Clares in Ireland

Clares in Ireland

When the Normans arrived in England in 1066 Ireland was ruled by several different kings. Dermont went to Wales and asked Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, to help him in his war against Roderic. Richard agreed to help on condition that he was allowed to marry Dermont's daughter, Eva.

With Richard de Clare's help Dermont was able to defeat the king of Connacht's forces, who were armed only with slings and stones. Richard de Clare, whose army relied heavily on Welsh archers, soon obtained the nickname 'Strongbow'.

When Dermont died in 1171, Richard de Clare became the new king of Leinster. Henry II of England became concerned about Richard de Clare's growing power in Ireland and so later that year he arrived with his own army. Richard was forced to surrender Leinster to King Henry. The land was then given back to Richard in return for the service of 100 knights.

Henry II now began establishing his hold over Ireland. He built several castles and persuaded most of the Irish kings to accept him as their overlord.

In 1185 Henry sent his son John to rule Ireland. Disliked by both the Normans and the Irish, John was unable to establish himself in Ireland and six months later was forced to return to England.

Several attempts were made by English kings to take control of the whole of Ireland. These campaigns failed and royal authority was limited to a few hundred square miles round Dublin known as 'the Pale'.

Richard Strongbow did manage to keep control of Leinster. To help the local economy he encouraged the development of towns and markets in the area.

To maintain control he built several castles. He divided the territory into five lordships: Wexford, Kilkenny, Kildare, Dunamase and Carlow. A seneschal, based at Kilkenny Castle, was appointed to administer the land for the Clare family. He received £100 a year, which made him the highest paid of all Richard de Clare's officials.

Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, died in 1176. The Irish estates were inherited by his daughter Isabel and her husband William Marshall. The couple had five boys and five girls. When William Marshall died none of his sons were left alive and so the Irish estates were divided up among the five daughters and their families. By 1262 only the lordship of Kilkenny remained under the control of the Clare family. The lordship was valued at £343 a year and in return the Clare family were required to provide the king with 22 knights. However, instead of supplying knights, the Clare family chose to pay a regular scutage of £44 to the king.

Where the Black Irish really came from and no, it wasn’t the Spanish Armada

Let’s end the fake news on where the Black Irish came from. Many claim they are from the Spanish Armada -- the offspring of shipwrecked Spanish sailors from 1588 who stayed in Ireland -- but the truth is much more interesting.

I can explain but first let me reiterate -- they didn’t come from the Spanish Armada. That’s fake news.

How do we know? Because there are actual accounts by eyewitnesses about what happened in September 1588 when the shipwrecked sailors, fleeing a massive naval defeat and a horrendous storm, pitched up on West of Ireland beaches.

Far from welcoming colleens, there were English garrison troops waiting and they were merciless. There was an especially horrible end to nearly 1,100 Armada survivors who wrecked in Sligo’s Streedagh Bay, according to the testimony of a surviving Armada officer.

Read more

Captain Francisco de Cuellar later wrote that, as a survivor, he found: “the land and shore were full of enemies, who went dancing with delight at our misfortune and when any one of our people reached the beach, two hundred savages and other enemies fell upon him and stripped him of what he had.”

De Cuellar stated some Irish clans protected them. According to Cuellar, they were: “ the O’Rourke of Breifne, McClancy of Rosclogher and Redmond O’Gallagher of Derry.” They managed to save lives and send many of the Spaniards secretly back to Spain. As for the others, there was no reprieve, they were brutally butchered after being stripped naked.

Who were the black Irish? Some say they came from the Spanish Armada. ("Defeat of the Spanish Armada", painted by Philip James de Loutherbourg).WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

So the Armada story is untrue.

So too is the idea that certain tribes of the Celts were dark-complexioned because every contemporary description of them describes them as red-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned people The Roman historians especially found Celtic women to be blond and warlike

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"The women of the Celtic tribes are bigger and stronger than our Roman women. This is most likely due to their natures as well as their peculiar fondness for all things martial and robust. The flaxen-haired maidens of the north are trained in sports and war while our gentle ladies are content to do their womanly duties and thus are less powerful than most young girls from Gaul and the hinterlands." -- Marcus Borealis

So we come to the crux of the matter. How come there are so many dark-haired, dark-complexioned Irish?

It’s relatively simple. The Spanish, Portuguese, and other countries in Europe, not to mention those from African countries, traded heavily with Ireland and there were constant expeditions back and forth work and ultimately intertwined families. Strong bonds were created.

For close to 500 years that trade path stayed open. Many a Spanish trader and Irish lass became embroiled in love and marriage, expand that across five centuries and that’s a whole lotta loving going on!

More proof? Black Irish tend to be from the West Coast and North West Ireland which is where the trading went on. And there, my friends, you have the truth of the matter.

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(Thanks to Mike McCormick of the AOH whose 2016 article on this topic was a great research job.)


The Poor Clares were founded by Clare of Assisi in the year 1212. Little is known of Clare's early life, although popular tradition hints that she came from a fairly well-to-do family in Assisi. At the age of 17, inspired by the preaching of Francis in the cathedral, Clare ran away from home to join his community of friars at the Portiuncula, some way outside the town. [2] Although, according to tradition, her family wanted to take her back by force, Clare's dedication to holiness and poverty inspired the friars to accept her resolution. She was given the habit of a nun and transferred to Benedictine monasteries, first at Bastia and then at Sant' Angelo di Panzo, for her monastic formation.

By 1216, Francis was able to offer Clare and her companions a monastery adjoining the chapel of San Damiano where she became abbess. Clare's mother, two of her sisters and some other wealthy women from Florence soon joined her new order. Clare dedicated her order to the strict principles of Francis, setting a rule of extreme poverty far more severe than that of any female order of the time. [3] Clare's determination that her order not be wealthy or own property, and that the nuns live entirely from alms given by local people, was initially protected by the papal bull Privilegium paupertatis, issued by Pope Innocent III. [4] By this time the order had grown to number three monasteries.

The movement quickly spread, though in a somewhat disorganized fashion, with several monasteries of women devoted to the Franciscan ideal springing up elsewhere in Northern Italy. At this point Ugolino, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia (the future Pope Gregory IX), was given the task of overseeing all such monasteries and preparing a formal rule. Although monasteries at Monticello, Perugia, Siena, Gattajola and elsewhere adopted the new rule – which allowed for property to be held in trust by the papacy for the various communities – it was not adopted by Clare herself or her monastery at San Damiano. [4] Ugolino's Rule, originally based on the Benedictine one, was amended in 1263 by Pope Urban IV to allow for the communal ownership of property, and was adopted by a growing number of monasteries across Europe. Communities adopting this less rigorous rule came to be known as the Order of Saint Clare (O.S.C.) or the Urbanist Poor Clares. [5]

Clare herself resisted the Ugolino Rule, since it did not closely enough follow the ideal of complete poverty advocated by Francis. On 9 August 1253, she managed to obtain a papal bull, Solet annuere, establishing a rule of her own, more closely following that of the friars, which forbade the possession of property either individually or as a community. Originally applying only to Clare's community at San Damiano, this rule was also adopted by many monasteries. [4] Communities that followed this stricter rule were fewer in number than the followers of the rule formulated by Cardinal Ugolino, and became known simply as "Poor Clares" (P.C.) or Primitives.

The situation was further complicated a century later when Saint Colette of Corbie restored the primitive rule of strict poverty to 17 French monasteries. Her followers came to be called the Colettine Poor Clares (P.C.C.). Two further branches, the Capuchin Poor Clares (O.S.C. Cap.) and the Alcantarines, also followed the strict observance. [5] The later group disappeared as a distinct group when their observance among the friars was ended, with the friars being merged by the Holy See into the wider observant branch of the First Order.

The spread of the order began in 1218 when a monastery was founded in Perugia new foundations quickly followed in Florence, Venice, Mantua, and Padua. Saint Agnes of Assisi, a sister of Clare, introduced the order to Spain, where Barcelona and Burgos hosted major communities. The order then expanded to Belgium and France where a monastery was founded at Reims in 1229, followed by Montpellier, Cahors, Bordeaux, Metz, and Besançon. A monastery at Marseilles was founded directly from Assisi in 1254. [4] The Poor Clares monastery founded by Queen Margaret in Paris, St. Marcel, was where she died in 1295. [6] King Philip IV and Queen Joan founded a monastery at Moncel in the Beauvais diocese. [6] By A.D. 1300 there were 47 Poor Clare monasteries in Spain alone. [3]

Europe Edit

United Kingdom Edit

The first Poor Clare monastery in England was founded in 1286 in Newcastle upon Tyne. [7] In medieval England, where the nuns were known as "minoresses", their principal monastery was located near Aldgate, known as the Abbey of the Order of St Clare. The order gave its name to the still-extant street known as Minories on the eastern boundary of the City of London.

After the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII, several religious communities formed in continental Europe for English Catholics. One such was a Poor Clare monastery founded in 1609 at Gravelines by Mary Ward. [7] Later expelled from their monastery by the French Revolutionary Army in 1795, the community eventually relocated to England. They settled first in Northumberland, and then in 1857 built a monastery in Darlington, [7] which was in existence until 2007.

Following Catholic emancipation in the first half of the 19th century, other Poor Clares came to the United Kingdom, [8] eventually establishing communities in, e.g., Notting Hill (1857, which was forced to relocate by the local council in the 1960s, and settled in the village of Arkley in 1969), [9] Woodchester (1860), Much Birch (1880), Arundel (1886), Lynton (founded from Rennes, France, 1904), Woodford Green (1920–1969), York (1865–2015) [10] and Nottingham (1927).

The community in Luton was founded in 1976 to meet a shortage of teachers for local Catholic schools. It was originally based at 18 London Road in a large Edwardian house. In 1996, the community refocused on a ministry of social work and prayer, and moved to a smaller, modern home at Abigail Close, Wardown Park. [11]

Communities of Colettine Poor Clares were founded in England at Baddesley Clinton (1850–2011), [12] Ellesmere, Shropshire and Woodchester. They have communities in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and in Bothwell, Scotland (1952). In Wales, there was a monastery in Hawarden. The one that used to be based in Neath moved to Glasgow.

Ireland Edit

In Ireland there are seven monasteries of the Colettine Observance. The community with the oldest historical roots is the monastery on Nuns' Island in Galway, which traces its history back to the monastery in Gravelines. Originally a separate community of Irish women under a common mother superior with the English nuns, they moved to Dublin in 1629, the first monastic community in Ireland for a century. The first Abbess was Cecily Dillon, a daughter of Theobald Dillon, 1st Viscount Dillon. War forced the community to move back to Galway in 1642. From that point on, persecution under the Penal Laws and war led to repeated destruction of their monastery and scattering of the community over two centuries, until 1825, when fifteen nuns were able to re-establish monastic life permanently on the site. [13]

Later monasteries were founded in 1906 in both Carlow and Dublin. From these, foundations were established in Cork (1914) and Ennis (1958). In 1973, an enclosed community of nuns of the Franciscan Third Order Regular in Drumshanbo, founded in England in 1852 and established there in 1864, transferred to the Second Order, under this Observance. [14]

Continental Europe Edit

Currently there are communities of Colettine Poor Clares in Bruges, Belgium, as well as in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and in Larvik, Norway. There are several monasteries in Hungary, Lithuania and Poland of the Urbanist and Capuchin Observances.

There are notable Clarissine churches in Bamberg, Bratislava, Brixen, and Nuremberg. There also is a small community in Münster, Germany and a Capuchin monastery in Sigolsheim, France.

The last six Poor Clare nuns from a convent in Belgium were able to sell their convent and move to the south of france in luxury cars. [15]

Scandinavia Edit

Americas Edit

United States Edit

After an abortive attempt to establish the Order in the United States in the early 1800s by three nuns who were refugees of Revolutionary France, the Poor Clares were not permanently established in the country until the late 1870s.

A small group of Colettine nuns arrived from Düsseldorf, Germany, seeking a refuge for the community which had been expelled from their monastery by the government policies of the Kulturkampf. They found a welcome in the Diocese of Cleveland, and in 1877 established a monastery in that city. At the urging of Mother Ignatius Hayes, O.S.F., in 1875 Pope Pius IX had already authorized the sending of nuns to establish a monastery of Poor Clares of the Primitive Observance from San Damiano in Assisi. After the reluctance on the part of many bishops to accept them, due to their reliance upon donations for their maintenance, a community was finally established in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1878. [16]

Canada Edit

Latin America Edit

There have been monasteries of the Order in Mexico since colonial days. The Capuchin nuns alone number some 1,350 living in 73 different monasteries around the country. [32]

A monastery was founded in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, by nuns from the community in Memphis, Tennessee, in November 1981, in the early days of a bloody civil war which ravaged that country as of 2011, it consisted of seven nuns five Guatemalans and two Salvadorans. [33]

Asia Edit

The Poor Clares were introduced to the Philippines in the 17th century, when a small community of Colettine nuns were authorized by the King of Spain and the Minister General of the Order to go there to found a monastery. They were led by Mother Jeronima of the Assumption, P.C.C., who was appointed Abbess. Leaving Madrid in April 1620, they arrived in Manila on 5 August 1621. The monastery still stands and serves an active community of nuns.

Communities are now also established in Aritao, the Philippines, and Kiryū, Gunma, Japan, which was founded from the monastery in Boston in 1965. [34]

History of Clare

County Clare is often referred to as the “Banner County”,for which various origins have been suggested the banners captured by Clare’s Dragoons at the Battle of Ramillies or the banner of “Catholic emancipation” raised by Daniel O’Connell’s victory in an 1828 by-election for County Clare that led to the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829.

The earliest settlers in Ireland were Neolithic with much evidence supporting of this civilization can be found in many parts of the Clare area. These Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones. Clare is one of the richest places for these tombs in Ireland, the most noted is in The Burren area, it is known as Poulnabrone Dolmen which translates as the hole of sorrows”. The remains of the people inside the tomb have been excavated and dated to 3800 BC.

Another scholar of this time, Ptolemy, created a map of Ireland in his Geographia which contained information dating from 100 AD. It is the oldest written account of the island with geographical features. Within this map, Ptolemy names the Gaelic tribes inhabiting Ireland and the areas in which they resided. In the area of Clare he identified a tribe known as the Gangani.

The Tau Cross at Roughan Hill near Corofin, County Clare, Ireland.

During the Early Middle Ages the area was part of the Kingdom of Connacht ruled by the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne, until it was annexed to the Kingdom of Munster to be settled by the Dalcassians in the mid-10th century. It was renamed Thomond, meaning North Munster and gave birth to the infamous Brian Boru during this period, the most noted High King of Ireland. From 1118 onwards the Kingdom of Thomond was in place and ruled by the O’Brien Clan. After the Norman invasion of Ireland, Thomas de Clare established a short-lived Norman lordship of Thomond, extinguished at the Battle of Dysert O’Dea in 1318 during Edward Bruce’s invasion.

The county name Clare arrives from 2 possible associations. One comes from the association that the de Clare family has with the county and the other, most notably, from the settlement of Clare (now Clarecastle) whose Irish name Clár meaning “ plank bridge” which refers to an 12th century bridge crossing over the River Fergus.

In 1543, during the Tudor conquest of Ireland and what was to be historically know as the Plantations of Ireland, Murrough O’Brien by surrender and regrant to Henry VIII became Earl of Thomond, which heralded the first of the Desmond Rebellions during the Plantations. During this time the Kingdom of Thomond was transferred from Munster to Connaught, which Henry Sidney then shired thus making the Kingdom of Thomond County Clare. In about 1600 A.D, Clare was removed from the Kingdom of Connaught and when Henry O’Brien, 5th Earl of Thomond died in 1639, Lord Deputy Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, decreed Clare should return to the province of Munster, but the Wars of the Three Kingdoms delayed this until the Restoration.

The county was badly affected by the Great Famine of 1845-47. The population was 286,000 in 1841 and by 1851 had been reduced to 212,000. Over 50,000 people died between 1845 and 1850 and many others emigrated to the United States and Australia. The decline in population continued during the subsequent one hundred years, falling to 73,500 in 1966.

Towns of Clare

A quiet village overlooking the Shannon estuary, Ballynacally is home to the world-famous O’Dea musical family. Try Daly’s bar on Saturday nights. Often you’ll hear the gentle accordion playing of Charlie Piggott accompanied by his cheeky young goatskin-thrashing sidekick Tom Neylon. If it’s the music you want, ring before you go.

Ballyvaughan is a small fishing and trading centre which grew up in the 19th century. The harbour was built in 1829 for fishing purposes, but as the town widened, it became useful for trading imports such as turf from Galway, and exports like local produce – grain, vegetables and bacon. Steamers began to bring tourists from Galway, and laid the foundations for a thriving tourism trade. In recent years the commercial use of the pier has declined, and now it is used for mainly pleasure craft and a starting point for boat trips to the islands.(Aran). One of the main nearby attractions to Ballyvaughan are the Ailwee Caves, and also the vast Burren – an area of carat limestone, renowned for its flora and fauna.

This quiet, peaceful village was virtually unheard of outside of Co. Clare before the 1880’s. The Bodyke Evictions in 1887 became headline news in all the Irish and English newspapers. Even Le Temps of Paris sent a reporter to cover the agitations. The controversy resulted in a spirited debate in the House of Commons. Today it has somewhat reverted to its pre 1880 state and remains relatively untouched, retaining a certain old world charm. The East Clare Golf Club, designed by Arthur Spring, is almost equidistant between the villages of Tulla, Scarriff, Feakle and Bodyke, set in beautiful countryside adjacent to the Clare shore of Lough Derg.

A small sea-side village at the very mouth of the Shannon , the village has become a popular summer destination for the serious traveller. A fine keep and bawn of a small castle (one of the McMahons’) stands near the pier. This castle has a long and colourful history of siege, capture and betrayal: quite a microcosm of Irish history. It was once the home of Lord Clare who is remembered today principally in the title of a well-known Irish tune , ‘Lord Clare’s Dragoons’ (he raised several regiments in support of King James II during the war against William). A descendent , also Lord Clare , became a Marshal in the French army and fought at Font?noy (1745) and other battles.

Corofin is a small market village about 13km from Ennis. It is the centre of a complex of lakes, one of which is Inchiquin Lake where there are two ruined castles once O Brien strongholds. Sir Frederick Burton was born in Corofin House in 1816. He went on to be the director of the National Gallery in London, and died in 1900. The Clare Heritage Centre displays the traumatic period of Irish History, between 1800 – 1860, including the Famine, land tenure and culture. Built on the River Fergus on the edge of the Burren, Corofin is a convenient location from which to tour the area.

A village on the Galway to Ennis road, the Crusheen area has a number of field monuments (wedge grave, ruined castles) , churches and several small local lakes for the coarse angler. In 1651 the Cromwellian Ludlow defeated a force of Royalists at the siege of Inishcronan Castle. The village has a particularly pleasant and unassuming thatched pub, Fogartys, with two open fires: the one in the small bar could roast an ox , and food is served.

Doolin is famous worldwide for it’s wealth in traditional Irish folk music, and attracts large numbers every year. It is also called Fisherstreet, and is marked that way on many maps. It is a small fishing village, and has two beaches. The one to the south of the pier is extremely dangerous for swimming, while the one next to the public toilets is suitable for swimming when the lifeguard is one duty.

The county town of Clare is the town of Ennis. Built on the River Fergus, it is a centre of administration, commerce and industry. In the 13th century, an O’Brien built a castle here and the town grew around this. In 1612, Ennis became a borough. Atourist trail of the town takes in a number of historical and archeological items of interest. These include Ennis Abbey, built in 1250, the West Clare Railway Engine, the O Connell monument, the Courthouse and the De Valera Museum. Public transport access to the town is by bus or by train, and Shannon Airport is nearby also.

Ennistymon is an attractive holiday centre on the main Ennis Lisdoonvarna road 4km inland from Lahinch. The town is in a wooded valley beside a cascade on the River Cullenagh. Boating, dancing, tennis, cinema and other recreations are provided are there is good brown trout fishing on the Cullenagh River and the Dealagh River.

One of Feakle’s claims to fame is that the important Irish-language poet Brian Merriman is buried there. Merriman was an 18th century schoolmaster at nearby Kilclarin. His magnum opus is The Midnight Court, a zestful and irreverent satire on church and state, the best translation is by Frank O’Connor (Mercier Press). It is regarded as one of the great works of Irish Literature but was strongly disapproved of in the past because of its uninhibited sexual content. Feakle was also the home town of a famous 19th century wise woman or witch known as Biddy Early. She was both revered and feared. Numerous stories and legends have circulated about her and her ‘blue bottle’, which she used in a similar fashion to a ‘crystal ball’.

No village in Ireland was more appropriately named. A haven of peace, it snuggles into the side of an immense valley, at the depth of which runs the River Barrow. The views from Glenmor across into County Wexford and the upper and lower reaches of the much availed of river, plus its seclusion, grants its people a place of rest and refuge few can match.

One of Kilbaha’s claims to fame is the ‘little ark’ preserved to this day in Moneen church. The story is that one Father Meehan in 1852 had a wooden ‘church’ built on wheels. This could then be wheeled down to the beach in order for the Catholics of the area to celebrate mass. Why the beach? Well in those days there was no Catholic church. The landlords of the time would not permit one to be built. The area below the high tide mark was considered ‘no-man’s land’ as far as the ruling Protestant minority was concerned and so the Catholics were immune from further persecution.

Kilfenora’s main claim to fame is its ruined cathedral and associated high crosses. At one time Kilfenora was a small diocese in its own right, and the ruins of the small cathedral testify to this. The Cathedral has a variety of carved figures , tombs and windows. There were five high crosses originally , but one was removed in 1821. The best-known is the Doorty Cross with three bishops and a double-headed bird on the east side, on the west is (possibly) a carving showing Christ entering Jerusalem and other carvings, this face is the less well preserved one.

Kilkee is a resort town set along a fine beach in Moore Bay. At the entrance of this bay is a reef known as the Duggerna Rocks. The town gained popularity as a resort town during early Victorian times. Wealthy families from Limerick City built summer “lodges” near the beach, which offers ocean breezes, safe swimming and interesting walks. There is still a Victorian charm in the town, but there is also more modern amusements such as pitch and putt, tennis, squash, golf, children’s amusements and watersports. Kilkee, in 1901, became a municipal town. There are the remains of a once popular spa near to the town of Kilkee, at Foonagh.

Killaloe has a fine situation on the west bank of the River Shannon, where it emerges from Lough Derg and narrows again on its way to the sea at Limerick. The town, which is connected with the village of Ballina by a bridge of thirteen arches, is the centre of a beautiful and historic district. A well as being a fishing centre for Lough Derg, Killaloe is a popular cruising, sailing and water skiing centre. Boats are available for hire on Lough Derg. A river bus provides a 1.5 hour pleasure cruise outof Killaloe during the season. A new interpretative centre on Lough Derg has recently opened in the town.

Kilrush, chief marketing centre of south-west Clare, is the third largest town in the county. Its fine harbour has been developed into Ireland’s first west coast marina and has berthage for a large number of yachts.

Lahinch, fronted by a fine sandy beach fringing Liscannor Bay, is a popular resort for bating and surfing, and has two 18 hole golf courses. Near the beach is an entertainment centre with a modern ballroom, cinema, theatre, cafe, sea water swimming pooland children’s pool and water swimming pool, children’s pool and playground, games room and tennis courts.

The name of Liscannor is synonymous in Ireland with stone: numerous small quarries, usually worked by the farmer who owns the land, abound in the area. The stone has interesting ‘worms’ on the surface and is much used locally for floors, patios, paths , walls and even -occasionally- as a roofing material. It splits into thick slate-like slabs. However the ‘worms’ wear off in time from being walked upon. Liscannor has two other claims to fame, it is the closest town to the famous Cliffs of Moher – the highest sea cliffs in Europe- and it was the birth-place of John P. Holland (1841-1914) , who devised the idea of the submarine as a means of warfare, it was his hope that it might be used as a means of destroying British naval power.

Lisdoonvarna, Ireland’s premier spa and a popular holiday resort in its own right, is in the hilly Burren country of north Clare. Only 8km from the sea, the town is surrounded by an interesting district with varied scenery. The Lisdoonvarna waters are sulphurous and chalybeate springs, all of which contain the valuable therapeutic element of iodine. Much of the efficacy of the waters especially the sulphur water is ascribed to their radioactive properties. The principal sulphur springs is at the south side of the town, while the principal iron springs are on the north side. At the Spa Centre are sauna baths, sun lounge, showers, rest rooms and a cafe, together with facilities for beauty therapy and massage.

Milltown Malbay
The Irish name for this town means Village of the Stone Fort. Although it is inland, it takes it’s English name from the nearby Mal Bay, which is linked with Mal. This was a fairy woman who pursued Cuchulain at Loop Head, and in an attempt to emulate the hero’s long jumping abilities she drowned, and her body was washed ashore at Mal Bay. Like Kilkee it is an example of a Victorian resort, although it was some distance from the sea. It also is an example of early town planning, so the streets are laid out in a regular pattern which branches from a central main. It is famous for hosting the Willie Clancy Summer School, which attracts traditional piping enthusiasts from Ireland and abroad. This is held every year in July.

A pretty and well-kept one-street village with a good small harbour on Lough Derg, this makes it hugely popular with boating people during the summer months. Holy Island (q.v.) is reached from here by the East Clare Heritage launch and is well worth a visit. Mountshannon is also a shooting and fishing centre. The village was designed and built from scratch by Alexander Woods, a Limerick merchant, who intended it as a purely Protestant settlement from which the surrounding Catholic population would be so impressed by the thrift and industry of the settlers that they would quickly convert to the Reformed Church, even as late as the 1830’s there was not a single Catholic resident in the village.

It would be easy to overlook Quilty as an unassuming village by a bend in the road between Milltown Malbay and Doonbeg, but this would be a pity , for there is more to Quilty than meets the eye. Its most noticeable feature is what looks like in the distance – for it is visible for miles across the flat open countryside – like a rather small round tower, which turns out is the tower of the local church. There are two beaches , the nicer one being easily missed , and some low cliffs, but the most interesting feature of the village is the church , which has a remarkable history.

The country around the village of Quin has many archaeological remains, the most notable being the Franciscan friary (remains). The first building that we know of on this site was a church, and then on the site de Clare built a castle in 1280 A.D. This was attacked and destroyed by the native Irish, and the present church was built on the site (c.1350 A.D.), incorporating some parts of the castle ruins. One of the Macnamara’s, the local ruling family, brought the Franciscans to Quin c.1433 A.D., thelast of them died in 1820 and is buried in the ruins. The surrounding countryside has many ruined castles of the Macnamara’s, and the spot on which they were inaugurated is now a flat-topped mound surrounded by a bank and ditch and called Magh Adhai.

A pleasant market town built on a hill, the town square (now a car park) occupies the crest of the hill, so that every road into the town is uphill. The Scariff River is an attraction for anglers, and the river , which flows into the Shannon is navigable for river cruisers almost to the town. Scariff has one major – and conspicuous- industry: a wood-processing plant, large areas of the Slieve Aughty Hills are now under afforestation. Scariff is the hometown of the famous novelist Edna O’Brien whose works were once banned in Ireland as being too obscene and irreverent in a Catholic country.

A small town on a hill, the surrounding countryside has a scattering of wedge graves , gallery graves and standing stones, however many of these have been destroyed and the ones that survive are generally ruinous. The remains of several small castles, also mostly in ruins, dot the landscape.

Note from Addenda:

De Clare, Richard&mdashIt was Maurice, not Raymond FitzGerald, that accompanied FitzStephen. Queen Victoria is said to be descended from Strongbow and Eva's daughter Isabel. Strongbow's daughter by a former marriage became the bride of Robert de Quincey, who fell in battle with the Irish.[233]

5. Anglo-Normans, History of the Invasion of Ireland by the: Gerald H. Supple. Dublin, 1856.

52. Burke, Sir Bernard: Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages. London, 1866.

134. Four Masters, Annals of Ireland by the: Translated and Edited by John O'Donovan. 7 vols. Dublin, 1856.

148. Giraldus Cambrensis: Topography, and History of the Conquest in Ireland: Forester and Wright. London, 1863.

174. Ireland, History of, Lectures on the: Alexander G. Richey. 2 vols. Dublin, 1869-'70.


The Sisters of St. Clare trace their history from the present day back to the earliest days of St. Clare in Assisi. We do not know when they first came to Ireland but The Four Masters record the death of Finola, daughter of Felim O’ Connor, Abbess of Kilcreevanty near Tuam, about the year 1301. They also record the death of Finola, daughter of Conor na Srona O’ Brian, widow of Aodh Roe O’ Donnell, who “had been twenty two years in the habit of St. Francis” when she was buried in the Franciscan Monastery in Donegal founded by her husband in 1474. Other records in the Bodleian Library in Oxford dating from 1385 indicate that there were three monasteries of St. Clare in Ireland. A map from 1650 provides some evidence of a foundation in Galway in the early 1600’s. It is believed that these nuns were dispersed and banished when Cromwell’s forces captured Galway.

The links from the present convents of the Sisters of St. Clare in Ireland back to Assisi are:

St. Clare’s Convent, Newry was founded in 1830 by sisters from Harold’s Cross, Glasthule, (Dunlaoire) and North William Street.

Harold’s Cross was founded in 1804 from Dorset Street.

Dorset Street was founded in 1750 from North King Street.

North King Street was founded in 1715 from Channel Row, Dublin.

Channel Row was founded in 1712 from Galway

Galway was established in 1642 from Bethlehem (Athlone).

Bethlehem (Athlone) was founded in 1631 from Merchants Quay/Cooke St. Dublin

Cooke Street Dublin was founded from Nieuport in 1629

Nieuport was founded from Dunkirk in 1627

Dunkirk was founded in 1625 from Gravelines

Gravelines was founded in 1609 from St. Omer

St. Omer was founded in 1581 from Veere

Veere was founded from Antwerp in 1455

Antwerp was founded from Trier in 1453

Trier was founded from Gnadental in 1289

Gnadental was founded from Alsback in 1289

Alsback was founded from Kienshein in 1283

Kienshein was founded from Assisi in 1271

On Christmas Day 1620 a young Wexford girl Sr. Martha Marianna Cheevers made her profession in Gravelines in the Low Countries. She was the first Irish girl to be professed in the Order of St. Clare since the Reformation. Others followed her and in 1625 five nuns left to open a convent in Dunkirk. All were young, the Abbess – Sr. Eleanor Dillon was only 24, the youngest Sr. Mary Peter Dowdall from Dublin was only 19. With their limited funds they found it hard to live in Dunkirk and within two years had moved to Nieuport where costs were lower. They were joined by two more Irish girls who were to be known in religion as Sr. Mary Power and Sr. Brigid Anthony Eustace. At this time the Irish Franciscan fathers suggested that, as there was a lull in the persecutions in Ireland the sisters should return and open a convent. It was a huge challenge as no convent had been allowed to exist in Ireland for almost 100 years but they decided to return in 1629 and established their first convent in Cooke Street behind Merchants Quay.

They were not long in Dublin when twelve postulants sought admission. Two years after their arrival the authorities became aware of the existence of the sisters and they were given one month to leave the city. They refused to go back to Nieuport or to their homes. Instead they travelled to Athlone where the Abbess’s brother Sir Luke Dillon gave them lodging. Within a year they were settled in a “poor house built for their habitation in a solitary neck of land without any inhabitants, near a great lake called Lough Ree… not daring any more to set themselves in any great town, city or popular place and founded there a convent called Bethlehem”. As it was situated five miles from Athlone it was off the beaten track and the sisters were left in peace for some time to follow their Rule.

The community increased in number and it was decided to open a convent in Drogheda. However when war broke out the sisters were forced to flee to Waterford but had to leave there too. There is no accurate record of what happened to these sisters. The Bethlehem convent was also destroyed in the war but a few sisters managed to escape and found a convent in Galway in 1642. However, when Cromwell’s troops attacked the Monasteries some of the community fled to the continent while some remained with their families. Their convent in Galway passed into the possession of a planter named James Morgan. When Cromwell died in 1658 and was succeeded by Charles 11 in 1660, Catholics gradually returned to the city. Two sisters rented their convent back, gathered together the scattered nuns and resumed their life of prayer. Their first novice was Sr. Margaret Clare Kirwan who was received in 1672 and forty years later she led the return of the sisters to Dublin. Before that however there was another dispersal following the Williamite rebellion in 1688. Once again the sisters were forced to flee and live with relatives and friends. When the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1690 the sisters again returned to Galway renting a large house in Market Street where they kept boarders to conceal their identity. It remained a convent until 1825 although the community had to flee on four more occasions – 1n 1689, 1712, 1717, and again in 1731. In less than a century the Order was suppressed six times and the sisters driven from their convents. Yet in 1698 four novices were professed and at the suppression of 1712 there were fifty nuns in the Galway community.

While undergoing persecution in Galway the sisters accepted an invitation from Dr. Nary, Parish Priest of St. Michans in Dublin to make a foundation in his parish. Six sisters, including Sr. Margaret Clare Kirwan, arrived in Dublin on 7th June 1712. At first the sisters lived in a house in Beresford Street. Then they moved to a convent in Channel Row now North Brunswick Street. The Irish Street Name Plate Raedh na Canalac is still to be seen on the corner of North Brunswick Street today. This convent had been built by the Irish Benedictines in 1685 but they too had been driven out. It now became the home of the Poor Sisters of St. Clare. Within three months of their arrival the convent was raided by the authorities and some sisters arrested but when the situation eased they again returned to the convent and four novices were professed during this time.

Believing that they would be safer if they moved to a new location the sisters left Channel Row to go a short distance to North King Street. They took girls as boarders in an effort to avoid detection. Once again in 1718 the house was raided and the sisters arrested. However, as the judge decided they were not living in a convent but running a lodging house, they were released. In order to remain together as a community, they laid aside their habit and dressed in secular clothes. They were known as “Mrs” not “Sister”. They gave up choir ceremonies and anything which might reveal to the authorities that they were nuns. Eventually the penal laws were relaxed a little and the sisters established a very successful school in North King Street. They founded several other communities but with one exception, Dorset Street these did not survive.

In 1750 some of the sisters moved from North King Street as they were unhappy with aspects of their convent life. They petitioned the Pope and were given permission to establish a new convent in Dorset Street Dublin under the direct authority of the Archbishop of Dublin. (Before this they had been under the authority of the Franciscan Provincial.) In Dorset Street the sisters continued to run a boarding school for girls but were still not permitted to wear a religious habit. “We wore a black stuff gown with long sleeves, a cloak, apron, and outside handkerchief of the same material, a mop cap completed the dress”

By the year 1803 the poverty which had caused the closure of the other convents founded from North King Street now threatened the sisters in Dorset Street.

Almost the whole of Europe was now involved in war so prices went up, the value of securities fell and the sisters realised that soon they would not be able to pay the rent on their convent home. It appeared that all they could do was disband and share the common fund so that each could have a modest dowry to enable her to join another religious order.

However in 1803, Dr. Troy the Archbishop of Dublin called to the convent with a suggestion that the sisters take over an orphanage for girls which was then located in Hendrick Street, (near Queen Street, Dublin.) The daughter of one of their benefactors, Miss Maria O’ Brien, was responsible for this orphanage but was anxious to hand it over to nuns. The sisters saw this as an answer to their prayers. The girls were in need of a home and the Archbishop petitioned Rome to modify those aspects of the Rule which would be incompatible with the care of orphan girls. This permission was granted in May 1804 by Pope Pius VII. To the three vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, the sisters then added a fourth vow the care of female orphans and children. With the help of friends, premises were found at what were then numbers 19 and 20 Harold’s Cross Road. On 8th October 1804 three sisters moved there followed on 19th October by the Abbess and eleven sisters.

On 2nd July 1806 the newly built orphanage was occupied by the first group of children. Later a convent and chapel were built and in 1817 the sisters resumed wearing a religious habit which they had been forced to lay aside almost one hundred years before.

The move to Harold’s Cross represented a significant change for the Sisters of St. Clare. Since their arrival in 1629 they had followed the purely contemplative Rule of St. Clare. However at times they could not observe enclosure or have a grill so instead they ran schools and cared for young girls. These changes were understood to be temporary and as persecutions lessened they were free to return to the totally enclosed lifestyle. The changes resulting from the move to Harold’s Cross led to some permanent alterations in the Rule of Enclosure which evolved further following Vatican II.

In 1829, at the time when Catholic Emancipation became a reality in Ireland, the sisters were invited to open a convent in Newry, Northern Ireland. This was the first convent in that part of Ireland since the Reformation. Unlike Harold’s Cross this foundation did not require the sisters to care for orphans but at the request of the Bishop of Dromore they established schools first in Newry and later in different parts of Ireland.

Cavan and Kenmare in 1861, Ballyjamesduff and Keady in 1872.

In 1882 sisters from the convents in Keady and Newry volunteered for a mission in Australia. These were all autonomous Monasteries but in 1944, under the leadership of the Abbess of Newry, Mother Agnes O’ Brien the convents in Keady, Cavan, Ballyjamesduff and Newry amalgamated while still remaining within the Second Order. Later the convents in Kenmare and Harold’s Cross also amalgamated with the earlier group.

During the 1700’s the sisters were known as “The Poor Sisters of St. Clare”. A General Chapter of the Order in 1984 decided to simplify our title to “The Sisters of St. Clare” or “Clarissae” while still remaining within the Second Order.

There were more foundations in the 20th Century, to Dioceses in Ireland, England and Wales. By the early 1960’s convents had also been opened in several U.S. Dioceses, initially in California, later in Florida. Our mission to El Salvador and Guatemala in Central America began in the 1970’s and has been blessed with new vocations. In 1990 following the fall of communism, some sisters helped with the restoration of the Church community in Albania.

Today we have sisters living in six countries spread over three continents, each living out Clare’s Rule. Some are in active apostolates, some are retired, but all are commited to our Charism of contemplation, community and poverty while searching for ways to make Clare ever present to our world.

As Religious Life faces new challenges today, we remember all the courageous women who followed the example of Clare and dedicated their lives to God during the past 800 years. We use this opportunity to reflect on our commitment and how we live out the Rule of Clare in the 21st Century.

Memorials of West Clare, Co. Clare

Extensive list of Co. Clare memorials, transcribed and then published by Mr. Brian Cantwell in 1991.

1. Ardacra – St. Brigid’s, R.C. – 1 page
2. Ballyvaughan, R.C. – 1 page
3. Clooney South (west of Corofin) – 2 pages
4. Coad – 7 pages
5. Corofin – St. Catherine’s Church of Ireland (now Corofin Heritage Centre) – 5 pages
6. Kilcorcoran (east of Miltown Malbay) – 4 pages
7. Kildeema (south of Miltown Malbay) – 4 pages (last page 1 line!)
8. Kilfarboy(north of Miltown Malbay) – 5 pages
9. Kilfenora (old Cathedral) – 7 pages
10. Killaspuglonane (R.C. parish of Kilmacrehy, west of Ennistymon and north of Liscannor) – 2 pages (2nd two lines!)
11. Killenagh (east of Ennistymon) – 1 page
12. Killernan (parish of Kilmurry, south east of Ennistymon) – 9 pages
13. Killinaboy – 3 pages
14. Kilmacrehy (east of Liscannor) – 4 pages
15. Kilmurry-Ibrickane – 4 pages
16. Kilshanny Old (east of Kilshanny R.C. Church) – 3 pages
17. Kiltenanlea (south east Co. Clare at Doonass near Cloonlara) – 3 pages
18. Kilvoydan – 2 pages
19. Lisdoonvarna (memorials and dedications from inside R.C. church) – 1 page
20. Miltown Malbay, Church of Ireland – 2 pages
21. Noughaval (old graveyard close to present R.C. church, dedicated 1943) – 3 pages
22. Rath – 2 pages
23. Tooclath R.C. Church – 2 dedications from inside church

Surnames found in these locations:
The numbers after each name refer to the graveyard found in as listed and numbered above.

Adams: 5
Aherin: 14
Anderson: 20
Armstrong: 9

Ball: 20
Barrett: 14, 15
Barry: 6, 8
Beaty: 8
Blake: 12
Blood: 5, 9, 13, 16, 20
Bohanon: 18
Bourk: 12
Bourke: 6, 8
Boylan: 19
Boyle: 7
Bradley: 6
Brady: 13, 16
Brew: 5
Brody: 4
Browne: 18
Burke: 6, 8, 9, 12, 22
Burton: 5
Bushell: 6
Butler: 15, 17
Byrn: 3

Caher: 4
Cahill: 4
Cahir: 13
Cahn: 13
Callanan: 16
Callinan: 6, 12, 13
Campbell: 9, 14
Canny: 9, 21
Carkill: 4
Carmody: 6
Carney: 12
Carr……: 22 (this name is only partial)
Carroll: 12
Carysford: 12
Casey: 4, 15
Cassidy: 4, 22
Cathers: 9
Clancy: 6, 8
Clapshoe: 14
Cleary: 8, 12, 18
Cloghessy: 6
Collins: 12
Comerford: 7
Commane: 4
Comyn: 8, 13, 21
Conlon: 17
Connell: 17
Connellan: 4, 12
Connelty: 3
Connor: 21
Conry: 13
Considine: 14
Conway: 6
Corry: 11, 12, 13, 15
Corbett: 9
Coughlan: 11, 12
Couny: 9
Crawford: 12
Creagh: 4
Crips: 20
Crowe: 6, 16, 22
Crowford: 12
Cullen: 4
Cullinan: 3, 13
Culliny: 9
Culliry: 13
Cunningham: 15, 17
Curran: 14
Curry: 14
Curtin: 6, 8, 10, 11, 12
Curtis: 13
Cusack: 22

Daly: 8, 9, 15
Darcy: 12
Davies: 5, 9, 20
Davoren: 4, 8,13, 21
Devit: 14
Dillon: 13
Doghty: 9
Doherty: 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 16
Donnellan: 8, 12, 15
Donohue: 13
Donoghue: 9, 13
Donnollan: 12
Donoughy: 22
Donouhoe: 13
Dorey: 15
(Dorney?): 11
Douglas: 5
Dounes: 8
Downes: 7, 8
Downey: 14
Doyle: 15
Drew: 9
Droney: 16
Drummond: 18
Dugan: 12
Dwyre: 17

Eagar/Edgar: 5
Earls: 6, 8
East: 5
Edwards: 4, 14
E(g?)an: 7
Egan: 8, 12
Ellis: 20
Emerson: 13
Enright: 13
Ensko: 18

Fallon: 2
(Fandoller?): 9
Fitzgerald/FitzGerald: 4, 5, 8, 9, 17, 20
Fitzmaurice: 5
Fitzpatrick: 3, 4, 5, 8, 21
Flaherty: 9
Flanagan: 10, 12, 21
Flatley: 22
Flyn: 4
Flynn: 6, 20
Flynne: 4
Fogarty: 4, 22
Foley: 10, 13
Ford: 4
Forde: 2
Foster: 4
Fraley: 8
Fraly: 8
Frawley: 6, 8, 12, 18

Gallery: 7
Gardener: 5, (?13)
Garrihie: 19
Gatel: 9
Gleeson: 17
Glynn: 13, 21
Gready: 17
Green: 17
Griffin: 7, 12, 15
Guithrie: 15
Guthrie: 5, 19

Hallarey: 16
Haley: 8
Halloran: 8, 12, 17
Hamilton: 9
Hanlon: 9
Hanrahan: 2, 8, 16
Haran: 12
Hare: 13
Haren: 6, 12
Harin: 8
Hartigan: 16
Hayes: 12, 22
Healy: 9, 12, 16, 23
Heam: 7
Heher: 12
Hehir: 3, 14, 21
Henchy: 6
Herbert: 5
Heyns: 4
Higgins: 1
Hill: 6
Hinehy: 12
Hogan: 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 22
Holland: 14
Holohan: 22
Honan: 8
Houlahan: 16
Houlley: 4
Howley: 4, 18, 22
Howly: 9
Hudson: 5
Hurley: 7
Hynes: 4, 7, 21

Kain: 8
Kean: 21
Keavey: 12
Kelly: 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15
Kenelly: 6
Kennedy: 13, 14
Kenny: 9, 12, 15, 18
Keogh: 1
Kerin: 14, 16, 18
Kilkelly: 4
Killeen: 8, 12, 15
Kilmartin: 12
Kinane: 8
King: 17
Kinnane: 8
Kirk: 19
Knox: 5

Lahiff: 9
Lare: 10
Lawlor: 17
Leahy: 16
Leary: 13
Leenane: 19
Lenahan: 12
Lenan: 9
Lenehan: 12
Leo: 18
Leyden: 3, 9, 14
Liddy: 6, 14
Licnchy: 16
Linehan: 8
Linihan: 12
Lingard: 5
Linnane: 9
Long: 5
Looney: 7
(Lorney?): 11
Louney: 7
Louny: 12
Lucas: 17
Luneen: 8
Lynch: 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 17, 19
Lynchy: 8, 12
Lyneen: 8
Lynes: 14
Lysaght: 9, 14, 16

Mac-An-Bharig: 9
McCarthy: 12, 21
McCombe: 5
Mc/MacDonagh: 7, 9
Mc/MacDonough: 7, 9, 14
McGaw: 8
Mc/MaGorman: 4
Mc/M’Grath: 4, 16
(McGuain?): 7
McGuane: 12, 22
McGuire: 19
McInerney: 18
McKee: 14
Mc/M’Mahon: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22
McMillen: 5
Mc/Macnamara: 3, 4, 8, 9, 15, 16, 18, 21

Maddigan: 12
Made: 7
Madigan: 8
Magencharig: 9
Maguire: 6
Mahon: 4, 13
Mahony: 12
Mallone: 8
Maranan: 8
Marron: 16
Marrinen: 8
Mead: 15
Meade: 6, 8, 14, 15
Mealy: 12
Meath: 6
Mee: 9
Minihan: 4
Mitchell: 5
Molohan: 15
Moloney: 6, 7, 13, 20
Molony: 9, 20, 21
Mongovan: 15
Mooney: 15
Moore: 8
Moorhead: 5
Moran: 9, 14, 21
Moroney: 6, 12, 20
Morony: 12, 20
Morrissey: 12
Moy: 12, 22
Mullions: 13
Muloone: 8
Mulquin: 16
Murphy: 4, 7, 12
Murray: (6?), 10, 18
Murrihy: 10, 15

Nagle: 16
Naughan: 14
Neagle: 14
Nestor: 4, 16
Nevelle: 2
Neylan: 9, 12, 16
Neylon: 3, 10, 14
Ni Dea: 9
Nolan: 6, 15
O’Brien: 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 21
O’Brien (title): 5
O’Byrl: 9
O’Connal: 17
O’Conners: 4
O’Connor: 8, 9, 14, 16, 18
O’Dea: 9, 13, 21
O’Donnell: 5, 7, 22
O’Dwyer: 6, 7, 8, 16
O’Flanagan/ O Flanagan: 4, 13
O’Gorman: 4, 6, 7, 12, 14, 15
O’Grady: 15, 17, 21
O’Hawe: 4
O Hehir: 13
O’Hyne: 4
O’Keefe: 13
O’Leary: 9, 19, 21
O’Lochlin: 14
O’Lochlen: 4, 8
O’Loughlin: 8, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 19
O’Mara: 4
O’Neal: 12
O Neilan: 13
O’Neill: 6
O’Neille: 12
Onions: 5
O’Rahelly: 17
O’Regan: 3, 22
O’Rigan: 4
O’Sullivan: 5, 12, 18
Owen: 4, 17, 18

Paterson: 5
Philps: 20
Pierce: 9
Pinn(?)y: 14
Pouer/Pover: 4
Power: 4, 9, 23
Power Davoren: 13
Purtill: 17

Queely: 14
Quely: 8
Quin: 4, 9, 17
Quinlivan: 7
Quinn: 13, 16, 22

Rahely: 17
Reaidey: 3
Red (?Redmond?): 17
Reidy: 14
Riedy: 10
Roberts: 5
Roche: 22
Rochford: 6
Rodriguez: 3
Russell: 5
Ryan: 5, 6, 8, 15, 17
Ryder: 2

Scanlan: 15
Scarlett: 9
Scully: 8
Sexton: 7, 8, 12
Shallow: 17
Shanahan: 15
Shannon: 3, 7, 8, 10, 13, 15
Sharman: 5
Shary: 14
Sheedy: 16
Slattery: 9
Spaight: 17
Spellissy: 4
Stack: 6, 16
Star(r?): 9
Stratten: 17
Stuart: 20
Studdert: 5
Sulivan: 12
Sullivan: 6, 8, 12
Symon: 14
Swyny: 21

Talty: 6, 8, 12
Thynn: 16
Thynne: 15
Tierney: 18, 22
Tobin: 17
Treacy: 20
(Troy?): 7
Tubridy: 12, 15
Tymons: 5

Free sources for Irish genealogy

  • Record and verify the family legends
  • Go sideways in order to go backwards
  • Don't believe everything you are told
  • Census records: National Archives of Ireland - Clare 1901Clare 1911search form
  • Church records: National Library of Ireland
  • Civil birth (1864-1915), marriage (c1881-1940) and death (c.1891-1965) records: Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs - search form
  • Census substitutes: Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government - Griffith's Valuation by place or by name
  • Maps: Ordnance Survey Ireland
  • Maps: Google Maps and Street View

Nuns in Ireland buried babies and children in mass grave

Engineers use ground-penetrating radar at the site of a mass grave of up to nearly 800 children at the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, western Ireland, on June 6, 2014. Aidan Crawley / EPA


DUBLIN // Women’s groups are calling for other Catholic-run former homes for unmarried mothers to be investigated after a mass grave containing the remains of dozens of babies and young children was discovered at one such home.

Roman Catholic religious orders ran homes for unmarried pregnant girls until well into the 1990s all over Ireland. The young women sent to them often suffered harsh treatment at the hands of the nuns who believed sex outside marriage was a mortal sin.

The coalition of mother and baby home survivors called the shocking discovery of the mass grave “the tip of the iceberg.”

Nearly 800 children died at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in the town of Tuam, in western Ireland, according to death certificates discovered by a local historian, Catherine Corless. The home was one of several throughout strongly Catholic Ireland.

Run by the Bon Secours order of nuns, the Tuam home opened in 1925 and closed in 1961. The “significant quantities” of remains were found in 17 out of 20 underground chambers that were examined. The investigators established the chambers were originally used to treat sewage.

While the deaths of these children were not suspicious, the casual disposal of their bodies has horrified the country.

“Today is about remembering and respecting the dignity of the children who lived their short lives in this home,” Katherine Zappone, Ireland’s minister for children and youth affairs, said in a statement on Friday. “We will honour their memory and make sure that we take the right actions now to treat their remains appropriately.”

No record exists of the number of women who passed through the home during the time it was open. The nuns would help deliver the babies, who would then be brought up elsewhere until they could be adopted.

But the babies and children who died at the home were buried in these crypt-like chambers. Investigators said that DNA analysis confirmed that the discovered remains were of children between the ages of 35 weeks and three years.

“It’s horrific what they did,” Ms Corless said.

After it closed in 1961, the home lay vacant until it was demolished in 1972 to make way for a new housing estate. The first signs of the mass grave were spotted in 1975 when two young boys, playing in a field on the old site of the home found skeletons inside a hollow covered by a concrete slab. But no investigation was conducted at the time.

Ms Corless, who works on her family’s farm, was familiar with the town’s stories about child deaths the home, but she could find no records documenting their burials.

In 2011, she began to source death certificates for every child who had died at the home, paying four euros (Dh15) to the country registry office for each certificate copy. In total, she procured 796 certificates and they revealed the children had died of measles, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or simply malnutrition.

With other townsfolk Ms Corless began to raise money to erect a memorial for the children who had died at the home. As the story gathered attention, the Irish government in 2014 appointed a Mother and Baby Homes commission to investigate other such homes across the country.

The Bon Secours order, which is still operational and now runs hospitals issued a statement following the commission’s revelations.

“On the closing of the home in 1961, all the records for the home were returned to Galway County Council, who are the owners and occupiers of the lands of the home,” the statement said. “We can therefore make no comment on today’s announcement, other than to confirm our continued cooperation with and support for the work of the commission in seeking the truth about the home.”

P J Haverty, who grew up in the home and was then placed in foster care at the age of six, called the facility “a prison”.

“There was no love, no nothing,” Mr Haverty told CBC Radio. He wants not only the Catholic church but also the Irish government to apologise for the way he and others in the home were treated.

Ms Corless said the government needs to contact any former resident of the home who is still living, “because it is their families that are buried there”. The bones of the children should be extracted and buried in Tuam’s main graveyard, she said.

“At least we know this now,” she said. “It is a huge step forward. We know they’re there now.”

Crowe Family History

The holiday cottage shown above was our base when we visited County Clare in 2012. From here we started exploring the county, although without a well-developed plan to find people and places relevant to my family history.

The information on this site presents what I have subsequently discovered.

The four articles under the heading “The Crowes of County Clare” are provided in two versions: one without the “clutter” of footnotes and endnotes the other retains documentary sources and informational notes. Otherwise the two versions are essentially the same. The latter is a pdf file which is printer friendly should you wish to keep a hard copy. See ‘Print PDF here’ on the top right of the page at the beginning of those articles.

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Header image: O’Brien’s Tower, Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.

Watch the video: St Clares Catholic Church