KILMAINHAM, a suburban village, of the city of Dublin, in the parish of ST. JAMES, barony of NEWCASTLE, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER; the population is returned with the parish. This place, formerly called Kilmaignend, derived that name from a monastery founded on the south side of the city, of which St. Maignend was abbot about the beginning of the 7th century. On or near the site of this monastery was erected the ancient priory of Kilmainham, founded in 1174 for Knights Templars by Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, and dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

The endowments of the priory, which were ample, were confirmed by Henry II., and the founder, after bestowing on it all the lands of Kilmainham, died in 1176 and was interred in Christ-Church, Dublin. Upon the suppression of this order, in 1307, the lands and possessions of the priory were assigned by the Pope to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and confirmed to them by Edward II.; and the priory, which had been previously an hospital for the sick and infirm, became an asylum for guests and strangers, and was held by persons of the highest rank; its priors sat as barons in the House of Lords, and some of them were chancellors and lords-deputies of Ireland.

Prior Keating, in 1482, having seized the castle of Dublin and disposed of the property of the hospital, was removed from his office; but he made his appointed successor prisoner, and compelled him to resign; and having given his warmest support to the imposture of Lambert Simnel, it was enacted that none but a person of English descent should in future be appointed prior.

In 1535, John Rawson, an Englishman, who had been elected prior in conformity to that enactment, surrendered the priory, with all its possessions, into the hands of the King, by whom he was created Viscount Clontarf, with an annual revenue of 500 marks out of the hospital estate. In 1557, Sir Oswald Massingberd was made prior by the authority of Cardinal Pole, the Pope's legate, and was confirmed in the former possessions of the priory by Queen Mary; but on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, he privately withdrew from the kingdom. The buildings of the priory were spacious and of very elegant design; it was frequently the residence of the lords-deputies, and after its dissolution was still regarded as one of the finest buildings in the country.

About the year 1675, Arthur, Earl of Granard, suggested to the Earl of Essex, then Lord-Lieutenant, the foundation of a military establishment for the reception of disabled and superannuated soldiers; and the Duke of Ormonde, by incessant applications to the King for the same purpose, received from Charles II., in 1679, an order for carrying it into effect. For this purpose 64 Irish acres adjacent to the site of the priory, and other lands, then forming part of the Phoenix Park, were granted for the site of this institution. The first stone was laid by the Duke of Ormonde, in 1680, and the whole was completed in three years, after a design by Sir Christopher Wren, and at an expense of £23,559. It is a quadrangular structure, 306 feet long, 288 feet broad, and two stories high, enclosing an area of 210 feet square, laid down in grass and intersected by walks meeting in the centre; the exterior fronts, with the exception of the north or principal front, which is of stone, are of brick rough-cast.

Over the northern entrance, which is of the Corinthian order, is a square tower lighted by arched windows, with a clock turret surmounted by an octagonal spire; and in the centre of the eastern front is a wide archway leading into the quadrangle, which on three sides and part of the fourth is surrounded by a piazza of Doric arches, affording a covered passage to the dining-hall in the centre of the north range. The dining-hall is 100 feet in length and 50 in width; the lower part of the walls is wainscoted with oak and ornamented with muskets, bayonets, and other military weapons fancifully arranged, and the upper part decorated with portraits of most of the sovereigns and other distinguished personages; the ceiling is flat and divided into compartments, and in the central compartment is a large clock dial. On the south side of the hall is a gallery, supported on brackets of carved oak, leading from the apartments of the master of the hospital, at the west end of the hall, to the chapel, which is at the east end.

The chapel is 86 feet long and 40 wide, and has a venerable and imposing appearance; the east window, which formerly belonged to the ancient priory, is embellished with stained glass; the altar is of Irish oak exquisitely carved, and of the Corinthian order; the master's seat is under a canopy in the gallery at the west extremity of the chapel, and on each side of it are pews for the various officers of the hospital; the ceiling is most elaborately ornamented in stucco, and divided into coved compartments filled with elegant and finely executed designs.

The remainder of the north range is occupied by the apartments of the master, who is always the commander of the forces for the time being; and the other parts of the building contain apartments for the inmates, opening on the ground floor into the piazzas, which are neatly flagged, or from the upper story into spacious galleries above. The deputy-master's house occupies a detached situation near the master's garden; and in the north-east part of the grounds is the infirmary, which, with the late additions, contains 48 beds, and cells for 12 lunatics. The present establishment is for 5 captains, an adjutant, and 250 invalid soldiers, selected from the list of out-pensioners in Ireland, amounting to 20,000; they are supplied with residence, clothing, diet, medical attendance, and every necessary comfort and accommodation, similar to those of Chelsea.

The institution is under the direction of a governor, who is generally an officer of high rank, and the management of a master, deputy-master, chaplain, secretary, registrar, pay-master, physician, surgeon, assistant-surgeon, apothecary, reader, providore, chamberlain, butler, and fueler, all of whom (except the physician and surgeon, who live near the infirmary,) have apartments in the house. The expenses of the establishment amount annually to something more than £10,000, and, together with the original cost of the building, were formerly defrayed by a deduction of sixpence in the pound from all military issues from the Irish treasury, till 1796, when, on the surrender to Government of a considerable portion of the estates, it was resolved to issue an annual grant of parliament for its support.

The village is connected with the metropolis on the eastern side by a range of buildings along the great western road, and is situated in a small valley watered by a stream which, a little below it, falls into the Liffey. The Hibernian mills, established in 1812 by Messrs. Willans, for the manufacture of the finest woollen cloths, which trade they have successfully pursued, and having greatly extended their establishment, it affords employment to nearly 500 persons, for whose residence the proprietors have erected suitable dwellings, and also a place of worship of the Independent denomination.

The election of members for the county takes place here; and by an act of council, issued on the 10th of Jan., 1837, under the act of the 6th and 7th of William IV., for extending the jurisdiction and regulating the proceedings of the Civil Bill Court in Ireland, four general sessions of the peace are held annually at Kilmainham and two at Ballymore-Eustace, for one of the two districts into which the county has been divided, consisting of the baronies of Castleknock and Coolock, except the parts of the parishes of Swords, Killossory, and Malahide, which are in Coolock barony; also of the part of Finglas parish in the barony of Nethercross, and the baronies of Newcastle, Uppercross, and Rathdown: for the particulars of the other district, see SWORDS.

The jurisdiction of the manor court, which is also held here, on alternate Mondays, embraces the whole of the barony of Newcastle: debts can be recovered in it to any amount, but the seneschal never takes cognizance of any above £10. The court-house, of recent erection, is a spacious and handsome building; and adjoining it is the county gaol, a well-arranged building enclosed by a lofty wall, including an area 283 feet long and 190 feet wide; the main building, 178 feet long and 102 feet wide, consists of two quadrangles, containing apartments for the keeper, a chapel, infirmary, work-room, common hall, 60 cells for criminals, and 8 for male and 2 for female debtors, with 10 spacious airing-yards, in one of which is a treadmill; the whole admirably adapted to classification, and to the employment and improvement of the prisoners; convicts from the north of Ireland are lodged in this prison previously to transportation.

Adjoining the Royal hospital is an extensive cemetery, anciently the burial-place of the original monastery, subsequently of the Knights Templars and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and still used by the inhabitants of Dublin. In it is an ancient tombstone of one entire block of coarse granite, nine feet above the surface of the ground, supposed to be a memorial of some of the Irish princes that fell in the battle of Clontarf. About 40 years since, having fallen down, it was again erected, on which occasion a number of Danish coins was found, and also a sword of the same period; the sword was placed by the master of the hospital in the hall leading to his apartments, where it still remains.

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