RATHMICHAEL

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

RATHMICHAEL, a parish, partly in the barony of UPPERCROSS, and partly in that of HALF-RATHDOWN, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER, 2 miles (N. W.) from Bray, on the road to Dublin; containing 1297 inhabitants. This place appears to have attained a considerable degree of importance at a very early period; the vicars choral of St. Patrick's, Dublin, claimed as their ancient inheritance the town of Shanganagh, in this parish; and the whole of that extensive townland belonged, from the reign of Edward I., to the family of Walsh, of Old Connaught, till the early part of the last century, when it was purchased by Lewis Roberts, Esq. It has since that time been divided into portions and let on leases in perpetuity by the heirs of that family, who hold the fee simple of the estate; the largest portion of the land, consisting of more than 100 plantation acres, has been for 40 years in the occupation of General Sir George Cockburn, K. C.

The parish, which is bounded on the east by the sea, comprises 2599 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £4137 per annum. The soil is good and the system of agriculture improved; the only waste land is mountain, which affords rough pasturage, and there are about 8 acres of common. Granite is found in several places, and on the mountain of Shankill, near which there are mines of lead worked by the Mining Company of Ireland. Shanganagh, the seat of Sir G. Cockburn, is a spacious and handsome castellated mansion, almost wholly built by its proprietor: the interior contains many elegant apartments, an extensive and well-selected library, a fine collection of paintings by the best masters, a variety of marbles, antique casts, and bronzes, collected by Sir George while in Italy, and some fine specimens of Egyptian granite, mosaic work, and other articles of vertu. In front of the house is a handsome column of Grecian marble with a rich Corinthian antique capital, erected by the proprietor in commemoration of the passing of the Reform Bill. The views from the house are very rich and finely diversified, embracing woods, mountain, and sea; and the grounds are ornamented with a variety of statuary tastefully disposed.

There are several other seats in the parish, which, from their elevated situation and proximity to the sea, command fine prospects. The principal are Shanganagh House, the residence of W. Hopper, Esq.; Clairmont, of J. Clarke, Esq.; Newbrighton, of W. Graves, Esq.; Newbrighton, of — Dillon, Esq.; Air Hill, of W. Hall, Esq.; Chantilly, of R. Tilly, Esq.; Shankill House, of J. V. Fowler, Esq.; Sylvan Mount, of G. Hillas, Esq.; Skerrington, of J. Harvey, Esq.; Ellerslie, of W. Bigger, Esq.; Ballybride House, of the Hon. R. Plunkett; Springfield, of Mrs. Morgan; Lordello, of P. Morgan, Esq.; Abington, of — Morigan, Esq.; Shanganagh, of — Carter, Esq.; Johnstown, of — Smith, Esq.; Cherrywood, of the Rev. J. Hunt; Emerald cottage, of Captain J. S. Hore, R. N.; Shankill, of R. Maddock, Esq.; and Clifton Cottage, of Mrs. Morgan.

The eastern side of the Scalp, which abounds with features of the rudest magnificence, is within the parish. The lead-works of the Mining Company afford employment to many persons. The ore is chiefly galena, but carbonate is found in small portions; in the immediate vicinity of the mines is a tower for making shot, and at Ballycorus are furnaces for smelting the ore not only of these but also of other mines in the neighbouring districts belonging to the same company; there are also works for rolling the lead and making pipes of all sizes. A patent exists for holding fairs near the present ruins of the ancient church, round which was formerly a considerable village, but none are now held.

The parish was separated from the union of Bray in 1826.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Dublin, constituting the prebend of Rathmichael in the cathedral of St. Patrick: the tithes amount to £250. The glebe-house is an inferior residence, built by Dr. John Lyon, the friend and cotemporary of Dean Swift; and there are a few acres of glebe. The church is in ruins; the Protestant parishioners attend the church of Bray.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Kingstown, and Cabinteely, and part of that of Sandyford and Glancullen. The parochial school, at Laughlinstown, in which are about 40 children, is supported by subscription; and there is a private school, in which are about 60 children. An estate was bequeathed by F. Adair, Esq., to the parish of Powerscourt and the unions of Delgany and Bray, of the proceeds of which this parish receives a portion.

Near the ruins of the ancient church, which occupy an elevated site commanding a view of the sea and the adjoining country, are the remains of an ancient round tower, consisting of the foundation and about two feet of the wall above ground: it has a singular under-ground gallery, mostly choked up, which is said to be extensive. The remains of a line of castles and intrenchments may be traced, commencing on the lands of Shanganagh, near Laughlinstown, and continued over the mountain beyond Rathmichael to Ballyman; in such as yet exist, the vaults appear to have been centred with wicker-work.

There are several Druidical relics in the neighbourhood; also the ruins of Puck's castle and that of Shankill, said to have been besieged by Cromwell, and near which have been frequently found human skeletons, and coins of the reigns of Charles I. and James I. In a field belonging to Mr. Hopper was discovered, in ploughing, a stone coffin containing human bones. The glebe-house was for several years the favourite retreat of Dr. Leland, author of the History of Ireland, who was rector of the union of Bray, and who planted the shrubbery which now surrounds it.

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