Kinnitty Village: My Earliest Memories. Part 2 By Paddy Lowry

Kinnitty is very much on the tourist trail in Offaly and is arguably the finest planned village in the county. In this the second extract first published in 2011 in Paddy Lowry’s Kinnitty my home in the Slieve Bloom (2011)  Paddy Lowry looks back to almost 100 years ago. Courtesy of Kilcormac Historical Society. Offaly History has some copies of this now scarce title for sale.

The launch of Kinnitty in 2011 with Amanda Pedlow, Paddy Lowry and Paddy Heaney. The two Paddys are now part of our heritage and we fondly remember them both.

Some of the locals in Kinnitty were fond of making up rhymes to annoy and tease each other and I remember when we were young the following would often be heard.

                               Hay and Oats for the mountain goats,

                               A bag of feathers for the Kinnitty beggars.

                               Kinnitty is a pretty village,

All grass and no tillage,

In every street a row of trees

                                         Where liars dwell as thick as bees.

                              Kinnitty is a pretty village

                                         Where natives are unknown,

                                         Where strangers came from distant parts

                                         And made it all their own.

The History of some of the Buildings;

What was the Bianconi Hotel, and Cleary’s Hotel, later became the Bernard Estate Office. The Bloom Bar has numbered among its owners Hogan, Rody Donnelly, Mrs. McGuinness, Dean and Dolly and Clements.

Ned Kane, from Burgoo, Roscrea, had served as a gunner in the Boer War and in World War 1. He opened a business making and selling boots.

Kinnitty village c. 1900

John Carrie had a pub where Peavoys is now. There was also a grocery shop and a man by the name of Paddy Mc Redmond, from Clonaslee, owned it before Peavoys.

Up Church Street, where Kennedys is now, was P.H.Egans and before that there was a hardware shop there owned by Armstrong. Farther up there was a farmer named Robert Hipwell.

Bill Holligan, the official blacksmith to the Bernard estate, lived where Coffeys now live.

Above the Church of Ireland Church is two-storey house that may have been a school at one time .It was the home of the Feighery family. Tom was the local carpenter and he also had a sawmill powered by a portable steam engine.

The Catholic church in Kinnitty

There were a few labourers cottages next and then the last house along there was a large thatched one belonging to Guilfoyles. They had the local forge and they were nephews of the Holligans.

On the other side of the road you had the rectory where Mr Hitchcock and his son Rex Ingram lived. Then there was a group of houses opposite Peavoys where workers lived. One family lived there, Mackeys, were bakers. They came from Tipperary and were related to the great Limerick hurler, Mick Mackey. A family named Sheppard lived just above them.

At the launch of Kinnitty in 2011

The tailor, Joe Molloy, lived in the house on the corner. Just below that is a building which was the headquarters of the Mountain Rangers [ a volunteer unit in the 1780s]

Farther down, where Cleeres is now, was Hartys. They came from Toomevara and were related to Bishop Harty. They had a hardware, grocery, drapery and undertaking business. They had brakes for hire – a long four wheeled wagon without a cover with forms that could seat twenty. Tom Leahy used drive one. (The Bianconi coaches were known as borans and there is a field in Kinnitty known as The Boran Meadow.

Kilmartins used live where Joan Coughlan now lives. When I was a child I saw a family being evicted from that house for not being able to pay their rent.

Then there was a three-storey house where Michael Coughlan lived. He was a cattle jobber. Then there was a Miss Beaumann who taught in the Protestant school.

There was a bakery where Kennedys is now. There were some other small labourers houses and the last one was a thatched house, Con Carroll’s the only thatched house I saw in the village.

Percy Glendenning’s used to be Giltraps and before that Chawners. At one time this public house was a hotel, the Bernard Arms. The next house belonged to a Welshman, George Riggs, whose occupation was cutting soles from clogs. He was there around 1900.

On the other side of the street was the police barracks built in 1835. The barracks before that was at Beech Lodge. After the next few houses you come to the Catholic Church and the pump in front of it. I remember it as a wooden pump, carved from a tree.

Armstrongs used to live in what is now Pat Mitchell’s and I saw a census form showing fifteen living in that house.

Percy Moyle’s was a bakery and beside that was a Temperance Hall. Next, where Toohers is now,Carries had a shop.

Where the community center is now you had the Protestant School, the courthouse and the teacher residence.

All of Kinnitty village was built on 29 acres. Today you only have the two pubs and two grocery shops. There are thirteen vacant houses in the heart of the village. There were a couple of small estates built over the last few decades. St. Finan’s Park is near the national school and Ballincur Park is on the Birr Road. In more recent times a few smaller schemes were built, Conway Court, Castle Court and Pairc Naomh Finan.

Castle Bernard c. 1910

Looking at the census of 1911 there were 225 people in 49 houses and in 1901 there were 271 people in 54 houses. This is very like the figure for 1821 when there were 275 people and 54 buildings listed but only 43 occupied. The surnames listed in 1911 were Armstrong, Canning, Connors, O’Reilly, Giltrap, Feighery, Horan, Welwood, Conway, Windson, English, Lawlor, Feighery, Cassel, Corbey, Mitchell. Bolger, Mitchell, Roche, Kane, Moran, Burke, Simmons, Paisly, Donnelly, Mooney, Moran, Whelan, English, Godkin, Phelan, Byrne, Daly, Mc Redmond, Grogan, O’Connor, Wilson, Holligan, Delahunty, Mooney, Leahy, Guilfoyle, Sheppard, Smith, Moylan, Carry, Corrigan, McCormach, Egan, Harty, MacNeil, Murray, Ryan ,Foley, Preedy, Windebank, Beauman, Dagg Hennessy, Johnson, Kinsella, Coghlan, Blakely, Cleary, Cunningham, Kennedy, Boylan, Carroll, Coffey, Keenan, Mulrooney, Mackey, Dempsey, Hitchcock, Maher Falkner, Roche, and Shore. While most give their birthplace as King’s County, there was quite a variety of other birthplaces including Wicklow, Limerick, Wexford, Sligo, Leitrim, Dublin, Donegal, Kerry, Cork, Tyrone, Scotland, England, Philadelphia and Australia. There were three people who gave their occupations as surveyors with Ordnance Survey – Albert Preedie James Windebank and Michael Burke. Reginald Hitchcock is listed as an artist, James Faulkner a constable, John Godkin an R.I.C. Pensioner, Joseph Corbey a civil bill officer and William Giltrap was a publican. Roman Catholic was the most common religion stated but a sizable number, 42 out 225, stated their religion to be other than Catholic.

The old rectory, Kinnitty

Some interesting snippets from the 1821 census; Flanagan’s mentioned as carpenters and slators; Michael Conroy was a blacksmith with an apprentice named James Fogarty. Fogartys had a forge at the Pass and made pikes for 1798. Michael Jordon was a land surveyor and his son, Myles aged 6, later became a hedge school master. John Thia was a whitesmith and the name survives in Thia’s Well. Michael Brien was a tailor with three apprentices, there was also a journeyman tailor, John Meehan. Edward Meara was a nailer – square profile nails were made or cut out of 8” flat iron. Arthur Drought was a victualler.

The Church of Ireland in Kinnitty – all the ‘big ticket’ items in Kinnittty are in excellent shape and well cared for.

Robert Chawner was a farmer and a publican, where Percy Glendenning’s is now – he had a wife and seven children and he came out of Glendossaun (Moylan’s house) and down to Kinnitty. Martin Conway was a ‘dogboy’ to Thos. Bernard. Thomas Roe was a barony constable and Patrick McCabe, aged 35, gives his occupation as sportsman. John Gort was the parish clerk. James Nowlan was a farmer and proctor. House no 42 on the census was three-storey belonging to the rector , Charles Maude, aged 28 ,married to Mary, aged 23, they had four children – Charles, aged 4; George, aged 3, Emilia, aged 2 and Maria, aged 1. He farmed 45 acres and six servants and maids with surnames like Deake, Birt and Every. House number 44 had Sarah Browne aged 40, widow, her daughter Jane aged 22, also a widow and three other children. Thomas Smith is listed as a farmer, painter, glazier and publican. House number 52 is listed with 15 inhabitants.

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