KylePark Agricultural School

Located within the townland of Kyletombrickane on the road between Borrisokane and Terryglass are the remains of Kyle Park Agricultural School. The school was built in c1843 as one of many agricultural schools established by the Commissioners of Education in the nineteenth century. The patron of the school was Thomas George Stoney of Kyle Park, which is located just across the road to the south-west. In 1843 the Royal Agricultural Society awarded a silver medal to its founder, Thomas George Stoney for his plans and design.The school was only used as an agricultural school up until 1875 and had numerous problems with staffing. The reason it was opened as an agricultural school by the Commissioners of Education was to teach the local farmers’ sons the latest farming methods. Mr. Stoney paid the salary of the agricultural teacher himself. There is still a limestone name and date plaque over the main door with a number of outbuildings to the rear, which form a courtyard.

KylePark Agricultural School

KylePark National Agricultural School 1843

Existing plaque over the entrance to KylePark Agricultural School

After its use an an agricultural school it was utilised as Kylepark National School and was later replaced by a new building further down the road in 1953. Its use as a National school had several different patrons, Masters and Monitors oer the years with the school house capable catering for 80 boys and 70 girls.

The Agricultral School is currently owned by a local woman who is in the process of applying for planning permission from North Tipperary County Council to convert the school into a domestic dwelling. Its wonderful to see that this building will be brought back to its former glory and once again be lived in.



National Inventory of Architectural Heritage   (Reg. No. 22400710)

Slevin, E. 1994 A Parish History of Brrisokane


Vanishing Limekilns


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During my years working in the commercial archaeology sector and especially on the road schemes during the Celtic Tiger one monument which we would regularly encounter was the limekiln. On excavation of these sites, researching them and writing the report, it was noticeable how many have just disappeared from the landscape over the past 100yrs. Where ringforts, holy wells and tower houses etc  have folklore associated with them and are to a degree  protected, it is unfortunate to see these fine limekiln structures are vanishing from the landscape.

While working on the M8 road scheme some years ago I recorded a 65% decrease in limekilns across 26 townlands by examnig the first and second edition OS maps (approx. 1840-1913). This figure has no doubt increased even more since 1913 to the present.


Limekiln during excavation

The limekiln was a fairly common element of agricultural practice in pre-famine Ireland and was known and commented on as far back as 1640 when limestone was burnt to extract lime to fertilise the fields (Neary 2002). The majority of limekilns date to the 18th and 19th centuries (O’Reilly 2000) although some were still in use up until the 1940’s (O’Hara 1991). In one instance it is recorded that near Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny in 1842 “……you come to a lime-kiln, where a guard of a mail-coach was seized and roasted alive” (Thackery 2005). The use of coal as a fuel for the limekiln would be a common occurrence and there is a history of coalmining of anthracite in places such as Castlecomer Co. Kilkenny starting in around 1640 (Neary 2002). The limestone needed was either quarried from bedrock or as cobles or boulders from the eskers and moraines of the midlands. It was also obtained from shells and shell sand from the seashore (Feehan 2003).

First it had to be broken into quite small pieces to have a successful burning. White and soft limestone is easier to convert into lime than for example the black limestone in parts of east Co. Clare. To burn the lime, a black bituminous dust called culm was used.  If the limestone was too large it would not completely burn and would emerge from the kiln as a hard lump. These lumps were known as “coddlers” and were quite useless and would not have been able to be burnt again. Turf and timber was placed at the base of the kiln then alternate layers of stone and culm were put in the kiln until it was full. A covering of clay sealed the top. It might take up to a week to burn a full kiln. Through the arched alcove (púirín or discharge hole) at ground level the bottom layer of fuel was ignited so all the layers would burn eventually leaving a mixture of ash and whitened lumps of burnt limestone (quicklime) to be taken out through the alcove.


Excavated chimney of limekiln

Quicklime was cheap and light to transport and was used sometimes in burying fallen livestock. Some farmers were also known to dip seed potatoes in lime before planting to give a better yield as lime or Calcium Carbonate is needed for acid soil. For its use as a fertiliser or for making building mortars the quicklime had to be slaked thrown into a pit of water. Evans writing in 1957 states that “the home burning of lime did not long survive the great famine and that down to that time wherever limestone could be obtained almost every farm or farm cluster had a lime kiln”. Most of the surviving lime kilns are constructed above ground however they also have ramps built to allow access to the top. It can be stated that lime assisted in land reclamation up to the modern era and helped increase the productivity of poor land.

Apart from agriculture,lime was used extensively to decorate houses, both inside and out. The properties of limewash were suited to the purpose, once dry it shed water quickly, so it didn’t simply run off the wall in the rain. Another more important view was that the limewash cleansed and killed bacteria, which it probably did considering it was now Calcium Hydroxide. Later on, people added colour to the limewash and it was not unknown for people to ask for Pink whitewash.


Evans, E. Estyn. 1957. Irish Folkways. London

Feehan, J. 2003. Farming in Ireland: History, Heritage and Environment. Roscrea.

Neary, P.J.H. 2002. “Archaeological excavation of sixth century burials at Cooleeshalmore, Threecastles, Co. Kilkenny”

O’Hara, B. 1991. The Archaeological Heritage of Killasser, Co. Mayo. pp190-191. Galway

O’Reilly, B. 2000. “Briefing Notes on Lime kilns.” Unpublished: Dept of the Envirnoment, Heritage & Local Government

Thackery, W.M. 2005. The Irish Sketchbook of 1842. Dublin. pp44.

St. Augh’s Eye Well


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Terryglass in North Tipperary and on the shores of Lough Derg translates as Tir-da-ghlas which Adamnanin in his Life of St. Columba translates Ager-duorum-rivorum, the land of the two streams, The field of two brooks.

There are two Holy wells in Terryglass. One, St Augh’s, known locally as the Eyewell, is located at the quay and was named after the saint who lived there in the 9th Century. It is suggested that the water from this well has curative powers. The second well dedicated to St. Columba, known as the Headache well is located further up the village and as the name implies the water here is reputed to cure migraine.

St. Augh’s Eye Well

St. Augh's Eye Well

Dedication plaque to St. Augh

There is very little reference to St. Augh but it is believed that he was a young man who lodged at Oldcourt as a Royal Scholar. It is believed that he sacrificed his eyes by obeying the cruel demand made by a Danish Chieftain who lived in Slevoir. He subsequently had his eyesight restored as a result of the water from the well. St. Augh’s well is visited by people on four Saturday’s during the month of May between sunrise and sunset by those seeking cures for eye ailments. The old ritual (rounds) begins on the flag facing facing the rising sun and continues on each of the four sides of the well saying the creed and five paters and five aes on each side. When the prayers are completed the eyes are washed with the water from the well. Some small token or offering such as flowers are then left on the nearby bush.

The ‘Mouse House’


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Not far from our home in the townland of Drominagh Demesne, in North Tipperary is a small bridge locally referred to as The ‘Mouse House’, the orgins of the name still to be determined! The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage dates the bridge to 1775-1780 and describes it as a toll bridge. It is unusual in having toll collectors’ booths on the top of the bridge. It is described as ‘Triple-arch limestone bridge, built as a toll bridge in 1776, having stone piers at each end of parapet walls and toll collectors’ booths recessed to centre. Rubble limestone stonework with cut stone voussoirs to round arches. Rubble coping stones and with concrete casing to base of piers. Inscribed stone date plaque to booth on east side’.

View of the Mouse House with toll collectors Booth in the centre

Toll Collectors Booth recessed to centre of Bridge. Plaque overhead stating Builder as Richard Biggs

Triple arch limestone construction

A plaque over one of the collector booths states the year in which it was built and by whom, one Richard Biggs, the then owner of Drominagh Demesne.

This bridge was built 1776
Richard Biggs Esq Overseer

Hello world!

Welcome to My Blog!

As the ‘the new thing‘ nowadays is to start a blog and voice your opinion via the internet highway. I have therfore decided to jump on the bandwagon and start my own blog. As an archaeologist with over 14 years experience I am constantly drawn to the ruined castles, churches, ringforts, graveyards, tombs and anomolies in the surrounding landscape. Living in North Tipperary offers a great opportunity to explore these rich and diverse heritage sites that surround us and it is my hope to share just some of the more interesting aspects of these sites which I have come across over the past 14 years.  I hope it will be of interest and assistance to those of you with a love of all things archaeological and historical.