Roscrea - Encyclopedia

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ROSCREA, a market town near the north-western border of Co. Tipperary, Ireland, pleasantly situated on undulating ground connecting the Devil's Bit and the Slieve Bloom mountains. Pop. (1901) 2325. It is 77 m. W.S.W. from Dublin on the Ballybrophy and Limerick branch of the Great Southern & Western railway. A branch line runs northward to Birr or Parsonstown. Flour-milling and tanning are industries, and monthly cattle fairs are held. There is a branch here of the Trappist Monastery of Mount Melleray in Co. Waterford. The antiquarian remains are of interest. These include portions of an Augustinian abbey, founded by St Cronan, early in the 7th century, which are incorporated into the church. Out of this abbey a diocese grew, to be united with that of Killaloe in the 12th century. Here also was produced the Book of Dimma, consisting of the gospels and accompanied by a brazen shrine, ornamented with silver and tracery, and preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. A cross and a shrine of St Cronan are in the churchyard. There are also a round tower, 80 ft. in height, but lacking the upper storeys, and a Franciscan friary (1490); while a circular tower, and a square keep (occupied as barracks), mark strongholds, the one built by King John and the other by the Ormondes, and testify to the former importance of the town, which was doubtless accentuated by its physical position in a passway between the neighbouring mountain ranges. Leap Castle, about 4 m. N., is another fortified mansion, which is still inhabited.

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