CELBRIDGE, or KILDROUGHT, a market and post-town, and a parish, partly in the barony of SOUTH SALT, but chiefly in that of NORTH SALT, county of KILDARE, and province of LEINSTER, 4 ¼ miles (N. N. E.) from Naas, and 11 (W. by S.) from Dublin; containing 2421 inhabitants, of which number 1647 are in the town.
This town, pleasantly situated on the left bank of the river Liffey, over which is a handsome stone bridge, and on the turnpike road from Dublin to Prosperous, is indebted for its origin to the Limerick family, from whom it was purchased by the Rt. Hon. W. Conolly, speaker of the Irish House of Commons, whose representative, Col. E. M. Conolly, is the present proprietor.
It consists principally of one street; the houses, about 270 in number, are in general well built; the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. The woollen manufacture was carried on to a considerable extent, and a very large range of building was erected in 1805, comprising all the requisite machinery for that manufacture in its various branches; the works were put in motion by a water wheel of 200-horse power, and when in full operation afforded employment to 600 persons; but they are not at present in work.
Adjoining the town, though in the parish of Donocomper, is a cotton-spinning and power-loom weaving factory, employing, when in full work, about 100 persons. The market is on Saturday, chiefly for provisions and hardware; fairs are held on the last Tuesday in April, Sept. 8th, and Nov. 7th; and a constabulary police station has been established here. Petty sessions are held every Monday.
The parish comprises 1758 acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The environs are justly celebrated for their great beauty, and are ornamented with several gentlemen's seats. Castletown, the splendid mansion of Col. Conolly, is a noble structure of hewn stone, consisting of a centre connected with two wings by semi-circular colonnades of the Ionic and Corinthian orders; it is situated in an extensive park, intersected with numerous avenues of stately timber and sloping gently to the Liffey, which flows through the demesne, and separates the parishes of Celbridge and Donocomper. Oakly Park, the handsome seat of R. Maunsel, Esq., is in this parish; and contiguous to it is Celbridge Abbey, built by the late Dr. Marley, Bishop of Clonfert, and now the residence of J. Ashworth, Esq., proprietor of the woollen manufactory in the town. The house is associated with the memory of Dean Swift, who is said to have spent much of his time here in the society of the lady whom he has celebrated under the name of Vanessa; and a rustic seat on the bank of the Liffey, which passes through the demesne, and over which is a spacious bridge of stone, is said to have been planned by him. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Dublin, episcopally united, in 1801, to the rectory and vicarage of Killadoon, the vicarage of Straffan, the rectory of Castledillon, the half rectories of Donoghmore and Donocomper, and the chapelry of Simonstown, together forming the union of Celbridge, in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes of the parish amount to £145.
The church, situated in the lower extremity of the town, is a neat edifice, erected in 1813, by a loan of £1500 from the late Board of First Fruits; it has a tower and spire, and within it is the mausoleum of the Conolly family. There is a neat glebe-house: the glebe for the whole union comprises 48 acres. In the R. C. divisions this parish is the head of a union or district, comprising the parishes of Celbridge and Straffan, in each of which is a chapel. About half a mile from the town is a handsome school-house, built by the Rt. Hon. William Conolly, in 1740, and endowed by him with 50 acres of land and a rent-charge of £309 per annum out of the estate of Castletown; this endowment has been transferred to the funds of the Incorporated Society, who have the appointment of the master and mistress; the school-house has been greatly enlarged since its connection with the society, and is now capable of receiving 150 children; there are at present about 100 girls on the foundation, 30 of whom are nominated by the Conolly family.
A parochial school-house, built by the same family, is entirely supported by the founders; there are also four private schools in the parish. There is a fever hospital and dispensary, a neat building erected in 1813, and containing six wards with four beds in each. In the old chruchyard was a sumptuous monument to the memory of the Right Hon. W. Conolly, the founder of the Castletown property, which has lately been closed up; and just without the demesne are the ruins of a chapel belonging formerly to the Earl of Limerick.