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History of Lackagh Church

Castleview Farm is located adjacent to Lackagh Graveyard. (Leachach: abounding in flagstones, stony) lies three miles to the east of Monasterevan. It formed a parish in days gone by, and a Catholic Church stood in the grave-yard. Its site is now occupied by a rooofless Prodestant Church. A Celtic Cross, erected in 1947 by local subscription, marks the grave of Rev. Stephen Bulger, the last parish priest of Lackagh, who died in 1786. In our field, close by this ancient burial ground, is part of a thick wall, the only remaining vestige of Lackagh Castle that stout fortress of the Geraldines, the family of which Thomas Davis wrote in his ballad:-

“True Geraldines, brave Geraldines! as torrents mould the earth, You channeled deep old Ireland’s heart by constancy and worth.”

The passage of an arched vault leading a short way to the mote is now filled up: local tradition says that this underground tunnel led either to the old church, or to a “Mote” a short distance away.

THE CASTLE OF LACKAGH

Very little is known of the history of Lackagh Castle. It was probably built by Sir Thomas Fitzgerald of Lackagh who died in 1478. Seward in his Topographia Hibernica says that the castle “according to tradition was built by a woman of the family of Fitzgerald:- it was much injured by the assaults of Cromwell, and afterwards suffered by fire. Here is the burial place of the family of Rice, whose ancient seat of Mount-rice, once an elegant situation lies at a small distance from these ruins. This place gives title of Baron to the family of Fielding, now Earl of Desmond” (The earldom of Desmond, an old Fitzgerald title given to George, Lord Fielding of Lecaghe 1628).

In 1643 the castle was besieged and captured by the Confederate Commander, Lord Castlehaven, as described in his Memoirs as follows:-

“I then encamped on the heath called the Curragh of Kildare, from whence I summoned all the castles thereabouts, and had them yielded, only whilst I was thus encamped Colonel Chidly Coote, Governor of Lacagh, came to me, and though he had nothing to secure his return, yet, on conditions I let him go, and after appearing before his place, had it according to our agreement, This done I repassed the Barrow to Monasterevin and marched into Leix”

Lackagh Castle did not escape the effects of the Comwellian campaign. In 1655, Henry Fitzgerald, aged eighty, and his family were transported to the Barbadoes together with the entire Catholic population of Lackagh (except four who were hanged). This cruel sentence was carried out as a reprisal for the deaths of two government soldiers, Denis Brennan and Murtagh Turner at “the castle of Lackay”. The names of the four hanged men were Connor Birne, Teighe Morgan, James Beacon and Tirlagh Dunn. Of the thirty-seven unfortunate people transported, four were priests, James Tuite, Robert Keegan, Redmond Moore and John Tobin. The commandor of the “wexford” frigate, Captain Robert Coleman, was ordered to convey the Lackagh prisoners to Waterford. “with the first opportunity of wind and weather” there to await shipment to the Barbadoes (book of General orders, Record Office, Dublin).

A gruesome story, though with a happy ending, concerns a Mountrice woman who had been buried in the family plot at Lackagh. That night a neighbour disinterred the body in order to gain possession of a valuable ring on her finger. He found the good lady alive , and she recovered and lived for many years.

Castleview Farm