• reiltinmurphy

Taylor's Castle, Wexford

The photographs are from the Lawrence Collection (B&W) and the other side of the Wall in The Faythe Guesthouse courtesy of John Hegarty.


At the top of Parnell Street in Wexford town there is an interesting disused building. It has traces of unusual old windows and an interesting wall between it and the Faythe Guesthouse. The two are referred to by Wexford County Council as ‘Castle House and Gothic Tower’ and have been included on the National Record of Protected Structures, registration number 15505108 for Castle House and 15505109 for the Wall.


Some people refer to this site as the Farmers’ Co-Op. The Co-Op ceased using the site some thirty years ago and their earlier shop had been where Aldi is now on Trinity Street. It seems that the Co-Op began in the 1920s.

Other people refer to the site as Taylor’s Castle but who was Taylor and is it a Castle?

The 1901 Census gives a clue as to why it was known as Taylor’s, we will return to the Castle issue later. In 1901 the building was empty but owned by Charles E Taylor (son of the Taylor who gave the Castle its name) who lived at Tullabards Great, Kilmore, where he was farming. In 1901 Taylor’s Castle is described as a First Class House with six windows in the front of the house and thirteen outbuildings. Charles Edward Taylor with his mother, two sisters, a brother and a servant all live in the Kilmore district in 1901 and are registered there. Mrs Mary Taylor, his mother, died only four days after Census day in 1901, she was 68, her name is written on the census form but struck through. The property was derelict when the Co-Op moved in. The 1911 Census does not mention the building, two Lawrence Collection photographs dated no later than 1914 show the house without a roof: perhaps the family removed the roof to avoid Rates before 1911.


Mary Taylor and her husband Charles Taylor, Solicitor, gave their address as The Castle, Wexford. Charles had an office at 14 High Street and another in Harcourt Street, Dublin. It was later that the house was referred to as Taylor’s Castle in his memory. The Taylors had lived at The Castle since about 1876 (after their children had all been born at Archestown, Clonard) until Charles’ death in 1896.

Mary Alleta Ogle married Charles Taylor in 1863 in the United Church of England and Ireland, Clonmore Parish, Co. Wexford officiated by Charles Douglas Ogle. Charles Taylor was a Captain in the Militia and lived in County Dublin, Mary lived at Clonmore Parsonage. Charles’ father was William Taylor whose occupation was Gentleman (and who erected the Wexford Theatre), Henry John Ogle, Mary’s father, was also a Gentleman. Their witnesses were George and Henry Ogle, probably Mary’s brothers. Charles Taylor’s grandfather was Christopher Taylor proprietor of The Wexford Herald.

Charles and Mary Taylor had seven children: Susan 1864; Charles Edward 1865 a farmer in Ballygrangrans, Kilmore; Frederick William 1868 a veterinary surgeon in New Ross; Henry Lewis (Louis Henry) 1870 a farmer at Tullibards Great, Kilmore; Norah 1872; Walter George 1874 an auctioneer and estate agent and rent collector who lived on Selskar Street; and Ethel Edith 1876.

In 1892 a portion of the garden, fronting onto Trinity Street, went up for sale. It had been rented to Charles Taylor for £4 a year and he bought it for £100.

Charles Taylor died in on the 15th January 1896 aged 62. His illness was swift and shocking. He worked at his office until late on the Saturday, had a cold on Sunday morning, and died in the early hours of Wednesday. Mary Taylor’s distress can only have been increased by her brother Captain Thomas Acres Ogle’s death just two weeks earlier. Obituaries show a warmth towards Charles Taylor, that he was Solicitor to the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gives a flavour of his character. Charles died in January, in March his son put the Castle up for sale: the particulars tell us that there was “a large dining-room, drawing-room, parlour, eight bedrooms, etc. … it is known to be one of the handsomest residences in the County … commands a splendid view of the Harbour … the house and (2 acre) gardens are in thorough repair the late Mr Taylor having expended upward of One Thousand Pounds on Improvements during his occupation…”

Charles Taylor also owned a house in Parnell Street, probably where the Misses Biggs lived. When Miss Emily Biggs, a Lady, died aged 60 in 1885 her death was registered by Mary Taylor. The Biggs were daughters of Militia Surgeon Benjamin Biggs and Louisa Ogle who married in 1803; then in 1809 in the same Dublin parish another Ogle, Henry John, married another Biggs, Mary, parents of Charles Taylor’s wife Mary Alletta Ogle; one can only assume that these are two sets of siblings.


Did the Taylors build the castle? Seemingly not. William Aloysius Caulfield, JP, lived there between 1871-1875, possibly for longer but those dates are the only ones we can find. Mr. Caulfield called his home The Castle, Wexford. William Aloysius was married to Mary Anne Devereux, niece of Richard Devereaux (a trustee of the Convent of Mercy, Wexford). Their children were born at a previous address, Gurteenmanogue near Bridgetown, Wexford.

In 1884 William Aloysius Caulfield appeared in a list of Wexford Magistrates, this is the last Wexford record that we could find. Mary Anne Caulfield died in 1904, a Landlord’s Widow, aged 78, her son R J Caulfield registered the death, she lived at 8 Upper Sherrard St, Dublin.

It took a long time to find more about William Aloysius himself but, extraordinarily, he was living in Melbourne, Australia “for many years” when, in 1900, the Enniscorthy Guardian tells the tragic story of his son Nicholas Caulfield’s death in June having been “run down by a tram-car” in Melbourne. Later that same year William Aloysius, aged 76, died in Australia.

William’s daughter, Mary Esther Caulfield, married William Baptiste Devereux, Gentleman, in the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, Wexford, on July 19th in 1881: it is probable that they were cousins. Their witnesses were Richard Caulfield and Alice Caulfield. William Baptiste Devereux was a distiller and lived in Distillery House on Slippery Green, his father, also a distiller, lived in Summer Hill House which is now the Bishop’s residence.

A record of a Memorial in the Friary Church, Wexford (which I could not find when I visited) tells a sad story: William Baptiste died just one day after their first wedding anniversary, his twin brother Richard followed him four months later, one more year and their father died too. The records do not show that Mary Esther had a baby. Mary Esther Davereux died in 1895 of “Hyetic-Epilepsy” certified for ten years - records do not explain exactly what this meant but is does sound as though she had been overwhelmingly shocked by her young husband’s death thirteen years earlier of a six-day ‘Brain Fever’ (perhaps meningitis). Mary Esther’s death was certified by her sister Annie Helen Caulfield, they lived at 43 Belvidere Place in Dublin.


George Mathews lived at The Castle before William Caulfield. Twenty years have slipped away and we are now in the 1850s.

On June 4th 1855 George Mathews had a huge clear-out of The Castle, auctioning off “the entire Household Furniture” - an eight-day clock, a horse, a bedstead, a commode, harmonium, jaunting car, and two piano fortes to name just some items.

Thom’s Irish Almanac of 1851 names George Mathews as Collector of Excise in Wexford, but as his father, named on his marriage certificate as George Mathews a ‘Collector of Inland Revenue’, it is impossible to be certain which person is referred to here. Indeed George Mathews (both of them) slip in and out of this story in the early 1850s and leave no trace that we could find either side of that date - unless - unless an extraordinary story of fraud and impersonation at Dublin Castle involving a George Mathews is about this George and possibly he and his ‘father’ are the same person: the “Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser” of May 7th 1850 has the full story: solicitor Duncan Chisholm of Inverness “died” having become bankrupt and accused of fraud and soon resurrected as George Mathews becoming first an army schoolmaster, and later a sergeant there. In 1832 he joined the staff of Dublin Castle as a valued administrator of funds to Presbyterian causes most of which went into his own pocket. Another newspaper, The Nairnshire Mirror of 1849, named his parents as William Chisholm and Mary McTavish, with Duncan’s birth date being 1797 but that as George Mathews he enlisted in 1825 in London with a birth place in Northumberland. When Duncan “died” he kindly informed his mother who obediently donned mourning. He “paid a hurried visit to Inverness” and “the respectable inhabitants will be able to say whether it was as Duncan Chisholm or George Mathews”. The newspapers of 1850 and 1851 are full of the story though it should be noted that Dublin Castle was aware of his double life for some years and there is a suggestion that he may have been married. By 1852, if this is he, he may have been in need of a wealthy (or wealthier) wife and in 1855 might have been gathering every penny to reinvent himself elsewhere.

George Mathews Junior married Patience Tottenham in 1852. George, if he is Duncan, was aged about fifty-five. They married in Dublin where both had lived at Mount Pleasant Cottages, in Rathmines and it is probable that “Cottages” gives a misleading impression of the grandeur of their homes. They married in the United Church of England and Ireland, Parish of St. Peter, Dublin. Like her husband, Patience leaves no further documented record that we could find, no child, not even a death.

The Ireland Valuation Office Books of 1852 showing New Street (Parnell Street) in Wexford tells us that George Mathews’ residence of “House, Offices, Land” belongs to John E Redmond as do so many other properties. The residence is valued at £25 (compared to other houses nearby mostly valued at £5 or less) and there is a pencilled note saying “Situation an inferior one for so large a house”. It is necessary to say here that the house would have been built in a suitable situation but dramatic changes in Wexford town were overwhelming it. A huge reclamation project pushed the sea far away from the bottom of the garden and New Street, now Parnell Street, was growing up beside it mainly on reclaimed land. New Street was in the process of development, starting on George Mathews’ side where the houses are larger. In the same 1852 book only about ten houses have been built in New Street.

Patience Tottenham’s father, John William Tottenham, was a 1st Lieutenant in the 86th Foot Regiment and her mother was Patience White, youngest daughter of John White, they had married in Newtownbarry in 1823 when John William Tottenham’s address was Kilmuckridge and Patience White’s was Enniscorthy.

While New Street is roughly to the North of George Mathews’ house, Castle Hill Street (Kevin Barry Street) is approximately to the West. That same Valuation Book has the name Patience Tottenham as the owner of ten properties in Castle Hill Street: is this the new Mrs Mathews or her mother, originally Miss Patience White? Only one of those properties is in Mrs Tottenham’s name in the 1846 Valuation Books.

A John White is associated with the Castle Hills property in 1769, he might be Patience White’s father.


The same 1846 Valuation Book noted a Mrs Kavanagh. The “Mrs” is struck through and replaced by, it seems, Matthew but if this is a son nothing more can be found about him. The property is described as a castle with a basement story, fowl house etc, coach house half lofted, stable, and harness room. Notes say that the property “holds from Mr Redmond by lessee for 10 years, at £30 per annum, has lawn in front and garden with lower land, got it so cheap on account of sinking a large sum of money in said property, has only 2 years of this lease to run”. The property is valued here at about £40.

Mrs Kavanagh, more correctly Mrs Cavenagh, died at Castle House in December of 1846 “aged 59”. Her husband James Gordon Cavenagh died there two years earlier aged 74; his obituary tells us that “he was a kind husband, an affectionate father and a sincere friend”. The Valuation Book tells us in 1846 that they had “a 10 year lease with 2 to run”: James Gordon Cavenagh and his wife Ann Coates therefore lived at Castle House since about 1838.

James Gordon Cavenagh’s parents were Matthew Cavenagh of Wexford and Catherine Hyde Orfeur of Drillistown Wexford. Ann Coates was the daughter of Odiarne Coates of New Romney, England. James and Ann married in 1815. Surgeon James Gordon Cavenagh, Royal Staff Corps, retired on half-pay in 1825 from the 62nd Foot aged about 48 having joined in 1795 aged 18. James Gordon Cavenagh had arrived at Waterloo shortly after the Battle where he worked at the soldiers’ hospitals. The family lived at Hythe near New Romney where the Royal Staff Corps had been stationed and where, in 1834, James Gordon Cavenagh was Mayor.

Their daughter Catherine Ann Cavenagh married, in 1839, Dowell Knox O’Reilly, Lieutenant in the Royal Navy; Catherine is described as the only daughter of James G Cavenagh of Castle House Wexford. Catherine died in the West Indies in 1858 having had two children who died in infancy.

Their son Orfeur Cavenagh, Adjutant 4th Bengal Irregular Cavalry married in 1842, at St. Luke’s Church Dinapore, Eliza Moriarty daughter of James R Moriarty and niece of T. Marshall Esq, superintending surgeon. In 1844, several months before his father’s death, Orfeur Cavenagh lost a leg in action at the battle of Maharajpore where it was “carried away by a cannon shot and his charger killed”. The then Captain Cavenagh in 1850 revisited Hythe, a newspaper account tells us that he had “distinguished himself and in consequence had been selected to accompany General Jung Bahadoor Koorwan of Nepaul to the Queen”. The Colonies and India newspaper of 1891 contained an obituary of General Sir Orfeur Cavenagh KCSI who died at Long Ditton, England, and lists his accomplishments from entering the Bengal Army in 1837 aged 17 to his rise to General in 1877. On retirement in Surrey he became a county councillor, and honorary colonel of the local 3rd Volunteer Battalion.

Their son Wentworth Cavenagh was born at Hythe in 1822. He appended Mainwaring to his name on his marriage to Ellen Jane Mainwaring in Australia where he was MP for the electoral division of Yatala in the South Australian Parliament. Ellen Jane’s family seat was Whitmore Hall in Staffordshire. An obituary of 1895 tells us that the Hon. Wentworth Cavenagh-Mainwaring, “a well known South Australian colonist of Whitmore Hall Staffordshire and Edin Park Adelaide” died at Southsea in his 73rd year. His son Major James Gordon Cavenagh-Mainwaring returned to England to live at the Mainwaring family home Whitmore Hall in 1928.

At the start of this history two questions were posed about Taylor’s Castle: “who was Taylor and is it a Castle?”. We know who Taylor is now, but is it a Castle? To answer this question we need to travel further back in time through a complexity of owners, leases, and bequests, but there would seem to be no record of occupants before Ann and James Gordon Cavenagh.



It is possible that Ann and James Gordon Cavenagh, sitting in Castle House, read The Wexford Independent of July 13th 1839 and its report of the ‘Wexford Assizes: Ridge v Redmond’ which allows us to travel further back in time.

The Wexford Independent’s report details maps and other documents which it would be a pleasure to peruse, maybe they still exist somewhere. The story seems to revolve around ownership of part of the newly reclaimed land in particular with regard to Castle Hills. Castle Hills were the hill on which the Barracks replaced an earlier and well documented Castle, and the hill up to the Faythe - Castle Hill Street where Taylor’s Castle is situated: reclaimed land touched these cliffs and shores because Parnell Street, the Talbot and its car-park, Aldi and Trinity Street, the Quay itself are all on land reclaimed in the 1830s. The story is a tangle of Wills, Leases, and exchanges of ownerships.

In 1665 the lands, which include an area called the Bowling Green, belonged to Philip Hore of Ballycheoge who passed them to his son-in-law Christian Bor who lived at Bor Mount in Drinagh and who had married Ellen an heiress of the family of Hore, of Co. Wexford. Christian Bor’s parents were Christian Bor (died 1637) and Begnet Cusack of Wicklow, his grandfather was Cornelius Bor from Utrect. Christian Bor was High Sheriff for County Wexford in 1666.

Christian and Ellen Bor had several daughters including Helena (in 1707 she married Thomas Uniack from a powerful Cork family), Euphemia, Emilia, and Clothilda. In 1686 Christian Bor willed the whole of his property to his daughter Euphemia Bor, to Arthur Dawson and to Philip Savage. These two gentlemen are proving elusive but Euphemia, in 1712, married George Haughton who, on their, marriage got possession of the lease of ‘Bowling Green, house and lands’ which sounds as though it is likely to be the site of Taylor’s Castle though it seems to still be leased to Edward Jones.

When Euphemia Bor and George Haughton’s daughter Elinor married Henry Hughes of Ballytrent in 1737 her parents are described as “of Bormount” implying that if they lived at Taylor’s Castle it was only for a short while.


Meanwhile in 1675 Colonel Edward Jones of Wexford got a lease for 99 years (to 1774) for the Bowling Green and other parts of the lands. His wife was Mary Nevill of Furness, Co. Kildare.

Their son Arthur Jones-Nevill (c1712-1771), Surveyor General, was involved with the building or remodelling of Wexford’s and other Barracks. In 1748 he was MP for County Wexford.

Arthur Jones-Nevill’s eldest son Richard Nevill (1743-1822) of Furness, Co Kildare and MP for Wexford married in 1771 Bridget Bowerman, “an amiable young lady with a considerable fortune”, according to their marriage notice in the paper: she was indeed a “young lady” being aged only about fourteen or fifteen at her marriage. Bridget’s father was Henry Bowerman of County Cork, MP for Charleville in the 1690s. Bridget’s marriage added his Cooliney House to the Nevill estate.


Arthur Meadows and his son Arthur Meadows Junior held the land in about 1775. Richard Nevill had it at about the same time in a complex mix of leases and ownerships.

Margaret Loftus of Loftus Hall (1668-1720) married Hyatt Boyde of Rosslare (1668- c1733). Their daughter Ann Boyde married Sam Batt of Ozier Hill.

In 1766 their daughter Margaret Batt ( -1771) was first wife of Arthur Meadows Junior (1729-1797) who lived at Hermitage, Drinagh and who was Deputy Mayor in 1781. His parents were Arthur Meadows ( -1780) Merchant, Tallow Chandler and Mary Chambers (-1775).

Margaret Batt Meadows had only one child while her husband remarried and had more. That one child was Captain Arthur Meadows of the Wexford Militia who lived at Wellington Cottage, Spawell Road and owned a house in Jacketstown, Drinagh.

Captain Arthur Meadows married twice. First in 1796 to Barbara D’Arcy (-1805) who gave him two daughters Margaret (1800-1840) and Eleanor D’Arcy Meadows who died at Wellington Cottage. There is a memorial to Barbara in St Iberius Church.

He remarried in 1807 Barbara Harvey. Barbara’s father was John Harvey and her mother was Dorothy Cliffe of Killiane Castle. Barbara Harvey gave Arthur four daughters one of whom, Barbara, married a Joseph Harvey, attorney, their son William Arthur Harvey was born in 1849 at Wellington Cottage.


in 1810 John Redmond, who reclaimed land and changed the shape of Wexford town, owned the Castle House. He is part of the Redmond family who are such an important part of Wexford’s history and whose input is well documented. James Gordon Cavenagh (above) leased the house from him and possibly sat within it in 1839 reading The Wexford Independent and its report of the Wexford Assizes whose contents added so much to this story.


So is it a Castle? Is there any proof one way or another? The answer is no, no proof, but there is circumstantial evidence in the persistence of “castle” in the name and the proximity of the huge castle where the Barracks is now. The big castle was gone by the time our story began but perhaps a building belonging to the castle existed at the Taylor’s Castle site. Perhaps traces of its foundations still exist in the foundations of Taylor’s Castle. If there was no castle-like structure there then why is the house always called Castle?

If we allow the reclaimed land to wash away so that waves lap over the Talbot car-park, remove Parnell Street, wipe away Aldi and its car-park we begin to get an understanding of the shape of this part of Wexford town up until about 1800. The newspaper of 1839 talks of Castle Hills and of the Bowling Green. The name Bowling Green implies a flat area and we are told that the soldiers paraded there - so it was a fairly large flat area. Today we would be hard pressed to find a flat piece of ground in the Parnell Street, Barrack Street, Castle Hill Street area to lay a picnic blanket let alone a Bowling Green. The old name Castle Hills lives on in Castle Hill Street, perhaps Barrack Street was once called Castle Hill Street too. Before reclamation Castle Hill Street led past, perhaps, an earlier iteration of Taylor’s Castle and St Michael’s Church and graveyard before reaching the Faythe - Saint Michael is more correctly known as Saint Michael the Faythe, “Faythe” having as many spellings as it does pronunciations. Living memory of fifty or sixty years ago talks of Taylor’s Castle gardens, a walled garden in, perhaps, the place where a large shed now stands: does the shed incorporate the wall in its foundations; is the garden wall the footprint of that elusive ‘castle’. Or does the house occupy the castle footprint. Were there houses in Castle Hill Street long ago? It seems that there probably were small houses in The Faythe. It would be interesting to see a detailed survey of the Taylor’s Castle grounds to discover whatever this largely undisturbed site may have to tell us about any castle or even just about the gardens and house which so many families called “home”.

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