Kilgeever’s Historic Sites

Kilgeever Abbey
https://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/tag/kilgeever-abbey/

The Louisburgh area has over seven hundred known Archaeological Monuments including the following: Abbey Ruins, Standing Stones, Holy Wells, Historic Graveyards. [i]

This site refers to the Pilgrimages in Kilgeever:  it has several images of a holy well, crosses, ruins of church. (Louise Nugent) [ii]

Abbey

Known locally as The Abbey Kilogeever Medieval Church was a multi – period church.  A parish church was built on the site of an earlier Patrician church.  Several theories referred to the origin of Kilgeever: 1. from the Irish Cill Chaobhair that meant ‘The Near Church,’ 2. or derived of ‘Cill Iomhair’ or Church of Iomhair.  The restored building had a narrow round – headed twelfth century window in each gable.  The arch of the south doorway was dressed in pock – marked stone.  There were two aumbries on the eastern end of the interior with votive offerings placed on them.  Discovery Map 30 L8363 8070 (May 2017.)  Coordinates are Longitude 9. 45 53 W, Latitude is 53. 45 47 N.  Images on this site by Jim Dempsey. [iii]

Kilgeever Abbey or Cill Chaobhain is now a ruined unroofed church.  It was built on the site of a n earlier Patrician church erected during the twelfth century.  Local legend believed St. Patrick visited the site during 460 AD.  The route from Crough Patrick to Caher Island used the site as a Pilgrimage Station during the past.  The Abbey itself was rectangular shaped.  It included a round – headed window plus two niches for storing vessels on its eastern side.  A fifteenth century door had a pock- dressed arch with a draw bar hole that was locked by a beam. [iv]

Situated on the slopes of Kinknock approximately three km outside the town of Louisburgh in Co. Mayo is Kilgeever or Cill Ghaobhair.  Local traditions suggest that Kilgeever is the Anglicized version of Cill Iomhair.  The Ordnance Survey Letters 1838 translated the name as St. Geever’s Church.  According to C. Corlette 2001 (page 130) plus the Louisburgh Manuscripts Essays 1737 /38 it is reported that ‘Kilgeever – according to the interpretation of most people means ‘the windy church’.  No physical remains of the original church above ground are visible just the ruins of the Abbey. [v]

Kilgeever Abbey is a little unroofed church erected on the site of an earlier Patrician church during the twelfth century.  St. Patrick visited the area during 460 A D according to this site.  There is a Pilgrimage Station on the route to Caher Island from Crough Patrick.  The rectangular shape has a round – headed window on the eastern gable.  There is a fifteenth century church with a pock – dressed arch plus a draw – bar hole which had a beam door lock. [vi]

A church was founded by St. Iomhair following the visit of St. Patrick to the area.  The present ruins date from the twelfth or thirteenth century.  There are several images of the graveyard by Rev. Fr. John Mustier on this site. [vii]

Graveyard

Located on a hill approximately fifty metres east of gable of Abbey is a Medieval cross slab.  There is a Greek style cross outlined on lower half of the south face.  Two seven-foot cross slabs that had v – shaped inscriptions have now been removed from the site.  Images of graveyard are by Jim Dempsey. [viii]

Within the graveyard are slabs carved with crosses that dated to the seventh century.  Beside the entrance to the graveyard is the ‘Tabar Ri Dhomhnaigh’ or ‘Our Lord’s Well of the Sabbath.’ [ix]

In Kilgeever graveyard are three early Medieval cross slabs.  One has an outline of a Greek Cross. [x]

Two walls plus a gable still stand with a height of five feet.  Two window apertures also one door remain of the Abbey ruins, the door had been hung with a stone – hinge.  The building had been divided into two halves with accommodation for the Monks of the Monastery plus the Church.  An underground passage or tunnel as an escape route was in place from the building to Ballyhip.  (Transcribed by Thomas J. Murphy from Schools Collection Vol 0137 page 006) [xi]

In the graveyard are two slabs that date back to the seventh century carved with crosses. [xii]

Various Cross Slabs are located within the Kilgeever Graveyard. [xiii]

Thomas (1971) described Kilgeever Cemetery as a Developed Cemetery plus was possibly the focus of burial, habitation, or religious rituals since the early Christian period.  According to this article two early Christian sculptures are described as (a) A free – standing cross decorated with a cross on one side.  It was a small thin slab carved to a roughly cruciform shape with the cross incised on one side.  The stone measured eighty – three cm in height, was thirty – five cm in width plus 5.2 cm in thickness.  The cross measured twenty – seven cm in width plus its surviving position is at least thirty cm in height.  This article has further information of that stone, an image features on page 32. (B)  This second stone was a long, lichen – covered pillarstone located on the higher ground within the graveyard to the north – east of the Abbey, it now leans in a westerly direction.  The west side had a small almost equal – armed cross.  The carving is deep, neatly cut plus the excised lines were almost V – shaped in the cross section. The stone appeared to have been made from slate or siste.  The measurements of stone were 16.3 cm in width on its front face plus was 15.5. 13 & 16.5 cm on the upper plain side.  It stood about ninety cm above ground level but may have been over 1 metre 30 cm in total.  The cross measured 23.8 cm in height, it was twelve cm in width.  One may peruse further information in the article in Journal.  Possibly the stones were erected from the era of sixth to eight centuries up to the late ninth century. (Higgins / Gibbons) [xiv]

Holy Well

This Well is located at the northwest corner of the Graveyard that surrounded the Medieval church.  Local Folklore referred to St. Patrick’s intention to build a church in the area then sent his Disciple St. Iomhair to complete the building.  Traditionally Pilgrimages occurred on 15th July the Feast of the Apostles or on Sundays.  The Ordnance Survey Letters 1838 referenced a Pattern held on 15th July.  Listed as Toberreendoney on the first edition 1839 Ordnance Survey Map.  The ITA Files 1944 stated that visits to the Holy Well occurred from 15th August to the 8th of September.  This site has numerous images of Holy Well. [xv]

A Penitential structure that exists in Kilgeever is mentioned on this site. [xvi]

Kilgeever Holy Well is part of the Clew Bay Heritage Trail.  Beside the entrance to the graveyard is the Spring Well known as ‘Tabar Ri Dhomhnaigh.’ Stations of the Cross were undertaken on the Feast of the Apostles on June 15th annually.  Several Pilgrims inscribed crosses on rocks nearby.  Prior to leaving Holy Well they were invited to pray for the soul of Henry Murphy of Castlebar who had a cross erected at the site.  (Mary O ‘Malley 25th June 2011) [xvii]

Beside the graveyard entrance is the Holy Well called ‘Tabar Ri Dhomhnaigh.’  There is an annual pilgrimage on 15th July the Festival of the Apostles. [xviii]

There is a well – known photograph of pilgrims at the Holy Well among the Wynne Collection of 1890’s, it features in an article on page 33.  A wooden plaque at the site provides instruction for the pilgrims. (fig 7, page 37.) [xix]

A Holy Well is situated in Kilgeever Graveyard named after St. Iomhair. [xx]

Footnotes

Several images of the Old Kilgeever Abbey from 6th May 2001 plus graveyard feature on this site:

http://www.connorsgenealogy.com/Mayo/louisburgh.html

Black & white images by Tony O ‘Neill of 5th February 2020 feature on this link: https://www.tonyoneill.org/tag/holy-well/

An image by Stephanie Pate features at this link: https://www.pinterest.at/pin/272327108687357687/

The Doorway at Kilgeever Abbey may be viewed at this link: http://www.louisburghrentals.com/local_scenery.html

This site states that Kilgeever is in the Electoral Division of Louisburgh, within the Civil Parish of Kilgeever that is in the Barony of Murrisk.  The Irish name is Cill Chaobhair.  There is a map with these locations 53 45 39 N, 9 46 1 W: https://www.townlands.ie/mayo/murrisk/kilgeever/louisburgh/kilgeever/

Kilgeever Abbey has a church that includes a Pilgrimage Station in the surrounding Graveyard. (Eileen Battersby 6th August 2003, Irish Times.)  The article may be viewed at this link:

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/following-the-clew-trail-1.368669

This site has several images of Kilgeever Graveyard: https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2301334/kilgeever-cemetery

A map with several images of Ruined church plus graveyard may be viewed at this link: http://www.louisburghrentals.com/local_scenery.html

Publications that refer to Kilgeever structures include the following:

‘Early Christian Monuments at Kilgeever Co. Mayo’ in the ‘Cathair na Mart Historical Journal’ 1993 No. 13 Higgins J. G. & Gibbons M.

‘Antiquities of West Mayo: The Archaeology of the Baronies of Burrishoole & Murrish’ 2001 Corlette Chriastiaan.

‘The Prehistoric Ritual Landscape of Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo’ 1998 Vol 19 page 9 – 26. Corlette Chriastiaan Wordwell Ltd.

Kilgeever Abbey plus Holy Well is mentioned on this site by Anne Byrne 2oth November 2011: http://www.louisburgh-killeenheritage.org/page_id__52_path__0p2p.aspx

This site has information on Louisburgh history.  It stated that Kilgeever Church was probably suppressed under the reign of King Henry V11: http://homepage.eircom.net/~kilgeever/history.htm

Bibliography

[i] Archaeology in County Mayo (https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/about-mayo/archaeology/archaeology-overview.html) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[ii] Guest Posts (http://www.thestandingstone.ie/2015/11/guest-post-pilgrimage-at-kilgeever-co.html) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[iii] Kilgeever Church (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Kilgeever%20Church,%20Mayo.html) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[iv] Clew Bay Archaeological Trail (https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/about-mayo/archaeology/clew-bay-archeological-trail/stage-3-louisburgh.html) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[v] Kilgeever Abbey (https://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/tag/kilgeever-abbey/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[vi] Kilgeever Abbey (https://westporttourism.com/kilgeever-abbey/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[vii] Kilgeever Co. Mayo (http://www.earlychristianireland.net/Counties/mayo/kilgeever/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[viii] Kilgeever Church (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Kilgeever%20Church,%20Mayo.html) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[ix] Clew Bay Archaeological Trail (https://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/about-mayo/archaeology/clew-bay-archeological-trail/stage-3-louisburgh.html) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[x] Kilgeever Abbey (https://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/tag/kilgeever-abbey/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xi] Schools Collection Louisburgh (https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/4428011/4368055) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xii] Kilgeever Abbey (https://westporttourism.com/kilgeever-abbey/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xiii] Kilgeever (http://www.earlychristianireland.net/Counties/mayo/kilgeever/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xiv] ‘Early Christian Monuments at Kilgeever Co. Mayo’ in the ‘Cathair na Mart Historical Journal’ 1993 No. 13 Higgins J. G. & Gibbons M. [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xv] Pilgrimage (https://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/2016/05/27/pilgrimage-at-kilgeever-church-and-holy-well-co-mayo/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xvi] Kilgeever Abbey (https://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/tag/kilgeever-abbey/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xvii] Kilgeever Holy Well (http://www.louisburgh-killeenheritage.org/page_id__85.aspx) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xviii] Kilgeever Abbey (https://westporttourism.com/kilgeever-abbey/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xix] ‘Early Christian Monuments at Kilgeever Co. Mayo’ in the ‘Cathair na Mart Historical Journal’ 1993 No. 13 Higgins J. G. & Gibbons M. [assessed 23rd March 2021]

[xx] Kilgeever Co. Mayo (http://www.earlychristianireland.net/Counties/mayo/kilgeever/) [assessed 23rd March 2021]

 

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