The Churches of County Clare
By T. J. Westropp, M.A.
 Home | Search Library Catalogue | Search this Website | Copyright Notice
Clare County Library

Survey of the Churches

Diocese of Kilfenora

Barony of Burren

1. GLENINAGH, Sheet 2.—Parish church, 38 feet by 13 feet 4 inches. A plain rude building, with appointed south door, and lintelled south window. Round-headed east window. “Glaniednagh,” 1302.

2. DROMCREEHY, Sheet 2.—Parish church, 52 feet by 21 feet 6 inches. An early church, with large masonry, and finely built windows, probably of the eleventh century. The eastern is thickly ivied, the south has a well-made splay, and a semicircular moulded head. The north door is round-headed, and similar to the west doors of Quin and Abbeydorney, it is of the earlier fifteenth century. The west end has fallen, also the chancel arch. Founder doubtful. “Dromcruth,” 1302. The well is named Tobercore, and Colman is traditionally the patron. Description, R.S.A.I., 1900, p. 301.

3. OUGHTMAMA, Sheet 3.—Parish church. Nave and chancel, 45 by 21 feet, and 21 by 18 feet. The west door has inclined jambs and a massive lintel; the two south windows and the chancel arch have semicircular heads. In the south-west corner is set a font carved with two struggling animals. The semicircular head of the fallen east window is used by the peasantry to cure headaches. Founder uncertain; “the three Colmans” of this place are named without date. [108] The church dates before A.D. 1000. Descriptions, R. R. Brash, p. 16; M. Keane, p. 375; Lord Dunraven, I., p. 102; J. Frost, p. 25; T.J. Westropp, R.S.A.I. 1895. Monuments, several slabs, with defaced Irish inscriptions, lie in the chancel. The ruins are vested as National Monuments.

4. Same. A second oratory lies 27 feet east from the last, 24 by 15 feet. The west door and east window have semicircular heads. It probably dates from the eleventh century.

5. Same. A third oratory lies to the north-west of the other churches. Only the east gable remains, with a slit window, with plain splay and semicircular head.

6. CORCOMROE ABBEY, S. MARIA DE PETRA FERTILI OR DE VIRIDI SAXO.—Abbey Parish, Sheet 3. It consists of a cruciform church, with a richly-vaulted chancel roof and clustered columns. A small chapel lies to either side of the chancel. To the south of the church is a small cloister garth with buildings to the east. Two detached buildings lie to the south, and a gate-house to the west. The remains of a massive wall enclose an extensive park round the abbey. There is a well named Tobersheela. Most of the fabric of the abbey is of the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. Founder, Donaldmore O’Brien, King of Munster, c. A.D. 1180-1190. Monuments, Conor na Siudaine O’Brien, King of Thomond, slain in battle, 1268. A very perfect effigy. The figure of a bishop in full pontificals. A cross carved on a slab of yew. Descriptions, Dublin Penny Journal (illustration), 1833-1834; Guide to Lisdoonvarna, 1876; Report of the Board of Public Works, 1878, 1879, p. 72 (plan and good illustrations); Frost, p. 22; P.M.D. II., p. 275; T. J. Westropp, R.S.A.I., 1895 and 1900, p. 301 (all with illustrations). It is vested as a National Monument.

7. KILLONAGHAN, Sheet 4.—Parish church, 48 by 21 feet. The ruin has a well-built east window, with a semicircular head and external moulding; the other features are defaced. Probably c. 1080. Founder, Onchu, probably son of St. Blathmac; if so, c. A.D. 580. “Killonchan,” 1302.

8. CRUMLIN, Sheet 4.—Killonaghan Parish. Only the east gable and parts of the sides remain; the east and south windows have each got rudely arched semicircular heads in the splay, and semicircular heads cut in single blocks of stone in the light. Founder, according to tradition, St. Columba, who built it after leaving Aran; perhaps the present building is of the tenth century. “Cromglaon” (crom gleann), 1302, i.e., “crooked glen.” It was at that time a parish church.

9. RATHBORNEY, Sheet 5. — Parish church, 56 feet 6 inches by 21 feet. A late Gothic building, c. A.D. 1500, except the lower part of the east and north walls for about 5 feet high, which seem early Irish work. The east window richly moulded, divided by a shaft and transom into four lights, with trefoil heads and a flat hood. [109] South window has a single trefoil-headed light. Pointed south door richly moulded, with a broken double-oped stoup in the right jamb. Founder unknown. “Rayth,” in 1302. Some trace remains of the rath from which it is named, “the Rath of Burren,” it is included in the graveyard. There are some modern crosses of a very archaic type, with square head and arms, and expanding base. [110]

10. KILBRACT, Sheet 9. — Rathborney Parish, near Cahermacnaughten. The walls and gables remain thickly ivied. The name is preserved in the Book of Distribution, 1655.

East window, Rathbourney
East Window, Rathbourney
11. KILMOON, Sheet 21.—Parish church, 52 by 18 feet. Its featureless north wall, and the south-east angle, of large and very early masonry, with a plinth, remains. A carved corbel, with a bishop’s head, and the pier and corbel of an arched canopy over the altar, are alone of interest. A late fifteenth-century mortuary chapel, 24 feet by 20 feet, lies 5 feet from the south wall of the church. There is also a holy well (Tobermoon), with a tree and “cursing stones.” A plain pillar, called “the cross,” stands some distance to the east. Founder, perhaps Mogua (but the present form of the name is difficult). “Kilmugoun,” in 1302. Descriptions, O’Hanlon, vol. ii. (illustration), p. 180.

12. KILLEANY, Sheet 5.—Parish church. Nave, 34 feet 6 inches; chancel, 19 feet 2 inches long; and both 19 feet 2 inches wide. The east gable dates c. 1080, with a neatly moulded and splayed semicircular-headed window; the outer head has a draconic ornament. There is a projecting moulding under the window, like that at Manister Kieran, in Aranmore. The altar is extant. The other features of the church date from the fifteenth century, being a large pointed chancel arch, and several windows in the south and west gable; the south door is defaced, but was pointed. There are corbels for a gallery at the west end. In the graveyard, to the south-east, is a remarkable altar, 10 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 6 inches, of large and well-cut blocks, with many rounded “cursing stones.” The church is not far from the large stone fort of Cahercloggaun. Founder, St. Enda, of Aran, c. A.D. 500. “Killeny,” 1302. Description, O’Hanlon, III., page 915 (illustration), R.S.A.I., 1900.
East Window, Killeany
East Window, Killeany
This is of the type of those at Doora,
Dromcreehy, Kilcredaun, etc.

13. KILCORNEY, Sheet 9.—Parish church. Nave, 39 by 20 feet; and chancel, 16 feet 10 inches square. It is much defaced, and has fine old masonry, probably of the tenth century, and fragments of a decorated south door, and an east window of c. 1080; the head of the window has a human face and rich foliage, and is curiously recessed. There is a plain late font. Founder, uncertain. “Kilcorny,” 1302. Monuments, Comyn, 1714. Description, Keane, p. 368, R.S.A.I. (illustration), 1900.

14. KILCOLMANVARA, Sheet 9.—Kilcorney Parish. It was levelled before 1839. Founder uncertain.

15. NOUGHAVAL, Sheet 9.—Parish church. It is greatly overgrown. Nave and chancel, 53 feet by 21 feet 6 inches, and 28 by 21 feet. An early church with massive masonry, probably of the tenth century, but much repaired; the chancel arch has a semicircular head, and resembles that of Oughtmama and Dysert, being of finely cut blocks. The heads of the east and south windows appear to be ancient. There is a handsome pointed arched door, with a lintel and undercut ornaments, probably c. 1180, and some twelfth and sixteenth century windows. Founder, Mogua; [111] date and identity uncertain. Probably “the new chapel,” 1302. “Nua Conghabhaile,” “new monastery.” “Nuoghevaell,” 1584. Description, P.M.D., 1896, p. 238; R.S.A.I., 1900.
South Window, Noughaval
South Window, Noughaval
16. Same, O’DAVOREN’S CHAPEL, Sheet 9.—Noughaval Parish. A vaulted oratory, near to and south-east from the last, 20 by 12 feet. The windows are oblong and chamfered; the heavy barrel vault has nearly fallen. A tablet recorded the building by the Davorens in 1725. This and the pointed south door have disappeared since 1839. An ancient-looking Celtic cross is set through the slab of an open-air altar, near the west gable; the octagonal pier of a market cross stands to the north of the great church. On the ridge to the east of this church lie a fine series of prehistoric stone forts, cairns, cromlechs, and souterrains extending to Ballyganner south. [112] The well and holy tree of St. Mogua lie to the north-east of the church.

17. CARRAN, Sheet 9.—Parish church, 56 by 20 feet. A late building of c. 1500. There remain an east window, a single pointed slit, two south windows (one defaced, one with ogee head), a richly moulded, pointed south door, with a stoup in the right jamb; also three corbels at the east end of the north wall, which are carved with the faces of a king, a woman, and a warrior. The altar remains. The west gable had a bell chamber, and there is a machicolation at the north-west corner. South of the church is a small cairn, round which coffins are carried, and which probably gives the place its name. Founder unknown. “Carne,” 1302. Well of Tobermacreagh lies to south. Description of parish, Mason, III., p. 281.

18. KINALLIA, Sheet 6, Carran Parish. A small oratory, 16 by 12 feet, with a featureless west gable and fragments of the side walls; the sill of the north window remains. Not far to the north is a large bullaun in the natural rock, and beyond it a well and altar; on the latter are several round stones, and a flat stone with two long round-ended depressions. To the south-west on the slope, under the cliffs of Kinallia, is the saint’s cave, 15 by about 5 feet wide. Founder, St. Colman Mac Duach, c. 620: see his Life in Colgan. Description, Fahy, “Diocese of Kilmacduach,” pp. 65, 67.

19. TERMON CRONAN, Sheet 10.—Carran Parish, 21 feet 10 inches by 12 feet 10 inches. A most venerable oratory in excellent preservation. The east window has inclined jambs and lintels; lines of roundels are cut in each jamb. The west door is also lintelled, and has inclined jambs; several corbels carved with heads project from the gable. The north door is late and pointed. In the graveyard are two curious tombs of two slabs pitched together, with end pieces similar to those at Slane, Co. Meath. The base and shaft of a plain cross stand on the ridge to the north-west. Founder, Cronan; identity uncertain. Descriptions, Petrie, p. 184; Dunraven, I., pp. 105, 107.

East Window, Termon Cronan
West Door, Termon Cronan
East Window, Termon Cronan
West Door, Termon Cronan

20. SLADOO, Sheet 10.—Carran Parish. A rudely built late structure, all features destroyed; no trace of the alleged stone roof. Description, Handbook to Lisdoonvarna, “P.D.”

21. GLENCOLUMBCILLE, Sheet 10.—Carran Parish. A separate parish in 1580. A defaced fifteenth-century church, much ivied and overgrown. The “finger-marks” of St. Columba [113] appear on a rock near it. Founder, traditionally St. Columba, “Gleann Choluim Chille,” 1599 (Annals Four Masters). A separate parish, Glanecolmekill, 1584. Monument, O’Brien, 1753.

22. TEMPLELINE, Sheet 10.—Carran Parish. A rudely built late church, all the features destroyed.

Back to The Churches of County Clare:
Survey of the Churches
Back to County Clare Places:
Burren Barony