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Termon Lands etc.

Before leaving the ecclesiastical divisions a word must be said about some of the lesser church properties such as the termons, or 'cross lands', of the old monastic houses. These too have added their own distinctive terminology to the lexicon of Irish land measures. The churchlands were invariably farmed by the coarbs of the ancient monasteries who claimed certain rights and exemptions for themselves and their tenants in right of their traditional dignity as successors of the founding saint and keepers of the relics of the church. And even after the churchlands were absorbed into the formal parishes in the reforms of medieval times, it was still necessary to preserve their boundaries since the termon tenants - they were sometimes called erenaghs - were required to pay an ecclesiastical rent to the bishop. The so-called Tau Cross on Roughan Hill beside the road from Killinaboy to Kilfenora is perhaps the most remarkable example of an ecclesiastical boundary mark in the entire country.

The Tau Cross
The Tau Cross

Subdivisions of churchlands were sometimes designated, not as quarters, as in the case of the 'civil' lands, but as columens (from the Latin columna=parallel lines or linear strips). In an agreement drawn up in 1568 between members of the coarb family of Dysert it is recorded that:

'. . . each freeholder of the sept or lineage of the O'Deas living on the eighteen columens (in Irish colúnach) of the sd. Termon of Dishert must come and build their own houses and keep their respective residences etc.

Again, in bishop Worth's account of the temporalities of the diocese of Killaloe in 1666 we find mention of the columna; this time in the phonetic disguise of cooleavnagh, and we are given some estimation of its extent:

'The lands of Killinaboy were anciently divided into 5 proportions, called Cooleavnagh, derived from "Columna", a column or proportion, each less than a particular quarter.

The collunach has given their names to the townlands called Cullenagh in the parishes of Kilraghtis, Killofin, Clooney and Quin and to Killeinagh in the parish of Clooney (Ennistymon).

The townlands of Aughrim Kelly (Cille i.e. of the church) and Aughrim Toohey (tuatha i.e. a layman) in the civil parish of Dysert are also of ecclesiastical derivation. They are so named to distinguish the churchlands (i.e. lands in 'ecclesiastical fee') from the lands in 'lay fee' (sometimes called the lands in 'rural fee'), over which the lay lord rather than the bishop exercised the right of ecclesiastical patronage. We can infer, therefore, that the tithe of Aughrim Toohey was in patronage of the local 'lord of the soil' who could assign it to a church or a priest of his choice subject to episcopal approval. (The unproductive [wood]lands of the quarter of Aughrim have probably given its name to the adjoining townland of Aughrim Ross.) In Bishop Rider's account of the temporalities of the see of Killaloe in 1615 the 'quarter of Aughrim' is shown as diocesan property. The townlands of Murroughtoohy North and Morroughtoohy South in the parish of Killonaghan, and Garraunatoohy in Kilmacduane parish must also be seen as having at one time constituted an ecclesiastical benefice of lay patronage. The townlands of Termon (Carron parish), Termon East and Termon West (Kilfearagh parish) take their names from the churchlands of St. Cronan and St. Senan respectively; while Erinagh More and Erinagh Beg in the civil parish of Dysert should probably also be regarded as deriving from an ancient columna. Finally, the townland of Bishopsquarter in Drumcreehy parish (Ballyvaughan) deserves a mention, if only for the reason that it rarely fails to excite the curiosity of tourists. As the name implies, the tithe of the quarter there was mensal to the bishop of Kilfenora. A return of the lands belonging to the see in 1629 puts it thus:

'Dromrahy containing two "cesses", of which the bishop held one quarter in demesne'.

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