‘Old graveyards with a scatter of lichen-encrusted gravestones and trees standing to attention rank amongst the most evocative features of the Irish landscape’ (taken from Patrick J. O'Connor, Some Studies of the Irish Scene, Irish Landscape Series no. 2 ).
This line could have been written with St John’s Church, Knockainey, in mind. The church is also covered in lichen and with its boundary wall and sexton’s house nearby creates an attractive and harmonious group.
There were churches on this site since medieval times but the most recent was erected in 1861 by the Church of Ireland. The tower and spire are free-standing and belong to an earlier church, built pre 1762. The graveyard contains many interesting graves and mausolea, several resting side by side are grass-covered and barrel-vaulted with the door at the end; the undulating effect on the graveyard is stunning.
On entering the church today it is just as if a service is about to begin; the sacred ambience remains as stained glass windows, wall memorials, pews, pulpit, communion rails and holy table are all in place. The memorials provide important historical information on local families. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and Knockainey Historical & Conservation Society organizes a successful series of concerts and events throughout the year in the church.
St. John’s Church is located in the centre of Knockainey, a small rural village midway between the towns of Bruff and Hospital and approximately 25km from Limerick City.