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

Parish of St. Patrick’s (Kilquan) (a)

This Parish is now usually called St. Patrick’s, but it was never so called till after the erection of the new Protestant Church which appears to have been dedicated to that great Protestant Saint Patrick, about whom we know so little. It is usually called Parteen Parish by the Roman Catholics from the situation of their Parish Chapel in a Townland of that name, but in the Down Survey it is called Kilquan and this should be, in my opinion, adopted on the Ordnance Map. The name signifies the Church of St. Cuan, but nothing remains to prove which of the many Saints of that name its original Patron was.

It is called Kilchwayn in the College List of the Parishes in the Co. of Clare.

The old Church called Kilquan (Cill Chuain) is situated on the brink (margin) of the Shannon in a Townland now called Church Land, but originally, no doubt, Fearann Cille Chuain, i.e., the Land of the Church of Kilquan. It measures on the inside thirty six feet six inches in length and seventeen feet six inches in breath. The walls are built of large blackish limestones not hammered nor laid in regular courses. The side walls are twelve feet high and three feet thick. The west gable is in good preservation but featureless; the south wall contains a doorway placed at the distance of eleven feet from the west gable and measuring in breath five feet three inches, but its height cannot be ascertained as the top is destroyed. It is constructed of large quarried stones, which were neither hammered nor chiselled. There is a breach in this wall towards the east gable of ten feet in length (extent), the part in which the window was placed. The east gable contains a window, but it is so completely curtained and filled with strong ivy that its form could not be seen. The north wall is featureless and is destroyed to the extent of nine feet.

Outside the east gable is the tomb of Mac Adam who pointed out to King William’s army where they could ford the Shannon to attack the City of Limerick on the north side. When the forces of King William discovered the ford they fixed a chain across the Shannon by the assistance of which the soldiers were enabled to wade across with safety. The rock to which one extremity of this chain was fastened on the north side of the Shannon is still pointed out and called Carraig a tSlabhra, i.e., the Rock of the Chain. Mac Adam was a fisherman but it is said that he was handsomely rewarded for communicating his topographical information to King William. His tomb is inscribed as follows: “Here lieth the body of Philip Mac Adam deceased June 24th 1729, aged 33 years, by whose derection this tomb was erected in memory of his father, Philip Mac Adam deceased Novr. 26th 1700, and his mother Elenor deceased June 8th 1708”.

Some pious people sometimes offer a few prayers at this tomb but not for the good of the soule of Philip who died in 1700, he being the man who (wot) “sold the pass.”

There are two ruins of castles in this Parish, one in the Townland of Drummin which is said to have been erected by Finneen Mac Namara about the year 1579. Only sixteen feet of the height of its walls remain. The other in the Townland of Parteen and called Caisleán na Coran i.e., the Castle of the Fishing Weir. Its erection is ascribed by tradition to the Friars of Limerick. I do not find either of these Castles set down in the College List and I incline to think that they were both erected since that list was written.

The writing of small names into the Field Name Books is wasting my vigor. If the labour cannot be lightened I must sooner or later sink under it.

                                                                             J. O’D.
                                                                             Monday night 12 o’clock, Dec. 9th 1839.

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Fell sick in March 1840 and remained sick for more than 15 days but was not allowed one penny while sick. Why did I work till 12 o’clock for six years previously? i.e., double the agreed time. April 20th 1840.