Diocese of Limerick | Heritage Project | Index | Search | Help

Diocesan Heritage Project
Knockaderry-Cloncagh Parish

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Marian Shrine | Famous People | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

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
Aged 63

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 research.



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.


Holy Wells

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.


Marian Shrine

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.



Famous People

St Maidoc

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



List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
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
1842 Denis O’Brien*  
1843 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
1850 Denis O’Brien  
1851 Denis O’Brien  
1852 Denis O’Brien  
1853 Denis O’Brien  
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
    Michael Ryan
1921 Canon John O’Shaughnessy Patrick Finn
    Michael Toomey
1922 Canon John O’Shaughnessy Patrick Finn
    Michael Toomey
1923 Canon John O’Shaughnessy Patrick Finn
    Michael Toomey
1924 Canon John O’Shaughnessy Patrick Finn
    Michael Toomey
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
1979 Timothy Lyons  
1980 Timothy Lyons  
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
1998 Thomas Crawford  
1999 Thomas Crawford
2000 Thomas Crawford
2001 Thomas Crawford
2002 Thomas Crawford
2003 Thomas Crawford .
2004 Thomas Crawford .
2005 Thomas Crawford .
2006 John Keating .
2007 John Keating .

*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.

Year Parish Priest
1841 John Quillinan
1842 John Quillinan
1843 John Quillinan
1844 John Quillinan
1845 John Quillinan
1846 John Quillinan
1847 John Quillinan
1848 John Quillinan
1849 John Quillinan
1850 John Quillinan
1851 John Quillinan


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.

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Marian Shrine | Famous People | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Knockaderry-Cloncagh Parish Home | Back to Top

Diocese of Limerick | Heritage Project | Index | Search | Help

Website by Lúnasa Design