Crossmolina in the 1830s

1837
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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described by Samuel Lewis in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" 1837.

CROSSMOLINA, a market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of Tyrawley, county of Mayo, and province of Connaught, 6 miles (W by S) from Ballina, and 131 (WNW) from Dublin;

  • containing 11,479 inhabitants, of which number, 1481 are in the town.
  • It stands on the river Deel, over which is a large stone bridge, on the direct road to the barony of Erris from Castlebar, and consists of a good main street and two converging ones, containing 310 houses.
  • The market is on Thursday; and fairs are held on May 23rd, Sept. 12th, Oct. 26th, and Dec. 17th; and at Rakestreet on Feb. 2nd, March 25th, Aug. 23rd, and Dec. 8th.
  • Petty sessions are held weekly, and here are also revenue and constabulary police stations.

The parish contains a portion of the stupendous mountain of Nephin, 2840 feet above the level of the sea, on the western extremity of Lough Conn, a grand sheet of water, extending 10 miles in length, and in some places 4 in breadth. It comprises about 24,300 statue acres; one-third of which is arable land; the remainder is bog and mountain, the greater part reclaimable, but little improvement has taken place in agriculture.

About a mile from the town, on the bank of the River Deel, are quarries of very fine stone; and limestone and freestone abound.

There are several gentlemen's seats in the vicinity: the principal are:

  • Eniscoe, the residence of M. Pratt, Esq.;
  • Gurtner Abbey, of G. Ormsby, Esq.;
  • Abbeytown, of W. Orme, Esq.;
  • Knockglass of T. Paget, Esq.;
  • Fortland, of Major Jackson;
  • Glenmore, of W. Orme, Esq.;
  • Greenwood Park, of Capt. J. Knox;
  • Belleville, of W. Orme, Esq.;
  • Millbrook, of W. Orme, sen., Esq.;
  • Netley Park, of H. Knox, Esq.;
  • Fahey, of Ernest A. Knox, Esq.;
  • Cottage, of W. Ormsby, Esq.;
  • Rappa Castle, of Annesley Gore Knox, Esq. (see Kilfyan);
  • and the Vicarage-house, the residence of the Rev. St. George, rector.
  • Deel castle, on the banks of the river of the same name, now a fine modern residence, surrounded with much old timber, stands on the site of a very ancient structure.

The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Killala, united to the vicarages of Addergoole, Kilfyan, and Magaunagh, together forming the union of Crossmolina, in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is partly appropriate to the vicars choral of the cathedral of Christ-Church, Dublin, and partly to the prebend of Errew in the cathedral of Killala.

  • The tithes amount to £460, of which £17 is payable to the vicars choral, £213 to the appropriators, and £230 to the vicar: the gross amount of the tithes of the union is £550.
  • The glebe-house was built by a gift of £100, and a loan of £825, in 1814, from the late Board of First Fruits; the glebe comprises 35 acres.
  • The church is a neat plain edifice, with a square tower and spire, erected in 1810, by aid of a loan of £1000, in 1809, from the late Board of First Fruits; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £197 for its repair.

In the R.C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Glanbest, and partly a district or parish in itself, in which there are two chapels, one at Kilmurra and one at Crossmolina; the former was built in 1785, at an expense of £50, and the latter in 1806, and cost £200. A painting of the Madonna over the altar was brought from Rome by Archbishop McHale.

There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists at Crossmolina.

There are seven schools, one of which is aided by a donation of £10 per annum from Mrs Palmer, and a house and two acres of ground, valued at £10 per annum, given by the late Mrs Palmer; also six hedge schools and a Sunday school. The total number of children on the books of these schools is upwards of 1000.

A dispensary has been established.

At Errew, a peninsula stretching from the barony of Tyrawley into Lough Conn, are the ruins of a friary, which was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, having a beautiful east window. There is also a ruin at Abbeytown; at Kildavarrogur are the remains of the old church, with a burial place; and near the church are the ruins of an old castle.

SOURCE: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (pub 1837)

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