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

Parish of Killely (a)

This Parish is bounded on the east by the Parish of St. Munchin’s; on the north by part of the latter and the Parish of Kilfinaghta; on the west by the Parish of Kilfintinán and on the south by the River Shannon.

No record of the original spelling of this name has been discovered, but it is probable that it is compounded, like the names of most Parishes in Ireland, of Cill, a Church and the name of a Saint, male or female, and by comparing this with Killely near Clarin Bridge in the Co. of Galway, one will strongly incline to the opinion that, like that, it must mean the Church of the Virgin St. Failia. See my letter on the above Parish written at Galway.

There is, however, no well or other monument preserving the name of that Saintess in this Parish, nor is the memory of any Saint celebrated there at present. See Parish of Kilmurry where there is a Holy Well dedicated to St. Faoile.

The old Church of this Parish is now level with the ground and nothing remains but a large burial ground.

In the Townland of Cratloe Castle in this Parish, there is an old Church now without a name, but it was never a Parish Church, but a Chapel belonging to the Castle of Cratloe from which it is about one hundred yards distant. It is fifty seven feet in length and twenty one feet in breath. The west gable, which is destroyed down to the height of the side walls is featureless. The south wall contained a doorway placed at the distance of fifteen feet from the west gable, but now destroyed. The same wall contains a window placed within four feet of the east gable but now so covered with ivy that its form could not be seen. The east gable contained a large window constructed of chiselled lime stones but now entirely disfigured. The north wall is featureless. The side walls are fourteen feet high, three feet four inches in thickness and constructed of large lime stones irregularly laid. It appears to be coeval with the adjoining Castle.

There are two Castles in this Parish about a quarter of a mile asunder. The one next to the Church is called Cratloe Castle and the other Cratloe Kael. These Castles are set down in the College List as Crathallaghmore and Crathallaghkell, the former being the one now called Cratloe Castle, and the latter Crathloe-Kael, the one according to the said list belonging to Donel Mac Teige and the other to Donel Macnemara.

In the early part of the tenth century the celebrated warrior Moriertagh of the Leather Coats, King of Aileach, passed through Cratloe on his way home carrying with him as hostages the Kings of Munster and Leinster and Sitric, King of Dublin. Cormacan Eigeas, the Bard of the King of Aileach, remarked in a poem written on this excursion during which he himself attended on the King that Cratloe was the most difficult which he met since he had left his home:-

Nír fhacas od fhágas mo thoigh
Bealach mar an Chreatshaloigh.

I did not see since I left my house,
A pass like unto Cratloe. - Book of Invasions, R.I.A.

This poem is an undoubted monument of the time to which it is referred as can be proved by its own internal evidence and is well worth the attention of the historian and linguist. Extracts from it have been given in the account of the Grianan of Aileach published in the Ordnance Memoir of Derry.

In the Townland of Moneennagluggin (i.e., Little Bog of the Skulls) in this Parish there is a small burial ground of the same name but it does not appear that there ever was a Church at the place.

In the Townland of Cratloe Castle not far from the Church there is a holy well called John’s Well at which a Pattern was formerly held on St. John’s Day. From this it appears probable that the Chapel above described was dedicated to St. John, a Saint held in high estimation in Ireland at the period of its erection.

The Mountain of Cratloe partly in this Parish and partly in the Parish of Kilfintanan (often also called O’Connell’s Mountain and Gleann na gCros) is the celebrated mountain called Sliabh Oidheadh an Righ in the Annals of the Four Masters and other more ancient Irish documents.

This mountain is mentioned in the Annals of Clonenagh quoted by Keating as forming part of the southern boundary of the Diocese of Killaloe (which it does to this day) and in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 1564, thus:-

The inhabitance of the district extending from Sliabh Oidheadha an Righ to Luchat and from Rinn Eanaigh to Seairbh rose up en masse to oppose the Earl of Thomond, etc.”

This Regio comprised all Mac Namara’s Country; Sliabh Oidheadha an Righ is the Mountain of Cratloe alias Gleann na gCros; Luchat is Luchadh (Lowhid) Bridge in the Parish of Kilkeedy; Rinn Eanaigh is Rinanny, a point of land running into the Shannon, a short distance of where it receives the Fergus, and Scairbh is the Little Town of Scariff not far from the borders of the County of Galway.