The Augustinian Houses of the County Clare:
Clare, Killone, and Inchicronan

Thomas Johnson Westropp
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Clare County Library

Killone Convent

The Site

The situation of the convent is extremely picturesque, lying on the hillside at the northern end of a lake. This water is itself a centre of curious folk-lore: it was, legends say, the abode of a mermaid, who, in the O’Briens’ time, used to swim up a brook and steal wine in the cellars of Newhall. Better for her had she kept to her own element, for the butler lay in wait and stabbed her; her blood stained all the lake, and as she floated away faint and weak, she prophesied that in like manner would the O’Briens pass away from Newhall. The lake still becomes a rusty red, from iron mud in the shale; this happens at long intervals, usually after a dry summer, and is believed to forebode a change of occupants to the neighbouring house. It last happened (it is said) when the present owner leased the place to one of the O’Briens.
Few more delightful walks can be imagined than that through the neighbouring demesne of Edenvale to Killone. Through a deep and narrow valley, richly wooded with every variety of tree, the haunt of rooks herons. We pass the house of Edenvale on its bold and ivied cliff, and the picturesque little cemetery in the glen. The path runs beside a lake abounding in wild fowl, and fringed with the bulrush, iris, and flowering rush, past the picturesque old garden, with mellow brick walls and two lofty terraces, with long flights of steps reflected among the water lilies. We pass the foundations of the castle and bawn of Killone on its abrupt rock, and the old brick house of Newhall, and stand on the grassy ridge looking down on the roofless convent.
The ridge is for the most part thickly wooded. Down its farther slope falls a little stream over a shelf of rock amidst tufted ferns, losing itself in the reeds. At the eastern end, the river out of Killone Lake, banked on the farther shore by walls of rock capped with great boulders, flows through tangled masses of reeds and water-lilies towards Ballybeg Lake. Some tall and venerable trees in the graveyard make a vista with those on the hill; through its opening can be seen Clare Abbey, which the monotonously common legend asserts to be connected with Killone by an underground passage, two miles long. The woods of Dromoland, the island-studded estuary of the Fergus, the towers of Quin Abbey, Danganbrack, Moghane, Cleenagh Urlane, and Canons Island are plainly visible. The hill of Moghane girt with its prehistoric ring-walls, rises to the south, the wooded hills of Paradise and Cragbrien appear on the western side of the estuary, and to the east the landscape is bounded by the blue and brown Slieve Bernagh, and the more distant mountains beyond the plains of Limerick, on the borders of Cork and Waterford. The convent lies on the slope, and from the steep fall of the ground is very irregular, both as to its levels and plan, the latter being much off the square. The churchyard is shockingly overgrown and overcrowded, riddled with the burrows of rats and rabbits, and despite of its being the place of burial of several county families—those of Darcy, Daxon, England, Lucas, Macdonnell, and Stacpoole—has no pleasing feature except the fine row of dark and lofty Florence-court yews along the eastern face of the church.

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