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Maynooth History 101
This year, the town of Maynooth, Ontario, celebrates the 150th anniversary of the opening of its first post office. Beginning April 1st, there will be monthly events, including storytelling, oral history, art shows, photography, art & artefacts, as well as musical entertainment. The events culminate on the actual anniversary, October 1st.
Originally known as “Doyle’s Corners” after Michael Doyle (the first store-keeper), the name was to be changed to Tara but was rejected. Oxenden was selected as the replacement name for the town, but this too was rejected. In the late 1860’s-1870’s the town officially became Maynooth, named after the village in County Kildare, Ireland.
Maynooth, in Kildare, is approximately 25 kms west of Dublin City. Maynooth is a historic spot. It is Má Nuad, the plain of Nuada and associated with the Fitzgeralds. This association began in 1176, Maurice Fitzgerald, head of the family, was granted ‘The Barony of Naas’ by Strongbow. Soon, Maurice Fitzgerald, the Baron of Offaly, began to fortify the spot where a small tributary joins the Lyreen river.
The Fitzgeralds became extremely powerful in the area, and were given the title Earl of Kildare in 1316 by the King of England. Their title was eventually elevated to Duke of Leinster. Thomas FitzGerald, his son, Gearóid Mór, and his grandson, Gearóid Óg, were in turn appointed Lords Deputy of Ireland.
The Lord Deputy ruled Ireland in the name of the King of England from this castle, and was the most powerful man in Ireland, making Maynooth one of the most important medieval sites in Ireland.
The spectacular ruins of Fitzgerald’s Maynooth Castle lie beside St Patrick's College, this huge structure housed generations of the Fitzgerald family, the rulers of Kildare. The great keep had risen before 1200, and in 1248 a chapel is mentioned in the complex of buildings.
When Gearóid Mór FitzGerald died in 1513 he had made provision in his will for the building of a College, bequeathing 491 acres of land for that purpose. His son, Gearóid Óg, Ninth Earl of Kildare, established this College under licence from the Archbishop of Dublin, William Rokeby, dated 6 April 1518. The College of Saint Mary was established near the Castle and the Castle Chapel was rebuilt as the Collegiate Church, in 1521.
St. Patrick's College was built in 1521 in an elegant gothic style and then was closed during the Protestant reformation by reopened in 1795 when the penal laws suppressing Catholicism were finally relaxed. The College was founded because in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it had not been possible to educate Catholic priests in Ireland.
The institution was built on a site previously founded as a college by the earl of Kildare, in the 16th century. Since then, Maynooth has developed into the largest Roman Catholic seminary in the British Isles and is now part of the National University of Ireland.
In 1535, Henry VIII called Gearóid Óg to London by Henry VIII who was uncomfortable with the Fitzgerald hold on Ireland. Enemies of the FitzGeralds quickly spread false rumours that he had been executed by Henry, hoping to inspire Og’s son, Silken Thomas, to revolt. The plan was successful and at the beginning of the insurrection his followers murdered the Archbishop of Dublin.
Maynooth Castle fell to the English forces during one of the first occasions on which artillery was used in Ireland. Twenty-five of the defenders were executed on the spot before the present gateway of the Castle. After the attack, Silken Thomas FitzGerald was capture and removed to be lodged in the Tower of London with his five uncles. They were executed for treason at Tyburn on 3 February 1537.
The sole survivor, a child half-brother, was spirited abroad into Italy. His restoration began in 1552 and he was the founder of a line that was content with the new pattern of court nobility. Since then, the Castle has been expanded and restored many times.
After the attack on the site in the 1640s, the FitzGeralds left Maynooth Castle and were never to live there again. They lived at Kilkea Castle, an outpost of Maynooth, for some time before eventually settling at Carton Estate, their home until the 20th century. The FitzGeralds also built Leinster House, now the seat of the Dáil, as their town house in Dublin.
The Carton Estate consists of 1100 acres, surrounded by a five-mile wall and remained in the Fitzgerald family until 1949. Carton has now been re-furbished as a hotel, while the grounds are occupied by two of the finest golf courses in Ireland. One of the interesting houses hidden away in the grounds is the shell cottage, so named because the walls of one of its rooms are completely covered with seashells.
A significant restoration was undertaken by Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork, in 1630-35, after his daughter had married George FitzGerald, his ward. In 1635 the united arms of the Boyles and FitzGeralds were placed over the main gate.
The Fitzgerald family crest is quite unique, in that it features monkeys on each side of the coat of arms. The monkeys are said to have been incorporated into the Fitzgerald crest in the time of John FitzThomas, the 1st Earl of Kildare. As an infant, he was sleeping in a bedchamber at Woodstock Castle, an outpost of Maynooth near Athy, when a fire broke out. In the confusion of the fire, the infant was thought to have perished in the fire.
However, it was discovered that an ape, normally kept in chains as a pet, had broken free and had rescued the baby, keeping him safe in one of the towers. Out of gratitude to the animal, the Fitzgeralds incorporated monkeys into their family crest and adopted the family motto of ‘Non Immemor Beneficii’ (‘Not Forgetful of Favours’).
The Ontario village of Maynooth is home to descendants of the Fitzgeralds. Everything Fitz is a family band featuring high-energy fiddling and percussive step dancing. Julie, Kerry, and Tom are all champion fiddlers who play intricate 3-part fiddle harmonies as well as solo improvisations on fiddle and mandolin. Additional instrumentation includes Pat on percussion, along with parents Pam and Paddy providing accompaniment on piano and bass guitar.
Always an audience favourite are the award-winning step dancing routines performed by all four siblings.
The Merry Micks are another of this family’s talented and entertaining groups. Consisting of Paddy Fitzgerald (and his wife Pam), Catherine Rull (nee Fitzgerald), Tony Fitzgerald (wife Julie) and Gloria Leveque (a relation as well) and sometimes featuring children, Greg, Tom, Kerry, Julie and Pat. The group has performed for the Maynooth Celtic Festival, St. Patrick's Day parties, local fairs and church functions. They feature instrumentation ranging from fiddles, guitars, drums, mandolins, accordions, flutes and rattles. Their voices are strong and well-blended, their songs are traditionally Irish and folk-based. Between songs, the group keeps the audience laughing with jokes and stories of their heritage.
Fabian (my partner) descends from the same Fitzgerald branch, on his mother’s side. *
Regular readers of my blog will appreciate that I have a great interest in history and genealogy. & I'm excited that I currently represent the seller of a historic home, located in Maynooth, Ontario.
Somewhere around 1867, John McAlpine married his first wife, Bridget Ellen Moran. Five years after their marriage and just three days after the birth of their fourth son, Patrick, Bridget passed away. Unable to cope with four infants, John was assisted by his dear neighbours and close friends- Pat Fitzgerald* and his wife Elizabeth (nee Leveque). About two years later on June 27th, 1874, John married Ann Ward and she became mother to John’s four children and later they had twelve more.
Around 1907-08, Ann and John built a handsome, 10-room, frame house close to Maynooth Station, to accommodate business men and labourers brought there by the newly established railway service. John died in 1917 and for many years after, the business was operated by his daughters Elizabeth, Annie and Bridget. They continued to grow their own vegetables on the property. John’s wife, Ann stayed there until her death on March 6th in 1930 and daughter Annie continued on, until her death on the 17th of May in 1970.
In the early days of operation, the boarding house was also a place of commerce. Using a large room with shelves and counters, travellers would display their wares and the merchants would travel from miles around and order from these samples.
*Marie Eve Yantha (nee Fitzgerald) is the gr-gr-neice of Patrick Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Leveque.
In the 1970s, the house was purchased by Don Mosielski and his wife Elizabeth who renamed it the “Silver Owl”. Don was an architectural consultant and he converted the second floor to a self-contained apartment while preserving the Victorian integrity of the home. The Mosielski’s operated a jewellery shop and studio on the lower level of the house.
In the 80s, Gladys Ivany and her sister Barb Layland operated an interior design and upholstery business in the house and later, Gladys and her husband George, made the house their home for almost 20 years. The most recent owner has operated a bed & breakfast and gallery from the property but finds it is time to move on.
The beautifully-maintained “McAlpine House” exudes the elegance of country Victorian splendour. Treasures, such as the original woodwork and tin ceilings have been lovingly preserved. An impressive 3000 sq ft, the house is nestled on nicely landscaped gardens with a fairy-tale arched bridge and pond that lead to the gazebo. At the far edge of the property, sits the McAlpine’s original 28’ X 32’ barn, in its glory.
Maynooth is an amazing little town, it has a thriving arts community and a well-developed business association led by Joey Shulman a former Toronto theatre publicist. Shulman moved from Toronto to the Banff School of Arts for three years (with his partner, Barry Siegrist) before moving to Maynooth in 1988. They operate the successful Wildewood Bed & Breakfast (so named in honour of Oscar Wilde). Both are very active with events throughout many sectors of the community.
Currently, Shulman is directing "Fiddler On The Roof", a musical production scheduled for April 7th-10th and 14-17 at the new Town Hall. The performances will benefit the Canadian Cancer Society as well as six local charities (HART, Hospice House, Community Cares North Hastings, the ANAF, and Maggie's Womens Resource Centre).
This photo of Maynooth is courtesy of TripAdvisor (Maynooth Farmers Market)
The business association is also very involved with the Maynooth Loggers Games (formerly known as Maynooth Madness)which is slated for the Labour Day weekend and is spin off from the historic and well-known Maynooth Autumn fair. Festivities include the 7th annual mud-run, parade, rummage & craft sale, fall fair and many fun events, including chair carving and cross cut sawing.
Maynooth has an annual Santa Claus Parade, a local farmer's market and other regular activities that exemplify an exciting and active community! There are plans to refurbish the old Maynooth Station Railway building, located in a field adjacent to the McAlpine House.
Located about a mile outside the main business district, Maynooth Station is a place steeped in history and McAlpine House is nestled in its quiet serenity. There are so many possibilities for this special property. It is beautifully situated close to Algonquin Park and centrally located, in cottage country, between Ottawa and Toronto.
wish we could trade our place (currently listed with michael arbour) for McAlpine House (and be closer to Sean and Brian and Connor).
And grow Maynooth Station!
Already miss our farmers market!
Will we see you on Saturday at the hotel? Hallowe'en party...always a blast. Brian # is DJ'ing and there's a cash prize for best costume. Joey
am presently trying to gather
lots of info on Maynooth to put
together a book on our History.
Would love to see your photo's
and talk sometime
Hi Lois: That would be fabulous!