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Bodyke (Lúbán Díge)
ITA Survey 1942/3
Headstone Inscriptions for Bodyke Church
Headstone Inscriptions for Kilnoe Graveyard
Nestled in the foothills of the Sliabh Aughty mountains, Bodyke is rich in culture and heritage. It is a village which changed the course of Irish history in the 1880's when the Bodyke evictions became headline news. The name Bodyke may have come from "Both-Teig" (Teig's hut), according to T.J. Westropp. The contemporary Irish form is Luban Dige but this seems to be a modern translation of the English form of the name.
The present parish of Bodyke consists of the combined medieval parish of Kilnoe and the southern area of the medieval parish of Tuamgraney. There is uncertainty as to the date of this amalgamation, it possibly occurred in the early eighteenth century.
Kilconnell is situated within the boundaries of the ancient territory of Hy-Ronghaile or Tuath O' Ronghaile which featured prominently in the "Wars of Turlough". There is little doubt that this region served as a war theatre during the conflict between the O'Briens and Richard de Clare in 1315. The place now known as Kilconnell in the townland of Ballinahinch was the scene of at least one Irish-Norman encounter according to the traditions of the area. In 1839 Eugene O'Curry mentioned that "Kilconnell is the name of a pretty oval hill on the top of which is a ruined low circular entrenchment. The place is now under cultivation, but some few years ago when it was being dug up and cleared away, great quantities of human bones were turned up from under the soil, some having been covered by large stones". He continued to relate: "There is a mound between Loughannaloon and Lough Bridget in the same locality, which they say was an attempt formerly made by an English army, who were encamped here, to defend themselves from an Irish army who were encamped at Toomguine, but having been surprised by the enemy they were compelled to fly to their camp where they were pursued and a dreadful battle ensued in which the English were worsted and the greater part of them put to the sword. They were all buried on the top of the adjoining hill now called Kilconnell, and the ditch or mound raised on that occasion retains the name of Claidh na nGall, i.e. the ditch of the English".
In the 1500's and 1600's common surnames in the area included Clancy, MacNamara, O'Halloran and Moloney. Many of these Gaelic families lost their lands during the Cromwellian Plantation in the 1650's. They were replaced by names such as Bourkes and O'Callaghans.
Despite the Penal laws during the 1700's it seems that religious practice in Bodyke was not unduly effected. Tradition has it that in the early eighteenth century Fr. Daniel MacNamara had a hiding place near Lisbarren Bog. There was a cottage chapel on the hill in Lisbarren overlooking Coolready Lake. The pathway from the chapel to the hiding place is called "Casan an t-Sagairt".
Samuel Lewis writing in 1837 tells us that "Fairs are held at Bodike on Jan. 1st, April 2nd, July 1st, and Oct. 5th".
The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption was originally built in 1844. The roof was replaced about a hundred years later using a donation from Mary Burke, a local woman who had emigrated to the U.S.A. Prior to 1844 an older chapel with the traditional thatched roof existed in the village. An incident which occurred here in 1828 was reported in the Ennis Chronicle. It related to Daniel O'Connell's election campaign: "Some of the zealous advocates of Civil and Religious liberty tore the pew of Mr. George Sampson of Clonmoher, out of the chapel of Bowdike, in the parish of Kilnoe and burned it outside the door, avowedly because he presumed to think for himself and vote for Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald".
The Sampson family are thought to have funded a large part of the construction costs of the 1844 church. The church had a mud floor which existed until the 1900's. Following the construction of the 1844 church the old church was used as a school. It was in use until 1881 when a new school was built.
In 1903 the Parish Priest installed the Stations of the Cross in the church. Some years later Canon MacNamara donated the carved oak altar and font. In 1989 a £120,000 renovation job was unveiled. The scheme was funded entirely by local contributions.
Today, Bodyke is a quiet, peaceful and comfortable village and has an active Community Development Association. The East Clare Golf Club at Coolreagh in Bodyke was officially opened in 1995. In 1998 it played host to a prestigious golfing event, the inaugural West of Ireland Seniors, a tour event on the European Seniors Circuit.
Bodyke is the home parish of novelist, Edna O'Brien and family historian, Dr. Edward MacLysaght.