NAAS GOVERNMENT

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The town is pleasantly situated in a fine, open, and fertile tract of country, gently undulating and enriched with wood, and beautifully contrasted on the southeast by the varied outline of the Wicklow mountains. It consists principally of one main street, extending about half a mile along the great southern road, which at one extremity of the town divides into two branches, forming respectively the mail coach roads to Kilkenny and Limerick; and, at the other extremity, of a street at right angles to the former, continued along the road to Kilcock and Maynooth; and of several smaller streets. The total number of houses is about 600, of which only a few are handsomely built and the remainder of indifferent appearance; the streets are neither paved nor lighted, but the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from wells.

The infantry barracks, about a quarter of a mile from the town, a handsome pile of building with a cupola above the principal range, are adapted for 17 officers and 412 non-commissioned officers, with stabling for four horses and an hospital for 30 patients. Races are annually held on a course about a mile from the town, on the Limerick road, and continue five days, usually preceding the Curragh Midsummer meetings. The principal trade is in corn, which is generally bought by the neighbouring millers; in the neighbourhood are several extensive flour-mills, each capable of producing from 8000 to 10,000 barrels annually. A considerable traffic is also derived from its situation on a great public thoroughfare, and from the influx of persons attending the assizes and quarter sessions.

A branch from the Grand Canal, commencing about a mile below Sallins, passes through the town and terminates at Corbally, in the parish of Carnalloway; it was completed in 1789, at an expense of £12,300, and affords great facility of conveyance for corn, coal, culm, and turf, and various articles of merchandise, which are brought to the town in great quantities for the supply of the surrounding neighbourhood. The markets are on Monday and Thursday, and are abundantly supplied with corn and with all kinds of provisions, and with abundance of poultry, which is sold in large quantities for the Dublin market. Fairs are held on March 17th, Ascension-day, Whit-Monday, Aug. 10th, and Nov. 22nd, for cattle, sheep, and pigs. The market-house is a neat and well-arranged building, erected by the Earl of Mayo, who is proprietor of the town.

In the centre of the town is a large barrack for the chief constabulary police force stationed here. By the charters of Elizabeth and James 1st, the corporation consists of a sovereign, two provosts, and an indefinite number of burgesses and freemen, assisted by a serjeant-at-mace, a town-serjeant, a billet-master and three weigh-masters. The sovereign, who is a justice of the peace, and master of the say for leather; and the two provosts, who with him are clerks of the market, are annually elected, on the feast of St. Michael, by the burgesses and freemen, who are themselves elected by the corporation at large, as vacancies occur, the latter by favour only; and all the other officers are similarly appointed: no coroners have been appointed by the corporation since the act for making county coroners.

The corporation sent two members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when the borough was disfranchised. It was impowered to hold a court of record for determining all personal pleas arising within the borough, which has long since fallen into disuse. The Lent assizes are held here, and the quarter sessions for the county in April and October, in rotation with Kildare, Athy, and Maynooth; petty sessions are also held every Monday before the county magistrates. The county court-house, in the High-street, is a neat building, consisting of a centre and two wings faced with granite, and having a receding portico of four columns, supporting a cornice and pediment. The county gaol, completed in 1833, at an expense of £14,000, is a substantial and well-built edifice of hewn limestone, on the radiating principle, consisting of four detached ranges of building, one of which contains rooms for debtors and an hospital, and the other three, 60 cells and 7 day-rooms, ten airing-yards, and a neat chapel; it is well adapted for classification; the entrance is between two semicircular bastions.

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