Below are two letters by John O’Donovan concerning the Parish of Annaghdown, part of his Letters containing information relative to the Antiquities of the County of Galway collected during the progress of the Ordnanace Survey in 1838 Vol. I. Links to each volume of O’Donovan’s Letters are available on the Ask About Ireland website.
“I have not yet sufficiently examined the antiquities of this parish having only passed through a few townlands of it on my way from Clare Galway to Tuam. I met one old church in the townland of Cill Chathail which bears the same name with the townland or rather which originally gave its name of Cill Chathail or Church of St. Cathaldus to the townland. It lies in a fieldto the left of the road as you go from Clare Galway to Tuam about 8 miles from the latter.”
They used to dine upstairs at the Mill House, in a large room facing the road, with a cabinet in the corner which contained the finest bone china and polished silverware. There was a mahogany table in the centre of the room, and the lady of the house would often rap its surface with her knuckles and emphasise it was solid mahogany and proceed to give an account of the local doctor offering twenty pounds when he had occasion to visit the house. if they were prepared to sell it. However, even though twenty pounds was a substantial sum of money in the early part of the century, on no account would the table be sold, for at the time, corn mills throughout the country were flourishing and the owners were financially secure, so there was neither the need nor the desire to part with such a magnificent piece of woodwork.
At the eastern end of the parish of Annaghdown, in the townland of Corrandrum a short distance from the Tuam road, across from the school lies an unobtrusive little known monument. It is a poorly preserved rectangular church of approximately 11th or 12th century date, though it may be even older. Although it is extremely difficult to date with any accuracy, since most of its architectural characteristics have sadly disappeared, there are some features which help in its dating. It is typical of medieval churches rather than Early Christian. Cyclopean type architecture is present – massive blocks used in its construction especially in the lower sections of the walls. No evidence of antae remain – blocks that jut out at the external corners which would give it an even earlier date. Its orientation is east-west with the remnants of a window in its eastern gable where the altar would have been. Its internal measurements are 13.2 m by 6.3 m which is large for a church for this period. However, its measurements are roughly in harmony, that is, 2:1. There are traces of a window and possibly a doorway in its south wall and it would have had a trabeate doorway in its western gable. This was a simple doorway consisting of two upright pillars or cut blocks topped by a stone lintel, sloping inwards towards the top. See O’Flanagan, OS Letters, 1927 Vol. 1, 223. An example of this exists in St. MacDara’s church on MacDara’s Island in Connemara. The original height of the church is impossible to ascertain. There are burials both inside the church and around its perimeter and indeed these occur beneath the existing byroad. They are oriented east-west suggesting Christian burials. It was the practice to wish to be buried in proximity to the local church.
By Mary Forde (née Goaley), 1925-2018. This article describes the destruction of Annaghdown Church by fire in 1936 and subsequent reconstruction work. It first appeared in Anach Cuain 2004.
It was on Tuesday night, 1st December 1936 as we were going to bed about 9 o’clock. My father and mother had gone to put some of their children to bed as some of us had measles at the time. As he looked out the window my father saw flames. He enquired if Micil Fahy had a cock of hay in his field as he usually kept a sheep cock in the field at the foot of the hill between the Church and the school (the old school).
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