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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Lest They be Forgotten!

Lest They be Forgotten

By Seamus Murphy

One area of County Carlow which has received very little attention from historians of the 1798 period, is a segment of the County close to Carlow town.

This segment could be enclosed by the Tullow road on the south, by the old road leading to Dublin on the north, and by the Carlow-Kildare border on the east.

In the late 18th. century, with the exception of personal farms of the Burton and Brown Families, this was a region of small holdings. This can be confirmed, because up to recent times, apart from existing houses the sites of almost 40 other houses was known in Pollerton Big and Pollerton Little.

The United Irishmen's Organisation, according to local tradition, must have been highly organised in this area, as it was said "that at least one man, went from each house in Pollerton Big and Pollerton Little to the attack, and very few ever came home".

The main rendezvous for the group, which was attacking Carlow from the east, was at Viewmount, in Kernanstown, and Capt. Nolan one of the leaders in the eastern attacking force was from Rutland, both places being in this segment.

The story of at least four happenings of the 1798 period, have survived in local folklore.

The first concerns the fate of members of the Kehoe family of Pollerton.

The family home was on Pollerton Road, near the present junction with McGamhna road and the family farm was the land now occupied by the housing estates on the north side of the road.

Tradition says that three Kehoe brothers perished in the Rising, and that two others were executed later.

Odran Seely, Tullow Road is a descendant of this family. The second event also has connections with Pollerton Road.

It tells of the fate of two men. one, according to the late John Boake, Rutland, was named Maher from Rainstown.

These men had survived the attack, but still did not reach home.

These men were in the house owned by the Dwyers. This house was where the house of St. Patrick's avenue joins the Askea school grounds.

On the evening of the 25th May the military were searching for escaping "rebels". When this group of soldiers approached the Dwyer home, the men attempted to escape but as tradition says "they were killed on the flag of the door" This house unlike all other houses on the road did not have a door leading on to the road. It was said that the original door was built up. as the blood stains could not be removed from the flagstone.

The Murphy family of Paupish, and Paddy Darcy, the noted Tullow historian are descendants of the Dwyers.

Next is a story with a happy ending. In 1798 a family named Neill lived in the house on the corner of the Hacketstown where it joins with the road leading to the Tullow road.

One of the Neills joined the attacking forces. He survived the massacre and was given refuge by friends in Barrack Street. That evening it was decided that he should return home.

To enable him to escape he was dressed as a woman, and given a bucket. If he was stopped he was to say "I am going to Closh for water"

On his way as he passed a group of soldiers, who were resting, under the tree which was in what is now Shamrock Square, he heard one of them remark "That's the tallest woman I ever saw".

He reached home and lived to an old age. The bucket was preserved in the Neill house and the late Mary Teresa Kelly, The Stream, Pollerton Little, who was a great granddaughter of this man, remembered seeing the bucket in the Neill home in the early 1900s.

The Neill name is preserved locally as the road already mentioned is known as Neillís Lane.

The fourth account is of Michael Kelly of Pollerton Little, who lived in the house owned now by the Walsh family.

He went to the attack on Carlow. When news of what had happened to the attackers reached Pollerton, and as he had not returned home, two of his sisters went to town seeking information.

They were standing near the Red Cow Inn, now owned by Bernard Jennings, when they saw a pair of legs with stockings similar to what they were wearing , when they left home, hanging from a cart as it went to Graigue.

As Michael Kelly never returned home, it was always assumed that was his remains going to what is now the Croppy Grave.

Michael Kelly was a great-great granduncle of the writer.

Another resident of the segment who died at that time was Sir Edward Crosbie of Viewmount. who was executed for his alleged United Irishman's involvement. His execution took place at the new jail, now Super Quinn, but his head was displayed for a time at the gate of the old jail, which was on the site of the apartments bordering the Burrin on Kennedy avenue.

Before his death, the late John Boake, Rutland showed the writer, the place at the base of Urglin Church steeple where Edward Crosbie's head was subsequently interred.

There were Government supporters in this area also.

The two main landlords were Sir Richard Burton and William Brown.

These men were Captain and 1st Lieutenant respectively, in Carlow Town Yeoman Corp.

It has been said that Burton had seventeen members of his corp executed.

However, there is no folk memory on this event in the Pollerton area. We are indebted to many people, who have recorded events of 1798 in their own area.

These efforts are most welcome but we must not cease in our endeav≠our to have proper publication dealing with the County's role in 1798.

Previously published in the Carloviana - December. 1998 Page 69

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