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The History of Ballaghtobin written by Sophie Gabbett aged 12

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Ballaghtobin drawn in 1872 by Fanny, daughter of Charity Baker.


Cromwell takes the land from the Tobins

Cromwell and his soldiers marched from the south east coast through Waterford and up to Kilkenny. He plundered and captured many lands one of which was Ballaghtobin. The land was then distributed to his soldiers as a reward for their loyality. In the case of Ballaghtobin, Capt. Baker bought the land from the soldiers to form the foundation of Ballaghtobin Estate. From that day to this our house has never been sold but has passed through the female line twice.

As the story goes the Tobins (who were meant to be highwaymen) when they heard Cromwell was on the way, gathered together all of their gold and silver into sacks , tied them to ploughs and threw them into a well, it hasn’t been found yet. But one of our relations was an expert at locating water sources so she spent most of her life trying to find the well but she never did.

Capt. Baker’s great, great, great grandson Abraham Whyte Baker whilst touring Europe with his wife Charity was involved in a horse carriage accident in which she was thrown against a wall and crushed; her tortoiseshell hair comb was driven into her head . Her body was embalmed so it could be brought to Ballaghtobin and it was put in a glass coffin. In the Ballaghtobin graveyard there is a vault and that is where they chose to bury her. Whilst putting her into the vault a bit of the coffin was chipped off and there was her foot perfectly preserved. The last body to be put in the vault was in 1907.

In 1865 the third Abraham died unmarried and his sister Fanny and her husband Edward Johnstone came to live at Ballaghtobin. He entertained extremely well or should we say a little too well . He threw his money about which left him broke. At the same time the front of the house was supposed to be rotten so it was pulled down and when they came to build it up again there was no money left to do so. And that is why there was such a difference in the structure of Ballaghtobin compared to its original size.

Luckily Johnstone died the following June and from doing all that damage in just six months. Fanny then went to live in Bath – due to a fight she once had with a neighbour she swore never to enter Ballaghtobin again until she came back in her coffin and she never did. After her death in 1890 her cousin Robert Knox inherited what was left . My grandfather Robin Gabbett inherited Ballaghtobin from Chaloner Knox ,his uncle, at the age of twelve.


Ballaghtobin, Callan, Co. Kilkenny

Tel :- + 353 (0)56-7725227 - Fax :- +353 (0)56 7725712