ByRoute 10.1 Co.Kildare // Co. Offaly (S)

Clane (Co. Kildare / Northeast)

Clane (Claonadh – bend / slope) (pop. 5000), an attractive C18th planned village at a riverside crossroads, has grown rapidly in recent years and is now mainly a commuter satellite for DUBLIN. However, a dynamic Community Council has helped Clane to maintain its role as a commercial and recreational hub for the region. (Photo by Sarah777)

The River Liffey meanders past Clane, where it is spanned by the handsome arches of an old stone bridge. There was an ancient ford at this point on the river, and in prehistoric times a peninsula jutting into a now dried up lake nearby seems to have been regarded as a place of some importance. Nowadays the Liffey walk is a great way to observe some lovely scenery.

Clane History


Saint Ailbe, said to have been fostered by wolves, established an Abbey here c.520 AD, possibly incorporating an earlier monastic community founded by a pre-Patrician missionary. The first abbot was Saint Senchel the Elder.


The Abbey grew in importance, and was plundered by Danes as late as 1035, although the marauders were themselves killed by locals on their way back to Dublin.


A General Synod of the Irish Church was held here in 1162, presided by Gelassus of Armagh, attended by Laurence O’Toole of Dublin and 25 other bishops, together with many abbots. They decreed that no one who had not been trained at Armagh should lecture in theology, a decision which further confirmed the newly established Primacy of Armagh.


The Barony of Clane was originally part of the medieval barony of Otymy, granted by Strongbow c.1176 to Adam de Hereford, who gave it to his brother Richard de Hereford. It was partitioned between his two granddaughters, who married Sir John Staunton and his son Adam.


Clane grew into an important medieval town ruled by its own Provost, Bailiffs and Commons.


The old Abbey was supplanted in the mid-C13th by a Franciscan Friary, founded by the FitzGerald Lords of Ophaly. It possessed a church, chapter house, dormitory, store, kitchen, two chambers, a stable, an orchard and about 70 acres of land. A General Chapter of the Franciscan Order was held here in 1345.


The Friary was rebuilt c.1433. After King Henry VIII’s 1540 Dissolution of the Monasteries, the chapel, church and part of the dormitory were destroyed and the stones used to repair the ‘King’s castle in Maynouthe‘. Even though their medieval monastery was in ruins, the Franciscans kept their connections with Clane until well into the C18th, and the site continued to be used as a cemetery.


The 1798 Rebellion affected Clane less than neighbouring Prosperous, although the roof of the Church of Ireland edifice, also known as the Abbey, was set on fire on 24th May, and some skirmishes took place. The ruined church crowned the Village Green for over a century.


Both the RIC Barracks (already vacant) and the new Garda Siochána Barracks were burnt down at different stages of the Troubles.

Part of the old Abbey was used for CoI worship until 1883. The restored  tower is the most prominent landmark in Clane, while the Abbey Gardens were replanted in 2006 as a Garden of Peace & Rememberance.

The church of St Michael & All Angels (CoI), designed by JF Fuller in the Hiberno-Romanesque style, and consecrated in 1883, was built by Thomas Cooke-Trench, and contains a communion table gifted by his cousin, the poet Richard Chenovix Trench, Archbishop of Dublin. Featuring examples of Cloissone and Scraffito artwork, the church has strong appeal for enthusiasts of the Victorian Arts and Crafts Movement and the work of Clement Heaton and Sumner.

The church of Ss Michael & Brigid (RC) was built in 1884 on the site of a smaller edifice erected in 1895.

Clane also has a splendid new Community Park.

Clongowes Wood


Clongowes Wood (derived from “Cluain na nGabhann”  – “the clearing / meadow of the smith”), documented in 1414 as “syla de Clongow”, was an estate held the Wogan family and then by a junior branch of the Eustace family of Castlemartin, but was confiscated from James Eustace for participating in the 1641 Rebellion, when his 90-year-old mother was murdered by Crown troops breaking open her jaws to get a key to a secret stronghold.


The property was acquired in 1667 by a Dublin barrister called Browne and renamed Castle Browne / Castlebrowne. His descendant Michael Browne married Catherine Wogan of Rathcoffey, and the family becagme the Wogan-Brownes.


Clongowes Wood College (Photo © Jolanta W. Wawrzycka)


Clongowes Wood College was established by the Jesuits in 1814. The choice of location may have been influenced by the fact that there were at that time two Jesuits in the Irish Province from the parish of Clane – a Fr. Aylmer from Painstown and a Fr. Esmonde from Clane. The latter was the son of Dr John Esmonde, a 1798 Rebellion leader in Prosperous, who was hanged that year on Carlisle Bridge in Dublin.


The prestigious boarding school for boys grew rapidly, and in its almost 200 years of existence has educated leaders in every profession and in public life. Its most famous pupil was James Joyce.


A double row of lime trees (planted 1840) flanks the avenue through the grounds, which take in parts of the C15th ditch of the  Pale. (Photo © Jolanta W. Wawrzycka)


The college has an interesting museum of antiquities and a lovely chapel featuring Stations of the Cross by Sean Keating and stained glass windows by Evie Hone and Harry Clarke.

Betaghstown is the location of several attractive Victorian houses.

Mainham was probably named after Maighend, Abbot of Kilmainham, whose brother Saint Ultan Tua, famous for keeping a stone in his mouth to stop himself speaking during Lent, was buried in Clane. It is the location of an Anglo-Norman motte and a ruined medieval church.

The Wogan Mausoleum, an altar tomb displaying the figures of a man and a woman, dates from the mid-C18th.

Firmount House was built in late Victorian style by Major Henry, who owned the first motorcar in Clane – a White Steam.  During WWI the mansion was used as a Military Hospital, and local folklore claims that the first airplane to land in Ireland arrived in the big field in front, carrying a high-ranking officer. Later a TB sanatorium called St Conleth’s, the house is now the Dublin Regional Civil Defence Headquarters, responsible for reacting in the unlikely event of Ireland’s capital being attacked with nuclear weapons. The ground floor windows have been blocked and wooden floors replaced by reinforced concrete.

Millicent House


Millicent House, built in the Georgian style, was the residence of Richard Griffith after he retired from trading in the East Indies in 1786. His wife was well-known as a writer.


Griffiths was commander of the Sallins Yeoman Cavalry during the 1798 Rebellion; his lieutenant was his neighbour Dr. Esmonde, a secret leader of the United Irishmen, who reappeared after leading the notorious torching of the Prosperous barracks “in his usual place at the right of the troop” with “his hair dressed, his boots and breeches quite clean and himself fully accoutred”. Griffith was “speechless with astonishment and indignation”, and subsequently gave evidence against Esmonde, for which Millicent House was attacked and plundered by rebel sympathisers.


His son, Sir Richard Griffith, was a renowned geologist and civil engineer, most famous for his Geological Map of Ireland and his Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland, commonly known as Griffith’s Valuation, an invaluable esource for historians and genealogists.


Millicent House was owned in the mid-C19th by the Cooke-Trench family.

The Wolfe Tone Memorial. (Photo by Rob Johnson)

Bodenstown Cemetery is where Theobald Wolfe Tone is believed to be buried next to his brother Matthew, a failed merchant who shared his political views and was executed in Dublin in 1797. Republicans of various political and paramilitary persuasions congregate for commemorations and windy speeches at Tone’s graveside every summer, traditionally observed by a posse of plainclothes police officers and a few bored journalists. The old parish church was built as a replica of an Anglo-Norman stone church in Gower, Wales

Clane is between Sallins on ByRoute 9 and Rathcoffey on ByRoute 11.


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