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Kilronan, County Fermanagh


Ir. Cill Rónáin “(Saint) Ronan’s church”


This townland lies about a mile and a half east-south-east of Lisnaskea, on the boundary with the parish of Galloon.

The derivation of Kilronan is obviously Cill Rónáin “(Saint) Ronan’s church” as previously suggested.  The townland has no known ecclesiastical associations and one can only assume that at some time in the past it was in some way linked with the early church of St Ronan in the townland of Aghalurcher Glebe which lies approximately two miles to the south-west.  In the Ordnance Survey Name Book of c.1834 O’Donovan remarks that Kilronan contains “a stone called Leac Ronáin” (OSNB B62).  However, this is clearly a misplaced reference to “St Ronan’s stone” which in fact formerly stood at the entrance to the graveyard of the medieval parish church, in the townland of Aghalurcher Glebe (OSM iv 9).  Nearby, in the neighbouring townland of Farranasculloge, there is a holy well named “St Ronan’s well”.  There is also a rock outcrop named Cloghronan (<Cloch Rónáin “Ronan’s stone”) in the townland of Crocknagrally in the north-east of the parish.

In the earliest recorded reference to Aghalurcher in c.830AD the name of the saint associated with the parish is not Ronan but Feidlimid (Mart. Tal. Dec. 23 p88).  However, the saint universally recognised as the patron of the parish is Ronan.  Ronan is a common saint’s name and the task of establishing the identity of the Ronan who is the patron saint of Aghalurcher is not a simple one.  The earliest written indication that Aghalurcher was dedicated to a early Irish saint named Ronan is found in a list of the bishops of the diocese of Clogher which dates from c.1395 and refers to Ronanus filius Aed Dubh regis Ergalliae cui consecrata fuit ecclesia de Achaurc[h]air, i.e. “Ronan, son of Aed Dubh, king of Airghialla, to whom the church of Aghalurcher was consecrated” (Reg. Clogher 380-2).  This appears to be the same Ronan whose name appears under the feast day December 23 as Ronan mor mac Aeda in the 12th-century Martyrology of Gorman (Mart. Gorm. p244) and as Rónán Mac Aedha in the 17th-century Martyrology of Donegal (Mart. Don. p344).  A gloss in the former states that the Ronan in question is from Achadh farcha (written  Achadh Fharcha in the Martyrology of Donegal)and one might conclude that Achadh farcha or Achadh Fharcha is merely a variant spelling of Achadh Urchair which is one of the historical spellings of Aghalurcher (see parish name).  However, Achadh Fharcha has recently been tentatively identified with the townland of Agheragh which lies just inside the northern border of Co. Meath (HDGPN 17).  Earlier evidence linking Achadh Fharcha with Meath is provided by the 17th-century hagiographer John Colgan (Trias. Thaum. 172n) and by John O’Donovan in the 19th century (AFM i 163).  The identification of Ronan of Aghalurcher with Ronan, son of Aed Dubh, king of Airghialla, must therefore be regarded as questionable.  It must be borne in mind that the aforementioned chronological list of the bishops of Clogher which describes Ronan of Aghalurcher in these terms was not compiled until c.1395 (Reg. Clogher 385n) and in its early portion is historically unreliable (op. cit. 362).  One is therefore inclined to suspect that a deliberate attempt has been made to enhance the status of Ronan of Aghalurcher by linking him with the ruling dynasty of the kingdom of Airghialla.  Evidence of confusion between Aghalurcher and Achadh Fharcha at a later date is found in a late 15th-century Franciscan manuscript which contains a reference to Ronan m. Aedha o Achadh Lurcure nó Fharcha, i.e. “Ronan, son of Aedh from Achadh Lurchure or [Achadh] Fharcha (Killiney MS A7 45r).

As pointed out above, Ronan was a common saint’s name, there being at least twelve Irish saints so-named (CGSH) and one might consider the claims of another Ronan to be regarded as the patron saint of Aghalurcher.  The Ronan in question was the father of the celebrated female Fermanagh saint Lasair who is commemorated in the parish name Killesher (<Cill Lasrach Lasair’s church”) and whose cult is found in the parish of Aghavea which borders on Aghalurcher.  This particular Ronan gave name to the parish of Kilronan in Co. Roscommon.  However, there is no documentary evidence to connect him with Aghalurcher and  the question of the identity of Ronan of Aghalurcher remains unresolved.  Writing in 1905, Costello and Coleman suggest that he was “probably Ronan, son of Fergus, whose feast day is April 8” (Annates Ulst. 33n.) but no evidence is offered in support of this opinion.  Livingstone (1969, 11) gives Ronan’s feast day as January 11, citing the authority of The Lives of the Irish Saints by the 19th-century hagiographer John O’ Hanlon.  However, while O’Hanlon (1875 i 177) notes that both the Martyrology of Donegal and the Martyrology of Tallaght cite a saint Ronan whose feast day is January 11, he comments that “nothing has transpired to connect the present saint with any locality”.

As well as the aforementioned parish of Kilronan in Co. Roscommon, there are two parishes so-named in Co. Waterford and a village of the same name on Inishmore in the Aran Islands in Co. Galway.  There are also townlands named Kilronane East and Kilronane West in Co. Cork.

The rare surname Kilronan is derived from Irish Mac Giolla Rónáin which signifies “son of Giolla Rónáin (servant of Ronan)” and at the beginning of the 17the century it was found in Co. Cavan as O’Kilronane (Woulfe 1923, 379).


(info. from McKay, P. (2004): Place-Names of Northern Ireland vol. 8 p. 132)

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference
Kilroner (tate, claimed by R Netterville)1662cCourt of Claims $412
Killronane1680BSD (Ó Maolagáin) 541
Killronan1817GJM M'stephana (OSNB) B62
Killronan1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) B62
Kilronan1833Donnell Maguire (OSNB) B62
Killroanan1834cSur. & Val. Lisnaskea Est. (OSNB) B62
~Cill Rónain ""Ronan''s church""1834cJ O'D (OSNB) B62
Kilronan1862Griffith's Val.
~Cill-Ronain ""St Ronan''s church""1913Joyce iii 430
Parish in 1851
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