Stradbally has a long history reaching back to the 6th century. The place was called "Mon-au-Bealing" and Colman Mac ua Laoise, who was a disciple of St. Columba, established a monastery there at that time. In 1447 the Franciscans came to Mon-au-Bealing and by 1550 a small village consisting of a ruined house, part of the church, and a cluster of thatched cottages had developed around the monastery. The name Stradbally, Sraidbhaile Laoise, dates at least from the 16th century as it is referred to by that name in the Annals of the Four Masters.

In 1552 it was granted with all its possessions to Francis Cosby and his heirs. This grant was confirmed and reviewed by James the First to Richard Cosby in 1609. The town developed under the influence of the Cosby family. In 1771 it contained a hundred houses and by 1794 the number had increased to 216, most of which were neat and well-built out of limestone taken from neighbouring quarries. About a mile from the town there was a charter school for 50 children.

By 1831 the population was 1,799 and the number of houses had grown to 306, with two flour mills operating on the river that passes through the town. A Chief Constabulary Police Force was stationed in the town; general sessions of the peace were held twice a year, and petty sessions on alternative Fridays. The Courthouse consisted of a neat building and attached to it was a small Bridewell containing three cells, two day rooms and an airing yard.

There was a dispensery and a savings bank in the town. The town has a continuous history of milling dating back to 1596 when there was a mill and millrace there. There was also a cotton factory which had a work force of 200 people, and in 1801 a Doctor Lamphier had a brewery which supplied an excellent beverage in the town.

Stradbally Hall, seat of the Cosby family, as it appears today dates from the middle of the 19th Century. Peter Burrows Kelly, author of the "Manor of Glenmore," was born in Stradbally in 1811, as was John Cannon O'Hanlon author of "The Lives of the Irish Saints" and "History of the Queen's County." Cecil Day Lewis, poet laureate from 1968 to 1972, was born in 1904 in Ballintubber, Stradbally. Kevin O'Higgins was born in Stradbally in 1892 and a monument to the O'Higgins family stands in the Court Square.


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