Fitzgerald of Adraval and Knockrower

Adraval (spelling varies), near Scartaglin, was once a residence of the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Desmond.  There is no local memory of the property and its precise location has not yet been ascertained.[1]


John Galvin of Adraval describes the townland as follows:


Adriville (the Central Village) is in the centre of Scartaglin Parish being bordered to the West by Scartaglin, to the East by Knockrower West, to the North by Mullen and to the South by Carker, hence its name the Central Village.  It is a townland of woods and groves and farmland … At one time it was the seat of the Fitzgeralds Barons of Castleisland.  David Fitzgerald of Adriville is buried at Ard Na Greac near Cordal.  His tomb was erected by his sons William, David, and Robert in 1818.  Catherine Twiss was married to this David Fitzgerald.[2]


The following notice is of interest for it describes the Galvin residence as ‘Adriville’:


Died 12 October 1950 at his residence, Adriville, Scartaglin, Co Kerry, John Galvin, deeply regretted.  Funeral to Kilsarcon.[3]


Indeed, a ruined stone wall, and what appears to be a fireplace, exists on the Riordan property at Adraval.  Until recently, a cottage stood nearby.  John Galvin recalls the cottage:


The photograph of Adriville (shown below) was taken in the 1970s and living in that cottage at that time was John Riordan who was originally from Leamyglissane in Gneeveguilla.  John was married to Hanna Galvin of Adriville (my aunt).  John and Hanna were farmers.  John died in August 1976 and Hanna died in March 1980.  They are buried in Scartaglen cemetery.  They had no family.  The house in the photo was demolished in 2020.


Unfortunately, John Galvin has no knowledge of the partial ruin near his aunt’s (former) cottage.[4]


John Roche and Noel Nash of Castleisland District Heritage inspect the remains of a property that once stood near the Riordan cottage at Adraval. The cottage, outside which Eileen Mulvihill is photographed on her horse in 1969 (her aunt Hannah behind the hedge in the background), was demolished in recent times


The Fitzgeralds built a mill in the nearby townland of Knockrower:


The Fitzgeralds known as ‘the bobbies’ operated a mill for grinding corn at Knockrour West, Scartaglin.  This mill was located across the river from Andrew Fleming’s dwelling house at Barna and more or less across the river from Barna Creamery.  The field where the mill was has always been called ‘the mills.’  It has been said that there were some malpractices going on in that area involving the Fitzgeralds and a priest or clergyman came out to the site of the mill and put a curse on the milling operation so much so that the mill wheel never again rotated and the mill in general came to an end.  It was said that the mill wheel came to be used by W H O’Connor and Sons (Rhyno Mills) in Castleisland where it could be seen there for many years.[5]


The late Mossie O’Connor published an account of the mill:


Some time after 1847 a family of the Fitzgeralds who lived at The Stand House a few miles east of Scartaglen were landlords over a number of farms.  They were direct descendants of the Earl of Desmond and were a rich and well-educated people.  A river flows into the Brown Flesk between Knockrour and Knockeenahone.  On this river the Fitzgeralds built a corn mill driven by a large undershot water wheel.  The mill was a stone building, three storeys high … The owner of the mill was Robert Fitzgerald, the first man to be seen on a penny farthing bicycle in the district.[6]


The mill thrived:


The business began to prosper and gave considerable local employment.  The workers were well paid and got their dinner every day.  The mill never stopped, it kept going every day.  Men were employed to quarry stones to extend the building in order to cope with the rapidly increasing business.  A certain percentage of the profits was used to give starving people a dinner each day, also a place where they could learn to read and write.[7]


While digging a foundation, coal was discovered and engineers from England were brought in.  ‘It was decided to open the coal mine and send to England for a steam engine in order to increase the power of the mill.’


However, the business declined:


The mill had a strange ending according to many reliable witnesses including the driver of a horse and sidecar who drove another man from Scartaglen one Sunday.  The sidecar stopped at Knockeenahone bridge and the man cast a spell which caused the mill wheel to stop.  Several engineers were brought to the scene but the wheel never turned again.[8]


The end of the mill was a loss to the people of the district.  The scale of the coal mine operation is not known:


As late as eighty years ago, farmers dug coal from the top of the pit to burn lime in their limekilns.  A Scartaglen man found some lumps of coal in the river and an experienced miner who examined it said that it was of high grade.  Some years ago, a sample was dug up in Knockeenahone and, if sunk, the mine would certainly be a great industry.[9]


The mill, which stood in close proximity to Millbrook House at Knockrower East, is designated ‘Old Mill’ on the early Ordnance Survey map.[10]  In 1837, it was referred to in an application to vote by William Fitzgerald (junior) of Millbrook:


As a Freeholder, in respect of a piece of land, situate at Knockrour, with a mill thereon and the appurtenances hereto situate in the parish of Ballincuslane.[11]


A notice of sale of fee-simple, freehold and leasehold estates in 1847 provides some information about the Knockrower lands:


Chief Rent of £115 1s 6d arising out of the lands of Knockrour situate in Barony of Trughenackmy  within three miles of the inland town of Castleisland.  These lands contain several hundred acres and are held under a lease of lives renewable for ever by the Messrs Wm and R D Fitzgerald who derive thereout a profit of over £600 per annum.[12]


It is unclear when the mill declined though the lands were subject to a lengthy court action from 1828 to 1844[13] and in various stages of sale during the period 1840-1862.[14]


In 1876, an auction of the lands described it as the estate of George H Lee Esq.[15]  By the time of the Census of Ireland of 1901, there was just one family by the name of Fitzgerald at Knockrower East.[16]


The Fitzgerald mill once stood at Knockrower East in the fields beyond Barna Creamery (centre).  Millbrook House was situated in the vicinity of the mill, a Fitzgerald property, of which nothing remains.  A Tuck Mill was located at Knockrower West


The Stand House


Robert Fitzgerald resided at the Stand House:


The Stand House was a busy place as many visitors from foreign countries called there.  There was often a company of British soldiers camped there, and they sometimes marched in their scarlet jackets to Scartaglen where they sang and drank in the public houses.  As a result of an armed raid on the Stand House there was an RIC protection post there for some time.


The Stand House at Knockrower East, photographed by kind permission of the Brosnan family.  It is suggested the house took on its name after a stand was erected to facilitate speaker Daniel O’Connell during Ireland’s troubled past


Descendants of the Fitzgerald family from the Adraval and Knockrower district appear to have gone abroad.[17]


A six-verse poem, Adriville’s Groves by Maurice Reidy of Knockrower, and Thomas Bastible of Derreen Cottage (one time residence of Lord Bateman), enshrines Desmond’s Adraval:[18]


Can I let forget those happy days, in childhood where I roamed,
O’er hill, and dale, and sloping vale down by Lord Bateman’s home,
Ah! No, till death I’ll ne’er forget, fond memory haunts me still,
I’d spend a thousand days like these, in you sweet Adriville.[19]


John Galvin’s donation is a welcome addition to research of Desmond land at Adraval.


The Blind Fiddler


John Galvin’s donation also includes a poem entitled The Blind Fiddler by Sheila Kerin, a second cousin of John Galvin, which recalls fiddler Tom Billie Murphy.  Sheila Kerin from Ballydesmond, daughter of Mick Patsy Kerin and Kate Kerin, owned the pub ‘M P Kerin’ in Ballydesmond.  She is aged 92, hale and hearty:


When I was but a wee colleen back in forty-four,
A roving fiddler astride an ass came rambling to our door;
My grandma then she greeted him as friends are bound to do,
‘God bless you Tom, it’s been so long, there’s a welcome here for you.’

His name it was Tom Billy, a fiddler blind was he,
Who was known to every public house from Puck to Knocknagree,
Where friendly arms would guide him to a seat beside the hob,
Those sightless eyes then seemed alive and his music made one sob.

He played our favourites on his fiddle and we danced and sang all night,
Till the Garda came a raiding which gave us an awful fright.
Though young I was I talked non-stop, which irritated Tom,
He christened me ‘Ceann Comairle’ which brought laughter from my mom.

He travelled on his donkey where’er it was he went,
And when he arrived in our little town the poor old ass was spent.
He’s fiddling now in heaven since he’s gone to his reward,
And the angels dance around him to music worthy of award.

May God be with Tom Billie, our fiddler of renown,
He brought joy and sorrow to the hearts in Ballydesmond town.


[1] Houses of Kerry (1994) by Valerie Bary.

[2] ‘A short historical sketch of Scartaglin Parish given in the townlands’ compiled by John Galvin, Mossie O’Connor and John P Brosnan, held in Castleisland District Heritage ref IE CDH 46.  An article, ‘Scartaglin in Olden Times’ published in Windows of Wonder 1935-1985 for 50th anniversary of Castleisland Vocational School is also held in this series.

[3] Irish Independent, 13 October 1950.

[4] The Tithe Applotment books record one Darby Gallivan and John Sullivan as farmers and occupiers of Adrival in the 1820s/30s.  Lewis in 1837 makes no reference to Adraval, only to ‘the ruins of Desmond’s chapel with a burial ground attached now called Kilnananima’ at Ardnagragh where the remains of ‘the great Earl of Desmond (who was slain in 1583)’ were interred.

The Census of Ireland (1901) records the families of Horan, Sullivan, Murphy, Connor, and Galvin at ‘Adranval’ (Derreen DED); Patrick and Johanna Galvin (shopkeepers) with son John Galvin and his wife Ellen and their child Patrick.  The Census of Ireland (1911) records the families of Horan, Barrett, Connor, Sullivan, Leary and Galvin at ‘Ardraville’; John and Ellen Galvin, shopkeepers, with six children and retired parents Patrick and Johanna. 

It is worth noting that a widow Horan was evicted from Adraval in 1880; see ‘Fitzgerald of Adraval’ in The O’Donohoe Collection Catalogue (2016) pp671-673.

[5] ‘The Mills at Knockrour (Knockrower) Scartaglin’ by John Galvin.  ‘I’m not sure if it’s still there.  The land where the mill stood was owned by Con Patsy Kerin of Adriville who passed it on to his nephew Jim Galvin of Knockrour (my uncle) and is presently owned by Jim’s son John Galvin (my first cousin).  That’s the story about the mills as I heard it being told.' John Galvin, in discussion with Paudie O’Connor of Rhyno Mills, has since learned that the wheel does not survive there, and was probably dismantled in the 1930s/40s.

[6] From ‘Knockrour Mills’ by Mossie O’Connor (RIP) donated by John Galvin, held in series IE CDH 46. 

[7] From ‘Knockrour Mills’ by Mossie O’Connor (RIP) donated by John Galvin, held in series IE CDH 46. 

[8] From ‘Knockrour Mills’ by Mossie O’Connor (RIP) donated by John Galvin. held in series IE CDH 46.  

[9] From ‘Knockrour Mills’ by Mossie O’Connor (RIP) donated by John Galvin held in series IE CDH 46.   

[10] A Tuck Mill at Knockrower West is also shown on the early Ordnance Survey map.  It had been demolished at the time of the later Ordnance Survey of the nineteenth century.

[11] Nothing remains of Millbrook House at Knockrower East.  Further reference to Fitzgerald of Millbrook in ‘Fitzgerald of Adraval,’ O’Donohoe Collection Catalogue, pp670-673.  Rev David Fitzgerald, eldest son of William Fitzgerald Esq of Millbrook, Castleisland, and nephew of Robert David Fitzgerald Esq of Tralee succeeded Rev Thomas Wellesley Roe at Maguiresbridge (Diocese of Clogher) in 1846 (there is no record of this appointment in Rev J B Leslie’s Clogher Clergy and Parishes).  In 1847, Rev Fitzgerald accepted an appointment in Canada (for genealogy, see ‘Fitzgerald of Adraval’ note 3).  Lisduff, otherwise Lisduffmore known as Blackfort, Co Tipperary, the estate of Rev David Fitzgerald, was for sale in the Incumbered Estates of Ireland in 1851.  It was sold for £1,185.   

[12] ‘The vendor himself holds these lands under a lease of lives renewable for ever without fine subject to the small head rent of £27 13s 10d per annum … Apply to Thadee William Murphy solicitor 9 Lower Ormond Quay Dublin and Killarney; to James O’Connell of Lakeview near Killarney Esq; Charles Sugrue of the City of Cork Esq or to Noblett, Gard, and Sugrue, solicitors, 74 South Mall Cork’ (Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Advertiser, 18 September 1847). 

[13] The case of William Fitzgerald Esq v John O’Connell Esq and others was heard in the Court of Chancery in May 1844.  It referred to a bill filed in 1828 to compel Mr O’Connell to renew a lease made in the year 1790 of the lands of Middle Carker otherwise Knockrour which Mr O’Connell refused to do.  The court found in favour of William Fitzgerald and ‘thus ended a hard-fought suit of sixteen years standing’ (Tralee Chronicle, 18 May 1844).

In 1828, David Fitzgerald executed a mortgage of the lands of Middle Carker otherwise Knockrour and the lands of Knockeenahone and East Knockeenahone to Henry Oliver with the consent of Henry Oliver and Morgan McSweeny and Edward Collis (Southern Reporter, 8 September 1860).

[14] In 1840, a notice of The Equity Exchequer regarding the lands ‘Middle Knockrour called the Western Division of William Fitzgerald Esq’s Moiety of the Lands of Middle Knockrour lately held by Humphry Kerrin situate in the County of Kerry’ referred also to the name of Fagan (Kerry Evening Post, 13 June 1840).

1849: ‘Sale of Encumbered Estates. In the Matter of the Estates of John O’Connell and Morgan John O’Connell, both late of Grena, in the County of Kerry, Esquires. … Lot 6 Middlecarker otherwise Knockrour situate in the parish of Brosna Barony of Trughenackmy and County of Kerry containing in the whole several hundred acres held under lease for lives renewable for ever at the yearly rent of £27 13s 10d.  This lot is held under the Messrs O’Connell by William Fitzgerald Esq and the representatives of the late David Fitzgerald Esq under lease for lives renewable forever at the rent of £140, 15s 4d and they derive out of it a profit rent of about £600 per annum so that the above £140 15s 4d is a well secured chief rent’ (Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, 15 December 1849).

‘Incumbered Estates Commission 1857 In the Matter of the Estate of William Fitzgerald, Thomas Fitzgerald and Frances Fitzgerald, owners, ex-parte Robert David Fitzgerald Petitioner … Ordered sale of the lands of West Knockrour held with other lands under lease dated 14th November 1790 from Maurice Connell to Catherine Fitzgerald, for lives renewable for ever.  The lands of Knockeenahone held under lease dated 1st June 1785 from William Creagh to David Fitzgerald for three lives and the lands of East Knockeenahone under lease dated 5th November 1798 from Michael Creagh to Catherine Fitzgerald for three lives Dated 22 January 1857.’

‘Judge Hargreave sat at twelve o’clock [Landed Estates Court] and disposed of the following property: County of Kerry Estate of Robert Fitzgerald and others, owners; Robert D Fitzgerald, petitioner.  Lot 1 The lands of West Knockrour containing 799 statute acres profit rent 263.  Mr Tweedy was the purchaser at 5,472l.  The sale of the rest of the property was not proceeded with, enough being realised to pay all incumbrances.  Mr R Huggard had the carriage of the sale’ (Tralee Chronicle, 29 November 1859).

The result of public sales published in January 1860 in the estate of Wm Fitzgerald and others and Robert D Fitzgerald, owners and petitioners (West Knockrour, Knockeenahone, pt of, and Knockeenahone, E, pt of) confirmed a purchase price of 5475l, the lands held in trust by J J Tweedy.  This was John Johnston Tweedy, solicitor, Dublin.

Final Notice to Claimants in 1860 In the Matter of the Estate of William Fitzgerald, Thomas Fitzgerald, and Frances Fitzgerald, owners of West Knockrour otherwise called Middle Carker, exparte Robert David Fitzgerald, formerly the Estate of David Fitzgerald.

In 1862, it was recorded that Middle Carker or Knockrour, of Robert Minnett Fitzgerald and Anne Minnett Fitzgerald, owner and petitioner, was sold ‘by private contract.’

[15] ‘Lands of Dromultanbeg, Middle Carker otherwise Knockrour and Loghnemealagh; half of Dromultanmore, West Carker, half of Dromultanmore and Easter Carker, commonly called Ballynebrula and Knocknapoul otherwise Knocknaboul, Toorengariffe and Knocknaleamy, Commeenatagill otherwise Commeenatagkill, and Knockeenahoney situate in the Barony of Trughenackmy and County of Kerry all which said lands are known by the name of Whitelands’ (Kerry Evening Post, 5 January 1876).

[16] Thomas and Ellen, aged 79 and 85 respectively.

[17] Genealogical notes on the Fitzgeralds of Adraval and Knockrower in ‘Fitzgerald of Adraval’ in The O’Donohoe Collection Catalogue (2016) pp671-673).  To the note about Robert Minnett Fitzgerald (1815-1888) who married Elizabeth Dungan on 29 August 1849 in Nenagh Co Tipperary, can be added their son Walter Devereux Fitzgerald (1854) who married Caroline Frend and had issue George Devereux Fitzgerald.  Another son, Waller Gason Fitzgerald (1865-1934) who lived at Grenfell, Saskatchewan, Canada, was described in a marriage notice dated 1901 as fifth son of Robert Minnett Fitzgerald.  Waller married Gwynedd Sybilla Cunliffe (1876-1963), daughter of Lt Col Walter Howell Cunliffe and Gertrude Foster on 31 December 1901.  They had six children, Denis Alfred Cunliffe Fitzgerald, Doreen Gertrude Fitzgerald, Maria Kathleen Fitzgerald, Walter Brian Rex Fitzgerald, Patrick Donovan Fitzgerald, Terence Cunliffe Fitzgerald. 

[18] The Schools’ Collection.   Derreen townland adjoins Adraval.  John Galvin’s notes on Adriville’s Groves state that ‘Maurice Reidy was also associated with New Jersey in the USA and Thomas Bastible was a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police.’ 

[19] The verse in full:

Through Adriville’s groves I’d like to roam, in the merry months of spring,

Where the thrushes and the blackbirds too, melodiously do sing,

The pigeon from some stately tree re-echoes dales and hills,

Of all other lands I love thee far, my own sweet Adriville.

The river Flesk so beautiful right through the valley flows,

With the winding banks and silvery strands where the lassies love to stroll,

And spanned or nests by that bridge complete which braves each framing rill,

When far away my thoughts will stray to you sweet Adriville.

Can I let forget those happy days, in childhood where I roamed,

O’er hill, and dale, and sloping vale down by Lord Bateman’s home,

Ah! No, till death I’ll ne’er forget, fond memory haunts me still,

I’d spend a thousand days like these, in you sweet Adriville.

The deer from a neighbouring forest full often visits there,

To view the hills and green woods around this valley fair,

Grazing on the hill sides, and resting there at will,

Till chased away by the peasantry from the groves of Adriville.

In olden times in November and at an early hour,

Reynard was seen prowling by the hill sides of Knockrour,

With horses, hounds and huntsmen at the base of yon green hills,

And the bugles notes resounding through the groves of Adriville.

So fare thee well, sweet Adriville, like wise your groves and strands,

Far, far from home I am forced to roam, all in a foreign land,

When crimson sun bursts brightly down o’er valley, hill and dale,

Then I’ll come home no more to roam from you sweet Adriville.