PORTLAW

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

PORTLAW, a post-town, partly in the parish of CLONEGAM, and partly in that of GUILCAGH, barony of UPPERTHIRD, county of WATERFORD, and province of MUNSTER, 9 miles (W.) from Waterford (to which it has a sub-post-office), and 83 ¾ (S. W.) from Dublin; containing, in 1837, 3250 inhabitants. This place, which is situated on the small river Clodagh, is altogether of modern origin; within the last 10 or 12 years there was scarcely a cabin to be seen on that spot which is now the site of a handsome and flourishing town. It is solely indebted for its growth and prosperity to the residence of Messrs. Malcolmson and sons, who introduced the cotton manufacture, and erected buildings for carrying it on upon a very extensive scale.

The town is situated on the confines of Curraghmore Park, the princely seat of the Marquess of Waterford, from which it is separated only by the Clodagh, a deep and rapid stream, on the margin of which the mills are erected: the total number of houses is 465, of which many are handsome and well built, and the remainder neat cottages roofed with slate.

The manufactory is a very spacious and lofty building, with a flat roof, on which is a reservoir for water, 260 feet in length and 40 feet in breadth; it is fitted up with the most improved machinery, propelled by three large water-wheels, and three steam-engines, the united power of which is estimated at more than that of 300 horses. These extensive works afford constant employment to considerably more than 1000 persons; the amount of capital expended weekly is not less than £600. Connected with them are numerous trades to which they furnish employment; and in all the various departments upon which they have an influence, it is calculated that more than 4000 persons are procuring a comfortable subsistence. The cottons, when manufactured, are bleached on the premises, and are chiefly sold in the home markets, though large quantities are sometimes sent to America.

The health, education, and morals of this newly created colony have been strictly attended to by its patrons; a dispensary for the benefit of the working people has been established under the care of a resident surgeon within the walls of the concern; a school, in which from 80 to 100 children are educated, has also been established there; and the formation of a temperance society has been so successful that its members are nearly 500 in number: meetings of the society are held once every fortnight in a spacious apartment fitted up for its accommodation. The fairs of Clonegam are now held here on Easter-Monday, May 28th, and Aug. 26th; there is a constabulary police station, and petty sessions are held generally once a month. There is also a R. C. chapel.

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