Parliamentary gazatteer of Ireland, 1845

SLANE (Lower), a barony in the extreme northeast of the county of Meath, Leinster.  It is bounded, on the north, by the county of Monaghan; on the north east and east, by the county of Louth; on the south, by the barony of Upper Slane; and on the west, by the barony of Morgallion.  Its length, south eastward, is 10 miles; its breadth is from 5/8 to 4 1/4; and its area is 26,224 acres, 19 perches, of which 189 acres, 2 roods, 8 perches are water.


Mr. Thompson, who wrote a Statistical Survey of the county of Meath in 1802, and who then required to treat Lower Slane and Upper Slane as one barony, says respecting this district in his work:

“This barony is one of the most hilly in the county; its soil is a light earth, upon a stiff clay bottom, under which, in many places, a vein of limestone gravel, of irregular depth, is frequently discovered; but where this is not to be found, an impervious stratum of ochreous clay runs to a considerable depth, extremely retentive of water, difficult to be worked in dry, and still more difficult in wet seasons.  When the limestone gravel is to be met with at any inconsiderable distance from the surface, by using it as a manure, the quantity and quality of the winter crops are considerably improved; and where this practice is judiciously managed, a double purpose is answered; first, by striking at the source of the springs, which, in those situations, are the cause of surface water; and, secondly, in altering the texture of the soil, by mixing the gravel so raised in proper quantities with the cold stiff clay, thereby rendering it considerably less impervious to those vegetative qualities derived from the sun and atmosphere.  In the hilly parts of this barony, viz., between Collon and Kells, and towards Ardee, there is scarcely any, or a very inconsiderable quantity, of limestone gravel to be met with.  The soil here is chiefly what is termed a rye soil, and in many places a strong gravel is found, yet not of that kind which commonly goes by the name of blue limestone gravel; its power of correcting the natural bad qualities of the soil, warming, enriching, pulverizing, and increasing the quantity of the natural earth, is comparatively weak; of course it seldom repays the farmer the expense of raising, putting out, &c.
In its present state, we must certainly consider this middle part of Slane barony, a few improved farms excepted, as by far the worst and most unprofitable part of the county.  Wherever the impervious clay approaches near the surface, which in some places it does within four inches, we see the bluish hard rush flourishing in great luxuriance; and the substratum being impervious to water, it is subject to be poached by cattle in the winter season, and of a dry summer it opens into chinks to a considerable depth, so that either in summer or winter it is worked with difficulty, and, except in a dropping summer, or a dry winter, yields but poorly.  Oats are chiefly cultivated on this sort of ground throughout the barony; a few crops of wheat and bere, but scarcely any barley are sown.  I think about half the district is under tillage, and half under grazing.
Fuel here is very scarce, there being very little bog in the vicinity, so that turf is brought at some considerable distance, and coal from Drogheda or Slane. In some grounds in the upper half barony, between the different strata and at the edges of streams, where the land has been washed away, and shows, as it were, a section of the earth coal smut is found in abundance and though there is every assurance, from the experiments hitherto made by order of the Company formed by Lord Cunningham, that coal can be procured in the barony, yet the circumstances of the mine are such, as to damp that laudable spirit of exertion from an idea that the profits would not be equivalent to the expense.
In this barony is a fine quarry of vitrescent stone, which makes excellent flagging, of a more porous nature than Ardbraccan, and not so subject to retain damp on its surface; at the same time, Ardbraccan exceeds it in the beauty of its colour, and in the polish it is capable of receiving."

The Act 6 and 7 William IV., cap. 84, transferred the townlands of Ballinalurgan, Cordovey, Mallaghboy, Newcastle, and Raloghan, in the parish of Enniskeen, and the townland of Rath, in the parish of Nobber, unitedly containing, in 1841, a pop. of 500, from the barony of Lower Slane to that of Morgallion.  The barony of Lower Slane, as at present constituted, contains part of the parish of Ardagh, and the whole of the parishes of Drumcondra, Innishmot, Killary, Loughbraccan, Mitchellstown, and Syddan.

The principal villages are Syddan and Drumcondra. Pop., in 1831, 9,647; in 1841, 9,956. Houses 1,736. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 1,377; in manufactures and trade, 299; in other pursuits, 123.  Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 19; on the directing of labour, 438; on their own manual labour, 1,251; on means not specified, 91. Males at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 1,220; who could read but not write, 691; who could neither read nor write, 2,455. Females at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 464; who could read but not write, 680; who could neither read nor write, 3,202.

Lower Slane lies within the Poor law unions of Ardee and Bailieborough.  The total number of tenements valued is 991; and of these, 344 were valued under £5, 222, under £10, 111, under £15, 58, under £20, 39, under £25,  37, under £30, 38, under £40, 19, under £50, and 123, at and above £50.  The total annual value of the property rated is £22,935 19s. 11d.; and the sum levied under the grand warrant of summer 1841, was £1,162 6s. 1d.

Slane (Upper), a barony on the eastern border of the county of Meath, Leinster.  It is bounded, on the north, by the barony of Lower Slane and the county of Louth; on the east, by the county of Louth; on the south east and south, by the barony of Lower Duleek; on the south west, by the baronies of Skreen and Lower Navan; and on the west and north west, by the barony of Morgallion.  Its length, eastward, is 84 miles; its greatest breadth is 4; and its area is 29,211 acres, 3 roods, 4 perches, of which 135 acres, 2 roods, l l perches are in the river Boyne.  The character of the surface, the soil, and the husbandry, is glanced at in the preceding article on Slane (Lower).  The highest ground, Slievebragh, is situated on the boundary with Lower Slane, and has an altitude above sea level of 753 feet. The rivulet Mattock traces the boundary with the county of Louth; and the river Boyne traces the boundary with the baronies of Skreen and Lower Duleek.

The Act 6 and 7 William IV., cap. 84, transferred the parish of Rathkenny, containing, in 1841, a pop. of 2,177, from the barony of Lower Navan to that of Upper Slane. The barony of Upper Slane, as at present constituted, contains part of the parishes of Collon and Tullyallan, and the whole of the parishes of Dowth, Gernonstown, Grangegeeth, Monknewtown, Rathkenny, Slane, and Stackallen. The only town is Slane. Pop., in 1831, 7,265; in 1841, 9,626. Houses 1,660. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 1,310; in manufactures and trade, 296; in other pursuits, 121.  Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 24; on the directing of labour, 618; on their own manual labour, 1,060; on means not specified, 25. Males at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 1,426; who could read but not write, 781; who could neither read nor write, 2,003. Females at and above 5 years of age who could read and write, 599; who could read but not write, 900; who could neither read nor write, 2,765.

Upper Slane is distributed among the Poor law unions of Ardee, Drogheda, and Navan. The total number of tenements valued is 1,535; and of these, 759 were valued under £5, 229, under £10, 159, under £15, 81, under £20, 44, under £25, 35, under £30, 51, under £40, 33, under £50, and 144, at and above £50. The total annual value of the property rated is £24,842 Is. 9d.; and the sum levied under the grand warrant of summer 1841, was £726 12s. 8d.

SLANE, a parish, containing a small town of the same name, in the barony of Upper Slane, co. Meath, Leinster. Length, south eastward, 3 1/2 miles; extreme breadth, 3 1/4; area, 5,947 acres, 1 rood, l perch, of which 34 acres, 22 perches are in the river Boyne. Pop., in 1831, 2,516; in 1841, 2,510. Houses 421. Pop. of the rural districts, in 1831, 1,620; in 1841, 1,955.  Houses 346.  The surface is low, and of pleasant appearance, but consists, in the aggregate, of rather indifferent land.  The river Boyne flows along the whole of the southern boundary; and the Devlin rivulet traces much of the northern boundary.  The scenery of the Boyne, for several miles above and below the town, is exquisitely beautiful.  The principal hamlets within the parish are Harlinstown and Mooretown; and the principal rural residences are Slane castle, Mill lodge, Mount Charles lodge, Harlinstown house, and Janeville cottage. The plantations of Slane castle demesne blend with those of the rest of these residences, and especially with those of the superb and extensive demesne of Beaupark house on the Duleek bank of the Boyne, to form a noble and most imposing expanse of fluviatile sylvan scenery.

The mansion of Slane castle is the seat of the Marquis of Conyngham, and is a large and splendid structure, occupying an elevated site on the banks of the Boyne, about 5 or 6 furlongs west of the village of Slane.

“This mansion,” says Mr. Brewer, “comprises parts of the castle built by the Flemings, lords of Slane, greatly altered and enlarged, at different periods, since the estate has been vested in the noble family to which it at present belongs.  The most important alterations were made by the Right Hon. William Conyngham, in 1785, and several following years, after the designs of the late Mr. James Wyatt. The entrance to the castle, and considerable improvements of the interior, were executed at a more recent date, under the direction of Francis Johnston, Esq., architect of the Board of Works.  The exterior features of the building are in the style termed modern Gothic, and the embattled parapets and aspiring turrets produce romantic and striking combinations at many points of view; but the boasted picturesque of architecture is here attained by the sacrifice of consistency.  As a whole, the fabric is imposing, and, indeed, magnificent; but it does not, in its component parts, bear resemblance to the castle or other pile of building of any known ancient period in the history of our national architecture.  The interior contains many spacious and superb apartments. The grounds by which this mansion is surrounded are extensive and extremely beautiful. They present much inequality of surface, and are richly clothed with wood.  The river Boyne here winds through its most attractive shores.  Devious in its course, its rocky and its partially wooded banks afford a lovely variety of scenery.  Through several breaks of the noble woods and wide plantations, the neat village, and the ruins of the abbey, combine happily with the cultivated landscape.

It will be long remembered in the annals of this mansion, that his majesty, King George IV., honoured Slane castle with his presence, in the month of August 1821.  The abbey of Slane, situated within the demesne of Slane castle, will be noticed in connection with the town. In 1781, six of the ancient instruments called corabashas, were found by persons digging in the park of Slane. The corabasha is described by Mr. Walker as a “chorus instrument of the ancient Irish, of a complex form, and consisting of two circular plates of brass, connected by a wire of the same metal, twisted in a worm like manner, which jingled round the shanks when the plates were struck upon the fingers; and it was used for the purpose of keeping time.”

The interior of the parish is traversed by the road from Kells to Drogheda, and by that from Dunshaughlin to Ardee.  This parish is a rectory, and a separate benefice, in the dio. of Meath.  Tithe composition, £407 15s 6d.; glebe £24.  Gross income, £448 15s. 6d.; nett, £393 2s. 2 1/2d. Patron,  the Crown.  The church was built about the year 1712, at a cost now unknown ; and was enlarged in 1830, by means of a loan of £200 from the late Board of First Fruits.  Sittings 150; attendance, from 35 to 110.  The Roman Catholic chapels at Slane and Rushwee have an attendance of respectively 2,000 and 1,000; and, in the Roman Catholic arrangement, are united to the chapel of Rathkenny.  In 1834, the Protestants amounted to 180, and the Roman Catholics to 2,387; and 4 daily schools, one of which was supported chiefly by the marchioness of Conyngham, one was on the foundation of Erasmus Smith, and one was salaried with £8 a year from the National Board, had on their books 210 boys and 109 girls.

Slane, a small market and post town, and anciently a place of much importance, in the parish of Slane, barony of Upper Slane, co. Meath, Leinster.  It stands on the left bank of the river Boyne, and at the intersection of the mail road from Dublin to Londonderry, with the road from Kells to Drogheda, or north road from Navan to Drogheda, 4 1/2 miles south by west of Collon, 6 west of Drogheda, 6 south east of Navan, 10 south south east of Drumcondra, 11 east of Kells, 12 north north west of Ashbourne, and 22 north north west of Dublin.  The houses of which it consists are chiefly modern, and of an ornamental character; and a considerable proportion of them, of uniform structure, form an elegant circus in the centre.  The neat and respectable appearance of the houses, the natural beauty of the situation, the contiguity of the sumptuous demesne of the Marquis of Conyngham, and the richly sylvan and highly embellished scenery in the adjacent stretches of the Boyne, unite to render Slane one of the most attractive little towns in the east of Ireland. The town was early the chosen retreat of ecclesiastics; it became the seat of one of those small bishoprics which were consolidated into the one great see of Meath; and, soon after the period of the Anglo Norman conquest, it was constituted a borough in the palatinate of Sir Hugh De Lacy.

The family of Fleming, whose ancestor entered Ireland with De Lacy, and appears to have shared his fortunes, and received a territorial grant within his palatinate, built a castle on the site of the present mansion of the Marquis of Conyngham, used this place as their stated residence, and took from it the title of Lords of Slane; but the manor and its dependencies were forfeited by these proprietors in the unhappy year 1641; and they, soon after, passed into the possession of the ancestor of the present family of Conyngham, to whom they give the subordinate title of Viscount Slane.

An ecclesiastical establishment, most probably of Culdean character, but usually termed by historians of the middle and modern ages an abbey, was very early founded at Slane, and is traditionally said to have been the retreat or asylum, during 20 years of the 7th century, of Dagobert, king of Austrasia.

Dagobert, king of Austrasia,” says the story, “in 653, at the age of 7 years, was taken by Grimoald, mayor of the palace, and by his direction, shorn a monk, rendered unfit to hold the reins of government, and banished into Ireland. He was received into this abbey, where he obtained an education proper for the enjoyment of a throne, and continued here during the space of 20 years, when he was recalled into France, and replaced in his government.”

Repeatedly in the 9th and 10th centuries, the abbey was destroyed by the Danes; in 1170, in common with the town, it was burned and sacked by Earl Strongbow, and MacMurrough, king of Leinster; and in 1175, again, in common with the town, it was destroyed by a party of the English. In 1512, an abbey for friars of the third order of St. Francis was founded, on the site of the old structure, and was built on an extensive scale, and re endowed, by Sir Christopher Fleming, Lord of Slane, and Elizabeth Stuckle his lady; and after the general dissolution of monasteries, it was granted to James, Lord of Slane, at the annual rent of one Irish penny. The ruins of this pile still surmount an eminence within the demesne of Slane castle; they consist of a large chapel, and a lofty tower at the west end, the latter pierced with a handsome ramified window; and they contribute an interesting feature to the rich and picturesque surrounding landscape.

To the south of the town, and on the margin of the river, stands another but small ecclesiastical ruin, in the pointed style of architecture, popularly called the Hermitage of St. Eirc, and usually asserted to have been founded by a St. Eirc who resided in Slane abbey in the first half of the 6th century, but very obviously a building of comparatively modern date. This hermitage was the retreat of two friars at the period when the Franciscan abbey was founded; and it has served as the burying place of several members of the Slane family. The church of Slane is a neat and well preserved edifice, and is ornamented with a handsome steeple, much more modern than the church itself, and designed by the architect Mr. Francis Johnston.

The Rev. Mervyn Archdall, to whom we have so often referred in the course of our Gazetteer as the credulous author of the Monasticon Hibernicum, and to whom, in spite of his credulity, we have been indebted for some information, was for some time rector of Slane, and made some figure in connection with the town. He was born at Dublin in April 1723; he enjoyed the friendship of Harris and Dr. Smith, and latterly that of Bishop Pococke; he prepared and an enlarged edition of Lodge's Peerage of Ireland; and he accumulated materials for a Monasticon twice the bulk of the one he wrote, but was obliged to content himself with the publication of only one quarto on Irish monasteries, and had the mortification to know that even this fell almost still born from the press. The Monasticon was published in 1786; and its author died in 1791.

A dispensary in Slane is within the Poor law union of Navan, and serves for a district of 11,316 acres, with a pop. of 4, 175; and, in 1839–40, it expended £124.16s., and administered to 625 patients. A court of petty sessions is held on the second Friday of every month. Fairs are held on April 2, June 2, Sept. 2, and Nov. 8. The town enjoys all the facilities and advantages of the Boyne navigation, and the thoroughfare of two great lines of road.
The celebrated battle of the Boyne was fought in the eastern vicinity of Slane; and the unique and singularly interesting antiquities of New Grange occur a short way down the river. Area of the town, 16 acres. Pop., in 1831, 896; in 1841, 555. Houses 75. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 23; in manufactures and trade, 43; in other pursuits, 29. Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 5; on the directing of labour, 56; on their own manual labour, 27; on means not specified, 6.


The Lewis Topographical Directory was first published in 1837 in two volumes, with an accompanying atlas.  The first edition is available online. A second edition was published in 1842.

Lewis relied on the information provided by local contributors and on the earlier works published such as Coote's Statistical Survey (1801), Taylor and Skinner's Maps of the Road of Ireland (1777), Pigot's Trade Directory (1824) and other sources. He also used the various parliamentary reports and in particular the census of 1831 and the education returns of the 1820s and early 1830s. Local contributors were given the proof sheets for final comment and revision. The names of places are those in use prior to the publication of the Ordnance Survey Atlas in 1838. Distances are in Irish miles (the statute mile is 0.62 of an Irish mile).

Slane, a post town and parish (formerly a parliamentary borough), in the barony of Slane, county of Meath, and province of Leinster 6 3/4 miles (W. S. W.) from Drogheda, and 12 miles (N. by W.) from Dublin, on the mail coach road from Dublin to Londonderry, and on the river Boyne; containing 2516 inhabitants, of which number, 896 are in the town. This place is of very high antiquity, and in the earliest ages of Christianity was the seat of a small diocese, of which St. Eirc, who had built himself a hermitage, was consecrated first Bishop by St. Patrick, and died in 514. On the neighbouring hill an abbey for Canons Regular was founded at a very early period, into which the young Dagobert, king of Austrasia in France, who was banished from his own country when only seven years of age, was received in 653, and educated; he continued to reside in it 20 years, till recalled to France and restored to his throne. This establishment was many times plundered and the monks massacred by the Ostmen of Dublin, to whose ravages it was peculiarly exposed; in 1172 the town was sacked and burned by Dermod Mac Murrough and a party of the English; and it was again plundered by the English in 1175, from which period it seems to have continued in decay till the year 1512, when it was restored by Sir Christopher Fleming, Lord of Slane, who placed in it two friars, who then resided in the hermitage of St. Eire. On the settlement of the English in Meath, the town became a borough, and in the reign of Hen. VI. ranked as one of the middle class.

The Fleming family having been engaged in the civil war of 1641, the estate escheated to the Crown, and subsequently became the property of the Right Hon. William Conyngham, ancestor of the Marquess Conyngham. The place is within four miles of Oldbridge, where the battle of the Boyne was fought; and the bridge of Slane has been on many occasions considered and defended as a pass of importance. The town is pleasantly situated on the northern bank of the river, which is navigable from its estuary at Drogheda up to Navan: it consists of 148 houses, which are chiefly modern and of neat appearance, and the richness of the surrounding scenery renders it one of the most attractive places in the county. The market has been discontinued: fairs for cattle and pigs are held on the 2nd of April, June, and Sept., and on Nov. 8th; petty sessions on alternate Fridays; and it is a chief constabulary police station. The parish comprises 5855 1/2 statute acres, for the most part of indiiferent quality: there is no bog, except in the vicinity of the town. About 30 years since coal works existed, but they proved unproductive, and were abandoned. On the river, adjoining the town, are very extensive flour and corn mills, the property of Blayney Townley Balfour, Esq., worked by seven pairs of stones; they have an excellent supply of water and are capable of grinding 1000 barrels of wheat weekly. To the west of the town is Slane Castle, the seat of the Marquess Conyngham; it is a spacious and elegant structure, in the later English style of architecture, with embattled turrets and pinnacles, comprising part of the ancient castle of the Flemings: it is beautifully situated on an elevated site, on the steep banks of the Boyne, and surrounded by an extensive and richly wooded park of about 900 statute acres, through which that river winds: the interior of the castle is very handsome, particularly the circular room, which has a splendid groined ceiling, and is adorned with some good paintings, among which is a fine picture of the battle of the Boyne, and Sir Thos. Lawrence's portrait of Geo. IV., in his robes, who visited the Marquess here in Aug. I821.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of the Crown; the tithes amount to £407. 15. 6. The glebe house was built in I807, at an expense of £1046, British currency, which was defrayed partly by a gift of £100, partly by a loan of £500, from the late Board of First Fruits, and the residue by the then incumbent. The glebe comprises l2 acres, and, with some houses on it, is valued at £41 per annum. The church is a neat edifice, with a handsome steeple, after a design by Johnston, erected in 17l2; it was enlarged in 1830, by aid of a loan of £200 from the same Board, and has been recently repaired by a grant of £184 from the Ecclesiastical Com missioners.

In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising the parishes of Slane, Gernonstown, Rathkenny, Stackallen, Dunmoe, and Fennor, and containing three chapels, one in Rathkenny, and two in this parish, of which one is a neat structure, situated in the town. About 180 children are educated in the public schools, of which the parochial schools are under the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity; one for females is supported by the Dowager Marchioness Conyngham; and the other is a national school. There is also a private school, in which are about 150 children.

Of the ancient castle of Asigh, on the right bank of the Boyne, there remains only a square massive tower, commanding an extensive southern view of the hills of Taragh and Skryne: about 30 yards northward are the ruins of a small chapel. There are the ruins of a monastery and college on the hill of Slane; and of a hermitage in the Marquess Conyngham’s park. In the vicinity of the town are the ancient mounts or tumuli of New Grange; the principal is a large mound of earth, 70 feet high and 300 feet in circumference at the top, covering an area of an Irish acre; it is irregular in its form, and was surrounded at the base by a circle of huge upright unhewn stones, several of which remain. On removing part of the materials, in 1699, a large stone was found, covering the entrance to a gallery 62 feet long, leading to a central arched cavern with three offsets, forming together in their ground plan a rude cross; the entrance to the gallery is only three feet wide and two feet high, at first decreasing in breadth, and farther on formed of large upright stones on each side, with others extending horizontally to form the roof, which is high enough to admit of approach in an upright position; the dome in the centre of the cross is of octagonal form and about 20 feet high, with a coved roof formed of courses of fiat stones successively projecting; in the right branch of the cross is a large stone vase, within the excavated part of which are two circular cavities of less than a foot in diameter; several of the stones are sculptured with rude ornaments and devices. When this cavern was first opened, two human skeletons were found entire, and also some horns and bones of deer.

Slane gives the inferior title of Viscount to the Marquess Conyngham.