Kilfenora, The Burren, Co Clare
|Post Code V95 AC94.
Kilfenora (Irish: Cill Fhionnúrach, meaning "Church of the Fertile Hillside" or "Church of the White Brow", is a village and a civil parish in County Clare, Ireland. It is situated south of the karst limestone region known as the Burren. Since medieval times when it was the episcopal see of the Bishop of Kilfenora, it has been known as the "City of the Crosses" for its seven (now five) high crosses. The village had around 220 inhabitants in 2011. Much of the TV show Father Ted (1995–98) was filmed there.
Cill Fhionnúrach Village
St. Fachtna's Catholic church and the "West Cross" in the mist
Kilfenora is located in County Clare, Ireland.
Coordinates: 52°59′25″N 9°13′0″W
Elevation: 20 m (70 ft)
Population (2011): • Urban 222.
Kilfenora Abbey, cathedral and crosses; Kilfenora church at Kilcarragh
A plaque on the Kilfenora village hall commemorating "Ted Fest".
According to the Census of 2011, 463 people lived in the Kilfenora area, up from 409 in 2006.
However, most of them do not live inside the village. In 2011, there were just 220 inhabitants in the village proper, up from 169 in 2006 and only around 100 in 1980.
In 1975 the "Burren Display Centre", an interpretative centre displaying the botany and wildlife of The Burren, in the former National School building, was opened by president Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh. It was the first interpretative centre in Ireland and was built with funds from Fáilte Ireland and the Clare County Council.
The TV show Father Ted (1995–98) used Kilfenora as an important filming location. This later gave rise to a "Father Ted Festival", first held in 2007.
Kilfenora also gave its name to the Kilfenora Ceili Band.
The Gothic sedilia in the chancel of Kilfenora Cathedral
Detail of a pillar on the east window in the chancel of Kilfenora Cathedral
Kilfenora Cathedral. The northern transept is on the left, with the glass roof installed in 2005 to conserve the high crosses.
Kilfenora Cathedral is dedicated to St. Fachtna (St. Fachanan) and the present structure dates to between 1189 and 1200. It was built in the so-called transitional style with a nave and a chancel. These were later separated and by 1839, "thirty-six feet of the east end" were roofless.
The nave is now used for worship by the Church of Ireland, for which it was reconstructed around 1850. It features a bishop's throne, donated in 1981. There is also a large square stone baptismal font (possibly from around 1200). In addition, the church contains various tombs, but the interior is mostly devoid of ornamentation.
According to local tradition, the chancel was roofed with an oak ceiling (blue with gold start) until the end of the 18th century. It is roofless today and features a 15th-century doorway, a 15th-century Gothic sedilia as well as a Romanesque three-light east window with its triangular pillars topped by carved capitals. On both sides of the window is a carved effigy: a bishop with his right hand raised in blessing (possibly early 14th century), to the north; and a tonsured, bareheaded cleric holding a book (possibly 13th century) to the south. The chancel also contains several tombs and the remains of high crosses.
The "Lady Chapel" (sacristy or chapter room) was in a rectangular wing leading to the north of the chancel. It likely shares the building date of the main building and may have served as a sort of transept in the past. Two lancet-type windows and a broken two-light one are left in the eastern wall. There are also fragments of a high cross.
Today, the cathedral remains in partially ruined state, although restoration work was done by the National Monument Service in the early 2000s. The transept was fitted with a glass roof in 2005 to protect the remains of the three high crosses moved there.
Although tradition maintains that there were once seven crosses, only the remains of five of them were extant in modern times (plus one from post-reformation times). Three of those, including the one known as the "Doorty Cross", were located within the graveyard of the cathedral. The Doorty Cross is so named, because its shaft was used as the tomb stone of the Doorty family grave until the 1950s when the two parts of this mid-12th century cross were reunited. A shaft of a 13th- or 14th-century cross stood near the doorway of the cathedral (the "South Cross"). Near the graveyard gate was a simple cross (possibly dating from the 14th or 15th century). The third cross is located within the chancel. West of the graveyard and roughly halfway between the cathedral and the modern Catholic church is the fourth high cross (the "High Cross"), standing in a field. The fifth cross ("Cross on the Hill") was removed in 1821, by Dr. Richard Mant, Bishop of Kilfenora and Killaloe, to Killaloe, County Clare where it is still on display at St. Flannan's Cathedral and known as the "Kilfenora High Cross".
In 2003, three high crosses from the site were removed for conservation by the Office of Public Works and from 2005 have been on display in the transept of the cathedral; amongst them the "Doorty Cross".
The ruins of Ballyshanny Castle are located in the eponymous townland, around 600 meters from the village. It was built in a ringfort and was originally an O'Brien castle. In 1631 it was owned by Daniel O'Shanny, Dean of Kilfenora. Remains of two upper floors and a vaulted lower floor are still extant.
To the west of Ballyshanny, in Ballykeel South townland, lie the outhouses of the Ballykeel estate, one of the few "big houses" in northwestern Clare. It was originally built by George Lysaght of Woodmount, Ennistymon in the late 18th century. It was replaced in the early 19th century by the Blake Foster family with a classical house of cut stone with a central bow.
A large ring fort surrounded by chevaux de frise in Ballykinvarga townland is named after the townland. The fort itself has a diameter of over 50 meters but has not been conclusively dated. Due to its size it has been considered the likely seat of a regional "cattle baron", and was described in detail by antiquarian Thomas Johnson Westropp in 1897.:72–75
The former Burren Display Centre today provides an updated exhibition on the Burren, a film, tea rooms and a craft store.
Dean of Kilfenora
Bishop of Kilfenora
Kilmoon Village and parish in Munster, Ireland