Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808

By Hely Dutton

Chapter V - Section 25



IN the barony of Burrin; there was a monastery of the third order of Franciscan Friars. The abbey of Beagh and the town-land of Abbeybeaghan are mentioned in the records.

N.B. There are no traces of this abbey at present; probably it may have been mistaken for one of that name in the barony of Clare, county of Galway.

Ceanindis or Keannindse

Is the name of a hill in Dalcassia, now the County of Clare; St. Comgall, who was abbot of Gleanussen in the King’s County, founded a church here; he died before the year 569.

Clare or Kilmony, or abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul

On the river Fergus, anciently called also Forgy, in the barony of Islands, about a mile from Ennis, and not, as mentioned in the Monasticon Hibernicum, where the Fergus falls into the Shannon, for it is above seven miles from the junction of the two rivers. This abbey was founded under the invocation of St. Peter and St. Paul for canons regular, following the rule of St. Augustine, by Donald O’Brien, the great king of Limerick; he appointed Donatus abbot, and richly endowed the abbey.

The charter was dated at Limerick in 1195, and witnessed by M. archbishop of Cashel, D. bishop of Killaloe, A. bishop of Fenabore, (Kilfenora,) and B. bishop of Limerick. Thady, bishop of Killaloe, exemplified king Donald’s ancient charter in this monastery on the 18th of July 1461.

In 1543 King Henry VIII. granted the abbey to the baron of Ibrachan, together with a moiety of the rectories of Kilchrist, Kilmoyle, Kilmacduan, Killurocragh, Ballinregdan, Ballylogheran, and Ballylegford.

This abbey was granted in fee to Donough Earl of Thomond, January 19, 1620, and a new grant was afterwards made in September the 1st, 1661, to Henry Earl of Thomond.

Corcomroe, or abbey of St. Mary

Anciently called Corcamruadh, a small village in the barony of Burrin. It was thrice plundered by Roderic O’Connor and Dermot O’Brien in the year 1088.

A. D. 1194. Donald king of Limerick founded a sumptuous monastery here for Cistertian monks, and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary; others say, that Donagh Carbrac his son was the founder, in the year 1200.

This abbey was also called the abbey of the fruitful rock, and was a daughter of that of Suire; it was afterwards made subject to the celebrated abbey of Furnes near Lancashire. The cell of Kilsonna, alias Kishanny or Kilsane,(*1) was some time afterwards annexed to this house; the founder died the same year.

1267. Donogh O’Brien, king of Thomond, was killed in the battle, that was fought at Siudaine in the barony of Burrin; he was solemnly interred to this abbey, where a grand monument was erected in his memory, the remains of which are to be seen to this day.(*2)

1317. A dreadful battle was fought near this town, in which many of the principal of the O’Brien’s fell; amongst the slain were Tiege, and Murtogh Garbh, sons of Brien Ruadh, king of Thomond.

1418. The abbot John was made bishop of Kilmacduagh.

This abbey, with eleven quarters of land, in Corcomroe and Glanemanagh, was granted to Richard Harding.


On the river Fergus, in the barony of Islands, is a market and borough town; it was anciently called Inniscluanruadha, and one of the suburbs, where a fair is held, is now called Clonroad.(*3) 

1240. About this time Donogh Carbrac O’Brien built a very noble and beautiful monastery here for conventual Franciscan friars.

1305. The annals of Innisfallen inform us, that this monastery was built or repaired this year by Terlagh the son of Teige Caoluiske O’Brien, who presented the friars with holy crosses, embroidered vestments, and other needle-work, cowls, and every necessary furniture, beautiful book-cases, and blue painted windows.

1306. Died Cumheadha Mor Macnamara; he was interred with his king in this monastery. This year Dermot the son of Doncha, son of Brien-roe, at the head of a powerful army of Irish and English, entered the town, and burned and destroyed every house in it.

1311. About this time Donogh, king of Thomond, bestowed the entire revenue of his principality towards the support of the poor friars of this monastery, and for enlarging and beautifying their house.

1313. Dermot O’Brien, prince of Thomond, was buried in this monastery, in the habit of a Franciscan friar.

1343. Moriertach O’Brien, the son of Theodoric prince of Thomond, died on June the 5th, and was buried here; and the same year Mathew Mac Comara, called the blind, who built the refectory and sacristy of the monastery, was buried here in the habit of the order.

1350. Pope Clement VI. granted several indulgences to this monastery, and Theodoric the son of Donogh O’Brien was interred therein.

1364. Dermot O’Brien, late prince of Thomond, died on the vigil of the conversion of St. Paul at Ardrahan in the county of Galway, but he had his sepulture in this monastery.

1370. Mathew O’Brien, prince of Thomond, dying on the feast of St. Philip and St. James, was also interred here.

1375. This year king Edward III. moved with compassion for the poverty of this house, and the scarcity of provisions in this part of the country, granted a licence, dated at Limerick, August the 22nd, to the guardian and friars to enter into the English pale and purchase provisions of every kind; and he also granted a licence to Marian Currydany, a brother of the house, to go to the city of Argentine in Almania (or Germany) to study in the schools. This friary was reformed by the Franciscans of the strict observance. In a rental of the crown, in the year 1577, in the office of the Auditor general, the crown was then in possession of the site of this monastery, a mill on the river Fergus, and an eel and salmon-weir, with some houses and gardens in the village. On the 1st of June, 1621, it was granted to William Dongan, Esq.

Many of the ancient ornaments of this building, particularly a very fine window, uncommonly light and of exquisite workmanship, still remain; this, with other similar instances, must argue the refined taste of our ancestors. It is now the parish church, which occupies only a part of the ancient building; what a pity the end next this beautiful window had not been chosen for this purpose? but perhaps modern taste would have altered the window, as it has removed many of the old monuments. In a few years there will not be a vestige of the building; every person, that chooses, may pull down any part of it, and, instead of pointing the joints of the beautiful window, it will probably share the fate of the other parts.

Enniskerry or Inniscaorach

There are two islands of this name about three miles from the main land of the barony of Ibrickan. St. Senan of Iniscattery built an abbey on Inniscaorach in the territory of Hybreccain (Ibrickan) in Thomond.(*4) 


An island in the river Shannon, where it receives the river fergus. St. Bridget, the daughter of Conchraid of the family of Mactalius, presided over an abbey of nuns in the island of Inisfidhe or Cluanefidhe in the 5th century, in the time of St. Senan. It is an island in the Fergus, in the barony of Bunratty, and the parish of Kilconry.


This valley is in Hy Luigdheach, in Munster, at the bounds of the see of Killaloe. St. Patrick built an abbey here; this place is now unknown.


St. Columb founded this abbey; it is now a parish church (in ruins) in the diocese of Kilfenora, barony of Burrin, and parish of Karne.


Is an island in the river Shannon;(*5) Donald O’Brien, king of Limerick, founded an abbey in the island of Inchycronane for Regular canons about the year 1190. This abbey and a moiety of the tithes of the parish of Inchycronane were granted to Donogh, earl of Thomond, January 19, 1620, and again in fee to Henry, earl of Thomond, Sept. 1, 1661.

Inchmore or Inismore, (the great island.)

An island in Loughree in the river Shannon.(*6) St. Senan, the great saint of Iniscattery, built an abbey at Inismore, and placed St. Liberius one of his disciples over it; his memory is still celebrated in this island. 


Turlogh, son of Teige Caoluisge, son of Connor na Suidaine O’Brien king of Thomond, built a magnificent abbey here, in which he was buried in the year 1305. The site is not known at present.


In Hy Ledna, an ancient territory in this county; St. Senan built a church here, and placed over it the saints Finan and Finnen. This church is now unknown.


An island in Lough Derg in the river Shannon, and on the borders of the counties of Clare and Galway. St. Camin founded an abbey here, which was afterwards a church, and still retains his name; he died in the year 653, and was buried in his own church; his feast is observed on the 25th of March. St. Stellan the abbot died May the 24th, about three years before St. Camin.

St. Coelan, a monk of this abbey, flourished about the end of the 7th or beginning of the 8th century. He wrote a life of St. Brigid in latin verse, in which he expressly tells us, that this abbey was a convent of Benedictines:

—Keltra est conventus rite vi rorum
Prudentum, sacro Benedicti dogmate florens.

834. This island was ravaged by the Danes, and the same year it was destroyed with fire by Tomar a Danish commander from Limerick.

1027. The great Brien Boroimhe, monarch of Ireland, erected the church of Iniskeltair about this time.

1040. Corcran was abbot of Iniskeltair; he was the most celebrated ecclesiastic of the west of Europe, both for religion and learning, and died this year at Lismore. 

1043. Died St. Amnichad; he was a disciple of the abbot Corcran; his feast is held on the 30th of January.

1315. Brien O’Brien, brother to Donogh king of Thomond, was constrained to take shelter in this island.

There yet remains here a fine round tower, with seven small churches, which bespeak in miniature an elegance of taste. This island is remarkable for the great resort of pilgrims on certain festivals.


Was anciently called Inisluaidhe,(*7) an island in the river Shannon, between Limerick and the island of Iniscattery. St. Senan of Corcabaiscin founded a monastery here before the coming of St. Patrick into Munster, and St. Moronoc, called the penitentiary of Inisluaidhe, had a cell here at the time of St. Senan’s death.


Or the island of Canons, now called Elanagranoch, in the river Shannon, and barony of Clounderalaw, near the principality of Thomond. Donald O’Brien king of Limerick in the twelfth century founded or rebuilt a priory here for Canons regular, following the rule of St. Augustin. In a rental of the crown estate, in the year 1577, the crown was then seized, in right of this abbey, of the farm of the island, viz. four acres of arable, fourteen of mountain and pasture, and the site of the said abbey containing half an acre, a church, &c., three other islands called Inishorlth, (now Horse-island,) Iniskeirke, (now Inissark,) and Inistubred, (now Inistubber,) near the said island of Canons; the land called Iniskedragh not far from the river of Galway, containing thirteen acres of mountain; also two parts of the tithes of the rectory of Kildysert Murhull, and the vicarage of Kilchrist in Thomond.

The moiety of the said abbey of canons, and that of Clare, and the moiety of the churches of Kilchrist, Killonyle, alias Killenoyle, Kilmadovane, alias Killuichdowen, Killoveragh, Ballymacegan, alias Ballymacregan, Ballyloughbran, and Ballyloughfadela, and the chapel of Killowe, with all their tithes and profits, and the tithes of the demesne and lands of the same abbey, were granted in fee to Donogh, Earl of Thomond, June 20, 1605, and confirmed to him on March 8, 1609; they were again granted in fee to Henry Earl of Thomond, on September 1, 1661.


It was anciently called Inisscathy, Iniscathuigh, and Cathiana, a rich and beautiful island in the mouth of the river Shannon. St. Senan of Corcabaiscin founded an abbey here before the arrival of St. Patrick in Munster, as some report, but others say, that St. Patrick himself was the founder, and that he placed St. Senan here. He had eleven churches for his monks, and no women were permitted to land on the island before the coming of the Danes into this country. The prelates of this noble and ancient church are sometimes called by ecclesiastical historians bishops, and at other times abbots. In process of time it became a priory of regular canons.

A. D. 538. St. Kieran, who was called the son of the carpenter, having left the island of Arran, came hither, and was made providore for the strangers by St. Senan.

544. St. Senan died on the first of March, and was buried in the abbey. His festival is observed on the 8th day of that month, and a superb monument was erected to his memory. This saint’s bell is still religiously preserved in the west part of the county, and is called the golden bell, and many of the common people believe at this day, that to swear by it falsely would be immediately followed by convulsions and death. This custom is not confined to this place or time, for we find in the Survey of Kildare, that the bell of St. Evan in the 7th century had the same veneration attached to it. St. Odian was the immediate successor to St. Senan.

792. Died Olchobhar the son of Flann; he was airchennach or ethnarch (archdeacon) of this abbey; his feast is held on the 27th of October.

816. The Danes plundered the island this year, put the monks to the sword, and defaced the monument of the saint.

835. About this time the same barbarians again sailed up the Shannon, and destroyed the monastery.

861. Died the abbot Aidan.

908. Cormac Mac Cuillenan, the learned and pious archbishop of Cashel, and king of Munster, was slain in the battle of Moyalbe, not far from Leighlin. Flaithbeartach the son of Ionmuinein, was then abbot of this monastery, and was the great fomenter of this war, in which the good bishop lost his life. In his will Cormac bequeathed to this abbey three ounces of gold, and to the abbot his choicest sacred vestments. The abbot for his concern in Cormac’s melancholy fate was closely imprisoned for two years, and then ordered to a severe penace in this monastery; afterwards he so far recovered his power and influence, that on the death of Dubhlachtna, who has succeeded king Cormac, he was elected to fill the throne of Munster.

914. Some Danes landed at Waterford, but they were defeated by Flaithbeartach, who in the annals is called prince of Idrona.

944. Flaithbeartach died this year.

950. The Danes were become so powerful about this time, that they made this island a place of arms.

958. Died Noyman of Inisscatthy.

972. A Danish chieftain, Mark, the son of Harold, sailed round Ireland, and committed great devastations on this island, taking much treasure and many captives.

975. Brien king of Munster and Domnhall king of Ionmhuinein recovered this island from the Danes by defeating Iomhar the Norman and his two sons, Amhlaibh and Duibheheann; 500 of the Danes, with Mark and his two sons, who fled thither for safety some time before, were slain in this battle.

994. Died Colla the abbot and doctor of Inisscathy.

1050. Died Hua-schula the ethnarch of this abbey.

1057. Diarmuid Mac Maoilnambo, with the Danes of Dublin, plundered this island, but they were overtaken and defeated by Donogh the son of Brien.

1801[sic]. Died the abbot O’Burgus.

1176. This abbey was again plundered by the Danes of Limerick.

1179. William Hoel, an English knight, wasted the whole island, not even sparing the churches.

1188. Died Aid O’Beachain, bishop of Inisscathy.

1195. Inisscathy was at this time a bishop’s see, afterwards united to Limerick, and soon after to that of Killaloe, when Charles O’Heney was bishop in 1195.

Richard de London was guardian of this abbey, but the date is not recorded.

1290. Thomas le Chapelin was guardian after Richard; he was guardian also in the year 1295.

April 24th, and 20th of Queen Elizabeth, this abbey with the church-yard, twenty-four acres of land, a house, a castle built of stone and three cottages in the island, and the several customs following; from every boat of oysters, coming to the city of Limerick, once a year, 1000 oysters, and from every herring-boat 500 herrings once a year; also ten cottages, one church in ruins, twenty acres of wood and stony ground in the said island called Beachwood, with all the tithes, &c. were granted to the mayor and citizens of Limerick, and their successors for ever in free soccage, not in capite, at the annual rent of 3l. 12s. 8d.

The monument of St. Senan is still to be seen here, with the remains of eleven small churches and several cells; in the stone, that closes the top of the altar window of the great church, is the head of the saint, with his mitre boldly executed, and but little defaced; an ancient round tower, 120 feet in height and in good repair, graces the scene. This island is remarkable for the resort of pilgrims on certain festivals.


In the barony of Corcomroe; St. Luchtighern was abbot of Inistymensis or Inistomensis.

Kilcarragh (*8)

There was an hospital or monastery here, of which we have no further account, than that it was endowed with a quarter of land adjoining thereto, which at the dissolution was granted to John King.


In the barony of Ibrickan, is now a parish church (in ruins). The monastery of Kilfobrick was founded A. D. 741. We find that Cormac, bishop and scribe of Kilfobrick, died A. D. 837. 


Anciently called Fenabore and Celumabrach, in the barony of Corcomore. The Annals of Munster tell us, that Murrough O’Brien burned the abbey of Kilfenora, and slew many people therein A. D. 1055. It was in the year 1660 given in commendam to Samuel Pullen then archbishop of Tuam.


Was anciently called Kildalua, Ceandaluan, the church of St. Fachnan, and Loania, or the habitation on the wave; the seat of a bishop, and situated on the western banks of the Shannon, near the noted cataract. St. Molualobhair, the grandson of Eocha Baildearg king of north Munster, founded an abbey here about the beginning of the 6th century.(*9) He was succeeded by his disciple St. Flannan, who about the year 639 was consecrated bishop of the place; from this time we hear no more of it as an abbey. Killaloe was anciently the resort of many pilgrims.

*1    In the barony of Corcomroe, and now a parish wholly impropriate.

*2    A few years ago some giddy young gentlemen took it into their heads to amuse themselves with mutilitating some part of this ancient monument; they were pursued by the country people, and, if overtaken, in all probability would have been served as they richly deserved.  

*3    Mac Curtin, in his Antiquities of Ireland, mentions, that at one time there were at Clonroad upwards of 600 scholars, together with 350 monks, maintained by O’Brien, prince of this county, after the coming of the English.

*4    It is now called Mutton Island, is the property of Mr. Bolton, and contains about 130 acres of good land; it feeds oxen, sheep, and rabbits, and sets for 100l. per annum. A large quantity of kelp is made here.

*5    So says Archdall in the Monasticon Hibernicum; but there is no such island as Inchycronane in the Shannon; the abbey of Inchycronane is about six miles north of Ennis, in the barony of Bunratty, and is in a small island surrounded by a little rivulet.

*6    Innismore is in the river Fergus, and is called Deer-island; it is in the barony of Clounderalaw and parish of Kilchrist, and not in Loughree, as stated above from the Monasticon.

*7    Probably Low-island, near the junction of the Shannon and Fergus.

*8    It is very near Kilfenora, on the estate of George Lysaght, Esq.

*9    Mc. Curtin’s Vindication of the History of Ireland states, that Brien Boromhe built the churches of Killaloe and Iniscathra, and reedified the steeple of Tomgraney.

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