FIDDOWN

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

FIDDOWN, a parish and village, in the barony of IVERK, county of KILKENNY, and province of LEINSTER, on the high road from Kilkenny to Carrick; containing, with the post-town of Pilltown (which is separately described), 4296 inhabitants, of which number, 193 are in the village. This parish, the name of which is said to be derived from Fiodh, "a wood," and Doon, a "rath" or "fort," is bounded on the west by the river Lingawn, which is crossed by a good stone bridge, and on the south by the river Suir; it comprises 10,485 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £8145 per annum.

The soil in some parts is of astonishing fertility, and there is no waste land; the system of agriculture has much improved within the last seven years, through the exertions of the Irish Farming Society. There are numerous limestone and sandstone quarries; and near Pilltown is a quarry of variegated grey marble, susceptible of a high polish.

The village of Fiddown consists of 36 houses, and has fairs on April 25th, June 10th, Sept. 29th, and Nov. 30th. It is situated on the bank of the river Suir, which is navigable throughout the extent of the parish for vessels of large burden, and abounds with excellent salmon and trout.

Besborough, the fine old mansion of the Earl of Besborough, and from which his lordship takes his title, is situated in a well-wooded park of more than 500 acres. The house, which is built of hewn blue limestone, is 100 feet in front by 80 in depth; the great hall is supported by four Ionic columns of Kilkenny marble, each of a single stone 10 ½ feet high; it was erected in 1744 from a design of David Bindon, Esq., and contains a fine collection of pictures. The other seats are Belline, the elegant residence of W. W. Currey, Esq., surrounded by a beautiful demesne; Fanningstown, of J. Walsh, Esq.; Tyburoughny Castle, of M. Rivers, Esq.; Willmount, of G. Briscoe, Esq.; Cookestown, of J. Burnett, Esq.; Garrynarca, of N. Higinbotham, Esq.; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. W. Gregory.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ossory, united by act of council, in 1689, to the rectories of Owning or Bewley, and Tubrid, and the rectories and vicarages of Castlane and Tipperaghney, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes of the parish amount to £687, and of the benefice to £1228. The glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £100 and a loan of £1500 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1817; the glebe comprises 48 acres.

The church is situated in the village, on the site of an abbey, of which St. Maidoc or Momoedoc is said to have been abbot in 590: it is an ancient structure, handsomely fitted up by the late Earl of Besborough, and contains several monuments to the Ponsonby family, among which is one to Brabazon, first Earl of Besborough, who died in 1758, consisting of half-length figures of the earl and his countess, on a sarcophagus of Egyptian marble, under a pediment supported by four Corinthian columns and four pilasters of Sienna marble.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Templeorum; the chapel, a neat building, is at Pilltown.

In the schools at Pilltown, an infants' school, and a national school at Tubbernabrona about 300 children are instructed: there are also a private school, in which are about 40 children, and two Sunday schools.

Throughout the parish are ruins of several ancient churches, Danish forts, and druidical altars or cromlechs. Several vestiges of antiquity have been found at, Belline, and many are still to be seen in its immediate neighbourhood. The horns, with a great part of the skeleton, of a moose deer were found in a bed of soft marl, and are preserved at Besborough House.—See PILLTOWN.

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