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Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1845


Kilrush Town

KILRUSH, a post, market, and sea-port town, in the parish of Kilrush, barony of Moyarta, co. Clare, Munster. It stands at the head of the creek or harbour of Kilrush, 1 mile north-north-east of Inniscattery, 8 miles east-south-east of Kilkee, 15 west by south of Kildysert, 27 south-west of Ennis, and 138 west-south-west of Dublin.

Environs.]-The principal features of interest in the environs are the estuary of the Shannon in front of the town, and the mansion of Kilrush immediately to the east of the town, and between the roads to Knock and Kilmurry-Clonderalaw. The demense around the mansion is of a mile in length, extends from the town to the eastern boundary of the parish, and is the property of C. M. Vandeleur, Esq., the town's proprietor. The mansion is a handsome, commodious, and modern edifice, "standing on an interesting spot, which commands a view of Mangerton and MacGillicuddy's Reeks at Killarney, Brandon Mountain, Kerry Head, 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, Balebar, Kilredan-Point, Rehyhill, Carrigaholt, and Carrigafoyle castles, with the round tower, cathedral and ruined churches, in the celebrated island of St. 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."

The Town.]-The principal parts of the town are a spacious central square, and two spacious streets running parallel with each other, and on a line with respectively the north and the south sides of the square; and these parts are in a chief degree modern, and contain many good houses. The portion of the southern street, in particular, which extends from the square to the quays, is airy, well-built, and comparatively respectable; the square itself has a lively and cheerful appearance during the bustle of the weekly markets; and the vicinity of the quays exhibits large stores and pretending new edifices. The market-house, in the centre of the square, is a handsome structure, built at the private expence of Mr. Vandeleur. The custom-house, near the lower quay, is a neat modern building. The bridewell, situated near the upper quay, is the largest building of its class in the county; contains keepers' apartments, 8 cells, 2 day-rooms, and 2 yards; and is maintained in a clean and orderly condition. The places of worship, and the schools, have been sufficiently noticed in the article on the parish.

The Harbour.]- The creek or natural harbour of Kilrush, is dry at low water; admits only small craft even with the tide; and is provided with two small quays and a patent slip. The pier, which affords accommodation to larger sailing-craft and to steam-vessels, extends toward Hog Island from the upper side of the entrance of the creek. This pier was originally built by the Commissioners of Customs; and was subsequently transferred to the Commissioners of Fisheries; but practically became the private property of Mr Vandeleur, or passed under his care for conservation. In 1825, in order to obviate the disadvantage of fishing-craft being obliged to wait out in stormy weather until half-flood, and to create facility for their entering the harbour and approaching the landing-quay at any state of the tide, Mr. Vandeleur contributed 456 13s. 10d., and the Fishery-Board 1,367 1s. 8d. for adding 165 feet to the length of the pier, and extending it into 6 feet low water of spring-tides. The Commissioners for improving the navigation of the Shannon, say, "This pier is too small to answer the demands of the present trade, and, in particular, of a steam-vessel which frequents it daily from Limerick, and which cannot always procure accommodation alongside, for discharging its cargo, or landing the passengers. We propose, therefore, to lengthen the pier 150 feet, but in a different direction, for the purpose of giving the prolongation the most favourable position, as well for the present object as for such further extension as may hereafter be required. The estimate amounts to 8,600." The body of the pier is to be filled with rubble; the exterior face to be paved with good ashlar; the head and inner-face to be built with the same material; a flight of steps to be formed near the pier-head for the accommodation of persons embarking or disembarking from steam-vessels or passenger-boats. The old pier runs nearly due south, and the extension of it runs to the south-south-west. "This direction," say the Commissioners, "was adopted in order that greater acommodation might be afforded to vessels when lying at anchor within it; either waiting to load or discharge, or having taken refuge from the westerly gales." So heavy and rollingly impetuous is the surge from the west, that it often broke over the old pier and placed a drenching arrest upon business. "I will here observe, " says Capt. Mudge, in his report of 1832, "that this part of the Shannon is exposed to the whole ocean-swell: the sea, which sets in such a continuance of southerly or westerly winds, baffles all description, especially when accompanied by 'the rollers,'-a periodical visitation." Kilrush harbour is the first above the Shannon's mouth; and the roadstead opposite Kilrush, and under lee of Inniscattery, is the first secure anchorage from the westerly gales.

Fisheries.]-The fishing trade of the town, as to both capture and sale, is somewhat extensive. About 20 small hookers, employing about 200 persons, belong strictly to itself, and are engaged in fishing and in dredging for oysters; and numerous fishing-craft, of various classes, belonging to neighbouring creeks upon the Shannon, have their rendezvous and market at Kilrush, and are employed in both the herring and the general fishery. In 1830, the fishing-craft within the Kilrush district consisted of 2 decked vessels, of jointly 64 tons, with 12 men; l63 half-decked vessels, of aggregately 1,467 tons, with 652 men; 12 open sail-boats, with 48 men; and 443 row-boats, with 1,749 men. So prolific and general are the fishing-grounds, that lucrative fishing-establishments might be formed at every practicable part of the coast, from Kilrush to Galway bay.

Turf Trade.]-Enormous quantities of turf are sent from Kilrush and from the bay of Poolnasherry to the city of Limerick, and are supplied from a tract of 24,000 acres of turbary, which commences in the immediate vicinity of the town, and extends to Moore bay and Dunbeg on the Atlantic. "This trade," said a local statistic writer of 28 years ago, "employs numbers of people at a season when little else can be done by them; while it contributes essentially to the comforts of the peasants employed in it. Turf-cutting is the first step towards the recovery of tracts of ground from an unprofitable state, after which the land is generally planted with rape and potatoes, and eventually sown with oats and grass-seed. For these reasons, this trade is encouraged by one of the principal proprietors, who permits his tenants to cut and dispose of as much turf as they choose, without any pecuniary remuneration. It is thought that the value of the turf sent off annually amounts to upwards of 10,000. A boat manned by two persons, generally a man and a boy, earns about 200 a-year at this trade; and would produce considerably more if freighted with lime-stone in return."

General Trade.]-During a long period, one person, a Mr. Paterson, conducted the whole corn trade of Kilrush; and, in 1802, he purchased 12,000 barrels at 6,666,- in 1807, 26,000 barrels, at 18,795 16s. 8d.,- and in 1812, 34,000 barrels at 33,681 5s.; in 1807, he made his first shipment of oats to a port out of Ireland; in 1810, he shipped the first butter; in 1812, he began the making up of provisions, chiefly pork; in the same year, he fitted out the first packet between Kilrush and Limerick; in 1813, he had a second packet plying; "and such," said the local statist three years later, "is the resort of strangers to this part of the country for the benefit of sea-bathing and other purposes, that the same enterprising person is now engaged in the erection of hot baths and an extensive hotel near the creek of Kilrush." The facility of conveyance by steam between Limerick and Kilrush, has very greatly increased the latter's prosperity, and among other effects, has produced a smart competition in the control and supply of the markets; "and now," said Mr. O'Brien in 1837, "instead of one corn merchant, as was the case formerly, we have eleven, and instead of two grocers we have fifteen, and instead of two woollen-drapers we have twelve, and so on." A weekly market is held on Saturday; and annual fairs are held on May 10, and Oct. 12. Branch offices of the National Bank and the Agricultural and Commercial Bank, were established in 1835. The public conveyances are a mail-car to Ennis, and a steam-vessel to Limerick. The nearest point of projected railway is on the Shannon line at Tarbert, on the opposite shore of the Shannon's estuary.
Manufactures.-The manufactures are chiefly for home consumption, and consist of frieze, flannel, stockings, shoes, nails, stong sheeting, and a narrow and serviceable kind of linen called bandlecloth. Several weavers from the north settled a number of years ago in the town, and considerably improved the linen manufacture.

Commerce.]-The number of vessels which frequented the port in 1835, was 32 loading, 5 discharging, 2 in distress, and 103 trading-hookers, &c.; in 1836,34 loading, 6 discharging, 8 in distress, and 690 trading-hookers, &c.; and, in 1837, 37 loading, 7 discharging, 10 in distress, and 743 trading hookers, &c. The imports in 1827 consisted of 180 tons of salt, 189 tons of coals, 70 tons of iron, 10 crates of ware, and 60 barrels of herrings; in 1831, of 50 tons of salt, 177 tons of coals, 120 tons of iron, and 150 barrels of herrings; and, in 1836, of 140 tons of salt, 150 tons of coals, 250 tons of iron, and 454 barrels of herrings; but this statement does not include the foreign trade, nor a considerable portion of the British trade, which are blended in the accounts with Limerick. The exports in 1827 consisted of 33 barrels of wheat and 19,289 barrels of oats; in 1831, of 5,417 barrels of barley, 30,309 barrels of oats, and 94 blocks of marble; and, in 1836, of 3,180 barrels of wheat, 27,202 barrels of barley, 36,898 barrels of oats, 2,574 barrels of beans, 87 firkins of butter, and 20 bags and 14 puncheons of miscellaneous goods; but this statement does not include the shipments made by small traders to Limerick, Cork, &c. The estimated amount of carriage from the town consists of 100 tons of imported articles, and 850 tons of manure and other bulky articles; and of carriage to the town, 6,000 tons for exportation, 3,225 tons of agricultural produce for local consumption as food, 500 tons of exciseable articles not received by direct importation, and 21,225 tons of stone, lime, and other bulky articles.

Statistics.]-Area of the town, 145 acres. Pop., in 1831, 3,996; in 1841, 5,071. Houses 664. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 330; in manufactures and trade, 523; in other pursuits, 183. Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 37; on the directing of labour, 517; on their own manual labour, 406; on means not specified, 76. Males at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 1,130; who could read but not write, 218; who could neither read nor write, 732. Females at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 701; who could read but not write, 369; who could neither read nor write, 1,239.

Poor-law-Union.]-The Kilrush Poor-law union ranks as the 57th, and was declared on July 23, 1839. It lies all in co. Clare, and comprehends an area of 115,746 acres, which contained, in 1831, a pop. of 70,676. Its electoral divisions, with their respective pop. in 1831, are, Kilrush, 9,850; Killinor, 3,023; Knock, 3,859; Killofin, 4,070; Kilfidane, 4,165; Kildysert, 4,501; Kilmichael, 3,794; Kilmurry, 8,433; Kilmacduane, 5,620; Killard, 5,629; Kilkee, 6,594; Moyarta, 7,441; and Kilballyhone, 3,695. The number of elected and of ex-officio guardians is respectively 29 and 9; and of the former, 5 are chosen by Kilrush division, 4 by Kilmurry, 3 each by Kilkee and Moyarta, 2 each by Killofin, Kilfidane, Kildysert, Kilmacduane, and Killard, and 1 by each of the other divisions. The total nett annual value of the property rated is 58,269 11s. 7d.; the total number of persons rated is 8,103; and of these, 819 are rated for a valuation not exceeding 1,-970, not exceeding 2,-963, not exceeding 3,- 867, not exceeding 4,-and 932, not exceeding 5. The workhouse was contracted for on June 8, 1840,-to be completed in Sept. 1841,-to cost 6,800 for building and completion, and 1,350 for fittings and contingencies,-to occupy an area of 6 acres, purchased for 750,-and to afford accommodation for 800 paupers. The date of the first admission of paupers was July 9, 1842; the total expenditure thence till Feb. 6, 1843, was 773 0s. 11d.; and the total previous expenditure was 1,751 5s. 3d. The medical charities are a fever hospital and six dispensaries. The fever hospital is a new building, situated at Kilrush, erected by the exertions of Mr. Vandeleur and other gentlemen, and containing 50 beds, with a surgical department; and, in 1839-40- immediately previous to its being opened-it was provided with an annual income of 400 from subscription, and 933 from parliamentary and county grants. The dispensaries have their seats at Kilrush, Knock, Kildysert, Dunbeg, Cooraclare and Kilmichael, and Carrigaholt and Kilkee; and, in 1839-40, they were aggregately supported with 269 5s. 6d. from subscription, 269 5s. 6d. from parliamentary and county grants, and 8 1s. 6d. from other sources. The Kilrush dispensary serves for a pop. of 11,243; and, in 1839, it received 89 7s. 6d., expended 89 9s. 5d., and made 4,000 dispensations of medicine.

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

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