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Irish: Móin Choinn
County Kilkenny
Church at Mooncoin - - 1823261.jpg
Church at Mooncoin
Grid reference: S503162
Location: 52°17’44"N, 7°15’34"W
Population: 1,166  (2011)
Post town: Mooncoin
Postcode: X91
Local Government

Mooncoin is a town in southern County Kilkenny, in the valley of the River Suir. It is surrounded by the uplands of the Slievenamon and Comeragh Mountains, just six miles north of Waterford along the N24 national primary road (Waterford to Limerick), and it is 30 miles south of Kilkenny.[2] The population was 1,166 at the 2011 census.[1]

The town's name derives from an anglicized version of the Irish "Móin Choinn" which means "Coyne’s Bogland".[2] The song The Rose of Mooncoin by poet Watt Murphy, which has been adopted as the Kilkenny Gaelic Athletic Association anthem.


While William Carrigan recorded the meaning as unknown, according to O'Kelly 1969 the town's name derives from an anglicized version of the Irish "Móin Choinn", with "móin" meaning "bogland" and the "coine" suffix meaning "Coyne" or "Choinn", so translated it is "Coyne’s Bogland".[2][3][4] The Grant family, including Coyne Grant, were property owners in the area.[2][4] Recorded as "Moincoin" in a ballad about the battle of Carrickshock, called "Carraig Seac" and made famous by the song 'The Rose of Mooncoin'.[5] Mooncoin gives its name to a townland, and the Roman Catholic parish of Mooncoin.[6][7]


Mooncoin is situated in the Suir Valley, at the south of County Kilkenny. The linear town, which lacks a traditional village centre, stretches along the N24 national primary road with little development north and south. Located in the barony of Iverk, Mooncoin is in the civil parishes of Pollrone, Rathkieran, and Ballytarsney.[8]

The village includes shops, traditional cottages, large private dwellings, and a parish hall.[2] The main street lies between the two crossroads, the western end includes the church, convent, and school.[2] At the eastern end is a number of buildings in their own grounds including the two schools.[2] There are two primary schools, one for boys and one for girls, in Mooncoin along with a secondary school. To the north of the village is the Waterford-Limerick railway line.[2]

The continued growth in the population supports numerous businesses. There are currently two pubs (reduced from three after Howleys closed), three convenience stores and a take-away. Four retails units are situated at the start of the Roseleigh development. One unit is a Chinese Takeaway, another, due to open soon is a barbers, with the other two units still available. A 24-hour petrol station exits at the location known as "The Pound" on the Waterford road side of the village.


Historically part of the Gaelic kingdom of Osraige. Prior to the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, Coyne Grant and the Grant family were property owners in Pollrone, Dungooly and Ballynabooly.[2][4] Following the construction of a new road Mooncoin developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.[2]

Mooncoin was the head of a Roman Catholic union or district, comprising the parishes of Rathkyran, Aglishmartin, Portnescully, Poleroan, Clonmore, Ballytarsna, Tubrid, and part of Burnchurch.[7] The parish of Mooncoin has three churches - the main parish church in Mooncoin and two smaller churches in Killinaspick and Carrigeen.

In 1829 the Parish Priest, Rev. Nicholas Carroll, bought the Presentation Sisters a house in the centre of the village. They began teaching and by 1842 Mooncoin had a girls school with 200 pupils.[9] Samuel Lewis' (1837) in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, described it as "a village and extra-parochial place" and "containing 102 houses and 495 inhabitants".[7] The single cell church of the Assumption is Church was built in 1869, and in 1871 the Convent school was built next to the Church.[2][10]


Mooncoin in song

Mooncoin has been made famous by the song 'The Rose of Mooncoin', which has been adopted as the Kilkenny GAA anthem by Paddy Grace. This is an apt acknowledgement of the village, as Mooncoin (along with Tullaroan) was one of the leading hurling teams in the country in the early years of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

The song was written in the 1800s by a local schoolteacher and poet named Watt Murphy, who met and gradually fell in love with a local girl called Elizabeth, also known as Molly. Elizabeth was just 20 years old, and Watt was then 56, but the difference in age was of no consequence to either of them. Both were intellectuals, and they would often stroll along the banks of the river Suir, composing and reciting poetry. However, Elizabeth's father, who was the local vicar, did not approve of their relationship, and she was sent away to England. Watt was brokenhearted at the loss of his beloved lady, and wrote this song in her memory.

"How sweet 'tis to roam by the sunny Suir stream,
And hear the dove's coo 'neath the morning's sunbeam.
Where the thrush and the robin their sweet notes combine
On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin.

Flow on, lovely river, flow gently along.
By your waters so sweet sounds the lark's merry song.
On your green banks I'll wander where first I did join
With you, lovely Molly, the Rose of Mooncoin.

Oh Molly, dear Molly, it breaks my fond heart,
To know that we two for ever must part
But I'll think of you, Molly, while sun and moon shines
On the banks of the Suir that flows down by Mooncoin...



Mooncoin have been County Kilkenny Senior Hurling Champions twelve times, 1888, 1900, 1906, 1908, 1913, 1916, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1932, 1936 and 1965. They were also Senior County Gaelic football Champions in 1886, beating James Stephens (The Village) in a replay. The most famous and successful GAA player in Mooncoin's history was Richard Walsh (1878–1958). He won seven All-Ireland medals with Kilkenny and famously captained Kilkenny to three all Ireland finals (1907, 1909, 1913). Only two other people in the history of hurling have achieved this same feat: Christy Ring of Cork and Mikey Maher of Tipperary in the 1890s. The Days Hotel in Kilkenny City has named one of its function rooms the 'Richard Walsh' room, in recognition of his incredible achievements.

Notable people

  • William Dollard (1789–1851) was the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint John in Canada.[11]
  • John Walsh (1830–1898), Bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto (1888–1898).
  • Rev. James B. Dollard ("Father Dollard") (1872 – 1946) was a Roman Catholic parish priest and noted poet.[12]
  • James McDonald (1824-1890) and Walter McDonald (1830-1899) were important pioneering missionary priests in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Walter O'Dunphy laid a claim in 2014 to residency in Kilkenny Castle as a supposed direct descendant of the Kings of Osraige.[13][14]
  • Edward 'Ted' Moore (1893-1962) was a prominent member of the Irish Republican Army in Leinster during the War of Independence, being interned in the Curragh in World War Two.
  • Darren Holden. Internationally renowned vocalist/musician and star of 2 Broadway productions. Currently a member of The High Kings.
  • Clause Dunne, famous Kilkenny hurler



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Census 2011 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Ireland. 2011. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 (Kilkenny County Council 2003, Mooncoin LAP)
  3. {{#invoke:Footnotes | harvard_citation }} however notes that there is a field called "the Coyn" beside the castle at Watercastle in Durrow, County Laois.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 O'Kelly, Owen (1969). Kilkenny: a history of the county.. Kilkenny: Kilkenny Archaeological Society. ISBN 978-0950168708. 
  5. "Carraig Seac B.Á.C.: NUI, 1939 (1864ls 19L) eag. R.A. Breatnach". 
  6. (Government 2003)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 (Lewis 1837, Online)
  8. (Fiontar 2008, Móin Choinn/Mooncoin)
  9. Commissioners of Education in Ireland (1842) (in en). Reports from Commissioners (Volume XXIII ed.). p. 96. 
  10. "Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Information & images". 
  11. "Dollard, William",, 
  12. "Father Dollard". Retrieved 2015-07-26. 


Outside links