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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Brown Street

formerly known as Cuckoo Lane


Brown Street was once known as Cuckoo Lane, later Moysless Lane and later again Hunt Street after Arthur Hunt, a local 18th century land owner. A plaque on the gable wall of No. 15 Dublin Street, states, “177 Hunt Street”. In 1800 the third generation Hunts went bankrupt and all of their properly was confiscated. The street later became known as Browne Street because the town house of the Browne’s of Brownes Hill was once situated here.

Brown Street Carlow c1968
Brown Street Carlow. The first two images were taken in c.1968. This view is looking from Dublin Street towards College Street at the far end. The second two images on the right are from Google Maps 2009. The 2ndlast photo mber 7a. with original arch over the door. The last photo on the right is a sign which reads P. J. Tierney Clothing and Car Hire.

(Photos by W. Muldowney and )

An old house in Brown Street with its original arch over the door.

From: Archives The Carlow Nationalist Thursday, December 30, 2004 :

Memories of one of the oldest and most historic landmark buildings in Carlow town is so prevalent that it’s hard to recognise the real history of the town.

Last week a concerned local dropped an article into the office detailing the forgotten past of Brown Street. With work taking place on all sides, it is one of the oldest streets in the county town. It is not clear when the article was written or in what publication but the review was credited to Miss Mary Teresa Kelly and gives an insight into a bygone century.

Mary Teresa Kelly late of the farm known as "The Stream" on the Castledermot Road. She had two brothers, Al and Noel. She was a regular contributor to the "Carloviana" and, I think, was a founder member of it as well. She was a lovely character and neither she nor her brothers married. I think the farm was eventually left to the Church and I think there is a housing estate on it now. Comment from J.J. Woods.

We highlight her writings about the Carlow Workman’s Club and its proud past.

“The Carlow Workman’s Club is the only one of the four large early Georgian double houses which has survived the ravages of time. The Carlow Workman’s club was founded in 1899 and the first meeting of the newly elected committee was held in the present premises.

“It was decided to purchase the following club requisites: draught board and men, two packs of cards, one box of dominoes, card book and secretary’s account book.

“It was also agreed to purchase two dozen chairs of Irish manufacture from Mr Thomas Richards at 3/3d each. It was disclosed later that the chairs supplied were not of Irish manufacture and a lot of correspondence took place about them.

“Card playing was charged at one penny per sitting only 15s and 25s permitted. Any member who broke any of the rules was expelled.

“It was decided to purchase a lamp and bracket from Mr Hennessy for £2 12s 0d and have it erected over the entrance the name in English on one side and the equivalent in Irish on the opposite.

During the War of Independence the Club was used by the IRA as a secret meeting place, here plans were made and orders issued to members.

“The house beside the Workman’s Club can only be dated back to 1883 but of course its history goes back much further to the 1700s. I have tried to find out who built these four houses and who were the first tenants but I have not been successful.

“The first offices and printing works of The Nationalist were in this house. It was founded in 1883 by the late Mr Patrick Conlan who felt there was a great need of a local nationalist paper to offset the views of the conservative Sentinel.

“During the bad years of 1888 and ‘89 the tenants of Carlow, Kildare and Leix petitioned the landlords for a reduction of their rents. They, the landlords, refused and like Shylock they demanded their “pound of flesh”. Evictions followed, the worst area was Luggacurren, Leix.

“Mr Conlan took up the cause of the evicted tenants and wrote about their sufferings in his paper in January and February, 1889. He was arrested on a charge of seditious writing and tried at Carlow Petty Sessions, March 23 1889.

“He refused to give bail and was sentenced to two months imprisonment and was lodged in Kilkenny jail. Mr Conlan was released from jail on May 20, 1889. The Mayor of Kilkenny escorted him to the station and there was a big crowd waiting for him in Bagenalstown where he addressed them.

“He was met on the arrival of the train to Carlow station by the new Carlow-Graigue Brass Band, headed by the banner of the Bennekerry and Tinryland National League and escorted to his residence in Browne Street where he addressed his supporters.

“On the following Sunday May 26 Mr Conlan was entertained to a banquet in Tynan’s Hotel (where the Ritz Cinema was). The chair was occupied by Rev Fr Kavanagh, Vice Chairman, Mr Thomas Keogh. Park Covers were laid for 70 guests. Some fine songs were given during the evening to intersperse the speeches. The accompaniments were played by Professor McAlinden, organist to Carlow Cathedral.”

Carlow legend topples into the dust.
Herald Special

A piece of Carlow's history has toppled into the dust, leaving behind it a vast question mark. It is one of the former tenement houses in Brown Street which stood idle and derelict for several years. The local council has just demolished a block of these houses in order to leave an open space which will probably become  car park.

The legend
The mystery? The legend that was written across the back wall of what might once have been an upstairs drawing-room: poor children of all persuasions educated here.
The inscriptions only came to light recently after the roof had caved-in and the weather had thoroughly scrubbed the wall. Just before demolition it was only barely legible and a camera man had to borrow a ladder from the workman's club next door in order to get a picture of the legend.
Was this once a children's workhouse, a common feature in early Victorian times? An alms house? or an orphanage? Several Old Carlow Society experts were quizzed and each of them came up against the same mysterious brick wall each time.

No Records
Miss Alice Tracey of the Old Carlow Society, said the problem had intrigued her for a long time but her research had been foiled by the absence of any records relating to the building.
"I suspect, without being anything like certain, that it may have been a Quaker refuge for children" she said. "But the Society of Friends in Carlow is gone now , and any records that may have been kept with reguard to the house have so far eluded all searches."
Miss Treacy, however, was most instructive about the other houses involved in the demolition. "The house at the corner of Charlotte Street," she said, "was the town house of Brown-Claytons, whose country seat was at Brownes Hill and who have now moved to the West of Ireland.
"In one of the other houses was born the late Coadjutor Bishop of Leighlin Dr. Comerford, whoes family kept a pawnshop next door at the time of his birth.

Caption under picture: This is the house in Brown Street, Carlow, which bore the legend that no one could solve.

Source: Peter Walker 2016
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