The Deerpark

St. Michaels GFC have always been on the lookout for additional land suitable for playing pitches as the club has only one playing pitch which is used for everything including training. The Deerpark land was brought up at the clubs 2005 AGM and the then chairperson Justin Stafford and secretary Kathleen Clarke were given the responsibility of making contact with Meath Co. Council with the view of purchasing or leasing part of the Deerpark lands from them. The initial contact by Justin and Kathleen was made with the Council in early 2006 and continued on an on and off basis until the latter end of 2013 when Meath County Council agreed to lease 18 acres to the Deerpark to St. Michaels GFC. All the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed in March 2014 and St. Michaels had at last received a 25 year lease for 18 acres of the Deerpark land on condition that work on the land would have to commence within two years and that it could not be rented or leased to third parties for grazing purposes. Carlanstown Kilbeg Community Development ( CKCD ) obtained a Licence from Meath Co. Council for the remaining 20 acres.

Potato Ridges, "Lazy Beds"

Potato Ridges, “Lazy Beds” in the Deerpark

The Deerpark contains 38 acres of land and is located on the Kilbeg road out of Carlanstown village and is owned by Meath Co. Council. This land was previously used by Meath County Council for communal land renting or otherwise known as ‘Cowparks’. A few people from the locality call it the “The Cowpark” but it’s better known as “The Deerpark” most likely because it is located within the townland called Deerpark and whether it ever was an actual deer park is anyone’s guess.  The Council rented this land to local landless families for the grazing of their cows, cattle and calves. This system was very important in providing a few hundred extra pounds for low income families by way of rearing animals and selling them on to make a few much needed pounds coming up to Christmas time etc,

Potato Ridges "Lazy Beds"

Potato Ridges “Lazy Beds” in the Deerpark

other families kept their cow(s) on it and milked them twice daily, the milk was then collected from their 10 gallon milk churns/creamery cans on a daily basis in the

Lazy beds at the Deserted Village, Slievemore

Lazy beds at the Deserted Village, Slievemore

days when local Dairy’s collected milk from anyone who could supply them with it.

There is also visible evidence remaining in the Deerpark of potato ridges which were commonly known as “Lazy Beds” ( see photo’s & similar example from the west of Ireland) so it is very likely that this parcel of land was also used as a communal vegetable plot and could well have been used as far

back as the famine times. During famine times in Ireland attempts were frequently made to grow potatoes in areas that were not really suited to tillage. More often than not this was in a desperate attempt to find areas that might not be susceptible to potato blight. Only a spade called a ‘Loy’ was needed for the primitive method of cultivation practiced. The potato was laid on the ground and earthed over with clay and sods from trenches on either side forming ‘Lazy Beds’. This method of growing potato’s was used across much of Ireland and Scotland until the 19th century. The remains of these are still to be seen in many parts of the country particularly in the West of Ireland.

Some of these type of land holdings were actually owned by the Land Commission having been left over from the division of the large landlord estates, it was then given in trust to the local Authorities free of charge on the abolition of the Land Commission. The Deerpark river acts as a divide between the

townland’s of Deerpark and Newtown and as the parish divide between Kilbeg and Moynalty. In researching the Deerpark on old maps which were surveyed in 1836 ( revised in 1910 ) they show a corn mill on Pat Lynch’s farm in Newtown known as Plubber Mill and the river which flows through

Planting the potato's in lazy beds

Planting the potato’s in lazy beds

the Deerpark is described on these maps as the “Mill Race”. This river rises in the townlan

Mill Race, Deerpark

Mill Race, Deerpark

d of Feagh north of Moynalty village, another section of it rises in the townland of Carrickspringan which is also located north of Moynalty and they meet in the townland of Bawn to the south west of Moynalty village where it meanders through the

countryside picking up many streams and drain outlets on the way until it passes the Deerpark and under the bridge on the Carlanstown / Moynalty road ( beside “Paddy Mac’s” ) on its way to join the Moynalty / Borora river in the townland of Carlanstown where that river forms the boundary of Carlanstown Cross Country Course and Pat Lynch’s farmland.


All photos by & copyright of Pascal Reilly
Click on photo to enlarge

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