The Castle and River

Athcarne Castle and the river Hurley and its swimming hole were favourite venues on a Sunday afternoon in the Summer. Many children would ramble through the fields and join with neighbours to have a "dip" in the cool river water - down the lower road, past Moss's, over the gate and into the cattle field that led to the river bank adjacent to the swimming hole. It was a paradise for kids and a place of neighbourly chat for adults. Many learned to swim there under the careful instruction of Christo Wall and friends. Who could ever forget riding on his back as he did the breast stroke across the swimming hole (below, left) and the encouragement that would follow: " Try it yourself now, gosun!"

In recent years, Patsy Gough shared a story that had its roots at the Hurley river. Christo had taught him to stay afloat by treading water during those early days at the river. As an adult in Canada in the 60s, Patsy was out on a friend's boat when he fell overboard. He maintains that those early lessons in treading water saved his life. All he could think of as he struggled under the boat was Christo's reassurance that he could stay afloat.

On the right - two kids and a dog! The dog's name is Laddie. Do you recognize the other two - one living in Canada and the other in Mullingar. Perhaps someone out there has a photo or a story they can share. One thing is certain - Colm and Bernie always enjoyed our trips to the river. 

On the left - a group of the newer generation enjoy a day at the castle. You may even recognize them if you click the right mouse button and view the image. The history of Athcarne Castle would be a great project. Any information would be most appreciated if you would like to share it through this site.

A favourite pastime for this group during our excursions to the river and the castle was to fish for minnows and pinkeens with jam jars. From Summer season to Summer season, jam pots and twine were hidden under bushes so that all would be ready for the "fishing". Half the craic was trying to find the jam pots! The key to success was to make sure that everyone caught something that could swim - minnow, pinkeen, tadpole, any kind of river creature - it didn't really matter. At the bottom right, Philip and Alan, two of the most recent admirers of the castle and surroundings.  In the middle, Christo Wall and Joe Moss doing what they both did very well - enjoying the company and good times with sons Brendan, Jimmy, Petie, Patsy and Sean.  Is that Vincent Lynch with hand under chin?  Do you recognize the two adults and baby at the back?


Some very interesting history about Athcarne Castle sent on by Charlene Hall, Houston, Texas (see Your Memories page)

Athcarne Castle

This very interesting specimen of Elizabethan architecture is situated in the county of Meath on the Ashbourne new line of road, about 17 miles from Dublin and 5 from Drogheda.It consists of an extensive mansion and a lofty castle, united together, and of coeval-erection, presenting in every point of view a picturesque variety of outline.The pleasing little river Nanny-water, which nearly washes its base, lends its beauty to the ancient mansion, which is also adorned by traces of equal antiquity and venerable appearance.

From inscriptions which appear over several of the doorways, we find that Athcarne Castle was erected for William Bathe, and his wife Janet Dowdal, in the year 1590.This William Bathe was a person of distinction in his day, and a younger branch of the family of the name of Knightstown, in the same county, which was represented by Sir William Plunket de Bathe. The castle was a part of the original grant to his ancestor in the year 1172, and he re-assumed by sign manual, the ancient family name of De Bathe, after its having for upwards of three hundred years fallen into disuse.The Athcarne branch of the family was a century ago represented by Joseph Henry Bath, of Galway and Dublin, who also represented the Baths of Bremore Castle, which was taken down.The history of the Athcarne property is as follows: -

By the act of settlement, 1662, it was provided that Luke Bath of Ackarue (Athcarne) amongst several others, "who, or their respective fathers, have eminently suffered for their adhering to the authority of his majesty, or his father of blessed memory in this kingdom, against the Nuncio and his party shall be forthwith restored to their former respective estates, and whereof they, or any of their said fathers were dispossessed by the late usurping power and be therein settled and quieted in possession to them, and to their heirs respectively, as fully, and beneficially and with the same advantages, benefits and assurances to all intents and purposes, as the Lord Viscount Netterville and the Lord Viscount Galmoy, and the rest with them in the Declaration herein before mentioned, ought, by virtue of the said Declaration, and this present act, to be restored to their respective estates, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

This Luke Bath was immediately afterwards created a baronet; but notwithstanding all this great favour towards him, it appears by a record in the Roll’s office, that on the 10th of February, 1663 (the very next year after the above enactment) by an inquisition post mortem, the jurors after finding that Athcarne, and several other towns and lands, were the property of James Bath of Athcarne (the deceased father of Sir Luke), "and who being of the said lands possessed, was since indicted and outlawed of high treason by him committed against his majesty Charles I., in his kingdom of Ireland, by reason whereof, the jurors aforesaid, do find the said premises to be forfeited to the king’s majesty, his heirs and successors, and be now held in custodian by Sir Luke Bath."However, by the subsequent explanatory Act of Settlement, 1665, Sir Luke was restored to, or rather continued in the possession (which he never lost), to the time of his death; in which also, his son, Sir Peter, continued to the time of his death; after which (he having left no male issue) a collusive proceeding took place between the then Duke of York (afterwards James II.) and Lady Cecilia, the widow of Sir Luke, and Lady Margaret, the widow of Sir Peter, and their trustees, George Aylmer and Launcelot Dowdall (brother of Lady Cecilia) which collusion was established for the purpose of defeating the rights of the male heir of the Bath family, who being thus despoiled of his right, made, as did also his descendants at several periods, frequent, but in consequence of their poverty ineffectual attempts to recover it.The property was sold at Chichester-house, in the year 1803, to Mr. S---e, a woolen-draper in High-Street, Dublin (subject however, to the lease of 99 years, allowed in 1700, in the Court claims, executed by the Duke of York to the above trustees, at a pepper-corn rent!) for a sum of 430.

Type-written note on this photocopy:

I quote "Athcarne Castle: An old tower house with a 3 storey 3 bay wing which is plan but for a battlemented porch and a rather thin turret: Now a ruin.

A type-written note sent to my great-aunt, Norma Gale Crawley in 1954 – they included a snapshot taken of the castle, intact at the time:

Athcarne Castle in Ireland: Where our Maternal Great Grandmother Garnett was born.This seems like a fairy tale. Isabel and I found it 40 miles N. of Dublin. Folks around knew of it – we hired a car and guide – and recognized it from a picture we have at home.I guess it passed out of "our family" hands years ago.It hasn’t been lived in for fifteen years.The outside in good repair but inside in shambles – dozens and dozens of rooms. Beautiful winding stairway up four stories. We went up.One stained glass window left. All others broken. Large stables and gardens…beautiful big Monkey Puzzle tree there. Walls are covered with ivy.The huge twisted roots and branches look centuries old. It was the most fascinating experience and our guide was so helpful. We learned where to write for more information.

Images (Charlene Hall, Texas) from the early 50's:


Here are some images from a recent trip to the castle.  Click on the small photo to view the full size: (more to come)



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Last Updated December 31, 2004, by John Wall