Kildorrery is a lovely village situated in pituresque surroundings on the main Mallow to Killarney Road.Kildorrey is well known due to the annual festival held here each July.
Kildorrery is so placed as to be a landmark for miles. Cross-shaped, and of some size, it has the characteristics of a hill-village, rather sad weathered houses, sky seen through arches, draughty streets, an exposed graveyard, a chapel launched over the distance like a ship. Though its name means church of the oak grove, one can see no trees: the Ballyhouras are very near, to the north. Only when Kildorrery stands full in the sunset has it an all celestial smile.
Elizabeth Bowen, Bowens Court, 1942
The village of Kildorrery owes its origins to a church, mentioned in 1302 in the papal taxation records of Pope Boniface VIII. In the late 1700’s, the Earls of Kingston began work on laying out the present village.
By 1837, Kildorrery had 90 houses, a constabulary barracks and a medical dispensary. Fairs for selling cattle, sheep and pigs were held in May, June, September and November.
The modern parish of Kildorrery is made up of five medieval parishes Carrigdownane, Farahy, Kildorrery, Nathlash and Templemolagga. Saint Bartholomews parish church was built in 1838.
Kildorrery graveyard has been digitally surveyed and is viewable if you follow this link:
ELIZABETH BOWEN (1899-1973)
The Anglo-Irish world has produced many gifted writers but few were as magnetic as Elizabeth Bowen. Her dinner parties at Bowen’s Court, built in 1775 on the site of an earlier house, attracted such personalities as Seán Ui Faólain, Molly Keane and Edward Sackville-West. Her novels, mostly set in the Anglo-Irish world, have a universal appeal that places her in the top ten English language novelists on this side of the Atlantic.
The Death of the Heart (1938) and The Heat of the Day (1949) are probably her best-known novels. Her stories, she said, were “a matter of vision rather than of feeling”. Her best-known book in this area is Bowens Court “the semi-biographical story of her family and this locality”.
Elizabeth inherited Bowen’s Court in 1930. Sadly, in 1959, she realised that her income from writing could no longer meet the costs of running a big house. A businessman who bought the property cut down all of its woodlands. He subsequently demolished the great house, of which nothing now remains.
Tucked rather deeply into a crease of trees, this small place is unexpectedly come upon: here are a bridge over the small Farahy river, two or three shops, some yellow and pink cottages, the lower avenue gate-lodge of Bowen’s Court, a Protestant rectory and Protestant church. (Elizabeth Bowen, 1942)
Elizabeth Bowen’s grave and that of her husband, Alan Cameron, are just inside the Bowen’s Court side of the churchyard wall. A mulberry tree grows over their graves. The church, built in 1720, is now closed but an annual Elizabeth Bowen Commemorative Service is held there every September. Many local victims of the Great Famine were buried in Farahy. The Farahy Famine Memorial, which was erected in 1996 to mark the 150th anniversary of the famine, lies in the north-west corner of the graveyard.
The substantial ruin of Aghacross Church, founded by Saint Molagga in the seventh century, overlooks the Funcheon River. The existing building has many interesting features, including a weathered carved head of Saint Molagga on the east gable. Saint Molaggas holy well, on the south-side of the graveyard, has stonework, which may be over 1,000 years old. The well was described in 1936 by Kildorrery children who wrote about it for the Irish Folklore Commissions national schools collection. Acts of devotion are performed around the well. The visitors make three or four rounds and recite the rosary while doing so, and the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Visitations are frequently done for headaches, and in this case, the heads are washed in water outside the well. The water of the well has never been used for any domestic purpose. if an attempt were made to boil the water, it would not boil.