ATHBOY, a market and post-town, and a parish (formerly a borough), in the barony of LUNE, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 5 miles (N. W.) from Trim, and 28 (N. W. by W.) from Dublin; containing 5317 inhabitants, of which number, 1959 are in the town. This place derives its name, signifying in the Irish language "the yellow ford," from its situation on a stream which falls into the river Boyne near Trim. The town, in 1831, contained 346 houses, and is at present a place of very little trade: the road from Oldcastle to Dublin runs through it; there is a very large flour-mill. The market is on Thursday, and is well supplied with corn and provisions. The principal fairs are held on the Thursday before Jan. 28th, May 4th, Aug. 4th, and Nov. 7th, and there are others on March 3rd and 10th, June 22nd and 30th, and Sept. 22nd and 29th, but they are very inconsiderable. Here is a chief station of the constabulary police.
In the 9th of Hen. IV. (1407), a charter was granted on petition from the provost and commonalty, which, after setting forth that the town had been from time immemorial an ancient borough, confirmed all existing privileges, and granted a guild mercatory, freedom from toils and customs throughout the king's dominions, and other immunities. Hen VI., in 1446, gave a confirmatory charter, by which additional customs were also conferred for a term of 60 years. These charters were also confirmed in the 9th of Hen. VII.; and in the 9th of Jas. I. (1612), on a surrender of the corporation property, a charter of inspection and confirmation was granted, under which the corporation was entitled "the Provost, Free Burgesses, and Cominonalty of the Town of Athboy." This charter vested the right of electing the provost in the burgesses and freemen, and the burgesses and all inferior officers in the corporation at large; it ordained that the provost should be a justice of the peace, and prohibited all other justices from acting within the borough, which comprised an extent of one mile beyond the town in every direction: it also granted a court of record, with jurisdiction to the amount of £10. From the second of Elizabeth the borough returned two representatives to the Irish parliament, who were exclusively elected by the members of the corporation; but it was disfranchised at the Union, when the £15,000 compensation money for the loss of this privilege was awarded to the trustees under the will of John, then late Earl of Darnley, to be applied to the trusts of the will. The corporation then fell into disuse, and is now extinct. By patent granted in 1694 to Thomas Bligh, Esq., "the town's lands and commons," and several other denominations of land, were erected into a manor, and power was given to him and his heirs to hold a court leet twice in the year, and a court baron every three weeks, or not so often, before a seneschal; but no manor court has been held, or seneschal appointed, since the beginning of the present century. Petty sessions are held every alternate Thursday by the county magistrates.
The parish extends five Irish miles in length and four in breadth: the land is mostly of very good quality, and is principally under grass; there is an abundance of limestone, used both for building and manure. The principal seats are Ballyfallon, the residence of J. Martley, Esq.; Mitchelstown, of F. Hopkins, Esq.; Athboy Lodge, of J. Noble, Esq.; Frayne, of W. Hopkins, Esq.; Grenanstown, of P. Barnewall, Esq.; Frankville, of F. Welsh, Esq.; Dance's Court, of H. Biddulph Warner, Esq.; and Causestown, of - Thunder, Esq. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Meath, to which the rectory and vicarage of Girly, and the rectories of Moyagher, Rathmore, and Kildalky were united by act of council in 1678, now forming the union of Athboy, in the patronage of the Crown, the Lord-Primate, and the Bishop of Meath: the rectory is appropriate to the Lord-Primate. The tithes of this parish amount to £560, of which £360 is paid to the lord-primate, and £200 to the vicar; and the tithes of the entire union are £486. 3. 4-. The church has an ancient tower, but the body of the building is somewhat modern; the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have lately granted £102 for its repair. The glebe house, situated near the town, was built in 1818, at an expense of £1700, principally defrayed by a gift of £100 and a loan of £1050 from the late Board of First Fruits: the glebe comprises six acres in Athboy and 1- in Girly, valued at £2 per acre. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising the parishes of Athboy and Rathmore: the chapel is now in course of re-erection, and when completed will be a handsome and commodious edifice in the ancient style of architecture, with a steeple 90 feet high; it will be lighted by five windows of considerable dimensions on each side, and three at each end, and will have three entrances in front. The parochial school, held in the market-house, is supported under the patronage of the Earl of Darnley: and there is an infants' school. At Frayne is a school for boys and girls under the patronage of Lady Chapman, of Killua Castle. About 150 boys and 90 girls are instructed in these schools; and in the other private pay schools there are 112 boys and 54 girls. There is a dispensary; and three alms-houses were founded by the late Earl of Darnley, containing apartments for twelve poor widows, who have each an annual allowance of £5. 5., with a garden and ten kishes of turf: about 43 poor out-pensioners also receive weekly allowances from his lordship's successor. A monastery of Carmelite friars was founded here early in the 14th century, which, with its possessions, was granted in the 34th of Hen. VIII. to Thomas Casey.There are some picturesque remains of the ancient church, and at Frayne are considerable ruins of two ancient castles, and of a third at Causestown. This town confers the inferior title of Viscount on the Earl of Darnley.