CLONMINES

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

CLONMINES, an ancient disfranchised parliamentary borough, and a parish, in the barony of SHELBURNE, county of WEXFORD, and province of LEINSTER, on the high road from Wexford to Duncannon and Fethard, near the upper extremity of a small bay, 5 miles (N. E. by N.) from Fethard; containing 360 inhabitants. This parish comprises 1359 statute acres, and is the property of A. Annesley, Esq., of Blechingdon Park, in the county of Oxford. The town, which was of great antiquity but is now only distinguished by its ruins, occupied an area of about 20 acres, and was surrounded by a vallum and fosse. According to Mr. Fraser it had, in the time of the Danes, a mint for coining silver, which was found on the opposite side of the Scar, at a place called Barry's-town, in the parish of Bannow. A convent for Eremites of the order of St. Augustine was founded here at a very early period by the family of Kavanagh or Cavenagh, which was considerably enlarged and beautified by Nicholas Fitz-Nicholas, in 1385, and was subsequently occupied by friars of the order of St. Dominick.

A castle was also built by one of the family of Roger de Sutton, who accompanied Fitz-Stephen to Ireland, which has been converted into a farm-house, and is now in the occupation of Mr. Richard Sutton, a descendant of the founder, whose family is now the only one residing within the limits of the ancient town. Ships formerly came up to the town, but the port has been blocked up by a shifting bar at the entrance. The borough seems to have been held of the king in free burgage: several inquisitions post mortem, in the reigns of James I. and Charles I., mention the seisin of certain persons in burgages, but contain no allusion to a corporation or charter, which it appears the borough never had. It returned two members to the Irish parliament prior to the Union, when the £15,000 awarded as compensation for the abolition of its franchise was granted to Charles, Marquess of Ely, and Charles Tottenham, of Ballycurry, in the county of Wicklow, Esq. This is an impropriate curacy, in the diocese of Ferns, and forms part of the union of Tintern; the tithes, amounting to £80, are impropriate in Caesar Colclough, Esq.

In the R. C. divisions also it is in the union or district of Tintern. A parochial school-house was built by Mr. Annesley, by whom the school and a dispensary are supported. The ruins of the ancient town are very interesting: they are commonly called "Clonmines Castles," and consist chiefly of the tower and walls of the parish church, and a fragment of the wall which enclosed the monastery, with one of the flanking towers. Embosomed in trees, and forming a strikingly picturesque feature in these ruins, is a small chapel surmounted by two turrets leading by spiral staircases within to a parapet: it is said to have been built by a person that had risen from the humble station of a cowherd to great opulence, over the remains of his mother, and was endowed by him with a stipend for a priest to say masses for her soul; it is still called the Cowboy's Chapel.

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