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  • Writer's pictureHugh MacMahon

Home of the Guinness?



Tea Leaf Graveyard in Celbridge (Co Kildalre) gets its name for the practice of English workers at the nearby wool mill in the early 1800s of throwing their tea leaves out on Tea Leaf Lane.

However its history goes back much earlier as it was the track from the river-side well at which the first Christians in the area were baptised to the cell of the man who baptised them. (Celbridge, means The Cell by the Bridge’.)

As usually happened at the sites of ‘holy people’, it became the place where those who could manage it wanted to be buried. Tea Leaf Graveyard became the burial ground of local notables such as the Conollys of Castletown House and the politician Henry Grattan. It is now in ruins and closed to the public.

A famous celebrity visitor to Celbridge was Dean Swift of Gulliver’s Travels fame. He was very friendly with a lady there named Vanassa and when he wrote to her in the early 1700s he addressed his letters using the old Irish name of Kil-drought (Cell near the Bridge) while she, in reply, preferred the more fashionable ‘Celbridge’.

Celbridge is also where Arthur Guinness grew up and learnt his stout making trade enabling him to set up his famous brewery in Dublin and sell the product all around the world.

The site of the well, once used by Druids, became known as Thobor Mochua, (Mochua’s Well) and is marked on a wall near the community centre with an ancient stone effigy, said to be of the saint’s, on it.

Mochua (born around 570) was one of the ‘frontier pioneers’, pushing inland along the Great Road (Sli Mor) to found monastic schools and villages in the forested centre of Ireland.

He hardly expected that his ‘cell by the bridge’ would become more famous for its politicians, writers, brewers and tea drinkers.


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