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Coolbanagher or Coolbenger

COOLBANAGHER, or COOLBENGER, a parish, in the barony of PORTNEHINCH, QUEEN'S county and province of LEINSTER; containing, with the parish of Ardea or Ardrea, the village of Emo, and part of the town of Mountmellick, 7456 inbabitants. It comprises, exclusively of Ardea, 8623 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The soil is generally fertile, and there is a considerable tract of waste land, which is mostly exhausted bog, also a large tract of valuable bog; the system of agriculture is daily improving. Limestone abounds, and is quarried for building, repairing the roads, and burning into lime for manure. The principal seats are Emo Park, the residence of the Earl of Portarlington; Woodbrook, of Major Chetwood; Lauragh, of the Rev. Sir Erasmus Dixon Burrows, Bart.; Knightstown, of Joseph Kemmis, Esq.; Killeen, of W. Kemmis, Esq.; Portnehinch, of J. Tibeauds, Esq.; and the Grove, of Gen. Archdall. The Dublin Grand canal passes through the parish to Mountmellick; also a tributary stream Which, running northward, falls into the Barrow at Portnehinch bridge. Petty sessions are held at the Commons of Newchurch every Friday.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Kildare, episcopally united, in 1804, to the rectory of Ardea or Ardrea, together forming the union of Coolbanagher, in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes amount to £276. 18. 5½. per annum. The extent of the union, as applotted under the tithe act, is 15,763 statute acres; and the tithes for the whole amount to £536. 6. 1¾. per annum. The glebe-house, in Ardea, is a handsome residence, built in 1790: the glebe comprises 26½ acres. The church, also in Ardea, is a handsome edifice, erected at the expense of the late Lord Portarlington, on the summit of an eminence not far from the southern extremity of the union. In the R. C. divisions this parish is in the unions or districts of Portarlington and Mountmellick; the chapel, at Emo, is a very neat edifice. The parochial school is near the church; there is another at the Commons of Newchurch; a spacious slated building was erected for one under the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, at an expense of £500, chiefly defrayed by I. C. Chetwood, Esq.; and there are national schools at Moret, Emo, and the Rock: in all these about 700 children are instructed. There are remains of the ancient churches of Coolbanagher, Portnehinch, Kilmainham, and the Ivy church near Acragar; also ruins of the castles of Moret, Coolbanagher, and Tennikill. In the vicinity of Moret castle are the venerable remains of Shane Castle, formerly called "Sion" or "Shehan Castle," which was the head of a manor, when in the possession of Sir Robert Preston, in 1397, but it has shared the fate of the other castles of Leix. During the parliamentary war it was seized by the insurgents, in 1641; taken from them the year following by Sir Charles Coote, retaken by Owen Roe O'Nial in 1646, and finally surrendered, in 1650, to Cols. Hewson and Reynolds, who demolished the outworks, and left nothing but the present building remaining. It is situated on a high conical hill, and was fitted up in the last century by Dean Coote, who converted it into a very pleasant residence. -See EMO and MOUNTMELLICK.

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