Is an incorporated market and post town and parish, in the barony of West Narragh and Rheban, 40 miles S.W. from Dublin, and 22 S.W. by W. from Naas, seated on the banks of the Barrow, which flows through the town, and is navigable to Waterford. Its situation is most pleasing, being in a part of the country redundant in those natural beauties so peculiar to this kingdom. On the northern bank of the river, which is crossed by two stone bridges, stand the remains of Woodstock Castle, supposed to have been erected in 1290. The walls are of great thickness, and the windows are much admired, as are also the gateway and the outer part of the court. The town of Athy is very ancient, and derives its name from Athelhac or Athelgar, meaning “ the ford towards the west”. It originated in the foundation of two monasteries, soon after the English invasion, one on the west, the other on the east side of the river. The castle, erected in 1575, for the defence of the town, and now used as a constabulary barrack, has a fine appearance.
The geographical situation of the place is peculiarly adapted for commerce. All the roads from different parts of the country converge here. The Barrow, as before stated, is navigable to Waterford, and goods of all kinds can be conveyed to various parts of the kingdom by the Grand Canal. A considerable traffic exists in corn; indeed, Athy is one of the best corn marts in Ireland, and its prosperity has not been interrupted, nor its trade crippled, like many other towns, which have unhappily suffered by political convulsion. There are two principal inns, one of which, the “Leinster Arms Hotel,” is an excellent commercial house, as well as a posting inn. His Grace of Leinster is patron of the town, and from the benevolence and public spirit of this nobleman, the inhabitants have derived many advantages. The town consists of one main street of considerable length, with two smaller ones diverging, and a spacious market square. James I. constituted Athy a borough by charter; its municipal officers being a sovereign, two bailiffs, a certain number of burgesses, and a common council; but under an act passed in the reign of George IV. the government of the town became, and now is vested in commissioners. Quarter and Petty sessions are held here-the latter every Tuesday; and Athy, with Naas, is alternately the assize town for the county.
The places of worship are the parish church of Saint Michael, a handsome and capacious stone structure; a Roman Catholic chapel, the interior of which is elegant and convenient, and a neat temple of worship for the Wesleyan Methodists. The other public buildings comprise the county gaol, a fine building, erected in 1830, and admirably regulated; the court-house, a spacious structure with a clock, presented by Lord Downes; the union poor-house, a remarkably handsome edifice, situated about a mile from the town, and a fever hospital and dispensary. The public educational establishments are a national and protestant schools, and there is a friary. His Grace the Duke of Leinster has a neat seat contiguous to the town; and about three miles distant is the moat of Ardscull, a very extensive fortification, composed entirely of earth, and commanding, from its elevated position, an extensive view of the surrounding country. The market is held on Tuesday; and the fairs March 17th, April 25th, June 9th, July 25th, October 10th, and December 11th. The population of the town and borough, according to the return of 1841 is about 5,000.
POST OFFICE, Leins street, Thomas Sheill, Post Master. – Letters from Dublin arrive every morning at one and afternoon at half-past three, bringing letters from the NORTH, & ENGLAND & SCOTLAND, and are despatched thereto every morning at half-past ten and night at eleven. – Letters from LIMERICK and parts SOUTH and WEST arrive every morning at half-past ten, and are despatched thereto every afternoon at half-past three. – Letters from KILKENNY, WATERFORD and Ross arrive every night at eleven, and are despatched thereto every morning at one. Letters from CARLOW, WEXFORD and WICKLOW arrive every afternoon at three, and are despatched thereto every morning at half-past ten.
PLACES OF WORSHIP,
And their Ministers,
Rev. Frederick Stewart Trench.
Rev. Fitz John Trench
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHAPEL:-
Rev. John Lawler, parish priest
Rev. John Harrold and Rev. Thomas Green, curates.
WESLEYAN METHODIST CHAPEL:-
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS, &c.
BARRACKS, Barrack street-Major Peter Brown, barrack master; Joseph Caher, barrack keeper
CONSTABULARY BARRACKS, Castle, Duke st- Arthur George Judge, sub inspector.
COUNTY GAOL-John Butler, Esq. inspector; Patrick Drill, governor; Rev. Fitz John Trench, Protestant chaplain; Rev. John Lawler, Roman Catholicchaplain, William Beauchamp Clayton, M.D. physician and surgeon.
COURTHOUSE- Joseph Walsh, keeper.
DISPENSARY- William Beauchamp Clayton, surgeon
FEVER HOSPITAL, Woodstock- William Clayton, surgeon, Eliza Driscoll, matron.
SAVINGS’ BANK & LOAN FUND, office Emily square- Geo. Mitchell, secretary
UNION WORKHOUSE, Woodstock- Richd. Ivers, master; Elizabeth Quinn, matron.
COACHES, CARS, &c.
All call at the Coach Hotel
To DUBLIN, the Royal Mail (from Cork), every morning at half-past ten-the Royal Mail (from Waterford), every forenoon at eleven- and a Car, from Leinster street, every morning at a quarter before eight; all go through Kilcullen and Naas.
To CARLOW, a Caravan, from the Grand Canal harbour, every morning at a quarter before seven and afternoon at half-past three.
To CORK, the Royal Mail, every afternoon at half-past three, goes through Stradbally, Abbeyleix, Rathdowney, Thurles, Cashel, Cahir and Fermoy.
To KILKENNY, a Car, from Grand Canal harbour, every morning at a quarter before seven and afternoon at half-past three; goes through Castle-Comer.
To WATERFORD, the Royal Mail (from Dublin), every morning at one; goes through Castle-Comer, Kilkenny and Stoneyford.
CONVEYANCES BY WATER
Samuel Barras, collector.
To DUBLIN, the Grand Canal Company’s Boats, calling at Vicarstown, Monastereven, Rathangan, Robertstown, Sallins and Hazelhatch, every morning at nine and evening at seven.
To MOUNTMELLICK and PORTARLINGTON, by a branch of the Canal from Monastereven.
A description of the town of Athy, along with places of worship, public institutions and conveyances serving the area.
[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe; final edit Dee O’Brien]