Sunday, May 31, 2020

Timogue Castle, County Laois

Timogue Castle, County Laois

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

The 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey map marks the site of a castle in a plot on the south side of the road from Timogue Church of Ireland church. The site of the castle is presently (August 2019) occupied by the ruins of Timogue creamery. No surface remains of what looks like a castle survives. The creamery is surrounded by a stone wall of uncertain date which could be interpreted as the bawn wall around a medieval or early modern castle. A 15th/16th century tower house at Kilmacow in the barony of Kinnatalloon, County Cork, existed in 1746 but had disappeared a few years later with the site now (2019) an empty field. A nearby three storey house (Springdale House) was built about 1750 and the house owner suggested that the tower house was used as an easy quarry for stone to build the new house.[1] At Timogue there is a late 18th century corn mill located just a few hundred feet south of the castle site and the supposed castle may also have been used as an easy quarry of stones to build the mill. Therefore the type and form of the castle cannot be easily determined or when it was built or what remodelling was done to it over the centuries.

The possible bawn wall of the castle

The name of Timogue

The small parish of Timogue lies sandwiched between the two large parishes of Stradbally to the north-east and Timahoe to the south-west. Its name is said to derive from a church built by St. Maedoc of Ferns and so called teach Maedoc. Other writers discount this and say the name comes from the Anglo-Norman family of Madoc who held it in the 13th century. In the 1290s Meyler Madok was chief serjeant of Leys (Laois).[2] The location of the parish church across the road from the medieval Timogue castle would support the latter explanation for the parish name. Where a medieval castle is built beside a medieval church it is more usually the case that the castle was built first and the church built later as a chapel for the castle that later was elevated into a parish church. The early octagonal medieval limestone font shows Timogue to be a parish church as only such a church was allowed to have a font.[3]

Timogue in medieval times

In the 1170s Meiler fitz Henry was granted the cantred of Leys by Richard de Clare ‘Strongbow’ and built a castle near Timahoe. Shortly before 1202 Meiler fitz Henry granted some of the churches in his cantred to the new priory of Great Connell. Other churches, like at Timogue were outside this grant. Paul MacCotter suggested that Timogue was already church land and so outside Meiler’s control.[4] Later records show that Timogue parish was held by the Cistercian house of Abbeyleix.[5] Conner O More founded Abbeyleix in 1184 possibly as a reaction to Meyler fitz Henry building a castle at the old religious centre of Timahoe.[6] It is possible therefore that Timogue parish was granted to Abbeyleix sometime between 1184 and 1202.

De la Zouch family at Timogue

In the second half of the thirteenth century Timogue was acquired by the de la Zouch family. Alan de la Zouch, or more likely his father Roger de la Zouch, could have acquired Timogue and Morett from his cousin, Alan de la Zouch was the son and heir of Roger de la Zouch and in 1288 succeeded to his father’s Irish property.[7] William de la Zouch of Haryngworth, who in 1298 acquired a share of Laois from his mother, Melicent Cantilupe, daughter of William Cantilupe and granddaughter of Eva Marshal (daughter and co-heiress of William Marshal).[8] Although this line of acquisition is possible it is more likely that Roger de la Zouch got Timogue and Morett from his marriage to Ela Longespee and her inheritance from Walter de Ridelisford.

Roger de la Zouch was the husband of Ela de Longespee, daughter of Stephen de Longespee, seneschal of Gascony and justiciar of Ireland, by his wife Emeline (widow of Hugh de Lacy, Earl of Ulster), daughter and co-heir of Walter de Ridelisford.[9] Another daughter of Stephen de Longespee was Emelina de Longespee who quitclaimed Timogue. She was the second wife of Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald and mother of Juliana Fitzgerald (wife of Thomas de Clare).[10]

De Ridelisford at Timogue

In 1247 Walter de Ridelisford held Castledermot and Kilkea from Roger de Mortimer, the new lord of Leix.[11] But it is unknown if Walter de Ridelisford held Timogue and Morett and the properties passed down to Alan de la Zouch by marriage or Roger de la Zouch had acquired the property by other means. In 1540 the Crutched Friars of Castledermot (founded by Walter de Ridelisford) claimed £4 of tithes from Timogue parish but couldn’t collect as the land was under O’More control.[12]

The creamery at Timogue on the possible site of the castle

Fitzgerald family at Timogue

In April 1298 John Fitzgerald (Baron of Offaly), son of Thomas Fitzgerald, gave Emelina de Longespee peaceful possession of the manor of Maynooth in return for John having peaceful possession of the manors of Timogue, Morett and St. Fintan’s.[13] Sometime between 1298 and 1312 Alan de la Zouch made a grant to John Fitzgerald of the castle and lands of Timogue (Taghmodoc) along with the castle and lands of Morett.[14] At about the same time of 1298 Emelina de Longespee quitclaimed any rights she had on Timogue, Morett and St. Fintan’s to John Fitzgerald. Jordan de Coventry was named as Emelina’s attorney to give seisin of Timogue manor to John Fitzgerald.[15] In February 1302 King Edward granted John Fitzgerald free warren in numerous properties in Ireland including Tathmothoc and Ballyfugnon in County Carlow.[16] By the time Alan de la Zouch died in 1314 he had disposed of all his Irish property.[17]

Timogue in the sixteenth century

In the Kildare rental of 1518 the Earl of Kildare possessed some property rights in Timogue but was also subject to expenses for the same property. The Earl paid half the tithes of Timogue in support of the vicarage by an indenture made on 20th February 1517 between Donagh, abbot of Abbeyleix, and the Earl of Kildare. In 1518 the Earl had the advowson, nomination and right of presentation for the rectory and vicarage of Timogue.[18] In 1518 the Earl’s manor of Timogue, known as the lordship of Taghmooghe, contained the lands of Ballyanlia, Ballyantyskiyn, Bally Conlyn, Ballyprior, Bealatha Cuyllean, Cloyth an puka, Curragh, Inchenaleakaghe, Killfyacla, Neall beag and Neaymneagha.[19]
An early folklore story of Timogue castle recounts the property as belonging to Fergus O’Kelly of Timogue and Luggacurren in the region of Farran-O’Kelly. Fergus O’Kelly had an only child and heiress named Ellinor who married Gerald Fitzgerald, 11th Earl of Kildare. Their son Gerald Fitzgerald was born at Timogue castle in 1546.[20] This story sounds good but only for the fact that the 11th Earl of Kildare fled Ireland for Europe in March 1540 and didn’t return England until 1549 and to Ireland until November 1555.[21] Although the Earl was associated with womanising it would be difficult to fit the birth of Gerald Fitzgerald of Timogue into the flight of the Earl. The 11th Earl of Kildare had only one officially wife, Mabel Browne, daughter of Sir Anthony Browne, who he married in May 1554.[22]

The Earldom of Kildare was seized by the government after the Earl left and only returned piece meal after he was restored as Earl of Kildare and Baron of Offaly in May 1554. Interestingly although Morett is listed among the confiscated property of the Earl of Kildare in the 1540s Timogue is not mentioned.[23] In 1564 the Earl of Kildare was restored to the manor of Timogue in Ferann O’Kelly. The rectory and vicarage of Timogue was restored in 1568.[24]

In 1584 Gerald the Younger received a lease of 101 years from his father of 2,745 acres in Queens County (County Laois) including Moret castle, Timogue castle, Luggacurren, Ballyprior, Allybeg and other places.[25] In 1585 Gerald the Younger married Margaret Bowen, eldest daughter of Robert Bowen of Ballyadams castle. In 1600 Gerald the Younger was murdered by a member of the O’More family of Laois and a memorial lies to his memory in Timogue church.[26]

Location map

Timogue in the seventeenth century

Gerald Fitzgerald the Younger left two sons and three daughters. The second son, William Fitzgerald, was granted Timogue castle and lived there until his death in 1627 without issue when the property reverted to his elder brother Gerald Fitzgerald of Moret castle. This Gerald was known as Gearoid Garrultagh-buy (Gerald of the yellow hair) and in 1637 was High Sheriff of Queen’s County. Gerald Fitzgerald joined the Irish side in the 1641 Rebellion and had his estates confiscated when the English side won the war in 1653. Gerald Fitzgerald died in 1667 and was buried at Timogue.[27]

During the Interregnum the Commonwealth government leased Timogue castle to Sir William Whelan.[28] At the Court of Claims in 1663 Gerald Fitzgerald said that he had the manor of Timogue with its lands of Ballinreskin, Ballyprior, Ballycullen, Corragh, Culine, Fallibeg, Inshenallogh and Meanagh in Timogue parish from his mother, Margaret as administrator of her husband, Gerald Fitzgerald the Younger. Margaret had Timogue by the lease of 101 years made in 1584 in which she and her husband paid the Earl of Kildare ten pounds for Timogue during the Earl’s life and five pounds thereafter per year. But Gerald Fitzgerald’s claim for restoration of Timogue along with Morett and Shangenagh was dismissed as during the war Gerald manufactured pikes and held guns at his residence at the start of the Rebellion and his wife entertains rebels there.[29] It was not made clear if this residence was at Morett or Timogue.

In 1660 Benjamin Worsley and John Rawlins were the tituladoe (or chief) persons at Timogue which then had 8 English taxpayers and 35 Irish taxpayers.[30] The later history of Timogue castle is uncertain.


End of post


[2] Mills, J. (ed.), Calendar of the Justice Rolls of Ireland, 1295-1303 (Dublin, 1905), pp. 169, 170
[3] Kennedy, J., The Monastic Heritage & Folklore of County Laois (Roscrea, 2003), pp. 139, 140
[4] MacCotter, P., Medieval Ireland: Territorial, Political and Economic Divisions (Dublin, 2008), pp. 33, 35
[5] Fuller, A.P. (ed.), Calendar of entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland: papal letters, volume X, 1513-1521, Leo X, Lateran Registers, part one (Dublin, 2005), no.  141
[6] Gwynn, A., & Hadcock, R.N., Medieval Religious Houses Ireland (Blackrock, 1988), p. 124; Stalley, R., The Cistercian Monasteries of Ireland (Yale University, 1987), p. 241; Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. II, p. 65
[7] Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (London, 1879, reprint Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. III (1285-1292), no. 543
[8] Cockage, The Complete Peerage (Gloucester, 1987), vol. XII/2, p. 937, 938
[9] The Complete Peerage (), vol. XII/2, p. 935
[10] Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), p. 499
[11] Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. III, p. 104
[12] Gwynn, A., & Hadcock, R.N., Medieval Religious Houses Ireland (Blackrock, 1988), p. 211; White, N.B. (ed.), Extents of Irish Monastic Possessions, 1540-1541 (Dublin, 1943), p. 169
[13] Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), The Red Book of the Earls of Kildare (Dublin, 1964), no. 69
[14] Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), The Red Book of the Earls of Kildare (Dublin, 1964), nos. 80, 81
[15] Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), The Red Book of the Earls of Kildare (Dublin, 1964), nos. 82, 84
[16] Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), The Red Book of the Earls of Kildare (Dublin, 1964), no. 35
[17] Sharp, J.E.E.S. (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem (London, 1908, reprint Liechtenstein, 1973), vol. V, no. 458
[18] Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), Crown surveys of Lands 1540-41 with the Kildare rental begun in 1518 (Dublin, 1992), pp. 235, 260, 278
[19] Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), Crown surveys of Lands 1540-41 with the Kildare rental begun in 1518 (Dublin, 1992), p. 287
[20] Dix, M.L., ‘The Fitzgerald’s of Queen’s County’, in Patrick Meehan (ed.), The Laois Millennium (Portlaoise, 2000), pp. 29-47, at p. 29
[21] Carey, V.P., Surviving the Tudors ‘Wizard’ Earl of Kildare and English Rule in Ireland, 1537-1586 (Dublin, 2002), pp. 49, 53, 59
[22] Cockage, The Complete Peerage (Gloucester, 1987), vol. VII, p. 239
[23] Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), Crown surveys of Lands 1540-41 with the Kildare rental begun in 1518 (Dublin, 1992), p. 171
[24] 57, , 223
[25] Dix, M.L., ‘The Fitzgerald’s of Queen’s County’, in Patrick Meehan (ed.), The Laois Millennium (Portlaoise, 2000), pp. 29-47, at p. 29; Tallon, G. (ed.), Court of Claims: Submissions and Evidence 1663 (Dublin, 2006), no. 362. Moret was already leased to Richard Fitzgerald in 1584 and the 101 years were not to commence until the expiration of Richard’s lease. Timogue was held by a separate lease in 1584 and so Gerald Fitzgerald the Younger had immediate possession of that manor.
[26] Dix, M.L., ‘The Fitzgerald’s of Queen’s County’, in Patrick Meehan (ed.), The Laois Millennium (Portlaoise, 2000), pp. 29-47, at p. 29
[27] Dix, M.L., ‘The Fitzgerald’s of Queen’s County’, in Patrick Meehan (ed.), The Laois Millennium (Portlaoise, 2000), pp. 29-47, at p. 30
[28] Dix, M.L., ‘The Fitzgerald’s of Queen’s County’, in Patrick Meehan (ed.), The Laois Millennium (Portlaoise, 2000), pp. 29-47, at p. 30
[29] Tallon, G. (ed.), Court of Claims: Submissions and Evidence 1663 (Dublin, 2006), no. 362
[30] Pender, S. (ed.), A Census of Ireland circa 1659 with essential materials from the Poll Money Ordinances 1660-1661 (Dublin, 2002), p. 504


  1. Do you know if there was a landowning Byrne family of Timogue? Tabley House in Cheshire was built by Sir Peter Byrne Leicester, the son of a Sir John Byrne "of Timogue" by his wife Meriel Leicester. (Under the terms of the will of his maternal grandfather Sir Francis Leicester, Sir Peter took the Leicester name when he inherited the Tabley estate.)

    1. Yes, Daniel O’Byrne son of Turlough and father of Sir Gregory and John O'Byrne resided in his Castle at Timogue. Daniel d. 1684 became wealthy and purchased 15 townlands in 1660 for £120,000 in which Timogue was situated. You can confirm that in the book by Daniel O'Byrne called "The History of Queen's County". "Sir John Byrne" mentioned by you was a son of Sir Daniel O’Byrne d. 1715 who was a son of Sir Gregory O’Byrne mentioned by me above as one of two sons of the wealthy Daniel O'Byrne. Also see and

    2. Thank you very much for this information, and especially for the link. I'll share this with other interested people.

      What's said to be a portrait of Sir John O'Byrne hangs at Tabley - it can be seen online here:

      I believe Sir John also had two other surviving children, a daughter (Elizabeth?) and a son, John, who not being bound by the terms of Sir Francis Leicester's will both retained their father's name.

  2. I'd like to correspond with you, if you would, about your 2008 article, in Decies, on "The Estate of Maurice Brown of Rathmoylan." May I trouble you, please, to get back to me via e-mail: rafemadan [at] yahoo? Thanks, --Rafael Madan

  3. I am descended from the Gerald Fitzgerald who died at Morett in 1601, and am aware of the story of the 11th Earl's marriage to Ellinor O'Kelly. I am not clear from the above article who "Gerald Fitzgerald the Younger" was and wonder if you could clarify this for me? Happy to correspond if easier. Mike Killingley

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  6. A great and most informative article. I can add a little, in that the story of O'Kelly of Timogue was published in 1831, the source being Garrett Byrne of Fallowbeg. He heard the story from Edmund Cowen who was told it by a Catherine McJames, who had worked for O'Kellys. Her is the link address: . It is interesting to contrast this with the account given by O'Byrne in his History of the Queen's County in 1856 (p.79) where he takes his account from a history of Kilkea, written by a Marquess of Kildare that he consulted at Kilkea Castle.