CASHEL, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

CASHEL, a parish, in the barony of RATHCLINE, county of LONGFORD, and province of LEINSTER, 4 ½ miles (S.) from Lanesborough; containing 5087 inhabitants. This parish is situated on the river Shannon, and on the road from Lanesborough to Ballymahon, and contains 10,420 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the land is principally under tillage, but there is some marsh land and several thousand acres of bog in the northern and eastern parts of the parish. The substratum is limestone, of which there are some good quarries. The seats are Newpark, the residence of Capt. W. J. Davys, and a small seat belonging to Sir G. R. Fetherston, Bart., of Ardagh.

The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Ardagh, and in the patronage of the Archbishop of Tuam, as diocesan: the rectory is impropriate in Messrs. Armstrong, lessees of Lord Fauconberg: the tithes amount to £664. 13. 11., of which £443. 3. 2. is payable to the impropriators, and £221. 10. 9. to the incumbent. The church is a plain structure, with a square tower, built in 1816 by aid of a gift of £800 from the late Board of First Fruits. The glebe-house was erected in 1817, by aid of a gift of £400 and a loan of £400 from the same Board: the glebe consists of 35 acres.

The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; the chapel, at Newtown, is a handsome cruciform building, ornamented with minarets, and of recent erection; near it is a national school; and there are seven private schools in the parish, in which 220 boys and 154 girls receive instruction. Near the church are the ruins of an abbey, said to have been a dependency of the Augustinian abbey on Quaker island: they are covered with ivy, and a low arched doorway and lancet-shaped window still remain. At Cashel nearly the whole extent of Lough Ree is visible: this lake, of which the name signifies "the king of lakes," extends from Lanesborough to Athlone, and is nearly 20 miles in length, and in some parts 9 in breadth. A regatta generally takes place in August, which is attended by many pleasure-boats from Limerick. Its shores are studded with handsome residences, and it contains many picturesque islands, the largest of which are Hare Island (still thickly covered with its original woods, and on which Lord Castlemaine has a fishing-lodge), Inchmore, Inchturk, Inchboffin, All Saints' Island, Inisclothrann, or Quaker island, and Inchyana.

Killenure, or the inner lake, is a picturesque portion of Lough Ree, branching eastward into the county of Westmeath, and containing Temple and Friars' islands, the former of which is the property of R. H. Temple, Esq., who has a neat lodge on it; the latter of G. Jones, Esq., who has also erected a lodge. In Inisclothrann, which is also called Seven Church island, and Quaker island, are the remains of seven churches. An abbey was founded here in 540, by St. Diarmuit Naoimh, or "the Just," which was pillaged by the men of Munster, in 1010, 1016, 1050, and 1087; in 1155 it was burnt, and in 1193 plundered by Gilbert de Nangle. The abbey of Inisboffin, founded about 530, by St. Rioch, nephew of St. Patrick; and the abbey founded on the island of All Saints, by St. Kieran, in 544, were also ravaged by the men of Munster on the same occasions; and in 1089 all three were plundered and destroyed by Muircheartach O'Brien, aided by a large fleet of Danes.

It is said that a descendant of Sir Henry Dillon, of Drumrany, who came into Ireland with John, Earl of Morton, erected an abbey on the island of All Saints, probably on the site of the ancient abbey of St. Kieran, which was granted at the suppression to Sir Patrick Barnwall. Augustin Mac Graidin, who was a canon and died here in 1405, wrote the lives of the Irish Saints, and continued the annals of this abbey to his own time; the work is still preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

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