COLPE, or COLPE-cum-MORNINGTON, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

COLPE, or COLPE-cum-MORNINGTON, a parish, in the barony of DULEEK, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 2 ¼ miles (E. by S.) from Drogheda; containing 1970 inhabitants, of which number, 71 are in the hamlet. This parish is situated on the eastern coast, at the mouth of the river Boyne. It is said to have derived its name from Colpa, one of the sons of Milesius, who is stated to have been drowned at the mouth of the Boyne, while attempting to land for the invasion of the country. Here St. Patrick landed when on his way to Taragh, then the seat of the kings of Ireland. In 1182, Hugh de Lacy founded an abbey for Augustinian canons, and made it dependent on the abbey of Lanthony, in Monmouthshire, afterwards translated to the vicinity of Gloucester. In 1300, Roger, the prior, was attached and fined 20s. for stopping some Dominican friars in Drogheda, and robbing them of the body of Roger Wetherell, and a bier and pall. At the suppression, this abbey, besides other possessions, had the tithes of Weisle's Farm, in Mornington, which place was the original seat of the family of Wellesley, the head of which has successively been created Earl of Mornington and Marquess Wellesley, and which includes among its members, at present, the Marquess Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, and Lords Cowley and Maryborough. No part of the abbey now exists, but a chapel to the south of its site is the burial-place of the Bellew family. The parish contains 4793 statute acres, principally under tillage, and of moderately good quality; there is no bog or waste land. At Pilltown are some quarries containing indications of copper, and in which some fossils have been found. The branch of the great northern road through Balbriggan runs through the parish, which will also be intersected by the Dublin and Drogheda Grand Northern Trunk railway. The principal seats are, Bettystown, the residence of R. Shepheard, Esq.; Eastham, of F. Anderson, Esq., Pilltown, of T. Brodigan, Esq.; Mornington House, of G. F. Blackburne, Esq.; Beabeg, of H. Smith, Esq.; Mornington, of Burton Tandy, Esq.; Beamore, of J. Cooper, Esq.; Farm Hill, of W. Walsh, Esq.; Triton Lodge, of C. Segrave, Esq.; and Cowslip Lodge, the property of G. H. Pentland, Esq.

The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Meath, united by episcopal authority, in 1826, to the vicarage of Kilsharvan, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Drogheda; the rectory is partly impropriate in W. Dutton Pollard, Esq., of Castle-Pollard, and partly appropriate to the vicarage of St. Peter's, Drogheda, as part of the tithes were purchased by the late Board of First Fruits as an endowment for that vicarage. The tithes amount to £165, the whole of which is payable to the impropriators: the union is also called Mariners' town, and the gross value of the benefice, including tithes and glebe, is £81. 4. 6. The glebe-house was erected about twenty years since by J. Brabazon, Esq., who presented it to the parish, with £1000 to pay the rent to the heirs after his decease. He also granted a glebe, comprising 10 acres of profitable land, which, with the glebe-house, is valued at £35 per annum; and there is a glebe of 3 ½ acres at Kilsharvan, valued at £12 per annum. The church is a neat structure in good repair, built in 1809, by aid of a gift of £600 from the late Board of First Fruits.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of St. Mary, Drogheda; and there is a small chapel at Mornington, in which is a school of about 20 children. There is also a pay school at Beamore, of about 30 children. On the beach at the mouth of the Boyne, which is a level strand, is an ancient building, called the "Maiden Tower," with a small obelisk near it, called the "Lady's finger;" it serves as a landmark for vessels bound to Drogheda. From the records of the corporation of Dublin, it appears to have been erected in the reign of Elizabeth, and was probably so called in compliment to Her Majesty. At the Maiden Tower is a pool called the Long Reach, which extends a quarter of a mile inland, where vessels may lie at low water. A little north of the church is an ancient rath, where Colpa is said to have been interred; and the church of Rath-Colpa is alluded to in the ancient Irish records. The mouth of the Boyne, anciently called "Inver-Colpa," was frequented by foreign merchants at a remote period; and some are of opinion that St. Patrick, on escaping from his captivity, here found a vessel to convey him to the continent.

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