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Slater's Directory, 1846

Part 1: Ennis with the village of Clare and neighbourhoods: Description

(Population 879)

ENNIS, the county town of Clare, is a parliamentary borough, in the parish of Drumcliffe, and barony of Islands, 141 miles S.W. from Dublin, 40 S. by E. from Galway, 25 N.W. from Limerick, and 10 E. from Tulla, situated on the river Fergus, navigable for vessels of considerable tonnage to the village of Clare. The place derives it name from Innes or Inish, signifying an island, from the insulation of a considerable space of ground by the river before-mentioned. The town, which is large but irregularly built, carries on an extensive inland trade, and from the place of export (Clare) large quantities of corn are shipped, and coal, groceries, and various goods received from Dublin and England. Ennis was incorporated by charter of James I (1612), and the corporate body styled the 'provost, free burgesses and commonalty of the town of Ennis.' The provost was a magistrate within the old borough, the boundary of which is altered and more strictly defined by the 2nd of Wm. IV. The provost is entitled by charter to hold a court of record for recovery of small debts; it has, however, fallen into disuse, as have the judicial functions of that officer. The general assizes for the county are held in spring and summer; quarter sessions for the eastern division in January, April, July, and October, and petty sessions every Friday. These courts are held in the shire or town hall, an inconvenient and dilapidated building. The county gaol is a large modern structure on the radiating plan, with detached sections for females and debtors. The borough sent two members to the Irish parliament prior to the Union, since which period it has returned one to the imperial parliament the present representative is Hewitt Bridgeman, Esq. The constabulary barrack is formed out of the old county gaol; besides the constabulary force there is the peace preserving police and a revenue police established here.

The parish church is a modernized commodious and handsome structure, with a lofty well-proportioned tower, surmounted by pinnacles. It forms part of the ancient abbey, and was much injured by lightening in 1817, but was renovated by means of a grant from the late Board of First Fruits. The organ was presented in 1825, by the Earl of Egremont. The Catholic chapel, considered the cathedral of Killaloe, will be, when finished, a large and elegant cruciform building, and a great ornament to the town. A friary of the order of St. Francis and an Ursuline convent are established in the vicinity. The other places of worship are a Wesleyan chapel and a meeting house for Christian brethren. The principal charitable institutions of this place are a county infirmary, fever and lying-in hospitals, and a workhouse. Among the schools is the college on the foundation of Erasmus Smith's bequest: it consists of several handsome and roomy buildings, situated on a high and healthful site, convenient to the town, and having an extensive pleasure-ground attached. The endowment supplies professors in classics, science, and modern languages, and some of the most distinguished men have been educated here. There are national and infants' schools, and a large number of girls are gratuitously educated by the sisters at the convent. Contiguous to the parish church are the interesting remains of, perhaps, one of the finest abbeys in Ireland: it was erected by Donagh Carbrac O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, in 1240, in the purest style of Gothic architecture, for conventual Franciscans, and in the days of its ecclesiastical plenitude must have been a superb structure and extensive establishment. The grand eastern window is highly imposing?it is thirty feet high, and consists of five lancet-shape compartments, separated by stone mullions, and is universally admired for its beautifully light proportions and exquisite workmanship. In the chancel is the 'Abbot's chair,' which, with the altar, is richly sculptured with figures in high relief, and some of the ancient monuments, also elaborately sculptured, still exist. On the banks of the Fergus are two ancient square towers, one considerably larger than the other; their origin and their use are alike lost in the obscurity of ages. The market, a good one, is held on Saturday. Fairs the first Saturday after Easter, and the 3rd of September. Population of the parish of Drumcliffe, by the returns made in 1841, 13,211, inclusive of Ennis town 9,318.

CLARE, a village and parish, two miles to the south of Ennis, may be considered the port of that town, as at that place, as before-mentioned, the exports and imports are made. The parish church is a small but neat structure, and the Roman Catholic chapel is new and well built. There is a good barrack here that would accommodate over 300 men. A ledge of rocks, at the bridge, prevents the navigation up to the town. This obstruction is to be deplored, as the depth of water below the bridge is sufficient to float vessels of heavy burthens up close to the town of Ennis.


Part 1: Ennis


Part 1: Ennis: Post Office & Transport