KANTURK

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

KANTURK, a market and post-town, partly in the parish of KILBRIN, but chiefly in that of CLONFERT, barony of DUHALLOW, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 27 ½ miles (N. W.) from Cork, on the Bogra road to Abbeyfeale, and 13l ¾ miles (S.W.) from Dublin, containing 1349 inhabitants. This place formerly belonged to the McCarthys, kings of Desmond. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Mac Donogh Carthy commenced the erection of a splendid and extensive mansion in the castellated style, about a mile south of the town (now called Kanturk Castle), but it having been represented to the government as a regular fortress, its progress was stayed, and it has never been completed. These possessions were subsequently mortgaged by Dermod Mac Owen Carthy to Sir Philip Perceval, by whom they were held as security in 1641, when the proprietor was in actual rebellion; and in 1666 the Court of Claims decided that, as Sir Philip had advanced more than the value of the estate, his grandson, Sir Philip Perceval, was legally entitled, and he accordingly passed patent for the same in 1667.

Kanturk Castle, although not actually within the parish in which the town is situated, is deserving of some notice from its name, and also from its connection with the founder of Kanturk. It is situated in the vicinity of the mountains and the river Blackwater, and occupies the four sides of a quadrangle, 120 feet in length by 80 feet in breadth, being three stories high, and flanked at each angle by a square tower of four stories, having three windows in each story in the central portion; the quoins, mouldings, beltings, and other ornamental parts are of hewn stone. The battlements, if ever carried up, have fallen down; and the additional story mentioned by Smith, in his history of Cork, is only apparent on one side, where it forms the under-ground or cellar-floor.

The town is pleasantly situated at the confluence of the rivers Allua and Dallua, which here flow through a fine open valley in the midst of gently rising hills, and the vicinity is studded with comfortable farm-houses and young plantations. Each river is crossed by a good stone bridge; that over the Allua consisting of six, and that on the Dallua of five, segmental arches. It is irregularly built, consisting of several short streets chiefly diverging from the centre; and in 1831 contained 238 houses, many of which have been lately rebuilt, and a new street has been formed between the two rivers, terminating towards the north by a commodious hotel surrounded by a thriving plantation. These and other improvements have been effected under the auspices of the Earl of Egmont, the proprietor of the greater part of the town, which is considered extremely healthy as a place of residence, and is well supplied with water. A news-room is supported by subscription.

Public cars from Tralee and Abbeyfeale to Cork pass through the town, and a car goes direct thence to Cork. The market is on Saturday, and is abundantly supplied with all kinds of provisions, and from Christmas to Easter with corn, pigs, and sheep; and fairs for cattle and general farming stock are held on March 17th, May 4th, July 4th, Sept. 29th, Nov. 3rd, and Dec. 11th. A small brewery has been lately established in the town; and in the immediate vicinity, on the river Dallua, are the extensive boulting-mills of Dr. Barry, a portion of the produce of which, and of another on a smaller scale near the Castle, is sent to Cork, where it is shipped for England: the former of these mills is capable of manufacturing 12,000 bags of flour annually, and has proved of great advantage to the neighbouring farmers, by affording them a ready market for their corn, which previously they were under the necessity of sending to Cork.

Quarter sessions for the East Riding are held here in June; petty sessions are held every Saturday; and a court for the manor of Kanturk is held by the seneschal, once in three weeks, in which debts not exceeding 40s. late currency are recoverable. The sessions-house and bridewell are substantial and commodious buildings: the former has a handsome front of hewn stone, consisting of a pediment supported by broad pilasters, with a Venetian window between them; the latter is on a large scale, consisting of several wards, and having separate day-rooms and yards adapted for the proper classification of the male and female prisoners. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in the town.

The district of Kanturk was formed out of the parish of Clonfert, and is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Cloyne, and in the gift of the Bishop: the curate's stipend is £150, payable in equal portions by the impropriator, the rector, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The glebe-house, in the vicinity, was erected in 1815, the Board of First Fruits having granted a gift of £450 and a loan of £50: attached to it is a glebe of 10 acres. The church is a small neat structure, with a square embattled tower surmounted by pinnacles, built in 1789, for which the same Board gave £200.

In the R. C. divisions the town is the head of a district, which comprises about one-third of the parish of Clonfert and the small ecclesiastical parish of Kilcorcoran. The chapel is a remarkably neat cruciform building, erected on a site given by the Earl of Egmont; the chapel-yard, which is tastefully planted, and forms an agreeable promenade for the inhabitants, is entered by a handsome gateway formed of pillars of hewn stone, surmounted by richly crocketed pinnacles, the work of a native artist, who also executed a beautiful font for the chapel. At Coolavota is a chapel for the rural district. The parochial school is under the superintendence of the Protestant clergyman, and a large building for a public school has been lately erected on a site given by the Earl of Egmont: there are also several private schools in the town and its vicinity; the total number of children educated is about 250.

At Curragh was formerly a castle that belonged to the Mc Carthys, on the site of which the modern mansion of Neptune Blood, Esq., has been erected. Near it is a strong chalybeate spring. Kanturk Castle, which is actually within the border of the adjoining parish of Kilmeen, consists of a parallelogram, 120 feet in length by 80 in breadth, with a large square tower at each angle:. though never completed, it is carried to a considerable height, and from its massive appearance has a grand and imposing effect. The celebrated lawyer, Barry Yelverton, afterwards Lord Avonmore, was born at Kanturk.

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