/ Caisleán an Chumair
takes its name from the local castle which was built
by the Normans in 1171 on the mound opposite the present
gates in to the Castlecomer Demesne.
Caisleán an Chumair means “The castle
at the confluence of the rivers” of which there
are three, The Deen, The Brocagh and the Clohogue.
The original castle was built of wood and was replaced
by a stone structure by Earl Marshall about the year
1200. When Sibella, the great-granddaughter of the
Norman leader Strongbow, was granted the manor in
1219. The local Brennan chiefs retreated to the hills
and lived and independent life until the plantation
of Castlecomer by Earl Strafford. In 1637 30,000 acres
were granted to Sir Christopher Wandesforde by his
cousin, Earl Strafford, the Kings Deputy. Christopher
laid out the town of Castlecomer, Ireland’s
first town in Stone and mortar.
was interested in the iron which was found locally
and when coal was discovered he imported miners from
England to develop the coalmines. For the next 300
years coalmining was the biggest industry in the area,
employing up to 500 men when in full production, until
the closure of the Deerpark mine in 1969.
Wandesfordes lost their land during the Rising of
1641 but these were restored to them in 1653. In 1798
the Wexford insurgents marched on Castlecomer and
the town was burned. It was rebuild by Lady Anne Wandesforde
in the early 19th Century. During the years 1840 to
1855, which included the Great Famine, 47% of the
population of the town was given emigration assistance
by the Wandesforde Estate. In the 1950’s, after
the death of Captain Richard Prior Wandesforde, the
remaining lands and property were sold, thus ending
the era of the Landlord.
Castlecomer is a thriving town with a population of
2,000. It has large industry in IJM and the Ormonde
Brick Factory and a wide variety of small business
and trades. There are many fine old buildings including
the recently renovated Estate Farmyard. It has a splendid
18 hole championship golf course, soccer and GAA facilities,
excellent library, community Hall, top class schools,
social service, sheltered workshops, restaurants and
accommodation. Houses for the elderly, several sports
and social clubs, a dramatic society, a history society,
bank and credit union. Several Housing developments,
industrial developments and community developments
in Childcare and Enterprise. The Castlecomer Demesne
has recently re-opened its gates and is in the middle
of a significant overhaul that will incorporate an
interpretative centre and museum, walkways and barbeque
area, café and shop facilities.
Castlecomer lakes have just re-opened for fishing.
It has two festivals one in the Summer on the August
Bank Holiday weekend, The Summertime Festival which
is in its second year, and one in the Winter on the
1st Jan, The famous Wellie race which has recently
celebrated twenty five years on the go. Caslecomer
is also twinned with Penvenan, France and enjoys a
very healthy relationship with the French town with
visits back and forth between groups annually.
sponsored by Kilkenny County Enterprise Board