Ardbraccan.
The Parliamentary Gazetteer 0f Ireland 1844-1845 Vol.1.
ARDBRACCAN, a parish in the barony of Lower Navan 2 1/2 miles west of Navan, co. Meath, Leinster. It contains part of the village of Bohermeen. Length, 5 1/2 miles; breadth, 4; area, 6,491 acres. Pop., in 1831, 3,798; in 1841, 4,596. Houses 678. Pop. of the rural districts in 1841, 3,884. Houses 536.
The land is, for the most part, arable and good. The surface, in common with that of five contiguous parishes with which it is ecclesiastically united, is a luxuriant plain, skirted along the west with bog, and relieved in its flatness principally by a richly wooded and conspicuous hill, having somewhat the form of an obtruncated cone. A white limestone, quarried on the lands of Ardbraccan, is peculiarly suitable for embellished architecture: it is purely white when chiselled, and assumes a dark greyish tint when polished; it becomes blackish when long exposed to the air, but can be restored by chiselling; and, unlike much of the building stone in Ireland, it neither absorbs water, nor contracts a green hue from nurturing the growth of lichens.
Ardbraccan, "the knoll of Braccan," is said to have been, in 650, made the site of a religious establishment by St. Braccan. The saint, whether Culdee or whatever else, is in the usual style represented as having made the affair both a see and an abbey; and he currently figures in story as the first of a line of local bishops and abbots. The religious house, whether cathedral or abbey, or both, or neither, was often plundered and burned by hostile dynasts and by Danes; and is said to have partly fallen to the ground in 1170. The see was one of several small bishoprics which became consolidated into the see of Meath. A " strong castle" —at least an edifice designated such in a scarce pamphlet which details many events of the rebellion of 1641—was, from an early period, the episcopal residence of this great diocese.
Ardbraccan house, the successor of the castle, and the present episcopal palace of Meath, was built since 1766 from designs by James Wyatt, Esq., and is regarded, for beauty and splendour, as the second edifice of its class in Ireland. It is composed of the Ardbraccan limestone; consists of a main building and two wings, connected by circular walls and niches; and combines the magnificence of the palace with the comfort of the English mansion. The circumjacent demesne is extensive, and highly as well as tastefully embellished; and, among various beautiful trees and shrubs, it contains some cedars of Lebanon and other exotics, planted by the oriental traveller Pococke during the time of his being bishop of Meath. A small, ill designed, and ill sculptured slab in the churchyard of the parish does burlesqueing duty as a monument to Bishop Pococke. The tomb of George Montgomery, bishop of Meath and Clogher, stands on the north side of the slab; and strongly fixes attention by its minglement of pretension, barbarousness, and absurdity. Figures which it exhibits of the bishop, his wife, and his daughter, are the rudest productions of the chisel that can well be conceived. Beneath the figures are the words, "Surges morieris, judicaberis." On the east side is a bust, with three plumes surmounted by a mitre; above the mitre is a cup, with a representation of the Roman Catholic sacramental wafer; and beneath the bust are two swords, laid across each other, and intersprinkled with fleurs de lis. On the west side is an angel blowing a trumpet, and a shield charged with armorial bearings, and surmounted also with a cup and the Roman Catholic wafer. An old square tower near this masterpiece of absurdity is surmounted by a spire and a vane, and forms a noticeable object in the plain.
Ardbraccan is a rectory in the dio. of Meath; and, together with the vicarage of Martry, the chapelry of Churchtown, und the rectories of Liscaktin, Rataine, and Clonmacduff, forms the benefice of Ardbraccan. Length, 8 miles; breadth, 5 1/2. Gross income, £890 11s. I 1/2d.; nett, £686 17s. 4d. Patron, the Crown. A curate has a stipend of £100, a house, and upwards of 19 acres of land. The church is a homely structure, rather in the domestic than in the architectural style; and contains, in the interior, an episcopal throne. It was built in 1777 by means partly of a donation of unknown amount from Bishop Maxwell, and partly of a contribution of £369 4s. 7 1/2d. from the parish. Sittings 350; attendance, from 160 to 200 A Roman Catholic chapel at Bobermeen is attended by 2,000, and one at Boyerstown by   800; and, along with Courtown chapel in Rathboyne parish, are under the care of two officiates. There is a Roman Catholic chapel also at Churchtown. In 1834, there were in the parish 311 Protestant, and 3,613 Roman Catholics; and, in the union, 391 Protestants, and 6,517 Roman Catholics. In the same year, there were in the parish, the Ardbraccan freeschool, aided with £8 from the bishop, and £22, house and garden, from the rector, and attended by 84, the Boyerstown free school, aided with £2 10s. from Lord Ludlow. £2 10s. from bequest by Rev. Mr. Branningan, P.P., and £15 from subscription, and attended by 211, the Bohermeen free school, aided with £3 5s., a house and garden, and attended by 161, and two hedge schools, attended by 10 and 45; and the only other school in the union was one in Churchtown.