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Parliamentary Gazeteer of Ireland 1845

 

Inishcaltra

A parish, partly in the barony of Upper Tulla, co. Clare, Munster, but chiefly in the barony of Leitrim, co. Galway, Connaught. It includes some isles in Lough Derg, lies mainly along the west shore of that lake, and is situated 3 3/4 miles north-east by east of Scariff. Its Connaught section contains the village of Mountshannon. Length and breadth, each 4 miles. Area of the Munster section, 684 acres, 14 perches, - of which 279 1/4 acres are in Lough Derg; of the Connaught section, 10,599 acres, 3 roods, 29 perches, - of which 1,532 acres, 3 roods, 4 perches are in Lough Derg. Pop. of the whole, in 1831, 2,198; in 1841, 2,378. Houses 383. Pop. of the Munster section, in 1831, 394; in 1841, 212. Houses 29. Pop. of the rural districts of the Connaught section, in 1841, 1,805. Houses 297. The surface of the mainland is a belt of low ground on Lough Derg, immediately backed by the declivities of the Slieve-Baughta mountains; and it blends with the lake and the circumjacent country in the formation of a brilliant landscape. About a mile south-west of Mount Shannon stands Woodpark, the seat of Mr. Reade. The rivulet Bora separates from each other the two sections of the parish, and at the same time forms the boundary between Connaught and Munster; and the joint road from Scariff toward respectively Portumna and Loughrea passes up the margin of the lake. The principal islands are, in the Munster section, Red Island; and, in the Connaught section, Inniscalthra, Young's Island, Basley Island, and Cribby Island. The celebrated island of Inniscalthra, which gives name to the parish, but is itself more usually called the Holy Island, lies about half a mile from the shore, and 2 3/4 miles east by north of Scariff. It is the chief of a group of three isles; and contains an area of about 20 acres, while Bushy Island and Red Island contain respectively about 7 1/2 and 5 acres. Inniscalthra has been famous from very early ages as the site of ecclesiastical structures and the scene of superstitious observances. It has a pillar tower 70 feet high, in good preservation, and remarkable for being one of the very few antiquities of its class which are traceable in record. The passage which relates to it occurs in the Four Masters, and has been construed into evidence in support of the theory that the turroghan or pillar-tower is of heathen origin, and was used for the worship of the sun. Inniscalthra, in common with Glendalough, Clonmacnoise, and other places, boasts also the popular fame of having "Seven Churches;" but its ecclesiastical piles, whatever was their number, seem to have been chiefly cells or oratories, and are now all prostrate ruins. The usual confusion, absurdity, and fable which compose the pretended history of similar places, are most prolific and stupid respecting everything which relates to these "Seven Churches;" and form such a melee of discrepancies as would hinder even a gaping dupe of legendary lore from acquiring any tolerable idea as to when or how they are pretended to have been constructed. Mr. and Mrs. Hall's off-hand way of gulping down such difficulties in a mouthful of the first that offers, is as harmless as any other: "The principal church is called Teampol Camin, or the chapel of St. Camin, because that saint was either the founder or patron. From the little delivered to us by the old hagiologists, we collect that Camin flourished in the first half of the 7th century, that he was of the princely house of Hy-Kinselagh, in Leinster, and half- brother of Guare the generous king of Connaught. Betaking himself to the seclusion of Iniscealtra, he there led a life of contemplation and great austerity, the fame of which attracted to its shores numbers desirous of imitating his virtues and receiving instruction. The concourse of these disciples became at length so great that the holy man was compelled to found a place for their reception and shelter, and thus originated a monastery, which, in after times, enjoyed a far-spread reputation, and was deemed one of the asylums of Ireland. Camin died somewhat about the year 658. He wrote a commentary on the psalms collated with the Hebrew text, a copy of which was seen by Archbishop Usher. Of the civil history of the island, the facts are few; they may be classed under the head of Danish invasions, which succeeded each other in 834, in 908, and 946. The Irish themselves sometimes also disregarded the sanctity of this holy islet, as we find a devastation of this kind by some unscrupulous freebooter in 949, just three years after the last wasting by the northern Vickingers. In 908, the heroic monarch, Brian Boru, re-edified the church of Iniscealtra." The island is much frequented by devotees, and like the island of similar character in the Donegal Lough Derg, it has its St. Patrick's Purgatory. Inniscalthra parish is a vicarage in the dio. of Killaloe. The vicarial tithes are compounded for 23, and the rectorial tithes are estimated to be worth 20, and are appropriated to the dean and chapter of Killaloe cathedral. The vicarages of Inniscalthra, Moynoe, Clonrush, constitute the benefice of Inniscalthra. Length, 9 miles; breadth, 3; area of arable and pasture lands, 25,736 acres. But the union includes also a large tract of wild mountain, attached to each of its three parishes; and it extends from within 1/4 of a mile of the town of Woodford to within 1/4 of a mile of the town of Scariff. Gross income, 191 1s. 5 1/2 d.; nett, 159 15s. 8 1/2 d. Patron, the diocesan. The church is situated at Mount-Shannon, and was built about the year 1785, by means of a gift of 360 from the late Board of First Fruits, and enlarged with the addition of a steeple, in 1830, by means of a loan of 400 from the Board of First Fruits. Sittings 400; attendance 400. A private dwelling, used as a Protestant Dissenters' meeting-house, has an attendance of 60. The Roman Catholic chapels of Inniscalthra and Clonrush have an attendance of 650 and 1,200; and, in the Roman Catholic parochial arrangement, are mutually united. In 1834, the Protestants of the parish amounted to 446, and the Roman Catholics to 1,658; the Protestants of the union to 713, and the Roman Catholics to 5,578; 2 daily schools in the parish - one of which was salaried with 10 from the Baptist Society - had on their books 44 boys and 80 girls; and 10 daily schools in the union had 385 boys and 371 girls.

The Parliamentary Gazeteer of Ireland, 1845
Courtesy of Clare Local Studies Project

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