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Home > Villages > Kinnitty > History

History of Kinnitty

Kinnitty Village
Kinnitty Village

Kinnitty Castle
The Castle has had a long and turbulent history. The first castle at Kinnitty was destroyed in 1209 and was later rebuilt by the Norman’s in 1213. Later the powerful Gaelic clan, the O’Carrolls of Ely, drove out the Norman’s. During the Norman period an Augustinian Abbey was established near the castle, of which the famous High Cross and Abbey Walls still remain on the estate.

In 1630 William O’ Carroll built a new castle in close proximity to the old abbey. This was confiscated in 1641 by the English forces as part of the plantation of Offaly, or Kings County as it was renamed. In 1664 the crown granted an estate, which included the castle to Col. Thomas Winter as reward for military service. Col. Winter’s descendants sold the estate to the Bernard family in 1764.

In 1811 Lady Hutchinson, wife of Thomas Bernard, commissioned the famous Pain Brothers, architects of Dromoland Castle and Adare Manor to extend the castle to what it is today.

In 1922, as with many stately homes in Ireland the Republican forces burnt the Castle. The castle was rebuilt in 1928 and the Bernard family lived there until 1946 until when it was sold to Lord Decies who in turn sold the state in 1951. The State retained ownership until it was purchased by the Ryan family in 1994 and has since been transformed into a luxury 37 bedroom hotel

Church of Ireland
The site, on which the church of Ireland currently stands, was the site of the monastery of St. Finan Cam. St. Finan was born sometime around the middle of the 6th century. He studied at Clonfert monastery before moving to Kinnitty to set up his own monastery. The abbey was plundered by the danes in 842. One of the abbots is recorded as being Colga Mac Connagain, who died in 871. Another abbot, Colmain, was slain at the beginning of the 10th century at the battle of Magh Ailbe. There are now no traces of the original structure.

Located near the Church of Ireland church in Kinnitty, this is a large pyramidal structure with an iron entrance door set into one side which is kept locked. There are eight steps down into the interior of the pyramid. Building of the structure began in 1830, and was completed in 1834. It contains the remains of various members of the Bernard family who lived in Kinnitty Castle: Margaret Bernard d 1842, Major Scroope Bernard d1857, Colonel Thomas Bernard d.1882 and Ellen Georgina Bernard d. 1907.

Catholic Church

Kinnitty Church

This was built of local sandstone around 1830, on or near the site of an older thatched chapel which dated from 1816. The belfry and cut stone front were added fifty years later, and the pitched pine roof was added thirty years after that. It was completely renovated in 1975.