The Story of Kilflynn Church, Co. Limerick

Surnames by frequncy_Kilflynn

This church and graveyard are located in the townland of Ballydonoghue, in the parish of Kilflynn and in the barony of Coshlea. It is located east of Ballyorgan village and south of Kilfinane town. Keale Mountain lies to the north and the River Keale flows south-west of the site. The graveyard can be located by travelling south from Ardpatrick village on the R512. Take the first turn to the left after the turn for Ballyorgan. The site is located several hundred metres up this road on the left and is signposted. The site is approached via a short lane.
The name Kilflynn in Irish is Cill Fhlainn, which means the ‘church of Flann’, Flann being a personal name, (
This is a Church of Ireland church on the site of a medieval church, dedicated to St. Flann in the 6th century. It became a Trinitarian monastery in the late 13th century when the Geraldines rebuilt it. The present church  stands in the middle of the graveyard. It was built as a Church of First Fruits in 1812 and it was used by Palatines, (German Anglicans), hence the unusual array of surnames to be found on gravestones here. This is only one of a handful of historic graveyards in Ireland to be dominated by people with a Rhineland German heritage. The church has been out of use since 1994.
The interior of the church has been well-preserved, maintaining the original character of the building. The walls are made of rubble sandstone with a three-bay nave, a single chancel, a square-plan crenellated tower and a porch, with the tower and the porch being later additions. The interior is intact with timber pews, stained glass windows, limestone flagstones and a carved limestone font.
The graveyard is rectangular in shape and measures 28m N-S x 47m E-W and is enclosed by rubble sandstone boundary walls dating from after 1700. There is an entrance gate and a stile in the eastern side of the boundary wall which connects this site to Ballydonoghue townland, by way of an avenue. The entrance is marked by capped sandstone piers and  double-leaf cast-iron gates. Large beech trees were planted in the 19th century and they carpet the graveyard floor in beech mast every year. 
A total of 42 memorials were recorded in the survey carried out by Historic Graves, two of which were on plaques inside the church. There are seventeen 19th century and twenty-five 20th century memorials. There are no 18th century memorials. The earliest memorial commemorates the burial place of Margaret Young who died in 1810 (memorial no. 022).
Surnames reflect a Palatine congregation; Mollison, Luther, Mee, Young, Clancy, Pyper, Barrer, Steppe, Bartman, Trench, Alton, Manning, Legeer, Gleasure and Knox.
Interesting Facts
Waterloo House was the rectory. It was built between 1780 and 1800 and is located to the west of the church and graveyard. 
Some of the memorials have lengthy epitaphs after the names and burial dates, for example memorial no. 033, a recumbent slab marking the burial place of Joseph Reali, 1829. It reads;
Deeply regretted by those
In all ranks who knew him to whom he
—a monument—to record him
He was an exemplary illustration of the good
Husband and father kind neighbour and 
Universal—-.He died affording
The example of a truly pious Christian looking to
The atonement of the beloved redeemer.
Memorial no.032 marks the burial place of a young boy, Joseph Reali, who died in 1819. The language of the inscription is unusual. It reads;
The depository of the Reali Family
Joseph Reali junr aged 7 years
Deposited here Sept 6th 1819
There is a plaque on a wall in the church to the memory of Francis Arthur Skene Knox (memorial no. 40). Francis died on the island of St. Christopher in the West Indies, October 1858, aged 19 years. Francis was the son of the Rector Rev. Edmond D. H. Knox., who was the son of Bishop Edmund Knox. Reverend Edmond Knox was born in Co. Down and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He was rector of Kilflynn and became Archdeacon of Killaloe Co. Clare in 1832. In 1858 a wills and administration document records him as a lunatic, (note that it is the same year in which his son Francis was killed) yet he is recorded in 1868 as still being archdeacon.  
Thomas Cantillon immigrated to Victoria, Australia in 1879. His descendants erected a headstone in memory of him and the Cantillon family, (memorial no. 015).
The chancel window dates to the mid-19th century and it has the Oliver-Gascoigne coat of arms. This double surname of the family originated when Richard Oliver, originally of Castle Oliver inherited the fortune of Sir Thomas Gascoigne of Parlington Hall, near Leeds in Yorkshire in 1810. It is said that Sir Thomas made it a stipulation of his will that Richard add ‘Gascoigne’ to his name. Richard had married Sir Thomas’s stepdaughter, Mary Turner, in 1804. They lived at Castle Oliver until the 1840’s.
Their daughters built the present Castle Oliver. Elizabeth, the younger daughter, married Frederick Mason Trench of Ashtown, County Dublin in 1852 and lived at Castle Oliver. Her title was Elizabeth Baroness of Ashtown, (Landed She and her sister designed stained glass windows for their various projects. She died in Montreux, Switzerland in 1893, aged 80. She had lived in this parish for around 50 years and attended services in this church. There is a plaque in the church below a beautiful stained glass window commemorating her, (memorial no.039).
Elizabeth’s step-grandson, the Honourable William Cosby Trench inherited Castle Oliver when she died. There is a brass wall plaque in the church commemorating him, (memorial no.36).
Captain Percy Richard Oliver Trench was born in Gort, County Galway in 1894 and was a son of William Cosby Trench. He lived with his family at Castle Oliver. He gained the rank of captain in the Royal West Surrey Regiment. He was killed in action in World War 1 in 1917 at the age of 22 years in Basra, in Iraq. He is commemorated in this graveyard although we are not sure if he is actualy buried here (memorial no. 005). Captain Trench is also commemorated in the CWGC memorial in Basra, Iraq.
This post was researched and written as part of a grassroots heritage tourism project ( in collaboration with Ballyhoura Development CLG (, Cork Co. Council ( and Limerick Co. Council ( The stories were initially gathered during a community survey of the graveyard. They form part of the Historic Graves Project Destination for Ballyhoura (