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Duleek, Meath

Historical Description

DULEEK, a parish and village, formerly a parliamentary borough, partly in the barony of UPPER, but chiefly in that of LOWER DULEEK, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 4½ miles (S. S. W.) from Drogheda, on the Nannywater, and on the mail coach road from Dublin to Belfast; containing 4410 inhabitants, of which number, 1217 are in the village. This place derived its name signifying, a "House of Stone," from the foundation of a church here by St. Kiernan or Ciernan, who was baptized by St. Patrick in 450 and died in 488. St. Patrick is also said to have founded an abbey at this place, over which he appointed St. Kiernan abbot; the establishment was for several ages the seat of a small surrounding diocese, which ultimately merged into that of Meath. Its situation in a maritime district exposed it to the ravages of the Danes, by whom it was frequently plundered and sometimes destroyed. It was plundered in 1171 by Milo de Cogan and his forces, who on the following day were attacked and repulsed with severe loss by the Ostmen of Dublin. A priory for Canons Regular appears to have been founded here by one of the family of O'Kelly, a long time prior to the Engli$h invasion; and in 1182, a cell of the same order was established here by Hugh de Lacy, and made subject to the priory of Llanthony, the possessions of this priory were granted at the dissolution to Sir Gerald Moore, ancestor of the Drogheda family. After the battle of the Boyne, Jas. II. retreated from Donore at the head of Sarsfield's regiment, and was followed by his whole army, which poured through the pass of Duleek pursued by a party of English dragoons. On reaching the open ground, they drew up in order of battle, and after cannonading their pursuers, effected their retreat in good order. The village comprises 240 houses. The manufacture of ticking, formerly extensive, is now very much diminished; there is an extensive corn and flour-mill in the town, and another at Beaumont, the latter recently erected and fitted up in a very complete manner with improved machinery. On the hill of Bellewstown is a course where races are held the last week in June; they are generally well attended. The market has been discontinued; but fairs are held on March 25th, May 3rd, June 24th, and Oct. 18th. A penny post to Drogheda and Ashbourne has been established; there is also a chief constabulary police station. The town was formerly governed by a portreeve and officers, annually elected under the charter of Walter de Lacy, which was confirmed by act of Edw. IV., in 1481, and by royal charter of Jas. II., in 1686. From this latter period it continued to send members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when it was disfranchised, and the corporation became extinct: the sum of £15,000, awarded as compensation for the loss of the elective privilege, was paid to the trustees of H. Bruen, Esq. Petty sessions are held every alternate week.

The parish comprises 14,343 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The land is of good quality; about two-thirds are under tillage, and the eastern portion of the parish, including the hill of Bellewstown, is excellent grazing land. Annexed to the town is a considerable tract of common. Limestone is abundant, and is quarried both for building and for agricultural purposes. Platten, the seat of R. Reeves, Esq., occupies the site of an ancient castle of the D'Arcy family; it is a spacious mansion, situated in a richly planted demesne. Athcarne Castle, the seat of J. Gernon, Esq., is pleasantly situated on the Nannywater; it formerly belonged to the De Bathe family, and is a perfect specimen of the Elizabethan castellated style; it is a massive pile of building, with a still more massive keep defended by quadrangular embattled towers, and the whole was formerly surrounded by a fosse : the present proprietor has made some additions and improvements. The other seats are Annsbrook, that of H. Smith, Esq., an elegant mansion with a demesne tastefully embellished; Hiltown House, of Nicholas Boylan, Esq.; Thomastown, of Evans Kettlewell, Esq.; Beaumont, of J. McCann, Esq.; Wintergrass, of Lawrence Ball, Esq.; and Duleek House, situated in an extensive demesne, the property of the Marquess of Thomond.

The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Meath, united, in 1816, to the vicarages of Dowth, Ardcath, Tymole, and Knockcoman, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Drogheda, in whom the rectory is impropriate. The tithes amount to £1092, the whole formerly payable to the impropriator, but on appeal to the Privy Council in 1838, £65 per ann. was made payable to the vicar; and the entire value of the benefice, tithe and glebe included, is £285. There are four glebes in the union, comprising together 48½ acres, valued at £100. 9. per ann. The church, rebuilt in 1816 at an expense of £1500, is a handsome structure with a tower; in the porch is a marble statue of Judge Trotter, and in the churchyard a richly sculptured stone cross. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parish of Cullinstown; the chapel is a handsome edifice in the later English style, with a school-room adjoining; and there is a chapel at Bellewstown hill, to which also a school-room is attached. The parochial school is aided by the incumbent, and there are four other public schools, one of which has a remarkably neat school-house, erected by J. Mathews, Esq.; they afford instruction to about 300 children, and about 30 children are educated in a private school. A dispensary is supported in the customary way. There are considerable remains of the ancient abbey church, with a massive square tower surmounted at the angles with embattled turrets; it was very extensive, and contains many ancient tombs, among which is one of a bishop. There are also some remains of the priory of St. Mary, on the Marquess of Thomond's demesne, and also anciently an endowed hospital, of which there are no remains. In the centre of the town and near Annsbrook are two handsome carved stone crosses bearing inscriptions, erected by the De Bathe family; and at Whitecross is another, elaborately carved. Sir William D'Arcy, treasurer of Ireland in 1523, and author of a work on the Decay of Ireland and the causes of it, was born at Platten.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1840 by Samuel Lewis

Civil Registration

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Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Meath is available to browse.