A Short History of Killannin

Jim Fahy

Killannin parish is situated in South Connemara which was originally known as “Gnomore and Gnobeg”. It stretched from the island of Inismhicatreer in Lough Corrib to Lettermore on the Atlantic. According to tradition the area was originally ruled by the McConroy’s and the O’Heney’s until the arrival of the O’Flaherty’s and apparently they were forced to move west towards Clifden.

In the original (1839) ordnance map for Garrynagry you have what appears to be the markings of an old fort where the Father Ryan church stands. The area was known as “Lis Ard”. The marriage certificate for Patrick Kelly and Bridget McDonagh of Gortacarnaun in February 1864 shows that the ceremony took place in the “Church of Lisard”. Further North on the townland of Kylemore there appears to be a similar drawing, In the townland of Pullough there is a hill listed as “Fairy Hill”. Having regard to those markings we assume that this area had been populated for many centuries.

Old Killannin church:

There is no record of when this church was built, but having regards to the thickness of the walls and the large stones used, it is likely to be centuries old. Roderic O’Flaherty – 1629-1718 – in his writing of 1684 makes the following observations: The next parish of Gnomore is Kilanhin parish: but Kilanhin parish church is in Gnobeg, where her well is frequented on the north-east brink of Lough Lonan. This lake lies between Gnomore and Gnobeg, on an island whereof is the castle of Ohery; and there is no recourse water from underground.

Those writing were edited by James Hardiman of Galway and originally published in 1846 un the title “West of H-Iar Connaught”.

Other ancient churches are:

Teampall Beag na Naomh, Boleyvaunaun,  drawing by Doctor Willis c.1860, St. Brecan’s church and burial ground, Rosscahill East, Killaroon church, Laghtgannon, Old wall in Killaguile, adjacent to Carrowndulla. See Guide to Lough Corrib’s early monastic sites by Anthony Previte 2010.

Old cemeteries: in Ower and Cloonmore. Children’s burial grounds in Killola and Killaguile.

Ross House: Land purchased by Robert Martin of Galway from Morough ne Doe O’Flaherty in 1591. William Martin owned Killaguile which he transferred to Robert Martin and his wife Mary Anne Blackney of Ross in 1840. Killaguile was sold to James E. Jackson in 1853 for £2,000. Present house was built c1867.

The southern part of Killannin parish includes Bohoona where the Morris family Spiddle House and which was destroyed during the civil war. The earlier building was apparently a lodge Bohoona Lodge). It appears that the Morris family came the owners through their marriage connections to the Fitzpatrick’s of the Aran Islands. Judge Michael Morris created Baron in 1885 and Lord in 1900.

The river Boliska which runs through the village of Spiddal, divided the parish of Killannin from Moycullen parish. In the grand of Diocese of Annaghdown to Lord Clanrickarde in 1611, he acquired rights to parts of Killannin parish including Keilroe, west of Spiddal. O’Flaherty gives an account of a church named after St. Columcille in the townland of Cloughmore. There were some  castles in the area.

Poverty: In 1824 a report was carried in the Connaught Journal in relation to the state of poverty in the Moycullen, Killannin and Oughterard areas. A Mr. Luscombe was sent by the Lord Lieutenant to ascertain the degree and as a result he had supplies of oatmeal distributed in the areas concerned. There was a press report of many people dying in the area of Killannin in 1822. This related to the area between Moycullen and Oughterard.

Religion: The parish of Killannin had a Roman Catholic population with the exception of the Martin family who had converted to the Church of Ireland and a number of police officers. According to records for the Tuam arch-diocese, Killannin parish has 2124 Catholics  and 12 Protestants in 1826. In the Catholic Directory for 1836 Killannin parish was described as “Fair Isle”. The parish priest was Rev. Thomas Ryan and the curate was Rev. Peter Waldron. No curate recorded for 1837. In 1828 Tithe money which was collected by Robert Martin of Ross and John Darcy was paid to the Rev. Anthony Thomas, Vicar of Killannin. In 1836 there was a protest meeting in Killannin organised by Rev. Thomas Ryan in relation to the Tithe collections. In 1848 the Rev Dallas organised the Irish Church Mission in Connemara. The main base for the mission in Killannin was Inveran. The Rev. James McCredy was appointed Vicar and he had a school built in Inveran and had a church built in 1852 close to Spiddal village, which was to accommodate 160 people. Due to the activity of the Mission there was a lot of tension between those who accepted the new teaching and those who remained Catholic. In 1852, a war of words broke out, through the medium of the Galway Mercury newspaper, between Rev. McCredy and Rev. Lyons, P.P. Spiddal. By this time the old parish of Killannin had been divided.


July 27th 2016



This page was added on 16/05/2023.

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