Sometimes, you just have to be lucky. Last Sunday, I wrote a letter explaining what I do and why to a neighbour, and because they are neighbours (in the country sense), I wanted to drop the letter there instead of having it go through the post sorting facility in Portlaois or whereever it is. But when I arrived, I was confronted with several houses with doors and letter boxes, so I left the letter behind one of the windscreen wipers of one of the cars and hoped for the best (especially it not raining too soon). Lo and behold, the next day I had an email from the lady telling me that should very gladly tell me the fieldnames on her land.
So today, I set out with my laptop and paid her a visit.
A bit of background: The family is there for four generations, she married into the family, but is there about 40 years. Some of the fieldnames are not used any longer, because smaller fields have been merged into larger ones. So The Orchard and The High Field are actually one now. The same with the Flax Field and the Long Meadow. She is not quite sure about the location of the Flax Field, the Long Meadow was divided into three fields according to an older map. And you can actually see a former hedge outlined going roughly from North to South. It could have been the one closest to the river. She is sure it was adjacent to the river. Unfortunately, we could not assertain a name for the river. However, someone closer to its possible source in Ballyfoyle might know it. (Maybe there was never a need to name it, because it is the only river in the townland.)
The 25” and 6” Cassini Ordnance Survey map show the now-levelled St. Kieran’s churchyard in the Quarry Field between the two relatively recently built houses, on the Western side of the hedge running from the Sandfordscourt Road north. However, it is very long gone; when Carrigan did his research and publication, there were already only mounds indicating graves and the location of the church. It was definitely gone when Owen O’Kelly did his research. On the first Ordnance Survey Map, there is a lane connecting Sandfordscourt Lane (South of Baun fada) and the lane leading from Kilkieran Crossroad North. Interesting. The church site was East of that lane. I would be inclined to believe an older map, because the area for that was surveyed when there were still traces of the churchyard. There is still a hedge roughly following that line of the old lane. These maps can be found on geohive.ie.
When we were finished with the field names, I asked her whether there were any other interesting features like balaun stones or ringforts or fulacht fia or any folklore of the area. It was a bit funny, because it felt like I was a doctor trying to get to the bottom of her illness by ticking off possible symptoms.
My favourite field name in this survey has to be “The Blue Field”. My informant does not know the reason for this. I will have to see if I come across another field of that name that may come with an explanation. I have searched O’Kelly’s book since, but cannot find any other reference to a Blue Field in Kilkenny.
I had a very pleasant time with my new neighbour.