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 Tulla Lower

122 to 124. KILLALOE, Sheet 45, Clare.—A cathedral and two stone-roofed oratories built in the neighbourhood of the early palaces of the Dalcassian kings, Torlough, c. A.D. 650; Lachtna who built Grianan Lachtna on the slope of Craglea, c. A.D. 840; Mahon and Brien at Beal Boroimhe, “Boruma Fort,” c. A.D. 950, and Kincora probably in the present “town.” Founder, St. Molua or Lugad, was abbot, and gave his name to the place, c. A.D. 650. St. Flannan, son of King Torlough, was the first bishop and patron of the larger oratory and cathedral, A.D. 640-690. Brian Boru re-edified the churches, c. 1000. Murchad O’Brien also restored them, c. 1080. Donald More O’Brien, King of Munster, built the cathedral in 1182. Since which time the only addition seems to have been the upper part of the belfry by Bishop Knox in the present century. Latin name, “Laonensis”; Irish, “Cil da Lua.” Monuments—An incised Celtic cross in the Romanesque archway, traditionally the tomb of King Murchad, 1118; Bishop Roan, 1694; Purdon, 1719; Redfield and Browne, 1719; P.M.D., II. (1894), p. 449. Descriptions.—Petrie, pp. 277-280; Bishop Mant; Brash, plate iv.; Dunraven, II., pp. 67-71; Dwyer, pp. 451-463; T. J. Westropp, R.S.A.I, 1892, p. 398; 1893, p. 194. Illustrations in all; plan of cathedral in last. There is a good illustration in Harris’s “Ware”; O’Hanlon, VIII., p. 406.

122. Same, ST. FLANNAN’S CATHEDRAL. A cruciform structure, with a tower at the intersection, and dating about 1182. The east window has three lofty lights; the central has a semicircular head; the side lights and great splay arch are pointed. The latter has rich open work “fishbone,” and diagonal ornaments. Its capitals, the corbels of the chancel, tower, arches, and east window of the south transept are boldly cut and interesting, Celtic interlacings and figures being combined with Gothic foliage. In the south wall of the nave is a magnificent Romanesque arch, probably the west door of King Murchad O’Brien’s church, circa 1080, as it closely resembles an arch put up at Caen by King Henry I., with whom Murchad corresponded. [154] The west door is pointed, and richly moulded, dating about 1220. Many carved fragments are embedded in the walls.

123. Same, ORATORY, 36 feet 6 inches by 25 feet 6 inches. A very perfect barrel-vaulted oratory with an over croft. Inserted west door, with bold plain mouldings and semicircular head. A chancel was added, but has been levelled. The popular name is Brian Boru’s vault.

St. Molua's Oratory, Friar's Island, in 1791 (before destruction of the Nave)
St. Molua's Oratory, Friar's Island, in 1791 (before destruction of the Nave)

124. Same, FRIAR’S ISLAND ORATORY, 10 feet 6 inches by 6 feet 6 inches. A small barrel-vaulted oratory with an over croft and east window slit with semicircular head. To this was added probably in the ninth century a nave 21 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 8 inches. It had a lintelled door with inclined jambs, and is illustrated by Grose, I., p. 88.

125. OGONNELLOE (AGLISH SINCHELL), Sheet 37.—Parish church. Entirely demolished before 1839. Founder unknown. The name recalls the “Aglish da sinchell” near Cro Kevin at Glendalough. It is not named, 1302; Aglissonill, 1584. [155]

126. KILVIHILL (AUGHINISH), Sheet 29.—Ogonelloe Parish. A graveyard.

127. KILLURAN, Sheet 36.—Parish church. 19 feet of the south wall stood in 1839. There was a window in it (not named in O. S. Letters); now entirely levelled. I found a late carved stone head in 1893. Founder unknown. “Kelldubiran,” 1302; “Ciliubrain,” 1390. [156]

128. KILSEILY, Sheet 44.—Parish church, 47 feet 4 inches by 20 feet. A late church. Well dedicated to Seily. Founder, Seily; identity and date unknown. Monuments, Bridgeman, 1714, P. M. D., III. (1897), p. 399.

129. KILLOKENNEDY, Sheet 36.—Parish church, 56 by 24 feet. Gables had fallen before 1839. Now only fragments of the side walls remain. South door pointed, late fifteenth century. Founder, probably Cronan, to whom the well is dedicated; perhaps of Tomgraney, ante, 550. “Killogenedid,” 1302. Monument, O’Doogan, 1723-1733.

130. CLONLEA, Sheet 43.—Parish church, 42 feet by 18 feet 9 inches. The east window is of red gritstone, thickly ivied. South door is round-headed, fifteenth century, with a stoup in the right jamb, with two ogee-headed opes. Founder unknown. Legend in 1893 ran that the church was miraculously removed northward, across the lake, from St. Senan’s well at Killaneena. Perhaps this preserves the fact of a change of site, and that the old church was dedicated to Senan, c. 550 “Clonileg” in 1302 (Mead of the calves).

131. KILLANEENA, Sheet 43.—Clonlea Parish. Traditional church site and well of St. Senan.

Stoup, Clonlea
Stoup, Clonlea

132. INISHLOSKY, Sheet 54.—O’Brien’s Bridge Parish. A defaced and heavily-ivied church on an island.

133. TROUGH, Sheet 53.—O’Brien’s Bridge Parish. 10 feet of the west gable stood in 1839. Now entirely levelled; not named, 1302.

134. KILCREDAUN, Sheet 45.—O’ Brien’s Bridge Parish. Graveyard and well.

135. KILTINANLEA, Sheet 54.—Parish church, 59 feet by 18 feet 8 inches. A coarsely built, late fifteenth-century ruin. The east window is a tall ogee-headed slit; the south window is of yellow grit-stone, with a neat trefoil head. South door is pointed and well moulded. It has a stoup (with two semicircular opes) in the right jamb. There are a rock-cut bullaun and holy hawthorn to the north. Founder, Senan Liath, traditionally a brother of Mochulla; the well is, however, dedicated to the latter. Not named 1302. “Kilsenan” 1582 [157]; “Kiltenayn,” 1584. It may be the church of “Cluoynlard in Oblayd,” whose rector, Malachy Maconmara, was removed for gross misconduct by Thady Maconmara, priest of Killokennedy, in 1462, under a letter of Pope Pius II. [158]

South Window, Kiltinanlea
South Window, Kiltinanlea
136. GARRAUN (TEAMPUL MOCHULLA), Sheet 63.—Kiltinanlea Parish. 28 feet of the south wall and 18 feet of the north remain; the south window is of the late fifteenth century, with a chamfered angular head cut out of one block. Founder, probably St. Mochulla of Tulla.
South Window, Temple Mochulla
South Window, Temple Mochulla
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