NEWCASTLE LYONS by Francis Elrington Ball (1863 – 1928) from the History of Co Dublin Vol 3 of 6, published in 1905
Parish of Newcastle.
The parish is returned in the seventeenth century as containing the townlands of Newcastle, Colmanstown, Athgoe, Tobberbirde, Colganstown, Hazlehatch, Loughtown, and Banshee. It now contains the townlands of Athgoe (/.r., the smith’s ford), Athgoe North and South, Banshee (i.e., the hill of the fairies), Bustyhill, Castlewarden, Colganstown (i.e., the town of Colgan), Colmanstown (i.e., the town of Colman), Commons, Commons Little, Cornerpark, Glebe, Hazelhatch (i.e., the hazel enclosure), Highdownhill, Hynestown (i.e., the town of Hynes), Keeloges (i.e. the narrow plots), Lyons, Newcastle Demesne and Farm, Newcastle North and South, Peamount, Ringwood, Skeagh (the thorn bush), Steelstown, and Windmillhill. The following are the objects of archaeological interest in the parish: The church of Newcastle, and the castles of Athgoe and Colmanstown.
The village of Newcastle is the centre of a parish called by that name which lies to the west of the parish of Rathcoole, and forms the south-western corner of the County Dublin. It was originally a fortified town, and at the beginning of the seventeenth century was chosen to be one of the two parliamentary boroughs then incorporated in the metropolitan county. To the superficial observer there is now nothing in the village to denote its former importance; but those who examine more carefully will find remains of a medieval church of architectural pretensions such as are rarely to be found in the diocese of Dublin, and also remains of two castles in the village, as well as of castles on the adjoining lands of Athgoe and Colmanstown (See The Lesser Castles of the County Dublin, by ER MC, Dix in The Irish Builder for 1898, pp72, 85).
At the time of the Anglo-Norman Conquest, the lands of Newcastle, which became after that event a royal manor, and which probably owed their name to a fortified building erected on them by the invaders, were included, with the other lands to the south of Dublin, in the territory over which the chiefs known as MacGillamocholmog ruled. The lands of Newcastle adjoined or formed part of a district called in early charters Lymerhin—a name possibly derived from some ancient designation of which Lyons or Leuan, as it used to be spelled, is another corrupt form. This district of Lymerhin, together with fifteen carucates in the vale of Dublin and a burgage in Dublin, was granted after the Conquest to the MacGillamocholmog of that time, and was again granted by King John in 1207 to MacGillamocholmog’s sons, Dermot and Roderic. To these sons King John, in order probably to compensate them for lands taken for the new castle, and to draw them away from a district where they seemed too powerful, had previously given a cantred in the County Limerick, But this grants was revoked on the situation to them of their father’s lands, which was due possibly to the fact that they were not able to establish themselves in Limerick, and that they were found not to be dangerous in their own land. At a later period, in the year 1215, we find the lands of Kilmactalway, which formed portion of Lymerhin, and were then in possession of the last MacGillamocholmog’s grandson, John son of Dermot, taken for the improvement of the royal manor of Newcastle (Mills’ Norman 8cttlement, p102 Gilbert’s History of Dublin, vol i p233; .Sweetman’s Calendar, 1171-1251 No. 569, Charter 9 John, m5; Chartularies of St Mary’s Abbey, vol 1 p33).
During the early part of the thirteenth century the manor of Newcastle was held under the Crown by middlemen, and in 1221, although the other royal manors were then ordered to be taken into the King’s own hands, a new lease was made of Newcastle. The lessee was John de St. John, who became Bishop of Ferns and Treasurer of Ireland, and who has left a high reputation as being a worthy prelate and a benefactor of the Church. He appears to have been an improving tenant, for in 1228, when the Crown contemplated taking Newcastle from him, the King ordered that the Bishop, in addition to being allowed the corn crops then in the ground, should be compensated in money for repairing the houses on the manor. Although the Bishop held the manor for some years longer, it was ultimately taken into the King’s hands. In 1232 we find its custody committed to one Peter de Revell, and in 1235 the Crown receipts from Newcastle, which included, besides rents and profits from the seneschal’s court and mill, considerable revenue from the sale of corn, wool, cheese, sheepskins, and ox hides, show tliat the demesne lands were being farmed by the Crown itself. In the latter year, however, the King directed the Justiciary of Ireland to lease the manor of Newcastle at as high a rent as possible to a middleman, inasmuch as more profit would thus accrue, and later on. in 1260, we find the tenants complaining of the oppression which they suffered under the farmers or middlemen. (Sweetman’s Calendar, 1171-1251, Nos. 098. 1021. 1121. 1598, 1982. 2254; 1252-1284, No 658; Cotton’s Fasti ecclesiae Hibernicae vol ii, p332 Mills’ Norman Settlement, p173).
Towards the close of the thirteenth century the lands of Newcastle were considered, as we have seen, to be in the land of peace, and probably did not suffer in the following century to so great a degree as the lands already treated of from the incursions of the Irish tribes. Their security may be attributed not only to their situation in being further away from the mountainous country of Wicklow, but also to the fact that the town of Newcastle was fortified and guarded with care by an official known as the castellan. Of the inhabitants of Newcastle in that period some information is to be obtained from the Crown accounts. Besides residents of Anglo-Norman, English, and Welsh descent, such as Walter le White, sometimes described as of Athgoe; Yerward the Welshman, also described as of Athgoe; and Elias of Winchester, we find persons of purely Irish birth occupying responsible positions. One of these, William son of Donald, who was granted liberty in 1292 to use English laws, was Clerk of Newcastle; and another, Roger of Newcastle, who was given in 1303 a similar license on account of the good services rendered by his son in the Scottish wars, was an agent of the Archbishop of Dublin. At Newcastle, as at Saggart, Henry de Compton, the lessee in 1291 of the seneschal’s court, encountered opposition, and two of the Newcastle inhabitants, Master Maurice and Hugh Godiman, had to find pledges to keep the peace towards him. The Crown occasionally alienated portions of the manor, which embraced lands within the County Kildare. In 1280 a large tract of over three carucates was thus given to the See of Killaloe in exchange for lands at Roscrea, and in 1291 Henry le Marshall, a citizen and merchant of Dublin, whom the royal family regarded with much favour, was enfeoffed in land which he held within the manor in a place known as the rath, inasmuch as the King desired to gratify him, and as buildings which he intended to erect would tend to the security of the neighbouring country (Liber Niger, p755; Sweetman’s Calendar, 1251-1307, passim).
A century ]ater we find a castle, or chief residence, at Newcastle in the occupation of one William Carrick, and a castle, to which a hall was attached, and round which there were orchards and parks, in occupation of a family called Russell. William Carrick, whose possessions included a sword, a doublet of defence, and a hauberk, was evidently a soldier, and in his will, which was made in 1475, he mentions that he had only lately become owner of his castle at Newcastle, which had formerly belonged to one Alson Perys. Amongst the legatees appear two families, those of Clinch and Reynolds, which became much identified with Newcastle. To Richard Clinch and Joan Clinch, married woman of Colmanstown, Carrick left a remainder in his property in the event of the death of his only daughter and child without children, and to Richard Reynolds he left land bounded by the King’s highway and the black grove. The Russell property in the early part of the sixteenth century was in possession of Nicholas Russell, and passed from him into possession of his son and heir, John Russell, who was in Holy Orders and Prior of the Minor Canons of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The latter by his will, which was made in 1546, bequeathed a charge on the property to the Cathedral, and this bequest gave rise to prolonged litigation between the Cathedral authorities and his relations. (Berry’s Register of Wills 1457-1483 p103; Exchequer Inquisition, Elizabeth, co Dublin, No 220)|.
The importance of the town of Newcastle, which is said to have contained no less than six castles, in the sixteenth century is indicated by the fact that the chief magistrate—known there, as in Saggart and Rathcoole, under the name of portreeve—was ordered to contribute in 1566 one mounted archer, and in 1593 two mounted archers to the army. In the early part of that century the Earls of Kildare held, under the Crown, property in Newcastle and Athgoe, and Newcastle was one of the places where a garrison was stationed after the rebellion of Silken Thomas. An occasional glimpse of the inhabitants is to be obtained in pardons granted by the Crown; in 1552 an Irishman, a shoemaker, was murdered on the lands of Colmanstown by one Patrick Ennose, a smith of Celbridge, and in 1562 thirteen cows, the property of William Clinch of Newcastle, were stolen from him by a gallowglass. (Haliday Manuscripts published by Historical Manuscripts Commission; Trinity College Library MS, F1, 18, p177; Calendar of Carew State Papers, 1515-1574, pp63, 131; Fiants Edward VI, No 1028; Eliz No 444.)
The Lockes of Athgoe and Colmanstown, whose representative in a female line still owns those places, and from whom, also in a female line, the late Rt Hon. John Naish, sometime Lord Chancellor of Ireland, was descended, are first mentioned in connection with the neighbourhood in the middle of the sixteenth century in a will made I)y Nicholas Clinch of Newcastle. In this will, which was proved in 1559, Nicholas Clinch, after bequeathing his soul to God, the Virgin Mary, and All the Saints, and mentioning amongst others the Aylmers of Lyons, appoints his wife Isabel Locke to be tutor of his children, and refers to his relative, William Locke. A castle stood doubtless at that time upon the lands of Colmanstown, in Avhich the Locke family then resided, and soon afterwards they undertook the erection of a castle on the lands of Athgoe. This castle still remains, and bears an inscription showing that it was built in 1579 by William Locke and his wife Katherine, daughter of William Allen, a member of the family seated at St. Wolstans, in the County Kildare. To William Locke succeeded Patrick Locke, who married one of the Sarsfields of Lucan, and who died in 1635 when living at Colmanstown, desiring in his will to be buried in the church of Newcastle, “the burial place of his ancestors.” (Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland under O’Carroll of Athgoe Park: and Wills of John Locke and Patrick Locke; also of Burke’s ” Vicissitudes of Families,” vol I, pp399-405).
At the opening of the seventeenth century Newcastle was considered to be one of the best villages in the County Dublin, and in 1608 license to hold there a weekly market and two fairs each year on the feasts of St. Swithin and All Saints were granted by James I. to his favourite, James Hamilton, afterwards Viscount Clandeboye. At Newcastle courts for the taking of inquisitions were occasionally held, one of them in 1594 being presided over by Richard Boyle, afterwards Earl of Cork, but then only an humble legal official, and in 1603 a garrison of ten men was placed there. The representatives of the families of Locke, Clinch, Reynolds, and Russell, then resident at Athgoe and Newcastle, are mentioned amongst the men of name in the county at the close of the sixteenth century, and we find members of the Locke and Clinch family serving in the army, as well as members of a family called Rutledge, connected with them by marriage, which was also resident at Newcastle. (The Description of Ireland in 1598, edited by Rev. Edmund Hogan; Calendar of Patent Rolls, James 1, p133; Exchequer Inquisition. Eliz Co. Dublin, No 220; Calendar of Irish State Papers, 1603-1606, p30; Fiants Elizabeth, Nos 6459, 6603; Wills of Richard Clinch and John Reynolds proved 1609).
The greatest event in the history of Newcastle is the incorporation of the town in the year 1612 as a parliamentary borough. On August 12th in that year one of the Stanyhursts, in a letter dated from Newcastle, sends to the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester, the names of the thirteen persons whom he considered fittest to be the first burgesses, and on November 26th the Attorney General was directed to draw up a charter of incorporation for Newcastle, naming as the first portreeve Thomas Reynolds, and as the first twelve burgesses William Parsons, William Rolles, Edward Kenny, Patrick Frend, Robert Davies, George White, William White, William Burton, John Grible, Thomas Bridges, Edward Rutledge, and John Lushe. This select body at once proceeded to the election of no less than two representatives to Parliament, and chose as best able to serve them, two of their own number, William Parsons, afterwards the well-known Lord Justice of Ireland, and William Rolles (Calendar of Irish State Papers, 1611-1614, pp282, 304).
After the outbreak of the rebellion in October, 1641, Newcastle became the headquarters of the Irish forces in the County Dublin. It is evident from depositions made in the following January that for nearly three months a great number of armed men, estimated by some at 5,000, were assembled there. No less than eight persons with the rank of colonel and nine persons with the rank of captain are mentioned as being seen in the town, prominent amongst them being a Colonel Talbot, and Captain Martin Scurlock and Captain Thomas Scurlock of Rathcreedan. The Irish forces took possession of the whole town, and anyone entering it was liable to be arrested and hanged as a spy. One man who went to Newcastle to try to recover a horse belonging to his master, relates how Mr. Richard Nowlan, “a person of great wealth in that town,” ordered him to be seized and kept in bolts by the constable for several days, and that he was about to be hanged when he escaped from the constable during a temporary confusion. Another man states that he was taken prisoner before he had even come to Newcastle, and after being examined in the church, where a court of guard was held, was kept in bolts for five days, and would have been hanged only that he managed to escape in the darkness of the night. (Depositions of 1641, Richard Dunn, John Murphy, and Tiege Kelly).
The Government were in constant apprehension that the Irish forces would advance from Newcastle on Dublin, and the Dublin garrison was frequently kept standing to arms all day. At last, on January 31st, the Government found themselves in a position, owing to reinforcements arriving from England, to assume the offensive, and the Earl of Ormonde, the general of the army, with Lord Lambart, afterwards Earl of Cavan, Sir Charles Coote, and Sir Simon Harcourt, the hero of Carrickmines, in command of 2,000 foot, 300 horse, and five small field pieces, marched on Newcastle. Ormonde expected to find 4,000 of the enemy, but on arriving at Newcastle they discovered that the town had been evacuated, and that the inhabitants had taken all their goods with them. Ormonde advanced the following day, February 1st, to Naas, but, being recalled to Dublin, returned on Candlemas Day, February 2nd, to Newcastle, in spite of a cruel tempest of wind and rain, and surprised the inhabitants, who had brought back their goods to the town. After hanging six or seven of them and pillaging their houses, Ormonde’s soldiers set out for Dublin, “rich in plate and stuff and cattle”—pillage which would have been much greater, we are told, only for the severity of the storm during which the cattle were blown away. It was reported that New castle had been thoroughly burned, but some four months later we find the Lords Justices requesting Ormonde to send by night two hundred stirring active men to Newcastle “to take, spoil, and kill all rebels.” Three years after that time, when the army of the Confederates marched from Kilkenny on Dublin, the whole country in the neighbourhood of Newcastle was found to be devastated, and Owen O’Neill, who was sent to Newcastle, ”not being able to live on air,” retired as quickly as he came. (Carte Papers, vol ii f212; vol iii f212; vol Ixviii f403; Trinity College Library MS, F2, 11; Earl of Castlehaven’s Memoirs, p81).
At the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth there were reported to be in Newcastle only seven old castles, as well as a small old castle on the lands of Athgoe, and a castle and some cabins on the lands of Colmanstown. There must, however, have been the a number of cabins in Newcastle, which was returned as having a population of some hundred and seventy inhabitants. The principal of these were Captain Martin Scurlock, and one Daniel M’Daniel, while the tradesmen of the town included a farrier, two smiths, two broguemakers, a butcher, a carpenter, and two tailors. Towards the close of the Commonwealth, Scurlock and M’Daniel had given place to Robert Scarborough and Morgan Jones. The population of the village had then fallen to one hundred and fifteen, and four years after the Restoration there were only two houses in the village with two hearths; the remainder, forty-two in number, having but one hearth each (Down Survey Map; Survey of Baronies of Uppercross and Newcastle; Census of 1659; Hearth Money Roll).
Notwithstanding these troublous times, the Lockes retained their property at Athgoe and Colmanstown. Patrick Locke, who died in 1635, is said to have been succeeded by his son William, who married a member of the Cheevers’ family, and William Locke was succeeded m turn by his son John. John Locke, who died in 1684, married Anne, daughter of Mr. Miles Byrne, a member of the family mentioned under Cabinteely, and a relative of Sir Gregory Byrne, one of Charles the Second’s baronets (See Gilbert’s History of Dublin, vol I pp399-403), and was succeeded by his son, Patrick Locke, who died in 1703 when living in Dublin. At that time Colmanstown was leased to one Patrick Lawless, and Athgoe was held by a Mr. Richard Nowlan, whom Locke calls his brother-in-law. To Patrick Locke succeeded his son John, who married an heiress, one of the Warrens of Corduff, and resided constantly at Athgoe; his grandson, also John Locke; and his great-grandson, Peter Warren Locke, who married a sister of Sir Thomas Esmonde, Bart. Mr. Peter Warren Locke left no issue on his death in 1833. The Athgoe property then passed into the possession of its present owners, the O’Carrolls, who are descended from Mr Peter Warren Locke’s sister. (Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, edition 1904, under O’Carroll of Athgoe Park; Wills of Nicholas Clinch and Patrick Locke; Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society, vol ii p390).
Towards the close of the eighteenth century Newcastle is described as a shabby village, honoured with the name of a borough, and attention is drawn to the fact that “this apology for a borough” then returned as many members to “the senate of the nation as the City of Dublin or Trinity College.” The village was visited by Mr. Austin Cooper in Pebruary, 1780. He mentions the remains of the castle which are still to be seen near the high road. Adjoining these ruins there was then a modern house, which he found uninhabited, but which, he says, belonged to one of the Clinches, a. family which then still owned much property in Newcastle. Later on in the month of May the casbles of Athgoe and Colmanstown were inspected by Mr. Cooper, and an interesting description of them has been left by him. Athgoe Castle he found as it is to be seen today—a small square castle having a staircase tower on the south-west side, and adjoining on the east a modern house. The grounds. Cooper says, were then handsomely laid out, and a pond had been recently constructed by diverting the river which flows through the adjoining glen. Colmanstown Castle was, at the time of Cooper’s visit, inhabited by a poor peasant. Portion of it, the battlemented part, as he calls it, seemed to him very old, but the remainder looked more modern, perhaps, however, owing to its being dashed. At about eighty yards distance there was another building—the entrance to the castle—with an arched gateway. This Cooper thought to be of the same age as the oldest part of the castle, and he found traces which led him to believe that a deep fosse, which had originally encircled the castle, had started from its base. (Lewis’s Dublin Guide page 191. Cooper’s note book).
The Church of Newcastle, which was dedicated to St. Finian, is, as has been already stated, a very interesting mediaeval structure. It is well preserved, and the nave is still used for worship. There is a battlemented tower, twenty three feet by eight feet, it has a turret at its north-east corner, with a spiral staircase of some seventy-six steps and forty-five feet high. The lower room forms a vaulted porch; above this are a room (with a fireplace and several plain window slits) and an unlighted attic under a second vault. Above this, again, are another room and attic under the vaulted roof. The whole formed a priest’s house, and seems earlier than much of the church.
The nave is entirely modernised, but has some good carved woodwork at the east end, probably dating from 1724, which year, with the initials T.S., appears in the leading of the window. The three south windows call for no notice, but the eastern is a beautiful specimen of the fifteenth century decorated Gothic, passing into the flamboyant; it is set in the older chancel arch, and was removed from the great pointed arched splay in the east gable of the ruined chancel. The nave measures about forty-four feet by twenty-two and a-half feet, the chancel forty-one and a-half feet by twentytwo and a-half feet, and the building is, over all, one hundred and eleven feet by twenty-eight and a-half feet measured externally. The chancel has a double trefoil-headed window in each side near the chancel arch, two closed windows in the south, and two ambries (or recesses) in the north wall. A carved face may be noted outside of the south-east angle. The north wall of the nave has three buttresses. In the churchyard there is an ancient cross, and not far off there is a well known as St Finian’s Well. (County Kildare Archceological Society vol iv p63)
The primitive church, which the Anglo-Norman invaders found upon the lands of Newcastle, became under the arrangements made after the Conquest a mother church, having a chapel which stood upon the lands of Colmanstown subservient to it, and in a grant made by Henry III. In 1228 an endowment of five shillings a year was given by the King to the church of Newcastle, then designated as the mother church of the King’s manor of Newcastle de Leuan. It became subsequently tlie corps of a prebend in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and two centuries later, in 1469, this prebend was merged in the corps of the Archdeacons of Glendalough, by whom the parish was held until the nineteenth century, and whose names will be found in Archdeacon Cotton’s Fasti ecclesiae Hibernicae At the time of the dissolution of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1517, the value of the possessions of the Archdeacon at Newcastle was stated to be £16 10s. They included altarages from Newcastle, Athgoe, Loughtown, and Colganstown, amounting to £3 annually (over and above the stipend of a curate, the cost of wax for the high altar, a chief rent of 3d payable to the Provost or Portreeve of Newcastle, and the repair of the church), and a castle, the ruins of which still remain in the rectory grounds. After the restoration of the Cathedral establishment under Queen Mary, John Standish, who was appointed to the archdeaconry, was proceeded against as rector of Newcastle for non-residence, but under Queen Elizabeth we find licenses granted to him to remain in England for three years. (Sweetman’s Calendar, 1171-1251, No 1609; Mason’s History of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, p47; Cotton’s Fasti ecclesiae Hibernicae vol ii., p188, 216-221; Exchequer Inquisition, Philip and Mary, Co Dublin, No 17; Fiant Elizabeth, No 190).
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, in 1615, the church of Newcastle was stated to be in good repair, both as regarded the chancel and nave, and provided with books. There was, however, no resident clergymen owing to the recent death of the curate, John Barlow. When Archbishop Bulkeley made his report fifteen years later, the church was again returned as being in good repair; about thirty-three came to divine service, and tlie church was served by Robert Jones, the curate of Lucan, who has been already mentioned under Saggart. To Jones succeeded the Rev. Thomas Bulkeley, and the Rev. Henry Birch, who was in charge at the time of the rebellion, and who had to report loss not only in goods and money, but also in the death of his wife’s father. Derrick Hubert, who was murdered at Skerries. (Regal Visitation of 1615: Aichhishop Bulkeley’s Report, p153; Visitation Books; Depositions of 1641, Henry Birch).
To Archdeacon Williamson, who was appointed to the archdeaconry of Glendalough in 1672, and who held it for fifty years until his death in 1722, the church of Newcastle is indebted for very handsome plate, which he presented to the church in 1696. His successor, Archdeacon Thomas Smyth, built at a cost of £660 (-) the rectory and offices, which bear his initials and the date 1727, and the east window of the church which, as has been mentioned, bears also his initials and the date 1724, was placed in its present position in his time. Amongst his curates we find in 1725 Thomas Blennerhasset, in 1727 George Philips, and in 1735 Loftus Smith (Mason’s History of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, p48). Of the subsequent Archdeacons of Glendalough it is only necessary to mention Dr. Gast, a man of great literary attainments, whose virtues as a clergyman are commemorated on a tablet in the church (The following is the inscription: “In the adjoining church lie the remains of John Gast, DD late Archdeacon of Glendalough and Curate of St. Nicholas Without, who departed this life the 10th day of February, 1788. For 23 years and upwards this parish was happy in the fruits of his ministerial labours — affable, cheerful, learned, zealous, charitable—he conciliated the affections of all, and his life presented an engaging example of that Christian practice which with persuasive energy he recommended as a minister of the Gospel. In grateful remembrance of his services his parishioners have placed this stone, a memorial to posterity desirous that their children may venerate the beauty of religion exemplified in a good life, and aspire after the attainment of those virtues which are acceptable with God and cause the dead to be remembered with affection and respect.” Cf also Cotton’s Fasti ecclesiae Hibernicae vol ii, p220; Gilbert’s History of Dublin, vol ii p90; Hughes’ History of St John’s Church, p73).
In 1861 the parish was severed from the corps of the Archdeaconry of Glendalough, and the incumbents since then have been in 1861 the Rev. Eugene O’Meara, in 1880 the Rev. Eugene Henry O’Meara, in 1887 the Rev. Charles Peter O’Meara, and in 1904 the Rev. Franc Sadleir. As has been stated under Saggart, Newcastle, in the arrangements made by the Roman Catholic Church in the seventeenth century, was united with that parish, and the only record with regard to the Roman Catholic Church in Newcastle is a statement made in 1731 that there was then a chapel in the village, which was served by two priests, and also a school under Roman Catholic management (Parliamentary Return).