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Multifarnham or Moleyfarnam, Westmeath

Historical Description

MULTIFARNHAM, or MOLEYFARNAM, also called MULTIFERNAM, a parish, in the barony of CORKAREE, county of WESTMEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 6 miles (N.) from Mullingar, on the road from Edgeworth's-town and Longford to Castletown-Delvin; containing 1473 inhabitants, of which number, 213 are in the village. The abbey here was founded, in 1236, by William Delamere, or De la Mar, for Conventual Franciscans. In the 13th of Hen. IV., on account of its open and exposed situation to the sept of the O'Farrels, Maurice de la Mar obtained a grant of tolls for fortifying the bridge of Multifarnham. In 1460, it was reformed by the friars of the Strict Observance: and in 1529 a provincial chapter of the order was held here. This religious establishment is remarkable for having been maintained in its early splendour until a later period than any other, for, although formally dissolved by Hen. VIII., those to whom it was granted did not dispossess the monks, who, in 1622, even attempted the establishment of a branch of their society at Mullingar; and here they preserved all the images, pictures, reliques, &c., which had previously belonged to their church, and their full choir, and hospitable household. From the actual convenience of the place and its central situation, the abbey became the chief place in which the plans for the civil war of 1641 were debated on and settled; nor did these preparatory meetings pass without observation at the time. In the reign of Chas. II., the expelled monks took up their quarters in the vicinity, whence they were driven on the alleged discovery of the plot. The ruins, including the conventual church, are characterised by neatness and compactness rather than by loftiness or splendour; but from the midst, between the nave and chancel, rises a slender steeple to the height of about 90 feet.

The parish comprises 3748 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The system of agriculture is improving; there is now no waste land, and very little bog, fuel being brought from the opposite side of Lough Dereveragh by water. Limestone and building stone are abundant. A patent exists for holding a court leet for the manor of Multifarnham, but it is not now held; petty sessions are held on alternate Wednesdays. The village comprises 33 houses, and is a constabulary police station; it has a penny-post to Mullingar, and fairs are held on March 4th, May 13th, Sept. 1st, and Dec. 2nd, for the sale of cattle, sheep, and pigs. Lough Dereveragh, or Direvreagh, receives at its northern end the river Inny; and the stream called the Gane, or Gain., also runs into the lake, the extensive shores of which are divided among the baronies of Demifore, Corkaree, and Moygoysh; it is long, winding, and irregular in form, so that its entire surface cannot be seen from any one point. One of the branches on the east presents some scenes of picturesque beauty, having on one shore the hill of Knockross, and on the other that of Knock Eyen, or Ion, which presents an almost perpeudicular face for nearly half its height. The water underneath is exceedingly deep; and about, halfway to the summit is an ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Eyen, or Keyon; a spring, issuing from the rock forming one side of which, is the object of pilgrimages by the peasantry of the surrounding country. From the summit of the hill, both the eastern and western sea may be discerned, and a vast and varied extent of country both to the north and south. On the shore of this piece of water, in a delightful situation, environed by rich plantations, stands Donore, the seat of Sir Percy Nugent, Bart. Around the lake are also Mornington, the seat of Owen Daly, Esq.; Ballincloon, of P. E. Murphy, Esq.; Lacken, of Mrs. Delamar; and Coolure, of Admiral the Hon. Sir T. Pakenham. It is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, forming part of the union of Taghmon, and is also included within the perpetual curacy of Stonehall: the tithes amount to £170. The glebe-house and glebe belong to the perpetual curacy. In the R. C. divisions it is the head of a union or district, comprising also those of Lacken, Leney, and Portneshangan: there are two small chapels, quite inadequate for the congregations; a friary chapel also is attached to the old abbey, and near it is a convent for Friars of the order of St. Francis. About 40 boys and 20 girls are taught in a private school. In a beautiful situation, on the eastern bank of the lake, formerly stood Fahalty, the retreat of Mortimer, Earl of March, and Lord of Meath, in the reign of Hen. IV.: he and his lady, Philippa, daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, third son of Edw. III., made this place their principal residence. The family of Nugent are buried within the abbey of Multifarnham, and their armorial bearings are carved on a stone fixed in the wall.

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

Civil Registration

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Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Multifarnham or Moleyfarnam from the following:

Land and Property

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