How The Spaniard's Chapel Near Kilcar Got Its Name
In the year 1756 a boy named James Carr went to Salamanca in Spain to
study for the priesthood. He was later ordained a Catholic priest, and
eventually appointed Parish Priest of his native Kilcar.
Example of coastal terrain near Kilcar
winter's night during a raging storm, Father James Carr had an urgent
visit from a parishioner asking him to attend his dying father, who
lived some miles away.
After quickly preparing for the journey, the priest set off on horseback, taking a shortcut along a coastal clifftop
Ferocious waves crashed below as he battled his way through
Luckily Father Carr knew the terrain well and had a reliable,
experienced horse. But without warning his horse came to
an abrupt stop and refused to go any farther.
The priest dismounted.
Suddenly he heard someone cry out in pain from the sea-pounded rocks
below. Tethering his horse, he scrambled down the rocky cliff-face and
found an injured, half-drowned sailor. Lifting the sailor gently off
the rocks, Father Carr then carried him to a more sheltered part of the
As the barely conscious sailor began to communicate,
Father Carr realized he was speaking Spanish, a language in which the
priest himself was fluent since his student days in Salamanca.
Comforting the sailor, the priest administered the Last Sacraments to
him. Just before his death, the sailor told Father Carr that he had
prayed to Our Lady for the grace of a good death.
The Spaniard's Chapel beneath the hills of Southwest Donegal
Recognizing that his prayers had been answered, the Spaniard asked the
priest if he would build a small chapel in Our Lady's honor, that he would find the money to pay for it in his
The priest promised to do so.
Climbing back up the
cliff-face and remounting his horse after the sailor's death, Father
Carr continued on his journey.
This time the horse went willingly.
The priest arrived in time to also administer the Last Sacraments to his dying parishioner.
Father Carr had the chapel built in honor of Our Lady in accordance with the Spaniard's dying
the gold found in his belt. To this day, what's left of that little chapel is still fondly referred to as the 'Spaniard's Chapel'.