The Story of Cavan by Elegant Gems, Cavan

Elegant Gems Presents “The Story of Cavan”
County Cavan has been inhabited for over 5,000 years has a rich and celebrated history. Missionaries converted County Cavan to Christianity in the 6th Century. St Feidhlim founded a church at Kilmore, while St Mogue set up an abbey at Drumlane.
In the Later Middle Ages (1200-1600), Cavan was a border area under the control of Irish chieftains. The Anglo-Normans had settled to the West and South as they tried to conquer Cavan but were driven back. They built a castle at Lough Oughter and a motte-and-bailey at Belturbet.
In 1579 County Cavan took on her present boundaries. In the early 17th century, Cavan was settled by planters from England and Scotland who laid the foundations for many towns and villages such as Belturbet, Killeshandra and Virginia. Cavan's history as a holiday destination dates from this time, when visitors from all over Ireland flocked to the mineral spas at Swanlinbar in West Cavan.
There are many heritage sites in County Cavan where visitors can experience the rich culture and heritage of County Cavan.

The Franciscan Friary in Cavan, better known locally as St.Mary’s Abbey was founded in the 1300’s by Giolla Iosa Rua O’Reilly, the king of Breifne but nothing remains of the medieval foundation apart from the old bell tower.
The 1593 Map of Cavan shows the Franciscan Friary Church and the bell tower. It showed the church with an east west orientation and with an external tower. The tower is approximately 40 feet high with open rounded arches in east and west walls, one large window facing east on the first floor and windows with rounded tops on the top storey.
The friary and lands attached to it remained under the ownership of the Franciscans for nearly three hundred years until the introduction of the reformation when the monks were expelled.
The Friary was burned on many occasions, in 1429 and 1468 by the English, in 1452 by a monk using a candle and in 1575 by one of the O’Reillys.
As Cavan town was burned several times, the last time in 1690, the old bell tower attached to the Friary is possibly the oldest building remaining.
Tradition states that Owen Roe O’Neill who died on November 6th 1649 at Lough Oughter Castle was buried in the Franciscan Friary but his grave was not marked.
In the early 1590’s when the church passed out of the ownership of the Franciscans it was used as a court and then later rebuilt by the Church of Ireland and used as a parish church until the present church was opened in 1815 with the last service being held on Christmas Day 1815.
The Friary became a ruin in the early 1820’s and the stones used to built houses on Bridge Street. Milling in the Lifeforce Mill that is situated along the Kinnypottle River can be traced back to the 14th century when there was a flour mill on the site as part of the Franciscian Friary. The current mill, which was formerly known as Greene’s Mill was erected in 1846 and throughout 100 years of almost daily use it served as a focal point in the life of Cavan town before it closed in the 1950’s. The mill was fully restored in the 1990’s and all the original machinery, including what is believed to be the only McAdam Water Turbine has been restored and returned to use.

Town Hall
The Town Hall that was built in 1909 but was not officially opened until January 1910. The Town Hall was built on a space in the southern part of the Farnham Gardens. The Farnham Gardens originally extended along the eastern side of Farnham Street from the corner of Wesley Street to the corner of Church Lane (Abbey Street). When the Town Hall was built, a new street was cut through the Farnham Gardens (Town Hall Street) which connected Farnham Street with the Market Square and Main Street. At a meeting on July 8th 1910, the Urban District Council unanimously decided to name the new street “Town Hall Street”. However, on 5th April 1911, the council by a majority of one, resolved to name it “Francis Street” (the street being in the vicinity of the old Franciscan Abbey), but it is questionable if this change had been legally made, as it would appear that the council overlooked the provisions of Section 21 of the Act of 1907.
12th Romanesque Doorway (Church of Ireland)
At Kilmore, Co Cavan the Cathedral of St Feidhlimidh has an inserted 12th century Romanesque doorway. It was removed from an early monastery on Trinity Island in Lough Oughter. It is a four-order arch with chevron decoration. There are intertwined animals and interlaced ornament on the jambs. The Cathedral is chiefly renowned because of the marvelously carved Hiberno-Romanesque doorway which serves as a vestry door.It is believed that this doorway originally formed part of the Cathedral at Toneymore which was built after the Diocese of Kilmore was first granted official recogintion by the Synod of Kells in 1152.The Cathedral at Toneymore fell into disrepair after the Church of St Fethlimidh was converted into a Cathedral in 1454.The Premonstratensian Order then salvaged the doorway and inserted it into the western gable of the Abbey of the Holy Trinity on Trinity Island in Lough Oughter.The Abbey, which was established in 1237 or 1239, was destroyed in 1570, and the doorway was then taken to the old Cathedral in Kilmore (now the Parochial Hall), where it was used as the main entrance.Finally, the doorway was moved to its present location when the present Cathedral was built in 1858.

This doorway is one of only two Hiberno-romanesque doorways of its kind surviving in Ulster, (the other is on White Island in Lough Erne) and is widely treasured as a priceless relic of the finest period of native Irish building.It consists of four orders and a beaded hood-moulding.
The three outer orders have engaged columns with square bases and capitals.
Incidentally, some of the stones have been misplaced in the course of its movements over some seven hundred years. The cemetery contains the tomb of Bishop William Bedell (1571-1642) who completed the work of translating the Bible into Irish.
Opposite his grave is a fine Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey.
This was constructed by Walter de Lacy on the occasion of the abortive attempt by the Anglo-Norman forces to penetrate Ulster in 1211.
It was dismantled by Cathal O'Reilly in 1224.

RC Cathedral of SS Patrick and Felim,
The original Cathedral of the diocese of Kilmore was situated about four miles south of Cavan town in the present parish of Kilmore. Some time in the 6th century St Felim established a church there. It was rebuilt in the middle of the fifteenth century as a cathedral. During the reformation it was confiscated and is still a Church of  Ireland (Anglican) cathedral.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of SS Patrick and Felim is the most dominant building in the town. Completed in 1942, with 68m spire and flanking domes, the vast interior is styled like a basilica and extensive use is made of different colours of marble. The cathedral houses many fine examples of ecclesiastical art. There are also stained-glass windows by Harry Clarke (1889-1931), who was one of Ireland's leading artists.
The new cathedral was built between the years 1938 and 1942, and was one of the last of the huge Roman Catholic cathedrals built in Ireland from the 1850s onwards. Unlike most Irish cathedrals, it is neo-classical in style with a single spire rising to 230 feet. The portico consists of a tympanum supported by four massive columns of Portland stone with Corinthian caps. The tympanum figures of Christ, St Patrick and St Felim were executed by the Dublin sculptor, Edward Smith.
Cloughoughter Castle.
Cloughoughter Castle is located on a tiny island in Lough Oughter part of the Erne river system, Cloughoughter Castle despite its small size has been prominent in Irish history. It is thought to have been built by William Gorm de Lacy between 1200 and 1224, possibly on the site of a crannog. The area in which it stands was once the territory of the O'Rourke's kingdom of Breifne.

By 1223 East Breifne came under the control of the O'Reilly clan who enlarged it to its present height, from then on Cloughoughter Castle played a significant role in the ongoing power struggle between the O'Reilly's and the O'Rourke's.
During the plantation the castle became a target for the English, it was captured by Sir Richard Wingfield who granted Cloughoughter Castle to Captain Hugh Culme, who built a residence on the south shore of the lake.

During the 1641 rebellion the O'Reilly's were once again in control using the castle as a prison holding the Bishop of Kilmore, William Bedell, his two sons, his son-in-law and Arthur Culme in a room at the top of the tower. Cloughoughter Castle fell to Cromwell's forces, to prevent its future use the castle was destroyed with gunpowder in 1653.
During restoration work in 1987 many finds were made most dating from the 17th century, at this time four skeletons were discovered three males and one female, these may have been causalities of the 1653 siege.

Owen Roe O'Neill is said to have died in Cloughoughter Castle on 6th November 1649 when on his way to join the earl of Ormond in their struggle against Cromwell
Cavan Courthouse
It was designed by the architect John Boden. Boden also designed the Protestant parish church directly opposite. The Courthouse situated on Farnham Street dates from 1824 and was built at the cost of £11,000. It was built by Colbourne and Williams of Dublin and was built from sandstone taken from the local quarry at Latt. The facade has five bays and is a two storey building. In 1987 the Courthouse was renovated by P.Elliott & Co. The Statue in front of the Courthouse commemorates Thomas Ashe one of the volunteers of the 1916 rising. In addition to court sittings the building is now the seat of the County Council and the Urban District Council which administers local government in the County.
The Workhouse
The population of Ireland on the eve of the Famine stood in excess of 8 millions. The population of Co. Cavan alone was just short of 250,000 – nearly five times its present population.
The new workhouse, built in 1841-2, was designed by George Wilkinson. It occupied a nine-acre site a mile to the north of Cavan town. It could accommodate 1,200 inmates, making it Ulster's largest workhouse. The cost of the building was £10,500 plus £2,000 for fixtures and fittings etc. It was declared fit for the admission of paupers on 26th March 1842, during the great Famine.

Life in the workhouse had few comforts. It wasn’t meant to be comfortable – that was the whole point of a workhouse. Families were strictly segregated and only came into contact during times of religious worship. Their days were governed by a strict and unyielding regime, punctuated by the spirit-numbing clang of the workhouse bell.  All were poor and destitute; they included those who could not be adequately absorbed into local society, such as children from broken homes, as well as people with mental and drink-related problems.