Town of CAVAN


"Cavan, an incorporated market and post-town, (formerly a parliamentary borough) in the parish of Urney, barony of Upper Loughtee, county of Cavan (of which it is the chief town), and province of Ulster, 25½ miles (S. E. by S.) from Enniskillen, and 55 (N. W. by W.) from Dublin ; containing 2931 inhabitants. This town was, from a period of remote antiquity, the scat of the O'Reillys, tanists of the district now forming the county to which it gives name, and who had a castle here, of which there are no other remains than some vaults and part of the foundation." [From Lewis' Topographical Dictionary (1837)]

"CAVAN, a market, post, and county town of the county of Cavan, in the parish of Urney, in the barony of Upper Loughtee, province of Ulster, Ireland, 70 miles N.W. of Dublin by road, or 85¾, by the Midland Great Western railway, which has a branch to Cavan. It may also be approached by the Irish North-Western, which likewise has a branch to Cavan. It has a most picturesque situation about 3½ miles E. of Lough Oughter, on a stream falling into the Annalee. It is a nominal borough, having been incorporated by James I., and returned two members to the Irish parliament before the Union. It is now governed by the county magistrates, and the assizes and petty-sessions are regularly held here. The original town, said to be of early date, was destroyed by fire in 1690, when a detachment of English troops, under the Duke of Berwick, was defeated by Captain Wolsey. The present town, consisting mainly of one long street, extends along the road from Dublin to Enniskillen, and contains, according to the census of 1861, 481 houses, inhabited by a population of 3,107, of whom 2,346 are Roman Catholics, 631 belong to the Established Church, 55 Methodists, and 5 of other persuasions. The houses in the main street are for the most part old and irregularly built; but the western suburb, comprising the public buildings, is remarkably handsome. It contains the parish church of Urney, the court-house, gaol, union poorhouse, fever hospital, several banks, barracks, and police station. In 1824 a commodious Roman Catholic chapel was erected in the town, at a cost of £1,000. Over the altar is a painting of the Descent from the Cross. There are also Presbyterian and Methodist chapels, and a public pleasure-ground, bequeathed by the late Lady Farnham, for the recreation of the inhabitants. The royal school is of ancient foundation, and has a revenue of £642, with five exhibitions at Trinity College, Dublin. Mr. Sheridan, the friend of Dean Swift, for some time was head-master. There are also a National and several other schools. It supports a newspape of its own, called The Anglo-Celt. In 1300 the Abbey of Keadue was founded by the O'Reillys, where was buried Owen O'Niel, the Irish general, who was poisoned in Clonghoughter Castle in 1649, notable also for being the prison of Bishop Bedell in 1641. The remains of the abbey may still be seen standing on an islet not far from Lake Killikeen. The principal residences in the neighbourhood are Farnham House (the seat of Lord Farnham), Castle Saunderson, and Kilmore. The market day is Tuesday. Fairs are held on the 1st February, Easter Monday, 14th May, 30th June, 14th August, 25th September, and 12th November." [Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868 by Colin Hinson ©2018]


Cavan Town

Main Street circa 1915
From a postcard published by Lawrence, Dublin



  • "Cemetery Inscriptions in Cavan Parish"Brefine, v. 6, No. 24, 1986, p. 408-417
    • Cathedral (St. Patrick and Felim) Cemetery
    • Cavan Cemetery
      • see also MacKiernan, Francis J., "The Franciscan friary in Cavan", Breifne v. 9, No. 35, 1999, p. 85-102
    • St. Mary's Abbey


  • Masterson, J. Ireland: 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Republic of Ireland), Genealogical Publishing Co., MD, 1999, p.4
  • 1841 Census, Main Street
  • William Brice, head, 41, apothecary
  • Ann Brice, wife, 34
  • Eliza Brice, dau, 12
  • Fred. A. Brice, son, 11
  • Wm Henry Brice, son, 9
  • 1851 Census, Main Street
  • William Brice, head, 51, apothecary (mar: 1829/39)
  • Ann Brice, wife, 46
  • Elizabeth Brice, dau, 21 (marr: Malcomson)
  • Frederick. A. Brice, son, 20
  • Wm Henry Brice, son, 19. absent

Court Records

  • Minutes of meetings of the Town Court of the borough of Cavan, together with lists of conformist freemen, 1697-1824; 1838-1840, NLI Mss. 5832-5833

Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Town of CAVAN which are provided by:




Historical Geography

The town of CAVAN lies within the parish of Urney in parts of the townlands of Drumavanagh, Keadew,  Kilnavaram, Kinnypottle, Lurganboy and Townparks. This is best illustrated by examination of the OSi map: Historic 6" First Edition Colour.



Cunningham, T.P. "Cavan Town and Townsmen before the Boyne", Breifne, V. 6, No. 23, 1985, pp 301-305.

Cunningham, T.P. "Cavan Town in 1838", Breifne
V. 3, No. 12, 1969, pp. 528-551
V. 4, No. 13, 1970, pp. 96-130
V. 4, No. 14, 1971, pp. 289-317

Day, A. and McWilliams, P. (Editors) Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, v40, Counties of South Ulster, 1834-38, The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queens University of Belfast, 1998.

Farrell, N. Cavan Town, 1992, available from Irish Roots Books

Garner, W. Historic Buildings, Groups of Buildings, Areas of Architectural Iimportance in the Town of Cavan, Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and An Taisce, 1978

Halpin, N.J. (ed)., Authentic report of the speeches and proceedings of the meeting held at Cavan on the 26th January, 1827, for the purpose of forming a Society for Promoting the Reformation, R.M. Tims, Dublin, 1827.

Smyth, T. S. The Civic History of the Town of Cavan. Dublin, Browne and Nolan, 1938.



Land & Property

  • Auction Poster. Highly important sale of valuable leasehold premises. I have been favoured with instructions to sell by public auction at the Court-House, Cavan, on Wednesday, 27th November, 1901, at the hour of 2 o'clock p.m., that substantial, modern, and recently-built block of premises, with the yards and gardens attached, situate in Church Street, Cavan, held from Lord Annesley, under lease for a term of 200 years .  National Library of Ireland
  • Farnham Estate


You can see maps centred on OSI grid reference H4195904788 (Lat/Lon: 53.990751, -7.361054), Town of CAVAN which are provided by:


Military Records

  • 1630 Muster Roll
  • London-Derry Journal
    • 1796 Nov 8, Cavan Infantry - J.H. Cottingham, Efq; to be captain, Irvine Johnftone, Efq; to be firfh liuetenant, William Erfkine, Efq; to be fecond lieutenant.
  • Snodaigh, P.O. Irish Volunteers 1715-1793, Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 1995
    • Cavan Cavalry - 1780
    • Cavan Grenadiers - 1783, 1784
    • Cavan Infantry - 1783, 1784
      • Cavan
    • Cavan Independent Volunteers - 1779, 1780, 1782
      • Cavan Company, Cavan Independent Company, Cavan Independent Volunteers
  • The Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers)


  • Faulkner's Dublin Journal, Sat., 16 Nov 1765 - Tues., 19 Nov 1765, Marriages. At Cavan, Mr. Josias PARR, Merchant to the agreeable Widow WEAVER, with a large Fortune.
  • Connaught Journal, May 22, 1823, Marriages At Rathmullen church, in the county of Down, by the Rev. Charles ARCHBOLD, Osburn KIDD, Esq. of Armangh to Frances, fourth daughter of the Rev. Frederick Augustus ARBUTHNOT, late of Cavan.


  • Sir John Maxwell of Calderwood (d 1490) - progenitor of John Maxwell, 1st Lord of Farnham [General and heraldic dictionary of the peerage and baronetage of the British empire (Google eBook)]
  • Piano Music

Orphans & Orphanages

Arnold, M. & Laskey, H., Children of the Poor Clares: The Story of an Irish Orphanage, Appletree, Belfast, 1985.



Clarke, D. K., List of subscribers to Kilmore Academy Co. Cavan 1839, published by the author 1999. NLI Ir 260 L 6

Dunne, P.J. and Reilly, E. (eds.), Farnham School and its community, the editors: Butlersbridge, 1996


Voting Registers

  • Smyth, T.S., The Civic History of the Town of Cavan, Browne and Nolan, Ltd., Dublin, 1938
    • Burgesses 1699-1838, pp. 159-164
    • Freemen 1697-1838, pp. 174-175