Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary comprises of several cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland. Here are From-Ireland.net’s records for Co. Westmeath.
ContentBENOWEN, or BUNNOWN, a parish in the barony of KILKENNY WEST, county of WESTMEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 2.75 miles (N. by E.) from Athlone; containing 1418 inhabitants.
This parish forms the north-eastern bank of an arm of Lough Ree, called the Inner Lake, and near the village of Glasson, touches for a few perches on the road from Athlone to Ballymahon. It was the retreat of James Dillon, when driven from Athlone, which he had taken, in 1641, by one of the boldest military manoeuvres on record. In his retreat from that place, Sir James at first took up his quarters at Bally-Kieran, and afterwards retired to the castle of Killinure, in this parish, whence, in about three weeks he recaptured Athlone, which after a short occupation he was again compelled to abandon.
The parish comprises 2937 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: about 160 acres are underwood and bog, and of the remainder, the principle portion is arable and pasture. Agriculture is in a state of slow but impressive improvement; the only waste lands are the rocky shores of the lake.
Portlick Castle, the residence of Robert Smyth, Esq., is beautifully situated on the border of Lough Ree, and is one of the very few ancient feudal castles at present in good repair and inhabited. Killenmore, the residence of Capt. Fry, is also finely situated on the border of the lake. The other seat's are St. Mark's that of John Potts, Esq.; Lough Ree Lodge, of Gustavus H. Temple, Esq., Killinure of Major-Gen Murray; Bunowen of Capt. Caulfield; and the beautiful cottage on Hare island, in Lough Ree belonging to Viscount Castlemaine.
The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of the Bishop, to whom the rectory is appropriate as a mensal; the tithes amount to £92 6s. 1.75d., payable to the lease of the Bishop. The church, a neat plain structure, was erected in 1822, by aid of a gift of £600 from the late Board of First Fruits in 1818. The glebe house was built by aid of a gift of £415 and a loan of £46 from the same board, in 1829.
In the R.C. divisions, this parish forms part of the union or district of Noughoval.
A school of 6 boys and 18 girls is aided by Lord Castlemaine and an annual donation from the rector; and there is a pay school, in which are about 12 children.
The ruins of the ancient church in which are some monuments to the Dillon family, are romantically situated on the verdant bank and at the very extremity of the Inner Lake; and a little higher up are the ruins of the ancient castle of Benowen. A small portion of Killinure Castle still remains, occupying a site on a bold and picturesque eminence over the Inner Lake, and adjoining Killinure House; and on Hare Island are the ruins of a religious house, founded by the family of Dillon, some of whose descendants still live in the neighbourhood. There is also a well dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.