On Thursday 29 June 2023 members of the West Wicklow Historical Society spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening strolling in Ballymore Eustace in the company of local historian C. J. (Christy) Darby of the Ballymore Eustace History Society. We learned of the town’s ancient beginnings and its prominence as an important location within The Pale. Our group visited the extensive ruins of an early nineteenth-century woolen mill which, at peak production, employed up to 700 people and represents an important component of Kildare’s industrial heritage. A walk up the hill brought us to St. John’s church, built in 1810 on the site of a much earlier medieval church. The medieval history of this site was evident in the large collection of grave slabs and the very impressive pre-Norman ‘Northern Cross’ in the churchyard. Within the church rests the stone effigy of a chain-mailed knight, Sir Thomas FitzEustace of Castlemartin (d. 1454), which was brought there in 1919 for safe-keeping. In more modern times, the town’s square was enhanced by the addition of a beautiful water sculpture by Imogen Stuart (see photo).

Our thanks to Christy for sharing his extensive knowledge of the area and to Ballymore Eustace History Society for the hospitality shown to us at the end of this very diverting evening.

Photo: Part of the Anna Livia water feature by Imogen Stuart in the square of Ballymore Eustace

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