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Killybegs Old Church and Graveyard

The name Killybegs is often associated with St. Cronan of Cill Beg or Kilbeg. We find Cronan Cille Bicci, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 21st of February. A short distance from Prosperous is a townland bearing the same name. Here, there is an old ruined church, the quadrangular nave of which is alone tolerably perfect yet, the side-walls, north and south are much injured. In the end-wall is a beautiful mullioned two-ope window of small size.

The two extreme gables yet stand, and from one to the other, the measurement interiorly is 62 feet 6 inches. The nave in width was 18 feet 4 inches and the walls were about 2 feet 8 inches in thickness. Within a high oval breastwork fence the old graveyard is considerably elevated above the surrounding levels, generally a mark of remote antiquity, especially in rural districts. 

While we have no information to indicate just how old the church actually is, we do know that it is at least 500 years in existence based on a lease from 1538 which refers to the church of Killybegs. The cemetery is still used. On one side are the fine old trees of Killybegs Demesne, and a rookery in the top branches lends an additional feature of melancholy to the spot, which is often disturbed by the flitting and unmusical cawing’s of the crows.

The only relic preserved from this ancient ruin is that of an octagonal baptismal font which is located in the yard of Prosperous Parish Church. The Feast of St. Cronan of Cill Beg or Kilbeg is celebrated on the 21 st February. Details and illustration by the writer, Canon John O’Hanlon 1874. (Lives of Irish Saints)

On the adjoining site, was a commandry of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem. Local history tells us that Cromwell’s forces completely destroyed these buildings.

Location: 2.5 kilometres south of the village and 0.5 of a kilometre off the Grand Canal road.

Just as Downings, Ballynafagh and Prosperous and indeed most other churches in Ireland, Killybegs faces from west to east, as early Christians faced east (Jerusalem) when praying.

The Original Baptismal Font From Killybegs Church

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