Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland. Here are From-Ireland.net’s records for Co. Clare.
Content**Note : O'Brien's Bridge is listed as a village in Lewis in 1837, and part of the civil parish of Killaloe - by 1851, it is listed as a civil parish in it's own right, and still so in 1885-89 - see refs on O'Brien's Bridge page
KILLALOE, a post-town and parish, and the seat of a diocese, in the barony of TULLA, county of CLARE, and province of MUNSTER, 20 miles (E. by S.) from Ennis, and 87 (S. W. by W.) from Dublin, on the road from Scariff to Nenagh (Co. Tipperary); containing 8587 inhabitants, of which number 1421 are in the town.
This place, anciently called Laonia, derived its present name, supposed to be a corruption of Kill-da-Lua, from the foundation of an abbey, in the 6th century, by St. Lua or Molua, grandson of Eocha Baildearg, King of Munster, and which became the head of a diocese. Turlogh O'Brien, in 1054, built a bridge across the river Shannon at this place, which had grown into some importance, though little of its previous history is related ; and, in 1061, Hugh O'Connor destroyed the castle which had been erected here, and burned the town, which was again reduced to ashes in 1080 and 1084, by the people of Conmacne. In 1177, Raymond Le Gros, after his triumphant entry into Limerick, came to this place, where he received the hostages of Roderic, King of Connaught, and O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, who took the oath of fealty to the King of England.
On Richard de Clare's obtaining a grant of certain lands in the county of Clare, this town, as containing the only ford over the Shannon, obtained for some time the appellation of Claresford. In 1367, after the recall of "Lionel", Duke of Clarence, from the government of Ireland, who had acquired considerable tracts of territory around the town, Murrogh-na-Ranagh, one of the O'Briens, made himself master of all the country beyond the Shannon, and destroyed this town and several others belonging to the English. Gen. Sarsfield, in 1681, posted a strong party at this place, to defend the passage of the river ; but having abandoned their post, the English advanced into the western provinces ; and in 1691 the same general, at the head of a select body of cavalry, passed the river and destroyed a convoy of ammunition on its way to Wm. III., then at Limerick.
The town is pleasantly situated on a rising ground on the western bank of the river Shannon, near the noted waterfalls of Killaloe, and about a mile from Lough Derg, and is connected with the county of Tipperary by an ancient bridge of nineteen arches. It consists of one square, and a principal and several smaller streets, and contains about 300 houses. There is a small infantry barrack. A flourishing trade in stuffs, camlets, and serges was formerly carried on, and two well-supplied markets were held weekly ; but both the manufacture and the markets have been discontinued. Above and below the bridge there are numerous eel weirs, which produce a strong current in the river, and there is also a salmon fishery.
In the vicinity are some very extensive slate quarries, from which, on an average, about 100,000 tons are annually raised for the supply of the surrounding country to a great distance. A mill, with machinery driven by water, has been erected at an expense of £6000, for cutting and polishing stone and marble, and working them into mantel-pieces, flags, slabs, and other articles, in which about 100 men are employed, and for whose residence near the works are some handsome slated cottages.
A spirit of cheerful industry and enterprise seems to promise much for the increasing prosperity of the town. Close to these mills is a yard for boat-building, belonging to the Shannon Steam Navigation Company, whose head-quarters are at this place, and who have established a regular communication by steam-packets, for goods and passengers, up the Shannon, through Lough Derg to Portumna, Athlone, and Banagher, and from Banagher by canal-boats to Dublin. The company afford employment to a great number of persons in the construction and repair of docks and ware-houses. About a quarter of a mile from the village of O'Brien's Bridge is the pier-head, where the steam-boats transfer their cargoes and passengers to a packet-boat, which is towed at a rapid rate to Limerick, between which place and Dublin packet-boats ply daily ; the trip to Portumna and Williamstown is beautifully picturesque.
Below the bridge the navigation of the Shannon is interrupted by a ridge of rocks, over which the water rushes with great noise ; and the appearance of the town at this place, with the waters of Lough Derg in the distance, and its venerable cathedral rising above the bridge and backed by a fine mountain range, is strikingly romantic. To remedy this obstruction of the navigation, the Board of Inland Navigation constructed a canal through the bishop's demesne, avoiding the rocks, and joining the river beyond the falls ; it has also erected an hotel, called 'Ponsonby Arms,' for the accommodation of families visiting Lough Derg and its neighbourhood. This lake is about thirty miles in length, and abounds with beautiful and interesting scenery, more especially in that part which is near the town ; the shores are embellished with several handsome mansions, embosomed in luxuriant woods and plantations, and with several ancient and venerable castles. Pike, perch, trout, and various other fish are taken in abundance, among which is found the 'Gillaroo' trout. Fairs are held on April 5th, May 24th, Sept. 3rd and Oct. 20th ; and petty sessions once a fortnight. A constabulary police force is stationed in the town.
The parish comprises 13,045 statute acres, and is generally under profitable cultivation. The surrounding scenery is beautifully diversified, and in many parts truly picturesque. Near the town, on the west bank of the Shannon, is Clarrisford House, the episcopal palace, finely situated in a highly improved demesne, near the only ford across the river into this county from that of Tipperary ; the mansion is handsome and of modern appearance, and, those small, forms a pleasant residence.
There are several gentlemen's seats, most of which command fine views of the lake and the beautiful scenery along its shores : of these, the principal are Ballyvalley, the residence of W. Parker, Esq., from which is a fine view of the town and bridge, with the falls on the river: Tinerana, of S. G. Purdon, Esq., Ryhinch, of Jeremiah O' Brien, Esq. ; Derry Castle, of Capt. Head ; Castle Lough, of Anthony Parker, Esq. ; Youghall, of William Smithwick, Esq., and Ogonilloe, of the Rev. R. W. Nisbett.
The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Killaloe and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter ; the rectory is appropriate to the economy fund of the cathedral : the tithes amount to £369. 4s. 7 .50 d., of which £295. 7s. 8.50d., is payable to the economy fund, and £73. 15s. 11d. to the bishop, as mensal tithes ; the stipend of the curate is £60 per annum, paid out of the economy fund.
The Roman Catholic parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church ; there are four chapels, also a place of worship for Presbyterians.
About 110 children are taught in a public school, and there are seven private schools, in which are about 400 children.
Near the town is a rath, where was formerly the castle or palace of Brien Boroihme (Brian Boru), monarch of all Ireland : this fort, called Ceanchora or Kinkora, was destroyed by Domohall Mac Adgail, Prince of Tyrconnell, during the absence of Murtogh, grandson of Brien ; the site has been levelled and planted, and few vestiges of the original building can be traced.
ContentKILLALOE, or GRANGOOLY, a parish in the barony of SHILLELOGHER, county of KILKENNY, and province of LEINSTER, 2 miles (N.) from Callan, on the road from Kilkenny city to Ballingarry ; containing 1274 inhabitants
This parish comprises 5142 statute acres, and contains Rossmore, the seat of Purefoy Poe, Esq.
It is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ossory, forming part of the union of Callan : the tithes amount to £374. 9s. 10d.
In the Roman Catholic divisions it is part of the union or district of Ballycallan.
About 160 children are educated in a public school, to which the Countess of Desart and the Rev. Mr. Morris contribute £15 annualy ; and about 140 in a private school ; there is also a Sunday school.
Here is a constabulary police station ; and a fever hospital is supported by the Earl of Desart, for the benefit of his tenants.