Aghada Hall, co. Cork.

A fascinating post by William Grey about the now vanished Aghada Hall (previously Aghada House), which was the HQ of the US Naval Air Station Queenstown during World War I. One of the best things about this post is the selection of rare photographs of this locally important house.

Forgotten Victorians

Aghada  Hall was, apparently, a large  Georgian house designed by the Cork architect  Abraham Hargrave (1755-1808); though it seems to bea comfortable gentleman’s residence rather than a vast mansion.” It was completed in 1808. John Roche was also responsible for the start of the Aghada National School in 1819.

It’s time to revise this post quite a lot, and I am extremely grateful for a Thackwell grandson for the photos of the house. For the purposes of clarity, I’m going to call it Aghada Hall. John Roche, (17??- 1829) who had it built referred to it as Aghada House, but it was later referred to as Aghada Hall. Tony Harpur, a local historian in Cork sent me the following:

“The first edition Ordnance Survey map names the house as Aghada House (c1840). The house was named in the Ordnance Survey map of the early 20th century as…

View original post 1,619 more words

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The ‘Hurricane’ of 1903 – Midleton’s ‘9/11’

 

St John the Baptist Church Midleton

The elegant spire of St John the Baptist’s Church, Midleton, completed in 1825 to the design of Richard Pain. The top of this spire collapsed onto the roof of the church during the storm on the evening of 10th September 1903 and narrowly missed some workmen. The spire has since been repaired. (Horgan Brothers Collection, Cork County Library)

The dramatic and horrific images of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11th 2001 are forever etched in the minds of anyone who witnessed those events either in person or on television. The scale, method, and nature of the attack, and the loss of life was, and still is, traumatic for so many. Apart from the image of the hijacked airliners striking the twin towers of the WTC, the other image that stays in the mind is of the collapse of the vast towers in a shower of dust and smoke, pulverising those who never had a chance to escape, including many members of the New York emergency service. .

Without wishing to trivialize New York’s trauma, it’s worth pointing out that Midleton, yes, little Midleton, woke up to the aftermath of its own version of ‘9/11’……a century earlier. Thankfully there was no loss of life. The storm that burst over Midleton in September 1903 was reported in The Cork Examiner newspaper on Friday, September 11th, 1903.

MIDLETON

CHURCH STEEPLE DAMAGED

Midleton, Thursday

One of the most violent storms experienced within the memory of the oldest inhabitant swept over Midleton and district this evening. It commenced at about 4 o’clock, and increased with such severity that about an hour after it assumed the character, the wind blowing from the north-west. Pedestrianism in the streets was almost a matter of impossibility, and vehicular traffic was for the time suspended. Some of the strongest trees were torn up from their roots, and the public roads were rendered in numerous parts of the district actually impassable. A large part of the public road near Killeagh was blocked with trees,  and the mail car from Youghal to Midleton had, in consequence, to come another route, via Mogeely. Telegraphic communication was suspended own to the fact that the wire got broken or twisted by the force of the gale, and the falling on them of heavy trees, and though a good effort was made to repair the damage, the work was abortive, with the result that communication with Cork, Dublin and London, was out of the question. The intensity of the storm might be realised from the fact that about six feet of the finely formed steeple of the Protestant church at Midleton was swept on to the roof of the church and penetrated it to the interior., the gap in the roof being plainly visible from outside the windows. Some men who were working inside had a narrow escape. One of the graves was torn up, portion of the coffin in it being visible. The roofs of houses were in many instances broken. Some sheds were altogether unroofed, including one at Bailick and Midleton, and along the streets are scattered slates and other debris, hurled from the housetops. All kinds of agricultural work had to be suspended, very serious damage having been done to the corn crop not yet cut down.

‘Pedestrianism’ – now there’s a new word to enjoy!

A number of points are clear from the account. First, it wasn’t just Midleton that suffered – even as far as Killeagh there was damage. Much of this was the disruption of the telegraph system. This posed a danger to the railway service linking Cork to Youghal via Midleton, because the signalmen and stations at Carrigtwohill , Midleton, Mogeely, Killeagh and Youghal couldn’t issue hazard warnings ahead. Furthermore the Royal Irish Constabulary at Midleton, Castlemartyr, Killeagh and Youghal were unable to send  or receive reports. The mail car was either an early motor van or horse-drawn van and it had to be diverted from Killeagh to Mogeely around Ballyquirke townland to get to Castlemartyr and Midleton. Shades of the flooding that cut the present N25 (also called Euroroute 1) linking Castlemartyr to Killeagh winter of 2015/2016.  On that occasion the heavy traffic also had to be diverted onto the narrow road linking Mogeely and Killeagh to allow trucks to continue to Rosslare ferry port. One blessing was that Midleton and the surrounding villages didn’t have any electricity at the time, and only Midleton and Ballinacurra had coal gas laid on.

The second point is that the storm actually began about 4.00 pm on Thursday 10th September, just before people went home for their supper. No doubt people fled the open streets and took shelter when the storm struck, but flying slates (also experienced in Midelton in 2009/10 and in 2010/11) are deadly to exposed pedestrians and to window glass!

The loss of the tip of the spire of St John the Baptist’s Church in Midleton must have been a real surprise. This was the only spire in Midleton at the time since the much larger spire of Holy Rosary Church had yet to be constructed.  The spire of St John’s had stood since 1825 but it seems that the slender tip of Richard Pain’s elegant design, made of solid stone, may have required some internal metal reinforcement by then. Midleton has faced many a fierce gale since 1903 but never again has the repaired spire of St John the Baptist’s Church fallen. The repair was clearly well done at the time.

St John's Midleton

Seemingly unchanged, but actually the spire was repaired without any outward alteration after the storm of 1903.

Finally, the anxiety about the corn crop (that is wheat and barley, not maize) was understandable. The Midleton distillery consumed a lot of the local barley, as did JH Bennett’s malting company in Ballinacurra (they supplied the malt for the Guinness brewery in St James’s Gate, Dublin). In addition, the Hallinan family’s Avoncore Mills on Mill road was another major consumer of the local grain crop. These three firms were also big local employers, hence the anxiety about the corn.

The Cork Examiner of Saturday, 12th September 1903, also reported on the damage caused by the same storm over much of Ireland and the United Kingdom. So Midleton didn’t suffer alone. That year saw ten hurricanes sweep into the West Indies and the south-eastern United States, five of them in September alone, however the ‘hurricane that struck Midleton, Ireland and Great Britain wasn’t actually a true hurricane. Furthermore a very severe storm had struck in February of that year, although Midleton seems to have got off lightly on that occasion. One wonders if that storm had weakened the spire that fell in September.

There is one memorial to the storm of 1903 in Midleton – the undamaged stone that had fallen from the church spire was later recycled as the pedestal of a sundial erected in St John the Baptist’s churchyard, just metres from where it fell. It was erected after 1923 inemory of Henry Penrose-Fitzgerald, of the Grange, Midleton and  agent to Lord Midleton.

One final thing to note. ‘Pedestrianism’ – a new word to enjoy!

A Midleton Mystery: WHERE exactly was Drohidfynnaght?

The five arched bridge leading from the northern end of  Midleton town center to Cork. It has one end higher than the other due to the high ground sloping down on western bank of the Owenacurra River.

The five arched bridge leading from the northern end of Midleton town center to Cork. It has one end higher than the other due to the high ground sloping down on western bank of the Owenacurra River.

‘Grant…to John Fitz Gerald Fitz Edmond of Clohermony….of 10 acres between Drohidfynnaght on the east, and the river running from the mill there on the west….’   From The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, 1994.

In the Irish Patent Rolls of Queen Elizabeth I there is a grant of 1573 to John FitzEdmund FitzGerald of Cahermone (Clohermony) of the ‘site of the monastery of the B.V.M. de Choro S. Benedicti alias the abbey of Chore, lands in Castle Redmond, Chore, with a mill and salmon weir,’ etc. This grant was awarded to John FitzEdmund FitzGerald a year after the 1551 lease of the same property to Giles Hovenden and his heirs male finally expired after twenty one years.

However, the FitzGerald lease included some additional properties. There was a messuage and garden in Carrigtwohill, a parcel of land called Fearryn Edmund Roe, plots in Knockacottig, and several rectories and vicarages. In the middle of all these was the statement about Drohidfynnaght. But this location isn’t on a modern map of East Cork.

The wording suggests that it was a townland. Drohidfynnaght appears to be located in the east with the river and mill on the west. However, you must remember that this is an abbreviated 19th century transcription of a document that was destroyed in the Four Courts fire of 1922. The essentials were recorded by the Keeper of Public Records during the 19th century and published in the series Calendar of State Documents (Ireland)Elizabeth I. All the published, and known fiants, of the Tudor sovereigns were later republished as a group by Eamonn de Burca in 1994, with a new introduction by Kenneth Nicholls.

I decided to consult Dr Seosamh O’Ceallaigh in Donegal about the possible meaning of the name Drohidfynnaght. He was a good choice since his PhD is in Irish, especially the Classical Irish of this late medieval and early modern period. He must have been in stitches with laughter when I sent him my message – because he was probably the very best person to solve this mystery. Drohidfynnaght consists of two conjoined words. Drohid refers to a bridge. That I already knew, but it was nice to know that there was a bridge in the area of Midleton. Well, there were two rivers or streams to cross. But ‘fynnaght’ stumped me. I thought it might refer to ‘fine’ which is a kin-group or might perhaps refer to a religious community (monastery). But Joe, being from Fanad in County Donegal, was very quick to get back – ‘fynnaght’ is the same word as ‘fanad’! It means a sloping piece of ground. Thus Drohidfynnaght means a bridge of the sloping ground.

At once, Joe doubled my difficulties – you see, he’s never been to Midleton, and really had no idea that there are TWO places in the modern townland of Townparks that could fit the bill perfectly! The first is the northern part of Townparks running beside the Owenacurra River and up the Mill Road. The river here runs from north to south. The eastern bank is perfectly flat. The western bank drops to the river in a steep slope exactly where the present Cork Bridge is located. And there was at least one mill on this river in the sixteenth century. The shape of Townparks townland at this point suggests it might be an addition to the old townland of Chore or Mainistir na Corann which later became Townparks.

The other site is at the opposite end of the town at the southern end of Main Street. The north bank of the east-west flowing  Roxborough, or Dungourney, River is flat. But the south bank is a steep slope up the Rock which marks the high ground south of Midleton town centre. The two roads here lead to Cloyne (due south) and Youghal (due east). These were the two most important towns in Elizabethan Imokilly. The area on the south bank is part of Townparks and it stretches out the Youghal Road and down towards Lakeview. This could easily have been the Drohidfynnaght mentioned in the grant of 1573, except at the present state of research we have no idea if there was a mill there at the time.  Indeed there seems to be no evidence of a mill in this area even in later centuries.

My own preference is for the northern area of Townparks by the Cork Bridge. This bridge is older than it appears because it was widened twice. I examined it during the summer and it was clearly an older bridge with two side additions. The first extension was in the early 19th century, and then in the middle of the 20th century (around 1950). The original bridge is still preserved directly under the roadway. But it isn’t as old as the 1573 grant – it’s clearly of eighteenth century date and was quite narrow compared with today’s bridge. Also, Lewis Bridge, across the Roxborough River, is a late eighteenth century single span bridge, with no surviving evidence of the earlier crossing.

Lewis Bridge

Lewis Bridge crosses the Roxborough or Dungourney River at the southern end of Main Street in Midleton. It’s a late eighteenth century elliptical arched single-span bridge.

The proximity of the former monastic mill in the 1543 dissolution record for the abbey suggests that Drohidfynnaght is on or near the area of the old Fair Green in Midleton. The text says ‘from Drohidfynnaght’ to the mill and river. But this could be from the boundary of the townland of Drohidfynnaght to the river. So it suggests that John FitzEdmund FitzGerald didn’t get ALL of Drohidfynnaght, if it was a townland – he only got the most lucrative bit of it!

Markets and Fairs in early Stuart Imokilly and Barrymore.

With Cork, Youghal was the most important town in the county in 1600. It was the center of commerce in the eastern part of County Cork.

With Cork, Youghal was the most important town in the county in 1600. It was the center of commerce in the eastern part of County Cork. Its development was promoted by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork for forty years until 1642.

One of the aspects of regional history in Ireland was the existence of Presidencies in the provinces of Munster and Connacht. These were subordinate authorities set up in the sixteenth century to impose greater governmental control over these provinces.They alleviated the burden of control placed on the Castle (the government in Dublin Castle) and allowed for more rapid response to local issues.

Shortly after the climactic Battle of Kinsale in 1601 and the ending of the Nine Year’s War in 1603, the Council of Munster (the Lord President of Munster and his chief officials) set to work on modernizing the regional economy. The key to this was the encouragement of a monetary economy based on licensed and regulated markets and fairs.  Margaret Curtis Clayton has done a splendid job of compiling the information on the markets and fairs that were newly licensed in Munster in the period 1600-1630. It should be noted that the establishment of a market or fair on someone’s property generated additional lucrative income and often enhanced an existing settlement or improved its economic prospects. The period from 1603 to 1642 was one of rapid economic change in south east Cork.

It’s worth noting that Chore Abbey (Midleton) had a market licence from 1608 renewed in 1624 – suggesting that the settlement that survived the dissolution of the Cistercian abbey was now thriving. The proximity of an annual fair in Castleredmond, first licensed in 1609, was a further boost to the local economy. In each case the licence was issued to the proprietor or landlord, who was then obliged to appoint a clerk of the market to regulate it. The proprietor also had to designate a place for the market or fair and ran a pie-powder court to settle disputes. (The name comes from the French term pied poudre, or dusty feet, for the court was a summary court conducted on the spot.) The proprietor had to pay an annual fee to the Crown for the licence and was entitled to keep the fees charged to stall-holders and the profits of justice from the pie powder court.  It is worth noting that fairs were often linked to church feastdays.

John Speed's map of Munster 1600-1611.

John Speed’s map of the province of Munster 1600-1611.

In this post our concern is the licensing of such markets and fairs in the south east Cork baronies of Imokilly and Barrymore.

Carrigtwohill: 5 Feb 1607/8. Fair – no details. Prop. David Barry, Viscount Buttevant. Renewed 1618, details lost.

Castleredmond: 24 June 1609. Fair on 3 May & 1 day following. Prop. Sir James Craig. Rent. 6s 8d Irish. Renewed, with one additional day, on 23 Dec 1624 in favour of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, for a rent of 6s.8d. (Note: the date 3 May was the traditional Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross.)

Chore Abbey (Midleton): 14 Oct 1608. Market on Saturday. Prop. Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald. Rent: 5s English. Renewed in favour of Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, on 23 Dec 1624, for a rent of 6s.8d.

Dangandonyvane: 25 Nov. 1606. Fair on Feast of St James (25th July) & 2 days following. Prop. Thomas FitzGerald. Rent not recorded.

Killeagh:11 July 1631. Market on Tuesday. Fairs on 1 June and 1 November each with one day following. Prop. William Supple. Rent not recorded.

Rostellan: 25 Nov. 1606. Market on Saturday. Prop. Thomas FitzGerald. Rent not recorded.

Youghal: 22 Dec 1609. Market on Wednesday and Saturday. Fairs on Eve of St Luke (18 October) & 3 days following and on the Feast of the Ascension (usually late May). Prop Youghal Corporation. Free of rent.

What is of interest are the two market days in Youghal and the two annual fairs there. Clearly Youghal was of major importance. Cork appears to have had a market every day until 1613 when a shortage of goods led to the market being restricted to Wednesday and Saturday. Also of note is the absence of any licence for a market in Cloyne, Ballinacorra, Mogeely or Ballymartyr (Castlemartyr). Nor is there any market on Great Island – the nearest one being in Carrigtwohill. The absence of a market in Cloyne suggests that Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald was wary of intruding on pre-existing market rights established by the bishops during the medieval period. The market in Carrigtwohill followed a tradition of markets going back to the 1200s. In respect of Chore Abbey (Midleton), it is interesting to note that Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, succeeded Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald as leaseholder of both the old monastic estate, and Castleredmond. FitzGerald had died in 1612.

Reference: Margaret Curtis Clayton: ‘Early Stuart markets and fairs in Munster, c1600-1630.’ Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol 115 (2010), pp 167-177.

Glounthaune: formerly New Glanmire and Queenstown Junction.

Glounthaune by Dennis Horgan

Dennis Horgan’s aerial view of the original village of ‘New Glanmire’. The village was built on reclaimed land created in 1780. The railway cut the village off from the mainland in 1859 so a bridge was built to reconnect the village. At the bottom of the picture is GC Ashlin’s Sacred Heart Church which opened1898.n

(Apologies: somehow I pressed ‘publish’ before my draft was completed, and some readers may have read the incomplete and garbled version. To all who were shocked and disappointed by my falling standards, I offer my apologies! Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! You’ll be glad to know that someone very kindly alerted me to my mistake and I’ve completed the post as intended. Furthermore I have recently – October 2015 – had new information from Mike Garde who had some fascinating insights into Ashbourne House/Hotel and its history and gardens. I wish to thank him for getting in touch with me on the subject and providing the information to correct some mistakes and to update the post!) 

Many Irish villages have origins lost in the mists of time. But some are very clearly the result of someone’s decision to create a village in a particular spot. This is the case with Glounthaune, located about nine or ten kilometers east of Cork. Until recently all traffic for Midleton, Youghal, Waterford and Rosslare had to go via Glounthaune. However the completion of the dual carriageway from Dunkettle to Midleton put an end to that. Traffic now by-passes Glounthaune, allowing it to slip into a new existence as a very desirable commuter village.

Annmount was built by Riggs Falkiner in 1775 but was heavily modified in the 19th century. It burned down accidentally in 1948. The grounds are now filled with a housing estate.

Annmount was built by Riggs Falkiner in 1775 but was heavily modified in the 19th century. It burned down accidentally in 1948. The grounds are now filled with a housing estate.

The local community have set up a series of sign boards to illustrate and explain the history of the village – which was only created in 1810 by the Falkiner family of Annmount, a local ‘big house’. When I say ‘village’ you must remember that it was a really small place. Firstly, Riggs Falkiner (then MP for Clonakilty, later MP for Castlemartyr) had a quay built in 1780 for the extraction of local stone and importation of coal. This quay extends some distance out into the waters of the inner reaches of Cork Harbour to ensure that vessels would not ground on the mudbanks. The local parish priest, Fr Murtagh Keane, had a chapel built there in 1803, at a cost of £500 or £600. . A village began to grow up around the quay and the chapel, but in 1819, the local landlord, Sir William Falkiner, had some ‘superior dwellings’ erected in New Glanmire to create a planned village laid out on a T-plan. Sir William’s dwellings were given some of the highest valuations for ordinary houses by th Griffith Valuation – the houses or cottages were valued at £3.10 which was very high compared to the national average of £1.

The sea wall at Glounthaune is built of Little Island limestone. This view shows how vulnerable the original village is to rising sea levels.

The sea wall at Glounthaune is built of Little Island limestone. This view shows how vulnerable the original village is to rising sea levels.

In the 1830s the village got a National School, which by 1837 catered for some 250 pupils. A new school building was erected in the village in 1901, which, happily, is still in use, but as a community center. The current National School is now located on high ground overlooking the village. In the meantime, vast changes had taken place that affected not only the topography of the village, but also its transport links.

Glounthaune's former National School was built in 1901. Beautifully preserved, it now serves as the community center.

Glounthaune’s former National School was built in 1901. Beautifully preserved, it now serves as the community center.

The creation of the village led to the making of a new road on the shoreline to link Cork to Midleton and Youghal.  However the only access to this road from Cork was still by way of the bridge in Glanmire. Up to this point the only route to the east from Cork was by boat, as Arthur Young experienced in the 1770s, or via the upper road from Glanmire which ran along the crest of the hills above ‘New Glanmire.’This road passed over what was popularly known as the ‘Dry Bridge’, or Lackenroe Bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1811 by Sir Samuel Falkiner to provide a smooth road from his house at Annemount, overlooking Glounthaune, to Cork on one side and Midleton and Youghal on the other side. The ordinary people at the time didn’t understand the word viaduct, so this bridge was given its popular name. It still stands as one of the most famous fearures of the village. The bridge also allowed the creation of a proper paved road down the steep hill to ‘New Glanmire’, probably replacing an old trackway. The Lackenroe Bridge is still a landmark in Glounthaune, and causes headaches for truck drivers who don’t realize that their trucks might just get caught under the bridge.

Lackenroe Bridge is a viaduct built in 1811 to carry the old main road from Cork over the road leading down to the village of 'New Glanmire'.

Lackenroe Bridge is a viaduct built in 1811 to carry the old main road from Cork going right to left  over the road leading down to the village of ‘New Glanmire’ (on the right). Its popular name was the ‘Dry Bridge’ because it didn’t cross a stream.

The most important changes came about in the late 1850s when the Cork to Youghal railway was built along the shoreline. The embankment to carry the track smoothened out the shoreline and created a series of ‘ponds’ on the landward side. The line from Dunkettle to Midleton was completed by 10th November 1859 and reached Youghal by May 1861. By that time the Cork and Youghal Railway Company had been amalgamated with the Great Southern and Western Railway, which proceeded to built the line linking Glounthaune to Queenstown (now Cobh) by 1862. In 1896, the line from Glounthaune to Youghal, vial Carrigtwohill, Midleton and Killeagh was downgraded to a branch line, with the Queenstown line being upgraded to a main line. This was the route that so many Irish emigrants took to meet their passage to North America. Railway halt at Glounthaune was initially called New Glanmire Junction. Then it became Queenstown Junction in 1866, Cobh Junction in 1925 and finally became Glounthaune Station in 1994. With the final closure of the line from Glounthaune to Midleton and Youghal in 1978, Glounthaune became a mere suburban halt on the Cobh line. But the reopening of the rail link with Midleton in 2009 made Glounthaune a busy spot again, since it was now possible to travel by rail from Midleton to Cobh – and Fota Wildlife Park!

Sacred Heart Church replaces a chapel built in 1803. The present church opened in 1898 and was designed by George Coppinger Ashlin, who was born in nearby Little Island.

Sacred Heart Church replaces a chapel built in 1803. The present church opened in 1898 and was designed by George Coppinger Ashlin, who was born in nearby Little Island.

One effect of the building of the railway was the demolition of the chapel built in 1803 and its replacement by a new building designed by George Coppinger Ashlin, which was opened in 1898. Ashlin recycled his design for the church at Ballyhooley for the church at Glounthaune, although it seems likely that  the parish priest at the time specifically asked for this design. Today, Sacred Heart Church remains the most distinctive monument viewed as one passes the village – for the original village was cut off by the railway line and a bridge was built to link it to the new road on the northern side of the railway. The church stands directly opposite this bridge, close to the site of the original chapel of 1803.

Ashbourne House was the residence of Richard Beamish in the early 20th century. He created fine gardens that were neglected when the house became a hotel in the 1950s.

Ashbourne House was the residence of Richard Beamish in the second half of the 19th century. Beamish created the fine gardens with plants and trees from all over the world on the triangular grounds between the Old Cork Road (up the hill) and the New Cork Road running along the waterfront.  It was later bought by the Hallinan family, who ran the Avoncore Mills in Midleton.  They maintained the gardens into the 20th century, until it was put up for sale. After a few years of lying empty the house was finally bought by the Garde family who turned it into a hotel and proceeded to restore the gardens for the enjoyment of their guests. It is thanks to the Gardes that these gardens were listed for protection. Sadly with the closure and sale of the hotel the gardens have not been maintained to the same standard.

One claim to fame that Glounthaune has is the rich planting of specimen trees, especially conifers, from all over the world, but especially from the west coast of North America – at times the place feels like parts of Northern California. These trees and other shrubs were planted by the occupants of the ‘big houses’ such as Annmount and Ashbourne House. Ashbourne House was the home of Richard Beamish in the late nineteenth century. He used the railway halt directly opposite his house for importing specimen plants for his gardens. (No doubt the denizens of Fota did the same, with their very own railway halt!) Richard Beamish, scion of the brewing family that made up one half of the Cork brewers Beamish and Crawford, was recognized for his contribution to propagating plants when a poppy was named for him – Meconopsis Beamishii.  With its sheltered position and sunny southerly aspect, it is no wonder that Glounthaune became a favoured habitat for wonderful specimen plants from the late 1800s. Ashbourne was later acquired by the Hallinan family who ran the Avoncore Mills in Midleton (formerly Hackett’s Distillery). The Hallinans employed some of their mill workers to develop the gardens at Ashbourne – given that their mill was close to the railway in Midleton, it was easy for such workers to get to Ashbourne to work there! The Hallinans kept up the gardens (one would love to know what additions were made by them) but eventually they sold Ashbourne in the 1960s. It appears that the auctioneer removed some of the more valuable plants to Dublin before the sale of the house! The development of the house into a hotel secured its future, with the gardens being carefully maintained throughout these years. Sadly the closure of the hotel in the year 2000 and its current use as an asylum seekers reception center means that the gardens are not properly maintained. The good news is that the grounds are actually listed for protection, so there’s hope for restoring them!

Meconopsis Beamishii - Glounthaune's 'national flower'?

Meconopsis Beamishii – Glounthaune’s ‘national flower’?

Found at last! Midleton’s ‘lost’ Tudor landlord.

The coat of arms issued to John Hovenden of Killabban, Queen's County, by Clarenceaux Herald of Arms in 1585.

John Hovenden was the eldest son of Giles Hovenden who was granted the lease of the lands of Corabbey in June 1551. A quiet man, barely mentioned in the state papers, John may have succeeded his father as the leaseholder of Corabbey until 1572. The name is spelled Hoveden in this image – it was the original name in medieval times with the first ‘n’ sneaking in by Tudor times. 

Lease to Gyles Hovynden ; of the site of the abbey of Chore alias Core, the lands of Chore and Kyl-(blank)-agh and Ballygybbyn, and the rectories of Chore, Downebowlogg, Kylrovayn, Kyl(collehy), St Katherine by Cork and Mogellygg. To hold for 21 years. Rent £26 5s.’ Fiant 6806 Elizabeth I (or 1147a Edward VI).

from The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns, (vol III) 1994

One of the difficulties facing Irish historians is the lack, or apparent lack, of documentation. We’ve already noted that when the Cistercian abbey of Mainistir na Corann/Corabbey was dissolved in 1543, the monastic buildings and the old monastic estate was granted to the former abbot, Philip FitzDavid Barry, on a twenty-one year lease with a rent payable to the crown. If anything, this was a kindness since the abbey had been Philip’s home since the early sixteenth century.  But that lease would have run to 1565 – about seven years into the reign of Elizabeth I. What happened to the land between the end of the lease in 1565 and 1573 when the property was granted to John FitzEdmund FitzGerald of Cloyne and Cahermone on a new lease? Who held the land until FitzGerald took over? Nobody has bothered to explain this gap. But now the mystery is solved – thanks to a document that was incorrectly filed by an Elizabethan civil servant about 1572!

The destruction of the Four Courts, Dublin, in June 1922 destroyed a vast amount of historic Irish public records, including the original fiants.

The horrific destruction of the Four Courts, Dublin, in June 1922 destroyed a vast amount of historic Irish public records, including the original fiants. (Cashman Collection/RTE)

The above text is from a fiant recording the grant of the site and former monastic estate of Corabby/Mainistir na Corann together with the tithes of certain rectories to Giles Hovenden during the short reign of King Edward VI. A fiant was a warrant issued by the government to the Court of Chancery in Ireland. This court was the authority that issued letters patent under the Great Seal of Ireland. Basically a fiant takes its title from the Latin phrase at the start of the order: Fiant litterae patente – ‘let letters patent be made….’ The letter patent (or published letter) was the key legal document that certified a government grant or order. It was registered in the rolls of the Court of Chancery, thus guaranteeing the patent extra legal effect. The Four Courts Fire of 1922 destroyed all the fiants issued throughout Irish history, but we are fortunate that they had been calendared and published in the 1880s and republished in the 1990s. So these important records survive in a somewhat abbreviated fashion. Since the exact date and year of the issue of this particular fiant is lost from the copy of the record, we must look to the term of office of Sir James Croft, the Lord Deputy of Ireland who signed it. Croft was Lord Deputy from 21 April 1551 to April 1552, and because the fiant was issued in the month of June, we can firmly date the fiant and the grant of the leasehold of Corabbey to June 1551.

What is interesting is that this grant of the leasehold to Giles Hovenden is simply unknown in Midleton. The reason is that this fiant was misfiled during the reign of Elizabeth I – some things NEVER change in the Irish civil service! The grant itself is quite a surprise because the previous leaseholder was Philip FitzDavid Barry the ‘former’ abbot of Corabby, who was a local man, almost certainly born in Castleredmond Castle. Abbot Philip had been granted a twenty-one year lease in 1544, so it should have run until 1565. However, since he was almost certainly the abbot Philip of Chore who was granted the vicarage of Inchinabecky and the rectory of Shandon in 1504, it is likely that he was already elderly and died some time between 1546 and 1551. It is very likely that, following Philip Barry’s death, the lease of Corabbey came back into the hands of the Crown due to the accumulated arrears of rents.  So the land was let out again for another twenty-one year period to Giles Hovenden.

Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone, was made a ward of Giles Hovenden by the Crown when his father was murdered.

Hugh O’Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone, was made a ward of Giles Hovenden by the Crown when his father was murdered.

So who exactly was Giles Hovenden?  He was an Englishman who came to Ireland during the reign of Henry VIII to serve in the king’s army. It seems that he came from Ulcomb near Maidstone in Kent. It should be noted that the Hovendens appear to have been neighbours of the St Leger family – Sir Anthony St Leger of Ulcomb and Leeds Castle was the Lord Deputy of Ireland for an astonishing three separate terms – 1540-1548, 1550-1551 and 1553-1556. A captain of light horse in 1532, Giles Hovenden was given some interesting commissions to execute. He was one of the Commissioners for the government of Connaught in 1544, In conjunction with James FitzJohn FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond, on 28 July 1551, Hovenden was made a commissioner for the government of the counties of Cork, Limerick and Kerry. In December 1551, the earl asked Hovenden to arrest his own son and heir, Gerald FitzJames FitzGerald (later the 15th Earl), and his own brother Maurice FitzJohn FitzGerald, because they had raided McCarthy lands in Cork! Clearly Hovenden was able to get on very well with the ‘Old English’ and the Gaelic Irish.  He seems to have had business dealings with Conn O’Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone, concerning the Earl’s lands in Ballygriffin in County Dublin. It seems likely that Giles Hovenden retired from government service in  1556 when St Leger left office for the last time.

On 29 November 1549 Giles Hovenden was granted the lands of Killeban in Leix, later Queen’s County, now County Laois. He married Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Walter Cheevers and had five sons and a daughter John, Peter, (or Piers), Richard, Walter, Henry and Joanna.

The eldest son, John Hovenden of Killeban, was granted the arms shown at the head of this post in 1585.  There is very little in the official records about John Hovenden – one commentator suggests that he kept his head down and attempted to lead a quiet life, quite an achievement in a turbulent age. It is perfectly possible that this man inherited his father’s leasehold of Corabbey, for the second son, Peter, had property and income from King’s County (Offaly), Queen’s County (Laois), Kildare, Meath, Down, Tipperary, Louth and Roscommon.  The fourth son, Walter, after military service in the Netherlands, was killed when the O’Mores attacked the fort and town of Maryborough (now Portlaoise) in 1579.

The third and fifth sons, Richard and Henry,became the foster-brothers of Hugh O’Neill, who later became the 2nd Earl of Tyrone! They actually ‘went native’ as both served O’Neill as military officers during his revolt against Queen Elizabeth I during the Nine Years War. Henry actually became O’Neill’s secretary and confidential advisor and, perhaps, his chief of intelligence. henry followed O’Neill into exile during the Flight of the Earls in 1607.

Edward VI became king in 1547 at the age of nine and died aged fifteen in 1553. He was the king when Giles Hovenden was granted the twenty-one year lease of Corabbey. (c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The Tudor boy king. Edward VI became king in 1547 at the age of nine and died aged fifteen in 1553. He was the king when Giles Hovenden was granted the twenty-one year lease of Corabbey. (c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

How did Hugh O’Neill end up as a foster-brother to Giles Hovenden’s sons? The Earldom of Tyrone had been awarded to Conn O’Neill by Henry VIII when Conn submitted to the Crown as part of the Surrender and Regrant policy. Conn planned to pass on the earldom to his illegitimate son, Matthew, Baron of Dungannon  Matthew was the father of Brian and Hugh O’Neill. However, in typical Irish fashion, Conn’s legitimate son, Shane, objected and in 1558, Shane’s men killed Matthew. A year later Conn, Earl of Tyrone, died and he should have been succeeded by his grandson Brian, the new Baron of Dungannon, and the government’s preferred choice. But Shane O’Neill was too strong and he claimed the title Earl of Tyrone for himself. Brian was assassinated in 1562 by a cousin, probably on Shane O’Neill’s orders.  This left Brian’s younger brother, Hugh, a minor, as the new Baron of Dungannon and the government’s preferred candidate as Earl of Tyrone. However the young Hugh O’Neill was very vulnerable to assassination. The government placed him in the care of Giles Hovenden as a Ward of the Crown.  Hugh grew up with Richard and Henry Hovenden. There is some speculation that Hugh may have been fostered in the Gaelic Irish fashion to Giles Hovenden when he was still a boy. This might explain why English officials considered the Hovenden brothers to be O’Neill’s foster-brothers.  This close relationship was the basis of the friendship that led to Richard and Henry ‘going native’ during the 1590s when Hugh O’Neill finally gained control of his earldom of Tyrone.

Bective Abbey in County Meath was converted into a house after it was suppressed by Henry VIII. Did the Hovendens do the same to Corabbey?

Bective Abbey in County Meath was converted into a house after it was suppressed by Henry VIII. Did Giles Hovenden do the same to Corabbey/Mainistir na Corann?

So there you have it – a missing link in the history of Midleton, or, more correctly, Corabbey/Mainistir na Corann. The leasehold of the old Cistercian monastery and its estate was granted to Giles Hovenden, formerly of Kent, in June 1551. He was Midleton’s ‘missing Tudor-era landlord’.The irony is that Hovenden’s ward or foster-son, Hugh O’Neill, helped to suppress the Second Desmond Rebellion (1579-1583). This led to the final defeat and death of the same Gerald FitzJames FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, who had been arrested with his uncle Maurice by Giles Hovenden in December 1551! Later Hugh O’Neill would conduct a devastating raid on Barrymore and Imokilly, including the former Hovenden leasehold of Corabbey, during his sweep into Munster in 1600 during the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603).

Only loyal subjects of the Crown need apply in Tudor Ireland!

Only loyal subjects of the Crown need apply in… Tudor Ireland!

Why do I say that the fiant of June 1551 was misfiled? If the Hovenden lease of Corabbey did indeed run to 1572, then it was necessary for the government to examine the details of that lease when it lapsed that year to ensure that the land was indeed available to let without encumbrances to a new tenant. An inspection of the fiant showed that a new lease on the former monastic estate could indeed be granted to someone else. In 1573 the old monastery and the former monastic estate were granted on a twenty-one year lease to John FitzEdmund FitzGerald, who had bought neighbouring Cahermone Castle and its estate from impoverished relatives in 1571. FitzGerald now had a nice little estate that ran all the way to the Owencurra River. And the government clerk omitted to replace the original fiant of 1551 with the documents relating to the reign of King Edward VI! No wonder the historians have missed it, despite the fact that it was hiding in plain sight for over a century!  Now I wonder if any papers have survived about the Hovendens in Corabbey…..

Link: http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mjbrennan/Hovendens_01.htm

‘Happy Birthday, Midleton!’ The Charter of Midleton was issued 345 years ago by King Charles II.

King Charles II granted the Charter of Midleton to Sir St John Brodrick in 1670.

King Charles II granted the Charter of Midleton to Sir St John Brodrick in 1670. He also gave his name to the former Charles Street in Midleton, now Connolly Street.

‘…constitute, ordain and appoint the said Castle, Town & Lands of CastleRedmond & Corabby aforesaid, with the appurtenances in the County of Corke aforesaid, shall from henceforth forever be a free Borrough & Corporation & shall be called by the name of Borrough & Town of Middleton.….’,

These are the words that give the town of Midleton in County Cork its modern name. As you can observe, spelling was rather flexible in those days. The above statement is buried within the charter issued by King Charles II to Sir St John Brodrick in June 1670. We have already noted in a previous post that the date of the charter ( ‘…the Tenth day of June in the Two and twentyeth year of our Reign & in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Six hundred and Seventy…‘, 10 June 1670) was actually ten days behind the corrected calendar authorised by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, but the British, being suspicious of any ‘papist’ innovations, preferred to stick to the old Julian calendar until 1752.  So the correct date for the issuing of the Charter of Midleton is 20 June 1670, which is why I’m discussing it now.

On Thursday 18 June I spent the morning at the Cork Archives examining the only copy of the charter to have survived. This is a manuscript copy made by Rev Mr Verney Lovett on Saturday, 7 February 1784 and copied ‘verbatim’ from the text then preserved in the Rolls Office in Dublin. Anyone familiar with Irish history will know that the Public Record Office in Dublin was destroyed at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1922, thus incinerating centuries of Irish historical records – including the text which Mr Lovett consulted. The fact that Lovett made a copy of the charter suggests that the original Charles II charter document given to St John Brodrick had already vanished. The Rev Mr Lovett, being a burgess of Midleton, was obliged to make a fair copy from the surviving record, which he had neatly bound in a soft leather cover with the inscription Charter of Middleton 1670 embossed on it. Clearly this was intended to be a working document for the charter only takes up thirty pages, with most of the folio being blank.

John, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton was the co-founder of New Jersey with George Carteret. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland when Sir St John Brodrick applied for a charter. Despite is relaxed attitude to Catholics, Berkeley got on very well with the staunchly Protestant Brodrick.

John, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton was the co-founder of New Jersey with George Carteret. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland when Sir St John Brodrick applied for a charter. Despite is relaxed attitude to Catholics, Berkeley got on very well with the staunchly Protestant Brodrick.

The charter was issued by the king on the suit of Sir St John Brodrick (or Broderick, as the text has it) on the advice and consent of ‘our Right & well beloved cousin John Lord Berkeley Lieutenant General & General Governor of our said Kingdom of Ireland‘. This was John, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, who with Sir George Carteret founded the Province of New Jersey in North America in 1664-1674.  Berkeley had fought for Charles I in the Civil War and was exiled during the Commonwealth.  Appointed Lord President of Connaught for life in 1661, he appointed a deputy to do his work there shortly thereafter. Berkeley was sent back to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant in 1670 and stayed in office until 1672. He was  considered very pro-Catholic (not surprising given his French and Spanish-Netherlands exile under Cromwell). This apparent pro-Catholic stance makes Berkeley’s friendship with Sir St John Brodrick all the more surprising, for Brodrick was a staunch low-church Protestant.

The sprawling Whitehall Palace was originally Cardinal Wolsey's London residence, then the home of Henry VIII. More of a town than a coherent palace, it burned down in the 1690s, to the relief of William of Orange who hated its damp atmosphere.  It was from here that Charles II issued Letters Patent to Berkeley to draw up the Charter of Midleton.

The sprawling Whitehall Palace was originally Cardinal Wolsey’s London residence, then the residence of Henry VIII. More of a town than a coherent palace, it burned down in the 1690s, to the relief of William of Orange who hated its damp atmosphere. It was from here that Charles II issued Letters Patent to Berkeley to draw up the Charter of Midleton.

The charter was issued from Whitehall Palace under letters bearing the king’s privy signet and sign manual (the king’s personal seal and signature) but was formally registered in the rolls of the High Court of Chancery of Ireland on 3 January 1671. This was a month overdue since the king had commanded that the charter be enrolled within six months of issuance – so it should have been enrolled in early December 1670. The legal profession’s Christmas break must have delayed matters.

Charter of King Charles Ii to the colony of Rhode Island, 1663. This is what an actual charter document looks like. Sadly the Midleton charter seems to have vanished by 1784 when Rev Verney Lovett made his copy from the Chancery Rolls copy.

Charter of King Charles Ii to the colony of Rhode Island, 1663. This is what an actual charter document looks like. Sadly the Midleton charter seems to have vanished by 1784 when Rev Verney Lovett made his copy from the Chancery Rolls copy.

So what exactly was a charter and what did the it do?  A charter is a legal document that could be issued by an authorising authority (the king) under its seal granting certain legal rights and privileges to a person, or a group of persons, or to a place or estate. This particular charter did three things. Firstly, as we’ve already discovered, the charter named the town formerly known as Mainistir na Corann or Corabbey as Middleton. To be honest, I was intrigued to note that the spelling Middleton appeared to apply only to the town, with the spelling Midleton applying only to the manor or estate of Sir St John Brodrick – until the spelling of the town’s new name changed near the end of the document – Middleton or Midleton were used for the name of both the town and the manor interchangeably. Perhaps there was a change of clerk during the drafting of the charter? it should be noted that this new name for the town is the only part of the charter still in force.

However the charter actually opens with the erection of the estates of Sir St John Brodrick into a manor, or Mannor, as it is sometimes spelled. A manor was an estate with specific identity bearing clear legal rights and powers. These rights and powers would apply to specific denominations of land. In the case of Midleton these were spread over four baronies. grouped by barony the denominations were the townlands of Castle-Redmond, Corraby, Killeagh, Knocknagoure, Knockgriffin, Curtistowne, Cahirmoan, Storm.Cotter, Carrigbane, Coppingerstown, Butlerstowne, BallyBane, Ballyrarla, Ballysimon,Ballymartin, Ballyknock & Coolerath, Rathcannon, Donigmore,& Kippane, Monemerrig, Bridgefield, Carrignasheny & Lictur Dowre, & Coolcurrig, Dromfaranie in the barony of Imokilly. Clearly the Imokilly lands constituted the larger part of the manor.

Then came Garriduff, Knocknacottig, Ballyannan, East Ballyvodick, West Ballyvodick, Ballintubber, Ballinecurrig, Ballyhasna, & Glanawillin in the barony of Barrymore.The outlying denominations were Donivally Ballygreggin, Temple Roane & Killehenisk in the barony of Fermoy, with Gallinguile and Kilbrony in the barony of Orrery in North Cork.  All of these denominations were in the county of Cork. All of these lands were to be constituted an ‘intire Manor‘ with all the rights and privileges attached to a manor. Clearly the intention was that the estate should remain complete and intact for evermore.

The most important right attached to a manor was the right to hold manorial courts. There were three such courts in the Manor of Midleton: a Court Leet and View of Frank Pledge, and a Court Baron, and a Court of Record. Sir St John Brodrick could exercise his rights to hold these manorial courts by appointing one or more seneschals and a recorder to preside over these courts. The Court of Record was given jurisdiction over actions ot the value of £200 in English currency! This was a surprisingly large sum at the time.  A Bailiff Minister was to serve as the agent of the Court of Record. In addition to keeping his manor courts, Sir St John Brodrick was given the right to keep and maintain a prison and to appoint a keeper to serve the Court of Record.

St John Brodrick was also granted the right to create a demesne of 800 acres for his exclusive use and to enclose a ‘park venery’ (deer park) and rabbit warren of 800 acres ‘more or less’!  Indeed he did create a deer park at Cahermone which ran right up to the edge of the town (hence the two townlands of Park North and Park South). This park existed right up until the estate was sold off under the Land Acts of the late 1800s and early 1900s, although by then it was much reduced in size. And just in case anyone didn’t understand how powerful Brodrick had become, the lord of the manor was to ‘…have, receive, perceive, seize, Enjoy & convert….’ all ‘…waifs, strays, ffelons, goods of fugitives, & Deodands, ffishings, weers, Royalties, free warren & privileges…‘ for his own benefit, profit, use and enjoyment!

It was the Lord of the Manor who controlled the town’s market – he was obliged to appoint a ‘clerk of the Markett‘ to keep order in the market and to collect the dues owed to him by the stall-holders.

Seal of the Corporation of Midleton as illustrated by Samuel Lewis in the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland.

Seal of the Corporation of Midleton as illustrated by Samuel Lewis in the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. The spelling of Midleton was amended in the 19th century to prevent the mails from going astray!

The final major decision under the charter was to constitute the town on the estate as a borough as noted at the head of this post. The borough would ‘…extend into the said county of Corke every way from the middle of the said town one hundred acres in the whole….‘ Within the town there was to be a ‘..body Pollitick & Corporate consisting of one Sovereign, Two Bailiffs & two Burgesses.‘  This posed a problem for Mr Verney Love, because a few lines later we find that the Corporation would consist of .’…a Sovereign, Two bailiffs & TWELVE Burgesses.’  Mr Lovett underlined the word ‘twelve’ in his text, and, indeed, this was the structure of the Corporation thereafter, the same Corporation that Mr Lovett served on. This group of men would thereafter be called ‘The Sovereign, Bailiffs and Burgesses of the Burrough and Town of Middleton.‘.

The charter names William Hutchings as ‘.. a free burgess & first & modern Sovereign.‘  He was to hold office until ‘…the Thursday next after the Feast of St Michael the Archangel...’ in 1672!  Hutchings was obliged to be sworn into office ‘…before 29th September next before the Justices of Assizes of County Corke…’ taking the Oath of Supremacy, and other oaths as required by law, including the ‘Corporal Oath‘ of Midleton. September 29th is Michaelmas or the Feast of St Michael, an important date in the legal and academic calendar since it marked the start of the autumn law term. The sovereign was to be the sole coroner for Midleton and would serve as a Justice of the Peace for one year after the conclusion of his term of office. From 1730, the sovereign was usually the agent for the absentee Viscount Midleton, often holding office of sovereign for many years in succession.

John Downing and John Gemings were appointed free burgesses and bailiffs of Midleton, also holding office until the Thursday following Michaelmas 1672.  The burgesses were named as: Adam Wener, Peter Bettesworth, Richard Downing, Richard Walkham, Edward Laundy, Thomas Guard, John Wally, Nicholas Seward, Robert Cole, Thomas Knight, William Kinnagh, & Richard Hargrove.

Cooper Penrose of Cork was a burgess of Midleton in 1784. He commissioned this portrait of himself from Jacques-Louis David in 1802. This is the only portrait of an Irish subject by David. Sadly this superb portrait was sold by the family to a museum in San Diego.   A huge loss to our artistic patrimony.

Cooper Penrose of Cork was a burgess of Midleton in 1784. He commissioned this portrait of himself from Jacques-Louis David in 1802. This is the only portrait of an Irish subject by David. Sadly this superb portrait was sold by the family to a museum in San Diego. A huge loss to our artistic patrimony.

Rev Verney Lovett usefully supplied the names of most of his colleagues on the Corporation in 1784: Martin Delany and Thomas Wigmore were the bailiffs that year. The burgesses were: George Courteney, George Courteney of Ballycrenan, the Earl of Shannon, Broderick Chinnery, Aubrey (?) McCarthy, Cooper Penrose, William Garde of Broomfield, Rev Verney Lovett himself, and Rev Laurence Broderick.  The Courteneys were cousins, the Earl of Shannon’s Irish seat was at Castlemartyr, just a few miles east of Midleton, Brodrick Chinnery was descended from the first and second headmasters of Midleton College and was related to the Brodricks, Cooper Penrose was a wealthy Cork merchant, Rev Laurence Broderick was a cousin of the fourth Viscount Midleton at the time.  Sadly Mr Lovett didn’t give us the name of the sovereign, but it might have been Rev Mr Green, Rector of Tullylease in north Cork – but this is uncertain.

Built or rebuilt by George Brodrick, 4th Viscount Midleton, in 1789, the Market House is the most important building on Main Street.  It replaced a market house dating from the 1680s and was the location for the Corporation's meetings and elections, as well as being the Borough and  manorial courthouse. It's now the town library.

Built or rebuilt by George Brodrick, 4th Viscount Midleton, in 1789, the Market House is the most important building on Main Street. It replaced a market house dating from the 1680s and was the location for the Corporation’s meetings and elections, as well as being the Borough and manorial courthouse. It’s now the town library. Historically only the central arch of the arcade was open – the rest were shops.

Elections for the sovereign and bailiffs were to be held annually on the Thursday following the Feast of St James the Apostle, which fell on 25 July, with the officers taking office on the Thursday after Michaelmas. The sovereign, as noted above, rarely changed, but the bailiffs were changed almost every year. The sovereign, bailiffs and burgesses were to elect ‘two discreet burgesses‘ as members of Parliament to sit in the Irish House of Commons whenever a general election or a by-election was called. Furthermore, the sovereign, bailiffs and burgesses could admit any number of freemen to the town on payment of a 5 shilling fee to be used for the benefit of the Corporation. Sadly, there’s no surviving list of freemen.

The Corporation was also free to possess and use a common seal for authorising Corporation business, with a design and inscription of their choice. They were also permitted to ‘…build or cause to be built in some convenient place in the said town of Middleton a common hall or Tholsell to be called the Tholsell of Middleton….’ wherein they might conduct the business of the Corporation.  And to think we called it a market house or town hall all along! The Corporation was also permitted to organize a guild of merchants for the regulation of trade in the town (except the market) – but there’s no evidence that they bothered with this provision.

Not mentioned in the Charter, the Midleton Mace was almost certainly made by Robert Goble of Cork around 1700 to symbolise the Corporation's authority. It shows the Royal Crown on top with the arms of the Brodricks on the head. The mace is now preserved in the Hunt Museum in Limerick.

Not mentioned in the Charter, the silver Midleton Mace was almost certainly made by Robert Goble, a Huguenot goldsmith of Cork, around 1700 to symbolise the Corporation’s authority. It shows the Royal Crown on top with the arms of the Brodricks on the head. The mace is now preserved in the Hunt Museum in Limerick.

What exactly did the Corporation do?  Well, it seems that it did very little – but that’s because the minute books and court records haven’t survived. Thus we can’t really say if the Corporation really did anything to turn Midleton into the town it is today – I suspect that the Lord of the Manor had more say in those developments since he benefited from the rents. The two bailiffs were required to maintain order in the town, but that basically was it. The loss of the two parliamentary seats in the Act of Union stripped Midleton of its unique parliamentary franchise. From 1801 the town was now represented by the MPs for the county! The most damning indictment of the Corporation of Midleton came in the First Report of the Commissioners on Municipal Corporations in Ireland in 1835:

‘...the Corporation has been kept up, and the annual election of officers has been held, but for what purpose it is not easy to discover; the members having no duties to discharge, nor any privileges or emoluments, except the occasional presence of a local justice of the peace within the town, who seldom acts as such…..

The commissioners noted that even the manor courts had ceased to function, presumably because the courthouse built to the designs of Richard Pain in 1829 now hosted regular Petty Sessions of the County Court, which was much more independent of the landlord and Corporation.

The Corporation of Midleton, along with many others in Ireland, was abolished in 1840. The manor had effectively ceased to exist as such after 1850 when the whole Midleton estate was spit in an inheritance dispute. From then on, all that remained, apart from hunting and fishing rights, was the name given to the town 345 years ago – Midleton.  And to think that the place could have been called Charleville! But St John Brodrick’s friend, Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill and Earl of Orrery, had already appropriated that name in 1661 for his new town at Rathgoggan in Orrery barony in north Cork.  So Brodrick’s town was named prosaically for its position half-way between Cork and Youghal.

So today it might be fair to say……Happy Birthday, Midleton!