TRACTON, a parish, in the barony of KINNALEA, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 4 miles (S.) from Carrigaline, on the road to Roberts-Cove, and on that from Ringabella to Kinsale ; containing 2838 inhabitants. An abbey of Cistercian monks was founded here by the family of McCarthy in 1224, the monks having been brought from Whiteland, in Carmarthen-shire, South Wales, called also " De Alba Landa," and " Albo Tractu," whence the name of this parish is thought to be derived. In 1375, Edw. III. confirmed the several possessions which had been granted to it. According to Dr. Smith, great numbers of pilgrims annually visited this place on Holy Thursday, to pay their devotions to a piece of the real cross that the monks were reputed to possess, which was presented by Barry Oge, and preserved here with religious venera-tion until the suppression of the monasteries. The abbot regularly sat as a lord of parliament. In 1568 the abbey and its possessions were granted by Queen Elizabeth to Henry Guilford and Sir James Craig, on payment of a fine of £7. 15. ; the latter afterwards assigned his interest in it to Richard, first Earl of Cork, who obtained a grant of it in the 7th of Jas. I. ; it now forms part of the estate of the Earl of Shannon.
The parish comprises 2558 statute acres, as ap-plotted under the tithe act. The land is very good, and is chiefly in dairy farms ; about one-fourth is arable, producing mostly wheat and potatoes: the manure used is principally sea-sand, which is brought to Menane bridge, or Ringabella creek, in boats manned with three men each ; where also sea-coal, the fuel mostly used, is landed. Near Tracton is a small bog. At Ahnacarriga, the property of the Earl of Shannon, are valuable lead mines, worked some years since but now discontinued. At Ringabella are very extensive works, conducted by an English company of miners, and employing upwards of 400 persons ; the ore raised is very good. Not far from the church are rocks of excellent slate, but the quarries are very indifferently worked. The river is navigable for hookers up to Menane bridge, about three miles from the bay ; it is very intricate on account of the serpentine course it takes, but not dangerous. A canal has been contemplated, to commence at the bridge and to continue through the valley to Belgooley, about ten miles, which would be very beneficial, as great quantities of manure are obliged now to be carried overland. The gentlemen's seats are Ringabella, the residence of S. A. Austin, Esq. ; Gurtnagrenane, of L. Shea, Esq. ; Broomley, of G. Daunt, Esq. ; and Fountainstown, of F. Hodder, Esq.
The living is an impropriate cure, in the diocese of Cork, united to those of Kilmony, Kilpatrick, Ballyfoyle, Kinnure and Clontead, and in the patronage of the Earl of Shannon, in whom the rectory is impropriate: the tithes amount to £403. 10., wholly payable to the impropriator. The income of the perpetual curate arises from £25 from the Earl of Shannon, and £50 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The glebe--house was erected by aid of a gift of £450 and a loan of £50, in 1814. from the late Board of First Fruits ; the glebe comprises 24 acres: both the house and land have been given up to the original proprietor from whom the Board purchased the land, although £650 had been expended in building and £500 as a fine, so as to reduce the rent of the land. The church, surrounded by a grove of trees at the bottom of a deep valley, forms a pleasingly picturesque object ; it is a plain building, with a small tower and low spire, erected upon the site of the ancient abbey, by aid of a loan of £1000, in 1817, from the same Board. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, also called Kinnalea, comprising this parish and those of Nohoval, Kilpatrick, Ballyfoyle, and Kinnure ; and containing two chapels ; that at Menane bridge is a large neat edifice, recently enlarged and improved by subscription. About 200 children are educated in the parochial and two other schools. Inconsiderable remains of the old abbey may be traced ; and numerous sculptured stones, scattered around the neighbourhood, afford some idea of the magnificent character of the structure. Tracton gave the title of Baron to James Dennis, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, in 1781, which title is extinct ; a splendid monument of white marble has been erected to his memory in the cathedral at Cork. A chalybeate spring exists here, but is not now used.