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Local Studies Department

Lewis's Topographical Dictionary 1837

Towns & Villages
CLANE

CLANE, a post-town and parish (formerly a market-town), in the barony of CLANE, county of KILDARE, and province of LEINSTER, 4 miles (N.N.W.) from Naas, and 14 miles (W.S.W.) from Dublin; containing 2121 inhabitants, of which number 1031 are in the town. This place, which gives name to the barony, is of very great antiquity, and appears to have derived its present appellation from Cluaine, in the Irish language signifying a "sanctuary," or "sacred retreat". The town most probably owes its origin to the foundation of an abbey in the sixth century, by St. Ailbe, who made St. Senchell the elder its first abbot; and in which a great synod was held in 1162, under Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh, assisted by 26 bishops and a great number of abbots, when a decree was passed that no person should be admitted Professor of Divinity in any college in Ireland, who had not studied at Armagh. In 1272, a Franciscan convent was founded here by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, the third Lord Ophaley. This establishment flourished till the dissolution, and was, with all its appurtenances, assigned, in the 24th of Hen. VIII., to Robert Eustace, John Trevor, and others in capite.

A castle was built here, but at what time or by whom does not appear; it added greatly to the importance of the town, but has long been in ruins. The town, in which a few houses were burned by the king's troops during the disturbances of 1798, is pleasantly situated on the river Liffey, over which is a bridge of six arches, and in 1831 comprised 225 houses neatly built. The woollen manufacture is carried on to a small extent. The market, from its vicinity to that of Naas, has fallen into disuse; but fairs, chiefly for the sale of cattle, sheep, and pigs, are held on March 28th, April 28th, July 25th, and Oct. 15th. A constabulary police station has been established in the town; and petty sessions are held by the county magistrates every alternate Saturday.

The parish comprises 2380 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the greater portion is under tillage, the soil is fertile, and the system of agriculture improved. There are quarries of good limestone, which are worked with success; and limestone, lime, and sand are sent to Dublin by the Grand Canal, which passes within two miles of the town. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Kildare, episcopally united to the vicarages of Mainham and Clonshamboe, and the rectory of Killybegs, together forming the union of Clane, the patronage of which is disputed by Lord Kingsland: the rectory is impropriate in the representatives of Lord Falconberg. The tithes of the parish amount to £188.11.10½. of which £99.2.11½. is payable to the impropriators, and £89.8.11. to the vicar. The church, an ancient structure, has been lately modernised; it is a neat edifice with a tower and spire, and is kept in repair by a small estate called Economy Lands, now producing about £60 per annum. The glebe-house is a handsome building: the glebe lands for the union comprise 29 acres.

In the R. C. divisions this parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also the parishes of Clane, Balrahan, Ballynefagh, Timahoe, and Mainham, and containing three chapels, situated respectively in the three first-named parishes; that of Clane is a plain cruciform building in good repair. The parochial school is maintained by subscription among the Protestant inhabitants; the school-house is a building of stone, erected at an expense of £300. A Roman Catholic free school, formerly supported by the Dublin Patrician Society, is now under the National Board of Education; the school-house was built in 1819, at an expense of £300; and there are two schools supported by subscription. In these schools are about 200 children; and there is also a pay school, in which are 52 children.

At Betaghstown is an endowed school, which was suspended for several years, but, in 1824, the Court of Chancery passed a decree for its revival. A dispensary is supported in the usual way. Of the Franciscan convent, founded by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, the skeleton of the conventual church is standing; in the body of the church, and serving as the headstone of a modern grave, is the lower half of the effigy of a crusader, probably part of the monument of the founder previously noticed.

About a mile from Clane, but in the parish of Mainham, is Clongowes Wood College, formerly Castle Browne, the seat of Wogan Browne, Esq., by whom it was greatly enlarged and beautified in 1788, and from whose brother and heir, Gen. Browne, it was purchased and opened as a college for the education of the sons of the Catholic nobility and gentry, in 1814. The building, to which large additions have been made for the accommodation of the students, is a spacious quadrangular structure, flanked at the angles by four lofty towers, and is pleasantly situated in the centre of an ample and richly wooded demesne. The principal corridor is more than 300 feet in length; the hall for study is above 80 feet long and 38 feet wide, and is lighted by a double range of windows on each side; the refectory is of the same dimensions, and the apartments of the students are spacious and lofty. The college chapel is 80 feet in length, and is divided into a nave and aisles by two ranges of Ionic columns; it has a fine organ, and the tabernacle on the high altar is wholly of marble and agate. The college contains an extensive library and museum, with a theatre for lectures in natural philosophy and experiments in chymistry, for public exercises in declamation, and musical concerts of the pupils. The institution is under the direction of a president, a minister or dean of the college, a procurator or bursar, and a prefect or general director of studies; there are six professors in the classical department, a professor of mathematics, and a professor of natural philosophy and chymistry. There are also three prefects, whose duty is to superintend the conduct of the pupils during the hours of study and recreation.

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