Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808

By Hely Dutton

Chapter V - Section 26

Ecclesiastical divisions of the Diocese of Killaloe (according to the Rev. Dr. Beaufort)

The diocese of Killaloe was founded early in the 5th century; in the 12th it was incorporated with the ancient bishopric of Roscrea founded in 620; in the year 1752 the see of Kilfenora, which had been established about the 12th century, was united to it, and, though very small in extent and value, had continued separate until after the restoration, when it was first annexed to the archbishopric of Tuam; that union continued eighty-one years until 1741, when, Ardagh being annexed to Tuam, this bishopric was given in commendam to the bishop of Clonfert.

The diocese of Killaloe stretches eighty miles in length, through the counties of Clare and Tipperary, into the King’s county, and includes also a small part of the Queen’s county, Galway and Limerick; it varies in breadth from seven to twenty-five miles.

Kilfenora is confined to the baronies of Burrin and Corcomroe, and extends only eighteen miles by nine. In the Chapter of each diocese there are stalls for a dean, precentor, chancellor, treasurer and archdeacon, and in that of Killaloe for five   prebendaries.

Of the patronage of these diocese it is difficult to form an abstract, the rectories being mostly separate from the vicarages, and many of them in lay patronage; thus multiplied in number, ten of them are in the gift of the crown, 131 in the bishop, and 36 in lay patrons; those 177 rectories and vicarages are united and condensed, if the expression may be allowed, into fifty benefices.

The church of Killaloe is not large for a cathedral, but venerable for its antiquity, and in good preservation, though built above 660 years; it serves like many others for the parish church. Very near the little town of Killaloe, in the midst of a fine demesne, beautifully situated on the western bank of the Shannon, stands the episcopal residence, a handsome new house, erected by the late archbishop of Dublin (Fowler) when bishop of Killaloe. This see is fifty miles from the S. W. extremity of the diocese.

In the diocese of Killaloe are contained, (in Clare only,)

426700 acres,
57 parishes,
20 benefices,
15 churches
1 glebe-house,
15 glebes only,
6 benefices without glebes,
16 rectories impropriate,
5 wholly impropriate.

Kilfenora contains

37000 acres,
19 parishes,
8 benefices,
3 churches,
1 glebe-house,
5 glebes only,
2 benifices without glebes,

0 rectory impropriate,

2 wholly impropriate;

And to each church on an average 17513 acres !! 

Near the church of Killaloe is the building called the oratory of St. Moluah, reckoned one of the oldest buildings in Ireland; it was built in the 7th century; it is arched with stone, and at present serves Dr. Martin for a cart-house, and a pen for sheep, that graze in the church-yard. 


On the shore of the river Shannon, and two miles and a half N. W. of Inisscattery, in the barony of Moyferta, and parish of Kilfieragh. St. Senan gave the veil to the daughters of Nateus in Kilcochaille, now called Kilnacaillech or the church of the nuns, not far from Inisscattery. 

Killoen, or Killone, or Nunnery of St. John the Baptist

In the barony of Islands. About the year 1190 Donald O’Brien, king of Limerick, founded an abbey here for nuns, following the rules of St. Augustin, and dedicated it to St. John the Baptist. Slaney, the daughter of Donogh Carbrach, king of Thomond, was abbess of this nunnery, and died A.D. 1260; she was pre-eminent in devotion, alms-deeds, and hospitality to all the women then in Munster.


In the barony of Corcomore; the cell of Kilshanny, alias Kilsonna or Kilsane, was annexed to the abbey of Corcomroe. This monastery, with all its appurtenances, mills and fisheries, was granted to Robert Hickman. 


Called also Quint or Quinchy, is in the barony of Bunratty, about five miles east of Ennis. An abbey was founded here early, which was consumed by fire, A. D. 1278.

The monastery of Quin for Franciscan friars was founded in 1402 by Sioda-Cam Macnamara, but father Wadding places it in the year 1350, yet at the same time he declares, that he thinks it more ancient.

Pope Eugenius the fourth granted a licence to Macnamara to place the friars of the strict observance in the monastery, which, as Wadding observes, was the first house of the Franciscan order in Ireland, that admitted of that reformation.

The same year Mac Cam Dall Macnamara, lord of Glancoilean, erected this monastery, being a beautiful strong buiding of black marble; his tomb is still remaining. This monastery, with all the manors, advowsons, &c. of Daveun wall, Ichanee, Downagour, and divers others, with the site of all the hereditaments thereof, was granted to Sir Turlogh O’Brien of Innishdyman (Innistymon) in fee, December 14, 1583.

The Roman Catholics repaired this monastery in 1604. Bishop Pococke thus describes its present state: "Quin is one of the finest and most entire monasteries, that I have seen in Ireland; it is situated on a fine stream with an ascent of several steps to the church; at the entrance one is suprized with the view of the high altar entire, and of an altar on each-side of the arch of the chancel. To the south is a chapel with three or four altars in it, and a very gothic figure in relief of some saint; on the north side of the chancel is a fine monument of the family of the Macnamaras of Rance, erected by the founder; on a stone by the high altar the name of Kennedye appears in large letters; in the middle, between the alt="" and chancel, is a fine tower built on the gable ends. The cloister is in the usual form with couplets of pillars, but is particular in having buttresses round it by way of ornament; there are apartments on three sides of it, the refectory, the dormitory, and another grand room to the north of the chancel, with a vaulted room under them all; to the north of the large room is a closet, which leads through a private way to a very strong round tower, the walls of which are near ten feet thick. In the front of the monastery is a building, which seems to have been an apartment for strangers, and to the south-west are two other buildings." It remains nearly in the same state as when the bishop wrote, but greatly disfigured by the superstitious custom of burying within the walls of churches. The south end, built by one of the family of Macnamara, is much superior in neatness of workmanship to the adjoining parts. There are the remains of a curious representation of a crucifixion in stucco on the wall near the high altar, that has escaped, I believe, the observation of all travellers. A pigeon-house, eel-weir, and good water, were amongst the comforts the good friars enjoyed at Quin. 


Near the western ocean. St. Cocca, nurse to St. Kieran, was abbess of a nunnery here, which is now wholly unknown.

 Shraduffe or Templedisert

On the 12th of March, 1611, the site of this abbey, and the possessions thereunto belonging were granted in fee to Sir Edward Fisher, knight; this is the only information we have, that there was a religious house here.


Called in Irish Abhuinn O’Gearna, from the river Gearna or Ougarnee, which runs from thence to the Shannon.

There was a chapel or vicarial house near to this town, which did belong to the Dominicans of Limerick, but of this there are now no remains. 


Anciently called Tuaimgraine, about a mile west of Lough Derg; an abbey was founded here early.

A. D. 735. Died the abbot St. Manchin.

747. Died the abbot Connell.

791. Died the abbot Cathnia O’Guary.

886. The abbey was plundered.

949. It received the same treatment.

964. Cormac O’Killeen, a man famous for his learning and good works, died this year; he was abbot of Tuaimgraine and of Roscommon; he was also both abbot and bishop of Clonmacnois, and built the church and steeple of this abbey.

1002. Died the abbot Dungal; he was the son of Beaon.

1027. Brien Boroimhe, the famous monarch of Ireland, repaired the steeple about this time.

1078. Died the abbot Cormac Hua Beain.

1084. O’Ruark of Breffiny reduced this abbey to ashes, but the fate he merited soon overtook him, for he fell by the troops of Thomond.

1164. This abbey was put into the same miserable state this year.

1170. It was plundered again about this time. Tomgraney is now a parish church in very bad repair, and in the gift of Mr. Brady of Raheens.

It has been generally remarked, that the land around old abbeys is generally very good; the cause is usually mistaken for the effect, for though the ground in some instances is naturally good, yet it is to a superior and long continued cultivation and manuring it is to be attributed; at the same time we may suppose the monks, like their brethren of every persuasion, had no aversion to the good things of this world.

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