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

Parish of Kilfenora (a)

                                                                                                              9th October 1839.

Dear Sir,
The Parish of Kilfenora, in the Barony of Corcumroe and Co. of Clare, is bounded on the north by Kilmoon and Killeeny Parishes; on the west by Killila and Kilshanny Parishes; on the east by Noaghavil and Kilnaboy Parishes and on the south by Kilmanahan, Cloony and Rath Parishes. See Name Book. What of Kiltonaght, a Parish southeast of it? - B. O’Looney.

The name of this Parish is partly of ecclesiastical and partly of topographical origin, the first part, Kill, meaning a Church, and the second being a name given to several localities in Ireland, and which are generally found to be pretty fertile elevations; and if this be the origin of the name, no part of Ireland can lay a better founded claim to it than the place now under consideration. They have no remembrance of a Patron Saint here but the name, and that only as being borne by his Well, which however, is no longer looked upon as a Holy Well but is used for domestic purposes as well as if it never had received sanctification from the blessed hands and words of the Holy Saint Fachtna, whose name it bears and whose festival was formerly kept there on the 14th of August.

Of the old Cathedral Church of Kilfinora thirty six feet of the east end is now roofless and given up to the desolation of the winds and weather. (It was after I had left the place that I discovered that the present Protestant Church is part of the old one newly windowed and finished off). The breadth of the Church was twenty feet ten inches, the walls three feet thick. There are two double-headed pointed windows in the south side, divided by mullions, and one of them, the farthest from the gable, divided into four parts by a stone running across it in the middle.

The window in the east gable is semicircular, fourteen feet seven inches wide and about twenty feet high, divided into three compartments by two triangular based pillars, each compartment circular-headed, and the whole lined with very finely chiselled stones on the inside, about fourteen feet high outside, the middle division one foot four inches wide; each of the other two eleven inches wide.

In the northeast corner of the Church is a niche in the side wall formed of two pointed small arches sustained in the middle by a slender column of stone. In front of this niche is a tombstone, level with the ground, having the figure of an ecclesiastic with folded arms (across the chest) and clasping a book. There is another niche in the north wall, nearly opposite, in the same style, surmounted by a head and mitre, in front of which, level with the ground, is a tombstone having the figure of a bishop in costume.
In front of this stone is another tomb with this inscription in plain large letters:- “Here lieth the body of Hygate Lone who lived 21 years Deane of this Church and died in September 1638.” On another stone near the latter is this inscription:- “Here lies the body of John Neylan who dyed the 27th of July 1718, aged 24 years.”

There is a monumental stone in the north wall inscribed to the Revd. Neptune Blood (as well as I could understand the Latin) having the dates 1638-1694-1699 on it. There is a raised tomb in the now south west angle with this inscription: “William Mac-an-Bharig and his wife Eliza Ni Dea made this tomb, Anno Dom. 1650.”

A Chapel projects from the north east angle of the Church to the north, measuring twenty eight feet three inches in length and eighteen feet ten inches in breadth and communicating with it by a low pointed doorway and a pointed archway now closed up. It has a pointed low doorway in the west side near the Church and a semicircular headed window near the north gable closed up with masonry and measuring four feet five inches in height and six three quarter inches in breadth in front. There is a pointed window in the east side near the Church measuring nine feet in height inside and four feet one inch in breadth and seven feet in height and six and a quarter inches in breadth in front. There in is a semicircular headed window near it on the north, measuring seven feet in height and three feet eleven inches in breadth in the inside, five feet three inches high and six and a quarter inches wide in front. Between those two windows, within, lying on the ground and feet to the wall is a stone cross, measuring three feet eight inches in length and two feet six inches across the shoulders, having the figure of a Bishop in canonicals engraved on it, holding a Crozier or Bachall of this form:

One side another window remains in the east wall also, near the north gable.

There is a mitred head over the pointed door of the newly repaired Church, and within, on the north side near the east end, is an elevated monument with a stone over it in the wall having the arms of Mac Donogh sculptured on it and the following inscription:- “Donaldus Mac Donogh et uxor eius Maria O’Conor sibi et suis ambobus posteris Hunc tumulum fiere fecere, An. Dom. 1685.”