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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    RAPHOE, a market and post-town, a parish, and the seat of a diocese, in the barony of RAPHOE, county of DONEGAL, and province of ULSTER, 5 miles (N. W.) from Lifford, and 113.75 (N. by W.) from Dublin city, on the road from Strabane (Co. Tyrone) to Stranorlar ; containing 6227 inhabitants, of which number, 1408 are in the town.

    This place, anciently called Rathboth, appears to have derived both its early and present importance from the foundation of an extensive monastery here by St. Columb, which, after its restoration by St. Adamnanus, who died in 703, continued to flourish and was soon after made the seat of a bishoprics.

    The town consists chiefly of three small streets branching off from a market-place of triangular form, and contains 258 houses, which are neatly built. An agricultural society has been established, which holds its meetings here. The whole of the surrounding scenery is agreeably diversified, and in the neighbourhood are some interesting, views. The market is on Saturday, chiefly for meal and potatoes, and occasionally for linen yarn ; besides which large markets are held on the first Saturday in Jan., Feb., March, April, and December ; and fairs are held on May 1st, June 22nd, Aug: 27th, and Nov, 4th. The market-house is a neat building and well-arranged. The town is the head-quarters of the constabulary police for the county, and the residence of the sub-inspector; and petty sessions are held on alternate Saturdays.

    The parish, which is situated in the centre of the champaign district of the county, comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 13,224.50 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the land is generally of good quality and in a state of profitable cultivation.

    The only seat, exclusively of the Episcopal palace and Deanery, is Green Hills, the residence of W. Fenwick, Esq.

    The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Raphoe, formerly united to the rectories of Stranorlar, Leck, and Killygarvan, and the chapelry of Lettermacaward, from which, by act of council in 1835, it was separated, and now solely constitutes the corps of the deanery. The tithes amount to £900 ; and the glebe comprises 150 acres, valued at £150 per ann. ; the other lands belonging to the deanery comprise 2701.50 statute acres, extending over several parishes, which with the rents and renewal fines, produce £426. 5s. 10d., per ann., making the gross annual revenue of the deanery £1476. 5s. 10d.

    In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, including also the parish of Conwal, in which is a chapel.

    There is a place of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the second class.

    The Royal free grammar school was founded by Chas. I., who endowed it with lands in the western part of the county, comprising from 5000 to 6000 acres, of which 1400 are profitable, and the remainder bog and mountain, producing together all annual income of £550 : the school-house was rebuilt in 1737, and enlarged in 1830, and is a spacious and handsome building ; attached to it is a valuable library, containing more than 3000 volumes, founded by Bishop Forster and Dr. Hall for the use of the Clergy of the diocese. In this and in three other public schools, of which the parochial school is partly supported by annual donations from Col. Robertson's fund, about 280 children are taught ; and infants' school and a female working school are also supported by the Dean, and there are six private schools, in which are about 200 children, and four Sunday schools. An asylum for four poor clergymen's widows was founded by Bishop Forster, who endowed it with lands now producing to each £50 per ann. ; the house, which is spacious and well adapted for the purpose, was purchased by the founder during his lifetime, and is situated in the town : there is also a dispensary.