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Virginia
Achadh an Iúir
Location
Location of Virginia
centerMap highlighting Virginia
Irish grid reference
N604876
Statistics
Province: Ulster
County: County Cavan
Elevation: 113 m (379 ft)

Population (2006)
 - Town:
 - Environs:


  1,734
  3,188 electoral division
Website: www.virginia.ie

Virginia is a small town of 3,188 inhabitants (according to census 2006) in County Cavan, Ireland. It was originally set down during the Plantation of Ulster at Aghanure[1] (from the Irish: Achadh an Iúir meaning "field at the fork of the river"), a prominent field location situated within the townland of Ballaghanea that some records note included an existing sixteenth century castle tower-house and bawn. The early settlement was later moved for unknown reasons to its present lakeside location (as described below) and was named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Situated pleasantly close to Lough Ramor, Virginia is on the N3 route approximately 85 km northwest of Dublin city, where once it was a strategic staging and rest point for the coaches plying between Enniskillen and Dublin. In more recent times, Virginia is connected to the capital by an hourly bus service from Cavan town Bus Éireann. Regarded these days as a commuter town with its proximity to larger trading towns east and west, the local industry comprises mainly of farming and milk processing at the local Glanbia factory, (formerly Virginia Milk Products) which produces skim milk powder and cream for the world renowned brand Baileys Irish Cream liqueur. Other local manufacturers include the Fleetwood brand of paint products. Virginia won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in 1964 and 1965. It is also home to the popular annual Virginia Agricultural Show for over sixty years and Irelands only Pumpkin Festival.

Contents

History

Virginia began as an Ulster Plantation project, where an English adventurer named John Ridgeway was granted the crown patent in August of 1612 to build a new town at Aghaler in Ballaghanea, situated upon the great road between the towns of Kells and Cavan. The conditions of which were to introduce English settlers to the area and build the town to incorporated borough status. Ridgeway's difficulty in attracting sufficient English trades people and settler families into what was then regarded as a hostile territory outside of the protection of the Leinster Pale, managed to build a few wooden cabins and a corn mill close to the then existing O'Reilly castle, located close to the shores of Lough Ramor. Ridgeway passed the patent on to another Englishman captain Hugh Culme who already possessed lands about Lough Oughter in County Cavan and had access to building timber. Culme persuaded the Plantation Commission to move the location of Virginia to its present location close to the Blackwater tributary river, whereupon he built a number of cabins for the settlers but still failed to meet the Commissions time frame for developing the town further before giving up on the task, probably for the same reasons as his predecessor. During November of 1622, the Virginia estate came into the possession of Lucas Plunkett Earl of Fingall who also held extensive lands around County Meath. Plunkett was a Catholic Anglo-Irish lord probably from twelfth century Norman descent undertook to complete the patented project.

Complaints from the Virginia inhabitants about the lack of development progress reached the Commission by 1638 whereupon the second Earl of Fingall, Christopher Plunkett was ordered to submit a substantial bond with the Commission court and to build the church in Virginia or face forfeiture of his county Cavan lands. The Anglican Bishop of Kilmore then William Bedell undertook to lay out the town in accordance with the Commission requirement. However events which led to the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and Irish Confederate Wars enveloped Virginia causing widespread destruction and de-population. The summer of 1642 saw the outright destruction by government forces of the castle along with the burning of stocks of hay, corn and turf in a bid to punish the outlawed Earl of Fingall for supporting an insurgent siege on the garrison located at Drogheda. What remained of Virginia after the wars can be assessed through hearth tax records from the 1660s, indicating a small resident community. During the following century estate surveys were undertaken for the absentee landlord (exiled since the Williamite wars of 1688-91) which tell of a wayside Inn that existed since the earliest times (exact location unknown), operated then in 1727 by a Cornelius Donnellan and was frequented around that time by Jonathan Swift during his several excursions to Co. Cavan. The Virginia estate was eventually sold around the year 1750 on behalf of the Plunkett's to pay off mounting debts, setting the way for a new landlord Thomas Taylor, Lord Headfort to continue in building the town where others had failed. It is recorded that Taylor's grandfather, also a Thomas Taylor, was a cartographer who assisted Sir William Petty with the Down Survey during the previous century.

The Taylors (later Taylour) had built a substantial mansion (now the Headfort school) beside Kells in County Meath and turned their attention to making the unproductive lands around Virginia into profitable farms through land drainage and afforestation of low lying areas. The results of which brought employment and quickly led to the setting up of local markets and fairs in Virginia where produce was traded on the streets. Virginia's population grew to double from 467 inhabitants between the census years of 1821 to 1841, as did the rapid construction of the town with the Main street as we know it today. Successive Lords Headfort, later became Earl of Bective and Marquess of Headfort, created their own private demesne and a hunting lodge (now Park Hotel) overlooking Lough Ramor.

The famine of 1845-49 (see ref. below) caused by successive failures in the potato crop brought with it extreme hardship for the poorer classes, death was widespread caused by diseases like typhus and cholera, pandemic throughout Europe at that time and the result of poor sanitation, contaminated drinking water and deplorable living conditions. Starvation which ravished many parts of the country was averted in Virginia due to the efforts of the local Famine Relief Committee, who made extra rations of Indian meal available in return for hard labour, this included women and children breaking stones for making roads and the building of the local Catholic church which took place during 1845 on lands donated by the landlord. In subsequent years Virginia prospered with the introduction of a Butter market in 1856, followed by the opening of the Great Northern (GNR) railway line between Kells and Oldcastle in March 1863. Cattle and livestock could then be moved for export, however this also meant that produce such as coal and beer could be transported from the larger towns into rural areas which led to the closure of the local malt brewery and several bakeries in the town.

Until relatively recently emigration was a feature of rural Irish life down through the centuries and Virginia was no exception to this. Perhaps the most famous Virginia emigrant was Philip H. Sheridan, whose parents came from nearby Killinkere, left Ireland around 1830 and settled in America. Sheridan achieved success through a military career, particularly during the American Civil War. President Lincoln stated, "this Sheridan is a little Irishman, but a big fighter", eventually became commanding General of the US Army and had many honours bestowed upon him. Other famous people who have associations to Virginia are Dean Jonathan Swift who penned his well known novel Gullivers Travels while staying nearby at Quilca, the home of his cleric friend Thomas Sheridan who also kept a classics school and later became headmaster of Cavan's Royal School. Playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan was also descended from this family, while othor reputable Virginian's from the nineteenth century were Thomas Fitzpatrick a noted London physician, and entrepreneur Joseph Rathborne the son of local mill owner Henry Talbot Rathborne, Joseph went to America and created the world's biggest lumber mill with the Rathborne Cypress Lumber Company in Louisiana. Admiral Sir Josias Rowley had links here through his brother Rev. John Rowley who was an Anglican clergyman and incumbent at Virginia during the period that the First Fruits church was built. Admiral Rowley also helped to finance the rebuilding of the church after a major fire destroyed the roof on Christmas night 1830.

Nowadays, Virginia continues to modernise as a growing urban community with a foothold clinging on to its rural origins. The closure of the Virginia Roads railway station and GNR line in 1958 came about as Irelands population fell to its lowest levels, however road transport links to Virginia continue to improve. A continuing rise in prosperity and population in the town is evident with many new houses and commercial business being built. The last census, taken in 2006, put the population of Virginia electoral area at 3,188 inhabitants, having risen by 34.5% from the previous 2002 census.

See also

References

  1. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland

External links

  • [1] Community website for Virginia and its surrounding communities
  • [2] Public Records Office for Northern Ireland.
  • [3] Great Irish Famine and the work of the Central Relief Committee.
  • [4] Blue & Gray Magazine references to General Philip Sheridan's campaign's in American Civil War (Shenandoah - Winchester & Ceder Creek)
  • [5] Virginia's Pumpkin Festival October Bank Holiday Weekend
  • [6] Virginia Group of Parishes website
  • [7] Irish Genealogy and Family History website
  • The Tidy Towns of Ireland "Celebrating 50 years"
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Virginia
Achadh an Iúir
Location
Irish grid reference
N604876
Statistics
Province: Ulster
County: County Cavan
Elevation: 113 m (371 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Town:
 - Environs:

  1,734
  3,188
electoral division
Website: www.virginia.ie

Virginia is a small town of 3,188 inhabitants (according to census 2006) in County Cavan, Ireland. It was originally set down during the Plantation of Ulster at Aghanure[1] (Irish: Achadh an Iúir, meaning "field at the fork of the river"), a prominent field location situated within the townland of Ballaghanea that some records note included an existing sixteenth century castle tower-house and bawn. The early settlement was later moved for unknown reasons to its present lakeside location (as described below) and was named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Situated pleasantly close to Lough Ramor, Virginia is on the N3 route approximately 85 km northwest of Dublin city, where once it was a strategic staging and rest point for the coaches plying between Enniskillen and Dublin. In more recent times, Virginia is connected to the capital by an hourly bus service from Cavan town Bus Éireann. Regarded these days as a commuter town with its proximity to larger trading towns east and west, the local industry consists mainly of farming and milk processing at the local Glanbia factory, (formerly Virginia Milk Products) which produces skim milk powder and cream for the world renowned brand Baileys Irish Cream liqueur. Other local manufacturers include the Fleetwood brand of paint products. Virginia won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in 1964 and 1965. It is also home to the popular annual Virginia Agricultural Show for over sixty years and Irelands only Pumpkin Festival.

Contents

History

Virginia began as an Ulster Plantation project, where an English adventurer named John Ridgeway was granted the crown patent in August of 1612 to build a new town at Aghaler in Ballaghanea, situated upon the great road between the towns of Kells and Cavan. The conditions of which were to introduce English settlers to the area and build the town to incorporated borough status. Ridgeway's difficulty in attracting sufficient English trades people and settler families into what was then regarded as a hostile territory outside of the protection of the Leinster Pale, managed to build a few wooden cabins and a corn mill close to the then existing O'Reilly castle, located close to the shores of Lough Ramor. Ridgeway passed the patent on to another Englishman captain Hugh Culme who already possessed lands about Lough Oughter in County Cavan and had access to building timber. Culme persuaded the Plantation Commission to move the location of Virginia to its present location close to the Blackwater tributary river, whereupon he built a number of cabins for the settlers but still failed to meet the Commissions time frame for developing the town further before giving up on the task, probably for the same reasons as his predecessor. During November of 1622, the Virginia estate came into the possession of Lucas Plunkett Earl of Fingall who also held extensive lands around County Meath. Plunkett was a Catholic Anglo-Irish lord probably from twelfth century Norman descent undertook to complete the patented project.

File:Virginia Main Street & Town
Virginia Main Street and Square.

Complaints from the Virginia inhabitants about the lack of development progress reached the Commission by 1638 whereupon the second Earl of Fingall, Christopher Plunkett was ordered to submit a substantial bond with the Commission court and to build the church in Virginia or face forfeiture of his county Cavan lands. The Anglican Bishop of Kilmore then William Bedell undertook to lay out the town in accordance with the Commission requirement. However events which led to the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and Irish Confederate Wars enveloped Virginia causing widespread destruction and de-population. The summer of 1642 saw the outright destruction by government forces of the castle along with the burning of stocks of hay, corn and turf in a bid to punish the outlawed Earl of Fingall for supporting an insurgent siege on the garrison located at Drogheda. What remained of Virginia after the wars can be assessed through hearth tax records from the 1660s, indicating a small resident community. During the following century estate surveys were undertaken for the absentee landlord (exiled since the Williamite wars of 1688-91) which tell of a wayside Inn that existed since the earliest times (exact location unknown), operated then in 1727 by a Cornelius Donnellan and was frequented around that time by Jonathan Swift during his several excursions to Co. Cavan. The Virginia estate was eventually sold around the year 1750 on behalf of the Plunkett's to pay off mounting debts, setting the way for a new landlord Thomas Taylor, Lord Headfort to continue in building the town where others had failed. It is recorded that Taylor's grandfather, also a Thomas Taylor, was a cartographer who assisted Sir William Petty with the Down Survey during the previous century.

The Taylors (later Taylour) had built a substantial mansion (now the Headfort school) beside Kells in County Meath and turned their attention to making the unproductive lands around Virginia into profitable farms through land drainage and afforestation of low lying areas. The results of which brought employment and quickly led to the setting up of local markets and fairs in Virginia where produce was traded on the streets. Virginia's population grew to double from 467 inhabitants between the census years of 1821 to 1841, as did the rapid construction of the town with the Main street as we know it today. Successive Lords Headfort, later became Earl of Bective and Marquess of Headfort, created their own private demesne and a hunting lodge (now Park Hotel) overlooking Lough Ramor.

The famine of 1845-49 (see ref. below) caused by successive failures in the potato crop brought with it extreme hardship for the poorer classes, death was widespread caused by diseases like typhus and cholera, pandemic throughout Europe at that time and the result of poor sanitation, contaminated drinking water and deplorable living conditions. Starvation which ravished many parts of the country was averted in Virginia due to the efforts of the local Famine Relief Committee, who made extra rations of Indian meal available in return for hard labour, this included women and children breaking stones for making roads and the building of the local Catholic church which took place during 1845 on lands donated by the landlord. In subsequent years Virginia prospered with the introduction of a Butter market in 1856, followed by the opening of the Great Northern (GNR) railway line between Kells and Oldcastle in March 1863. Cattle and livestock could then be moved for export, however this also meant that produce such as coal and beer could be transported from the larger towns into rural areas which led to the closure of the local malt brewery and several bakeries in the town.

Until relatively recently emigration was a feature of rural Irish life down through the centuries and Virginia was no exception to this. Perhaps the most famous Virginia emigrant was Philip H. Sheridan, whose parents came from nearby Killinkere, left Ireland around 1830 and settled in America. Sheridan achieved success through a military career, particularly during the American Civil War. President Lincoln stated, "this Sheridan is a little Irishman, but a big fighter", eventually became commanding General of the US Army and had many honours bestowed upon him. Other famous people who have associations to Virginia are Dean Jonathan Swift who penned his well known novel Gullivers Travels while staying nearby at Quilca, the home of his cleric friend Thomas Sheridan who also kept a classics school and later became headmaster of Cavan's Royal School. Playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan was also descended from this family, while othor reputable Virginian's from the nineteenth century were Thomas Fitzpatrick a noted London physician, and entrepreneur Joseph Rathborne the son of local mill owner Henry Talbot Rathborne, Joseph went to America and created the world's biggest lumber mill with the Rathborne Cypress Lumber Company in Louisiana. Admiral Sir Josias Rowley had links here through his brother Rev. John Rowley who was an Anglican clergyman and incumbent at Virginia during the period that the First Fruits church was built. Admiral Rowley also helped to finance the rebuilding of the church after a major fire destroyed the roof on Christmas night 1830.

Nowadays, Virginia continues to modernise as a growing urban community with a foothold clinging on to its rural origins. The closure of the Virginia Roads railway station and GNR line in 1958 came about as Irelands population fell to its lowest levels, however road transport links to Virginia continue to improve. A continuing rise in prosperity and population in the town is evident with many new houses and commercial business being built. The last census, taken in 2006, put the population of Virginia electoral area at 3,188 inhabitants, having risen by 34.5% from the previous 2002 census.

See also

References

  1. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland

External links

  • [1] Community website for Virginia and its surrounding communities
  • [2] Public Records Office for Northern Ireland.
  • [3] Great Irish Famine and the work of the Central Relief Committee.
  • [4] Blue & Gray Magazine references to General Philip Sheridan's campaign's in American Civil War (Shenandoah - Winchester & Ceder Creek)
  • [5] Virginia's Pumpkin Festival October Bank Holiday Weekend
  • [6] Virginia Group of Parishes website
  • [7] Irish Genealogy and Family History website
  • The Tidy Towns of Ireland "Celebrating 50 years"
  • [8] From little acorns - a profile on the Rathborne lumber company today
  • Cavan Heritage website

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