Dunlavan in the 1830s

1837
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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" by Samuel Lewis, 1837. (The information collected here was submitted by members of the local gentry and clergy of the time).

DUNLAVAN, a market and post-town, and a parish, partly in the barony of UPPERCROSS, county of DUBLIN, but chiefly in the lower half-barony of TALBOTSTOWN, county of WICKLOW, and province of LEINSTER, 7.50 miles (N.) from Baltinglass, and 21 (S. W.) from Dublin, on the old road from Blessington to Timolin; containing 2528 inhabitants, of which number, 1068 are in the town. This place is situated on the confines of the counties of Wicklow, Dublin, and Kildare.

The town, which is the property of the Tynte family, is built on an eminence surrounded by higher grounds, and consists of two streets, one of which branches off at a right angle, from the centre of the other. It contains about 180 houses, of which several are well built, is amply supplied with water from springs and is considered a healthy place of residence. The market, chiefly for corn and potatoes, is on Wednesday; and fairs for cattle are held on March 1st, May 19th, the second Friday in July, Aug. 21st, the third Tuesday in October, and Dec. 1st. The market-house, in the centre of the principal street, and said to have been erected at an expense of £1200, by the Rt. Hon. R. Tynte, was, in 1835, thoroughly repaired, and one end of it fitted up as a court-house, by Lady Tynte; it is a handsome building of hewn stone, with four projecting porticoes, and crowned in the centre by a dome. During the disturbances of 1798, it was fortified and garrisoned for the protection of many families that fled to this town from the insurgents, who were in the neighbourhood. A chief constabulary police force has been stationed in the town, and petty sessions are held on alternate Wednesdays.

The parish comprises 6565 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the lands are chiefly under tillage ; the soil is fertile, and the system of agriculture is improving. There is very little wasteland, and scarcely any bog. Some quarries of stone and slate are worked chiefly for building, but both are of inferior quality.

A splendid mansion and out-offices have been lately built at a very great expense by Lady Tynte, on part of the estate called Loughmogue, now Tynte Park; and her grandson and heir, Mr Tynte, who resides with her, has considerably improved the grounds by planting and fencing.

The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, united episcopally and by act of council to the rectory and vicarage of Uske and the vicarages of Rathsallagh and Friendstown, and, in 1833, by act of council, to the curacy of Tubber, together constituting the union and the corps of the prebend of Dunlavan in the cathedral church of St. Patrick, in the patronage of the Archbishop. It appears, from a terrier in the registry, that anciently the vicarage was endowed with one-third of the tithes, but since 1732 the vicarage and prebend have been held together. The tithes amount to £340 9sh. 10 .50 d., and of the whole benefice to £472. 0sh. 9.50d. The glebe-house was built by a gift of £100, and a loan of £900 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1812 ; the glebe comprises 18 acres. The church, a neat edifice in the later English style, was erected in 1816, by a loan of £1300 from the same Board, and enlarged in 1835, by a grant of £460 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

In the R. C. divisions, the parish is the head of a union, comprising also the parishes of Donard and Donaghmore; the chapel is a neat cruciform edifice, erected on a site presented by Lady Tynte Caldwell, and her daughter Elizabeth, as appears from a tablet over the entrance; there are chapels also at Donard and Donaghmore.

About 130 children are taught in two public schools, of which one is supported by Mrs Pennefather; and there are six private schools, in which are about 230 children, a Sunday school, and a dispensary. Mr. Powell, of Tubber, about 40 years since, bequeathed £200, directing the interest to be appropriated to the apprenticing of one Protestant child of this parish, and one of the parish of Tubber; but payment has of late been withheld.

On the townland of Tomant are two Danish raths, commanding extensive views, and an ancient churchyard, near which is a well supposed to be efficacious in various disorders, but probably owes its celebrity to its being only a fine cold spring; there is also a rath at Milltown.

Dean Swift was for some time incumbent of this parish.