Archive for February, 2011

Travel writing from the 18th and 19th centuries can offer a very interesting insight into the areas and lands that the writer visits. Instead of the dry statistical accounts a keen insight can be given of the people, characteristics and features of an area. Excursions Through Ireland: Comprising Topograpical and Historical Delineations of Each Province… by Thomas Cromwell was published in 1820 and has a typically wordy title for books of that era.

The passage below is from pages 71-73 and contains a very interesting story of how three local men are treated by a passing coachman. The author then gives his opinions on how such coachmen would be treated in England if they tried the same things there. Observations are also offered on the parish of Kilmacahill which show the area to be less well off than other parishes.


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Topographica Hibernica or the Topography of Ireland Ancient and Modern…..was written by William Wenman Seward and published in 1797. The book gives an account of many different area in Ireland including the townland of Kellymount.   The relevant section discusses the Kellymount Gang and a battle fought between the inhabitants of Carlow and Kilkenny over the boundary between the two counties. I am currently not aware of what battle the article refers to.

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The first atlas of Ireland was Hiberniae Delineaho, published in 1685. It came about as a result of the ‘Down’ Survey which had been carried out in the thirty years previous to the publication of the atlas. The publisher of the atlas was Sir William Petty. A detailed map of every county in Ireland was published along with maps of the provinces and maps of Ireland. It is a truly masterful piece of cartography.

Below you can see Paulstown (right middleground) and the lands around it from the county of Kilkenny. The dashed line more than likely represents a road from Gowran to Paulstown which also goes on to Old Leighlin in Carlow. A small structure directly under the word Paulstown is probably Paulstown Castle. To the north west of Paulstown is a Church and another structure.

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I have come across a very interesting publication that forms an appendix to the Report of the Commissioners, that was part of the House of Commons Papers for the year 1836. It was published in London by Clowes and Sons. The publication contains answers to a series of questions on the “earnings of labourers, cottier tenants, employment of women and children” in different parts of Ireland. One of those areas covered is the Union of Paulstown. It gives a fascinating insight into the social and economic conditions which contributed to the harsh realities of life in the mid 1830s.

The answers for Kilmocahill are provided by Rev. James M. Stubbs and the answers for the Union of Paulstown are provided by Rev. Michael Brenan P.P. The first graphic shows the twelve questions that were asked. The answers are in the second and third graphics and read downwards. The twelve boxes correspond to the twelve questions.

Each graphic can be clicked to enlarge.

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