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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost

Part I. Topography of Thomond Chapter 8. Ui Cormaic; Ui Donghaile

Ui Cormaic

Clare Abbey Parish; Account of its Abbey

This parish has derived its name from a board, or rather boards, which, before the erection of the bridge, appear to have been laid across the river at the ancient ford of Clar-atha-da-charadh (ford of the two weirs). [17] At the time of the formation of Thomond into a county the English gave it the name of Clare, possibly from the circumstance that the place was a village and the principal residence of the Earl of Thomond.
Clare Abbey
Clare Abbey

Those who say that the county was named in 1576, from Sir Richard de Clare, forget that he was dead since 1318, and that he never really possessed any part of Thomond except what surrounded the Castle of Bunratty. Besides, the Four Masters distinctly assert (A.D. 1600), that Clare gives name to the county. In 1195 an abbey of Canons Regular of St. Augustine was founded there by Donald O’Brien, King of Limerick, and placed under the invocation of St. Peter and St. Paul. One Donatus was its first abbot. It was richly endowed by the founder. The charter of foundation was witnessed by M. Archbishop of Cashel; D. (Dermot) Bishop of Killaloe; A. Bishop of Fenabore; and B. Bishop of Limerick. [18]

A.D. 1461. Thady, Bishop of Killaloe, exemplified King Donald’s ancient charter in this monastery. [19]
A.D. 1543. King Henry VIII. granted the abbey to the Baron of Ibrickan, together with a moiety of the rectories of Kilchreest, Kilmaley, Kilmacduane, Ballinregdan, Ballylogheran, and Ballyligford. [20]
A.D. 1589. 14th January. Inquisition of this date finds that Sir Donald O’Brien, of Ennistymon, Knt., was seized in fee of a moiety of the tithes of this abbey: annual value, £6 13s. 4d. [21]
A.D. 1620. January 19th. This abbey was granted in fee to Donogh, Earl of Thomond, and a new grant confirming same was made 1st September, 1661 to Henry, Earl of Thomond. [22]

Clare abbey is still in good preservation, with a lofty square tower at the junction of the nave and choir.

In the townland of Killow, in Irish Cill-Lugha, is another church in good preservation, with a burial ground attached. Perhaps this St. Lugh is one of the Irish saints of that name who are venerated on the 16th of June and 1st of July. [23] Two castles existed in this parish, one at Clare, belonging in 1580 to the Earl of Thomond, and the other at Island Magrath, the property of MacGrath. No trace of the latter remains.