Teampleshaunaglasha Church and Graveyard

Just off the Tochar Phadraig route lies the remains of the church known as Teampleshaunaglasha, which translates into ‘The Church of John of the dykes or claishes’ (Michigan State University, 2009)—this is where claishes means ‘streams’ or ‘channels’ (Williamson, 2000). It also has an associated graveyard. These ruins were of the old church in Ballybourke that has not been in use since 1562 (Michigan State University, 2009). The church originally measured about 18 by 45 feet, with walls as thick as 3 feet—however, only part of a wall still exists today. It is possible that this edifice was a resting place for pilgrims on the original Tochar Phadraig routeway (Michigan State University, 2009). The Reek Blog (2016) says that “It is believed that the ‘Shaun’ in the name was a hermit who lived in this place in later years.”

There is a children’s graveyard (also known as a ‘killeen’) surrounding the church (Michigan State University, 2009). This type of graveyard was specifically for children who were unbaptised at the time of their death (The Reek Blog, 2016). The children’s graveyard gives the site another name—'Killeendirimh’—which means ‘The little graveyard’ or ‘church of the wastes’ (Michigan State University, 2009).

Then there is then the Irish folklore which mixes itself with the religion of the area. K.G. Williamson, in her (2000) dissertation named Gathering Places: Stories of a Twentieth-Century Irish American Woman, writes that “According to local folklore, forts, or "fairy forts,” were also used as burial places for unbaptized babies, making it more understandable why people do not tamper with purported fairy forts even though they say the aes sidhe (good fairies) live there.”

One commentator named Dilly Baines told Williamson that during the building of the currently used Killawalla church, some years before her time, the priest commanded the people to use the stones from Teampleshaunaglasha-- however the men refused to move them. The priest angrily moved the first stone and, according to Baines' uncle, the priest was dead in a week.


  1. (2023) The Tochar Phadraig. Available at: Accessed 22nd of June, 2023.

  2. Michigan State University, Study Abroad Programme. (2009). Church/Graveyard. Internal Report: Folder 3, Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail—Clogher Environmental Group Ltd. Unpublished.

  3. The Reek Blog (2016). Folklore from the foot of the Reek. Available at: Accessed 22nd of June, 2023.

  4. Tochar Phadraig: A Pilgrim’s Progress, p 24. (Source listed in above Michigan State University hard copy source). No further reference information currently available.

  5. Williamson, K.G, (2000), Gathering Places: Stories of a Twentieth- Century Irish American Woman. A dissertation submitted to the Dept. of Anthropology, University of Arizona. Copyright 2000 by Bell & Howell information and Learning Company.