Bicentenial Booklet – Ballinkillen Church

This booklet is a fitting souvenir of the bicentenary celebration of Ballinkillen church. It brings together the history of the church itself, interesting information about the locality and its holy places and a record of priests who served in the parish and of priests and religious who were natives of the Ballinkillen area. I congratulate the author on a work which will be read with great interest.

I congratulate the people of Ballinkillen on the efforts they are making to have a worthy celebration of the bicentenary of their church. They appreciate the rich heritage which is theirs and which is set down in this booklet. May their work ensure that this heritage will be kept alive and that the people of Ballinkillen will remain faithful to their traditions and attached to their local church.
+ Laurence Ryan
Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.

I was always very pleased to be attached to Bagenalstown Parish, and I’m particularly happy to be there at the time of celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Ballinkillen Church. There are three churches in the parish, Bagenalstown, Ballinkillen and Newtown. Ballinkillen is an old and lovely church and much sought after by young couples getting married. The people of the area are a very progressive people, and thanks to them the village now has the church rest restyled, the National School completely renovated, a new Lourdes Grotto Shrine and a Community Centre where young and not so young can gather to enjoy its facilities. Long may this community spirit last and like the clergy of previous years, Fr. Jimmy Kelly and myself are very happy to be so much a part of the Ballinkillen community.
Fr. Edward Dowling, P.P.

The parish of Bagenalstown includes the ancient ecclesiastical districts of Dunleckney, Lorum, Nurney, Slyguff, Ballyellen, Fenagh and part of Agha, each of which had churches. The remains of many of these buildings still survive. The parish church in Bagenalstown was built in 1812 on a site donated by Colonel Philip Newton of Dunleckney Manor. The chapels-of-ease in the parish are now situated at Newtown and Ballinkillen. Newtown Church was built around 1880 and is a Gothic structure. The church in Ballinkillen was built in 1793 and is one of the oldest churches in the diocese. It is dedicated to St. Lazerian. Before the building of the church in Ballinkillen, the old church in Lorum was more than likely the principal place of worship for Catholics in this area, although there is a tradition that there was a mass house near Ballinkillen Cross. An ancient graveyard and ruins mark the site of the original Church in Lorum.

The old alter in Ballinkillen Church

New Alter in Ballinkillen Church

Mass Times

First Fridays8pm

On Saturday by arrangement with the priest

Mass Times For Holydays

(No morning Mass)

St Lazerian
St. Lazerian was the patron also and his feast was celebrated on 18th April. St. Lazerian, sometimes called Molaise, was the founder of the See of Leighlin and its first bishop. He was born about the year 566. He studied in Rome and was ordained by Pope Gregory the Great and sent to preach the word of God in Ireland. In fulfilment of this mission, Lazerian visited many parts of Ireland including Leighlin. Here a monastery had been established and was governed by Abbot St. Gobban; Lazerian succeeded him. In the Life of St. Lazerian, it is stated that he had in his monastery in Leighlin as many as 1,500 monks under his charge. In 630, while on a visit to Rome, most probably as the head of a deputation sent by the clergy, after the Synod of Leighlin he was consecrated bishop by Pope Honorius who at the same time constituted him Papal Legate. He died on 18 April 639 and was probably interred in his own church.

Documentary evidence on the building and development of the church in Ballinkillen is scant. It was a thatched chapel resembling an ordinary dwelling. The architecture of the church was typical of the 18th century churches called “Barn Churches”. They were generally rectangular in shape, built of rubble or granite and lime and equipped with a gallery. The building of the church was undertaken by Rev. Michael Brophy, P.P., Dunleckney, who died in 1798.

According to Dr. Comerford’s history of the diocese, written over 100 years ago, the church was improved in the 1820s. An Ordnance Survey of the County of Carlow, 1839, states that “there is a Roman Catholic chapel in Ballinkillen in good repair and capable of accommodating 300 persons”. It is likely that when the church was improved in the 1820s, the long aisle was added. Fr. M. Prendergast was parish priest at that time, having succeeded his uncle.

In 1915, when Fr. Edmund Burke was parish priest, re-roofing of the church commenced. He died during the year and was succeeded by Fr. M. Cullen who had the work completed. Local men, including Tim McAssey, Ballinkillen, and his son, John, worked on the completion. The paintwork was done by Frank MacGonigle, father of Maurice McGonigle. The wooden altar was replaced by a white marble altar, a gift of the Maher family of Ballyellen. The side altar in honour of the Sacred Heart was erected to the memory of Joseph O’Neill, Bagenalstown, and Our Lady’s Altar to the memory of Mrs. Margaret O’Rourke, Lorum, who died in 1903.

Ballinkillen church has five stained-glass windows: St. Lazerian in the side aisle, to the memory of Teresa O’Neill. Bagenalstown who died in 1919; St. Joseph in the long aisle donated by Thomas Byrne, Ballycormack; St. Patrick in the long aisle to the memory of Joseph O’Neill, Bagenalstown, who died in 1914, and the two on the gallery were donated by Daniel and Mary Kearney McCann, Evanston, Illinois, USA These two windows were placed originally on each side of the high altar and were moved to their present location when the Church was modernised in 1978.

Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Phelan, Donore, donated the candelabra in 1929. The Calvary in the churchyard was erected by the parishioners to the memory of Fr. T. Scale, C.C., who died on 26 July 1935. The statue to Our Lady in the churchyard was donated by Mrs. Kate Sheill, Bagenalstown, in 1955. The most important artefact in the church is a silver chalice dated 1776, which is still in use. It bears the following inscription: “Presented by the parishioners of Ballinkillen to Rev. Michael Brophy, 1776″.

To accommodate the changes arising from Vatican II, major modernisation and reconstruction of the church was carried out in 1978. The marble altar, two side altars and altar railings were removed. The gallery on the long aisle was also removed. At the request of An Taisce, the architrave round the high altar was preserved and placed at the end of the long aisle. The present granite altar was erected together with the lectern and baptismal font. The contract for the work was awarded by the Parish Council to Michael Jones, Builder, Bagenalstown. Work began in February 1978 and was completed in October 1978. The church was closed from June and the Community Centre Hall was used instead. The work was financed from the proceeds of two auctions, profits (£14,000) from a monthly draw and the contributions of weekly envelope collections which began on 5 March 1977. The grounds around the church were greatly improved in the summer of 1989. The work was done by voluntary labour at the suggestion of local business man, Peter Connors, who financed all materials and other costs.

Lourdes Grotto
In May 1985, a Committee was formed to discuss the erection of a Lourdes Grotto in Ballinkillen. Under the chairmanship of Fr. Denis Murphy, C.C. the project got underway. A site known as “The Grove” opposite the church was donated by Mrs. Maeve Hughes. The grotto was build with local granite stone and voluntary labour at a cost of approximately £4,000. The statutes of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette were donated by the Presentation Sisters, Carlow, on the closure of their convent in Tullow Street. Up to 300 people attended the official opening on 1 October 1989. The ceremony of rosary and benediction was conducted by Fr. E. Dowling, P.P. and Fr. Mulhall, C.C.

Some of the Attendance at the opening of the Grotto

Life in the Countryside before the Famine
According to the Census of 1841, four-fifths of the population of Ireland lived in rural areas. The resident landlord lived in the Big House and was the king-pin of this society; the Big House itself employed servants and estate workers and its needs gave work to local blacksmiths, stonemasons, carpenters, etc. The ladies of the Big House often busied themselves on local committees, promoting education, inculcating thrift and distributing charity to the poor. They were instrumental in introducing crafts such as lace making, patchwork and weaving. Lady Harriet Kavanagh, Borris House, brought back lace patterns from Italy, which she modified herself and taught the women of the village to copy. She gave out work each week to women of the poorest families, thus enabling them to add to the meagre earnings of their menfolk. Borris lace soon became famous for its beautiful designs and workmanship. Lace making was also carried on in Garryhill.

The contrast between the life style of the Big House and that of the labouring peasants was enormous. The distinction between tenant- farmers and labourers and among various strata of tenant-farmers was more subtle. The substantial farmer enjoyed a comfortable standard of living. His house was well built and well furnished. Their sons might aspire to careers in the church, the legal or medical profession; the daughters were provided with a genteel education and a good wardrobe and expected not to marry beneath their station. Those whose means were more modest and less secure lived accordingly. For the son of a thrifty small farmer a career in the church was probably the height of his ambitions, though pensionable clerkships and, later on, posts as national teachers, were also sought after. The lowest level of small farmer was scarcely distinguishable from the labourer. The depth of poverty among this latter class is indisputable.

Housing conditions were poor. In 1841 some 40 per cent, of the houses in Ireland were one-room mud-cabins, while a further 37 per cent, had between two and four rooms. The one-roomed mud-cabin usually had the natural earth as a floor, the smallest of these were about twelve feet wide and from twelve to twenty feet long. The roof consisted of sods of earth laid on wooden rafters and covered with a thatch of straw. Many had neither window nor chimney so that the smoke from the fire escaped through the open door.

Labourer and cottager shared a potato diet, with buttermilk as a luxury in good times. Only at Christmas was there a chance of their tasting meat. The poorer small farmer’s diet was less restricted and in addition to potatoes it might include milk, oatmeal and wheaten bread. Dress was a further index of the relative prosperity of the various elements of peasant society. The lower grades generally had the same cut of clothes as the more prosperous but they had to last longer and were consequently more ragged and patched. Because of the poor state of their clothing, the poorer classes only attended mass at Christmas and Easter. For the same reason their children did not attend school in winter time.

In 1868, John Rudkin, Conies, established the Rudkin Christmas Charity for the parish of Lorum. He invested the sum of £500 sterling in the Bank of Ireland and directed the trustees of the Charity “…… to pay the annual proceeds…… to the rector and church wardens…… to be applied by them at Christmas each year for ever hereafter in the distribution of money, food or clothing among 36 of the poor of the parish at 10/- a head or more than 36 persons should the fund afford it at the same rate and without distinction of religion. But in selecting the 36 persons each year to receive relief it is my will and I direct that the parish priest for the time being be invited to furnish the names of 18 poor persons such as he may consider fit objects to be recipients thereof and the remaining to be nominated by the rector……”.

The main luxuries of the peasantry were tobacco and drink. Consumption of the latter was of gigantic proportions in pre-famine Ireland. Beer and labelled whiskey were both cheap, but in the early nineteenth century the illicitly distilled poitin enjoyed wide popularity. However by the 1840s the increased efficiency of the excise men and the impact of Fr. Matthew’s temperance crusade both combined to effect a reduction in the consumption of poitin.
Pre-famine peasant society, for all its poverty, had plenty of sport and gaiety about it. Music and song were woven into the very fabric of society and the fiddler and piper were kept busy at weddings and wakes, fairs and markets. There was no shortage of dancing; hurling was widely popular, as were other tests of strength and skill such as weight-lifting and bowls. The excitement of the fairs lay as much in its fringe activities -jugglers, entertainers, music, dancing and drink – as in the actual business of buying and selling cattle and horses.

The following table gives the population of the parish of Ballinkillen in 1859.
Census of the Parish of Ballinkillen taken by Rev. P. Morrin, P.P. 13 January 1859


* Became part of the parish of Goresbridge in the late 1970s.
* Became part of the parish of Borris in the late 1970s.

Pioneer Total Abstinence Association
While the Pioneer movement was first introduced to Ballinkillen during a mission around 1920, when a Fr. Barrett, S. J. invited twelve men and twelve women to take the pledge, the local branch was not established until March 1956. According to the Register and Minute Book, the first recorded meeting was held on 6 April 1956. Rev. Paul Maher, C.C. attended and gave directions for the running of the Centre. It was decided to hold the monthly meetings on the 2nd Sunday of the month after mass. The first Council Members elected were: Spiritual Director: Rev. Paul Maher, C.C; President: James Kearney; Vice-President: Ellen Skelton; Secretary: John Ryan; Treasurer: James Power. The branch has continued down through the years and at one stage in the late 1960s there was a total of 160 Pioneers and 40 Probationers on the Register. As has been the case in many centres, there has been a steady decline in numbers in recent years. However, the Branch is still quite active and the junior members have figured prominently in Question Time Competitions, having reached the All-Ireland Finals for the past three years and having three Leinster Winners Titles to their credit. The present Council Members are: Spiritual Director: Rev. J. Kelly; President: Michael O’Neill; Vice President: Michael Brenan; Secretary: Teresa Kearney and Treasurer: Tom Brown.

Ballinkillen GAA undertook a major development in 1992. It transformed a field, earlier purchased from the Land Commission, into a full size playing pitch complete with dressing rooms and a meeting room. It will be ready for use in Autumn 1993. The cost to date of this development is in excess of £80,000. At the moment the Hurling Club caters for ten different teams, from U-10 up to Intermediate.

The first Football Club was formed in 1937. The founding members of the Club were: Chairman: Peter Clerkin; Treasurer: Jackie McDonnell; Secretary: John O’Neill. Committee: Bill Coady, Jim Connors, John Connors, Bill Doyle and Jim Larkin. They won the Junior Championship in 1940 when they beat St. Dympna’s, Carlow. In 1944 they won the Intermediate Championship.

The Hurling Club was formed in 1958 and continued until 1962. Its most noteworthy achievement was reaching the Junior Hurling Final in 1962. The Club reformed in 1971 with Tommy Murphy, Chairman, and John O’Neill, Secretary. In 1973 they won the Senior County Final beating Naoimh Eóin, Myshall. The Club has also had success in the Bolger Cup in 1972,1973,1977 and the U-21 championships in 1978 and 1979. One of the players, Cyril Hughes, was selected and travelled with the Australia 982. The juvenile teams were formed in the mid-1980s. They won numerous county titles, most notable the U-16 A hurling in 1991. The present Chairman is Tom Kinsella and Secretary is Pat Dowling.

Ballinkillen/Lorum Community Centre
The first meeting to consider building a community centre in Ballinkillen was held on 8 November 1974. At this meeting it was decided to go ahead and arrange the necessary fund raising. Part of the land was purchased from Corries Estate for the sum of one penny and the other section -15 feet wide – was purchased from Carlow County Council for £10. Five trustee were elected: Fr. D. Murphy, C.C., Canon Rowntree, Lar Farrell, John Ryan and Willie Kidd.

Keenan Brothers erected the main ironwork structure and the block work was completed by local voluntary help. The floor in the hall was purchased from McMahons of Limerick and put in place by T. Collier at a cost of £1,651.90. An extension containing supper room, kitchen and toilets, was added in 1979. The Centre was officially opened on 1st November 1979.

In 1985 a club licence for the sale of alcohol was obtained and in that year the supper room was converted into a lounge bar. The Club bar opened in December 1985. A new lounge was built in 1990.

Ballinkillen Community Centre

F. Kearney, S. Power, JJ. Doyle, M.Daly, J. Lewis

Parish Priests since 1784 Curates
In the 1950s a Parochial Council was established in Ballinkillen to raise funds and help with parochial affairs. The members of the Council were:

P. J. BrenanJames KearneyJames CumminsJames Connors
James LarkinJohn ConnorsPeter MurphyPatrick Minchin
Martin DalyJohn O’NeillJames FarrellJohn Ryan
Tom FoleyPat RyanThomas Tennant


In Killoughternane the walls of the original church founded by St. Fortchern are still to be seen. Its history can be traced back to the time of St. Patrick. Some of St. Patrick’s early converts to the faith were the High Kings and chieftains’ families of Meath and Royal Tara. Fortchern, a nephew of the High King, was among those and he became one of our first native Irish clergy. He was soon appointed bishop of Meath but, feeling unsuited to that high office, he soon left in search of a more peaceful setting. He finally settled in Killoughternane – a more peaceful place couldn’t be found, even in the 20th century. There he built a small oratory and established a school to which many came for instruction in “literature and virtue”. One of his most famous pupils was St. Finnian – a native of Myshall parish – who later founded the famous Clonard Monastery in Meath. The reason for the exact location of the church is probably the existence of a well nearby. The well was considered important as a source of water which was necessary for baptising the many early converts to Christianity.

Over a century ago, Dr. Comerford, bishop of the diocese, who had a keen interest in local history found some reference to the well in his studies. The well at that time was completely lost sight of and almost forgotten. However, he had found a reference to it that gave its exact position with regard to the old church. He enlisted the help of two local men – Mr. O’Connell and a Mr. Barrett. They took measurements according to Dr. Comerford’s instructions and after some digging they unearthed the first of the nine steps leading down to the well. They continued digging and soon unearthed all nine steps at the bottom of which there was a well.

This was not the real well, Dr. Comerford informed them, but he pointed to a spot a few paces away from the bottom step and there they discovered the real one. This, he said, was blessed. Knowledge of the finding of the Blessed Well quickly spread and it became a place of pilgrimage.

Mr. O’Connell, who lived nearby, asked an old lady Betty O’Hara to look after the well. In a dry year, when the water in the well was running very low, Betty decided to clean out the bottom of the well to give the spring a better chance of working.

In the course of her operations she came upon a mysterious mud-encrusted object which she immediately concluded must be sacred. She handed it over to Mr. O ‘Connell in whose house it remained for some time, until, the story goes, a travelling tailor began scraping at it. Having worked at it for a while, they found to their amazement that it was a chalice and paten.

Ballinkillen Chalice

On the occasion of the house station Mr. O’Connell showed it to the parish priest who took it and handed it over to Dr. Comerford. He sent it away for restoration and a magnificent job was done. It was then kept in the bishop’s house at Braganza, which is why it was called the Braganza Chalice.

The chalice measures 8.5 inches in height and weighs 18 ozs. 7 dwts. It is made of silver deeply overlaid with gold. The cup, which is tulip shaped, springs from an open rose of six petals, each alternate leaf being ornamented and the others displaying a nibbled pattern. The nodus of the stem is melon-shaped and the base is hexagonal. On the base there is a representation of the Crucifixion, the sacred monogram ‘I.H.S.’ and also the word ‘Maria’. Underneath the foot of the chalice is the Latin inscription – “F. Joanes Lucarme fieri fecit cum licentia superiorum 1595, ora pro eo” – which translated is – Fr. John Lucar had me made with the permission of his superiors in 1595, pray for him.

The Fr. Lucar referred to was a Franciscan priest from Waterford. The paten like the chalice is overlaid thickly with gold, is plate shaped and weighs 3 ozs. 5 dwts. The chalice was so admired that many replicas have been made and are being used by priests as far away as the United States.

Now the question is how did the chalice come to be in St. Fortchern’ s Well? The most likely answer is that it happened during the penal times when priests were forbidden, under pain of death, to say mass. It is thought probable that some priest, who was carrying his mass equipment with him celebrating mass at mass rocks and secret places in the district, found himself hotly pursued by priest-hunters. In order to rid himself, for the time being, of incriminating evidence he wrapped the chalice and paten in a surplice, perhaps, and deposited the bundle in the well.

He probably intended to return and retrieve them at an opportune time. The fact that both chalice and paten were taken from the well in one mud-encrusted lump would indicate that they had actually been wrapped in some material. It is not known what happened to the priest. But seeing that he didn’t return for his possessions it is likely that he was caught by his pursuers.

The esteem in which the faith is still held is evident in the way in which the Holy Well and surrounding area have been cared for and tended by the local people and by the large numbers who attend the open-air mass there every year.

Cardinal Moran and Ballinkillen
Cardinal Moran’s parents are buried in the churchyard adjoining the church in Ballinkillen. His father, Patrick Moran, and mother, Alicia (nee Cullen), sister of Cardinal Cullen, lived in Ballyellen before moving to Leighlinbridge. Cardinal Moran was born in Leighlinbridge in 1830. The family was steeped in ecclesiastical tradition. His grand-uncle, Fr. James Maher, born in Donore, was one of the outstanding churchmen and nationalist leaders of the time and later became parish priest of Carlow-Graigue.

His uncle Fr. Paul Cullen, was to become Rector of the Irish College in Rome, Archbishop of Armagh, and in 1866, Ireland’s first Cardinal. Cardinal Moran was educated in Rome where he remained for many years in the Irish College of which he became Vice-Rector. He came to Dublin as secretary to his uncle in 1866 and later was appointed coadjutor bishop, and then bishop of Ossory. Acknowledged as a prominent educationalist, he extended St. Kieran’s Diocesan College, founded schools, convents and orphanages and worked for the spiritual, educational and material benefit of his flock during his twelve years in Kilkenny.

The mainly Irish born bishops of Australia petitioned the Holy See to appoint Bishop Moran to Sydney. In 1884 he was appointed Archbishop of Sydney and just one year later Pope Leo XIII recalled him to Rome and raised him to the College of Cardinals. During his years in Australia from which he returned home twice, Cardinal Moran built many schools, hospitals and orphanages. He founded a second seminary to train priests for missionary work in the Pacific islands.

He also fought for and with the underprivileged, backing strikes he considered just, speaking out against injustice everywhere and striving for a more humanitarian penal code. The Cardinal also supported Home Rule for Ireland, unity and Federation in Australia and the growth of the Australian Labour Party. During his last visit to Ireland in 1902 he visited Ballinkillen churchyard to pray at the graves of his parents. He died in 1911.

Religious: Natives of Ballinkillen Area
Browne, Rev. Thomas, Coolnacuppogue.
He was educated at St. Joseph’s Academy, Bagenalstown, where he was a contemporary of Bishop Thomas Keogh. He studied for the priesthood in Maynooth and was ordained in Ennis by Bishop Fogarty of Killaloe in 1910. He ministered in Plymouth for two years and was then appointed to the staff of St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he was President from 1937-41. He was appointed parish priest of Portlaoise in 1941 and worked there for 35 years. The new church in Portlaoise was built during his administration. He died in 1983.

Byrne, Rev. Thomas, Rev. Luke, Dunroe
Great grandnephews of Rev. M. Prendergast. Having learned Latin with Mr. Malachy Ryan, Garryhill, they studied for the priesthood in Maynooth. Thomas was ordained in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow in 1897 and ministered in Hacketstown, Alien and Clonaslee where he was Administrator from 1908. While on a sick call one night he was involved in an accident and never fully recovered from his injuries. In 1915 he retired to his home at Dunroe where he remained until his death in 1943. He is buried in Ballinkillen. Luke after his ordination was appointed curate in Mountmellick. He subsequently worked as curate in Suncroft, Myshall, Clonegal, Hacketstown, Alien, Raheen, Ballyadams, Ballyconnell and Kiltegan. In 1930 he was appointed parish priest of Killeigh and during his administration there a new church was built in Raheen. He died in 1934.

Coady, Sr. Sabina, Conies.
She was educated in Ballinkillen N.S. And Presentation Convent, Bagenalstown. On leaving school she entered the Dominican Order in Rome and is the only survivor of a group of five sisters who were sent from Rome to South Africa in 1933 where she worked as a teaching sister. She celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in Transvaal in October 1992.

Donohue, Rev. Michael, Ballyellen.
He studied for the priesthood in Rome where he was ordained on 22 May 1905 and celebrated his First Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter. He worked as curate in Carlow until 1908 when he joined the staff of St. Patrick’s College, Carlow. He became Rector of Knockbeg in 1920 where he worked until his death in 1927 at 44 years of age. He is buried in the College cemetery in Carlow. There is a plaque to his memory at the door of the chapel in Knockbeg.

Doyle, Sr. Margaret, Conies.
She was educated at Ballinkillen N.S. And Brigidine Convent, Tullow, where she entered in 1968. She graduated from Mary Ward College and Nottingham University in 1975. She went to Australia in 1988 and worked as an exchange teacher there for two years. For the past two years she is teaching part-time and studying biodynamic psychology and psychotherapy in West London.

Kearney, Rev. Thomas, Glennaharry.
He was ordained in 1814 and was curate in Dunleckney for three years until his death in 1817 at 27 years of age. He is buried in the old cemetery in Lorum.

Kearney, Rev. James / Rev. Denis / Rev. Jerome /, Lorum.
Nephews of Rev. Thomas. James was a student in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, from 1844 and was ordained in June 1848. The following September he went to Pittsburgh, USA, which was to be the scene of his life’s work. He died in 1903. Denis and Jerome were students in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow from 1851 and were ordained in 1856. They went to Pittsburgh on the invitation of Bishop O’Connor. Fr. Jerome was a regular visitor home. Kearney, Rev. Joseph 1861-1910, Lorum.

Nephew of Revs. James, Denis and Jerome. He was ordained in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, in 1885. He worked as a curate in Tullow before being appointed parish priest of Edenderry, where he died in 1910.

Kearney, Sr. Francis (1871-1963),Lorum.
She entered the Mercy Convent in Callan, Co. Kilkenny in 1887. Six months after the first nine Sisters of Mercy left Callan for Australia, at the request of Cardinal Moran, she joined them to make her noviciate at the Cottage Convent in Parramatta, North Sydney. She was professed in 1891 and gave more than 70 years of devoted service to the Order. She taught in the school there and between 1909 and 1939 she was three times elected superior and contributed immensely to the progress of the Congregation. She died in 1963. In 1967, as a tribute to her years of service to the school, a new senior class room block was named Francis Kearney House.

Kearney, Sr. Francis Xavier, Lorum.
She was educated in Ballinkillen N.S., Presentation Convent, Bagenalstown and Presentation Convent, Thurles. She entered the Presentation Convent, Carrick-on-Suir in 1923, where she taught in the national school, secondary school and secretarial school. She celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 1986.

Kearney, Sr. Cuthbert, Lorum.
She was educated at Ballinkillen N.S. And Presentation Convent, Bagenalstown. She entered the Sisters of St. John of God, Wexford, in 1925. After teacher training in Carysfort College she taught in Wexford from 1935 to 1942 when she transferred to Edenderry where she was principal from 1955 until her death in 1970.

Kearney, Sr. Margaret, Lorum.
She was educated at Ballinkillen N.S. And Presentation Convent, Bagenalstown. She entered the Sisters of St. John of God, Wexford, in 1956. After teacher training in Carysfort College, she taught in Wexford, Kilkenny and Dublin. She was teaching in Kilkenny until her death on 11th of January 1994 R.I.P..

McCabe, Br. Leonard, Clomoney.
He was educated at St. Joseph’s Academy, Bagenalstown. He entered the Patrician Brothers, Galway, where he died some years ago.

Maher, Rev. Patrick, Ballyellen.
He was ordained in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, in 1935. He joined the staff of Knockbeg College where he worked until 1941. He then ministered as curate in Baltinglass, Mountmellick and Ballinakill and was appointed parish priest of Emo in 1961 where he ministered until his death in 1981.

Maher, Rev. William, / Rev. John, Ballyloughan.
William was ordained in 1872 and worked in a number of parishes including Abbeyleix, Myshall, Paulstown, Naas and Killeigh. Due to ill health he returned to Ballyloughan in 1891 where he died in 1926. John was ordained in 1881 and was appointed curate in Stradbally and also worked in Hacketstown, Clonmore, Luggacurran and Monasterevan and was appointed parish priest in Clonaslee in 1903. He died in 1916.

Minchin, Sr. Vianney, Coolnacuppogue.
She was educated at Killoughternane N.S. And Convent of Mercy, Moate, Co. Westmeath. She entered the Convent of Mercy Navan, in 1942 where she taught until her retirement some years ago.

Nolan, Sr. May Leo, Killoughternane
Grandaunt of Eddie Neville. She entered the Loreto Convent, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, in 1890. She died in 1909.

O’Neill, Sr. Lillian, Coolnacuppogue.
She was educated at Garryhill N.S. And Presentation Convent, Bagenalstown. She entered the Order of Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace,Cabra, Newry, Co. Down in 1954. She is now Principal of Lady of Victories School in Landesville, New Jersey, USA

O’Rourke, Rev. Dan/ Rev. John, Lorum.
Dan was ordained in 1887 and worked as curate in Borris, Paulstown, Graiguenamanagh, Timahoe. He was appointed Administrator in Kill in 1903 and parish priest St. Mullins in 1907 and transferred to Alien in 1927 where he died in 1947. John was educated at Patrician College, Ballyfin and St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he was ordained in 1890. He was appointed curate in Killeigh and subsequently ministered in Kill, Kiltegan, Goresbridge and Timahoe. He was appointed parish priest in Ballyfin in 1916 where he ministered for 35 years until his death in 1952.

Ryan, Br. Arcadius, Curranree.
He was educated at Killoughternane N.S. And St. Joseph’s Academy, Bagenalstown. He joined the DC la Salic Noviciate in Castletown, Co. Laois, in 1929, qualified as a (cached in DC la Salic Training College, Waterford, in 1934. He taught at St. Stephen’s, Waterford, and Dundalk. Having taken a University Degree in 1943 he was appointed Principal of the Secondary School in Hospital, Co. Limerick. He transferred to Wicklow in 1958 where he was Director of Wicklow Community and headmaster of St. Joseph’s Academy. He also worked in DC la Salle College, Waterford, Ardee, Macroom and spent the last four years of his teaching career in Skibbereen. He spent the early years of his retirement in Mount la Salle, Ballyfermot, and later moved to Benevan and finally Miguel House, Castletown. In 1986 he celebrated his Golden Jubillee and died in 1990.

Thorpe, Sr. Margaret Bede, Kilgraney.
After the death of her husband in 1929 she went to Abbeyleix and setup a jam factory. She returned to Kilgraney in 1935 and lived there until 1948 when she joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary in Drogheda. She was professed on 25 October 1964 and died in 1966. She is buried in Drogheda.

Kilcumney was one of the many engagements fought under the leadership of Fr. John Murphy, the Patriot Priest of Boolavogue in 1798. After the Battle of Vinegar Hill, 21st June 1798, the Irish Army retreated to Wexford, which shortly proved untenable. One division commanded by Fr. John Murphy and Myles Byrne, hoping to create a diversion in the neighbouring counties and relieve the pressure on Wexford, advanced through Scollagh Gap into Carlow. At Killane a body of Yeomanry attempted to oppose their progress, but were routed and pursued to Killedmond. At this place, being strongly reinforced, the Yeomen resolved to make a stand, and with a considerable force of infantry and cavalry, attempted to oppose the passage of the Insurgents through the town, stationing themselves in the principal street. But they were unable to withstand the charge of the pikemen and fled after a brief resistance, setting fire beforehand to the village. Fr. John ordered the barracks they had occupied to be burned.

The Insurgents advanced on Goresbridge where the Fourth Dragoon Guards and the Wexford Militia attempted to bar the passage of the Barrow. When they arrived in sight of the crossing they were furiously charged by the cavalry, but sustained the fierce onset of their assailants and forced them to beat a hasty retreat on Kilkenny. The Militia, who do not appear to have offered serious resistance, were deserted by their Officer, who mounted behind a dragoon and galloped off. His men thereupon ceased firing and were made prisoners. Local tradition holds this engagement to have taken place at a ford in the Barrow above the present malthouse. The discovery of numerous skeletons during operations in an adjacent sandpit in 1936 would appear to confirm the accuracy of the tradition.

Advancing on Castlecomer in two divisions they fought successful engagements at Doonane and Coolbawn and took the town. On receipt of information that General Asgill, who had retreated without giving battle, was awaiting reinforcements from Kilkenny they retreated along the Ridge and encamped near Athy. With the exception of the Castlecomer colliers, who proved dangerous allies, none of the inhabitants of the localities on the line of march showed an inclination to rise.

Disappointed at the apathy shown and with their ranks appreciably thinned by desertion, the Insurgents decided to return through Scollagh Gap and made contact with the main divisions of the army which had marched North from Wexford on 21 June. Camp was made on Kilcumney Hill on June 25th. Want of food, continued fighting and prolonged marching in the sweltering mid-Summer heat had al 1 but exhausted the men when they arrived at Kilcumney Outposts were placed and the wounded brought to the centre of the camp.

Early next morning intelligence was received that the King’s troops were advancing on all sides to surround the hill. Those of General Asgill from Kilkenny, amounting to 1,200 men, and of Major Matthews, consisting chiefly of 500 of the Downshire Militia from Maryborough, surrounded the hill on three sides. At this juncture it was discovered that the Castlecomer colliers had deserted, taking with them the greater portion of the arms and ammunition.

After having withstood a connonading of about an hour Fr. Murphy ordered an advance on Scollagh Gap to secure at all costs this vital pass. Making the best use of the available gunmen, ably supported by their horsemen, the Insurgents forced their way through to Scollagh Gap. Those who still had ammunition formed a rearguard to cover the march through the pass. Taking cover behind rocks they either killed or wounded almost every officer who appeared at the head of his men and in pursuit of the Insurgents. The advance guard fought desperately and drove the enemy appearing from the other side before them.

About 140 local inhabitants were massacred by the troops and Yeomanry and the entire district burned and looted by the soldiery. Divisions of the Downshire and Wicklow Militias, with corps of the Queen’s County and Leighlin Bridge Yeomanry, distinguished themselves in the perpetration of these atrocities. Fr. Walsh’s Monument, Lower KilgreanyIt was dedicated to the memory of Rev. John Walsh, C.C. Borris, whose body was found at Lower Kilgreany on 31 July 1835.

He was born in Lower Grange in 1804 and his last ministry was in the parish of Borris. He took a prominent part in the national affairs of the time and was an ardent worker for the restoration of Catholic education which suffered so much under the penal laws. He endeavoured to put in action the freedom granted by Emancipation, and in thus claiming his right by law he often incurred the disfavour of Ms opponents who still wanted the penal code to operate.

The memorial is a Celtic cross of limestone standing 10 ft. 2 in. high. The cross is richly carved. The work on the cross was carried out by Mr. Michael Brennan, Royal Oak, and the railing was erected by Mr. Michael Byrne, Ballyloughan.
27 June 1993
Patricia Kearney