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

Parish of Kilfeeragh (b)

The Bishop’s Island mentioned above lies about two miles south west of Kilkee opposite the Townland of Fuathach. It is very high, not far from the mainland, having two small edifices of stones on the south-east side. Of these two edifices, the most easterly is of an oblong-form and stone-roofed - say about twenty five feet in length and ten in breadth, having a square window in the east end, and a quadrangular doorway in the south side near the west end. This is used as a sheepfold by such of the neighbouring landsmen as have nerve enough to be able to transport sheep thither from the mainland; of the other little edifice scarcely anything remains but the east gable, which contains also a small square window like the other. There is a tradition in the neighbourhood that there was a small burying place on this island, and surely, if it ever had been the residence of man it must have served for the place of his sepulture too, as it would be impossible to bring a dead body down (or up) but by a rope. Mr. O’Donovan and I went for the purpose of getting on the island, but we were deterred by the storm and the frightful steepness of the cliffs. We were, however, enabled to see the construction of the little edifices sufficiently well for our purpose from a point of land immediately opposite. The popular name of this Island is Oilean-an-Easbaig-Ghortaigh, i.e., the Stingy Bishop’s Island, but there is no traditional account of the Bishop.

There is a burying ground called Cill-na-gCaileach, i.e., Church of the Nuns, lying in the Townland to which it has given name. Parts of the walls of the Church were standing here within my own recollection but now there is not a vestige of it to be seen.

Of this Church we have the following account from the Life of St. Senan of Inis-Cathaigh, AA. SS., Chapter XLVII.

There was among the Churches of the Man of God one which, next after Inis-Cathaigh, was the most dear to himself and the more venerable to (his) people, by name Kill-Chaillige, which, as the devotion of the common people became gradually frigid, was converted into a barn, and which because the Man of God was offended on this account, was burned, being set on fire by a little (or young) sparrow, that carried kindled straw from a neighbouring conflagration (incendio). While (his) people considered on the rebuilding of it after being consumed by the fire and were preparing lime and cement for this end, Saint Senanus, appearing in a vision to a certain husbandman by name Senaninus O’Hettromain[1], bade (him) to dig very deeply near the house of the daughter y-bhmacain, that he would find there as much lime as would suffice in the rebuilding of the Church. He obeys the instructions and finds lime enough as was promised and they afterwards used it for the building, so that how great a quantity soever they might carry away for the use of the edifice, the remaining pile, however, would appear without a decrease.

Chapter XLVIII:-
Of this lime miraculously found, there afterwards existed miraculous virtue in the instantaneous curing as well of diseased persons as cattle. Which (virtue) to omit other (instances) is easily evidenced in the curing of one kid which, with its back and legs broken, a certain woman living in the neighbourhood of the aforesaid Church, threw into a deep lime kiln (or a deep kiln of the lime) affirming by oath and saying, on my faith thou shalt not ascend from thence until the power of St. Senanus be seen in thee. Wonderful circumstance! She left the kid there that night and when the morning came, she found the kid with its back and legs fully restored and its teats (uberibus or udder) filled with milk, which milk indeed was afterwards so powerful against every kind of disease that being offered to the princes of those parts, and Bishops, it was looked upon as a great present.

See Life of St. Senan for more.
The following places, mentioned in Hardiman’s Irish Deeds No. 14, viz:-

1. Baile-Uí-Eoghanain.
2. Cill-Chaeidhi (Kilkee) and in No. 22.
3. Cill-Fiabhra (Kilfeeragh).
4. Lios-Duibhin (Lisdeen).
5. Lios Loineachain.

There is a little burying ground for children in the Townland of Farrahy called Kill, and another deserted place of same name in the Townland of Emmala.

 

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