LEIGHLIN (OLD), a parish, the seat of a diocese, and formerly a parliamentary borough, in the barony of IDRONE WEST, county of CARLOW, and province of LEINSTER, 1 ¼ mile (S. S. W.) from Leighlin-Bridge, on the road to Castlecomer; containing 3530 inhabitants. This place has from a remote period been distinguished for its religious establishments, of which the earliest was a priory for Canons Regular, founded by St. Gobban about the close of the 6th or commencement of the 7th century.

A grand synod was held here in 630 to deliberate on the proper time for celebrating the festival of Easter, which was attended by St. Laserian, who had been consecrated bishop by Pope Honorius and sent as legate from the holy see. In 632, St. Gobban built a cell for himself and brethren at another place, and relinquished the abbey to St. Laserian, who made it the head of an episcopal see, over which he presided till his death in 638; and so greatly did the monastery flourish that, during the prelacy of St. Laserian, there were at one time not less than 1500 monks in the establishment. The priory was plundered in 916, 978, and 982, and in 1060 it was totally destroyed by fire. Among its subsequent benefactors was Burchard, son of Gurmoud, a Norwegian, who either founded or endowed the priory of St. Stephen, which being situated in a depopulated and wasted country, had frequently afforded refuge and assistance to the English, in acknowledgment of which Edward III. granted to the prior a concordatum in 1372. This priory was dissolved by Pope Eugene IV., in 1432, and its possessions annexed to the deanery of Leighlin. The town appears to have derived all its importance and all its privileges from the see.

Bishop Harlewin, who governed it from 1201 till 1216, granted the inhabitants their burgage-houses, with all franchises enjoyed by Bristol, at a yearly rent of 12d. out of every burgage, which grant was confirmed by his successor; and in 1310, Edward II. granted to Ade Le Bretown certain customs to build a tower for the defence of the town, and to maintain three men-at-arms and two hobblers, to protect the inhabitants from the attacks of the native Irish. During the prelacy of Richard Rocomb, who succeeded in 1399, there were 86 burgesses in the town, but it was so frequently plundered and desolated by successive hostilities, that it was reduced to an insignificant village. The inhabitants received a charter of incorporation from James II., in the 4th of his reign, the preamble of which recites that the town had been a free borough, and returned two members to the Irish parliament, which it continued to do till the Union, when it was disfranchised, and the £15,000 awarded as compensation was paid to the late Board of First Fruits, to be applied in promoting the residence of the clergy. Since the Union the corporation has become extinct; there are only 20 thatched houses and about 100 inhabitants in the village.

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