Antiquities Near Miltown Malbay

Thomas Johnson Westropp
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Clare County Library

Kilmurry Ibrickan Church
(O.S. Map 40)

This church, as might almost be guessed from its dedication, is of no very early foundation. It is not named in the Papal Taxation of 1302-6, unless it be “Collebonoum,” which is not Kilballyowen, and is given immediately before Kilfarboy. We must note that the editor of the calendar in which the Taxation appears, among the very many wild guesses, gives Kellmolihegyn as being Kilmurry, but it is in fact Kilballyowen (eoghain) as the name and position in the list equally show.

Kilmurry Ibrickan Church (with Tromra Castle in the distance) - T.J. Westropp, 1887

Kilmurry Ibrickan Church (with Tromra Castle
in the distance) - T.J. Westropp, 1887

It is a long very plain building, constructed of sandstone flags, and is a familiar object as seen from the railway. It is surrounded and even buttressed by a village of vaults, and, with the distant Tromra castle, a few wind-beaten trees, and the background of the sea, the sheer Cliffs of Moher, and the surf-torn rags of Inisfitæ, forms by no means so un-picturesque a view as so ugly a ruin might be expected to make. It is 86½ feet long by 24 feet 4 inches inside. The eastern end had fallen even in 1839 and the south wall has a large gap in the middle. The latter side has a small flat-headed light near the west end and a slightly pointed door 19 feet from the west, 3 feet wide outside and 9 inches more inside. Another window like the more western slit is found 14 feet 6 inches from the door. There is a closed door 10 feet from the east end and a window with a trefoil-headed light, not “pointed” as stated in the O.S. letters. The north wall is featureless and gapped, both side walls having a cornice (or rather water table) of large flag stones. The western end is in a very shaken condition, though plastered for a ball court externally, it has a small flat topped window, slit high up the gable, and the ragged piers of a very tottering little belfry, with a single chamber, the top of which has fallen. The only ancient carving in the building is the lower part of a figure of the Blessed Virgin with the body of Our Lord on her knee, the heads of both figures and the greater part of the Virgin’s body are broken away.

The building is (as we noted) surrounded with vaults and crowded with burials, the graveyard also covers a considerable space to the opposite side of the road. Donald Mac Murcha of Tarrymon was buried here in 1603, the Wards in 1642, and the Stacpooles of Enagh from the time that their ancestor Clement Stacpoole was “transplanted” from Limerick city by the Cromwellian government [22].

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