Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Co. Westmeath

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.

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    CASTLELOST, a parish, in the barony of FARTULLAGH, county of WESTMEATH, and province of LEINSTER; containing with the post-town of Rochford-Bridge, 1909 inhabitants.

    This place was celebrated at a very early period from an extensive monastery, founded at Rathyne or Rathenin, by St. Carthag or Mochuda, in which he presided for more than 40 years over 867 monks, who supported themselves and the neighbouring poor by their labour. There was also a very eminent school under the direction of St. Carthag, in connection with the monastery; but in the Easter holidays of 630, he and his monks were driven from the Abbey by King Blathmac, and the saint took refuge at Lismore, in the County of Waterford, where he died in 636. He is said to have been succeeded by St. Constantine, King of Britain, who resigned his Crown; and the names of succeeding abbots are preserved till the year 783, from which date there are no further records of the monastery.

    The parish is situated on the road from Dublin to Athlone and is bounded on the south by part of the Bog of Allen: comprising 10,794 statute acres, of which 5932 are applotted under the tithe act. The surface is gently undulating, with a few hills of considerable elevation, the highest of which is Gnewbane: the lands are principally under tillage, and the system of agriculture is improving. In Gnewbane are some quarries of a species of marble, and also of black-stone; and at the foot of the hill is an extensive tract of bog separating this parish from King's County.(Offaly)

    The principal seats are Sidebrook, that of J. Rochfort, Esq., Heathfield of Dr. Fergusson; Farview of D. North, Esq.; Gortumloe, of J. H. Shiel, Esq.; Cottage of Mrs. Shiel; and Drummond Lodge of T. M. Carew, Esq.

    The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of Lord Kilmaine: the tithes amount to £221 10s. 8.75d. The rector also receives tithes from the townlands of High and Low Baskin, in the parish of Drumraney. The church, a neat, modern edifice was erected in 1815, by aid of a gift of £800 from the late Board of First Fruits. The glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £400 and a loan of £400 from the same board in 1810: the glebe copmprises 22 acres, subject to a rent of £24 per annum.

    In the R.C. divisions, this parish forms the district of Miden and Milltown.

    The parochial school is aided by an annual donation from the incumbent; there are about 24 boys and 13 girls in the school. A national school at Rochford Bridge is also in progress; and there are three pay schools, in which are about 128 children.

    There are still remaining some ruins of the old castle, and of an ancient mansion-house, which were for successive ages the residences of the Tyrrell family, whose possessions were forfeited in the war of 1641. There are also, on the castle lands, the remains of the ancient parish church; it contains vestiges of various monuments to that family, among which is an altar tomb with the recumbent figure of a knight in armour. After the decay of the old church, another was erected on the demesne of Gaulstown by one of the Rochfort family; it was used for more than 100 years previously to the erection of the present church, and is now a venerable ruin, forming an interesting and picturesque feature in the scenery of Gaulstown, the seat of Lord Kilmaine, in the adjoining parish of Kilbride-Pilate. There are several Danish forts, one of the largest of which is in the townland of Gortumloe, the estate of J. H. Shiel, Esq., whose labourers, in 1836, discovered in the adjoining field four perfect human skeletons.