NENAGH, a market and post-town, and a parish, partly in the barony of UPPER ORMOND, but chiefly in that of LOWER ORMOND, county of TIPPERARY, and province of MUNSTER, 19 miles (N. E.) from Limerick, and 75 (S. W.) from Dublin, on the mail road between these cities; containing 9159 inhabitants, of which number, 8446 are in the town, which is the largest (except one), as to population, that does not return a member to parliament. It was one of the ancient manors of the Butlers, by whom the old castle now in ruins is supposed to have been founded. In 1200, an hospital was founded here for Augustinian canons, who were to admit into it the sick and infirm: it was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, whence it was usually called Teacheon, Tyone, or St. John's house, and was endowed by Theobald Walter, the first Butler of Ireland, with lands for the maintenance of thirteen beds for strangers: after the dissolution of religious houses, the building and its possessions were granted by Elizabeth, in the fifth year of her reign, to Oliver Grace.

In the reign of Henry III., a member of the Butler or of the Kennedy family founded a Franciscan friary in the town, which was one of the richest foundations belonging to that order in the kingdom: it was finally leased by Elizabeth to Robert Collum for a term of years. In 1550, O'Carroll burned both the town and the friary, but the garrison saved the castle. In 1641, it was taken by the Irish under Owen Roe O'Nial, from whom it was afterwards wrested by Lord Inchiquin. Ireton, in his march against Limerick in 1651, invested the town and compelled the garrison to surrender at discretion. In the war of 1688, it fell into the hands of Anthony Carroll, an active leader under Sarsfield, who made it the centre of his operations, until compelled to abandon it on the approach of a force under General Leveson, when he burned the town in his retreat.

The town stands on a stream to which it gives name, that descends from the Keeper mountain to Lough Derg. It consists of four streets meeting in the centre. The market for corn and cattle, which is well attended, is held on Thursday: fairs are held under a grant by Henry VIII. to the Butler family, on April 24th, May 29th, July 4th, Sept. 4th, Oct. 10th, and Nov. 1st. The first fair held here was called Eanaugh Airoon, that is "a Fair in Ormond." General sessions are held twice a year, and petty sessions weekly: there is a courthouse for the meetings of the magistrates; also an old bridewell, consisting of 3 day-rooms, 9 cells and 2 yards. Application is about to be made to procure an act of parliament to make Nenagh an assize town. It is the residence of a stipendiary magistrate, and a chief constabulary police station. A seneschal's court for the manor was formerly held here. A fever hospital and dispensary are maintained in the usual manner: three physicians attend the former in monthly rotation, at a salary of £25 each. There is a small library of works of a religious and charitable tendency. An infantry barrack has been built on an eminence at the east end of the town, on the principle of a field fortification, with accommodations for a field-officer, 12 commissioned officers, 208 non-commissioned officers and privates, and 4 horses, with hospital accommodation for 21 patients and a magazine.

The ruins of the old castle, commonly called "Nenagh Round," on one side of Castle-street, consist of a lofty and massive circular donjon, or keep, with a yard attached, surrounded by high walls, which were originally flanked by four circular towers, and entered by a gate with a portcullis: the building appears to be of the age of the first Anglo-Norman proprietor. A brewery is carried on in the town; and at Tyone, in its immediate vicinity, is a flour-mill, from which large quantities of flour are sent to Dromineer, the nearest steamboat station on the Shannon, about five miles distant. There is also a small stuff manufactory. The town is supplied with water from wells, and is neither paved nor lighted. Near it, on the Dublin road, is a spring of excellent water, with a covering of masonry, on which are inscribed these words: "Erected by voluntary contribution, to commemorate the unparalleled benevolence of the English nation to the poor of Ireland at a season of extreme distress. A.D. 1822." The fee of the land in and about the town, amounting to 500 acres, is vested in the Holmes family.

The town is in a populous and well-cultivated district, in which are a considerable number of resident gentry. The seats in its immediate vicinity are Richmond, the residence of R. Wells Gason, Esq.; Salisboro', of T. Poe, Esq.; Riverston, of John Bennett, Esq.; Smithfield, of Captain Boucheir; Wellington, of W. Smithwick, Esq.; and Brook Watson, of F. Watson, Esq.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Killaloe, united by act of council, Feb. 16th, 1798, to the rectory and vicarage of Knigh, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £350, and the gross tithes of the benefice are £636. 3. 1. The glebe-house was erected by a loan of £1200 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1812; there are two glebes in the union, together containing 18a. 3r. The church, which is in the town, is a plain structure, built by a loan of £1300 from the same Board, in 1809; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £101 for its repair.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising this parish and that of Lisbunny; it contains one chapel, situated in the town, where is also a meeting-house for Wesleyan Methodists, and another for Independents. There are a parochial free school, a school under the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, and one under the Board of National Education, in which are about 290 boys and 150 girls. There are also six private schools, in which are about 170 boys and 80 girls.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »