EFFIN “Sweet Effin of My Dreams”
Effin “Saint Eimhin”
“I could hear the wind a-sighing, oh, so softly,
the boreens green and gently flowing streams,
I could see the sun rise over Ballyhoura;
I was haunted by sweet Effin of my dreams”.
Although people have lived here for thousands of years, the name Effin dates to medieval times when Saint Eimhin established a monastic site here. The modern parish of 3,507 hectares (8,666 acres) is comprised of the three medieval parishes of Effin, Kilquane and Garryenderk. Its total area is 3,507 hectares.
The land of Effin slopes gently northwards from the Ballyhoura Hills towards the Maigue River. This is a place where people and community, our traditions and culture, are central to every day life. The rural economy of the parish is dairy-based. Although there is no village here, our focal point could be considered to centre on the church and community hall. We have another church at Garrienderk. Our National School has a long and proud tradition of educating the young boys and girls of the parish.
Effin graveyard has a total of 447 memorials, all of which have been digitally surveyed and are viewable if you follow this link: Effin Historical Graves click here
EFFIN IN 1837
Effin had a population of 2,090 people, according to Samuel Lewis, who described the place in 1836. The land is excellent and much under tillage, and the mountain pasture good, he said. The meadows attached to dairy farms are very productive. The gentry of Effin in those days included J. Balie of Newpark and R. Low Holmes of Maiden Hall. Its Protestant parish church was then in ruins, and the Catholic parishioners attended two small chapels at Effin and Kilbreedy. About 90 children attended two hedge schools (clandestine outdoor schools, usually held only during the Spring and Summer).
Tobar na Rá an Domhnaigh The Well of the King of Sunday was probably a place of worship in pre-Christian times. The well consists of nine spring wells surrounding the main central spring. The well is surrounded by a circular earthen and stone bank, now concealed by forestry trees. It is believed locally that this bank was constructed by a man whose eyesight was restored after he visited the well.
According to tradition, the well was stone-lined by a grateful father whose daughter was cured by the well water. She had fallen from her horse and lost her senses, but was miraculously restored to health after her father bathed her forehead and eyes with the holy water.
Regular prayers at the well have almost died out. However, memories of times past were recalled in 1979 when a returned exile from the United States of America, came to pray there. Then in his 80’s, he remembered the custom of drinking the water three times and throwing a small drop after each drink into a stream flowing from the well.
A private school at Kilquane was attended by 65 local children in the 1830’s. At the foot of the Ballyhoura mountain stands the site of the medieval church and graveyard which gave the parish its name. Although there is little evidence to prove it, tradition claims that the church was founded by Knights Templars.
Great numbers of human bones were found in the parish in the early 19th century. These were believed to have been from followers of the Earl of Desmond who, in 1579, were driven into the hills after their lord was convicted of treason against the English. He and his followers took refuge in the extensive woods once growing in the area. Many died of starvation and their bones, found in the 1800’s, were taken for burial in the grounds of Mount Coote.
A thatched chapel for Kilquane, at at Ballymacshaneboy, was used as a Catholic place of worship until the 1830’s. Before its closure in the earlier part of the 19th century, it reputedly had up to 600 people attending Sunday Masses. In 1910, many years after its closure, the sacristy of the former church was the home of a shoemaker named Casey.