Some of my Cavenagh forebears are buried in a family vault at the Abbey Graignemanach or Graiguenamangh County Kilkenny. Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh (1856 – 1935), one of my first cousins three times removed, transcribed the gravestone in 1891. In his family history notes WOC stated the stone was in the pathway leading to the north transept door and was moved 3 feet nearer to the church in 1906.

Underneath are interred the bodies of Wentworth Cavanagh of Ballynomona in the County of Kildare, who died November 1752, James Cavanagh of Graig, who departed this life May 4th, 1769, also the bodies of Elizabeth Lindsay (said James’ first wife) who died April 7th, 1734, Anne Lane, his second wife who died 9th June 1742, and of Elizabeth Archdeacon his third wife, who died 18th March 1787. Underneath are likewise interred several of his children by Elizabeth his third wife, viz Mary, wife of Robert Carpenter of Ross who died April 16th 1787, of Arthur Cavanagh who died the 19th December 1797, and of Wentworth Cavanagh of Ross, who died the 20th August 1793 : also Harriet wife of said Wentworth Cavanagh who died in June 1786.

Later, a footpath was made over it, and in 2002 several Cavenagh cousins arranged for a stone with the same inscription to be placed at the Abbey.

Graiguenamanagh  tombstone 2002 – photograph from Diana Beckett

Wentworth Cavenagh (1675 – 1752) was one of my sixth great grandfathers. He was born at Athy, County Kildare and baptised 22 August 1675 at St Michael’s Athy as Wenford Cavenor, son to Mr James Cavenor of Grangemellon.

The following christenings are recorded at Athy parish:

  • Wentworth Kavanagh, baptized Athy 23 Sept 1704, died an infant. Son of Wentworth Kavanagh of Ballynomona.
  • Kennedy Kavanagh 16 September 1706, parent Wentworth Kavanagh
  • Isabella Cavenagh 22 April 1707, parent Wentworth Cavenagh. She was buried 22 April 1709, infant daughter of Wentworth Kavanagh of Ballynomona

Wentworth Cavenagh was active in the parish:

  • Signature of Went. Kavanagh amongst other names of parishioners at Vestry held in St Michael’s Athy Oct ye 27th 1703.
  • Wentworth Cavenagh elected sidesman 1706.
  • The Minister and churchwardens and Parishioners have confirmed the grant made by Wentworth Cavanagh of half his seat to James Ross. Witnessed by Fran Moore Minister, April 25th 1707
Map showing Athy, Ballynamony, Kilkea castle and Grangemellon from Google maps

Ballynamony is about 12 kilometers south-east of Athy. From the glossary of words commonly found in Irish place names: baile townland, town, homestead; móin(also: mónaidh) bogland. Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh wrote in the late 1920s:

a portion of the Kilkea castle estate and was held by George, Earl of Kildare, a Protestant, in 1654.  A lease for 3 lives was granted Wentworth Cavenagh of Ballynamony gent by Robert Earl of Kildare in Jany 1724. The lives not being renewed by Mathew Cavenagh of the town and county of Wexford, the estate lapsed to the FitzGeralds. The house once a fairly substantial one is now reduced to be an ill kept farmstead. It is situated about one mile to the NE of the Kilkea demesne, just off the road passing thro Ballynamony bridge.  On the left bank River Greese: to the east of Kilkea Castle.

Google street view of the countryside close to Ballynamony
Kilkea Castle from Antiquities of Ireland by Francis Grose 1792 retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

The abbey at Graiguenamangh is 60 kilometers south of Athy and Ballynamony and seems a long way away. However, Wentworth Cavenagh’s son, James, had been appointed a guager, a customs collector for the canals and waterways. 

Bridge over River Barrow at Graiguenamangh . Photograph from geograph.org

Athy and Graiguenamangh are both on the River Barrow , an inland link between the port of Waterford and the Grand Canal, which connects Dublin to the River Shannon.  In the mid-18th century it became a commercial navigation route, with Graiguenamanagh serving as a base for commercial barges operating on the river.

James Cavenagh acquired Tillots Holding at Graiguenamanagh  in 1736 on a lease of lives renewable for ever, the head rent being paid to Lord Clifden. Tillots Holding consisted of a house, malthouse, and 2 ½ acres of land.  

Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh writing in the late 1920s records that the house had “been let for some years past to the Roman Catholic priests of the Abbey” and that “it is now known as the ‘Priests house’…[standing] opposite the little gate of the churchyard leading to the north door of the Abbey.”

The north of Duiske Abbey at Graiguenamanagh from Google street view. Perhaps James Cavenagh’s house is to the left of the photo.

Duiske Abbey at Graiguenamanagh had been founded in 1204. The Abbey was suppressed under Henry VIII in 1536. Following the dissolution the abbey church continued to be used as a local place of worship. The Church of Ireland re-roofed the west end after the tower collapsed into the nave in 1744. The church was returned to the Roman Catholic community in 1812 and restoration was completed in the 1980s.

Graignemanach Abbey. From The antiquities of Ireland by Francis Grose 1791, at archive.org.

Related posts

Wikitree: Wentworth Cavenagh and James Cavenagh