Knockaderry/Cloncagh is a parish in West Limerick. The nearest primary towns to the parish are Newcastlewest and Rathkeale, the former being just 3.5 miles away. The parish is bounded to the north by Rathkeale, to the south by Mahoonagh and Kilmeedy, to the east by Ballingarry and to the west by Newcastlewest. The population of the parish is approximately 1,200, although the area is currently experiencing problems with rural depopulation.
The name Knockaderry is from the Irish Cnoc an Doire, which means 'the hill of the Oak'. There is still an oak grove evident near the village. Cloncagh, originally spelt 'Clouncagh', which comes from the Irish Cluain Cath, means 'the meadow of the battle'. During the ministry of Canon Lyons as parish priest, the "u" in Clouncagh was dropped although it can still be seen on some of the signs entering the parish.
Knockaderry was once in the parish of Clonelty. The present day parish was initially known as the parish of Grange. By 1704 the name had been changed to the parish of Clouncagh, Clonelty (Ballynoe) and Grange, which were the old pre-Reformation parishes. With the death in 1853 of Clouncagh's parish priest, Fr James Quillinan it was decided to unite the parishes and Fr Denis O'Brien became the parish priest of the new parish of Knockaderry/Clouncagh.
St Maidoc or Maedoc first introduced Christianity to the area in the sixth century when he built an abbey here. There is a legend that St Patrick was in this area spreading the gospel, it is claimed that he rested one night near the site of the old church of Cloncagh in a small enclosure.
A patent was granted to John Jephson in 1711 for the holding of fairs in Knockaderry.
The village of Knockaderry was burned to the ground in 1789
when, according to Begley, a maid "Carelessly left a candle lighting
when retiring to rest. This set fire to some straw in the room and the flames
spread rapidly to the little street consuming all before it, but fortunately
no lives were lost."
St Mary's Church in Cloncagh was built in 1840 after the mass house in the area was destroyed by storm damage in 1839 during the Night of the Big Wind. Fr Daniel Hourigan was parish priest for a number of years in the 1740s and left a chalice with his name engraved on it to 'Clouncagh' church. The original roof still remains intact on the church. St Mary's church is noted for its carved wooden altar.
There are statues to the Sacred Heart to the left of the main altar and to Our Lady Queen of Peace to the right of the altar. The people of the parish donated the Stations of the Cross. There is a monument to Fr Denis O'Brien in the church.
Buried within the church are:
Fr James Quillinan
PP from 1822-1853
Died in 1853
Fr Denis O'Brien
PP from 1842-1868
Died in March 1868
Fr Cornelius McCarthy
PP from 1868-1885
Died in 1885
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
Fr Daniel O'Callaghan
PP from 1946-1956
Canon Timothy Lyons, PP from 1964-1993, is buried in the new
cemetery adjoining the church.
St Munchin's Church, the present day church in Knockaderry, was built in 1840 while Denis O'Brien was the parish priest. As stated earlier, the parish was not joined with Clouncagh until 1853. A small holy water font on the left-hand side of the nave near the altar bears the inscription "T. D'Alton Sculptor 1820". The marble altar, which was made by Costelloes of Kilmallock, as well as the altar rails and gates, was donated by W. Power of Chesterfield in 1897 at a cost of £800. Of these three items, only the marble altar remains, as the altar rails were removed during 1972.
In 1908/9, the church was completely renovated. The walls were raised, and the church was re-roofed, at a cost of £1200. Recently, planning permission was granted to build a new sacristy at the back of the church and a porch at the front of the church. The marble reredos was removed from the church interior to be cleaned and reconstructed during the work on the church. The gallery over the main door has been removed and the two new galleries have been built in the church transepts. With voluntary help and contributions from the parishioners' money, the church has been kept in good condition over the years. A new church porch was built during 1999 and 2000.
Over the main door of the church, there is a stained glass
window of St Patrick and St Ita that is to the memory of members of the Power
family. Most of the windows in the church are of a plain design. However,
the stained glass windows to the left and right of the altar were donated
to the memory of Patrick and Horiona Mulqueen respectively. These windows
depict the Sacred Heart and the Virgin Mary.
On the left hand side of the church there is a statue to the Sacred Heart while on the opposite side there is a statue to Mary. William Power of Chesterfield and his sister Anastasia donated the marble altar, rails and gates in memory of their family.
Buried within the church is:
Fr D. McCarthy
PP from 1885 to 1890
Died February 15th 1890
Buried in the grounds of the church is:
Canon John O'Shaughnessy
PP from 1890 to 1924
Cloncagh church ruins are situated in the centre of Cloncagh graveyard. In 1840, J. O'Donovan stated that "the nave is thirty seven feet in length and sixteen feet in breadth but the dimensions of the choir cannot be determined." John Begley describes the old church at Cloncagh to be in a state of dilapidation. Only the north wall and the west gable of the church now remain.
Begley believed that the church was connected to St Maedoc's monastery. The church is located in a seven-acre bivallate ring fort. During the Earl of Desmond's revolt, in 1579, the Irish returning from the Battle of Monasteranenagh sheltered in the church. a Holy Well near the church is dedicated to St Patrick.
There is a record of the burning of Clouncagh church in 1326 by the Irish in their war with the Normans. It is possible that the present ruin was built on the site of this original church, although we could find nothing to substantiate this theory. The original church structure may have been part of the monastic site reputed to be established by St Maedoc in the seventh century.
There is a church ruin in the townland of Ballynoe called Clonelty. According to Lewis, the church of Clonelty is supposed to have been founded by St Ita in the seventh century. However, St Ita is known to have died in the sixth century. O'Donovan suggests that St Mida, or Ida was the patron saint of the church of Clonelty.
It is possible that there may have been a timber structure
in place before the stone church was built. This ruin, which is thought to
date from pre-Norman times, measures about 50 feet in length and 21 feet in
width. The doorway of the church is in the form of an archway. This church
was used as a place of Protestant worship in the 18th century.
There are church ruins and a cemetery in the townland of Grange. It is unknown whom the church was dedicated to. The graveyard is still in use. In 1840 John O'Donovan described the church as being "sixty two and a half feet long by twenty-one and a half feet". O'Donovan also tells us that the walls were in a perfect state in 1840 and that, at the time, the church was only recently out of use.
Westropp mentions church ruins in Ballyhahill and Kiltanna, but no trace of these structures remains.
There appeared to be traces of a church ruin in Kilcolman
cemetery. However, we did not find any references to such a church in our
The modern graveyard at Cloncagh was laid out on lands purchased from the Hickey family in 1959 and is beside the present day church. There are three other cemeteries in the parish.
In the old graveyard at Cloncagh there are many old headstones, some of which date back to the 1680s. Westropp records an inscription on the north wall to the O'Sullivan family, which dates from this time.
There is also a tomb to the D'Arcy family, who were local
landlords and lived in Ahalin, and later in Knockaderry House. This tomb dates
back to the early 1800s and was built in memory of Mary D'Arcy who died on
May 22nd 1800 aged 10 and her mother Conyens who died in 1809. John Tierney
of Ballyscanlan in Rathkeale built the tomb. Each year the grounds are cleaned
up as part of FÁS work schemes, with the co-operation of the Knockaderry/Cloncagh
Council and Limerick County Council.
In the townland of Kilcolman there is a cemetery, which is still in use. A monk by the name of Colman came to the area and formed a settlement, which overlooked the area now known as Rathkeale. Fr Crawford suggested that this area might have been the site of a mass rock because of the extensive view of the surrounding countryside. Most of the people interred in this graveyard are from the Rathkeale area.
There appears to be part of a church ruin in the cemetery. The oldest headstone that we found in this graveyard was in memory of John Brown, who died on the 30th of June, 1769, aged 16.
There is also a graveyard in the townland of Grange. The oldest
headstone that we came across here was in memory to Michael James Woulfe who
died in November 1844.
St Patrick's Well is situated about 200 yards from the back of the old church in Cloncagh. This is the only well in the parish at which rounds are still made.
The well was refurbished in the 1970s. In 1999, the dedication at the well was held in May, not on March 17th as usual. The congregation, led by Fr Crawford, walked from the church at Cloncagh to the old cemetery at Cloncagh, and from there on to the well. This route chosen for this walk symbolised the circle of life and the connection between life, death and the water of life.
Local tradition associates St Patrick with the origins of the well. While St Patrick was praying in the area at a rock called Leacht Phadraig, he saw a serpent approaching the church. He threw his prayer book at the serpent, and in doing so banished it forever from the area. The well sprang up where his prayer book hit the ground.
It is claimed that the water can cure blindness and that if your wish is to be granted, you will see a fish in the well.
There were three other wells in the parish. Two of these were in the townland of Cloncagh. Lady's Well has disappeared and there are no longer any devotions at Sunday's Well.
In the old parish of Clonelty, there was a well called Tobermeedy
in the townland of Lissaniska West. The well, which was dedicated to St Ida,
was faced with stone and was in an enclosure, now overgrown with bushes. This
enclosure was thought to be a burial ground. The well is believed to have
moved from Moviddy townland.
Beside the church at Knockaderry, there is a Marian shrine that was erected in 1963. The statue was shipped from Rome to Limerick at a cost of £41. Devotions are held here in May and October.
There are a number of stories associated with the life and times of St Maidoc. St Maidoc was born in Co. Cavan to a noble family about the year 560 AD. He went to Wales to study under St David and later became a Bishop. He died in 632 AD and is buried in Ferns.
On receiving news that some of his family was being held captive in Hy Conaill Gabhra, which is the present barony of Connello. Maidoc went to see the Chief who refused to have an audience with him. In response to this, Maidoc went on a fast for three days outside the entrance to the fort.
When he ended his fast, the Chief's beloved daughter died
suddenly. Her mother brought her body outside to Maidoc who gave her life
again. However, the Chief was still refusing to free his prisoners. Maidoc
began to curse the Chief and a small boy wished that the curse would fall
on a rock to make the Chief see the power of Maidoc. The rock was divided
into parts and the Chief began to repent and freed Maidoc's family and offered
land to Maidoc to build a monastery.
|English Name||Irish Name||Meaning|
|Arddrine||Ard Draighin||The high place of the blackthorn|
|Aughalin||Áith Liní||Meaning uncertain|
|Ballingowan||Baile an Ghabhann||The town of the smith|
|Ballybeggane||Baile Uí Bheagáin||The town of Ó Beagáin|
|Ballybrown||Baile an Bhrúnaigh||The town of An Brúnach|
|Ballyfraley||Baile Uí Fhreáile||The town of Ó Freáile|
|Ballyhahill||Baile Uí Sháithil||The town of Ó Sáithil|
|Ballykennedy North||Baile Uí Chinnéide||The town of Ó Cinnéide|
|Ballykennedy South||as above|
|Ballynarooga Beg||Baile na Ruaige||The town of the rout|
|Ballynarooga More||as above|
|Ballynarooga North||as above|
|Ballynarooga South||as above|
|Ballynoe||An Baile Nua||The new town|
|Carrowgar||An Cheathrú Ghearr||The short quarterland|
|Carrowmore||An Cheathrú Mhór||The big quarterland|
|Cloncagh||Cluain Cath||Meadow of the battles|
|Evegalahoo||Uíbh Gallachú||The descendants of Gallchúr|
|Gorteen East||An Goirtín||The small field|
|Gorteen West||as above|
|Gortnacreha Lower||Gort na Creiche||The field of the plunder|
|Gortnacreha Upper||as above|
|Gortroe||An Gort Rua||The red field|
|Grange Lower||An Ghráinseach||The grange|
|Grange Upper||as above|
|Kilgolban||Cill Ghulbain||The church of Gulban|
|Kilnamona||Cill na Móna||The church of the bogland|
|Kiltanna||Cill tSeanach||The church of Seanach|
|Kilcoleman East||Cill Cholmáin||The church of Colmán|
|Kilcoleman West||as above|
|Knockaderry||Cnoc an Doire||The hill of the oak wood|
|Lissaniska East||Lios an Uisce||The enclosure of the water|
|Lissaniska West||as above|
|Moveddy||Maigh Mhíde||The plain of Míde|
|Rathfreedy||Ráth Bhroíle||Meaning uncertain|
|Teernahilla||Tír na hAille||Meaning uncertain|
|Teervena||Tír Mhaonaigh||The land of Maonach|
|1704 - ?||Hugh Conway|
|? – c.1745||Daniel Hurley|
|c.1745 - ?||Daniel Hourigan|
|? - 1800||Denis Cronin|
|1800 - 1816||Garret O’Sullivan|
|1816 - 1819||James Walsh|
|1819 - 1822||William Fitzgerald|
|1822 – 1836||James Quillinan|
|1837||John Quillinan||Denis Meany|
|1838||John Quillinan||Denis Meany|
|1839||John Quillinan||Denis O'Brien|
|1840||John Quillinan||Denis O’Brien|
|1841||John Quillinan||Denis O’Brien|
|1844||Denis O’Brien||James Quaid|
|1845||Denis O’Brien||James O’Donnell|
|1846||Denis O’Brien||James O’Donnell|
|1847||Denis O’Brien||John Clifford|
|1848||Denis O’Brien||Maurice Ahern|
|1849||Denis O’Brien||Maurice Ahern|
|1854||Denis O’Brien||James Moran|
|1855||Denis O’Brien||James Moran|
|1856||Denis O’Brien||William Toumy|
|1857||Denis O’Brien||James Moran|
|1858||Denis O’Brien||John O’Neil|
|1859||Denis O’Brien||Timothy Halpin|
|1860||Denis O’Brien||Timothy Halpin|
|1861||Denis O’Brien||James H. Roche|
|1862||Denis O’Brien||James H. Roche|
|1863||Denis O’Brien||James H. Roche|
|1864||Denis O’Brien||James H. Roche|
|1865||Denis O’Brien||James H. Roche|
|1866||Denis O’Brien||James H. Roche|
|1867||Denis O’Brien||Stephen Hayes|
|1868||Denis O’Brien||Stephen Hayes|
|1869||C. McCarthy||William Higgins|
|1870||C. McCarthy||William Higgins|
|1871||C. McCarthy||William Higgins|
|1872||C. McCarthy||William Higgins|
|1873||C. McCarthy||William Higgins|
|1874||C. McCarthy||William Higgins|
|1875||C. McCarthy||Edmond Tracey|
|1876||C. McCarthy||Eugene Sheehy|
|1877||C. McCarthy||Eugene Sheehy|
|1878||C. McCarthy||C. Kenny|
|1879||C. McCarthy||C. Kenny|
|1880||C. McCarthy||Denis O’Keeffe|
|1881||C. McCarthy||C. Kenny|
|1882||C. McCarthy||John Conway|
|1883||C. McCarthy||John Conway|
|1884||C. McCarthy||John Conway|
|1885||C. McCarthy||Daniel Daly|
|1886||C. McCarthy||Daniel Daly|
|1887||C. McCarthy||Daniel Brosnahan|
|1888||Denis McCarthy||Daniel Brosnahan|
|1889||Denis McCarthy||Daniel Brosnahan|
|1890||Denis McCarthy||Daniel Brosnahan|
|1891||John O’Shaughnessy||W. Fenton|
|1892||John O’Shaughnessy||Robert Ambrose|
|1893||John O’Shaughnessy||Robert Ambrose|
|1894||John O’Shaughnessy||Robert Ambrose|
|1895||John O’Shaughnessy||Robert Ambrose|
|1896||John O’Shaughnessy||Robert Ambrose|
|1897||John O’Shaughnessy||Patrick Murphy|
|1898||John O’Shaughnessy||Patrick Murphy|
|1899||John O’Shaughnessy||James Foley|
|1900||John O’Shaughnessy||James Foley|
|1901||John O’Shaughnessy||James Foley|
|1902||John O’Shaughnessy||James Foley|
|1903||John O’Shaughnessy||James Foley|
|1904||John O’Shaughnessy||James Foley|
|1905||John O’Shaughnessy||James Foley|
|1906||John O’Shaughnessy||John Carr|
|1907||John O’Shaughnessy||John Carr|
|1908||John O’Shaughnessy||John Carr|
|1909||John O’Shaughnessy||John Carr|
|1910||John O’Shaughnessy||John Carr|
|1911||John O’Shaughnessy||John Carr|
|1912||John O’Shaughnessy||Ed. Fitzgerald|
|1913||John O’Shaughnessy||Ed. Fitzgerald|
|1914||John O’Shaughnessy||Ed. Fitzgerald|
|1915||John O’Shaughnessy||Ed. Fitzgerald|
|1916||John O’Shaughnessy||Ed. Fitzgerald|
|1917||John O’Shaughnessy||Ed. Fitzgerald|
|1918||John O’Shaughnessy||Ed. Fitzgerald|
|1919||John O’Shaughnessy||Martin Carroll|
|1920||Canon John O’Shaughnessy||Martin Carroll|
|1921||Canon John O’Shaughnessy||Patrick Finn|
|1922||Canon John O’Shaughnessy||Patrick Finn|
|1923||Canon John O’Shaughnessy||Patrick Finn|
|1924||Canon John O’Shaughnessy||Patrick Finn|
|1925||James Foley||D. Fitzgerald|
|1926||James Foley||D. Fitzgerald|
|1927||James Foley||Robert Dunworth|
|1928||James Foley||Robert Dunworth|
|1929||James Foley||Robert Dunworth|
|1930||James Foley||Robert Dunworth|
|1931||James Foley||William Boyce|
|1932||James Foley||William Boyce|
|1933||James Foley||William Boyce|
|1934||James Foley||William Boyce|
|1935||James Foley||William Boyce|
|1936||James Foley||William Boyce|
|1937||Michael Leahy||William Boyce|
|1938||Michael Leahy||William Boyce|
|1939||Michael Leahy||William Boyce|
|1940||Michael Leahy||William Boyce|
|1941||Hugh O’Connor||William Boyce|
|1942||Hugh O’Connor||William Boyce|
|1943||Hugh O’Connor||William Boyce|
|1944||Hugh O’Connor||William Boyce|
|1945||Hugh O’Connor||William Boyce|
|1946||Hugh O’Connor||William Boyce|
|1947||Daniel O’Callaghan||William Boyce|
|1948||Daniel O’Callaghan||William Boyce|
|1949||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1950||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1951||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1952||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1953||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1954||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1955||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1956||Daniel O’Callaghan||Dermot McCarthy|
|1957||Thomas Costello||Dermot McCarthy|
|1958||Thomas Costello||Dermot McCarthy|
|1959||Thomas Costello||William Boyle|
|1960||Thomas Costello||William Boyle|
|1961||Thomas Costello||William Boyle|
|1962||Thomas Costello||Michael O’Connor|
|1963||Thomas Costello||John Sheehy|
|1964||Thomas Costello||John Sheehy|
|1965||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1966||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1967||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1968||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1969||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1970||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1971||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1972||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1973||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1974||Timothy Lyons||John Sheehy|
|1975||Timothy Lyons||Michael Irwin|
|1976||Timothy Lyons||Maurice O'Sullivan|
|1977||Timothy Lyons||Maurice O’Sullivan|
|1978||Timothy Lyons||Maurice O’Sullivan|
|1981||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1982||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1983||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1984||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1985||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1986||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1987||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1988||Timothy Lyons||Liam O'Callaghan|
|1989||Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1990||Canon Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1991||Canon Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1992||Canon Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1993||Canon Timothy Lyons||Liam O’Callaghan|
|1994||Canon Timothy Lyons||Terry Bermingham|
|1995||Thomas Crawford||Terry Bermingham|
|1996||Thomas Crawford||Terry Bermingham|
|1997||Thomas Crawford||Terry Bermingham|
*The parish of Knockaderry was divided during the tenure of James Quillinan as parish priest. Fr Quillinan became parish priest of the new parish of Clouncagh while Fr Denis O'Brien became parish priest of Knockaderry. This agreement lasted from 1842 until the death of Fr Quillinan in 1853.
The list of Priests from 1704 to 1836 is compiled from information gained in Begley's History of the Diocese of Limerick Vol. III page 598. The remaining years are compiled from the Catholic Directories. Information contained in a directory of any given year refers to what happened the previous year. For example if a priest is recorded in the 1954 directory as being in a particular parish, this would mean that he was actually there in 1953.
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