Ecclesiastical Townland Names of West Clare

Notes on the Ecclesiastical Townland names of West Clare

By Donal De Barra, 2018

This article was initially part of the Analysis of West Clare Townland Names -here- but has now been separated out because it was getting a bit unwieldy. The original purpose was to analyse the townland names by the various elements contained within them and to examine any further background information which might help such analysis. This ecclesiastical section is now a separate article.

For this purpose West Clare is taken to be the four baronies of Moyarta, Clonderlaw, Islands and Ibrickan, as shown on this Map Within the four baronies are 20 parishes and 583 townlands. In the analysis, 6 parish names have been added where there is not an synonymous townland. The town of Ennis is included but the parishes of Inagh and Kilnamona, being in the barony of Inchiquin are excluded, even though they are more westerly than Ennis.

I am dealing below with Townland and Parish names of obvious ecclesiastical origin only, there are other ecclesiastical placenames which are not covered because they are not the official (Ordnance Survey) name of a townland or parish.

I have distinguished between Cill, a church and Coill, a wood, on the basis that if there was, on the original O.S. 6” map (1842), a church, graveyard or cillín (a burial place for persons not known to have been baptized) in the townland then the likelihood is that a church is implied. Many of the churches have personal names attached to them and this may be the name of the founder or the founder may have been a devotee of that saint. They were not, for the most part, formal monasteries, nor were the ascetics formal saints of the church  but rather hermits, who sought their ‘deserts’ in the wilderness of West Clare before the clearing of the woodlands[1],  and before the establishment of the parish structure which commenced with the Synod of Ráth Breasail in A.D.1111. Some placenames reflect this asceticism – Killadysert and Dysert (Kilmihil parish), also  Islandavanna, Island of the monk(s) and Inishdea, God’s Island (Kilchreest)[2].  Scattery (Inis cathaigh) was, of course, the base of Saint Senan, (b. 488) who may have started as an ascetic on his island sanctuary but went on to greater things, and his sanctuary may have been reflected in the two places called Tearmon, sanctuary, (Kilfearagh and Killimer) and possibly delineated by Cree, Críoch, boundary (Kilmacduane) and Carncreagh (Kilmurry Ibrickan).

Cluain -  The basic meaning of ‘Cluain’ is meadow or pasture but often the name had strong ecclesiastical implications (Clonfert, Clonmacnoise, etc.) and probably referred to a woodland clearing by ascetic monks, especially in wet or marshy land. It has not been treated as a an ecclesiastical placename for the purpose of these notes.

It is important to emphasise that there are other ecclesiastical sites in West Clare and this article deals only with those that have an ecclesiastical reference in the townland name.

Ballynacallysee Carrowkilla.

Canon Island (Killadysert). This Augustinian Abbey is believed to have been founded by Dónal Mór O’Brien, c. 1189. It is quite possible that it was built on the site of an earlier hermitage but no information is available on this, the holy well adjacent to the monastery being called simply Tobbermanastragh, well of the monastery.
There are substantial ruins of abbey on the island.
Photos here

Carrowkilla (Kilchreest). This townland includes Kilchreest, church of Christ, but there is no  information on the founder. It is adjacent to Knocksagart - Hill of the Priest, Cloonakilla - Meadow or clearing of the church, Ballynacally – Homestead of the nuns, Innishdea – God’s Island, and two local holy wells dedicated to St Martin, who is mentioned in the life of St. Senan as having miraculously visited Senan at the hour of his death[3]. Seven cillíní have been identified in the surrounding area by Mary Hester[4], all together, indicating very strong medieval religious connections for the entire area.
The stone church at Kilchreest still stands in good repair, missing only the roof.
Photos here
Photos of Kylea here

Clare Abbey – parish and townland - the ecclesiastical origin of the name is obvious. The foundation charter for the Abbey has been dealt with my Michael Mac Mahon and Marie Therese Flanagan. The Abbey appears to have been built on a site known earlier as Kimony, but the meaning of this name is not clear.
Photos of the Abbey here

Cloonakilla (Kilmihil), suggests the meaning Meadow or clearing of the church but there are no remains shown on the early maps, the nearest being in the adjacent Castlepark townland and this latter being in English and referring to a relatively recent towerhouse, may be an indication that it is a late subdivision  from Cloonakilla and that the Castlepark graveyard is a present manifestation of an earlier church, giving name to Cloonakilla. The Castlepark graveyard is named Lisbaun on the OS Map and seems to be the same as that referred to by Gaynor as Kilbaun[5].
Photo of the small graveyard at Lisbaun here.

Dysert (Killimer) The name implies a desert or hermitage but there are no archaeological remains in the townland, nor any other information about the nature of this hermitage

Farrihy (Kilfearagh) the usual meaning of this word is a diocese or ecclesiastical district, but there is just a graveyard there now to reflect ancient ecclesiastical activity. The OS namebook says that it was a burying place for children and strangers. A well dedicated to St Brendan is also shown nearby on the old OS maps but it is no longer extant. Perhaps the name is intended to signify watching or lookout  - it is situated on a hill with a fine prospect of the sea.
There is nothing to indicate the antiquity or otherwise of the present Farrihy graveyard except possibly the difficulty of access through remote boreens.
Photo of present graveyard here

Inishloe – see Killadysert.

Innishdea – See Carrowkilla. There are no ecclesiastical remains indicated for the townland.

Islandavanna – An island in the upper Fergus estuary. offers the meaning Island of Vanna but with no explanation of ‘Vanna’. Island of the monk is also possible, although there are no ecclesiastical remains.

Kilballyowen, The Church of Eoghan’s Homestead. O hÓgáin refers to it as Cill Baile Uí Eoghain[6] so it is not clear whether Eoghan is a reference to a clan or a saint, as in Kilone (see below). There were a number of Irish saints with the name Eoghan but O Riain make no connection with any of them to Clare, except, possibly an indirect connection to Colum Cille and Earnán – see Killernan below and a suggestion that Bishop Earc was the father of Eoghan of Ardstraw[7] - see Killerk below. Eoghan is also named as one of the sons (disciples) of Fionnmhaith inghen Bháedh in the Poems on St Senan– see Appendix 2.
A substantial stone church ruin still stands, missing little but the roof.
Photos here

Kilcarroll (Kilrush). There are a number of references to Carroll in the Miracles and Poems of St Senan. including: “O’Cairill, a priest of Scattery”[8]and “Cairell will come, venerable the champion, across the brine from Aran without fail”[9] Cairill is also named as one of the sons (disciples) of Fionnmhaith inghen Bháedh in the Poems on St Senan– see Appendix 2.
Westropp says “Carrol of Kilcarroll, near Kilrush, where his well, “laght” and wooden image remained in 1816”[10] Presumably Westropp derived his information from Mason’s Parochial Survey (1814) which states “In most places, however, as well as in Kilcarrol, early cultivation has made good ground; and monks have often converted barren ground and wild spots into fruitful gardens and luxuriant meadows. In this old church are the remains of a worm-eaten wooden image, held in the greatest veneration by the peasantry; and near the church is a circular mound of earth and stone, from the top of which, tradition says, St Carrol preached.”[11]
There is no visible trace of the church today and the holy well is inaccessible but the well and ‘Laghtcarroll’ are clearly indicated on the 25” O.S. map prepared about 1912.
Photo of the graveyard here

Kilcasheen (Moyarta). Casheen is also written Cassidan and according to the Life of Senan, he, Senan    received the “tonsure” (ordination) “from Cassidan, who had a church in the district of Urrais”. “Of the Ciarraige Cuirchi was this Cassidan. Then Senán reads his psalms and his ecclesiastical discipline with Cassidan.”[12] Irros or Urrais was a medieval name for the Loop Head Penninsula and Ciarraige Chuirche is represented by the cantred and present barony of Kerrycurrihy which bounds the western shore of Cork Harbour[13]. The Life further tells us that when his death was imminent Senan “goes and makes prayer at Cassidan's relics, and comes back till he reaches the thorn which is in the wood to the west of Cell Eochaille.” where Senan died and  “on the morrow, out of the island for Senan's body came his household, even Odrán and Mac Inill, and bishop Iuil, and bishop Mula, (and) Segda son of Baeth, and the other saints; and they buried Senan's body with honour and great reverence, and angels carried his soul to the eternal rest in the union of the holy Trinity and heaven's household“[14] . Cell Eochaille is identified with Killnagalliagh.[15]
The Kilcasheen cillín can still be seen, behind Moveen school, with a number of full size grave flags, but very overgrown.
Photos here.

Kilchreest – see Carrowkilla

Kilclehaun (Kilmurry Ib.) Church of Clehaun, is variously spelt Killcolyheaine and Kilculhan in 17th century documents[16] but there is no known saint by any of these spellings. A holy well and small graveyard are all that now remain of the presumed site of his church. There is no other record of him unless the vague possibility that his name is a corruption of Coimgheall, an alternative spelling of Comhgall, who figures in the Poems of St Senan[17]. Comhghall also had connection to the Uí Báirrche and that tribe are connected to Kilmurry Ibrickan, (see below) the parish in which Kilclehaun stands.
According to the Schools Folklore the Kilclehaun well is dedicated to St. Patrick[18]
There was a nunnery in Waterford called Kilculliheen or Kilcloheen  - “In 1151, Dermot Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, founded a nunnery here as a cell to that of St. Mary de Hogges, near Dublin”[19]
An enclosing wall was built in recent years and the graveyard was ‘cleaned up’.
Photos here

Kilcloher there are two townlands of this name in our selected area (Kilballyowen and Kilmaley). O Donovan suggested that both should be translated ‘sheltering wood’,[20] however both townlands have ancient burial grounds and so I interpret the Cill to have been a church/hermitage originally. The second part of the name may be read as ‘cluthar’ or ‘clochar’ both of which  being derived from ‘cloch’ – stone can be translated as ‘stony’ and by extension ‘sheltered’ and ‘a convent’[21]. If the later, there is no record of who might have convened in the convent.
In Kilcloher, Kilballyowen there are substantial ground markings at the location of the cillín, though no grave markers are evident. The O.S. 6” map shows a well dedicated to St Senan, at a short distance, on the seashore. There is an unusual erosion pattern here, where a streamlet enters the sea, but no actual well.
Photos of the cillín and well site here.
Neither of the Kilcloher cillíns at Kilballyowen nor Kilmaley are, at present either sheltered or stony, both being on or near the top of open grassy hills, but these may have been in sheltering forest in earlier times and nearby the Kilballyowen site there is an exposed bedrock face. There are substantial ground markings to indicate the location of both of the cillíns. The Kilmaley site has a ringfort attached to it.
Photos of the Kilmaley site here.

Kilcolumb (Kilmaley) Church of Colum. There are numerous saints of this name but many appear to be ‘localisations’ of Colum Cille of Iona according to O’Riain[22], who also says that according to tradition Eithne, Colum Cille’s mother was of the family of Corbraighe which may have had connections with the Uí Bairrche[23] (see Kilfarboy and Killernan below). See also Killernan below.
I have found no present-day trace of this cillín, but it is indicated on the O.S. maps of 1942 & 1912.

Kilcorcoran (Kilfarboy) – Church of Corcráin. Ó Huidhrín, in his topographical poem refers to “Ó Maoil Chorcra fá chlú mear” –  “O’Maolcorcra of fast fame”[24] – so presumably devotees of St. Corcoran still ruled in Ibrickan about 1420 when O Huidhrín died.[25] O Riain does not admit any saint of this name.
O Curry quotes Edward O Reilly, in reference to the year 1024 A.D. “Cuan O Lochain was made joint regent of Ireland with Corcran ‘Cleirech’ (or ‘the clergyman’) after the death of Maolsechlainn”[26] and Lanigan expands on this to say that “Corcran is said to have become an anchoret, and to have died at Lismore in 1040.”[27] but he casts some doubt on the authority for this.
In the Poems of St Senan, in poem 3 stanza 9 Senan refers to “mo chair e, mo chorcrána” which seems to be a reference to his friend Corcráin,[28]  and there is a further reference to Maol Chorghais as one of the sons (disciples) of Fionnmhaith inghen Bháedh – see Appendix 2.
There are gravestones and possible indications of the church location on the ground and there is a holy well nearby.
Photos here

Kilcredaun (Moyarta) “Sancte Cridan” is named (following the name of St Senan) in a recently discovered litany, a fragment of a medieval manuscript. This Litany appears to have been composed by a monk of the Benedictine monastery  of Regensburg in south Germany, founded in the 12th century. It is likely that the author had strong Clare connections, as a number of  saints with connection to Clare – Columba, Brandane, Kiarane, Cronane, Muolua, Senane, Cridán, Flannane, Muchulle and Lacteane (all given here as spelled in the manuscript) are named in the litany among other Irish and many German saints.[29]  
Henry Blake, a seanchie from Kilbaha, as recorded by Breandán Ó Cíobháin (1965), believed that Cridán, Cuán (see Kilquane and Killtrellig below) and Cróna were brothers.[30]There is another townland of the same name in O Briensbridge parish, in east Clare.
There are substantial remains of 2 small, stone churches on Kilcredaun point, that on the high ground is called Templeanard, Church on the height, and the other as Creadaun’s church. Creadaun’s holy well is indicated at the base of an overgrown, inaccessible goug by the sea.
Photos Templeanard here and Kilcredaun here.

KildeemaDíoma.  Two churches named for Díoma in Clare (in Kilfarboy and Kilfearagh) and also at least one in Limerick. The name also occurs as Díomán and may account for Ennistymon. It was not an uncommon name in medieval times so it is not possible to be specific as to which person is inferred in Clare. Díoma Dubh is believed to have been of the Dal gCais and connected to Inion Baoith,[31] who, together with Laichtín have many resonances in the area. At least one St Díoma is named in the Poems on St Senan[32]. The name Dimon occurs in both the Faeroe Islands and Iceland as an Island name in the forms, common to both countries – Stora Dimon and Litla Dimon, Big and Little Dimon, so it is quite possible that the Irish monk travelled northwards on the path of Brendan, in search of his ‘desert’[33] in the ocean.
I have found no present trace of the cillín at Kildeema, Kilfearagh, although it is shown in the O.S. 25” map as “Grave Yard (disused)”
For more information and photos of the Kildeema, Kilfarboy Graveyard see here.

Kilfarboy. I believe that this name originates from Cill Fear Buidhe and is named for the Uí Buidhe, which was the tribal name for the O Queally family, one of the tribes that migrated, with the Mac Gormans, from the Carlow/Kilkenny region in the latter half of the 12th century[34]. The Mac Gormans were of the tribe of Uí Bairrche – which gave origin to the name Ibrickan. Kilfarboy is listed in the Papal Taxation of 1302 as ‘Kellynfearbrigy’[35]. This will be dealt with more fully in my forthcoming paper on the places of Ibrickan. The original patron saint, prior to the present St Joseph, was St Laichtín who is named in the  Poems of St Senan,[36] as is Achaid Úr (Freshford) which is in the Carlow/Kilkenny region and has Laichtín for patron! (see also Kilfearagh).
There is a substantial graveyard, Church ruin and Holy well still in existence at Kilfarboy.
Photos here

Kilfearagh, Kilkee –The Catholic parish of Kilkee is based on the old civil parish of Kilfearagh, which was listed as “Kelliheneragh” in the Papal Taxation of 1302[37].  Two saints are implied in these names – Fíorach and Caoidhe there is no further information to connect either specifically with West Clare but the former may be synonymous with a Saint Fiachra – one of the patrons of the Uí Bhairrche, a tribe from the Laois/Carlow/Kilkenny border region, who were dispossessed by the Normans and settled in West Clare in the later half of the 12th century[38]. It is possible that the Uí Bhairrche, or a sub-group that migrated with them brought their devotion to St Fiachra with them and established a church in their new patrimony in his honour.
Lanigan in his Ecclesiastical History of Ireland says that a Fiachre was son of Fiach and grandson of Erc[39] (see Killerk, below), that he was ordained by St Patrick and mentions that he visited Connaught before being appointed abbot of Sletty in his native county of Carlow.
“Fiachra son of Find” is mentioned in the lineage of St Senan in the 12th generation.[40] But this would place him before the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, (Senan’s birth date is generally given as 488AD).
A single stone gable, surrounded by a substantial graveyard. is the only visible remnant of the church at Kilfearagh.
Photos here
In an Epilogue to the Irish Life of St Senan there is a list of local saints who were awaited for the burial of Senan’s remains, this list includes “Cruimther Cut”, the priest Cut, and it suggested that this is a reference to Caoithe/Caoidhe, for whom the church of Kilkee is named[41].
This church of St Caoide who gave name to the town may have been located at the site of a graveyard shown on the O.S. maps of 1842 and 1912 on the Doonlicka Road, now built over.
Caoide has another parish dedicated to him in Kilkeedy and two townlands Kilkee (east & west) in the barony of Inchiquin and also the parish of Kilkeedy in Limerick, adjacent, as it happens, to the parish of Kildimo, Limerick (see above). It is notable, in the context of the Uí Bhairrche saints that K.W. Nicholls identified a Kilmohydde, alias Kilmokide near Ballyadams in the Laois/Carlow/ Kilkenny area. [42] (see Kilfarboy above).
There is also a suggestion from Henry Blake that Caoidhe was a brother of St. Senan.[43]

Kilkee – see Kilfearagh

Kilkerin (Killofin). As there is no acknowledged Saint Céírín, we might presume this refers to Ciarán. Ciarán of Clonmacnoise is named in the Poems of St Senan[44] and is supposed to have spent somne time under the direction of St Senan at Iniscathaigh[45]. Ciarán of Seirkieran is believed to be the son of Luaigne[46] (see Killofin below).
The ruin extant today includes a gable, with a fine stone arch and the western wall largely intact, with a small part of the southern Gable. St Kerrin’s Holy Well is some way distant and is carefully attended.
Photos of church and holy well here

Killadysert – Church of the desert or hermitage. This is sometime referred to as Desert Murthuile[47] but ‘Murthuile’ (various spellings) does not have any resonance as a saints name unless he is identical with Mo Ronóc, below. It is also called Dissertmolacala in the Calendars of Papal  Registers[48] and although the Calendars use various spellings they all seem to be of similar pronunciation. Molacala is identified with Molaga and O Riain[49] points out that Molaga is a hypochoristic form of Lugh, whose name is commemorated in Inishloe island, which with St Senan’s bed and a Blessed Tree[50], is not far distant, in the Shannon estuary. A passage in the Epilogue to the Irish Life of St Senan[51] says that “Deron & Mo Ronóc, spiritual director of Inis Luaidh, the priest Cut, Mo-Locco, the ascetic of Inis Tioprait" were among the saints of Limerick, pending whose arrival the burial of St. Senan was deferred. Inishtubbrid island lies between Inishloe and Killadysert and Canon island also lies adjacent. Limerick city did not exist at the time of St Senan and Saint Molaga is mostly associated with the north Cork region although there is a connection with Singland in Limerick, whether the same man or another is not clear.[52] It is also not clear if this Saint Luaidh should be identified with the Lua of Killow (see below) or indeed Killaloe. Mo Ronóc mentioned above is identified with St Ruadhan of Lothra, for whom there is a holy well nearby and who is named in the Miracles of St Senan[53] and is listed as one of the disciples of Fionmhaith inghen Bháed[54] or perhaps St. Rónán of Aran – Cell Mic Ronain is one of the three placenames mentioned in the Miracles of Senan for which Plummer could find no present trace.[55]
Photos Here

Killard – The church on the height. Traditionally believed to have been founded by St Senan, there is holy well dedicated to Cruthnóir an Domhain – Creator of the world, where rounds were performed on Good Friday.
The substantial remains of the church, surrounded by a graveyard, are still extant as is the holy well[56].
Photos of the church ruin and holy well here

Killeenagh – place of cells. There are no archaeological remains indicated on the O.S maps but the comments about Killinny, below, could equally apply to this townland.

Killerk (Killone) – the Church of Eirc. There is a strange coincidence  of names here (if such it is?). St. Brendan, according to his ‘Life’  was born in Fenit and his father  “Finnlugh was a freeman of noble birth, devout and righteous, who with his lawful wife, lived in obedience and religious discipline under the rule of Bishop Eirc”[57] although there is no suggestion in the Life that Finnlugh was a saint in  his own rite, the parish of Killofin - Lugh Finn, and the Island of Inisloe and church of Killow (see above) are all close to Killerk, and possibly, in the sixth century there was no unsurmountable obstacle to an anchorite having a “lawful wife”. Bishop Eirc (Erc or Earc) was, according to the Life, deeply involved in the upbringing of the youthful St Brendan and when he was one year old Eirc  arranged for Brendan to be fostered with St Ita for 5 years[58]. There are two Parishes dedicated to St. Ita – Kilmeedy and Kileedy  just across the Shannon in west Limerick.
The Latin Life of St Brendan says: “When St Brendan had been ordained a priest by St Erc …  when he returned from his voyage in quest of the “land of Promise and Saints”  his religious foundations were widely extended  through many parts of Ireland  … Meanwhile the saint had visited his foster-mother, St. Ita … He proceeded to a place called Inis-da-dromand which lies in the northern estuary of the lower Shannon, the river flowing between the  countries of the Corcabaiscin and Kerry”[59]
Close to Killerk is Coney Island, of which Inisdadrum is a part (but isolated at high tide), and on which there is the ruin of a monastery which it is believed was founded by St Brendan, and a well dedicated to St Brigid.
Of the nine Poems on St Senan[60] no 7 purports to be conversation between St Senan & St Brendan in which Senan instructs Brendan to build is cell at Dá Bhend, two peaks, which may be the same as Inishdadrom, two ridges.
O Riain notes the lack of any known location for Eirc’s church in North Kerry[61], perhaps the deficiency is supplied by this townland.
All in all the placename evidence would seem to indicate a closer association of St Brendan, together with Eirc and Ita, to the Shannon estuary than is generally acknowledged.
The O.S. 25” (but not the earlier 6”) map shows a “Children’s Burial Ground” adjacent to “Killerk Well” but I could find no trace of either when I visited (in very poor weather conditions).

Killernan (Kilmurry Ib.) This appears to have been a medieval parish in its own rite – listed as ‘Kellargeneayn’ in the Papal Taxation of 1302[62], - the name has confused many writers on the topic. This will be the topic of a forthcoming paper by this author.
Ó Riain notes that there were no fewer than eleven female saints of this name (Earnáin) and also five male saints (Earnán and Mearnóg)[63], and he mentions that “most bearers of the name stood in some form of relationship to Colum Cille” who was his maternal nephew[64], and this is true also of our St Ernán, of whom the Schools Folklore Collection tells us that he first visited Killernan in the company of St Columcille, both having journeyed from Clonmacnoise[65]. O Curry says that “St. Aireran the Wise often called Aileran, Eleran and Airenan who was a classical professor in the great school of Clonard and died of the plague in the year 664.”[66]
There is a substantial Graveyard and two holy wells at this site now, one dedicated to Saint Mary and the other to St Ernán
and nearby  there are ground markings indicative of a substantial structure which may have been a monastery.
Further information and photos here

Killinny (Moyarta). This is generally referred to a St Eithne. There were a number of saints of this name including a daughter of Dimma[67] (see Kildeema, above) and the mother of Colum Cille[68]. Ó Riain also refers to  “Eithne  daughter of Baoth”[69] which seems to make ‘Eithne’ synonymous with ‘Inion’
It is also possible that the name Killinny refers, in fact, to a church of Inion Baoith, or maybe even Fíonaith (or Fíonmhaith?) her daughter or disciple, if this was a different saint?[70]  The medieval poem commences with the line “Fionmhaith inghen Bháedh” which could imply that either Fionmhaith was the name of Báedh’s daughter or that Fionmhaith was a nun devoted to Bháedh.
Evidence for a Saint Inion Baoith, often in the plural form Iniona is abundant in the Clare landscape, especially in the mid-Clare region where Michael Mac Mahon has identified seventeen holy wells named for her, as is the parish of Killinaboy[71]. She is often found in association with St Laichtin, another popular mid Clare saint. The word ‘Inion’ (various spellings) may be interpreted literally as ‘daughter’ of Baoith or as ‘nun’ implying a group of nuns devoted to, or under the direction of Baoith. It might also be a Gaelicization of Eithne, as suggested above. In the same way the word máthair in the medieval poems may imply a literal mother or that the ‘children’ mentioned were her disciples or devotees[72]. As over forty saints are listed it is to be hoped that they were disciples rather than children!
A St Eithne was believed to be mother of a St Críódan (See Kilcredaun above) of Bangor, Co. Down.[73] 
The cillín is carefully tended and has had use for burial as recently as 2007.
Photos here

Killnagalliagh (Kilfearagh) The Church of the Nuns. Referred to in the Miracles of Senan – “There was once a temple of Senan's, to wit, Killnagalliach, which of all Senan's churches was his favourite, save Scattery alone. …”[i]. It is also related in the Life of Senan that in anticipation of his own demise he decided to visit the grave of his erstwhile tutor Cassidan and on his way there he made a detour to  ‘Cell Eochaille’ [Killnagalliagh]-  to “Ner's daughters [ingen Neir] who were dwelling there,—pious, holy virgins, who had taken the veil at Senan's hand, and who were under his spiritual direction”.  He visited Casidan’s grave and died shortly afterwards at the wood of Cell Eochaille[ii].
A graveyard and holy well still exist, though they are some distance apart. A vault in the graveyard with two arched gables? protruding looks as though it may have subsumed an earlier church ruin  The holy well is dedicated to St. Martin as are two others in Ballynacally  (see Carrowkilla above).
Photos here

Killofin - Church of Lugh the fair. Saint Lughaidh or Lua appears to be intended in this name,  and also in Killow (Clare Abbey) and Inisloe (Killadysert). Lua is, of course the saint for whom the diocese is named – Killaloe - and V. Rev Sylvester Malone, in his Life of St Flannan gives a long footnote (Appendix 1) on the various saints of the name Lua, who may have been intended. 
Both Lughna Aonaigh Fhinn and Luchtighearn (Lugh-tighearn, ‘lord Lugh’) are named in the  Poems of St Senan[76]. Luchtighearn is also mentioned in a passage from the Life of Mac Réithe of Kilmacreehy[77].
See also Killadysert.
A church ruin and small graveyard mark the spot today. Photos here.

Killone – Cill Eoin, church of St John. This is a parish name only, there being no townland of the name. Donal Mór O Brien founded a nunnery there c.1189 for Canonesses Regular. In keeping with the tradition of the Augustinians the Abbey was named for a biblical saint - St. John the Baptist.[78] See also Killballyeoghan.
Substantial remains of the church, graveyard and holy well remain.
Photos here

Killtroillig (Kilballyowen).  Cill Troillig is suggested by, presumably a saints name is intended, but no record survives of such a saint.  Henry Blake interpreted the name as ‘Troigh-leac’ – a ‘foot-stone’ upon which, according to legend, St. Cuan sailed around Loop Head[i]. The stone, which had miraculous healing powers was in Cill Chuáin, but the OS map shows only Toberrooan, a holy well at the place indicated, with a burial ground at a short distance away which was possibly, the location of Troillig’s church, if there was such a person. About a ¼ mile away, in the townland of Ross, there is a ‘graveyard’ marked on the original O.S. map and quite close to it is a church ruin called ‘Church of the Nine Saints’. Mason’s Parochial Survey (1816) suggests that the ‘graveyard’ was the site of an earlier church of Cuan. Whether this was the same saint as at Kilquane (below) is not known. Henry Blake seems to have interpreted ‘Toberrooan’ as ‘Tober Chuain’ but it might also refer to St Ruan who had strong Clare associations.
The name ‘Troillig’ might also refer to Trí Leic, three standing stones, although none such are obvious today, but the graveyard and holy well can still be seen. The church and grave of the Nine Saints are extant also but not the graveyard which was the supposed location of Cuan’s church.
Photos here.

Kilmacduane. There is little information about this name. It may refer to Mac an Domhain – The Saviour,  or to the Son of Dubhán? The latter is represented by the common West Clare surnames Downes and Mac Guane but has no known saintly credentials. It might also refer to the name Devine which occurs in the local placenames Lisdeen (Kilfearagh) and Lisheenydeen (Kilmurry McMahon). In the 1615 O’Brien rental[80] “Killfearboy one quarter- Existed in the hands of the Dauynes” which may be the same family. The name also occurs in the Calendars of Papal Registers in the forms: Odamyn[81]; Odauin[82]; Odamin[83] and Odayn[84]. These may be early spellings of the present day surnames Downes, Devine, etc.
Lanigan quotes a “later work” by Colgan as giving “(at 11 Feb) a St Duben as flourishing about A.D. 492, of whom or whose place of abode he knew nothing, except that Aengus Kelideus has among the so called sons of Brecan (Not. 194) one Duban de Rinn-dubhain alithir. These genealogical accounts, in which some of our old writers so much abound cannot be depended upon, unless supported by other authority.”
Annaghdown in Galway also has a site of an ancient cathedral, where “St Brendan founded a convent for his sister in the 6th century”[85]. Perhaps the placename refers to a saint rather than a fort?
There are substantial Church remains today, together with the graveyard and holy well[86].
Photos here

Kilmaley is listed in the Papal Taxation of 1302 as Kellmaly[87], and the remains of an old church can still be seen but there is no known saint by the name Máile. O Hogáin quotes “Máille MacMaoil lachtna [mic] Muircheartaicc mhic Faolchadha mhic Echthigheirnn mhic Ailiolla mhic Firdhomhnaigh .i. mail a quo Cill Mhaille. –L 170.”[88] It is possible that Máile may derive from either Mo Liath or Maol Liath and a man of the name Liath was believed to be a brother of St Senan and Senan’s Life refers to ”Donnán, son of Liath, a pupil of Senán's”[89], but he (Liath) is not attested as a saint in his own rite.
The holy well across the river from the church is dedicated to St Scrabaun who in the form Scenbháin is named as one of the disciples Fionmhaith Inghen Bháed and in the form Scenman he his named as one of St Senan’s allies in time of trouble[90]
A ruined stoned church and graveyard still mark the site, with a holy well nearby.

Photos here


Kilmihil – Church of Saint Michael. Fr. Patrick Gaynor provides a plausible explanation for this dedication in his notes on the History of Kilmihil:
" More over Senan’s visit to Rome about 530 A.D. accounts for his special devotion to Blessed Michael, the Archangel and for his erection of a church at Kilmihil  in honour of the prince of the heavenly host, at that very time Pope Boniface II dedicated a church on Mount Garganus in Apulia to commemorate the apparition  of Blessed Michael there in A.D 498. The apparition had fostered a renewal of devotion  to the archangel in Rome and Italy and Gaul (Breviary feast on May 8th). It was very natural then that St. Senan, visiting Rome at the period, should have placed himself under the protection of blessed Michael and should have fostered the devotion in Corcabaiscinn."[91]
The same logic might equally apply to Kilmichael in Cork where St Senan was also active.
Michael is exceptional in being a biblical saint, where most church dedications are to people who are not formal saints of the Catholic Church. The other biblical ‘saints’ are St Mary who is named in the two Kilmurrys, and Christ in Kilchreest and St, John the Baptist
The ancient stone church, graveyard and holy well (surrounded by the stations of the cross are all extant in the village.
Photos here

Kilmurry East and West – Parish of Kilmurry McMahon. As already stated, it was not traditional to dedicate Irish churches to biblical saints and I know of no explanation for this exception. The site of an early stone church has been marked out in the graveyard.
Photos here

Kilmurry Ibrickan – Church of Our Lady. This is a parish name only there is no eponymous townland. The church and Tubbermurry (holy well) are in the townland of Shandrum. It was not traditional for hermitage churches to be named after biblical saints, so it is possible that the clans who were relocated to West Clare by the Normans in the late 12th century renamed this church and the parish for Our Lady[92].  On the other hand the two holy wells in the vicinity of the church are also named for biblical saints – Mary and John – and Michael McMahon has suggested that use of such dedications is indicative of Augustinian influence, and the 'Village of Our Lady in Ybrickane' is listed in the 15th century extent of the Augustinian Clare Abbey.[93]
There is a cillín not far from the Church but no saints name attaches to that. It is generally accepted that the reference in the Papal Taxation (1302) to ‘Collebonoun’ refers to this parish. Collebonoum is translated to Oxmount[94] and this name is shown on the O.S. map of 1842 as being a sub denomination in the northern part of the townland of Shandrum.
Photos of church and cillin here

Kilquane (Drumcliff) is named from a St Cuán, of whom there were many. One of them – Cuana mheic Miodhairn -  is listed as one of the 42 saintly sons (presumably disciples!)  of Inion Bhaoith[95] (see Killinny, above) and “Cuana may have given its modern name to the so-called Kilshanny Bell, alias the bell of St Cuana which was received before 1850 by T.L. Cooke of Birr from the parish priest of New Quay in Clare, and is now in the British Museum.”[96] There is also a suggestion that Cuan was son of Odhrán and a St Odhrán was disciple and abbatial successor to St Senan[97]
St Cuan is also associated with Killtroillig (above). Westropp states that the founder was “Coan, the last survivor of the “nine saints” of Ross.”[98] This is a reference to the ‘Tomb of the Nine Saints’ which is in the graveyard close to the Bridges of Ross.
There is a second townland of Kilquane on the Clare side of the Shannon near Limerick city. O Riain suggests that this is named from St Cronán and that “Cua was a pet form of Cronán”[99] and that Mochua was a hypocoristic form of Crónán[100].
The cillín at Kilquane, Drumcliffe, is clearly discernible on the top of a hill and marked by a bullaun stone.
Photos here

Kilrush – The church of the wooded hill or promontory. There appear to have been two ancient religious sites, both quite close to Inishcathaigh, in fact the Old Shanakyle graveyard, although it is in the townland of Leadmore, is about the nearest mainland point to the island. It has no visible church remains. The other site is marked today by the old church ruins behind the Church of Ireland, on Grace Street. No saints name, other than Senan is associated with either location.
Photos of Old Shanakyle here.

Kiltumper (Kilmihil) Church of Tumper? The cromlech in this townland is traditionally believed to be the grave of  the giant, Tumper. Fr Patrick Gaynor in his notes on  Kilmihil Parish History says that “Michael Breen, Kiltumper, claims that the remnants of a “cell” and of an old church may be seen in one of his fields, near the holy well, Tober-righ-an Domhnaigh”[101] (This is the reason that I have interpreted the ‘Kil’ part of the name as church rather than coill a wood.) Tober-righ-an Domhnaigh means Well of the King of Sunday (Church).
Gaynor also points to the petition, quoted  by Frost[102] which says that “Murtagh M’Mahon of Ballinagun, gent., says that in 1668, Lord Clare demised to him the lands of Knockmore, alias Kiltinnins, alias Kiltumper …” the ‘alias Kiltinnins’ ie Cill tSenáin,  implies that Kiltumper was at that time associated with Senan.[103]
In a later note Gaynor says “Kiltinnins” may well have been the older name of a church in the locality which had become known popularly, as “Eaglais-an-Domhnaigh. “Kiltinnins” would seem to have been Cill- tSenain. (One of Breen’s fields is still called “the Tarmon field” in  Kiltumper.)”[104]
Westropp says of Kiltumper “A very doubtful site. Two “Termon stones” remain at Termon roe;”[105]
Possibly the name Kiltumper is a corruption of Cill Tobair (Righ an Domhnaigh).
Photo of the holy well here.

Knocksaggart (Kilchreest) – Hill of the Priest. See Carrowkilla. There are no ecclesiastical remains shown on the O.S. maps.

Lisheencrony (Moyarta). I have included this note although the townland name does not have a specific ecclesiastical reference. The church in the townland is  Kilcrona. As stated above under Kilcredaun: Henry Blake, a seanchie from Kilbaha, as recorded by Breandán Ó Cíobháin in 1965, believed that Cridán, Cuán (see Kilquane and Killtrellig above) and Cróna were brothers, however O Riain does not admit any male saint by name of Cróna but he lists a number of female saints Cróine, including “Cróine daughter of Earnán. According to her pedigree, Cróine (alias Criadha) was one of three sisters, the others being Dairneasa and Sineach, all of whom were grandnieces of Bréanainn of Birr”[106] For West Clare connections to Bréanainn see Kilerk above and for Earnán see Killernan above.  O Riain goes on to say that this Cróíne may “probably be identified with Slieve Mairge, now the Laois barony of Slievemargy (See Kilmurry Ibrickan above)”
Crona may also be a form of Crónan, which was a very popular name among the saints listed in the Martyrologies. O Riain quotes the tradition that “the saint’s [Crónán] mother was Caoimhre (Mochaomhra) of the Corca Bhaiscinn of south-west Clare, whereas another source assigns this role to Inghean Bhaoith of Kilnaboy”[107]. Cronan is mentioned in the medieval poem listing the disciples of Inion Bhaoith,[108]
'Cronane' is also listed among the Clare saints in the Regensburg Litany (see Kilcredaun).
There is at present, in Lisheencrony, a small graveyard and ruin of a small church of Cróna, but the church is so covered with ivy that it is scarcely possible to know what lies beneath. There are two box vaults within the church for the Morony family. A holy well is also indicated on the O.S. maps, but this was not found.
Photo here.

Scattery There is nothing in the official name of St Senan’s island of Inis cathaigh to qualify it as an ecclesiastical townland name but it is included here for sake of completeness. The history of the island and its connection with St Senan are well recorded. Other than the persistent legends of the monster serpent called Cathach I know of no origin for the placename.

Termon East and West (Kilfearagh). The name means sanctuary and there is a holy well dedicated to St Senan on the boundary of Termon East, by the shore of Poulnasherry Bay, and another townland in Killimer parish . Presumably they were all part of the territory of St Senan.

Some fourteen of the ecclesiastical townland names of West Clare have some connection in the literature, however tentative, with St Senan and may reasonably be presumed to date from his era around the fifth/sixth century.

The evidence suggests that a cult of asceticism developed about that time with a focus on the Shannon estuary. Possibly the focus was on either Senan or Brendan, both of whom were born about the same time and have strong connection with the area, but so also have their mentors Eirc and Cassidan who we presume must have preceded them. It also possible that the nebulous Baoith, or his daughters or nuns was the central focus and that would suggest a wider catchment area covering all of West Clare as holy wells dedicated to Iniona Baoith are widespread.

The Mac Gormans (tribe of Ui Bhairche) were dispossessed of their lands in the Ossory region by the Normans, in the 12th century and a “battalion”  of them together with the O Queallys (tribe of Ui Buidhe) were forced to migrate to North West Clare where they impressed the landscape with their own culture and churches. It is likely that the fashion for ascetism had passed by this time and some of the earlier sites were replaced by new churches and survived only as holy wells or cillíns many of which have not given name to townlands and so are not listed above.

The antiquity or otherwise of townland names is often questioned. The Papal Taxation of 1302 and the O Brien rent roll of c1350 give indisputable evidence that many of the townland names date back to at least the early 14th century. That so many of these ecclesiastical townland names relate to ascetics connected to the time of Senan and Brendan suggests that they were named in the sixth century, some 800 years earlier, that is about 1500 years ago.

It is a modern-day miracle in itself that physical traces of these ascetics remain to this day in the form of cillins, holy wells and church ruins, even if the stone churches are replacements for earlier wooden structures. These sites and names give a certain validity to the literary references for it is hardly tenable to suggest that the reverse was the case and that the literature was composed to give validity to the placenames.

Nor could the placenames exist in a vacuum, so the places around them must also have had names around the same time, even if some of these have changed over the intervening period.

Many of the church sites have wells adjacent, water being an obvious requirement for an ascetic, it seems obvious that the wells afterwards were venerated because of their association with the 'saint' and this does not support the often mooted theory that holy wells were of pagan origin and later christianised.


This paper is heavily indebted to A Dictionary of Irish Saints (ADIS) by Pádraig O Riain, Four Courts Press, 2011



Appendix 1
Extract from
Translated and Annotated by
Page 11, Footnote 2
2  It was quite common with Irish writers to add the words mo and do, "my" and "thy," to the names of Irish saints as terms of  affection. Hence the form Mo-lua and Do-lua. They received even the suffix oc, "tender," as Moluoc, "my tender Lua." The names of such saints as Kee, Senan, Colman, and Aed appear under the endearing forms of Mochaoi, Mosenog, Mocholmoc, and Moedog.

It is remarkable that out of the twenty-six dioceses at present in Ireland none of them as an independent one is named from a holy founder except Killaloe. They appear to have been named either from some Pagan individual or physical object. It is worth while then to inquire into the history of Lua who gave a name to Killaloe. The name has appeared as Luaith, Lughaidh, and Lughad; and these appear in the Latin form of Luanus and Lugidus according to the light in which the Irish forms Lughaidh and Lughad were viewed, that is, whether phonetically or otherwise.

We may remark that a usual and ancient form of Killaloe (Church of Lua) in Irish MSS. is Cill-da Lua. Harris, Ware, and Lanigan take for granted that this means the Church of Lua; but da in the word can mean "two," and therefore the phrase could mean the "Church of the two Luas." The supposition of two Luas is not so very wild when we consider that several of twenty-seven Luas were contemporaneous. But on the other hand it may be said that the form da Lua appears in no manuscript earlier than the tenth century, and that between that time and the days of holy Lua there was a change from do to da through error or agreeably to the possible notions of the transcriber as to the dual origin of the word, so that what had been originally do Lua probably became in process of transcription da Lua, "two Luas."

But however strong may be the intrinsic reason for tracing Killaloe to a dual origin there is still stronger authority for tracing it to a single Lua. The learned O'Donovan treating of Dachelloc, in his Annals of the Four Masters under the year 1412, states that mo, "my," and do, "thy," were prelixed to the names of Irish saints, and thus implies that the da in Dachelloc, Dabeoc, and in Dalua was intended for do, "thy." The general statement of O'Donovan would favour the opinion of a single Lua being the founder of Killaloe, and this opinion is confirmed by the express authority of Saint Flannan's biographer.

There were several contemporaneous Luas; there was Lua of Clonfert-Molua, there was the Molua of this biography and leper Molua. In our inquiry about the Lua of Killaloe we naturally turn to the learned Dr. Lanigan, but he is not clear or satisfactory. He states that the whole subject is so obscure that he cannot form any decided opinion on it. But in the face of the bewildering difficulties that beset him he ventured to assert that Killaloe owed its origín in the beginning of the seventh century to Molua of Clonfert Molua.

St. Molua of Clonfert Molua by the splendour of his miracles threw the other Moluas into the shade. He was born in the middle of the sixth century in the Queen's County, and died between the years 604 and 609. The reasons for attributing the foundation of Killaloe to him were, according to Lanigan, that he lived there for some time, or had a church dedicated there to him. But it is very questionable if a church had been dedicated to him there, or that a mere dedication would have been sufficient to have Lua of Clonfert Molua made titular of the diocese. For while his biographers minutely detail his religious settlements in Drumsneachta, Rosbilech, and in Kyle, they are silent as to Killaloe.

Dr. Lanigan deemed it probable (Ecclesiastical History, vol. ii.. p. 206), that the Lua of Kyle was the founder, and with unusual inconsistency stated elsewhere, on the strength of provincial histories referred to by Vallancey, there is every reason to judge that the founder of Killaloe was the leper Molua, quite a different person from the Molua of Kyle.

Molua the leper is described as brother to Aod Caomh, King of Cashel, and is said by Archdeacon Lynch (MS. History of the Irish Bishops, Bodleian Library), to have been both bishop and abbot. Lynch referring to the Martyrology of Usuard assigns his festival to the 24th October. Now, one would expect that if he, being a bishop, as stated, were the founder he would also be the patron of Killaloe. The Irish annals make him only an abbot.

Again, it ís strange that if the prince-abbot, leper Molua, brother to King Aod, were the founder that his festival has not been more certainly fixed; the more so as that of his less noble namesake, Clonfert Molua, has been carefully preserved. More-over there is not the slightest hint in this Life of Saint Flannan that the Molua who resigned the abbacy to him was of royal descent, or the leper-brother of King Aod.

In this connection Dr. Lanigan appears to make a mistake. A statement made by him as possibly true, that Killaloe owes its origin to leper Lugair, commemorated on the 11th May, is without foundation; for Lugair (Lugarus) is a different name from Lua, and hence in the life of St. Lua of Clonfert Molua, his brother's name is given as Lugair.

There is reason then for concluding that the St. Molua from whom the diocese of Killaloe takes its nomenclature was neither the princely, leper-Molua of Cashel, nor he of Clonfert Molua who died about the year 604, but another St. Molua to whom as abbot St. Flannan succeeded.

* By an accidental mistake Luenensis is given for Luanensis, and it is a greater mistake to call the diocese by Laonensis. The name appears in a more disfigured form as Decendalensis in a Roman provincial of the 12th century, intended, I suppose, for Decell da Luensis. The word elsewhere queerly  as Killdalnam.



Appendix 2

A note on the Poems of Senan

The manuscript of The Miracles of Senan were edited by Charles Plummer from two of the O'Clery mss. in the Royal Library of Brussels, nos 2324 - 2340 fo]. 241b - 248a (text A), and nos 4190 - 4200 fo]. 277a - 279b (text B). Plummer’s translation was published in The Miracles of Senan in Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie. Volume 10, Halle/Saale, Max Niemeyer (1914) and may be read at  Chapter 9.
The A text of The Miracles of Senan concludes with a poem which came in a vision to “O’Cairill, a priest of Scattery” in the context of a dreadful apparition of one ‘Macbeth, son of Niall, son of Murchad’ who said that ‘when wrong or trespass is done to this sacred island [Scattery] these saints come from every quarter to avenge it on the perpetrators.’ He then recited a lay of 48 stanzas naming many saints.
It is interesting that the first name of the spectre was Macbeth, son of Baoith. Much has been written about Inion Baoith, The daughter or nuns of Baoith and SEgda son of Baoith is mentioned in Senan's Life.

A further 9 Poems on St. Senan have been transcribed by Paul Grosjean S.J. from MS. Brussels 2324-2340, fo. 248-257.  and published in Irish Texts fasc iv, edited by Fraser, Grosjean and O Keeffe, 1934. They are published without translation or commentary at

These obscure poems are presented in the form of discussions between Senan and other saints as follows:
1 Senán agus Laichtín agus Comhgall dorinne an dánso sís. (19 stanzas) - Prophecies

2 No title [First Line] Cána doradsatt na naoimh (4 stanzas)

3 Inghen Bhaoith dixit fri Senán (17 stanzas)

4 Senán agus Brénainn dorinne an dánnso  (49 stanzas)

5 Senán agus Inghen Bhaoith dorinne an dánso. (53 stanzas)

6 Nessan an Crábdech agus Senan dorinne an dánso  (30 stanzas)

7 Senán agus Brénainn dorinne an dánso (14 stanzas)

8 [first line} Fionmhaith inghen Bháed ainbhil, (13 stanzas)

9 A Mhancháín tainic mochtráth, (16 stanzas)


The 8th of these poems purports to list many saints of whom Fionnmhaith inghen Bháedh was the (spiritual?) mother and included on the list are Senan, Cairill, Becnaite, Grealláin, Cesain, Chuana mheic Miodhairn, Lughna Aonaigh Fhinn,  Ceallaigh mheic Ricill, Mochuille, Frénain, Eoghain, Tighernáin, Maol Chorghais, Mac Duach, Ó Suanaigh, Ruadháin Lothra, Finghin, Molaisi, Caimín, Mochuda, Cuimín, Caoimhgín, Cárthach, Flaind meic Aircheallaigh, Scenbháin, Banbháin,  Luchtigheirn, Blathmaic, Conail meic Domhnaill, Maoil Eala, Mhic Criche, Maonaigh meic Oibléin, Nessán, Mochomna, Colmáin, Mochúa, Mainchín, Cronán,  Díoma drechdherc mhall, Díoma Garbh, Comaoin inghen Dhallbhrónaigh





[1] Writing of his visits to Ireland in the 12th century, Giraldus Cambrensis describes the clergy “They keep themselves within the enclosures of the church and fulfil the divine offices with which they are entrusted. They practise a considerable amount of abstinence and asceticism in the use of food. Most of them, in fact, fast daily all day long until twilight, when they have completed all the offices of the hours of the day.” The History and Topography of Ireland, Gerald of Wales. Translated by John J. O Meara, revised ed. 1982, p 112.

[2] The name (and ruined stone church) of Inishdea occurs also in Moy (Kilfarboy) but not with townland status.

[3] Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore, Whitley Stokes D.C.L, 1890, p. 221.

[4] The forgotten graveyards of Clondegad and Kilchreest by Mary Hester, The Other Clare, Vol 37, 2013

[5] For Fr Gaynor’s notes see   attachment 6

[6] Sean Ó hÓgáin, Conntae an Chláir a Triocha agus a Tuatha, 1938. p.76, 108

[7] ADIS, p.295

[8] The Miracles of Senan are published online at p.23.

[9] Idem - Appended poem verse 10. See Appendix 2 re poems.

[10] The Churches of County Clare and the Origin of the Ecclesiastical Divisions in that County, by T.J. Westropp in Proceedings R.I.A. Vol VI, 1900-1902, p. 107

[11] Mason’s Parochial Survey, Vol II, 1816, available at

[12] Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore, by Whitley Stokes D.C.L, 1890, Irish p. 59, trans. p.206

[13] Medieval Ireland, by Paul MacCotter, 2008, p. 155

[14] Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore, by Whitley Stokes D.C.L, 1890, p.221

[16] Killcolyheaine in Illsworth Survey of O Brien estates, 1615, Petworth House Archives, C/27/60. Killculhan on Pelham’s Grand Jury map 1787, published at Killculhan in  Book of Survey and Distribution, being abstracts from the various surveys and instruments of title 1636-1703, Vol. IV – County of Clare, R. C. Simmington, 1967. p. 432.

[17] Irish Texts, poem 4, stanza 1 and poem 1 stanza 1. See Appendix 2.

[18] National Folklore Collection, Schools Collection, Coore School, Oide Pádraig Ó Mídheach. P. 439

[20] O Donovan is quoted on at and

[21] Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, Rev. Patrick S. Dinneen, M.A., 1927, under clochar; cluthar; cluthmhar.

[22] ADIS, p. 213

[23] ADIS, p. 211

[24] James Carney, Topographical Poems of Seaán Mór Ó Dubhagain and Giolla-Na-Naomh Ó Huidhrín,(Dublin), 1943 (henceforth O Huidhrín): line 1375. The Translation is by John O Donovan in The Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society for the publication of materials for Irish history, 1862, p. 113 and O Donovan notes “O Maolcorcra - This name is now unknown in the barony of Ibrickan . This family would seem to have shrunk into insignificance when the Mac Gormans were planted into their territory by O’Brien.” p. LXXI.

[25] Idem p. vii

[26] On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, by Eugene O Curry, 1873, reprinted 1996, Lecture 7. Vol 2 P.137 of reprint.

[27] An  Ecclesiastical History of Ireland from the first introduction of Christianity to the beginning of the 13th century, by Rev. John Lanigan D.D., 1829, Vol 3, p. 426.

[28] Poems on St Senan by Paul Grosjean in Irish Texts Fasc 4, Poem no 3, stanza 9. See Appendix 2

[29] Irish saints in a Regensburg litany, Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedal & Pádraig Ó Riain, in Clerics, Kings and Vikings, Essays on medieval Ireland in honour of Donnchadh Ó Corrain, 2015. My thanks to Prof. Ó Riain for bringing this article to my attention.

[30] Logainmneacha Ó Bharúntacht Mhaigh Fhearta, Co. An Chláir, by Breandán O Cíobháin – III in Dinnseanchas Vol 4, No. 1, p. 14.

[31]  ADIS, p. 266.

[32] The poems are included in  Poems on St. Senan by P Grosjean, in Irish Texts fasc iv, edited by Fraser, Grosjean and O Keeffe, 1934. (Henceforth Irish Texts). See Appendix 2 hereto. The references to Díoma are poem VIII stanzas 10 & 11

[34] The Antiquities of County Clare, John O’Donovan & Eugene Curry – Ordnance Survey Letters 1839, Clasp Press, 1997, p. 279. The poem of Maoilin Oge mac Brody specifically refers to the “Hy-Bairrche and Hy-Buidhe”

[35] Published in The Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland preserved in Her Majesty’s Public Record Office London, 1302-07. P. 301. (Henceforth Papal Taxlist 1302).

[36] Irish Texts, Poem I, stanza 1 and poem 5. See Appendix 2.

[37]  Papal Taxlist 1302, P. 301.

[38] The Antiquities of County Clare, by John O’Donovan & Eugene Curry – Ordnance Survey Letters 1839, Clasp Press, 1997, p. 279; [38]; An  Ecclesiastical History of Ireland from the first introduction of Christianity to the beginning of the 13th century, by Rev. John Lanigan D.D., 1829, Vol 1, p. 468.

[39] An  Ecclesiastical History of Ireland from the first introduction of Christianity to the beginning of the 13th century, by Rev. John Lanigan D.D., 1829, Vol 1, p. 273, 277.

[40] Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore, by Whitley Stokes D.C.L, 1890, p.200

[41] Trois Piéces sur S. Senan  by Paul Grosjean, in Analecta Bolandiana Vol 66, 1948, p. 213. At I am indebted to Benjamin Cochain and Nóirín De Barra for translation from French.

[42] Some Placenames from Pontifica Hibernica, by K W. Nicholls in Dinnseanchas vol. 3 no. 4 p. 87.

[43] Logainmneacha ó bharúntacht Mhaigh Fhearta, Co. an Chláir - iv, by Breandán Ó Cíobhain  in Dinnseanchas Vol 4 no. 2.

[44] The Miracles of Senan at concluding lay, stanza 5. See Appendix 2.

[45] An  Ecclesiastical History of Ireland from the first introduction of Christianity to the beginning of the 13th century, by Rev. John Lanigan D.D., 1829, Vol 2, p. 3

[46] ADIS, p. 172.

[47] Sean Ó hÓgáin, Conntae an Chláir a Triocha agus a Tuatha, 1938. p.70, 121. Cathréim Thoirdhealbhaigh Ed Standish Hayes O Grady, Vol 1, p.29 - Disert murthaile.

[48] For example, Calendar of Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Ed W.H. Bliss and J A Twemlow, 1902, Vol. 4, Latern Regesta 32: 1393-1394, p.474 – Dissertmolacala; Vol. 9, Latern Regesta, 399: 1443, p.346 Dysert Maellachala; Vol. 9, Latern Regesta 401: 1443-1444, p.359 - Discert Maellycala; Vol. 9 Latern Regesta 397: 1443, page 331 - Dysser[t]mellacalla and Dysser[t]mellacolla; Vol. 9, Latern Regesta, 393: 1442, p.295 - Dyssyart Mallycalla; Vo. 9, Latern Regesta 403: 1443-1444, Page 371 - Disert Mallacala and p.372 - Disyrt Malacala. All available at

[49] ADIS, p.480

[50]  O.S. map 1842.

[51] Trois Piéces sur S. Senan  by Paul Grosjean, in Analecta Bolandiana Vol 66, 1948, p. 212, 213. At I am indebted to Benjamin Cochain and Nóirín De Barra for translation from French.

[52] Idem

[53] The Miracles of Senan at concluding lay, stanza 20. See Appendix 2.

[54]   Poems on St. Senan by P Grosjean, poem no 8, stanza 5  in Irish Texts fasc iv edited by Fraser, Grosjean and O Keeffe, 1934.  See Appendix 2.

[55] The Miracles of Senan at Footnote 4

[56] See the article Two West Clare Holy Wells by Maura Egan, The Other Clare, Vol 28, 2004.

[57] Lives and Legends of St. Brendan the Voyager, by Denis O’Donaghue, 1893, p.7.

[58] Idem p.11.

[59] Idem p.182-3.

[60] Poems on St. Senan by P Grosjean,  poem no 7, stanza 5 in Irish Texts fasc iv edited by Fraser, Grosjean and O Keeffe, 1934. See Appendix 2.

[61] ADIS p.284

[62] Papal Taxlist 1302, p. 300.

[63] ADIS p. 286

[64] An  Ecclesiastical History of Ireland from the first introduction of Christianity to the beginning of the 13th century, by Rev. John Lanigan D.D., 1829, Vol 2, p.161.

[65] National folklore Collection, Schools Collection, 1937, Coore School, Oide Pádraig O Midheach. P.379.

[66] Lectures on The Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History by Eugene O’Curry M.R.I.A, 1878, Lecture XVIII, p.378.

[67] ADIS, p.293.

[68] ADIS, p. 211.

[69] ADIS,  p. 293.

[70] ADIS, p. 378.

[71]  Churches with Round Towers in Northern Clare. (Part I), by Thomas Johnson Westropp in JRSAI, 5th Series, Vol 4, No 1, Mar. 1894, pp 25-34; “Kilnamona called Kinelbuith”(Cineal Baoith, Cineal Baith Cineal mBaith) A.D. 500 – 1725 by Very Rev. Patrick Gaynor, P.P. Inagh in Molua, 1941; The Cult of Inghin Bhaoith and the Church of Killinaboy by Michael Mac Mahon in The Other Clare Vol 24, 2000; St. Inion Baoith alias St. Winifred and the Tau Cross of Killinaboy by Michael Mac Mahon in The Other Clare, Vol 41, 2017. Also Trois Piéces sur S. Senan p. 211, n.3  by Paul Grosjean, in Analecta Bolandiana Vol 66, 1948, p. 212, 213. At


[72] Poems on St. Senan by P Grosjean, poems no 3, 5 and especially 8 in Irish Texts fasc iv, edited by Fraser, Grosjean and O Keeffe, 1934.  See Appendix 2 hereto.

[73] Idem, p. 231.

[75] Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore, Whitley Stokes D.C.L, 1890, p. 221.

[76] Irish Texts, Poem VIII, stanza 3 and 7.

[77] Life of Mac Creithe published at Chapter 12 Page 64 -5.

[78] Killone Convent by Hilary Gilmore, The Other Clare, Vol 6, 1982, p. 22.

[79] Logainmneacha Ó Bharúntacht Mhaigh Fhearta, Co. an Chláir II, by Breandán Ó Ciobháin p. 107 in Dinnseanchas Vol. 3 No. 4.

[80]  Illsworth Survey of O Brien estates, 1615, Petworth House Archives, C/27/60.

[81] “John Odamyn”,  - Calendar of Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Ed W.H. Bliss and J A Twemlow, 1902, Vol 7,  Lateran Regesta, Vol. CCLXVI - 4 June 1418; “Maurice Odamyn, perpetual vicar of Kyllakyde” – Idem, vol. 13, Latern Regesta DCCXVII, 4 Nov. 1471.

[82] “Donatus Odauin, priest, of the diocese of Killaloe (Laonien.),  Maurice Odauin, perpetual vicar of Cilleferbuidi”  - Idem, Vol 11, Latern Regesta 511, 15 Feb. 1456.

[83] “… void by the death of Maurice Odamin extra R.C”. - Idem, Vol. 13, Latern Regesta DCCXXXVII, 5 Apr 1474.

[84] “Cornelius Odayn”. – Idem, Vol 12, Brief Summaries of Bulls of Pius II and Paul II which are now lost – no 15.

[85] Information from a plaque at the site of the cathedral.

[86] For a detailed description of the holy well see Holy Wells of Kilmacduane Parish by Edmund Lenihan in The Other Clare, Vol 28, 2004.

[87] Papal Taxlist 1302, P. 300.

[88] Sean Ó hÓgáin, Conntae an Chláir, a Triocha agus a Tuatha. 1938. The source of O hÓgáin’s quote is unclear.

[89]  Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore, Whitley Stokes D.C.L, 1890, p.217.


[90] ADIS, p.550; Poems on St. Senan by P Grosjean, Irish Texts, poem 8, stanza 7; The Miracles of Senan at concluding lay, stanza 18. See Appendix 2.

[91] Kilmihil Parish, its Origin and Scraps of its History, Rev P. Gaynor, n.d. Chapter 2 (St Senan Founder of the Church in Kilmihil) p.1 available at

[92] The Antiquities of County Clare, John O’Donovan & Eugene Curry – Ordnance Survey Letters 1839, Clasp Press, 1997, p.279.

[93] The Charter of Clare Abbey and the Augustinian ‘Province’ in Clare by Michael Mac Mahon, The Other Clare Vol 17, 1993 and also The Clare Abbey Charter Revisited by Michael Mac Mahon, The Other Clare, Vol 37, 2013

[94] An argument against this identification is presented in Curious Name by Dermot F. Gleeson in Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, 1940, p.135.

[95] Irish Texts, Poem VIII stanza 1. See Appendix 2.

[96] ADIS, p.241.

[97] ADIS, p.231

[98] The Churches of County Clare and the origin of the ecclesiastical divisions of that county. JRSAI Vol 6 1900-1902.

[99] ADIS p.236

[100] ADIS p.233

[101] Kilmihil Parish, its Origin and Scraps of its History, Rev P. Gaynor, n.d. Chapter 5 (Placenames) p.2, no 18. available at

[102] The History and Topography of The County of Clare, James Frost, M.R.I.A., 1893 p.576.

[103] Kilmihil Parish, its Origin and Scraps of its History, Rev P. Gaynor, n.d. Chapter 5 (Placenames) p.2, no 18.

[104] Idem, Part 2 Chapter 3 (Kilmihil Parish in Penal Days) p.3.

[105] The Churches of County Clare and the Origin of the Ecclesiastical Divisions in that County, by T.J. Westropp in Proceedings R.I.A. Vol VI, 1900-1902, No 154 on the list of churches.

[106] ADIS, p.231

[107] ADIS, p.234

[108] Poems on St. Senan, poem no 8 by P. Grosjean, in Irish Texts, Fasciculus IV, edited by J. Fraser, P. Grosjean and J.G. O Keeffe, London, 1934. See Appendix 2.