Ardnurcher or Horseleap

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ARDNORCHER, otherwise HORSELEAP, a parish, chiefly in the barony of MOYCASHEL, county of WESTMEATH, and province of LEINSTER, but partly in the barony of KILCOURSEY, KING'S county,3 miles (W. N. W.) from Kilbeggan, on the river Brosna, and on the mail coach road from Dublin to Galway; containing 3701 inhabitants. It contains 10,826 statute acres, of which 10,673 are applotted under the tithe act; there is a considerable tract of bog, but no mountain or waste land. The principal proprietor is Lord Maryborough. Limestone abounds in the parish, but there are no quarries of note. The principal seats are Bracca Castle, the residence of S. Handy, Esq.; Gageborough, of J. C. Judge, Esq.; Ballard, of R. Bolger, Esq.; and Temple-Macateer, of M. Kelly, Esq. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Meath, with the vicarages of Kilcumreagh, Kilmanaghan, Kilbride-Langan, and Rahue, and in the patronage of the Crown; the rectory is impropriate in the Marquess of Downshire. The tithes amount to £327. 13. 9½., of which £189. 4. 7. is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the vicar; and the gross annual value of the five parishes which constitute the union of Ardnorcher, including tithe and glebe, is £827. 0. 9., out of which the vicar pays the perpetual curate of Kilmanaghan and Kilbride-Langan £60 per ann., to which is added £40 per ann. from the augmentation fund. The church, to which a spire was added in 1822, is an ancient building in good repair: it stands on an eminence above the village of Horseleap. The glebe house was built by aid of a gift of £100 and a loan of £1150, in 1815, from the late Board of First Fruits; the glebe comprises 45 plantation acres, valued at £94 per annum. In the R. C. divisions this parish is the head of a union or district called Clara, comprising the parishes of Ardnorcher and Kilbride-Langan, in both of which are chapels; that of Ardnorcher is a large building in the village of Horseleap, erected in 1809. Besides the parochial school, in which ten boys and fifteen girls are taught, there are seven private pay schools, in which are about 120 boys and 60 girls. The lands of Moycashel, which give name to the barony, are situated in this parish. Anciently here were several castles, now mostly in ruins; that of Donour is still preserved in good repair by Sir Richard Nagle, Bart., and there is another at Bracca. The fort of Ardnorcher, or Ard-an-orchor, literally translated "the fort of slaughter," was one of the frontier forts of the English pale, and for some centuries past has been vulgarly called "Horseleap," on account of an extraordinary leap which is said to have been formerly made into it over the drawbridge by an English knight, in escaping from a close pursuit: this ancient doon or moat formed a strong link in the chain of forts and castles constructed along that part of the county of Meath which was within the English pale, to protect the new settlers and check the inroads of the Irish. At Temple-Maccateer are the remains of a monastery, said to have been founded in 440 by St. Kiaran; and at Gageborough was a nunnery, founded by Matilda de Lacey in the 13th century; many coins have been dug up at the former place. A holy well, dedicated to St. David, was formerly much resorted to on the patron day, the 27th of June, but the custom has nearly fallen into disuse.

from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.

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Description and Travel

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Gazetteers

The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.

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Historical Geography

The civil parish of Ardnurcher or Horseleap contained the following townlands:

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