Seven Castles of Clonmines - 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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WITHIN a short drive of Tintern Abbey, on the right bank of the Bannow River, are the Seven Castles of Clonmines, or to describe them more correctly, the relics of the strongholds which defended the ancient Abbey of Clonmines. Two castles and the ruin of a small church stand in the shelter of a grove, at the right of the entrance gate to the farm residence of Mr. Richard Codd. Comparatively little decay is observable in the first of these. The arches are solid, and the corners of the cut stone and groining of the vault are in an excellent state. Further along the avenue, a gate leads to the larger number of ruins, including a tower at the far end of the field, having an accessible loft, the remains of the monastery, and its fortified church. The Abbey of Clonmines was founded by the Cavanaghs, descendants of the MacMurroughs, Kings of Leinster, ten years before their sovereignty passed to Richard II. Nicholas Wadding was the last Prior. He surrendered to Henry VIII., in the 35th year of the reign of that monarch. The property was granted to John Parker, at the annual rent of 2s. 4d., Irish money.

The house in which Mr. Codd resides occupies the site, and contains a portion of the walls of one of the Seven Castles. The owner of the estate is Mr. Matthew P. D’Arcy, Kilcroney, Bray. Since it came into his possession he has endeavoured to preserve the ruins in their picturesque forM. In 1868, the chancel window of the Abbey was almost perfect. At present, only one piece of tracery remains. There are 39 tenants on the estate, and Mr. John Cullin, J.P., of Enniscorthy, is the agent.

Clonmines was once a town of considerable size, and was surrounded by a rampart and fosse. The name was derived from mines of silver and lead at the opposite side of the river. The pits, and a large amount of the material cast out from the shafts, are still visible from a distance, and there is a tall chimney and unroofed engine house. The mines had to be abandoned owing to the great difficulty in keeping out the water of the river. Clonmines was an important shipping place in the Danish period, and its decay is attributed to the closing of the channel by sand banks.

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