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. Kilkenny.
ContentFARTAGH, or FERTAGH, a parish, partly in the barony of CRANAGH, but chiefly in that of GALMOY, county KILKENNY, and province of LEINSTER, 8 mile (S.W.) from Durrow, on the mail coach road from Athy (Co. Kildare) to Cashel (Co. Tipperary); containing, with the post-town of Johnstown (which is described under its own head), 3205 inhabitants.
A priory for Canons Regular of the order of St. Augustine was founded here in the 13th century by the Blanchfield family, which, after its dissolution, was granted by Queen Elizabeth to a member of the family of Butler. The ancient chapel is still remaining, and contains a large table monument with the recumbent figure of a warrior, and formerly of a female by his side, supposed to be members of the Fitzpatrick family, and another tomb with a female figure, having a singular head dress. A few yards to the west of this building are the roofless remains of an ancient round tower, still 96 feet high and cracked from the doorway to the summit.
The parish comprises 6353 statute acres as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £4067 per annum, which, with the exception of a very small portion of wood and a little wasted is good arable and pasture land. Near Ballyspellan is a quarry of fine lime-stone used for tombstones.
The principal seats are Violet Hill, of Gorges Hely, Esq. ; Melross of C. Hely, Esq., and Ellenville, of Mrs. Hely. Fowks Court, formerly the residence of Chief Justice Hely, and now the property of his descendant, G. Hely, Esq., was a very handsome seat, but is now in ruins. A fair, chiefly for pigs, is held on the 6th of March.
The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ossory, and in the patronage of the Bishop ; the tithes amount to £360. 19s. The glebe-house was erected by a gift of £323 and a loan of £415 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1828; and there is a glebe. The church is a very neat edifice, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £174 for its repair.
In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is part of the union or district of Eirke ; there is a chapel at Johnstown, and another at Galmoy.
About 120 girls are taught in the parochial school, and there are four private schools, in which are about 380 children. Here are the ruins of the castle of Killesheelan. The Ballyspellan spa, in this parish, is a powerful chalybeate, and is in great repute for its medicinal properties.