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Moydow City
Maigh Dumha
Moydow City is located in Ireland
Moydow City
Moydow City
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°39′50″N 7°47′17″W / 53.664°N 7.788°W / 53.664; -7.788Coordinates: 53°39′50″N 7°47′17″W / 53.664°N 7.788°W / 53.664; -7.788
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Longford
Elevation 82 m (269 ft)
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference N256719

Moydow (Irish: Maigh Dumha, meaning "the plain of the burial mound") is a village on the outskirts of Longford Town in County Longford, Ireland.


It contains an old disused post office, a disused schoolhouse used as a community centre, two pubs, The Vintage and Kearneys, a Roman Catholic Church and a disused Church of Ireland Church.


Bus Éireann route 466 serves the village on Saturday afternoons only. There is no morning journey, so it is not possible to travel into Longford and back on the same day.[1]


Moydow was once part of a territory known as Tethbae. The barony was formed from the territories of Clanawlye (Ardagh and Moydow), and parts of the territories of Moybrawne (Taghshinny parish), Clanconnor (part Kilcommock, part Cashel parishes), and Muintergalgan.

Its ancient name was Cill-Modhint after St. Modhint's church, which was destroyed by fire in 1155. Also in this area are the ruins of the oldest nunnery in Ireland.

858 BC An army composed of Lagenians, Connacians, and the southern Hy Nialls, marched to Fiachla, under the conduct of Mael- saghlin, the son of Maelrony, and encamped at Moydumha, in the vicinity of Ardagh.[2]

The ancient name of this parish was Kilmodhain, or Kilmacdhumha, so called from being the kil or cell of St. Modhain, or Modiud the Simple, whose feast is celebrated on 12 February, according to the Lives of the Saints. St. Modan lived about the year 591, when he was made a bishop of Carnfurbuidhe. He had erected the Priory of Moydow, no ruins of which now exist. It is said that one Brclaus, a disciple and presbyter of St. Patrick, was a presbyter here for some time after its erection. O'Donovan says this was one of the oldest priories in Ireland.[2]

The parish comprises 45,771 statute acres, of which about 1,203 are bog. A peculiar kind of stone, called pudding stone, is found on the isolated mountain of Slieve Gouldry, on the southern confines of the parish, and there is a quarry of freestone, which was worked for flags.

Saint Cremhthann or Saint Cremtand of Moydow[edit]

Extracts can be found in the book Lives of the Irish Saints by John O'Hanlon, Published 1923.[3]

Slieve Gauldry (Castlerea Mountain)[edit]

This mountain, also called Slieve Gauldry, was in ancient times called Brigh Leath (Bri Leath). A legend about it appears in the Book of Tara. A comely chieftain's son, named Leath, loved Bri, the beautiful daughter of a powerful chief who lived on this hill, then called Tu Uynahearinaghtrihi. Leath came with his servants to Midir and approached her father, asking for Bri's hand. Midir refused to give her away[why?], whereupon a fight ensued, and Leath was killed. Bri, who had fled her father's house, returned and died of a broken heart.

Moydow Castle/Castlerea[edit]

At the foot of the Slieve Gauldry Hills, one mile from Moydow Village, is a ruined castle. Moydow Castle has been in the ownership of the Higgins family of the adjacent Castlerea House for the last 100 years. There is a chalybeate spring here too but is not used for medicinal purposes.[4]

1260 John de Verdon built the castle at Moydow, immediately behind Bawn House.[5][6]

1295 Sefraid O fergail destroyed it. This castle was levelled at the same time as Barry and Camagh castles.[7][8]

14th and 16th centuries It was again occupied, according to records.

The structure[edit]

The castle is solidly constructed on solid ground with rock walls two feet thick. On the right side of the structure is an arched doorway. Inside, on the ceiling above the inside doorway, there is a hole about a foot square. Common to many castles, including this type of tower castle, the opening is for viewing from above those entering the castle below. This opening, called a "murder hole," is used to stop unwelcome guests before they can proceed any further in.

By comparing this castle to other similar tower castles, we can assume that the lower floor was mainly a gathering place. The second floor was likely the dining area, the third floor the kitchen and the upper floors for sleeping.

Tower castles were used for lookouts and to send warnings. If a castle was under attack, a fire would be built on top of the castle, which could be seen for about fifty miles around, or to the next tower castle. The ruins of these castles, spaced about fifty miles apart can thus be seen periodically as one travels throughout the country. David Sweetman[who?] wrote "The great age of Irish castle-building began with the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, traditionally dated to 1169, and continued right up to the seventeenth century." [9]

Spiral staircase[edit]

To the left of the castle entrance is the bottom of a tight spiral staircase made of cut stone. The stairs spiral in a clockwise fashion upward for a purpose: A right-handed intruder ascending the stairs must turn his body to expose more of it to use his sword, making him more vulnerable and an easier target to those above.

Legend has it that some years ago a cow wandered into the castle and ascended this staircase. Cows can ascend but cannot descend stairs. At the direction of the then-owner, William Higgins, a large hole was punched into the second-level stone floor to lower the cow to the ground floor. (This is a local story, and there is indeed a hole punched where indicated.)

Bawn House[edit]

Another notable residence was Bawn House, near Moydow, now derelict. It was the home of the Monfort family for most of the eighteenth century and then passed to Caleb Barnes Harman, a land agent on the Harman family estate. He was fatally shot during a robbery at the house in January 1796.[10]

Immediately behind Bawn House stand the ruins of the ancient Castle of Moydow, or Moydumha. Some people suppose that these ruins formed the old Priory of St. Modiud the Simple, but this is not the case. The ruins now standing were surrounded by a deep fortified moat, and the building itself consisted of the usual tower and square keep. This, in fact, was the ancient castle of the Lord of Moydumha, sacked in the thirteenth century at the time that Barry and Camagh Castles were levelled.

There is a tragic story told in connexion with this house. In 1770 the Whiteboys were strong in numbers and determined in action all over Ireland. As history tells, they were first called "Levellers," from the fact of their assembling at night and letting the fences with which the landlords endeavoured to enclose certain commons that had previously belonged to the people. But the pent-up agony of a long persecuted race having once found vent was not to be easily crushed, and for a period of twenty years the Whiteboys were the only protection the unfortunate Catholics had in their troubles. These men, most of whom banded together for the one noble object—to relieve their distressed condition—when going to perform any act of violence, blackened their faces and put on a white shirt over their dress as a disguise, from which they were called "Whiteboys." For many years they, by the very terror of their name, restrained the landlords and agents who were inclined to oppress the people—which was most essential to the very existence of the latter[clarification needed]; and when they were at length condemned by church priests, it was because unscrupulous persons had, by bloody acts, turned the association to their own base purposes.

About the year 1780 there lived in Bawn House a certain Captain Barnes, agent over several estates in the neighbourhood of Moydow, and famed among the people as an uncompromising exterminator of the tenants, whom he ruled with a rod of iron. On a certain November night after collecting the rents of his estates, he was engaged upstairs with his clerk in counting his money and making out his accounts. While thus engaged, a thundering summons came to the front door, and immediately divining the cause, Barnes and his clerk piled up a lot of furniture on the main stairway, first locking the room in which the money was left. The summons to open the door not being answered, the men, who were Whiteboys that had previously committed several acts of violence in the neighbourhood, burst it in with a tree log, which they used as a ram, and were about to rush upstairs when Barnes fired down on them. The shot did not kill anyone, and the leader of the party, seeing Barnes about to fire again, immediately took aim and shot him dead on the top of the stairs. The rest then ran up and knocked the clerk on the head, leaving him senseless, whilst they entered Barnes' office and abstracted every penny he had received that day. The military authorities hearing of the attack, turned out next day from Longford and captured a dozen of men, of whom several were hanged on the evidence of an informer, who did not receive any of the money taken from Barnes, and turned king's evidence on that account.[11]

Mount Jessop[edit]

Another family worthy of notice, in days past, were the Jessops, not of Doory Hall, but of Mount Jessop. They were owners of a fine tract of ground in Moydow, which they lost by their inveterate passion for gambling about some years ago. They are said to have become possessed of the estate in a curious way. It is told that one day, during the plantation regime, there came a discharged soldier to the town of Longford, who asked to be shown certain portions of land in Moydow which he was after being granted for his services to the Parliament. The man that met him was a butler in the local inn in Longford, who was possessed of some money ; and he volunteered to show the discharged trooper the lands. He conducted him up to the top of Castlerea, or Slieve Gauldry Mountain, and pointed out to him the bleakest and most uninviting portions of that sterile hill. The man was much disgusted with the prospect before him, and said if he saw any man who would give him £5 and a horse to carry him to Dublin, he would sell him his right to the lands. The butler took him at his word, handed him out the money, and got him a horse, and in return received the title-deeds of a property which he converted into the Mount Jessop Estate, being the first of its owners himself. " 1ll got, ill gone," is, however, an old maxim, and the last owner of the lands put them beyond his reach for ever, by risking them on a game of cards at a ball in the Military Barracks of Longford, and losing them, as well as every penny he was possessed of, in one night. From History Of County Longford Illustrated. By James P. Farrell. Dollard Printing House, Dublin. 1891.

The young Francis Jessop, of Mount Jessop, committed suicide whilst High Sheriff of Co. Longford (1836).[12]

Horrible murder in the County of Longford[edit]

We have just heard that a most dreadful murder was committed last Sunday night, on the road between Ballymahon, and the town of Longford. It appears, that a young man named Thomas Needham, son to the Clerk of the Parish of Moydow, being on his way home, fell in company with some persons who were drinking in an unlicensed whiskey house, no quarrel whatever seems to have occurred there, but soon after leaving that place, the unfortunate Needham was murdered in the most barbarous manner – his skull was beaten all to pieces with stones, his eyes knocked into his head, and his face altogether so contused, as to render it quite frightful to behold. The body was dragged through hedges and ditches nearly half a mile, and then deposited in a boghole, where it was found next day nearly naked. Needham was robbed of clothes and money, as well as deprived of life. There being no Coroner in the County, the neighbouring Magistrates, viz: Sir George Fetherston, Major O'Donoghue, Mr. Kingston of Mosstown, and the Rev. James Moffett, have been during the last two days holding an Inquest, which was not concluded when our Correspondent closed his letter. Through the extreme activity of the Constabulary, the whole of the persons implicated in this atrocious affair, have been taken into custody, and there is little doubt, we are happy to say, but that the guilty will be shortly brought to condign punishment. Rather a singular circumstance is concerned with this murderous transaction – exactly three years from the evening on which Needham met his shocking fate, he, while engaged with some youthful companions, threw a small stone at one of them, which missing the object aimed at, struck on the head of a woman who happened to be passing, a fracture was the consequence, and death in some time ensued, although the misfortune was purely accidental, vengeance was denounced by the relatives of the deceased – Catholic blood was spilt by the hand of an Heretic, and accident was considered as no sufficient excuse – The Parish Clerk's sons were afterwards assaulted wherever they appeared – some, to avoid persecution, found it necessary to enlist as soldiers, while the ill-fated subject of the present article, had to seek for service in distant places, from whence he was returning to visit his family, when cruelly butchered by his relentless foes. SOURCE: WESTMEATH JOURNAL – 1827 February 15 News

Abbeyderg Monastery[edit]

Distant about five miles (8 km) due south from Longford, is the Cemetery of Abbey Dearg, in which stands the crumbling ruins of what was once a priory for Regular Canons of the Order of St. Augustine. This priory was founded about the year 1205, by Grormgal O'Quinn, Lord of Rath- cline, and was dedicated to St. Peter; and in 1217, the first abbot of the monastery, Osin by name, died and was interred here. On the death of Brendan Jifagodaig, Bishop of Ardagh, in 1255, his remains also were interred in this priory, which continued to exist until 1550, when it was suppressed, and the buildings and land, to the value of £2 annually, Irish money, were bestowed on one Nicholas Alymor, an English soldier. The existing ruins of, the Abbey of Dearg prove it to have been a most perfect monastic structure. The plate which is not a very perfect one, owing to the entire demolition of the main walls of the building, and the complete covering of the walls, showing the eastern and southern window by a thick coat of impenetrable ivy. The ruins have been examined minutely, and the conclusion is that it consisted of a main chancel (of chapel), vestry, dining-room, dormitory, and a number of cells. The principal walls of all, except the southern and eastern portion of the chancel, are now demolished to a height of two or three feet.[13]

Townlands in Moydow[edit]

Aghinaspick, Aughine, Ballinvoher, Barroe, Bawn, Bawn Mountain, Bunalough, Castlerea, Castlerea Mountain, Cloghan, Cloonevit, Cloonker, Cloonmucker, Commock, Curraghmore, Garranboy, Keelogalabaun, Lisgurry, Meeltanagh, Mollyroe, Monascallaghan, Mountjessop, Moydow Glebe, Nappagh, Toneen.[14]

Map of Townlands:[15]

Longford County Library reference to the townslands of Moydow:[16]

Pre 1800 Census 1639 Census showed that McGiff was a principal name in Moydow. McGiff Cross is still an area of Moydow in Longford.

1901 Census[edit]


1911 Census[edit]


By order of the Governors of Ireland, a census of this Ireland was taken in the year 1659, when the population of the Moydow barony was found to be laid out as follows: There were 182 Irish and 4 English. The principal Irish families were : – The Caseys, 12 people ; Oormicks and MacCormicks, 19 ; Donlans, 7 ; Dooners, 5 ; Duffs, 6 ; Farrells, 23 ; Kennys, 16; Morrows, 7; Powers, 6; Keegans, 7; and M'Evoys, 6. The local gentry were : – Thomas Newcomen, of Ballinamore ; and "Walter Tuite, of Castlereagh.

1660 The McGaver Family.[17]

Flax growers in Moydow & Longford – 1796.[18]

Note circa 1830

Ardagh and Moydow, which used to be distinct parishes, are now united, and form one parish There are two chapels in it – Ardagh and Moydow, the former being a beautiful new building, which was consecrated in 1882 by Most Eev. Dr. Woodlock, assisted by the Most Rev. Dr. M'Grettigan, of Armagh, and at the grand foundation ceremony of which the late great orator. Father Tom Burke, O.P., preached one of his finest sermons. The church, which is cruciform in shape, and has a splendid front entrajnce, is built of fine dressed stone, nicely ornamented with brown and white marble, whilst the interior decorations, both of painting, plastering, and wood-carving, are of the most costly and fashionable description. It has been named " St. Brigid's Church," and is well worthy of being the church of a diocesan parish. The other is situated in Moydow, and is a plain, unadorned country chapel, of an old pattern in building. The Roman Catholic element in this parish is decidedly strong, although their ranks have been sadly thinned from time to time by eviction, emigration, and reverses of fortune. From History Of County Longford Illustrated. By James P. Farrell. Dollard Printing House, Dublin, 1891.

Most common surnames in Moydow in 1854:

Surname No. of households
Farrell 31
Dowd 10
Donelan 9
McGarry 8
Ward 6
Kelly 5
Kennedy 5
Moran 5
York 5
Bole 4

Moydow COI Church[edit]

The Church of Ireland church is a small plain building without a tower, erected about 80 years since, and was repaired in 1831, by aid of a loan of £50. Thomas Jessop born 1741, inherited Mount Jessop from his brother in 1784. He presented a bell; value £10.12.0, to Moydow Church, which may be the one still in use. He died 24 April 1825, and was buried at Moydow cc38-9[19][20]

The church was abandoned in 1987, and remains empty.

Moydow R.C Church & Old National School[edit]

The Catholic church is located in the cente of the Moydow village and the date stone on the front of the building states 1838. Moydow and Ardagh are part of the same parish and the parish priest's residence is located in Ardagh. A former national school (date stone 1880) is located beside the church. The school closed in the 1960s and is currently used as a community center.[21]

Moydow graveyard inventory[edit]

From Page and Stone. Ancestral Records of Moydow Co. Longford. Luke Baxter 1999. Available at Local Studies Section. Longford Library HQ.[22]

Ardagh & Moydow Parish Marriages [1792–1895][23]

Ardagh & Moydow Parish Baptisms [1793–1895][23]

Ardagh & Moydow Deaths [1822–1895][23]

O'Farrell early history Moydow[edit]

They are some of the old O'Ferrall Bane stock, who have never parted with the idea of their ancient descent. After them one would put the family of the Farrells of Aghanaspick, who, on the female side, are descended from the oldest family in the barony of Moydow. In " A Eclestiacy of Popish Priests, compiled by order of one of the penal statutes of Queen Anne, in 1704, the name of Michael Farrell, of Aghanaspick, appears as security " in the sum of £40, for the good behaviour " of a " Popish " priest, then resident in Longford. At that time this Mr. Farrell was the only native Catholic in the barony of Moydow whose surety for the good conduct of the Roman Catholic clergyman would be accepted. It will be seen that the O'Farrell Boy, of Mornin, was granted a number of townlands, which were erected into the Manor of Mornin in 1621. Amongst the town- lands so left is that of Aghanaspick ; and taking into account the near relations subsisting between the chieftains and their feudaries in those days, it is certain that this family of Farrells may claim connection with, if not descent from, the O'Farrells Boy of Upper Annaly. From History Of County Longford Illustrated. By James P. Farrell. Dollard Printing House, Dublin. 1891

Report of the Committee for the Relief of the Distressed Districts in Moydow, circa 1823[edit]

From Mark Bloxham, Jnr. Esq. Moydow. County of Longford. 26 June 1822.Original from the New York Public Library

The local contributions for the poor of moydow, amount at present to £136 Irish. A poor market place held once each week for the distribution of oatmeal (the only article provision used), at which those considered able to pay……[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b From History Of County Longford Illustrated. By James P. Farrell. Dollard Printing House, Dublin, 1898
  3. ^ Original from Oxford University.
  4. ^ "longford/moydow/moydow". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Otway-Ruthven, A.J. (1980). A History of Medieval Ireland. E. Benn. p. 195. ISBN 9780510278007. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  6. ^ Dolley, M. (1972). Anglo-Norman Ireland, c1100-1318. Gill and MacMillan. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  7. ^ James G Farrell History of Longford 1891 p 316. 
  8. ^ Dates and names also extracted from "A new history of Ireland" By Theodore William Moody, Francis X. Martin, Francis John Byrne, Art Cosgrove. ISBN 0-19-821744-7
  9. ^ David Sweetman, Medieval Castles of Ireland
  10. ^ "Bawn House". Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  11. ^ From James P. Farrell, History Of County Longford Illustrated. Dollard Printing House, Dublin, 1891
  12. ^ "ATHLONE INDEPENDENT – 1836 February 17". 
  13. ^ From History Of County Longford Illustrated. By James P. Farrell. Dollard Printing House, Dublin. 1891
  14. ^ The Irish Times  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "KilcomMoymap". Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "". Archived from the original on 20 November 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  17. ^ Gillespie, R.; Moran, G.P. (1991). Longford: Essays in County History. Lilliput Press. ISBN 9780946640515. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  18. ^ "Flax Growers of Ireland, 1796 - County Longford". Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "Illegally interring a dead body HC Deb 31 January 1902 vol 102". 
  20. ^ Notice for discontinuation of burials 1901 The Bookseller No 40, Issues 2624–2636 By Publishers' Association, Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Ireland.
  21. ^ "St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Moydow, County Longford: Buildings of Ireland: National Inventory of Architectural Heritage". Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2007. 
  23. ^ a b c "~irllog/churchrecs". Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  24. ^ Committee for the Relief of the Distressed Districts in Ireland (1823). Report of the Committee for the Relief of the Distressed Districts in Ireland, Appoionted at a General Meeting Held at the City of London Tavern, on the 7th of May, 1822: With an Appendix. William Phillips. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 

Useful reference material[edit]

Additional information[edit]