KILRUSH, a sea-port, market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of MOYARTA, county of CLARE, and province of MUNSTER, 21 miles (S. W.) from Ennis, and 130 ¼ (S. W.) from Dublin; containing 9732 inhabitants, of which number, 3996 are in the town. This town is pleasantly situated on the northern shore of the estuary of the Shannon, about 15 miles from its mouth, and on the creek to which it gives name, and to the convenience of which for export trade it owes its present importance. It is neatly built, and consists of a market-square insersected from east to west by a spacious street, from which smaller streets branch off; the total number of houses, in 1831, was 712, since which time several others have been added. The principal streets are well paved and flagged; and the roads in the vicinity have been greatly improved within the last few years. The manufactures of the town and neighbourhood, chiefly for home consumption, are friezes, flannels, stockings, strong sheetings, and a serviceable kind of narrow linen, called bandle cloth. There are works for refining rock salt for domestic use, a tanyard, a soap manufactory, and a manufactory for nails.

The chief trade is in corn, butter, cattle, pigs, and agricultural produce; and a considerable number of hides are sold in the market. About 20 small hookers belonging to the port are engaged in fishing and dredging for oysters off the coast, in which about 200 persons are employed. The port is free of dues, except a small charge for keeping the pier in repair. The pier, which is of very solid construction, is protected by a sea wall of great strength, and is very commodious both for commercial and agricultural uses; it affords great facility for landing passengers from the steam-vessels which regularly ply between this place and Limerick. During the bathing season at Kilkee these vessels ply daily, and at other times only on alternate days; public cars are always in attendance at the pier to convey passengers to Kilkee. The pier extends from the shore towards Hog island in the Shannon, and was erected partly at the expense of the Board of Customs, and subsequently extended 168 feet by the late Board of Fisheries and Mr. Vandeleur, at an expense of £1800.

The custom-house, a neat modern building near the quay, erected in 1806, is under the control of the port collector of Limerick. The harbour is about 9 miles below Tarbert; it is frequented by vessels that trade in grain and other commodities: its peculiar advantage arises from its depth of water, which admits the entrance of vessels of the largest size. Ships of war and Indiamen anchor in the roadstead, and there is a tide harbour with piers and quays; also a patent slip for repairs. Hence it is a good asylum harbour for vessels in distress; its proximity to the mouth of the Shannon renders it easy of access and eligible for vessels to put to sea at any time of the tide; and therefore it must be considered the best position for an American packet station. About one mile south from the shore, and between the island of Inniscattery and the mainland, is Hog island, comprising about 20 acres of land, and containing only one family.

A coast-guard station, forming part of the district of Miltown-Malbay is established at Kilrush, and a revenue cutter is stationed off the shore. Branches of the National and Agricultural banks have been opened in the town. The market is on Saturday, and by patent may be held daily; the fairs are on May 10th, and Oct. 12th, and there is also a fair at Ballyket on July 4th. The market-house, a commodious and handsome building in the centre of the market-square, was erected at the expense of the late Mr. Vandeleur, to whom the town owes much of its prosperity; there are also some meat shambles and a public slaughter-house. Quarter sessions are held here at Easter and Michaelmas; petty sessions are held every Tuesday; and a court for the manor of Kilrush is held on the first Monday in every month by the seneschal of Crofton Moore Vandeleur, Esq., lord of the manor. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in the town. The court-house, a neat and commodious building, was erected in 1831, on a site given by Mr. Vandeleur; and a small bridewell was built in 1825, and is well adapted to the classification of prisoners.

The parish comprises 4310 statute acres, as assessed to the county rate, exclusively of a large extent of bog; the system of agriculture has latterly been much improved, and tillage very considerably extended; within the last seven years the quantity of wheat grown has increased tenfold. This improvement is chiefly to be attributed to the facility of communication with Limerick, afforded by the steam navigation company; the quantity of agricultural produce which passed through the market, in 1835, including pigs, amounted in value to £50,000. Great quantities of turf are cut and sent chiefly from Poolanishary harbour, on the western shore of the parish, to Limerick and its neighbourhood, by boats manned by three persons, and each boat is calculated to earn about £200 annually in this trade. At Knockeragh is an excellent quarry of flags, the smaller of which are used for roofing; and flags of superior quality are also quarried at Moneypoint, on the shore of the Shannon, and sent to Cork, Tralee, and other places; good grit-stones, from four to eight feet in length, and from two to four feet wide, are procured at Crag and Tullagower, with sand of a good quality for building. There are also quarries of good building stone and slate; and in several parts of the parish are indications of lead and copper, but no mine of either has been yet explored.

The principal seats are Kilrush House, the residence of Crofton Moore Vandeleur, Esq., a handsome and spacious mansion immediately adjoining the town, and commanding an extensive view of the Shannon, and the Clare and Kerry shores; Mount Pleasant, of Captain J. L. Cox; Cappa Lodge, of Randal Borough, Esq.; and Oaklands, of W. Henn, Esq. The parish is in the diocese of Killaloe; the rectory is partly impropriate in John Scott, Esq., but chiefly appropriate to the prebend of Inniscattery in the cathedral of Killaloe; the vicarage also forms part of the corps of the same prebend, to which were episcopally united, in 1777, the vicarages of Kilfieragh, Kilballyhone, and Moyarta, together constituting the union of Kilrush, in the gift of the Bishop.

The tithes amount to £429. 4. 7 ½. of which £36. 18. 5 ½. is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the prebendary; and the vicarial tithes of the three other parishes amount to £365. 12. 9 ¾. The glebe-house, built by a gift of £100 and a loan of £600 from the same Board, is a handsome residence near the church; the glebe comprises about 3 acres. The church, a large edifice with an embattled tower crowned with pinnacles, towards the erection of which the late Board of First Fruits granted a loan of £1500, was built in 1813, near the site of the ancient church, of which the ruins form an interesting and picturesque appendage: it contains a well-executed mural tablet to the late Mr. Vandeleur, and has been lately repaired by a grant of £121 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the. parish of Killeymur: the parochial chapel is a spacious building, with a well-executed altar-piece; there is also a chapel at Knockeragh, erected in 1833. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists in the town, recently erected on ground presented by Mr. Vandeleur. About 280 children are taught in three public schools, of which one is supported by the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, who allow the master £30 per annum; the parochial school is chiefly supported by the incumbent, and there is a large school under the superintendence of the R. C. clergyman, who allows the master £12 per ann.: the two former are held in the upper part of the market-house, but Mr. Vandeleur has it in contemplation to build a school-house for their use. There are also four private schools, in which are about 360 children; and a school-house has been lately built by subscription at Knockeragh.

About two miles from the town, on the road to Miltown, and also near the Ennis road, are chalybeate springs, both considered efficacious in the cure of bilious diseases. At Mullagha are the ruins of an ancient chapel, supposed to have been built by St. Senan, who is said to have been a native of that place; attached to it is a burial-ground still in use, and near it a holy well. There are several ancient forts or raths in the parish.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »