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 Upper

106. TULLA, [145] Sheet 35.—Parish church. A portion of the north wall remains, about 5 feet high, and with the chamfered edge of an ambry. South of it is the ruined seventeenth century church, with a barrel-vaulted chancel. The east window and three south windows are round-headed, and the west door pointed. Founder, Mochulla; date and identity uncertain. “Tulach,” 1302. “ Tullach na neaspuig,” 1317. “Tullynenaspill,” [146] 1604. Monuments, Molony, 1702; Harte, c. 1710; Mac Mahon, 1711; Browne, 1717; Westropp, 1762; O’Callaghan, 1792; P. M. D., III. (1896), p. 236 (1897), p. 400, &c.

107. KILNOE, Sheet 28.—Parish church. Entirely levelled before 1839. [147] Not named in 1302. The well is dedicated to Mochulla.

108. FEAKLE, Sheet 28.—Parish church. One gable stood in 1780. [148] It stood to the south of the modern church, and where the Burke monument remains. Founder, Mochonna or Cuanna, perhaps of Kilshanny and Kilquane, called Mochonna of Moynoe in the Calendar of Oengus, March 29th. “Fichell,” 1302. Monuments, Burke, 1779. P. M. D., III. (1897), plate 2, p. 385.

109. FAHY, Sheet 19.—Feakle Parish. Only fragments of the wall remain, and a rock basin called a well; not far away are the curious cromlechs and rock markings of Dromandoora. [149]

110. TOMGRANEY, Sheet 28.—Parish church, 75 feet 4 inches by 21 feet 4 inches. An unusually fine example of a nearly uninjured church of the tenth and eleventh centuries still used for worship. The west door, antæ, and wall (except the upper part of the gable) are of large “cyclopean” masonry, ante A.D. 969. The door has a lintel and inclined jambs, with a flat raised band round it. The south lights are plain rectangles, with low mouldings. The more eastern part of the church is of regular coursed masonry, with a plinth and corner shafts, the north and two south windows being richly decorated. There is also the head of a richly carved window in the south wall; the east window has round angle shafts inside; the light has been rebuilt. Several carved fragments, two faces, &c., appear in the walls. There was a round tower here; some tradition of it subsisted in Petrie’s time; but when Brash visited the place nothing remained. The “cloghlea,” a tall limestone pillar, split, but held together by ivy, marks the bounds of the old termon and modern glebe. A holy well of St. Colan of Iniscaltra (died 552) remains farther westward. Founders, Cronan and Colan of Iniscaltra, ante, 550. The records of the church commence in 735—“Tuaim Greine.” It was rebuilt by the Abbot Cormac O’Killeen, who died 969, and again by Brian Boru, King of Ireland, about A.D. 1000. The Ordnance Survey Letters describe it as modern! Descriptions, Dunraven, I., p. 182; Dwyer, p. 475.

Tomgraney Church

  1. Eastern window of south chancel wall.
  2. Western window of same.
  3. Northern window of chancel, and details of same.
  4. Window-head built into south wall.
  5. Capital, removed from Rectory.
  6. Capital of shaft, south-east angle.
  7. Ditto, north-east angle.

111. KILLANA, Sheet 36.—Tomgraney Parish. A graveyard with some blocks of cut stone traditionally belonging to a church.

112. MOYNOE, Sheet 29.—Parish church. 60 feet 9 inches by 23 feet 9 inches. Only the eastern gable and fragments of the adjoing walls remain. The window has two high Gothic lights, and probably dates about 1280. Founder, Caimin of Iniscaltra is said to have founded Maghneo n-Oirbriughe about A.D. 630. Mochonna was also of Magheo. The burning of its precinct in 1310 precipitated the civil war, 1311-1318. It was then the chief sanctuary of the O’Gradys of Cinel Donghaile. “Mago,” 1302.

113 to 119. INISCALTRA [150] (HOLY ISLAND), LOUGH DERG, Sheet 136 of Co Galway.—An important group of churches founded by Caimin (half brother of Guaire “the hospitable” chief of Hy Fiachra Aidhne) before A.D. 640. However, we find earlier records, such as the death of Colan of Iniscealtra, A.D. 552. Probably Caimin may have founded the stone churches. The place was an important monastery and school, Caimin having been a learned scholar and acquainted with Hebrew. Lying on a great waterway, the island suffered much from the Norsemen. It was called Inis Celtra in 838. In A.D. 922 the Danes ravaged it and “drowned its relics and shrines.” [151] Brian Boru restored its churches, circa A.D. 1000. “Inysgeltra,” 1302. The parish was eventually partly given to County Galway, but always remained part of the see of Killaloe. The island, which was popularly regarded as part of County Clare, was formally restored with the remainder of Iniscaltra parish and that of Clonrush in 1898. Monuments, a group of tombstones from the eighth to the eleventh century, with incised crosses and many Irish inscriptions. O’Grady (restored the churches), 1703, in St. Caimin’s church. Sir Torlough Mac Brien Arra, Baronet, 1626, in St. Mary’s church. Remains of three early Celtic crosses, one with the epitaph, “Ilad in dechenboir.” Descriptions, Dyneley, 1681; R. S. A. I., 1864, p. 82; Petrie (views), pp. 281-284; Brash, p. 17; Dunraven, II., pp. 3-5, and 56-60 (views and plan); Miss Stokes (Plates xxv., xxxviii.); Lenihan, R. S. A. I., 1889 [152] ; Report of the Board of Public Works, 1879-80, p. 73 (plans and illustrations). They have been vested as National Monuments.

113. Same, TEAMPUL CAIMIN.—Nave and chancel 30 feet 6 inches by 20 feet and 14 feet 7 inches by 12 feet 6 inches. An ancient church of the ninth or tenth century, with inserted chancel arch, probably circa 1000, and west door of somewhat later date. The original building has antæ at the gables and two ancient south windows (figured by Petrie), with inclined jambs, the lights respectively lintelled and with semicircular head. The chancel arch has clustered pillars and three plain orders, with a head in high relief on the keystone. The chancel gable and east end were levelled, the sides have a neat external cornice; the east wall and altar have been rebuilt in 1879. To the south east of this church is a beautifully built round tower, about 80 feet high and 46 feet in girth. The round-headed doorway is entire and once had an “iron” door. St. Caimins was called St. Columbcille’s chapel in 1838. [153]

114. Same, TEAMPULL NA BFEAR NGONTA.—“Church of the wounded (?slain) men,” 10 by 15 feet. A defaced little chapel, standing in the ancient burial enclosure to the east of St. Caimin’s Church. The enclosure is entered by a semicircular-headed archway (rebuilt from the original blocks in 1879), and contains a large number of inscribed and cross-marked slabs, and the base of the larger cross.

115. Same, “CONFESSIONAL,” externally 10 feet 6 inches by 8 feet 6 inches. A small oblong cell north of the cemetery. There is a recess at the west end, and the doorway faces the east; it is filled with large plain slabs.

116. Same, ORATORY. A mere foundation to the north-east of the last.

117. Same, ST. MICHAEL’S, 6 feet by 4 feet 6 inches. An oblong foundation and enclosures west of St. Caimin’s, and on the summit of the island.

118. Same, “BAPTISM CHURCH” (marked on the map as “St. Michael’s”), 19 feet 10 inches by 11 feet 9 inches. Its foundations alone remained with the low north wall when I first visited it in 1877. In 1838 the east gable and its defaced window and a south window remained, but they fell in a great storm January 6, 1839, as O’Donovan notes that year on the original letter “how soon a piece of writing becomes an antiquity.” The south window was a small oblong slit. In 1879 the rich semicircular-headed west door of three orders, the inner piers covered with chevrons, was recovered and rebuilt. The round-headed gateway of the enclosure was also rebuilt.

119. Same, ST. MARY’S, 54 feet 9 inches by 22 feet 2 inches. A large church; an early semicircular-headed window has been rebuilt in the south wall; the west door is late, plain, and pointed. The head of the double east window is of the fifteenth century, a corbel with a face, an elaborate but very late altar, a cross-scribed slab, &c., remain. St. Mary’s well lies to the east of this church on the shore of the lake.

120. CLONRUSH, Sheet 137, Galway.—Parish church, 49 by 18 feet. The western gable had a door, but has long since fallen. The south wall was much decayed in 1838, and the foundations picked out. A round-headed arch, 7 feet high, stood at the south-west angle projecting from the building. The east windows had two ogee heads (shaft intact); the south window had a flat lintel inside; the head was ivied. The people called the ruin Meelick Abbey. Eastward lay a ruin called “Tenambraher,” a priest’s house, 25 feet by 13 feet 4 inches. The north-west and north east angles and two fragments of the south wall remained. The “poll cholomhain” (poul cluman) or sacristy lay to the north-east. It is a small stone-roofed cell, 7 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 6 inches and 6 feet 3 inches high, with a square-headed slit in the east wall. The marks of Colman’s knees were shown in the flags of the floor. When he knelt there he could hear mass at Rome. Founder, Colman; identity uncertain.

121. ILLAUNMORE, Clonrush Parish.—A church foundation, 34 by 20 feet. Two cross-scribed slabs remain at the east end. Traditionally said to have been a Franciscan friary.

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