INISTIOGE, an incorporated market and post-town (formerly a parliamentary borough), and a parish, in the barony of GOWRAN, county of KILKENNY, and province of LEINSTER, 13 miles (S) from Kilkenny, and 63 (S.) from Dublin, on the mail coach road to New Ross; containing 3221 inhabitants, of whom about 1300 are in the town. This place, 'which is situated on the river Nore, was at an early period distinguished for its religious establishments. An abbey is said to have been founded here about the year 800; but that to which the town was more especially indebted for its origin and early importance was an Augustinian monastery, founded in 1210 by Thomas, son of Anthony, Seneschal of Leinster, and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St. Columb. Alured, the first prior, made the town which had risen up around it a free borough; and Milo Fitzgerald, the last abbot, who was afterwards Bishop of Ossory, rebuilt the tower of the church and erected the cloister; the priory continued to flourish till the dissolution, and with all its revenues was granted by Queen Elizabeth to Edmund Butler, Earl of Ormonde. In 1607, Theobald, Viscount Butler, obtained for the town, which at that time was defended with walls, the grant of a market and fairs; and in the following year it was incorporated by Jas. I. The preamble to the charter sets forth that it was an ancient loyal borough, and from its strength, and situation on a navigable river, was of great importance for the service of the Crown and thesafety of the inhabitants of the counties of Kilkenny, Wexford, and Carlow. It suffered greatly in the wars previous to that time, and was much depopulated by sickness; though it obtained the grant of an additional fair, the town never regained its prosperity. In 1649 it was besieged and taken by Col. Abbot, for the parliamentarians.
The present town, though small, occupies a fine site on the western bank of the river Nore, over which is a handsome stone bridge of 10 arches, ornamented on one side with Ionic pilasters; it consists chiefly of a square containing 143 houses, which are well built and roofed with slate. In front of the houses are rows of lime trees, and in the centre of the area are the base and part of the shaft of an ancient stone cross, with an inscription in raised letters to the memory of David, Baron of Brownsford, of the Fitzgerald family, who died in 1621. An agricultural society was established here by W. F. Tighe, Esq., which holds its meetings in the court-house for the distribution of premiums. The manufacture of lace affords employment to a considerable number of the female population; and the river Nore is navigable for vessels of 100 tons' burden till within a short distance of the town. The market is on Friday; fairs are held on March 11th, June 9th, Oct. 12th, and Dec. 13th; and there is a constabulary police station, and a sub-post-office to Thomastown and New Ross. The corporation consists of a portreeve, 12 chief burgesses, and an indefinite number of freemen, assisted by a recorder, town-clerk, and other officers. The portreeve, who may appoint a deputy, and is also coroner and clerk of the market, and with his deputy a justice of the peace, is chosen annually from the chief burgesses on the Monday next after the festival of St. John the Baptist, and sworn into office on the Monday after Michaelmas-day. The chief burgesses are chosen from the freemen by the portreeve and a majority of their own body, by whom all officers are appointed and freemen admitted solely by favour. The corporation continued to return two members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when the borough was disfranchised. The portreeve, with two or more of the burgesses, holds a court of record, with jurisdiction extending to £20 late currency, every month.
The parish comprises 9620 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act of which about 800 are woodland,800 waste and bog, and the remainder arable and pasture; the land is good, and the system of agriculture has been greatly improved under the auspices of the agricultural society, over which Mr. Tighe presides. Lead ore in small quantities has been found on the bank of the river; and there is a quarry of remarkably fine granite, the field of which commences at Kingstown, on the bay of Dublin, and terminates at Killeen, a hill close to this parish. The surrounding scenery is extremely varied and beautiful, and the banks of the Nore are richly diversified with features of a picturesque and romantic character. Woodstock, the seat of W. F. Tighe, Esq, is a spacious and elegant mansion, finely situated in a demesne of nearly 1500 statute acres spreading along the margin of the Nore, and commanding extensive views of the various interesting objects on its banks; on one side are rugged rocks and striking contrast with luxuriant woods clothing the lofty hills to their summits; and on the other are fertile and richly cultivated plains interspersed with thriving plantations; among these the ruins of the castles of Brownsford and Clowen, on artificial mounds overhanging the river, are seen with peculiar effect. In the grounds are various picturesque rustic cottages, and several banqueting-rooms commanding from different positions the rich, bold, and varied scenery which here adorns the banks of the river. In the house is an excellent library, with a choice collection of paintings and some beautiful statuary. The late proprietor, W. Tighe, Esq., was the author of the Statistical survey of the county of Kilkenny; and his sister-in-law, the accomplished Mrs. Mary Tighe, was the author of "Psyche" and other poems; a monument and statue by Flaxman have been erected to her memory in the church-yard of Inistioge. The other seats are Firgrove, that of J. Robbins, Esq.; and Ballyduff, the property of Sir Josiah Coghill, Bart., R. N. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Ossory; one-half of the rectory is impropriate in Sir Win. Cox, Bart., and the other is annexed to the vicarage, which is united to the rectory and vicarage of Cloneamery, and in the patronage of the Bishop. The tithes amount to £430, of which £200 is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the incumbent; and the tithes of the benefice amount to £365. The glebe-house is a handsome residence, and the glebe comprises 10 acres, subject to a rent of £3 per acre. The church, a handsome structure in the early English style, harmonising with the tower of the ancient monastery, with which it is incorporated, was rebuilt in 1824 by a gift of £900 from
the late Board of First Fruits and by subscription. In the H. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also those of Cloneamery and Roer, in which are four chapels; the chapel of this parish has been taken down, and a handsome new one is now being erected. There are two schools supported by Mr. and Lady Louisa Tighe, in which are about 150 children. An almshouse was built in 1788, by Mrs. Sarah Tighe, for eight aged widows, who receive a weekly allowance from Mr. Tighe, but there is no permanent endowment. A charitable loan fund has been established for lending sums not exceeding £3, repayable by instalments of 1s. 6d. in the pound every other week. There is a society for supplying coal to the poor, who deposit a sum weekly, the value of which, and of a penny per week added by the society to every deposit, they receive in coal at the end of the year; also a dispensary. There are some interesting remains of the monastery, consisting of two towers, one of which has been incorporated with the present church, and the other is square at the base and octagonal in the upper stages.