The Parish History
Parish Priests of Dunleckney/Bagenalstown: 1784 to Date
Fr. Declan Foley
|A native of Knockananna in Co Wicklow. Eldest of 13 children ofSeán and Catherine Foley. Educated in Knockbeg and Carlow College. Ordained for the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin in 1980. Curate in Rathangan in Co Kildare 1980 – 86. Worked in London as an Emigrant Chaplain specializing in the Nursing Apostolate from 1986 – 90. Returned to Ireland as a curate to the parish of Daingean in Co Offaly from 1990 – 93. Appointed to the Defence Forces. Training Centre on the Curragh as military chaplain where he served for the next 11 years. He did three tours of duty overseas with the United Nations Peace Keeping Missions, serving with the 76th and 81st Irish Infantry Battalions on the Lebanese – Israeli border in 1994 and 1997 and also with the No 2 Irish Guards in Eritrea/Ethiopia in 2002. Appointed to the parish of Bagenalstown in 2004 and made Parish Priest in 2006.|
|1996 to 2006Rev. Pierce Murphy, V.F.||A native of Dublin. Educated in Knockbeg and Maynooth College. Ordained for the Diocese 1966. Curate in SnowHill, Wolverhampton 1966-1968, Clonegal 1968 – 1974. Further studies in Mount Oliver, Dundalk 1970-1971 and Diocesan Advisor for Religious Education in Primary Schools from 1971-1988. On Staff of St. Patrick’s College, Carlow 1974-1983. Lived in Monastereven 1983-1992. Curate there from 1988-1992. Transferred to Prosperous from 1992-1996. Appointed to Muinebheag July 1996.|
|1977- 1996Rev. Edward Dowling, V.F.||Was born in 1921 and attended Skeoughvosteen N.S., St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny and Knockbeg College. He studied for the priesthood in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he was ordained in June 1946. He spent two years at the Dunboyne Institute in Maynooth studying Canon Law. He was appointed Dean of Discipline at St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, in August 1948 and remained there until 1973 when he was appointed Administrator of Tullow. In November 1976 be came to Bagenalstown as parish priest and Vicar Forane. Died 2nd November, 2002 and is buried in Skeoughvosteen.|
|1948-1977 Rev. Mgr. James J. Conway, V.G.||He was a native of Farnans, Ballickmoyler, Co. Laois. He was educated at Knockbeg College, Carlow, studied for the priesthood at Maynooth College and was ordained in 1916. After some time at the Dunboyne Establishment
in Maynooth he joined the Maynooth Mission to China, and served in China, Argentina, Spain and North & South America. He joined the staff of St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, 1921, became Vice President in 1937 and President 1941, a position he held until 1948. He was made a Domestic Prelate in 1944 and Vicar General of Kildare & Leighlin in 1947. The following year he was appointed parish priest of Bagenalstown and served in that capacity for 27 years until his retirement in 1977. He was made a Protonotary Apostolic in 1966 on his Golden Jubilee. He died on 10 January 1977 and is buried in the grounds of St. Andrew’s Church, Bagenalstown.
|1927-1948 Rev. Ambrose Lynam||Studied for the priesthood in St.Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he was ordained in 1894. He was curate in Hacketstown, Paulstown, Goresbridge and Carlow before being appointed parish priest of Bagenalstown in 1927. He died on 23 November 1948.|
|1915 -1927 Rev. Matthew Cullen||Was born in Hacketstown and studied for the priesthood at Maynooth where he was ordained in 1889. He was curate in Killeigh and Tinryland before being appointed rector of Knockbeg. He was appointed parish priest in Tinryland in 1914 and transferred to Bagenalstown 1915 where he remained until be was elected bishop of the diocese in 1927. He died on 2 January 1936.|
|1890-1915 Rev. Edward Burke||was born in Clane and studied for the priesthood in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow and Maynooth. He was ordained in Maynooth in 1869. After a year at the Dunboyne Institute he was appointed professor in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he was president from 1880 tol 892. During his presidency the College Chapel was built. He was appointed parish priest of Bagenalstown in 1890. He died in November 1915.|
|1881-1890: Rev. Bernard O’Neill, V.F.||Was born in Rathvilly and ministered as curate in Edenderry and Clane. He was Administrator in Carlow between 1865 and 1869,and parish priest in Graiguenamanagh before his appointment to Bagenalstown in 1881. He died on 27 January 1892.|
|1855-1881: Rev. Patrick Morrin, V.F.||Was curate in Edenderry and parish priest in Hacketstown before being appointed to Bagenalstown. He died 19 October 1881.|
|1836-1855: Rev. Denis Lawlor, V.G.||Was curate in Edenderry and parish priest in Hacketstown and finally parish priest in Bagenalstown. He died on 10 February 1855, aged 64, and is buried in the Parish Church Bagenalstown.|
|1798-1836: Rev. Michael Prendergast, V.G.||There is a tradition that he was born near Borris. He was appointed V.F. in 1819 and V.G.in 1826. He built St. Andrew’s Church, Bagenalstown, and is buried there. By his will he left his house and property for education. Through this bequest, the Presentation Convent, Regent Street, Bagenalstown, and school were founded. He was a nephew of Rev. M. Brophy. He died 7 September 1836 after ministering in the parish for 44 years.|
|1784-1798: Rev. Michael Brophy||Dean of Leighlin and parish priest of Dunleckney. He died 6 February 1798, aged 66, and is buried in Dunleckney. His uncle, Rev. Malachy Brophy, was parish priest of Dunleckney from 1738 to 1758.|
Each of these parish priests was assisted usually by two curates, sometimes three. In 1991, due to a shortage of priests in the diocese, that number was reduced to one, Fr. James Kelly. The following priests have served as curates in the parish in more recent years:
|Fr Joe O’Neill 2012 toFr Paddy Byrne 2006 to 2012
Fr Declan Foley 2004 to 2006
|Rev. K. Walshe 1998 – 2004||Rev. J. Kelly|
|Fr. Tom Bambrick S.M.||Rev. B. Hennessey|
|Fr. Paddy Bambrick S.M. R.I.P||Rev. W. Purcell|
|Rev. J. Mulhall||Rev. D. Murphy|
|Rev. M. Campbell R.I.P.||Rev. P. Maher|
|Rev. J. Doyle||Rev. J. Ramsbottom|
|J. O’Connell||Rev. T.S. McDonald, R.I.P.|
|Rev. T. Cummins, R.I.P.||Rev. D. Doyle|
Places of historical interest in the Parish
|St Lazerian||Legend of St. Moling||St. Moling & Sabbath-breakers|
|Teampull Moling||St Brigid’s Cross Sliguff||Rath at Ballinkillen|
|The Rath at Kilcruit||Mr Young’s Rath||Rath at Tomard|
|Black Bush||The Bawns Closutton||The Dead Coach|
|The Badhbh||Cloch a Breathnuigh||Clowater Castle|
|The Giant’s, Crut and Eden||Sean Balc||Dervorgilla|
|Art Mac Murchadha||Monastery in Kilgreaney||Ratheadan Church|
|St. Caipen’s Well||Dunleckney Chapel||Father Pender’s Well|
|Roiligin Bush||St. Andrew’s Well||Cross at Lacken|
|Gallan in Clonee||Theresa Malone Ballinkillen||John Murphy Kilcummney|
|Ballinkillen Hillfort||Gallan in Ballinakill||Medevial Monastic Sites|
Brother Luke’s account of Fr. John Murphy’s campaign in Counties Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny is one of the two main sources of MacSuibhne, ‘98 in Carlow. Bro. Luke was attached to the De La Salle Monastery, Muinebheag. A sketch of his career is given in the work mentioned.
There is a widespread tradition in the south of Co. Carlow that Saint Laserian before going to Old Leighlin began to build a church in a field now owned by Mr. Kearney of Lorum. A wide lane-way leads from the high road at the old ruined church of Lorum to this field and this laneway is called Crois Lane. In a corner of the field just inside the fence of Crois Lane is a small mound of earth and stone, of the kind called by the people a tulan, and on top of this tulan stands the shaft of a cross. Hence, of course, the name Crois (Krush) Lane. The old people say that St. Laserian was deterred from building his church here by what he considered an unlucky omen i.e. the first person he saw on the morning on which he began his building was a red-haired woman! Moreover this red-haired woman, seeing the saint at work did not invoke God’s biasing on his labours.
The following morning, before sunrise, the saint seated himself in a stone chair on the top of Ballycormac Hill and there waited to see on what spot in Co. Carlow the sun would shine first. It was his intention to build his church on that spot. The sun shone first on the top of Old Leighlin and the saint immediately went there and asked the owner of the land for permission to build a church there. As the land on the summit of the hill was very good the owner refused to give the necessary permission but he offered the saint an alternative site at the foot of the hill where the land was very wet and marshy. The saint accepted the offer but being enraged at the meanness of the landlord he prayed that for ever afterwards the land at the foot of the hill might be dry and profitable and that the land on top of the hill might be wet and useless. And so, the people say, it is to the present day.
The stone chair in which St. Laserian sat was preserved at Ballycormac (pronounced Bealac Cormaic) until 30 years ago, close to the house now occupied by Mr. Radwell. The father of the present Mr. Radwell broke up the chair and used the stones in making a fence. Mr. Radwell, however, did not know it was St. Laserian’s Chair. He had not any opportunity of hearing of it from his predecessor, Mr. Lett, who had been evicted by Mr. Newton of Dunleckney, some years before Mr. Radwell took up possession. By Brother Luke Dunne
Mediaeval Monastic & Church Sites. Parish of Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.Ireland.
Christianity was introduced to this area in the 5 th c. At that time the countryside was heavily wooded with the population dispersed in small clusters. Early monastic foundations were sited in lonely places away from roads on the high ground East of the River Barrow. Killoughternane and Nurney were founded in the 5 th c, followed by Lorum in the 6 th c. The latter two sites are still in use for Christian worship. All of the monasteries listed were small, with a community of probably not more than twenty monks and brothers at any time. This number was augmented by a large number of students in the case of Killoughternane. Such historical information as exists is available in; Rev Comerford’s Collections, Dioceses of Kildare & Leighlin (Vol3 1885).
The following table lists known sites of the mediaeval period (ie 5 th-15 th c)
|1.Dunleckney||11-12th||19th c||A total of three parish churches
here until 1820.
|Ruins in graveyard|
|2.Kildrenagh||St Mernoc||7th||(16th c)||Slight ruins. Head of carved
|3.Nurney||St Abban||(5th c)||Graveyard||Two early crosses. C o I parish
|4.Donore||St Lappan||8th c||(12th c)||Parish church (14 th or 15 th
c) a short distance away
|Slight ruins at both sites|
|5.Ratheadan||(7th c)||(16th c)||Chapel of ease for Dunleckney||Slight ruins|
|6.Killoughternane||St Fortchern||(5th c)||(15th c)||Center of education||Ruin of small 10th c oratory.
|7.Lorum||St Laserian||7th c||(12th c)||Parish church later.||C o I parish church. Base of
cross in churchyard.. Well
|8.Augha||St Aed||6th||(12th c)||Became parish church||Ruin of 10th c church. Graveyard|
|9. Slyguff||St Bridget’s Chapel||In ruins. Graveyard|
|10 Wells.||13th c||Continental order?||In ruins. Graveyard|
|Note: Figures in brackets are the authors date estimate.|
Semicircular areaon summit of the hill above Ballinkillen village towards Lorum. It is enclosed by a double bank ditch. Area 279m x 225m. With a double bank 11m approx. Hillfort is close to
1. Ring Fortin Ballinkillen (no longer visible
2. Ring Fort at Kilgraney
3. Kilcrut Cairn
Gallan in Ballinakill
There is a gallan situated in Ballinakill on the lands of Margaret Ward and Edward Mullins. The story surrounding it is similiar to the one at Clonee except that the stone was supposedly aimed at Ballymoon Castle. This gallan also has at large imprint of a hand on the top and is about 10 in height. There is also supposed to be a pot of gold buried in the field in front of the stone but this has never been located. If anyone wishes to see it please phone 059 9727364 to obtain permission to enter.
Legend of St. Moling
According to tradition St. Moling (pronounced Moleen) started to build a church on two or three different sites before he finally built his famous church at St. Mullins and Mr. Pat O’Neill of Marley has preserved a tradition that the saint instructed his workmen to begin at a certain spot. They began to build without placing their work under the protection of God; they did not begin in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The saint, without telling them the reason for his action, ordered them to discontinue the work on that site and to begin at another site which he pointed out to them. Here the workmen made the same mistake and St. Moling again stopped the work. He then brought his workmen to a third site, that on which the ruins of his church now stands, and here they invoked God’s blessing on their work and successfully completed it.
During the great pilgrimage which used be held annually at St. Mullins up to about 100 years ago it was customary for pilgrims to walk in the bed of the Athababhdid river from St. Mullins Well up to the second site above mentioned, a distance of about a mile.
St. Moling and the Sabbath-breakers
Another story in connection with St. Moling is told by Michael Ryan of Drannagh Hill. The saint, he says, came upon some men who were doing servile work on a Sunday. The men, seeing the saint coming, scattered in different directions in ones and twos and small groups. The saint followed one group and when he overtook them turned them into pillar stones. Then he followed other groups and did in like manner. Mr. Ryan is ready to point out the different clocha here and there in the Barony of Lower Saint Mullins. One is called Fear Breige and is on his own land. Another is Cloc a stoca which is in the laneway near Mr. Ryan’s house. One of the fleeing groups was overtaken at Marley but unfortunately the group of stones which represented the members of this group was broken up recently and used for road-making. A woman named Raidhmseach was running away after having brought dinner to the workmen. She, too, was overtaken by the saint and was turned into a cloch at the spot in Bealach a Leabhair which still bears her name.
Little more than the foundations of this church remain in the townland of Ballinree. It is incorrectly named on the Ordnance Survey Maps where it is called Temple Molasha. Pat Macklin of Ballinree who is now 86 years of age says he always heard it called Teampul Moling (Moleen). Pat’s grandmother who died in 1875 aged 90 years always called it Teampul Moling. There is a tradition that a priest from Clonegal is buried here.
St. Brigid’s Cross at Sliguff
An ancient wooden cross was found in a drain near St. Brigid’s Well, Sliguff many years ago, by a man named Walkins, grandfather to John Walkins who now possesses the cross. Mr. Walkins lives in the house close to Sliguff Bridge. Fr. Morrin, now P.P. of Naas, inspected it and so also did the late Fr. Paul Murphy. It has been for many years a treasured relic in the ‘Walkins’ family.
The Rath at Ballinkillen
In 1798 Pat Murphy lived with his brother John on Kilcomney Hill. This is the John Murphy mentioned in the ballad of Teresa Malone. Pat Murphy, according to local tradition, was so foolish as to attempt to dig in the Rath in front of Redmond’s house in Ballinkillen. No sooner had he stuck his spade in the soil of the Rath than he became lame, and he then ceased work. Pat was a very well educated man and especially took a deep interest in astronomy. In connection with his studies in astronomy he left Ireland frequently. Whenever he left Ireland his lameness disappeared but it always returned when he set his foot on Irish soil again!
The Rath at Kilcruit
The father of Mr. Collier, now an old man living in Ballinkillen, was one evening mowing grass with a scythe in the Rath on Thomas Doran’s land at Kilcruit. The Angelus Bell rang out from Ballinkillen Chapel and old Mr. Collier rested his scythe on the ground while he was saying the Angelus. Just as he finished his prayer a little man, dressed in a gorgeous uniform trimmed with gold, approached from the side of the Rath, stepped right across the blade of the scythe, and then disappeared over the side of the Rath near the little Tulan, on which Mass was said in the Penal times. Mr. Collier left scythe and hay in the Rath and could never be induced to work there again.
Mr. Young’s Rath
Many years ago a workman named Pat Odium found in the Rath at Mr. Young’s, Ballinkillen, a small metal box about 2 ft long by 1^ ft. wide. It contained a large number of very bright little bones, all quite flat and round like coins. One old man told Pat that the bones were really “Magic money” and that if Pat had only had the luck to find them at the right time i.e. midnight, he would have been “made for life”.
Rath at Tomard
This Rath has a very bad name amongst the old people in West Idrone, especially amongst those living near it, in Tomard, Coolnakisha, Seskin and Craanavonane. The illness and death of William Bergin is attributed to his having cut and burnt some bushes in this Rath; calamities fell heavily on him: he himself took sick immediately after burning the bushes; a horse and three cows of his died, and he himself died about three years ago. The old people say that it would not have been so bad, if he had only cut the bushes but that evidently the added crime of burning the bushes provoked the powers of evil beyond restraint.
This is not the name of a bush but of part of a field owned by Mr. Martin O’Neill at Bannagogle near Old Leighlin. It is slightly raised above the level of the rest of the field. The whole field is excellent tillage land, but the part known as ‘Black Bush’ has not been tilled in the memory of the oldest persons in the district. The man who owned it before Mr. O’Neill was John Roche and when John in ploughing around the ‘Black Bush,’ sometimes accidentally turned a sod in this portion of the field, he was careful to return and place the sod in position with his hands.
The Bawns, Closutton
This is the name given to some fields owned by Mrs. Nevin, on the right hand side of the road as you go from Killenane Cross to Old Leighlin. There is a tradition that there was once a very important fortified residence here, that it was broken into by robbers and that some valuable treasures which it contained were taken. A servant maid who was employed in the house allowed the robbers in, it is said.
The foundations of a large, rectangular house are to be seen in one of the ‘bawns’ and this ‘bawn’ is surrounded by a deep trench still containing water. There was a drawbridge at one point on this fosse and the servant girl let down this drawbridge to allow the robbers in. There are two adjoining fields each called the Orchard. A wide road now grass-grown leads from the site of the house down to the road. Local tradition affords no clue as to the period in which this house was occupied. It is thought however that the robbery took place long before the time of Captain Freney.
The Dead Coach
I am informed by old men in South Carlow that this district was a favourite driving ground for the Dead Coach up to about 50 years ago. One night the Dead Coach came so near the houses that it knocked the plates off the dressers in Coshel, Ballinkillen and Kilgreaney.
The only person I have heard of who actually saw the Dead Coach was an old man named Flanagan who lived at Coshel near Ballinkillen. Flanagan was one of a party playing cards by moonlight on a large flat stone on the side of the road near the cottage now occupied by Eliza Fenlon. When the Dead Coach approached all the players except Flanagan fled in terror. As the coach flashed past Flanagan, the coachman cracked his whip so close to his (Flanagan’s) face that he became almost blind and remained so till the end of his life.
The Dead Coach, I am told, has not been seen or heard in Co. Carlow since a Mission given by Franciscan Fathers in Borris, about 50 years ago.
In Co. Carlow the word Badhbh (ba’) pronounced ‘bow’ is generally used for Bean-sidhe. Many of the old people claim to have heard the Badhbh in their young days or to have known people who heard her. The last time she visited this (Muinebheag) district was on the occasion of the death of the only daughter of Eliza Fenlon about 30 years ago. Jack Curran of Kilgreaney who is a godson of Eliza’s was at the wake and says he distinctly heard the Badhbh’s mournful keening outside the house.
Gallan in Clonee
There is a Gallan standing in the townland of Clonee near Myshall and on it is carved the mark of a hand. The old people in Clonea, Coolasneachta and Kilbrannish tell the following story about it:
This stone was originally on Mount Leinster at the place called the Black Banks above the Nine Stones. A witch who lived at the Black Banks lifted the stone and was about to throw it into Co. Wicklow when she slipped on the steep mountain side. The stone fell in Clonee where it still is, with the mark of the witch’s hand on it, and the witch slid down the mountain past Coolasneachta . Those who disbelieve this story should go to Coolasneachta where they will be shown the tracks made by the witch as she slipped down the mountain!
Cloch a Breathnuigh
This is a very fine dolmen situated in a beautiful glen through which a river runs separating Clomoney from Kilgreaney. The Cloch is on the Kilgreaney side of the stream, on the lands of Mr. Wm. Grother. It is noted in the Ordnance Survey Letters (1839) where it is called Cloch a’ Bronaigh, but the name is not given on the Ordnance Maps. On these it is marked simply ‘Altar.’
Old Mr. Thorpe, now of Bagenalstown, was the first in this district to discover this Cloch. Mr. Thorpe calls it Cloch a’ Bronaig, seeing that we have in this district many other place-names which include some form of the word Breathnac e.g. Cnoc na mBreathnach and Baile na mBreatnac. However, it is questionable if there was any Breathnach in Ireland at the period of the erection of the dolmens.
The covering stone has been prized off its original horizontal position and now rests at an angle of about 45% to the ground but still rests on some of its original supports.
James Brien of Ballyellin, who is now 96 years of age, remembers having seen the stone in its original position. About 80 years ago, he says, a man from Kilgreaney dreamt that there was gold under this cloch, enough gold to buy seven townlands, but that a life would be lost in the taking of it. The dreamer got some men from Ballyellin quarry to help him and they prized off the covering stone a little and dug under the cloch. At a depth of about 3 feet they discovered a small box-like enclosure covered on top by a flat flagstone. In the box were several small stones, one shaped like a battle-axe and the others like bricks. The men left everything as they found it, covered in the box again and departed.
Thirty years later – about 1890 – another party of diggers tried their luck for gold, and one of this party was Michael Nolan now living in Ballyellin. They found everything as before but got no gold. This party again filled up the hole, and were careful not to disturb the box which we presume is still there.
Dr. Comerford in his ‘Collections’ Vol. Ill p. 98 says “there are. the remains of a castle in Clowater.” No stone of this castle now remains in situ, but men not above 60 years of age remember to have seen the walls standing to a height of 20 feet.
The following story is told in connection with this castle: The work of demolition of this castle was begun by old Mr. Richard Tennant, owner of the land on which it stood and grandfather to the present Mr. Tennant. It seems that Mr. Tennant found that the old castle obstructed in some way an entrance to his haggard. A poor man also named Tennant, who lived at Ballinkillen Cross, was employed by Richard Tennant to knock down a piece of the castle. During the progress of the work the poor man came upon a heap of gold coins in the wall. He took the money, left at once for America and was never heard of afterwards. In his haste he left some loose coins in the wall and it was not until the neighbours discovered these that they understood the reason for the poor man’s sudden departure.
The story of the finding of the gold soon spread and many others came and pulled down pieces of the castle so that soon not a stone was left on a stone but no more gold was found. It is thought locally that the heap of gold found by Mr. Tennant was one of many such hidden in this district by Freney the Robber.
The Giant’s, Crut and Eden
A very old tradition in South Carlow purports to account for the names Kilcruit and Killeeden. Two famous giants Crut and Eden fought a fierce contest for possession of these townlands. It is not now known which of them won. Four depressions in the ground in the shape of big feet, were to be seen just inside the border of Kilcruit until about 20 years ago and according to tradition these were the tracks of the giant’s feet.
Old men say that when they were young it was customary for boys to repair to this spot on their way home from school, to plant their feet in the giant’s tracks and to enact the fight over again. The tracks are now filled in. Some say it was rabbits that filled them in. The spot on which the tracks were is on a slight rise of ground in a field belonging to Mr. Sam O’Neill of Ballinkillen.
This famous man lived at Lacken between Borris and Rathanna, but at what period we do not know. He was a powerfully built man, very tall and very strong. When sitting beside the fireplace in his mother’s house his head used be a considerable distance up the chimney! He found it more convenient to sit thus as the ceiling of the kitchen was too low for him.
A gentleman named Mr. Coakley from Co. Wexford arranged a weight-throwing match between Wexford giants and Scottish giants. The contest took place in Dublin. Mr. Coakley was present and seeing that the Wexfordmen were being beaten, he jumped on to his horse’s back, galloped to Lackin and begged Sean Bale to come to Dublin and “make one throw for Ireland.”
Sean was ill with small-pox and did not like to go. “Come,” said Mr. Coakley. “If you die I’ll bury you decently and if you live I’ll make a gentleman of you.” So Sean went with him. When they reached the playing pitch in Dublin Sean asked Mr. Coakley to show him the furthest mark reached by the Scottish throwers. He then asked the officials to place a mark nine yards beyond this and Sean then threw the weight to this new mark. It’s well this story has survived if only for the sake of the word Balc.
There is a tradition that Diarmuid MacMurchadha brought Dervorgilla to Rath na gCaoire castle and that she was there kept by him after the destruction of his castle at Ferns.
Art Mac Murchadha
John Redmond of Ballinkillen says that he heard old men say that Art Mac Murchadha inflicted a heavy defeat on the English near the Church of St. Brigid at Sliguff, and that hundreds of the English were drowned in the Barrow when attempting to escape.
Monastery in Kilgreaney
There was once a monastery at Thorpe’s, Kilgreany. John Redmond informs me that his father was one of those employed to knock down the ruined walls of this monastery.
Dr. Comerford in Collections Vol. Ill Parish of Leighlin says that “All traces of this church have disappeared.” In this Dr. Comerford is wrong. A piece of side-wall, 6 ft. long and 6 ft. high, still remains and many of the stones of the church are still there. Owen Hayden of Agha says that the table stone of the altar was near the ruins about 30 years ago, but it is not to be seen now. The ruins of this church are on the lands of Mr. Pierce Healy.
St. Caipen’s Well
This well is a few perches to the south of the old church just mentioned. It has not been referred to in any history of Carlow yet written and its position is not indicated on the Ordnance Survey Maps.
Nothing is known locally of St. Caipen (or Caipin as he is sometimes called) but his well is looked upon as a blessed well and it is said that it pertained to the Church of Ratheadon. It is on the lands of Mr. Pierce Healy.
Many people who have not studied our local history carefully think that the old ruined church now standing in Dunleckney graveyard was the Parish Church of Bagenalstown immediately before the erection of the present parish church about 1814.
There is no doubt, however, that the church that was used during the Penal Times and up to 1814 was situated in the field now called Chapel Field in that part of Dunleckney Demesne known as Knocknacorrah (Cnoc na Cumhraidhe). We are indebted to one man – and one only – for our knowledge of the site of this church. This is James Walsh of Rathduff, a very intelligent old man who has during his whole life taken a keen interest in local history and antiquities. The site of Dunleckney Church, or Fr. Pender’s Chapel, as it is called, was pointed out to
James Walsh about 1880 by an old man named Matthew Moran who lived at Harrow Cross, Oldtown, and’ died in 1890 aged about 90 years. Matthew Moran went to Mass in Father Pender’s Chapel and was confirmed there. Another man who went to Mass there was Pat Reddy, father of Thos. Reddy now of Regent St., Muinebeag. Thomas Maher, father of Mr. Thos. Maher now of Dunroe went to Mass in Fr. Pender’s Chapel and was confirmed there. The late Thos. Maher was nephew to the famous Father James Maher who was P.P. Paulstown 1829-1833 and P.P. of Graiguecullen, 1840 to 1874. Thos. Maher died about 1900.
Mrs. Julia Byrne (nee Hennessy) and her sister Mrs. Brigid McGrath used sweep and dust Dunleckney Chapel for Father Pender (died 1836). Mrs. Julia Byrne was grandmother to Kate and Josie Byrne, two old ladies now living in Curracruit.
Mr. Tobin of Dunleckney says his father told him-Dunleckney Chapel was thatched. It was probably a small building. The exact site was pointed out recently by James Walsh. A row of large lime trees stands near. The people used stand under the shade of these trees while waiting for Mass to begin. The site of this chapel may have been given by Walter Bagenal (1671-1745). He conformed to the Protestant religion at his second marriage in 1725, in order to save his inheritance. Or, the site may have been given by Walter’s son Beauchamp who although a Protestant was favourable to the Catholic claims for justice and took a prominent part, as a member of Grattan’s party, in the movement for legislative independence and parliamentary reform. Beauchamp Bagenal died in 1802 and his son Walter died in 1814. Walter was the last of the Bagenal’s in the male line.
When the Newton family came to Dunleckney Manor, about 1802, they did not like the Catholic Church to be so near their manor. They were glad to facilitate Fr. Pender in building a new church in the town and Col. Philip Newton gave Fr. Pender for this purpose 3 acres of ground. The present Parish Church, the Presbytery, and the Christian Brothers’ Schools and House are built on this land.
When the new church in Bagenalstown was ready for the celebration of Mass, the little thatched chapel in Knocknacorrah was pulled down and the stones were taken away. The present Dunleckney Manor was in course of erection at this time (it was finished in 1845) and it is probable that the stones of the chapel were used in it. Fr. Pender’s house was in the same field as his chapel, and it was pulled down also. Large trees now grow where the house stood.
The next step on the part of the Newtons was to close up the main road which led from Dunleckney Cross to the Carlow Road, passing close to Fr. Pender’s house and chapel. Mr. Newton built at his own expense an alternative road and this is still in use. It leads from Aughney’s Cross to Rathduff Cross, a distance of two miles. It is said that Philip Newton made this road for the Grand Jury for one shilling. The bell which belonged to the Pre-reformation Parish Church of Dunleckney is now set up in Dunleckney farmyard.
Father Pender’s Well
This is in the wood near Dunleckney Manor. It was once in the garden attached to Fr. Pender’s house, but trees were planted in the garden and on the site of the house. The latter was pulled down about 1814, during Father Pender’s lifetime. Fr. Pender was the last parish priest to live in Dunleckney. He came to Dunleckney as curate in 1792; in 1798 he was made parish priest and he died in 1836. His memory is revered in the parish and his well is looked upon as blessed.
The late Philip Newton at one time tried to have this well closed up, and he actually got the late Mr. Morrison to place a large flat flagstone across the well. His intention was to have all the water of the well conveyed to Dunleckney Manor by a pipe. According to Local tradition this plan was frustrated by the prayers of Fr. Pender.
There is a bush called the Roiligin Bush growing in the fence of the high road close to Mr. Aylward’s house, about 100 yards to the Lorum side of Ballinkillen Church.
According to local tradition there is buried at this bush a woman who was killed by the English in 1798.
St. Andrew’s Well
This well is in Curracruit and its site is indicated on the Ordinance Maps. Mrs. Thomas Bolger (nee Ellen Byrne) who died in 1895 aged 90 years often Saw pilgrims go on their knees from the old chapel in Knocknacoorah to St. Andrew’s Well. There is no water in the well at present.
Cross at Lacken
This cross is standing in the fence opposite Mr. Connell’s gate at Lacken near Rathanna. The old people of the place say that a Father Murphy from Co. Wexford who came to Carlow in Father John Murphy’s army lies buried here. Dr. Comerford has a note on this cross in his Collections and he quotes an inscription as given by Ryan.