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Story of St Kerrill

Abstract: Story collected by Breandán Mac Eochaidh, a student at Naomh Breandán, Gaillimh school (Galway, Co. Galway) from informant Tomás Mac Eochaidh.

Original reference: 0031/4/37

Loading...School Naomh Breandán, Gaillimh [Vol. 0031, Chapter 0004]

County The Schools' Manuscript Collection : County Galway Schools

Eochaidh, Breandán Mac
Eochaidh, Tomás Mac
Galway (County)

transcribed at


Story of St Kerrill [duchas:4565448]

Outside the parish of Gurteen of which he is patron Saint, the name of St. Kerril is little known. Little reference is made to him in any of the lives of the Saints. O'Hanlon mentions in his "Lives" about a "St Kerril", Bishop of Tiross, but there is nothing to indicate that he is the St Kerril of Gurteen. Definate information as to his real history can scarcely be said to be available even in the parish of his labours. Many beautiful and quaint traditions associated with him, however have been handed down and now that his image has been inscribed on the monument recently erected to Father Graffin in Loughrea, it may be of interest to place a few of them on record.
According to the most popular local belief he hailed from the

Story of St Kerrill [duchas:4565449]

County Kildare and lived in his monastery at Cloonkeen-Kerril sometime during the sixth century. His name is thus perpetuated in the place-name, which in Irish, is Cluain Caoin Choirill meaning Kerril's level meadow land. The whole parish was originally called by his name, but now the title is confined to a small village, Gurteen having "stepped in" and the parish name. A few old ruins of a monastery and a quaint little graveyard at present mark the site of St Kerril's original building. The ruins are those of a church or monastery built by a Bishop O'Kelly in the thirteenth century on the spot where the Saint's cloister stood. The little burying ground has the singular distinction of never having had a corpse buried in it on a Monday. The custom has it's origin in a quarrel

Story of St Kerrill [duchas:4565450]

which Kerril had with St. Connell of Kilconnell, Balinasloe. Both were building their monasteries at the same time. Connell was granted the services of a number of masons by Kerril on condition that they would return on a certain Monday morning. At mid-day on that day they had not returned, and Kerril, much angered, set out for Kilconnell which was about eight miles away. He met the other Saint on the way coming to ask the further use of the men. Kerril refused this and thereby aroused the anger of the other who who gave vent to his passion by cursing Kerril building and praying that a corpse would be bured every Monday morning in Kerril's churchyard. The latter then prayed that the corpse would be that of an unclean bird. Kerril left it as his last

Story of St Kerrill [duchas:4565451]

wish that no human being should ever he buried in it on Monday, and his wish has been faithfully carried out during the thirteen centuries that have since elapsed.
On 13th June, his feast day the people make a pilgrimage to what is locally called the "monster's hole", During Kerril's time, the story goes, an unnatural monster made it's appearance in the parish. It lived in the pool or "hole" by day and prowled forth by night, causing immense destruction to the crops  and stock. The Saint, being known to be very holy, was requested to banish it. He came to the pool and successfully invoked Divine aid. Not from from the, pool which is now only a kind of marshy spot or "swallow hole", is St Kerril's well. It's waters possess the extraodinary powers of remaining permanently fresh in any vessel, corked

Story of St Kerrill [duchas:4565452]

or uncorked.
Before his death Kerril requested God to preserve the parish of his labours from destruction by lightining. It was never yet known that man or beast was injured in the parish through the effects of that element. The Saint is buried in his own church-yard, and a little hallow in the noth-west corner marks his grave. It is called "Kerrils bed", and every coffin is reverently "rested" in it for a few moments before the burial.

Origin information
Galway, Co. Galway
Date created:
Type of Resource
Physical description
p. 0263-0267
Volume 0031
Collected as part of the Schools' Folklore scheme, 1937-1938, under the supervision of teacher T. Mac Eochaidh.
Manners and customs   linked data (lcsh)
Events (by time of year)--Ócáidí (de réir trátha bliana)
School location
University College Dublin. National Folklore Collection UCD .

Original reference: 0031/4/37

Suggested credit
"Story of St Kerrill"in "The Schools' Manuscript Collection," held by University College Dublin, National Folklore Collection UCD. © University College Dublin. Digital content by: Glenbeigh Records Management, published by UCD Library, University College Dublin <>
Collected as part of the Schools' Folklore scheme, 1937-1938, under the supervision of teacher T. Mac Eochaidh.
Supported by funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Ireland), University College Dublin, and the National Folklore Foundation (Fondúireacht Bhéaloideas Éireann), 2014-2016.
Record source
Metadata creation date: 2014/2016 — Metadata created by Fiontar, Dublin City University, in collaboration with the National Folklore Collection UCD and UCD Library. Original Fiontar metadata converted into MODS by UCD Library.

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Story of St Kerrill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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