Adamstown History

Adamstown Castle

William Marshall  1146 – 1219 (Earl of Pembroke in 1199) the great Lord Marshall who served 5 successive kings got succession to the Lordship of Leinster, by his marriage, in 1189, to Strongbow’s daughter, Isabella. He was given authority to give land grants or Knight’s Fee’s to Knight’s in return for future military services rendered and for the defence of the area from the Wild Irish. One of those who got such a Fee was  a knight by the name of de Heddon who was in Ireland around 1180 (Sir Alexander de Heddon  was a witness in a grant of land by Gilbert of Essex to Dunbrody Abbey 1178-1183), sometime around this date he was given the fee of the Manor  of Magh Arnaidhe (also Mathemetuin also Magernevin, later Adamstown) in what was then Shelmalier and also the manor of Ballymagir in Bargy.
Alina de Heddon who was the sole heiress to the above Sir Alexander married Sir Philip Devereux  in 1195, (Sir Phillip Devereux who was a younger son of the   Hereford house, was one of those  who accompied Strongbow to Ireland) seemingly Ballymagir was the main residence of the de Heddon and became one of the main residence of the Devereux’s, the other been Adamstown, (the manor and lands of  Ballymagir are on the road between Kilmore Quay and Duncormick) Ballymagir had been an important pre-Norman fortified site. In Irish it is Baile na Giorrai, meaning the town of the hares. Such was the richness of the land that a later owner (Loftus) changed its name to Richfield. Alina is referred to as “The lady of Maghereyaya” of the Forest Charter of 1231-1234 so she must have been a widow at that date. In 1247 Alina de Heddon held Adamstown, she also held Ballymagir in Bargy but she must have passed away shortly after this date as in 1250, Stephen D’Evereux, who was a cousin of William Marshall and a kinsman from his manor of Strigoil acquired the above manors in Adamstown and Ballymagir, “probably by decent” as he was a relation to Sir Philip who had been husband  to Alina.
The first D’Evereux holder of the Ballymagir and Adamstown fees on record is Stephen in 1260-1  who held 2 fees of William Valence in 1260-1. Stephen was succeeded by another Stephen. In 1324 Stephen D’Evereux held 2 knight fees in Maghereyayn, the modern Adamstown.
Adamstown Castle Tower was built in 1418 by Adam Devereux, after whom Adamstown is called.
Sir Nicholas Devereux who succeeded to Ballymagir and Adamstown in 1540 being the grandson of John Devereux, was known as  “The White Knight” and was one of the most powerful men the family ever produced. In 1543 he married the Lady  Catherine le Poer (Power), daughter of Sir Richard, Baron of Curraghmore, County Waterford. As a marriage settlement he received ‘ a sheep from every sheephouse and a cow from every cowhouse in the county’.
Adamstown Castle was rebuilt in 1556 by Sir Nicholas with the addition of a manor house. A stone above the entrance gate bore the family coat of arms and an inscription in Latin which translates ‘Pray for the souls of Nicholas Devereux, knight, and of the Lady Catherine Power, his wife, who built this manor (tower) house  in the year of the Lord 1556’. The stone is still preserved by the Rothwell family in the hall of Adamstown House.
T. Lacey writing in 1863 gives the following description of Adamstown Castle   “There are the remains of an ancient castle, consisting of a tower in the centre of a spacious quadrangle, surrounded by a massive wall, the angles of which are flanked with turrets”.
The bawn walls and turret were not dismantled until after 1863 when the then owner  Mr. Downes demolished them and used the materials for the building of the following residences: Adamstown house, Knockeen house, The Castle house and the Barracks. On February 17th 1961 the north corner of the castle of Adamstown fell but most of the tower is still standing.
Andrew Devereux, the last Cistercian Abbot of Dunbrody, became Bishop of Ferns in 1539, having taken the Oath of Supremacy under Henry  the VIII. Though he had been schismatically consecrated, he was recognized by Rome after the accession of the Catholic Queen Mary in 1553. He lived at Kilhile Castle and died at Fethard in July 1556 and is buried in the chancel of the church there. During his reign he granted much of the church’s property to his relations. His nephew, John Devereux  (son of Nicholas of Ballymagir) was appointed by Queen Elizabeth as the first Protestant Bishop of Ferns  on October  14th  1556. He lived at Adamstown Castle. In 1599, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, visited Ballymagir and knighted James Devereux, the then head of the house, in acknowledgment of the connection between the English  and Irish families. Tradition has it that Devereux was obliged to sell three townlands to pay  for the three days of feasting.
According to an Inquisition taken at New Ross  on the 21st July 1629, Philip Devereux of Ballymagir was in possession of the manors of Ballymagir  and Adamstown. Sir Nicholas of Ballymagir, and the heads of other branches of the family, joined the Catholic Confederation in 1641 and are listed amongst the forfeiting proprietors in the  Cromwellian  confiscation. It appears, however, that the family were able to remain in Ballymagir.
Nicholas Devereux-Irish Papist-in the Civil Survey of 1641 held Ballymagir Castle with a large bawn. The townland consisted of 240 acres in the parish of Ballymagir (Kilmore) In Adamstown a Nicholas Devereux presumably the above man held a fair castle  and 2,100 acres in various townlands. In the 1653-4 list of those transplanted we find the name  of Nicholas Devereux  but whether he was actually transplanted is not known, as he became a Protestant and although his property was forfeited he received a re-grant from Charles  2nd and  Ballymagir was restored to him. Robert Devereux of Ballishennan (Ballyshannon)  –Irish Papist held in Adamstown a small castle and 650 acres in different townlands. But this land is now claimed by Col. Nicholas Devereux a Protestant.There were several other important branches of the Devereux family, notably those of  Sallystown, Battlestown, Adamstown, Taghmon, Coolhull, Carrigmannon, The Deeps, Ballyshannon and Tomhaggard.
The Adamstown Estate was forfeited after the Cromwellian settlement and granted to George Monck, Earl of Albermarle. It was recorded as been claimed by Colonel Nicholas Devereux a Protestant but whether he received a re-grant of this place is unknown as it was recorded as been the property of the Earl of Albemarle estate in 1703.  It passed into the Downes  family who remained in possession until the end of the 1800s.
It is said that the Downes family married  into the Devereux family and that is how they got the Adamstown estate. This would seem to say that Nicholas Devereux or his descendants leased the Adamstown estate from the Albermarle Estate.
Michael Downes is cited as Captain of the Adamstown United Irishmen in 1798.

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