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Parteen-Meelick-Coonagh Parish

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

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

Most of the parish of Parteen/Meelick is situated in the county of Clare, although the Coonagh part of the parish is in the county of Limerick. Parteen, Meelick and Coonagh were assigned to the Diocese of Limerick at the Synod of Rathbrassill in 1111 AD when the boundaries of the dioceses were drawn up.

The village of Parteen was formerly known as Ardnacrusha but when the hydroelectric station opened in the area, the plant took the name for the station. In response, the locals decided to rename their village Parteen. Today the population of the parish is around 4,800 and growing due to the area's close proximity to Limerick City.

The name Parteen is derived from the Irish An Póirtín meaning the little port or landing place. Meelick is from the Irish Míliuc, which in turn is derived from Máighe Fhliuch, or the low marshy land. The Irish for Coonagh is Cuanach, a place indented with bays and harbours.

A notable feature of the parish is the Ardnacrusha HydroElectric Power Station. Building of the station commenced in 1925 under the direction of the German firm of Siemens & Schuckard of Berlin. As the Irish Free State was in its infancy, this was more than just a scheme that would give electricity to the country as a whole - it was also to show that the new country could provide for its citizens.

Thousands flocked to the area to work on this vast project. Rivers and streams had to be re-routed to accommodate the project, bridges were constructed, a 7 ½ mile stretch of land was dug out to form the Head Race from the Weir to Ardnacrusha, new railway lines were laid, and the power station itself was built.

The total cost of the project, completed in 1929, was £5 ½ million. Taoiseach William T. Cosgrave opened it on July 22nd 1929 and by the end of the year it was supplying electricity into the national grid.


There are presently two churches in use in the parish, one in the village of Parteen, and the other in Meelick village. Both churches were built during the term of Fr Edmond Sheehy as parish priest.

Parteen church is dedicated to St Patrick and was built between 1831 and 1835 at a cost of £764. The church was renovated in the 1950's, when a new chancel and porch were added.

On the wall of the church there is a Mission Cross that commemorates a mission by the Augustinian Fathers in April 1879. Inside, the church has a high ceiling and stained glass windows of a plain design.

There is a crucifix over the high altar. The background of the altar is blue. To the right of the altar, there is a statue to St Joseph and to the left of the altar there is a statue to the Virgin Mary.

Buried within the church are:

Garrett O'Sullivan
Died June 18 1874, aged 74
Parish Priest 1850 - 1874

Edmund Sheehy
Died November 24 1834, aged 52
Parish Priest 1816 - 1834

Buried in the grounds of the church are:

John Moloney
Died October 5 1957, aged 82
Parish Priest 1927 - 1949

Luke Glesson
Died June 22 1902, aged 75
Parish Priest 1878 - 1902

Canon Edmond Russell
Died February 29 1928, aged 80
Parish Priest 1902 - 1926

On the plaque to Fr Sheehy he is titled as parish priest of Kilquane & Meelick while Fr O'Sullivan is titled as parish priest of Parteen & Meelick.

Meelick church is dedicated to St John the Baptist and was built in the early 1830s by Fr Sheehy. This church was renovated in 1905. The church is surrounded by a graveyard. To the right of the church grounds, there is a seat that is to the memory of Patrick Quinn who died in 1997.

Inside the church, there is a statue to St Joseph on the left-hand side at the back of the church with a statue to St John the Baptist on the opposite side. Towards the centre of the church there are statues to the Virgin Mary and Sacred Heart. The ceiling of the church is wooden.

The stained glass window behind the altar is divided into three sections and depicts (from left to right) the Virgin Mary, the Sacred Heart and St Joseph. The artist, Harry Clarke, designed the windows. To the left of the altar, there is a shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help while to the right there is a shrine to The Baptism of Jesus by St John the Baptist.

Prior to the building of the present church in Parteen village in 1835, the church was situated between the present village and Kilquane graveyard. This church was built around 1704 and dedicated to St Patrick. No trace of the building remains standing today.

Before the building of the present day church in Meelick, there was a thatched chapel in Mountgordon at the foot of Brennan's Hill. No trace of this chapel now remains.

There is a church ruin in the townland of Kilquane. This church was ruined in the 17th century when it was destroyed during the Confederate Wars. However the first church on this site is believed to have dated from the 7th or 8th century. In The History & Folklore of Parteen and Meelick by Dónal Ó Riain and Seámas Ó Cinnéide, the authors suggest that the original church may have been the place of worship of the local aristocratic family.

Kilquane means the church of Cúan and mass is believed to have been celebrated here from the 10th century. With the building of the new church in Parteen in 1834, Kilquane started to fall into decay and all that remains is a small part of one wall of the church, which is covered in ivy.

The church ruin is not visible from the roadside but it is accessible through a roadway on the land of the Holmes family. Mass is usually celebrated once a year at the site on August 15th, weather permitting. The church ruin is about ½ mile south of Parteen village.

Locals also claim that there was an old church called Sean Chill that was located on Heffernan's land.



There is a new graveyard in the parish located in Ballycannon. This graveyard is under the care of Clare County Council and is located at a site midway between Parteen and Meelick. This graveyard was opened in 1987.

The graveyard at Kilquane is situated around the site of the church ruin. This graveyard contains a large number of tombs and vaults. There are large tombs to the Holmes and Fitzgerald families. The graveyard is kept in good condition and the oldest headstone that we came across was to the memory of Joane Mynaha who died in April 1708.

According to the Ordnance Survey Letters Clare Vol. II of 1839 Philip Mac Adam is also buried in Kilquane graveyard. Mac Adam showed the army of King William where they could cross the River Shannon to attack the city of Limerick from the north in 1691. A chain was placed across the river to enable the soldiers to cross the river. The chain was tide to a rock on the north side, which became known as Carraig a tSlabhra, the Rock of the Chain.

MacAdam died on 24 June 1729 at the age of 33 but during our visit to Kilquane cemetery we were unable to located Mac Adam's grave.

There is also a graveyard in the church grounds in Meelick village. The oldest headstone that we came across was to the Nix family. One of the inscriptions on the headstone was to Robert Nix who died on December 18th 1911.

There is a graveyard in Moneennagliggin South called Moneen. This graveyard is situated about 200 yards form the roadside. From the graveyard there is a clear view of the surrounding countryside. The graveyard has fallen into disuse in recent years. There are some tombs in the graveyard. The oldest headstone that we came across was from 1801 and it is to the memory of Margaret Donohue who died on July 7th of that year aged 17. There is no evidence of a church at this site.
There is also a famine graveyard in Rossmadda, near the Headrace canal belonging to the power station in Ardnacrusha. There was also a children's burial ground at this site. The site is visible but is now overgrown by trees.

According to local man John White, a number of Roman Catholics are buried in the grounds of the Church of Ireland church in Meelick. This church is sometimes referred to Punchbowl church even though it is in the townland of Knockroe. Three catholic families use this graveyard, the Ringroses, the Frosts, and the Woods. According to The History & Folklore of Parteen and Meelick there is a headstone to the Ringrose family in the graveyard. Today four plots to various members of the Frost family are clearly visible in the graveyard.

Alongside the main road in Meelick in the townland of Knockalisheen, there is a famine graveyard called Killavoha. The name is derived from the Irish Cill a Bothar, which means the Church of the Road. However, there is no evidence that a church was ever on this site. There is only one visible headstone in this small, narrow graveyard. It is to the memory of John Brinan (Brennan) who died on March 22nd 1727, aged 32.

There are references to a burial ground in Coonagh and a place for unbaptised children called Cealltrach in the townland of Clonconane in The History and Folklore of Parteen and Meelick.


Holy Wells

There is a Holy Well in Ballycannon North that is situated near the roadside at the back of a disused dwelling house. The well is no longer visited. Traditions about the well were handed down through the generations. The well is now over grown and is near a stream that passes behind the house.



There is a shrine to Our Lady at O'Connor's in Athlunkard. It was erected in the mid-1960's.



English Name Irish Name Meaning
Athlunkard Ath an Longphuirt The ford of the boatstead
Ballycannan East Baile Uí Chainín The town of Cannon
Ballycannan West as above  
Ballyfineen Baile Fhinghín The town of Finghin
Ballyglass An Baile Glas The green town
Ballykeelaun Baile Uí Chaolain O’Keelan’s town
Blackwater An Dubh Uisce The Black Water
Boolanacausk Bolán na Cásca The cowpasture at Easter
Bullsfarm Páirc an dTairach  
Cappantymore East Capach an Tí Mhór The tillage plot of the nettles
Cappantymore West as above  
Cloonoughter Cluain Uachtar The uppermost meadow
Clondrinagh Cluain Draighineach The meadow of the blackthorn
Coonagh Lower An Cuanach A place indented with bays
Coonagh Upper as above  
Derrybeg An Doire beag The little oak wood
Derrymore An Doire mór The great oak wood
Drummin An Drummín The little ridge
Fairyhill Cnoc na Síog The hill of the Fairies
Garraun An Garrán A shrubbery
Glennagross Gleann na gCros The valley of the crosses
Gortatogher Gort an Tóchair The field of the causeway
Gortgarraun Gort an Gharrán The garden of the shrubbery
Kilquane Cill Chúain The church of Cúan
Knockalisheen Cnoc Lisín The hill of the little fort
Knockballynameath Cnoc Bhaile na Méad The hill of the town of the Meads
Knocknaskeagh Cnoc na Sceach The hill of the thorn bushes
Knockroe An Cnoc Rua The red hills
Lakyle Leamh Choill The elm wood
Meelick   The low marshy land
Moneenagliggin North or Boston or Moneen Móinín na gCloigeann The little meadow of the skulls
Moneenagliggin South as above  
Parkroe An Pháirc Rua The red field
Parteen An Poirtín The little port
Quinspool North    
Quinspool South    
Reanabrone Réidh na Brón A marshy flat of the millstone
Rosmadda East Ros Madadh The dog’s wood
Rosmadda West as above  
St. Thomas Island    
Shannakyle An Sean Choill The old wood
Stonepark Páirc na gCloch The park of the stones
Woodcockhill Cnoc na gCreabhar The hill of the woodcocks



List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1704 - ? Francis Grady  
1722 - 1737 Bartholomew MacNamara  
1737 - 1740 Christopher Bermingham  
1740 - 1763 Francis Nolan  
1763 - 1769 Cornelius Kirby  
1769 - 1794 James Ryan  
1794 - 1806 James Ryan  
1806 - 1816 Denis Cahill  
1816 - 1834 Edmond Sheehy  
1834 – 1836 Maurice Fitzgibbon  
1837 Maurice Fitzgibbon Michael Egan
1838 Maurice Fitzgibbon  
1839 Maurice Fitzgibbon  
1840 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1841 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1842 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1843 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1844 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1845 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1846 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1847 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1848 Maurice Fitzgibbon Garrett O’Sullivan
1849 James O’Moore James O’Donnell
1850 James O’Moore Patrick Reeves
1851 No mention in this year’s Catholic Directory
1852 Garrett O’Sullivan Patrick Reeves
1853 Garrett O’Sullivan Patrick Reeves
1854 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor DD
1855 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor DD
1856 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1857 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1858 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1859 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1860 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1861 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1862 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1863 Garrett O’Sullivan D. O’Connor D.D.
1864 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1865 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1866 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1867 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1868 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1869 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1870 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1871 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1872 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1873 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1874 Garrett O’Sullivan Jeremiah Halpin
1875 James Enraght Thomas Graham
1876 James Enraght John Doody
1877 James Enraght John Doody
1878 James Enraght John Doody
1879 Luke Glesson John Doody
1880 Luke Glesson John Doody
1881 Luke Glesson John Conway
1882 Luke Glesson  
1883 Luke Glesson Edmond Tracey
1884 Luke Glesson Edmond Tracey
1885 Luke Glesson Edmond Tracey
1886 Luke Glesson Edmond Tracey
1887 Luke Glesson Edmond Tracey
1888 Luke Glesson Edmund Russell
1889 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1890 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1891 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1892 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1893 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1894 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1895 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1896 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1897 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1898 Luke Glesson David Hanly
1899 Luke Glesson Thomas Hogan
1900 Luke Glesson Michael Hayes
1901 Luke Glesson John Tierney
1902 Luke Glesson John Tierney
1903 Luke Glesson William O’Dwyer
1904 Edmund Russell* William O’Dwyer
1905 Edmund Russell William O’Dwyer
1906 Edmund Russell David Barry
1907 Edmund Russell David Barry
1908 Edmund Russell David Barry
1909 Edmund Russell Stephen O’Dea
1910 Edmund Russell Stephen O’Dea
1911 Edmund Russell Stephen O’Dea
1912 Edmund Russell Stephen O’Dea
1913 Edmund Russell Stephen O’Dea
1914 Edmund Russell John Molony
1915 Edmund Russell John Molony
1916 Edmund Russell John Molony
1917 Edmund Russell John Molony
1918 Edmund Russell John Molony
1919 Edmund Russell John Molony
1920 Edmund Russell  
1921 Edmund Russell Patrick Ruddle
1922 Canon Edmund Russell Patrick Ruddle
1923 Canon Edmund Russell Patrick Ruddle
1924 Canon Edmund Russell M. Molony
1925 Canon Edmund Russell Ed. Condon
1926 Canon Edmund Russell Ed. Condon
1927 Thomas Hogan Ed. Condon
1928 John Moloney Ed. Condon
1929 John Moloney John Kelly
1930 John Moloney John Kelly
1931 John Moloney John Kelly
1932 John Moloney John Kelly
1933 John Moloney James Culhane
1934 John Moloney John Halpin
1935 John Moloney John Halpin
1936 John Moloney John Halpin
1937 John Moloney John Halpin
1938 John Moloney John Halpin
1939 John Moloney John Halpin
1940 John Moloney John O’Donnell
1941 John Moloney John O’Donnell
1942 John Moloney John O’Donnell
1943 John Moloney John O’Donnell
1944 John Moloney John O’Donnell
    Joseph Shinnors
1945 John Moloney John O’Donnell
    Joseph Shinnors
1946 John Moloney John O’Donnell
    Joseph Shinnors
1947 John Moloney John O’Donnell
    Ed. Houlihan
1948 John Moloney John O’Donnell
    Ed. Houlihan
1949 John Moloney John O’Donnell
    Ed. Houlihan
1950 David Rea  
1951 David Rea  
1952 David Rea  
1953 David Rea  
1954 David Rea  
1955 David Rea  
1956 David Rea  
1957 David Rea  
1958 David Rea  
1959 David Rea  
1960 David Rea Francis Moriarty
1961 David Rea Francis Moriarty
1962 Michael Purtill Patrick Howard
1963 Michael Purtill David Browne
1964 Michael Purtill David Browne
1965 Michael Purtill David Browne
1966 Michael Purtill David Browne
1967 Michael Purtill David Browne
1968 Michael Purtill David Browne
1969 Michael Purtill David Browne
1970 Timothy Culhane David Browne
1971 Timothy Culhane David Browne
1972 Timothy Culhane David Browne
1973 Timothy Culhane Bernard O’Connell
1974 Timothy Culhane Bernard O’Connell
1975 Timothy Culhane Bernard O’Connell
1976 Timothy Culhane Albert Nix
1977 Michael Frawley Bernard O’Connell
1978 Michael Frawley Anthony Mulvihill
1979 Michael Frawley Anthony Mulvihill
1980 Michael Frawley Anthony Mulvihill
1981 Gerard M. Griffin Anthony Mulvihill
1982 Gerard M. Griffin Anthony Mulvihill
1983 Gerard M. Griffin Anthony Mulvihill
1984 Gerard M. Griffin Anthony Mulvihill
1985 Gerard M. Griffin Anthony Mulvihill
1986 Gerard M. Griffin Anthony Mulvihill
1987 Thomas Coughlan Anthony Mulvihill
1988 Thomas Coughlan Anthony Mulvihill
1989 Thomas Coughlan Anthony Mulvihill
1990 Thomas Coughlan Terence Loughran
1991 Thomas Coughlan  
1992 Thomas Coughlan William Aherne
1993 Thomas Coughlan Donn Shelly
1994 Thomas Coughlan Donn Shelly
1995 Thomas Coughlan Donn Shelly
1996 Thomas Coughlan Laurence Madden
1997 Thomas Coughlan Laurence Madden
1998 Liam Kelly Laurence Madden
1999 Liam Kelly Laurence Madden
2000 Liam Kelly Laurence Madden
2001 Liam Kelly Brendan Fitzgerald
2002 Liam Kelly Brendan Fitzgerald
2003 Liam Kelly Fred McDonnell
2004 Liam Kelly Fred McDonnell
2005 Liam Kelly Fred McDonnell
2006 Liam Kelly Fred McDonnell
2007 Tom Carroll Fred McDonnell

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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