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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 28: Kilmurry Parish

Kilmurry Church (site of); Toberfailia Holy Well


Nat. Grid. Ref: R472705; ½” Sheet 17

Photo 1: Site of Kilmurry Church
Photo 1: Site of Kilmurry Church

R.C. Parish : Sixmilebridge – Kilmurry
Townland : Kilmurry
6” O.S. Sheet number : 43 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 22.2 cm South; 19.7 cm West
Height (G.L.) : 135’ O.D.
1” O.S. Sheet number : 133 (Sixmilebridge)

For information relating to this levelled site refer to: (a) photo above (b) site description.

Kilmurry Church (Site of):
As the above suggests and as field work found to be the case all traces of this Church site are now gone.
Around the site of the original Church and covering a rectangular area of 58 metres by 27 metres is a large graveyard (photo 1). By tradition Kilmurry Church was originally towards the centre of this graveyard.
Part of the site existed in 1839 according to O’Donovan “…of the old Church nothing now remains but twentyone feet in length of the north wall to the height of about ten feet…” (O.S. Letters, 1839, page 113).
But by 1900 even this trace had gone. Westropp mentions that while part of the north wall existed in 1839 “…it is (now) entirely levelled…” (page 151).

Date of Church:
Locally the name for this site is quite interesting and it helps us to date the site. Tradition has always referred to it as Kilmurry na Gall, meaning the Church of the foreigner.

Before 1300 A.D. this territory, known as Ui Cearnaigh, was controlled by the Ahern family. However by 1300 A.D. Norman expansion from Bunratty had replaced the Aherns as lords and this area became part of de Clare territory. The Normans settled the area and one of their first tasks was to build a stone church on a natural rise outside the present Kilmurry village. Locals have since known the church, and now its site, as the Church of the foreigner (i.e. Norman).
Based on such tradition we can suggest a date of c. 1300 A.D. for the erection of a church on this site.


Frost, 1893, page 59 (very general).
Westropp, 1900, page 151 (general).
O.S. Letters, 1839 page 113 (Describes then surviving part of the north wall).

Other Site of Religious Interest:

Toberfailia Holy Well:
Shandangan East Townland; 6” O.S. Sheet 43 (Co. Clare) Reference: 22.2 cm West; 23.9 cm South; at c. 125’ O.D.