RATHVILLY, a parish, in the barony of RATHVILLY, county of CARLOW, and province of LEINSTER, 5 miles (N. E.) from Tallow, on the road to Baltinglass, and on the rivers Slaney and Derreen; containing 3187 inhabitants, of which number, 305 are in the village.
This parish comprises 9103 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, three-fourths being meadow and pasture, and the remainder, excepting some bog, arable land. Within its limits, close on the confines of Wicklow county, is the townland of Ladytown, belonging to Baltinglass parish in that county. Granite exists here, but is not much used. The village of Rathvilly is on the eastern side of the Slaney, and consists of 58 houses. Fairs are held on Jan. 1st, March 25th, June 24th, Aug. 1st, and Nov. 12th, for general farming stock. Lisnova was lately the residence of the Bunbury family. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Leighlin, episcopally united, since 1683, to the rectories of Rathmore and Straboe, and the impropriate cure of Rahill, and in the patronage of the Crown, by agreement with the bishop. The tithes amount to £784.12. 3., and the entire tithes of the benefice to £1060. 2. 5½. The glebe comprises 12 acres, on which is the glebe-house. The church, built in 1751, though small, is a pretty structure with a handsome spire lately added; it has been lately repaired by a grant of £315 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising this parish and that of Rathmore, and parts of Straboe, Kiltegan, and Kilranala; and containing three chapels, of which two are in Rathvilly; that at Tynock was built about five years since, and has a belfry; that in the village of Rathvilly is a large old slated building, in which a national school is held.
There is also a national school at Knockleshan: these schools afford instruction to about 550 children, and about 50 are taught in a private school. On the townland of Tobinstown there is a large cromlech; at the west end are two pillar stones, eight feet high; the table stone is twenty-three feet long, and at the west end eight feet broad, but at the other, which rests on small stones elevated about a foot from the ground, it is only six. The thickness at the upper end is four feet, at the lower two; the under surface is plain and even, but the upper is convex. Along the sides are several upright stones, from three to six feet, rendering the space underneath an enclosed room, entered between the two tall uprights. From this entrance is a sort of avenue, forty yards long, formed by small irregular artificial hillocks: the whole is in a low plain field, near a rivulet, on the road from Tallow to Hacketstown. On the townland of Waterstown is a rude stone cross, seven feet high, where the parish church is supposed originally to have stood. Near the village is an old rath, from which the name of the place appears to have been taken. Here are remains of a religious house called Erchorn: there is also a ruin of a church called Cloughafaile.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.