LISMORE, a market and post-town (formerly a parliamentary borough), a parish, and the seat of a diocese, partly in the barony of CONDONS and CLONGIBBONS, in the county of CORK, but chiefly in that of COSHMORE and COSHBRIDE, county of WATERFORD, and in the province of MUNSTER, 34 miles (S. S. W.) from Waterford, and 109- (S. W. by S.) from Dublin, on the mail-coach road from Waterford to Cork ; containing, with the post-town of Cappoquin (which is separately described), 14,938 inhabitants, of which number, 2894 are in the town of Lismore. This place, called anciently Dun-sginne, from an old fortification to the east of the town (now called the Round Hill), to which, on his expulsion from Rathenin by King Blathmac, in 631, St. Carthagh fled for shelter, derived its present name, signifying " a great house or village," from a monastery founded here by that saint, which subsequently became a celebrated seat of learning and the head of a diocese. St. Carthagh, who died in 638, and was interred in his own church, was succeeded by St. Cataldus, afterwards Bishop of Tarentum, in Italy, whose successors were indifferently styled abbots or bishops ; and the school, which was attended by numbers not only from the neighbouring districts, but also from remote countries, was in the zenith of its reputation about the commencement of the 8th century. The establishment continued to flourish ; and such was the fame of this place, that not less than 20 churches were founded in its immediate vicinity ; but in 812 it was plundered by the Danes, who, from that period till 915, five times repeated their devastations. In 978 the town and abbey were burned by the Ossorians ; in 1095 the town was destroyed by an accidental fire, and in 1116, 1138, and 1157 both the town and the monastery suffered from conflagration. Hen. II., after landing at Waterford, marched to this place, where he was met by the chiefs of Munster, who with the archbishops, bishops, and abbots of Ireland swore allegiance to him, and gave him a charter confirming the kingdom of Ireland to him and his heirs for ever. While here the king chose a site, and gave the necessary orders for the erection of a fortress for its defence. In 1173, Raymond Le Gros, with the English army, marched to this place with the plunder they had taken in Ophaly ; and after ravaging the city and neighbourhood, proceeded on his route to Dungarvan. A castle was erected here, in 1185, by John, Earl of Morton, and Lord of Ireland : but four years afterwards it was taken by the Irish, who put Robert de Barry, the commander, and the whole of the garrison to the sword ; it was, however, soon afterwards rebuilt by the king, and for many ages continued to be the residence of the bishops of the see, till Miler Magrath, archbishop of Cashel and bishop of Lismore, in 1518, granted the manor and other lands to Sir Walter Raleigh, from whom, with the rest of his possessions, they were purchased by Sir Richard Boyle, afterwards created Earl of Cork. The castle was greatly strengthened and improved by the Earl, who built three other forts in the neighbourhood, one of which was at the park, one at Ballygarran, and the third at Ballyinn ; he also obtained a charter of incorporation for the town, and the grant of a market and fairs. At the commencement of the war in 1641, the castle was besieged by a force of 5000 Irish under Sir Rich. Belling, but was bravely defended by the Earl's son, Lord Broghill, who compelled them to abandon the attempt. In 1643, a party of 200 insurgents, in retaliation for the destruction of Clogheen by the garrison of this place, entered the town and burned most of the thatched houses and cabins, killed 60 of the inhabitants, and carried off several prisoners ; and in July of the same year, Lieut.-Gen. Purcell, commander-in-chief of the insurgent forces, at the head of 7000 foot and 900 horse, with three pieces of artillery, marched to Cappoquin, where he remained for four days laying waste the adjacent country ; and being there joined by Lord Muskerry, he advanced to besiege the castle of Lismore. After a week's siege, a cessation of arms was mutually agreed on, and the assailants immediately retired ; but the castle suffered great injury during this war, and in 1645, being burned by Lord Castlehaven, it was reduced almost to a ruin, and the town became a neglected village, consisting only of a few miserable cabins. In 1686, the Earl of Clarendon, on his progress through Munster, passed a night in this castle, which was also visited by Jas. II., in 1689 ; and in 1785 the Duke of Rutland, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, held a council in the castle, from which he issued several proclamations. The castle, with all its lands and other property, descended from the Earls of Cork and Burlington, by marriage, to the ancestor of his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, who is the present proprietor.
The town, which has been greatly improved by the late and present Duke, is romantically situated on the summit of a steep eminence, rising to the height of 93 feet from the southern bank of the river Blackwater, over which is a fine bridge of stone, erected by the late Duke of Devonshire at an expense of £9000, and of which the central arch has a span of 100 feet. Some new streets have been made : the total number of houses, in 1831, was 366, of which several are neat and well built ; the place has a cheerful and thriving appearance. The castle, restored by the late Duke in 1812, forms an imposing object, rising majestically from the elevated bank of the river, and occupying the verge of a precipitous cliff, partly clothed with wood and towering above the foliage which conceals its base. The approach is through an outer gateway, called the Riding House, from which a long avenue of stately trees, flanked with high stone walls, leads to the principal entrance through a lofty gateway tower, over which are the arms of the first Earl of Cork, into the square of the castle, of which several of the towers are still in their original state, though other portions of the building have been restored and embellished in a more modern style. The state apartments are spacious and very elegantly fitted up ; the drawing-rooms are hung with splendid tapestry and paintings by the first masters. From the summits of the tower and the flat roofs of the building are magnificent views of the surrounding country ; in front is the lofty mountain of Knockmeledown, rising above the range of bills extending eastward, from which a deep ravine thickly wooded and alternated with projecting masses of rugged rock appearing through the foliage, descends to the vale immediately below it, which is embellished with handsome residences and rich plantations ; and near its apparent extremity is seen the town of Cappoquin, with the spire of its church and its bridge of light structure over the river. In the grounds are some remarkably fine yew trees of great age, forming an avenue and assuming the appearance of cloisters. The trade is very inconsiderable ; but on the river, immediately below the castle, is an extensive salmon fishery, and during the season great quantities of fish are taken, which are packed in ice, and exported to Liverpool and to other distant ports. The Blackwater affords great facility of commerce with the port of Youghal ; the navigation has been extended from the point to which the tide reaches, about a mile to the east, up to the bridge by a canal constructed at the expense of the late Duke, by means of which corn and flour are exported, and timber, iron, coal, and miscellaneous articles are imported in lighters plying between this place and Youghal. There are no stated market days : the fairs are on May 25th, Sept. 25th, and Nov. 12th ; and there is a constabulary police station.
By charter of Jas. I., granted in 1613 to Sir Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork, the town, with the circumjacent lands within a mile and a half round the parish church, was made a free borough ; and the corporation was directed to consist of a portreeve, free burgesses and commonalty. The charter also invested the corporation with the privilege of returning two members to the Irish parliament, which they continued to exercise till the Union, when the borough was disfranchised, and the £15,000 awarded as compensation was paid to the trustees under the will of the late Earl of Cork and Burlington, whose seneschal was the returning officer. Whether the officers of the corporation, nominated in the charter, were ever regularly chosen, cannot be ascertained ; but it appears that few municipal functions were exercised, except by the seneschal of the manor, who still holds his court, at which debts not exceeding £10 are recoverable every third week ; but since the Union the corporation has become virtually extinct. Petty sessions are held on alternate Wednesdays : the sessions-house is a spacious building, and there is also a bridewell.
The soil is in general fertile, and the lands alternately arable and pasture, with very little waste, except roads and river, and a small quantity of bog ; the system of agriculture is improved. Limestone abounds in the southern parts of the parish, and towards the north is found in strata of great depth. Slate of good quality for roofing is quarried on the north side of the Blackwater and at Glenribben, and there are several other quarries, of which one near the bridge of Lismore has been worked for a long time ; there is slate also on the side of Knockmeledown ; and coarse clay slate ; silicious rock, conglomerate, and sandstone are found in various parts. Iron, copper, and lead ores are frequently discovered, and have formerly been worked, but discontinued for want of fuel ; a lead mine was discovered in 1836, a little below Cappoquin, near the navigable part of the Blackwater, on the estate of Mr. Usher, but it is not yet worked. The scenery abounds with features of grandeur and beauty ; on the north, towards the county of Tipperary, the parish is bounded by a mountainous ridge, of which the highest point is the conical summit of Knockmeledown, 2700 feet above the level of the sea, commanding a magnificent and extensive prospect, embracing the rock of Cashel and its cathedral church ; and the ocean, with the bays of Youghal and Dungarvan. On the summit of this mountain, Mr. Eceles, a writer on electricity, was buried in 1781, at his own request. Some very rich scenery is also observable on the roads to Clogheen and Cappoquin, about two miles distant ; in various places deep ravines intersect the range of hills, and the whole of the adjoining district presents features of interest and variety. The principal seats are Tourin, the residence of Sir R. Musgrave, Bart., composed partly of an ancient castle, and commanding an extensive and picturesque view ; Ballysaggartmore, of Arthur Keily, Esq., in an ample and tastefully planted demesne near the river, also commanding some fine views ; Flower Hill, of B. Drew, Esq., a beautiful residence in the cottage style, surrounded by richly diversified scenery ; Fort William, of J. Gumbleton, Esq., a handsome demesne on the opposite side of the Blackwater, in which a new house is now being erected by the proprietor ; Glencairne, of Gervaise Bushe, Esq., a handsome residence beautifully situated ; Ballygally, the occasional residence of 0. Holmes Jackson, Esq. ; Glanbeg, of G. Bennett Jackson, Esq. ; Tourtain, of T. Foley, Esq. ; Ballyinn, of P. Foley, Esq. ; Ballyrafter, of M. Quinlan, Esq., M. D. ; and Salterbridge, of A. Chearnley, Esq., beautifully situated in thriving plantations. At Ballyinn are some flour-mills.
The SEE of LISMORE, soon after the arrival of the English, was enlarged by the annexation of the ancient see of Ardmore. Bishop Felix, who succeeded to the prelacy in 1179, gave the church of St. John to the abbey of Thomas-Court, near Dublin ; and from this time fierce disputes were carried on between the prelates of this see and the bishops of Waterford, which were frequently renewed and continued by several of his successors, till 1358, when, during the prelacy of Bishop Reve, the two sees were united; and continued to be held as one by Thomas Le Reve, bishop of Lismore and Waterford, and by his successors till the passing of the Church Temporalities' Act, in the 3rd and 4th of Wm. IV., when, on the decease of Dr. Bourke, both were annexed to the archiepiscopal see of Cashel, and the temporalities became vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Lismore is one of the eleven dioceses which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Cashel: it includes the greater part of the county of Waterford and part of Tipperary, extending 38 miles in length and 37 in breadth, and comprising an estimated superficies of 323,500 acres, of which 92,000 are in Tipperary and the remainder in Waterford ; the lands belonging to the see and its gross revenue are comprised in the return for the see of Waterford. The chapter consists of a dean, precentor, chancellor, treasurer, archdeacon, and the prebendaries of Tulloghorton, Dysart, Donoughmore, Kilrossanty, Modeligo, Kilgobinet, Seskinan, and Clashmore. There are five vicars choral, who were first instituted by Bishop Christopher about the year 1230, and are all appointed by the dean, who has a peculiar jurisdiction over the parishes of Lismore, Tallow, and Macollop during eleven months of the year, till inhibited by the bishop, a month before the episcopal visitation ; he has also a right to appoint a registrar, and can grant licences under his own consistorial seal ; the deanery, it is said, may be held by a layman. There are comprehended in the see the rural deaneries of Lismore, Whitechurch, Dungarvan, Carrick, Clonmel, and Cahir. The number of parishes in the diocese is 76, comprised in 43 benefices, of which 23 are unions of two or more parishes, and 20 single parishes ; of these, 6 are in the patronage of the Crown, 26 in that of the Archbishop of Cashel, and the remainder in lay patronage. There are in the diocese 36 churches, and one other episcopal place of worship, and 15 glebe-houses.
In the R. C. divisions the diocese is united with that of Waterford, together forming one of the seven bishopricks suffragan to the archiepiscopal see of Cashel: it contains 65 chapels ; the number of parochial benefices and clergy is stated in the account of the see of Waterford.
The cathedral church, dedicated to St. Carthagh, the only one remaining of the numerous ancient churches of this place, and now used as the parochial church, after being almost destroyed in the reign of Elizabeth by Edmund Fitzgibbon, called the "White Knight," was restored in 1663 at the expense of the Earl of Cork. It is a handsome structure, chiefly in the later English style, with a square tower surmounted by a light and elegant spire, which were added to it some few years since, when extensive alterations and repairs were made. The entrance is at the extremity of the south transept under a pure Norman arch of elegant design ; the choir, in which the parochial service is performed, is embellished with windows of stained glass, executed by the late George McAllister, of Dublin ; and the bishop's throne and prebendal stalls are of oak richly carved. The only ancient monument now remaining is one to the family of Mac Grath, dated 1548, and very richly sculptured ; there are some handsome tablets to the memory of the late Dean Scott, Archdeacon Ryan, 3. H. Lovett, Esq., and to the families of Musgrave, Chearnley, and others. The economy fund, on an average of three years ending May 1831, amounted to £823. 10. 8. per ann., arising from the tithes of the parishes of Lismore and Macollop, it is appropriated to the payment of two preachers in the cathedral, who have respectively stipends of £80 and £65 ; to the curate of Cappoquin, whose stipend is £90, and to the payment of salaries to the cathedral officers, and repairs.
The rectory of Lismore. has been united from time immemorial to that of Macollop, and both are appropriate to the economy fund of the cathedral ; the vicarage is also united to that of Macollop, and both are appropriate to the vicars choral, who have cure of souls. The tithes amount to £1969. 4. 7. for both parishes, which, with the exception of four townlands in the county of Cork, comprise about 60,000 statute acres ; there is no glebe-house, but a residence for the Archdeacon. The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church ; the chapel is a large and neat edifice, and there is a chapel also at Ballyduff. There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the third class,, and for Wesleyan Methodists. About 650 children are taught in six public schools, of which the classical school is endowed with a house and £30 per ann. by the late Earl of Cork ; two are partly supported by the Dean and Chapter and vicars choral, one of which is aided by a bequest of £17 per ann. from the late Mr. Magner, of Boston, in the United States ; two by Sir R. Musgrave and Capt. Bushe, and one by the Duke of Devonshire. There are also 15 private schools, in which are about 700 children, and a Sunday school. Six almshouses were founded and endowed by the first Earl of Cork for decayed Protestant soldiers ; and there are a fever hospital and dispensary. Mr. Lovett, in 1805, bequeathed £500 to the poor. At Kilbree are some remains of a castle built by King John, situated on an eminence commanding the Blackwater. There are vestiges of a double and single trench in this parish, the former, called Rian-Bo-Padruic, extending eastward from Knockmeledown, and twice crossing the river in its line towards Ardmore ; and the latter from Cappoquin along the side of the mountains into the county of Cork. Halfway between Lismore and Cappoquin is a weak chalybeate water, and there is another between Lismore and Knockmeledown ; there is also a very strong chaly beate spring near Glenmore. Near the church are two small caves, and one in the grove near the castle ; there is also a cave at Ballymartin, through which flows a rivulet ; there are numerous circular intrenchments in the parish, especially on both sides of the high road to Dungarvan and the mountains. Roger Boyle, first Earl of Orrery. and fifth son of Richard, first Earl of Cork, an eminent statesman and soldier ; Robert Boyle, his brother, the celebrated natural philosopher ; and Jonathan Henry Lovett, distinguished by his attainments in the Persian, Hindostanee, and Arabic languages, and who died off the Cape of Good Hope, in 1805, on his voyage from India, in the 25th year of his age, were natives of this parish. Lismore gives the titles of Baron and Viscount to the family of O'Callaghan.