Castlehale is variously called Castle Hoel, Castle Howell, Castle Hoyle,
and other names alluding to the manor of a main branch of the Walsh family
in County Kilkenny up to the time of Cromwell (c1653). It stood on the northern
edge of the mountain land, anciently known as the Walsh Mountains, with a
wide outlook across the central plain of County Kilkenny. Howell, son of
Philip, is said to have completed the first construction of Castle Hale in
the thirteenth century. It was situated in the Barony of Kells in the southern
portion of the Parish of Kilmaganny. Castlehale stood as a residence for the
family of Walsh for close to 400 years.
As written by WilliamTighe about the year 1800, "It (Castle Hoyle) is said to
have been a square castle flanked by four towers; a small part of only one
exists. Appearing in arms against Cromwell, they (the Walshs of the Mountain)
were totally defeated by a detachment. Many were executed on the spot, and
their bodies buried in the same place, at the foot of the hill near Castle
Hoyle; in making the road the late Mr. G. Reade discovered the bones, and
caused a sweep to be formed, which marks the place. Since that time none of
the family have existed as landed proprietors, but the name is frequent
among the country people."
Mr. Tighe goes on to say in his statistical survey of the County of Kilkenny
(p. 638), "To the Walshs belonged, probably, the castles of Inchicaran,
Castle Hoyle, Earlsrath, Munshall's Court, Ballyony, Ballinlea, Ballybokan,
Corbally, Castlegannon, New Castle, Ballybruskin, Knockmeilan, Lismateige,
Ballybregan, Ballycooloy, and some others."
Rev. Dr. Carrigan, who spent thirty years preparing his history of the
Diocese of Ossory, which was published in 1905, supplies notes concerning
some of the Walsh houses. He writes, "Castlehale itself, or rather that
corner of it, with walls six feet thick, which is conceded to date from the
thirteenth century, must have been one of the earliest key points of occupation.
It stood at the northern end of the mountain, overlooking the plain. On the
distant northern horizon other mountains are in view. A few miles away, on
the western end of the hills, and across the Tipperary line, was Castle
John. The bard of the Mountain says the Walshs built it, but it must have been
transferred to the Tobins before it was very old."
Further description of Castlehale is written, "The broken walls cover an
area of about an Irish acre. In the eighteenth century there was enough
standing to form the subject of an engraving, showing three sides of a
square, one side of which consisted of a lofty massive keep, square or
oblong, pierced by narrow loopholes, and supporting an embattled parapet
above. Opposite this was a more modern building, with high gables, open
casements, towering chimneys, and other features of sixteenth century
architecture. The two were joined by a third building, also in the later
style. It was an imposing building, and deserved to rank, as in fact it did
rank, among the chief residences of the county Kilkenny."
The engraving of the ruins of Castle Howell was made by George Petrie and
published in Wright's Ireland Illustrated, published in 1832 (figure left).
The engraving was dated 1829, and entitled 'An ancient Residence of
the Family of Walsh'. It was dedicated to Thomas Anthony Vicount Southwell,
1831. Figures in the drawing include a man, donkey, bushes and some
(see color version)
As late as 1820, the County Kilkenny map survey by Aher and Clements showed the
townland of "Castlehale" in the neighborhood of Kells. Castlehale was bordered
on the west by the townlands of Kilmaganny, Cottrelstown and Rosenarra;
on the north by Clone (or Clanmacshaneboy) and Ballintee; and on the west by
Boolyglass and Ballinva. Other placenames contained within, or bordering,
the townland of Castlehale included Snugboro, Coolengraun and Deer Park.
In 1825 Maurice Reade built Rossenarra House in the townland of Castlehale.
His former residence was in Old Rossenarra [townland] and he changed the name here
to Rossenarra Demesne thereby eliminating Castlehale as a townland.
The Ordinance Survey reveals the townland of Castlehale replaced with those of
Rossenara Demesne, Kyle, Glen, Carrigatna and part of Bartons Farm.
One of the last residents of the manor was Walter Walsh, (son of Robert, son of Edmund,
of Castlehale), who succeeded his father in 1572. Walter was Sheriff of
Kilkenny County from 1579 to 1586. The records indicate that Walter Walsh,
who married Mountgarret's eldest daughter Ellice Butler, was the greatest
dispenser of hospitality in the whole history of Castlehale. It was he who
built the new wing of the house on the style of the period (Tudor). When he
was through building the house covered an Irish acre. For nearly fifty years
Walter enjoyed the honors and dispensed the hospitality for which he is still
remembered. It was the time when the utmost was being done to change Ireland
from the old religion to the new, and no doubt he had to be careful. He is
named in the government records as the "harbourer" of two Popish priests,
Sir Teige and Sir Dongh O'Hely, in 1610. He was a very old man when he died
in 1619. His eldest son, Robert, had died before him in 1603. He was succeeded
by his grandson, Walter, a youth of eighteen.
Walter, the younger, was M.P. for Kilkenny in 1639. After the rebellion
came in 1641, he was also a member of the Parliament of the Confederate
Catholics at Kilkenny in 1646. The writer Burtschael says he was probably
the "Captain Walter Walsh who surrendered to Major General Sir Hardress
Waller on April 19, 1652, on favorable terms, Waller undertaking to endeavor
to procure the preservation of his estate," an undertaking that proved not
to be worth much. Walter died, sitting at table, at New Ross, somewhere
between 1650 and 1655. His son Edmund had been killed, as an officer under
Preston of Gormanstown, in a battle against Cromwell, near Rosbercon. This
Edmund married Margaret Grace, daughter of Oliver, and their son Robert,
born in 1647, succeeded to the estates of his grandfather about 1653. It was
in this year that the 14,000 acres of the estate were confiscated following
Cromwell's victory, and awarded to members of Cromwell's army
(Ponsonby, Cuffe, etc).
When Charles II came back from exile, the Earl of Ormond (Butler) was able
(in 1667) to secure for Robert Walsh, grandson and heir of Walter of Castlehale,
as his own near relative, about 2,000 acres at Clonassy out of the 14,000
that had been confiscated. He is identified as "Captain Robert Walsh," of
Colonel John Graces's regiment, who "came out of France with King James II to
Ireland." He was made burgess of Inistioge, sat in King James' Dublin
Parliament for Kilkenny, was outlawed and attainted under William III on May
11, 1691, and was killed at the seige of Limerick a few months later. The
Hollow Swords Company got what were left of the lands of the last
Lord of the Mountain. A description of Clonassy Castle is cited thus "The
remains of the foundation of this other Walsh clan castle is to be found in
the townsland of the same name. It is located in a field overlooking the
village, appropriately called ''The Castle Field.'' Its last occupant was Robert
Walsh, Member of Parliament for Kilkenny. He was slain in the Siege of Limerick
The location of Castle Howell (Hale, Hoyle, etc.) was depicted on a number of early maps of the
County Kilkenny area as late as 1844. The location of Castle Howell is circled in red on the following published maps:
Rev. Carrigan in his History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, writing at
the turn of the 20th century, described the remains of Castlehale at that time, "At present
the remains of the castle consist of broken walls -- in part six feet thick, but no more than
twelve feet high -- foundations, and mounds of fallen masonry, which cover an area of
about one Irish acre. Even as the ancient owners of the castle have passed away, so, too,
the name of the castle itself has disappeared from off the map of the Co. Kilkenny." In his book
Carrigan shows a photograph of Castlehale about that time.
The Manor of Castlehale
According to the commentary of Edmund Curtis in his 1st volume of the Calendar of Ormond Deeds, the term Lettercorbally appears in ancient documents as an alias for Castlehale [townland], now the townland of Rossenara demesne, in the parish of Kilmoganny. He also cites that Rossenara was anciently known as Owny. In a grant of land in the area, circa 1340, John fitz Geoffrey, lord of Kells, granted to William Coterel and his heirs for ever Kilmegene [Kilmoganny] in free socage, with mountain and wood, extending in length from the cave of Letter, and from Corbally up to the water of Gortneslie; and in breadth from Karreenemo [Garryandynas, part of the townland of Rossenara] up to the water that runs between Kilmegene [Kilmoganny] and Avene [Rossenara, anciently known as Owny]; paying a mark of silver yearly.
Witnesses: Sir John Flemeng, Sir Henry son of Henry, Martin Coterel, Thomas de sancto Johanne, John de Ken, Hugh Devenese, Rudolph Kift, William Ogelay, Simon the clerk.
The record of the grants to the Walsh of Castlehale family is somewhat obscure. Castlehale was not only a Castle and a Townland in County Kilkenny, it was also a title for the great Manor of Castlehale, which included extensive properties in south central Kilkenny.
An indication of the extent of the Walsh of the Mountain manor comes from the Court of the lord Walter Brenagh, otherwise Walsh, Esquire. It enumerated the freeholders and lands of Walter's manor circa 1584. This translation is extracted from pages 165-170 of J. C. Walsh's book, The Lament for John MacWalter Walsh with notes on the History of the Family of Walsh from 1170 to 1690.
"To all Christian people to whom the present writing or transcript sall come, the Mayor and Sheriffs of the County of the City of Waterford, eternal salvation in the Lord. Know you that on the day of the date of the presents we inspected and read a certain writing, written on parchment, in no way vitiated, obliterated and in no part thereof suspected, the tenor of which, word for word, follows in these words, viz.:
The Court of the lord Walter Brenagh otherwise Walsh, Esq. and Baron of Shancahirr, chief of his nation, held at Littercorballi, on Monday next after the feast of St. Barnabas, the apostle, in the 27th year of the reign of our most serene Queen Elizabeth, before Peter Shee, seneschal of the manor of Shancahir aforesaid, in the County of Kilkenny.
The names of the free tenants and suitors of the said court:
Richard Brenagh [alias Walsh] holds the third part of Knockmelan [Knockmoylan]
Philip Brenagh fitz Oliver holds the third part of Knockmelan
James fitz Oliver Brenagh holds Lesdrolin [Listrolin]
David fitz John Brenagh, Monyhanry [Moneyhenry], holds two carucates of land there.
William Brenagh of Ballyntober
Nicholas fitz David Redmund otherwise Serement, of Harristowne
Philip fitz William Brenagh, of Kilcronan, holds one carucate of land there.
Robert fitz James Brenagh, of Ballynecooly, holds two carucates of land there.
William Brenagh fitz James, of Ballynefonshogy, holds two carucates of land there.
John Brenagh fitz William, of Killmoge, holds one carucate of land there.
Robert Brenagh fitz Philip, of Ballirobog, holds one carucate and a half of land there.
Philip Brenagh fitz William, of Ballylosky, has a carucate of land there.
The names of the jurors to inquire on behalf of the lord of the manor aforsaid:
Richard fitz James Brenagh, of Knockmolane, juror.
Robert Brenagh, of Ballyfowbog, juror.
Philip Brenagh, of Knockmolane, juror.
Thomas Brenagh, of Thomynestowne, juror.
David Brenagh, of Monyhanrye, juror.
William Brenagh, of Ballyntobber, juror.
Nicholas Serement, of Harristowne, juror.
Edmond Brenagh, of Ballynteskin, juror.
Thomas Kyffe, of Kilcollman, juror.
Philip Brenagh, of Corbally, juror.
John Dowan of Boliglas, juror.
Thomas Kelchyr, of Tamplorum, juror.
John Brenagh, of Killagh, juror.
Edmond Grace, of Dirrelackagh, juror.
Donough O'Annraghtie, Dirrelackagh, juror.
Which jurors upon the oath say that James Brenagh, who held of the lord of the same manor the town and lands of Ballynecowly by fealty and suit of court, and by what other services they are completely ignorant of, was seised in his demesne as of fee, abd died so seised; and that Robert Brenagh is the son and next heir of the aforesaid James Brenagh and under age, viz., eight years old; and that James Brenagh aforesaid was under ward of the lord Robert Brenagh, late lord if the aforesaid manor.
They also say that Philip Brenagh fitz Oliver and Richard Brenagh hold two parts of the town and lands and castle of Cnockmelane of the manor aforesaid by fealty, suit of court and 13s. 4d. head rent; and that the other third part of the town, lands and castle aforesaid is in the hand of the manor aforesaid. They also say that the lord of the manor aforesaid ought and used to have common of pasture for all his cattle, and egress, ingress and regress in and through all the pasture of Lisdrolin, Kncokmelane, Hominstowne, Monyhanry, Harristowne, Ballyntobber, Kilcronan, Ballynecowlye, Ballynefonshogyne, Kilmoge, Balyrobog, Ballyloskye, and through all the domain of the Walshe Mountaine; and that James fitz Oliver Brenagh of Lisdrolin unjustly hindered him from the use of the aforesaid common there in contempt of the lord of the manor aforesaid, &c.
They also say that Robert Brenagh fitz Adame of Corbally intruded himself unjustly and to the great injury of his neighbors, into a piece of the lands of Derrylackagh, in the field called Gortevillin, within the jurisdiction of this court; therefore, he, in mercy, &c. They also say that the chief lord of the manor aforesaid and his predecessors reserved to themselves, of old, and to their heirs male a yearly rent of oats, issuing, to be had and taken from the underwritten lands, vis., from and out of the town of Lisdrolyn, one measure of oats; from Ballynefonchoige, half a measure of oats; from Killvoage, one measure of oats; from Tomynistowne, one measure of oats; from Robogestowne, one measure of oats; from Monehanrye, one measure of oats; and that the lord of the manor aforesaid and his predecesors were wont to take, receive, and have the oats aforesaid from the lands aforesaid by reason of the lands being from ancient time burthened with the rent and reservation aforesaid.
The same day, year, and place, before the same seneschal, the names of the jurors to inquire on behalf of the lord of the manor aforesaid:
Peter Tobbyn of Ballyntlea; William Costallowe of Castlehowell; David Brenagh of Garriduffe; Connor O'Shaneghane of Garriduffe; Oliver Brenagh of Smithestonwe; Dermod Dowane of Smithestowne; John O'Dea of Mollynvatty; Robert Brenagh of Rahinegearagh; Patrick fitz Geoffrey of Ballynemabagh; John O'Rely of Ballycorin; Thady O'Gorman of Newechurch; Edmond O'ffahye of Garriduffe; Maurice Brenagh of Monyhanrie; Richard O'ffahie of Ballintlea; James Brenagh of Ballivony; and Nicholas O'Rian of Bolyglas.
Which jurors upon their oath say that all the free tenants and inhabitants with the precincts of the manor afroesaid and the domain of the said Walter Brenagh, Baron of Shancahir in Le Walsh Mountayne, are wont and accustomed from time to time to assist the said chief lord of his nation and of the manor aforesaid, in making provision for the marriage of his daughters when they come to the age of seven years, according to the discretion of four of the better sort of inhabitants of the said nation.
They also say that Thomas Butler fitz John, or Cottrellistowne, intruded himself unjustly into one piece of land, at Bantowdery, containing by estimation 20 acres of land, being the inheritance of the said lord of the manor, during his [i.e. the said lord's] minority, within the jurisdiction of this court, &c. They also say that James Brenagh, of Ballynecowly, held the town and castle of Ballynecowly of the manor aforesaid by fealty and suit of court, and by what other services they are enitrely ignorant of, and that he died seised in his demesne, as of fee, of the town and castle aforesaid; and that Robert Brenagh is the son and next heir of the aforesaid James and under the age of nine years; and they further say that Robert Brenagh, father of the said James, was under ward of the lord Robert Brenagh, late lord of the manor aforesaid.
They also say that James Brenagh fitz William who held of the lord of the manor the town and lands of Ballynefonshogy by fealty, suit of court, and 10s. per year, and by what other services they are entirely ignorant of, was convicted, attainted, and hanged for felony, in virtue of which attainder the most serene lady, Queen Elizabeth, had year, day and waste, and after the said time the aforsaid lord, Walter Brenagh, ought to have the town aforesaid by escheat by reason of the attainder, &c.
They also say that Roger Bolger of Curraghmore intruded himself unjustly into one parcel of land in Lapenekon, by estimation three acres, of the land of the said lord of the manor.
They also say that the predecessors of the said lord of the manor used to have and reserve to themselves and their heirs a yearly reflection upon the lands of the free tenants of the said manor, and the the predecessors of the said lord from time to time used to receive and have that reflection yearly or 10s. from each one of them in lieua of and for the reflection aforesaid, besdies the chief rent and the services of right accustomed.
They also say, upon their oath, having inquired into the rents of the free tenants of the Baron of Shancahir in Le Walsh Mountayne aforesaid, of their own knowledge by the inspection of divers credible rolls and charters, that Richard Brenagh holds the third part of Knockmolane containing one carucate of land, and renders therefor to the lord of the manor 6s. 8d. a year, and suit of court. James Brenagh fitz Oliver holds two carucates of land in Lystroline, &c. rendering therefor 13s. 4d. a year, and suit of court. Philip Brenagh holds the third part of Knockmolane containing one carucate of land and renders 6s. 8d. a year, and suit of court. Thomas Brenagh fitz Richard holds one carucate of land in Tomynistowne, &c. rendering therefor 10s. a year at Michaelmas, and does suit of court therefor twice a year. David Brenagh fitz John holds one carucate of land in Monyhanry, &c. rendering therefor to the lord 10s. a year at Michaelmas, and suit of court. William Brenagh holds Ballyntobber to the use of the son and heir of his brother, &c. rendering therefor to the lord 6s. 8d., and suit of court. Philip Brenagh holds one carucate of land in Kilcoranen, &c. rendering therefor to the lord 6s. 8d. a year, and does suit of court. John Brenagh holds one carucate of land in Kilmoge, &c. rendering therefor to the lord 6s. 8d. a year, and does suit of court. Robert Brenagh fitz Philip holds one carucate of land in Ballyrobog, &c. rendering therefor to the lord 10s. a year, and does suit of court. Philip Brenagh fitz William holds half a carucate of land in Ballylosky, &c. rendering therefor to the lord 6s. 8d. a year, and does suit of court twice a year. James fitz Oliver Brenagh holds two carucates of land in Mackully, &c. rendering therefor to the lord 57s. a year, and does suit of court.
Rosuelasse otherwise Rosuelaghan in Beawliu, 18d. a year, is in the hands of the lord; of the service of Kildresse 13s. 4d. a year, and suit of court; of the service of Logherane 13s. 4d. a year, and suit of court; of the service of Crooawillagh 18d. a year, and suit of court; Corbally 6s. 8d., is in the hands of the lord of the manor; of the land of Aghnegaddye 6s. 8d. a year, is in the hands of the lord.
They also say that the lord of the manor aforsaid has sixty acres in his own hands in Beawlew otherwise Owning together with the advowson and likewise the presentation to the church of Ownynge aforesaid, and that the Right Hounorable Lord Thomas Butler, Knight, Earl of Ormond and Ossory, presented Peter Roth, his clerk, to the said church, by reason of the minority of Walter Walsh, lord of the aforesaid manor. They also say that the lord of the manor aforesaid has seven acres of land of demesne in Gortmollin beside Kilmololmock, in his own hands.
And we, the before named Mayor and Sheriffs of the County of the City of Waterford, at the humble request of Walter Walshe, of Castellhoell, Esq., have, by these presents, caused the writing aforesaid, to be exemplified in manner and form aforesaid. In witness whereof we have caused the official seal of the Mayoralty of the said city of Waterford to be put to these presents. Given in the Council Chamber of the said city of Waterford, Oct. 5th, in the year from the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the English computation, 1612. Signed by Mychaell Browne, Mayor of Waterford; Patrick White, Sherfyy; and John Skydie. Sheyff.