Old Dunmore

By Samuel J. Maguire

How Dunmore got its Name

Dunmore, the great fort or dun, gives the name to the barony of Dunmore. It was the place of a strong fortress of the kings of Connacht, and there are still to be seen the remains of an extensive castle, said traditionally to have been built by Hosdech (Hosty) MacMembric, or Mebric (now Merrick). This castle was taken by the Anglo-Norman, Birmingham's, barons of Athenry. In 1249 it was burned by the army of the king of Connacht, and in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Birmingham's being in arms against the Queen, Sir Henry Sidney in 1569, besieged and took the castle. It was finally dismantled in the time of Cromwell.

Dunmore Castle

A photograph of Dunmore Castle.

Dunmore Monastery

St. Patrick is said to have built a monastery in Dunmore, upon the site of which a friary for Hermits of St. Augustine was afterwards founded by Walter de Birmingham, Lord Athenry, in 1425. After the Reformation part of the friary was converted into a parish church of the establishment, the rest being levelled, now forms the market place.

Henry Mossop

Henry Mossop, the distinguished actor was born in Dunmore in 1729. His father, rector of the parish was a famous mathematician. While studying at Trinity College, Dublin, Henry Mossop was attracted to the stage by Garrick's acting and showed remarkable promise. After acting for a time in Dublin he quarrelled with his manager and went to London where he appeared as "Richard III". His style of acting strongly resembled that of Kean of the middle of the last century. It was vivid, subtle, and forcible but marred by an abruptness of delivery and irregularity of performance. Believing that his talents were as unlimited as his ambition, he grasped at all the leading characters without discrimination, and played many of them without effect. Leaving Drury Lane in disgust he returned to Dublin, declaring that "there should be but on theatre in Ireland and that he would be at the head of it". Refusing a salary of 1,000 from Barry and Woodward at Crow Street Theatre, "he spurned every kindness and emolument submitted to his acceptance and consideration". In November, 1760 he took a lease of Smock Alley Theatre at 100 a year rent. In 1767 he took over Crow Street Theatre to prevent further rivalry, and for three years played by turns in each. At Crow Street he acted tragedies and at Smock Alley he played comedies and light entertainment. After twelve years as actor-manager in Dublin he became bankrupt and fled to London in 1772, broken in health and spirits. He died with one halfpenny in his pocket, in a mean lodging at Chelsea in November 1773, at the age of 43.

Kavanagh in his Irish Theatre records that Dublin companies visited Cork and in later years the audience of that city often showed "proofs of their resentment" and on one occasion (1769) a member of the audience fought a duel on the stage with Mossop the manager, when he would not accede to his request. His critics said of him that while admitting many faults of his acting "Garrick and Barry only were his superiors; in parts of vehemence and rage he was almost unequalled and in sentimental gravity, from the power of his voice and the justness of his conceptions, he was a very commanding speaker".

Quarrying in Dunmore

A very fine grit stone was raised in considerable quantities near Dunmore, of every thickness from that of slates to the largest millstones, which are the beginning of the nineteenth century were usually sold for ten guineas a pair. They were for some purposes considered to be superior to French burr stones at 30 or 40 a pair. The decline of this industry was due like that of the milling industry throughout Ireland to the repeal of the corn laws.

Inventory of the Augustinian Abbey of Dunmore

Dunmore Abbey

A photograph of Dunmore Abbey.

"The Inventory of the goods and chattels deposited in the hands of Mr. Augustine Bodkin of Cluncoighe by the friars of the Convent of Dunmore videlicet fr. Christopher Dillon pryor of the said Convent fr. William Egan, fr. Symon Moran sub pryor of the said Convent is a follweth."
" Imprimis 4 cowes whereof 2 are in calfe and the other two milch with their calfs, 4 strappers, 1 bull of three years, 1 dry Cow, 2 heafers, 2 bullock of 2 yeares, 2 half yearlings, 3 mars whereof some in fole.

The Household Goods

Copper pan which contains 2 barrells, and 3 black potts, 1 iron spit, 6 brass candle stickes, 1 pewter flagon, 2 pewter dishes, 3 half barrel casks, 4 barrell casks, 3 Keews, 3 chesks, 1 long table and a short one, 2 small each to contain half a barrel 1 wood fferkin, 1 small vessel, 1 payre of stools, 2 tables clothes, 3 napkins, 3 towells, mettle griddle, 1 iron crowe, 1 pickle axe, 2 spades, 1 wooden shovel with an iron head, beside some wooden trenches, wooden chambeyrotts and some other small goods."
"Whereas certain writyings and agreements bearing date 10 ffeby past betwixt me the undernamed Augustine Bodkin and the friers of the Convent of Dunmore videlecit Christopher Dillon, William Egan and Symon Moran touching and concerning the foregoing goods and chattels of the said Convent now deposited in my hands in trust as more at large may appear by the said written agreement - Know all men that I the said Augustine Bodkin do hereby and by these presents acknowledge to have received into my possession the goods and chattels mentioned in the above Inventory on trust for the above named friers and the said Convent and to no other end and intention than to preserve the same for the use of the said friers and Convent aforesaid. We therefore have hereunto putt our hands and fixed our seales the 19th day of April in the year 1698."
"The true meaning of the said Agreement is that whereas an Act of Parliament for banishing all papists exercising any ecclesiastical jurisdiction and all regular of the Romish clergy... We the said friars have therefore agreed and consented to put our trust and confidence in our well beloved Augustine Bodkin to take into his custody the said chattels and household goods to be kept for us and for our use in manner following that is to say the said Augustine Bodkin is to possess and enjoy the farm of Derrynegran (which now the said friars hold from him under a certain rent) for his own use, provided always that if the Government should dispense with the Catholic clergy so as not to transport us the friars of the said Convent and that we or any of us should come to live together again, the said Augustine Bodkin is to lett us have the said farm of Derrynegran according to our lease to the expirey thereof.
April 19, 1698."