MIDLETON, an incorporated market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of IMOKILLY, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 13 miles (E.) from Cork, and 137 ½ (S. W.) from Dublin; containing 6599 inhabitants, of which number, 2034 are in the town. This place, called anciently Chore Abbey and Castrum Chor, derived both its origin and ancient name from the foundation of a Cistercian monastery, in 1182, by Barry Fitzgerald, who placed in it monks from the abbey of Nenay or Magio, in the county of Limerick. The abbey, from its situation near a ford, was called the "abbey of St. Mary de Chore ;" and the village which afterwards arose near it was for the same reason called Bally-na-Chore, (now Ballinacurra), or "the town on the ford," which, previously to the incorporation of the town, was also the name of the parish.

The present town, deriving its name from its situation on the road from Youghal to Cork, at a nearly equal distance from each place, is pleasantly situated at the head of the vale of Imokilly, in a healthy and fertile country, screened by lofty hills and embellished with handsome seats; and on an inlet of the north-eastern angle of Cork harbour, which is navigable for vessels of 300 tons' burden to Ballinacurra: it consists principally of one main street, from the centre of which another branches off to the east, and contains 247 houses, most of which are uniformly built and of handsome appearance. The inhabitants are amply supplied with excellent water from springs; and there are two rivers, the Avannachora, or Midleton river, which bounds the town on the west and falls into the inlet about a mile below it; and the Rocks-borough river, which skirts its southern part and flows into the former. Both rivers abound with salmon and trout, and over each is a handsome stone bridge.

Great improvements have been made since the year 1824, and others are in progress; several new buildings have been erected in the town and along its approaches, and a new line of road has been opened, forming a handsome western entrance. There are two news-rooms; and races are held in February. In addition to the traffic which this place derives from its situation on a great public thoroughfare, it possesses, by means of its creek from Cork harbour, which extends to the rear of the town, all the advantages of a sea-port. At Bailick, about a quarter of a mile below the town, are very commodious quays, accessible to vessels of 300 tons' burden, which may lie alongside and load and unload in security; also some extensive store-houses, where coal, timber, iron, slate, and other heavy goods are landed and warehoused: and within a mile of the town is the convenient port of Ballinacurra. At both these places are very spacious stores for grain, and large quantities of wheat and oats are annually shipped for Liverpool and Bristol.

The port of Ballinacurra is a member of that of Cork, and a deputy-water-bailiff is placed there to collect the dues claimed by the Harbour Board, and the Foundling hospital of that city. An attempt to introduce the woollen manufacture was made some years since by Marcus Lynch, Esq., a merchant of Cork, who erected spacious buildings, which he furnished with requisite machinery for conducting it on a very extensive scale. The enterprise, however, was not attended with success, and the buildings and site were purchased by government for £20,000 and converted into a military station, chiefly for regiments preparing for embarkation. On the breaking up of this latter establishment, the premises became the property of Lord Midleton, from whom they were purchased, in 1825, by Messrs. Murphy and Co., who converted them into a very extensive distillery and malting establishment, at present producing 400,000 gallons of whiskey annually, and affording employment to 180 persons.

On the Midleton river are the distillery and malt-works of Messrs. Hackett, erected in 1824, producing annually 200,000 gallons of whiskey, and employing 60 persons. On the same river are the boulting-mills of Messrs. Allin, which have been much enlarged, and are now, in addition to their water-power, worked by a steam-engine, erected in 1835; they manufacture about 3000 bags of flour annually. There are also two very large breweries and two extensive malting establishments. The produce of these several works is exclusively for home consumption, and the amount of duty paid to Government by their proprietors collectively exceeds £100,000 per annum. At Bailick are the extensive lime-works of G. Swayne, Esq.; and within two miles of the town are Milltown mills, lately erected by Messrs.

Swayne and Leech, at an expense of £3000, and manufacturing annually 12,000 barrels of fine" flour. The market is on Saturday, but, from its proximity to the markets of Cork and Youghal, is confined chiefly to the sale of butchers' meat, poultry, dairy produce, and potatoes. The chartered fairs are on May 14th, July 5th, Oct. 10th, and Nov. 22nd; and two fairs recently established are held on Feb. 14th and Sept. 10th. The market-house is a handsome building, surmounted by a turret, in which is the town clock, and crowned with a cupola; it was erected in 1789, and is the property of Viscount Midleton, who is lord of the manor; the lower part contains the shambles, weigh-house, and accommodations for the market; and the upper part contains an elegant assembly-room, and council-chambers for the use of the corporation; but they are now used principally as news-rooms. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in the town.

The town received a charter of incorporation from Charles II., in the 22nd of his reign, dated June 10th, 1670, which granted to Sir John Brodrick, Knt., that his estate should be constituted the manor of Midleton, with a seneschal, a court baron, and a court of record with jurisdiction within the manor to the amount of £200; and that the town, with the castle and lands of Castle-Redmond and Corabbey, part of the said manor, should be a free borough and corporation, under the designation of the "borough and town of Midleton." By this charter the corporation consists of a sovereign, two bailiffs, twelve free burgesses, and an indefinite number of freemen, assisted by a recorder, town-clerk, and other officers.

The sovereign, who is a justice of the peace within the borough, and the two bailiffs, are annually chosen from the burgesses by a majority of that body, by whom also freemen are admitted by favour only. The recorder, who is also town-clerk and seneschal of the manor, is appointed by the lord of the manor. The limits of the borough comprise an area of 100 acres encircling the town. Under the charter the corporation continued to return two members to the Irish parliament till the Union; when the borough was disfranchised. The manorial court of record, formerly held by the seneschal every three weeks, for the recovery of debts not exceeding £200 late currency, has not been held since 1832. The general quarter sessions for the East Riding of the county are held here in June and November. The court-house is a neat and commodious edifice of hewn limestone, situated at the western entrance into the town; and adjoining it is a small but well-arranged bridewell.

The parish, which is also called Castra-na-chore, comprises 5320 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act ; the soil, though in some parts light, is fertile, and the system of agriculture greatly improved; there is neither waste land nor bog. The substratum is generally limestone, which is quarried for agricultural and building purposes; and the surrounding scenery is pleasingly diversified, and in many points highly picturesque.

The principal seats are Cahirmore, the property of Lord Midleton, at present occupied by his lordship's agent, T. Poole, Esq.; Bally-Edmond, the residence of R. Courtenay, Esq.; Broomfield House, of D. Humphreys, Esq.; Killeagh Farm, of W. Welland, Esq.; Charleston, of the Rev. R. Deane Freeman; Ballinacurra Lodge, of T. H. Rumley, Esq.; and Lake View, of S. Fleming, Esq.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Cloyne, and in the patronage of the Bishop; the tithes amount to £897. 16. 7. The glebe-house, a large and handsome residence, is pleasantly situated; and the glebe comprises 15 acres of good land. The church, erected in 1823 at an expense of £3000, a loan from the late Board of First Fruits, is a handsome structure, in the later English style, with an embattled tower crowned with pinnacles, and surmounted by a light and elegant spire, erected after a design and under the immediate superintendence of Messrs. Pain: it was recently repaired by aid of a grant of £202 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In the churchyard is a mausoleum of grey marble, in the Grecian style, having in front a pediment resting on two lofty pillars, between which is a tablet of white marble, inscribed to Charles Brodrick, D.D., Archbishop of Cashel, and formerly rector of the parish, fourth son of George, Viscount Midleton; and to his wife, the Hon. Lady Brodrick, second daughter of R. Woodward, D.D., Bishop of Cloyne, by their seven surviving children.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parishes of Ballyspillane, Inchynebacky, Mogeeshy, and Ballyouteragh; the chapel, near the eastern extremity of the town, is a spacious edifice, and there is also a chapel at Ballintoretis. A convent of nuns of the order of the Presentation has been recently completed; it is a handsome building on the road to Ballinacurra, and consists of a centre and two wings, one of which forms the domestic chapel, and the other a school-room for girls, who are gratuitously taught by the ladies of the convent. This is one of the institutions of that order, for the erection of which Miss Gould, a sister in the Presentation convent of Doneraile, bequeathed £10,000. A college was founded here, in 1709, by Lady Elizabeth Villiers, afterwards Countess of Orkney, who endowed it with lands in the baronies of Kinnalea, Kerrycurrihy, and Carbery, in this county, vested in trustees, with power to appoint the master.

These estates were let by the trustees in perpetuity at a reserved rent of £200 per ann., of which £100 is paid as a salary to the master; in this school have been educated several eminent men, among whom was the Rt. Hon. John Philpot Curran; it is now a seminary of very high character. Nearly 500 children are taught in four public schools, of which the parochial male and female schools are supported by Lord Midleton, who provided both school-rooms, and a residence each for the master and mistress, and by the rector. There are a dispensary and a fever hospital, the latter a handsome building. At Bailick are some remains of Castle Redmond, built by Redmond Fitzgerald, or Fitz-Edmund in the reign of Henry VIII., and in which the last R. C. Bishop of Cloyne, prior to the Reformation, was born.

There are at Cahirmore some remains of the castle built, in 1579, by R. Fitzgerald, or Barry, from which the seneschal of Imokilly was driven out by Captain Raleigh, in 1580, and obliged to take refuge in Chore abbey, which was formerly in the churchyard of Midleton, whence he was also compelled to retreat by the same assailant. The abbey, which was a stately edifice of great strength, was built by the Knights Templars in 1298, and the last remains of it were taken down to afford a site for the present church. At Coppingerstown are the ruins of a castle of the Fitzgeralds; on the south side of the town are some very slight remains of an hospital, founded by Edward I. at Ballinacurra are the ruins of the old parish church, and at Ballyannan are the remains of the mansion built by the first Lord Midleton.

A large belt and the horns of a moose deer were found in a bog on Lord Midleton's estate; and on Killeagh Farm were found numerous silver coins of the reign of Elizabeth. Midleton gives the title of Viscount to the family of Brodrick.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »