RATOATH

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

RATOATH, a parish (formerly a parliamentary borough), in the barony of RATOATH, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 3 miles (N. W.) from Ashbourne, and 11 ½ (N. W.) from Dublin; containing 1779 inhabitants, of which number, 552 are in the village. This place, anciently called Rathtotoath, is supposed to have derived that name from a conspicuous mount near the church, on which Malachy, the first monarch of all Ireland, is said to have held a convention of the states. In the reign of Henry VI. it was classed among the borough towns of Meath, and had attained such importance as to give its name to the hundred in which it is situated; it had also an abbey, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, and sent members to the Irish parliament, which it continued to do till the Union, when the borough was disfranchised. The village contains 96 houses, but retains nothing of its former importance. The manufacture of sacking and the weaving of linen are carried on to a small extent; and fairs, chiefly for cattle and pigs, are held on April 18th, June 1st, and Nov. 20th, for which, though authorised by patent, no toll has been lately demanded. A constabulary police force is stationed here, and a manorial court was formerly held, but within the last few years has been discontinued.

The parish comprises 8207 ¾ statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the land is generally of good quality and in a state of profitable cultivation; rather more than half is under tillage, producing favourable crops; the remainder, with the exception of a moderate portion of bog, is in meadow and pasture. Stone of good quality is quarried for building and for repairing the roads.

The principal seats are the Manor House, that of J. I. Corballis, Esq., pleasantly situated in the town; and Lagore, of M. Thunder, Esq., a handsome residence in a richly wooded demesne, abounding with stately timber.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Meath; the rectory is partly impropriate in T. L. Norman and J. I. Corballis, Esqrs., and the vicar of Athlone; and partly united to the vicarage, which by act of council in 1682, was united to the rectories and vicarages of Greenogue, Killeglan, Creekstown, and Donaghmore, and to the chapelry of Cookstown, together forming the union of Ratoath, in the alternate patronage of the Crown and the family of Norman.

The tithes amount to £515, of which £55 is payable to T. L. Norman, Esq., £62. 10. to J. I. Corballis, Esq., £62. 10. to the vicar of Athlone, and the remainder to the vicar of Ratoath: the glebe-house, situated close to the church, was built in 1813, at an expense of £2200, of which £100 was a gift and £900 a loan from the late Board of First Fruits, and the remainder was defrayed by the then incumbent; the glebe comprises 6 ½ acres, valued at £19. 10. per ann.: the gross income of the whole benefice amounts to £788. 7. 3. per annum. The church, towards the erection of which the late Board of First Fruits granted a loan of £800, in 1817, is a neat edifice in good repair.

In the R. C. divisions this parish is the head of a union, comprising also the parishes of Cookstown, Killeglan, and Rathbeggan; there are chapels at Ratoath and Killeglan. About 240 children are taught in a parochial and a national school, of which the former is aided by a donation of £10 per ann. from the incumbent; there is also a dispensary. The rath from which the parish takes its name has been planted; several old coins have been found near it. There are no remains either of the abbey of St. Mary Magdalene, or of a chantry for three priests, which formerly existed here.

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