Churches in the District


Castledillon graveyard

Castledillon graveyard

The site of Castledillon church is now identified by a pile of stones and one headstone. Disert-Iolladhan (Disertillan, Iolladhan’s or Illan’s hermitage) was funded c500 by St Illan or Iollathan, with a feast Day of Feb 2nd. He was accorded a genealogy which indicated close kinship with the Ui Dunglainge kings of Leinster. In 1202 Thomas de Hereford granted Thillerdelan to St Wolstan’s religious community in nearby Celbridge. By 1294 the church of Tristeyldelane was described as “not worth the services of chaplains” in the Calendar of Christ Church deeds.

The Castledillon Friars Stone, probably erected for a 15th century abbot of St Wolstan’s (four miles to the east), remained on the site until it was removed to the visitor centre in Kildare town. An incised slab with an etching of a priest-like figure, the stone has been damaged and although the inscription ICI GiST DEV DE SA ALLME EIT MERCI is visible, it is a generic phrase which translates as “Here Lies ( name illegible) God Have Mercy on His Soul.” The absence of a crosier has been noted to suggest he was not a bishop, as accorded in folklore, and may have been abbot in the friary of St Wolstan’s four miles to the north east, perhaps after it was dissolved in 1541. The left hand of the carved figure carries a reliquary suspended around the neck and hangs below a brooch like object at the throat. His right hand rests palm downward on the chest

The last remaining headstone in the graveyward bears the inscription: IHS This Burial place Belongs to Cornelues Spellicy & posterity Where Lyeth ys body Of Ann Spellicy who Died Augst ye 1th 1758 Adge 15. Allso Iudeth Lesther, & John Spellicy. See map


The name derives from Warinus, 13th century Abbott of St Thomas’ Abbey in 1268 – Castellum Warin. Stephen Creman was Vicar of Uachtar Árd and Castlewarden in 1541, where the church chancel was said to be “in need of repair.” The church had disappeared by the early 17th century although the site and that of a holy well can still be identified. See map


Clonaghlis graveyard

Clonaghlis graveyard

Clonaghlis graveyard within the Lyons estate is seat of a former parish associated with female saints Fedhlim and Mughain of Cill-na-nInghen (join feast day Dec 9). The Calendar Rolls record that Peter de Laermerd granted the Church of Clonacles to St Thomas Abbey near Dublin in 1206 and that in 1336 John Plunkett sued Hugh de Blound of Rathregan County Meath, for the Manor of Cluinaghlys, in possession of his grandfather Walter Plunkett and passed down by his father Henry Plunkett. Nothing remains of the church but some scattered stones, and the oldest headstone in Clonaghlis graveyard, still in use by local people, dates to 1729. Aviation pioneer Tony Ryan was buried in the graveyard after his death in 2007. See map


Church at Lyons

Church at Lyons

Lyons church, now almost totally devoted to a mausoleum for the Lawless family, was constructed around 1350. It has intricate carvings and a stone commemorating the marriage of Richard Aylmer to Eleanor Tyrrell in 1548. Lyons parish was united with the parish of Oughterard in 1541 and with Kill in 1691, although it remained the headquarters of the Catholic parish until 1817. The oldest headstone in Lyons churchyard dates to 1693, dedicated to Edmond Moore and his son James.

Lyons parish was united with the parish of Oughterard in 1541 and with Kill in 1691, although it remained the headquarters of the Catholic parish until 1817. See map


Oughterard Co Kildare

Oughterard Co Kildare

Established circa 605 AD by Saint Briga (feast day January 21), the site is also associated also with another sixth century female saint, Saint Derchairthinn (feast day March 8) “of the race of Colla Uais, Monarch of Érinn.” Colla was a son of Cairbre Lifechair and High King in 306-310.

Research by archaeological historian Mike O’Neill in 2002 established the ruined church on the site dates to c. 1350 and not, as previously thought, 1609. The ruined church is now entered through one of the windows, as both original doorways serve as mausoleums. The 8th century round tower, one of five in County Kildare, is in a good state of repair, but it is topless and only the first 8 metres remain. A small ruined castle tower stands about 300 metres south-east of the graveyard.

View to 14th century window at OUghterard

View to 14th century window at OUghterard

The hilltop monastery and round tower were burned by Sigtrygg Silkbeard and the Dublin Vikings in 995. During the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169-71 the parish was a part of the large estates given as a dowry by Dermot McMurrough on the marriage of his daughter Eva (Aoife) to Strongbow in 1170 and passed to Adam de Hereford, who willed all his lands to St Thomas monastery in Thomas Street, Dublin, and died in 1210. The 1303 Papal taxation listed it as ‘Outherard’ and it was also spelled as ‘Wochtred’ before 1500. The parish of Oughterard was eventually united with Lyons in 1541. The calendar rolls reference which in 1609 (which led to its mistakenly being cited as a foundation date by Walter Fitzgerald in 1898) was followed by another which described the church as being “in ruins” by 1620. It is not clear when the church fell into disuse. The monastery rented its considerable lands to tenant farmers until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536-41.

A gravestone near the current entrance to the ruined church (through the Eastern window) commemorates Arthur Guinness, who was buried beside his maternal ancestors here in 1803. the Read family. Arthur Wolfe, Lord Kilwarden who lived at Newlands, Co Dublin, the most famous victim of Robert Emmet’s 1803 rebellion, was buried here in the Wolfe mausoleum, a grave that dates to 1650. Over gravestones commemorate James Phipps, “A Captain of Insurgents” who took part in the Battle of Ovidstown in 1798, and then moved to America where he died in 1826, and William Kennedy from nearby Bishopscourt, who was posthumously decorated having lost his life in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. See map

St Anne’s

Ardclough St Anne;'s church in 1985

Ardclough St Anne;’s church in 1985

Consecrated in 1810 on a site on the canal bank where there had earler been a penal mass house, St Anne’s was funded by parishioners and by landlord Valentine Lawless, Lord Cloncurry. Pope Pius VII sends a bronze crucifix as a personal gift and Valentine Lawless present a baptismal font of white marble brought from Rome.  The parish centre moved to Kill in 1817. The church was refurbished extensively in the 1880s and deconsecrated in 1985. See map


Whitechurch graveyard

Whitechurch graveyard

Ecclesia Templi Albi (from the Augustinian White Friars who mantained a presence here) was granted to the order of St John in 1300. In 1508 William Preston enfifed Archdeacon Robert Sutton and Thomas Cornwalshe, Vicar of Stamullen, with the manor of Whitechurch. In 1541 the tithes of the Rectory of Whitechurch (18 couples of grain, £12) were held by David Sutton and Richard Aylmer. The church was vacated by the early 17th century. See map

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