CAHIR, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

CAHIR, a parish, in the barony of IVERAGH, county of KERRY, and province of MUNSTER; containing, with the market and post-town of Cahirciveen, 5653 inhabitants. This parish is situated on the harbour of Valencia, on the south-western coast; and is intersected by the high road from Tralee to Valencia; it includes within its limits Beg-innis or Begnis island, which, however, is situated nearer to the island and parish of Valencia, and between which and Dowlas Head is the northern entrance to the harbour. It comprises 20,452 statute acres, of which about 7000 are arable, 6500 mountain pasture, 6932 waste land and bog, and about 20 acres woodland. The soil is in general light; and the system of agriculture, though still in a backward state, has improved considerably since the construction of the new line of road through this and the neighbouring parishes, and along the coast of Castlemaine bay, as projected by the late Mr. Nimmo about 20 years since, by the completion of which great benefit has been conferred upon a district depending upon sea-weed and sea sand chiefly for manure, and for the conveyance of which from the coast to the interior it affords great facility. Shell sand of superior quality is brought from Begnis island and is extensively used for manure. There is no limestone nearer than Killorglin, a distance of 28 miles; and probably on account of the steepness of the hills, and the imperfect drainage of the lowlands, the spade is much more in use than the plough.

The seats are Castlequin, that of Kean Mahony, Esq.; Bahoss, the newly erected mansion of Charles O'Connell, Esq., situated nearly in the centre of a reclaimed bog, and commanding a fine view of the amphitheatre of mountains by which it is encircled; and Hillgrove, the residence of J. Primrose, Esq., surrounded by a finely wooded demesne, a feature of rare occurrence in this wild district. Near the foot of Hillgrove is Cashen, the old mansion of the O'Connell family, and the birthplace of Daniel O'Connell, Esq., who holds the greater portion of a large estate in this parish under the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, besides a large tract his own estate. The prevailing rocks are of the slate formation, and slates of a good quality have been quarried on Cahirciveen mountain, and used for roofing the houses in the town. A few boats belonging to the parish are employed in the fishery, and several others are engaged in the conveyance of shell sand from Begnis island.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, episcopally united, prior to the date of any existing record, to the rectory and vicarage of Glenbegh and the rectory of Killinane, together constituting the union of Cahir, in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes amount to £226. 16. 10., and of the whole benefice to £517. 13. 10. The church is a neat plain edifice, built in the year 1815 by aid of a loan of £540 from the late Board of First Fruits. There is a glebe-house; and the glebe lands, in four separate parcels, comprise 107 ½ acres.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Cahirciveen, which also comprises the parish of Killinane: there are two chapels, situated at Cahirciveen and Fielmore; the former is a spacious building with a handsome belfry of hewn stone surmounted by a cross; the latter is a chapel of ease in the parish of Killinane. There is a national school endowed with the interest of a bequest of £500 from the late General Count O'Connell, aided by annual donations from the Marquess of Lansdowne and Daniel and Maurice O'Connell, Esqrs.; also a free school supported by subscription, in which together about 650 children are educated. A fever hospital was established in 1834, for the reception of 25 patients; and there is a dispensary. Nearly opposite to the town are the extensive ruins of the ancient castle of Bally-Carbery; and at a small distance from them are the remains of one of those remarkable circular buildings, similar to Staig Fort, which are found only in Kerry, and which are generally supposed to have been built as places of security against the incursions of pirates on this wild and remote coast. Opposite to the north-east coast of Valencia island is the lofty cliff called Dowlas Head, near which is a spacious cavern; the entrance is low, but the interior is lofty, and bears a slight resemblance to a cathedral.—See CAHIRCIVEEN.

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