In the infancy of Christianity in Ireland, St. Declan, a native of this country and a member of the tribe of the Decii, founded a religious establishment here, which became an episcopal see,over which he confirmed bishop by St. Patrick in 448. The see of Ardmore continued to flourish as a separate bishoprick under succession of prelates, of whom the next after the founder was St. Ultan, till the time of the English invasion, soon after which it was incorporated with the diocese of Lismore. The parish, which includes the principal portion of the barony, comprises 28,135 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act; the mountainous portion affords tolerable pasturage and is well stocked with black cattle; and the lands between the mountains and the sea are fertile and in a good state of cultivation. Crushea, the seat of Mrs Gun Paul, is a handsome modern residence pleasantly situated on the north side of the bay, and commanding a fine view of the sea. Ards, the residence of P. Lawlor, Esq., is a castellated mansion situated about a mile from the village, near the sea, and commanding an extensive and interesting prospect. Loscairne, the extremely neat residence of W. J. Carew, Esq., is pleasantly situated at the eastern verge of the parish, adjoining the new public road from Dungarvan to Youghal, by way of Ring. Glenanna Cottage, the marine residence of H. Winston Barron, Esq., is situated near Ballymacart.
A new line of road has been made within the last few years from Dungarvan, through Ring, to Youghal, by which the distance to the ferry point is 17 miles, and the construction of which has given a great impulse to agricultural improvement, by providing a convenient outlet for the produce of the district. It intersects the parish from N.E. to S. W.; and another road, in a N. W. Direction, commencing at the upper bridge of Killongford, is now in progress,which will pass through the townlands of Ballyharrahan and Killongford, and over Slieve Grine mountains, and in its course will be shorter, by 2¾ miles, than the old road:the Slieve Grine mountain is principally the property of H. Villiers Stuart, Esq., of Dromana.
The village is situated on the shore of a bay open to the east and protected on the south by Ardmore Head; the beach is of great extent and smoothness, and there is an interesting view of St. George's channel. Its situation, and the beauty of the surrounding scenery, make it a desirable place of resort for sea-bathing. Copper and lead mines were formerly worked,and, from the specimens still found, the ores appear to have been of rich quality. At Minehead, so called from the adjacent works, and near the village, iron ore of very good quality was also procured. A constabulary police force, and one of the five coast-guard stations which constitute the district of Youghal, have been established here.The living is a vicarage with that of Ballymacart united, in the diocese of Lismore, and in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory constitutes the corps of the precentorship in the cathedral of Lismore.
The tithes amount to £650 of which £433.6.8 is payable to the precentor, and £216.13.4 to the vicar; and the gross tithes of the benefice amount to £258. The church and glebe-house are annexed to the vicarage: the glebe belonging to the precentor consists of the lands of Ardocharty, in this parish, comprising 68a. 5p., and 48½a. in the parish of Lismore; and the vicarial glebe comprises 20a.1r. 9p. In the R.C. divisions this parish is the head of the union or district, comprising the parishes of Ardmore, Ballmacart, and Lisginan, in each of which is a chapel; the chapel of Ardmore is situated in the village, and is commodious edifice of recent erection. There are a Sunday school and five pay schools, in the latter of which are about 240 children. Some remains exist of the ancient church, consisting chiefly of the chancel, part of which, till the recent erection of the present edifice, was used as a parish church; it was a fine building, richly decorated with sculpture, and still displays traces of its former magnificence. To the south-east of the church is a small, low, and plain building, called the Dormitory of St. Declan, and held in great veneration by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood; it was repaired and roofed about a century since Bishop Willis. In the church yard is one of the ancient round towers, a fine specimen of those monuments of remote antiquity. On Ardmore Head are some slight remains of an ancient church, but in a state of such dilapidation that few traces either of its original architecture or embellishment can be distinguished.
Near it is St. Declan's well, which is held in veneration by people of the neighbourhood; and on the beach is St. Declan's stone, resting on the ledge of rock, by which it is raised a little from the ground, and at which, on July 24th, the festival of the saint, numbers of people assemble for devotional purposes. Several circular intrenchments may be traced in various parts of the parish. Near Ardmore Head is a large and curious cavern, called the "Parlour;" and on the coast, which is precipitously rocky, are several other caverns.