"Fertagh", or Fartagh, a parish, partly in the barony of Cranagh, but chiefly in that of Galmoy, county of Kilkenny, and province of Leinster, 8 mile (S. W.) from Durrow, on the mail coach road from Athy to Cashel; containing, with the post-town of Johnstown, 3205 inhabitants. A priory for Canons Regular of the order of St. Augustine was founded here in the 13th century by the Blanchfield family, which after its dissolution, was granted by Queen Elizabeth to a member of the Butler family. The ancient chapel is still remaining, and contains a large table monument with the recumbent figure of a warrior. A few yards to the west of this building are the roofless remains of an ancient round tower, still 96 feet high and cracked from the doorway to the summit. The parish comprises 6353 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The principal seats are Violet Hill, Melross and Ellenville, all of the Hely family. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ossory, and in the patronage of the Bishop. The glebe-house was erected in 1828; and there is a glebe. In the R. C. divisions the parish is part of the union or district of Eirke; there is a chapel at Johnstown, and another at Galmoy. About 120 girls are taught in the parochial school, and there are four private schools, in which are about 380 children. Here are the ruins of the castle of Killesheelan. The Ballyspellan spa, in this parish, is a powerful chalybeate, and is in great repute for its medicinal properties.
[From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)]