Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Ireland

Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary Ireland comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland.

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    KILFENORA, a decayed market-town and parish, and the seat of a diocese, in the barony of CORCOMROE, county of CLARE, and province of MUNSTER, 4.50 miles (N. N. E.) from Ennistymon, on the road to Corofin ; containing 2752 inhabitants, of which number, 558 are in the town.

    This place, called anciently Fenabore and Cellumabrach, though evidently of great antiquity, has not been much noticed by the earlier historians ; the first mention that occurs of it is in the annals of Ulster, in which it is stated that Murrough O'Brien, in 1055, burnt the abbey, and slew many of the inhabitants. In the 12th Century, the religious establishment which had been founded here, though originally by whom or at what date is unknown, became the head of a small diocese. The town appears to have been formerly of some importance, and a market was held there, but since the increase of Ennistymon it has been gradually declining ; the market is no longer held, and it has dwindled into an inconsiderable village ; fairs are, however, still held on the 4th of June and 9th of October, for cattle and sheep.

    The parish comprises 9236 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, a considerable portion of which is good grazing land, and the remainder under profitable cultivation ; the system of agriculture is improving, and there is a large portion of valuable bog. To the east of the village is a large turlough, which in summer affords very rich pasture for fattening cattle, but in the winter is under deep water after heavy rains. A new road has lately been made between the town and Ennistymon, with great benefit to the intervening district.

    Ballykeale, a seat of the Lysaght family, now occupied by Mrs. Fitzgerald, and Holywell, the residence of T. F. Comyn, Esq., are within the parish.

    The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Kilfenora, united from time immemorial to the rectories of Clouney and Kiltoraght, together constituting the corps of the deanery of Kilfenora, in the patronage of the Crown : the tithes amount to £250, and of the whole union to £416. 13s. 4d. In the church are two monuments, of which one is supposed to be that of the founder, bearing a full-length effigy rudely sculptured, and to the north of the transept is another. The Deanery, towards the erection of which the late Board of First Fruits contributed a gift of £300, and a loan of £450, was erected about the year 1813 ; and has been greatly improved by the present occupant, the Very Rev. W. H. Stackpoole, D. D., who has added an extensive range of out-offices to the house ; in the shrubberies is a perfect ancient rath thickly planted. The glebe and deanery lands comprise 231 plantation acres, of which 70 are good pasture and the remainder mountain land ; and the gross annual value of the deanery, tithe, and glebe inclusive, is £482. 18s.

    In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is held with that of Kiltoraght ; the chapel is a neat modern edifice in the village, and a chapel is now in course of erection in the parish of Kiltoraght.

    About 200 children are taught in two public schools, of which one is supported by the Dean, who, in conjunction with Sir W. McMahon, is about to erect a school-house.

    At Kilcarragh, very near this place, on the estate of Sir W. McMahon, was anciently an hospital or monastery, endowed with a quarter of land, and which, after the dissolution, was granted to John King. Near the cathedral is a stone cross of very light and beautiful design ; and in the churchyard is a plain cross of great antiquity : there were formerly seven crosses around this place, but these are the only two remaining.