JOHNSTOWN (ST.)

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

JOHNSTOWN (ST.), or BALLINALEE, a village (formerly a parliamentary borough), in that part of the parish of CLONBRONEY which is in the barony of GRANARD, county of LONGFORD, and province of LEINSTER, 6 miles (W.) from Granard; containing 255 inhabitants. This place owes its origin to a grant of 86 acres of land in the townlands of Conelongford and Clonbreny, by Charles I. in the 3rd of his reign, to Walter Lecky and others, whom he incorporated by charter under the designation of the "Sovereign, Burgesses, and Free Commons of the Borough and Town of St. Johnstown." The corporation consisted of a sovereign, chosen from the burgesses, who, with his deputy, was justice of the peace, coroner, and clerk of the market, and was annually elected on the Monday after the festival of St. John the Baptist, and sworn into office on the Monday after that of St. Michael. The burgesses, 12 in number, were chosen, as vacancies occurred, from the free commons, by a majority of their own body; and by them a recorder, town-clerk, and other officers were appointed and freemen admitted solely by favour. The sovereign had power to hold a court of record, with jurisdiction extending to £20. The borough continued to return two members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when it was disfranchised.

No sovereign has been elected since 1825; the corporation is now extinct; and the town has become a mere village, consisting of 53 houses, of which some are neatly built, and a handsome lodge recently erected by Col. Palliser, who has also built a barrack for the constabulary police force stationed here. During a thunder storm a portion of the bog of Muckna, near this place, but in the parish of Killoe, on the river Camlin, burst in several places, leaving chasms from 10 to 30 feet wide, in a direction parallel with the river, and some at right angles with it; the bed of the river was forced up 3 or 4 feet above its former level; and in a few hours more than 200 acres of land were submerged, and continued for some months in that state, till the bed of the river was lowered with great labour and expense.

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