Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Co. Roscommon

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. Roscommon.

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    ELPHIN, a market and post-town, the seat of a bishoprick, and a parish, in the barony and county of ROSCOMMON, and province of CONNAUGHT, 8.50 miles (S. by E.) from Boyle, and 80 .50 (W. N. W.) from Dublin, on the road from Roscommon to Boyle; containing 6643 inhabitants, of which number, 1507 are in the town.

    This city appears to have arisen as a dependency on the religious establishment that was founded by St. Patrick in the fifth century : it was burned in 1177 and destroyed by the English in 1187. Its name appears to be derived from Ail Fin, "the white stone or road," ; though connected by vulgar tradition with the giant Fin Mac Coul. About the year 1450, Bishop Cornelius converted the conventual church of St. Patrick into a Franciscan monastery, to which the canons and inhabitants of Elphin were likewise benefactors. Bishop King who presided over the see from 1611 to 1638, erected a castle for himself and his successors, and attached to it lands which he had purchased. This castle, in 1645, was delivered into the hands of the Lord-president of Connaught by Bishop Wilson, who retired to England : his son was then governor of Elphin and had just declared for the parliament.

    The town, which consists of about 260 houses, is on a ridge, and presents a pleasing appearance on entering it from is the south. The main street is wide, and in the centre is a covered fountain which supplies pure water. A market has been established by the bishop on Wednesdays, for which a market-house will be erected ; and fairs are held on May 3rd, June 27th, Sept. 26th, and Dec, 10th. Petty sessions are held every Wednesday, It and it is a chief constabulary police station. The parish comprises 8962 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. It is partly under tillage, but principally in pasture, and large quantities of butter are exported by the river Shannon, Here are quarries of limestone and a considerable tract of bog.

    The principal seats are Smith Hill, that of the Rev. J. Lloyd ; Cloonyquin, of W. French, Esq.; Foxborough, of P. Taaffe, Esq., and Raheen, of Major Fawcett.

    The rectory of Elphin is united time immemorially with the rectory of Ogulla, forming the corps of the deanery of Elphin, which is in the patronage of the Crown. The tithes of Elphin amount to £221. 10s. 9d., those of Ogulla to £93. 16s. 5 .75 d. and the annual value of the deanery, including 238 acres of glebe land, is d £532. 12s. 9d. The glebe-house, or deanery, is a good residence on the western side of the town, built by aid of a gift of £100 from the late Board of First its, in 1816. The cathedral, which has for more than a century been used as the parish church, is dedicate to Mary : the late Board of First Fruits gave £300, in 1759, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners recently gave £121 for repairing it. It is a plain modernised building, about 80 feet long by 118 feet broad, with an ancient square tower : the interior is very neat, and at the eastern end are the bishop's throne and the dignitaries stalls; several tombstones of bishops interred here are built in the wall of the vestry, and in the body of the church a handsome monument has been recently erected to the memory of the late Rev. Wm. Smith, V. G., and master to the diocesan school, by his pupils.

    In the Roman Catholic divisions this parish is the head of a union or district, comprising Elpin, Shankill, and Kilmacumsey, and containing chapels at Elphin, Ballyroddy, and Flask.

    Besides the diocesan schools in which the celebrated Oliver Goldsmith was educated, there are two public schools, to which the bishop contributes £20 and the dean £7 annually : about 230 children are educated in these schools, and about 570 in nine private schools. The children who attend the public schools are clothed annually by the bishop, who also contributes largely to the support of a dispensary. Here is a loan fund, with a capital of £700.

    A cromlech which stood here has been thrown down, and a patron that was held at Tubbermurry is almost discontinued. Here are Rath Croghan and Rilickna Riagh, places remarkable for their caves and ancient burial-grounds, as well as for some rude remains connected by tradition with the history of the kings of Connaught, who are said to have been crowned at the former and buried at the latter place.