The Churchyard, Kilrush

942257_428936107202688_1377704568_n.jpgIn the 1980s, Kilrush-based historian and Town Councillor, George Harratt and a team of FÁS workers, surveyed the site and recorded the inscriptions from the headstones and grave markers. Harratt and his team also produced a map of the site.

Their work is available here:

Since 2011, Kilrush & District Historical Society has been restoring and recording the town’s pre-Reformation graveyard, known as Kilrush Churchyard. This is a voluntary project and to date, the improvements at the site have been remarkable.

In 2014, the Historic Graves Project, surveyed the site and produced an up-to-date map using GPS coordinates.That project is still ongoing and is available here:

Kilrush Churchyard, December 2011, prior to restoration

The below photograph illustrates the changes that have taken place at the Churchyard over the past number of years.


Post restoration (2012-present)

The Churchyard, Kilrush has many fine examples of vernacular funerary art. The site also features fine mausolea, table tombs and an obelisk, in addition to locally produced ironwork.

A selection of grave markers from the Churchyard, Kilrush.


A fine example of a vernacular funerary artwork featuring a gentleman on horseback bedecked with top hat and tails. This example dates from the 1840s.


Buildings on the Vandeleur Demesne




noun: demesne; plural noun: demesnes
  1. 1.
    a piece of land attached to a manor and retained by the owner for their own use.

The Vandeleur Demesne

The original member of the Vandeleur family in Ireland was said to have been a Dutch merchant, Maximillian Van der Leur, who was based in Sixmilebridge during the early 17th century. The Vandeleur’s established their seat in Kilrush in 1687 when the Reverend John Vandeleur became rector of Kilrush. In 1712 several townlands in the vicinity of Kilrush were leased from the Earl of Thomond and later purchased by John Vandeleur, son of Rev. John Vandeleur in 1749.

The walled demesne became the core of their property consisting of 175ha (420 acres). The Vandeleur family became extremely influential during the late 18th and the 19th century, representing the county in parliament and encouraging development in the town.

vandeleur demesne

Source: OSI Historic Map 6 inch (1837-1842), colour

Selection of outbuildings on the Vandeleur Demesne

Gate Lodge (c. 1808-1810)


Detached three-bay single-storey coursed rubble stone gate lodge with single-bay single-storey limestone cut-stone gabled projecting porch to centre, flanked by open verandas with limestone cut-stone octagonal-profile columns. Gateway with four limestone cut-stone piers having neo-Egyptian-style panelled piers and cast-iron gates. Section of rubble stone walled garden with segmental-arch opening having bellcote above. Gateway with six cut-stone piers having rubble stone curved walls and cast-iron gates.

Gate Lodges as recorded in the contemporary press. This is an example of an advertisement from the 1830s. Saunder’s Newsletter, 3 May 1837


Gate Lodge no. two

Vandeleur Estate (1845), less ornate, this was the goods entrance and it’s likely that the family may only have used this lodge when attending church.


Game Keeper’s House

This building may have served as the place of residence for the chief game keeper’s house. It is located within the walls of the demesne and had its own private road that linked it with the estate. It is presently in poor repair as the below photograph (2014) illustrates. As a game keeper for a large country estate, the position was highly respected and offered a good income. The entry in the 1901 census of population records the Scottish-born, David Mollison in residence along with his wife, Rosanna, daughters Nellie and Daphne and one servant, Bridget Daly.


Function unknown – may have been the Herdsman’s House



Cosey Cottage (function unknown)

cosey cottage

Stable block, Kilrush House

Partially restored stable block of the demolished Kilrush House. It now functions as the wonderful Vandeleur Walled Garden attraction (


To date, no extensive study of the influence of Dutch merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries, in counties Clare and Limerick has emerged. Apart from the Vandeleur family, the Van Hogart family also settled in west Clare and built their house in the Dutch style at Querrin.


Further reading: Pieter Tesch, The Dutch at Limerick in Old Limerick Journal, vol. 28 (Winter 1990), pp 135-143

Frances St. as recorded in the Census of Ireland, 1901

This is a sample of Household Return Form (A) from the 1901 census. It records the occupants as:

Residents of house 19 in Frances Streetcensus 1901

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion
Lucas Jane 80 Female Head of Family Church of Ireland
Chambers Sophia 79 Female Visitor Church of Ireland
Galvain Mary 25 Female Servant Roman Catholic


Kilrush Churchyard: Erected by Sophia Chambers to the memory of her beloved husband Thomas Chambers Esq. who died 1 December 1865 aged 63 years. And his son John Chambers Esq who departed this life on 15th January 1878 aged 49 years. May he rest in peace.

Mrs Sophia Chambers was recorded as a landowner in this article from the Freeman’s Journal, 27 September 1882:

Sophia Chambers

Frances St. the hub of commercial activity in Kilrush

These photographs clearly illustrate the commercial activity associated with Frances Street in the mid to late nineteenth century. Apart from residential occupancy, the street was home to banks, hotels, mills and shops of all descriptions. Also housed on the street were doctors, solicitors and priests. The street originally developed west from Moore Street and the Market Square. It led towards Kilrush Creek.


Moore Abbey and Kilrush House

Kilrush House, Kilrush, County Clare, home of the Vandeleur family from c. 1808. Accidentally burned  in 1897. fire 1897.png

MOORE ABBEY, near Monasterevin, County Kildare, is a 1767 rebuilding in the Gothic style, of a 17th century house originally erected on the site of a medieval abbey.

It was built for Field Marshal the 1st Marquess of Drogheda.

The original abbey was acquired during the reign of ELIZABETH I by the family of Loftus, whose heiress married into the Moore family during the 17th century.


Moore and Vandeleur


Charles Moore, 1st Marquess of Drogheda was born on 29 June 1730.1 He was the son of Edward Moore, 5th Earl of Drogheda and Lady Sarah Ponsonby.3 He married Lady Anne Seymour-Conway, daughter of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford and Lady Isabella Fitzroy, on 15 February 1766.1 He died on 22 December 1822 at age 92.


Lady Frances Vandeleur

Lady Frances Vandeleur.

Lady Frances Vandeleur, nee Moore, daughter of the 1st Marquess of Drogheda, painted in 1808 while she was on honeymoon in Rome with John Ormsby Vandeleur. The painting is by Gaspari Landi who trained the famous French artist, David.

Source: Clare Library Fotoweb: Vandeleur Collection


Bricks and Mortar: A wedding present like no other

Kilrush & District Historical Society have undertaken to publish books recording the history of each street in Kilrush, County Clare. The first street to be examined is Frances St, which was a wedding gift to Lady Frances Moore, the youngest daughter of the Marquis of Drogheda, who married John Ormsby Vandeleur in 1800. She brought a marriage settlement of £6000.

Frances Street, Wrench series
A view of Frances Street, Kilrush c.1890-1910