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

Parish of Kilmacreehy (a)

                                                                                                              30th October 1839.

The Parish of Kilmacreehy, in the Barony of Corcumroe and Co. of Clare, is bounded on the north by the Parish of Killilagh, on the north east and east by the Parishes of Kilshanny and Kilmanahan, on the south by the Bay of Liscannor and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. See engraved Map of Down Survey.

The name of this Parish is of ecclesiastical origin, and pronounced by the inhabitants of the Parish, Cill-Mhic-Crithe, i.e., Saint Mac Crithe’s Church, but of this Saint I have no account unless he might be St. Mochta of Louth, who, I believe, was called by the alias name of Mac Cridhe, and whose festival was kept on the 11th of August. The Patron Day of this Parish was observed on the first Sunday in August, commonly called Domhnach-Chrom-Dubh.

The ruined Church of Mac Crithe stands on the north edge of the Bay of Liscannor, in the Townland of Leathchluain, and consists of nave and choir; the former, thirty nine feet seven inches long and twenty two feet five inches broad, the latter thirty five feet long and sixteen feet eleven inches broad; the walls in good preservation and two feet ten inches in thickness. The west gable has a broken belfry on its top. There is a pointed doorway in the south side at the distance of seven and a half feet from west gable, and measuring five feet eleven inches in height and three and a half feet in breadth. There is a square headed window a little to the east of the door, measuring four feet two inches in height and five feet eight inches in breadth on the inside and two feet nine inches in height and four inches in breadth on the outside. The choir arch is a pointed one measuring thirteen feet nine inches in breadth and about eighteen feet in height, built of plain stones intermixed with a few cut ones apparently of an older date than the building. There is a window in the south wall of the choir, at the distance of seventeen feet from the middle gable, six feet high and two feet nine inches wide on the inside, the arch formed of three cut stones hexagonally fashioned; three feet six inches in height and six inches in breadth on the outside, the arch semicircular, and the sides partly broken.
Pointed Niche in ruined Church of Mac Crithe
There is another smaller window or rather loophole between this and the east gable, but so much broken that its architectural features cannot be ascertained. Between these two windows is a pointed niche in the wall, built of very well cut stones, measuring seven feet seven inches in height, and five feet one inch in breadth.

This is surmounted by a head in stone dressed in a flat cap. There is a window in the east gable measuring eight feet nine inches in height, and four feet six inches in breadth on the inside, where it is semicircular at top, five feet eleven inches in height and one foot five inches wide on the outside, where it is divided into two curvilineally pointed compartments by a mullion. There is a niche in the north wall near this gable and opposite the niche on the south side, all in the pointed style but differing from the other somewhat in the design, measuring eight feet six inches in height and six feet six inches in breadth, surmounted by a mitred head. At the bottom of this niche is a stone extending from side to side of it, having an inscription in characters very new to me, and from this circumstance and the uncertainty of several of the letters occasioned by the action of the weather and other causes, beyond my power to copy with certainty. The following is a specimen of the characters and the beginning of the inscription :-

This is only half the inscription, and I hold myself accountable for the accuracy but of the first two words. There was an erroneous copy of this made some years since by a native seanchaidhe and a neighbouring surveyor, who, after they had done so, covered the stone with rubbish, bones, etc. Of this circumstance I had no knowledge when I went to the place, but being curious to see what might be at the bottom I removed the rubbish and discovered the thing anew. I did not examine the other niche but left it for Mr. Wakeman to do when he goes there. The monument on the north is popularly called Mac Crithe’s, the other St. Mainchin’s.

There is a small porch in front of the doorway, having a low semicircular headed door and a small pointed window. There is a vault attached to this porch, on the west, having a stone inserted in its south side, with the following inscription in plain characters:-

Here resteth Nick, whose fame no age can blot,
The Chief, Mc Donagh in old Heber’s lot (i.e. , in Leath Mhogha)
Who while on earth reviv’d ye antient fame
Of his own line and yt of all ye name.
His fixt religion was his action guide.
And as he lived beloved, lamented died.

Erected in the year of Our Lord God, 1745.

They shew a spot on the strand below the Church which they call Mac Crithen’s Bed, and his well lies a furlong to the north west, now neglected and unfrequented, though formerly in great repute for curing diseases of the eyes and other diseases.