From the 1856 Slater's Directory
An ancient and considerable market town and parish, partly in the baronies of
Clonlisk and Ballybritt, King's county, and province of Leinster, but chiefly in
the barony of Inkerrin, count of Tipperary, is 75 miles S.W. from Dublin, 51 N.
from Clonmel, and 44 N.E. from Limerick; situated at a northern apex of the
county of Tipperary, that runs up between and divides King's and Queen's
counties. This place was erected into a bishopric in the year 620, by Saint
Cronan; but in the twelfth century was united to Killaloe. Some remains of the
cathedral may be seen in the west front of the old church, executed in the
beautiful style of the ninth century. Near it is a large stone cross called the
Shrine of Saint Cronan, as well as one of the largest round towers in the
kingdom, built of square stones, and in excellent preservation. Near this town
the Danes met their signal defeat; they had marched from Limerick and Connaught
to surprise the inhabitants, then assembled at the great annual fair of Roscrea,
which held forteen days; but the people had notice of their approach, marched
out, overthrew them, and left 4,000 Danes dead on the field, amongst whom was
OLDFIN, their chief. The military barrack is within the walls of the ancient
castle, built in 1213 by King John, and it is an important station, as the
intersection of several great roads occur at this point. The town, which is
seated on a stream tributary to the river Brosna, consists of several streets
irregularly laid out, and many of the houses are but indifferently built. From
the remains of its castles, ecclesiastical edifices, and round tower, the town
presents an interesting object as seen from the hills in the surrounding
neighbourhood. The manufacture of woollens, which once flourished here, is
become almost extinct; but the retail trade is conducted upon an extensive
scale, and a large factory for coarse cloths, and several flour mills,
contribute to the prosperity of the town. A Savings' Bank is in operation here,
and a newspaper is published, called the 'Midland Counties Advertiser'.
Petty sessions are held every Monday in the court-house, and a manorial court is
entitled to be held monthly, before the seneschal, in which debts to the amount
of £10. Irish are recoverable.
The Parish church is a large commodious edifice, in the Gothic style, erected in 1812: the Roman Catholic chapel stands near the ruins of a Franciscan friary, founded by MULROONY-NA-FESONGE, and is about to be replaced by a new and elegant structure, adjoining the nunnery of Mount Saint Joseph, and which is nearly completed. It is in the Gothic style, with octagonal towers ninety feet in height, and has cost upwards of £6,000. the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, and the Society of Friends, have each places of worship. In the great room of the market-house the business of a loan fund is transacted; this was founded in 1835, by the London Charitable Association. A fever hospital dispensary, and union workhouse, are among the other public institutions. There is a fine school supported by a portion of the endowment of the late ERASMUS SMITH, and a national school, the female branch being conducted by the sisters of the nunnery, and there is a female school under the patronage of the London Ladies' School Association. The market days are Thursday and Saturday. Fairs March 25th, May 7th, June 21st, August 8th, October 9th, and November 29th. Most of these fairs are well attended, and large quantities of cattle of all kinds, and other farming stock, are sold. The total population of Roscrea parish, in 1851, was 7,952, and the town 3,389 of that number.