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

Parish of Kilrush (a)

                                                                                                                            9th November 1839.

Dear Sir,
Leaving to Mr. Curry to write about the Parishes forming the south western extremity of the Co. of Clare, which comprises Carrigaholt and Dunaha, his native country, with which he is, of course, intimately acquainted, I next jump from Kilmurry Ibrickan to Kilrush.

The Parish of Kilrush is bounded on the north by the Parishes of Killard and Kilmacduane; on the east and southeast by the Parishes of Kilmurry and Killimer and on the south and west by the Shannon and an arm of it called Traigh an Earlamha (Iarla).

The name of this Parish is written Cill Rois in the Irish Calendar of the Four Masters under the 28th of January, where the Church is placed in the Termon of Inis Cathaigh. The meaning of the name is, the Church of the Ross, but whether Ross here means wood, or promontory, let the locality determine. In the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 1600, it is stated that O’Donnell plundered the district extending from Craig Ui Chiardubhain in the lower part (i.e., the part near the Shannon) of the cantred of the islands, to Cathair Murchadha in west Corca Bhaiscinn, and as far as the gates of Kilmurry (i.e., Clonderalaw Castle) and the Town of Rush (now certainly the Town of Kilrush). According to the Irish Calendar the Saints Mellan and Occobran were venerated at Cill Rois in the Termon of Inis Cathaigh on the 28th of January, but neither of them is now remembered in the Parish.

The old Church of Kilrush consists of nave and choir, the former measuring forty four feet in length and nineteen feet in breadth. The west gable is destroyed except a piece nine feet in height, in which is placed, at the distance of four feet ten inches from the south wall, a square doorway of great antiquity. It measures five feet seven inches in height from the present level of the ground, and in breadth two feet five inches at top and two feet six inches at bottom. It is covered at the top by a lintel stone which extends the whole thickness of the wall and projects two inches on the inside. This lintel is four feet long on the inside, and on the outside four feet nine inches long and eight inches in thickness. This doorway is carefully built up with cut stones, and another doorway of a different form and age broken on the south wall. This doorway is within about five feet of the west gable, and is constructed of cut limestone in the pointed style. In the same wall of the nave are two windows, quite destroyed.

The choir arch as it stands at present is pointed and all quite modern except the south side of it to the springing of the arch, which is constructed of chiselled brown grit stone, and evidently of the same age with the doorway in the west gable. The choir measures on the outside twenty three feet six inches in length and twenty two feet five inches in breadth. It seems quite modern and all its features are effaced.

In the Townland of Breaghva in this Parish is a burial place called Kill-Keevan, in which there was anciently a little Church dedicated to St. Caomhan of South Aran, but no part of it now remains.

In the Townland of Kilcarroll, a short distance to the east of Kilrush, is a burial place in which a Church, shown on the Down Survey, anciently stood, which was dedicated to a Saint Cearbhull; but I cannot find a Saint of this name in the Irish Calendar, and I incline to think that the Church was called after a layman like Gaulskill in the Co. of Kilkenny. There is however, a pile of stones and a Holy Well near the grave yard called after St. Cearbhull (pronounced Carroole).