Concept

Virginia, County Cavan

Summary
Virginia () is a town in County Cavan, Ireland. Founded in the 17th century as a plantation town, it now holds both local industry and commuter housing. Virginia was founded in the early 17th century, at Aghanure (), during the Plantation of Ulster and was named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth I of England, the "Virgin Queen." The settlement was started when an English adventurer named John Ridgeway was granted the Crown patent in August 1612 to build a new town, situated upon the Great Road, approximately midway between the towns of Kells and Cavan. The chosen site was, according to tradition, where a ruined Ó Raghallaigh (O'Reilly) castle stood, and was then described as Aghaler, a location once set within the ancient Lurgan parish townland of Ballaghanea. The patented conditions of the settlement were to introduce English settlers to the area and build the town to incorporate borough status. Ridgeway had difficulty in attracting sufficient English tradespeople and settler families into what was then regarded as a hostile territory outside of the protection of the Pale, so he only managed to build a few wooden cabins and a corn mill near to the castle. His new town was situated close to the shores of Lough Ramor. Ridgeway passed the patent on to another Englishman, Captain Hugh Culme, who already possessed lands beside Lough Oughter in County Cavan and had access to building timber. Culme persuaded the Plantation Commission to move the location of Virginia to its present site close to the Blackwater tributary river, whereupon he built a number of cabins for the settlers but still failed to meet the commission's time frame for developing the town further before giving up on the task, probably for the same reasons as his predecessor. During November 1622, the Virginia estate came into the possession of the 10th Baron Killeen (who was created the 1st Earl of Fingall in 1628), who also held extensive lands around County Meath. Lord Killeen, who was a Catholic Anglo-Irish peer of Norman descent, whose family had come to Ireland in the twelfth century, undertook to complete the patented project.
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