The village is the site of a monastry referred to in early historical accounts as "Achadour" and dating back to the early 7th century.
Towards the end of the 8th century the Ui Duach were driven out and the Ui Bairche reigned again. Then in 836 the vikings arrived and in one daring raid burnt the Church of St Lachtain. In 1026 the Ui Bairche were defeated by the Leixians and soon after were replaced as chieftains by the O'Braonains, who in turn were forced back towards Castlecomer by the arrival of the Normans.
In the year 1111, a synod, or meeting of bishops, was held at Rathbrasall, Co. Tipperary, which divided Ireland into dioceses. All small dioceses disappeared and Freshford became part of the diocese of Kilkenny, Laois and Offaly.
In 1169 a major battle was fought near Freshford when Dermot McMurrough and his Norman allies defeated Domhnall McGiolla Padraig of Ossory at the pass of Achadh Úr following a three-day battle. There is much speculation as to the exact location of the battle – the late Padraig McCarthaigh was in no doubt—he placed it at Clashacrow. The Norman invasion also brought the Shortalls to Freshford where they built Castles at Ballylarkin, Kilrush, Kiloshulan, and Tubrid. The Purcells to Lismaine, Clone and Foulksrath, the Mountgarretts to Ballyragget, Ballyconra, Lodgepark and Balleen, and the Graces to Tullaroan.
St Lachtains church doorway
The Romanesque doorway of St. Lachtain's Church of Ireland church in Freshford is one of only two such portal designs remaining in the country, the other being at Clonfert. The sandstone doorway is all that is left of the original church which was built in 1100, the present St Lachtain's having been built in 1731. It is located in the centre of the village on the R693 regional roadThe present St. Lachtain's Church was built in 1731, incorporating a portal from 1100 as its main entrance. It is located in the centre of the village of Freshford, County Kilkenny in Ireland on the R693 regional road.St. Lachtain died in Donoughmore, County Cork in 622 AD. It is almost certain that a church was built in the present site after 622 AD. The Danes (also known as Vikings or Norsemen) robbed it of its gold and silver ornaments and burnt all its books, as they could not read.
The church was replaced in 1100, all that is left of the original church is the beautiful Hiberno-Romanesque (Irish-Roman) architectural porch and doorway. The remainder of the present church was built for Protestant worship in 1731. If you look at the arch you will see old Irish writing, which says:
A prayer for Niamh, daughter of Corc, and for Mathgamhan O Chearmaic for whom this church was made. A prayer for Gille Mocholmoc O Chearmaic for whom this church was made. A prayer for Gille Mocholmoc O Ceannucain who made it.
In St. Lachtains time Freshford was a diocese. In 1225 a Bishops palace was built at Aghore (Achadh Ur), now Uppercourt. It was used as a summer residence for over 300 years.
The great house of Uppercourt Manor stands on the site of the bishop's palace built at Achadh Úr in 1225. In 1553 a Protestant bishop, John Bale, was sent to live there. When five of his servants were murdered while saving the hay, the Bishop fled and never returned.
After him, the Shee family took over the manor and lived in Uppercourt for 100 years. In 1653 one of Cromwell's soldiers, Captain Sir George Askew, being owed £200, was given Uppercourt in settlement of the debt and the Shees were forced to leave.
The present house was built by Sir William Morris around 1790. The Eyre family came in 1879 and stayed till 1918 when the Maher brothers bought it. The Mill Hill Fathers bought it in 1932 and it became a secondary school. In 1989 it was sold and used for the storage and restoration of antique furniture. The manor now stands on a stud farm owned by Dr Paul O'Byrne who has restored the house in recent years. Among others, the stud is home of Kroongraaf, the top class KWPN approved sire.
Michael Kavanagh was born in Freshford, County Kilkenny in 1979. He was educated locally and later attended St. Kieran's College in Kilkenny, a famous nursery for young hurlers. Here his hurling skills were nurtured and developed and he won an All-Ireland Colleges medal with the school. Kavanagh later studied at the Waterford Institute of Technology. Here he played on the college's senior hurling team, winning two Fitzgibbon Cup medals in 1999 and 2000.Kavanagh currently works as a financial advisor with Royal Liver.
Kavanagh first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Kilkenny minor hurling team in the mid-1990s. He won back-to-back Leinster titles at this level in 1996 and 1997, however, Kilkenny were beaten at the semi-final stage of the All-Ireland series in both years. Kavanagh was later drafted into the Kilkenny under-21 team. Here he won successive Leinster titles again in 1998 and 1999. He also won a coveted All-Ireland medal in this grade in 1999.
By this stage Kavanagh had already made his senior debut for Kilkenny. He won his first Leinster title in 1998 after a defeat of Offaly in the provincial final. The two sides later met again in the All-Ireland final, however, a rejuvenated Offaly came back and defeated Kavanagh’s side in the championship decider. In 1999 Kavanagh won a second Leinster title following a comprehensive victory over the All-Ireland champions. He later lined out in his second consecutive All-Ireland final, with arch-rivals Cork providing the opposition. In an unexciting championship decider a Cork team, with an average age of 22, came back from four-points down to win the game by the narrowest of margins. In 2000 Kavanagh captured a third Leinster title as Kilkenny steamrolled Offaly once again in the provincial final. The two sides later met in the All-Ireland final, however, two goals from Henry Shefflin helped ‘the Cats’ to secure a huge victory in one of the most one-sided finals in decades. Kavanagh had just captured his first All-Ireland medal. In 2001 he added a fourth successive Leinster medal to his collection as Kilkenny completely overpowered Wexford in the final. After such a huge win ‘the Cats’ were hot favourites to retain the title, however, Kilkenny were outsmarted by Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. ‘The Cats’ bounced back in 2002 with Kavanagh claiming a first National Hurling League medal. He subsequently claimed yet another Leinster title before later lining out in a fourth All-Ireland final. Clare, who were defeated in the first-round of the Munster championship but had made it to the final via the newly introduced qualifier system, put up a good fight. A combined tally of 2-13 for Henry Shefflin and D.J. Carey gave Kilkenny a seven-point victory. Shortly after collecting his second All-Ireland medal Kavanagh was also presented with a first All-Star award.
In 2003 Kavanagh captured a second National League title before later winning a sixth consecutive Leinster medal. Kilkenny later faced Cork in an exciting and close All-Ireland final. The Leinstermen never lead by more than four-points and only secured victory with a late Martin Comerford goal. Kavanagh won his third All-Ireland medal that day and later collected a second All-Star award. In 2004 Kilkenny were aiming for an unprecedented third All-Ireland victory in-a-row, however, the team was now under severe pressure from all quarters. For the first time in seven years Kilkenny failed in their bid to become Leinster champions as a last-gasp Wexford goal ended an almost unprecedented run of success. Kilkenny took the scenic route via the qualifiers system, however, after a scare against Clare they still reached the All-Ireland final. Once again Cork provided the opposition on a gloomy and overcast day. The sides were level for much of the game, however, in the final twenty minutes Cork scored nine points without reply and secured the victory. Kilkenny ended the year with no silverware. Kilkenny were back in form in 2005 with Kavanagh adding a third National League medal to his ever-growing collection. He later won a seventh Leinster title as ‘the Cats’ had a narrow win over reigning provincial champions Wexford. While a third successive All-Ireland showdown with Cork seemed extremely likely, Galway defeated Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final in one of the game’s of the decade. In 2006 Kavanagh captured his fourth National League title in a close victory over Limerick. He later won his eighth Leinster title before lining out in the All-Ireland final once again. The game that everyone had predicted would happen in 2005 was now taking place as Cork squared up to Kilkenny for the third time in four years. The Leesiders were aiming for a third All-Ireland victory in-a-row, however, revenge was foremost in the minds of Kilkenny as it was Cork who denied their three-in-a-row bid in 2004. On the day Kilkenny were far too strong for Cork and Kavanagh played a huge role in capturing Kilkenny's 29th title and his own fourth All-Ireland medal. In 2007 Kilkenny were aiming for a third consecutive National League title, however, Waterford triumphed in the final. Kilkenny moved on undeterred and Kavanagh captured a ninth Leinster medal following another facile victory in the final. Once again Kilkenny later qualified for the final where, surprisingly, Limerick provided the opposition. Kilkenny got off to a flying start with Eddie Brennan and Henry Shefflin scoring two goals within the first ten minutes. It was a lead that Kilkenny would never surrender and Kavanagh went on to collect a fifth All-Ireland medal.
On the village green stands the base of the Freshford Cross, made of soft sandstone now entirely worn away. When Lucas Shee of Uppercourt died in 1622, his wife, Ellen Butler, erected a cross in his memory at the back entrance to Uppercourt. The street to that entrance is still called Buncrusha or Bohercrussia Street, meaning Bun na Croise or Bothar na Croise in Irish, "Base of the Cross" or "Road of the Cross".
In 1790 Sir William Morris, who came to live in Uppercourt, had the cross removed and re-erected on the green. It bore the following inscription: