History of Caledon (Kinnaird) Pre 1900AD
Please note: This web site and my research are at a VERY early stage and, as such, some of this information may, at best, be inaccurate or, in some cases, have been completely wrongly interpreted by me. Also there are a large number of gaps in the history of the village particularly from 1480 – 1614 and from 1640’s to early 1800’s which I am currently investigating. If you can provide any insight into these periods (or indeed any other times) then please contact me using the contact link above.
LATE MEDIEVAL CALEDON
The earliest reference I can find to a settlement at Caledon is in on around 1480 AD.
There is information that a son of Eoghan O'Neill, Seaan Buidhe O'Neill, had built himself a castle at "Kinnaird" (or Caledon as it later became known though I am not sure when) and when he rebelled in 1480, Conn Mor brought an English Army from the Pale to besiege the castle, unsuccessfully at the time, though Sean Buidhe submitted shortly after. It is highly unlikely that this castle was at the site of the current Caledon House – there is reason to believe that it may have been located between the town lands of Kilgowney and Kilsampson though this cannot be confirmed.
There is now quite a considerable gap until we get to the early seventeenth century. At this time (up to and after the 1641 rebellion) there are a number of references to different members of the O’Neill family though, confusingly in some cases, there are no dates with the information so it is difficult to place exactly when these events occurred.
There is information that Caledon was allocated to an Irish grantee Catherine Ny Neill in 1614 (accompanied by 2620 acres of land in the Barony of Dungannon / Tiranny) along with a license to hold a weekly market and indeed the Civil Survey describes Caledon as a small market town in 1654.
Despite its Irish ownership in this particular year Caledon had British settlers before the 1641 settlers. The hearth money roles of 1666 records six British hearth owners in the town.
THE IRISH RISING (THE GREAT REBELLION)
The Irish Rising was planned for 23rd October 1641 - it was led in Ulster by Sir Feilim O’Neill (amongst others) and, at this time, Sir Feilim was the occupant of the estate which he had inherited from his mother (Catherine Ny Neill).
Cin Lae Ui Mhellain is an account of the progress of the Confederate War from the outbreak of rebellion in 1641 until February 1647. It was written in the Irish of the day by the Franciscan, Tarlach O Meallain, who reflected the Ulster Catholic view of events. He was one of a generation of ardent Franciscans who were tireless in their efforts to record the Irish past for forthcoming generations. There is only one entry of any interest in the history of Caledon:
14th July 1642 (Thursday)
Lord Conway, Lord Blayney, young Lord Caulfield and Lord Hamilton arrived with a large army and pitched camp close to Armagh from where they foraged the surrounding area. They sent a large company of cavalry for Lord Caulfield to the house of Laurence Netherville in Minterburn. They burnt Dromorragh, the residence of Sir Feilim, together with his plate. Kinnard was burnt on a Sunday to be precise.
The source goes on to say that “Kinnard (the lands of Caledon) was granted to Tarlach O'Neill, father of Sir Feilim, and created a manor with 500 acres in demesne land. Dromarragh was beside the present village of Caledon.” From this it is reasonable to assume that Catherine Ny Neill was the wife of Tarlach O’Neill but it is slightly contradictory as the earlier source states that Caledon was allocated to Catherine and not to Tarlach.
The manor which is referenced above no longer exists and there is no town land in the surrounding area with the name of Dromarragh so it is not known at this time where this manor was located.
There is one additional reference which may or may not be relevant. In 1837 a woodmans called John Ynyr Burges wrote an entry in his diary:
“The first time I was struck by the awful and sublime happened at Caledon Bridge on seeing the dark and gloomy Blackwater rolling on, shadowed over with ombrogenous trees (sic) - few of which are left behind. I can well remember my muse telling me that all the Maxwell family were thrown in the river by Sir Feilim O'Neill and that their ghosts appear at midnight on the banks. I even now never pass that river without this remembrance of all its horrors.”
The reference to Feilim puts the date of the events at around the Rebellion time of the early 1640’s but who were the Maxwell family? Were they a British landowner living in the village at the time?