County Clare: A History and Topography
1837 by Samuel Lewis
Gazeteer of Ireland 1845
Tour of Clare 1780
Before the Famine, County Clare 1835
on the McInerney family of Co Clare: A folktale from Sixmilebridge
Newmarket-on-Fergus is a thriving village
on the main Limerick-Ennis road. The old name is CORA CAITLIN, the weir
of Cathleen, a holy woman, who according to tradition lived in the area.
There are two possible explanations of the name NEWMARKET. The most widely
accepted is that Sir Edward O'Brien, who was interested in horse racing,
had ideas of creating a centre to rival Newmarket in England. It was Edward
who built the belvedere on Dromoland Hill, from which he could observe
the racing in comfort. The alternative explanation of the place-name is
that the new village became a market place, and took much business from
the older established markets, thus earning the name "the new market".
TRADAREE or TRADRAIGH:
The ancient parish of Tradaree was associated with the extensive parish
of Newmarket which stretches from Bunratty bridge to Latoon bridge. Tradition
has it that a Milesian leader called Cormac Cas married the daughter of
Oisin, the son of Finn MacCumhaill. It was a descendant of Cormac, Lughaidh
Meann, who expelled the Fir Bolg from Clare and he was succeeded by his
son, Conal Eachluaith. Conal Eachluaith had a son called Cas from whom
the Dal gCais later descended. The eldest son of Cas was Blod from whom
descended Brian Boru some centuries later. The twelfth son of Cas was
Lughaidh Delbaeth whose daughter married Trad, the son of Tossach. Tossach
was a chieftain and a druid. Trad being the father of a large family was
given the large tract of land later to be known as Tradaree.
The Parish of Newmarket -on- Fergus is
a union of seven ancient parishes: Bunratty, Fenloe, Kilnasoolagh, Drumline,
Clonloghan, Kilconry and Kilmaleery.
- BUNRATTY: Due to the Norman influence Bunratty
had a large population throughout the thirteenth century and it is
likely that all the other churches began as mission or succursal chapels.
The exception to this is Fenloe, which predates Bunratty and became
a parish church about the twelfth century.
- FENLOE: or, as it used to be known, TUAIMFINLOUGH,
is the oldest recorded settlement in the Newmarket area. The name
is said to mean tomb or tumulus of the fair lake. The graveyard and
church ruin of Fenloe are situated beside the Newmarket/Kilkishan
road, overlooking Fenloe lake.
Fenloe was the site of a monastic foundation in the early sixth century.
Although accounts of this area are sparse, some references to happenings
here are contained in the ANNALS of THE FOUR MASTERS, the MARTYROLOGY
OF DONEGAL and the LIFE OF MACCREICHE. In the early sixth century
St. Luchtigern presided over the monastery and school here. The annals
tell us that Scanlan, abbot of Tuamfinlough, died in 944 and that
Tuathal O'Muirgheasa, lecturer, died in 1049. Five years later the
monastery was plundered by Turlough O'Brien. The existing church ruin
dates from the tenth or eleventh century but much rebuilding and renovating
occured throughout the later centuries. A legend connected with Fenloe
tells of a mysterious plague which was ravaging the country. The abbot
of Fenloe cured the first local person to contract the disease. The
abbot banished the plague into a large stone which became known thereafter
as the plague stone. This stone is now in the outside of the boundary
wall near the south-west corner. On its face it has two circular shapes,
one like an inverted saucer and the other with a simple cross cut
into it. Near the south-east corner of the graveyard there are three
stone heads on the boundary wall and their story is connected with
that of the plague stone. The story goes that there were three on
lookers at the incident of the miraculous cure and one of them was
very sceptical. The abbot had three heads carved and mounted over
the church door. He placed the head representing the unbeliever in
the middle, saying it would gradually yield to the elements while
the other two heads would forever remain unaffected by weather or
- KILNASOOLAGH: became an independent parish
in 1463 by order of a papal mandate. Nothing remains of the old parish
church. The present Church of Ireland church contains a fine baroque
monument to Sir Donat O' Brien, the work of William Kendall, dating
- DRUMLINE: The church site dates back to the
eight century or earlier. Very little remains of the church building
and the foundations can now be just barely identified. The founder
is reputed to be Sanctain.
- CLONLOGHAN or CLUAINLOCHAIN, the "river
meadow of the withered grass". The church here may have been
built as early as the tenth century. The eastern wall survives. No
saints name has been positively linked with this church. However,
it may have been founded by St. Enda who is associated with the Aran
- KILCONRY, or CILL CHONAIRE is a church
ruin and graveyard situated approximately two miles due west of Shannon
town centre. The church is of fifteenth century origin. However, the
name is derived from a sixth-century female saint called Conaire.
Folk tradition associates her with St.
Senan of Scattery, who is reputed to
have banned women from his island. Conaire is supposed to be the occupant
of the "Lady's Grave" at low-tide mark at Scattery.
- KILMALEERY has no recorded patron saint.
The church there possibly took its name from the territory of the
local chieftain. TOBAR MALOIGHRE, a holy well, is situated beside
All seven of these churches were closed
during the Penal Law period. In 1744 the High Sheriff for Clare, John
Westropp, wrote to the authorities in Dublin Castle as follows "I
have according to your instructions made strict search in Ennis and in
several other places where we had the least suspicion of priests and had
the army from Clarecastle to assist me - but could find none. We
have locked and nailed up all the Mass houses." After the relaxation
of the Penal Laws the present boundaries were established.