Killaloe is a river-side town beautifully situated at the southern end of Lough Derg and surrounded by the Arra Mountains, Slieve Bernagh and Glenmagalliagh. It is also the terminus of the Shannon cruiser which runs from Carrick-on-Shannon. A long narrow bridge of 13 arches spans the lough to the village of Ballina in Co. Tipperary. There is glass work by Harry Clarke (1927) in the Catholic Church.
The town has grown up around the site of a church founded by St. Dalua or Molua who was succeeded by St.Fiannan. The church was replaced by the Cathedral of St.Flannan in 1182. The cruciform building was restored in 1887 and the upper part of the tower is modern. The chevron moulding above the east window and the corbels on the north side of the choir should be noted, while the east window of the south transept is unusual. The most notable feature of the church is the interior of the blocked south doorway, of earlier to be the entrance of the tomb of Murtogh O’Brien, King of Munster. Beside it is the Thorgrim’s Stone, the granite shaft of a cross, with an inscription (c 1000) in both runes and Ogham, was found built into the churchyard wall in 1916 and is the only bilingual one known. Against the west wall is a Celtic cross. The adjoining font has floriated decoration, the other font in the choir dates from 1752.
In the churchyard are the well-preserved nave and channel of a church or oratory, said to have been erected by St.Flannan. Its steeply pitched stone roof is similar to those at Glendalough and Kells; the doorway has two curious but worn capitals, one like a rough Ionic scroll, the other with two lambs.
Next to the Catholic church stands St. Molua’s, reconstructed here after its removal from Fiar’s Island when the level of the lough was raised by the Shannon hydro-electric scheme.
Killaloe is a hidden gem and worth a visit on your Ireland tours.