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Clare Places: Towns & Villages
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Feakle, or "paroiste na fiacaile", apparently means the parish of the tooth. There was a legend that the tooth of the patron saint, Mochonna, fell out at the spot on which he afterwards erected his church. Another theory is that Feakle got its name from the roof of an early church which was covered with "fiathgail" or rough grass which grew in the area and the church became known as "Teampall na Fiathgail". A further explanation is that it is derived from "Fia-Choill", the wood of the deer. Others suggest that there was a gap in the woods which was in the shape of a tooth.
St. Mochonna is venerated as the patron saint of Feakle but, as there were eleven saints of that name in the Irish calendars, it is now impossible to know which one was the saint in question. His old church, which stood in the village of Feakle in 1780 when Brian Merriman wrote "Cuirt an Mheadhoin Oiche", was destroyed to make way for the building of a more modern Protestant church in 1823.
Feakle Parish was described by Samuel Lewis in 1837 as the largest in the county, comprising "about 30,000 statute acres, of which two-fifths consist of arable and pasture land, and the remainder, with the exception of 300 acres of woodland, is coarse mountain pasture, waste and bog, a large portion of which is improvable. It presents, throughout, a succession of mountain and valley, extending to the confines of the county of Limerick, and includes the extensive and picturesque lake called Lough Graney, or "the lake of the sun", situated nearly in its centre. Prior to the year 1828 there was scarcely a road on which a wheel carriage could be used; but through the spirited exertions of Jas. Moloney, Esq., of Kiltannan, excellent roads have been constructed, partly by the Board of Public Works and partly by the county; and this district now has a direct communication with Limerick, Gort, Ennis, Killaloe and Loughrea. These roads encompass three sides of Lough Graney, the banks of which are in several places finely planted".
Geographically, the area is still very much as Lewis described it. He continued: "A beautiful river flows from this lake, which is eighteen feet above the level of the Shannon, through Lough OGrady, at the south-eastern extremity and partly within the limits of the parish, and falls into the Shannon at Scariff Bay". Two years later John ODonovan described the parish as a "wild and extensive one which embraces a vast tract of the celebrated mountain of Sliabh Echtghe".
Today Feakle is a small pleasant village particularly popular with anglers and sportsmen, situated as it is within a region of lakes, rivers, mountains, moorland and deep sheltered valleys. It is steeped in the tradition of Irish music. Sons of Feakle, like Dr. Bill Loughnane, P.J. Hayes and Martin Hayes have distinguished themselves in the famed Tulla ceili band. The annual Feakle Festival is growing in popularity every year. It covers every aspect of traditional music.
The passion for hurling stretches back to the G.A.A.s foundation. All-Ireland medals, All-Stars, National League titles and county championships have found a home here. Feakles Ger Loughnane managed the Clare hurling team who won the All-Ireland in 1995 after a lapse of eighty one years. That success was repeated in 1997.
Fr. Harry Bohan, a native of Feakle and leader of the Shannon based Rural Resource Ltd., has championed the campaign to save rural Ireland and his native village was the first location for the scheme of houses under the Rural Housing Organisation programme. The programme spread to different parts of Clare and to other counties.