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A look at Abbeylara in the 1840s

ABBEYLARAGH, a parish, in the union and barony of Granard, county of Longford, and province of Leinster, 1 mile (S. H.) from Granard, and 6 1/2 miles (N. W. by W.) from Castlepollard, on the road from Granard to Dublin ; containing 3084 inhabitants, of which number 194 are in the village. The monastery of Lerha, at this place, is said to have been founded by St. Patrick, who appointed St. Guasacht its first abbot. It was refounded for monks of the Cistercian order, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, in 1205, by Lord
Richard Tuit, who settled in this part soon after the first invasion of Ireland by the English, and, being killed
by the fall of a tower at Athlone, was interred here in 1211. The parish is divided into two nearly equal parts
by that of Granard, which intersects it from north to south: the eastern division is situated on Laugh Keinaile, and the western on Lough Gownagh ; both together comprise 9150 statute acres. The lands are chiefly under tillage. The principal crops are wheat and oats; and there are large tracts of bog, and abundance of limestone. Among the gentlemen’s seats are, Fernsboro’, situated in a finely planted demesne ; and Kilrea, pleasantly seated on Lough Gownagh. The village, in 1841, contained 28 houses: here is a station of the constabulary police. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Ardagh, and in the patronage of the Bishop ; the rectory is impropriate in the Marquess of Westmeath and Messrs. Armstrong. The tithe rent-charge is £195, of which £82 are payable to the , marquess, £34 to Messrs. Armstrong, and £”9 to the vicar. The church, a neat plain edifice, was erected in 1839, and has accommodation for 100 persons; the cost, £554, was defrayed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Divine service is also performed twice in the week in two school-houses, respectively situated at the extremities of the parish.

There are four acres of glebe. In the Roman Catholic divisions, the western portion of Abbeylaragh is included in the union or district of Columbkill, and to the eastern is united the northern part of the parish of Granard – the chapel in the village is a large and well-built edifice. Of the ancient monastery, a fine arch supporting one side of the conventual church, several smaller arches (all of which, except one, are blocked up), and a winding staircase still entire, are the only remaining portions.

Extract from: Lewis – A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland

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