Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837.

 

ARDBRACCAN, a parish, in the barony of LOWER NAVAN, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 2 ½ miles (W.) from Navan; containing 3798 inhabitants. This place derived its name, signifying, in the Irish language, "the Hill of Braccan," from St. Braccan, who presided over a monastery here, and died in the year 650. The establishment subsequently became the seat of a small bishoprick, which flourished under a series of prelates, many of whom are noticed as eminent ecclesiastics, till the twelfth century, when, with several other small bishopricks, it was included in the diocese of Meath. The monastery was frequently plundered and laid waste by the Danes, and repeatedly destroyed by fire, from the 9th to the 12th century; and, in 1166, Moriertach, King of Ireland, granted to it in perpetuity a parcel of land at an annual rent of three ounces of gold. The village, which was anciently a place of some importance, especially during the existence of the see, appears to have declined since the period of the English invasion, and is no longer of any note.

About one-half of the parish is under tillage, two-fifths in pasture, and the remainder meadow land. The only remarkable elevation is Faughan Hill, the conical summit of which being well planted, is conspicuous over the surrounding flat districts; and on the western border of the parish is a chain of bogs. Limestone is quarried for building; and at a place called White Quarry is found a particular kind of limestone, of which the bishop's palace is built. Limestone, gravel, and marl are also raised for manure. The bishop's palace, one of the most elegant ecclesiastical residences in Ireland, was erected by the late Bishop Maxwell: it is beautifully situated, and the grounds and gardens are tastefully laid out; the demesne is embellished with forest trees of stately growth, among which are some remarkably fine horse-chestnut trees; and there are also two very beautiful cedars of Lebanon, planted by the late Bishop Pococke. Oatland House, the residence and demesne of Blennerhasset Thompson, Esq., is also within the parish; and Dormerstown Castle is an old fortified residence. The weaving of linen cloth is carried on to a small extent, and some cotton looms are also employed by the inhabitants.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Meath, united by act of council, in 1771, to the rectories of Liscarton and Rataine, the chapelry of Churchtown, and the vicarage of Martry, and by the same authority, in 1780, to the rectory of Clonmacduff, which six parishes constitute the union of Ardbraccan, in the patronage of the Crown. The tithes amount to £433. 16. 10 ¾.: the gross amount of tithes payable to the incumbent is £820. 15. 5 ¼. The church is a handsome edifice, erected in 1777, under the auspices of the late Bishop Maxwell. The glebe-house is situated about half a mile from the church: the glebe comprises 33 acres of profitable land. The R. C. union or district of Ardbraccan, called also Bohermein, includes the parishes of Ardbraccan, Martry, Rathboyne, and parts of the parishes of Moyagher and Liscarton: there are two chapels in Ardbraccan and one in Rathboyne. The male and female parochial school is principally supported by the rector, and is aided by an annual donation from the Bishop of Meath; and there are two free schools at Byerstown and Bohermein, supported by bequests from the late Rev. Mr. Brannigan, P. P., and by annual subscriptions from Earl Ludlow and the parishioners. In these schools are about 300 boys and 160 girls; and there are also two private schools, in which are about 60 children.

Dr. Chetwood, formerly rector of this parish, left £500, and Dr. Sterne, Bishop of Clogher, left £30 per annum, for apprenticing the children of Protestant inhabitants of the diocese to Protestant, masters and mistresses; about 30 children are annually apprenticed from these funds. In the churchyard is a square tower with a spire and vane, forming a pleasing object. There is also a monument to Bishop Montgomery, who died in London, on the 15th of January, 1620, and was buried here; and on the south side of it is a small tablet to the memory of that celebrated traveller, Bishop Pococke, who presided over the see of Meath, and died in 1765.