Fáilte Romhat

  The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland - Timoleague Town

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland

1844-1845


TIMOLEAGUE, an ancient and once important, but now decayed and small market town in the parish of Timoleague, barony of Ibane and Barryroe, Co. Cork, Munster. It stands on the right bank ol the Arigadeen estuary, 3 miles above its expansion into Courtmacsherry bay, 4 miles east-north-east of Clonakilty, 5 south-west by west of Kilbrittain, 7 south-south-west of Bandon, 22- south-west by south of Cork and 158- south-west of Dublin.

The former eminence of this place chiefly proceeded from a religious foundation, whose ruins still exist, and are worthy of the traveller's attention. The abbey of Timoleague has been attributed to various founders, but may be confidently ascribed, on the authority of a manuscript formerly reposited in its archives, to William Barry, lord of Ibaun, who died on the 17th of December, 1373. The establishment was one of the noblest in the county, to which its buildings lent an ornament, and was founded for friars of the order of St Francis. Provincial chapters of the order were held within its walls in 1536 and 1563, and several persons of distinction here interred. It shared the common fate at date of the suppression in the reign of Henry VIII.; but was repaired in the year 1604 and restored, for a short time to purposes of secluded piety, by some fervid adherents of the old religion. These remains occupy a low, but lovely and peaceful station on the banks of the Silver stream, whose tide laves the ancient but still firm walls. The buildings have teen long since deprived of their roofing, but in other respects present a curious specimen of the arrangements that prevailed in a monastic structure. They comprise the principal walls of the abbey church, with an attached cloister, and several apartments, including the refectory. In the choir of the church are the fragments of monuments erected to members of several ancient families, among which have been noticed those of MacCarty Reagh (placed near the centre of the choir) the OCullanes, and the Lords Courcey. It appears from the obitual book of this convent, as cited by Sir James Ware, that the steeple, dormitory, infirmary, and library were rebuilt, about the year 1500, by Edmond Courcey, bishop of Clogher, who had been a friar of this house, and was buried here in 1518. The choir is of an earlier date, and is in a respectable, but not elaborate or costly style of pointed architecture. The arches of the doors and windows are of brown freestone ; and it has been observed that the place at which this stone was procured is probably far distant, it not being known that any similar stone exists in the neighbourhood. It appears to be likely that the prosperity of this place was chiefly dependent on the fortunes of its abbey; but that it was once a town considerable notoriety is unquestionable. At the end of the village opposite to that enriched by the ruins of the monastery are the vestiges of a castle, said to have been built by the sept of O Shaughnessy. It is recorded by Smith that Timoleague was formerly much frequented by Spaniards, who here found a ready market for large quantities of wine. He adds that there were in those busy days, no less than fourteen taverns in this town, at which sack was sold. What fertile materials are afforded, by these details, for the retrospective fancy of a writer prone to people a ruined town and deserted strand, with the tenants of a past day ! What mingled scenes of ecclesiastical pomp and laical merriment ! A stately abbey, with friars of the grey order, clothed in their gowns and cowls; a shore crowded with Spaniards, bearing the produce of a favourite vintage; and fourteen for the sale of sack ! -  [Brewer's Ireland]

The modern parish-church is a neat and commodious edifice. Sloops can sail up the estuary of the Arigadeen to the town, and lighters can sail past it. Yet the town, though advantageously situated for trade, and fitted to command a considerable extent of circumjacent country, is swamped by the two more eminent towns of Clonakilty and Bandon, and has utterly ceased to be a place of any importance. Fairs are held on March 26, July 5, Aug 21, and Dec 6. A court of petty-sessions is held on the second Monday of every month. A dispensary in the town is within the Bandon Poor law union; and in 1839-40,  it expended 119 10s. 8d., and administered to 3,018 patients. Area of the town, 31 acres. Pop. in 1831, 720; in 1841, 635. Houses 127. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 50; in manufactures and trade, 59; in other pursuits, 25;Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 6; on the directing of labour, 55; on their own manual labour, 70; on means not specified 3.