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In 1846 Killeshandra was described as occupying "a
romantic site on a gently rising ground environed by a chain of interesting lakes; and
consists of a spacious and well built street in the centre of which is a well arranged,
neatly constructed market house"(See left). At this time it was flourishing and
had one of the best markets for linen in the county with many of the local population
employed in its manufacture.
Castle Hamilton was then the seat of R. H. Southwell, for many years the MP for Cavan.
By 1856 James Hamilton, a wine merchant from Dublin, had purchased the estate. Castle
Hamilton was burned accidentally in 1911 when a heater in one of the chicken houses was
overturned and the resultant fire quickly spread, not only to the other chicken houses,
but also to the estate house itself.
By the late 1850's the prosperity of Killeshandra was evident. There were numerous
cornmills in the parish and a flax mill in the vicinity of the town owned by James
Hamilton. There were two forges, one in Church St., and one in Yewer Lane. There was a
total of 141 houses in the town, 83 on Main St., 29 in Castle Lane and 29 in Yewer Lane.
There was a police barracks, a courthouse, a market house, a butter market and a
The Railway comes to Killeshandra
In the following decades, like many other villages in Ireland, Killeshandra went into decline. However, on 1 June 1886 a seven mile branch of the Midland Great Western Railway linked Killeshandra with Cavan, via Crossdoney. The arrival of the railway would herald another era of prosperity for the town. The end of the century saw the coming of the co-operative movement to the area and what was once a region noted for it flourishing linen industry became one of the great milk producing regions of the country. The railway survived in Killeshandra down until the middle of this century. Cost cutting exercises in the 1940/50 period meant that the line was down-graded. It was finally closed down in 1963.
The Institute Hall
An article in the Anglo Celt of Sept 8th, 1906, reported that an Institute was to be opened in Killeshandra. In late 1807 the Institute, the first in Ireland, opened a domestic economy school for girls, with accommodation for 5 or 6. It had a large kitchen for demonstration purposes as well as lecture halls etc. Over the years the Institute Hall became the social centre of the town. It acted as a cinema, a theatre, a dance hall and, in more recent days, an arena for indoor football. Sadly the old green galvanised structure was destroyed by fire in 1983.
The site is now owned by the Community Council and is earmarked as the site for the new social services centre.
The family owned business of Joseph H. Fletcher was established in 1886. The factory produced precision wood components for brush and light engineering tool trades. It supplied the home market and exported to the UK and to Holland. Prior to the rural electrification scheme the town was lighted by Fletcher's generator. Electricity was also sold to the new co-operative's creamery. The high chimney at Fletcher's mill was one of the town's landmarks.
Fletcher's ceased trading in the 1980's.