WESTMEATH ANTIQUITIES

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

Many vestiges of very remote antiquity may be traced in the neighbourhood of Ballintubber, and others of a similar description are observable in Moycashel. Of the numerous monastic institutions scattered through the county, those of Clonfad, Kilconiry, Drumcree, Forgney, Killuken, Leckin, Lynn, and Rathugh still remain, either wholly or in part, as places of worship either of Protestants or Roman Catholics. The ruins of those of Farranemanagh, Fore, Kilbeggan, Kilmocahill, and Multifarnham are still in existence: those of Tristernagh and of the houses of the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians of Mullingar are utterly destroyed; Athlone had a house of Conventual Franciscans: the existence of several others is now ascertained only by the names of the places in which they flourished. The monastery of Clonmacnois, with the surrounding territory, was formerly within the county of Westmeath, but was transferred to the King's county in 1638, in which it still continues to be included.

The ruins of ancient castles, several of which were erected by Hugh de Lacy, are numerous: the remains of Kilbixy castle, his chief residence, though now obliterated, were extensive in the year 1680. Those of Ardnorcher, or Horseleap, another of de Lacy's castles, and the place where he met with a violent death from the hands of one of his own dependents, are still visible. Rath wire, Sonnagh, and Killare were also built by de Lacy: the second of these stands on the verge of a small but beautiful lake; the third afterwards fell into the hands of the Mac Geoghegans, the mansion of which family was at Castle Geoghegan, and some remains of it are still visible.

Other remarkable castles were Delvin, the seat of the Nugents; Leney, belonging to the Gaynors; Empor, to the Daltons; Killaniny and Ardnagrath, to the Dillons; Bracca, near Ardnorcher, to the Handys, who have a modern mansion in its neighbourhood; and Clare Castle, or Mullaghcloe, the head-quarters of Generals de Ginkell and Douglas when preparing for the siege of Ballymore. Several castles of the Mac Geoghegans were in the neighbourhood of Kilbeggan. The modern mansions of the nobility and gentry are noticed under the heads of their respective parishes.

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