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LISMORE, a market town and seat of a diocese in Co. Waterford, Ireland, 43 m. W.S.W. of Waterford by the Waterford and Mallow branch of the Great Southern & Western Railway. Pop. (1901) 1583. It is beautifully situated on a steep eminence rising abruptly from the Blackwater. At the verge of the rock on the western side is the old baronial castle, erected by King John in 1185, which was the residence of the bishops till the 14th century. It was besieged in 1641 and 1643, and in 1645 it was partly destroyed by fire. The present fabric is largely modern; while the portico was designed by Inigo Jones. To the east, on the summit of the height, is the cathedral of St Carthagh, of various dates. There are portions probably of the 12th and 13th centuries, but the bulk of the building is of the 17th century, and considerable additions, including the tower and spire, were made in the 19th. There are a grammar school, a free school and a number of charities. Some trade is carried on by means of the river, and the town is the centre of a salmon fishery district.
The original name of Lismore was Maghsciath. A monastery founded here by St Carthagh in 633 became so celebrated as a seat of learning that it is said no fewer than twenty churches were erected in its vicinity. The bishopric, which is said to have originated with this foundation, was united to that of Waterford in 1363. In the 9th and beginning of the 10th centuries the town was repeatedly plundered by the Danes, and in 978 the town and abbey were burned by the men of Ossory. Henry II., after landing at Waterford, received in Lismore castle the allegiance of the archbishops and bishops of Ireland. In 1518 the manor was granted to Sir Walter Raleigh, from whom it passed to Sir Richard Boyle, afterwards earl of Cork. From the earls of Cork it descended by marriage to the dukes of Devonshire. It was incorporated as a municipal borough in the time of Charles I., when it also received the privilege of returning members to parliament, but at the Union in 1800 it was disfranchised and also ceased to exercise its municipal functions.
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