Killashee - The Name

The most commonly held view on the origin of the name Killashee is that it derives from the name of St Auxillius, St Patrick’s nephew, who he appointed by Patrick to establish the monastery at Killashee following his visit to Naas. The conversion of the King of Leinster and the baptism of his children is. The well is now known as St Patrick’s well. Those of you who studied the Irish Language will know there is no X in the Irish Alphabet and so Auxillius became Ausaille or Usaille. The monastic site became known as Cill Ausille or Cill Usaille to which reference is made in the annals of the four masters and other ancient documents. 

There is a documented record from 1179 in reference to “Le Nas” of the taking into possession by Pope Alexander III of the diocese of Glendalough with its churches including Cell Usaille. Later references in English referred to Killussy and later again to Killashee. Very plausible and would seem to explain the origin of the name. But perhaps not as there are other townlands in the country also known as Killashee and which are not associated with Auxillius. There is one in particular in Longford. So is there another possible explanation of the name?

At the risk of upsetting any historians that may be in the audience. Killashee as Gaeilge is Cill na Sí. Cill means church as it does in the alternative meaning – Cill Usaille. But what of na Sí. Well na Sí or na Sidhe means the faeries or the people of the mounds which I mentioned earlier in the context of the ráth. They are both male (fir sidhe) and female (bean sidhe). The term beanshee derives from the feminine. In folklore na Sí are regarded as the descendants of the Thutha de Danann who existed in Ireland in the 2nd century BC until they were conquered by the Melesians. (Meaning people of the God Dana).

The Sí are reputed to live in castles under the ráths where they dance, sing and revel. Any person who damages a ráth is said to invoke the wrath of Na Sí and bring bad luck on themselves. As per the above, a fort exists just a few hundred metres north of here adjacent to the ancient well.

So perhaps Killashee means church of the faeries or church of the faerie ráth. As we know many pre-Christian sites particularly wells were assimilated into the Christian tradition as indeed was St Patrick’s well at Killashee so why not the name also.

Killashee have their fairy forest which has been inspired by the name Killashee and our idea of Killashee being the church of the faeries. Explore the nooks & crannies and you’ll discover the wonderful legacies left behind by the people who lived, laughed and loved here. Wander down by the old orchard to the quiet solitude of the old Nun’s Graveyard, a reminder of when Killashee was a Convent School, alive with the ambitions of its eager pupils. Take some time to explore our vast, beautiful gardens, lose yourself in gloriously wild nature along our many woodland walkways, or grab a little time out in our gorgeous spa.

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