Parknageragh: A Tale of Two Houses

Parknageragh House, Castleisland, dates to pre-Famine times.  It was built by the Thompson family.[1]  Early records show that in 1823, one Alexander Thompson Esq of Parknageragh was summoned to the jury panel.  In May 1828, Mrs Thompson, wife of Mr William Thompson, a lady ‘much esteemed,’ died at Parknageragh after ‘a lingering illness.’


On 31 March 1835, John Eagar Thompson Esq of ‘Parknagera’ married Catherine Fitzgerald, third daughter of Robert Fitzgerald of Deelis Esq.[2]  John Eagar Thompson died at the Spa, Tralee, just two years later.[3]


William Thompson of Parknageragh


In 1855, William Thompson of Parknageragh, a member of the Central Kerry Farming Society, won an award for his pure-bred Ayrshire cattle.  In 1869, he was awarded £3 15s for a ‘wayne of hay’ burned on his lands at Parknageragh.


A little is learned about William Thompson in an action for slander and assault taken against him by land agent, Arthur Edward Herbert of Killeentierna, in 1877, tried by a special jury.[4] The alleged incident took place in a railway carriage at Tralee Railway Station on a December evening in 1876.  Herbert entered the carriage and evidently sat on Mr Thompson’s coat.  Thompson protested, and accused Herbert of treating him with indignity in court:[5]


When on the Bench, you acted towards me from revenge, and the other day on the Bench you acted from corrupt motives.[6]


A man named Reidy entered the carriage and tried to calm the situation.  He said:


For God’s sake, gentlemen, let there be no more of this sort of work, what will the world say but that we are always fighting in Castleisland.[7]


The Thompsons did not escape the Land War.  In 1880, a party of disguised men carried off the arms from Parknageragh House.  In 1887, Patrick Casey, a tenant of Miss Thompson of Parknageragh, who owed half a year’s rent, complained that the gable of his house fell and his landlady was unwilling to repair it.  The secretary was directed to write to Miss Thompson and ask her to repair the house and that her rent would be cleared.  She was expected to comply as she was ‘a most respectable landlady with kind disposition’ who had consented on all occasions to the rents fixed by the League.


Family of William Thompson


William Thompson Esq married Mary Roche in 1843.  They had at least nine children.[8]  The history of Parknageragh House from hereon is essentially that of two houses, Parknageragh and Ballyegan, for three Thompson daughters married into the Milward family of Ballyegan.


John F Milward (1792-1869), a Lieutenant of the South Cork Militia, and his wife, Mary Ann Harnett (1798-1836) had a large family of ten children.  Mary Ann Milward died at Ballyegan in 1836 after giving birth to her eleventh child.[9]


The men of the Milward family were noted for being handsome and of fine physique.[10]  This trait continued, as recalled by John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage:


The next generation of Milwards of Ballyegan were also very big, strong men.  Their reputation also specified that young women were much safer out of their reach!


Harnett Milward of Ballyegan married Frances Thompson of Parknageragh in 1872.[11]  A number of children were born to them.[12]


Robert Milward of Ballyegan married Sarah Mary Thompson, described as third daughter of William of Parknageragh, in 1876.  Sarah died at the residence of her mother, Mrs Thompson, in February 1885.  There is record of an eviction notice being served on Robert Milward by George A E Hickson in 1901.[13]


Thomas H Milward married Honoria Eleanor Thompson in 1881.  They resided, with their children, at Ardmona, Cordal.[14]  On 21 August 1899, Thomas H Milward was struck by his cousin, James Roche of Firies, in an argument over a raking machine.  He died from his injuries one week later, 28 August.  Edward Milward, son of the deceased, described what happened:


I was making hay with my father and my three brothers on my father’s farm at Cordal West.  I saw Roche that day coming towards the field, he had a horse with him and came into the field and to where my father was.  He was talking a bit to my father then went down to where the raking machine was and my father went down and Roche caught the pike in my father’s hand and he knocked him.  My father got another pike and went up to Roche, I saw him strike my father on the head with a pike and knock him down, I then saw him putting his horse under the machine, I was about 40 yards away.[15]


John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, adds the following:


The evidence of Edward is as I heard it in my youth.  James was acquitted at trial.  It wasn’t his first time coming for the raker with his horse – element of self-defence.


Mrs Mary Thompson, née Roche, relict of William Thompson of Parknageragh, died at her residence on Monday 30 July 1906 aged 84.  John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, remarks on her genealogy:


Mary Roche, probably from Firie, our near neighbour, was aunt of James Roche who got into dispute with Thomas ‘Goosey’ Milward.  Goosey lived on Ardmona – a neighbour of John Twiss.


In the year that followed the death of Mary Thompson, the estate of William Thompson, deceased, held from Markham Richard Leeson Marshall under tenancy from year to year at yearly rent of £106 19s 0d containing 120 acres, 3 roods,  21 perches or thereabouts, was up for sale.  It was purchased by Dr Rice.  A delay in the sale revealed that Parknageragh had been willed to Thomas Thompson. [16]


Thomas Thompson of Parknageragh


Thomas Thompson of ‘Parknagragh’ appears next in residence.  In 1933, a game notice revealed that the lands there were preserved by Cordal Coursing Club for protection of hares and pheasants.  Indeed, in the ensuing decades, Parknageragh became a venue for coursing.


John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, recalls that Thompson was regarded locally as an inefficient farmer:


I recall two fellows discussing some upcoming job to be done.  ‘We’ll do it in October when Tommy Thompson will be saving the hay!’  His cows were ‘skin and bone’ when they got to pasture after winter, but on the good quality land, they were soon in good shape.


Thomas Thompson died in April 1947.  John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, recalls the following:


William Milward of Ardmona was obsessed with inheriting Parknageragh but Tommy Thompson was not inclined to oblige.  William Milward had only one daughter, Nuala.  A neighbour suggested he transfer the farm to her and allow her get married.  ‘Jesus, do you think I just got it to give it away,’ he said.


Nuala Milward, only daughter of William Milward of Parknageragh, appears next in occupation.  In 1957, she married John Joseph Prendiville of Sandville.  John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, recollects the following:


Nuala, a quiet, gentle lady, inherited Parknageragh and married Jack Prendiville.  She and Jack made the land available to the Castleisland Coursing Club who ran a very successful coursing meeting every year until they sold the farm.  The club then purchased their own grounds.


McAuliffe of Parknageragh


Mike McAuliffe, farmer and haulage contractor, purchased Parknageragh House from Nuala Prendiville in 1995:


Parknageragh was in disrepair.  My friends told me to knock it down.  We had to do a lot of work on it.  The roof had to be fixed so we had to get Spanish Slate which had to be specially imported … the stone had to be sandblasted and pointed … we restored the four foot wide stairs and the woodwork around the house.[17]


Nuala Prendiville moved to a residence in College Road, Castleisland, where she died in May 2004.[18]


Parknageragh House remains in the ownership of the McAuliffe family.


Shane McAuliffe, Parknageragh House, photographed with John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, at the former Thompson abode.  A plaque above the arch records the wonderful restoration by the McAuliffe family: Parknageragh House Built 1840 by Wm Thompson Restored by Mike McAuliffe 1997.  Photographs by Noel Nash, Castleisland District Heritage



[1] Sometimes referred to as Park House, Parknageragh has a number of spelling variations, including Parknagragh and Parknagera.

[2] Earlier in the same month (14th) the Kerry Evening Post announced the marriage of Michael Dingle Moriarty of Glanahira to Maria, youngest daughter of Robert Fitzgerald Esq of Deelis ‘in this county.’ The location of Deelis is unclear; one notice identifies it in Killury parish and another in Killiney parish.  Certainly the Fitzgerald family was associated with the latter where the townland by that name is located between Tralee and Castlegregory.  A record of ‘Moriarty of Glanahira’ is contained in King’s History of Kerry.

[3] Death notice recorded in September.  John Eagar Thompson was the son of John Thompson and Honora Eagar.  It is worth recording here one William Eagar Thompson of Park House, whose second son was William Thompson of Killarney.  This William of Killarney died in 1925.  William Thompson married a daughter of John West of Tralee.  His death notice mentioned that his second son, Alex, was a prisoner of war at Tintown Interment Camp, Curragh during the Irish Civil War.

John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, remarked that he only knew of one by the name of Eagar in the Cordal district, Bill Eagar, who lived near Kearney’s Post Office, and who died in the 1950s.

[4] Counsel for Herbert was D C Heron QC, James Murphy QC, W O’Brien QC and George Raymond.  Counsel for Thompson was Mr Coffey QC, Dr Webb QC, and Mr T Wall.

[5] ‘Mr Herbert said to Mr Thompson, ‘I’ll have you in the Queen’s Bench.  You better take care of yourself.’ Mr Thompson replied that he did not care about him or the Queen’s Bench’ (Kerry Evening Post, 14 March 1877). 

[6] It transpired there was ill feeling between the men over the transaction of a dog which allegedly reflected in Herbert’s conduct in the magistrates court. 

[7] Full account in Kerry Evening Post, 14 March 1877.  The jury found in favour of Mr Thompson.

John Roche, Chairman of Castleisland District Heritage, observed that Herbert was shot dead at Lisheenbawn Cross during the Land War, exactly five years later.  Locally, Herbert had a reputation for being aggressive, arrogant and dismissive on the Bench.

[8] Their offspring, as far as can be seen, were John Roche Thompson (1851-1926) who lived in New South Wales; William Thompson, born in 1854; Thomas Thompson (1860-1947), who does not appear to have married; Sarah Mary Thompson born in 1855; Margaret Thompson born in 1857; Catherine Thompson born in 1858; Eleanor Thompson born in 1862, Honoria Eleanor Thompson and Frances Thompson.

[9] Their known offspring were John Harnett Milward (1817-1870) – the following notice may be of interest: ‘Married on the 26th September 1889, at Christ Church, Freemantle, Southampton, by the Rev J D’Arcy Preston, Surgeon Edwin Oswald Milward (1853-1907), Army Medical Staff, son of the late John Harnett Milward Esq of Ennis, Ireland, to Enid Susan, youngest daughter of the late Admiral Sir James Henry Plumridge, KCB.’  Another son, George Robert Milward, Civil Engineer, born in 1851, was recorded at Clonroad in 1876; Harnett Milward (1819-1894) ‘second son;’ Harriet Milward born in 1822, Ellen Milward born in 1824, William Milward born in 1826, Freeman Milward born in 1828, Thomas Milward born in 1830, Robert Milward born in 1836. 

John F Milward appears to have remarried in 1839 to Alicia Sealy.

[10] Valerie Bary, Houses of Kerry[11] Frances Milward died at Ballyegan on 5 August 1919.

[12] John Harnett Milward born 1873; William (Gulielmus) Thompson Milward born 1876; Thomas Harnett Milward born 1881; Frances Catherine Milward, ‘youngest child,’ died from croup in 1881 aged 2 years 3 months; Freeman Milward born in 1882; George Harnett Milward; Robert Milward born 1891, Henry Milward, died in 1902 aged 22; Annie Milward, born 1889, died in 1947.

[13] Robert Milward died in about 1902.  Known children of Robert and Sarah were John Milward, born 1877; William Milward (1878-1950); Mary Milward, born 1879; John Bernard Milward (1879-1930) and Ellen Nellie Milward (1881-1959) who married Edward J Burchell in 1905.

[14] In the marriage notice, Thomas was described as of Clonroad House, Ennis, Co Clare.  Their known offspring were William Milward, born in 1884, Edward Oswald Milward, born in 1885, Frederick Freeman Milward born in 1886 and Albert Vere Milward, born in 1888.

[15] ‘The Cordal Tragedy,’ Kerry Sentinel, 6 September 1899.

[16] Dr Rice, purchaser of farm of Parknegeragh, applied for compensation in 1909 for delay in completing purchase.  Suit brought by John Thompson, Australia, to raise charge of £400 upon lands of Parknageragh under will of William Thompson deceased bequeathed to defendant, Thomas Thompson, subject to the charge of £400 and other charges of £100 each in favour of three of the daughters of William Thompson deceased.  Sale of lands realised £1,180, purchaser complained of delay by solicitor for John Thompson, who had carriage in carrying out the sale.  Dr Rice sought £25 compensation to be paid by solicitors for John Thompson.  William Thompson junior, personal representative of deceased, said there had been great delay.

[17] Kerryman, 25 June 1999. ‘He moved into the house with his wife and three children Shane, Orla and Natasha when the work was finished.’ 

[18] Nuala was laid to rest in Kilbannivane.  Her husband Jack predeceased her. Nuala and Jack had one son who died shortly after birth.  Information courtesy Anna Brosnan.