GALLEN

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

GALLENor GILLEN, a parish, in the barony of GARRYCASTLE, KING'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 6 miles (N. E.) from Banagher, on the road to Firbane; containing, with part of that town and the post-town of Cloghan (which are separately described), 5021 inhabitants. This parish formed part of the ancient possessions of the family of the McCoghlans, proprietors of the surrounding territory, who built a strong castle here, which was surrendered to Ireton in the parliamentary war; the last male representative of this family, Thomas Coghlan, Esq., M. P. for the borough of Banagher, died in 1790.

A monastery was founded here in 490 by St. Canoe, or Mocanoc, which continued to flourish till 820, when it was burnt by Felim McCroimhain; and after its restoration was occupied by some monks from Wales, who founded in it a celebrated school, from which circumstance it is supposed to have derived its name. Though repeatedly plundered and destroyed by fire, it subsisted till the dissolution, when the site and lands were granted to Sir Gerald Moore. An abbey was also founded near Firbane by St. Diarmid, who died in 563, and was succeeded by St. Coemgan; it was plundered in 1041, and destroyed by fire in 1077, soon after which it appears to have been abandoned, as no notice of it occurs since 1082.

The parish comprises 16,313 statute acres, of which about one-third is bog and waste; the remainder, with the exception of a small portion of woodland, is equally divided between pasture and tillage; the system of agriculture is improving, and limestone is found in abundance. The principal seats are Gallen, the residence of A. Armstrong, Esq., beautifully situated in a richly wooded demesne bordered by the river Brosna, and containing the picturesque remains of the ancient monastery; Strawberry Hill, of Major Molloy; Castle Iver, of W. B. Armstrong, Esq.; and Clonana Castle, of — Molony, Esq. At Castle Iver are some mills for oatmeal, worked by steam. Fairs are held on May 15th, Aug. 15th, Oct. 29th, and Nov. 17th: the May and October fairs are the principal for horses, cattle, and pigs.

It is a vicarage, in the diocese of Meath, forming part of the union of Reynagh; the rectory is impropriate. The tithes amount to £415. 7. 8., and are equally divided between the impropriator and the vicar; the glebe comprises 222 statute acres, valued at £154 per annum. The church, a small neat edifice, situated at Cloghan, was built by a gift of £600 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1813. In the R. C. divisions it is part of the union of Banagher, or Reynagh, in the diocese of Ardagh; the chapel at Cloghan is a spacious plain building.

About 130 children are taught in three public schools, of which the national school is endowed with a house and garden by the Hon. Frederick Ponsonby, and one at Shillestown with a house and half an acre of land by Mr. Judge. There are also seven private schools, in which are about 280 children. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Clonana.

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