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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Rathvilly (Ráth Bhile)

Co Carlow

Source: From Wikipedia

Approximately 300 year old thatched building, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.

Rathvilly - The name Rathvilly - in Irish Ráth Bhile, ring fort of the trees - comes from one of a series of raths or circular earthworks built on the eastern side of the River Barrow. Today Rathvilly is a picturesque village in North Carlow, with parish boundaries bordering counties Kildare and Wicklow. It has the distinction of winning the All-Ireland Tidy Towns Award on three separate occasions and this is reflected in the overall character of the village.

In the centre of the village is a monument to Kevin Barry, (His Story) a local boy who joined the fight for Irish freedom. He was captured, and executed at the age of 18 in Dublin. His short and adventurous life is remembered in one of the best known rebel songs, The Ballad of Kevin Barry.

In the 5th Century, Crimthan, King of Leinster, lived at Rathvilly. He was converted and baptised by St. Patrick. Rathvilly Motte, in the townland of Knockroe, is suggested as his residence during his reign from 443 AD to 483 AD.

With panoramic views of the Wicklow Hills and Mount Leinster, Lisnavagh Estate was originally designed and the gardens laid out by Daniel Robertson in the 1850's

Rathvilly 2009
Rathvilly Square c.1900
Rathvilly Bridge
Rathvilly 2009

Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837

St Mary Church of Ireland RathvillyRATHVILLY, a parish, in the barony of RATHVILLY, county of CARLOW, and province of LEINSTER, 5 miles (N. E.) from Tullow, on the road to Baltinglass, and on the rivers Slaney and Derreen; containing 3187 inhabitants, of which number, 305 are in the village. This parish comprises 9103 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, three-fourths being meadow and pasture, and the remainder, excepting some bog, arable land. Within its limits, close on the confines of Wicklow county, is the townland of Ladytown, belonging to Baltinglass parish in that county. Granite exists here, but is not much used.

The village of Rathvilly is on the eastern side of the Slaney, and consists of 58 houses. Fairs are held on Jan. 1st, March 25th, June 24th, Aug. 1st, and Nov. 12th, for general farming stock. Lisnova was lately the residence of the Bunbury family. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Leighlin, episcopally united, since 1683, to the rectories of Rathmore and Straboe, and the impropriate cure of Rahill, and in the patronage of the Crown, by agreement with the bishop. The tithes amount to £784.12. 3., and the entire tithes of the benefice to £1060. 2. 5½. The glebe comprises 12 acres, on which is the glebe-house. The church, built in 1751, though small, is a pretty structure with a handsome spire lately added; it has been lately repaired by a grant of £315 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

In the R.C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising this parish and that of Rathmore, and St Patricks Church, Rathvilly, Carlowparts of Straboe, Kiltegan, and Kilranala; and containing three chapels, of which two are in Rathvilly; that at Tynock was built about five years since, and has a belfry; that in the village of Rathvilly is a large old slated building, in which a national school is held.

There is also a national school at Knockleshan: these schools afford instruction to about 550 children, and about 50 are taught in a private school. On the townland of Tobinstown there is a large cromlech; at the west end are two pillar stones, eight feet high; the table stone is twenty-three feet long, and at the west end eight, feet broad, but at the other, which rests on small stones elevated about a foot from the ground, it is only six. The thickness at the upper end is four feet, at the lower two; the under surface is plain and even, but the upper is convex. Along the sides are several upright stones, from three to six feet, rendering the space underneath an enclosed room, entered between the two tall uprights. From this entrance is a sort of avenue, forty yards long, formed by small irregular artificial hillocks : the whole is in a low plain field, near a rivulet, on the road from Tallow to Hacketstown. On the townland of Waterstown is a rude stone cross, seven feet high, where the parish church is supposed originally to have stood. Near the village is an old rath, from which the name of the place appears to have been taken. Here are remains of a religious house called Erchorn: there is also a ruin of a church called Cloughafaile.

Kevin Gerard Barry

Kevin BarryKevin Gerard Barry (Irish: Caoimhín de Barra; 20 January 1902 - 1 November 1920) was an Irish medical student who fought in the Irish War of Independence, becoming one of its earliest and most remembered martyrs.

Kevin Barry was born in Dublin of upper middle class parents, and grew up both there and in rural County Carlow. He was the fourth of seven children. He entered the exclusive Belvedere College in 1916. During his second year there, aged 15, he joined the Irish Volunteers, and initially was charged with delivering motivation orders. In 1919, he enrolled at University College Dublin to study medicine.

During the war against the British, Barry was promoted to Section Commander, and took part in various raids for arms throughout the city. On 20 September 1920, he took part in an ambush of a lorry of British soldiers. In the ensuing gunfight, three of them were killed, making them the first military deaths the British had suffered in Ireland since the Easter Rising. The three men killed were Pte. Thomas Humphries, Pte. Marshall Whitehead and Pte Harold Washington. Pte Washington was only 15 years old.

Barry was captured hiding under a truck after his comrades fled the scene. He testified in a sworn affidavit some weeks later that his captors tortured him in an attempt to find out the names of other men involved in the raid. Barry refused to tell. He was tried as a civilian for the murder of Pte. Whitehead. Barry refused to recognise the court and so was undefended at his trial.

He is reported to have read the newspaper during proceedings. Kevin Barry was convicted of murder and was hanged in Mountjoy Prison on 1 November, despite a reported request to be shot as a soldier. He was 18 years old. His was the first execution since 1916. The execution was used by Sinn Féin to help foster anti-British sentiment throughout the country. Many students his age joined the Irish Republican Army following his execution.

Barry's death is considered a watershed moment in the Irish conflict. His hanging came only days after the death on hunger strike of Terence MacSwiney - the Republican Lord Mayor of Cork - and brought public opinion to fever-pitch. His treatment and death attracted great international attention and attempts were made by U.S., British and Vatican officials to secure a reprieve.

The story of Kevin Barry has an enduring appeal and he remains one of the best known figures of the Irish Republican tradition. In many ways Barry might be considered a victim of circumstances. An unknown N.C.O. in life, it was the timing and mythologising of his death that catapulted him to fame. That said, he played his part to perfection showing considerable courage and good-humour in the face of death. A few days before his execution he joked with a visitor that "They are not going to shoot me like a soldier - they are going to hang me like a gentleman!".

The only full-length biography of Kevin Barry was written by his nephew, the journalist Donal O'Donovan and published in 1989 as Kevin Barry and his Time.

Kevin Barry is remembered in a well-known song about his imprisonment and execution, written shortly after his death and still sung today. The tune to "Kevin Barry" was taken from "Rolling Home to Dear Old Ireland".

Source: From Wikipedia

The Old Mill at Rathvilly c.1914
Source: eBay.

Map of Rathvilly.
Source: OSi Maps

Invoice Margaret Bolger Family Grocer Rathvilly Carlow 1944.  Source: Ebay seller

The Watermill is a 16th century corn mill – situated on the banks of the River Slaney in the village of Rathvilly in County Carlow.  The Watermill has been converted into a fine restaurant run by Enrico Tononi.

Source of image:


The River Slaney River which rises in the Wicklow Mountains and flows south for about 62 miles (100 kilometres) through the counties of Carlow and Wexford. The Slaney empties into the Irish Sea at Wexford Harbour. Important salmon fisheries are near the town of Wexford.


Flax Growers of 1796 - Rathvilly, County Carlow
Byrne Edward Rathvilly Carlow
Byrne Laurence Rathvilly Carlow
Farrall James Rathvilly Carlow
M'Donnell John Rathvilly Carlow
Wall James Rathvilly Carlow

Rathvilly Normans in Rathvilly Pay Schools  D'Israeli School Rathvilly School St Patricks Graveyard St. Patrick's Church R.I.C. Barracks Rathvilly Railway

Website - Griffiths Valuation of Ireland - Rathvilly, County Carlow

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