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Kells, County Antrim


Ir. Na Cealla [na kala] ‘the monastic cells/churches’.


7km SE of Ballymena

par: Connor bar: Antrim Lower

The townland of Kells contains the ruins of an Augustinian abbey known as Kells Abbey or Templemoyle which marks the site of an early Christian hermitage or monastic retreat for the nearby monastery of Connor. The name of the abbey is recorded as Desertum Coneria (<Ir. Díseart Choinnire ‘the hermitage of Connor’) in the Papal Taxation of c.1306 (Eccles. Tax. 94) and as Ecclesia Beatae Mariae de Desarto, i.e. the church of Blessed [Virgin] Mary of Desert’in 1615 (EA 95). The townland of Kells is one of nine townlands in the parish of Connor which belonged to this abbey (O’Laverty iii 287). The name Templemoyle derives from Irish Teampall Maol ‘bald or roofless church’ and was clearly conferred on the church at a time when had fallen into decay.


McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 85

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Disert, Abbas de1190cMon. Hib. 13
de Deserto Conerie1306Eccles. Tax. 94
[de] Deserto Connerie1415Annates Ulst. 135
the Desert of Connor1415Annates Ulst. 135
[de] Dyserto1420Annates Ulst. 137
[de] Diserto1461Annates Ulst. 140
Deserte1604CPR Jas I 39a
Kells1604CPR Jas I 39a
Desert1605Inq. Ant. (DK) 50
Desert1605Inq. Ant. (DK) 50
Disert1605CPR Jas I 72b
Disert1605CPR Jas I 72b
Kelles1605CPR Jas I 72b
Kelles1605CPR Jas I 72b
Kells1605Inq. Ant. (DK) 43,45,50
Kells1605Inq. Ant. (DK) 43,45,50
Disert1608CPR Jas I 122a
Disert1608CPR Jas I 122a
Kells1608CPR Jas I 122a
Kells1608CPR Jas I 122a
Kelles Mc1610Speed's Ulster
Kellis, Abbie of1615Terrier (Reeves) 67
Kells1620Inq. Ult. (Antrim) Jac.I $4
Kells1620CPR Jas I 483b
Disert1621Inq. Ult. (Antrim) Jac.I $7
Disert1621CPR Jas I 524ab
Dissart1621Inq. Ult. (Antrim) Jac.I $7
Kelles1621Inq. Ult. (Antrim) Jac.I $7
Kells1621Inq. Ult. (Antrim) Jac.I $7
Kells1621CPR Jas I 524ab
Desertum dicitur1643Acta SS (Bolland.) i
?Disert Kellaigh1645Acta SS Colgan 252 col.1
Desertum1650cMon. Hib. 13
Parish of Kells1657cHib. Reg. Antrim
2 Townes of Kels1669HMR Ant. 122
Eight Townes of Kils1669HMR Ant. 120
Kels area, 1/21669HMR Ant. 120
Kells1672cHib. Del. Antrim
Kells1780Lendrick Map
~Cealla ""churches""1832cJ O'D (OSNB) B94 B43
""probably the anglic. pl. of cill, namely, cealla,1875Joyce ii 235
~Na Cealla1989GÉ 234
~Na Cealla1989GÉ 234
~Díseart Choinnire ""hermitage of Connor""1999Dict. Ulst. PN 85
~Na Cealla ""the monastic cells/churches""1999Dict. Ulst. PN 85
Antrim Lower
Parish in 1851
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