ABBEY, a parish and village, in the barony of BURREN, county of CLARE, and province of MUNSTER; containing, with the post-town of Burren, 2493 inhabitants, of which number, 128 are in the village.
This place, which is situated on the shores of the harbour of Burren in the bay of Galway, and on the road from Galway to Ennistymon, derives its name from an ancient Cistertian abbey founded here, either by Donald O'Brien, King of Limerick, in 1194, or by his son Donough Carbrac O'Brien, in the year 1200.
This establishment, designated the abbey of Corcomroe, Corcomruadh, or De Petra fertili, and called also Gounamonagh, or "the Glen of the Monks," is said to have been a sumptuous edifice, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and dependent on or connected with the abbey of Suire, or Innislannaght, in the county of Tipperary: it was afterwards made subject to the celebrated abbey of Furness, in Lancashire, and had a cell annexed to it in Kilshanny, in the adjoining barony of Corcomroe. The remains are extensive, forming an interesting object as seen from the road, and presenting evident traces of its former splendour: a fine pointed arch is still tolerably perfect, and is particularly admired for the beauty of its proportions; and there are some remains of the stately tomb of the King of Thomond, who was killed in a battle fought near this place, in 1267.
The parish extends along the southern shore of the bay, on the confines of the county of Galway, and comprises 5545 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act.
The greater portion is under tillage; the land along the coast produces good crops of wheat, but that in the interior is hilly and unproductive, adapted only for grazing; the system of agriculture has been greatly improved through the exertions of Burton Bindon, Esq., and Messrs. Hynes and Moran.
There are some limestone quarries of excellent quality, and sea manure is found in abundance on the shore.
The principal seats are
Finvarra House, the residence of - Skerret, Esq.; and
Curranroe, of Burton Bindon, Esq.
The small port of New Quay is situated about a quarter of a mile to the north of the village of Burren; a constant intercourse is kept up with Galway, on the opposite side of the bay, and a considerable trade in corn and fish is carried on; the boats employed in the Galway bay fishery rendezvous here, and more than 100 of them have at one time taken shelter in stormy weather. The port affords great facilities for commerce, as vessels of considerable burden can approach at any time of the tide: the coast is well adapted for sea bathing.
The great oyster bed, called the Red Bank, to the east of Burren, and said to be one of the most extensive on the Irish coast, was established some years since by Mr. Bindon, and is now in great celebrity: it is stocked with young oysters, chiefly from Connemara, aud more than 150 persons, chiefly women and children, are regularly employed.
A considerable trade is also carried on in sea-weed with the farmers of the interior, which has been greatly increased since the construction of a new line of road from this place leading through the parishes of Kinvarra and Killeny, in the county of Galway, and of Kilkeady and Inchicronan, in the county of Clare.
The harbour of New Quay, or Burren, called also Curranroe, is one of the several inlets of the bay of Galway: it lies to the south of Aughnish Point, and extends four miles up to Curranroe Bridge.
The late Fishery Board built a small quay in the narrow part of the channel, at the village of New Quay (so called from the construction of this quay, about eight years since), a little to the east of an older one, of which there are still some remains: vessels of 100 tons' burden can come close up to it and deliver their cargoes.
A court is held at Burren by the seneschal of the manor, about once in six weeks, for the recovery of small debts.
The parish is in the diocese of Kilfenora, and is a rectory, partly without provision for the cure of souls: the tithes, with the exception of those of the townlands of Aughnish, Finvarra, Behagh, and Kilmacrane, which are annexed to the parish of Kilcorney, are impropriate in Pierse Creagh, Esq., and amount to £120.
In the R.C. divisions it is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parish of Oughtmanna; the chapel is situated in the village of Behagh, and it is intended to establish a school connected with it.
There is a pay school, in which are about 30 boys and 15 girls. On the summit of Rosraly mountain is a well springing from the solid rock; it is dedicated to St. Patrick, and produces water of the purest quality, which is conveyed by pipes to the road side at the foot of the mountain.