Kilnamona Church History

St. Joseph's Church, Kilnamona
St. Joseph's Church, Kilnamona

The immediate precursor of the modern church was the "mass house" which was located in Knockahaurin. The chapel was a low, long building, which was also used as both a meeting place and a threshing floor at harvest time [1]. In 1842, Fr. Quinn erected the present day church. The site for the new church was donated by the wife of the landlord, Horace Stafford O'Brien, and built using the stones of the Knockahaurin mass house and slate from the quarries in Killaloe, with the roof being made of thatch. [2]. The church cost £18 to build and was dedicated by Bishop Power, assisted by 15 other clergymen in 1869. Rev. Robert FitzGerald, C.C. of Ennis delivered a speech to the large congregation in which he showed "how the ancestors of the people had sacrificed all to bequeath their faith to their descendants". In the evening, the clergy were entertained by "the zealous pastor, the Rev. Thomas Quinn P.P." [3]

Commemorative Plaque, St. Joseph's Church, Kilnamona
Commemorative Plaque on Church Wall:

The high-altar was erected in 1895 to the memory of James Considine, while the Stations of the Cross date from 1905 [3]. In 1910, Patrick Keane of Ballyashea donated funds for the stained glass window which is located at the back of the altar. In 1932, a new roof was put on the church, as well as a new floor, altar rails and the holy water font, which was dug out of the ruined 15th century church. Bishop Fogarty contributed £100 towards the costs which were in excess of £2,000 in total [4]. The image to the left is the commemorative plaque on the wall outside the church porch. The inscription is "It is written my house shall be called the house of prayer-Matthew 21st Chapter 13 Verse. Built June 11th 1842 by the Rev T Quinn P.P."


Fr. Teige Kerin seems to be the earliest recorded parish priest of Kilnamona. In 1704, he was parish priest of Kilnamona and Ruan. By 1744, Fr. Daniel O'Sullivan is the first recorded parish priest of the united parish of Inagh and Kilnamona. It appears likely that it was Fr. O'Sullivan who erected the "mass house" in Knockahaurin [5]. The next recorded priests of the parish are Rev. John O'Hehir and Rev. Anthony McGuane. In 1809, Fr. James O'Shaughnessy was appointed the new parish priest by his uncle, Bishop James Shaughnessy. The bishop was not afraid of the charge of nepotism, and had no hesitation in appointing his nephew and brother to the key parishes of Kilrush and Roscrea. James Shaughnessy, having walked out of the Irish College in Salamanca, had to make do with the rural parish of Inagh-Kilnamona [6]. After Fr. Frank Curtin, the next appointed parish priest was Rev. Thomas Quinn P.P. A tireless campaigner for the ordinary people, both during the famine and after, more information can be found about him here.

Fr. Patrick Nagle was appointed as parish priest after Fr. Quinn's death. He was a native of Toomevara, Co. Tipperary. In 1871, he acquired a farm in Knockahaurin and built a parochial house there. At the meal to celebrate it being ready for occupancy, a bullock went berserk and came crashing in through the bay window [7]. A big sports fan, he organised a horse race for local farmers each year on the day they drew their turf. He is buried in Kilnamona Church [8]. One of his curates was Rev John Garry; a famed nationalist and agitator in support of tenant farmers, Fr. Garry first came to prominence when one of the first Land League meetings to be held in Clare took place in Inagh. In 1879, he is recorded as speaking up on behalf of Kilnamona residents of the estate of the Marquis Conyngham, who feared for their future when the estate was about to be sold [9]. On his death in 1912, a resolution of sympathy was passed by the Kilnamona branch of the United Irish League. Telegrams of sympathy were also sent by Willie Redmond M.P. and John Redmond M.P.

Fr. James O'Neil succeeded Fr. Nagle. He built the present day school in Kilnamona in 1889. In 1893, he was succeeded by Fr. Pat McInerney. He erected the stations of the cross in Kilnamona church in 1905 and was also president of the Kilnamona branch of the Gaelic League [10]. Fr. William Marrinan took over in 1906 and retired on pension in 1929.

  1. MacMathúna, Séamus. (1966) History of the parish of Inagh and Kilnamona. Ennis: Clare Champion.
  2. Ó Murchadha, Ciarán. (2008) The diocese of Killaloe : an illustrated history. Booklink.
  3. MacMathúna, Séamus. (1966) History of the parish of Inagh and Kilnamona. Ennis: Clare Champion.
  4. April 1, 1933 Nenagh Guardian
  5. MacMathúna, Séamus. (1966) History of the parish of Inagh and Kilnamona. Ennis: Clare Champion.
  6. Murphy, Ignatius. (1991) The diocese of Killaloe in the nineteenth century. Dublin: Four Court Press.
  7. Murphy, Ignatius. (1992) The diocese of Killaloe, 1800-1850. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
  8. MacMathúna, Séamus. (1966) History of the parish of Inagh and Kilnamona. Ennis: Clare Champion.
  9. November 8, 1879 The Nation
  10. December 19, 1903 Saturday Record