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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost

Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 9. Ui Fearmaic; Gleann Omra; Ui Bracain; Ui Floinn; Ui Ronghaile

Ui Fearmaic

Dysert parish; Church, Round Tower, Tombs, and Cross at Dysert

Although the name of this parish is not, strictly speaking of ecclesiastical origin, yet the term is scarcely ever dissociated from the name of some holy person who made the wilderness (Dysert) his home. Tola was the saint who founded his church here;[11] hence the place was called Dysert Tola, and in latter times Dysert O’Dea. Of St. Tola almost nothing is known but that he died on the 30th of March, 734. His church, as at present existing, is a ruin in good preservation, with a nave and choir, separated by a fine arch. The door in the south wall is a remarkable object, on account of its fine sculpture. Drawings of it appear in various works devoted to the illustration of Irish antiquities. A window in the west gable is also beautifully ornamented. In the north wall of the choir a monumental stone is inserted with the following inscription: “This tomb was erected by Michael O’Dea [12] of Disert, son of Conor Crone O’Dea, the second day of May, in the year of our Lord 1684, wherein was interred Joan Dea, alias Butler, wife of the said Michael O’Dea, the eleventh of November following. Est commune mori: mors nulli parcit: honori debi liset (?) fortis veneunt (?) ad funera mortis.”

Another tomb stone has this inscription: “Here lies the body of Honora MacNamara, wife of William Neylan Esquire; and the body of Celia O’Brien, the wife of Captain Daniel Nelan; [13] Celia dyed the 8th day of April, 1728.”

A few feet distant from the church is a ruined round tower, about sixty feet in height as it stands at present. One side of it has fallen to within twelve feet of the earth. Its door at top is circular, and is placed at a height of twelve feet, but a modern doorway has been opened at the level of the ground. [14]

On the east side of the church and round tower, at a distance of sixty yards, stands a cross, fixed in a pedestal, the height of both being about twelve feet. On the upper part of the cross there is a representation of the crucifixion, with the head of the Saviour movable and inserted in a hollow cut for it into the stone. On its shaft the figure of a bishop is carved in relief, with his pastoral staff in his left hand. The back and sides of the cross are carved in the most elaborate style of Irish interlaced work. The pedestal has the following inscription: “This cross was newly repaired by Michael O’Dea, son of Conor Crone O’Dea, in the year 1683.” At a little distance is found a well dedicated to St. Tola. It was at Dysert, that in 1318, the battle was fought between De Clare and the Irish, in which that nobleman was killed, his army routed and cut to pieces, and the power of the English in Thomond annihilated, so to remain for the subsequent two hundred and seventy years. About a mile to the east of Dysert church is a disused burying-ground called Mainister-na-stratha-dhubhé, i.e., the monastery of the black sward, and Cill Lionain. Dysert contains the remains of the castles of Dysert, belonging in 1580 to Daniel Maoel O’Dea, [15] and Ballygriffy, belonging to O’Griffy. [16]


Dysert Round Tower
Dysert Round Tower

Dysert Cross
Dysert Cross