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Seven bishops hanged in Freshford

by Jimmy Rhatigan

The Bishop’s Tree was replanted at Ballylarkin, Freshford on Saturday close to Ballylarkin Church. 

Legend has it that seven bishops were hanged on an old ash tree in this area. Local oral history laid the blame at the feet of Oliver Cromwell but Canon Carrigan suggested the tale probably emanated from Viking times. It is clear from his writing that the tree was shown to him. 

The tree fell in the early 1950s. Local resident Mick Burke recalled that, even though firewood was scarce in the locality at that time, not a twig or a branch was used by locals because it would have been deemed unlucky. The tree eventually rotted. 

On Saturday locals and visitors gathered in the field known as the Eleven Acres opposite Ballylarkin Church. 

Landowners Willie and Fintan White carried out the replanting which was topped off by Mick Burke whose idea it was to replant the tree. 

Ned Kennedy gave a short history of the site and of the townsland of Ballylarkin. 

Ballylarkin Castle, the seat of the Shortalls, stood at the entrance to the Eleven Acres. 

It was later replaced by a house known as Mortimer’s House. As the Whites are descended from a branch of the Shortall family, it can be said that these lands have been in the hands of the same family for over 800 years.

The tree for the replanting was supplied by the Acorn Project. Thanks to Ms Máire Brennan for facilitating this and to all who attended.  

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