Mason's Parochial Survey, 1814-19

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Union of Kilrush, Killard, Kilfieragh, Moyferta, and Kilballyhone

III. Modern Buildings, &c.

Market House
A handsome market house, with an extensive schoolroom over it, was built at Kilrush, by Mr. Vandeleur, at his own expense. It stands in the centre of the market square, which is now nearly completed, and which on saturdays exhibits a regular and abundant supply of all the necessaries, and many of the luxuries of life. From this square a wide and well-built street extends to the west, towards the New Quay, and Mr. Studdert’s extensive and valuable concerns adjoining it, with which, it is highly probable, it will in a few years be connected, by a crescent, or a single line of houses, having the Creek in front, with an intermediate space for an extensive and beautiful quay.

Near the new quay just mentioned, is the customhouse, a neat modern building, at present occupied by a surveyor. The town of Kilrush, which is very ancient, is built on a commodious creek, about 15 miles from the mouth of the Shannon, and 45 miles from the city of Limerick. Dutton in his Statistical account of Clare, gives the following account of this town.—“Kilrush is, (in 1807) rising fast into some consequences, and if want of capital did not prevent it, would export many articles of agricultural produce, that are now bought on commission for the Limerick merchants. A good quantity of corn and butter is bought by Mr. Paterson, a very active and intelligent inhabitant, who has been of the utmost benefit to Kilrush and the adjoining country. If houses were built in favourable situations on the sea shore, many who go to other places, would make this their summer residence, because they would have a daily conveyance by water from Limerick and many parts of Tipperary.”? Mr. Paterson, with a spirit of enterprize, ranking him with the four original merchants of Glasgow, to whom that city is in an eminent degree indebted for its present commercial prosperity, has since Mr. Dutton’s book was published, doubled his extensive stores, and established two regular packet boats between Kilrush and Limerick. He is now building a large hotel, and preparing to substitute a steam boat in place of these at present used as packets. This latter convenience will ensure a regular and constant communication with the inland counties and the metropolis, which has hitherto been much impeded by the occasional prevalence of contrary winds.

Signal Towers
Under the head of public buildings may be reckoned the signal towers, erected a few years ago at Baltard, Carheenaveelane, and Carn Crohane. The new lighthouse at Loops Head will be described in its proper place.

There are no towns in these parishes but Kilrush and Dunbeg; if the latter may be so called, from having a harbour defended by a complete castle, with a mill, a Roman Catholic chapel, a good bridge, a few houses, and a patent fair. The villages are Kilkea, Carrigaholt, and Cross: the first remarkable for a fine bathing strand, and many neat salt water lodges, on the interesting shore of the Atlantic Ocean: the second for an ancient castle, and a commodious harbour: the third is a cluster of houses, with a Roman Catholic chapel, near the ruined church of Kilballyhone.

Gentlemen’s Seats
The seat of the Right Hon. John Ormsby Vandeleur, near Kilrush:—This house, which has been lately erected, is a handsome and commodious building, standing on an interesting spot, which commands a view of Mangerton and Macgillycuddy’s rocks at Killarney, Brandon Mountain, Kerryhead, and the mouth of the river Shannon. The inner area of this rich prospect is ornamented by a view of one of the finest harbours in Europe, Bale-bar, Kilcredane point, Rehy Hill, Carrigaholt, and Carrigafoyle Castles, with the round tower, cathedral, and ruined churches in the celebrated island of Saint Senanus, now called Inniscattery. The view of the town and harbour is truly delightful at sunset on a summer evening, when Scattery Road is crowded with shipping, and upwards of 200 herring boats issue together from the neighbouring creeks, gliding over the glassy surface of the Shannon, to take their station for the night’s fishing.

Ballykett, the residence of a branch of the family of Hickman, whose adjoining estate, for want of male issue, is divided among co-heiresses and their representatives. The house was built in the year 1719, and has the family arms, with their motto, “Nisi Dominus,” over the hall door. A very considerable sum of money was expended on it, a deer-park, and garden walls; but the surrounding lands were left in a state of nature. Mr. Thomas Pilkington is the present occupier of this place, in which several very fine full grown beeches prove to a demonstration, that, contrary to a prevailing opinion, trees would grow here, if they were but planted and protected.

Kilkea House, the former residence of the Macdonel family, is pleasantly situated near a stupendous cliff, a small bay, and a white strand, on the shore of the Atlantic. It has been for some years in a state of decay. Its last occupier of the Macdonel family, was the great grandmother of the present proprietor; she died at a very advanced age, in the year 1788. This lady, who was descended from the ancient house of O’Brien of Ennistymond, kept up the old Irish practice of indiscriminate and unbounded hospitality for many years. She ascribed her health, spirits, and longevity to the efficacy of a very fine spring well on her garden, from which she drank a large glass of water at an early hour every morning. At this place, as well as at Ballykett and Querin, are the almost imperceptible ruins of castles, the materials of which have probably been used in erecting the houses. Kilkea Castle is marked on an ancient map of the Irish Coast.

Opposite to Kilkea House, is Atlantic Lodge, the pleasant summer residence of George Studdert, of Clonderlaw, Esq. who has erected several other houses round the White Strand.

Querin is the residence of Lieutenant William Borough, of the Royal Navy. This house is in itself a very great curiosity, having been built after the old Dutch fashion, with two stories in its long projecting roof. It is credibly reported, that every article of the materials of this house, timber, bricks, shingles, windows, &c. were brought here from Holland in one vessel, by Mr. Vanhoogort, the ancestor of Mr. Borough, who obtained a lease for ever of the estate of Querin, from one of the Earls of Thomond. On this account the Borough family pays a chief rent to Mr. Vandeleur. The late Mrs. Borough, who was grand-daughter of Mr. Vanhoogort, died lately at a very advanced age, adding one to the numerous instances of longevity in this part of the county.

The creek of Querin is remarkable for producing very fine shrimps, and some excellent flat fish, and affords a safe harbour for herring boats, and other small craft. Near this is Dunaha, the seat of a branch of the ancient family of Morony.

Carrigaholt was the residence of the unfortunate Viscount Clare, and is now the property of the Honourable Francis Nathaniel Burton. The house is in ruins: it was attached to the castle, which is still occupied. The garden wall and the piers of the court-yard, both of which were built of brick long before the revolution, are still standing, and in tolerable repair. The sea is however making annual inroads on this place, and now washes the walls of the castle, although Lord Clare often exercised his celebrated regiment of dragoons on a fine lawn which stood between his lofty mansion and the watery element.

These are the residences of the principal proprietors or landholders; but there are several other comfortable seats here, and among them those of Messrs. O’Donnell, Cox and Brew, whose families form the chief part of the congregation in the church of Kilfieragh. At Moyne, near Kilrush, are the ruins of the residence of the family of Ivers, the ancestors of Nicholas Comyn, Esq. who holds that property in perpetuity under Mr. Vandeleur. On the same townland, near the Revenue Square of Kilrush, is a handsome lodge, built and inhabited by Captain Jewel. In addition to these may be mentioned the bathing lodges of George William Stackpole, Esq. and Mr. Singleton, at Farrihy and Baltard.

There is a good inn at Kilrush, kept by John Flannery. From the description of the market, stocked as it is by a fruitful soil and a prolific sea, it may be reasonably concluded, that a traveller may find good entertainment here.

The chief roads are three, viz. the lower road to Ennis, by the Shannon side, through Ballymacrennon, Kilmore, Clonderla, and Kildysert, &c. about 32 miles long; The new or upper road by Couraclare, Clonina, and over the mountains, by Kilmaley and Cahircalla, into Ennis, 23 miles; and the road from Loop’s Head lighthouse through Cross, Carrigaholt, Dunaha, Kilkea, Dunbeg, and Milltown, towards Ennistymond and the Bay of Galway; having the Atlantic Ocean on the left hand. From these leading roads there are of course several branches, and they are all in a state of progressive improvement. Some of the narrow causeways, paved upwards of a century ago, are still to be found in ‘The West,’ by which name that part of this union which lies inside the great strand is commonly called.

The scenery here has been already noticed in one instance, the view from Kilrush House:—there it is beautiful, in other places inconceivably grand and awful. Who can behold the waves of the Atlantic ocean rage and foam against the stupendous cliffs of Baltard or Kilkea, in a wintry storm, without feeling an indescribable sense of the omnipotence of that Great Being, “at whose word the stormy wind ariseth, and who then sayeth to the wave,—thus far shalt thou come and no farther.”

It would indeed be an act of rashness and injustice, to attempt to describe the romantic scenery of this coast. The pen of a Southey or a Scott would fail in the effort. Let it be sufficient to recommend the poet or philosopher, who may hereafter visit this part of the country, to ride with an intelligent peasant, (and he will readily find one) from Dunmore, by the cliffs, to Loop-Head, passing by Killard, Baltard, Moveen, Carhernaveilan, the Castle and fortified island of Dunlicky, the puffing holes and Castle of Clahansevan, the natural bridges and ancient church of Ross, and the lofty Cairn Croghane. Here, with the ocean on his right-hand, Malbay and the islands of Arran full in his view, the traveller may enjoy the sublime; and on his return, towards Kilrush, by the flowery banks of the Shannon, he may find the beautiful in a thousand varied forms; whilst his ardent and open hearted fellow-traveller will not fail to render the excursion doubly interesting by legendary tales of other days, the glories of the ancient chiefs of Corkavaskin, or the heroism of Lord Clare, whose ghost, and those of his brave “Yellow Dragoons,” are still said to traverse “The West” in the winter nights, and plunge at the dawning of the day, into the surge that foams round the ruins of Carrigaholt.

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