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MOYARTA

Welcome to the Ireland Reaching Out web page for the civil parish of Moyarta in county Clare, Ireland.

Formerly also spelled Moyferta, the civil parish contains the Roman Catholic parish of Carrigaholt and part of the Roman Catholic parish of Cross. There is little evidence of any other religious denomination having had a place of worship in the civil parish.  The smaller Catholic parish is also occasionally described as Moyarta.

The word Moyarta has also been used to refer to other geographical areas, both larger and smaller than the civil parish.  The 32 townlands in the civil parish of Moyarta include townlands named Moyarta East and Moyarta West and the civil parish is one of five civil parishes lying wholly or partly  in the Barony of Moyarta. The barony of Moyarta can be seen outlined in yellow on the colour Historic 6" Ordnance Survey Ireland map. The Moyarta River flows through the parish.  The boundaries of the original electoral division of Moyarta (1838-1850) probably coincided with those of the civil parish, but the later district electoral division of Moyarta comprises only a fraction of the civil parish.  See the section on administrative divisions and genealogical records below for more details of these subdivisions.

 [Technical aside: If clicking on OSI links does not bring up the relevant point on the map, then right-click on the link to the map, copy the link location/shortcut/link address, open a new browser tab, go to the home page http://maps.osi.ie/ in your new tab, and after the map of Ireland appears paste the direct link into the address bar in this new browser tab.  Click-through works with Mozilla Firefox under Microsoft Windows 7 but not for all browsers and operating systems.]

LOCATION

The parish is situated on the Loop Head peninsula in west Clare, and is bounded on the west by the civil parish of Kilballyowen, on the north by the Atlantic Ocean and by the civil parish of Kilfearagh, and on the south and east by the Shannon Estuary.  It includes the Village of Carrigaholt and its hinterland.  Its total area is 15,613 acres 1 rood and 3 perches.  The parish can be seen outlined in green on the colour Historic 6" Ordnance Survey Ireland map.

There are churches at Carrigaholt (Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, built in 1832-1833, while Fr. Malachy Duggan (1780-1849) was parish priest) and Doonaha (Church of the Holy Spirit, built in 1808).  Some parts of the parish are closer to the churches at Kilkee or Lisdeen in Kilfearagh parish, so some parishioners attend weekly mass at one of these churches, but their baptisms, marriages and funerals are generally celebrated within the parish.  As is clear from the number of placenames within the parish beginning with Kil-, there were many other churches in the parish in earlier times, of which some remains can still be seen in various states of ruin.

There are national schools (for ages 4 to 12) at Carrigaholt, Doonaha, Moveen and Querrin. Secondary schools (for ages 12 to 18) in Kilkee and Kilrush serve the entire peninsula.  Coláiste Eoghain Uí Chomhraí, named after one of the parish's most famous sons, the Gaelic scholar Eugene O'Curry (Eoghan Ó Comhraí) (1794-1862), is a residential summer college at Kilcredaun, teaching the Irish language to teenagers and pre-teens.

Before the arrival of round-the-clock direct dial telephone service in the late 1980s, the parish was served by part-time post offices and manual telephone exchanges at Carrigaholt (post office established 1843, still in operation) and Querrin (sub post office established 1880 and closed 1993) and at Kilkee in the adjoining civil parish of Kilfearagh.  The old three-digit (or shorter) phone numbers acquired prefixes and became +353 65 9058xxx (Carrigaholt xxx),  +353 65 9057xxx (Querrin xxx) and  +353 65 9056xxx (Kilkee xxx).  There was also a sub post office at Doonaha from 1911 to 1967.

The contemporary OSI street map shows Carrigaholt, Doonaha, Querrin and the tiny settlement of Newtown in the townland of Carrownaweelaun (at the western end of the parish, not to be confused with the townlands of Newtown East and West at the eastern end of the parish). Zoom in on these maps or the black and white Historic 25" OSI map to see the parish in more detail.  The Historic 6" OSI map identifies a number of small settlements in the parish, several of which, such as Moveen and Moveen Lower, have long been abandoned or reduced to one or two households, mainly due to evictions and general depopulation during the Great Famine (or Great Hunger) of the mid-nineteenth century.

Google maps show Moyarta, Moyarta East and Moyarta West.   The red marker for Moyarta is at the end of what appears from Google Streetview to have been a minor cul-de-sac beside the Rent-an-Irish-Cottage scheme, unsignposted when Google Streetview explored it in 2009.  The dashed polygons surrounding the red markers for Moyarta East and Moyarta West, like those for any Irish townland, are very crude and misleading approximations to the true irregular townland boundaries; the red markers for townlands do appear to be at the mathematical centre of both the true townland and the approximating polygon.  Google maps do not attempt to show parish boundaries.

HISTORY

The history of the parish name can be found in the Placenames Database of Ireland.

Lewis's Topography, originally published in 1837, contains detailed descriptions of Moyarta parish and of Carrigaholt village.

The following series of articles by Thomas Johnson Westropp, published around a century ago, remain among the best accounts of the history and archaeology of the parish:

Westropp, T. J.

Carrigaholt (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part I

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1911, Vol. I(4), pp. 219-35

Westropp, T. J.

Carrigaholt (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part II

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1911, Vol. II(1), pp. 29-42

Westropp, T. J.

Carrigaholt (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part III. Kilcredaun to Ross

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1912, Vol. II(2), pp. 103-18

Westropp, T. J.

Carrigaholt (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part IV. Loop Head

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1912, Vol. II(3), pp. 134-48

Westropp, T. J.

Kilkee (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part I. Kilkee to Cross

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1913, Vol. II(4), pp. 212-28

Westropp, T. J.

Kilkee (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part II. Kilkee to Cross

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1913, Vol. III(1), pp. 38-52

Westropp, T. J.

Kilkee (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part III. Dunbeg to Kilkee

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1914, Vol. III(2), pp. 108-23

Westropp, T. J.

Kilkee (Co. Clare) and its Neighbourhood. Part IV. Dunbeg to Kilkee --- Part II

Journal of the North Munster Archaeological Society, 1914, Vol. III(3), pp. 153-69

Much information about the history of the parish is provided online by Clare County Library.

The parish is also listed in Wikipedia and on the FamilySearch.org Wiki. While only the Ireland Reaching Out parish administrator can edit this Ireland Reaching Out page, anyone with relevant information to contribute can edit either of those pages (and is encouraged to do so, subject to maintaining accuracy, proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, etc.!).

To the outside world, Moyarta parish is probably best known for the sketches of the now abandoned villages of Moveen and Tullig originally published in the Illustrated London News in December 1849 and subsequently reproduced in countless history books dealing with the Great Famine.

An obituary of Patrick Brennan, Parish Priest of Carrigaholt from 1886 to 29 Dec 1893 (published in the Clare section of the Irish News in the New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXI, Issue 48, 30 March 1894, Page 9), gives many details of life in the parish during his time in office.

EMIGRATION

Some emigrants from Moyarta parish through Ellis Island are listed here.  If you can add to this list, please post the details in a message on the parish Message Board.  Some people from the parish gave the "city or town" for "last permanent residence" and/or "place of birth" on Ellis Island manifests as Kilkee, as that is the nearest town.

Some of the places which were popular with emigrants from the parish in previous centuries included Jackson, MI; Danbury, CT; Chicago, IL (all in the United States); and Argentina.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS AND GENEALOGICAL RECORDS

To research Irish ancestors successfully requires the researcher to have some familiarity with the numerous layers of administrative divisions which have been overlayed on the map of Ireland over many centuries.  Newly imposed layers tended to pay scant respect to the already existing layers.  In the Loop Head peninsula, however, all new partitions in modern times respected the natural barriers of the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Shannon Estuary to the south.  Probably the only exception to this is the division of Ireland into provinces, as both county Kerry to the south of the Shannon Estuary and county Clare to the north are in the province of Munster.  In Cromwell's seventeenth century cry of `to Hell or to Connacht', however, the latter destination encompassed county Clare, which he considered part of the province of Connacht.

Most, if not all, of these redivisions are reflected in surviving genealogical records.  This section outlines the ways in which Moyarta civil parish has been subdvided or fallen within larger divisions over the centuries, all in the context of these records, starting with the oldest surviving records.  Genealogists need to discover not just the place where an event occurred, but also the place where it was recorded.

In total, Moyarta civil parish comprises two small uninhabited islands plus the following 32 townlands, which can be seen outlined in red on the colour Historic 6" Ordnance Survey Ireland map (asterisks denote townlands in Cross Catholic parish; the remainder are in Carrigaholt Catholic parish):

 
Bellia*
Breaghva
Cammoge
Carrownaweelaun
Clarefield
Cloonconeen*
Doonaha East
Doonaha West
Furroor Lower
Furroor Upper
Kilcasheen
Kilcredaun
Killeenagh*
Killinny*
Knocknagarhoon*
Lisheencrony
Lisheenfurroor
Moveen East
Moveen West
Moyarta East
Moyarta West
Newtown East
Newtown West
Querrin
Rahaniska
Rahona East (on which stands part of the Village of Carrigaholt)
Rahona West
Rinemackaderrig (on which stands the remainder of the Village of Carrigaholt)
Shanganagh
Tullaroe
Trusklieve* [part of]
Tullig* [part of]
 
The boundaries of these townlands were mapped and their spellings standardised by the Ordnance Survey of Ireland  (Est. 1824), which had completed its work for all of Ireland by 1846.  (Eoghan Ó Comhraí from this parish was one of the leaders of the OSI work.)
 
The Tithe Applotment Book (T.A.B.) for Moyarta parish, dated 17 November 1827, uses older and slightly different subdivisions, spellings or placenames in some parts of the parish.  As there are no associated maps, it is impossible to be certain how the boundaries of the 1827 subdivisions relate to the official Ordnance Survey of Ireland townland boundaries.  For example, Breaghva townland appears to be subsumed into Moyarta in the T.A.B. Here are direct links, page by page, to the digitised PDF version of the original book on the National Archives of Ireland website: Title page Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 (version 1) Page 5 (version 2) Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 (version 1) Page 16 (version 2) Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 24, renumbered 23 Page 25, renumbered 24 Page 26, renumbered 25 Page 27, renumbered 26 Page 28, renumbered 27 Page 29, renumbered 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 [Page 34 was not used and not microfilmed] Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page not clearly numbered (version 1) Page not clearly numbered (version 2) Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51.  Note that areas in the Tithe Applotment Book are in Irish acres or plantation measure (11 Irish miles=14 statute miles, so 121 Irish acres=196 statute acres; see Wikipedia).
 
When Kilrush Poor Law Union (P.L.U.) was formally declared on 1 August 1838, one of its 13 electoral divisions was Moyarta, which returned three Poor Law Guardians to the Board of Guardians for the Union.  The original 1838 electoral divisions (E.D.) appear to have coincided for the most part with civil parishes.
 
While Captain (later Sir) Arthur Edward Kennedy (1810-1883) held the position of Poor Law Inspector in Kilrush P.L.U., during the period from November 1847 until 3 September 1850, the height of the Great Famine, he sent regular reports, including long lists of those evicted in the Union, very many of them in Moyarta electoral division, to his superiors.  Kennedy's Reports and Returns Relating to Evictions in the Kilrush Union (1847-1849) are available online in PDF (13.1MB) and transcribed form.  The placename spellings used often differ from the official spellings, and suggest that Kennedy's handwriting may have been difficult for his printers to read!

Kennedy's legacy was largely responsible for the choice of the former Kilrush Poor Law Union, including Moyarta parish, to play host in 2013 to the annual National Famine Commemoration and a full programme of associated events of remembrance and commemoration held between 3 May 2013 and 12 May 2013, several of them in the parish.

Moyarta civil parish remained in Kilrush Poor Law Union when the boundaries were redrawn on 22 February 1850.  It was now divided among six district electoral divisions (D.E.D.), each returning a single Poor Law Guardian, namely: Moveen (3 townlands), Moyarta (9 townlands), Querrin (3 townlands), Rahona (6 townlands in Moyarta, plus part of Kilballyowen civil parish), St. Martin's (5 townlands in Moyarta, plus part of Kilfearagh civil parish) and Tullig (6 townlands, including the parts of Trusklieve and Tullig townlands in Kilballyowen parish).
 
Griffith's Valuation for the Poor Law Union of Kilrush is dated 20 August 1855 and includes the entire civil parish of Moyarta on pages 105-120.  The 37 places in the parish listed on the Ask about Ireland website comprise the 32 townlands, the 2 islands individually, the islands collectively and the 2 parts of the Village of Carrigaholt, which straddles the boundary between the townlands of Rahona East and Rinemackaderrig.  In 1855, an area of Moyarta West townland, which lay on the opposite bank of the Moyarta River from the Village of Carrigaholt but which has since almost disappeared due to coastal erosion, contained, inter alia, a Fair Green, Police Barracks, Pound, Court House and National School serving the village.  Note that holdings and townlands appear to be larger in Griffith's Valuation (which uses the smaller statute acre) than in the Tithe Applotment Book (which uses the larger Irish acre).
 
Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes (BMDs 1864-1958, plus non-Catholic marriages 1 April 1845-1863) are organised by Poor Law Union, so entries for Moyarta parish will appear as Kilrush.
 
Most of Moyarta civil parish and all of Kilballyowen civil parish are in Carrigaholt dispensary district, the exceptions being the eastern district electoral divisions of Querrin and St. Martin's, comprising the eight townlands of Cammoge, Clarefield, Newtown East, Newtown West, Querrin, Rahaniska, Shanganagh and Tullaroe, which are in Kilkee dispensary district.  Some transcripts in Ireland, Births and Baptisms (1864-1881) show the dispensary district, e.g. Carrigaholt or Kilkee; others show county or townland, sometimes using a non-standard townland spelling.  This map show the dispensary districts and district electoral divisions.
 
Moyarta civil parish lies within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe, which covers parts of counties Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, Offaly and Laois.  The diocesan administration is based in Ennis and no longer in the town of Killaloe.  As early as 1704, there is a reference to the parish priest of Moyarta and Kilballyowen, Fr. Nicholas Hyonyne or Honan.  The two civil parishes constituted a single Catholic parish until the death of a later parish priest, Fr. Michael Meehan (1810-1878). [A typographical error in Griffith's Valuation sees him wrongly described as "Rev. Mchl. Sheehan, P.P." (sic).]  Lewis refers to the pre-1878 Catholic parish as "the union or district of Dunaha, also called Carrigaholt, comprising the parishes of Moyarta and Kilballyhone."  Thus the pre-1878 church records held in Carrigaholt (and available on microfilm in Clare County Library, National Library of Ireland and LDS Family History Centers) cover both civil parishes.  The earliest baptism in the surviving register was on 8 February 1853 and the earliest marriage on 12 January 1852.  A transcript of the pre-1878 marriage register for the united parishes of Moyarta and Kilballyowen, made and annotated by Murray Ginnane in New Zealand, a member of the parish diaspora, is on the Clare County Library website.  Murray is also working on a transcript of the pre-1878 baptismal register and further revisions to the transcript of the marriage register (latest versions available to anyone who joins the County Clare Ireland Genealogy group on facebook.com).  The post-1878 registers are in local custody and have not been digitised.
On Saturday, 23 March 1878, the Irish American Weekly, published in New York by Fr. Meehan's cousin Patrick J. Meehan, reported (p.6) that

Since the death of the Rev. Michael Meehan, P.P., the parish of Carrigaholt has been sub-divided into two minor parishes, owing to the wide area of land over which the former parish extended.  As we have already announced, the Rev. John Fogartny [Fogarty] Administrator of the Ennis parish, has been appointed to the Carrigaholt division, with Father Cahill as curate, and the Rev. M. [John] Vaughan, C.C., Bodyke, has received the other parish, with the Rev. J. Corry as curate.  Father Fogarty's removal is deeply regretted in Ennis, where he was universally beloved.

Since then, the Catholic parishes of Carrigaholt and Cross have been separate entities. Cross contains the civil parish of Kilballyowen and the seven townlands in Moyarta civil parish marked with an asterisk in the list above, while Carrigaholt contains the remainder of Moyarta civil parish. The two parishes belong to the Inis Cathaigh Cluster of parishes. On 1 November 2009, Fr. Michael Casey, already Parish Priest of Cross, became Parish Priest of Carrigaholt also, with the former Parish Priest of Carrigaholt, Fr. Patrick Culligan, retiring from that position, but continuing as Assistant Priest. As the supply of priests continues to decline, the parishes may again become united in years to come, as they were before 1878.

Online census returns for County Clare for 1901 (independent transcriptions at Clare County Library and at National Archives) and 1911 (National Archives only) are organised by district electoral division.  The initial transcription on the National Archives website includes a number of mistranscriptions of townland and district electoral division names, which are easily recognised when using the Browse Census point of entry.  For example, in 1901 the enumerator abbreviated Rahona West townland to Rahona W. and the transcribers further abbreviated it to Rahona.  The residents of the Village of Carrigaholt are enumerated not in their townlands but in Boherboy, Bridge [Street] and Church Street in 1901, and in Carrigaholt Town in 1911.  Although referred to as a Town in census returns, including the 1851 townland index, Carrigaholt has never had Town Commissioners, a Town Council or any independent form of local government.
 
The surviving genealogical records for the parish have been discussed here roughly in chronological order; the researcher will generally want to consult them in reverse chronological order, although the best research strategy will always depend on the precise date on which the person being researched left the parish.

CEMETERIES

In addition to some cillíní and small disused cemeteries, there are three major documented cemeteries in the parish:

Many residents of the parish are buried in the adjoining parishes, for example in Kilballyowen, Kilfearagh, Kilnagalliagh or Lisdeen cemeteries.

SPORT

Within the Gaelic Athletic Association, the parish club is known as O'Curry's.  Its grounds are in Doonaha West townland.

LITERATURE

Poet and writer, Thomas Lynch, is a part-time resident of Moveen West, and has written extensively about the parish and its history, particularly in Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans including this extract on facebook.com.

FURTHER READING

The most recent history of the parish is:

Murphy, Paul

Cuchulain's Leap (Loop Head): A History Of The Parishes Of Carrigaholt & Cross

Carrigaholt & Cross Heritage Group, 1st ed. 1992; 3rd ed. 2004

ISBN: 0 9518849 0 5

OVER TO YOU ...

If your ancestors came from Moyarta parish and if you have not already done both, then please register on the Ireland Reaching Out website and join the Ireland Reaching Out parish group.  Then please introduce yourself by posting a message on the parish Message Board. Remember to post as much information as you can with regard to the people you are researching. The more information you post, the more likely it is that someone else will be able to advise or assist you. Also please include full details of (and, if possible, hyperlinks to) whatever sources you may have already used and the family tree that you have already compiled, so that others may further your search.

Please also plan to visit the parish, where you will be guaranteed a warm welcome.

Good luck with your research.

Paddy Waldron

Parish Administrator, Moyarta (parish 4822), and grandson of a native of the parish

Start your virtual tour of Moyarta parish in Google Street View here in Moyarta West townland at the northern approach to  Carrigaholt village, with the old pier in the foreground, the new pier and Carrigaholt Castle in the left background, and the village itself in the right background:

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