Clare County Library
Clare Genealogy

Donated Material: Graveyard Inscriptions
Killow Graveyard, Clarecastle:
A short history

Killow/Cill Lua Graveyard by Frank Barry

Local spelling Killoo, also spelled Killoe

Note: A ‘?’ in the transcription indicates inability to decipher accurately specific data on the headstone. Data is recorded as written on the headstone.

The settlement of Cill Lua is reputed to have been founded by St Lua a grandson of a 5th century King of Thomond and is one of the oldest Churches in the Diocese of Killaloe. The Church measures 37ft 9inches by 19ft 4inches. Joe Power’s History of Clarecastle (p 21) states that Killow belonged to the Deanry of Tradaree up to the 17th century and must have been incorporated into Clareabbey during penal times.

Hillary Gilmore’s research states: ‘In the townland of Killow there is an ancient Church and Graveyard. There is no definite information available regarding the Church. It is probable that a Monastery was founded here about the middle of the 7th century AD by St Molua or Lugad of Killaloe. It seems to have survived the Viking wars and it became a Parish in its own right following the 12th century reorganisation of the Irish Church. The first record we have regarding this Church is the Papal taxation of 1302 where it is listed as a Parish with a valuation of 3 marks. It was united with Clareabbey later on. In the years following the Reformation many Churches were taken over and used by Ministers of the new Protestant religion. Bishop Rider, Protestant Bishop of Killaloe, reported in 1615 on the conditions of Churches in the Diocese His comments on Killow were “Church and Chancel down”. It seems therefore that Killow Church was not used for public worship after that.

T.J. Westropp in his Churches of Co Clare (1900) wrote “Killue – Clareabbey Parish; A small Church 37ft 9ins by 19ft 4ins. East window has a slightly pointed head and is chamfered; the splay is rudely built and other features defaced. Founder Lugad perhaps Molua. Killuga 1302 then a separate Parish. Monuments Stamer 1766 (ref P.M.D. III (1897) page 392).”’

On examining the current state of the Graveyard Hillary states the following: ‘Today the church is covered with ivy and the structure indicates that there may have been a window in the south side, although it is in a bad state of ruin. The south door which is lintelled on the inside is in a delicate state. Ivy was growing over the Stamer monument and thanks to some hard work by locals some of it has been removed revealing details of the carvings on the monument.

The Church contains many other Burials dating from 1752 to 1931. The 1752 burial is the oldest visible record within the Church and Churchyard. It records the death of Dan McInerheny who died on the 3rd day of February 1752 aged 50 years. The Stamer monument is on the right hand side of the east window while James Aheron (erected by Darby) and his parents are buried below the ambury on the left hand side. The altar would have been below the east window. There is an old belief which goes as follows “The nearer one is buried to the altar, the greater chance one has of going to heaven”. Was that the reason for the Stamer and Aheron burial positions?’

Niall McCabe recalls his father Tom telling him of the tradition on a funeral day of the coffin pallbearers shouldering the coffin and resting it on a flat stone, possibly a Mass Rock in penal times which is situated in front of the Lynch vault. This stone was regarded as having healing powers and the belief was that the corpse left this world for a better life in heaven with all the pains and worries of this life removed.

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Killow Graveyard, Clarecastle