The Country of the Trenches

Another family appeared on the scene at this time - the Trenches. They were French Huguenots, who came here by way of Northumberland. The first to appear in Ireland was James Trench, a Protestant Divine, who married Margaret, daughter of Viscount Montgomery of the Ardes and was presented with the rectory of Clongell in County Meath. The first member of the family to settle in Garbally is said to have been Frederick Trench, who came to Ireland in 1631 and married his first cousin Anne, daughter of James in 1632. His interest in Garbally castle and lands is said to have arisen by purchase, but was confirmed by patent from Charles II. Frederick died in 1669. His son, Frederick, who was born in 1633 succeeded his father at Garbally and added to the estate by purchase in 1678. In the 30th year of Charles II he passed patent for the lands of Derryvoilen, Catraleagh, Kilclooney, Liscappell, etc. The land thus acquired would comprise the whole parish of Kilclooney including the present town of Ballinasloe and a large area in the parish of Clontuskert.

This acquisition of land must have been at the expense of the old Irish owners, the descendants of Sean na Maighe O' Kelly. The Cromwellian confiscation was part responsible. In theory the Settlement set aside the barony of Moycarn (including the parish of Creagh) for Cork and Wexford transplanters and that of Clonmacnoon (the parish of Kilclooney) for those from Carlow, Waterford and Limerick. In actual fact one notable grant was made to William Spencer, grandson of the poet Edmund Spencer and this grant was confirmed by the Acts of Settlement and Explanation in Charles II's time. The patent is still in the hands of the Clanearty estate trustees, as Spencer afterwards sold his interest to the Trenches. It shows that the present town of Ballinasloe did not exist in 1676. The lands involved were Caltrahard quarter, 348 acres profitable land Irish plantation measure; Cartunmay 3 cartrons, 70 acres profitable land like measure; the cartron of Black 23 acres of profit land like measure, all lying in the barony of Clonmacnoon. Also the quarter of Kilgarrow alias Ballinasloe 307 acres profitable land, Irish plantation measure; Tulrush half a quarter, 160 acres profitable land, like measure; the meadowing of the quarter of Drumshrura 92 acres profitable land of like measure, all in the barony of Moycarn in the County Roscommon. They are stated to be lands forfeited by the rebellion of 1641.

The total amount of land involved was 1619 acres and the crown rent was 10 2s. 6d. It is clear that Ballinasloe was then on the Roscommon side of the river, but it seems also that back was a built-up area because the crown rent on the 37 acres statute was 3 2s. 21/2d., whereas the rental of the whole lot was only 10. An interesting point also is that in this patent the interests of the bishop of Clonfert in Drumshrura and those of William Brabazon in the lands he held in 1641 are safeguarded. Tuaimsruthra or Ashford was church property before the Reformation belonging to the Monastery of Clonmacnois and was transferred to the Protestant Bishop of Clonfert. Dudley Persse also had crown grants or leases of Tuaimshrura, but his interest appears to have been acquired by the Trenches.

The net result at the end of the century was that the Trenches had acquired at the expense of the native Irish O'Kelly stock the whole of the parish of Kilclooney and a large part of Creagh. The Brabazons retained a large estate and the O'Kellys remained in possession of the northern, less fertile and wooded portion of Creagh.

We can guess at the population of the parish of Creagh in that century from a census made in 1659. The barony of Moycarn contained 472 people, 469 Irish and 3 English, presumably the members of the Brabazon family then situated in Attyrory. From this a rough estimate of the population of Creagh would be perhaps 150 or less. Unfortunately there is no such census for the Galway side of the river. The principal landowners or 'tituladoes' as they were called included Daniel Kelly at Ardcarne, Owen Kelly at Creagh, Bryan Kelly at Atiferaie, James Fitzgerald at Culleen and Edward Brabazon at Attyrory. The population of Ballinasloe was 36 people and it was in county Roscommon.

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