ELPHIN, a market and post-town, the seat of a bishoprick, and a parish, in the barony and county of ROSCOMMON, and province of CONNAUGHT, 8 ½ miles (S. by E.) from Boyle, and 80 ½ (W. N. W.) from Dublin, on the road from Roscommon to Boyle; containing 6643 inhabitants, of which number, 1507 are in the town. This city appears to have arisen as a dependency on the religious establishment that was founded by St. Patrick in the fifth century: it was burned in 1177 and destroyed by the English in 1187. Its name appears to be derived from Ail Fin, "the white stone or rock," though connected by vulgar tradition with the giant Fin MacCoul. About the year 1450, Bishop Cornelius converted the conventual church of St. Patrick into a Franciscan monastery, to which the canons and inhabitants of Elphin were likewise benefactors.

Bishop King who presided over the see from 1611 to 1638, erected a castle for himself and his successors, and attached to it lands which he had purchased. This castle, in 1645, was delivered into the hands of the Lord-President of Connaught by Bishop Tilson, who retired to England: his son was then governor of Elphin and had just declared for the parliament. The town, which consists of about 260 houses, is on a ridge, and presents a pleasing appearance on entering it from the south. The main street is wide, and in the centre is a covered fountain which supplies pure water. A market has been established by the bishop on Wednesdays, for which a market-house will be erected; and fairs are held on May 3rd, June 27th, Sept. 26th, and Dec. 10th.

Petty sessions are held every Wednesday, and it is a chief constabulary police station. The parish comprises 8962 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. It is partly under tillage, but principally in pasture, and large quantities of butter are exported by the river Shannon, Here are quarries of limestone and a considerable tract of bog. The principal seats are Smith Hill, that of the Rev. J. Lloyd; Cloonyquin, of W. French, Esq.; Foxborough, of P. Taaffe, Esq., and Raheen, of Major Fawcett.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »