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.]
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.
The history of the parish name can be found in the Placenames Database of Ireland.
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.
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):
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.
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.
In addition to some cillíní and small disused cemeteries, there are three major documented cemeteries in the parish:
- Moyarta Grave Yard in the townland of Moyarta East;
- Kilcrony Grave Yard in the townland of Lisheencrony; and
- Templemeeagh Grave Yard in the townland of Querrin.
Many residents of the parish are buried in the adjoining parishes, for example in Kilballyowen, Kilfearagh, Kilnagalliagh or Lisdeen cemeteries.
Within the Gaelic Athletic Association, the parish club is known as O'Curry's. Its grounds are in Doonaha West townland.
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.
The most recent history of the parish is:
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.
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: