Killaloe, County Clare

Killaloe (Irish: Cill Dálua meaning Lua's church) is a town in east County Clare, Ireland, situated in the midwest of Ireland. The village is on the south end of Lough Derg, while the settlement spreads across the River Shannon, with the County Tipperary side known as Ballina. The surrounding area is popular for hill-walking.

The Killaloe Electoral Area is one of six such areas in County Clare, and returns four members to Clare County Council.

The diocese of Killaloe is the second largest diocese in Ireland.

The University of Limerick has its outdoor pursuits centre near Killaloe, on the shore of the lake.


The town owes its origin to a sixth century monastic settlement founded by St. Molua, or Lua, originally on an island in the Shannon 1km below the present Killaloe Bridge which later moved onto the mainland. In the tenth century it was base for Brian Boru as it controlled the strategic crossing of the Shannon above Limerick, where the Vikings were in control. He had his palace, Kincora (Ceann Coradh), on the high ground where the current Catholic church stands. Between 1002 and 1014 therefore when he was the High King, Killaloe was effectively the capital of all Ireland. 2km north of the town, his fort, Beal Boruma, stood on the site of an iron age ring at the head of Lough Derg, where a ford crossed the river. The word Boruma comes from the tribute paid by those crossing and is thought to be the origin of Brian Boru's name.

St Flannan's Cathedral was built between 1185 and 1225, with an oratory for the same saint, who had been the abbot of Killaloe in the seventh century and it became the centre of the diocese. The cathedral was destroyed and rebuilt in the fourteenth century and only a romanesque arch survives of the original building. In Elizabethan times, Innis was chosen as the county town of Clare and the importance of Killaloe declined.

In 1650, Cromwell spent 10 days on the opposite side of the Shannon at Ballina, exploring ways to cross the river which was the defensive line of catholic and royalist forces, before the Siege of Limerick . 40 years later, Patrick Sarsfield was the leader of the Jacobite forces here harrying the Williamite forces advancing on Limerick.

The earliest mention of a (wooden) bridge across the river is in 1013. This was often repaired, and replaced by a 17 arch stone bridge in the early eighteenth century, later reduced to 13 arches. Most of the houses in lower part of the town were built in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century the Shannon Steam Navigation Company had their headquarters here and constructed a canal to bypass the rapids below the town.

St. Lua's oratory, built between 1000 and 1150, was moved from Friar's island to the site of the Catholic church when the hydroelectric scheme at Ardnacrusha was constructed in the 1920s.


Killaloe was the birthplace of Ireland's famous High King, Brian Boru. He ruled from Kincora, which is believed to have been in modern day Killaloe.

Former Ireland rugby international captain Keith Wood, also the inaugural IRB International Player of the Year in 2001, is a Killaloe native.

Anthony Foley, Munster's Heineken Cup winning captain and former Irish International, is also a resident.

Dolores McNamara, the Limerick housewife who won a record EuroMillions jackpot of over €115 million on July 31, 2005, purchased Lough Derg Hall near Killaloe in April 2006 for the sum of €1.7 million. She lives there with her husband Adrian and her two youngest children.

American president John F. Kennedy's history has been traced back to Killaloe, to Brian Boru's father, Cennétig mac Lorcáin.

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