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

Parish of Kilfennaghta (a)

The Parish of Kilfennaghta in the Baronies of Tulla Upper and Bunratty Lower and Co. of Clare, is bounded on the north by the Parish of Clonlea, on the west by the Parish of Kilmurry in the Barony of Tulla Upper and the Parish of Feenagh in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, on the south and south east by the Parishes of Kilfintanan, Kileely and St. Munchin’s in the latter Barony, and on the east by the Parish of Troogh in the Barony of Tulla Lower. See engraved Map of Down Survey.

The present Irish name of this Parish is Cill-Fionachta (pronounced Feenaghta) but who this Fionachta was or in what particular part of the Parish his Church was situated nobody now knows, for there is no Townland or locality in the Parish bearing the name of Fionachta. There is a Holy Well in the Townland of Moygalla called Tobar Naomhog or Saint Naomhog’s Well, but no connection can be traced between it and any ancient or modern ecclesiastical establishment.

The ruins of an old Church and burying ground called Ballysheen Church stand in the Townland of Sooreaney. The Church is about sixty feet long and twenty one feet wide, the walls perfect except a breach in the north wall near the west gable. There is a window in the west gable but it is so covered with ivy that its form could not be ascertained.

There is a pointed doorway in the south side, twelve feet from the west gable. There are two semicircular headed windows in the same side nearer the east gable, built up of cut brown grit stone and much out of character with the wall in which they are placed, they appearing older. The window in the east gable cannot be seen, it having been filled up with mason work and covered with ivy. Parts of the wall near the breach in the north side, the lower part of west gable and the part of the south wall between that gable and the doorway, appear to be much older than the rest.

I think there can be little doubt that this is the Kilfeenaghta from which the Parish takes its name. It occupies the identical spot on which the Church of Kilfeenaghta is set down on Petty’s Map. How its name happened to be forgotten and changed to Ballysheen Church nobody now can tell. Though this Church is set down in the Name Book as situated in the Townland of Sooreeny the parishioners believe it to be in the Townland of Ballysheen, from which it has its name.

There is a little burying ground for children in the Townland of Castlecrin called Kill-a-Tobar (of the Well).

The old Castle of Ballymulcashel stands in good preservation in the Townland of that name. This castle is mentioned in the College List, and is said to have belonged to Teige Oultagh.

The Castle of Bealocullen stands to about half its height in the Townland of the same name and is mentioned also in the College List as having belonged to John Mc Donall (Mac Namara).

It was on the Hill of Ballycullin that Donogh Mac Namara addressed an exciting and encouraging poetical harangue to his adherents the Clann Cuilein or Mc Namara’s before the Battle of Kilgorey or Kilghuaire which was fought in the year 1309. See Wars of Torlogh page 149 & 151 Ord. Survey Copy for this harangue.

The following places mentioned in No. 15, Hardiman’s Irish Deeds as paying tribute to Mac Namara, are situated in this Parish and form part of the ancient district of Tuath-na-hAbhan, i.e., the Lordship of the River, that is of the River O’Carney or O’Carney’s River which rises in Glenomra and falls into the Shannon at Bunratty, passing through Broadford, Six Mile Bridge, etc., viz:-

  1. Cappagh
  2. Baile-Ui-Naomhain (Ballynevin).
  3. Baile-Ui-Oisin (Ballysheen).

The Lake of Coolmeen in this Parish is memorable for the murder of Loghlin and Melaghin Mc Namara on its banks, Anno 1312, by the sons of Brian Roe and the Hy-Bloids. The head of Loghlin was on that occasion thrown into the Lake. See Wars of Torlogh, Ord. Sur. Copy, page 245.