1st January 1837
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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" by Samuel Lewis, 1837.

LUCAN, a post-town and parish, in the barony of NEWCASTLE, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER, 7 miles (W.) from Dublin, on the mail road to Galway and Sligo; containing 1755 inhabitants, of which number, 1229 are in the town.

  • After the English settlement it appears to have been granted to Richard de Peche, one of the earliest English adventurers, and in 1220 was the property of Waryn de Peche, who founded the monastery of St. Catherine, near Leixlip.
  • In the reign of Rich. II. it was in the possession of the Rokeby family, and in the 16th century it belonged to the Sarsfield family, of whom William, one of the ablest generals in the service of Jas. II., was by that monarch, after his abdication, created Earl of Lucan, from whom it descended by marriage to the ancestor of Col. G. Vesey, its late proprietor.

The town is beautifully situated in a fertile vale on the eastern bank of the River Liffey, over which is a handsome stone bridge of one arch, built in 1794, and ornamented with balustrades of cast iron from the Phoenix iron-works, near Dublin. At the other side of the bridge, on the eastern bank of the river, is the picturesque glebe of the incumbent, the Rev. H. E. Prior. The total number of houses is 187, most of which are well built, and many of them are fitted up as lodging-houses for the reception of visitors, who, during the summer season, resort to this place to drink the waters, which are found efficacious in scorbutic, bilious, and rheumatic affections.

A handsome Spa-house has been erected, consisting of a centre and two wings, in one of which is an assembly-room, 62 feet long and 22 feet wide, in which concerts and balls are given; the house affords excellent accommodation for families. The mineral spring, from its having a higher temperature than others in the neighbourhood, is called the "Boiling Spring"; the water, on an analysis made in 1822, was found to contain, in two gallons, 70 grains of crystallised carbonate of soda, 20 of carbonate of lime, 1? of carbonate of magnesia, 2 of silex, 6? of muniate of soda, and 14 of sulphur.

The scenery of the neighbourhood is beautifully diversified, and its short distance from the metropolis renders the town a place of fashionable resort and of pleasant occasional residence. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in it, and petty sessions are held on Tuesdays.

The parish, through a portion of which the Royal Canal passes, is in a high state of cultivation; the soil is fertile and the crops are abundant.

Lucan, the interesting residence of Mrs. Vesey, is a spacious mansion, situated in a highly embellished demesne, comprising nearly 500 statute acres extending along the banks of the Liffey; within the grounds is a monument to one of the Sansfield family, near which are an ancient oratory, dedicated to St. John, and thickly covered with ivy, and a holy well.

Of the other seats the principal are:

  • St. Edmonsbury, that of T. R. Needham, Esq., a tasteful demesne beautifully situated and commanding some fine views;
  • Weston Park, of J. Hamilton Reid, Esq., finely situated on the Liffey;
  • Woodville, of Major-Gen. Sir H. S. Scott, K.C.B,
  • Hermitage, of Sir John Kingsmill, Knt.;
  • Finstown House, of J. Rorke, Esq.;
  • Lucan Abbey, or Canon Brook, of J. Gandon, Esq. ;
  • Primrose Hill, of A. Heron, Esq., M.D.;
  • Glenwood, of J. Bingham, Esq.;
  • Villa, of T. Smullen Esq.;
  • View Mount, of Major .J. Wolfe ;
  • Lucan Lodge, of Capt. T. P. Poe;
  • and Mount Pleasant, of E. Mac Farland, Esq.

On the river Liffey, and within the grounds of Weston Park, is a salmon leap, from the Latin name of which, "Saltus,". the barony of Salt derives its name; it consists of a succession of rocky ledges, too extensive to be cleared at one bound, and in passing over it the fish consequently sustain great injury; it forms a beautiful cascade, the picturesque effect of which is greatly increased by the richly wooded banks of the river and the tastefully embellished demesne of Leixlip castle.

  • An inquest was taken in the reign of Edw. II. to ascertain to whom the right to the fish taken here belonged; and another to enquire into the erection of certain weirs, "obstructions to the boats passing to our good city of Dublin with fish and timber." The latter is supposed to refer to a canal which at some very remote period must have been carried along the bank of the Liffey.
  • In excavating the foundation for a mill, recently constructed at the salmon leap by Messrs. Reid and Co., the masonry which formed part of the lock of a canal was discovered; the sill of the lock is still to be seen, and more masonry for the same purpose has been found further down the river.
  • At a later period, a canal appears to have been formed along this line, as far as Castletown, two miles above the salmon leap, by which, according to tradition, coal was conveyed from Dublin to that place, and of which some remains are still to be seen.
  • The flour-mills erected by Messrs. Reid and Co. are capable of producing from 700 to 800 barrels weekly; the water wheel is 28 feet in diameter, and in turning 5 pair of stones acts with a power equivalent to that of 60 or 70 horses.

The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Dublin, united to the vicarage of Leixlip, to the augmentation of which the rectorial tithes were appropriated by act of Wm. III. : the tithes are included in the amount given for Leixlip.

  • A neat church with a tower and spire was erected in the town in 1822, towards which the late Board of First Fruits advanced £1100 on loan; and in the same year a perpetual curacy was instituted here, in the patronage of the Incumbent of Leixlip; the stipend of the curate has been augmented with £20 per ann. from Primate Boulter's fund.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Palmerstown, Clondalkin, and Lucan; the chapel, a very small edifice, is about to be rebuilt.

There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists, erected in 1832.

About 250 children are taught in two public schools, of which the parochial school, with an infants' school attached, was built and is supported by subscription. The other is a national school. There are three private schools, in which. are about 70 children.

A poor-shop, with a lending library, and a loan fund have been established; and a dispensary is open to the poor of the neighbourhood.

The vicinity affords some highly interesting specimens of irregular stratification of limestone, which occurs in parallel layers separated by seams of decomposed Calpe, dipping uniformly at a small angle to the E. N. E. In a bank on the left side of the Liffey, a few yards only above the bridge, the strata become sinuous, forming curvatures of nearly two-thirds of their respective circumferences; and single slabs taken from the disturbed beds have an arched outline, conforming to the general curvature of the strata.

At Canon Brook, for many years the residence of the late Mr Gandon, architect, is a singular cave, discovered by that gentleman; it consists of one principal apartment and two side cells of smaller dimensions, curiously secured all round with stone, to prevent the walls from falling in; many curious relics of antiquity were found, consisting of celts, pieces of bone curiously inscribed and sculptured, military weapons of copper or bronze, and various others of more recent date.

The hill in which these apartments are excavated is about 300 feet above the level of the vale and is called the Fort Hill, from its being crowned with a fortification, the works of which are still in good preservation.

The monastery of St. Catherine, founded by Waryn de Peche in 1220, though its endowment was augmented by subsequent benefactors, was, on account of its poverty, assigned, in 1323, to the abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin; there are no remains.

Opposite to the gate of Col. Vesey's demesne was a very ancient and splendid cross, round the site of which it is still the custom at R. C. funerals to bear the corpse previous to interment.

Above the modern bridge are some fragments of an older structure, said to have been built in the reign of John.

Lucan gives the titles of baron and earl to the family of Bingham.

SOURCE: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (pub 1837)

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  • Thank you, this was very interesting.


    Cal Gal

    Monday 15th June 2020 02:20PM

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