Mooreshill Church on private land, is 6km west of Arklow in the townland of Mooreshill, in the Civil Parish of Killahurler, in the Barony of Arklow, in County Wicklow. Mooreshill as a townland is first mentioned in 1839 and is probably an English name (Price, 1940/1941 , p. 282). It is labelled on Neville’s map of 1760 in the townland of Killahurler and a cross depicts the location of the church.
The church site comprises the following Recorded Monuments WI040-022001 church, WI040-022001 graveyard and WI040-022003 ecclesiastical enclosure. The extant church ruins is presumably Killahurler Parish Church and the original foundation may date back to the early medieval period.
Price notes that the original village of Killahurler may have been in Killahurler Upper which is some distance from the church in Mooreshill (Corlett, & Weaver, The Price Notebooks, 2002, p. 492). Little is known about the early history of the Irish church however Price notes that several Christ Church Deeds call this the church of Saint David. If so it is an early church site as there was a close connection between Saint David and St. Aidan who founded a monastery at Ferns in the seventh century (Price, p. 282).
The church and graveyard are very overgrown and the RMP files note that the church measures 16.7m east-west by 8m north-south. Its uncoursed rubble walls measure 1.2m in width and are 1.2m in height. A door is recorded at the western end of the north wall. The church is located within an oval enclosure c.65m north-south by 50m east-west. An earthern bank defines the southern end of the enclosure, 1.2m high and 0.40m wide with an external fosse 0.90m wide and 0.30m deep. Burials dating from the eighteenth and early nineteenth century are located at the southern end of the enclosure.
Killahurler is first mentioned in 1280 and is known by the name Achederlar in the Crede Mihi (Logainm, 2019).
The Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1541 by Henry VIII ordered the closure of Catholic monasteries, priories, convents and friaries and transferred their lands to those loyal to the king. This policy of dissolution was envisaged to increase the crown’s income and to fund military campaigns. Killahurler is recorded in 1640 following Archbishop Bulkeley’s Visitation of Dublin in 1630:
‘The body of the church is in good reparation, but the chauncell is downe to the grounde. The tythes belonge unto the Deane of Christ Church, being worth xv libri per annum, which are leased to Brien McEdmond and Gilpatricke McMelaghlin for two boate loads of woode per annum. They allow the curate but xxxs. per annum.’ ( Ronan M. V., 1630, p. 93).
Analysis of the Schools Collection uncovered a reference to Killahurler Church. This project documented folklore and local tradition from 5,000 primary schools in the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939. Criostóir Ó h- Aodha recorded some information on Killahurler church from 83 year old Andrias Mac Domhnaill. The old Irish name for Killahurler is “Cille Scadh Úrláir” – the Church of the wooden floor and this was located on the lands of ‘Mr. Merrigan’ (The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0923, Page 003).
The site is on private land and permission from the landowner must be sought if you wish to visit the site.
The Wicklow Community Archaeology Project is funded by The Heritage Council and Wicklow County Council through the County Heritage Plan Fund.
Corlett, C., & Weaver, M. (2002). The Price Notebooks. Dublin: Department of the Environment and Local Government.
Logainm. (2019, October 1). Retrieved from Logainm: https://www.logainm.ie/en/
Price, L. (1940/1941 ). The Place-Names of the Barony of Arklow, County of Wicklow. Their Early Forms Collected. Vol 46. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Archaeology, Culture, History, Literature, 237-286.
The Schools Collection. (1930). Retrieved from www.duchas.ie: https://www.duchas.ie/en/cbes/5044750/5036191/5137286
www.archaeology.ie. (2019, October 9). Retrieved from http://webgis.archaeology.ie/historicenvironment/
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