In 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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.
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.