LIMERICK PARISHES

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The total number of parishes is 92, of which 17 are unions, 3 without provision for cure of souls, and the remainder single parishes. The total number of churches is 42, with 2 chapels of ease, besides five places of worship in school-houses or other buildings licensed for divine service: the number of glebe-houses is 28.

In the R. C. divisions the see is a separate diocese, being one of 7 suffragan to the archbishop of Cashel, and comprising 39 parochial benefices or unions, containing 78 chapels, the spiritual duties of which are performed by 37 parish priests, two administrators of the bishop's mensals, 54 coadjutors or curates, and two supernumeraries, besides whom there are 4 superannuated sick or unemployed clergymen. The bishop's parishes are those of St. John and St. Patrick, both in the county of the city; his residence is at Park-house, near the city. The cathedral is the church of St. John.

The parishes within the bounds of the county of the city are those of St. Michael, which comprehends all the New town; St. Mary, St, Nicholas, St. John, St. Munchin, and St. Laurence, in which the old town, including the suburb of Thomond-gate is included; and Cahirnarry, Cahirvally, Derrygalvin, Donoughmore, Killeely, Kilmurry and St. Patrick, together with parts of those of Abington, Carrigparson, Crecora, Kilkeedy, Kilnegarruff, Knocknegaul, Mungrett and Stradbally, in the rural district of the city; besides which is the extra-parochial district of St. Francis's abbey.

The parish of St. Michael, or New town of Limerick, being exempt from the payment of Grand Jury cess, two local acts have been passed for its interior regulation, in the 47th and 51st of George III., under which the sum of £461. 10. 9. is raised towards defraying the expenses of the City Gaol, Fever Hospital and House of Industry, being, in fact, in aid of the Grand Jury cess of the county of the city.

The Old town, though containing 29,000 inhabitants, pays to this tax no more than £35, which, as it is the only local assessment, indicates the degree of poverty that prevails there. The remainder of the Grand Jury cess, amounting on an average to upwards of £6000 per annum, is levied entirely off the agricultural districts by a tax of from 7s. to 8s. per acre, being about twice as much as the assessment on the adjoining lands in the county at large. Under the act of the 51st of George III., besides the payment of the sum above mentioned, rates are levied on the New town for paving, lighting, watching, and cleansing that part of the city, to the extent of 3s. in the pound on inhabited houses above the value of £10 per annum, and of 4d. in the pound on uninhabited houses and stores: houses under the value of £10 are exempt. A sum of about £65 is also raised for the purpose of burying paupers and taking care of foundlings. The number of houses assessed in 1835 was 914, valued at £28,766, at the rate of 2s. 3d.; the number of stores was 146, valued at £10,257, at the rate of 3 ½d. The assessment amounted to £3388. 16. 9. The commissioners for assessing the tax, twenty-one in number, are inhabitants of the city, and seven of them retire from office every second year.

The living is a rectory, united, from time immemorial, to part of the rectory of Kildimo and the rectory of Ardagh, which three parishes constitute the union of St. Michael and the corps of the archdeaconry of Limerick, in the patronage of the Bishop.

The tithes amount to £90 per annum: the gross income of the archdeaconry, including the rent of a small glebe, is £620. 17. 8. per annum. The church was destroyed in the siege of 1651 and has not been rebuilt, but there is a chapel of ease, called St. George's, built and endowed in 1789 by the Pery family: it is a plain commodious edifice; its east window, which is very lofty, formerly belonged to the old Franciscan abbey; the curate is appointed by the Earl of Limerick.

An episcopal chapel was erected in this parish, in 1832, in connection with the asylum for blind females. The entrance is beneath an entablature supported by lofty and very chaste Doric columns: the minister is elective, and is paid by voluntary contributions. St. George's male and female parochial schools are in connection with the Kildare-place Society, but are chiefly supported by voluntary subscriptions and the sale of needlework; they afford instruction to 214 children. There are also schools in connection with the London Hibernian Society, and the Wesleyan Methodists: very large schools for males and females are in course of erection from a bequest by Mrs. Villiers.

The Limerick Academy in Cecil-street, founded and conducted by Messrs. Brice and Brown, was opened in 1836. It consists of a commodious house for the accommodation of resident pupils and two spacious class-rooms: its object is to afford the means of a complete education from the earliest infancy to the higher departments of collegiate study, based on the principle of exercising the understanding as well as the memory.

At present the system of education comprises the usual branches of an English course combined with that of classic literature and science. The diocesan school is in this parish. St. Mary's parish is a rectory entire, united from time immemorial to the rectories and vicarages of St. Nicholas and Cappagh, and the rectories of Cahirnarry, Bruree, and Mungrett, constituting the corps of the deanery; it is in the patronage of the Crown. The cathedral is considered to be the parish church of this parish and of that of St. Nicholas.

The blue coat hospital, situated near the cathedral, was founded in 1717, by the Rev. J. Moore, who bequeathed some property in Dublin for its support: about the same time the corporation aided it by an annual grant of £20, and in 1724 Mrs: Craven bequeathed several houses in Limerick for the same purpose. After having fallen into decay, it was revived in 1772 by the bishop and dean, the latter of whom has the management of it. It supports 15 boys, who wear a uniform of blue and yellow. St. Nicholas's parish, a rectory and vicarage, united to St. Mary's, contains 1784 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the tithes amount to £216. 18. 5. The church was destroyed in the siege of 1651, since which time service has been performed in the cathedral.

A school for the education of 20 boys and 20 girls is maintained under a bequest of Dr. Jer. Hall, in 1698, for children of poor Protestant parents in St. Mary's and St. Nicholas's parishes. St. Munchin's parish, situated partly in the King's island, partly in the North liberties, and partly in the county of Clare, contains 3622 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the living is a rectory, united from time immemorial to the rectory and vicarage of Killonehan, and the rectory of Drehidtarsna, which three parishes constitute the corps of the prebend of St. Munchin in the cathedral of St. Mary, Limerick, and in the patronage of the Bishop.

The tithes amount to £276. 18. 5.: those of all the parishes in the union amount to £466. 2. 9 ½. The church, Which stands on the north side of the city, is enclosed on the north by the old town wall, along which an elevated terrace commands a fine view over the. Shannon; it was rebuilt in 1827, at an expense of £1460, of which £900 was a loan from the Board of First Fruits; it is a handsome edifice, with a lofty square tower embattled and crowned with pinnacles: this church is said to have been founded by St. Munchin, and was the cathedral until the building of St. Mary's. A school for boys and another for girls of this and the adjoining parishes was founded by a bequest of Mrs. Villiers in 1819.

St. Laurence's parish is a rectory entire, in the patronage of the Corporation: it is of small extent, having no church, and the tithes amount to only £25. The three parishes of St. Mary, St. Munchin, and St. Nicholas form the English town. St. John's parish is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Earl of Limerick. The vicar derives his income from an assessment on the houses, which originally produced £160 per annum; but owing to the removal of the principal inhabitants it sunk to about £50, and has been augmented by a grant of £25 per annum from Primate Boulter's fund. There is a glebe-house, erected by a gift of £369. 4. and a loan of £240 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1828. The church is an ancient edifice, comprising a nave with a north and south aisle extending the whole length of the building; it has recently been repaired by a grant of £185. 19. 3. from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This parish forms the Irish town.

In the R. C. arrangements the county of the city is divided into the parishes or districts of St. Mary, St. John, St. Michael, St. Patrick, and St. Lelia. St. Mary's parish comprises the whole of the King's Island, the English town, and the Little or Sluice Island, thus embracing the whole of the Protestant parish of St. Mary, parts of St. Munchin's and St. Nicholas's, and the extra-parochial district of St. Francis: the chapel is a large plain cruciform edifice, built in 1749, on the Sluice Island; the altar exhibits three styles of architecture finely combined, and has a good copy of Michael Angelo's picture of the Crucifixion.

A female school established in this parish, some years since, by the religious sisterhood of St. Clare was adopted, after the departure of that body from Limerick, by the sisterhood of the Presentation convent; and on the breaking up of that establishment in 1836, the National Board of Education granted £40 towards its support, and it was placed under the charge of the Rev. Dr. Hanrahan, P.P.; it is still held in the convent under the superintendence of two of the lay-sisters of St. Clare, affords instruction to 400 children, and is supported by subscriptions and charity sermons.

St. John's parish comprises the Protestant parish of St. Laurence, and that part of St. Michael's known by the name of the Assembly Mall; this is the bishop's parish, and the church is therefore called the cathedral. It is a large cruciform building, erected in 1753: the altar, which is, very splendid, has a picture of the Crucifixion by Collopy, a native artist. St. Michael's parish is coterminous with the Protestant parish of the same name, with the exception of the Assembly Mall. The chapel, situated near the corn market, was built in 1779, and was then surrounded by open fields: it was considerably enlarged in 1805, and is now the largest and finest in the city: it can accommodate 2500 persons.

In this parish there are three orders of friars. The Dominicans have their house and chapel in Glentworth-street: the latter, a large edifice in the early Gothic style, built in 1815, is enriched with a painting of the Crucifixion: the community consists of a prior and four friars. The Augustinians, whose community consists of a prior and two friars, have their house and chapel in St. George's-street; the latter was built for a theatre, and was purchased by the friars in 1824: the boxes and galleries are still preserved as seats for the congregation: it is lighted from the dome: the altar, supported by Corinthian pillars, is enriched with a picture of the Ascension by Collopy.

The Franciscans, whose community consists of a prior and two friars, have their house and chapel near Wellesley-bridge; the latter is a large edifice in the Gothic style, comprising a centre and wings, with a handsome gallery: the altar is very fine and has a splendid painting of the Madonna. The brothers of the Christian Schools, six in number, have a school in this parish, and another in St. John's, in which about 600 children are educated; the funds are raised by collections made every Saturday throughout the city by the brethren.

A female school, established by the Rev. Dr. Hogan, P.P., in 1822, is chiefly supported by him, and a new school-house capable of containing 200 girls is now being built at his expense. Adjoining the R. C. chapel is a school founded and endowed by Mrs. Meade, for the education of children of R. C. parents. St. Patrick's parish is in the liberties: the church, built in 1816, is on the Dublin road; it is in the form of the letter T, and is small but neatly fitted up; the building was much, improved in 1835. This parish, with those of Kilmurry and Derrygalvin, with which it is united, form the bishop's mensal. St. Lelia's parish is composed of the parishes of St. Munchin and St. Nicholas within the liberties north of the river, and that of Killeely in the county of Clare. The chapel, situated at Thomond-gate, is a large plain cruciform edifice, built in 1744: it is the first R. C. place of worship publicly erected in Limerick since the revolution. In this parish is a school established by the Rev. P. Walsh, P.P., in which 380 children are educated; it is supported by subscriptions and charity sermons.

The Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Munster have a small but very elegant meeting-house in the New town: they are of the second class. Here also the Society of Friends have a neat meeting-house, near which is a large and elegant place of worship, of the Gothic style without, and the Grecian within, belonging to the Wesleyan Methodists, and not far from it another, in the mixed Gothic style, of the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists. The Independents also have a plain but neat meeting-house.

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