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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Killone (a)

                                                                                                              17th November 1839.

The Parish of Killone, in the Barony of Islands and central part of the Co. of Clare, is bounded on the north by the Parish of Drumcliff, on the east by the Parish of Clare Abbey, on the south by the Parish of Clondagad and on the west by the Parish of Drumcliff. See Name Book.

The name of this Parish is of ecclesiastical origin, meaning the Church of John the Baptist, as John in English makes Eoin in Irish, hence Cill-Eoin, the Church of John (the Baptist).

The following sketch of the history of this establishment, is from Archdall’s Monasticon Hib.:-

Killoen in the Barony of Islands.

About the year 1190 Donald O’Brien, King of Limerick, founded an Abbey here for nuns following the rule of St. Augustin, and dedicated it to St. John the Baptist (War. Mon.). Slaney, the daughter of Donogh Cairbreach 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. (Annals Muns. Lodge, V.I. p.251).

An Inquisition taken 15 May, 2 K. James, finds that King Henry VIII, 1 July XXXV of his reign, granted to Morogh, Earl of Thomond, this Abbey with three quarters and a half of land in this County with all the appurtenances viz., all the tithes in the Parish of Killoen and Kilnekelly, with 13s.4d. annual rent, two parts of the tithes of Inish and Clonrawde containing four quarters of land, two parts of the tithes between Bathes Clares, two parts of the tithes in the Parish of Clondagad and Rectory of Kilfiddan, two parts of the tithes of Kilmyhill and Kilrush, two parts of the tithes of Mourghy and the Rectory thereof containing four quarters of land, two parts of the tithes of Rathkerry and two parts of the tithes of two quarters of land near the Noulet (?) of Awne O’Garna in Ballyussin - Ch. Remem.

The ruins of this Abbey are of considerable extent, but possessing no characteristics requiring particular notice. The external face of the wall of the Church appears to be of greater antiquity than its internal surface, as if it had been lined for either beauty or strength. The floor at the east end is considerably elevated above the other parts on account of a vault of large dimensions underneath, accessible through a large pointed doorway, on a level with the ground outside, in the gable.

It stands on the northwest edge of a handsome, tho’ not large, lake, which the people here believe to be an enchanted lake and in which a fine town is seen every seventh year. There is a tradition still extant in this district respecting the O’Briens of Killeoin and this lake. On a certain time that O’Brien was out fishing on the lake, he perceived a beautiful woman, combing her hair, on its northern bank, and having cautiously stolen behind her he caught her in his arms and carried her home.

On examining her person when arrived home, he found that from her middle downwards she was like the tail of a large fish, whereupon he placed her in a crib to prevent her escape but ordered her to be well fed and attended to. In this condition she remained for some time, until one day, a fool who lived on O’Brien’s bounty took a notion that he could make her speak, and for that purpose he first opened the door of her crib, and then, taking a dish of boiling water, threw it at her, upon which she screamed most violently and piteously, ran out of the house towards the lake, uttering the following imprecations as she moved along:-

Filedhan bhradráin on sruith,
File gan fuil gan feoil,
Gur ba mar sin imtheochas siol mBriain,
Na ndeasacha fiadh as Chilleóin.

As the return of the salmon from the stream,
A return without blood or flesh,
May such be the departure of the O’Breins,
Like ears of wild corn from Killeoin.

This imprecation was fully heard (had its intended effect) for the O’Breins soon afterwards vanished from Killeoin and not one of the name ever since inherited it nor ever will.

There is a Holy Well dedicated to John the Baptist about two hundred yards east of the Abbey, at which devotions are sometimes performed.