Site: Churchclara

Name:Churchclara (Clárach) CISP No:CHLAR
Place:Churchclara (Clárach) Grid Ref:S 5700 5500 (IR)   Map
Parish:Gowran Stones:2
County:Kilkenny (Cill Chainnigh) , Ireland Saint(s):Colmán
Site Type:ecclesiastical

Site Notes

Macalister/1945, 33: `the ruined church'.

Manning/Moore/1997, 370--371: `The old church of Clara is situated just over 4 miles due E of Kilkenny in the rich level land at the foot of the Castlecomer plateau. It is overlooked to the E by the hillfort on Freestone Hill, which was excavated in 1948-49. The name , Clárach in Irish, has in the past been explained as a level place, a presumed derivative of clár which can mean a plain. However, such a meaning is not attested in the dictionaries where the explanations given indicate a construction or defence mechanism of boards. Clara in Wicklow has been interpreted as meaning a wooden bridge and, as there is a small stream close to Clara church, a similar derivation is possible. Whatever the meaning of the name, Clara is clearly a pre-Norman foundation as indicated by the antae (projecting side walls) on the chancel. There is a holy well nearby and two bullaun stones are associated with the site. According to Carrigan the church was dedicated to a St Colmán whose feast day was 16 October. The Martyrology of Oengus (written around AD 800) records a St Colmán of Cell Ruaid (Kilroot, Co Antrim) on that date. A list of homonymous saint in the Book of Leinster and other manuscripts has reference to a Colmán Cláraig, but has no other information about him. This is most likely to be the Clara in question, the only place of the name with a definite pre-Norman chirch and the only civil parish of the name in the country. In addition its former importance is indicated by the fact that it gave its name to one of the deaneries of the medieval diocese. The Ségéne of Clárach, whose death is recorded in 749 is likely to have been connected with this church'.