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The town of

Castlecomer.

In County Kilkenny.

 

Castlecomer takes its name from the Irish Caisleán an Chumair, which means 'Castle at the fork or confluence of rivers.' In Castlecomers case there are three rivers The Brocagh, The Deen and the Clohogue. The Normans built a Motte and Balie in 1171. About 1200 the origional wooden castle was replaced by a stone one by William Marshall.

When Strongbow invaded Ireland he married Eva MacMurrough daughter of deposed king Dermot MacMurrough, the union of Strongbow (Richard Fitzgilbert de Clare) and Eva produced a daughter Isabella de Clare, after Strongbow's death Isabella inherited the Kingdom of Leinster, She married William Marshall.

In 1637 the plantation of Ireland was well under way, in that year The Earl of Stafford the Kings Deputy in Ireland granted 30,000 acres of Kilkenny to his cousin Sir Christopher Wandesforde. Wandesforde took possession of his property and quickly realized the land contained considerable deposits of coal. The said Christiphor is credited with laying out the town which is said to have been the first in Ireland built of stone and mortar?

Castlecomer grew up as an estate town, in the 18th and 19th centuries is was an important centre of the Irish coal mining industry. Coal was first mined in the town in the early 1600's. The Wandesforde family who came to the area from Yorkshire (England) At various times the mines were leased by the Wandesforde's to others.

In 1917 a Private Company was formed the bulk of the shares being held by the Wandesforde family. The last Managing Director was Capt.R.H.Prior-Wandesforde

The mines at Castlecomer were in use in the 1950's when pit ponies were used to transport the coal underground.The end finally came on Friday 31st. Jan. 1969 when the last working mine as closed leaving 180 men extra on the unemployment register.

Read about The Castlecomer Coal Mines in 1837 from Samuel Lewis' Topographical Survey of Ireland.


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Comprehensive Information on coalmining in Castlecomer on this site.