St. John’s church is considered to be one of the most historic 19th century churches in Co. Limerick. Formerly the centre of worship for the Church of Ireland community in Knockainey, the church was deconsecrated in 1999 due to its declining congregation. The current church was built in 1861 and is situated on a very old Christian site dating back to the 12th Century. The bell tower dates back to around 1700 and was part of an earlier church built c. 1400. Inside the church are a number of beautiful stained glass windows and memorial plaques. Family names appearing on the plaques include O’Grady, Guillamore, Harris, Boucher, and Gubbins.
St. John’s Church Graveyard
St. John’s Church is surrounded by a graveyard containing both Church of Ireland and Catholic graves. The oldest grave dates back as far as 1736 and there are several 19th Century family mausolea.
All the gravestones are recorded and numbered and a display panel located inside the front gate directs visitors to the exact location of each burial. 272 burials have been identified in total. Uninscribed low grave markers date from the 1650s and some 30 or so have been observed and marked. In all there are 67 gravestones from the 1700s.
In March/April 2012 an exciting project spearheaded by Historic Graves digitally recorded all the headstones in the graveyard. High quality photographs of each burial were taken and can be seen on the Historic Graves website.
During the cleaning of the graveyard, a 17th Century altar tomb was uncovered carrying the date 1618. It is believed that Sir Thomas Browne of Hospital built the chancel of St. John’s Church in 1615 and installed this altar tomb.
The graveyard is open to the public at all times.
In 2011 the graveyard was the overall winner in County Limerick in the ‘Ancient’ category in Limerick County Council’s annual awards.