GALBALLY, a town and parish, in the barony of COSTLEA, county of LIMERICK, and province of MUNSTER, S miles (S. S. W.) from Tipperary, on the road to Mitchelstown; containing 5563 inhabitants, of which number, 560 are in the town. This place, in which are the ruins of several religious establishments, appears to have been formerly of considerable importance; an abbey for Franciscan friars was founded near the town in 1204, by Donagh Cairbre O'Brien, which flourished till the dissolution, when it was granted to John of Desmond. In 1601, the Lord-President Carew summoned the chiefs of every county in this province to meet him at this place, where he appointed Lord Barry general of the whole force of Munster. The abbey being included in the forfeiture of Sir John Fitzgerald's estates, the rectory, parsonage, and vicarage of Galbally, the parsonage and prebend of Killenellig with all the glebe and tithes, except those belonging to the vicar, and other lands belonging to the abbey were, in 1611, granted to Thomas Cantwell, Esq. The ancient town was situated at the head of the glen of Aherlow, which being the only pass into Tipperary from the northern and eastern parts of Cork, and the western parts of Limerick, was frequently contested by the rival chieftains, but remained for more than 300 years in the possession of the O'Briens and Fitzgeralds. The present town is situated near the foot of the Galtee mountains, and contains 110 houses, of which some are well built of stone and roofed with slate, but the greater number are mean thatched cabins.
Fairs for black cattle and pigs are held on May 12th and October 15th, and petty sessions every alternate Wednesday. A penny post and a constabulary police force have been established in the town. The parish is mountainous, and there are large portions of waste land, which is gradually being brought into profitable cultivation; the mountains to their very summit afford good pasturage for numerous herds of cattle, and there is a considerable quantity of bog. Limestone abounds, and there are quarries of good building stone and slate, and a thin stratum of coal. The scenery is boldly diversified, and there are several handsome seats, of which the principal are Massy Lodge, the elegant residence of Lord Massy; Riversdale, of Hugh Massy, Esq.; Castlereagh, of G. Bennett, Esq.; Janeville, of the Rev. R.
Lloyd; the Cottage, of W. Lewis, Esq.: Annagurra, of T. T. Adams, Esq.; and Stagdale, of W. Massy, Esq., with a fine avenue of stately beech trees. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Emly, forming part of the union of Duntrileague, and of the corps of the prebend of Killenellig in the cathedral church of Emly. The tithes amount to £600; the glebe-house is a large handsome residence, and the glebe comprises 14 acres. There are some remains of the parish church, consisting of the side walls, 121 feet in length, of rude masonry and perforated with narrow and circular-headed windows. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union, comprising also the parish of Clonbeg: the chapel, in the village of Galbally, is a spacious building, erected in 1834, at an expense of £900; and there is also a chapel at Clonbeg. A large and handsome parochial school-room, capable of holding 600 children, was erected at an expense of £300, and is chiefly supported by the Massy family; and there are three private schools, in which are about 300 children, and a dispensary. There are some remains of the ancient Franciscan friary.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.