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Rathaspeck, Kildare

Historical Description

RATHASPECK, a parish, partly in the barony of FASSADINING, county of KILKENNY, and partly in the barony of BALLYADAMS, but chiefly in that of SLIEVEMARGUE, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER, 5 miles (N. E.) from Castlecomer, on the road to Athy; containing 4032 inhabitants. This place derives its name, which signifies "the Bishop's Fort," from a rath near the old church. Here was anciently a small religious establishment, probably a cell to that on the townland of Clonpierce, about two miles distant: the foundation of both is attributed to the O'Mores. The parish comprises 8097 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and contains quarries of excellent flag and building stone. Here are the Doonane, Newtown, Rushes, Mandubeagh, Corgee, and Wolfe's Hill collieries; the last-named is drained by a level, all the others by steam-engines, and they supply stone coal to all parts of the surrounding country, which is principally conveyed by carriers. The shafts are first sunk through clay, then succeeds a hard green rock, and next slaty strata, in contact with which is the coal: it is worked on either side by regular gangs, each member having a specific duty; the number of each gang is about thirty, and when the pit is double worked there are sixty; each crew works ten hours, but they are particularly observant of every kind of holiday. Gracefield, the seat of Mrs. Kavanagh, is pleasantly situated on the side of a hill, commanding most extensive views, and is backed with thriving plantations; Inch is the residence of W. Conner, Esq. There is a chief constabulary police station at Wolfe's Hill, and other stations at Slat and Mandubeagh. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Leighlin, and in the patronage of the Bishop, who annexed to it the small parish of Templedecolm in 1837: the tithes amount to £320. The church was built, in 1814, by aid of a gift of £220 from the late Board of First Fruits, and for its repair the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £253. In the R. C. divisions the parish is partly in the union or district of Mayo and Doonane, and partly in that of Ballyadams; it contains two chapels, one at Doonane, and the other at Wolfe's Hill belonging to the union of Ballyadams. The parochial school is at Mullaghmore; and there is a school at Gracefield, supported by Mrs. Kavanagh. In five private schools about 200 boys and 130 girls are taught; and there are two Sunday schools. The present church of Rathaspeck was erected out of the ruins of the ancient religious buildings, under the site of which there were formerry three vaulted chambers, in one of which was a well of the purest water.' About a quarter of a mile north of the church is Miltown castle, or Ballyvuilling, consisting of a square tower and some other remains of a fortified mansion of unknown antiquity, with a modern dwelling-house annexed. Numerous relics of antiquity have been found, including ancient Anglo-Irish coins, a short sword of brass, and a brooch; and at Miltown castle spear-heads and other curiosities have been discovered.

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

Civil Registration

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Directories & Gazetteers

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Land and Property

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