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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost

Part III. History of the County of Clare
Chapter 29. Ecclesiastical

List of some Catholic Priests in the same year [1622]; Very Rev. Mahone Magrath, Catholic Vicar-General of the Diocese of Killaloe in 1622; Ecclesiastical Courts held at Killaloe

In the course of his Answer [to Inquiries made by a Royal Commission as to the condition of the Diocese of Killaloe, in 1622], Bishop Rider complains that the abbeys that had been dissolved in his diocese were still used by the people as burial places for their dead friends; that these monasteries are resorted to by priests and friars, and on certain days of the year, are frequented by great crowds of country people, presumably while attending the funerals of their deceased relatives. He finds fault with the sheriffs of counties for not putting in force the laws against Popish Recusants, “whereby God is dishonoured, religion made a scorne, and ye pious intendments of his Majestie’s laws are frustrated.” He blames the priests for hindering his ministers in the work of their calling, and he names the following, with their parishes and entertainers:—John O’Halloran, Quin; Daniel O’Hassett, of Quin Abbey; Hugh O’Halloran, of Clooney; Shane Oge O’Coxy (O’Casey?) of Tulla; Hugh Hogan of Sixmilebridge; Murrogh McTeig of Killofin; Kennedy McTeige of Kilmacduane; Daniel O’Gorvan of Rath and Dysert; Teige McOwen of Moyarta (entertained by Henry Blackwell); Mahone MacZurkan of Kilrush; Teige O’Roughan (kept in the house of Thomas Oge Gorman) of Kilmurry, Clonderalaw; Conor O’Davine of Kilfarboy (living in the house of Donogh Fitzpatrick); Loghlen O’Meehan of Kilmaley; Donogh O’Dooley of Clonloghan; John M‘Gallareagh of Clondagad; Morgan O’Coman of Kilfinaghta; Daniel Brody of Killinaboy and Kilkeedy; Teige FitzPatrick of Drumcliff; Donogh O’Malone of Kilmihil; Wm. O’Cleary of Clonlea and Killuran; Wm. O’Coxey of Doora; Donogh McLoghlen of Killaloe.

The Bishop further says that one Nehemias Nestor, priest, came over, four years previously from Rome, taking upon himself the title of Pope’s Nuncio, and living in Inchiquin and Burren, where he withdraws the inhabitants from their allegiance, and gets a quantity of money. The prelate goes on to state that, over the whole diocese, Mahone Magrath has been appointed has been appointed Vicar-General by the Pope, with power of appointing priests, dispensing in cases of matrimony, and exercising other canonical jurisdiction; and that his usual place of residence is in the house of Sir John M‘Namara, Knight, at Mountallon. He adds that Ecclesiastical Courts are held at Killaloe, the Chancellor of the Diocese being Winter Bridgeman, Esq., scholar of Lincoln College Oxford, and a Barrister of the Inner Temple. Mr. Bridgeman, he describes as having an experience of thirty years of Irish affairs, and being recommended by Lord Thomond and the gentry of Clare, for the commission of the peace, he executes the offices of judge and county magistrate to the satisfaction of every one who occasion to come before him. [2]

The bishop advises that the fines levied upon Papists for their “recusancy” should be appropriated to the repairs of churches and to the augmentation of the stipend of curates, a mode of action which Canon Dwyer, pertinently observes, would not be very well calculated to increase the number of converts to Protestantism.

Dr. Rider gives a long list of lands, belonging of right to the Bishopric of Killaloe, but which had been unjustly seized by various laymen and turned to their own use, or else had been improperly alienated by former bishops. His remonstrances in this respect were not unattended with success, because at various times, and in particular under the Cromwellian settlement, many of them were given back, only in process of time to be alienated by succeeding bishops amongst their relatives and friends.

As for the churches of Clare, he describes those of Killaloe and Ennis only as being in a state of good order. In the other parts of the county, they were either wholly unroofed, or partially repaired by means of the fines levied upon the recusant Catholics.