The Churches of County Clare
By T. J. Westropp, M.A.
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Clare County Library

Survey of the Churches

Diocese of Killaloe

Barony of Moyarta

158. KILFEARAGH, Sheet 56.—The gable of a late eighteenth century church alone remains. Founder, Fiachra. “Killifeheragh” (Kelliheneragh), 1302. Perhaps, “Cil Fiabra,” near Kilkee, in O’Brien’s Rental, 1390. It was rebuilt early in the last century by the Macdonnells of Kilkee. [173]

159. BISHOP’S ISLAND (“ILLAUN AN ESPIG GORTAIG”), Sheet 56.—Kilfearagh Parish. Two very ancient dry stone buildings and two plain pillars stand on an inaccessible sea rock, 215 feet high, and are clearly visible at no great distance from the opposite cliff. The oratory is about 18 by 12 feet; the walls, 2 feet 7 inches thick, with a lintelled east window and south door. West from it lies a circular clochan, 115 feet in circumference, with a domed roof built in stages externally, and a lintelled door to the east. Description, W. Wakeman, in “Archæologia Hibernica,” p. 58. Waring, Plate VI., fig. 9.

160. KILKEE, Sheet 56.—Kilfearagh Parish. Is said to derive its name from a lost church of St. Caeide, near his well. The place is “Cil Caeidi,” in O’Brien’s rental, 1390.

161. KILNAMANORHA, Sheet 56.—Kilfearagh Parish, near Poulnishery Bay.

162. KILDIMO, Sheet 56.—Kilfearagh Parish. A demolished church, levelled before 1816 [174] ; site in Emlagh, north from the last. Founder, Dioma. The church was standing in 1652. A skirmish took place between the O’Cahans and the Cromwellian commander, Captain Scarff: the latter was killed, and his head was cut off, and fixed on the gable of the church [175]. The place is called Killimer, on the Down Survey Map, 1655.

163. KILNEGALLIAGH, Sheet 56.—Kilfearagh Parish. Entirely levelled before 1839. Founder, Senan, c. A.D. 550—“Kilnacallige, very dear to Senan,” in his “Life”; also named “Kileochaille” in same work.

Oratory and Cell on Bishop's Island. (From Dr. Frazer's Collection)
Oratory and Cell on Bishop's Island. (From Dr. Frazer's Collection)

164. MOYARTA, Sheet 65.—Parish church. Some fragments remained in 1816; [176] entirely levelled before 1839; not named in 1302 list. Monuments, O’Cahan, O’Honeen, and Conti.

165. KILCRONY, Sheet 65.—Moyarta Parish, 17 feet 4 inches by 12 feet. A late plain little oratory, built of flagstones; the east window has a semicircular arch. The west door has a flag lintel, and flat relieving arch. The heads of the two south lights are gone. Founder not known. “Cil Croine,” in O’ Brien’s rental, 1390. Monuments, Morony, of Doonaha, &c. Description, Mason, II., p. 435.

166. KILCASHEEN, Sheet 56.—Moyarta Parish. Here the grandfather of Eugene O’Curry, buried the bodies of those who died in the pestilence of 1739, bringing the bodies thither on “sledges.”

167. TEMPLEMEEGH, Sheet 66.—Moyarta Parish. Entirely levelled before 1839.

168. KILCREDAUN, Sheet 72.—Moyarta Parish. An ancient oratory, 23 feet 7 inches by 15 feet 6 inches. It evidently dates from the eleventh or early twelfth century. The east window has a neatly-built splay with a semicircular arch; the outer face of the light was moulded, and above the head was scroll work similar to a base in the church of St. Saviour, Glendalough. The south window has a flat head, and the west door is defaced, but had a semicircular arch. Founder, Caritan, a friend of St. Senan, c. A.D. 550. It is called “Kilcharitain,” in the “Life of Senan.” Popular name in 1839, Teampul Sheorlais, from the burial place of Charles MacDonnell in the ruin, 1773. [177]
East Window, Kilcredaun
East Window, Kilcredaun

169. Same, TEMPLE AN AIRD, Sheet 72.—Moyarta Parish, 23 feet 2 inches by 11 feet 6 inches. A coarsely-built late oratory, on the hill behind the last. The east and south windows are flat-headed; the south door pointed. The west end had a bell chamber. Below it to the south, on the shore, is the holy well of St. Caritan.

170. KILBALLYOWEN, Sheet 65.—Parish church, 76 feet 6 inches by 21 feet. A long plain building of flagstones; the windows are all small and flat-headed; the south door is pointed; the west gable has a bell chamber. The walls are of thin flagstones, and have a corbelled cornice. There was, in 1816, a font carved with branches, [178] I could not find it on either of my visits; and the foundations of a “Friary,” or priest’s house, lie to the north of the road. Founder unknown, “Killmolihegyn, 1302. Description, Dwyer, p. 504.

171. TEMPLE NA NAEVE (Ross), Sheet 64.—Kilballyone Parish. A small church, 34 feet 6 inches by 15 feet 6 inches, is of large old-looking masonry. All the features are much injured. The south door was pointed, but has been defaced since 1839. There are round stones on the altar. A corbel with a carved head lies loose in the ruin, and the east gable is down. In 1839, it was called “Tempul an naomhar naomh,” and reputed to be the church of nine saints. Founder, St. Senan, c. A.D. 500, who founded a church at Ross an airchail in Corcovaskin. [179] It has been identified with Ross Benchoir, “on the western ocean,” the cell of St. Kieran’s nurse, Cocha [180] ; but this place seems to have been “on the eastern ocean.” [181]

172. KILCOAN (CROSS), not marked on the Ordnance Survey, Kilballyone Parish. The church was demolished before 1816, [182] a graveyard remains south of the last. Founder, Coan, the last survivor of the “nine saints” of Ross.

173. KILMACDUAN, Sheet 47.—Parish church. The east gable and portions of the sides remain; it was built of flagstones on a rising ground near a stream. The east window is well moulded, and has an ogee head. It dates from the later fifteenth century. The south window is very early; it is made of sandstone, and recessed with inclined jambs; the older head has been replaced by a plain semicircular head of flagstone. The walls have a neat cornice with wedge-shaped corbels. Round the church remains a “village” of over thirty vaults. Founder, St. Senan, c. A.D. 550; at “Cil mhic an dubhain,” [183] “Kilmadayn,” 1302. “Cil mhic dubhain,”1591. [184]

174. KILRUSH, Sheet 67.—Parish church. A very ancient church consisting of a nave, 44 feet by 19 feet, and a choir about 18 feet 6 inches square. The west door has a lintel and inclined jambs; the sides and the piers of the chancel arch are early, but the arch itself is pointed like the south door. Founder, possibly Senan. Accobran and Meallan, of Cilrois, in Corcovaskin, are also named. [185] “Kellroys,” 1302. “Cilrois,” in O’Brien’s Rental, 1390. [186]

175. KILCARROL, Sheet 67.—Kilrush Parish. This church was standing in 1816. It contained “a worm-eaten image” of St. Carrol. [187]

176 to 178. MOYLOUGH, Sheet 67.—Kilrush Parish. An early foundation of St. Senan, c. A.D. 520, and his birthplace, “Maghlaca.” [188] Description (Illustration) O’Hanlon, I., p. 470; Mason, p. 433. It had three churches.

176. Same, TEMPLE SENAN. An oratory built of flagstones, 32 feet 3 inches by 13 feet. The north and south walls have fallen, except a fragment of the last. The gables remain; they were rebuilt from 6 feet above the present level of the ground. The east window is lintelled; there is a small lintelled window in the west gable which was crowned by a socket and cross which had fallen before 1839.

177. Same, SEIPEAL BEG SHENAN. An oratory, 11 feet 7 inches by 9 feet 8 inches, stands near the last; the east window is lintelled; the sills of the south door and window remain.

178. Same, NAMELESS ORATORY, 30 feet 3 inches by 16 feet 6 inches. It is levelled to its foundations, and lies at the west end of Temple Senan.

179 to 185. INISCATHA OR SCATTERY ISLAND, Sheet 67.—Kilrush Parish. The island lies opposite Kilrush, and possesses six churches, and a fine archaic looking round tower, over 100 feet high, and 52 feet 4 inches in circumference. The corbelled door is on the ground level. Founder, St. Senan, son of Gerrchin, of Moylough (a man of good family in Corcovaskin), about A.D. 520. It suffered much from the ravages of the Danes and English. It was a bishopric till 1188. “Inis Cathaig,” A.D. 861. [189] Descriptions—There is a large amount of printed material relating to this Island. We need only note—Dyneley (1680); R.S.A.I., 1866; Lady Chatterton’s “Rambles”; Dutton, p. 304; Dwyer, p. 499; Keane, p. 377; Frost, p. 80; Miss Stokes (Plate 20); Malone, R.S.A.I., 1874; T. J. Westropp, R.S.A.I., 1897, p. 276 (who collects the earlier notices). Illustrations are given by Miss Stokes, J. Frost, and T. J. Westropp. Vested as a National Monument.

179. Same, THE CATHEDRAL.—68 feet 4 inches by 27 feet 6 inches. The lower parts of the walls are early, with large masonry; the upper parts are of flagstones. The west gable has antæ and a door with lintel and inclined jambs. The south windows have been replaced, probably in the fifteenth century, by trefoil-headed slits. The east end is of the same period, and has a fine pointed window, which had two trefoil-headed lights, with a quatrefoil above them, but the shaft has fallen. A mitred head is carved on the keystone. A sacristy adjoins the building at the north-east corner, and there are two pointed doors near the west end.

180. Same, ORATORY.—It consists of a nave and chancel, 23 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 10 inches, and 8 feet 9 inches by 10 feet 6 inches. The chancel had been levelled to the ground before my first visit in 1878, but was partly rebuilt by the Board of Public Works. They excavated the site, and disclosed the base of a rich Romanesque chancel arch, dating about 1100, with clustered pillars and chevrons. The west gable seems much older.
Base of Chancel Arch, Oratory, Scattery
Base of Chancel Arch, Oratory, Scattery

181. TEMPLE SHENAN.—It consists of a nave and chancel 23 feet 10 inches by 16 feet 9 inches, and 10 feet 10 inches by 10 feet 9 inches. The east gable leans outward. There was a chancel arch, with clustered pillars, now fallen. The south door is pointed, and the ruin bears little mark of any great antiquity.

182. LATE ORATORY.—21 feet 8 inches by 11 feet 2 inches. It stands close to the west gable of the last, and is plainly built of flag-stones; the walls are only 5 to 6 feet high. At the west end is a scored stone, supposed to have been an ogam inscription, and a beautiful Celtic cross-slab, with Irish inscriptions:— “Or do moenach aite mogroin,” and “Or do moinach.”

183. TEMPLE AIRD NA NAINGEL.—40 feet 6 inches by 16 feet 8 inches. A very early church; the foundations and the south wall alone remain; the wall is of fine masonry, of unusual size; the south window is defaced, and a rude south door has been inserted. It is mentioned in “Vita S. Senani.”

Temple Aird na nAingel, Scattey
Temple Aird na nAingel, Scattey

184. KILNAMARBHE.—67 feet 10 inches by 18 feet 6 inches. A late mediæval church, probably of the fifteenth century. The east window has a moulded double light (the shaft lost). There was a lateral aisle to the north, with plain, pointed arches; the west end has great stepped buttresses. The present burial ground of Scattery adjoins it, and gives its name to the ruin.

185. ALLEGED SITE.— A graveyard undercut by the sea lies south-west from the last, and is said to have been the site of the seventh church. The slab on which St. Cannara sailed to Scattery was shown on the shore near the fort. There was also a cairn called “Gluin Senain,” where the saint used to kneel.

186. SHANKILL, Sheet 67.—Kilrush Parish. Has the foundations of a church.

In closing this survey I may add that I have had to depend entirely on others in the cases of Killard, Killimer, Kilrush, Kilmihil, Kilfeddain, Killoffin, and Kilkieran (all being along the Shannon). Some of these I have seen, but could not sketch and examine. Similarly Clonrush, Kiltoraght, Kilconry, and Moy lay beyond my reach; so if I have erred in their description, I have no means of correction. It is, I fear, too probable that in a work extending over 24 years, as time and opportunity occurred, error, misunderstanding, and forgetfulness may have led to other and less excusable mistakes. I hope these may be detected and forgiven, and that the Survey may help to the complete study of the numerous churches of Thomond beyond the Shannon.

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