Kilbride - Ballycowan

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TULLAMOORE, or KILBRIDE, a parish and market-town and assize-town and post-town, in the barony of BALLYCOWAN, KING'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 20 miles (S. E. by E.) from Athlone, and 49½ (W. by S.) from Dublin, on the road to Parsonstown, and on the line of the Grand Canal from Dublin to Shannon harbour; containing 7626 inhabitants, of which number 6342 are in the town. About the year 1790 this place was an insignificant village, consisting almost wholly of thatched cabins; but having been nearly destroyed by an accidental fire, occasioned by the mismanagement of a fire balloon, it was rebuilt by the Earl of Charleville, the proprietor, in an improved manner. Its central situation in a very fertile agricultural district, and the circumstance of its being for some time the terminus of the Grand Canal, before it was extended to Shannon harbour, caused it to increase very rapidly in wealth and population, insomuch that an act of parliament was passed in 1833 to transfer the place of holding the assizes and transacting the county business to it from Philipstown, which had been the assize town from the time of the formation of the county in the reign of Philip and Mary. The small river Clodagh, a branch of the Brosna, passes through it, and is crossed by a neat bridge. The town is the chief mart for the agricultural produce of a large extent of country, which in return draws from it the requisite supplies of foreign articles and manufactures: several stores have been erected on the banks of the Grand Canal, which passes close to the town, and affords a direct communication between this central dep6t and Dublin on one side and the west of Ireland on the other: the distance of Tullamore from Dublin by the canal is 57 miles. Various branches of industry are - carried on here with considerable spirit: there are two distilleries and three breweries, and near the town is a large brick-manufactory.

The market, which is held on Tuesday and Saturday, is well supplied with provisions; a neat market-house has been built by Lord Charleville: fairs are held on May 10th, July 10th, and Oct. 21st. The assizes for the county and the general sessions of the peace are held here, as also are petty sessions every Saturday. The new county court-house is a fine building in the Grecian style, containing all the requisite accommodations for the public business: the county gaol, erected in 1831, is a castellated building on the radiating principle. The town is a chief constabulary police station, and has a barrack capable of accommodating 3 officers and 85 non-commissioned officers and privates.

The parish originally formed part of the lands of the abbey of Durrow, on the dissolution of which they were divided into the two parishes of Dermagh, or Durrow, and Kilbride, which constituted a union until separated by an order of council. It contains 6262¼ statute acres, the greater portion of which consists of town-parks of highly cultivated land of good quality; the remainder is of an inferior description, and includes some boggy ground: it contains quarries of excellent limestone for building. The demesne of Charleville forest, the seat of the Earl of Charleville, extends to the town: it is remarkable for the judicious advantage taken of its great natural beauties. The mansion is a spacious modern structure, erected in the style of an English baronial castle from designs by Mr. Fras. Johnston: the demesne contains about 1500 statute acres richly wooded, and comprises two artificial lakes, the larger of which is studded with islands. The Clodagh passes through it along a deep glen, forming several fine cascades overhung with trees; the largest of the cascades is seen to most advantage from an artificial grotto formed for the purpose of giving employment during a season of scarcity. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath,. partly impropriate in the Earl of Norbury, and partly, with cure of souls, in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £278. 1. 4., one-half of which is payable to the impropriator and the other to the incumbent, each having the entire tithes of certain portions of the parish. The glebe-house, which is near the church, was built by means of a gift of £323 and a loan of £415 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1815: the glebe comprises 4§ acres, valued at £9.

The church, situated about a quarter of a mile from the town, on the Portarlington road, was erected in 1818, in the Gothic style, after a design by Mr. Johnston, at an expense of £8030 British, of which £7'38 was a gift and £2769 a loan from the Board of First Fruits, and the residue, amounting to £4523, was a donation from Lord Charleville: the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £700 towards its repairs. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also that of Durrow: each parish has a chapel; that in Tullamore is a large building, to which several additions have been made in various styles of architecture. There are places of worship for Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, and a meeting-house belonging to the Society of Friends. A male and female school is supported by the Earl and Countess of Charleville, another "school is in connection with the Board of National Education, and a third under the London Irish Baptist Society; in all these 578 boys and 482 girls receive instruction; and in 15 private schools there are about 360 pupils. The county infirmary is in the town. The remains of a castle, built in 1626 by Sir Jasper Herbert, on the abbey lands demised to him by Queen Elizabeth for a term of years, and afterwards granted to him in fee by Jas. I., are still in existence; as also those of three small square castles built by some of his tenants at Ballestillenury, Aharne and Aughinanagh: the ruins of the first-named shew it to have been a building of some extent and grandeur, and an inscription over the entrance records the date and circumstances of its erection. Shrahikerne castle was built, as appears from an inscription on its ruins, in 1588 by John Briscoe, an officer in Queen Elizabeth's army: its name signifies "Kearney of the Shragh," the remains of whose family house, previously to the building of the castle, are also still to be seen. There are several sulphuro-chalybeate springs in the vicinity. Tullamore gives the subordinate title of Baron to the Earl of Charleville.

from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.

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