Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Co. Limerick

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. Limerick.


  • Place
    Diocese Of Limerick
  • County
    Limerick
  • Parish
  • Content
    The Episcopal SEE of LIMERICK, one of the eleven which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Cashel, is 27 miles in length and 17 in breadth, extending over an estimated surface of 306, 950 acres, of which 12, 500 are in county Clare and the remainder in county Limerick.

    It is said to have been founded in the sixth or seventh century by St. Munchin, who was consecrated bishop of it by St. Patrick. No further mention is made of the bishoprick until after the settlement of the Ostmen or Danes in Limerick, and their subsequent conversion to Christianity, when, about the year 1110, Gille, or Gilbert, a Dane, who disclaimed the authority of the Irish prelates, was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury and governed the See till 1140.

    In the charter of Donald O'Brien, King of Limerick, in 1194, the bishops are called Lumnicenses or Lumnicani, from Lumniach, the Irish name of the city. In 1195, the ancient see of Inniscathay or Inniscattery was united with this bishoprick.

    In 1284, Gerald le Mareschal succeeded in recovering the Episcopal property which had been usurped by the bishops of Emly and Killaloe during the period the Danish bishops held it under the Archbishop of Canterbury. This property was extensive and valuable at the Reformation; but was afterwards so much diminished by grants to the Fitzgerald family that the See of Ardfert and Aghadoe was added to it in 1660, and has ever since been annexed to it.

    The See of Limerick is valued in the king's books at £40 sterling, according to an extent returned in the fifth year of Charles 1st. The see lands comprise 6720 acres; the gross yearly revenue of the bishoprick, including Ardfert and Aghadoe, amounted to £5368.13s.5d., on an average of three years ending 1 January, 1832. The palace is a modern brick edifice in the New town, with a front to the river Shannon, commanding an extensive view of the opposite shores of the county of Clare. The consistorial court is held in the city by the vicar-general, with a surrogate and registrar, who is keeper of the diocesan records, the oldest of which is entitled the Liber Niger, copied by Bishop Adams in 1616, from a book which he states to have been then much defaced by age, and to contain an account of all the parishes, their procurations, taxation, subsidies, etc.

    The cathedral, which is said to have been founded and endowed by Donald O'Brien, King of Limerick, and is dedicated to St. Mary, was enlarged by Donat O'Brien about the year 1200, greatly adorned by Bishop Eustace del Ewe early in the fourteenth century, partly reedified by the citizens in 1490, much improved by Bishop Adams in the seventeenth century, carefully restored after the wars of the same century, and improved at various subsequent periods. It is a venerable Gothic building, in the English town, surrounded with graduated battlements, and has at the west end a square tower 120 feet high, containing eight bells, and surmounted by turrets at the angles. The interior is composed of a nave and choir, separated from the aisles by pointed arches: the choir is 91 feet by 30, with a fine window at the east end: the bishop's throne and the stalls of the dignitaries exhibit some curious carved work: there is a powerful organ. In the nave and aisles are several recesses, formerly endowed as chapels by various families; two of these now form the consistorial court and the vestry; and under the arches separating the aisles from the choir are galleries, for the corporation and the officers of the garrison. At the communion table is a handsome Gothic screen. Among the numerous monuments, besides those of several prelates, the most remarkable is the splendid tomb of Donogh, the great Earl of Thomond, on the north side of the choir, composed of three compartments, of marble of different colours, and surrounded and supported by pillars of the Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite orders, and decorated with his arms and various trophies. There is also a fine monument of the Galway family.

    The chapter consists of a dean, precentor, chancellor, treasurer, archdeacon, and the 11 prebendaries of St. Munchin, Donoghmore, Ballycahane, Kilpeacon, Tullybracky, Killeedy, Disert, Ardcanny, Croagh, Athnett, and Effin. The corps of the deanery consists of the rectory of St. Mary, the rectories and vicarages of St. Nicholas and Cappagh, and the rectories of Cahirnarry, Bruree, and Mungrett.

    The deanery lands comprise 80.50 statute acres, let on lease at a rent of £88.2s.5d., and an annual renewal fine of £13.16s.11d.; the gross annual income, including these lands, is £1568; the deanery-house is in the city of Limerick. The dean enjoys the right of presentation to the vicarages of Mungrett and Bruree, and to the perpetual cure of Cahirnarry.

    The corps of the precentorship consists of the rectories and vicarages of Kilfenny and Loughill, the rectories of Nantinan, Shanagolden, Knocknegaul and Dromdeely, and the vicarage of Morgans; the precentor has the right of presentation to the vicarage of Dromdeely: that of the chancellorship consists of the rectory of Rathkeale, the rectories and vicarages of Kilscannell, Clounagh, Clounshire, and the entire rectory of Dundonnell; of the treasureship, the rectories of St. Patrick and Cahirvally, the rectory and vicarage of Emlygrennan, and the chapelry of Kilquane; and of the archdeaconry, the rectories of St. Michael and Ardagh, and the entire rectory of Kildimo.

    The economy fund arises from the tithes of the union of Kilmallock, and the rents of several very valuable glebes, amounting on average to £1400 annually.

    The diocesan school-house was erected in 1611 in the city; but having fallen into decay some years since, it was sold by the Board of Education, and the proceeds, with the addition of £400, presented by the corporation, have been expended in the purchase of a new site; but the house has not yet been built. In 1823, the diocesan schools of Killaloe and Kilfenora were united with that of Limerick, and the income augmented to £150 per annum. The school is held in the private residence of the headmaster.

    The total number of parishes is 92, of which 17 are unions, 3 without provision for cure of souls, and the remainder single parishes. The total number of churches is 42, with 2 chapels of ease, besides five places of worship in school-houses or other buildings licensed for divine service: the number of glebe-houses is 28.

    In the Roman Catholic divisions the see is a separate diocese, being one of 7 suffragan to the Archbishop of Cashel, and comprising 39 parochial benefices or unions, containing 78 chapels, the spiritual duties of which are performed by 37 parish priests, two administrators of the bishop's mensals, 54 coadjutors or curates, and two supernumeraries, besides whom there are 4 superannuated sick or unemployed clergymen. The bishop's parishes are those of St. John and St. Patrick, both in the county of the city; his residence is at Park House, near the city. The cathedral is the church of St. John.