The Churches of County Clare
By T. J. Westropp, M.A.
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Clare County Library


1. I may divide these into 104 existing ruins (of these I have examined 92), 13 mere foundations, 30 certain sites, and 38 doubtful buildings and alleged sites, 43 possible sites in graveyards, and some 20 names from records, nearly 250 in all. Well did our writers call the ruling race of Clare “the Dalcassians of the Churches,” for there was a church for every 10 forts in the district.

2. “Silva Gadelica,” vol. ii., “Colloquy of the Ancients,” p. 126.

3. For collected account, see Journal R.S.A.I., 1895, p. 252, and Lord Dunraven’s “Notes,” vol. I., under Temple Brecan, in Aran.

4. Petrie’s “Ecclesiastical Architecture” (“Round Towers,”) 1845, p. 141.

5. There are several “Lives” of St. Senan, some of considerable age, one attributed to his successor Odran: the principal was at least recast in the fourteenth century, as it alludes to the death of Sir Richard De Clare in 1318.

6. See Journal R.S.A.I., 1899, p. 328; also “Vita S. Flannani.” I must here thank the Right Rev. Dr. T. M‘Redmond, Roman Catholic Bishop of Killaloe, for lending me a copy of this “Life” and other material relating to St. Flannan.

7. “Wars of the G. and G.,” p. 67.

8. Ibid.

9. “Chron. Scotorum.”

10. Ibid.

11. “Annals Inisfallen.”

12. “Wars of the G. and G.,” p. 39.

13. “Ann. Four Masters.”

14. O = Calendar of Oengus, D = Martyrology of Donegal.

15. O, pp. 126-135.

16. R.S.A.I., 1897, p.

17. His feast-day in Aranmore was May 22.

18. “Vita S. Flannani.”

19. “Vita S. Senani.”

20. “Leabhar Breac,” p. 21.

21. 2O, p. 93.

22. O, p. 164.

23. O, p. 170.

24. 2 O, p. 62.

25. D, p. 279.

26. O, pp. 162, 167.

27. O, pp. 70, 76.

28. White MSS. 1658.

29. Killeely, in county Galway, is, however, named from St. Faoila, daughter of Aedh Draicnigh. Her day was May 3 (Colgan).

30. O, pp. 57, 64.

31. O, pp. 58, 65, Dec. 29th at Kilnaboy.

32. D, p. 335.

33. Colgan, Act. SS. 111, and D, pp. 86, 87.

34. Tighernach.

35. Bruodin’s “Propugnaculum Catholicæ veritatis.”

36. “Vita S. Senani.”

37. Vita S. Maccrecii.

38. See O’Hanlon’s “Lives of the Irish Saints,” iv., April 28th; “Martyrology of Tallaght and Bollandists”; “Act. SS.” iii., p. 546; “Martyrology of Donegal,” pp. 112, 113. He was pupil of Ruadhan, of Lorrha (Colgan), “Act. SS.,” 13th March; “Life of Maccreehy,” xx. and xxi.)

39. Vita S. Maccrecii.

40. P. 77.

41. “Martyrology of Donegal,” p. 335.

42. D, p. 89.

43. Rev. Jasper White’s MSS., 1658.

44. St. Mochulla’s Day, March 23rd (D, pp. 84, 85). Two virgins named Mocolla, on 25th March and 25th May (ibid.).

45. “Vita S. Senani,” p. 537.

46. Mughain, virgin of Cluain Boirenn, December 15th, is named in “Martyrology of Donegal.”

47. O, p. 112.

48. “Vita S. Senani.”

49. See “D,” July 9th, and “Martyrology of Tamlacht,” Feb. 8th.

50. Colgan. Some state that the Stowe Missal and its beautiful case belonged to Lorrha. Ruadhan’s bell is in the British Museum.

51. O, p. 85.

52. O, p. 85.

53. O, pp. 56, 62.

54. O, pp. 61, 90.

55. O, pp. 58, 66.

56. Keating’s “History of Ireland” (O’Conor’s edition), p. 101.

57. Whence Glennacross.

58. R.S.A.I. Journal, 1874-5, pp. 257, 259, 273.

59. The Church of Scattery was in later days dedicated to the Virgin: see O’Hanlon, vol. III., March 8th.

60. See Patent Rolls, Ed. II.

61. “County Limerick”.

62. “Older Annals, Innisfallen.”

63. Document in Brady’s “Episcopal Succession,” vol. iii. p. 53.

64. Lenihan, “Limerick: its History,” &c., p. 563.

65. It was worth between £5 and £6 in 1302, and in Elizabeth’s reign.

66. “Wars of Torlough.”

67. Journal R.S.I.A., 1893, pp. 190, 191. Calendar of State Papers, Ireland.

68. The oldest of our Irish rolls of Edward II. The earlier ones were most unfortunately burned in that century.

69. “Cal. of State Papers, Ireland, Inquisition, 1287.”

70. Exchequer Rolls, Cal. of State Papers relating to Ireland.

71. Perhaps Killerk, as lying between Kilmaley and Clare Abbey, though we find a Kilourg Lonayne in 1584: but this was in Corcomroe. John King held the Hospital of Killarge, in Co. Clare, 1 quarter with Inisdia (Moy, near Lehinch), Grotnehehid and Inchnebooly, 21 Eliz., April 21st, 1579 - MSS. F. 4, 25, T.C.D.

72. The incorrect identifications of the “Cal. of State Papers” call for notice; a Clare topographer must plead ignorance of the existence of Kilkoony, Monkalvel (perhaps Noughaval), Atlantic, &c. among the Churches of Clare.

73. “Irish Exchequer Rolls,” E. II. 3 d.

74. “Cal. State Papers, Ireland,” 1302-6, p. 298, &c.

75. “Cal. State Papers, Ireland,” 1302, p. 290.

76. “Monumenta,” p. 433.

77. Compare illustrations in Proc. R.I.A., Ser. III., vol. v., p. 348.

78. Bruodinus, “Propugnaculum Catholicæ veritatis,” citing manuscripts extant in Clonderlaw Castle in 1640. The old Latin Pedigree in Ulster office supports these statements.

79. Reid’s “Hist. Presbyt.,” vol. ii p. 496; Dwyer’s “Diocese of Killaloe,” pp. 298 and 315.

80. Hy Cormaic was occupied before 845 by certain Eoghanacht tribes, “Woe is me, they have gone into exile. . . . Ui Cormaic and Tradraidhe are much in want of relief; they are from their friends far away,” Book of Lecan. (See O’Curry’s “Manners and Customs,” III., p. 262). This misery may have been caused by the ravages of the Danes in Tradree in 834. The O’Hehirs are very probably a remnant of these tribes. Another tribe in Tradree in 1151, An. F. M., was Clan delbaeth (O’Neill Buidhe). (See O’Curry “M. & C.,” II., p. 220.)

81. Macnamara’s Rental, c. 1380, Trans. R.I.A., vol. XV.

82. Tradree was inhabited by the Ui Sedna before the Dalcassians invaded Clare.

83. Ui Dobharcain, the patrimony of O’Liddy, lay between Doora and Kilnasoola in 1312 (“Wars of Torlough”).

84. The 1633 Visitation includes Killone, “Rcoria ippriata monasterio de Killone Possessa p. Baronem de Inchiquin.”

85. Trans. R.I.A. vol. XX., p. 36, 43.

86. These formed Tuathmacaire.

87. Frost’s “History,” p. 61, identifies this parish with Ui Cearnaigh.

88. Speede’s map.

89. Table MSS. Room, T.C.D.

90. P. 103.

91. See Journal R.S.A.I., 1894, pp. 28, 333, &c.; 1897, p. 282. Proc. R.I.A., Ser. III., vol. v. (1899), pp. 297, 298.

92. It is necessary to note, in face of recent attempts to deny the identity of the “present” cross with that so strangely and incorrectly described by Hely Dutton and others - 1, that the present cross is recognised by many persons now living in the neighbourhood as the one removed from the site some thirty years ago; 2, that a local antiquary has a letter from a neighbouring gentleman, in which the latter states that he heard the former owner of the house in which the “present” cross was found say that he had taken it away; 3, the “present” cross corresponds to the description of the “former” cross in the Ordnance Survey Letters, R.I.A., in 1839; 4, that I have heard, so far back as 1878, the name of the person who removed the cross, and that he lived at the place where the “present” cross was found. Dysert, Roughan, Skeagh a vanoo, and Kilvoydan, are carefully described, by Dr. G. Macnamara, in the Journal R.S.A.I., 1899, p. 244; 1890, p. 26.

93. Journal R.S.A.I., 1899, p. 248.

94. Journal R.S.A.I., 1894, p. 31.

95. R.S.A.I. Journal, 1900.

96. “Wars of the G. & G.”

97. Dec. 13, “Oengus,” p. 182.

98. R.S.A.I. Journal, 1894, p. 156.

99. “Lady Chatterton’s Rambles in the South of Ireland,” vol. ii., pp. 228-229. Figures in R.S.A.I. Journal, 1897, p. 281.

100. MSS. R.I.A. 24, D. 17, p. 45.

101. Bell of Senan, see Archæol. Journal, V., p. 331. Proc. R.I.A. (Jan. 25), 1864, p. 476. Archæologia, xxi., p. 559, exhibited March 9th, 1826, and R.S.A.I. 1900.

102. R.S.A.I., 1894, pp. 338-339.

103. See a Paper, by Mr. Hennessy, in the Dublin Ecclesiastical Record, 1873.

104. Mooney MSS., Bibliothèque Royale, Brussels, No. 3195.

105. “Annals of the Four Masters.”

106. Works quoted in succeeding list:—
Survey “Letters,” R.I.A. MSS. 14 B 23 & 24. (Written 1839.)
R.I.A., Royal Irish Academy, “Proceedings.”
R.S.A.I., Journal Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (The Kilkenny Society under its successive names).
P.M.D., Association for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead in Ireland.
Brash, Richard Rolt, “Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland.”
Dutton, Hely, “Statistical Survey of the County of Clare.”
Dunraven, Earl of, “Notes on Irish Architecture.”
Dwyer, Rev. Canon Philip, “History of the Diocese of Kilaloe.”
Frost, John, M.R.I.A., “History and Topography of Co. Clare.”
Grose, Captain Francis, “Antiquities of Ireland.”
Keane, Marcus, “Towers and Temples of Ireland.”
Mant, Bishop, Paper on “Killaloe,” read before the Down, Connor, and Dromore Architectural Society, 1884.
Mason, Wm. Shaw, “Parochial Survey of Ireland, 1819.”
O’Hanlon, Very Rev. John, “Lives of the Irish Saints.”
Petrie, Dr. George, “Ecclesiastical Architecture,” 1845 Edition.
Stokes, Miss M., “Early Christian Architecture in Ireland.”
“Transactions,” Royal Irish Academy, vol. xv. - Rentals and Deeds.
“Proceedings,” Royal Irish Academy—Quin Abbey, T.N. Deane (1882).
“Journal,” Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland—Churches near Lisdoonvarna, Dr. Martin (1870). Iniscaltra, M. Lenihan (1889). Bunratty, Quin, &c., T. J. Westropp (1890). Killaloe, same (1892, 1893). Churches with Round Towers in Northern Clare, same (1894). Aran, the Burren, and Corcomroe, same (1895). Scattery and Canon’s Island, same (1897). Clare, Killone, and Inchicronan, same (1900). Churches in the Burren and Corcomroe (“Proceedings”), same (1900). The Ascetic’s Church, Dr. George Macnamara (1897). The Stone Crosses of Ui Fermaic, same (1899-1900).

107. I omit the short notices in Topographies and Histories in which detailed descriptions do not occur.

108. Calendar of Oengus.

109. See illustration, Plate XII., fig. 7 [shown in main text].

110. Similar modern crosses are illustrated in “Untrodden Paths in Roumania,” by Mrs. Walker, p. 27; she also gives the type with the circle so common in Ireland.

111. Perhaps Mochuda, alias Cronan.

112. Proc. R.I.A., vol. v., Ser. III., p. 544; Journal R.S.A.I., 1897, p. 116.

113. MSS. T.C.D., F. 2, 14.

114. MSS. T.C.D., E. 2, 14.

115. For a legend about St. Cuanna and a bell, see O’Hanlon, II., p. 285.

116. Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, under the date.

117. “Annals of Four Masters,” 1589.

118. O’Brien’s Rental, Trans. R.I.A., XV.

119. Satirical poem on the Tribes of Clare.

120. “Wars of Turlough.”

121. Grant to Sir E. Fisher, Patent Rolls (Ireland), Roll 9, James I.

122. “Wars of Turlough.”

123. “Wars of Turlough.”

124. Bruodinus “Propugnaculum Catholicæ Veritatis.”

125. Dwyer, p. 491.

126. Charter of Clare Abbey.

127. MSS., T.C.D., F. 2, 14.

128. Betham MSS., vol. v., R.I.A.

129. Wadding, “Annales Minorum,” vol. iii., p. 574; larger edition, vol. viii., p. 47; and vol x., p. 218.

130. “Wars of Torlough.”

131. MSS. R.I.A., 23 L. 22, p. 424, an ancient account of Tomfinlough, in Thomond.

132. “Calendar of Oenghus,” p. 85, April 30th.

133. Charter of Clare Abbey.

134. Calendar of Oenghus, p. 85, May 11th.

135. “Wars of the Gaedhill with the Gaill.”

136. Lands in Kilmurry Parish belonged to Thomas De Clare at his death, 1287. It may even be included among the ten advowsons in his gift, despite its omission in 1302. The Commissioners may have regarded its recent and ‘foreign’ origin as excluding it from the list of recognised parishes. Mr. Frost’s “History,” p. 59, regards Faoile, the patron saint of Athcliath, in Galway Bay, as the older patroness of Kilmurry Church, the well being Tober faoile.

137. Dwyer, p. 89.

138. So named in Petty’s Map.

139. The one figured has recently been destroyed by a falling tree.

140. “Hibernia Dominicana,” p. 213.

141. Trans. R.I.A. xv.

142. Borlase’s “Dolmens of Ireland,” vol. i., p. 86.

143. Rev. Jasper White’s Manuscript, 1658.

144. Rev. J. White’s MSS., 1658.

145. MSS. T. C. D., I. i. 2, states that Tullanaspull of the Colidei was built by Convarn (Cumara ? or Cuvea ?) Macnamara, then Lord of Clancullen, and granted to his son Teig, a priest, about 1367.

146. MSS. R. I. A., 14 B. 18, p. 257.

147. Lewis’ “Topographical Dictionary” says:—“The ruins of the old church remain,” 1837; but this is probably inaccurate.

148. Ordnance Survey Letters, R. I. A. MSS., 14 B. 23, p. 174.

149. Proc. R.I.A., vol. x., p. 441, and vol. iv., Ser. III., p. 546.

150. In the Ordnance Survey Letters of Galway (MSS., 14 D. 2, R. I. A.), Nov. 19th, 1838. The names of the churches given in the descriptions (which are very carefully written) and the sketch map of Iniscaltra are different from those in the published maps of the Ordnance Survey. The nameless site on the map to the west of the round tower is “Garadh Mhicheail” on the sketch map and “the church of St. Michael” in the Letters. The “church and garden of St. Michael on the Ordnance Survey Maps are “The Baptism Church” of the sketch maps and Letters. The “Church of Baptism” on the Ordnance Survey Map is the “ church of the wounded men” of the sketch map and Letters. I found on my first visit in 1877 that St. Caimin’s and St. Mary’s were the only church names known to my boatman. Again, in 1885, I was assured that the church near St. Mary’s was not known as St. Michael’s, so I take this opportunity of marking this gross inaccuracy of the 1839 map—a fault so unusual in the noble series of maps of the period.

151. “Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill,” p. 13.

152. Care must be taken in consulting this Paper to bear in mind that, besides other inaccuracies, Temple Caimin is called “ St. Mary’s.”

153. Ordnance Survey Letters of Galway, MSS. 14 D. 2, R. I. A., p. 545.

154. Ussher’s “Sylloge.”

155. MSS., F. 2-14, T.C.D.

156. Macnamara’s Rental, Trans. R.I.A., vol. xv.

157. Grant to E. Waterhouse.

158. Theiner, “Monumenta,” p. 433.

159. This disposes of the popular legend, “The church of the yellow men,” i.e., Spaniards of the Armada, 1588.

160. For possible connexion with Luchtighern. See Ennistymon, p. 138, supra. R.I.A., PROC. SER. III., VOL. VI.

161. “Annals Four Masters.”

162. “Calendar State Papers, Ireland.”

163. “Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill,” p. 103.

164. “Wars of Torlough.”

165. Dwyer, p. 499.

166. O’Hanlon, vol. v., p. 442.

167. P. 16.

168. “Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill,” p. 103.

169. Charter of Clare Abbey, 1461.

170. Perhaps Kieran, of Clonmacnoise, who, after leaving Aran in 538, entered the Abbey at Scattery.

171. “Ord. Survey Letters,” R.I.A. : see also Bruodinus’s “Propugnaculum” for miracles at its well in 1632.

172. Bruodinus, “Propugnaculum,” book v., chap. xvii.

173. Mason, p. 431.

174. Mason, II., p. 434.

175. Mason “Parochial Survey.” II., p. 434.

176. Ibid., p. 431.

177. Mason, ii., p. 435.

178. Ibid., p. 432.

179. “Vita S. Senani.”

180. Archdall’s “Monasticon.”

181. “Silva Gadelica,” II., p. 11.

182. Mason, vol. II., p. 437.

183. “Vita S. Senani.”

184. “Ann. Four Masters.”

185. Calendar of Oenghus, January 28th.

186. Mason, p. 430.

187. Mason, p. 433. Kilcarrol appears in a mortgage, 1611.—Trans. R.I.A., XV.

188. “Vita S. Senani,” Colgan, Mason VIII.

189. “Ann. Four Masters.”

190. “History,” p. 47.

191. “Parochial Survey,” vol. i., p. 491.

192. The following have since been added: - Bunratty, Feenagh, and Kilfinaghta or Ballysheen (56 in all)

193. The “holy” reputation of many of these is very slight.

194. Trans. R.I.A., vol. xxxii., Part vii.

195. “Towers and Temples,” p. 362.

196. See above, p. 85.



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