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Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland 1845


Killaloe Town

KILLALOE, - A post, market, and episcopal town, in the parish of Killaloe, barony of Lower Tulla, co. Clare, Munster. It stands on the right bank of the Shannon, and at the intersection of the road from Limerick to Scariff with the north road from Dublin to Ennis, 4 miles north-north-east of O'Brien's-Bridge, 7 south-south-east of Scariff, 12 north-north-east of Limerick, and 85 west-south-west of Dublin.

General Description.]-The town stands on a hill-side, tufted with wood, and surrounded by beautifully shaped mountains; but in itself it has an old, poor, irregular, appearance. A bridge of 19 arches connects it with the suburb of BALLINA. The bridge had formerly a greater number of arches, but was deprived of some at the construction of the canal-works to connect Lough Derg with Limerick; and, while some of its existing arches are ancient, three or four in the centre, and of ample span, were built in 1825. The long lines of cabins which mainly constitute the town, are disposed partly along the higher slopes of the hill, and partly towards the new pier. Bridge-street extends 60 yards on a line with the bridge; High-street goes across the upper end of Bridge-street, and extends 210 or 220 yards some-what parallel with the river; the Green, a spacious triangular area of about 150 yards on each side, and edificed over all its outline, is situated at the head of High-street; Fish-lane, a street, or rather row of dwellings, extends 170 yards from a corner of the Green, so as to be nearly on a line with High-street, and nearly parallel with the river; the hotel, the cathedral, and the barrack, are situated within a space of about 500 square yards, chiefly unedificed, and lying immediately west of the river, and south of Bridge-street and the foot of High-street; Back-lane, a line of cabins 340 or 350 yards in length, extends westward from the barrack; the Marble-mills, the Graving-dock, the Slate-yard, and the Limerick-packet station, are situated south-east of the cathedral, and from 170 to 360 yards below the bridge; and the commencement of the Lough Derg and Limerick canal, the city of Dublin steam company's station, and that company's pier, dock, graving-dock, and marl-dock, are situated 700 yards above the bridge. The Killaloe rapids of the Shannon occur partly above the bridge, and partly on its site, but chiefly below it; and they achieve a fall of 21 feet within the distance of a mile, and produce at the site of the bridge the only natural ford upon the river, between Athlone and the ocean. The stream above the bridge is partitioned and segmented by numerous eel and salmon wiers; but below the bridge, it rolls over a ledge of rocks, and, in the time of floods, exhibits all the magnificence of a grandly voluminous cataract. The canal keeps close to the river over the whole distance of its vicinity to the town; and is spanned opposite the bridge, by a single arch. Two ruinous castlets of the ante-Tudor era, occupy two small islets at the ends of the bridge, and formed the ancient defences of so important a pass across the river. The Roman Catholic chapel is situated in the centre of 'The Green;' and is a new and incomplete structure, in a very plain pointed style. The cathedral, and other old ecclesiastical buildings of Killaloe, we shall notice in the words of Mr and Mrs. Hall, and under the sectional title of

Architectural Antiquities.]-"The old cathedral is a cruciform building, surmounted in the centre by a low massive tower. The style of this structure is of a mixed character; that predominant in it is the early Gothic, but portions of it in the Romanesque indicate a higher antiquity. The history of this building informs us that it was founded (it should be, reconstructed) in 1160, by Donald O'Brien, king of Thomond; but we also find amongst the few peaceable acts of his predecessor, Brian Boromh, that he caused the church of Killaloe to be repaired-that was 146 years earlier. These statements are verified by the present appearance of the building; portions of the old church of Brian may be found in the nave, where a highly ornamented Romanesque door remains closed up- ignorantly called by some Boromh's tomb. The lancet style of the rest of the building is at once referable to the age of Donald. The whole is about 200 feet in length, the span of the roof being 50 feet. The windows are narrow lancets, splayed inwards. That of the chancel consists of three lights, the centre being round-headed; those at each side are pointed; they are surmounted by a weather cornice; at the east end angles are two straight pilaster-like buttresses. The nave is a large, void, and naked-looking space, not used for service. The north transept has been converted into a school-house, under the stair in which lay, thrown from its pedestal, the old floridly ornamented font.-In the same enclosure with the cathedral stands a still more ancient stone-roofed church. It is considerably decayed, and sadly wants the friendly assistance of the renovator. Its high-pitched roof is covered with mosses, small ferns, and shrubs, which have inserted their roots between the interstices of the stones. The dimensions of this building are not large. At the west end is a round-headed door, now walled up. The arch, which is deeply moulded, rests upon two short columns, on the capitals of which are carved figures resembling those of a baboon and an elephant. Over this, near the apex of the gable, is a small round-headed window, narrower at the arch-spring than at the base. The eastern wall also possessed an opening, as if into some lesser internal building once annexed to it; but a Gothic pointed arch, now closed up, shows that it was not of the same antiquity as the rest of the building; above this, corresponding to the round-headed window of the western wall, is one of those ancient Pelasgic lancet windows found only in the round towers, and their immediate successors-the small, early, damhliags or stone churches.-On an island below the bridge, and in front of the episcopal grounds, is another stone-roofed church, which bears all the characteristics of a still higher antiquity. The stones with which it is constructed are of large size, fitted to each other in the cyclopic or polygonal manner. The door is framed of great stones, and covered in by a single lintel. It is broader at the base than at the head. To the antiquary, this building possesses, in its architectural details, a greater interest than the old church near the cathedral. It is considered to prove that, with the change of religion from paganism to Christianity, there was no change of architectural style."

Shannon Improvements.]-Killaloe is the connecting-link between the natural navigation of Lough Derg and the Upper Shannon, and the artificial navigation to the tidal and the estuarial Shannon at Limerick. The Shannon Navigation Commissioners' estimate for improvements over a distance of 85 miles above Killaloe, including costs of dredging machinery and of bridges at Banagher and Athlone, is 192,507; and their estimate for works at Killaloe itself amounted to 27,000. The chief of these works are the reduction of four arches at the Ballina end of the bridge; the substitution of these arches by three wider ones; the raising of the level of the bridge's parapet; the raising of the elevation of the road leading from the east end of the bridge; the reclamation from liability to inundation of bishop's lands lying between the river and the road to Scariff; and, chief of all, the construction of a wier, respecting which the Commissioners say: "At Killaloe, we propose to erect a wier across the river for the regulation of the waters as far as Meelick. A constant and regular water-power will thus be created, to which extensive and powerful machinery may be applied. In winter, or times of heavy rains, there will be an overflow adequate to the discharge of the superflous waters, so as to prevent the evils arising from the overflowing of vast tracts of land adjoining the river and lake, which are inundated during the whole of the winter months, and frequently during the autumn. The weir at Killaloe, according to calculation, will be of sufficient extent to prevent these heavy floods, and to keep the waters of the river from rising over its natural banks, though there may still be short periods when very high winds, blowing in certain directions over so large an expanse of water as Lough Derg, combined with a full river, may partially impede the discharge of the waters; but the extent of the evil, and its duration, will, even under those circumstances, be much reduced, and the greater part of the lands adjoining the river will be considerably improved."

Trade, &c.]-The Inland Steam Navigation company have their head-quarters at Killaloe; and they have recently fitted up a spacious hotel, and built new quays and extensive stores. The navigation hence to Limerick includes 29,160 feet of river and 45,764 feet of canal; its trackway is 15 British miles in length; and the number of its locks in 8 single and 3 double. In 1836, the total of passengers was 14,600; and the amount of tonnage and tolls of goods was respectively 36,018 tons and 1,514 2s. Two packet-boats for passengers ply daily; the one occupying 3 hours and the other 2. The former leaves Killaloe every morning at 7 o'clock for Limerick, and returns the same evening; and the latter leaves Limerick for Killaloe every morning at 6 o'clock, and returns every evening immediately on the arrival of the steamer at Killaloe. Passengers up the Shannon, either from Limerick or embarking at Killaloe, are conveyed by steam-vessels to the Grand Canal at Shannon harbour, and may proceed thence by the canal packets to Dublin. The slate quarries employ from 350 to 400 men, and annually produce from 7,000 to 10,000 tons of slates, worth 1 10s. per ton. The slates are conveyed on cars for co. Tipperary, Queen's co., and King's co.; and by boats on the Shannon Navigation and Grand and Royal Canals, for the markets respectively of Limerick and Clare, and of the centre of Ireland and the city of Dublin. Marble, brought from various places near and distant, by the Shannon Navigation, is sawed at an extensive mill, and forms an important article of trade. Manufactures of stuffs, camlets, and serges, formerly existed, but have become extinct. The wool trade is of comparatively noticeable extent; and the salmon and eel fisheries are valuable. Fairs are held on April 12, May 31, Sept. 3, and Oct. 20. A coach and a car run to Limerick; and a caravan and a mail-car run to Ennistymond and Milltown-Malbay. A dispensary in the town is within the Scariff Poor-law union, and serves for a pop. of 11,580; and, in 1839-40, its receipts and expenditure amounted to respectively 95 12s. and 107 18s. Area of the town, 6 acres. Pop., in 1831, 1,411; in 1841, 2,009. Houses 282. Families employed chiefly in agriculture, 128; in manufactures and trade, 183; in other pursuits, 78. Families dependent chiefly on property and professions, 17; on the directing of labour, 180; on their own manual labour, 162; on means not specified, 30.

History.]-Killaloe is proved by its architectural monuments to be a town of high antiquity; and it may, with fair probability, be regarded as one of the most ancient in Ireland. Yet the recorded incidents of its history are few and meagre; and those of an early date and ecclesiastical character, are ill-authenticated or even positively fabulous. An abbey is usually said to have been founded here about the end of the 6th century by a St. Lua, whom sober writers have no hesitation in pronouncing a fictitious personage. The name Kill-la-Lua, so far from implying the existence of such a saint, means the church or oratory upon the water, and seems to refer to the ancient ecclesiastical pile on the islet in the Shannon. The alleged original bishopric of Killaloe is pretended to have been founded by St. Lua, and to have been first occupied by a St. Flannan, who figures in monastic story, as the son of a king, and as a subject of consecration at Rome by Pope John IV. Other alleged bishops who followed figure under the names of Carmacan O'Muilcashel, O'Gernididar, Teig O'Teigs, and other uncouth sounds, which look as if they had been invented with the sole view of sporting an incontestably Milesian origin. The sees of Roscrea and Inniscattery, for which also an early foundation is claimed, are said to have been incorporated with the see of Killaloe toward the close of the 12th century. Terence O'Brien, the alleged 28th bishop in succession from St. Flannan, was, in 1460, murdered by Brien O'Brien. In 1752, the bishopric received the annexation of the see of Kilfenora; and by the act of 3 and 4 William IV., it received the annexation of the sees of Kilmacduagh and Clonfert. The civil history of the town is little more than a record of its various destructions and re-edifications; and successively, in 1061, 1080, 1116, 1154, and 1155, the town was burned. Yet Killaloe possesses great celebrity, in consequence of having been the virtual capital of the ancient royal O'Briens, and of having had in its vicinity the residence of the famous Brian Boromh and of many of both his ancestors and successors - KINCORA. In 1054, a bridge was erected across the Shannon at the town by Turlogh O'Brien. "We ascertain the materials of this bridge," say Mr. and Mrs. Hall, "from a mention of it in the Four Masters, at 1170, where it is called the 'Clar droichet Cilledalua,' the timber bridge of Killaloe. This did not outlast two centuries, as, in the begining of the 14th century, the passage was only known by its ford, then called Clarisford, from Thomas De Clare, who had obtained possessions in the east of Clare from one of the princes of Thomond. The power of the De Clares, however, was but temporary; for about 40 years afterwards, the victorious Morrogh O'Brien 'of the Ferns' resumed his authority over the place, and Killaloe became known again by its former denomination." The town continued till a late date to be an important military pass; and here, in 1691, Sarsfield intercepted the artillery of King William, on its way to aid the seige of Limerick.

The Diocese.]-The diocese of Killaloe comprises part of no fewer than six counties,- Clare, Tipperary, King's, Galway, Limerick, and Queen's. Dr. Beaufort, who estimated the entire area of the diocese at 628,500 Irish acres, assisgned 426,700 acres to co. Clare, 134,500 to co. Tipperary, 50,000 to King's co., 8,800 to co. Galway, 5,300 to co. Limerick, and 3,200 to Queen's co. The length of the diocese is 100 English miles; its breadth varies from 9 to 32 miles; and its area is 691, 447 acres, 1 rood, 37 perches. Pop., in 1831, 341, 385. Number of parishes, 109; of benefices, 66; of benefices consisting of single parishes, 34; of resident incumbents, 48. Tithe compositions connected with the benefices, 20,273 3s. 9d.; glebes, 1,297 17s. 11d. Gross income, 22,366 12s. 10d.; nett, 19,012 1s. 11d. Patron of 1 benefice, the Crown; of 50, the diocesan; of 4, incumbents; of 11, laymen and corporations. Appropriate tithes, 1,895 0s. 2d.; impropriate tithes, 3,976. Number of stipendiary curates, 27; amount of their salaries, 1,773 16s. 11d., exclusive of additional advantages enjoyed by six. Number of churches, 57; sittings 13,770. Cost of building 40, building and repairing 3, and enlarging 5, of the churches, 47,398 9s. 1d.,- of which 18,087 13s. 9d. was gifted by the late Board of First Fruits, 25,046 3s. 1d. was lent by that Board, 276 18s. 5d. was raised by private donation, and 3,987 13s. 10d. was raised by parochial assessment. Number of Protestant dissenting places of worship, 21; of Roman Catholic chapels, 111. In 1834, the population consisted of 19,149 Churchmen, 16 Presbyterians, 326 other Protestant dissenters, and 359,585 Roman Catholics;-one benefice contained not more than 20 Churchmen, 3 not more than 50 each, 8 not more than 100 each, 14 not more than 200 each, 16 not more than 500 each, 6 not more than 1,000 each, and 5 not more than 2,000 each;- 332 daily schools had on their books 13,679 boys, 8,491 girls, and 143 children whose sex was not specified, and 17 other daily schools were computed to be attended by 1,139 children; 252 of the schools were supported wholly by fees, and 97 wholly or partly by endowment or subscription; and of the latter, 13 were in connection with the National Board, 5 with the Association for Discountenancing Vice, 3 with the Fund of Erasmus Smith, 9 with the Kildare-street Society, and 14 with the London Hibernian Society.-The gross amount of episcopal revenue, upon an average of 3 years ending in 1831, was 3,739 2s. 1d.; and the nett amount was 3,240 4s. 8d. The dignitaries, with the gross amount of income attached to their several dignities, are the dean, 399 4s. 7d.,-the precentor, 169 14s. 9d.,-the chancellor, 235 5s.,-the treasurer, 208 5s. 3d.,-and the archdeacon, 1,035 7s. 8d.

The Roman Catholic dio. of Killaloe has no annexation. It is divided into 49 parishes, and has 48 parochial and 71 coadjutor clergymen. Its seat at a recent period was Birr, but is now Bunratty; and the bishop's residence is Deer Park, in the vicinity of Six-Mile-Bridge. The parishes, with their respective chapels, are Birr, with chapels at Birr and Carrig; Bourna, with three old chapels at places not named, and a new one at Cearaguneen; Borris-o'-Kane, at Borris-o'-Kane; Killarron, at Borris-o'-Kane, Ballingarry, and Eglish; Cooldern, at Cooldern; Six-Mile-Bridge, at Six-Mile-Bridge and Kilmurry; O'Gonello, at O'Gonello; Doonbeg, at Kildee, Lisdeen, and Doonbeg; Quin, at Quin and Clooney; Inagh, at Inagh and Kilnamona; Dysert, at Dysert and Ruan; Broadford, at Broadford, Glanamera, and Kilmore; Mountsea, at Mountsea and another locality; Tulla, at Tulla and Drunchary; Cloghardon, at Cloghardon and two other places; Carrigaholt, at Carrigaholt, Cross, and Donaha; Newmarket, at Newmarket, Kilmadeery, and Bunratty; Clonrush, at Clonrush and Mountshannon; Shinrone, at Shinrone and Bresna; Kilmichael, at Kilmichael and Coonclare; Killeen, at Killeen and Otway; Kilrush, at Kilrush, Killiny, and Mea; Kilmealy, at Inch, Kilmealy, and Incur; Doonas, at Doonas and Irnagh; Toomavara, at Toomavara and Grenagetown; Doora, at Doora and Kilrachtish; Crusheen, at Crusheen and Meelick; Newport, at Portroe; Feacle, at Feacle, Fluginvant, and two other places; Silvermines, at Silvermines; Milltown-Malbay, at Milltown and Mullagh; Dunkerrin, at Moneygall, Dunkerrin, and another place; Kilkeady, at Kilkeady and Tubbar; Nenagh, at Nenagh; Clare, at Clare and Ballycar; Ballinacally, at Ballinacally and Kilchrist; Roscrea, at Roscrea, and another place; Ennis, at Ennis; Scariff, at Scariff and another place; Kilmurry-Macmahon, at Kilmurry-Macmahon, and Rhine; Doorharra, at Youghal and Bruges; Castleconnel, at Castleconnel and Ahane; Kildysert, at Kildysert, Coolmeen, and another place; Lorrha, at Lorrha and Rathcavan; Toomgreary, at Toomgreary at Boedicke; Kilkissen, at Kilkissen, Oatfield, and O'Callaghan's Mills; Kenetty, at Kenetty, Layfort, and another place; Killaloe, at Killaloe, Garronboy, and Bridgetown; and Corrofin, at Corrofin, Kilnaboy, and Rath.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1845
Courtesy of Clare Local Studies Project

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