Maryborough Town
(now called Portlaoise)
County Leix/Laois

Civil Parish Borris
Barony Maryborough East
Poor Law Union Mountmellick
Catholic Diocese Kildare & Leighlin
Catholic Parish Portlaoise (Maryborough)


BORRIS see MARYBOROUGH, an incorporated market and post-town, (formerly a parliamentary borough), and a parish, in the barony of East Maryborough, Queen's county, and province of Leinster, 10 miles (W.) from Athy, and 40 (S.W.) from Dublin, on the road to Roscrea and Limerick; containing 5306 inhabitants, of which number, 3223 are in the town.  This place derived its importance and its name from the erection of the ancient territory of Leix, by act of parliament of the 7th and 8th of Philip and Mary, into the Queen's county, of which it was constituted the county and assize town, and was called Maryborough in honour of the queen.  The town appears to have been selected for this purpose both from its central situation and its proximity to a strong fortress, which had been recently erect to retain in obedience to the English crown this portion of the country, which had been reduced by the Earl of Sussex.  In 1570, Queen Elizabeth granted to the inhabitants a charter of incorporation, which conferred upon them all the privileges enjoyed by those of Naas, Drogheda, and Dundalk, together with a market on Thursday; and in 1635, the corporation obtained from Chas. I. a grant of two fairs.  On the breaking out of the war in 1641, this was one of the places held by the confederate Catholics; it was seized by Owen Roe O'Nial in 1646, but was subsequently retaken by Lord Castlehaven; and in 1650, the fortress was taken by the parliamentarian troops under Cols. Reynolds and Hewson, by who it was entirely demolished.  The town, which is situated on a river tributary to the Barrow, contains 508 houses, irregularly built and of indifferent appearance; the streets are narrow and inconvenient, badly paved, and the inhabitants are indifferently supplied with water from want of pumps.  There are barracks for a company of infantry, a handsome range of buildings.  A considerable trade is carried on in flour, for the manufacture of which there are three mills, and in the neighbouring districts the woollen manufacture was formerly carried on to a very great extent.  The market is on Thursday; and fairs are hold on Jan. 1st, Feb. 24th, March 25th, May 12th, July 5th, Sept. 4th, Oct. 26th, and Dec. 12th, for cattle, horses, pigs, and pedlery.  Under the charter of Elizabeth the corporation consisted of a burgomaster, two bailiffs, and an indefinite number of burgesses and freemen, assisted by a town-clerk, serjeant-at-mace, and inferior officers.  The burgomaster and bailiffs were to be annually elected on Michaelmas-day from the burgesses, by a majority of their number, by whom also vacancies in that body were filled up and freemen admitted only by favour.  The burgomaster and bailiffs were by the charter compelled to take the oaths of office before the constable of the fort or castle of Maryborough, which office, though now a sinecure, is still retained; or, in his absence, before the burgesses and commons of the borough; the former is justice of the peace within the borough, and, with the two bailiffs, escheator, clerk of the market, and coroner.  The town-clerk is also serjeant-at-mace, billetmaster, and weigh-master, to which offices he is appointed by the burgomaster.  By the charter the corporation continued to return two members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when the franchise was abolished.  The borough court, which had jurisdiction to any amount, has been discontinued for more than 40 years; and in 18?9 the member of the corporation had so diminished in number, that no legal election of officers took place, although the townspeople took upon themselves to elect a burgomaster, bailiffs, and other corporate officers; and in 1830, one burgess and two freemen of the old corporation held a meeting, at which the former was elected burgomaster by the latter, who were also elected bailiffs by the former; the townspeople also elected the same number of officers, without any legal authority in either case.  The civil business of the borough is transacted at the quarter sessions for the county, which are held here in April and October; the assizes for the county are also held here at the usual periods, and petty sessions weekly before the county magistrates.  There is a neat and commodious court-house; part of the old gaol adjoining it has been converted into offices for the county business, and it is proposed to fit up the remainder as a police barrack and a bridewell.  The town is the head-quarters of the constabulary police of the county, for which it is the depot.  The county gaol and house of correction was completed in 1830, and cost 18,500; it is a spacious and well-arranged edifice on the radiating plan, consisting of a central building of three stories, which contains the kitchen, the governor's apartments, with a board room, and a chapel for both Protestants and Catholics; and four radiating wings, each divided into two parts, thus forming eight wards, four for male criminal prisoners, two for male debtors, one for female criminal prisoners, and one for female debtors.  Attached to each are day and work-rooms and airing-yards; there are also an infirmary, nine solitary cells and a tread wheel, used for raising water; the prison is heated by stoves.  A school is opened in each ward, and the rules of prison discipline, according to the most improved system, are strictly observed.  The District Lunatic Asylum for the King's and Queen's counties and those of Westmeath and Longford is established here; it was erected at an expense, including the purchase of land and furniture, of 24,172.  The building stands in the middle of an enclosed area of 22a. 12r. 7p., handsomely laid out and planted for the recreation of the patients and the use of the establishment, and presents a front of hewn limestone, raised from quarries in the neighbourhood, extending 365 feet.  It is composed of central building, containing the governor's residence and other apartments connected with the management of the institution, and having the kitchen, laundry, baths and other out-offices in the rear.  From the centre branch out the wings, containing corridors, sleeping-rooms, day-rooms, and working-halls; there are four corridors, &c., for each sex, all admirably constructed and of easy access for the purpose of superintendence.  Water for culinary purposes is conveyed by pipes from a rivulet that passes through the enclosed area, and each corridor is furnished with an ample supply of the purest water from a never-failing spring which issues from a neighbouring limestone rock.  The building, which is capable of accommodating from 150 to 160 patients, is now nearly full, and an enlargement of it is in contemplation; the average expense of each patient for the year 1836 was 16. 12.7., on the gross expenditure, which is defrayed by the several counties in proportion to the number of patients send hither from each.  The county infirmary, situated near the lunatic asylum, and open in 1808, consists of a large building of three stories, each traversed from end to end by a corridor communicating with eleven wards, capable of accommodating five patients each.  The funds are derived from parliamentary grants, county presentments, (limited to 1400 per ann.) subscriptions and fines at petty sessions.  The number of patients admitted in 1836 was 868; the expenditure, 990.  the dispensary, connected with the infirmary, afforded relief to 8650 extern patients.
Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis, 1837


Do you have a description of this townland or a picture?  If you send it/them, I will put it/them in this space.


Available Catholic Records at NLI
(other than county heritage centers)

NLI=National Library in Ireland, Dublin
POS=film number

Type Dates Where
Baptisms 1826-1880 (with gaps) Pos 4201
Marriages 1826-1880 (with gaps) Pos 4201


Church Records

Surname Record Type Info Contact
***Do you have records to contribute?   Send to IGP County Leix


LDS Film Numbers

Film Title Film number(s)
Tithe Applotments, 1823-38 #0256575
Griffith's Valuation, 1858-60 #101757
1901 Ireland Census #850464,  850465
1911 Ireland Census #2193133-2193136

(before ordering films, check # for accuracy)


Callanan Chris Goopy
Stone Joanne S Johnston
To add your surname Email IGP County Leix


Town(land) Links

Borris Civil Parish Tithe Applotments, ConnorsGenealgy website
Griffith's Valuation Index, Borris Civil Parish, John Hayes' website
Add your links, send an email describing link and don't forget the URL



This page is under construction!


Information to be added:
     Description of town
     etc. etc. etc.


Your help is needed.  If you have anything that you think will add to this website, including records, that will help others when researching this town(land)'s genealogy, please email me.


Back to the County Leix Townlands webpage....


Back to the County Leix website....


2001-2015 Ireland Genealogy Projects