Our Golden Mile
A ramble from the village to the new cemetery
Killererin Heritage Society
The following are some interesting features that can be seen as you take a stroll from the village car park past the church and on to the new graveyard. Ár Míle Órga (Our Golden Mile) was originally put in place by local amateur historian Sylvester Cassidy in cooperation with Barnaderg Residents Association. It has since been edited by Killererin Heritage Society.
Barnaderg Castle (Tower House)
Located in low-lying marshy land, a rectangular five storey tower./castle can be seen from the road. Built by Meloghlin O’Kelly c.15/16th century, it was the principal seat of the O’Kelly’s of Hy-Many. The North wall and most of the East and West walls survive to their original height. Little remains of the South wall apart from some foundation stones.
Pottery shards and glass fragments dating from 17th to 18th century were found in the vicinity of the Castle/tower and are in safe-keeping in Barnaderg National School.
There are two ringforts to be seen on this road – one covered completely in undergrowth, the other clearly visible.
Ringforts are circular areas, measuring c.24-60m in diameter, usually enclosed with one or more earthen bank enclosures, often topped with a timber palisade. In the west of Ireland the ringfort or cashel, was often enclosed by a stone wall, with stone huts in the interior. The inhabitants were largely self sufficient, and it is not uncommon to have neighbouring ringforts, some of which may have served as an early medieval livestock pen.( https://www.heritagecouncil.ie/)
Of the many to be found in the parish of Killererin, five have been used as childrens’ burial grounds.
Turf cutting in the West of Ireland
Now prohibited in most counties, turf-cutting was once an essential part of the spring and summer activities of most households in Killererin. Turf was used for cooking and heating our homes.
Traditionally, turf was cut by a two-sided spade called a sleán but this has since been replaced by modern machinery. However, each individual sod still has to be turned and footed by hand and left to dry before being brought home and stacked in a shed ready for use.
A neatly stacked shed of turf which the late Ger Morris took great pride in can be seen in this article. His family still maintain this tradition today.
In the wall can be seen fossils embedded in the limestone used to build this wall. Limestone is mostly of marine origin and is a rich source of fossils and one of the oldest known sedimentary rocks. Both plant and animal life directly and indirectly contribute to its formation – corals, worms, molluscs and various plants.
The economic importance of limestone cannot be overestimated. It is used in buildings as a decorative stone, in road building and in the manufacture of concrete.
Mass Stiles were used by parishioners attending Mass in St. Mary’s Church. There once was a Mass path leading up to it. There are four stiles in all along this route. You will notice how they all differ from each other.
In the middle of the field in front of you is a fine example of a fairy tree. They are usually whitethorn and many myths and legends surround them. The trees usually remain untouched as landowners will not interfere with them for fear of bringing bad luck to their families.
“They (the fairies) have planted thorn threes
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite.
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.”
(From “The Fairies” by William Allingham)
Carn na Mairbh
Local folklore tells us that it was customary in these parts to stop on the way to the church during a funeral procession. Each person following the coffin would pick a stone off the road and throw it over the wall at a particular spot.
This story has been verified by a number of elderly people in the parish, who state that the mound eventually reached a height of about seven feet. When the custom was discontinued, the mound was used to build the footpath to the church.
Killererin Old Graveyard and Medieval Church
The celebration of Mass was forbidden during Penal times but it did not stop the people of Killererin building a church. A thatched church once existed across the road at the bottom of the hill, although all trace of this has long since disappeared.
Records show that the church in the graveyard was destroyed on the ‘night of the big wind’ – 6th January, 1839. It was replaced by the present St. Mary’s Church in 1847.
The graveyard is one of the oldest in the county and it was here in 1989–90 that archaeologists discovered a 9th- 12th century sandstone cross which can now be viewed in St. Mary’s church.
St. Mary’s Church, Killererin
This church was built during famine times by Fr. John McLoughlin P.P. (1839–1849) and completed on his death replacing the medieval church, the ruins of which can be seen in the old graveyard. He is buried in the nave of the church and a mural tablet over his grave is engraved in beautiful old Irish script.
On the opposite wall is another mural tablet over the grave of Fr. John Cavanaugh, P.P. from 1860–1872 who on his death was aged 64 years. He was a brother of Archdeacon Cavanaugh, parish priest of Knock, Co. Mayo during the apparition of Our Lady.
In 1960, the church was completely reconstructed under the direction of Fr. Michael Burke P.P. (1957 – 1963) and the architect was Vincent B. Gallagher of Dublin.
The sandstone cross can be located in the right nave of this church. Sandstone is not usual in Killererin and stone for this cross may have been quarried in the Milltown/Dunmore area.
Stained Glass window
In 2000, a new stained glass window by artist George Walsh was commissioned depicting ‘Christ Yesterday, Today and Forever’.
Childrens Memorial Stone
In the church grounds opposite the main door is a stone commemorating the unmarked children’s burial grounds in the parish. The stone was blessed by Fr. Tod Nolan P.P. on 3rd June, 2012.
Moyne Park House
Constructed by Michael J. Browne in 1830, Moyne Park House – a 19th century Georgian mansion was built of cut limestone. Bought by Edward Browne in 1855, it was sold just two years later to John Stratford Kirwan. In 1865, it was purchased by the Waithmans, and in 1912 by the Camillian Brothers who used it as a hospice for sick priests (two of its priests are buried in the old graveyard). In 1932 it was purchased by the Sacred Heart Missionaries and used as a seminary until 1975.
It was then purchased by singer Donovan who after a short tenure of six months sold it on to Dominic and Veronica Mulhern who ran it as a Nursing Home until 1985. Scottish Broadcaster and poet George MacBeth became the new owner until his death in 1992 when it was sold to Liam and Anne Moran from Galway. Current owners, entrepreneur Declan Ganley and his wife Delia purchased the property in 1995. It is now a private residence.
Lime Kiln at Carrowmanagh
Just a short distance beyond the priests house on the same side of the road, lies a field where there is a very good example of a Lime Kiln. A common feature of the rural landscape throughout Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries, most are now overgrown or are in poor condition. Killererin had several dotted around the parish.
These structures were used to produce quicklime by heating limestone at temperatures as high as 1,0000 centigrade. Quicklime was used in agriculture to improve the quality of the soil and also for decorative purposes such as whitewashing buildings. An old Irish saying goes “Lime enriches the father but impoverishes the son.”