INCHEGEELAGH

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

INCHEGEELAGH, or EVELEARY, a parish, partly in the Western Division of the barony of EAST CARBERY, but chiefly in the barony of WEST MUSKERRY, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 6 miles (W. S. W.) from Macroom, on the road to Bantry; containing 5783 inhabitants. This place derives its name, Eveleary, from the ancient family of the O'Learys, who were lords of the adjacent territory, and had the castles of Drumcarragh, Carrigneneelah, and Carrignacurra, which last was occupied by Connor O'Leary till 1641, when, joining in the civil war of that period, the whole of his estates became forfeited. The parish, which is situated on the river Lee, comprises 41,953 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £6267 per ann., of which about 200 are woodland, 130 common, 2500 arable, 12,000 pasture, 7000 bog, and the remainder waste. The surface is mountainous, rocky, and of wild aspect, but towards the east more level and in a state of profitable cultivation; the chief manure used by farmers of the eastern portion is lime brought from Anaghely, near Macroom, and by those of the western portion, a calcareous coral sand from Bantry bay.

The principal seats are Boyle Grove, the residence of J. Boyle, Esq.; Lee Mount, of J. Barter, Esq.; Kilbarry, of J. Barry, Esq.; the glebe-house, of the Rev. Dr. Baldwin; and the Cottage, of the Rev. J. Holland. In the village is a constabulary police station, and fairs are held on May 31st, Aug. 31st, and Dec. 3rd, for horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs; these fairs were very numerously attended, but have grown almost into disuse. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Cork, the rectory partly impropriate in the Duke of Devonshire, and partly united to the vicarage, which is in the patronage of the Bishop. The tithes payable to the incumbent amount to £400; there is a glebe-house, and the glebe comprises 242 ¾ acres. The church, for the repairs of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £168, is a very neat edifice, with a square tower, built by a loan of £250 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1815.

The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church, and contains two spacious and handsome chapels, one in the village of Inchegeelagh, built in 1820, and considerably enlarged in 1830, at a total expense of £300; the other at Ballingearig, built in 1809, and since enlarged by a new cross building at a total expense of £500. There is a day school under the superintendence of the rector, who contributes to its support; the house is rent-free. There are four National school-houses in the parish; three were erected by the R. C. clergyman and his parishioners, one at Kilbarry, one at Inchegeelagh and one at Ballingearig; the fourth was built at Coolmountain in 1836, in aid of which the Commissioners of Education granted £30. They also gave a gratuitous supply of books, as a first stock, to each of these schools, and continue to furnish them with books and school necessaries at half price; they also grant an annual sum of £40 towards the salaries of the teachers: the average attendance of children, both male and female, at these four schools, is 500. There is also a private school, in which are about 20 children, and a Sunday school.

In this parish are the lakes of Googane-Barra and Lua, and the mountain pass of Keminea. Googane, which is situated in a romantic and sequestered spot in the lofty chain of mountains between the counties of Cork and Kerry, covers an area of 800 acres, and is surrounded by a majestic amphitheatre of mountains, from whose rugged declivities descend numerous streams, forming interesting cascades, by which it is constantly supplied; towards its northern extremity is an island, richly planted with thriving ash trees, on which are the picturesque ruins of an ancient church, supposed to have been erected by St. Finbarr, who made this beautiful and sequestered glen his place of retreat. Near it are some cells, erected about the year 1700 by Father O'Mahony, who lived here for 30 years in solitude. The glen is still the frequent resort of devotees, and in the summer season is visited by numerous tourists.

The river Lee has its source in this lake, and taking a northeastern course to the bridge of Ballingerig, where it is joined by another mountain torrent, spreads a little below into a wide expanse, forming Lough Lua, which is 5 miles in length, and about half a mile in breadth, and in many parts expanding into bays of great extent and beauty; it abounds with char and fish of many other kinds; the banks on both sides are precipitous and richly wooded. The new line of road from Cork to Bantry passes along the whole length of its western shore, and near Lough Googane is continued through the mountain pass of Keminea. This extraordinary chasm, which is sometimes improperly called the Pass of Cooleagh, is about a mile in length, and from the minute correspondence and similarity of the strata on each side, appears to have been rent in the mountain by some convulsion of nature; the rock on both sides rises in a direction nearly perpendicular to the height of 100 feet, and in the fissures the arbutus, holly, yew, ivy, and various evergreens have taken root, and with several rare plants thrive with the greatest luxuriance. The surrounding rocks are of the schistus formation, varying in colour from pale ash to the brightest vermillion, and passing through all the varieties of transition, from the softest clay-slate to the most compact trap. There are some remains of the ancient castles.

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