KILLESKEY, or KILLISKEY, a parish, in the barony of NEWCASTLE, county of WICKLOW, and province of LEINSTER, 1 mile (N. W. byW.) from Ashford, on the river Vartrey, and the mail coach road from Dublin to Wexford; containing 2196 inhabitants. This parish, which in its civil relations is also a constablewick, comprises 5651 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: a large portion of the land in the occupation of resident proprietors is in the highest state of cultivation, and the system of agriculture is generally improved; there is neither bog nor waste land, except some tracts of mountain, which may be easily reclaimed. The surrounding country is remarkable for the boldness and impressive magnificence of its features; and within the limits of the parish are several gentlemen's seats. Glenmore, the splendid residence of J. Synge, Esq., is a handsome and spacious castellated mansion, with embattled parapets, above which rises a lofty round tower, flanking the principal facade, in the centre of which is a square gateway tower forming the chief entrance; it was erected by the late F. Synge, Esq., and occupies an eminence, sloping gently towards the sea, near the opening of the Devil's Glen, and surrounded by a richly planted demesne, commanding a fine view of St. George's channel, and the castle, town, and lighthouses of Wicklow, with the intervening country thickly studded with gentlemen's seats; and in the foreground, the church rising in the midst of flourishing plantations. Ballycurry, the elegant mansion and highly cultivated demesne of C. Tottenham, Esq., extends along one side of the Devil's Glen, opposite to the demesne of Glenmore. Inchinappa, the modernised residence of the Rev. H. W. Crofton, is decorated with a portico of the Tuscan order, and is pleasingly situated in grounds tastefully laid out. Dunran, the seat of the Rev. Dr. Fletcher, commands a fine view of the sea and of the picturesque glen of that name. Kiltimon, the seat of Hugh Eccles, Esq., is finely situated on an eminence commanding a good sea view, and the lighthouses and Head of Wicklow. Ballyhenry House, the residence of F. Campbell, Esq., is a handsome building, from which is an. interesting prospect over the Devil's Glen and Ballycurry demesne Killoughter, the pleasing villa of H. T. Redmond, Esq., is finely situated, and commands some good views. Broomfield, the residence of R. Bride, Esq., occupies a site commanding a fine view of the town and Head of Wicklow, and the pleasing demesne of Rosanna. The other seats are Kilmartin, of J. Matthews, Esq.; Sweetbank, of T. Revel, Esq.; and Castle Grange, of Mr. Vicars.
The parish is in the diocese of Dublin; the rectory forms part of the union and corps of the prebend of Wicklow in the cathedral church of St. Patrick, Dublin; and there is also a chapelry, in the patronage of the Prebendary, who receives the entire tithes, amounting to £378. 6. 5., and pays the curate's stipend. The church, a remarkably neat structure in the later English style, was erected at Nun's Cross, in 1817, by the late F. Synge, Esq., assisted by a gift of £800, and a loan of £1000 from the late Board of First Fruits, and by subscriptions of the resident gentry; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £125 for its repair. All the sittings, with the exception of eight pews for the principal families, are free; a monument to the memory of its founder is about to be placed in the chancel. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Wicklow; the chapel is a neat building at Ballinahinch. About 150 children are educated in four public schools on the estates of Glenmore, Ballycurry, Dunran, and Inchinappa, which are maintained solely by the respective proprietors, and to each are attached apartments for a master and mistress; there is also a private school of about 50 children. The late C. Tottenham, Esq., bequeathed for the use of the poor, £10 per annum charged on his estate of Ballycurry. On the lands of Dunran are the ruins of an ancient castle, formerly belonging to the O'Byrnes; and during the disturbances of 1798, the insurgents, after their defeat at Newtown-Mount-Kennedy, took refuge here, but were soon after driven out with great loss.
The neighbourhood is chiefly celebrated for the variety and beauty of its scenery; it lies on the east side of that vast extent of mountain, which forms the centre of the county of Wicklow, and is interspersed with numerous deep glens and mountain hollows, which, accordingly as they have been improved by art, or left in a state of nature, either excite emotions of pleasure and surprise, or of awe and apprehension. Of these, Dunran is particularly celebrated as combining both these characters, in an eminent degree: it is a very deep glen, from one side of which barren and rugged rocks project in every variety of fantastic form, and vast heaps of massive fragments are spread beneath. Among these rocks is one of immense bulk, which appears to threaten all below it, and which, from its striking resemblance in form to a mitre, is called the Bishop's Rock. The opposite side of the. glen is richly clothed with wood, having been planted in almost every part of it by the late Lord Rossmore with forest trees of every kind.
Farther along the base of the mountain, the glen exKIL pands to the left, and to the right is another glen, similarly dividing the mountain, and having in its recesses a beautiful winding lake. Near the entrance of the latter is a pathway leading by a gradual ascent to an elevated lawn, on which is a cottage for the refreshment of visiters, beyond which it is continued to the View or Spy Rock, commanding a fine view over a foreground of vast extent and diversified beauty, and terminated in the distance by the sea and the mountains of North Wales, which may be distinctly seen in clear weather. The view from the summit of Dunran is still more splendid, comprehending, in addition to the former, the picturesque mountains on the northern coast, and those of Dublin, Bray Head, and the long wild range of mountains to the west. The Devil's Glen, a deep rocky chasm enclosed on both sides by lofty and precipitous cliffs, among which, wherever they could take root, have been planted firs of all kinds, beech, oak, sycamore, and other forest trees, presents an assemblage of features highly picturesque and impressively magnificent. The various hues of the foliage contrast powerfully with intervening masses of bare rock; and the river Vartrey, a mountain torrent, on its entering the glen, descends from a height of nearly 100 feet, forming several beautiful falls before it reaches its narrow rocky bed.
Through the upper vista above these falls are seen the distant mountains; and from a walk which has lately been formed by the proprietor of Glemnore, at a considerable height above the bed of the river, a comprehensive view of the whole glen is obtained, and some of the finest sweeps are seen to great advantage. Another walk was made by the same gentleman, in 1835, leading to many parts of the glen, and commanding some of its most interesting features. Near the village of Ashford, about a mile from the Glen, is a small but comfortable hotel and posting-house. There are several other glens in this very wild and romantic part of the county, all strongly marked with features of interest and beauty. Of these, Ballyvolan has been but recently planted: there are two singular caverns in this glen, called the "Robbers' Caves;" and on a farm at its southern extremity, belonging to Mr. G. Trim, are some small remains of Ballyvolan fort, said to have been the asylum of Jas. II. on his flight from the battle of the Boyne, previously to his reaching Shelton Abbey. Coins, swords, spurs, arrowheads, stone balls covered with lead, and various other relics have been found near this spot; and in a contiguous field are the ruins of the ancient chapel of Kilmartin. In this field were found, in 1835, numerous skeletons and portions of burnt wood; and in a marl-pit, on the same townland, a horn of very large size was found about 18 years since, filled with silver coins of the reign of Elizabeth. There are remains of old churches at Killeskey, Kilfea, Killoughter, and Trinity, near which last is a holy well.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.