Killavullen & Annakissa
The Killavullen Community Council area is identical with the modern Roman Catholic parish of the same name. This, in turn, is an amalgamation of two Roman Catholic areas, Killavullen and Annakissa. The former comprises, as near as doesn't matter, the Mediaeval, or Civil, parishes of Carrig and Monanimy, the latter, Clenor and part of Wallstown-Ballygriggin.
The parish stretches from the Awbeg River in the north. It is traversed by the Mallow - Mitchelstown road (part of an alternative route from Dublin to South Kerry) and the Mallow - Fermoy road, the main route from Rosslare to Killarney. These roads have changed through the years, a section of the first having been altered in the 1840/50s to bend around two hills, replacing a straighter road, parts of which are still known locally as the Bianconi Road. The second was bent around the Carrig estate, to keep distasteful noise from the occupants of the house. Scenically, one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland, astride the River Blackwater, called by Davis "The Rhine of Ireland" anyone viewing the river in the area from one of the many vantage points, can easily see why, with high gorges surmounted by castellated houses, some in ruins, some still intact.
The locality abounds in amenities for the tourist, Salmon and Trout fishing on the Blackwater (famous for the former), trout fishing on the Awbeg - reputedly some of the best eating in the country, due to the many wells on the banks, canoeing on the Blackwater, Orienteering and Walking in the forestry on the Nagles, Forest walks in Dromdeer, site of one of the fastest-growing stands of trees in Europe and many places of historical & literary interest.
We are also fortunate in the available sources relating to our past,
from the 12th Century "Crichad an Chaoilli" (hereafter CC) to
the incomparable 20th century compilation by Col James Grove White "Historical
and Topographical Notes on Buttevant, Castletownroche, Doneraile, Mallow,
and Places in Their Vicinity" hereafter GW) supplementing the usual
sources for the Local Historian, more details of these and others will
be given at the end of this page.
Lewis mentions a large boulting mill in the village, and a large bog, (The Moin Mor of CC?) which supplied, not alone the village, but the Mallow Market with fuel.
The village contains the modern Ballymacmoy House, home of the Hennessy family of Cognac fame. The original was a short distance up river. Unfortunately, the roof-slates of this latter were too heavy, and it collapsed one day while the family was at dinner. A goose and a pig were killed, and a beggar-man at the door received some injuries to his head. The table legs were driven into the ground, but the occupants escaped uninjured (GW). The present house was built in 1818. From it, a stairs cut into the rock leads to the riverbank and a number of caves, some of which are quite extensive. When excavated some years ago, they yielded remains of animals now extinct. The Hennessy's emigrated over a period of years, Richard, the Distiller, went about 1740 where he joined Dillon's Regiment and fought in a number of actions. Wounded, he retired, married and moved to Cognac. His son James took over the business after Richard's death in 1800. He married Martha Mortell. Was she one of the other Cork families, now known as Martell, in the Brandy business?
Near the village is one of a number of castles in the area erected by
the Nagle family. This one, Carrigacunna (The Rabbit's Rock), was the
home of Sir Richard Nagle of Clogher, one of the foremost members of the
Patriot Parliament of 1689. James II is reputed to have stayed there on
his way north from Kinsale. It is in a very good state of preservation
and near-by, a fine Georgian house, the one-time residence of the Foott
Also here lies the townland of Ballyduff (The Dark Old Town) which was the home of Garreth Nagle, maternal uncle of Edmund Burke. Here the great parliamentarian received his early education from a hedge schoolmaster OHalloran, who held classes in the ruins of Monanimy Castle. Burke lived here from the age of 5 to 10 years, and at the end of his days retained a great affection for the place. The Whiteboys burned the Nagle house in 1832.
The Cork Constitution of September 29th, 1825 records a gathering of almost 1000 people for a faction fight. The timely intervention of the police, a RC clergyman and some local gentlemen prevented the affray, not before some of the ringleaders were arrested and lodged in Mallow Bridewell.
The remainder of the half-parish lies to the north of the Blackwater River and consists of the rest of Monanimy parish and Carrig or Carrigleamleary.
Monanimy (Moin Ainme CC) is translated by Joyce as "The Bog of the Butter", but, as this would require the stress on the 3rd rather than the 2nd syllable, as is the case, this derivation is unlikely. Also, the mediaeval spelling Ainme in CC bears little resemblance to An Ime. This all helps to confuse rather than clarify the issue.
Monanimy was the site of a Preceptory of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, but no trace has been found of the date of foundation or dissolution. Even Archdall, who records it, offers no documentation. The parish was valued at 4 marks (53s. 4d.) in the Papal Taxation and taxed 5s. 4d. There are remains of a Church, which ceased to function about 1840, traditionally built on the earlier foundation. Some of the stones from the late church were used in the construction of the parish Priests house c.1890 and the pews were taken to the RC Church in Annakissa. Adjacent to these ruins are the remains of another Nagle castle, which, having been a ruin, was renovated in the 19th Century and provided a dwelling until a few years ago when it burnt down. Also in the neighbourhood is a Well sacred to the parish patron, S t. Nicholas. (In legend, he was the brother to St. Cranat of Clenor and St. Branat of Doonawanly).
There is a tradition that the Well of St. Nicholas was situated near Killura House, but a poor man walking the road visited the house at the time of churning. As was custom, he gave the handle three turns to add his luck but the lady of the house did not reciprocate his kindness. He was angered and announced that he would give them a walk for their water, he took a capful of water from the Well, which then dried up. He carried the cap to Monanimy and setting it down on the ground, the present well sprang up.
Nearby is the small townland of Killisane (The Church of the Little? Fort). No trace of either the Fort or Church remains.
To the west lies the townland of Ballygriffin, (Griffins Town), where another Nagle home, birthplace of Edmund Burkes cousin Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Order of Nuns. A sign on the Mallow Fermoy road, indicates the site of the house. Nothing remains except some of the outhouses, which have recently been incorporated in a centre built by the Order. As a young lady, Nano was sent from home for an education on the Continent, as was the custom in Penal Times with the Roman Catholics of these Islands. For these students, a full education extended to experience of the bon-ton, and Nano, returning early one morning from a party, heard the sounds of Mass coming from a church. She entered and was impressed by the devotion of the poor. From there on, she decided to devote her life to the education of the poorer classes and with that in mind, she bought some Ursuline Nuns to Cork. However, she felt that this was not entirely satisfactory and founded her own order, now known world wide as one of the foremost teaching orders.
To this branch of the Nagle family, Sylvanus Spencer, son of the poet Edmund, came for a wife. He is documented as living a few miles east of Killavullen in the townland of Renny, Castletownroche parish, though local tradition has it that he lived in Ballygriffin for some time.
Here is the Parish Priests house built from Monanimy stone mentioned above. A story is told of Fr. Pierce Greene (P.P. 1840-68) IN Conna, where he went after Killavullen. A marriage having been arranged, the "boy" noticed the girl was lame and, without notice, directed his attentions elsewhere. The priest, hearing of the lads philandering, queried his lack of faithfulness, and on being told the reason asked; My God, "Is it for steeplechasing you want her?"
As with most Irish Parishes, the population fluctuated in the 19th century rising from 2,045 in 1821 to 3,135 in 1841, falling to 1739 in 1851 and to 821 by 1901. In 1826, there was a school in Ballygriffin where Francis and Mary Welstead educated 111 pupils.
The rest of the south part of the parish consists of Carrig or Carrigleamleary Civil Parish (The Rock of Loaghaires or Learys Leap), which was valued at 5 Marks in the Papal Taxation. In 1837, Lewis records a church under construction, using parts of an earlier structure. This was demolished in 1899 but remains are still visible.
Here, the Roches built a stronghold and held the estate until the mid 17th century. Then, one of the Percevals (later of Kanturk) let it to Richard Gethin, although one of the regicides, Col. Phayer felt it should go into the Soldiers Lottery. Gethin and his family retained possession until about 1700, though he wrote to a friend in 1654 "how much this most uncouth place is incapable of any Christians residence without an immediate disbursement", also, he had already spent £20 each on restoring the house, reroofing the Castle and setting up the mill. After 1700, the property was in the possession of the Causobons and, later in the century, the Franks, who built a fine Georgian house. Of this, only the site remains, though the castle still stands.The 1821 Census records a village of 21 house and 146 inhabitants, while the parish population was 1058. This grew to 1356 in 1841, fell to 709 in 1851 and 201 in 1901. I n 1826 there were 3 schools, one in the village with 60-64 pupils taught by John Coleman, another in the townland of Mount Nagle, John Leary the master of 60 scholars in a poor cabin and the third in Lackanamona, where Ellen Gallagher tutored 18 pupils in a mud cabin.
In Carrig stands the Gantry Bridge, a gem of industrial archaeology. This stone built bridge carried the Mallow to Fermoy railway line across the gorge at Carrig. It stands about 70 feet tall, carried on 5 arches. Erected with the railway line in 1860, it still bears the signs of an attempted destruction in the "Troubles" when holes were drilled to take explosives, but fortunately, the threat was never carried out and the bridge still stands in its tall slender grandeur, a monument to the engineers and stone-cutters of the 1860s. The last train crossed it on March 25, 1967 and the grassy replacement for the "permanent way" is a monument to the "administrators" of the 1960s.
The northern portion, Annakissa, poses many interesting questions, more
so than answers. The townland of Annakissa (The Ford of the Wickerwork
Causeway) contains the Roman Catholic Church built in 1860 to replace
the old thatched building, originally erected as a private chapel for
the Nagle family who had another home there.
In February 1444, the Pope instructed Patrick Olyga, a Canon of Cloyne, to examine the report of Donald Olyga, clerk of the Diocese of Kilmacduagh that Andrew Ponson, Chancellor of Cloyne did publicly keep a concubine and commit simony. If the charge proved true, then David to be collated to the living of Clenor and Chancellor of Cloyne. This Donald 'was lately tonsured notwithstanding his illegitimacy as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman'. Was there a relationship between Patrick and Donald and Denis Olyga, Priest of the Diocese of Kilmacduagh who reported another priest of the Diocese for a similar offence in January 1443, having been likewise dispensed. This was a type of irregularity all too common in those days, and was one of the practical motivating factors behind the reformation. (See Calendar of Papal Registrars, Vol. IX, pp.296 & 358/9)
Nearby is a Holy Well dedicated to St. Cranat. Like St. Nicholas's Well, this also travelled; from Killura, where the landowner, being fed up with the pilgrims, built a wall surrounding it. On completion of the wall, Cranait herself gathered up the well in her apron and moved it to its present site. Rounds were paid here on March 9th. Another aspect of her cult relates to Crann na hUlla. Legend has it that she was the beautiful sister if SS Nicholas (Monanimy) and Branat (Doonawanly), who aroused the passions of an unprincipled Prince. In order to quell his fire, she plucked out her eye and cast it from her. Where it landed, a tree grew, known as "Crann na hUlla" (The Tree of the Eye). A twig from this tree was reputed to be a charm against shipwreck, and, as such, was stripped during the great emigrations of toe 19th century. As can be imagined, it no longer stands.
At Killuragh, the noted antiquarian Windele records the remains of a church which has since disappeared. He also tells of a bell heard at night in the glen, which was eventually found when a tree was blown down in a storm, and the bell found in the ivy. He opined that it belonged to the church and was hidden when the church fell into disrepair. He states that in his time, it was in the possession of a Mr. Murphy in Mallow. Here is another fine house.
At Castle Kevin, once a Roche fortress, now stands a mock castellated house of 19th century construction by the Thornhill's
Adjacent is the townland of Ballygowan hitherto translated as The Town of the Smith, but! In CC, one of the important families of the area was the Hi Gobunn of Sonnach Gobunn, now Shanballymore. This association is more likely when taken in the context of Templeroan (Shanballymore) and Wallstown Ballygrigan being a united parish in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The PRC records Lord Denis Ogown holding 60 acres in Clenore under stated rentals and 'David Roche holds 20 acres... and he shall do in all things as the said Lord Denis'. In the list of Popish Priests registered, 1704' the parish priest of Monanimy, Carrig and Clenor was Patrick Owgan, residing in Carrigacunna.
In Ballygowan is Johnsgrove, named after Ion - or John Grove, a soldier
who received extensive grants in the 17th Century and left local memorials
in the form of Grove White and Grove Annesley families. Johnsgrove was
a noted nest of Whiteboys in the early 1800's. A screen, still standing,
was mentioned in official documents as a meeting place and the notorious
George Bond Lowe was shot a passing by, one of the many failures on the
part of his foes. In one of the few unreferenced notes in Grove White,
he refers to a Rev. Mr. Maginn, brother to William, as living here in
1807. This is obviously in error for two brothers of said William, John
was Rector of Castletownroche and lived in Johnsgrove 4th Jan., 1836 to
his death on Oct. 25th, 1840. Another brother, Charles Arthur, succeeded
him 20th Nov., 1840 - 1875 when he moved to Killanully parish.
Also in the area was a smithy wherein pikes were made in the '98. Some of these were discovered in 1895 by the then smith Joseph Hunter, who found them while cleaning the back of a fireplace.
The alter in Annakissa Church is worth noting. Originally designed and built in Milan for the Limerick Redemptorist Church, it was too large so, it was acquired for Annakissa and hauled by the parishioners to their own church and erected there.
In 1826 there were two schools in Annakissa. One, a poor mud cabin where John Kelleher taught 65 pupils and the other, founded by Mrs. Nagle, in a large stone built out-office, with either 78 or 63 pupils under the guidance of Catherine Herelehy.
The population in 1821 was 1085, in 1841; 1,348. In 1851; 793. And in 1901; 410. (An 1834 record gives the population as 1,355 which, since it is greater than 1841, would tend to support modern researchers in the view that the decline had started before the great famine).
In Dromdeer, PRC mentions an extensive bog in Dromdeer. Up to some years ago two fairs per year were held here; on the 12th of July and August. Smith also mentions red and grey marble were quarried, in the process of which excavation, an underground passage was found, by which the adjacent grounds were drained of vast quantities of water, that before were unprofitable bog for most of the year.
In Cooldoragha the Annakissa Point to Point races used to be held. In the woods here was a clog factory, using the local timber to provide the wooden soles.
The remainder of the parish consists of Wallstown - Ballygriggin. The former name is virtually self explanatory, being taken from the Norman family of De Valle or Wall who built a fortress on a cliff overlooking the Awbeg river, remains of which are still to be seen. The latter 'The Town of the High Griggin' a family no longer in the area. Wallstown appears originally to have been a small segment of the parish, called in Mediaeval times 'Ville de Sylvester' (Papal Tax and also found in Silvesterston) and valued at 30s 0d. This name was taken from Sylvester Fitz-Hugh, the first grantee of the district. Ballygriggin was valued at 6 marks (4£).
The Wall family came to the area about 1270. As subsecquent documents show, the were subjects of the Lord Roche of Fermoy, who lived at Castletownroche. They remained in possession of the estate until 1642, when, as most of the 'Old English' (Normans), they fought for the Royalist cause in the Parliamentary Wars. Sir William St. Leger, writing to the Lords Commissioners, 30th May, 1642 states as follows; I shall give your Lordships an account of a small exploit performed by my Lord Inchiquin and Captain Jephson, two young men, as highly commendable for their courage and judgement as any under my command, with their troops and two foot company's (sent to divert Lord Roche), they fell upon a castle belonging to one Wall, a freeholder of that county and a good estate, and with the loss of three men, albeit the place of good strength and much repaired, they used means to fire and force it, putting the defenders, who were about 70 in number either to the sword or halter, only the principal and one other who was found there of equal rank and quality they sent to me'. This 'Principal' was Richard Wall who died in Cork prison not too long after, for, in depositions taken in 1653, regarding the siege of Wallstown Castle, he was already dead. His son William, then a minor, attempted to maintain possession, but it was granted to a Parliamentary officer, Capt. Andrew Ruddock (whose family grave is still to be seen in the little church near the Castle). James Wall tried to recover this estate in 1690, and also the portion of Robert Wall of Doonevally (The Fort of the Walls), contiguous with , but his efforts were frustrated by the defeat of James II at the Boyne within a few weeks. In the late 18th century, a number of Wall's were in the nearby parish of Doneraile, including a Dr. James Blackall Wall, who married Anne, widow of Lt Col Arthur Wilkinson of Fort Lewis in 1830. Tradition has it that the doctor and widow were tried and acquitted for poisoning the Colonel. However, the next documented Wall in Wallstown, was Dr. Thomas Wall of Cork City who bought the estate in 1853. His sister married the Antiquary, John Windele, who visited the area and left sketches of the castle and deions of the vicinity. These are now to be found in 130 volumes of his manus now kept in the R.I.A. Dr. Wall's son had a distinguished career at U.C.C., receiving the highest commendations from the President. He later joined the Indian Service where he achieved further recognition, but cut the family ties with Wallstown. Shortly after, the estate came into the hands of the Byrne family, father and son. James Byrne, known locally as 'The Coroner' kept a fine herd of pedigree Shorthorns. The standing of this herd can be gauged from the fact that one of his bulls was purchased for the Royal herd at Sandringham. He had attended the Agricultural College in Glasnevin and was active in improving farming standards, as also the state of tenant farmers working for the three Fs.
The only Rectory in the four parishes was at Wallstown, erected in 1829 by the Rev. John Gavin at a cost of £1,100 and described by Lewis as 'a well built and commodious mansion'. Gavin was unpopular in the area and a number of attempts were made to prevent the construction. The resultant siege mentality is still evident in the house, with the strong shutters on the ground floor windows. In the autumn of 1832, Gavin and his son went to mark tithes nearby. The people surrounded them and when the Gavin's drew pistols, they were disarmed, the pistols fired in the air, and then drawn through wet grass to preclude immediate use. Gavin withdrew to a magistrate and swore information's. He returned the following day, supported by some of the 92nd Highlanders and 14th Regiment of Foot 'under the command of three Magistrates, two Generals and an Admiral' (Courtney Moore, quoted by GW). Not that the British Navy were involved, but one of the Magistrates was Admiral Evans and the others possibly Lt General Annesley and Major General Green Barry, two other Magistrates of the area. The Riot Act was read to the assembled crowd. When they did not disperse, the military opened fire, killing four and wounding several others.
Near the scene of this affray is Landscape or Curraganaltigh (Wall's Moor?). The house was built by a Mr. Hewson of Cahirmee and originally called Krusnaboilya. The Norcott family once lived here and a story is told of one of them, being in dept, a notorious bailiff named Harrison came to serve a notice. Not gaining admittance, he tried to force the door and Norcott, thinking it was a robber, went to an upstairs window, fired a pistol and shot Harrison dead.
The population of the parish in 1834 was 1048, of whom 20 were Protestants. With Gavin and his wife in the Rectory were their son and 11 daughters, leaving but 6 outside the family. The son later married a Miss Fitzmaurice and their daughter married Henry Shackelton of Baltimore, Co. Kildare (a descendant of Burke's educator). One of their sons Ernest, was the noted Polar explorer while Frank was suspected of involvement in the disappearance of the Irish Crown Jewels.
Beside Wallstown is the townland of Doonawanly or (more correctly) Doonavally, (v. above). Here is St. Branat's (or Brenet or Bernard's) Well and Johnny Roche's Tower and Mill (apart from Wallstown Castle, the main features of this end of the parish). This Well is only one of three (v. Monanimy and Clenor) still resorted to, as appears from the traditional Rag Bush beside it. Branat is possibly the Saint of Killbranner.
Johnny Roche of the Tower (or Castle Curious) was a local celebrity. Born in the early part of the 19th century, he married and went to America about 1840. There, after a short while, they separated. After travelling around for a while, he returned to his home, and with knowledge gained added to his native genius, he built a mill for preparing wool and flannel, later used to cut flags for tomb stones. The sight of this machine inspired one local to the poetic effusion: "This is another of Roche's toys that does little work but makes a great noise" which so annoyed Johnny that he converted the mill to grind corn, (the stones were to be seen lying in the vicinity until recently ). He was a self-sufficient man and built a castle single-handed over a period of three years. Here he lived and practised his original craft of blacksmith. He is reputed to have made his own clothing, from shearing the sheep to tailoring the suit (and making the buttons). He made and repaired fiddles and musical pipes, and is credited as being ahead of his time as a Dentist. Given advance notice, he could prepare a false tooth from a cow's hoof, and fit it in place of an extracted one. He also sculpted busts, three of which were owned by Grove White and another has recently come to light. His independence was such that the only tool he ever bought was an anvil and when he devised a scheme for ploughing his little land by adapting the power of the water wheel, he was about to grow flax for the hemp to make a rope. However, an admirer supplied the necessary rope. Many more stories are told of him and his inventions. If discipline were added to his genius, what might have been achieved? He died on the 10th of February, 1884, but was not buried in his self built tomb in the middle of the river, for which he had prepared his own epitaph:- 'Here lies the body of poor John Roche, he had his faults but don't reproach; For when alive his hearth was mellow, An artist, genius and comic fellow.' The 'Coroner' Byrne is reputed to have sent a note to Johnny on hearing of the tomb; 'Go, rest thy bones in Mother Earth and don't pollute the river'.
Wallstown R.C. Parish was part of the parish of Doneraile and on establishment of the Presentation Convent there, it became the portion of the Convent Chaplain. As a result, it had a couple of noted clergy, Rev Morgan O'Brien, later Dean of Cloyne and who became Bishop of Pittsburgh. Subsequently, it was added to Annakissa.
Some population figures: 1821 - 912: 1841 - 950: 1851 - 531: 1901 - 47. It is worth noting that the 1834 population mentioned earlier of 1048 before 950 in 1841 confirms the trend referred to under Clenor.
During the period of Whiteboyism in the 1820s and 1830s, the Clenor - Wallstown end of the parish was very agitated. George Bond Lowe, infamous as Magistrate and one of the instigators of the 'Doneraile conspiracy' scare, lived in an old Nagle home, Clogher House, (just across the Awbeg river from Wallstown Castle) and was the target of real and imagined assaults. Army protection for him was stationed in Wallstown Castle, where, in 1826 Michael Nolan kept a school with 40 pupils. Raids were carried out in the area and instructions for Police units for one such are still extant in the Mallow Castle Papers. M.D. Jephson, in 'An Anglo Irish Miscellany' transcribes a list of suspected persons in the parish. In the same period, a miller at became involved in 'land grabbing' and was murdered. Two Linehans (Patrick and son) were hanged on the evidence of informers, though generally believed innocent.
One of the 'Forgotten Men' of the parish is Fr. Jeremiah O'Callaghan, curate to Fr. Kepple for a short period around 1815. Having fallen foul of Fr. William O'Brien (later P.P. of Doneraile, who believed the prosecution 'evidence' in the conspiracy trial and earned unpopularity there) on the subject of the usury charged by merchants (gombeen men) for credit. O'Brien favoured it but O'Callaghan believed it contrary to church teaching he was moved to Annakissa. There with the support of Fr. Kepple he kept up the attack and was transferred back to Rosscarbery. Unchastened, he continued, and Dr. Coppinger the Bishop required him to be silent on the sublect. He moved to America where he published, anonymously, a book entitled "Usury; or Lending at Interest" in 1824. It was published in London in 1825 and was thought to be the work of William Corbett, who wrote a 'Preface for the New Edition' in 1828, when O'Callaghan introduced the book with the story of his struggle.
Wallstown also has a Fife and Drum Band founded in the mid 1860s by members of the O'Donovan, O'Sullivan, MacCarthy and O'Connor families, and the traditions lasted in those families, to the extent that the O'Connors are still known as 'The Drummers'. One of the founding O'Donovans was William, who wrote 'Doonavalley Tower' and lived over 100 years. They last played in 1959 at the Shanballymore Carnival when they had to call on fifers from Castletownroche to make up numbers.
And to the many local people who have lived in, and walked the parish since youth, and have knowledge not found in any books.