FRESHFORD, OR AGHOURA

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

FRESHFORD, or AGHOURA, a post-town and parish, in the barony of CRANAGH, county of KILKENNY, and province of LEINSTER, 6 ½ miles (W. N. W.) , from Kilkenny, and 63 (S. W.) from Dublin, on the road from Kilkenny to Johnstown; containing 2277 inhabitants. This place, anciently called Aghoure or Achadhur, signifying the "green ford," was the site of an abbey founded about the commencement of the seventh century, by St. Lactan, who was its first abbot.

The parish comprises 2108 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £2477 per annum: there is no bog or waste land. The state of agriculture is fast improving, and the land is almost equally divided between tillage and pasturage. There are limestone quarries, in which manganese is said to exist; and a coal mine is about to be opened.

The principal seats are Upperwood, the elegant mansion of W. De Montmorency, Esq., which is in a handsome and well-planted demesne; Balleen Castle, an ancient fortress, the property of the Earl of Kilkenny; Kilrush, a seat of the St. George family; and near the town is the seat of Pierse Butler, Esq. The town, which comprises 374 houses, is neat and well built, and is part of the estate of William De Montmorency, Esq.

It is a station of the revenue and of the constabulary police, and has fairs on Aug. 5th and Dec. 17th, and pig fairs on Oct. 31st and Dec. 5th. Here is a dispensary, a fever hospital, and a society for relieving the bedridden poor. A flour-mill, called the manor mill, is remarkably well supplied with water from the Freshford river. A manor court is held every third week, for the recovery of debts under 40s.; and petty sessions are held every fortnight.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Ossory, episcopally united to the parishes of Clomanto, Kilrush, Clashacrow, Rathbeagh,Tubridbritain, Sheffin, Clontubrid, and Coolcashin, which together form the union of Freshford and the corps of the prebend of Aghoure (anciently called the "Golden Prebend") in the cathedral of Kilkenny. The first six parishes are in the patronage of the Bishop, and the remaining three in that of the Dean and Chapter. The tithes amount to £184. 12. 5., and the gross revenue of the prebend is £860. 18. 10. The glebe-house is in Clashacrow.

The church was built in 1730, and has a fine Norman porch with the date 1133, and an inscription in ancient Irish, purporting that "the priest Mac Roen and chief gave an acre of land to the church," which formerly belonged to the abbey.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising Freshford, Tullaroan, Ballynamara, Clashacrow, Ballylarkin, and parts of Odogh, Burnchurch, and Clomanto, in which district is a chapel at Freshford, one at Odogh, and one at Tullaroan.

The parochial school is aided by an annual donation of £10 from the rector, and a bequest of £5 per annum from the late Colonel Brown; the school-house, a slated building, was erected at a cost of £120, of which £60 was a grant from the lord-lieutenant's fund. There is also a national school adjoining the R. C. chapel. About 300 children are educated in these schools, and about 60 in two private schools, exclusive of those taught in a Sunday school.

Near Kilrush are the ruins of Ballylarkin castle, once the seat of the Shortall family. Here are also the remains of an ancient manor-house, which belonged to Sir Toby Caulfield, and was a place of importance during the parliamentary war.

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