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A Survey of Monuments of Archaeological and Historical Interest in the Barony of Bunratty Lower, Co. Clare by William Gerrard Ryan

Part 3: Pre-reformation church and monastic sites
Chapter 26: Killeely Parish (part of)

Cratloemoyle Church; Friary at Cratloe (site of); Saint John’s Well; Kilcredaunnadober and Moneenagliggin Graveyards


Nat. Grid. Ref: R513596; ½” Sheet 17

Photo 1: Cratloemoyle Church, from the south
Photo 1: Cratloemoyle Church, from the south

R.C. Parish : Cratloe
Townland : Cratloemoyle
6” O.S. Sheet number : 62 (Co. Clare)
Reference : 32.3 cm East; 21.4 cm North
Height (G.L.) : 34’ O.D.
1” O.S. Sheet number : 143 (Limerick)

For information relating to this site refer to: (a) site plan (b) site description (c) series of photographs on the site.

Plan of Cratloemoyle Church:

Cratloemoyle Church:
Up to the early summer of 1978 it was impossible to examine the features of this in any detail due to the presence of a heavy vegetation cover of, especially, ivy. However in that year the American-owned Roller Bearing Company (R.B.C.) which owns the land where the site is to be found, had the ivy covering cleared. At present (1979) ivy roots and branches of cut down trees cover much of the site’s interior. Hopefully these will be shortly removed thus making it possible to walk through and examine the site’s features without difficulty (photo 1).

The southern wall originally contained the entrance area but no trace of this has survived. An examination of the site plan will show a 4.0 metre wide gap in the wall to the south-west (photo 1). Presumably the doorway was originally here. A deal of collapse does occur in this immediate area but there is no evidence of cut stone suggesting traces of the doorway.

Four metres further east of this gap, also along the southern wall, part of the interior stone facing is gone, for a distance of 2.0 metres. A short distance beyond this, 1.30 metres, is the site of a damaged window. This was originally of a rectangular shape with a lintel on top. It had inclined jambs, making it 1.0 metre wide on the inside and 1.15 metres high but only .30 metre wide on the outside. The outer eastern facing to this window is gone, leaving only rough limestone pieces visible (see site plan and photo 2). This outer-facing damage, unfortunately, is not solely restricted to the area of the rectangular window but it continues to the opening next to it. Here there is a fluted basin of a Piscina in a good condition (photo 3) though the outer wall is, as stated above, quite damaged (see site plan and photo 2).
On average this southern wall is 3.50 metres in height and consists of limestone blocks (photo 1).

The eastern wall is 8.20 metres in length externally and contains the lower traces of a stone cut rectangular window (photo 4). Originally this had a central shaft but only the end part of it now may be noted on close examination. This window, which has inclined jambs (site plan) is 2.10 metres wide on the inside but only .50 metre wide on the outside. It survives to a height, with the upper part missing, of 1.47 metres and a cut stone depth of .15 metre. On the inside of this eastern wall is a niche. It begins 1.0 metre above ground level, it is .55 metre wide, .48 metre high and .47 metre deep.
The eastern wall, built on outcropping limestone, has an average height of 3.50 metres.

The northern wall, which is 19 metres long and 3.50 to 4.0 metres high on average, has part of its stone facing missing on the outside. It contains no windows or other features of interest.

The western wall, like the eastern one, is 8.20 metres long and contains trace of a small rectangular window at its centre. This is .50 metre wide, inside and out, .95 metre deep and .85 metres high. Originally it was defined by cut limestone but most of this is now gone (photo 5). This western wall averages 4.50 metres above the interior.

There are no graves associated with this church site which is very close to Cratloemoyle Tower House (see relevant 6” O.S. Sheet).

Date of Church:
Tradition states that this site was never a parish church probably hence the lack of a graveyard but rather was a chapel of the nearby Tower House. If this was so it would give the site a late fifteenth century date.

Westropp, 1900, does not give an actual date for the construction of this site but says: “…it appears to be a very late building…” (page 153).


Frost, 1893, page 12 (very general).
Westropp, 1900, page 153 (general).
Ordnance Survey Letters (1893) Volume 2, 1928 edition, pages 132 – 134 (O’Donovan).

Gives a general description of the site but with little extra information to that given above. Says the site was never a Parish Church but rather a Chapel of the nearby Castle.

Photo 2: Damaged nature of south wall, near the south-east corner
Photo 2: Damaged nature of south wall, near the south-east corner

Photo 3: Piscina in south wall of Cratloemoyle Church (Coin for scale)
Photo 3: Piscina in south wall of Cratloemoyle Church (Coin for scale)

Photo 4: East window, Cratloemoyle Church, from the inside
Photo 4: East window, Cratloemoyle Church, from the inside

Photo 5: West wall, Cratloemoyle Church, from the outside
Photo 5: West wall, Cratloemoyle Church, from the outside

Friary at Cratloe, (site of);
Cratloe Townland; Co. Clare 6” O.S. Sheet number 62; Reference – 24.9 cm North; 43.6 cm East; at 30’ O.D.

Field examination failed to find any trace of this friary. Its site is known locally and consisted of an area of level land a short distance above the highest point reached by the spring tides prior to the construction, in the nineteenth century, of embankments along the Shannon. I have only been able to come across one brief reference to the site:

“…In the lawn of Cratloe House there stood, about thirty years ago (c. 1860) a ruin called the Friary but to what order of monks it belonged is unknown. It was removed by the late Augustus Stafford O’Brien, M.P., because it interfered with the view from his windows.” (Frost, 1893, page 13).

Holy Well: Saint John’s Well
Cratloemoyle Townland; Co. Clare 6” sheet number 62; Reference; 18.7 cm North; 33.3 cm East; at 50’ O.D.

1. Kilcredaunnadober Graveyard (Disused).

Cratloe Townland; Co. Clare 6” Sheet number 62; Reference – 23.4 cm North; 39.6 cm East; at 30’ O.D.
Westropp feels that there was originally a church site here, no trace of which now remains. (1900, page 153).

One of the problems we are faced with in relation to Killeely Civil Parish is that the site of the pre-Reformation Parish Church is now unknown. We have already stated that Cratloemoyle Church was a chapel of the nearby Tower House and not a parish church as such.

Could we suggest that, perhaps, the old parish church was on the site of the graveyard under discussion? Certainly there has been a tradition of burials here going back many centuries. Perhaps this site is used because it formerly contained a church and is therefore consecrated ground.

2. Moneenagliggin Graveyard (Disused)

Moneenagliggin South Townland; Co. Clare 6” O.S. Sheet number 62; Reference; 5.7 cm North; 16.3 cm East; at 140’ O.D.

“…In the townland of Moneenagliggin (i.e. little bog of the skulls) in this parish (i.e. Killeely) there is a small burial ground of the same name but it does not appear that there ever was a church at the place…” (Ordnance Survey Letters, Volume 2, 1928 edition, page 133).

(See also Westropp, 1900, pages 172 and 173).