The following article tells of the ancient Oak trees that were on the Moccas estate in Hereford, site of deFrenes castle.

The sketch below, showing an Oak stump converted into a lodge, gives us an indication, as to just how large those trees were. 


The following poem written by the 19th century Kilkenny poet, Paris Anderson refers to the De Frenes of Ballyreddy.  It tells of a De Frene who married a humble maiden and for so doing was ostracised from friends and family, a baby boy, the fruit of their marriage added to their happiness. However this wife and mother became faithless, and together with her lover plotted the murder of her husband and son. A short distance from the castle was a well, she tantalized her child with an apple to draw him to the well, and dropped it in, knowing he would follow, and so it happened.

It became known as “The Well of Kathleen Ryder”, and is immortalized in the following poem.



Another Legend tells of a knight De Frene, who was disappointed by the work of his tailor, so much so, that he took him to a lonely place in Listerling and buried him alive, the mans name was Plunket, during this wicked deed a mysterious voice was heard to exclaim  Guifer-Guifer –Guifer,” that is, “ you shall pay for it”.  The startled De Frene demanded “Why,” and the voice replied  Not you but your seventh generation”. This legend gave its name to a place called Plunkets cairn, which was at one time being cleared by workmen who fled in terror after unearthing a scissors and bones.

The feudal power of the Frenes allowed them to regulate the dress of the people in their area, as we are told of De Freigne at the chapel of Tullagher, cutting off the long hair of his men, and regulating the fashion of their coats and breeches. The Freigne ladies done likewise for the women.

This unusual story in a Kilkenny Journal refers to the final resting place of St. Nicholas of Myra, (Santa Claus) and a Fraine involvement.


Again some years later, the same story is repeated in a national newspaper with pictures.




One of the best known bearers of the name in latter years in Kilkenny was not a noble or Lord, but the legendary character James Freny, the Highwayman, (1719-1788), son of John and Alice Freny from Inistioge and presumably a descendant from the Ballyreddy family. The Frenes were no longer in a privileged position, so his upbringing would have been humble as his father worked in one of  “The Big Houses”. In 1742 James married, and moved to Waterford, where he set up a business as a publican, using his wife’s dowry and whatever savings he had. Because of his status, he could not become a freeman of the city, and so the corporation were demanding he pay quarterage fees to them.


Freney refused to pay the fees to the corporation, and in a protracted row he was forced to quit his business, leaving Waterford and pursued for a dept of £50. He turned to robbery and became a highwayman and a figure of folklore, referred to as Captain Freney. He was the scourge of the gentry of Kilkenny, and following many daring robberies, and an extensive manhunt, was forced to move further afield into Wexford and Waterford and after netting large amounts of gold, silver, coin and plate he moved into Cork to let the chase wear itself out.

Freney went to England for a time posing as an Irish merchant, but on his return suspicion pointed to him as he was living beyond his means. Freney acted in a magnanimous fashion, often returning a purse intact to its owner, if there was little in it. At the robbery of Dr Vesey of Tuam’s entourage, Freney stopped his men taking the ladies purses, it was said that he rifled the wealthy only, and that he had an ever-open hand for the poor, sharing generously with them what he had levied from the rich.

On the 13th January 1748 James Freney and others were proclaimed as, tories, robbers, and rapparees. They were given until the 15th August to surrender, after which they would be automatically guilty of high treason, which carried the death penalty. A reward of £100 was offered for his capture, Freney made contact with a Lord Carrick in Dublin who negotiated a pardon for him with the Lord Chief Justices following certain demands and conditions, he surrendered at Ballyduff and was conveyed to Kilkenny jail.

On his release he became a ghostwriter of the history of his adventures, this appeared in Dublin in 1754 and was soon established as a perennial favourite, within the next century there were at least seven different printings, and it was established as a hedge school text the length and breath of the country. The extensive circulation reinforced Freney’s prominence in folk tradition, and many ballads were composed of the bold Captains deeds. One story tells of a general with a troop of horse went to take him prisoner, Freney agreed to surrender if the general would ride up to him alone, the other complied, the captain placed his pistol to the generals chest and relieved him of his purse and watch in full view of his troop of soldiers.    

In 1776 after his surrender and pardon, James Freny was appointed supernumerary tidewaiter at the port of New Ross, which shows that he still had influential friends. He resided with his wife on Quay Street until his death in 1788, and is buried in the old cemetery in Inistioge. 

(Source;   Kilkenny History and Society,-- Social and Economic Conflict, 1600—1800.) 

As with most ancient families and buildings there is always a spiritual element to them as can be seen from the following article, one of  many  reviews of  Foulksrath Castle (Foulke de la Freigne).

Diningroom in Foulksrath Castle



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