Strokestown in the 1830s

1847
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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).

STROKESTOWN, a market and post-town, in the parish of BUMLIN, barony and county of ROSCOMMON, and province of CONNAUGHT, on the new road from Dublin to Ballina, 12 miles (W. by N.) from Longford, and 74? (W. N. W.) from Dublin ; containing 1547 inhabitants.

It consists of two streets intersecting each other at right angles ; one is 49 yards wide, and the other 21: there are 261 houses, of which 100 are above the rank of cabins, some of them being very good houses of stone, covered with Welsh slate brought by land carriage from Sligo.

The main street is terminated by the grand entrance to Lord Hartland's noble demesne (Strokestown Park), a new church (St John's Church) being at the other end, on the highest ground in the town.

The exchange is held weekly and is very numerously attended, giving a bustling appearance to the place.

  • The country people, besides the ordinary articles of provision, bring a small quantity of linen, linen yarn, and tow, besides woollen stockings, webs of flannel, and a peculiar sort of stuff made with a thread somewhat between the texture of woollen yarn and worsted : these stuffs are dyed and dressed in the town.
  • Abundance of eels and river fish, salt-water fish, and layer, a preparation of sea-weed, from Sligo, are brought to this market. About seven thousand barrels of wheat are sold here in the year, the surrounding lands being reckoned peculiarly favourable for its production.
  • It is chiefly purchased for the flour-mills of Sligo; much grain is also sent to Richmond Harbour, at the head of the Royal canal, about seven miles distant, for the Dublin market, or for exportation.

Fairs are held on the first Tuesdays in May, June, October, and November. In the town is a brewery. Races, supported by private subscription, take place on the course of Ballynafad, at the base of Shievebawn, between three and four miles to the south of the town.

Quarter sessions are held here once a year for the northern half of the county; a sessions house and a bridewell on the new plan have been recently erected, the latter containing apartments for the keeper, a day-room, and cells for the prisoners. This is a constabulary police station; petty sessions are held on alternate Thursdays, and there is a dispensary.

  • Bawn House (aka Strokestown House), the noble mansion of Lord Hartland, is situated to the east of the town, in a demesne of more than 1000 acres : it consists of a centre with an Ionic portico, having a flat roof guarded by a balustrade, and heavy advancing wings, showing the original character of the whole edifice, Within a grove at a short distance from the front, are the roofless ruins of an old church, some of the windows of which retain their ancient mullions, and in others, some of modern workmanship have been supplied; the enclosed area has been selected for the site of a family mausoleum: the surrounding grounds are very beautiful,
  • The church (St John's Church) forms a regular octagon, and is a handsome building of limestone, with a tower and spire, in the Gothic style. A school is about to be established under the Board of Education.

A bequest of £800 was made by the late B. Mahan for the poor of the parishes of the union.

Chalybeate springs abound in the neighbourhood.