[Hand of J. O'Donovan:]

Parishes of Kilnamanoge, Lickmolassy, Killimer-Bullock and Abbey Gormacan.


Thos. A. Larcom Esq, R. Enginr.,

Loughrea Novr. 3rd 1838,

Dear Sir,

O'Conor has not returned yet from Mount Shannon; so that I am beginning to fear that he is knocked up somewhere. We cannot move to Gort till he returns.


This parish lying to the west of the Shannon and between the parish of Tirinascragh and the town of Portumna, is now called in Irish by the natives Cill na mBan Óg as if signifying the church of the young women, but this is in all probability a (modern) corruption, as it is called Kilmonology in an Inquisition taken in the reign of Car I and I incline to think that it may have been corrupted like Dunnamanoge near Carlow which has been proved to be a corruption of Moghna Moshenog. If the name of this parish be similarly corrupted, it may be inferred by analogy that the true name is Cill Mo-Shenog, but I have not been able to


find any clue to its history in the parish itself, as there is no holy well or other feature in the parish retaining the name of Mohenog or any other saint. The old church now called Kilnamonoge lies in a townland of the same name about 1½ mile to the north of the town of Portumna. It is in the Gothic style and apparently about 500 years old. It is 48 feet in length and 21 in breadth. The south side wall contains a doorway in the pointed style about 9 feet high, but its breadth cannot be ascertained as the chiselled stones have been picked out of it with the exception of the two which form the apex from which it appears that it was well built, and ornamented. [Fig. 38]

Upper part of doorway in Kilnamonoge old church.
Upper part of doorway in Kilnamonoge old church.

The same wall, contains a window in the round (large (wide)) lancet style perfect inside but destroyed on the outside with the exception of two stones at the top which are chiselled and ornamented and in this form:

Outer face of window in south side-wall of Kilnamonoge old church.
Outer face of window in south side-wall of Kilnamonoge old church.

There is no doubt {as appears from this and other specimens} that windows in the round lancet style were introduced into churches erected during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries as well as in those of the primitive ages of Christianity

The window in the east gable is totally destroyed, and the west gable and north side wall are featureless. The western half of this church was lofted(?) as appears from the joist-holes in the side walls, and there were two small windows (now nearly destroyed) in each side (wall) to light the upper room. I have generally found that those churches of the Gothic ages in which the doorway is nine feet high had one loft. There are two square recesses in the East gable (which were) evidently used for holding chalices and other things belonging to the altar.

There is a very large ash tree in this church yard opposite the south side wall, extending its (nine) aged arms far and wide. (The largest) One of these arms has been prostrated to the ground by a storm, but it still retains its vitality, and


will soon strike an independent root for itself. This is the largest tree I have yet seen in any church yard in Ireland, but I have seen a far more curious one in the church yard of Ballintober Abbey in the County of Mayo. It is an ash tree also, but seems to have grown an emblem of deformity to indicate the displeasure of God with the wicked individual over whose grave it was planted. Tradition is positive in asserting that it marks the grave of Shane na Sagart O'Mullowny, who was employed by the Government after the battle of Aughrim as a hunter of priests & Mountain Masses.

I find no other remain of the olden time in this parish but the Castle of Doire haidhbhne {Derry-hive-ny} which is a square tower in good preservation, said to have been built by Nora na gCaisleán, ancestress (ancestrix) of the Earl of Clanrickard. This turbulent and clever woman is as celebrated in story in story in


Sil-Anamchadha as Grainne Mhael is in Umhall or Nuala na meadoige in Clann Chonmhaighe. She flourished in the (in) [sic] heroine abounding reign of Elizabeth and deprived the O'Maddens of a considerable portion of their territory by treachery and hypocrisy, two excellent qualifications at this period, as exemplified in Tyrone, Gráine na g-Cearbhach and Lord Bacon.

This Nora of the castles is mentioned in the annals of the Four Masters but I have no reference to her in the Extracts now before me.



This parish lying in the southern extremity of the barony of Longford and bounded on the South and South East by that great expansion of the Shannon called Loch derg-dheirc, is called in Irish Lic Molaise wch. signifies St. Malaise's flag. The parish was so-called by every appearance, and according to the natives, from the hill on which the old church stands, being paved with rocks which appear as level as a flag on the surface. The Irish call all surfaces of this kind a Leac, such as Leac Liath, a kind of lime stone crust found in some soils, Leaca Ruadha {q? Geolog: name} and Leac Oighir, ice &c.

The old (original) church of St. Molaise, which was built on this Lackagh (flaggy) hill, has long since disappeared, and its site is occupied by the ruins of a little church erected at a comparatively modern period. It presents no interesting features.


There is no holy well or other topographical feature near this old church bearing the name of St. Molaise, from which one may infer that he has been long dethroned from his patronship of this parish, another having been set up in his place after the erection of the modern {or comparatively modern} Abbey at Portumna in the south-east of this parish.

We are informed by De Burgo in his Hibernia Dominicana, p. 303, 307, that the monks of the Cistercian abbey of Dunbrody in the County of Wexford had for a long time a chapel at Portumna wch. was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, but that being at length forsaken by them, O'Madden, dynast of the Country gave it up to the Dominicans, who, with the approbation of the monks of Dunbrody erected a friary here, and also a church, which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and the original patrons. At the same time they built a steeple, cemetery, and all other necessary offices. Pope Martin V granted a


bull to confirm their possessions, dated 8th October 1426, and on the 23rd of November following, he granted Indulgences to all who had contributed to the building. Archdall adds

The walls are still nearly entire, and plainly shew that the monastery of Portumna was by no means an ignoble structure. The ancient choir is now the parish church.

Archdall's Monasticon, p. 295.

The abbey and the ruins of Clanrickard's mansion seat lately destroyed by fire are the only antiquarian remains now visible at Portumna.

Portumna is written in Irish by the Four Masters Port Omna, which signifies the port or bank of the oak; Omna being an ancient word for oak, seemingly of a cognate origin with holm. (O'Clery explains Omna as Oak but I do not remember any ancient or modern name of a place in which it enters but Omna Renne, mentioned in the Tripartite Life of Patrick as near Donaghmoyn on the frontiers of the country of the Mugdorni.)

Let me have the passages in the annals of the Four Masters relating to Port omna. It first belonged to O'Madden, but he was deprived of it in the 1?th century by the ancestor of the Earl of Clanrickard. In an Inquisition taken at Galway in the year 1608, Portumna is mentioned as one of


the castles of the Earl of Clanrickard.

There is nothing else of antiquarian interest in this parish, as far as I could learn from the people, but a grave yard in the townland of Ballysruhuille. There are some strangely corrupted names of townlands in this parish but I have written my observations upon them in the field name-books, and I need not repeat them here.


This parish which lies north of that of Lickmolass, and between it and the parish of Abbey-Gormagan, is called in the Irish language Cill Íomair ({pronounced Kill-éémer}), which the natives understand to mean the church of St. Imor. The addition Bologue or, as they pronounce it, Bullock is postfixed to distinguish it from Killimor-Daly, a parish lying in the Barony of Kilconnell near Athenry. This, according to tradition was the principal establishment and the birth-place of St. Imor, whose life was preserved in the Country in Irish metre to a late period.


[In left-hand margin: The townlands of Ahanduffbeg, more, &c, in this parish are probably the Tirathain, Bealach tire-athain mentioned in the annals of the 4 Masters at the year 1595.]

Imor was a very respectable man living in Sil-Anmchadha a long time ago {tradition never remembers dates} and had no idea originally of becoming a saint, but had intended to apply himself to encreasing the number of the human family in a lawful manner {liberis procreandis operam dare sibi proposuit} and for this purpose he married a very beautiful girl, a native of Ely O'Carroll on the other side of the Shannon. But before he had seen her she had been wooed by another who was driven to desperation on hearing of her marriage with Imor, and he swore that he would never suffer her to be brought to Connaught. Accordingly on the day that Imor went with a party of his friends to take her home, he {his Munster rival}, having collected a body of the men of Slieve Bloom, attacked him on the way after he had crossed (the Shannon), and made a desperate effort to carry off the bride. But the Connaught (party) were equally vigorous in resisting, and the poor girl was


killed in the struggle between them!

After this Imor became a melancholy recluse and swore to (he would) dedicate his virginity to God. He never took holy orders, but still was always esteemed as an Irish Saint.

The old Church of Killimor stands a short distance to the west of the village of the same name immediately to the west of the road as you go to Loughrea, from which it is nine miles distant. It is the largest parish church of the period to which it must be referred, that I have yet seen in Ireland being 75 feet long and 18 broad. The greater part of the two side walls is destroyed, but the two gables, which are 75 feet asunder are in good preservation. The east gable contains a window in the pointed style now very much veiled with ivy, and the west gable is featureless. In the memory of Mr. McEgan of Killimer


there was a chapel connected with the south side of this church, called Seipéal Ui Mhaoilcheir, or Mulcary's Chapel, which is said to have been built by a respectable family of that name, whose burial place is there. This chapel was completely destroyed some years ago, and the family have destroyed (changed) their old name of O'Mulcare to Cary, which if not destruction is mutilation.

The oldest tombstone in this church is a monument to William O'Tressy, who died in the year 16-4.

St. Imor's well is situated on the side of the road immediately at the church. It is still considered somewhat sacred but the natives of Sil Anmchadha, who are becoming less and less credulous every year, never perform turrises at it


nor even take off their hats when passing by it, which argues a great falling off from the piety of their ancestors!

Killiane, Hibernicé Cill Liadhain, the name of a townland in this parish, seems to signify the church of Liadania, the mother of St. Kieran (the elder), but the natives inform me that there is no old church or grave yard or tradition of the former existence of such in this townland. (Killiane near Seirkieran in Ely O'Carroll still contains an old church dedicated to St. Liadania.) The only other grave yard in the parish besides the extensive one at Killimer, is in the townland of Killeen to which it has given its name, but in this children only are interred.

Is Imar, the patron of this parish mentioned in any of the ancient Irish lists of Saints? I am of opinion that he is St. Ibar, but I may be mistaken. Mr. McEgan who lives near the old church says that his life was recited in Irish metre by the old Sceluidhes in his own time (i.e. when he was young).



This parish lying between those of Killimer and Kilreekill is called in Irish Mainistir ua gCormacáin which signifies the monastery of the O'Cormacans, from a (small) monastery of that name, the ruins of which are still in existence.

Ware informs us that Monaster O'Gormagan, which was was otherwise called Monasterium de via nova, was founded for regular canons of St. Augustin under the invocation of the Virgin Mary by O'Gormagan, but he does not tell us in what year. We learn, however from King as quoted by Archdall that this monastery was in existence before the year 1309, for he states {but on what authority I know not} that in this year William Hackett


sued the abbot (of this house), Dermod O'Feigher for five acres of pasture and forty acres of turbary in Corballynenegal; Richard the son of Gilbert de Valle also sued the prior for fifty four acres of land with their appurtenances in Fynounta of wch. Dermot O'Feigher, the former abbot had unjustly disseized Gilbert his father.

Nothing else is known of this abbey save only that in the 34th year of the reign of Henry VIII, it was granted to Ulick, the first Earl of Clanrickard {See Lodge's Peerage Vol I, p. 60}.

This abbey is not mentioned in the annals of the Four Masters nor in any other mere Irish authority, as far as I know. The O'Gormacan who founded it before


the year 1309 must have been a man of some importance in Hy-Many at the time, and still I do not find the name among the petty chiefs of Hy-Many in the tract on that territory preserved in the book of Lecan folio 92, nor in any other authority. Does Mac Firbis give O'Carmacain or O'Gormacain in his Genealogy the Hy-Many or any where?

The name still exists in the neighbourhood of Abbey Gormagan, and it would appear from an Inquisition quoted by Archdall at Clonfert, that they were a family of the Sil-Anmchadha, and of some importance at the period of the General suppression of Monast[er]ies.

Henry O'Gonnacain was abbot, at the time of the general suppression of Monasteries. He never surrendered the abbey {Clonfert} but continued seized of the temporalities of it till his death, notwithstanding the king had, on the 24th of


November in the 35 (XXV(?)) year of his reign, united them for ever to the bishoprick. Immediately on the death of Henry William O'Gormacain supported by the sept of the O'Maddens procured the abbey from the pope and kept quiet possession thereof till about the year 1567.

In the townland of Holywell or (als) Carrowntober in this parish, there are (two) very celebrated holy wells called Tobar (Tobaracha) Bhréunaill, recté Tobar Breunainn i.e. St. Brendan's well {final nn being often changed to ll, as in Lough Ennell (Loch Ainninn)} at which turrises are performed on Sundays and Fridays. There is a cross and a heap of stones near them, at which the pilgrims pray

The people say that there was an old church called after St. Bridget in the townland of Kilbride, and a Killeen or small grave yard in the townland of Castletown. Does Colgan mention this Kilbride


in his list of the churches of St. Brigida published in Triad: Thau:?

The natives say that there were Castles in the townlands of Castletown, Castle Nancy and Drumtober, but I did not go to see them. They say that no part of the castle of Drumtober is now visible.

Your obedient Servant,
John O'Donovan