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Dún ar Aill
Doneraile is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°12′57″N 8°35′08″W / 52.215897°N 8.585521°W / 52.215897; -8.585521
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Cork
Elevation 269 ft (82 m)
Population (2006)
 • Total 1,387
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference R596073

Doneraile (Irish: Dún ar Aill),[6] historically Dunerayl, is a town in County Cork, Ireland. It is located on the R581 regional road 8 km east of the N20 road which runs from Limerick to Cork. It is about 12 km north of Mallow town. It is situated on the River Awbeg, a branch of the Blackwater.

Origins of the name[edit]

The town stands on the northern slope of Knockacur hill, which rises by a gentle slope from the river and gradually ascends to a rocky prominence. However, it was not this rocky prominence but one near the graveyard of Oldcourt which together with an ancient fort built thereon, gave the town its name, Doneraile, i.e. "Dún ar Aill", meaning "the fort on the cliff".[7] The countryside around Doneraile is very scenic and has a wealth of historical associations.

Schools in Doneraile[edit]

There are three schools in Doneraile; the Presentation Primary Girls school, Christians Brothers school and the secondary school Nagle Rice. The girls school was established in 1971, and replaced the former Presentation Convent in Doneraile, founded in 1818. The Presentation Convent, with its Primary and Secondary School, survived until the early 1990s. When the Sisters left, the Community Cemetery, containing the remains of over 100 Sisters, was tastefully transferred for greater security to the local Public Cemetery at Oldcourt, Doneraile. The boys school used to be run by the Christian Brothers. Nagle Rice is a mixed school and is named after Nano Nagle and Edmund Rice.

Literary history[edit]

Doneraile is famed as the pastorate of the great Irish literary figure Canon P.A. Sheehan, who was parish priest from 1895 until his death in 1913. He was also politically active in the tenant land purchase movement.

Edmund Spenser, the poet, made the district famous in his epic The Faerie Queene. In 1586 Spenser was given 3,000 acres (12 km2) near Doneraile from the seized lands of the Earl of Desmond, including the castle at Kilcolman. Spenser's castle was burned by the native Irish during the Nine Years' War in 1598. He was buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1599.


The horse race known as the steeplechase originated in 1752 as a result of a race between the church steeples of the town and neighbouring Buttevant town.

There are only a few reported cases of women becoming Freemasons but one exception occurred in 18th century Doneraile. Elizabeth Aldworth, was reported to have surreptitiously viewed the proceedings of a Lodge meeting held at Doneraile House—the private house of her father, Arthur St Leger, 1st Viscount Doneraile. Upon discovering the breach of their secrecy, the Lodge resolved to admit and obligate her, and thereafter she proudly appeared in public in Masonic clothing.[8]

In 1829 the shooting of a local doctor, John Norcott, led to rumours of a widespread conspiracy to murder local landlords, and on the word of an informer twenty- one local men were arrested and charged with the alleged crime. Most were fortunate enough to be defended by Daniel O'Connell, who secured the acquittal of the majority of them.

Doneraile also has the distinction of being the town in Ireland where the first successful agricultural co-operative and creamery was established in 1889 by Horace Plunkett.

During the early part of May 1853, a countryman ploughing in the neighbourhood turned up a large quantity of silver coins, amounting to more than forty-six ounces in weight, which were purchased by a silversmith in Cork. They consisted of English shillings and sixpences of Elizabeth, with a few groats, threepences and half-groats of the same queen; also a few groats of her predecessors, Mary, and Philip and Mary both having the bust of Mary; English shillings and sixpences of James 1, upon the union with Scotland and exclusively of the rose, thistle, and fleur-de-lis mint marks; with a large number of the quarter-dollars and smaller money of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Nearly all the coins were in the finest state of preservation, and appeared to have been but little used or in circulation.[9]

Doneraile also achieved note in 1954 when a British journalist, Honor Tracy, condemned the local priest Canon Maurice O'Connell for spending the then exorbitant amount of £9000 on his parochial house while there was so much poverty in the village. Following The Sunday Times' apology to O'Connell, Tracy sued it and was awarded £3000 in compensation. In response some 3000 of Doneraile's parishioners marched in the village in support of Canon O'Connell.[10]

John B. Keane, the well-known writer spent some years here in the 1950s working as an assistant for the antiques dealer and chemist Arthur H. Jones and occasionally attending at the petrol pumps outside.[11]

Twinning programme in Doneraile[edit]

Doneraile was twinned with Ramapo, New York. But it is not anymore.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census for post 1821 figures.". 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  5. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  6. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)
  7. ^ Doneraile by J. Anthony Gaughan, Kamac 1970
  8. ^ The Hon. Miss St. Leger and Freemasonry Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol viii (1895) pp. 16-23, 53-6. vol. xviii (1905) pp. 46
  9. ^ "Doneraile Hoard Article". 
  10. ^ In the Archives: April 12 1954, The Irish Times, April 12 2012
  11. ^ Self Portrait by John B Keane, Mercier Press 1964

External links[edit]