Cromwell’s Fort and Kenny Hall - Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885

About “Wexford County Guide and Directory,” 1885

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

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The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version of Bassett’s Wexford County Guide and Directory is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

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A GREAT many curious notions take possession of the minds of generations of people during a period of 235 years. Some of those held concerning the place known as Cromwell’s Fort are both curious and interesting. The fort which Cromwell occupied, during the negotiation with Governor Sinnott, is supposed to overlook the Bower, a wood from which there is an excellent view of Wexford. The precise position, of the fort is in doubt, but at a rapid glance a stranger is led to fix it on the summit of a gorse covered mound, from which large pieces of rock protrude. It is at the edge of a high cliff. A second mound, some distance from this, is grassy, and forms part of a sheepwalk. This also is said to be the site. A more reasonable solution, perhaps, is that the works took in both, and that the original fort has been carried away in the quarrying operations of centuries. At present there remains a picturesque ridge of rock in the immediate vicinity. In past times a portion of it, still existing, was called Trespan Rock. It is split through in a vertical direction, and is now being quarried, though the tapping of iron bars and force of blasting powder may scar its sides for a long time yet without substantially affecting the mass. The rift is about 50 feet high, 15 feet broad, and 50 yards through, and must have been torn in some convulsion of nature. In the middle, a spring furnishes a drinking place for the cattle in the pasture. It is a tempting crevice for the local storyteller to squeeze Cromwell’s army through.

The Cromwell’s Fort of the present day is a substantial mansion, four stories high, over the door of which is the date 1783, in large figures. It stands in a park of thirty-two acres, containing some splendid trees, and a garden of goodly size, in which there are conservatories several hundred feet in length. The present owner, up to 1882, was Mr. John Hawkes, a native of Moneens, Co. Cork. He inherited the fort and Cornock estates through his grandmother, and by Royal license has assumed the name of Hawkes-Cornock.

Alderman John Sinnott’s house, in South Main Street, was occupied as a residence and fort by Colonel David Sinnott, Military Governor of the town in 1649. It is still in a good state of preservation, its broad stairs and massive balusters showing no sign of age beyond a slight leaning towards one side. The walls are very thick, that at the south side having openings for guns, from what was the principal apartment of a suite used by the governor. It is now a drawing-room, and contains, among other paintings, one in oil, by Fortune, of Alderman John Sinnott in his robes of office as Mayor of Wexford, to which position he was twice elected, 1861 and 1881. Cromwell made this house his head quarters while he remained in Wexford. It was afterwards occupied by various persons until about 150 years ago, when it was purchased by Colonel Kenny, received the name of Kenny’s Hall, and became his town house, New Fort, his country residence, being about seven miles distant. Alderman Sinnott entered into possession about thirty-six years ago, and holds under a long lease. Six years ago, the late Mr. Richard Devereux purchased the head rent, and bequeathed it to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, of which Alderman Sinnott is President.

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