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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Folklore of Sleaty District

Source: P.MacSuibhne book 'The Parish of KILLESHIN, Graiguecullen'. 1972.

Sleaty House and Church, Co. Laois

Historical information gleaned from Pat Whelan, Shrule, and Miss Lizzie Dunny, Sletty - Fields, Roads and Rivers. Local Geography and Industrial History - A Hedge Schoolmaster and two Hedge Schools.

From Knockbeg College Annual, 1935 p. 77.

Shrule District
(Arles Parish)

Names of Fields

Clooneens - opposite Wynne’s “sweep-gate” about seven acres (Irish). “Sweep-gate” was the name always used by Pat Walker, probably on account of the sweep around to the hall-door, to distinguish it from the back gate. Pat Whelan never heard it applied to any other gate.

Whistler’s Boy - A field adjoining Clooneens on the south side.

Crannock - Ten acres, goes up to Shrule Cross on the other side of the gate, adjoining Clooneens.

Piper’s Hall - Sloping ground down by the Barrow within one field of Shrule Castle on the north side. There was a beech and oak wood there in Pat Whelan’s remembrance. A piper plays, or at least used to play, his bagpipes up and down that slope at night time. Between Piper’s Hall and the road was Mr. Bailey’s gravel pit. When Pat Whelan was opening this gravel pit he came upon the foundations of a house. There are two big piers in the gate leading to the gravel pit.

Tobar na fŕinneog - Another field between the gravel pit and the Barrow. There is a well there. Fainneog, says John Julian, means little hill.

Lyons’ Field - about six acres, next field to Piper’s Hall adjoining the River Douglas at the Barrow side.

Loughy’s Bridge - is the bridge over the Douglas as you go to Mageney. Adjoins Lyons’ field. People named Loughy’s lived in Rathduff where Mrs. Moore lived later.

Rappa - Two fields of this name, Little Rappa. 3 acres, and Big Rappa, I7 acres, at the back of Gawk Street - Pat Whelan never heard it called by any other name. John Julian thinks the old name was Borenaseere (Bothar na saor). There is also Rappa Cross.

Speerin’s field - South side of Ponsonby’s field.

Garrawees (Gardha Buidhe) - Eleven acres, third field from the Ballacaniska road as you go towards Moore’s.

Garrybrittain - Eight or nine acres adjoining that veldt as you go to the Hollymount Carlow road.

Brick-field - ten acres on the right of Ballacaniska road opposite Hollymount House. There are holes and ponds in the field.

Whelan’s Field - Opposite Pat Whelan’s on the other side of the road, formerly owned by Patrick Whelan, who went to England. He sold the place to Mr. Walker, who in turn sold it to Mr Moran. Ruins of Whelan’s house are there still.

Forge-field - in Clonagh now belongs to Hollymount. Pat Whelan remembers the forge which was owned by John MacMahon, whose people now live at Coolnock Cross.

Cloagh Windmill - at the back of Forge-field. The round tower, about sixty feet high, is still there. Beside the windmill there is a disused quarry, full of water. At the edge of the quarry there are two limekilns. It is said that stones were being quarried to burn lime and the water springing up one night, drowned all the tools, and work had to be abandoned.

Ward’s Tree - A sycamore tree in the lawn at Hollymount overhanging the road. A man named Ward is said to have hanged himself on that tree. Pat Whelan’s father did not remember the occurrence. People are still afraid to pass it at night.

(Arles Parish)

Grange Churchyard - The Dempsey’s of Jerusalem, the Simmons of Arles, the Harpoles of Shrule are buried there. Also the Murphy’s and MacDarby’s of Carlow.

Bamber’s Hill - at the back of the churchyard. There is a pond at the bottom of the hill.

Paircalark - Eight acres at the north of the churchyard.

Loughrue (Loch Ruadh) - Eight acres, north of the Castle, on the left on the road to Mageney.

Loughollister - A twelve-acre field, formerly two fields, left of Loughrue.

Seare’s Field - Ten acres, owned by Mr. Tunstead, on the left-hand side as you go to Mageney, adjoining Julian’s; it is three fields from Grange road.

Gonger’s Garden - Three acres, owned by Mr. Julian, two fields from the Grange road as you go to Mageney on your left. Gongar, Mr. J. Julian says, was a robber.

Sheep-walk - on Mr. Julian’s farm. A dry pasture suitable for sheep.

Lough-diamond - belonging to Fennell’s of Grange, two and a half acres. There is a pond in the field, which is flooded in winter.


Lucduc - A field and a townsland, Joseph Warren’s is the only family in Lucduc.

Three-Cocked-Hat - Quarter acre - belonging to Mr. E. Dempsey. The road cut it into that shape.

(Arles Parish)

Bawnogues - 7 acres, belongs to McLoughlins.

Graughs -1O acres adjoining it, belongs to Louis Walsh.

Lough Sheebal - 6 acres, belonging to L. Walsh. Both pond and field are called by that name.

Bow-killane - 12 or 14 acres, belongs to Mr. John Connolly.

Church Field - At Killabban School on J. Connolly’s land. The Church ruin is still there.

Drymsalach (Druim Saileach) - In Farnans, above Arles, on the road to Castletown. There is a flag-quarry and a well in Drymsalach.

Rivers and Mills turned by them

The Shruleen - between Mageney and Athy. Rises in Lucduc, flows through Ballyfoyle and empties into the Barrow. There is a Shruleen Lane in Athy.

The Guilach - Rises at Clonpierce, flows through Killabban and Grange, and empties into the Barrow at Fennell’s Castle.

The Crompawn - Rises at Wolfhill, comes through Castletown, Killeen and Killabban, and empties into the Douglas at Grange.

The Douglas - Rises in Maide-Be, comes through Wolfhill, Castletown, Coolnock, Clonagh, Grange, and empties into the Barrow adjoining MacWey’s and Annville. It turns a mill at Slocock’s, Castletown; it did turn MacWey’s oatmeal mill at Grange.

The Fishogue - comes through Ashfield, Ballickmoyler, Cooper Hill, Curragh, Kylenahorn (a fox covert there), Everton, and empties into the Barrow at Clongrenan Castle. Turned Walsh’s saw-mill in Acoyne.

Durach (Dubh Shruth) - Comes through Herondale, Harristown, Sleaty and empties into the Barrow. It is the boundary between Miss Dunny’s and Knockbeg. It turned a mill at MacWey’s, Sletty, where oatmeal and brown flour were made in Miss Dunny’s time. The Fishogue floods the Durach in the winter.

The Lerr - comes through Castledermot, Blackcastle, Jerusalem, and empties into the Barrow. Moone flourmill on the Lerr is probably still being worked by Mr. Shackleton. Braithwaite’s oatmeal mill, now derelict in Levitstown. Also Lalor’s reaping-hook mill in Levitstown, also idle. Hannon’s flour mill, now owned by Mr. Cope, still grinds oatmeal and cattle-meal. Also an oatmeal mill at New Garden, formerly owned by Thompson’s, Carlow, now idle.

The Griese - Comes by Kilkea Castle, Levitstown, Crooked (the straight road to Crooked is an old saying), Dunmanogue, empties into the Barrow beside Jerusalem. It turned a mill in Belan, formerly owned by Mr. Shackleton, but now derelict. There was also probably a mill at Green’s of Millbrook.

Old Dublin - Cork Road

The main road from Dublin to Cork crossed the Barrow at Shrule, on through the Clooneens, and then through the Whistler’s Bog, through Whelan’s field and across by Moore’s to Killeshin. Traces of the road can still be seen in Clooneens. The road from Shrule Castle to Pat Whelan’s is a new road. Pat Whelan’s father remembered when there was no bridge at Mageney, only stepping stones; he often crossed over the stepping-stones leading a horse.

John Farrell, an uncle of Mrs. Whelan’s father, Michael Hade, who lived in Pat Whelan’s present house, had a horse and cart and used to go to Dublin, and bring groceries for the shops in Carlow and Mageney. Will Moore, grandfather of Moore’s, Rathduff, lived at Mageney. John Farrell had a log-wheeled cart; a log-wheel is one made from the round of a tree. He used to take a fortnight to go and a fortnight to come back.

Father Mathew - The three Farrell’s, John, Michael and Andrew, took the Father Mathew Pledge. The three Pledge-cards, in homemade frames, are still hanging on the walls at Pat Whelan’s.


Tommy Naughton from Carlow (related to the present Naughton’s of Brown St.) used to play the flute for set dances at Mageney Cross. Hundreds and hundreds of people used to be there on Sunday evenings in Pat Whelan’s remembrance.

Kelly of Grange was a flute-player and a fiddler as well. When Pat Whelan was going to school he often used stand on the road listening to the music.

Bob Dowdal was a great singer. He used to sing “Dan O’Connell and the two Irish Tinkers,” and “The Blackbird of Avondale.”


Thower Feeg (Tobar Fiach) - St. Fiacc’s well. When Miss Dunny was a child she used wonder where was the Tower. She showed many an old woman from the hill the way to Tower Feegh.

Haughey‘s Field - where Tobar Fiach is. People named Haughey lived on the brow of the field and owned the land adjoining. The Haugheys died out. Dan Fenlon, N.T., was married to a Miss Haughey. or Hoey. Opposite Miss Dunny’s gate there lived a Malt Haughey. or Hoey, of whom there is a fuller account later on.

White Field - adjoining Miss Dunny’s on the north side. McWey’s field opposite is also called the White Field. Probably they were one field formerly. Miss Dunny never saw either field tilled.

Sletty Church yard - was probably much larger in extent than at present. When Miss Dunny’s father came to Sletty over 100 years ago, he found the field between the house and the graveyard under wheat; the furrows between the ridges were full of human bones. At the first opportunity he levelled the ridges, and the field has not been ploughed since. Ned Gaskin, who sold the place to the late Tom Dunny, is buried within the ruins of the Church.

Rose Dougherty - was an old woman who, before Miss Dunny’s time, had lived in a hut opposite Dunny’s door in McWey’s field. The hut was built for her there by Fr. Nolan, Rector at Knockbeg, and Heron Cooper of Shrule, a humane magistrate of the period, in order that the Dunny family could see to her wants. After her death she was buried in Sletty in a coffin which Fr. Nolan, who had carpentry as a hobby, had made for himself. A hollow in the corner of the field marks the site of the hut.

Butcher’s Hill - Between Sletty and Foy’s Cross. A butcher was killed there, but this was before Tom Dunny’s time. Pat Whelan says there was a battle fought there.

Aughnahylia (Achadhnacoille) - is the field owned by the College on Butcher’s Hill.

Mowlcawn (Mullachan) - A small marshy field owned by Mr. James McWey. Dr. Tierney, PP., Edenderry, formerly a Professor at the College, explained the word as a “field at the foot of a hill.” The Mowlcawn is surrounded by high fields, including McWey’s lawn.

Burn’s Gate - On the right-hand side between Miss Dunny’s and Butcher’s Hill, led to Gerald Burn’s of Sletty House, who owned the Sletty farm now occupied by the College. Gerald Burns was not industrious, and sold the land to Kelly’s,’ who occupied the premises now owned by Corcoran’s, Carlow. The farm was afterwards acquired by Mathias McWey, who sold it to the College. The Burns were probably from Co. Wicklow. There are Burns of Sletty buried in Killinure graveyard.

Rathkillinure - a graveyard still in use, near Herondale, in which the Burns, Neills, Penders, Currans, Moores and Morans are buried.

Nut Hollow - between Burns’ gate and McWeys the remains of an old road which led from Harristown and Herondale to Carlow. The old road came via McWeys and Nut Hollow, and met the Sletty-Knockbeg road near the ruins of Ned Lennon’s house. The road from Foy’s Cross to McWey’s is called the New Road.

Bealach Waddha - Means black water. The name is applied to the rock and pool of water at Mr. Bolger’s, Sleaty. The rock bears the mark of a human foot. In the Rebellion, a soldier took a child and broke its skull against the Rock.

Pat Whelan adds: Bealach a vaddha. as he pronounces it (bealach an mhaide) a rock having in it the track of a human foot, said to be St. Patrick’s foot. When St. Patrick was crossing the Barrow from Bestfield to Killeshin, he turned aside and would not pass through Graig, as it was cursed so said Fr. Mahar, PP., Graig. St. Patrick used to cross over to Bestfield for meditation. Killeshin is the name of the parish. The Protestant Church in Graig is called Killeshin Church.

Derrymoyle Lane - About a mile long, leads from Sletty to Ballickmoyler road. It was probably part of the old road from Sletty to Killeshin. Derrymoyle Lane is also called Sheehans (i.e., Sheehan’s) Lane. On the lane there is an old house formerly Sheehan’s where bricks were baked in former times. Sand was got from Haughey’s field and the clay from the bog between that and the Barrow. More suitable clay, however, was got nearer to Sheehan’s.

Harristown Hedge School - The first school Miss Dunny went to was in Harristown. It was a vacant farmhouse owned by Andy Rooney, who was a first cousin of the late Most Rev. Dr. Comerford. Andy Rooney’s Sons and daughters attended the school. Andy, who was not industrious, was married to a Miss McWey. His farm came into the possession of Matthias McWey. Andy’s children went to U.S.A.; he himself drifted around and eventually came to live at Bourke’s of Baronstown, where he died. He is buried in Grange Churchyard.

Margaret Cummins, called by the children Miss Cummins, taught the school: There were over twenty pupils, boys and girls. They sat on planks laid on big stones around the walls. There was a table and chair for the mistress. School lasted from about 10 till 3. They were allowed out to eat their lunch about mid-day; Miss Dunny had not much conception of time in those days, but their lunch time was dinner hour for the farm workers, as she used to see the men bringing the horses in from the fields.

They were taught reading, writing, arithmetic and catechism; they were taught geography also, as she remembers the maps; she cannot place grammar. There were no books that Miss Dunny remembers, only “Reading Made Easy,” used by her sister, and she herself had a Primer with paper cover. She remembers learning how to write - she remembers making m’s and n’s. Quill pens were used. She has some quill pens still. Miss Dunny went to this school for about a year. Miss Cummins, who was about twenty or thirty years of age, went to U.S.A., and the school was broken up.

After that she went to school to an old woman named Mrs. Delaney in Graigue. The house, which was thatched, is still standing at the top of Henry Street on the left-hand side. It was a one-roomed house, and the scholars, of whom there were about twenty, sat around the fire. When Miss Dunny was about eight or eight and a half she left this school and went to the Presentation Convent School in Carlow. When the National Schools were built in Carlow-Graigue, she came to them. The greater number of the children in Sletty and Graigue in Miss Dunny’s time did not go to school at all.

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