The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

In 1868, the parish of Ferns contained the following places:

"FERNS, a parish and post town in the baronies of Scarewalsh and Gorey, county Wexford, province of Leinster, Ireland. The surface consists generally of good soil, and is drained to the S.W. by the river Bann, and traversed by the road from Dublin to Wexford. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ferns, value with another, £708, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, which was the cathedral of the diocese, stands in the town. It is connected with an ancient chapter-house, and was built in 1816 by means of a loan from the late Board of First Fruits. It is a small building, and contains a fine monument, said to be of St. Edan, the first bishop. There are a Roman Catholic chapel and five day schools, one of which was aided by the Erasmus Smith charity. Ferns was the seat of a diocese with Leighlin until 1836, when it was united with Ossory. The town is situated on the river Bann, in the Scarewalsh section of the parish, 7 miles N. of Enniscorthy, and 72 from Dublin, and though in former years a place of importance, it has now become an inconsiderable town, or more properly a village. It was devastated by the Danes six times within the period between 834 and 930. St. Edan founded a monastery here in 598, and was interred in the church, remains of which are seen, and of St. Edan's Well. In 1041 it was destroyed by Dunchad, son of Brian, and again in 1165 by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, who three years later founded an Austin abbey, to which he retired with his English followers, and dying in the following year, was buried in the abbey. In 1312-13 it was razed by the O'Tooles; and in 1641 Sir Charles Coote reduced the castle and greatly distressed the city. The episcopal palace, with its beautiful grounds, was first built by Bishop Ram in 1630, and subsequently rebuilt by Bishop Cleaver and the Archbishop of Dublin. The town contains a police station, and a dispensary within the Enniscorthy Poor-law Union. Ferns Castle was built by the Fitzgeralds on the site of the ancient royal residence, which had previously given place to a castle built by Strongbow. It now remains an interesting ruin, marking the scene of many successive conflicts and much bloodshed. The diocese of Ferns is said to have been founded by St. Edan. It consists of a dean, precentor, treasurer, archdeacon, 9 rural deans, and 10 prebendaries, constituting the chapter. As a Roman Catholic diocese it remains distinct, and contains 38 parishes. Carlow is the nearest railway station. Fairs are held on the 11th February, 12th May, 4th September, and 29th October."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2018