RATHBARRY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

RATHBARRY, a parish, in the barony of IBANE and BARRYROE, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 4 miles (W. S. W.) from Clonakilty, on the road from Cork to Skibbereen; containing 2748 inhabitants. This place, which is situated on the southern coast, derives its name from an ancient fort, of which there are still some picturesque remains in Lord Carbery's demesne. This fortress, anciently called Rathbarry, now Castle Freke, was erected in the 15th century by Randal Oge Barry, and in 1602 was surrendered to Captain Harvey for Queen Elizabeth, according to the treaty of Kinsale, and was retained by the English till the breaking out of the war in 1641. Soon after the commencement of hostilities, it was besieged by the insurgents, but was resolutely defended by its proprietor, Arthur Freke, Esq., who maintained it against all their attacks from the 14th of February till the 18th of October, when it was relieved by Sir Charles Vavasour and Captain Jephson, who conducted the owner and his garrison in safety to Bandon and set fire to the castle, to prevent its being occupied by the enemy. The insurgents, nevertheless, took the castle of Dundedy, which they kept till the spring of the year 1643, when they also obtained possession of the remains of Castle Freke; but in July they were driven from this place by Colonel Myn, who restored the castle and placed in it a garrison which retained possession till the arrival of Cromwell.

The parish comprises 4189 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the surface is very uneven, and towards the sea the land is cold and the soil sandy; but in the centre of the parish and around Miltown, more fertile. The vale in which Miltown is situated is very beautiful and in many parts has been richly planted by Lord Carbery and the incumbent. Castle Freke, the seat of Lord Carbery, a handsome castellated mansion, erected near the site of the old fortress of Rathbarry, is beautifully situated in a richly improved demesne, comprising 1000 acres, embellished with fine timber and thriving plantations, and with a beautiful and picturesque lake. Kilkerran House, the residence of M. Galway, Esq., in the grounds of which is also a fine lake, is also in the parish. Near the south-eastern extremity of the parish is the Red Strand, where great quantities of calcareous sand are obtained for manure. This sand is a formation from the debris or very minute shells, among which some small cornua ammonis may be seen in nearly a perfect state: it was some years since analysed and found to contain 79 parts in 100 of calcareous matter.

It is a curious fact that this sand is confined to a narrow strand, about ½ an English mile wide, bounded at each end by high cliffs; and though other inlets and strands are near it on either side, their sands do not exhibit any calcareous matter but are all composed of silex and argil. The Red Strand sand is carried 16 English miles into the interior for manure; at that distance 20 bags, each containing about 3 cwt., are considered sufficient to manure a statute acre; at three miles distance from the Strand from 80 to 120 bags are laid on. More than 1000 horses and carts may be reckoned at the Strand in one day. This sand is esteemed the best on the southern coast, except the Bantry sand, as it is called, which is a distinct coral formation, a perfect calcareous mass. To the east of Galley Head, on the southern coast of the parish, are the Doolie rocks. Fairs are held at New Mill on March 25th, June 29th, and Sept. 29th, under a patent obtained by the lord of the manor; and a constabulary police force is stationed at Miltown, for which a barrack has been lately erected.

The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Ross, and in the patronage of the Rev. H. Stewart; the rectory is partly appropriate to the dean and chapter of Ross, and partly impropriate in M. Roberts and J. W. Foote, Esqrs.

The tithes amount to £411. 19. 10., of which £63. 7. 11 is payable to the appropriators, £174. 2. 10. to the impropriators, and £174. 9. 2. to the vicar. The glebe-house, an elegant villa embosomed in thriving plantations, was erected by the Rev. H. Stewart, the present incumbent, in 1831; the glebe comprises 5 ½ acres, of which two only belong to the vicar. The church, a handsome and spacious structure in the later English style, with a square tower, was erected in 1825, at an expense of £1900, of which £900 was a gift from the late Board of First Fruits, and the remainder was defrayed by Lord Carbery; it is finely situated in the demesne of Castle Freke.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union of Ardfield; the chapel near Miltown is a neat edifice, with a fine altar-piece. About 160 children are taught in two public schools, of which the male and female parochial school is supported chiefly by Lord Carbery and the incumbent; a very handsome school-house, with apartments for the master and mistress, has been erected by his lordship at his own expense; there is also a Sunday school. On Galley Head, often mistaken for the old head of Kinsale, are the ruins of Dundedy castle; and on the eastern side of Redstrand are the ruins of the castle of Dunowen. The ploughland of Gahanave, comprising about 200 acres, from which the chancellor of the diocese derives his income, is in this parish.

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