'Every one interested in Irish History should come to Killaloe; all the more because it is one of the most beautiful pieces of inland scenery we have to show'.
The Charm of Ireland 1934
Note: This section of the website is still a work-in-progress and will be added to over the coming weeks.
Killaloe, situated on the western shore of the river Shannon, at the southern end of Lough Derg, in East Clare has a fascinating history and stunning scenery.
Killaloe, meaning Church of St. Lua, owes its origin to a monastic settlement established here in the 6th century by St. Lua. The monastery was originally located on Friar’s Island, just 1km south of the bridge in Killaloe, but over the years that site proved to be unsuitable and moved to where St. Flannan’s Cathedral is today. On Friar’s island stood an ancient 9th / 10th century simple oratory. As a result of flooding due to the Shannon Hydro Electric Scheme in the late 1920s, the island was completely submerged, but St Lua’s oratory was removed and rebuilt in 1930 beside St. Flannan’s Catholic church where it remains today. Sometimes St. Lua is referred to as St. MoLua
Another saint with strong links to Killaloe is St. Flannan, patron saint of the parish and the diocese of Killaloe. He was born in Killaloe and his death in 778 is recorded in the annals. He was an abbot at the monastery founded by St. Lua. St. Flannan’s father, Turlough, was a king of Thomond. St. Flannan is the subject of a Harry Clarke window in St. Flannan’s catholic church in Killaloe. (more on Harry Clarke windows later).
St. Flannan’s Cathedral.
This is a very early 13th century cathedral, built to replace an earlier Romanesque cathedral on the same site (c 1180) by Donal Mór O’Brien, king of Munster. This cathedral was destroyed when Killaloe was attacked by Cathal Carrach of Connacht and replaced a few years later by the current cathedral of Gothic design. It has been in continuous use as a place of worship since it was built. During the Reformation the cathedral transferred from Catholic ownership to protestant.
Some artifacts in the Cathedral.
Romanesque Doorway, Just inside the door of the cathedral on the south wall is the Romanesque doorway from the original cathedral.
At the base of the doorway is a flagstone, marked with a cross, where it is believed Muircheartach Mór O’Brien is buried, the last Dalcassian High King of Ireland. He died in 1119.
The Ogham Stone. Standing close to the Romanesque doorway is the Ogham Stone dating back to viking days about 1000 years ago. It's about one metre high and is the only known stone to have both Runic (Scandinavian) and Ogham (Irish) script carved on it. Originally it formed part of a cross. It was carved by a converted viking named Thorgrim who asks for a blessing from God in the Ogham Script, and tells us his name in the Runic script. It lay undiscovered until 1916 when Prof. Mac Alister, a renowned archaeologist, who was visiting the cathedral discovered it built into the wall surrounding the Cathedral site.
Kilfenora High Cross. Also on display in the nave of the cathedral is a 12th century High Cross. In the 1820s, the Bishop of Killaloe, Bishop Mant toured his diocese which included Kilfenora. There this cross lay neglected and Bishop Mant asked that it be taken to Killaloe. Originally it stood in the grounds of Clarisford Palace, the bishop's residence, but in the 1930s it was moved to the cathedral as it was suffering from the effects of erosion.