RATHCONRATH

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

RATHCONRATH, a parish, in the barony of RATHCONRATH, county of WESTMEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 3 ½ miles (S.) from Ballynacargy, on the road from Dublin by Mullingar to Athlone; containing 2862 inhabitants, of which number, 235 are in the village. A tumultuous body of insurgents assembled in Sept. 1798, at the hill of Skeagh, in this parish, but they afterwards dispersed, excepting a party that took post at Wilson's Hospital, and were there encountered by the soldiery.

The parish comprises 7563 statute acres; the land is of good quality; there is very little waste; about one-fourth is arable, and the remainder good pasture. The common substratum is limestone and black flag-stone: there are quarries of the former in almost all parts of the parish, and from one on the lands of Mount D'Alton the stones for the chambers of the locks on the Royal Canal have been taken, as well as for the bridges, for a considerable distance. Great facility is afforded for inland navigation by the Royal Canal, which passes near the northern and eastern boundaries of the parish. A patent exists for four fairs, which are not held. At Meares Court and Ballinacarra are corn-mills. On the road to Ballymore are two remarkable rocks, called the Cat and the Mouse; and close to them is a spring, called the Swallow, the waters of which immediately commence a subterraneous course of one mile.

In the parish are the two hills of Rathconrath and Skeagh, and the small lake of Ballinacarra. In the village is a constabulary police station. On the banks of a fine sheet of water stands Mount D'Alton, formerly the residence of the ancient family of D'Alton, who were lords of Rathconrath, and now counts of the Holy Roman Empire: the house, which is now the residence of O. W. C. Begg, Esq., was built in 1784 by Count Richard D'Alton, a distinguished officer in the Austrian service; at the rear is a pyramidal monument, thirty feet high, erected by this gentleman and his brother, General J. D'Alton, in honour of the Empress Maria Theresa, the Emperor Joseph II., and King George III. On three sides it is adorned with their profiles in white marble, and on the fourth with the arms of the family and a suitable inscription. Meares Court is the seat of J. Devenish Meares, Esq.; Glencarry, of R. H. Kelly, Esq.; Rathcaslin, of T. Banon, Esq.; Irishtown, of J. Banon, Esq.; and Oldtown, of E. Banon, Esq.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of the Earl of Lanesborough; the tithes amount to £267. The glebe-house was built in 1818, at an expense of £1569 British, of which £323 was a gift, and £415 a loan, from the late Board of First Fruits, the residue having been supplied by the incumbent. The glebe comprises 24a. 0r. 14p., valued at £27. 14. per annum. The church was built in 1809. nearly on the site of the ancient church, at an expense of £738 British, which was a gift from the before-mentioned Board.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, also called Miltown, comprising this parish and those of Moranstown and Kilmacnevin; and containing two chapels, of which that at Miltown was originally built at the expense of Christopher, Count D'Alton, who endowed it with one acre of land; it is in the presentation of O. W. C. Begg, Esq., of Mount D'Alton. The other chapel is at Empor, in Kilmacnevin. About 230 children are educated in two public schools, of which one in the village is entirely supported by the rector; the other at Miltown is a national school: and there are two private schools, in which are about 117 children.

Ruins exist of the old church: at Washford are the remains of an ancient monastic institution: the old castles of Loghan, or Mount D'Alton, Corkan, and Miltown, are in existence; adjoining the former is a cave, in which teeth and bones of gigantic size were found in 1780. Scattered over the parish are many raths, some of them very large, and one, in particular, is a fine specimen of this species of fortification, having circumvallations and other works. At Mount D'Alton were born Gens. James D'Alton and Richard, Count D'Alton, Knight of the military order of Maria Theresa, and Governor of the Austrian Netherlands in the reign of the Emperor Joseph II. of Germany, to whom he was Chamberlain and a Privy Counsellor; he died at Treves in 1790, on his route from Brussels to Vienna.

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