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

KILBELFAD, a parish, in the barony of TYRAWLEY, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 4 miles (S.W.S.) from Ballina town, on the river Moy; containing 3,798 inhabitants.

This parish is bounded on the west by Lough Conn, in which is the island of Glass, the burial-place of Bishop Bale Fadh, who took refuge there during a period of persecution, and from whom the parish is supposed to have derived its name.

The soil is tolerably fertile, and the system of agriculture much improved; there is abundance of good bog, and there are quarries of limestone and of granite, of which Curramore, the residence of Lieut. Col. Jackson, was built; there are also considerable quantities of marl, and of good clay for making bricks. A fair is held on Whit-Tuesday and petty sessions occasionally. It contains the island of Annagh, in Lough Conn, comprising 45 acres of arable land and 2 acres of bog.

The parish is in the diocese of Killala; the rectory is appropriate to the vicars choral of the cathedral of Christchurch, Dublin, and the vicarage forms part of the union of Ardagh;

  • the tithes amount to £180. 6s.5d., which is equally divided between the appropriators and the vicar.

In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Backs, in Ballynahaglish; there are two chapels, one at Knockmore and one at Gallows Hill, but service is only performed in one.

A school has been established at the latter place; and there are also four private schools, in which are about 230 children.

There are numerous encampments, generally called forts, and the remains of the old castles of Deel and Cloghan, built by the Bourkes, and of Castle Kelly.

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

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