A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
first published his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in 1837.
NEWTOWN-BARRY, or ST. MARY'S, a market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of SCARAWALSH, county of WEXFORD, and province of LEINSTER, 22 miles (N. W.) from Wexford, and 50 (S.) from Dublin; containing 3592 inhabitants, of which number, 1430 are in the town. This town owes its origin and name to its founder, James Barry, Esq., who was sheriff of Dublin in 1577, and progenitor of the Barons of Santry; it came into the possession of John Maxwell, Esq., afterwards created Lord Farnham, by marriage, in 1719, with the daughter and heiress of James Barry, Esq., and is now the property of the present lord. In the disturbances of 1798 this place was attacked, on the 1st of June, by the insurgents, who obtained possession of it for a short time, but were soon driven out by the troops of the line and yeomanry. The town, formerly called Buncloady, from its situation at the confluence of the rivers Clody and Slaney, is situated on the confines of the counties of Carlow and Wexford, which are here bounded by those rivers. It was originally built in the form of an irregular square, but has since been extended in various directions, and in 1831 contained 250 houses, most of which are well built, and the whole has a cheerful and thriving appearance.
The western suburb extends into the parish of Barragh, in the county of Carlow, with which it is connected by a bridge over the river Clody; and the town occupies a sequestered and beautifully romantic site on the banks of the Slaney, over which is a stone bridge of seven arches, and at the base of a chain of mountains stretching along the borders of Carlow and Wexford. The environs are embellished with several elegant seats embosomed in thriving plantations, which acquire, from their proximity to the water, a freshness of verdure finely contrasting with the dark foliage of the surrounding woods. Adjoining the town, though in the parish of Kilrush, are barracks for the military, of whom a detachment is generally stationed here. The market, chiefly for provisions, is on Saturday, and is one of the best-attended in the south of Ireland, there being no other within ten miles of it; and fairs, chiefly for cattle, are held on Jan. 4th, April 29tb, and the 17th and 18th of June, and for coarse linen and flannel on Aug. 20th, Sep. 14th, and the 4th and 30th of Nov. A constabulary police force and a detachment of the revenue police are stationed here; and petty sessions, which, previously to 1831, were held weekly, are now held on alternate Saturdays.
The parish comprises about 8680 statute acres of good land, chiefly under tillage; the system of agriculture is improved, and green crops for winter feeding have been partially introduced; the only waste land is mountain on which is a bog that supplies the inhabitants with fuel. On the banks of the Slaney is found pebble limestone, which is burnt for manure by the proprietors of the adjacent lands; and a marl pit has been recently discovered on the estate of Rylands, which is the only one in the neighbourhood. Limestone and culm for the whole of this district are brought, at a very great expense, from the county of Carlow, between which and Enniscorthy a communication might easily be made by a railroad along the bank of the river Slaney, which from Enniscorthy to this place preserves a continued level, eminently adapted to the purpose. The expense would be very inconsiderable, when compared with the advantages resulting from it to so wide a district, and might be defrayed by the freight of limestone and culm alone, independently of the remuneration that might arise from the facility of conveyance it would afford for the produce of the extensive quarries in the neighbourhood.
Slate of excellent quality, building stone and granite abound in the immediate vicinity: the principal slate quarries are at Drumcree and Glaslacken, the former the property of Lord Farnham, now under lease to Captain Browne, and the latter the property of A. Colclough, Esq.; these quarries formerly were very extensively worked, and the slate in great estimation; but since the introduction of Welsh slate, the demand has considerably diminished. The granite is found in loose masses on the declivities of both banks of the river Clody, and some of the best quality is found in the deer-park of Carrigduff, adjoining the Woodfield demesne; the quarries of building stone are very extensively worked. Coal is supposed to exist in the townland of Ryland, the property of Lord Farnham, but it has not yet been sought for.
In the town is a mansion, formerly the residence of Lord Farnham before he succeeded to the title, and now in the occupation of Mrs. St. George Irwine; the gardens are laid out with great taste and richly stocked with many varieties of choice plants. In the vicinity, but principally in the parish of Kilrush, is Woodfield, the present seat of Lord Farnham, a handsome mansion beautifully situated in a richly wooded demesne extending into the parishes of Barragh and Clonegal; the grounds are tastefully disposed and embellished with verdant lawns sloping to the margin of the river. Weston Cottage, the recently erected residence of R. West, Esq.; Rylandville, that of G. Warren, Esq.; and the Glebe-house, of the Rev. Alex. McClintock, are in the parish. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in agriculture and in the stone and slate quarries, and near the town is an extensive flour-mill.
The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ferns, separated from the parish of Templeshanbo by act of council, in 1776, and in the patronage of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £369. 4. 7 ½. The glebe-house, towards the erection of which the late Board of First Fruits contributed a gift of £100, is a handsome residence, built in 1808; the glebe comprises 13 acres. The church is a neat structure, with a square tower surmounted by a spire, which, rising above the foliage of the grove in which it is situated, forms an interesting and conspicuous feature in the distant view of the town; the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £548 for its repair; the churchyard is kept in neat order, and the graves are annually decked with flowers.
In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district formerly called Marshalstown, comprising also part of the parishes of Monart and Templeshanbo, and small portions of St. Mary's Enniscorthy and Kilrush. The chapel, recently erected near the northeastern suburb, but within the parish of Kilrush, is a handsome edifice with a lofty pinnacled tower, of which the lower stage forms a hall to the adjoining residence of the priest. A chapel of ease has also been built in the village of Kilmashall, and the old chapel converted partly into a residence for the curate and partly into a school, to be placed in connection with the New Board of Education; there are chapels also at Marshalstown and Castle-Dockrell.
About 260 children are instructed in three public schools, of which one is on Erasmus Smith's foundation; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden; the school-house was enlarged in 1814, by the trustees and the late Lady Farnham, who also presented to it a lending library of 200 volumes, for the use of the parish; and Lord Farnham contributes an annual donation of £10 for its further support, and also £12 per ann. for the support of another school. A school is also supported by the parish priest, who gives the use of a house and an acre of land. There are also five private schools, in which are about 330 children; and a Sunday school is held in the old parochial school-house, which has been enlarged for that purpose. A dispensary is open three days in the week for the medical relief of the poor, who, if unable to attend, are visited at their own dwellings. The fever hospital, built by subscription about ten years since, contains beds for 12, and is capable of receiving 20, patients: the medical attendant is paid £120 per ann. for attending the dispensary and £20 for visiting the hospital.
Near Clohamon bridge are some slight remains of a castle, now rapidly disappearing; the principal gateway retains the grooves for the portcullis, and the fosse by which it was surrounded is still remaining. In the wood adjoining the town is a very strong chalybeate spring, now grown into disuse; and at Kilmashall are the ruins of an ancient church, near which is a holy well, formerly held in great veneration, and much resorted to by pilgrims.