COOLBANAGHER, or COOLBENGER, a parish, in the barony of POUTNEHINCH, QUEEN'S county, and province of LEINSTER ; Containing, with the parish of Ardea, or Ardrea, the post-town of Emo, and part of that of Mountmellick, 7456 inhabitants. It comprises 8623 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The soil is generally fertile, and there is a considerable tract of waste land, which is mostly exhausted bog, also a large tract of valuable bog ; the system of agriculture is daily improving. Limestone abounds, and is quarried for building, repairing the roads, and burning into lime for manure. The principal seats are Emo Park, the residence of the Earl of Portarlington ; Woodbrook, of Major Chetwood ; Lauragh, of the Rev. Sir Erasmus Dixon Borrowes, Bart. ; Knightstown, of Joseph Kemmis, Esq. ; and Shane Castle, of Thomas Kemmis, Esq. From a desire to introduce manufactures and trade into this part of the country, for the employment of the population, Mr. Kemmis has established, on his estate at Shane, an iron-foundry and manufactory. The Dublin Grand Canal passes through the parish to Mountmellick ; also a tributary stream which, running northward, falls into the Barrow at Portnehinch bridge. Petty sessions are held at Lauragh.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Kildare, episcopally united, in 1804, to the rectory of Ardea or Ardrea, together forming the union of Coolbanagher, in the patromiage of the Crown : the tithes amount to £276. 18. 5-. per annum. The extent of the union, as applotted under the tithe act, is 15,763 statute acres ; and the tithes for the whole amount to £536. 6. 1-. per annum, The glebe-house, in Ardea, is a handsome residence, built in 1790 : the glebe comprises 26- acres. The church, also in Ardea, is a handsome edifice, erected at the expense of the late Lord Portarlington, on the summit of an eminence not far from the southern extremity of the union. In the R. C. divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Portarlington ; the chapel, at Emo, is a very neat edifice. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. The parochial school is at Moret, and there are about six other schools at that and other places in the parish : a spacious slated building was erected for one under the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, at an expense of £500, chiefly defrayed by I. C. Chetwood, Esq. ; and the school at Emo is endowed with 20 acres of land by the Hon. Lionel Dawson. There are about 700 children in these schools. The ruins of the ancient church are still visible, and also those of the castle of Moret, in the vicinity of which are the venerable remains of Shane Castle, formerly called "Sion" or" Shehan Castle," which was the head of a manor , when in the possession of Sir Robert Preston, in 1397, but it has shared the fate of the other castles of Leix. During the parliamentary war it was seized by the insurgents, in 1641 ; taken from them the year following by Sir Charles Coote, retaken by Owen Roe O'Nial in 1646, and finally surrendered, in 1650, to Cols. Hewson and Reynolds, who demolished the out-works, and left nothing but the present building remaining. It is situated on a high conical hill, and was fitted up in the last century by Dean Coote, who converted it into a very pleasant residence.-See EMO and MOUNTMELLICK.