The DIOCESE of KILMORE does not appear to have been of very ancient foundation; the first prelate of whom any mention occurs is Florence O'Conacty, who succeeded in 1231, under the designation of Bishop of Breffny, from the territory of that name, in which the see was situated; and his successors are styled indifferently Breffnienses, and Triburnenses, or bishops of Triburna, from the small village of that name, near which they generally resided. The first who was styled Bishop of Kilmore was Andrew MacBrady, who, in 1454, with the consent of Pope Nicholas V., erected the parish church of St. Felimy, or Fedlimid, of Kilmore, into a cathedral church, in which he placed 13 secular canons; and since that period Kilmore has given name to the see.

From the unsettled state of the district which constituted this diocese, it was not affected by the Reformation so soon as others, and it continued under the control of the bishop appointed by the Pope till 1585, when John Garvey, Dean of Christ-Church, Dublin, was appointed the first Protestant bishop, on whose translation to the see of Armagh, this diocese remained without a bishop for fourteen years, during which period it was annexed to the bishoprick of Down and Connor, till the appointment of Robert Draper, in 1603, who obtained this see, together with that of Ardagh, by letters patent of James I. In 1643 the see of Ardagh was united to that of Kilmore, and continued to be held with it till 1752, when it was annexed in commendam to the Archbishoprick of Tuam, with which it has ever since continued. Among the most eminent prelates were the venerable Bishop Bedell, and Bishops Sheridan and Cumberland. It is one of the ten dioceses which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Armagh; and comprehends part of the county of Meath, in the province of Leinster, part of Leitrim in the province of Connaught, part of Fermanagh and the greater part of Cavan, in the province of Ulster; extending about 74 English miles in length, and varying from 13 to 25 in breadth, and comprising an estimated superficies of 497,250 acres, of which 2200 are in Meath, 184,750 in Leitrim, 29,300 in Fermanagh, and 281,000 in Cavan.

The lands belonging to the see comprise 28,531 acres; and the gross annual value of the bishoprick, on an average of three years ending Dec. 31st, 1831, amounted to £7477. 17. 0 ½. The corporation consists of a bishop, dean, and archdeacon, but there are neither prebendaries nor canons to form a chapter; even the archdeaconry has no corps, but is annexed by the bishop to any parochial living at his discretion; neither is there any economy fund. The consistorial court consists of a vicar-general, surrogate, registrar, deputy-registrar, and proctor; the registrar is keeper of the records, which are all of modern date, the earliest being a registry of wills commencing in 1693. The total number of parishes in the diocese is 39, comprised in 38 benefices, of which 8 are unions of two or more parishes, and 30 single parishes: all are in the patronage of the Bishop, except the deanery, which is in the gift of the Crown; the living of Killesandra, in the patronage of the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin; Armagh, in that of the Earl of Farnham; and Drumgoon, in that of the Hamilton family.

The total number of churches is 45, and there are 5 other places in which divine service is performed; the number of glebe-houses is 31. By the Church Temporalities Act of the 3rd of William IV., the bishoprick of Elphin, on its next avoidance, or on the demise of either of the bishops of Elphin and Kilmore, will be annexed to the diocese of Kilmore, and its temporalities vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The cathedral, which is also the parish church, is a small ancient edifice, having at the entrance a richly sculptured Norman doorway, removed from the abbey of Trinity Island, in Lough Oughter. The Episcopal palace, an elegant mansion in the Grecian style, has been recently rebuilt on a more eligible site near the former structure, which is about to be taken down.

In the R. C. divisions this diocese forms a separate bishoprick, and one of the eight which are suffragan to the archiepiscopal see of Armagh; it comprises 44 parochial benefices, or unions, containing 76 chapels, served by 80 clergymen, of whom, including the bishop, 44 are parish priests, and 36 coadjutors or curates. The parochial benefice of the bishop is Drum-goon, where he resides.

The living of Kilmore is a vicarage, united by royal authority, at an unknown date, to the vicarage of Ballintemple, and the rectory and vicarage of Keadue, together forming the union and the corps of the deanery of Kilmore, in the patronage of the Crown; the rectory is impropriate in the Marquess of Westmeath.

The tithes amount to £350, of which £127. 17. 4. is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the vicar; the aggregate tithes of the benefice are £843. 10. 6. The glebe comprises 270 ½ acres of profitable land, and 26 ¾ of bog; there is also; in the parish of Ballintemple, a glebe of 103 ½ acres, besides which are 436 ½ acres of profitable land and 47 acres of bog belonging to the deanery, though not in any of the parishes within the union.

The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; there are two chapels, situated respectively at Ballinagh and Drumcor, the latter built in 1809, at an expense of £150. About 350 children are taught in six public schools, of which two are parochial, and three are supported by Lord Farnham; there are seven private schools, in which are about 330 children, and three Sunday schools. In the churchyard are interred the remains of the venerable Bishop Bedell, whose death was occasioned or accelerated by the severities he endured while in the hands of the insurgents in 1641. In such esteem was this exemplary prelate held, even by those who had hastened his decease, that they attended his funeral obsequies with the most unbounded demonstrations of respect and sorrow. In the same vault was also interred Bishop Cumberland. On Trinity island are the remans of an abbey; and on a small island in Killekeen lake are the ruins of the castle of Cloughoughter, in which Bishop Bedell was confined.

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