Religious Sites in Effin

Effin Parish has two Churches still in use today, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Effin, and St Patricks in Garrienderk, but one time it had up 3 or 4 churches and a couple of graveyards.

According to Lewis in 1937, when Effin was united with the parish of Kilquane and Kilbreedy Minor, there were two small chapels in the parish; one at Effin, the other at Kilbreedy. Prior to that Effin had a church in Kilbreedy-Minor, a church in Ballymacshaneboy (This was a wooden church and can be seen on the 1846 Maps) and a church in Effin.

A new church was built in Effin 1835-6 and the church in Ballymacshaneboy closed. the Church in Effin was modernised in the late 1960’s and rededicated to Our Lady Queen of Peace. Garrienderk Church was built in the 19th Century and called St Patricks Church.


Photos 1:   Our Lady Queen of Peace, Effin        Photo 2: St Patricks Church, Garrienderk

KILBREEDY-MINOR, a parish, in the barony of COSHMA, county of LIMERICK, and province of MUNSTER, 2 miles (N. W. by N.) from Kilmallock, and on the road from that place to Charleville; containing 600 inhabitants. It comprises 2087 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the soil is very good, but only about one-fifth of it is under tillage, the remainder being meadow or pasture land. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Limerick, and in the gift of the Bishop: the tithes amount to £130. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Effin. Near the south bank of the structure are the ruins of the old church. Kilbreedy Minor church was badly ruined by the late 1830s. Only the middle and side walls of the choir remained.  The last know burial was in this graveyard in the 1950’s.


Kilquane church was a brown sandstone church erected at the foot of Cahir Hill. By 1840, little remained of this ancient structure. Another church, Kilbigly church, had disappeared by 1840.  The parish of Kilquane had its own chapel up to the 1830s when a new chapel was erected in Effin. A few years before its closure, up to 600 people were attending mass there every Sunday. It was a thatched chapel located in Ballymacshaneboy,  Sadly it no longer remains  the site of it can be seen in the 1846 Ordinance Survey maps. The last part of it standing was the sacristy and this remained up to and around 1910 when it was occupied by the local shoemaker, a man by the name of Casey. The boundary wall still remains and the entrance can be seen it is on the right hand side before you come to the Harp Bar.


There are three Graveyards in the parish, Effin and Kilquane still in use but Kilbreedy Minor (Thomastown) is hard to access as it is through a couple of fields is no longer in use. The site of Kilbreedy graveyard is located near the north-west corner of a large pasture field about one mile west of the main Cork-Limerick road, and 2 ½ miles west of Bruree. The field, locally known as ‘Church Field’, is in the townland of Kilbreedy. It is probable that there was once a church dedicated to St Brigid in this townland. The site was later used as a Children’s graveyard. This site is shown as a circle of dots in the 1840 edition of the Ordinance Survey Map. All that remains now is a mound 2 feet high and measuring approximately 36 feet north-south and 18 feet east-west. There is a slight depression on the outside all around

I’ve come accross the following article written in the 1840’s from the O’Donovans survey of Limerick. It describes the old ruined church which can be still seen in the old Effin Graveyard, and describes some of the holy wells in the area which I’ve talked about in another post.


The ruins of an old church are situated in Effin Townland. It consisted of two apartments (nave and choir); the east and west gables, the north wall of the nave and twenty two feet in length of the south wall of it at the west end are razed all to the foundation. About fifeen feet in  height of the middle gable yet remains. The choir was thirty feet and twenty two feet eight inches. The nave measured fifty three feet and was equal with the choir in breadth. At the distance of three feet ten inches from the east gable, there is placed on the south wall a quadrangular window which measures three and a half feet by two and a half feet on the inside. It measures on the outside two feet five and a. half inches in height and seven inches at the top and eight inches it the bottom in breadth. The quadrangular is its form on both sides, lamely inside and outside. It is built with chiselled brown stones.

There is a door placed on the middle gable, which is pointed and built with chiselled brown stones, measuring six and a half feet in height and four feet three inches in breadth on the choir side, the height being five feet nine inches and breadth three and a half feet on the nave side. The choir seems to have been in use at a later period than the nave.

Distant six feet ten inches from this gable there is, on the remaining part of the south side wall belonging to the nave, a quadrangular window which measures three and a half feet by two feet one inch inside and two feet four inches by seven inches on the outside. It is built with chiselled brown stones. The side walls are about ten feet high and three feet thick. The materials of the building are field stones (not lime ones) mostly of round form, and cement of gravelly sand and lime mortar. There is here a large graveyard much in use. The locality is level ground. About half a furlong to the northwest of this place is Our Lady’s Well, at which stations were formerly performed. Another Holy Well called Tober a Cran is situated west of Gortacrank Townland.


Effin During the 1840’s and Famine Times


I  came across this very interesting piece last week written by Desmond Norton while doing some research on Effin, it is called

Distress and Benevolence on Gertrude Fitzgerald’s Limerick Estate in the 1840s, WP02/14, April 2002

It is gives a fascinating insight into social and economic conditions in Effin particularly around Mound Blakney/Thomastown  area in the 1840’s and during the Famine times.

It contains extracts of letters written by tenants of Gertrude Blakney Fitzgerald who was the landlord in Mount Blakney at the time;   extract below from Nortons paper quoting some of the letters.

On 27 September 1844 Murnane informed SK that “the potatoes are very bad with most of the tenants”. A letter from John and James Keeffe of Thomastown, 28 October 1844, reported “the total failure of five acres of  otatoes …. We are … sending a Memorial to her Ladyship”. The Keeffes were not the only tenants who petitioned Mrs Fitzgerald in October 1844. On 30 October she wrote to Kincaid: “I enclose a Letter which I received … from

Maurice Foley …. I hope you will excuse my troubling you with it, as I am persuaded you will both act impartially, and allow the Tenants any reasonable indulgence you may think them entitled to. Since I wrote the above I received the accompanying Petition from John and James Keefe … which I leave to your better judgement”.

It would be interesting to see what happened the families that emigrated and are they any descendants still in the parish today.

Click on link below to read the paper written by Desmond Norton.  Record of Mount Blakney Estate and Tenants during Famine Times

These letters where put up for sale with Adams Auction House in the 2010 but fortunately where withdrawn as there was some question as to their ownership.

Thankfully they where not sold off but remain as a special collection but I am currently trying to locate where they are stored as they may contain more information about Effin during that time.

Effin Hurling Team – Songs

Effin has always had great pride in its hurling teams and often songs where written about their feats on the playing pitch. One of the first songs is about the 1937 South Winning Team right up to the last winning team in 2011.

1937 South Winning Team

(Composed by Dan O’Brien, Ballymack and remembered by Bertie O’Brien, Tobernea)

You may boast about your hurling teams,
Kilkenney, Cork & Clare
But wind your way to Effin
Better hurlers you’ll find there,
You will see young John Fitzgibbon a fine athletic youth
With Paddy Ryan & Johnny & Tommy Francis Bluett.

You’ll se Gilbert, Hayes & earthy,
on them you may depend,
No flying ball will pass them
For their gap they will defend
You’ll se Gallant Michael Carroll
With Fitz from Maiden Hall,
And Willy Jack Fitzgerald to forward out the ball,

They crossed hurleys with the Stakers
and played with fourteen men,
In the fair field of Kilmallock
and sight gloriously did win.
They were drawn against Kilmallock
Old Friendships to renew
And they played against that sturdy team
In the place they call Glenroe

They marched into the hurling field
and stood there in a line
And there they waited orders
From their captain Paddy Ryan
The cheers rang out and echoes far
and pierced the blue hill thro;
We got a great reception
That day in famed Glenroe


The next song I’ve come accross is this one written about the Minor Hurlers from 1959 by unknown author.

minor team 1959

The Effin Minor Hurlers 1959

(Composer Unknown)

The South Championship of Limerick, the Minor Hurling Grade,
When Effin beat the Croom boys as the evening sun did fade.
We have Christy Conway in the gap, as good as canbe seen,
With Carroll John outside him, a giant of seventeen.

Continue reading “Effin Hurling Team – Songs”

Songs about Effin


Many places have had songs and poetry written about them, many are exiles who have left their native home and the various townlands and places of interest. there has been a lot of Poetry written by Poets from Effin,  Brother Stephen Russell, Thomas Power, Rambling Tady or Tom Hannon.  I will deal with the poetry in another article.

I have been looking for some songs about Effin,  during my research I have come accross a few which you can read about below.

The most popular song below which is still sung about at some sessions is called Old Effin Far Away.


(not sure who wrote this song,  Brother Stephen Russell or Thomas Power)

Sung to the Air of Golden Jubilee)

Oh I’m sitting and I’m dreaming in this mighty London town
I’m murdered by the traffic as it passes up and down
But o’er all a tiny echo deeps calling night and day
It’s the lifting breeze in the waving trees in old Effin far Away


Its there folks are kindly it’s there’s a welcome grand
From the neighbours all both big and small
In that green and happy land
There’s a seat by every fireside there’s flowing mugs of Tay
And a Cead Mile Failte in old Effin far Away

I can see again Ardpatrick it’s hillside fresh and green
And the ruined chapel where St Patrick once had been
And sure his prayers were answered on that dim and distant day
It’s given us a Bishop now old Effin far away.

Repeat chorus

Oh God be with you Thomastown where once I saw the light
In that old thatched homestead one snowy Christmas night
And the Casle of Mount Blakeney relic of splendid days
When lords and ladies dallied in old Effin far away

Repeat chorus

Empurpled Ballyhoura lords out o’er Ballymac
There I cut the turf when times were though I’ve still got and aching back
And in Killquane there sleeps a man whose hear was light and gay,
God rest you rambling Thady in old Effin far away

Repeat chorus

May your parish guild with grace be filled so prayed your late PP
May all your teams be good and clean from strife may you be free
May your two priests by grace increase be your anchor and your stay
Be true to God and your native sod in old Effin far away.

An Effin Man, by late Garry McMahon

(Garry McMahon (1937–2008) was an Irish sportsperson. He played Gaelic football with his local club Listowel Emmets and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from the 1958 until 1962. McMahon holds the record for scoring the fastest goal ever in an All-Ireland final.[1]) He was also a practising solicitor in Newcastlewest, but he wrote many songs and ballands and one was call

An Effin Man,

“It’s a wonderful place as I’m sure you will find , And if you can’t see that you’re just Effin blind”
Click on link below to hear recording of it.

Songs for the Effin Hurling Teams

Then there have been various songs written about the hurling teams in the parish

Mary Rea of Jamestown has written many the rousing songs about our various teams to rouse them into battle

Continue reading “Songs about Effin”

Tracing your Ancestors in Effin

For the year of the gathering 2013 I finally completed my family tree on the Kennedys of Effin,  There are about 400 individuals in the Kennedy Family Tree who can trace their ancestry back to Jerimah Kennedy. Little did Jerimah realise that when he married Catherine Maher back in the 1840’s in Herbertstown, Co. Limerick  that they would be responsible for so many individuals. I am very proud of my ancestry as they have fought and died for our rights and the rights of our country. They have lived through some of Ireland’s darkest hours, from the famine and survived two world wars. They have spread their wings to the four corners of the globe. In the researching of this family tree have found it very interesting and it has given me a deeper understand my roots and linked me to what was going on in Ireland and the world and all these have helped to shape us and my family today.

During my research I found the  following links helpful in this piece of research.

  1.  – this was my choice – and I used the software called Family Tree Maker which linked all updates to their online site

However both sites require a payment to search their records.

Speak to older members of your family to get their memories. – Initially I spoke to the older members of the family to write down their relations (sadly some have now passed on, so was glad to have done it.)

Visit the Graveyard,  – invaluable for getting dates and working out their year of birth.

The following links may be also be helful in tracing your family tree in Effin

The national Census of Ireland

The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the only surviving full censuses of Ireland open to the public. Both censuses cover the island of Ireland. They were released to public inspection in 1961, because of the stream of requests for information about people’s ages, particularly those born before civil registration of births began in 1864.

The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. The 1911 census was taken on 2 April 1911.

See if you can find your ancestors in the link below

Tithe Applotment Books

If your family was in Effin around 1823 – 1837 you may find them on the Tithe Apploment Books for the parish, however only the head of the family was named on the list.

There are other useful links you may use, like the local library and the Ordance Survey Maps the find what buildings, houses where in the area at different times.,559319,623172,5,9

So why not get started and start your family tree, its a fantastic legacy to pass on to your childrena and grandchildren, after all to find out where we are going we need to understand where we came from.


Brother Stephen Russell from Thomastown,

I recently came across this article below written about Brother Russell. He was born and reared in Thomastown, Effin and is one of our parishes colorful and well known citizens. His work and advocacy for the homeless men of limerick was recognized after his death by the naming of a homeless shelter after him. It is located between Mount St Laurence cemetery and St Joseph’s hospital. The building mentioned in article below is now knocked and a new bigger facility is being built in its place, it will keep the name Brother Russell house.

Many of you may not have heard of him or this facility, but we should be proud of his achievements and compassion during his lifetime is still having an impact and positive effect on people’s lives in limerick.

Article below written by his friend Ted O’Riordan, Charleville

Bro. Stephen Russell – Good Samaritan of the down and outs
To have known Brother Stephen of the congregation of the Alexian Brothers was a privilege, but to have known Jim Russell, the man who became Brother Stephen, was indeed a revelation. I was privileged to have known the two sides of this wonderful man of God who to use a cliche, became a legend in his own lifetime this kindly loving and loveable character who became the apostle of the drop-outs and the winos and the Good Samaritan to the homeless and the lonely. I do not think I am doing his memory any injustice in referring to him as a drop-out and a misfit, since after are we not all drop-outs and misfits, unless and until we eventually find our true niche and answer the call to our real vocation in life! Some of us indeed never find it and so become all of our lives Jim Russell truly found his when he became an Alexian Brother.
After a rather hectic and varied career from the time he left school until he reached the age of 31 years he appeared to be carefree and happy but deep down in his heart and Soul he was lonely and unhappy and when eventually he found experession for his God given gifts of caring for and helping the outcasts and the homeless, he expressed his thoughts and feeling in poetry. The title of the little book is entitled Happiness and it reads as follows:

Continue reading “Brother Stephen Russell from Thomastown,”

Tobernea Manor

Effin had a Norman manor, located in the town land of Tobernea,  it was in a field near Leos farm near Macs cross.   Nothing remains now of the castle except what’s documented on ordinance survey maps. It appears to have been an important place in its time around the area,

In the Thirteenth century the Manor of Tiberneyum (Tobbernea)was an important castle at the time holding a weekly market and yearly fair. It was given to Gerard de Prendergast as a part dowry from Richard De Burgh in 1240. Its size and boundaries were defined in 1251 as  “7 fees, 7 carucates and 59 ½ acres” Some of this land was sub-let as part payment for knights fees. There is evidence of serfdom in this manor and the native Irish had given up their freedom and some rights in order to be protected by the local lord. They could not move out of their area without the permission of their lord.

The serfs in Tobernea Manor held 3 carucates for 3 marks a year,

“…the natives here as elsewhere where treated as serfs by the Norman, though it is pleasant to find that some of them occupied a more elevated position in the organisation of this manor than is usually allotted to them”.

The serfs boundaries would have been defined a boundary of by the area of the manor they were attached to which may have been in operation in other castles in Effin, where Ballymacshaneboy Castle and Brickfield Castle

Muinter na Tire in practice and concrete –

Muinter na Tire in practice and concrete –
The building of the Canon Hayes Memorial Hall in Effin 1955- 1959’

The above quote comes from an photographic scrapbook kept by Canon Gerard Wall whose first raised the idea of building a parish hall in Effin at the first annual general meeting of the local Muintir na Tire (MNT) in 1950 . This idea was to grow into a solid functional memorial with the involvement of the entire parish, young and old. Effin is a rural parish located between the towns of Charleville in north Cork and Kilmallock in south Limerick and Ireland in the 1950’s was rife with unemployment and emigration and choice in rural Ireland was the boat or the farm. Canon Hayes who was founder of MNT believed Ireland was losing its sense of community and that the best part of entertainment was meeting the neighbour’s and parish unity was being forgotten. In 1937 “Muinter na Tire” (MNT) a guilds or councils in rural parishes in Ireland was formed by him to stop the vanishing Irish from rural Ireland. Rural communities were still recovering from the bitter and community destroying civil war in the 1920’s. MNT was a persistent and lone voice in the world of Irish Community Development. Between 1937 and 1958 there was a high number of active guilds around the axis of Tipperary, Cork and Limerick, and the Garrienderk and Effin MNT Guild was one of these. In 1958 MNT commissioned a social and economic survey of county Limerick and Effin was included in this extensive survey of rural parishes in Limerick which resulting in the publication of the Limerick Rural Survey (LRS) 1958 – 1964. The growth in the economy in the late 1950’s after was accompanied by a big expansion in social spending which meant that women now had money to socialise and be independent. The Irish Country Women’s Association (ICA) was also helping women to campaign for better facilities and realised that rural water and electrification were essential in rural areas. Russell highlighted the importance of women in rural Ireland by claiming that ‘we cannot build up a rural civilisation in Ireland without the aid of Irish Women’.

Dancing became an important social outlet for young men and women in the 1950’s with many Ballrooms opening up around Ireland under the patronage of the Catholic Church, with profits going to fund the church, there were approximately over 1,100 dancehalls, 1,640 total bands in existence in Ireland between the 1950 and 1970’s. Boys and girls of all backgrounds and ages would dance together, even an elderly bachelor would have no problem getting a dance partner if he was a good dancer Many new ballrooms were quickly built by entrepreneurs and local communities to meet the increased need of the dancing public. The halls were custom built for dancing and usually included a few bathrooms, a cloak room, and a mineral bar. There was little seating, other than a row of benches around the perimeter of the dance floor. Some included an upstairs balcony area where weary dancers could catch their breath. Halls were often built “in the middle of nowhere,” drawing patrons from towns and villages for miles around. However the onset of extended opening hours and Discos heralded the end of many of the Dance Halls.
Fortunately many primary sources remain in researching the building of the hall in Effin, Canon Ger Walls’s scrapbook containing photographs, newspaper cuttings, and poetry of the construction of the hall form 1955 to 1958 is an important record of that time. The souvenir brochure from the official opening night on 23 March 1959 provide useful details of the committee, builders, architects, engineers and organisations involved in the project. Two of the original committee members, Willie Mortell and Alice McCarthy were interviewed on their memories of the building of the hall and the parish at the time. Many local poems were written about the guild at the time praising their efforts and work. MNT head office in Tipperary fortunately has a large collection of material related to all local guilds and correspondence and annual reports submitted by guilds. A local man kept a diary listing all the dances he went to which includes the venues from Effin to Dublin, the showbands and admission costs.

Continue reading “Muinter na Tire in practice and concrete –”

Edmund Spenser, The Fairie Queen and the Effin connection

edmund spenser

Edmund Spenser (1552 – 13 January 1599). the old English poet who was famous for writing the Fairie Queen may have had connections with Effin and it is unsure if he lived there for a while.

How was this possible? Spenser acquired his main estate at Kilcolman, near Doneraile in North Cork and was apointed by the Bishop of St Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick as a prebendary of the parish of Effin, of which he received a sum of 100 pounds a year. Part of his brief was to preach to the heathen Irish,

During part of my research I came accross accross two articles in mentioning Spensers connection with Effin in the 1580′s. I hope to explore more on this at a later on but for now enjoy the articles below.

When he went back to England he wrote the “Fairy Queen” maybe inspired by the number of fairy forts in the parish of Effin, and who knows he may have had an encounter with one of Fairies.

Spenser in Ireland

Author(s): Frederic Ives Carpenter
Source: Modern Philology, Vol. 19, No. 4 (May, 1922), pp. 405-419
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL:


Spenser and the Clerkship in Munster
Author(s): Raymond JenkinsSource: PMLA, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Mar., 1932), pp. 109-121
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL:

Have a read and decide for yourself.

Effins Holy Wells

In the first photograph above you will see a Stone with carving on it, there appears to be a spout for water to pour through just above the carved cross, this stone in now by the side of the bank. the well is located in the Ballyhouras, on the following link

There appears to be confliting reports on the name of the wells Toberreendowney and Our Ladys Well as you will see from the articles below.

Limerick Diocese Web Page Article on

Holy Wells

Lady’s well is located in the townland of Effin. It is about 3-4 miles from the public road and it is accessible through the roads of the forest. The well is in a circular mound. Danaher wrote that the well is within a ring fort and that the overflow of water from the well was used as a water trough for cattle.

At the well there is a statue of Our Lady and there are also medals and rosary beads left at the well. The well is well kept and people still visit the well regularly. The water from the well is believed to cure many ailments. There are no organised devotions there now, although it is still regarded as a Holy Well.

Lady’s Well and Toberacran ceased to be pilgrimage sites by 1840. Toberacran, in the townland of Gortnacrank derived its name fromTober a Chrann, the Well of the Tree.

St Bridget’s well in Kilbreedy townland was no longer a pattern site in 1840. It was a small clear pool, roughly lined with stones. One large stone was set on edge beside the well. It was formerly very popular especially for the cure of sore eyes.

Danaghers Account

The following account of the Holy Wells in Effin are mentioned in the an article on the Holy Wells of Co. Limerick in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries Vol 85, No 2 (1955) p208.

71. Par. Kilquane, tld. Ballymacshaneboy, sheet 55, 7712:206. “Toberreendoney ‘ on 1840 map. A small well about two feet by three feet at mouth. Small flagstones projecting from the dry stone walling which lines the well holds cups and other drinking vessels. The well is in a space about twenty feet in diameter, surrounded by an earth bank, three to four feet high and four feet thick at bottom. Rounds are still made. The water cures sore eyes. Rags and religious objects are left as offerings. This well is among the heather on the mountain side, about half a mile from the nearest house.

72. Par. Kilquane, tld. Ballyshanedehey, sheet 55, 617:303. “Lady’s Well on 1840 map. A strong clear bubbling spring in a horseshoe-shaped well lined with good dry-stone to ground level. Rounds were made within living memory, but there are no devotions now.

The Holy Wells of Co. Limerick Author(s): Caoimhín Ó Danachair Source: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 85, No. 2 (1955), pp.193-217 Published by: Royal Society of Antiquaries of IrelandStable URL:

Updates from John Carroll, Ballymac

“the above stone is one of a series that Tom Comber cast in cement around 1966 when he tidied up and generally restored Tobar Rí an Domhnaigh, the well located in Ballymacshaneboy.He designed the stones to hold small stautes and intended them to serve as a type of reliquary if you like. Local tradition always associated this well as having a cure for those who suffered from eye related ailments. Tradition has it that the earthen mound around the well was constructed by a local man as a token of appreciation when his daughter’s eyesight was restored at the well following a fall from a horse ! As far as I know there wasn’t water coming from them..there was a good few more, set at intervals all the way around the inside of the well..I suppose they crumbled over the years and got damaged….the cement mightn’t have been hectic..!! When the forestry was being planted originally the area around the well was ploughed and a huge number of blackened and broken stones were discovered, they were supposed to be a strong indicator of a fulacht fiadh being present…I suppose the supply of water would have been ideal for the bit of a roast ! ….so that well is in action since ancient times.”