Baile an Chalbhaigh
|Elevation||106 m (348 ft)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Calverstown (Irish: Baile an Chalbhaigh) is a small village in County Kildare, Ireland. It lies 6 km (3.7 mi) south of the town of Kilcullen and about 16 km (9.9 mi) from each of the towns of Athy, Kildare, Naas and Newbridge. It is an old settlement located close to the archaeological sites of Dún Ailinne and Old Kilcullen. The village has a stream running through it with another to the south. In the 2006 Census it had a population of 650.
Calverstown has been in existence as a named location since the early medieval period. An early reference to lands described as "Terra Philippi Vituli" (Latin for "Philip of Calfs land") provides an unaudited confirmation in the form of a petition from the Royal Hospitallers of Kilmainham listing their possessions to Pope Innocent III in 1212. The Irish name Baile an Chalbhaigh was historically anglicised as Ballinchalwey, Ballinchallowe and Ballinchalloe.
In a note to an edition of Richard de Ledrede's account of the Kyteler Witchcraft trial Wright (1843, 56-7) noted that Walter le Veele, or Calf, of Calfstown was Chancellor of Kildare Cathedral and was made Bishop of Kildare in 1299. He purchased the manor of Norragh, in which Calverstown is situated, from Geoffrey de Norragh before his death in 1332. The barony was inherited by his nephew John Calf, who passed it to his son Sir Robert Calf and to his daughter Elizabeth Calf who married William Wellesley of Baronsrath, whose heirs held the barony after that. The name of the town appears to be derived from the anglicised name of the le Veele family.
It is explicitly mentioned in a Rental of Gerald Earl of Kildare begun in 1518-19 1518 as "In baronia de Norragh. Item, in the barone of the Norragh & may be distraynet at Calfiston: £6" (MacNiocaill 1992, 291); and in the Extents of Irish Monastic Possessions 1540-41. In the former, the name is spelled Calfiston, in the latter Calveston.
The population, street layout and land-use have changed little over the past two and-a-half centuries. A map from 1752 shows a layout very similar to that of today. The natural environment reflects the predominance of well-established enclosed agricultural land. This is presently improved grassland or tillage, some of which is now succumbing to residential development.
Battles at Ballyshannon and Kilrush
Two battles were fought nearby. In 738 at the Battle of Uchbad (Ballyshannon, Grid reference N78830), Aed Allin defeated the Laigin and established Kildare’s hegemony over the kingship of Leinster that would last nearly 300 years. In 1642, James Butler, Earl of Ormond defeated his second cousin Richard Butler, Lord Mountgarrett, on the high grounds of Kilrush and Bullhill, a victory was considered so important that the English House of Commons voted him £500 for the purchase of a jewel, and petitioned the King to create him a Knight of the Garter. The site has since then been known as Battlemount (Grid reference S 77276). Guillaume le Maréchal (or William Marshall), Earl of Pembroke and son in law of Strongbow, founded an Augustinian Abbey in Kilrush at the start of the thirteenth century which subsisted until the Suppression of the Monasteries in the 1540s.
The birth of Motor racing
On Thursday, 2 July 1903 the Gordon Bennett Cup started at the Ballyshannon cross-roads 1 mile (2 km) from the centre of Calverstown. It was the first international motor race to be held in Great Britain, an honorific to Selwyn Edge who had won the 1902 event in Paris driving a Napier. The Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland wanted the race to be hosted in the British Isles, and their secretary, Claude Johnson, suggested Ireland as the venue because racing was illegal on British public roads. The editor of the Dublin Motor News, Richard Mecredy, suggested an area in County Kildare, and letters were sent to 102 Irish MPs, 90 Irish peers, 300 newspapers, 34 chairmen of county and local councils, 34 County secretaries, 26 mayors, 41 railway companies, 460 hoteliers, 13 PPs, plus the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Patrick Foley, who pronounced himself in favour. Local laws had to be adjusted, ergo the 'Light Locomotives (Ireland) Bill' was passed on 27 March 1903. Kildare and other local councils drew attention to their areas, whilst Queen’s County declared That every facility will be given and the roads placed at the disposal of motorists during the proposed race. Eventually Kildare was chosen, partly on the grounds that the straightness of the roads would be a safety benefit. As a compliment to Ireland the British team chose to race in Shamrock green[Note 1] which thus became known as British racing green, although the winning Napier of 1902 had been painted Olive green.
The route consisted of two loops that comprised a figure of eight, the first was a 52-mile (84 km) loop that included Kilcullen, The Curragh, Kildare, Monasterevin, Stradbally, Athy, followed by a 40-mile (64 km) loop through Castledermot, Carlow, and Athy again. The race started at the Ballyshannon cross-roads ( ) near Calverstown on the contemporary N78 heading north, then followed the N9 north; the N7 west; the N80 south; the N78 north again; the N9 south; the N80 north; the N78 north again. Competitors were started at seven-minute intervals and had to follow bicycles through the 'control zones' in each town. The 328 miles (528 km) race was won by the famous Belgian Camille Jenatzy, driving a Mercedes in German colours.
The village is well presented with a number of attractive buildings and areas including Lee Drive, Grove Villa, Rose Cottage, Blackhall Castle and the Forge, and recent housing developments have attempted to continue this trend. There is a well maintained green at the centre of the village with some seating available at the stream. The sense of community is strong with a Tidy Towns committee, a Golf Society and multiple residents associations, each including both new and native dwellers of the village.
There is a pub, called The Stream Inn. A local shop with a takeaway located inside the shop.
The ruins of Calverstown Castle can still be seen adjacent to the village.
National hunt jockey Ruby Walsh lives in Calverstown with his wife Gillian and two daughters.
- According to Leinster Leader, Saturday, 11 April 1903, Britain had to choose a different colour to its usual national colours of red, white and blue, as these had already been taken by Italy, Germany and France respectively. It also stated red as the color for American cars in the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup.
- CSO 2006 census
- Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)
- Journal of the Kildare Historical and Archaeological Society, Volume III pp425-452
- Journal of the Kildare Historical and Arhcaological Society, Volume XVII pp125-126
- Circle Genealogic and Historic Champanellois Archived 5 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- Leinster Leader, Saturday, 11 April 1903
- Forix 8W - Britain's first international motor race by Brendan Lynch, based on his Triumph of the Red Devil, the 1903 Irish Gordon Bennett Cup Race. 22 October 2003
- The Gordon Bennett races - the birth of international competition. Author Leif Snellman, Summer 2001
- Bleacher report, The Birth of British motor racing
- Dick, William; Vanda Clayton; Rebecca Jeffrey (1999). Calverstown, A baseline review for Calverstown Tidy Towns. Blessington Co. Wicklow, Ireland: duQuesne Environmental Limited.
- MacNiocaill, G. (1992). Crown Surveys of Lands 1540-41 With the Kildare Rental Begun in 1518. Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission.
- Simington, R.C. (1952). Civil Survey Co. Kildare. Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission.
- Wright, T. (1843). A Contemporary Narrative of the Proceedings Against Dame Alice Kyteler Prosecuted for Sorcery in 1334 by Richard De Ledrede, Bishop Of Ossory. London: The Camden Society.