In 1210 Thomas FitzAnthony established the Augustinian Priory of St. Columba at Inistioge and endowed it with lands that fell to him as spoils of conquest.The lands which became Woodstock Estate were in the possession of Inistioge Priory which, in the 16th Century was strongly associated with the FitzGeralds.The head of the FitzGerald family was Baron of Brownsford and Cluan (from which incidentally, the surname Baron or Barron derives as it was frequently substituted indiscriminately for the original patronymic.)
On the 1st August 1541, the site of the Priory of Inistioge, along with the lands formerly held or attached to it, was leased for 21yrs to Richard Butler of Ferns, for £64.The lands seem to have remained in Butler hands, through further leases from time to time up to 1607. when there was an "Inquisition" held in Thomastown (named after Thomas FitzAnthony) to......
"discover what rights
the said Edmund Butler's son and
successor,Theobald,Viscount Butler had to the lands of
He was found to be entitled, amongst other things, "to the site, Circuit, ambit and precinct of the late monastry or Priory od Enestioke in the County of Kilkenny........and of certain messuages and other lands and tenements in Enestioke .....also the wood called Kilclondowne," etc. Kilclondowne was what is now known as the lands of Woodstock. The old name derives from the Irish Cluain Dun, or The Lawn of the Fort. This "doon" is the Moate of Inistioge, situated beside the entrance to the demesne.
An item included in the "Inquisition" gives an interesting account of life on the land in the 17th Century. "The burgesses and townsmen of Enesteoke should render the aforesaid Viscount Butler, for ever, two full days ploughing within the burgage aforesaid viz., to plough the lands of the said Viscount one day at the sowing of wheat and another day at the sowing of oats. Every burgess of the same town having one draught horse should carry the House of the said Viscount 3 Loads of Wood on the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord each year, the Viscount supplying them with the necessary diet whilst engaged in carrying the aforesaid wood. The aforesaid burgesses and community were accustomed to supply workmen annually to Sir Edmund Butler, deceased, father of the said Viscount, to assist in making up the hay. All burgesses of the said town should pay annually the rent of 12 pence to the said Viscount."......"He claims of the said 18 burgesses of the town of Enestioke, 18 hens at the feast of Shrove Tuesday, or in default of any hen, 2 Cocks."
Thus the Crown finally granted the Priory with all its possessions to Theobald Butler. However one further reference quotes: "In 1649, Inistioge and Woodstock formed the estate of that branch of the Geraldines who were Barons of Brownsford and Cluan, and whose ancient castles adjoined Woodstock." Whatever the case may have been up to 1649, in that year Inistioge was taken by Colonel Abbot for the Parlimentarians very soon after and "the estate of Edmund FitzGerald, Baron of Brownsford, comprising 2,841 acres was confiscated."
From Theobald Butler, Viscount Thullophelim, the lands descended to the second Duke of Ormonde, by whom the entire property was later sold to Stephen Sweete, who built the first Woodstock House down by the River Nore. This latter's only daughter and heiress married the son of Sir William Fownes, Baronet, who was Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1712. Sir William's son Kendrick had an only son, also called William who succeeded to the title of his grandfather as second Baronet. He became a Privy Counsellor and represented the Borough of Inistioge in parliament. This Sir William had the mansion of Woodstock built in the 1740s, The designer was Francis Bindon, who designed three great houses in Kilkenny - Bessborough, which was built in 1740, Castle Morris and Woodstock. In style Woodstock and Bessborough are remarkably similar although the latter is a larger building. It appears that Woodstock was essentially a rusticated version of the two houses built by Ireland's most prolific palladian architect, Richard Castle, which were Tyrone House (1740),Dublin, and Rochford (now Tudenham), Co.Westmeath.
In 1739 Sir William maried Lady Elizabeth Ponsonby, daughter of Brabazon, first Earl of Besborough.
On Sir William's death, possibly in 1778, the baronetcy became extinct, and his estate passed to his daughter and only child, Sarah. In 1765, she married William Tighe, member of Parliament for Athboy, and subsequently for Wicklow. Their son, also William, succeeded him. He became a member for the Borough in the Irish Parliament. He was infact one of the most influential commoners in Ireland in his time. He married Mary Ann, daughter and co-heiress of Daniel Gahan, Member of Parliament for Fethard, of Coolquill,County Tipperary. In the last assembly of the Irish Parliament in 1800 William Tighe prevailed on the great Henry Grattan, a friend of his, to speak at the last debate of the Irish House. Grattan was at that time in retirement owing to extreme ill-health, When pressed he had answered "Why don't you let me die in peace?" However he did attend, with two loaded pistols as a precaution against interference from Government agents. He entered the House leaning on the arms of W.B.Ponsonby and Arthur Moore, and there delivered one of the greatest speeches of his life.
William Tighe was violently opposed to the Act of Union, and before its passing Woodstock was the scene of many political gatherings. In fact, so strong was William's opposition that he twice rejected the offer of a peerage if he would support it. He..."stoutly refused the tempting bribe, preferring to take his stand with the select band of illustrious patriots, whom nothing that a corrupt government had to offer could seduce from their loyalty to and love of their common country."
Members of the British Royal family were known to visit Woodstock. On one occasion Royalty was to visit for luncheon and pause for a while in Inistioge. However, despite great preparations made in the village the Irish climate took a hand in the proceedings; the weather was so appalling that the visit was cancelled. To compensate for the villager's disappointment Mr. Tighe "gave instructions that all drink consumed until closing time that day was to be charged to him." History does not record the consequences of that!
After William his son William Frederick Fownes Tighe inherited, who married Lady Louisa Madeleine Lennox in 1825. She had been, as a child of 12yrs, at the British Embassy in Brussels, where she was allowed to stay up for the famous Eve - of - Waterloo Ball. Those festivities were terminated in the early hours of the morning with a call to arms, and the young girl helped her godfather, the Duke of Wellington, to buckle on his sword.
Lady Louisa set up a very fine lace industry in Inistioge to relieve unemployment in the area. She survived her husband but their only child, a daughter died.Lady Louisa continued to live in Woodstock where at the remarkable age of 97 yrs. she died in 1900.
Frederick Bunbury Tighe was the next heir, and he in turn was succeeded by his brother Edward Kendrick Tighe.
Priest Arrested by British Auxiliaries
During the War of Independence Woodstock House was occupied by the Auxiliary Police. On one occasion, in 1921, an uncle of the Very Reverend G.Canon Loughrey of Inistioge, also a priest, was incarcerated in the cellars of Woodstock after being arrested for "preaching sedition". The Tans were of the opinion that he should be shot out of hand, but they were dissuaded by one decent soldier who had him held and sent for trial to Waterford. Canon Loughrey, a boy at that time, had gone into Waterford with his mother. They watched as a car brought a priest into town, they commiserated on the misfortune of the poor man and went about their business. It was only later, on being asked by a shopkeeper if they had come into town to see the trial of Canon Loughrey,that they found out that the unfortunate priest was of their own family.
In 1922 Woodstock was occupied by the Free State Army and subsequently by the Irish Republican Army. In July 1922 it was put to the torch, and as you know, was never rebuilt.
Thus ends the story of Woodstock House. The estate passed into the hands of Brian Tighe, Edward Kendrick's son, who was lost in the Second World War at the evacuation of Dunkirk. Some time later the property was disentailed and it passed to Brian's mother, Viola Lilliene Henriette Tighe, and at her death to the ladies of the Tighe famly. The present representative of the family is Admiral Tighe.