The Fagans in Bullock

Bullock Castle, Dublin.
Bullock Castle, Dublin.
Picturesque views of the Antiquities of Ireland. Vol.1 (1830) by Newenham, Castles in County Dublin

At the time of the dissolution of St. Mary's Abbey there were on the lands of Bullock, a portion of which was covered with firs and underwood, besides the Castle, two houses and six cottages. The town appears to have been strongly guarded with walls, into which at least one tower was built, and to have contained a church. Two tenants, Patrick Berminghani and John Gaban, were in occupation, and the tithes, which were payable in fish, were leased to Richard Edwards. After the suppression of the Abbey, the Castle and its lands were leased by the Crown in 1542, in consideration of the surrender of Powerscourt, and other neighbouring lands, to Peter Talbot, of Fassaroe, near Bray. Thirteen years later, on St. Andrew's Day, 1555, Talbot met a violent death, possibly while protecting his property from a party of kerns, such as we find some years later waging war at Bullock against the militia; and his son being then only an infant, his possessions were for a time in the custody of his sons guardian, Christopher, twentieth Baron of Howth, known as the Blind Lord1.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century the town contained as many as thirty houses. The Castle was in good repair, but the tower was ruinous. The port continued to be used occasionally by other vessels besides fishing craft. In 1559, the Earl of Sussex, then Lord Deputy, landed there, and, in 1633, a Dutch ship, while lying under the walls of the Castle, was taken by a privateer, called The True Love, commanded by Captain Thomas Gayner, who claimed to have letters of marque from the King of Spain—an occurrence which gave rise to international difficulty. During the sixteenth century the Castle and the lands had been assigned by the Talbots to members of one of the great Dublin mercantile families of the day, the Fagans, whose principal residence was Feltrim, near Swords, and whose ancestors had been amongst the earliest English settlers; and we find amongst the members of the family in possession of Bullock, Christopher Fagan and his younger brother, Richard, each of whom filled the high position of Mayor of Dublin2.

When the great Rebellion broke out in October, 1641, the eldest son of Richard Fagan, Mr. John Fagan, was in occupation of the Castle, and, whether from compulsion or inclination, appears, from depositions afterwards made, to have rendered the rebels much assistance. One of the first efforts to reduce to obedience the neighbourhood of Dublin was made at Bullock, and it was the scene of cruel retaliation for the outrages which had been committed. A month after the rising a party of soldiers, under the command of Colonel Lawrence Crawford, an officer of more courage than judgment, descended on the village, and, finding that the inhabitants on their approach had put to sea, the soldiers pursued them in boats, and threw them—men, women and children, to the number of fifty-six—overboard. All through that winter the southern part of the County Dublin remained at the mercy of the rebels. Shortly before Christmas, John Fagan came from Feltrim to his Castle at Bullock and, according to the evidence of his servant, finding no provisions ready for him, went on to Carrickmines Castle, which belonged to his relatives, the Walshes. It was the headquarters of the rebels, and to it he sent, subsequently, from Bullock supplies of fish and a small cannon, which had been on the battlements. In the following March Carrickmines Castle was levelled with the ground, and, a few weeks later, another descent was made on Bullock, this time by Colonel Gibson's regiment, and some of the men found there were killed and others brought prisoners to Dublin.

The Castle was then seized by the Crown, and a garrison of soldiers was maintained in it until the Commonwealth was established in Ireland. At first the garrison was in charge of Colonel Crawford, but, on the cessation with the Irish, he joined the army of the Parliament in England, and a Captain Richard Newcomen succeeded him. In Newcomen's time the garrison consisted of seven non-commissioned officers and sixty men, under command of himself, Lieutenant Valentine Wood, and Ensign Arthur Whithead, the weekly charge for the soldiers being £7, and for the officers £1 3s. In 1644 the defences of the Castle were strengthened by the construction of a rampart, furnished with three cannon, which were conveyed to Bullock by boat under a military escort, and the erection of a guard house. The estimated cost of this work, which appears to have been exceeded, was £25 ; brick was the material used, and masons, carpenters, carters, and labourers, who were fed from the regimental canteen, were employed3.

At the time of the Battle of Rathmines the authorities of the Parliament had friends at Bullock, and the garrison had probably joined their forces. During the Commonwealth Bullock, owing to the anchorage of the warships near it, was, like Dunleary, a place of importance, and soldiers, doubtless, were kept in the Castle. In 1656 Captain Richard Roe, who was buried at Lusk, died there, and, in 1659, Captain Abraham Aldgate, who was reprimanded for giving assistance to Edmund Ludlow, and who pleaded lack of intelligence to understand the marvellous changes of the time, fled thither on horseback from Dublin, and took refuge on his ship. The inhabitants were not left without religious consolation and, in 1658, the Rev. Nathaniel Hoyle, r.d., a Fellow of Trinity College, and afterwards a prebendary in Emly Diocese, was paid £100 a year by the Parliament for acting as minister of Bullock4.

At the time of the Restoration Bullock was stated to be "a fair ancient town of fishing"; its slated Castle and bawn were in good repair, the haven was accounted a safe one, and there was a population of fifteen English and ninety-five Irish, inhabiting some twenty houses. John Fagan had died shortly after the Rebellion, in 1643, and had been succeeded by his grandson, Christopher Fagan. The latter had been of service to the Royalist Army in the later years of Charles the First's reign, and, on the Restoration, was restored as an innocent Roman Catholic to all the family possessions, including the Castle and lands of Bullock, and the revenue from chief fish, tithe fish, customs, and fish and corn tithe. The Fagan family, however, did not long remain in possession, as Richard Fagan, who succeeded his father, Christopher Fagan, on his death, in 1683, was, after the Revolution, attainted for treason committed at Swords, and his property all confiscated. Bullock and its lands were sold by the Crown, and purchased, for £1,750, by Colonel Allen, of Stillorgan, afterwards the first Viscount Allen, whose representative, the Earl of Carysfort, is now the owner of the soil. The Rectory and tithes were at the same time given to augment the vicarages of Kill-of-the-Grange and Stillorgan, then under the charge of the curate of Monkstown, and possessing no church of their own5.


1 "Chartularies of St. Mary's Abbey," vol. ii., p. 6-1; Fiants, Heary viii. No. 283 ; Elizabeth, Nos. 1158, 1779 ; Exchequer Inquisition, Philip and ilary, No. 8.
2 "Liber Munerum " ; "Calendar of Domestic State Papers," 1633 ; Knowler's "Life of Strafford," vol. i., p. 131 ; "Calendar of Patent Rolls, James I.," p. 43 ; "Pedigree of the Fagans of Feltrim," by G. D. Burtchaell, in The Irish Builder for 1887, p. 85, and 1888, p. 78; Patent and Close Polls, p. 43 ; Chancery Inquisitions, Jac. I., No. 19.
3 Clarendon's "History of the Rebellion and Civil War in Ireland," Lon. 1721, p. 341 ; "Dictionary of National Biography," vol. xiii., p. 52 ; Depositions of 1641 ; "A True Relation of the Chief Passages in Ireland," Lon. 1642, preserved in the National Library of Ireland ; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Rept. viii. App. p. 594 ; Rept. xiv., App., pt. vii., p. 180 ; Ormonde Papers, preserved in Kilkenny Castle.
4 Macray's "Calendar of the Claredon Papers," vol. ii., p. 1(5; D'Alton's "History of the County Dublin," p. 415 ; "Calendar of Domestic State Papers," 1659-1660; Commonwealth Papers in Public Record Office.
5 Fleetwood's Survey ; Down Survey ; Census of 1659 ; Carte Papers ; Decrees of Innocents, iv., 42 ; Hearth Money Roll ; Chancery Inquisition, Jas. II., No. 37 ; Exchequer Inquisition, Wm. and Mary, Nos. 2, 5, \Vm. III., No. 1 ; Book of Postings and Sale.