Newsletter June 2020

Dear Readers,

The Kilkenny Archaeological Society is experiencing a bit of a standstill like the rest of society and getting used to the new ways we as a society communicates and interact with each other. As many other event organizers, we have had to cancel some of our annual events and are working on solutions for how we can still hold some of our events for later this year.
But to an extremely social society such as ours and to the Irish people it is hard to imagine what our every day lives are going to be like, when we all go back to work, school, pubs and restaurants with social distancing measures in place, however it is a necessity to keep us safe and a learning curve for the future.
However we hope that with this newsletter we show that the standstill is only on the outside and that we as a society are still busy behind the scenes, looking after our members, carrying out research, creative problem solving and keeping in touch in whichever way is allowed.

If you have topics or news of interest to the readers of this newsletter please contact the PR Subcommittee by email to the following address:

Happy reading from Kilkenny Archaeological Society (KAS)
Newsletter is edited by Marie Kelly, Ann Tierney and Martin O’Faolain

Notes taken from William O’Leary’s Annals of Graig Abbey

By Eamonn Kiely.

In the 1920s, William O’Leary of the well-known Graiguenamanagh family, published a popularised version of Constance Butler and John Bernard’s The charters of the Cistercian abbey of Duiske2. Thanks to the reprint by Philip Murphy and David Hughes3, we are able to learn of dramatic events concerning that great Cistercian Abbey of Duiske, Graiguenamanagh. Monk Geoffrey Le Poer was the Abbey’s last scrivener (recorder) before it was suppressed in 1537. He managed to take the documents although a hasty departure and thus left us an invaluable legacy. Events were recorded chronologically. Here I extract a small fraction of these..

1204 Monks from Bristol establish the Cistercian monastery having rejected Logmeran closer to the city for the Vale of Duiske which they called the Vale of the Holy Saviour.
1219 William Marshall died, founder of the Abbey. He had married Strongbow’s daughter Isabel, who was also grand-daughter of Diarmuid Mac Morrough. Marshall had requested he be buried in Duiske but his kinsmen insisted he be buried in London.
1273 At Aonach (fair) of Balliduff a row broke out between men of Roer and men of Idrone. One of the beaten clan sought refuge in Duiske Abbey but was slain there by Murtagh Garv O’Kennedy. An interdict was laid on the Abbey for 2 years by general council.
1300 The Abbot built a cell and chapel of ease at Tulachowney (Barrowmount) for well-disposed Irish. Due to the steep path by the river some had not come to Mass and there was a fear they might revert to paganism ‘canisadvomitum’.
1316 Galar-breac (smallpox) broke out near Abbey of Dunbrody. Food was scarce. A gilly-baud (boat boy) was sent from Duiske with supplies.
1320 At Barrowmount a wolf frightened a mule who bolted having broken his srang(reins). He went into O’Carroll’s wood and was not returned. O’Riain seized two cows from O’Carroll and gave them to Duiske the owners of the mule.
1380 Parliament, enforcing the 1366 Statutes allowed no more Irish to profess at Duiske. Truly an unwise measure, for our worthiest ecclesiastics were Irish.
1415 John Down is Abbot – a doctor of laws. He enriched the library with 3 folios from Abbey of Croyland -Saint Swithuni Vita et Miracula, The Voyage of Brendan and the Golden Legend.
1460 Skilled musician Brother Angus of Holy Cross Abbey instructs Milo Roche, bishop of Ossory in music.
1530 The ill Abbot O’Kavanagh, blaming the damp goes on pilgrimage to Campostello.
1536 Rumours from England of suppression of monasteries. Abbot O’Kavanagh begins to lease land to kinsmen to offset worst affects. Number of monks 14.
1537 The Abbot being ill, the Prior started dispersal of certain deeds, leases etc. to save worthy benefactors of the Abbey. Geoffrey Le Poer, monk brought them to St Mary’s Dublin. He was delayed on the way in Kildare due to the rebellion of Tomas an tSioda (Silken Thomas). St Mary’s was suppressed and closed on arrival. He also heard that Duiske was suppressed and closed 3 days before with much bloodletting, all bar two monks were killed.
1538 One year on Le Poer records what he hears of Duiske. It is stripped of anything moveable by rapacious men, derelict but at times a shelter for what remained of Fitzgerald’s broken army.
1541 Le Poer records persecution widespread and except for two or three Abbeys no religious houses exist in Ireland. The noble houses of Jerpoint, Duiske, Tintern and Bective have been granted by Henry to his covetous followers.
1542 Nov Prior Nicholas of Duiske had spent the last 3 years with friars at Knockmoy under O’Kelly’s protection. Anxious as to the fate of Duiske he came as far as Kilkenny but fell seriously ill in the house of David Rothe Walkin St.
1542 5 Dec Prior Nicholas dies. Le Poer goes to Kilkenny – gets bad chill on way.
1542 6 Dec Is in Rothe’s house He says ‘I pray Master Rothe may hold these registers until I recover’.
1542 14 Dec Alia Manu (by another hand) Friar Geoffrey Le Poer died to-day (683)

1. William O’Leary, Annals of Graig Abbey, Wexford People, n.d.
2. Constance Butler and John Bernard, The Charters of the Cistercian abbey of Duiske in the county of Kilkenny, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 35 C (1918-1920) pp 1-188.
3. Philip Murphy and David Hughes, The O’Leary Footprint, The O’Leary Archive, 2004.

For further information on the charters which are now in the National Library, see
William Murphy, Archbishop Bernard, Lady Constance Butler and the ‘Charters of Duiske’, in Ossory, Laois and Leinster, vol 4, 2010 pp 185-201.

Edited by Ann Tierney and Martin O’Faolain

Unrecorded Structure Over the River Breagagh?

By Pat Boyd

The Village locals call the river the Beodic, but the river’s name on the Ordinance survey maps is the Bregagh. Beodic is a new and unrecorded name to the best of my knowledge. The river Bregagh has a number of interesting archaeological features between Rosehill House and Maidenhall. The most curious is this single arched boundary wall bridge with flood relieve ports. See photo.

The Bridging wall is approximately 1.2 meters in width and the span of the single arch  is about 2 .2 meters in diameter and constructed with limestone rubble, presumably quarried from nearby extensive but little know Limestone Quarry between Cootes Lane and the Kells Road and which was once owned by Kearneys.
The Bridging Wall is on private property but can be admired from the Rosehill side of the river by going down to the end of Cootes lane  and turning left, walking up along the lovely grassy woodland path for 300 meters.
It can also be accessed from the ring road if the ancient cobblelock ford is dry and can be crossed, the old footbridge now having been washed away.

News from the Kilkenny Archaeological Society’s Curator

Pewter Plates in Rothe House

By Amanda Pitcairn, KAS Curator

This image shows the collection of pewter plates at Rothe House.  Although these plates did not belong to John Rothe, he did own a collection of pewter as mentioned in his will dated 1619.
Pewter is a metal alloy consisting, traditionally, of 85-95% tin which was hardened by adding 5-15% Copper, Antimony, Bismuth and sometimes, though less commonly, Lead.[1]
Pewterers refer to plates such as these, as well as dishes, chargers, and saucers as ‘sadware’.  Pots, measures, jugs, flagons and tankards are known as ‘hollow-ware’.[2]
There are records of pewterers in Ireland in the 15th century, and Irish pewters were to be found across Ireland, most was manufactured in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Belfast. There seems to have been little market for pewter until the late 17th century.[3] John Heaney was a well-known Dublin manufacturer working c.1767-1798.[4]Up to that point much of the pewter in use in Ireland was imported from England.
Nonetheless one early reference to the use of pewter in Ireland is recorded in ‘an account roll of Holy Trinity Priory, Dublin, where in the Seneschal’s accounts for the year 1344, it is stated that one dozen saucers of pewter or tin, one dozen dishes, one dozen of plates of pewter and two dozen chargers were bought for the prior’s use for the sum of seven shillings..’[5]
Dating pewter items can generally, though not definitively, be done by style, and in relation to plates this often meant examining the rim of a plate. Cast, incised, single and double reed, as well as wavy edged, and narrow rims were all variations of style appearing between 1640 and 1840.

[1] Belmont Metals, “Pewter”, at <>, p.1, accessed May 21, 2020.

[2]The Pewter Society, “Pewter for Eating”, at <>, p.1. accessed May 21, 2020

[3] Hall, p.1

[4] Cotterell, Howard Herschel and M.S. Dudley Westropp, “Irish Pewterers”, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, 7, no 1 (1917): 47-66. P. 56. Accessed May 22, 2020.

[5] Cotterell, Howard Herschel and M.S. Dudley Westropp, “Irish Pewterers”, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Sixth Series, 7, no 1 (1917): 47-66. P. 48. Accessed May 22, 2020.


According to the Pewter Society it would seem that the plates in the Archaeological Society’s collection, which have a very plain rim, could date to c.1450-1760, but it is more likely, according to the renowned authority on Irish Pewter, David Hall, that they date to the late 17th century at the earliest.[6]
The resemblance of Pewter to silver meant that many aspirational 17th century households such as that of John Rothe, replaced their wooden trenchers with pewter which would have been prominently displayed on a court cupboard. A closer examination of the plates, (at the end of our current incarceration), in the hopes of finding touch marks will, we hope, help resolve the matter of when and where the plates in the Archaeological Society’s collection were made.

[6] Hall, David, “Irish Pewter”, <….Irish….David_Hall…22pdf >  p. 1 [accessed 22.05.2020]

Preserving Field Names

By Anne-Karoline Distel

Long Clover, The Blue Bells, Ban buí, Kill Field, The Rath Park, The Main Sail- these are some of the intriguing field names collected by volunteers in Ireland and added to OpenStreetMap. Most of you have heard of Owen O’Kelly’s book on place names (available on the KAS website). That was a huge task and highly commendable job. However, all we have are the names and we don’t know which fields they relate to. With OpenStreetMap, anyone with knowledge of field names can preserve them right where they belong: On a map, accessible to anyone.

KAS member Anne-Karoline Distel has prepared three YouTube tutorials on how do to exactly that. The first video is suitable for anyone who wants to work on their own, whereas the other two are a two-part (Part 1 & Part 2) tutorial for work in a team (which can be a family or group of neighbours).

If you are interested in preserving your family’s field names, but shy of technology, she would be only very happy to help you out. Contact her on

Lets preserve them before it is too late!

Coming events

Pat Nolan, Chair KAS Programme Committee

What in anticipation started out as a superb and well balanced programme for the current years because of the pandemic has morphed into a damage limitation exercise. But some good news.

The society is pleased to confirm that we will be staging a modified form Garden Visit on Saturday June 20th from 3:00 pm to 5.00pm. Thanks to the dedicated work of Mary Pyke, head gardener with the assistance of a team of committed volunteers the garden is looking pristine and inviting for our visit.

In accordance with current government regulations social distancing will be required and in consequence the number of members may have to be limited on this occasion. We have had to eliminate the traditional strawberries and cream but we will however be offering some drinks, wine and soft drinks as well albeit in disposable glasses. There is no set admission fee proposed but a donation bucket will be so positioned as to make it hard to avoid!

Members are invited to indicate their intention to attend by emailing pnolan@iora,ie or by phoning 087 241 1955 at all reasonable hours.

We are also going ahead with the arrangements for a carpooling outing to Kells on Saturday July the 18th.  Members are invited to make their own way to Kells Priory car park for 3:00 p.m. We will proceed to the extensive priory ruins where a talk on the history and current works by OPW will take place. Our hope is that members will then enjoy their self-supplied picnic in the extensive grounds.

Sadly, the proposed visit to France has had to be cancelled and may be rescheduled for a date in 2021 but far too soon to be anywhere near definite on just which month.  Full refunds of deposits will be offered just as soon as the Treasurer can be put in front of the appropriate cheque book.

Unfortunately, the famed John Bradley Memorial Conference is yet another pandemic victim. The programme committee has no option but to postponed this year’s event and hope and trust it will be possible to stage it as normal in October 2021

Stay safe and keep well
So, do we have no good new?  Well let me close with a poem that came my way this morning.

‘And the people stayed home”
by Kitty O’Meara (an Irish / American Poet)
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.