Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Co. Laois

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. Laois.

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    CLONENAGH, a parish, partly in the baronies of CULLINAGH and MARYBOROUGH EAST, but chiefly in that of MARYBOROUGH WEST, QUEEN’S county, and province of LEINSTER; containing, with the parish of Clonagheen and the post town of Mountrath, 18,136 inhabitants. This place originally called Cluain-aith-chin and Cluain-aednach is of very remote antiquity. A monastery was founded here, at an early period by St. Fintan, who became its first Abbot and was succeeded by St. Columba, who died in 548. The Abbey was destroyed in 838 by the Danes who in 843, carried its venerable abbot Aid, who was also abbot of Tirdaglass into Munster, where on the 8th of July, he suffered martyrdom. After being frequently plundered and destroyed by the Danes, it continued to flourish for a considerable period, but little is known of its history subsequently to the English invasion. At Gutney Cloy, in this parish a battle took place between the forces of Brian Boroimhe, on their return from Clontarf, and those of Fitzpatrick, Prince of Ossory. The parish is situated on the road from Maryborough (Portlaoise) to Roscrea (Co. Tipperary), and comprises with Clonagheen, 34,855 statute acres, as applotted under the Tithe Act. Of these from 9000 to 12,000 are bog, about half that number is mountain and waste; the remainder is arable and pasture land nearly in equal portions. The system of agriculture is greatly improved and green crops have been generally introduced. Ballyfin house the elegant mansion of Sir Chas H. Coote, premier baronet of Ireland, is a modern structure in the Grecian style of architecture, and is fitted up in a style of costly splendour; it is situated on a very elevated site on the side of a mountain, and commands extensive views of the surrounding country. The other seats are Springmount, that of Sir E. J. Walshe Bart., Forest of J. Hawkesworth Esq., Anne Grove Abbey of J.E. Scott. Esq., and Scotch Rath of R. White Esq. An extensive cotton manufactory is carried on at Mountrath, where fairs are held on Jan 6th, Feb 17th, April 20th , may 7th, June 20th Aug 10th , Sept 29th and Nov 5th for general farming stock. Petty sessions are held at Mountrath every Thursday, and at Ann Grove every alternate Wednesday. The living is a rectory, in the Diocese of Leighlin, episcopally united in 1661, to the rectory and vicarage at Clonagheen, and in the alternate patronage of the Crown, which has two presentations, and of the Bishop, who has one: the tithes for both parishes amount to £1500; there is neither glebe house nor glebe. There are two churches : one at Mountrath, a spacious and handsome edifice, erected in 1800, by aid of a gift of £90 and a loan of £500 and enlarged in 1830, by aid of a loan from the late Board of First Fruits, and towards the repair of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have also granted £246.18.7; and one at Roskelton, a small neat edifice, for the repair of which the Commissioners have also granted £254.12s. 3d. At Ballyfin is a chapel, endowed by the Hon William Pole, the chaplain of which is paid by Lord Maryborough; towards the repair of this chapel the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have also recently granted £368.8s.4d. In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish is styled as an abbacy and constitutes the three benefices of Ballyfin, Mountrath and Clondacasey, and Raheen and Shanahoe. There are five chapels, all neat plain buildings, situated respectively at Mountrath, Ballyfin, Raheen , Shanahoe and Clondacasey; also places of worship forthe Society of Friends and Wesleyan and primitive Methodists. There are a monastery and a convent of St. Patrick’s and St. Bridget’s confraternity to which a school is attached; the school house was built by the late Dr. Delany. At Oak, Cootestreet, Ballyfin, Mountrath, Trun?heen and Ballyeagle are national schools; are five schools supported by subscription; ? schools about 680 boys and 450 girls are instructed And there are also five pay schools in which there are 170 boys and 250 girls. The late Rt. Hon. ?? bequeathed £100 per annum late currency endowment of the chapel at Ballyfin, and £20 for a schoolmaster and clerk. At Forest is a Spring