Monday, 29 April 2019

The Tomb of Jane Harriet Robinson at Kilfane co Kilkenny

The Tomb of Jane Harriet Robinson at Kilfane co Kilkenny

Grave no 127.

Jane Harriet Robinson who fell asleep in Jesus, June 18th 1854.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of God shall stand forever.

This memorial has been cared for and maintained by the community through the years and the railings are painted regurlary by Mrs Miriam Williams the Churchwarden at present Kilfane Church of Ireland.

In the recording of Kilfane graveyard we spent many hours here and made many visits and up until we really put our minds to researching, we did not know who this lady was interred here in this beautiful peaceful setting. We could not identify a mason mark on the tomb itself, or a Smith identified with the railings.

The Belfast Newsletter June 30th 1854
 "June 26th at the Rectory Thomastown Jane Harriet Robinson the wife of the Rev. Henry Robinson and eldest daughter of the Dean of Ferns."

Rev. Henry Newland was Dean of Ferns from 1842 -1962 he married to Hester Pemberton, their eldest daughter Jane Harriet married, January 29th 1850, Rev. Henry Robinson.

Rev.  Henry Robinson was Curate of Gorey Ferns co Wexford in 1845 and Curate in Thomastown 1846 to 1854.  Rev. Henry and Jane Harriet Robinson had two daughters, Jane Elizabeth Robinson and Amy B Robinson.
 After the death of his wife Rev. Henry Robinson went on to become a Chaplain to the Forces, 1855-1868, Served in the Crimea and in China (Medals). He was later Rector of St Paul's, St Leonard on Sea 1868- 1878, Vicar of Wesfield Sussex Chichester, 1881. He was the son of James Robinson a Lawyer.
The Belfast Newsletter 30th March 1859 announce the death of Jane Elizabeth Robinson at 69 Harcourt Street Dublin daughter of the Rev. Henry Robinson Chaplain to the Forces aged 6 years.
No 69 Harcourt Street, Dublin was owned by Col. Henry Vauvasour in 1850.

In the 1861 England  Census,

Rev. Henry Robinson is aged 36, Widower, born Trim Ireland and is  Curate of Ventnor Middlesex Ecclesiastical District St Catherines. Jane Harriet's sister is present ... Newland  age 29, born Wexford, her first name is not given and she is recorded as sister but should say probably sister in law. Amy B is 10 years old, born in Ireland.

Amy B  married The Reverend Henry Bartram on the 27th August 1876 at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England.

In the 1881 Census of England,

Amy B Bartram is in her father Rev. Henry Robinsons House, at 27 St Pauls Priory Without Cure of Souls.  Rev. Henry Robinson is now 56 years born Trim Ireland, Wife Elizabeth is 56 years born, Virginia.  Amy B born Ireland, Henry Bartram, Grandson 3 years born Tunbridge Wells and Voilet Bartram Grand-daughter aged 1 year, born Oxford, also present a niece Ada Gilliat aged 16 years, born Australia.

In 1891 Census England

Rev. Henry Bartram age 42 Vicar of Ramsgate, Kent, his wife Amy Bartram 40 years, born Thomastown, Ireland. His son Henry B Bartram 13 years, daughter Amy.V. E. Bartram 11 years.

 In the 1901 Census England

 Municipal Borough; Dover Urban District; Castleward
Reverend Henry Bartram age 52 born Sussex Hastings,  Kehampton, Clergyman Church of England, wife Amy Bartram age 49 years born Ireland. Daughter A.V.E. Bartram age 21 years.

Amy B Bartram daughter of Jane Harriet Newland Robinson and Rev. Henry Robinson died in 24th August 1909 and is buried in St Marys  Dover, Kent , England.
England and Wales National Probate Bartram Amy of St Marys Waterloo  Crescent, Dover, wife of the Reverend Henry Bartram died 24th August 1909 at 85 Oxford Terrace. London Probate Cantebury 9th September to the said Reverend Henry Bartrum Clerk, and Honorary Canon of Cantebury.

Their son  Henry Brocklesby Bartram b 1877 Tunbridge Wells, Borough of Kent
Dover Express Friday 25th September 1914
Bartram Henry Brocklesby Captain
Date of Death; 16/09/1914 age;36  Regiment; Royal Horse Artillery "E" Bty
Grave ref; E.H. 12. Cemetery; St Marys New  Cemetery, Dover.
Only son of Henry Barthram and Mrs Henry Bartram.
Husband of Alice Bartram of Blidworth Dale Lindby Nottingham.
Joined the Royal Horse Artillery in 1901 appointed Lieutenant in April 1901 and Captain in February 1909. Fought in the Battle of Mons and Cambrai.
Rev. E. H. Hardcastle (Vicar of Maidstone) was his Godfather. Captain Henry was interred in the same Cemetery and grave as his mother Amy B. Bartram 1909, and Reverend Henry Bartram 1934.

Henry Brocklesby Bartram married Alice Eugenia Smith daughter of Frederick Chatfield Smith and Harriet Matilda Pym in 1907 having issue Diana Bartram, Elizabeth Bartram, and Robert Bartram.

Robert Bartram, Capt. Harry Bob Brocklesby Bartram,  Serv no; 56912. 5 H.A.A. Regt., Royal Artillery. 25th December 1941. Age 27. Son of Harry Brocklesby Bartram and Alice Eugenia Bartram of Woodgreen Hampshire. 111.M.19. Capt.Harry Bob died on Christmas Day 1941 in defence of  Hong Kong.

His Great Grandmother Jane Harriet Robinson was interred in Kilfane Church of Ireland Cemetery June 18th 1854.  At that time Kilfane and Thomastown Church of Ireland Parishes were seperate.

Jane Harriet Robinson lived at the Glebe House Thomastown and her husband Revd Henry Robinson was the Curate at Thomastown St Marys Church of Ireland.  We can only surmise that being interred at Kilfane was a personal choice for Jane Harriet and Reverend Henry Robinson. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Beck Family of Stonemasons, Thomastown, county Kilkenny.

Since we started working in Kilkenny graveyards, one of the things we have been careful to record is the name of any mason that has signed a memorial and any other information like his place if work.    Most early 18th/19th century stones are not signed at all but sometimes we can detect a style of carving or design from one graveyard to the next even when the stones have no signatures.    We have now quite an extensive list of masons who have worked in the county.  They are usually all men but we have recorded two stone masons who are women.  Because we have collected these names we notice patterns of where these masons worked and whether they worked on Protestant or Catholic memorials.   Some of the most famous Kilkenny masons are well documented such as the 16th/17th century Kerin family, the O'Tunneys,  or the O'Shea family of Callan whose fabulous work of  the 19th and 20th centuries adorns our graveyards.    But we now also have an inventory of more modest masons who left work in these Kilkenny graveyards.  This inventory of Kilkenny masons is quite unique and most of these masons are never listed in any of the early trade directories.
One family of stonemasons that caught out attention was the Becks of Thomastown, county Kilkenny.  So far we have found nine headstones carved and signed by members of this family who seemed to be operating between circa 1810 - 1861 to judge by the dates on the stones. Two of these stones are erected by Richard Beck of Thomastown to members of his own family and are not actually signed, but judging by the style it is probably safe to say they are also carved by him.  As you can see from the list below these Beck masons were apparently only working on headstones around the Thomastown area, although masons could also be travelling around looking for work.  And as far as we can ascertain the Becks appeared to work exclusively on Catholic family headstones.  These stones are always large upright stones decorated at the top with Christian symbolism such as an IHS, a Gloria Scroll usually inscribed "Gloria in Excelsius Deo",  ciborium or chalices on each side of the upper part of the stone and sometimes with a sunburst design or corona radiata surrounding the IHS.  The Becks tended to sign their work somewhere prominently on the top part of the headstone.
Here are the transcriptions of the stones the Becks are known to have carved and the graveyards where these memorials can be found:-

Ballyhale Graveyard (Parish of Ballyhale)

1. Old upright stone decorated with an IHS with corona radiata, 2 ciborium and a Gloria Scroll.  Erected by Richd Beck of Thomastown in memory of his wife Mary Beck alias Walsh who depd this life August 16th 1820 aged 27 years.  Also Margaret Walsh who depd this life March 20th 1819 aged 27 years. Also their father Walter Walsh Derrynahinch who depd this life December 12th 1850 aged 70 years. Also Mrs Walsh of Castle Banny who departed this life 6th day of January 1811 aged 46 years and also of her husband Patrick Walsh who departed this life the 9th day of June 1852 aged 80 years. May they rest in peace Amen.

Famma (Brownsbarn) Graveyard (Parish of Thomastown)

1. Upright stone decorated with a Gloria Scroll on the top.  Signed: Finished by William Beck of Thomastown.  Erected by Mary Murphy alias Gory of Brownsbarn in memory of her husband James Murphy who depd this life 1st June 1835 aged 57 years.  Also his daughter Bridget Murphy who departed this life August 23rd 1835 aged 26 years.

2. Erected by Richard Beck of Thomastown in memory of his wife Mary Beck alias Murphy who died 20th March 1810 (1816?) aged 33.  This does not say it was carved by Richard Beck but it probably was.  Stone not found by us so far; it has probably fallen and lies beneath the sod.  Information from previous transcriptions taken in this graveyard by Major Connellan in the late 19th or early 20th century.  Date of death for Mary is suspect as Richard and Mary had children up to 1814. Date of death is probably 1816.

Hugginstown Old Graveyard (Parish of Hugginstown)

1. Finished by Richd Beck, Thomastown. Decorated with an IHS with a cross, a Gloria Scroll, 2 ciborium, a sunburst and angels. Erected by Edmond Power of Condonstown in memory of his daughter Elenor Power who depd this life June 22nd 1838 aged 10 years. Also his  father David Power who depd this life 26th June 1814 aged 67 years.   On the back "I am dead and sleeping here"

2. Old upright stone. Signed by mason Thos Beck, Thostown on front.  Decorated with an IHS in a sunburst, a cross, lancets with ciborium and floriated.   Erected by John Millea, Milerstown in memory of his son Michael Millea who depd this life March 1st 1854 aged 26 years. Also two of his daughters Anastasia and Bridget who died young. Requiescant in Pace. On the back  "Remember man as you pass by, as you are now so once was I, as I am now so you shall be, think on death and pray for me".

Kilfane Graveyard (Parish of Tullaherin)
Two very worn stones which have fallen and are lying flat next to each other within the ruined church.  Very difficult to read.

1. Erected by James Henricken of Kilfane in memory of his daughter Elizabeth Henricken who departed this life on the 1st January 1835 aged 22. Requiescat in Pace Amen. Finished by William Beck of Thomastown.

2. Decorated with two lancet windows in upper part of stone.  Erected by John Lanigan of Kilfane in memory of his beloved wife Mary Lanigan alias Henricken depd this life Septr 19th 1853 aged 62.  Also her father James Henricken who departed this life Aug 15th 1840 aged 93 years.  Also her mother Abigail Henricken who depd this life August 10th 1844 aged 76 years. Requiescant in Pace Amen. Thos Beck. Thomastown.

Kilbride Graveyard (Parish of Glenmore)

1. Erected by Mr Edward Fleming of Newhouse in memory of his aunt Elenor Grant who depd this life Febry 24th 1853 aged 60 years.  Also his aunt Bridget Grant who depd this life Nov 11th 1861 aged 82 years. Rest in Peace. T. Beck. Thomastown.

Knocktopher Graveyard (Parish of Ballyhale)

1. Large standing stone with cross and shield.  Erected by the widow Coady alias Slattery of Earlsgrove in memory of her husband Edmund Coady died 8 June 1858 aged 60. Also his brother Patrick Coady doed July 13 1852 aged 55.  Also his daughter Bridget. She died young.  Thomas Beck, Thomastown. 
A very fine signature for Richard Beck of Thomastown on a headstone at Hugginstown

The Catholic Parish Registers for Thomastown start 23rd June 1782 for Baptisms and 1st January 1786 for Marriages.   We have been through these registers and extracted all those with the name of Beck to establish a family tree for the Beck stonemasons.   The name can be spelt Beck, Back, Baack or similar variations.  There is a strong and persistent naming pattern for males with names like Henry, Thomas, Richard, John and James appearing and re-appearing in every family branch and every generation.  The Beck family do not appear in the Tithe Applotments for Kilkenny nor in Griffiths Valuations.

William Beck, baptised 18th January 1814, who carved stones at both Famma (Brownsbarn) and Kilfane graveyards in 1835 was the son of Richard Beck of Pleberstown (just outside Thomastown) and Mary Murphy of Pleberstown.   This couple were married in Thomastown on 16th February 1806 with John Colleton, Anty Murphy and James Murphy as witnesses.  This is probably the same James Murphy who is commemorated on the stone at Famma, who died in 1835 aged 57 years and for whom William Beck carved the stone.   The other stone at Famma is erected by Richard Beck of Thomastown in memory of his wife Mary Murphy.  We have not found this stone ourselves but an earlier transcription states that Mary died in 1810 aged 33. This must be a transcription error for Mary had children baptised in 1810, 1811 and 1814.  We suspect she probably died in 1816 but as we have not seen the stone ourselves can not verify this date as yet

Richard Beck who erected the headstone at Famma to his wife Mary Murphy, married twice more.   His second wife, Mary Walsh, died after only 7 months of marriage in 1820 .   Richard Beck of Thomastown then married a third time to Mary Darcy of Mill Street.  They went on to have a family of 8 children including their son Thomas, baptised 16th Mar 1826, who also became a stonemason or cutter.  

Thomas Beck is the stone cutter who carved stones now in Kilfane (1853), Hugginstown (1854),  Knocktopher (1858 ) and Kilbride, parish of Glenmore (1861).   As a stone cutter he travelled around looking for work and that is obvious from the records we have found about him. He appears in records in New Ross, Wexford in 1853 and in Waterford in 1868.    He married a Margaret Hayden and they had a family of 7 children.  They mainly lived at Mill Street, Thomastown but also have other addresses in Kilkenny, probably as he moved around looking for work.   Sadly he died in the Workhouse on 13th October 1869 aged 42 years.

There are other branches of the Beck family in the Parish Register and they are all obviously related but the precise links predate the starting dates of the Parish Register (1782 for Baptism and 1786 for Marriages).   We have on file family trees for these other Beck families of Thomastown.

One of the most interesting members belonging to this wider Beck family is Thomas Beck of Thomastown and St John's Newfoundland, who is described as a major merchant in the Irish passenger and provision trade at the beginning of the 19th century.  All the available records state he was born in Thomastown circa 1777- 1782.  There is no relevant baptism for him in Thomastown.  He is well documented in Newfoundland where he prospered as a merchant and could certainly be regarded as upwardly mobile.  He married on 6th February 1817 in St John's Newfoundland,  Mary Duggan, the elder of two daughters of Henry Duggan, a baker and wealthy Irish merchant. Henry Duggan was a close associate with another Irishman in St John's, Thomas Meagher senior,  and his son Thomas Meagher junior, whose son Thomas Francis Meagher (1823-1867) was the Irish patriot, famously known as Meagher of the Sword.  Thomas Beck was trading for himself and had shares in schooners and a sloop from 1805 onwards but in 1818 he went into partnership with the Meaghers.  When the Meagher family returned to Waterford in Ireland, Thomas Beck was left in charge of the business and became their agent, collecting rents and managing their affairs in Newfoundland.  Although this partnership was dissolved in 1820 Thomas Beck continued to collect their rents and remit the same to Waterford. They also seemed to be operating  a ship called the Beresford until December 1822 when this ship sank in the Atlantic; they also lost a second ship off Kinsale in May and another ship in the following year.  The relationship with Thomas Beck and the Meaghers was obviously a close one as Thomas Meagher stood as sponsor at the Baptism of Thomas Beck's first son, Joseph in 1817.  
The known children of Thomas Beck and Mary Duggan (died circa 1848)  and who were baptised in the Basilica, St John's, Newfoundland were:-
1) Joseph Beck, baptised 20th November 1817. Sponsors: Thomas Meagher and Catt Duggan.
2) William Beck, baptised 13th April 1819.  Sponsors: Timothy Hogan and Mary Anderson
3) Henry Beck, baptised 6th November 1823. Sponsors: Rev. James Sinnott and Mrs Doyle. Henry died young, aged 7 years in April 1830. 

Beck's Cove in Newfoundland is named after this Thomas Beck.   He died in 1845 in Newfoundland.

This is ongoing research and the above is only a taster of the family history we have found so far.  We are in the process of writing up a more detailed study of these various Beck families for eventual printed publication.

Advert for the Brig Beresford sailing for Waterford on 25th June 1818 from Newfoundland.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Alice Comerford (1844-1939) Kilmoganny

Paul McNulty of University College, Dublin is seeking contact with or information about any family, cousins, descendants of Alice Comerford (1844-1939) of Kilmoganny.  She went out to Melbourne, Australia.  Her son was the war hero Father Ignatius Bossence, (1886-1969).  We have found no Comerford in the Kilmoganny RC graveyard.   If any of our readers knows about Alice and her Comerford family and can help Paul McNulty please contact him on The information is for a book he is writing.  There is apparently a legacy which is still intact.
Perhaps someone out there will know about this lady and her family. Many thanks.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Two Duggan ladies from Kilkenny in Belgium

We have just found some information about two Duggan ladies from Kilkenny who went to live in Belgium.  One of these ladies was born in 1824 and the other one born in 1856; they might be related but we are unsure about this.  We found the information about these ladies on memorial cards produced in Belgium; one card is in Flemish and the other in French.  The Belgians produced these memorial cards after the death of a loved one, much as was done in Ireland.   They are of a size to fit into a prayer book and they usually ask you to remember the person being commemorated in your prayers.    They are also quite informative about the deceased person.  The first card we will look at commemorates Mary Duggan born in Kilkenny on 21st November 1856 and who became a nun in Belgium.  We are lucky that this card has a photograph of Mary Duggan.
Mary Duggan, born in Kilkenny 21st November 1856.  This is the front of the memorial card.

The back of the memorial card has a lot of information about Mary Duggan.  It says she entered the convent of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary at Ghent, Belgium, on 29th September 1900 and made her profession there on 10th December 1901.  She was known as Soeur Marie de l'Annonciation. She was nominated as Superior at Holly Mount convent in Tottington, Bury, Lancashire 20th August 1902.  She died at Courtrai, Belgium on 22nd July 1931.  The card has a number of prayers both in Latin and in French.

It was very easy to check in the Parish Registers for St Patrick's Kilkenny.  Mary was baptised on the 22nd November 1856 as Mary Anne; her father was Matthew Duggan and her mother was Margaret Brennan.of Walk(in) Street.  Her sponsors were Thomas Kennedy and Joanna Brennan.  Mary was 44 years old when she entered the convent in Ghent which seems unusually old.  There must have been a reason for this delay which we do not know.  But having taken her vows she made rapid progress to a position of authority in the order.  She was a remarkable woman as she was awarded both an OBE and the Belgian Queen Elizabeth Medal for her war work during World War 1.  Her memorial card says she became the Superior of the convent in Tottington in England in 1902. This building had started out in 1860 as a College for Young Gentlemen but closed in 1885,  In 1888 it was re-opened by the Belgian Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary as a Convent and Poor School; it was officially known as the Catholic Home of Rest for Orphans..  This Belgian order had been founded in Ghent in 1803 with the aim of devoting itself to nursing care and education.  In 1897 the convent at Tottington cared for 216 girls aged between 4-13 years; the local Board of Guardians paid 5/- a week for each child. In 1905, when Mary Duggan was the Superior or Reverend Mother, the convent was caring for 258 children. The girls were taught sewing, lace making, knitting, dressmaking, embroidery, crochet work, baking and jam making.  By 1930 the number of children cared for had risen to 300 girls aged between 3-16 years.
During the war the convent became a military hospital, one of the many across Lancashire.  In total the convent, under the care of Reverend Mother Duggan, cared for 1,300 wounded, including British, Canadian, New Zealanders, Australian and Belgian soldiers and taking in refugees from Belgium.  After the War she was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire); this award was listed in The London Gazette 30th March 1920.  Reverend Mother Duggan was also awarded the Queen Elizabeth Medal.  This is a Belgian decoration created in 1916 by Leopold, King of the Belgians.  The purpose of the Medal was to recognise exceptional services to Belgium in the relief of  the suffering of its citizens during the First World War.  This medal was awarded to Belgian and foreign doctors and to nurses.
See for a picture of Reverend Mother Duggan surrounded by the wounded Belgian soldiers she had been caring for; the Belgian soldiers are all named. The title of the photograph is Hollymount Wounded Soldiers 1914.

The second memorial or prayer card is for Anna Maria Duggan who was born in Kilkenny 24th July 1824.  She died in Mechelen (Malines in French) on 20th March 1900.  This card is in Flemish and has no photograph of the deceased.   It says "Pray for the Soul of the late Miss Anna Maria Duggan, a member of the Third Order of St Francis, born in Kilkenny (Ireland) 24th July 1824, piously fell asleep in the Lord at Mechelen, the 20th March 1900, fortified by the Last Sacraments".  This is followed by a quotation from the Bible, a prayer for the deceased and indulgences for 100 days and 300 days.   Sadly we do not know exactly who this Anna Maria is; if she fits into your family tree we would love to know.
Memorial card in Flemish for Miss Anna Maria Duggan who died in 1900. 


Monday, 28 January 2019

Rathbeagh, Parish of Lisdowney,county Kilkenny

Rathbeagh, Parish of Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny. 
The Church and Graveyard

Rathbeagh is listed in the General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands, Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland (1861), as The Parish of Rathbeagh in the county of Kilkenny, the Barony of Galmoy and the Poor Law Union of Urlingford in 1857. The Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (Lewis, 1837) stated that Rathbeagh had 736 inhabitants and about 220 children being taught in the School in Clone. At that time it comprised 2281 statute acres mostly all in profitable cultivation. It also records that the manor house within this parish and formerly the residence of Sir Toby Caulfeild, was occupied by H.Nixon Esq., There is no memorial to any Nixon family in this graveyard.
We would like to thank Michael O Gorman of Rathbeagh for all his assistance and kindness to us while we were surveying this graveyard.We would also like to thank Marie Lee for the Black and White Photographs and Pat Farrell for allowing us to use his two Ariel Photographs.

The church is dedicated to St Catherine.  There was once a well south of the church near the river Nore, called St.Catherine's well, but it has long since disappeared. There is evidence of a much earlier Monastic site or Nunnery that pre dates the Anglo Norman settlement.  A church bell was found in a sandpit close by and was handed on to the church at Killishin, Queens county (Laois).  A Mass book was buried in an adjacent field;  In Irish this field is called Poll an Leabhar meaning the hole of the book.  There are two gated entrances to this lovely Church and graveyard nestled in a triangular piece of land with through roads each side and no sign posting whatever to announce this site.

Church and Graveyard Rathbeagh compliments of

A fair held in Rathbeagh up to about the 1860s, had amongst other trading, the principle event of  showing Shire Horses from Wexford, Tipperary and Queens county  (Schools Folklore Recording, 1938 see  The location of this fair is also remembered in the recording of the Fieldnames project; the Night Field remembers the animals penned here the night before the fair and the name the Fair Green while appearing on earlier maps is not evident after 1860.  For more information about this field name project around Rathbeagh see the following short film:-
The Whispering Fields

The Rath from which Rathbeagh gets its name is no distance from the Church and the graveyard. It is situated on the bank of a right angled bend of the river Nore and commands a view over the landscape and the waters.  According to Carrigan the analysts believed it was erected by "Heremon son of King Milesius of Spain and was selected by him to be his last resting place".  Heremon and his brother Heber from whom many of the Irish are supposed to descend, fought a huge battle as Geashill in Offaly at which Heber was killed.  Heremon then came south to Rathbeagh and built his royal residence there.  You will notice that the Rath is an unusual shape, not round like most of them but shaped like an egg.  It is easily visible from the road when approaching the graveyard.   The custom of cutting a branch of a may bush on May's Eve and decorating it with ribbons and flowers was thought to welcome the seasonal change from Spring to Summer.  According to local traditions this was done in honour of the Milesians who conquered the Tuatha de Danans in the early Bronze Age.  (The Schools Folklore Recording 1938. see

We are most grateful to for allowing us to use these two ariel images 


Within the graveyard, there are at least 66 visible markers or boulders which are used as grave markers. There are two iron crosses in the graveyard but sadly neither of these records the names of the people commemorated nor the blacksmith that made them (Nos 20 and 98). There are at least 10 Altar or Court tombs; there may have been more as some interesting broken stones have been used in the graveyard as markers.
Of the 199 memorials recorded, the earliest a broken Purcell memorial appears to date from the late 16th century; there is one broken Purcell memorial dating from the beginning of the 17th century; at least 20 memorials that appear to have been erected in the 18th century and 35 memorials erected between 1800 - 1850.  Many memorial had sunk into the ground so recording dates or some detail has not always been possible. We have compiled a detailed map showing the locations of all memorials. We recorded the Iconography and Symbolism decorating the stones and we made a list of the masons.
We also made rubbings of the most decorative stones.

Our completed survey of every stone in the graveyard enabled us to link on paper two parts of the one stone that had become separated with one half used as a marker on another grave. There are 13 stones in this graveyard to the Phelan family but two separate damaged Phelan stones are evidently part of the one stone.  No 115. Old upright facing west (not east like the rest of the stones) broken down left side and possibly some of right side missing also. IHS. In memory of Miss....young lady of man....She died Dec the 15th (no year visible)...of her age. See also stone No 174 which is part of broken stone. More complete stone "In memory of Miss Anastasia Phelan...a young lady of Man(ners) and amiable qualities who (per)ish(ed) in her 18th...."The broken part was re-used as a marker, the style of carving of the lettering is the same.

There are two Phelan brothers, both Priests commemorated on a collapsed altar tomb (No 157) just outside the ruined Church. We have recorded this memorial. "Flat  stone on ground IHS at top. Here lie interred the bodies of the Reverend Messrs William and Patrick Phelan, Brothers. The said Patrick departed this life the 4th day of June 1782 aged 25 years and William the 20th of September following in the 29th years of his age being Worthy Pious and Exemplary Priests, May They Rest in  Peace Amen.

We recorded other memorials to local clergy:-
No 36.  Reverend William Gorman Obit Marti imo Anni 1833 Aetatis 48; this stone has an extensive inscription  in Latin
No 40. Collapsed Altar tomb to the Revd Richard Butler Parish Priest of Lisdowney for 11 years who departed this life on the 23rd day of October 1828 in his 60th year.
No 153.  Erected by The Rev. Michael Byrne C C, Danbury USA in memory of his father John Byrne who died March 30 1879 aged 65 years.

Knaresborough:- there is one memorial erected to the Knaresboro family
No 38. Upright Lamb of God symbol in trefoil. In memory of Patrick Knaresboro of Inchbeg who depd this life March 9th 1853 aged 57.  His son Patrick who died March 22th 1864 aged 18 years. Also his wife Mary Knaresboro who died 1st June 1876 aged 72 years, R.I.P. This stone has beautifully carved lettering.
At one time the Knaresborough family had been one of the civic families of Kilkenny City.  Whilst we do not know the precise connections of this family with the civic family, according to the  records we have managed to find that this particular family was from Coolcraheen, Inchbeg and were renting 26 acres in 1826. The family now seems to have disappeared from the parish.
Tomb 190 The Honourable Collonel Toby Caulfeild 

Tomb 190.  Here leith the body of the Honourable Collonel Toby Caulfeild second son of the Right Honourable Wiliam late Viscount Charlemont who departed this life on ye 25th day June in the year of Our Lord 1718 at his mansion house of Clone about ye 55th year of his age. He purchased the Manner of Clone, rebuilded this Church mostly at his own expence and was the first of his family buried therien when it was finished. This stone Ledger slab top within the Church is positioned in the corner, left of where the original Altar was positioned under the East window.

East Window from within the Church
Immediately underneath the East Window
Tomb 191 was an elaborate Caulfeild Memorial Eulogy.  This stone is flat and suffering from exposure to the elements. The inscription is almost worn away.  It took hours of careful work to decipher the eulogy which is listed below.   Like many of the older stones in this graveyard the inscriptions are fading and in decay.  The eulogy would be typical of its time

Who eer thou art that views these scenes of Trials
And stand a while here like thou hath breath
Approach this tomb raised by pious hands
The tribute of your plentious tears demands
For Strange emotions at this stone are laid
A Father Mother and Husband dead
But let your sorrow hope, but not for those
Their peace within this silent tomb reprove
But that sadness in compliance imposed
They lived to rest here dearest friends laid low
And while for..........................your sighs
Attend this truth that they thou self shall die
Behold the brave the strong the rich the great
The wise the good are stricken by a stroke of fate
Behold alas.................................complain
A Caulfeild beloved remains
Then thou who now until death provide
Convinced.........which now dies
                   August 1718

Memorial No 193 is still visible in the ruined church and is erected to Toby Caulfeild's daughter Mrs Olivia Warren 2nd daughter of the Late Honble Toby Caulfeild of Clone was relict of Abel Warren of Low Hill she departed  this life the 3rd or 5th of May 1789 aged 90?

Mary Foley Alias Murphy 1782: wonderful sharp carving and notice the ciboria on either side of the top of the stone. 

We were very pleased to see within this graveyard a memorial to the lost young, the ciall òg, the single most heart breaking issue for many families. With a very thoughtfully chosen sentiment, a set aside space with a seat in this beautiful peaceful graveyard.

Index of family names with grave number

Arme 77
Bergin 7
Blanchfield 106, 107, 108, 109, 168
Bowden 133, 170, 171
Bowe 21
Bowes 50, 125
Brennan 21, 48, 74, 144, 189
Butler 22, 23, 40, 51, 168
Byrne 152, 153
Casey 125
Cahill 39, 80, 114, 161, 188, 189
Campion 8, 9, 34, 69, 170, 111              
Cantwell 37
View through side entrance North wall
Caulfeild 190, 193
Charlemont 190
Cody 135
Corbett 125
Crosby 12
Cudhahy 44
Cuddihy 44, 147, 148
Dalton 39, 44
Delaney 39, 42
Doheny 126
Dooley 119
Doran 126
Dowling 112
Downey 47, 147, 148
Drennan 67
Dullard 152
Dunn 124
Dunne 15, 16, 29, 184
Dunphy 16 42, 44
Egan 13
Fannin 132
Fennelly 102
Fogarty 43
Foley 87, 88
Foly 92
Gorman 36
Grace 46, 120, 121
Green 199
Greene 79
Hamilton 73
Hanlon 104                     
Harpole 199
Hayes 29
Headon 120
Healy 13, 14, 57, 97, 112, 171
Hearn 85
Hely 58, 113
Hetherington 18, 19
Holohan 89
Johnson 63
Kavanagh 51
Keasey 128
Keiravan 92
Kelly 50
Kennedy 71
Kirwan 33
Knaresboro 38
Lalor 39, 152
Loughman 23
McEvoy 14
McGrath 17
Maher 22
Mansfield 57, 59, 66
Martin 39, 181
Marum 133
Mercier 159
Mulhall 112
Murphy 33, 87, 88
Mylan 55
Nolan 1, 181
O`Gorman 74, 75
O`Keeffe 18, 19, 33, 47
Palmer 59
Pheland 41, 107, 110, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 151(see also 174), 157, 181, 194
Power 23, 133
Purcell 98, 111, 117, 143,145, 162, 164,  192, 196, 197, 198, 199
Purtill 136
Quidihy149, 155
Quinlan 89                                                                                           
Quinn 77
Reade 28
Ryan 16, 68, 128, 132, 133, 172,173
Shee 169
Stannard 194
Stapleton 27, 37
Trait 63
Looking East standing at the North side of Church
Tynan 106, 140, 141           
Wall 27
Walsh 67, 104, 124, 180
Walshe 61, 63
Warren 193
White 136, 137

Index of Places recorded on the memorials
America 37
Ballynafension 48
Bally(...) 195
Ballylarkin 57, 152
Ballyouskill 16
Ballyphilip 22
Ballyragget 74, 75
Bawnmore 67
Blackwood 2, 7, 15, 16, 42, 43, 147, 149, 161, 181, 184
Boherglass 12
Cascade Road 19
Cleary St 22
Clinstown 164
Clone 190, 192, 193, 197, 198
Clontubrid 171
Crohill Lodge 23
Crowhill 55
Cullohill 189
Danbury 153            
Deansforth 141
Foulksrath 199
Foulkswrath 172
Freshford 12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 68, 71, 136,161, 169
Garnamanna 14, 68, 97, 112
Georges Street 173
Grange 194
Inchbeg 33, 38, 73
Inchicore 9, 71
Jenkinstown 34
Kilkenny 41, 98, 114
Killaloe 159
Kilmacar 23
Knocknamuck 44
Knockroe 197,198
Lisdowney 40, 102, 198
Lismain 47, 198
Lismaine 188
Lismeane 117
Lowhill 193
Mill St 18
Mounieh/Moumielin 28
Mullinavat 69
Nantucket 22
Noreview 71
Oldtown 134, 189
Philadelphia 144
Queens Co., 48
Rathbeagh 29, 37, 61, 63, 74, 75, 120, 121, 133 
Rathealy 44
Shrewel 199
Skinstown 168
Smithstown 69
The Square 68
Thomas Square 98
Three Castles 8
Tullaroan 44
Tullowglass 34
USA 22, 153

Index of masons who have signed their stones

Coffey,  Ballyragget 27
Kavanagh's of Gorey 70
Gabriel Thorpe, Ableix (Abbeyleix) 48
Gargan Kilkenny 4, 41
McDonnell, Templemore 12
Molloy, Callan & Tullaroan12
Molloy, Tullaroan 21
Mullan 29, 34, 47, 74, 75
Mullan and Sons,
Three Castles 8

List of Occupations or titles as recorded on the memorials

Bart (Baronet 199     
CC (Curate) 153
Collonel (sic) 190
Parish Priest 36
Reverend/Rev. 36,40, 153, 157 (x2) 196
Sterling Patriot 23

Memorials marked with initials only

N+C, 26

Rathbeagh Church in its decay


Rathbeagh, Parish of Lisdowney.Part 2. The Purcells of Lisdowney, Clone, Lismain, Knockroe and Foulkesrath

Amongst the many interesting memorials here at Rathbeagh are 12 stones erected to the Purcell family.  Some of the very earliest,  beautifully carved and therefore historically very important to us, are unfortunately broken and damaged.  Sometimes these are only parts of memorials, with pieces broken off,  and the damage must have been done centuries ago, perhaps when these stones were removed from their original place inside the church to make room for other and later memorials.  We have transcribed these stones and photographed them and Bernie has also done the most exquisite rubbings; the rubbings show up much of the intricate carving and design.   Some have suggested that No 117 and No 192 are part of the same stone and in fact the two ends of the same stone; the measurements and proportions, such as the thickness, are the same.  Stone No 54 which has no date and could be an end panel to a 17th century tomb may have come from a Purcell tomb.  This stone, now used as an anonymous grave marker, has become totally separated from its parent memorial and is most beautifully carved.  It has an elegant crucifixion scene with two supporting figures, in strange attire, on either side of the cross and a weeping woman with a child sitting at the base of the cross.  This was expensive and high class work and we have not previously found such an unusual crucifixion scene in any of the many graveyards we have surveyed in county Kilkenny.

Notice the skull at the base of the cross

Some of the Purcell memorials include:-                        

No. 111.  A Forward leaning stone decorated with and IHS, 2 ciborium and a Gloria scroll. “Here lies the body of Mary Campion als Purcell who depd this Life Decr the 13th 1801 aged 60”.  This lady was therefore born in 1741.

No.117. Part of a broken Purcell tomb used as a marker on another unnamed grave.  This part stone is very early from the 16th century and has some passion symbols visible. According to Carrigan there was (circa 1900) a piece of a floor slab in the graveyard with raised roman capitals reading “PATRICII PVRCELL DE LISMEANE and the initials K.P. and T.P”.  Patrick Purcell of Lismain was pardoned in 1571; he had a son called Peter or Pierce. He must also have had a son Theobald or Thomas to whom this monument was erected.

No . 143. Old stone leaning forward decorated with and IHS and a cross. “Here lieth the body of Richard Purcell; he died Augst 3rd 1810 aged 30 yrs. Also Judith his sister; she died Sept 18th 1804 aged 23 yrs.”

No. 145. Very old stone sunk deep into the ground decorated at the top with an IHS in a circle, a Gloria scroll and 2 ciboriums, one on each side of the IHS. “Erected by Phil Purcell in memory of his ......”(rest buried underground).

No. 162.  Very old stone also sunk deep in the ground. This is a very thick stone and decorated with a pierced heart, a beautiful IHS in relief and little skulls on top of hourglasses.  Note the spelling of daughter as dater  Here lies ye Body of Toby Purcell who dyed Sepbr ye (T with the letter m through it; could this mean 10th?) in the year of 1760 aged 86 & Mary Purcell, dater (sic) of Patrick Purcell who dyed August ye 29th 1756 aged 15½”.   Rest buried.

No 164. Old stone leaning forward and decorated with a beautifully carved IHS in a corona, a Gloria Scroll and 2 ciboriums. “Erected by Michl Purcell in memory of his father John Purcell of Clinstown....” Rest buried.  Note: Clinstown is in the Parish of Conahy as is Lismaine.. The whole townland belonged to the Mountgarret family.

No 192.  Fragment of a large Purcell altar tomb from the early 17th century which is inside the ruined church and to the right of the  large altar tomb erected to the Caulfeilds . “Hic Jacet Theobald Purcell de Domine (year uncut) et Uxur eius Kathari (na).....Purcell qui obit et qui hoc opus fieri. Fecerut ..(n) ano dni 16...” According to Carrigan this year should read 1613.  He says this stone was erected by Theobald Purcell in 1613 and who died 1631/32.   This stone is decorated with the sun and the moon, an IHS and the remains of 2 shields, one with boars heads.  The boars head is a heraldic symbol of the Purcells - a play on words perhaps  as porc (porcell)  is French for pig.  Note we have more details on this on this stone.
A rubbing of the Theobald Purcell of Clone memorial inside the ruined church.   The rubbing  enables us to see all the carving and lettering in detail which may not be obvious to the naked eye.  The rubbing, done with newspaper print paper and a soft sponge does not damage the stone

The above Purcell stone before a rubbing was taken. 

No. 196.  Broken part of a stone leaning against the south interior wall of the church ruin. “Underneath this tomb are deposited the remains of the Rev James Purcell who at an early age became a patient victim of a fatal but lingering disease which terminated a well spent life on the 8th May in the (3)0 year of his age And of his redemption 1795. May He Rest In Peace”.

The stones below are recorded by Carrigan as in the church but are not currently visible and are probably well buried beneath the soil:-

197.Here lieth the body of Theobald Purcell of Clone Esq., of Mr Jas Purcell of Knockroe his son and Ellin wife of James who died 10th Augt 1766 aged 95, also Ms Mary Purcell daughter of Jas & Ellin who died the 25th Sept 1766. RIP.

198.Here lieth the body of Theobold Purcell of Lisdowney son to James Purcell of Knockroe, grandson to Theobald Purcell of Clone and John Purcell of Lismain Esqr he died the 9th of Decr 1767. Also Margaret his wife died February the 27th 1772.

199.The body of Thomas Green of Foulksrath is deposited here, he was the son of Mr George Green & Anastice Purcell who was daughter of John Purcell of Lismaigne Esqr., He dyed the 30th day of March 1761 in the 67th year of his age. The Lord Have Mercy on His Soul.  Here also is interred the body of his spouse Mrs Bridget Green, daughter to Sir Robert Harpole of Shrewel. Bart., she departed this life the 19th of July 1761 in the 87th year of her age.

This apparently blank stone standing against another sunken but complete altar top memorial is in fact highly decorated and carved with instruments of the Passion and from its style dates from the late 16th to early 17th century.  We feel this is most probably an end stone, or part of a side panel from one of the damaged Purcell memorials.  It is upended and standing on its side.   See below for a rubbing done of this stone.

The stone is highly decorated with a cock crowing on top of a pillar, flails, pincers, lamps, a pierced heart, hands and feet representing those of Christ on the cross.   All typical carvings found on late 16th and early 17th century funeral memorials in county Kilkenny such as at Kilree,  Knocktopher, Dungarvan and Gowran

Patrick Purcell of Lismeane (sic) Castle as per stone 117 above, received a pardon in December 24th 1571.  His son called Peter or Pierce Purcell of Lismaine  was one of the Constables of Fassadinin in 1608 and he died February 10th 1623/24.  Patrick’s father was James fitzPhilip Purcell of The Garrans and who held this land at Lismaine amongst other lands and manors in the Barony of Fassadinin, Kilkenny.  James married Johanna Shortall, daughter of James Shortall, Lord of Ballylorcan and captain of his nation.    The above James FitzPhilip Purcell and Johanna Shortall had nine sons:- William Roo Purcell of Muckalee, Patrick Purcell, Thomas Purcell, Robnet Purcell, Philip Purcell, Redmund Purcell, Geoffrey Purcell, Theobald Purcell and Richard Purcell.   James fitzPhilip Purcell died 11th October 1552 and was buried in St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny with his wife Johanna Shortall. 

Peter/Pierce Purcell’s (died 1623-24) son and heir was Richard Purcell of Lismaine (died September 18th 1635) in turn had a son John Purcell (born 1625) of Lismaine who was only 10 years of age at the time of his father’s death and who at the time of the Down Survey in 1656/58 held 186 acres at Lismaine including a castle, a mill and a house with a chimney.   This John Purcell was transplanted to Connaught but regained his lands at the time of the Restoration and managed to keep these lands after the defeat of James II; he had three daughters and one son but this son, another John Purcell, was outlawed as a Jacobite and nothing more is known of him.   His three daughters were :-

1)    Joan/Jone (d. 1719 aged 66 yrs) married Martin Dormer of Ballymartin Castle (He died 5th May 1701 aged 70, and she returned to her father’s castle at Lismaine where she died.). They were succeeded at Ballymartin by Major Toby or Theobald Purcell (died Kilkenny 1747) and his wife Alice Tirwhit.(Alice descended from Philip Purcell of Ballyfoyle).  Alice died in 1748.   Their only son John Edward Purcell was a Captain in the Austrian Service and died without issue.  But this couple also left three daughters:-                                                  Anne who married Hon. Edward Butler of Lisdowney (afterwards 9th Viscount Mountgarret), Margaret who married Charles Callaghan and Ellen who married Richard Corr of the city of Kilkenny.

2)    Ellen(d, 1766 aged 95 yrs) married James Purcell of Knockroe, son of Thomas Purcell of the castle of Clone (See stone 197 above). She had three daughters and one son, Theobald Purcell of Lisdowney (died 1767).  Of her daughters Mary Purcell of Knockroe died unmarried in 1766, one month after the death of her mother. Another daughter was Catherine Murphy, and finally the third daughter was Mrs Fitzgerald of Gurteen, King’s county (Offaly) who was mother to Walter Fitzgerald of Gurteen and grandmother to Thomas Fitzgerald of Gurteen. 

3)    Anstace married George Grene/Green.  This couple had two children, Thomas and Catherine.  The son Thomas Grene (died 1761 aged 67yrs) had a lease on Foulksrath Castle from 1747 married Bridget daughter of Sir Robert Harpole, Bart.   Their daughter Catherine married Daniel Brenan of Castlemarket and were parents to James Brenan of Knockroe, Ballyragget and grandparents to Alice Brenan of Knockroe who married Thomas White of Rathcloheen, county Tipperary (maternal uncle of Father Mathew, the Temperance leader).   James White of Knockroe, the only son of Thomas and Alice, had in turn two daughters, Alice and Anne of Knockroe, spinster representatives of this old Purcell line.  Both of these ladies may be found in the 1910 and 1911 census returns for Knockroe, and both are unable to write.  Alice the elder of the two died 11th April 1914 aged 75 years.  She left £13.12.9d .  Her sister Anne died at Knockroe died 12th March 1918 at Knockroe.  And thus was the sad end to one line of a fine old Irish gentry family.

Stone No 199 above erected to commemorate Thomas Green of Foulkstown, son of George Green and Anastice Purcell is interesting.  Foulksrath Castle was originally a Purcell possession but had passed out of their hands.   Foulksrath Castle had been in possession of the Bradshaw family but was sold with other property by Joseph Bradshaw, junior, to Ephraim Dawson for £2400 in June 1718. Foulksrath Castle was then let to a man called Moses Henshaw, whose Will was proved in 1722. There were wonderful tales about Moses who it is said had a long gun and that if he stood on a hill called the Eskers and aimed he could hit a tree on a hill called the Scrub nearly a quarter of a mile away.  A deed of lease dated 23rd February 1747 was signed between the William H. Dawson and the above mentioned Thomas Green, for 31 years, for the castle and lands of Foulksrath containing 215 acres.  The Green family left in 1777 when the lease expired and were succeeded at the Castle by Thomas Wright of Grenan in Queens County (Laois). Supposedly the castle was at this time in ruins but was restored by Stephen, the fifth son of Thomas Wright. When Stephen was undertaking the restoration he found a large hollow cut out of the inside wall of the entrance chamber to the Castle.  Inside was a pot and inside that was a toy lead ship, manned by armed figures with oars and a number of silver coins; some coins dated from the time of Elizabeth, the virgin Queen (1583-1603), and others from the time of Edward 11(1284-1327) and Alexander 111 of Scotland (1241-1286).  According to the Rev William Ball Wright (see details of his article below), Sir Philip Purcell, Knight was one of the Irish magnates summoned to go to Scotland by Edward 111( 1327-1377).  When the restoration of the Castle was proceeding, a quantity of skeletons were found not far from the bawn wall.  Also at the time of the Wright family taking the lease in 1777 they found family of humble farmers named Purcell living in the bawn of Foulksrath but not in the Castle itself.  The Rev. William Ball Wright suggests in his article about Foulksrath Castle, written in 1866, that these may have been the descendants of the unfortunate Philip Purcell of Foulksrath who forfeited his lands in 1641 but who could still be found there in 1664, probably as a tenants on what had formerly been their own property. 

A very evocative black and white photo taken by Marie Lee of the main entrance gate to Rathbeagh graveyard


1.     Carrigan, Rev. William. The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory. 1905.

2.     Horan, Brian Purcell. The Purcell Family in Ireland 1185-1985.  Manuscript in the library of The Irish Genealogical Society, London.

3.     Wright, Rev William Ball.   On Foulksrath Castle and Loughmoe,  their founders and possessors in Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Society of Ireland. Fourth Series. Vol 7. No 66 (April 1888) pages 432-439. Seen online at on 15/12/2018.

This Purcell coat of arms is that of the Purcells of Timogue Castle, Stradbally, county Laois not far from the Purcells of Clone, Lismaine and Foulksrath., although this particular line left for Baltimore, Maryland, USA.   It has been quartered with the arms of the Cowcher family of Dartmouth, England with whom they intermarried in 1878. 

The motto Aut Vincam Aut Periam means Either Conquer or Perish