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Lewis , 1837

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837


SHRULE, or SHRUEL, a parish, in the barony of KILMAINE, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 3 ¾ miles (N.) from Headford, on the road from Galway to Westport; containing 4167 inhabitants, of which number, 507 are in the village. This parish is situated on the river Blackwater, which running through the village separates the counties of Mayo and Galway: it comprises 8959 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The land is of good quality, and chiefly under tillage; the system of agriculture is much improved, and the wheat produced here is considered to be the best in the county: the only waste land is bog, which might be easily reclaimed and converted into good pasture. Limestone of excellent quality is found in abundance, and quarried for agricultural purposes and for building.

The principal seats are Dalgan Park, the residence of P. Kirwan, Esq., a spacious mansion of hewn limestone, in the Grecian style, with a noble hall supported on lofty Corinthian columns and lighted by a finely proportioned dome; Riverview, of M. J. Hunt, Esq.; Glen Corrib, of A. Brown, Esq; Shrule, of R. Golden, Esq.; Ballycurrin Castle, of P. Lynch, Esq.; and Houndswood, of M. D’Arcy, Esq. The village contains 86 houses, many of which are neatly built, and the salubrity of the climate is such as to render it a desirable residence for invalids. To the rear of Riverview is a hamlet called Gurtloygraph, in which are many instances of longevity. An extensive brewery is carried on, and there are large corn-mills, the property of R. Golden, Esq. A market for corn is held here every Thursday, which is abundantly supplied; and there are fairs on Easter-Monday, July 26th, and Nov. 11th. A constabulary police force is stationed in the village, and petty sessions are held on alternate Thursdays.

The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Tuam, and in the patronage of the Archbishop; the rectory forms part of the union or wardenship of Galway.

The tithes amount to £264. 2. 8., of which £183. 17. 5. is payable to the Warden of Galway, and the remainder to the vicar.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is in the diocese of Galway, and is co-extensive with that of the Established Church: the chapel is a neat edifice in the ancient English style, with a square tower, towards the erection of which £1300 was contributed by Mr. Kirwan, of Dalgan Park, who also gave the ground: it has a handsome marble altar-piece, presented by T. Martin, Esq. About five miles from Shrule is a Franciscan convent, endowed by the Lynch family with 30 acres of land, to which is attached a chapel. There are three private schools, in which are about 100 children. Some interesting remains of the old castle and of the ancient abbey of Shrule are still in existence. In the demesne of Ballycurrin are the remains of the castle of that name, in good preservation; the floors are still perfect, and it might easily be rendered habitable; from the summit are extensive views of Lough Corrib, Connemara, and the surrounding country.


MOORGAGA, a parish, in the barony of KILMAINE, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 5 ½ miles (N.) from Headfort, on the road to Ballinrobe; containing 518 inhabitants.

The parish comprises 1362 ¼ statute acres of arable and pasture land. It is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Tuam, forming part of the union of Kilmainmore: the tithes amount to £55.

In the R. C. divisions it is part of the union or district of Kilmain. There is a private school, in which are about 160 children. From the fine ruins of the abbey of Kill, part of the possessions of the Benedictines in the 12th century, situated near the border of a small lake, an extensive and interesting view is obtained.


KILMAINBEG, a parish, in the barony of KILMAIN, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 5 miles (S. E.) from Ballinrobe, on the confines of the county of Galway, containing 1343 inhabitants. It comprises 3151 statute acres, which are principally under tillage, and includes Fountain Hill, the residence of Theobald Jenings, Esq. It is a vicarage, in the diocese of Tuam, forming part of the union of Kilmainmore; the rectory is partly appropriate to the prebend of Killabeggs, and partly to the vicarage.

The tithes amount to £137. 15. 5., of which £10. 0. 2 ½. is payable to the prebendary, and £127. 15. 2 ½. to the vicar.

In the R. C. divisions it forms part of the union or district of Kilmain. There is a private school, in which about 50 children are educated.


KILMAINMORE, a parish, in the barony of KILMAINE, county of MAYO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 3 ½ miles (S. E.) from Ballinrobe, on the road from Galway to Westport; containing 4176 inhabitants. It comprises 8087 statute acres, principally in pasture, and has excellent sheep pastures at Ellistron. Fine limestone is quarried, and at the eastern extremity there is a considerable quantity of reclaimable bog, but fuel is scarce. Petty sessions are held every Wednesday at the village, which is a constabulary police station, and has a penny post to Hollymount. Fairs are held on July 12th and Oct. 28th, and are well supplied with cattle and sheep.

The principal seats are Glencorrib, the residence of A. Browne, Esq.; Milford, of C. B. Miller, Esq.; Turin Castle, of S. L. Bucknall, Esq.; Cloghans, of T. Lewen, Esq.; Fortville, of T. Fair, Esq.; and Rathgraher, of C. H. Cromie, Esq. It is a vicarage, in the diocese of Tuam, episcopally united to the rectory and vicarage of Moorgaga, and part of the rectory and vicarage of Kilmainbeg, and is in the patronage of the Archbishop, as is also the rectory, which forms the corps of the prebend of Kilmainmore in the cathedral of Tuam, and is held with the vicarial union. The tithes of this parish amount to £399. 13. 10 ¾., and of the union, to £582. 9. 0 ¾. There is a glebe-house, with a glebe of eight acres. The church is a plain neat building, to which a tower was added about 20 years since by the Rev. F. Rutledge.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, which is co-extensive with that of the Established Church: the chapel is a splendid building, lately erected by the Rev. J. Browne, a little to the west of Kilmain, on the road to the village of Neale. The parochial school is aided by annual donations of £5 from the rector and £6 from the curate, who has also given two acres of land, and Mr. Flanagan a house rent-free; a school is partly supported by the parish priest, in which about 160 children are educated, and there are two private schools, in which are about 70 children. In the centre of the village are the ruins of an ancient religious house, with a large burial-ground attached; and there are ruins of ancient castles at Turin, Ellistron, Ballisnahiney, Cragduff, and Killernan. A spring rising in the village soon disappears and takes a subterraneous course for about a mile; in the winter it forms a turlough. This place gives the title of Baron to Lord Kilmaine.


MAYO (County of), a maritime county of the province of CONNAUGHT, bounded on the east by the counties of Sligo and Roscommon, on the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by the county of Galway. It extends from 53° 28′ to 54° 21′ (N. Lat.), and from 8° 25′ to 10° 5′ (W. Lon.); and comprises an area, according to the Ordnance survey, of 1,355,048 statute acres, of which 871,984 are cultivated land, 425,124 are unprofitable mountain and bog, and 57,940 are under water. The population, in 1821, amounted to 293,112; and in 1831, to 367,956.

At the period when Ptolemy wrote, the Nagnatae were the inhabitants of the whole of the county, with the exception of a small portion of its southern extremity, into which the Auterii, who were settled in the northwest of Galway, had penetrated. The city of Nagnatae, together with the rivers Ravius and Libnius, is supposed by some to have been in this county, but others fix its site in the adjoining county of Sligo. M. Vaugondy’s map of ancient Connaught, published by Mac Geoghegan, furnishes the following names of the territories which composed it, and of their respective baronies; Irrosdomnion, being the barony of Erris; Calrigiamuighe-murisk-in-Amalgaid, and Hy-Fiachra-Aidhne, Tyrawley; Coranne, Gallen; Con-macne-Quiltola, Clanmorris and Kilmain; Kierrige de Lough Nairn, Costello; Hymalia or Umaille, Murrisk.

In Speed’s Theatre of Great Britain, published in 1676, the names of the territories, which appear to be taken from those of the ruling septs, commencing from the most northern, are Arras Dondenell, O’Dondey, O’ Mac Philben, Mac William Burck, Carew Mac Ville Uterhday, O’Males, Mac Jordan, baron of Exeter, near which territory is noted the forest of Kellelon, and the barony of Akill, being the only baronial division mentioned. In the brief description annexed to the map it is stated “that Mayo, in the Roman Provincial called Magee, is replenished both with pleasure and fertility, abundantly rich in cattle, deer, hawks, and plenty of honey.” O’Conor’s map of Ireland, which professes to give the names and locations of the settlers at the commencement of the 17th century, mentions only the names of Mac William Burke, Jordan, Mac Philip, Mac Costello or Nangle, Dillon, and Fitz-morris.

The ancient chronicles state that at the commencement of the 4th century the whole of Connaught was taken from the Firdomnians, a branch of the Firbolgs, who had held it till that time under the Milesians. The remote situation of the county has prevented it from being much noticed in the annals of the different revolutions which have since occurred. Shortly after the English invasion, De Courcy entered the province; but it does not appear that he penetrated far westward, having been driven out after a severe defeat by Cornelius Mommoigi and Donald O’Brien, king of Limerick. Roderic O’Conor, the last of the independent sovereigns of Ireland, died in the monastery of Cong, on the verge of this county, in 1198; after which its history presents a blank until, in consequence of the assassination of William de Burgo, third Earl of Ulster, to whose ancestor, Hubert de Burgo, the greater part of the province, including this county, had been granted by King John, Edmond de Albanach or the Scot, one of his kinsmen, ancestor to the earls of Mayo, renounced his allegiance to the English government, threw off the English dress, adopted the language and apparel of the native Irish, and assumed the title of Mac William Oughter, or “the further” to distinguish himself from another member of the family who had acted in the same manner in the more southern regions of the province, and had called himself Mac William Eighter, or “the nearer.”

The county remained in an unsettled state, nearly independent of British rule, until the time of Elizabeth, in the eleventh year of whose reign the whole province, which had hitherto been divided into the two counties of Connaught and Roscommon, was made shire ground, and the boundaries and subdivisions of this portion of it were defined, at which time it took its present name from the village and monastery of Maio, situated on a river which falls into Lough Carra. The Mac Williams still continued to exert a powerful control, for the annals of the town of Galway inform us that, in consequence of the disturbed state of the country in the neighbourhood of that town, numbers of Galway people took refuge with Mac William Oughter in Mayo, and were the founders of the several respectable families of Galway name which still hold large estates there. When Sir Henry Sidney, lord-deputy, visited Galway in 1575, several of the Galway exiles returned and applied to him for protection; and Mac William Oughter himself submitted by oath and indenture.

This Mac William was father to the celebrated Grace O’Malley, better known in the romantic history of the times by the name of Grana Uile: she, however, was so far from being led to submission by her father’s example, that it was deemed necessary to send a body of troops to storm her castle of Carrick a-Uile, near Newport; but so spirited was the defence made by this singular woman, that the assailants, instead of accomplishing the object of their expedition, narrowly escaped being taken prisoners, which would have been inevitably attended with loss of life. In 1586, the province was again visited, for the purpose of confirming it in the habits of English law, by Sir Richard Bingham, who held a session at Donemony, in this county. One only of the de Burgos, Thomas Roe, held out on this occasion against the royal authority, in a castle in one of the islands in Lough Mask, within sight of the governor.

The under-sheriff, who was sent to reduce him to obedience, was wounded in the attempt, as was Thomas Roe himself, who died of his wounds. Two others of the de Burgos were afterwards executed for sedition and for conspiring against Bingham’s life. The composition then agreed upon by the people was 10s. per annum for every quarter of land containing 120 acres. According to the return of a jury on this occasion, the county comprised 1448 quarters, whereof 248 were exempted; the rest paid £600 per annum and contributed 200 foot and 40 horse for general hostings within the province, at their own expense, when required, and 50 foot and 15 horse for general service throughout Ireland.

Before Sir Richard quitted the country, he had taken all the de Burgos into protection by an order from the government, but, on his going to Dublin, they were instigated, through the promise of assistance from the Scotch, to revolt again, on which he proceeded to Ballinrobe, where, having uselessly spent several days in endeavouring to bring them back to their duty, he hanged their hostages, marched to Ballintubber, and sent out his kerne and foot-soldiers into the woods and mountains with such success, that he forced them all to submit in a few weeks, and drove away a booty of between 4000 and 5000 head of cattle, after which he defeated a body of 2000 Scots that had landed near Sligo to give them assistance. A third journey was made into Connaught in 15S9, by Sir William Fitzwilliams, lord-deputy, who then received the submissions of O’Flaherty, William the blind Abbot, and others of Mayo and Tyrconnell.

Although the county was visited with a large share of the confiscations consequent on the termination of the war of 1641, and on the restoration of the Stuart family, no remarkable event connected with that period occurred within its limits; neither was it internally agitated by the military movements in the subsequent war between the rival kings in 1688, and its political aspect presents a perfect blank until the year 1798, when its tranquillity, which had remained undisturbed during the dreadful internal struggle that convulsed the north-eastern and south-eastern extremities of the island in the earlier part of that year, was broken by the unexpected appearance of a small French squadron on its northern coast, which landed near Killala a force of about 1100 men under General Humbert.

The town, which was nearly defenceless, was taken after a trifling resistance; the bishop of Killala, with his family, was made prisoner; arms were distributed to all the country people who chose to accept them; and the invading army, thus reinforced by a numerous but disorderly body of auxiliaries, proceeded to Ballina, whence the garrison fled on its approach. It thence advanced to Castlebar through mountain defiles deemed impassable, and therefore left unguarded: here it was opposed by General Lake with 6000 men, but, after a very short resistance, the British army gave way on all sides, and left the enemy completely masters of the country. Thence the French general proceeded by Foxford and Collooney, where his advance was checked for a short time by the gallantry of a small detachment under Colonel Vereker, and marched by Dromahaire and Manor-Hamilton in Leitrim, till, having crossed the Shannon at Ballintra, his further progress was prevented by the main army of the British under the Marquess Cornwallis, to whom he surrendered, after a short resistance, at Ballinamuck. Castlebar, when evacuated by the French, was re-occupied by the British troops, who defended it successfully against an attack of a body of 2000 insurgents.

Killala, which was still possessed by the latter under the command of a few French officers, was then attacked and taken by storm, with the loss of between 400 and 500 of its defenders, after having been 30 days in their possession. This scene of blood terminated by a court-martial, by which several of those most forward in having had recourse to French assistance were consigned to military execution. The year 1820 was marked by very serious disturbances in this and the neighbouring county of Galway, arising from abuses in the levying of taxes, and county and parish rates: the insurgents took the name of Ribbonmen, and kept the country in alarm for some time by their nocturnal depredations, but were finally suppressed by the power of the law. Two years afterwards it suffered from famine, owing to a failure of the potatoe crop; but the horrors of so dreadful a visitation were much relieved by the prompt and liberal contributions which were forwarded on the first intimation of the extent of the calamity from every part of England, through a committee sitting in London.

Baronies and Towns

This county is partly in the dioceses of Elphin and Achonry, but chiefly in those of Killala and Tuam. For purposes of civil jurisdiction it is divided into the baronies of Burrishoole, Carra, Clanmorris, Costello, Erris, Gallon, Kilmain, Murrisk, and Tyrawley. It contains the incorporated market and assize town of Castlebar; the market and post-towns of Ballina, Ballinrobe, Crossmolina, Clare, Foxford, Ballaghadireen, Swinford, and Newport-Pratt; the sea-port, market and post-towns of Westport and Killala; the small sea-port of Belmullet; and the post-towns of Cong, Hollymount, and Ballyglass: the largest villages are those of Baal or Ballagh, Ballycastle, Rathlacken (each of which has a penny post), Minola, and Shrule. It sent four members to the Irish parliament, two for the county, and two for the borough of Castlebar; but since the Union its sole representatives in the Imperial parliament have been the two members returned for the county at large. The county constituency consists of 301 £50, 277 £20, and 747 £10 freeholders and leaseholders; and 15 £50 and 10 £20 rent-chargers; making a total of 1350 registered voters. The election takes place at Castlebar.

It is included in the Connaught circuit: the assizes and general quarter-sessions are held at Castlebar, where the county prison and court-house are situated; quarter-sessions are also held at Ballinrobe, Westport, Clare, and Ballina, each of which towns has a court-house and bridewell. The local government is vested in a lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, 32 deputy-lieutenants, and 124 magistrates; besides whom are the usual county officers, including four coroners. There are 46 constabulary police stations, having in the whole a force of a chief and sub-inspector, a paymaster, 9 chief and 42 subordinate constables, and 208 men, with 13 horses. Under the new arrangements of the constabulary police act, the residence of the chief inspector, and the headquarters of the police force of Connaught, are at Ballinrobe, and occupy the cavalry barrack there, in which all the young men and horses for the service of the province are to be trained.

Along the coast there are 18 coast-guard stations, 6 in the district of Westport, having a force of 6 officers and 52 men; 6 in that of Bellmullet, with 3 officers and 37 men; and 6 in the district of Killala, with 6 officers and 50 men: each district is under the control of a resident inspecting commander. The county infirmary, at Castlebar, is supported by a government grant of £100 and by Grand Jury presentments of £500 per annum. The district lunatic asylum is at Ballinasloe, and there are dispensaries at Westport, Galway, Ballyhaunis, Cong, Erris, Ballina, Gallen, Carra, and Burrishoole, maintained by subscriptions and Grand Jury presentments in equal portions. The amount of Grand Jury presentments, for 1835, was £27,051. 14. 7 ¼., of which £6025. 3. 2 ¼. was for the repairs of roads, bridges, &c.; £9457. 9. 6 ½. for the public buildings, charities, officers’ salaries, and incidents; £5565. 7. 9. for the police, and £6003. 14. l ½. for repayment of advances made by Government.

In the military arrangements the county is included in the western district, and contains seven barrack stations, two for artillery and infantry at Castlebar, one for infantry at Ballaghadireen, two for cavalry and infantry at Ballinrobe, and one for infantry at each of the towns of Westport and Foxford, affording in the whole accommodation for 52 officers and 1104 non-commissioned officers and men, with 99 horses.


Wheat is grown in the southern and champaign parts; potatoes, oats, barley, and flax in the more elevated districts. But the greater portion of the latter division is under pasture, as the grass is found to be suitable for rearing young cattle, though it is not rich enough to fatten them. The farms in the grazing districts are in size from 100 to 500 acres. The general term of a lease is one life, or 21 years; a non-alienation clause is common; and latterly another has been occasionally introduced, by which a stipulated allowance is to be made to the tenant out of the reserved rent, for every acre of land reclaimed.

The manures are limestone gravel, especially for reclaiming bog and mountain; limestone, which is very general, and used wherever a supply of fuel for burning it can be had; composts of bog mould and farm manure; and, near the sea-coast, shell-sand and weed. Paring and burning is very prevalent, notwithstanding the penalties inflicted on the practice by act of parliament; the land, when so treated, produces tolerable crops for a few years, but is afterwards barren for a considerable length of time. When burning has been repeated three or four times, it has been found necessary to renovate the soil by a coat of bog mixed with earth or farm rubbish. In reclaiming bog, which is done by limestone gravel to the thickness of an inch, or by white marl, it is observed that when the heath dies, as it does in about three years, daisies and white clover shew themselves, indicating that the land is fit for tillage.

The plough is an implement little used in the boggy and mountainous parts; the long narrow spade, which supplies its place, is called a “loy.” In Erris a spade of still more unusual construction is found to answer best in light sandy soils: it consists of two iron blades, each about three inches broad, with a space of an inch and a half between them, fixed on a two-forked shaft like two loys. The old and clumsy agricultural implements are rapidly giving way to those of a more improved description; the slide car is nearly extinct even in the mountains. Yet still the cottiers’ implements are mostly limited to the spade and sickle, and the manure is carried to the field and the produce to market in wicker panniers on horses’ backs or on the shoulders of women. In general, the ploughing is too light and the sowing too late in the season, hence the harvest of every kind of crop requires the farmer’s attention simultaneously. Wheat is cultivated to some extent, but potatoes and oats are the main crops; green crops are more frequent than formerly: flax is raised only on the headlands or corners of a field for domestic use.

The most favourite breed of horned cattle is a cross between the old Leicester and the native stock; but the native cow is still preferred in the upland districts. The sheep are not equal to those of the adjoining counties. In the mountains a useful hardy race of horses is found; in the lowland districts the horses are remarkably good for the saddle and of superior action. Pigs do not enter into the rural economy of the small farmer to the same extent as in other counties. Dairies are neither numerous nor extensive, the rearing of young cattle being the more general occupation. The fences are dry stone walls formed by collecting the numerous loose stones off the land, but in Clanmorris and Kilmaine they are good ditches faced with quicksets.

Draining and irrigation are little practised, though the soil and the command of water is favourable to both. So late as 1675, the county was well wooded, and had then three extensive forests, at Barnagee, Cappough, and Liscullen; but even the vestiges of these have been swept away, and the last extensive wood of the county, that of Glanmurra, on the shores of Killery bay, was felled in the winters of 1778 and 1779.

Natural oaks grow also on all the hills in the Barnagee mountains, and are kept down only by the browsing of the cattle. It has also been ascertained that bogs of an altitude too great to admit of profitable cultivation are capable of producing timber by planting and fencing. The most remarkable range of woods at present is round the base of Croagh Patrick mountain, following the windings of the Brackloon river.

The Marquess of Sligo has planted to a large extent and with great prospect of remuneration in the neighbourhood of Westport. In general the baronies of Tyrawley, Burrishoole, Gallen, and Costello, are nearly bare of timber; in Murrisk it abounds, chiefly on the Marquess of Sligo’s property, as also in Clanmorris, which exhibits some woods of fine full-grown timber: but in Carragh the plantations are few

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Notes from WikiPedia

Lewis :: Map of Ireland 1837

Lewis :: Map of Ireland 1837

First published in 1837 in two volumes, with an accompanying atlas, it marked a new and significantly higher standard in such accounts of Ireland. Apart from The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland published in 1845, it has not been superseded. The first edition is available online.[2] A second edition was published in 1842.

In the 1837 preface, the editor noted that:

“The numerous county histories, and local descriptions of cities, towns, and districts of England and Wales, rendered the publication of their former works, in comparison with the present, an easy task. The extreme paucity of such works, in relation to Ireland, imposed the necessity of greater assiduity in the personal survey, and proportionately increased the expense.”[2]

Lewis relied on the information provided by local contributors and on the earlier works published such as Coote’s Statistical Survey (1801), Taylor and Skinner’s Maps of the Road of Ireland (1777), Pigot’s Trade Directory (1824) and other sources. He also used the various parliamentary reports and in particular the census of 1831 and the education returns of the 1820s and early 1830s. Local contributors were given the proof sheets for final comment and revision. The names of places are those in use prior to the publication of the Ordnance Survey Atlas in 1838. Distances are in Irish miles (the statute mile is 0.62 of an Irish mile).

The dictionary gives a unique picture of Ireland before the Great Famine.

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