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A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare by William Gerrard Ryan
 

Part 3: Pre-reformation church and monastic sites
Chapter 22: Feenagh Parish

Feenagh Church; St Mochuille’s Holy Well

FEENAGH CHURCH

Nat. Grid. Ref: R454655; ½” Sheet 17

Photo 1: South wall of Feenagh Church
Photo 1: South wall of Feenagh Church

R.C. Parish : Sixmilebridge – Kilmurry
Townland : Feenagh (Wilson)
6” O.S. Sheet number : 52 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 5.1 cm West; 21.2 cm North
Height (G.L.) : c. 95’ O.D.
1” O.S. Sheet number : 133 (Sixmilebridge)

For information relating to this site refer to:-
(a) site plan
(b) site description
(c) series of photographs on the site

Plan of Feenagh Church:

Feenagh Church:
Fortunately the southern wall of this site is in a fairly good condition, more so than the other three walls, as it contains the doorway and a stone cut window.

The actual doorway is 1.67 metres high by .72 metres wide. However if one includes the cut-stone around it the measurements increase to 1.75 metres (high) by .85 metres (wide). Though Westropp (1900) describes this doorway as being “a semi-circular arch” (p. 151) a better description would be “pointed” (Leask, type B). (See photographs 1 and 2).

Directly over the doorway is an arch type arrangement of 17 stones. These reach a maximum top width of 1.75 metres and an end width of 1.15 metres. On average these stones are .25 - .40 metres high. Some repair work has been undertaken below this arrangement of stones, to the west, and above the doorway. Sandstone blocks and cement have been inserted here (photo 2). Above the arch-type arrangement of stones are 3 corbels. These are, on average, protruding some 20 cm out from the wall. The more westerly of the 3 stones has a zig-zag line decoration on part of its outer face (photo 2).

Inside the stone cut doorway beam slots occur on both sides of the entrance area. These average 11 cm square.
At a point 8.30 metres east of the doorway and only 2.60 metres from the south-eastern corner is a very interesting window. Here we have a well preserved example of an ogee headed window. The cut limestone that defines this opening is 1.45 metres high by .26 metres wide. Within this area the actual window is, on the outside, 1.10 metres high by
only 11 cm wide (photo 3). As the site plan shows this window is much wider on the inside with a width centring on 1.40 metres.
This window begins almost 1 metre above ground level.
On average the southern wall is 3 metres high along its 18 metre (outer) length.

While we found the southern wall in a good condition the same cannot be said for the eastern one. As Westropp wrote in 1900: “the east gable has fallen” (page 151). Field examination found (see site plan) that the actual wall may be traced for a distance of 2.50 metres from the south-east corner. Here the wall varies in height from 1.25 to 1.50 metres. This section of the wall then ends with a smooth stone facing suggesting that here, perhaps, there formerly was a window. One of the stones in this facing has a small carved leaf-like decoration.
Over the next 3.30 metres of the eastern area only the foundation blocks are now visible.
The last 2.70 metre section of this wall rises from 1.0 metres to 4.50 metres in height.

The northern wall, on the interior, is in a fair condition. It is 16.50 metres long with an average height of 3.0 metres. There is no evidence to suggest that this wall formerly had a window or door. As the site plan shows there is a niche in this wall by the north-east corner. This is 50 cm above ground level, 65 cm wide, 40 cm high and 50 cm deep. While the northern wall is well represented in the interior the same cannot be said for its outside area. As the site plan shows large sections of the stone facing have been removed leaving only rough limestone pieces visible in parts (see photo 5). From the outside this wall averages 4 metres in height.

Finally the western pointed wall reaches a maximum height of over 9 metres (photo 4). It is in a fairly good condition consisting of limestone blocks in the first 4 ½ metres with sandstone above that. There is no evidence of a window opening along this wall.

As we noted in other sites a number of graves occur in the site’s interior (photo 4). Some of these are quite modern and date to 1976 and 1977.

Date of Site:
Based on the nature of the doorway and window one can suggest a fifteenth century date.

REFERENCES TO FEENAGH CHURCH:

Frost, 1893, page 187 (site only mentioned).
Westropp, 1900, page 150 (quite general).
Ordnance Survey Letters (1839), Volume 2, 1928 edition, pages 113 – 116 (Curry). (Quite general).

There is also a Holy Well in this Townland, dedicated to Saint Mochuille. (Co. Clare 6” O.S. Sheet number 51 : Rathmore Townland: 2.8 cm North; 2.2 cm East; at 100’ O.D.).

Photo 2: Cut stone door, south wall, Feenagh Church
Photo 2: Cut stone door, south wall, Feenagh Church

Photo 3: Ogee-type window, south wall, Feenagh Church
Photo 3: Ogee-type window, south wall, Feenagh Church

Photo 4: View through Feenagh Church towards the west wall
Photo 4: View through Feenagh Church towards the west wall

Photo 5: Outer face of north wall, Feenagh Church
Photo 5: Outer face of north wall, Feenagh Church

 

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