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History of Feenagh – Kilmeedy

The parish of Feenagh-Kilmeedy is situated in the barony Upper Connello in the western area of Co. Limerick.  Feenagh {Fiodhnach} means a woody place, a reminder of the extensive woods in the are in the past while Kilmeedy {Cill Míde or more correctly Cill Mo-Íde} is named after the Early Christian Saint, Íde {anglicised as Ita} and refers to an ancient church which was located there either founded by the saint or named in her honour.

The parish contains a total area of 10,000 acres, which is divided into 25 townlands, and lies between 300 and 400 feet above sea level except for a ridge along its northern boundary, whose highest point, Corronoher, is 898 feet high.  It is bordered on the west by the parishes of Dromcollogher-Broadford and Feohanagh, on the north by the parishes of Cloncagh and Ballingarry and to the east by the parish of Castletown-Ballyagran.  Part of the southern limit of the parish adjoins the county of Cork.

The parish, in its present form, was created in 1841.  Before then it was part of various and varying parish units.  When parishes were formed originally in Ireland, mostly during the 13th century, it was incorporated in two parishes, named Corcomohide and Cloncrew.  The ruins of the medieval church of the latter still survive in the graveyard which still bears its name.  This structure was changed after the Reformation and the Catholic parish of Corcomohide incorporated Cloncrew and also included Dromcollogher, Castletown, Ballyagran as well as Feenagh and Kilmeedy.  In a further change in 1720, Dromcollogher was separated and finally in 1841 Feenagh-Kilmeedy with Cloncrew became a separate parish.

The earliest evidence which survives of human occupation in the parish are the many ring forts which still survive but it is likely that settlement began over five thousand years ago when the earliest farmers settled throughout County Limerick.  In the early centuries AD the area was part of the tuath, or tribal territory, of Corcu Muichead.  After the Norman Conquest it was incorporated into the Manor of Corcomohide, owned initially by the De Clare family, but eventually forming part of the vast estates of the Earls of Desmond.  The main Gaelic family, the MacEinreys retained their power around Castletown while Norman castles were erected at Pallas and Ballinruane.  Medieval churches were located in Kilmeedy, Cloncrew, Kilmurry and Kilcolman.  The village at Kilmeedy was an early settlement which was enhanced by its new owners, the Courtenays, after the Munster Plantation by having a patent to hold a market each Wednesday and an annual fair on 24 October.  This concession allowed the collection of tolls and duties and by the 18th century there were two fairs each year, on 7 November and 31 December.

Feenagh does not feature in the medieval period and seems to have only become a settlement after the building of a church there in the18th century.  This original chapel a thatched mass-house was enlarged and renovated in the early nineteenth century and acquired it present appearance in the 1870’s when the gothic style windows and parapets were added.  The village acquired its National School in 1849 while that in Kilmeedy was erected in 1854.

The RIC barracks in Feenagh was located in the centre of the village while that in Kilmeedy was a considerable distance from the village on a site near to his residence given by Thomas Edward Lloyd.  In 1841 the population of the parish was over five thousand which had declined to just over three thousand in 1851 due to the impact of the Famine migration, emigration and death. This decline continued through out the following decades and by the late nineteenth century there were just over 18,000 people.  By then the village of Kilmeedy had 167 residents while feenagh had 158.

TOWNLANDS

NAME ACREAGE MEANING
Ahaveheen 400 Ford of the little birch tree
Ahadagh 439 The long ford
Bohard 434 The high hut
Ballinruane 1561 Town of he red place
Cloncrippa 593 Meadow of the violation
Cloonpasteen 419 Meadow of Pasteen
Cloncrew 166 Meadow of wild garlic
Clonlara 182 Meadow of the mare
Callahow 260 Meadow of the river
Cloonroosk 287 Meadow of the marsh
Feenagh 455 Woody place
Garbally 429 Short town
Gurteen 533 Small Filed
Gornagluggin 235 Field of the skulls
Gurtalassa 283 Field of the fort
Gurtmore 178 Big Field
Highmount 922 High summit
Drominacreen 425 Ridge of the tree
Kilcolman 292 Church of Colmán
Kilmeedy 192 Church of Mo-Íde
Kilmurry Archer 351 Church of Muire
Kilmurry Bog 103 Church of Muire
Kilmurry Lane 666 Church of Muire
Lisheensheea 251 Little for of Sheela
Pallas 270 The palisade

 

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