Kilcoole’s First Census (1668)

In the decade after Cromwell, the Hearth tax was introduced and was operational in Ireland by the 1660s. To collect the tax, lists of houses were made with the number of hearths in each home. This comprises the first census we have of Kilcoole and Wicklow. Today we know these records as the Hearth Money Rolls.

The list for Kilcoole is probably incomplete as the census may not have counted the very poorest households at all. One can identify the richer houses by the higher number of hearths.

Kilcoole village had 21 houses that were counted, and between 5 and 9 substantial houses, three of which had three or more hearths (significant wealth in those days). I don’t know which houses these refer to, but it’s possible that one may have predated what later became Darraghville (the Convent) and one might have been the big house on Lott Lane that later was called Retreat or Laurel Lodge. The building now known as Byrne’s pub may also have existed as far back as the 1660s at the crossroads of the village.

It is striking that only a few surnames survived until we have another list of names from the 1901 census. The surnames that did survive (in great numbers) are Doyle and Byrne, with a few Hayden and Mason families too. No doubt some poorer families were not recorded in 1666 and so we can’t verify those.

This census is notable because most of the first names are English, rather than Irish. This would indicate that the Irish language had probably already faded significantly by this time. We know that Irish did not survive in even the remote parts of Wicklow beyond the late 1700s, and probably died out earlier in Kilcoole. We have to keep in mind that this census was taken after decades of major upheaval that resulted in mass population shifts. We don’t know how many of the people from this census were from families that pre-date the invasion of Cromwell, or whether there were already an influx of settlers to replace those killed in the destruction of the prior decades.

Outside Kilcoole we get some interesting information about Ballygannon and Ballynerrin (spelled Ballynorin in the hearth rolls), two important farms to the northeast of Kilcoole that were probably at one time a single estate. There were 14 houses there, but only Thady Byrne had a substantial house at 3 hearths. This is the same Thady Byrne who welcomed shipwrecked captain Hopton Scott to his home. Scott married Byrne’s daughter Randelia, which is why we associate the Scott surname with Ballygannon’s later history.

Cooldross (southeast of the village, what we now call Sherlock’s Lane) was a more prominent estate at that time, though later it fell into obscurity. John Brasse had three hearths there and John Roberts had one.

Ballydonarea on the Sea Road had at least one larger house where John Morris was taxed for two hearths, and Gouldin Morris for one. Later we know that the main house at Ballydonarea grew into a prosperous holding and was rebuilt as Grey Fort or Greyfort house around 1861. But it seems at this early date that the house was more modest.

There were people living at what later became Woodstock demesne, but this census predates the building of any grand house there and the houses listed are poorer.

A full list of names from the Hearth Money Rolls of 1668:


  • Thomas Derbishire Senior (1)
  • Thomas Derbishire Junior
  • Charles Byrne
  • Mary Corny (widow)
  • Dennis Doyle
  • William Palmer


  • Thady Byrne (3)
  • Farrel Carny (Carney?)
  • Joseph Doyle
  • Patrick MccCayne (McCayne?)
  • Tobyas Byrne
  • Edmond Ward
  • Joseph Nowland (Nolan?)
  • Edmond Branan (Brannon?)

Kilcoole had 21 houses and a few taxed hearths:

  • Thomas Crosse (2)
  • Adam Hayden (1)
  • Thomas Mason (2)
  • William Payne (1)
  • Thomas Doyle (1)
  • William Yates
  • Anne Byrne (Widow)
  • Darby Cunniam (ie Cunningham)
  • Rose Mullan (widow)
  • James Byrne
  • Patrick Murren
  • Margaret Sand (widow)
  • Joseph Wrenn
  • Joseph Reddin (4)
  • Richard Peirce (1) (ie Pierce)
  • Richard Bourke
  • William Webb
  • Joseph Samms (4)
  • Joseph Woods (3)
  • Turlagh Caughlin
  • Isabell Byrne (widow)

Knagholye (maybe Bullford?):

  • Peter Harwood (1)
  • Patrick Cooleman (1)
  • Thomas Cooleman
  • Edward Fitzpatrick
  • James Ledwith


  • Gouldin Morris (1)
  • John Morris (2)
  • Daniel Cavanagh

Ballinquill (what probably became Woodstock):

  • George Hayden (1)
  • William Ripton (Ribton)
  • George Henderson (1)
  • John McGennis (1) (McGuiness)
  • A Scotchman (no name given)
  • Phillip Lawles (Lawless)
  • Darby McMagh


  • John Brasse (3)
  • John Roberts (1)

Ballynahone (became Woodstock?):

  • George Nicholson