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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    COOLBANAGHER or COOLBENGER, a parish in the barony of Portnehinch, Queen’s county and province of Leinster; containing with the parish of Ardea or Ardrea the post town of Emo, and part of that of Mount mellick, 7456 inhabitants. It comprises 8623 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The soil is generally fertile, and there is a considerable tract of waste land, which is mostly exhausted bog; the system of agriculture is daily improving. Limestone abounfds and is quaried for building, repairing the roads and burning into lime for manure. The principal seats are Emo Park the residence of the Earl of Portarlington; Woodbrook of Major Chetwood; Lauragh of the Rev. Sir Erasmus Dixon Burowes Bart, Knightstown of Joseph Kemmis Esq., and Shane Castle of Thomas Kemis Esq., From a desire to introduce manufactures and trade into this part of the country, for the employment of the population Mr. Kemmis has established on his estate at Shane an iron manufactory. The Dublin Grand canal passes through the parish to Mount Mellick, also a tributary stream which running northward fals into the barrow atr portnehinch bridge. Petty sessions are held at Lauragh. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Kildare episcopally united in 1804, to the rectory of Ardea or Ardrea, together forming the union of Coolbanagher in the patronage of the crown; the tieths amount to £276.18s.5½d per anum. The extent of the union as applotted under the tithe act, is 15,763 statute acres; and the tithes for the whole amount to £536.6s.1¾d. per annum.. The glebe house, in Ardea is a handsome recidence, built in 1790: the glebe comprises 26½ acres. The church also in Ardea is a handsome edifice, erected at the expense of the late Lord Portarlington, on the summit of an eminence not far from the sourthern extremity of the union. In the Roman Catholic divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Portarlington; the chapel at Emo is a very neat edifice. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school is at Moret and there are about six other schools at that and other places in the parish: a spacious slated building was erected for one under the trustees of Erasmus Smiths charity, at an expense of £500, chiefly defrayed by I.C. Chetwood, Esq., and the school at Emo is endowed with 20 acres of land by the Hon. Lionel Dawson. There are about 700 children in these schools. The ruins of the ancient church are still visible, and also those of the castle of Moret, in the vicinity of which are the venerable remains of Shane Castle, formerly called “Sion” or “Shehan Castle”, which was the head of a manor, when in the possession of Sir Robert Preston, in 1397, but it has shared the fate of the other castles of Leix. During the parliamentary war it was seized by the insurgents, in 1641; taken from them the year following by Sir Charles Coote, retaken by Owen Roe O‘Nial in 1646 and finally surrendered in 1650 to Cols. Hewson and Reynolds, who demolished the outworks, and left nothing but he present building remaining. It is situated on a high conical hill, and was fitted up in the last century by Dean Coote, who converted it into a very pleasant residence