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About Rosenallis

Rosenallis village is situated on the northeast end of Capard Ridge in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois in what William Bulfin in his book “Rambles in Eirinn”, called “The Smiling Midlands”. This village is not on the normal tourist trail, and therefore, little discovered; but several viewing points in the vicinity provide a wonderful vista of the lush green central plain of Ireland. It is said that you can see six counties from the “Stoney Man” on the Ridge of Capard – the finest viewing point in the centre of Ireland – and which is also on the “Slieve Bloom Way” lomg distance walking trail.

If it’s peace and quiet you want, then you will find it here – up the mountain road, up over the woods and meadows and tillage fields, up into the freer, purer air, up where you will meet the busy bee flying homeward laden with honey sucked from the heather and the blazing yellow bloom of the golden furze.

Visit the Barrow valley nearby (three kilometres) and walk to it’s beautiful waterfall – the Clamphole Falls. Visit the Cathole Falls on the Owenass river (five kilometres) and picnic on the banks of it’s dark pool, or enjoy a swim in the cool mountain water.

If you are a “walker”, there are walks of varying distances from three kilometres to thirty kilometres to do, depending on whether you have one day or two days or more to spend in the area. There are nearby B&Bs in which to stay and the Irish Tourist Office in Portlaoise will assist you with accommodation.

The name “Rosenallis” according to early Irish writers, Comes from the Irish “Ros-Fionn-Glais” (The wood of the clear stream). Saint Brigid founded a church and a convent here and there was also a round tower. The ruins of the church and tower were still standing in the year 1819. They were later removed. A well in the village is called “Saint Brigid’s Well”. William Bulfin urges us to “Quench our thirst at the village well. It is a spring more refreshing than the deepest draught of the rarest wine in Europe”

After the Williamite wars against James II (1689-1692) – General Ginkel is said to have quartered his soldiers in Rosenallis village and he himself stayed in Capard House (three kilometres distant) owned by Robert Pigott. A copy of the treaty of Limerick was kept in Capard House up to the 1960’s when it was handed over to the National Museum by the then owner Mr. Charles de Jenner who died in 1973 and is buried in the estate grounds. The present owners of Capard Estate are Mr. John Farrington and Mr. Tom Dobbyn.

Capard House, Summergrove House and Derry House are the three big houses in Rosenallis Parish, each occupied and each with a very interesting history.

The present village of Rosenallis is of Quaker Origin, and dates back to the coming of the Society of Friends to Ireland under the direction of their founder William Edmundson who came to Ireland from Scotland and settled first in Virginia in Co. Cavan and then settled in Mountmellick and Rosenallis in 1659. William Edmundson died in 1712 and is buried in the Quaker burial ground in Rosenallis, the oldest in Ireland. The plaque near his grave reads – "Near this spot is buried William Edmundson, the first member of the Society of Friends who settled in Ireland. Died 31st of 6th Month 1712 (old style). Aged nearly 85 years." The Quaker burial ground on the outskirts of village, remains a true monument to these early settlers.

Two houses in the village have plaques over their doors dated 1730 and 1733 – the latter house was the last two storey thatched house in the locality. In 1831, the village had 19 families and population of 101. By 1841 the number of houses had risen to 254. In the Great Famine of 1845 to 1847 the Quakers gave great assistance to the local starving people by running a “soup kitchen” in the house dated 1733, which is now known as “The Rambler’s Rest”, a local public house and grocery. Indeed, the large iron cauldron used for making the stew or soup with it’s chains for hauling it up over the fire and the ladles for ladling out the soup are still in the possession of the proprietors. The other public house in the village “Shelley’s” which is now sadly closed, was a refuge and a “safe house” for priests “on-the-run” during the Penal Days in Ireland. The late Mrs. Shelley had in her possession certain items belonging to that time so, if you are visiting Rosenallis from Ireland or abroad, you will receive a very warm welcome from the people of the locality and you will not regret having come here.

The Roman Catholic Parish of Rosenallis is one of the larger in area within the diocese of Kildare and Leighin. Below is a map which shows Rosenallis along with the other parishes in County Laois.