"Gowran", an incorporated post-town (formerly a parliamentary borough) and a parish, in the barony of Gowran, county of Kilkenny, and province of Leinster, 6 miles (E.) from Kilkenny, and 52 miles (S.W. by S.) from Dublin, on the road to Waterford; containing 2783 inhabitants. In the 14th century a strong castle was built here by James, third Earl of Ormonde, who made it his principal residence till 1391, when he purchased the castle of Kilkenny. James I., in the sixth year of his reign, made the town a parliamentary borough, and incorporated the inhabitants under the designation of the "Portreeve, Chief Burgesses, and Freemen of the Town and Borough of Gowran," by charter setting forth that the inhabitants had always been loyal, but were then greatly reduced by the war and the late plague. In 1650, the [former Butler] castle was beseiged by the forces of Cromwell under Sankey and Hewson, to whom, after an obstinate defence by Col. Hammond, it ultimately surrendered, when the commander and the garrison were inhumanly massacred and the castle destroyed by fire. The town, which is the joint property of Viscount Clifden and W. Bayly, Esq., contains 193 houses, many of which have been recently rebuilt. The parish comprises 7682 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the land is chiefly under tillage. Adjoining the town is Gowran House, the seat of Viscount Clifden, finely situated in a richly wooded demesne, with a deer-park attached. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ossory, and in the patronage of Viscount Clifden. The glebe-house, a new and handsome residence, was built by the present incumbent under the provisions of Primate Robinson's act; the glebe comprises 10 acres. The church is part of a very old cruciform structure, which was restored and fitted up for divine service in 1826; the remainder, which is still in ruin, has some very interesting details in ealry English style, among which are a finely pointed arch of black marble leading into the chancel; a series of similar arches supported by circular and octagonal columns; some windows of elegant design, delicately ornamented in quatrefoil, and several interior chapels. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parishes of Dungarvan, Blanchfieldskill, Dunbell, Blackrath, Templemartin, Clara, and Tascoffin: the chapel is a neat modern edifice, to which a school-room for 300 children is now being added; and there are three other chapels situated respectively at Pitts, Dungarvan, and Freneystown. About 30 children are taught in the parochial school, supported by the rector; a female school is supported by Lady Dover; there is an infants' school, and also six private schools, in which are about 320 children. Gowran formerly gave the title of Baron to the family of Fitzpatrick, Earls of Upper Ossory.
[From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)]