Prior to Shannon Town becoming a separate parish in 1967 it was part of the parish of Newmarket-on-Fergus. This parish was an amalgamation of seven ancient or civil parishes and roughly covered the territory once owned by the De Clares of Bunratty in the 13th century, part of the Barony of Bunratty Lower or the Deanery of Tradaree. All roughly cover the same area as the modern parish of Newmarket-on -Fergus.
These ancient parish boundaries were established at the Synod of Rathbreasail, Co. Tipperary in 1111. This Synod was convened to reform the Irish Church and it is from this period that the church began to use the parish as the basis of church organisation. At the Synod, Gilbert Bishop of Limerick, submitted a programme to reorganise the church on a diocese and parish basis. This programme was still on going when the Normans arrived in 1169. The territorial divisions on which these parishes were based must have already been in existence.
Creation and demarcation of these ancient parishes properly came about in a number of ways.
(ii) From family estates
(iii) From the subdivision or amalgamation of the townlands or Gaelic estates into Norman manors
(iv) Around already existing community-based churches.
In short parishes began to be formed in the twelfth century based on existing Gaelic territorial divisions.
By the 12th century many places had now been given specific names, derived either from families or landscape features. People also had adopted surnames, using their fathers (mac) or grandfathers (o') name.
For the 12th century inhabitants of this area there were reminders in the landscape of continuous occupation over the previous millennia. Standing stones and hill forts (Moghaun and Knockadoon). But the most common would have been the ringforts (ráths) most of which were unused by this time although there is evidence that their use in this area in some cases persisted up to the 17th century!
Shannon town and the Airport are completely contained within the ancient parishes of Kilconry, Clonloghan and Drumline. The townlands in these parishes contain names familiar to everyone living in Shannon today, Rineanna, Drumgelly, Tullyglass, Tullyvarraga, Ballycaseymore and Smithstown.
The majority of Shannon placenames have remained unchanged for many centuries. For example a deed of mortgage signed by Thomas MacClancy and dated the 25th November 1251 refers to the townland of Tullyvarraga. That makes the townland name at least 755 year old.
Members of Dúchas na Sionna are currently working on a project to detail and publish the meanings of local placenames. In some cases opinions differ as to the exact meaning of the place name. This is not unusual and is due to the complex nature of the original Gaelic and the imposition of English spelling forms.This means that interpreting the meanings is not as straightforward as it might seem at first sight.
To view a list of townlands in our area of study please click here.