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A History of Kiltacky Church and Graveyard by Claire Keane


Kiltacky: Origin of Placename

There are varying ideas regarding the origin of the placename Kiltacky. Frost’s History of Clare suggests that ’Kiltacky’ originates from the Irish ‘Coill Taca’ translating as ‘ the wood near at hand.’ It has also been suggested that ‘Kiltacky’ originates from the Irish ‘Cill Taice’ translating as ‘Church of St. Taice.’ Records of this Saint cannot be found.

The Ordnance Survey letters for County Clare state:
“It would appear from a holy well near this church that it was built by or dedicated to St. Inneeboy, a celebrated Dalcassian Virgin, the patron of Killineeboy whose memory was celebrated there on the 29th December and to whom many wells throughout this County are sacred.”

This suggests that Kiltacky Church was dedicated to St. Inneeboy and not to St. Taice.

O.S. map showing the location of Kiltacky Church & Graveyard
O.S. map showing the location of Kiltacky Church & Graveyard

Kiltacky Church and Graveyard

Kiltacky Church and Graveyard, also known as Ballyaglish is located on the main Carron/Boston road, one kilometer to the North West of Boston village. This ecclesiastical site is situated in the townland of Kiltackeymore, a tranquil scenic area on the edge of the Burren.

View from South East Corner
View from South East Corner

Measuring approximately 59 metres x 38 metres, the site consists of a church ruins of which only fragment remains. The church is surrounded by a burial ground still in use today.

Toberineenboy, also known as St. Colmans Well, lies a quarter of a mile South West of Kiltacky Church and Graveyard. It is believed that there was once a road connecting the two.

The Church Ruins

Kiltacky Church & Graveyard, 1902. Photo: T.J. Westropp
Kiltacky Church & Graveyard, 1902. Photo: T.J. Westropp

The present-day church ruins with part of the North and East Gable remaining measures 4.7 metres x 8.5 metres respectively.

The oldest graveslab is found inside the church ruins. This graveslab dates from 1794 and bears the inscription:

“Here lies the body of Connor Hynes who departed this life 8th January 1794 Aged 69ys. Erected by his Son Andrew for him & Posterity.”

The Church also contains a second graveslab erected in memory of ‘Edmond Hynes of Roughan.’

From the method of construction, which is described as cyclopean, we may infer that Kiltacky Church is a building of remote antiquity. The Church walls are formed of large regular slabs of stones set on their edges and forming outer and inner faces with a mortared rubble core between. From the cyclopean character of the masonry, it is possible that the existing ruins date from the 11th Century.

Typical Cyclopean Masonry
Typical Cyclopean Masonry

Based on the method of construction it would appear that Kiltacky church conformed to a typical early Christian church. These early Christian churches were laid out as rectangular structures, adhering rigidly to an East-West alignment. Invariably the altar was to the East and the single doorway to the West. The single east window was positioned above the altar thus catching the rays of the rising sun. It is presumable that Kiltacky Church was a simple structure with few elaborations or architectural embellishments. These Early Christian Churches followed an indigenous tradition owing little to influences from elsewhere.

Remaining stonework of the North Gable
Remaining stonework of the North Gable

The Ordnance Survey letters for County Clare describes Kiltacky Church:
“In this Parish is situated the Old Church of Kill-Taice, which appears to be of primitive ages, but all its features are destroyed so that nothing remains to the Antiquarian to determine its age but the character of the masonry, which certainly looks very old.”


Brew, Frank. The Parish of Kilkeedy: A local history. (Tubber: Frank Brew, 1998)

Feehan, John et al. The Book of the Burren. (Kinvara: Tireolas, 1991)

Frost, James. The History and Topography of County Clare (Dublin: Mercier Press, 1973)

O’Donovan, John & Curry, Eugene. The Antiquities of County Clare (Ennis: Clasp Press, 1997)

Swinfen, Avril. Forgotten Stones: Ancient church sites of the Burren and environs (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1992)

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History of Kiltacky Church

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