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.
ContentKILKENNY WEST, a parish, in the barony of KILKENNY WEST, county of WESTMEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 5.50 miles (N. E. by N.) from Athlone, om the road from that place to Ballymahon (Co. Longford); containing 3609 inhabitants.
An abbey anciently existed here, of which St. Scannail, one of the abbots, died in 773 : it was with its possessions, granted in 1569 to Robert Dillon, 'in capite,' at the annual rent of £22. 0s. 10d. A priory, or hospital, of Crouched Friars was also erected here at the beginning of the 13th century, by Friar Thomas, grandson of Sir Thomas Dillon, and. some of its ruins still exist. In 1335, the grand priory of Kilmainham had an exempt hospital here; and there was a holy well, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. At Bethlem, near Lough Ree, there was formerly a nunnery, which was plundered and burnt in 1645, by some English soldiers, who were attacked the same night by the peasantry and 60 of them killed. Sir James Dillon encamped here in that year, to blockade Athlone.
The parish is bounded on the west for a considerable distance by Lough Ree, which contains several islets, the largest of which is Friars' Island. It comprises 7839 statute Acres, of which two-thirds are arable and one- third pasture, and there are about 640 acres of bog. Agriculture is improving, and here are good limestone quarries.
A considerable part is occupied by the fine demesne of Waterstown, the seat of R. H. Temple,Esq. which includes a beautiful lake and the ruins of an ancient castle. The other seats Rossiana, the residence of Capt. Stubbs ; East Hill, of R. Cuppaidge, Esq.; Annagh, of C. R. Dillon, Esq. ; Oatlans, of Gerald Dillon, Esq. ; Auburn, of J. Hogan, and Littleton of E. Naghten Esq.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Drogheda and R. Butler Bryan, Esq. ; the tithes amount to £276. 18s. 2.50d. The church is an ancient edifice, which it is intended to rebuild, and contains a monument to two friars. The glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £300 and a loan of £500 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1813 ; the glebe comprises 15 acres.
In the Roman Catholic divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Noughoval, and has a spacious chapel. About 140 children are educated in six private schools.
Here are the remains of an old castle, formerly belonging to Lord Dillon, which was destroyed by Cromwell. The father of Oliver Goldsmith was appointed to this rectory in 1730, and resided at Lissoy, where the poet was first sent to school : his brother, to whom he dedicated the poem of the "Traveller", was also curate here, and his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Hansom resided at Lissoy. Kilkenny West gives the inferior title of Baron to the Earl of Roscommon.