by Jim McCarthy
About one and a half miles to the East of Churchtown Village lies the townland of Walshestown. Here for more than four hundred years stood the castle of the Barrys until it was demolished and the stones used in the building of the present Walshestown House, around the year 1755 or 1760. The Castle stood on the verge of the cliff about 50 yards to the South East of the present house.
It is shown in the grants of Queen Elizabeth I that pardon was granted to Richard Fitznicholas Barry of Walshestown on December 7th 1591. It is also shown that pardon was given to Manus Keagh McSwiney and Katherine McSwiney of Walshestown on June 4th 1785. After the rebellion of 1641 the lands of Walshestown were granted to Sir Philip Percival.
THE BARRYS WERE ALLOWED TO LIVE ON AT WALSHESTOWN
Following the seizure of the lands of Walshestown, the Barry’s were allowed to live on there as tenants.
In a warrant of May 12th 1643, from Morrough, Lord Inchiquin, Chief Commander of the forces in Munster, James Fitznicholas Barry, with his family, servants and tenants, were allowed to live in the Castle of Walshestown, quiet;y and peacefully, and to plough and sow the land, yielding every fourth sheaf to Sir Philip Percival. Lord Inchiquin had been authorised to entertain all such tenants although they were named as being previously among the rebels.
Sir Philip Percival writing on May 6th 1640 to Crohor O’Callaghan states, that he hopes to sell his wool at a good price to redeem the lands of Imogane. Sir Philip again states in a letter of May 30th, 1644 that even though James Fitznicholas Barry was allowed to live in the Castle of Walshestown both himself and his neighbours are extremely false to the English. On May 5th, 1645, Sergt Thomas Raymond reported to Sir Philip Percival that there was rumour of a new insurrection, and that James Barry was meant to follow the rest. Raymond also stated to Sir Philip that he intended to put an English ward into Walshestown Castle.
Sir Philip Percival writing to John Hodder on October 1st 1644, tells him that Raymond cannot keep his three castles, he had better secure Liscarroll and Annagh and burn down Walshestown. Hodder writing to Sir Philip Percival from London on November 5th 1644, informs him that Raymond was still in possession of Liscarroll, Walshestown and Annagh. On January 2nd 1645, the following letter was written by Thomas Raymond to Sir Philip Percival from Liscarroll.
I hear that McJames wants to get Walshestown again and he often rides to visit Gerard Barry at his home at Imogane. He would have been very troublesome if the cessation had not been removed. It was generally thought that it would not be, and our castles were bestowed beforehand. Mallow to Donagh O’Callaghan, Liscarroll to McDonagh, who is the vilest man, and the worst enemy one can have. Annagh and Walshestown to the Barrys and Milltown to Capt. David Power. Now it is renewed until February 1st and the Irish Party are making all preparations, and boldly declare they will have no more cessations with Lord Inchiquin. Misdoubting McJames I got order from Lord Inchiquin to take possession of Walshestown Castle again. I will repay McJames what he has spent in repairs to the castle. I can get no one to value the same as his demands are unreasonable.
Christopher Crofts complained to Sir Philip Percival on January 10th 1649 that he was much troubled by wolves on the lands he had taken at Walshestown. At a later date Crofts again complained at the loss of several lambs which were attacked by foxes.
THE CONRON FAMILY COME TO WALSHESTOWN
Around the year 1660, Sir John Percival, son of Sir Philip, purchased the castle and lands of Walshestown from the Barrys. Around the year 1667 he leased 5 plough lands including the castle and demesne of Walshestown to Richard Conron. The Conrons were connected to Sir John Percival by marraige. Richard Conron was born in Kinsale. His mother was a member of the Southwell family and the wife of Sir John Percival was Catherine Southwell, of Kinsale.
RICHARD CONRON OF WALSHESTOWN
Richard Conron was born in Kinsale around the years 1635-6. He was a president and a loyalist enjoying full official confidence. He was connected by marraige to two of the most powerful families, the Southwells and the Percivals . He was a witness to the will of Lady Percival. The name of his wife is not known. He died around 1720 and was buried in a vault beside that of the Percivals underneath the old church in Churchtown village.
ROBERT CONRON OF WALSHESTOWN
Robert Conron, only son and heir to Richard, of Walshestown, was born in 1666. He attended school in Charleville and from there he entered Trinity College, Dublin on October 16th 1684. In 1629 he was sworn a Freeman of Kinsale, and in 1704 he was a Revenue Collector for the Kinsale district. On June 26th 1695 he married Mary Carleton. He made his will in 1726 and died around 1730. The executors to the will were his wife Mary, Rev. Robert Carleton, his brother-in-law. Thomas Tibbings, his son-in-law, and William Taylor, of Burton. To these executors he left the lands of Walshestown, Ballindillane and Clashganiff in trust for Mary his wife and after her death for his eldest son Christopher Conron. Mary Conron survived her husband for many years to enjoy the results of her marraige settlement. On July 20th 1730 she made over the Castle of Walshestown and one hundred acres adjoining it to her eldest son Christopher.
THE 2ND SON WILLIAM CONRON OF WALSHESTOWN
William Conron, was a searcher and gauger of the Port of Kinsale, an office he held until 1760 or so. He married Elizabeth Blennerhasset of Tralee, and they had only one daughter Mary.
THE 3RD SON, CARLETON CONRON
Carleton Conron was living in Charleville in 1755. In his will he mentions relatives but he does not mention any wife or children.
THE 4TH SON, ROBERT CONRON
Robert Conron was living in Dublin, and his will was dated May 9th 1737. He was married to a lady named Ann but I cannot find any further reference to him.
THE 5TH SON, GEORGE CONRON OF ANNAGH, CHURCHTOWN
George Conron was living at Annagh, near Churchtown, in 1732. He was married to a lady named Diana Maria, but her family name I am unable to find. They had only one child, Mary, who married in 1758 a man named Henry Nugent. George Conron made his will in 1732. His widow Diana died, and was buried in Charleville on October 22nd 1793.
THE 6TH SON, REV. DOWNES CONRON, MINISTER OF CHURCHTOWN
Rev. Downes Conron was born at Walshestown, near Churchtown, in the year 1706. He spent some time at school in Midleton from where he entered Trinity College, Dublin. He received his B.A. Degree in 1727 and his M.A. in 1735. He was ordained on St. Patrick’s Day 1729 by the Bishop of Cloyne, and on the following day he was appointed Minister, or Rector, of his native parish of Churchtown. He was presented to the parish by John 1st Earl of Egmont. The Earl entered in the diary of May 17th 1734. This day I appointed Rev. Downes Conron, my own personal Chaplain. On November 18th 1735, Rev. Downes Conron left the parish of Churchtown, when he was appointed Rector of Templerobin and Great Island, the present parish of Cobh (Queenstown). Rev. Downes Conron died in Bath, in England in June 1761. He was unmarried.
THE 7TH SON, ARTHUR CONRON
Arthur Conron was born at Walshestown, in the year 1709. He lived for some time at Leicester Sq. London and at Rotterdam. It is not known who his wife was but he had an only daughter Jane. In the year 1760 Arthur Conron had an estate of 102 acres near Ballincollig. The date of his death is not known but he made his will in April 1773. It is not known if his daughter Jane Conron ever married, but the estate at Ballincollig sixty years later was owned by a Hatton Conron.
THE 8TH SON, RICHARD CONRON
Richard Conron was born at Walshestown, near Churchtown in the year 1711. He was later a merchant in Cork City and he also had an estate at Ballinora, to the South of the City. We are told he was not wealthy and that he mortgaged some of his estate to pay his debts. His brother Arthur left him £200 in his will. He died on August 13th 1807 at the age of 93. Richard Conron was buried in the family tomb underneath the old church in Churchtown.
By Jim McCarthy
About two miles east of Churchtown village lies the historic townland of Walshestown. In the 18th and early 19th century a fair was held at Walshestown. This fair was held in the field just to the north of the avenue leading to Dunlea’s farm. The land along here was known as the Long Lays.
In the fiants of Elizabeth I, dated June 1585, pardons were granted to the following, William Thos Barry, Shane Barry, Manus Keagh McSheehy, Teige Duff NcSweeney and Katherine Sheehy all of Walshestown, near Churchtown.
By a deed signed May 23, 1612, Thomas Roper sold to James Fitznicholas Barry of Walshestown the land of Carrigeen near Churchtown.
I have here a copy of an old letter sent by Sir William St Leger to Sergeant Raymond (Sir Philip Percival’s Officer).
Doneraile, November 11, 1641
I am sending you a consignment of muskets and outliners and I am desiring you to put a guard on the castle of Walshestown,
Yours William St Leger
On July 11, 1644, Sergeant Thomas Raymond received orders from Lord Inchequin to seize the Castle of Walshestown. John Hodder writing to Sir Philip Percival on October 1, 1644 informs him that Raymond was still in possession of the Castles of Liscarroll, Annagh and Walshestown. On November 20, 1652 James Fitznicholas Barry of Imogane, was one of the commissioners appointed to let all the waste land in the Barony of Orrery and Kilmore for the best advantage of the state.
Richard Beare writning to John Percival on November 5, 1653 states, that a party of rogues came in the night and burned Imogane House to the ground, because he would not pay them a contribution. In his reply John Percival stated, I am much troubled by the burning of Imogane, which I think might have been prevented by hiring a file of men to secure it, by putting it into the hands of such Irish as we had interest there, ot at any rate by blocking up the doors and windows with stone and lime, so that it would be more troublesome to destroy.
Richard Beare replied on December 11, 1653 saying that the burning was planned by an individual named John Oge. Christopher Crofts complained to Sir John Percival on January 22, 1662 that he had lost several sheep at Walshestown through being annoyed by wolves.
EXTRACTS FROM SMITH’S HISTORY OF COUNTY CORK (1750)
One mile east from Burton Park lies Walshestown, the house of Mr Conron, around which are large plantations. Here was formerly a Castle of the Barrys which in 1641 was fortified and garrissoned at the expense of Sir Philip Percival.
On May 16, 1645, Walshestown Castle surrendered to the Earl of Castlehaven. According to the “Petty Census” of 1659 the townland of Walshestown had 39 Irish families and the townland of Imogane had 8. Sir Philip Percival describes Walshestown in 1677 as being very good land near the river, extraordinary good for cattle and much better for corn.
In 1684 Sir John Percival granted the townland of Walshestown to Richard Conron. His sons were Richard and Percival Conron. The Conrons built the present old Walshestown House around the year 1780. The head landlord was the Earl of Egmont. Around the year 1805 Walshestown passed to a family named Wrixon who came from Ballygiblin, near Castlemagner.
On July 2, 1820, John, son of Edward and Ann Wrixon was baptised. A lonely stretch of road runs east from Walshestown to near my old home. This stretch of road is known to this day as Wrixon’s Road. Many were the eerie stories we were told when I was a schoolboy as to how on bright moonlit nights John Wrixon rode a white horse along this road as far as a spot called the Dine Turn, at the end of his demesne.
Around the year 1830 the house was leased to a member of the Crofts family, Reverend George Spread Crofts, whose wife was Eliza Purcell from Burton Park. It was occupied at different times by army officers from Buttevant Barracks, one in particular was named Captain Perkins, whose wife was a German lady who it was said had cooking ideas strange to the district. One of her ways was to throw away the turnips and boil the turnip leaves as you would boil cabbage. In 1875 Walshestown House and lands were taken by a man named John Fleming. John Fleming’s daughter Mary Ann married a neighbour named James Browne. The Browne family lived at Walshestown House down to recent times. Walshestown House is now standing unoccupied as the present owner built a new house close by.
RESIDENTS OF WALSHESTOWN 1851
According to Griffith’s valuation the following people lived at Walshestown in 1851.
Michael Hallinan, Nicholas Wrixon, Patrick Browne, Michael Noonan, William Hallinan, Thomas O’Keeffe, Honora Carroll.
The residents of the portion of the townland called Leap 1851 were Thomas Dody, William O’Connor, Margaret Pigott, Thomas O’Connor, Michael Egan, Michael Murphy, William Barrett, Jeremiah Connell, Michael Murphy Senr, Garrett Fleming, Mary Duane, John Roche, Maurice Mahony, Maurice Regan, Daniel Relihan, Bartholomew Murphy, James Kirby, Michael O’Brien, Timothy Sheehan, Cornelius Graddy, Ellen Wlash, Bridget Tierney, Michael Downey, Robert Saunders, John Browne, John Roche, Johanna Creeghton.