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Churchclara II, Co. Kilkenny

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© 2017-01-03

© 2017-01-03

National Monuments Service Record Number: KK020-017010-

Site Type




'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 saints 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' (Manning and Moore 1997, 370-371) .


Red sandstone, 1.14m x 0.24m . The stone is located 'just above present ground level in the external face of the north wall of the nave, immediately east of the north doorway... it lies horizontally' (Manning and Moore 1997, 371).


The inscription is 'pocked' on one visible angle of the stone. 'The exposed face of the stone has been partly dressed by the medieval builders and this has damaged some of the ogham letters, especially some of the vowel notches. Two pairs of long diagonal strokes (both G) stand out best on the face, but some other consonant strokes running the other way can be detected in the masonry joint on the upper face of the stone. The inscription appears to begin after a blank 33 cm at the west (or right hand end) with a G, followed by a damaged section which could have held 5, or more likely, 4 vowel strokes (E?), than an L followed by a damaged vowel stroke (A), then G and N followed by 5 or 6 damaged vowel strokes. Finally, there is a V and 2 vowel strokes running up to the broken corner ... with the remainder of the inscription on an edge of the stone hidden by the wall' (Manning and Moore 1997, 371).


G[E]LẠGN[I A]V[I   ̣  ̣ ?   ̣  ̣]


'of Gelán grandson of..?'


  • As Manning and Moore (1997, 372) suggest regarding GELAGNI, 'if a long é was intended (Gellagni) would be cognate with Old Irish Gíallán, related to gíall `a hostage'. If a short e was intended (Gelagni), it would be congante with Old Irish *Gelán, related to gel 'bright''. The former is actually attested as a personal name in the Félire Óengusso (eDIL s.v. gíallán).



Built into the external face of the north wall of the nave, immediately east of the north doorway of the ruined church (Manning and Moore 1997, 371) in the townland of Churchclara and barony of Gowran. The location of this stone may be accessed via the National Monuments Service Historic Environment viewer on www.archaeology.ie. (Publicly accessible. GPS coordinates -7.146098, 52.655485)



Last recorded

On site in the position in which it was discovered.

History of Recording

Discovered by Con Manning in the late 1970s (Manning and Moore 1997, 371). In 2017 both stones were recorded in 3d using photogrammetry and in June 2020 digitised here as an action of the County Kilkenny Heritage Plan Programme, funded by the Heritage Office of Kilkenny County Council and the Heritage Council.


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