Jerome Fahey.

The history and antiquities of the diocese of Kilmacduagh online

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There are few parts of Ireland of the same area that contain
so large a number of memorials of the past, as the portion of
South Galway comprised within the diocese of Kilmacduagh.
Bath and dun, and frowning castles and crumbling churches, are
to be met with everywhere ; and there, too, our ancient " pillar
towers " have kept watch over Christian cemeteries for over a
thousand years.

I felt that those monuments. Christian and pagan alike,
must have had a history ; but I found that that history was
for the most part unknown. The fortresses spoke of con-
querors and of conquered, but the names of victors and
vanquished were alike forgotten. And what was true of the
monuments of the Norman aggressors of the remote past, and
of their brave Celtic opponents, was for the most part true of
the Saints whose names lived on only in the names of their
ruined churches.

There was at least one exception — ^a notable one — ^in the case
of Kilmacduagh; for the personality of the holy patron of
the diocese survived in the hearts of the people. His name
was venerated and his memory cherished with a singular
affection. And yet, even of the history of St. Colman Mac
Duagh there was but little known outside of the vague and
the undefined.

A little patient study convinced me that the history of the
district was not irrevocably lost It was buried, but it could
be disinterred. I felt, too, that the buried treasures would
amply repay the labour of giving them once more to the
public. I trust that the public will estimate in a spirit of
kindly sympathy the partial character of my success, con-
sidering the difficulties necessarily connected with such an
effort, and the limited opportunities within my reach of pro-
secuting my researches.

I am glad that I have given back to the faithful Catholics

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of Kilmacduagh the venerated names of Foila and Sourney,
of Colga and Gelsus {Cealleach), and of other Saints held in
honour by their ancestors. And if I have given to our holy
patron, St. Mac Duagh, the definite place in ecclesiastical
history to which history gives him a claim, it shall prove a
crowning satisfaction.

In aiming at this, I have endeavoured to make the existing
interesting remains of otir early churches illustrate the labours
of their founders.

"The stones of Venice" are not the only stones that can
speak to those who understand. Hence, I have also given our
old castles a prominence which must give additional interest
to the narrative of the long struggles between the encroaching
Normans and the native chiefs.

The convulsions of the seventeenth century transferred to
the "men of new interests," the possessions of the Irish
chiefs, and of the "more Irish" Normans. In a time like
ours, when land tenure has become the diflBculty of the hour,
both to the Legislature and to the people, a study of those
past transfers, their origin and sanctions, must possess a special

And as the bishops of a diocese are not merely the spiritual
guides, but also the sharers of the sorrows and the joys of
their flocks, the sketches of our bishops are given in im-
mediate connection with the various periods of which I have
treated. In the notice of the career of Dr. Hugh de Burgo,
the special value of this line of treatment is best illustrated.

The sketches of the several modem parishes must be of a
much more circumscribed interest. This may also be said of
the succession of pastors in their parishes. And yet I feel
that the "mass-houses" of the last century, so contemptu-
ously referred to by the hirelings of the period, are objects
of interest which should not be forgotten. I also felt that
the priests, through whose zealous labours the material
Church of Ireland sprang into new life with such marvellous
rapidity, who clung to their famishing flocks amid famine
and pestilence, were men whose lives have claims on future

I wish to thank many friends for the kind encouragement
which they have extended to me in my labours in the progress
of this work.

J. FAHEY, D.D., V.G.

St. Colman's, Gort,
JwM 29, 1893.

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Introductory — Ancient territonr of Hy Fiachracb Aidhne coex-
tenflive with the Diocese of Eilmacduagh — Its conterminouB
districts — Early Belgic settlements at I^ugh Cutra and Cam
Conail — Lugaa Mac Conn lands at Maree, and defeats the Irish
Monarch Art at Turlogh Art — Fin Mac Cumhail in Aidhne —
Early occupiers of the territory descendants of Prince Fiachra —
His son !Dathy — ^Eoghan Aidhne fostered by one of the Belgic
tribes of the district, . . . . .1


The provincial kings who resided in the territory of Hy Fiachracb
Aidhne — Mac Earc, Colman, Loigneun, and Guaire — Royal
Raths at Kinvara and Gort— Guaire entertains the Bards at
Gort — He is the kinsman of Cummian, St. Colman, and St.
Caimin ; the friend of St Fechin and St. Maidoc— Guaire
defeated at Cam Fearadhaigh by Failbe Flann — The battle
of Cam Conail, near Gort — The murder of St Ceallagh —
Guaire does penance, and is buried at Clonmacnoise, a.d. 663 —
His character, . . . . . .14

St. Ceallagh, patron of Iser Kelly, . .24


Early development of sanctity in Aidhne — ^Did St. Patrick preach in
Galway? — St. Coman's Church at Kinvara destroyed by the
Ua Carras — St Colman Ua Fiachracb— His Feast— St. Sourney
— Her church and holy well at Dromacoo — St Foila of
Kileely, ........ 28

St Colga of Kilcolgan, ....... 36

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St Caimin of Inis Cealtra, half-brother of Guaire— His austerity—
Extant fragment of his writings, . . • .43


St Colman Mac Ducu;h— His parentage and descent from Dathy —
His Birthplace — Legends regarding his Baptism, . . 48


St Colman Mac Duagh in Aranmore— The fame of Aranmore as a
sanctua^ of learning and holiness — His churches erected
there— Charms of the island for its solitaries, . . .52


St Colman becomes a hermit in the last decade of the sixth century
within the solitudes of Burren — Legends regarding his sojourn
there — St Colman's oratory in Burren— His grotto and holy
well — ^The district as seen from Kinaille, . . • .58


St. Colman builds a monastery, and becomes Bishop of Kilmacduagh
— ^Was he aided by St Gobban the " Architect " I—Monastery
founded a.d. 610— Existing ruins described — The Cathedral—
The Monastery — St. John's Church — Our Lady's — Bishop's
House, . . . . . . .68


The Kilmacduagh round tower recently excavated and restored—
DiBCOvery of human skeletons beneath the foundations — Com-
parison with similar discoveries — Miss Stokes's views and con-
clusions — Probably built under King " Brian of the Tributes," . 84


St Colman resigns his Diocese — He dies at Oughtmama— The ruins
there — He was buried at Kilmacduagh — His Grave there — His
Feast on 29th October — ^A major double for Ireland — His Proper
Office composed and published by De Burgo, A.D. 1751, . . 94

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Kilmacduagh recognised as a remarkable sanctuary — Right of
sanctuary — Its origin and nature — Pilgrimages to Kilmacduagh
—St Colman's holy wells, . . . .103


Kilmacduagh from the death of Guaire to the close of the Danish
occupation— Chieftains of Aidhne during the period— Flan Mac
Lonan, Chief Poet of Ireland, a native of Aidhne — His poems
—Died A.D. 896 — ^Episcopal succession, . . . .115


The Chieftains of Aidhne — Brian Boroimhe marries Mor, daughter
of Flan, Lord of Aidhne— Maelrunaidh CHeyne commands a
division of the Irish army at Clontarf — Is slain in that
engagement, with most of his tribe, . .127


Chieftains of Kilmacdaagh in the eleventh and twelfth centuries —
Wars between the Princes of Thomond and Connaught— Hugh
O'Connor slain at Turlogh Aidhne, near Clarinbridge — Raids on
Thomond — Kilmacduagh invaded, 1116, by O'Brien — Roveheagh
attacked — O'Brien retreats— Again, 1117, invades Kilmsu^uagh
— O'Brien defeated — Chiefs of Aidhne inaugurated at Rove-
heagh — In 1133, Turlogh O'Brien invades Kilmacduagh —
Destroys Roveheagh and ravages the West — O'Connor invades
Munster 1161 — Herenachs, or lay patrons, faiin the Termon,
or Church lands — O'Heynes Herenachs of Kilmacduagh —
Synod of Kells, 131


Chieftains of Kilmacduagh in the thirteenth century — Aims of
Roderick O'Connor frustrated by the rivalry of his children-
Treachery of Murrouffh O'Connor — Roderick retires to Aidhne
—He abdicates— BatUe of Kilmacduagh, 1199— Its consequences
—Invasions of Kilmacduagh by O'Brien — O'Heyne is blinded
by O'Connor — Owen O'Heyne defeats O'Brien — Battle of
ijrdrahan, 1225 — The De Burgos — Was William de Burgo
conqueror of Connaught?— Episcopal succession, .142


The De Burgos drive the CFlahertvs from Moyseola— Richard de
Bui^ as king-maker— Owen O^Heyne, Chief of Kilmacduagh,

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makes peace with the English — They help him to invade
Thomond — He helps the English in Connemara — His death —
Walter de Bur&^o, Earl of Ulster, seizes the Castle of Ardrahan,
1264 — The (yClerys driven from Kilmacduash by his sons—
Their lands are seized by Hubert and Redmond Burke, younger
brothers of the Red Earl— Battle of Athenry — Episcopal suc-
cession, ......*• 156


On the death of the Earl of Ulster, the Clanricarde territory is
claimed by the Connaught De Burgos — William of Annaghkeen
first Mac William Oughter — ^Various branches of the O'Heyne
family — The O'CahiUs and O'Shaughnessys — The episcopal
succession, ........ 168


Corcomroe territory coextensive with Kilfenora Diocese — The O'Con-
nors and O'Louf^hlins, its chieftains — The Abbey erected, a.d.
1200, for Cistercians — A branch house established at Kilshanny
— John, Abbot of Coi-comroe, Bishop of Eilmacduagh — ^Exist-
ing remains at Corcomroe — Connor O'Brien killed at the battle
of Suidhne, A.D. 1267— Battle of Corcomroe, a.d. 1317— Monu-
ment of O'Loughlin, King of Burren — O'Loughlin of Mucinis
executed by Captain Bralmzon, a.d. 1548— Grants of the Abbey
lands made to O'Brien of Ennistymon, with the lands of the
O'Connors— The O'Dalys of Finievara— Donogh More O'Daly,
the Ovid of Ireland, and other bards of Burren, = . . .178


The Mac Williams of Clanricarde— Ulick "the Fair"— Ulick "the
Red ''—Ulick " of Knockto "—Battle of Knockto— Richard " the
Great" of Dunkellin marries lady Man^et Butler — He builds
the castle and fort of Dunkellin — The Burkes inaugurated
on " Cahir an Earla," near Roveheagh — He makes new grants
to AtheniY Abbey — Dies 1630— Ulick " na g-Ceann," unpopular
with his kinsmen, is plundered by them — His ener^ — He is
raised to the peerage at Greenwich, 1st July 1646— The court
pageant — He is presented with Brian Boroimhe's harp —
Keceives a grant of the Church lands of Clonfert — Dies 1544—
Litigation between his " wives " — Episcopal succession, . . 191


The Lord of Kinel Aedh is created Baronet, but remains true to
his religion — The Lord Deputy encamps at Gort, and is enter-
tained by him — His sons, Sir Roger and Dermot " Reagh " —

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Richard Saxonach, second Earl of Clanricarde, obtains a grant of
the Church lands of Eilmacduagh, and of many other reliffious
houses — He is a Catholic — He marries the daughters of the
first and second Earls of Thomond — His sons Ulick and John,
"the Mac an Earlas"— Earl Richard arrested, a.d. 1672— His
sons rise in revolt — Executions at Galway — Earl Richard dies,
A.D. 1582 — Sir Roger CyShaughnessy -— His brother Dermot
betrays the Primate, Dr. Creagh, and receives the thanks and
support of Queen Elizabeth — He claims the family estates on
his brother's death, and is opposed by his nephew — ^They die
in mortal combat — Perrot's "Indentures of Composition" —
Their character— They are accepted in Clanricarde by most —
The CHeynes of Lydecane Casue— Episcopal succession, . 204


Sir Richard Bingham Chief Commissioner of Composition — He
destroys Clonuane Castle, and executes its lora, who was
regarded as the Pope's chief champion— O'Donnell lays siege to
Atlienry, and wastes the country to Oranmore and Galway —
Ulick, third Earl of Clanricarde, supports Endish interests,
and opposes CDonnell in the North — O'DonneU invades Clan-
ricarde, and plunders Iser Kelly and Kinvara — In the following
year he again enters Clanricarde, and encamps at Ruaidh
Bheitheach, and invades Thomond — Is secretly supported by
the discontented chiefs — In 1600 he again invades Clan-
ricarde, and plunders the eastern districts of Kilmacduagb— He
enters Thomond, and returns with his booty by Corcomroe and
Kinvara — The Qeraldine League — Dermot O'Connor's connec-
tion with it— Is massacred with his men at Gort — Activity of
Redmond Burke, nephew of the Earl of Clanricarde— Episcopal
succession — Valuation of parishes under Elizabeth, . . 224


Distinguished families in Kilmacduagh Diocese in the opening of
the seventeenth century — The Marchioness of Clanric^e
retained Kilcolgan Castle — Edmond Burke, brother of the Earl
of Clanricarde. resided in Kilcoman Castle— Redmond Burke of
Kilcoman — Tne Burkes of Cloghcroke Castle — John Burke of
Clc«hcroke, Sheriff of Clanricarde — Honoria Burke of Clogh-
croke, wife of the third Earl of Clanricarde — Rev. Thomas de
Burgo, O.P., a member of the femily — ^Their estates become
Lambert property — The Burkes of Cahirforvace — The De
Burgos of^Mannin Castle — The Mac Huberts of Iser KcJly —
Rev. William de Burgo, O.P., a member of the family — The
Mac Redmond Burkes of Ballyconnell — The Burkes of Ballylee
Castle— The Burkes of Tullyra— The CHeynes of Lydecane
Castle— The Kilkellys of Clo^ballymore Castle— The O'Shaugh-
nessys of the period — The OTahys — Episcopal succession, . 242

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Sir Roger (VSliaughiiessj and the Galway jurors — His son, Sir
Dermot, a member of the Confederate Council, . . 261


Dr. Hugh de Burgo, Bishop of Kilmacduagh, and the Confederate
Movement, . . . .265


Dr. Kirwan's tribute to the character of Sir Roger O'Shaughnessy —
He supports the Confederates as Lieutenant-Colonel — His son
raises a troop of fifty men — Galway betrayed — Dominick Bodkin.
Nicholas French, and Richard Kirwan rewarded for their " gooa
services" — The Castle of Gort besieged by Ludlow — He shoots
forty inmates and bums the castle — O'Shaughnessy's property
confiscated — Redmond Burke of Kilcoman and Edmond nieyler
Burke of Moyode deprived of their lands — The Taylors get
possession of the castle and lands of Castle MacGrath — Lady
Clanricarde, restored to Kilcolgan Castle by Charles, is again
expelled — The castle given to Captain Mor^n — Clanricarde
and O'Shaughnessy restored — How Dunkellin and Kiltartan
were transplanted — Sir Roger O'Shaughnessy's will — Exile of
Rev. J. Fahy, O.P., and Rev. William de Burgo, O.P.— Their
character and career, ...... 294


By the "Applotment" of Sir Roger O'Shaughnessy and others,
Galway contributes £2410, 15s. 3d. monthly toward the mainten-
ance of King James — Sir Roger dies, at Gort ten days after the
King's defeat at the Boy ne— Galway besieged — De Ginkle places
Captain Morran at Kilcolgan — He intercepts Luttrell's supplies
for Galway— Captain Marcus French and Arthur French betray
the town — They acquire propertv in Kilmacduagh — Roebuck
French of Durus — ratrick French of Clogh — James French —
His daughter marries De Basterot, President of Bordeaux
Parliament, 1770— Their family at Durus— The Frenches of
Tyrone and Rahasane — Lamberts of Aggard and Creg Clare
acquire property — Royal grants to Dean Dudley Persse— The
Martins of Tullyra permitted to retain their property — Rev.
Thomas de Burgo of Cloghcroke exiled — His career — Rev.
Edward de Bur^o of Cahirforvace, O.P. — His career and writings
— The Registration Act — Episcopal succession^ . . . 306

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The (ySliauglinessy estates are declared confiscated, and conferred
on Thomas Frendergast for ''acceptable services "—His "dis-
covery of the assassination plot" — "William (yShaughnes^ serves
in the French Army— His splendid career — Colman CShaugh-
nessy, Bishop of Ossory, claims the family estates — The suit
against John Prendergast Smyth continued by Roebuck
(rShau^hnessy and by his son Joseph, who takes possession of
the family mansion at Gort— O'Shaughnessy's defeat and ruin^ —
Episcopal succession— Dr. OMadden — Dr. F. de Burgo — Dr.
Eilkelly, Bishop of Kilmacduagh and Eilfenora, . . .329


The Kirwan family — Kirwans owners of Ballyturrin — Richard
Eirwan, LL.D., etc., bom at Cloghballymore — His eminence as
a writer — His death — Sibilla Fi;ench marries Blake of Ballma-
fad, who becomes owner of Clogh — Redingtons of Kilcoman —
Thomas Redington files bills of discovery against his Catholic
brother of Eilcoman — Richard Gregory of London purchases the
Coole and Einvara estates— Burke Eyre acquires the Cloon
estates— Stafford Eyre's Inquisition — Dean Netnercoat gives his
returns of the Papists in 1766 — Episcopal succession, . . 341


John Prendergast Smyth inherits his uncle's estates — He is raised
to the peerage as Baron Kiltartan and Viscount Gort — He
adopts (i)lonel Vereker, his nephew, as his heir — Lough Cutra
Castle built — Beauty and historic interest of the surroundings —
Mineral productions of the district — Episcopal succession — Dr.
Dillon's pastoral — Declaration of the Clergy of the united
diocese— Dr. Concannon — Dr. Archdeacon— Dr. French, . 364


Parishes of Kilmacduagh and Kiltartan — Town of Gort: Father
Duffy is appointed parish priest — He builds the church — His
character and career — The Very Rev. M. Nagle succeeds — His
career — Parishes of Kilmacduagh and Kiltartan united — The
Very Rev. T. Shannon succeeds — His labours and career — The
present incumbent — Recent church extension, . . . 3§9


The Parish and Church of Kinvara; succession of priests — The
Parish and Church of Ballindereen ; succession of priests —
Parish and Churches of Clarinbridge ; succession of priests —

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The Parish and Churches of Crau^hwell ; succession of priests —
The Parish and Church of Beagh ; succession of priests — The
Parish and Church of Ardrahan ; succession of priests — The
Parish and Church of Kilbecanty ; succession of priests — ^The
Parish and Church of Kilthomas ; succession of priests — Parish
and Churches of Kilchrist; succession of priests — Episcopal
succession — Dr. Fallon — His Grace Dr. MacEvilly — His Grace
Dr. Carr — Dr. Mac Cormack, .....





DuNQORA Castle,

Cathedral and Towbb of Kilmacduaoh,


Castle Dalt, .
CooLB Pare, .
Convent Schools, Gort,
St. Colman's Church, Gort,



The Author acknowledges his indebtedness to Miss Wyne, Loughrea,
from whose accurate photographs most of the illustrations have been

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Introductory — ^Ancient territory of Hy Fiachrach Aidhne coextensive
with the Diocese of Eilmacduagh — Its conterminous districts — Early
Belgic settlements at Lough Cutra and Cam Conail — Lu^d Mac
Conn lands at Maree, and defeats the Irish monarch Art at Turlogh
Art — Fin Mac Cumhail in Aidhne — Early occupiers of the territory
descendants of Prince Fiachra — His son Dathy — ^Epghan Aidhne
fostered hy one of the BeJgic trihes of the district.

It is necessary to fix with as much clearness as possible the
position of the principal districts to which reference shall be

Online LibraryJerome FaheyThe history and antiquities of the diocese of Kilmacduagh → online text (page 1 of 50)