Aspects of Kilteevan History, Hazel A. Ryan
- The folklore and history of the parish was collected through Kilteevan and Shannon View schools in the mid to late 1930s, much of it in 1938. The material in manuscript form is now part of the Schools’ Manuscript Collection (Vol. 260) in the Department of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin. There is also a copy of this material on microfilm in the County Library, Roscommon. Material was also collected by Miss Noreen Higgins on the south of the parish and forms part of the Main Manuscript Collection (Vol. 1270).
- Several aspects of the history and folklore of the parish were covered in this collection. Recorded here, encompassing the above collections, are some brief glimpses of the past of Kilteevan parish. Our tour of the sites begins in the east of the parish and moves from townland to townland in alphabetical order.
- References to 1837, unless otherwise specified, refer to The Ordnance Survey Name, Books, Roscommon 3, Kilnamanagh to Roscommon, 1836-37 by John O’Donovan.
Contained a lime kiln and corn kiln in 1837.
One of the oldest known foundations in the parish is locally known as St. Ronan’s Oratory (or Kilronan, the church of Ronan) and is situated in this townland. The siteis not recorded in any official documentation or on any maps. A cross inscribed slab which is now in the National Museum was found here. It “is of sandstone and measures 52 by 48cm and is 15cm in maximum thickness. It is decorated with an outlined ringed Latin cross, the arms of which are slightly expanded. Above the cross there are very poorly defined traces of an inscription on a slightly raised rectangular band. Some of the letters are indistinct but it might possibly be interpreted as a name such as CROBRAN 1” whose personage cannot be identified. Some low stoney banks can be traced which are probably the foundations of a stone built rectangular structure which is now collapsed. These are “situated in the centre of a roughly circular area some 60m in diameter, which is delimited by the very faint traces of a low earthern bank. The area enclosed slopes very gradually upwards and outwards so that the church site is located more or less in the centre of a shallow, saucer like depression. This could be interpreted as the enclosure which surrounded and delimited the majority of early monastic sites” 2.
1. Fanning, Thomas, ‘An Early Christian Site at Ballinaboy’ Galway Archaeological and Historical Society Journal, Vol. 37, 1979. p.90
2. Ibid. p.92.
Fr. Finan gives the following description of the site. “Kilronan on the interior measures 17ft 3ins long by 10ft wide. The walls are about 3ft thick. The building was done in a very primitive style. Flags were laid on the loose earth. These were the full width of the walls. On this foundation the super structure was raised. Mortarwas, however, used in the building. The door was on the west end”. In January 1912 Fr. Finan had the foundations dug up. During this operation human bones and teeth were discovered both among the stones and beneath the floor. Years previously when the land nearby was being drained a number of bones were also discovered. Itis thought that some of these may have been deposited among the stones of the church.Local tradition states that a graveyard surrounded the church. Some people claim that it was used as a burial ground for infants (cillín).
Two wells are marked on the Ordnance Survey map - one St. Bridget’s well, which was used until recently as a domestic water supply. It is located on the left hand side of the road travelling towards Kilteevan. The other well situated on the right handside of the road is marked ‘Tobernagreaghta’ - translated as the ‘well of the wounds’. It was originally marked by an ash tree and a white thorn bush. (S.MS. 260, p3). Tradition has it that it was originally situated in the townland of Aghmagree but ‘moved’ because it was desecrated by a ‘gentleman’ called Robert Ormsby. The well had the tradition of curative power for wounds and sores. Folklore records that Ormsby came upon a woman bathing a child in the waters who had scurvy. When asked what she was doing she told him of the blessed well and its cures. He then plunged his dog who had mange in to it mocking the faith of the woman and the tradition of the well. Another version of the story claims that one of his favourite greyhounds had broken its leg while out hunting and he washed it in the well expecting that it would set the dog’s leg. When nothing happened he “bitterly cursed the Church of Rome for her superstitions”.3 Because of this act the well is supposed to have ‘moved’ and split into two parts. The Pattern day was held on 15 August and attended by several people. A station (or a ‘round’) was performed . A rosary was recited “while going around the well starting and finishing at the ash tree and going in a clockwise fashion. They drink the water and those who have any wounds or sores wash the part with the water. They then tie a string on the ash tree or whitethorn bush. They also take some of the water to their homes”. (S.MS. 260, p.3). The well seems to have been visited from the 15 August until the 8 September, traditionally after sunset and before sunrise.
3. O’Donovan, John. Ordnance Survey Letters 1837, Co. Roscommon Book 1. p.54-55.
Contained a smithy in 1837. The Kelly family were associated with this trade in thegeneral locality. The Main Manuscript Collection (Vol.1506 p.516-517) states that, aswell as the smithy in Ballinaboy, there was one in Killeenboy, Derrane road andRoscommon town. All of them belonged to the same extended family of Kellys.
The ruins of a mill with its decaying wheel can still be seen in this townland. In recent memory it was known as ‘O’Brien’s’ Mill’. Its last occupant was Emma O’Brien. Emma died in the 1970s and her brother, James, a few years earlier. The 1749 Census lists Lawrence Finneran as a miller who had 4 children over 14 years of age. The Tithe Applotment Books (1833) record the existence of a corn mill with James Finneran as occupier. In Griffiths Valuation (1857) a James Finneran had over 16 acres of land leased from John E. Mapother. It contained a house, offices, cornmill and tuck mill (for thickening frieze). The rateable annual valuation of the buildings was £8-0-0. The mill was bought by Pat O’Brien in the 1870s. It ceased to operate as a mill in the mid 1920s though the building remained the dwelling house of his son and daughter. The family are buried in Kilteevan Graveyard.
The ceiling of the house was constructed of wicker panels supported on wooden poles,all resting on four strong beams set into the walls. It had eight panels, of equal size,which were coated with clay to give a hard floor above to walk on. This area wasused for storing potatoes and may also have been used for sleeping accommodation 4.
4. Siggins, Albert. ‘Two Examples of Wattle Ceiling from Houses in Co. Roscommon’ Journal of the OldAthlone Society Vol 11. No. 6 1985. p.128-132.Siggins, Albert. ‘Take a Look at Your Ceiling’ Roscommon Association Yearbook (1983). p 39.5
Carrowmore (Kilns, Ringfort)
Contained a limestone quarry and some crockery kilns in 1837. A platform ringfort isstill extant in this townland 5.
5. One of the most common sites in the parish is the ringfort, with several still extant. The ringfort is probablythe most widely distributed and the most numerous of any class of ancient monument in Ireland. It was adryland protected homestead where a farmer lived and where he may also have housed some of his domesticanimals. The ‘typical’ ring fort would have a circular open space surrounded by a bank and enclosing ditchcrossed by a causeway to an entrance gap. However there are many permutations on this ‘typical’ appearance.The most common variant is the ‘platform rath’, where the ditch spoil instead of forming an enclosing bank wasspread over the whole interior to create a low platform, one metre or less in height. This seems to be the typemost commonly found in Kilteevan parish.
Cartron (Brett) (Smithy)
A smithy is recorded in 1837.
The folklore collections record two ringforts extant in the townland in 1938. One was about 200 yards (183m) north of the river Hind in Treacy’s field, surrounded by a ring of hawthorn. The other fort is recorded one mile west of Shannon View school. It was adjacent to Mrs Clasby’s house with nut trees growing around it. (M.MS. 1270,p.48).
A field in Clooncraff village is locally known as the Cealtra field. Legend claims that it was a stone circle which had been ‘taken over’ by an Anchorite (hermit). A cell survived down the centuries until in 1912 when Fr. Finan, the then curate of the parish, had a large group of local people dig it to pieces looking for artefacts. He found nothing but a skeleton. The farmer who owned the land then cleared away some of the stones so that all that sadly remain is a pile of stones under a thornbush. It was used as a cillín, a burial place for unbaptised infants, up until this century.
Clooncraff (Burial ground)
An area associated with Clooncellan Abbey is called Crocán Cill Barra, a rounded hillock situated in the townland of Clooncraff. This was supposed to have been the burial ground for the monks of the Abbey and is about a mile from it. It is then thought to have been an island in the river. In the 1830s it was cleared of all stonesand markers by an inhabitant of Clooncraff village for use as tillage land. However one can still note the irregular depressions in the grass and can see where it was heavily ditched against the surrounding water 6.
6. Brennan, Donal. The Unforgetting Countryside. p.4-5.
A lime kiln is recorded for 1837.
Contained two pottery or crockery kilns in 1837.
The Main Manuscript Collection records a ring fort in this townland surrounded bybushes. (M.MS. 1270, p.49)
Both a limekiln and corn kiln are recorded for 1837.
The Main Manuscript Collection records a ringfort in this townland.(M.MS. 1270, p.49)
Cloonmurly (Ringforts, Querns)
Several ring forts are extant. In the early 1960s the upper stone of a beehive quernwas found by the late Johnnie Dolan, Cloonmurly. The find was made while drainageworks were being carried out in the vicinity of a ringfort. Another quern was recovered in the general area in the late 1970s. It may be of disc (flat) type or possibly the lower stone of a beehive quern. In contrast with the beehive quern which was in use up until c. 500 A.D. the disc quern seems to have remained functional almost to the present day 7. Querns were used for grinding cereals.
7. Caulfield, Seamus. ‘The Beehive Quern in Ireland’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquariesof Ireland 1972. Vol.107. p.104.
Cloonmurly (Burial cairn)
For many years a pile of small stones marked the spot where Johnny Irwin was shot. It was located on the roadside between Davis’ house and Nanny Brennans. It was the custom for many years after his death that anyone who passed by would throw a stone on to the cairn. This custom died out at the end of the nineteenth century (S.MS. 260,p.9).
Cloontimullan (Memorial cross)
A commemorative cross to John Scally stands on the side of the main Lanesboro road (N63). He was injured in May 1921 opening a road trench at Cloontimullan in which the British had placed a Mills bomb with the pin extracted. When it was disturbed by the volunteers it exploded and wounded several of them. They were taken to Inchenagh Island (off Clooneigh) where John Scally died. A temporary grave was arranged in Kilteevan graveyard. After the truce his body was exhumed and taken to his family burial plot in Cloontuskert.8
8. Mulligan, Bill. ‘Tragedy in Cloontymullen’ Roscommon Association Yearbook (1986). p.43.Fitzmaurice. M. ‘Tragedy in Cloontymullen - Editor’s Note’ Roscommon Association Yearbook (1987).p.39.
The ivy mantled ruin of Cloonsellan Abbey possibly dates to the thirteenth century. It is thought it was a halfway house between the Abbey in Roscommon and Inchcleraun (Quaker Island). It is uncertain which of the Roscommon Abbeys it was associated with. Felim O’Connor, King of Connaught and the son of Cathal Croovedearg (Cathalof the Red Hand), founded the Dominican Abbey in Roscommon in 1253. He had a residence in Cloonsellan as the Annals of Lough Cé mention that his ‘fortress’ there was burned in 1261. It is thought that he may have built the church in Cloonsellan asa country residence for the Dominicans. As such it would have been the daughterhouse of the Dominican Abbey in Roscommon.
Cloonsellan (‘Beannacht’ river)
The ‘Beannacht’ river was a name attributed to the Hind. It is translated as the ‘River of the Blessing’. Tradition claims that every evening the monks from Roscommon and those from the Quaker (or Cloonsellan?) met on the banks of this river. The prayerful salutation by which they greeted each other when they met and parted is supposed to have given a blessing to the river (S.MS. 260, p.23). The main folklore ‘Tragedy in Cloontymullen - Editor’s Note’ Roscommon Association Yearbook (1987).p.39. collection documents “the bridge of the Beannachts”. Later in the same article the term “Banniens” is introduced. “The Banniens is a small bridge in Cloonsellan. At this bridge the monks of the Quaker Island and the monks of Cloonsellan Abbey used to part. When they were saying goodbye they used to say ‘beannacht leat’ and that is why it is called the Banniens” (M.MS. 1270, p.174-175).
Cloonsellan (Mills, Kilns, Smithy, Pottery)
A tuck mill and corn mill, lime kilns, smithy and a pottery are all recorded for the year 1837.
Cloontogher (Church and graveyard)
The older part of the local graveyard is surrounded by a circular or oval wall and contains the ruins of a church which probably dates to the thirteenth or fourteenth century. In the eastern gable is a beautiful ornate window which has been dated to the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century by H.G. Leask 9. Two other windows of simpler design also remain. During a clean up in recent years numerous worked and carved stones belonging to the church were found. Several fragments of quern stones were also recovered. With its enclosure, church ruin, the burial ground and adjacent townland/parish placename, Kilteevan, with its ecclesiastical derivation, a certain amount of archaeological evidence is provided for the founding of the site in the early Christian era.
9. Leask, H.G. Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings. Vol. 3 (Dundalk 1985). p.130-31.
Cloontogher (Kilteevan House)
The demesne and pleasure grounds of Kilteevan House are located in this townland.It was the home of the Mapother family for several generations.
Cloontogher (Mass Rock, Ringfort)
The Mass rock, which was used during Penal times is situated in an area marked ‘Curraghduv’ on the Ordnance Survey map. Mass was celebrated here in August 1989. Six priests concelebrated the mass and a large crowd attended. It was the first mass to be said here since the Penal Days. The mass rock is located within a conjoined ringfort. One section of the ringfort is of platform type construction and the other section has an earthern bank, now defaced in places, and a ditch. This area was locally known as the ‘crow’s wood’.
A large ringfort is recorded on the first edition Ordnance Survey map (1837) and byJohn O’Donovan (O.S. Name Books 1836-37). It was levelled some years agoaccording to a local farmer.
Doogarymore (Sunflower Pin)
A sunflower pin was found here in 1960 about 7ft deep in the bog by the Mooney family. It has a thin disc head with a central conical boss and a round sectioned stem. The front of the disc head is ornamented with a series of fine concentric circles, withtraces of chevrons round the edge. Its overall length is 13cm and the diameter of the head is 4 cm 10. The pin is attributed to the Late Bronze Age 11. The pin is housed in the National Museum, Dublin. (Reg no. 1960:653)
10. Lucas, A..T. (Director). ‘National Museum of Ireland Archaeological Acquisitions in the Year1960’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1962, Vol. 92. Pt.2. p.150.
11. Lucas, A.T. ‘Prehistoric Block Wheels from Doogarymore, Co. Roscommon and Timahoe East,Co., Kildare’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1972,Vol. 102. p.31
Two large solid wooden three piece wheels were found in 1968 and 1969 by theMooney family during turf cutting operations in the same bog. The 1968 find was lefton the surface of the bog and only two warped fragments survived. The wheel foundin 1969 was reported to the National Museum Dublin (Reg no. 1969:715). It forms part of an exhibition entitled “Prehistoric Ireland” which explores the earliest evidence ofpeople in Ireland and is on display in the National Museum since 1994. The wheelswere found about 90m distant from where the sunflower pin was found. They gave radio carbon dates of c.450 and c.365 b.c. respectively 12 and seem to have been identical in size and construction. They are the only wheels which survive complete from that period and probably were part of a two wheeled vehicle. It is interesting to note the experts view point on the find. Peter Harbison suggests that they were used on a heavy agricultural vehicle 13. According to A.T. Lucas the quality of theworkmanship “may denote that the vehicle to which they belonged was a symbol ofsocial status or used for ceremonial purposes”14.
12. Harbison, Peter. Pre-Christian Ireland From the First Settlers to the Early Celts (London 1988). p.165.
14. Lucas, A.T. ‘Prehistoric Block Wheels from Doogarymore, Co. Roscommon and Timahoe East,Co. Kildare’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1972 Vol. 102. p.31.
Emmoo (Public Houses)
Contained two public houses in 1837.
A platform ringfort is still extant. It is in fact located half in Killeenboy and half in Creevyquin as the townland boundary bisects it.
A stile on the roadside was known as ‘Carroll’s Stile’. “There are just a few stonesteps in the side of a ditch, leading up to the field, which is here 6 or 8 feet higher thanthe road. It is said that in the penal times a Priest was being closely pursued by some ‘priest hunters’ in the vicinity of this stile. All were on horseback. His pursuers were so close upon him when he came to this stile that his capture seemed certain. When the horse came to this stile he gave such a leap that he actually flew a great distance thus leaving his pursuers a long way behind. The horse in taking the leap left the clear imprint of his shoe on one of the flat stones on the top of the stile. The priest’s name was Father Carroll. This stone is supposed to have been extant in the early 1900s and thought to have been removed to the National Museum (S.MS. 260, p.10-11).
A ‘gentleman’s’ seat called Grove and a demesne is recorded in 1837.
A pottery kiln and several lime kilns are recorded in 1837.
Tonlegee (Beechwood House)
All that remains today of Beechwood House is the ice house which is a well preserved brick-lined underground vault and the ha-ha which surrounded part of the estate. This was a sunken wall which did not interrupt the view from within the pleasure ground sand was not seen until closely approached. Several names are associated with Beechwood house. D. H. Farrell left the estate to his nephew John Irwin (Oran). On his demise it then passed to his brother Daniel H. Irwin who died in 1866. Clarinda Irwin died in 1891. In the latter years of the estate the ‘Miss Nolans’, Clare M. and Kate Alice were the occupants. One of Daniel Irwins sisters was married to P. Nolanof Logboy, Co. Mayo so the ‘Miss Nolans’ may have been connected to the family through that marriage. Mr Glover was the last resident and seems to have been a caretaker appointed by the Ulster Bank, Castlerea who were handling the affairs of the estate. From the 1901 Census we get some picture of what the house was like. There were 18 windows in the front of the house and 19 rooms were occupied. 17 outhouses are listed, 6 of which were stables. The house contained a ballroom the full width of the house with a maple floor. The house was demolished in the 1940s. Some of the stones removed were used in upgrading the ‘lane’ in Beechwood (laneway which leadstowards Carrowbaun townland). Also some cut stones were used to line the well on the edge of this laneway. The timbers were removed by McMahons of Limerick. Tonlegee (R.I.C. Barracks). The building, known as the Barracks, is now a private dwelling. It served as the R.I.C. Barracks for several years. According to the Cancelled Books of Griffiths Valuation it was built in 1863. When in operation as a barracks there were two separate sections in the building - one was the residence of the Sergeant and the other for the use of the remaining officers. In the 1901 Census one sergeant and five constables are recorded. It is supposed to have been burned on Easter Sunday 1919 bya local IRA column. In the Baptismal Register of Kilteevan a son was born to William Lambert who was stationed in the Barracks in 1915. The baptism of another child is recorded for January 1922 so presumably the Barracks remained occupied until the disbandment of the R.I.C. in 1922.
Tonlegee (Wayside cross)
A late medieval cross is situated on the road from Beechwood cross to Kilteevan. It is of limestone and bears the inscription ... / RORIE: / HANLY / 30 : IVLY / 1632: and MARY BOORK / BRYAN KERILY / MAZO(N) on the opposite face. It is locally known as the Market Cross as in olden times a market was held here. “It is also said that any person who was found guilty of any offence was marched up and down while the market was in progress with a placard on their back and breast stating the offence they were found guilty of ” (S.MS. 260, p.8). It is thought by some people that it was set up as a boundary of O’Hanly’s country 15.
15. Sharkey, Rev. P.A.. The Heart of Ireland (Boyle 1927). p.340.
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