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. Tipperary.
ContentARDFINNAN, a parish, in the barony of IFFA and OFFA WEST, county of TIPPERARY, and province of MUNSTER, 4 miles (S. S. E.) from Cahir; containing 878 inhabitants.
The village extends into the parish of Ballybacon, and contains 316 inhabiants. The place derives its name, signifying "the hill of Finian;" from an eminence on which its castle was built, and from St. Finian the Leper, who flourished in the latter part of the sixth century, and founded here an abbey of Regular Canons, to which, about the year 903, Cormac Mac Cuillenan, the celebrated monarch and archbishop of Munster, bequeathed one ounce of gold and one of silver, with his horse and arms: it was plundered and burnt by the English forces, in 1178. Here was also at an early period a monastery for Conventual Franciscans, concerning which there are no particulars on record.
The village is situated on both banks of the river Suir, which is here crossed by a bridge of fourteen arches, and on the mail coach road from Dublin to Cork, by way of Clonmel. Within half a mile above the bridge, according to M'Curtin's annals, Terlogh O'Brien, King of Munster, routed Terlogh O'Connor, Monarch of Ireland, in 1150, when O'Hyne, Prince of Fiachra, and O'Fflahertie, Prince of West Connaught, were slain, with the greater part of the monarch's army. The castle was erected by King John, when Earl of Morton and Lord of Ireland, in 1184: it was a large rectangular pile strengthened by square towers at the corners, and belonged to the Knights Templars, on the suppression of which order it was granted to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and subsequently to the Bishop of Waterford ; its ruins occupy a picturesque and elevated site on a rock overlooking the river, and consist of the gateway and greater part of the walls. From public records it appears that this place had anciently a corporation: in 1311, 4th of Edw. II., a grant of "pontage for three years" was made to "the Bailiffs and good men of Ardfynan;" At the request of the Bishop of Limerick. In 1399, John, Earl of Desmond, was drowned in crossing the ford here with his followers, on returning from an incursion into the territory of the Earl of Ormonde.
The parish comprises 1081 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: there are some limestone quarries, the produce or of which is chiefly burnt for manure.
A fair, chiefly for the sale of pigs, is held at the village on Feb. 2nd, and it has a patent for two other fairs on May 17th and Nov. 19th. Petty sessions are held once a fortnight, and a manorial court six times in the year; and here is a vice station of the constabulary police.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Lismore, with the vicarage of Neddins and the rectory of Rochestown episcopally united, forming the union of Ardfinnan, in the patronage of the Archbishop of Cashel; the tithes are £1701, and in the gross tithes of the benefice amount to £345. The church is a plain modern edifice. The glebe-house was built by a gift of £100 and a loan of £1200, from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1818; the glebe comprises 20a. 2r. 11p.
In the Roman Catholic divisions this parish is the head of a district, which comprises also Neddins, Rochestown, Ballybacon, and Tulloghmelan, and contains three chapels, at Ardfinnan, Ballybacon, and Grange.
There are two private schools. Dr. Downes bequeathed £8.6s. 8d., per ann., late currency, for apprenticing Protestant children.