Sunday, January 31, 2016

Some notes on Clonmore manor in County Carlow

Some notes on Clonmore manor in County Carlow

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Clonmore is a civil parish in the Barony of Rathvilly in north-east County Carlow. In medieval times the manor of Clonmore was centred in the parish. This article contains a few references to Clonmore manor that survive in the medieval documents.

Early Clonmore

In the time after the Norman invasion of 1169 Clonmore was situated within the cantred of Ofelmeth. Ofelmeth comprised the modern barony of Rathvilly in County Carlow and northern Shillelagh in County Wicklow.[1] The cantred of Ofelmeth was also known as the Barony of Tullowphelim and was given by King John before 1189 to Theobald Walter the first, ancestor of the Butlers, later Earls of Ormond. William Marshal, lord of Leinster, objected to Theobald Walter having Tullowphelim directly from the king and King Richard II agreed. But Prince John, who was then lord of Ireland, defended Theobald Walter and so Tullowphelim remain as held directly from the king.[2]  

In about 1300 the parish of Clonmore was valued at three marks and taxed at 4s.[3] Like many an Irish parish Clonmore had a medieval castle which was situated on the border country between the area controlled by the Normans and that controlled by the Irish. Thus control of the castle changed sides over time.

In 1303 John Wogan held Clonmore castle for Richard le Butler.[4] In about 1330 the castle was captured by the Irish. In 1332 Anthony de Lucy, justiciar of Ireland, led an army into Leinster and recaptured the castles of Clonmore and Arklow which were then in the hands of the Irish. Lysaght O’More of Leix (modern Laois) provided the largest number of troops to take Clonmore.[5] In Easter term 1332 William de Rupeforti was appointed constable of Clonmore castle was spent £20 on repairs to the castle. The government maintained control of Clonmore castle until the 1360s as it was an important defence to protect the English lordship of Carlow from the Irish of the Wicklow Mountains.[6]

Clonmore castle

Butler lands in County Carlow

As noted, the Butlers held the barony of Tullowphelim (Tullow), later called the barony of Rathvilly, since 1185. In 1408 James Butler, Earl of Ormond, sued for livery of his estates even though he was still a minor. His father, also called James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, died on 7th September 1405. In 1408 or 1409 King Henry IV granted James Butler his ancient family lands. The castle, and manor of Tullow was then the only property of the Butlers recorded in County Carlow.[7] But the Tullow manor seems to have then included Clonmore which was later made into a separate manor.

Butler ownership of Clonmore

By 1538 the Earls of Ormond had increased and developed their property portfolio in County Carlow and Clonmore is mentioned as a separate manor, created out of the larger manor of Tullow. The late development of Clonmore is accounted for because Tullow and Clonmore was on the border between the English and Irish areas of influence. People generally don't like to live in a war zone. 

In 1538 King Henry VIII granted ancient property of the Butler family, Earls of Ormond, in the Counties of Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, Kildare, Dublin, Meath and Carlow to Piers Butler, Earl of Ossory and Ormond. The Carlow property included the manors of Rathvilly (this manor was also created out of the larger manor of Tullow), Tullow, Kealasna (Kellistown), Powerstown, Leighlinbridge and Clonmore.[8] 

Clonmore parish (in red), in Rathvilly barony, Co. Carlow

On 1st May 1571 Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, granted property in trust to William Johnson, dean of St. Canice’s, Kilkenny, John Archdeacon, treasurer of St. Patrick’s at Cashel, Richard Shee of Kilkenny and Edmund Fitz Theobald Butler of Callan to hold as part of the will of Earl Thomas and deliver to his successor. This grant included property in Counties Kilkenny, Waterford, Dublin, Tipperary, Meath, Kildare and Carlow. The Carlow property included the manors of Rathvilly, Clonmore, Tullow, Kallasne (Kellistown), Leighlinbridge, Powerstown (alias Ballynephoerye) and Ballynknockan (Ballyknockan, Idrone West barony).[9] 

The Earl of Ormond did not die until 1614 and by October 1593 Richard Shee was the last trustee alive. On 1st October 1593 Richard Shee conveyed some of the property to William Fitz Robert Purcell of Kilkenny to hold thirty-seven in trust for the Earl of Ormond and his heirs.[10] By November 1598 it was decided to terminate the trust agreement of 1571 and on 6th November 1598 Richard Shee conveyed all the property in the seven counties (including Clonmore) back to Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond.[11]

On 22nd February 1575 Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, made a lease of Clonmore manor, for twenty-one years, with Hugh Geankagh of Portrusshin (Portrushen, Barony of Rathvilly), Co. Carlow. The lease included the manor of Clonmore and the townlands of Ballyhacket, Ballynefonsiogy, Cowlemanny (Coolmanagh), Ballycullane (Ballykillane), Ballydowlin, Tierlere, Ballykyrryer, Killelongort (Killalongford), Ballynekilly (Ballynakill), Ballyduff, Crowanloghirry along with 8 acres of country measure of Ballyroyll with all the castles, meases, lands, etc. belonging to the townlands.[12] All these townlands were in the Barony of Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.

In a separate lease made in 1577 between Thomas, Earl of Ormond, and Shyman Fitzpatrick of Tullaghnemrahir (Tullow), Co. Carlow, the Earl reserved the town or village of Ballyroyll with the appurtenances.[13] The rent on the 1575 lease of Clonmore was 20 marks per year for the first two years and 40 marks yearly for the remaining nineteen years along with 10 poundage hogs, 10 summer sheep and 10 couple of watch hens with half of all heriots, strays and profits of the manorial court.[14]

On 20th March 1600 Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, made an indenture with Captain Laurence Esmond to hold the manor and lordship of Arklow in County Carlow for thirty years. The modern county of Wicklow was not yet created by that time. Captain Esmond was to deliver the annual rent of £60 along with 12 barrels of herring (as often as the herring fishing happens in Arklow Harbour) to the Earl’s manor of Clonmore. The lease of Clonmore to Hugh Geankagh had ended in 1596. The Earl would pay 10s for each barrel.[15]

In October 1599 a large part of the estate of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond, was granted in trust o Robert Rothe of Kilkenny, Henry Shee, John Fitz Lewes of same and Richard Fitz Richard Comerford of Dangenmore. But John Horsfall, Bishop of Ossory, and Edward Gough, (former trustees of the Earl), claimed that Robert Rothe and associates unlawfully entered the County Carlow lands of the Earl. The objected went to court and was settled before the justices of the Common Bench at Dublin in Michaelmas 1599. The court found that Robert Rothe, Gerald Comerford, Henry Shee and Philip Comerford were the proper trustees of the Carlow lands which included the manors of Rathvilly, Tullow, Arklow and 6 castles, 1,000 messuages, 100 tofts, 4 mills, 100 gardens, 5,000 acres of land, 1,000 acres of meadow, 1,000 acres of wood and 4,000 acres of moor in Clonmore, Killasny, Powerstown, Arklow and Fortenolan.[16]  

In March 1602 the manor of Clonmore was included in the lands entailed to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond, as her marriage portion and inheritance. Other places in Carlow forming part of the entailed included Rathvilly, Tullow, Arklow, Powerstown and Kilasny.[17]


The manor of Clonmore was in Butler ownership throughout the medieval period and into the seventeenth century as is show by this article. It is hoped to record more about Clonmore castle in a future article.


End of post


[1] Paul MacCotter, Medieval Ireland: Territorial, Political and Economic Divisions (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2008), pp. 130, 261
[2] Eric St. John Brooks (ed.), Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1950), p. 79
[3] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Kraus reprint, 1974), vol. V (1302-1307), p. 251
[4] Newport B. White (ed.), The Red Book of Ormond (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1932), p. 2
[5] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans, 1169-1333 (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), Vol. IV, p. 244
[6] Philomena Connolly (ed.), Irish Exchequer Payments, 1270-1446 (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1998), pp. 345, 523
[7] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (6 vols. Stationery Office, Dublin, 1943), Vol. IV, pp. 177-8
[8] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (6 vols. Stationery Office, Dublin, 1937), Vol. IV, p. 178
[9] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (6 vols. Stationery Office, Dublin, 1941), Vol. V, p. 197
[10] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. VI, p. 59
[11] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. V, pp. 198-9
[12] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. V, p. 261
[13] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. V, p. 290
[14] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. V, p. 261
[15] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. VI, p. 9
[16] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. VI, pp. 185, 194
[17] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. VI, p. 163