FENAGH

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

FENAGH, a parish, partly in the barony of MOHILL, but chiefly in that of LEITRIM, county of LEITRIM, and province of CONNAUGHT, 2 ½ miles (S. W.) from Ballinamore, on the road to Carrick-on-Shannon; containing 4172 inhabitants. In the time of St. Columb a monastery was founded here, over which St. Callin, or Kilian, presided, and which became celebrated as a school of divinity, being resorted to by students from all parts of Europe. The conventual church is still remaining, and has an east window of curious design; across the gable is a band carved in high relief, and on the north side is sculptured the figure of a griffin, with a cord in his mouth. The western portion, which is groined, was fitted up for the Protestant parishioners, and divine service was performed in it till the erection of the present church, about the close of the last century.

The parish comprises 7279 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, of which about 6220 are arable and pasture land, 670 bog, and 380 waste. The surface is greatly diversified with hill and dale, and studded with several small lakes; the soil is generally poor, and the system of agriculture unimproved. Limestone of good quality is raised for burning, and there are some quarries of gritstone at Curnagan, from which mill-stones are procured. Mough is the residence of W. Lawder, Esq.

The village of Castlefore, in this parish, on the road from Ballinamore to Cashcarrigan, is of small extent, and takes its name from a castle built by Colonel Coote, about the middle of the 17th century, which was plundered and burnt through the treachery of a female servant; from the present remains it appears to have consisted of three irregular sides, defended by three bastions, half of one of which is still in existence. There was anciently a furnace for smelting iron-ore found in the neighbourhood, and the iron made here was considered equal in quality to that of Sweden.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ardagh, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £191. The glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £92 and a loan of £830 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1829, and £400 from the incumbent; the glebe comprises 708 acres. The church is a plain edifice, without either tower or spire.

The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; the chapel is about to be rebuilt. There are two public schools, in which about 130 children are taught.

About half a mile north-east of the village are the remains of a cromlech, called by the peasantry Leaba Dearmid i Graine, "Darby and Graine's bed." At Coolkilla, two miles north of Fenagh, was an abbey, said to have been founded by St. Columb; it is on the shore of a small lake, of which about 16 acres are in this parish, and near it is a stone with the figure of a fish carved on it; the lake abounds with fish of excellent flavour.

A bell, said to have been given by St. Patrick on his landing in this country, and an Irish MS., called the "Annals of Fenagh," are preserved here with much care. In the parish is a sulphureous spring. Judge Fox and P. Dignum, both Judges in the Prerogative Court, and Edmund Bourke or de Burgo, author of the "Hibernia Dominicana," were educated in this parish.

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