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

Parish of Kilfenora (c)

From Harris’s Ware vol. 1, p. 622 - MS. additions in [ ]

OF THE BISHOPS OF KILFENORAGH (There is no valuation of this See in the King’s Books nor is it so much as mentioned in them). There are no Accounts that I know of, to be depended upon, concerning the time of the foundation of the Episcopal See of Fenabore, or (as it is commonly called) Kilfenoragh, or who was the first Bishop of it. Yet some possibly may think that Saint Fachnan, to whose Memory the Cathedral is dedicated, was the first founder of this Bishoprick. But I must leave the inquiry of this to others. As this See is the least in all Ireland, so it was always reckoned among the poorest, having only thirteen Parishes subject to it. I have found so few Memoirs of the Bishops of it that I am under a necessity of owning that the following catalogue of them is very lame and imperfect. This See, in the Book of Valuation of the Apostolick Chamber published by Centius Camerarius (who was afterwards Pope Honorius the III) is called Cellumabrach.

In the ancient distribution of the Bishopricks of Ireland, made by Cardinal Paparo in 1152, it was made a Suffragan See to the Archbishoprick of Cashell. But ever since the restoration of King Charles the II it hath been annexed to Archbishoprick of Tuam. It [1] is situated in the Co. of Clare, antiently called Tuomond, in the Barony of Corcumroe, which is washed by the western Ocean. John Clynn in his division of the Episcopal Sees at the end of his Annals, says that the Bishop of this See was also called Episcopus Corcumrothensis, Bishop of Corcumroe (and so it is in the Annals of Inisfall).

One Christian , Bishop of Kilfenoragh, died in 1254 and was buried at Limerick in the Conventual Church of the Dominicans.

Henry (rather Maurice) (Succ. 1265. Ob. 1273) being consecrated Bishop of Kilfenoragh, was confirmed by the Royal assent on the 12th of February 1265 (English stile). But the Publick Records call this Prelate Maurice, for it was this year that the Bishoprick of Kilfenoragh falling void, the Canons obtained a Conge de Eslier, and elected Maurice, who was confirmed and consecrated by his Metropolitan, before his election was certified to the King for his approbation and a warrant obtained for his Consecration as regularly ought to have been done. The King pardoned the omission to the Bishop, and issued his Writ [2] to the Escheator to restore him to the Temporalities dated the 12th of February 1265, upon his swearing Fealty. But he directed the Escheator to take an acknowledgement from the Chapter by Letters Patent, not to draw the omission into example to the prejudice of his Prerogative. In other Letters Patent [3] this Prelate is also called Maurice. He died in 1273.

Florence O’Tigernach (Succ. 1273. Ob. 1281) Abbat of Kilsane or Kilsonna (in the County of Limerick) of the Cistertian Order, was elected Bishop of Kilfenoragh and obtained the Royal assent on the 18th of September 1273. The Conge de Eslier had issued, at the Petition of the Dean and Chapter on the 14th of July before, and on the 8th of October following, a mandate [4] went to the Archbishop of Cashell to consecrate this Prelate and presently after a Writ issued for his restitution to the Temporalities, but clogged with a condition, that he first sent his Proctor into England to swear Fealty in his name. The Bishop delayed complying with this condition, and was afterwards obliged to sue out another Writ [5] of Restitution dated the 30th of November 1274. He died in 1281.

One Charles, Dean of Kilfenoragh, was upon his election confirmed by the King on the 8th of September 1281 (and the same day his Writ of Restitution to the Temporalities issued).

Congal O’Loghlan, called Bishop of Corcumroe in the Annals of Loughkee, died A.D. 1300, and left a good character behind him for integrity and probity.

Simon O’Currin, who succeeded, died in 1303, and was buried at Limerick in the Conventual Church of the Dominicans.

Maurice O’Brien (Succ. 1303. Ob. 1321), Dean of Kilfenoragh, was upon the death of Bishop O’Currin appointed his successor, and was confirmed by King Edward the 1st on the 8th of October 1303. He sat in this See 18 years and was buried at Limerick, in the Conventual Church of the Dominicans, before mentioned. Before the dissolution of Religious Houses there was an inscription in Monkish Rhime fixed near the place where this Prelate and his predecessors, Simon O’Currin and Christian as also Hubert de Burgh, Bishop of Limerick, Donald O’Kennedy and Matthew O’Hogain, Bishops of Killaloe, were interred. The verses were transcribed into the Calendar of the Dominicans at Limerick, out of which, being a singular specimen of the choice poetry of that age, I shall present them to the reader, viz:-

Senos Pontifices in se locus claudit iste,
Illis multiplices te posco praemia, Christe.
Omnes hi fuerant fratrum laris hujus amici
Hubertus de Burgh Praesul quondam Limerici
Donald Mattheus Pastores Laoniensises
Christan Mauritius Simon quoq. Fenaborens
Ergo, Benigne Pater, Locus hos non coprimat ater,
Qui legis ista, Pater dicas, et Ave reboa ter.
Centum naneque, dies quisquis rogitando meretur,
Detur ut his requies si pura mente precetur.
Qui legis hos versus, ad te quandoque reversus
Quid sis, et quid eris, animo vigili Mediteris,
Si Minor his fueris, seu Majar ejusve sodalis,
Tandem pulvis eris, non fallit regula talis.

They will not bear an exact translation, but for the sake of the English reader, I will endeavour to give the sense of them as near as may be:-

Six Prelates here do lie, and in their favour
I beg your friendly Prayers to Christ Our Saviour.
Who in their life time for this house did work
The first of whom I name was Hubert Burk
Who grac’d the See of Limerick, and Matthew,
With Donald, Bishops both of Killaloe.
Christian and Maurice I should name before,
And Simon, Bishops late of Fenabore.
Therefore, kind father let not any soul
Of these good men, be lodged in the Black- Hole.
You, who reads this kneel down in humble posture
Bellow three Aves, say one Pater Noster.
Whoever for their souls sincerely prays,
Merits Indulgence for an hundred days;
And you who reads the verses on this stone,
Bethink yourself and make the case you own
Then seriously reflect on what you see
And think what you are now, and what you’ll be
Whether you are greater, equal, less, you must,
As well as these, be crumbled into dust.

Richard O’Loghlain. (Succ. 1323. Ob. 1359). John Clynn relates in his Annals “that a Bishop of Kilfenoragh was consecrated at Waterford on Palm Sunday 1323.” But he is silent as to his name. Perhaps it was this Richard O’Loughlain who died on the 3rd of February 1359. But I leave the doubt to be cleared by up others.

Patrick (Sed. 1394), Bishop of Kilfenoragh, took the oath of Fealty to King Richard the IId. in the Dominican Monastery at Droghedah, on the 16th of March 1394 (English stile). I do not find the least mention made of any of his successors, either in the Publick Records or Irish Histories, for very many years after.

Dennis O’Cane or O’Cahan resigned in 1491.

Maurice O’Brien (Succ. 1491), Canon of Killaloe, a Prelate of noble birth both by father and mother, succeeded by Papal provision on the 31st of December in the same year that O’Cahan resigned, or, as some say, on the 26th of August in the following year. One Maurice, was Bishop of Kilfenoragh in 1523. I do not know whether it was this Maurice O’Brien.

John O’Hinalan (Sed. 1552), was Bishop of Kilfenoragh on the 16th of May 1552. But I have not yet discovered either the time of his consecration or death. One John, was Bishop of Kilfenoragh, A.D. 1570, I do not know whether it was John O’Hinalan.

Daniel (Sed. 1585), elect Bishop of Kilfenoragh, was a subscriber to an Indenture of composition for the County of Clare on the 17th August 1585 (by which instead of cess [6] cuttings and other incertain exactions, the inhabitants of Tuomond agreed to pay ten shillings a year out of every quarter of land containing one hundred and twenty acres, besides a certain number of soldiers amongst them at every rising out. Tuomond was by Inquisition found to contain 1259 ploughlands, and agreed to pay £543.10s. a year and to find two hundred foot and fourty horse armed at all Hostings in Tuomond and fifteen horse and fifty foot at all general Hostings, with competent carriages and victuals. This is the account Sir Richard Cox [7] out of a Manuscript in the Lambeth Library, gives us). The See was vacant on the 2nd of December 1602, perhaps by the death of this Bishop.

Bernard Adams (Succ. 1606. Resign. 1617), was consecrated Bishop of Limerick (in April) 1604, and together with the See of Limerick held this of Kilfenoragh by dispensation, from the 10th July, year 1606, to 18th August in the year 1617, in which he resigned it. (See before p. 513).

John Steere. (Succ. 1617. Resign. 1622). Upon the resignation of Bishop Adams, John Steere, Master of Arts, was appointed to succeed and was consecrated in 1617. He was translated to Ardfert on the 20th July 1622. (See before p. 523). [29 July 1618, he obtained a grant to him and his successors to hold at Kilfenoragh a Thursday Market and two Fairs, one on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before Whitsunday, the other on Saint Michael’s Day, and two days after at 20s. rent. (Rolls 16th J.6th part 1).]

William Murray (Succ. 1622. Resign. 1627), [Was promoted by P. Seal dat. at West. 14 March, 1621, and by Pat. 27 Nov. has rest and ye same day as also a grant in com. of ye Rectory of Lamert in the Diocese of Exeter and of any other of livings not exceeding £100. p. ann. dat. at West. 3 June 1622. He had another grant 27 Nov. for his inext and cons. as the Bishop of Cashell did before his cons. not having appointed another to do it. (Rolls 20th. J. 2. part d).] William Murray, Doctor of Divinity, was consecrated Bishop of Kilfenoragh in St. Patrick’s Church, Dublin, on the 18th of Dec. 1622, by Lancelot, Archbishop of Dublin, James, Bishop of Meath, and Roland, Bishop of Clonfert, and retained his English ecclesiastical benefices in commendam. In 1627, he was translated to the See of Landaffe in Wales. Doctor Heylin [8] calls him John Murray and placeth his translation under the year 1628, and so doth Le Neve [9] .

Upon the translation of Bishop Murray, King Charles the first nominated [appointed by P. Seal dat. 26 June 1628] Richard Betts, Doctor of Divinity, to succeed him in the See of Kilfenoragh. [P. Seal dat. West. 26th June and his Pat. dat. Dublin 19th September 1628. Confirmed in the See and his cons. and rest are dat. the 20th. (Rolls 4d. C. 2nd. part f).] But, upon his arrival in Ireland, he came to understand the poverty of the See and would not consent to his Promotion, but returned home without consecration.

James Higate (Succ. 1630. Ob. 1638), a native of Glascow in Scotland, and Archdeacon of Clogher (to which the Rectories and Vicaridges of Clones and Clantabride were united, was also Rector of Derynoylan and of Tedaunnagh in the Diocese of Clogher) was consecrated Bishop of Kilfenoragh [ P. Seal dat. at West. 1630, 28th February 1629 and by Pat. 1630, his cons. and res. 1 May and the 10th had a grant to hold in Com. all his former livings (Roll 6d. Car. 2d. part d).] together with Archibald Adair, Bishop of Killala in Saint Patrick’s Dublin, on the 9th of May, 1630, by Lancelot, Archbishop of Dublin assisted by the Bishops of Ferns and Leighlin and Clonfert. He died on the last of April 1638 and was buried at Clannish in the County of Monaghan.

Robert Sibthorp (Succ. 1638. Resign. 1642), D.B. Treasurer of Killaloe, and Prebendary of Maynooth, was consecrated Bishop of Kilfenoragh in Saint Patrick’s, Dublin, on the 11th of November 1638, and on the 7th of April 1642 was translated to the See of Limerick. See before p. 514. [ P. Seal dat. 19 June 1638 at Greenwich, with direction to hold in com. the treasureship of Killaloe, the R. of Traderie in that Diocese and one other benefice or dignity such as ye L.D. should think meet to bestow upon him. Rol. part 14. ch. 1.7. part d).]

Samuel Pullen (Succ. 1660), Doctor of Divinity of the University of Dublin and Dean of Clonfert, was consecrated Archbishop of Tuam in Saint Patrick’s, Dublin, on the 27th of January 1660, and obtained this See also in Commendam. See before p.617. From this time the See of Kilfenoragh hath always gone with the Archbishoprick of Tuam. [Rolls 14d. Car.2d. part d.]

[On the death of Edward Synge, Archbishop of Tuam, the Bishoprick of Kilfenoragh was by Letters Patent dated January 30 1741 given in Commendam to John Whitcombe, Bishop of Clonfert. Dr. Whitcombe being translated to Down and Connor in January 1752, the Bishoprick of Kilfenoragh was given in Commendam to Dr. Nicholas Synge, Bishop of Killaloe, by letters Patent dat. March 26th 1732.] End of Kilfenoragh.