Mason's Parochial Survey, 1814-19

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

XII. Suggestions for Improvement, and Means for meliorating the Condition of the People.

I. Public free schools, on Bell’s improved plan, would be of incalculable benefit in Kilrush, Dunbeg, Kilkea, Carrigaholt, and Cross, for each of the five united parishes.

The ruined charter school at Ballykett ought to be rebuilt and re-endowed, as the cheapness of this neighbourhood, and the salubrity of its air, render it a desirable situation for such an establishment.

II. A bible society is much wanted at Kilrush, to furnish copies of the Holy Scriptures, to the thousands of young people who are learning to read in this interesting district; where, but a few years ago, the English language was but little known, and where the initiatory books now in use, are of an indifferent description. It would also be highly desirable, to have the words of eternal life here, for the accommodation of mariners, who occasionally come into this harbour, from all parts of the habitable globe. The connexion between the extension of our commerce, and the propagation of the christian faith, affords the brightest and most glorious prospects to the British empire.

III. A benefit society would be desirable here, for the relief of its members, when afflicted by sickness or any other misfortune. Seditious, or scandalous conduct, and particularly a disregard of the awful sanction of an oath, to be deemed a sufficient cause of exclusion or expulsion.

IV. The sinecure rectory of Kilrush, with the tythes paid to the prebendary of Tomgraney, and all the lay impropriations, ought to be applied to their original and proper use, without injury to the present patrons, proprietors, or possessors of them. These, with the remaining vicarages, would maintain a resident Protestant minister in each of these five parishes, which would put the Protestant religion on an efficient footing here. The three dilapidated churches should be rebuilt, with convenient vestry rooms near them, and surrounded by a platform of grouted stones six feet deep, and ten feet from the walls of the church, to prevent them from being rendered, in a few years, damp and unwholesome, by the accumulation of graves round them. Vestry rooms should be built near the churches, which might serve also as repositories for books and stationary for the parish schools.

It would be desirable also, that a regular registry should be kept in each parish, and church wardens, sidesmen, and a constable annually elected.

V. In erecting a steeple to the new church of Kilrush, it should be of dimensions sufficient to contain a handsome ring of bells, and its elevation ought to be such, as to render it an ornament to the town, and an useful land-mark to mariners entering the river.

A town clock is much wanted to the new market-house. It is astonishing what a salutary influence the establishment of public clocks has had upon the habits of the people in the principal market towns of Ulster. Time being as inestimable as it is irrecoverable, it should be reckoned with precision, and so loudly, that he who runs or sleeps may hear it.

VI. The state of agriculture here being very low at present, from the minute subdivisions of land, covered with a much greater population than is sufficient to cultivate it, the proprietors would find it their interest to introduce some English or Scotch farmers here, whose capital, knowledge and industry, should have scope for exertion in farms of a sufficient extent. In the mean time, the attention of the general mass of the people, ought to be carefully directed to the fisheries and manufactories, and inducements, held out to prevail on a certain proportion of them to emigrate.

VII. As the fisheries alone would occupy and maintain a great proportion of the super-abundant population of this district, the improvement of them is an object of the utmost importance to its future prosperity. Mr. Dutton’s observations on this subject, in the county Survey, are so valuable, that a brief extract from them may be useful under this head.

“If some person or company of property would embark in the fishery here, and who had sufficient authority to make other fishermen comply with regulations that would be mutually beneficial, there could be little doubt of a profitable return.” Under the present system, the shoals of herrings are often prematurely disturbed, nor has the admiral, who is annually chosen from the oldest of the boatmen, sufficient authority to enforce those laws and regulations, which they all agree in promising to obey, for the general good of all the fishermen. So that they frequently, from their own breach of agreement, return without a single herring, loading each other with curses and abuse. “They are generally so cowardly, that though the Galway smacks come about fifty miles and fish outside of the light house, not one of these would venture within five miles of the Shannon mouth.” “It is generally thought, that a very productive turbot fishery might be carried on in the mouth of the Shannon; yet no exertions have been yet made to this end; few, if any of the fishermen being able to expend fifteen or twenty guineas for a trawl.” “No part of Ireland, or indeed any other country, is so well situated for carrying on a lucrative fishery; but as only the weak and small fish keep near the shore, it must be mere peddling until companies are formed, that will be able to fit out vessels large enough to navigate the sea as far as the banks of Newfoundland.”

VIII. As the province abounds in wool, the manufacturers of cloth, flannel, stuffs, serges, hats, and stockings, ought to be encouraged here. As the soil of this district has been found to be peculiarly favourable to the cultivation of flax, it has already attracted many northern weavers to settle here. The want of a regular cloth market, and of a few wealthy linen drapers, are very sensibly felt here, and should (if possible) be remedied.

The weavers are at present employed in manufacturing a strong kind of coarse sheeting for domestic use, which is considered too narrow for the West India market; and a narrow kind, called bandle cloth, of a finer texture. Mr. Paterson sent specimens of the dowlass manufactured here to Glasgow; but it was not considered there to be such as would suit a foreign market. Upwards of a thousand wheels, and a proportionate number of reels, have been granted by the Linen Board, and distributed within the last ten years among the lower classes here, very much to their advantage, in a manufactory, which (like the fisheries and agriculture) wants but encouragement and judicious regulation, to render it a valuable source of employment and comfort to an abundant interesting population. The great quantity of kelp annually manufactured on the extensive shores in this neighbourhood, may be considered as an additional circumstance in favour of the linen manufacture; but Mr. Dutton observes, that this article is manufactured so carelessly in Ireland, that the value of it is considerably less than that of Scotland or other countries.
IX. The breed of horses and black cattle ought to be improved, by the introduction of approved horses and bulls, purchased and maintained at the expense of the different parishes.

X. The cottages require improvement; and as plenty of stones can be found, and good bricks may be made in almost all parts of the country, mud buildings ought to be discouraged. The houses should be white-washed inside and outside once a year, and the occupiers should be prevailed on to keep the dunghills at some distance from their doors, and to cultivate beans, turnips, cabbages, and clover, in their gardens.

XI. It would tend much to the preservation of the peace, and the prevention of smuggling in this part of Clare and the opposite coast of Kerry, if barracks were erected at Kilrush, and some troops permanently quartered there in time of war. The services of the Kilrush yeomanry, horse and foot, in this way, as well as in protecting shipwrecked vessels from plunder, have been of the utmost importance for many years back; and co-operating with the improvement of roads, the establishment of Quarter Sessions, and the exertions of an independent active magistrate, have contributed in a great degree to preserve the tranquillity of this part of Clare, and create those habits of peaceful industry, for which it has been so eminently distinguished.

XII. A ferry for the conveyance of carriages and cattle across the Shannon, between Kilrush and Carrigafoyle, is much wanted: travellers from Killarney or Tralee would find this a great convenience, as many of the Clare farmers and butchers attend the fairs of Tarbert, Listowel, and Killoraglin, in the county of Kerry; and many of the Cork and Kerry buyers come to the fairs of Kilrush and Ballykett. The ferry at Cornacolla, near Kilrush, requires a second and a safer boat than that at present used there, if the Saltford bridge has not rendered it unnecessary. The quays, or landing places at Dunbeg, Querin, Dunaha, and Carrigaholt, ought to be improved; and a graving dock erected at or near Kilrush, for the repairing of ships coming into the Shannon to refit after receiving damage at sea. This little convenience would be sensibly felt, not only by many of His Majesty’s ships of war, but also by all the traders on the south-west coast of Ireland, and oftentimes by East and West India sea vessels.

XIII. One of the principal considerations here, is the improvement of the harbour, by the erection of a pier at the point of Scough. The construction of this pier would preserve the present depth of water in the channel of the creek of Kilrush from being lessened by mud, sand and gravel being washed into it by the influence of the prevailing winds, while it would protect the vessels lying there from the same winds, and enable them, by a favourable slant breeze, to clear out and pass the head lands of the river in a few hours; a matter of much importance to mariners, when the shortness and vicissitudes of a dark winter’s day are duly considered.

The elongation of the pier, for reasons sufficiently obvious, should be run nearly parallel with the course of the stream, proceeding from the head of the creek, which forms a deep cut, visible at low water, passing over the flat sand at the entrance to the creek, and falling into the bed of the Shannon. It should be about 650 feet long, 36 feet wide, and 21 feet high above the level of the foundation. To resist the action of the sea, on the western side of this pier, it should be faced with large punched stones, and a parapet four feet high and four feet thick, continued along the whole length of the same side. From the great convenience of materials, and the cheapness of labour here, this great object might probably be accomplished at a sum not exceeding £10,000.

Remarks on the Annexed Plan for Improving the Harbour of Kilrush
With respect to the improvement of the interior of the harbour of Kilrush, in clearing, deepening, and increasing the breadth of the channel, temporary embankments should be formed, by throwing up the slob on each side of the channel, and to rise it above high water mark, in the direction delineated by broad dotted lines in this draught; and as the pier at Scough point is calculated to prevent mud and sand from being forced in by the agitation of the sea with westerly winds, the interior will be considerably deepened (the bottom being soft for several feet deep) by the operation of two sluices, one at the intended bridge, D, and the other at the stream, E, proceeding from Poul Moderow; which, by being opened at last quarter ebb, will act powerfully in deepening the channel sufficiently for ships of the largest burden frequenting the Shannon. When the lands are let, or a fund can be had for the construction of walls and quays, the direction of the broad dotted line should be attended to.

By removing the projecting parts of the steep cliffs northward of the Revenue slip, which is every day falling away by the sea washing its base, to the Watch-house pool, which dries at half ebb, a valuable piece of ground may be had by filling it into the broad dotted line, X. It would be a pretty situation for bathing lodges, and the ground, it is presumed, would let well for that purpose, if set in lots. The pool, Y, would answer well the purposes of a shipwright; it could, at a small expense, be formed into a graving dock: the situation would be eligible for a person building craft, particularly for the Irish fishery: it would be convenient for the repairs of cruisers, &c. on the western station; and a proper place for storage of all materials requisite for their speedy supply.

The excavation of Poul Moderow being formed by nature particularly favourable for docks, it is conceived that the situation would be eligible for building ships for the royal navy, or for persons having capital, speculating on the advantageous prospects of the several fisheries. The ground at Scough is well adapted for the erection of glass-works, salt and lime works; and as the opening of the Shannon is most convenient for the importation of timber and every description of naval stores, merchants would find their interest in forming commercial establishments here.

Reference to the Letters in the Plan.

A. Custom House.
B. Studdart’s concerns, store, and quay.
C.C.C. Proper continuation of avenue from Custom House to Francis street, when the strand is filled in from the broad dotted line.
D. Intended bridge and sluice for cleaning the channel.
E. Intended sluice for emptying Poul Moderow, when a proper quay is run in the direction of the broad dotted line from Mr. Vandeleur’s jetty, to the east point of Scough; a sluice or floodgate at E, will have the effect of producing 17 feet of water at high tides, from the Shannon along inside of the pier at Scough, to the Watch-house point. The Watch-house bears from Scattery steeple N. 58 E.

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