, and yew supplied materials which the natives of France used with advantage; and dwellings of a type casting shadows of high-pitched roofs, and wide casemented windows, upon the waters of the Garonne and the Loire, were here reflected in the flowing Barrow. To have a house without a well-stocked garden, was not thought of; and the aspect of the sitting-rooms, looking to
Vide the “ Ulster Journal of Archæology."
the plots of pleasure-ground, instead that feeble monarch, Edward II., the of the noisy streets, is indicative of star of the O'Miores was again in the the refined taste of the colonists. ascendant, and the wide territory of French trees were imported from their Leix once more owned their sway. native land ; the jargonelle pear is The sturdy Geraldine was too near a found to this day, and even a sunny neighbour for their peace, and in spot, facing the south, raised a hope in 1534, he numbered the rebuilt Castle the breast of a native of a wine coun- of Lea as one of his six strongholds. try, that by care he might cultivate was taken by the Irish in 1642, who the grape of Languedoc in the land of held it until expelled by Lord Lisle, exile.
and an ash-tree, which reached a size The town now is remarkable for to earn it the sobriquet of the Great the regularity and cleanliness of its Ash of Lea, beneath the branches of streets. There is a good bridge on which a troop of horse found shelter, the Barrow, on the road to Mount- was planted in commemoration. When mellick, and another on the road to Cromwell led the Parliamentary forces Rathangan. The public buildings are in their devastating march throughout well suited to their respective purposes; Ireland, he caused Colonels Hewson and of churches, one is called the Eng- and Reynolds to undertake dismantling lish, and the other the French church, the Castle, which they effectually did, built for the colonists, and until re- and the uprise of the neighbouring cently, service was conducted in the town of Portarlington completed the French language. Portarlington was downfall of Lea. long celebrated for its schools ; and As a proof that this country was here, it is said, among other eminent formerly a dense wood, it is related pupils, were taught the late Marquis that a gentleman who resided seven Wellesley and his Grace the Duke of miles from Portarlington used to go Wellington.
the entire distance between his house About three miles from Portarling- and the town, squirrel-like, from ton, and eight from Dunamase, is the branch to branch. little village and ruined Castle of Lea, The district around Portarlington is one of the first settlements of the Eng- rich in historic fame. Seven miles lish in Ireland. Having wrested the south stand the Drachenfels of Leis, principality of Leix from the O'Mores, Dunamase, the Dunum of Ptolemy. William, Earl Marshal, allotted it to It is a commanding rock, inaccessible his youngest daughter, who had mar- on all sides, save the east, and was ried William de Braosa, Lord of Breck. first fortified by Laighseach Q'More, nock, and a strong fortress was erect- about the beginning of the third cesed on the banks of the Barrow, which tury. At the time of the invasion, is resembled, in style and structure, the was possessed by Dermod MacMurCastle of Dunamase. It was well de- rough, from whom it passed to Strong. fended on one side by the waters of bow by his marriage with MacMurthe Barrow, on another by a deep rough's daughter. morass, while formidable towers com- The waters of the river Fegule inpleted the means of resistence. But crease the depth of the Barrow or into these massive walls the turmoil of the borders of the County Kildare ; battle rolled; its commanding position and near the junction of the King's speedily marked it a fitting cause of and Queen's Counties with the former, strife between the marchers of the the Barrow makes a circular sweep, Pale and the native chieftains. In whence it runs south, and preserve 1292, Camden records it in the pos- nearly this course until merged in session of one of the Geraldines, named
The banks are occasionally John Fitzthomas, who, during the diversified by trees, that cast the hostilities then desolating the land, branches over the stream, as if in adbrought hither Richard Earl of Ulster, miration of their shadow in captivity. In 1315, Edward Bruce
“Floating many a rood." penetrated thus far " Into the bowels of the land,"
While we journeyed by the flowing
river, comfortable farmhouses, sar. and burned the castle, with the adjoin- rounded by fields, golden with the ing bamlet. On the decadence of the promise of a luxuriant harvest, studded English power, during the reign of the landscape. The cheerful azure why
was a bright arch of hope to the agri- end of the twelfth century, by one of culturist, whose brow was somewhat the kings of Offaly, and though siclouded of late by the broken weather. tuated on the Irish side of the Pale, Soft, downy clouds appeared in mid air, the abbot sat as a baron in the Anglolike masses of Heece, and soon the hum Irish Parliaments. On the suppression of industry proclaimed our proximity of monasteries, temp. Henry VIII., to a town. Here the sight of the long the abbey and manor became the proline of railway, the snort and fume of perty of George Lord Audley, who the engine, the rush and scream of the assigned them to one of the most retrain as it was driven onward, the ac. markable men of his time, Adam Loftivity of station-masters and porters, tus, founder of the Ely family. At announced one of the stations on the present they belong to the Marquis of Great Southern and Western Railway, Drogheda, whose spacious mansion, Monastereven. It is prettily situated Moore Abbey, so called from the faon the eastern bank of the river, to mily name, is built on the site of the which the principal line of houses runs ancient monastery: It is a large, parallel. These have tasteful gardens roomy structure, with embattled parain front, sloping to the stream as it pet, the entrance-ball wainscotted with flows by. Other streets run from this Irish oak. Here Loftus Viscount Ely one, and a bridge of six arches spans is said to have held the High Court of the Barrow. The town derived consi. Chancery during the rebellion of 1641. derable advantages from the improve- On the marriage of the Lord Chancel. ments effected by the Grand Canal lor's daughter, Alice, with Charles, Company, who constructed a cast-iron second Viscount Drogheda, Monasterdrawbridge over the canal here, and even came into the Moore family. carried the canal across the river by There are few remains of the ancient means of an aqueduct, of three arches structure now extant. Some sculpof forty feet span, well built of lime- tured ornaments, an old doorway in stone, surmounted by an iron balus. the southern front, and the great hall, trade. The chief source of employ- being the principal. In 1767, the ment is from the extensive brewery of then Marquis of Drogheda built conMr. Cassidy, whose handsome residence siderably. He walled in the demesne, forms one of the chief attractions to the which is very extensive, containing town. The position of Monastereven, over a thousand acres. In the centre on the line of communication between stands a high conical hill, whence an the metropolis and interior of the extensive view is obtained. All this country, renders it a place of consider- land was at one time thickly wooded, able resort, but the town itself con. and the rogues and rapparees of Offaly tains little to interest the visitor. An were accustomed to live here, in as amusing chapter might be written upon much freedom and defiance of the the misfortune of being compelled to laws of the land, as Robin Hood and dwell in a country town, where, as his merry men in Sherwood Forest. Albert Smith says, “you are obliged In 1297, this circumstance was made to stay there like the market-place, or ground of complaint against the abthe sign - posts, or, especially, the bot, who was accused of harbouring pump: Such a life would certainly outlaws, but he proved he never, have little variety, yet Monastereven knowingly, received either felons or has claim to a place in history. It de- robbers, and as for the strangers, he rives the name from a monastery, had no power either to resist or detain which was made a place of sanctuary, them. The defence, however, was tenanted by monks led hither by St. not quite successful, for the jury fined Emin, or Evin, in the sixth century. him balf a mark for not raising the The pious inmates were not allowed hue-and-cry, huetson et clumore, when to dwell in peace, for the Book of offences were committed in his neighLecan mentions the forcible seizure of bourhood. this house by Cearbui), occasioned the Although the march of centuries has war in 908, between that monarch obliterated most of these vast forests, and Cormac Mac Culinan, King of where the Irish kerne found shelter, Munster, in which the latter was de- or the outlaw concealed his booty, feated. The monastery being closed, plough or spade have not so completeand no longer occupied by the bro- ly uprooted brake or thicket as to di. therhood, was refounded, towards the vest the district of a character of native wildness. In our onward pro
But during the decline of the English gress by the river's How, we behold
power, in the reign of Edward II., the undulating slopes, and verdant inches, O'Mores rose in strength, and reposwith high banks, thickly studded with sessed themselves of all their old terri. copsewood and fern. There is little tories among them Rheban and its to call forth observation as we journey castle - which they long retained. in this quarter. The soil at Fonts- It came, by the peaceful acquisition of town is suitable either for tillage or marriage, into the hands of the Geralpasture, and the bog of Monavolough dines, Thomas Fitzgerald, Lord of affords fuel to the inhabitants. At Offaly, afterwards seventh Earl of KilFontstown is a pretty church, with dare, having, about the year 1424, tower and spire, in the species of ar- married Dorothea, daughter of Anthony chitecture known as the later English ; O'More, and received, as her portion, also a tastefully-designed schoolhouse. the manors of Rheban and Woodstock, Fossil remains of the Irish elk were How long it remained the abode of discovered here. These are in the peace and love, we cannot say ; but possession of Mr. Bruen, of Oak Park, when again the trumpet-horn of war and a coin of King Ethelred, one of the sounded along the Barrow, it brought monarchs of the Saxon Heptarchy, by the tide of battle to the walls of Rhesome chance found its way hither, ban. In 1642, a detachment of the probably brought by one of those Sax- army, commanded by the Marquis of on youths, who, according to Camden- Ormond, possessed themselves of the " Exemplo patrum commotus amore legendi
Castle, and, during the short but sucJuvit ad Hibernos, sophia mirabile claros." cessful career of one of the bravest men We have left behind some islands in
of his time, Owen Roe O'Neil, it fell
into his hands, in 1648. When forced the river, and remains of deep interest
to make terms with Lord Inchiquin, to the archæologist now attract our
Owen Roe declared his readiness to notice. These consist of the site of the ancient city of Rheban, mentioned by Rheban, provided the confederate
surrender Athy, Maryborough, and Ptolemy the Egyptian geographer,
Catholics might be allowed the same who described Ireland in the second
privileges they enjoyed in the time of century, whether from actual observa
King James. Though ruined and netion, or the accounts he received from the Phænician merchants who traded
glected, the moss-grown walls show its here, is matter of conjecture. This
pristine strength, and mullioned win
dows bespeak its ancient splendour. place was evidently of importance, as
The opposite district is Kilberry, appears from the remains of fortifica
and the island near the junction of the tions, shown by a deep quadrangular
Finnery river with the Barrow, is intrenchment, having a high conical mount on the west side; the name, too,
called Kilberry Island. There are some
handsome seats along the river, in this Rigban signifies the habitation of the
parish, and the remains of two castles, king. A castle, commanding a pass
one called Boisles' Castle. Lower over the river, was one of the outposts down is Toberara Well, one of the holy of the princes of lly-Lavigseagh, or wells of Ireland, dedicated to St. John. Leix, until success in the acquisition
It is pleasant to watch day dawn eiof territory enabled them to extend
ther in country or town. First, the their boundaries. It continued a place of moment to the time of the Invasion,
eye perceives a rose-bued light slowly
creeping overthe eastern sky, and white when the chief-seat of the O'Mores, Dunamase, having fallen, Rheban was
vapours ascending from field or river;
fogs, like smoke from new-lit fires, roll granted, with its tributary castles and
from the mountain-tops and bouseappurtenances, to William, Earl Mar
roofs; buildings bid by the night haze shal, created Lord Palatine of Leinster,
are revealed ; quiet tints of grey fall IIe subsequently granted Rheban to
like snow, and form, so to speak, the Richard de St. Michael, created Baron
groundwork of the picture, when sud. of Rheban, who, temp. King John, erected a lordly castle, one of the strong
denly bright beams are reflected from
windows and slates, wet with the mornholds of the Påle. For above a century ing dews; birds sing loudly their matin "The battled towers--the donjon-keep
hymns, and, lol a new day has deThe loophole-grates, where captives weep; The flanking towers that round it evetp,
scended from heaven. In yellow lustre shone,"
We were early a-foot in Atby,
a small town pleasantly situated on Between seven and eight hundred the river, which is navigable from wounded men, pale, emaciated, and this town to Ross, where the Nore supported in this manner, appeared meets it, and then the united waters mixed with the foremost of the troops; are available for shipping to the never was such another sight exhibited. sea at Waterford. The Grand Canal Around Athy circles the memory of connects Athy with Dublin by water, events graven deep in the soil by the and it is the first station reached swords of chieftains. A frontier town on the Carlow branch of the Great of the Pale, it presents many traces of Southern and Western Railway. There defence works; and it is to be hoped is not much to excite curiosity in the the spirit of old renown survives in town, consisting of a principal street, the breast of the lords of the soil on separated into two portions by the whose land these ruins remain, and inBarrow, spanned by a strong-built
duces them to take care to prevent any bridge, of five arches. It boasts a vestige of past glory being injured. neat square, called Market-square, How strange, amid the din of war, to and smaller streets diverge from the find Religion raising her milk-white main street. Considerable trade in banner-the dove of peace descending corn is carried on. Fuel is obtained among the vultures. Two monasteries from the neighbouring bog, at a low were founded by the English, one on rate, and the markets are well sup- the left bank of the Barrow, by Richard plied. In conjunction with Naas, it is de St. Michael, Lord of Rheban, in the assize-town of the County Kildare ; 1253, for crutched friars; the other, and, from the earliest days, was of note on the east bank, in the thirteenth in the annals of Ireland. It derives century, for monks of the Dominican its name from an ancient ford called order. But the presence of these Athelehac, or Athlegar, the “ Ford to pious communities was not safeguard the West,” which led from the country enough to ward off the fiery torch of of Leix towards Caellan, and was the the foe. Like the war-cry of the scene of a great battle, in the third cen- Macgregor there came the shouttury, between the warriors of Munster
"Roof to the flame and flesh to the engle," and Leix. It was here that Donogh, son of Brien Borohme, led his forces across from many a tongue. In 1308, the the Barrow, on their return from con. Irish burnt the town, which must bave quering the Danes at Clontarf. In been speedily rebuilt, for it was pluntheir progress through the neighbour- dered, in 1315, by the Scots under ing country of Ossory, occurred the in- Bruce, after he gained the battle of teresting circumstance which our na- Ardscull, in which several persons of tional bard has recorded in one of his note were killed. The Scots lost in immortal melodies :
that fight Sir Fergus Andresson and
Sir Walter Murray, who were interred * Forget not our wounded companions who stood
in the Dominican monastery of Athy, In the day of distress by our side ; While the moss of the valley grew red with their After the lapse of a century, the Lord
Justice of Ireland, considering this They stirred not, but conquered and died. The sun that now blesses our arms with his light, town one of the keys to the Marches Saw them fall upon Ossory's plain,
of Kildare, in order more securely to Oh ! let him not blush, when he leaves us to-night, To find that they fell there in vain."
preserve it as a guard to this part of
the country, placed it in charge of a The incident is thus mentioned in military governor; and about the year O'Halloran's “ History of Ireland." 1506, a strong castle was built, on the When they were interrupted in their re- east bank of the Barrow, by Gerald, turn from the battle of Clontarf, by Fitz- eighth Earl of Kildare, for the defence patrick, Prince of Ossory, the wounded of the town. This castle being remenentreated that they might be allow- paired and enlarged, in 1575, by a ed to fight with the rest. « Let stakes, person named White, is now called (they said), be stuck in the ground, and White's Castle. This castle was strug. suffer each of us, tied to and supported gled for during the Great Rebellion. by one of these stakes, be placed in The Irish, under Owen Roe O'Neil, his rank, by the side of a sound man." held it until it was taken by the Par.
* “ History of Ireland." Book xii., chap. i.