RATHDOWNEY

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

RATHDOWNEY, a post-town and parish, in the barony of UPPER OSSORY, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 15 miles (S. W.) from Maryborough, and 56 ¼ (S. W.) from Dublin, on the road to Templemore; containing 6654 inhabitants, of which number, 1214 are in the town. This town, in 1831, contained 211 houses, which are in general indifferently built and of neglected appearance; the streets are ill paved, and the place has few indications of prosperity. There are an extensive brewery and a boulting-mill. Fairs are held on Jan. 27th, April 1st, May 6th, July 10th, Sept. 12th, Nov. 1st, and Dec. 15th; and a patent was obtained in the reign of George III. for a weekly market and three additional fairs, none of which are held: fairs are held at Errill on Jan. 14th and March 11th. Petty sessions are held in the town every Saturday, and a constabulary police force is stationed at Errill and Lavally.

The parish comprises 13,406 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the land, of which about one-third is in pasture, and the remainder under tillage, is of very excellent quality, and the system of agriculture improved; there is but very little bog and no waste land; limestone abounds and is quarried for building and burning.

The principal seats are Harristown, the residence of M. H. Drought, Esq.; Beckfield, of T. Roe, Esq.; Johnstown Glebe, of the Rev. M. Monck; and Lackland, of the Rev. R. Young: and in the vicinity of town, though not within the parish, are Ballybrophy, the residence of S. White, Esq.; Old Park, of Robert White, Esq.; Middlemount, of Robert Roe, Esq.; Grantstown, of — Vicars, Esq.; Kilbredy, of James Drought, Esq.; Belmont, of J. Roe, Esq.; Levally, of R. Fitzgerald, Esq.; Knockfin, of Captain Mosse; and Erkendale, of W. Owen, Esq.

The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Ossory, episcopally united, in 1816, to the rectories of Glashare and Kildellig, and in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is appropriate to the dean and chapter of the cathedral of Kilkenny.

The tithes amount to £750, of which £500 is payable to the dean and chapter and the remainder to the vicar: the glebe-house, towards which the late Board of First Fruits granted a gift of £100 and a loan of £1200, in 1814, and on which the present rector laid out £400 more, making the whole cost £1700, is a handsome residence; and the glebe comprises 267 acres: the gross income of the benefice is £950. The church, towards the erection of which the late Board of First Fruits granted a loan of £1000, in 1815, is a handsome edifice in the later English style, with a well proportioned spire.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is in the union or district of Grogan, comprising this and the parishes of Donamore, Skeirke, Coolkerry, and Rathsaran, and containing three chapels, situated at Rathdowney (a spacious plain building,) Grogan and Killismista. There is also a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. There is a parochial school at Rathdowney, and a school at Castle-Fleming; the latter is supported by R. H. Stubber, Esq., and divine service is performed in the school-house every Sunday evening during the summer months: there are national schools for both sexes at Rathdowney and Errill; about 200 children receive instruction in all these schools. There are also six private schools, in which are about 450 children, a Sunday school, and two dispensaries, one in the town and the other at Errill. At Ballagh, Clonbyrne, and Castle-Fleming are the ruins of ancient castles; at Cloneve, near Harristown, are trifling remains of an old church and burial-place; and at Errill, those of a church and monastery, and the remains of a very ancient cross. Ledwich, the antiquarian, who was for many years curate of this parish, published an account of the antiquities of it and of the adjoining parish of Aghaboe.

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