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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Clare Abbey (a)

The Parish of Clare Abbey, in the Barony of Islands and Co. of Clare, is bounded on the north by the Parishes of Dromcliff and Durey, on the east by Durey and Kilnasoola, on the south by the River Fergus and on the west by Killone Parish. See Name Book.

The name of this Parish (Clare) as well as of the County, is popularly believed, and I think with good reason, from a board or plank, which was placed across the River Fergus at this place for passengers to cross on, before a bridge had been built there. Seward, in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, says that Clare County was named after Sir Richard de Clare, but I don’t see why it should be called after him since he never was master of a single Barony in it, nor does Seward, if I recollect rightly, quote any authority for his assertion. That Clare was (became) a place of some importance so early as the end of the 12th century, we may collect from the following account of it given by Archdall, Mon. Hib:-

Clare, on the River Fergus, which falls into the River Shannon, in Barony of Islands.

An Abbey was founded near to this Town under the invocation of St. Peter and St. Paul, for Canons Regular following the rule of St. Augustine, by Donald O’Brien, the great King of Limerick; he appointed Donatus Abbot and richly endowed the Abbey. This Charter was dated at Limerick 1195 and witnessed by M., Archbishop of Cashel, D., Bishop of Killaloe, A., Bishop of Fenabore and B., Bishop of Limerick (King p.203). A great battle was fought here* in the year 1278 by Donnell, son of Teige Caoluiske O’Brien accompanied by the two septs of O’Coilen (Clann-Cuilein) with the tribe of Fearmaic and Owney, against Mahon O’Brien who was defeated with great slaughter. (Annals of Munster).

Thady, Bishop of Killaloe, exemplified King Donald’s ancient Charter in this Monastery on 11th July 1461. (King p.203).

In 1543 King Henry VIII granted the Abbey to the Baron of Ibricken (Cox. Vol. 1, p.276.) together with a moiety of the Rectories of Kilchrist, Kilmoyle, Kilmacdwan, Ballinregdan, Ballylogheran and Ballylegford. (Audit. General Office).

Inquisition, 14th January XXXI Elizabeth, finds that Sir Donall O’Bryan of Inistymon in the Co. of Clare, Knt., was seized in fee of a moiety of all the tithes belonging to this Abbey, annual value besides reprises £6. 13s. 4d. (Chief Remem.).

This Abbey was granted in fee to Donogh, Earl of Thomond, January 19th 1620, and a new grant was made September 1st 1661 to Henry, Earl of Thomond. (Rolls).

* It is asserted in the Wars of Thomond p.41, Ord. copy, that no battle was fought on the occasion, but that the captives of the Kenel Dungaile were murdered. - E.C.