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KILCOCK, PARISH OF - Comerford's "Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin"

THE present parish of Kilcock comprises the ancient ecclesiastical divisions of Kilcock, Cloncurry, Sculloguestown, and Clonshambo.
Derives its name from St. Coca, virgin, whose chief feast was celebrated on the 6th of June. We find her name calendared in the Martyrology of Donegal also, at the 8th January: " Cuach, virgin, of Cil-Cuaigh in Cairbre na Ciardha;" and again, in the same, under date April 29th : "Coningen, i. Cuach i. Ci Finn Maighi." A gloss on this passage states that the maiden Coinengean, or Cuach, was the pupil or Daltha of Mac Tail, Bishop of Kilcullen. She is stated to have been sister of St. Kevin of Glendalough, of St. Attracta, and other saints. (See Loca Patr.,p. 150.note.) Colgan, it should be added, considers that this was a different person from the Patron Saint of Kilcock. In the life of St. Ciaran of Saighir, it is stated that "he used to go to the sea rock that was far distant in the sea (where his nurse, i,e., Coca, was ), without ship or boat, and used to return again." St. Coca was identified with this locality from a very early date. The Annals of Ireland record, in A.D.774, the Battle of Cill Coice, in which Fearghal, son of Donghal, son of Faelchu, lord of Forthatha-Laighean, was slain by the King Donnchadh. The Holy Well of the Saint, called Tubbermohocca, stood in what is now an enclosed yard in the town. About forty years ago, it was shut up by the occupant of the premises, and the stream diverted to what was considered a more convenient situation.
    The present very fine parochial Church was commenced in 1862, by the late Rev. Willian Treacy, P.P., who had expended £1,000 on the work, when he was called to his reward. He left, partly of his own means, and partly the result of subscriptions received, £3,000 towards its completion, to effect which cost some £6,000 more. It is in the early Gothic style, from a design by MacCarthy, and consists of chancel, nave, and aisles, with a massive tower 108 feet in height; including the tower, which is at the west end, the church is 131 feet in length, and is 60 feet in width. It was dedicated to the service of God, under the invocation of St. Coca, in 1867. Over the grave of the founder, within the church, a monumental brass bears the following inscription: "Sacred to the revered memory of Rev. William Treacy, who had been 24 years P.P. of Kilcock; the founder of this church,- who departed this life on the 25th May, 1862, in the 59th year of his age. This monument was erected by his affectionate brother, Rev. Felix Treacy, P.P. Balyna." The beautiful and costly High Altar, and a fine stained-glass window over it, are also memorials of Father Treacy, erected by the parishioners. In the porch, let into the wall, is a marble monument, removed from the old church, having the following epitaph: "To the memory of the Very Rev. Dr. Murphy, P.P.of the united parishes of Kilcock and Cloncurry, and V.G. of the Diocese of Kildare, who departed this life July 9th, 1816, in the 52nd year of his age. This monument is erected by the Protestant and Roman Catholics Inhabitants of said parishes, to testify their high esteem for his most amiable and exemplary character. Munus parvum quidem, sed magnam testatur amorem. A.D. 1817." Another monument, formerly inserted in the wall of the old church, but now in the grounds near the present vestry, has the following: "Here lieth the body of the Rev. Dr. Dunne, P.P., of Kilcock, and V.G. of the Diocese of Kildare. He departed this life the 6th of March, 1796. His ardent zeal, and unwearied attention to his flock, will live for ever in the grateful minds of all his parishioners. May he rest in peace. Amen. Hodie mihi; cras tibi." And, on the same slab: "Also the body of the Rev. James Dempsey, P.P., Kilcock. He died, Feb. 28th, 1801."
    In 1872, the fine schools of the Christian Brothers, dedicated to St, Joseph, were erected at a cost of £1,800. The commodious residence of the Brothers is situate on the opposite side of the street.
    The Presentation Convent, dedicated to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, has been built as a novitiate for the Foreign Missions, to which the Sisters are sent after Profession. This Convent was established in 1879, by the late Mother M. Teresa Comerford, who, with three other sisters, came from San Francisco for that purpose.
    St. Coca is the patron of the parish of Kilcock; but the former parish church was dedicated to our Blessed Lady Assumed into Heaven. This appears from the Parish Register, in which the parish is styled Parochia Stae.Cogae; and the church, Ecclesia Assumptae Virginis de Kilcock. According to local tradition, a religious house formerly stood on the spot lately occupied by the Kilcock National school.
Cluain-Conaire, i.e., "Conary’s Meadow,") formerly constituted a distinct parish. In old records it is often called Cluain-Conaire-Tomain, to distinguish it from another Cloncurry, styled Cluain-Conaire-Maeldubh, near Rathangan, in this county. Tomain appears to be a proper name, and probably was that of one of our early saints. In the Martyrology of Tallaght, we find, at 12th June, the entry_ "Tommeni Mac h Birn i. Ailithir Lochauane." This holy pilgrim (Ailithir) belonged to the sixth century, and, very probably, was in some way identified with this locality.
    The Saint chiefly connected with Cloncurry is Ninine, or Monine, whose feast is marked in our calendars at the 16th September. Thus the Martyrology of Tallaght has the entry: " Monenn Cluana Conaire;" and the Martyrology of Donegal, "Maoineann, Bishop of Cluain Conaire, in the north of Ui Failan." Some authorities suppose this saint to have been Ninidh Lamoidhan, or of the pure hand, who attended Saint Brigid when dying; but the weight of authority seems to be in favour of St. Ninian, so celebrated as a missioner in Scotland, in the fourth century; and Archbishop Moran unhesitatingly adopts this opinion. His Grace thus writes in his Irish Saints in Great Britain, p.133: " It was amongst the Gallgaedhels of Galloway that another ornament of the British Church, St. Ninian, was born, about the year 360. Of this family only two traditions have come down to us: one is the tradition of Scotland, that Ninian was nephew of St. Martin of Tours; the other is a tradition of the Irish Church, preserved by Ussher, that it was in compliance with a request made to him by his mother, that, in his old age, he set out to associate himself with St. Palladius in the conversion of Ireland. We might, perhaps, from this fact, conjecture that she herself belonged to the Gaelic race. Being arrived at the age of manhood, Ninian proceeded to Rome. Alaric had not as yet knocked at the gates of the devoted city. In the full majesty of imperial sway, it was still at the golden height of its wealth and material splendour; and its palaces and forums and public monuments displayed all the profusion of magnificence with which the plunder of the world had enriched the proud mistress of nations. Pope Damasus then ruled the Church of God, and, with the blessings of peace, religion smiled on the seven hills. Silver and gold and precious marbles enriched the Basilicas devoted to Christian worship; the shrines of the martyrs were adorned with the most costly gems; the learning of St. Jerome and St. Ambrose added lustre to its sacred teaching, and Rome was, even then, not only the source of spiritual authority, but also the great centre of religious life, and of the love and affection of the Christian world.
    "For about twenty years St. Ninian lived in Rome….. Being at length consecrated Bishop, he set out for his native Galloway, to merit by his sanctity and missionary labours the title of its chief apostle. On his homeward journey he remained for some time at Marmoutiers, to enjoy the heavenly lessons of wisdom of its great founder, St. Martin of Tours ; and Aelred, in his Life of our Saint, mentions that he brought with him from the monastery some skilled masons, by whose aid he desired to erect in his native district a Church on the model of those which he had seen in Italy and France. He chose for its site a sheltered spot on the southern promontory of Galloway….. The Church was built of chiselled stone, a style of edifice, as Bede states, till then unknown in N. Britain, from which circumstance it became known as Candida Casa, and in the British language it was called Whitherne, or the White House, which name, Whithorn, it retains to the present day. We learn from Ven. Bede that whilst engaged in erecting this Church, Ninian received intelligence of St. Martin’s death, and so convinced was he of the sanctity of that holy man, that he at once chose him for his patron in his missionary labours, and dedicated the Church to God under his invocation. St. Martin most probably died in the year 402. I need not dwell upon the apostolic labours of St. Ninian. He penetrated into the Pictish territory far beyond the British frontier, and, at his preaching, as Bede attests, many of the southern Picts forsook idolatry and became fervent children of God. He was remarkable, like most of the early Celtic Saints, for his austerities …… Like St. Martin, he loved to withdraw himself, from time to time, from the busy world in which he laboured, to renew his spirit by meditation on heavenly things. The cave is still pointed out on the sea-shore of Wigtonshire in Galloway, whither he was wont to retire. It is placed high up in a white lofty precipitous range of rocks, against which the impetuous waves of the stormy Irish sea unceasingly spend their fury. The cave is open to the winds and spray, but runs inward about twenty feet. At the mouth it is twelve feet high and about as many in breadth, and it is only accessible by climbing from rock to rock." (1)
    The death of this saint is marked by Scottish writers as having occurred in the year 432 ; his remains were interred in St. Martin’s Church, and were honoured by many miracles. St. Ninian is commemorated in our Irish calendars on the 16th of September, under the name of Monennio, and it is a very ancient tradition, preserved in the Festology of St.Aengus and other authentic records, that a few years before his death he came to Ireland to aid Palladius, and erected at Cluain Conaire, now Cloncurry, in the north of the present County of Kildare, an oratory and religious institution which reproduced in miniature the great Church and Monastery of Whitherne. Bishop Forbes gives a list of more than sixty Churches, dedicated to him throughout Scotland; and Chalmers, in his Caledonia, writes that " the name of St. Ninian was venerated in every district of Scotland, and in the northern and western Isles."
    The Four Masters record the death of an abbot of this Monastery of St. Ninian, in the year 869: " A.D. 869, Colga, son of Maetuile, abbot and anchorite of Cluain- Conaire-Tomain, died." As in the case of Whitherne, so also in that of Cloncurry, St. Ninian appears to have dedicated the Church to St. Martin of Tours conjointly with the B. Virgin. About the year 1210, we learn from King, p.165, a grant was made to the Abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin by Adam de Hereford, of the Church of St. Mary and St. Martin in Cloncurry,in the diocese of Kildare, etc. ; and it was agreed that the Canons of St. Thomas’s Abbey should, for ever, serve the said Church by two Canons or Priests.- Witness, C. Bishop of Kildare. (Cornelius MacGelan). The Bishop who witnessed this deed had been previously rector of Cloncurry. " In 1206," Ware states, "Cornelius MacGelan, Rector of the Church of Cloncurry, afterwards Archdeacon of Kildare, was lawfully chosen Bishop, and consecrated that year." In 1247 it was settled between Warin, Abbot of St. Thomas’s, Dublin, and Ralph de Pippard, that the Churches of Cloncurry, Castlewarden, and Oughterard, tithes, lands, rents, etc., were the sole right of the Abbot of St.Thomas’s Abbey; and the Abbot engaged that Ralph, his ancestors and successors, should be for ever partakers in all prayers, masses, etc., made and offered up in their Church. – King, p.167
    In 1329 William de Cloncurry was Abbot of St.Thomas’s Dublin. – Id. 284
    A.D. 1347. A Carmelite Friary, under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was founded here by John Roche, who obtained a licence for so doing from King Edward the III.- (Ware.) This house, together with the village, was burnt by some of the Irish septs in 1405; it appears, however to have been restored, and continued to exist till the suppression.
    An Inquisition, taken the Wednesday next after the feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop, 1543, finds that, on the 30th April, 1540, the Prior of this house was seized of a Church and belfry, chapter-house, dormitory, hall, two chambers, a kitchen, an orchard, 3 cottages, and 10 acres of arable land in Cloncurry,- annual value, besides reprises, 12s.8d. (Chief Remembrancer.)
    January 18th, 1544, this Friary, with ten acres of land in Cloncurry, was granted, for ever, in capite, to William Dickson, at the annual rent of 8d., Irish money ; and 31st of May, 1566, this Friary, with one messuage, one cottage, 28 acres of arable land, and 7 of pasture adjoining the same, was granted to Richard Slayne, for 21 years, at the yearly rent of 16s.-(Auditor-General.) By an Inquisition held at Naas, 30th March, 1618, it was found that Andrew Forster, late of Ballinskeagh, in Co Meath, died March 17th, 1602, seized of this Monastery, with a Church, dormitory, and hall, and ten acres of arable land thereunto belonging; and that all the said premises were held of the king, in capite, by military service, namely, the 20th part of a knight’s fee ; and that they were worth 12d. annually, besides reprises. (Lib. Inquis.)
    The Manor of Cloncurry became the property of the Aylmer family, whose ancient castle was defended for the Parliament in 1643, by Colonel Monk, but had to be abandoned for want of provisions.
    The ruins of a Church still remain at Cloncurry, but whether it be that of St. Mary and St. Martin, assigned to the Augustinians, in 1210, or that pertaining to the Carmelite friary, founded in 1347, cannot be well ascertained. It is more likely to be the latter, which we find referred to as still existing in 1618. – Vide antea. This Church was some 75 feet in length, by 30 in width; the walls are three feet 8 in. Two narrow windows are in the west gable, which terminates in a double belfry. The doorway is in the southern wall. A large mound, probably the site of a fortified residence, stands to the north-west of the ruins. A large plain mausoleum, belonging to the Aylmer family, adjoins the Church. The surrounding graveyard is still used. A tablet set in the wall bears the following inscription:- "Sacred to the memory of John Lubie, Esq., who died on the 28th May, 1862, at the early age of 27 years. His remains are buried in Glasnevin. He directed this tablet to be erected at the family vault, Cloncurry, near the home of his ancestors, where his uncle, Denis George Lubie, Esq., late of Corkernstown, lies interred, and where a mural monument within the chancel commemorates the grave of their ancestor, William Lubie, of the ancient O’Conor Faly sept, a distinguished officer of King James’s army, who died, A.D. 1703."
    The subjoined references to this locality are found in our Irish Annals :-
    "A.D. 586. The battle of Magh-Octair (Oughteranny) was gained by Bran Dubh, son of Eochaidh over the Ui-Neill, at the hill over Cluain-Conaire, to the south." (Four Masters.)
    "A.D.778 (recte 783,O’D.) Domhnall, son of Flaithoniadh, chief of Offaly, was slain at Cluain-Conaire. (Id)
    A.D.837. A great royal meeting at Cluain-Conaire-Tomain, between Niall Caille and Feidhlimidh, son of Crimthenn."-(Id.)
    "A.D.1137. Moyleisa, called Crossan Fyn O’King, arch-poet of Ireland, in that kind of Irish verse called Crossanaght, died at Clonconrie, in Lynster."(Annals of Clonmacnoise.)
    " A.D. 1171. A predatory incursion was made by the people of the son of the Earl, in which he plundered Cluain-Conaire-Gailinne and Laraghbrine." (Four Masters.)
    The name of "William Weldon, Vicar of Cloncurry,"appears in a State Paper, 4 and 5 William and Mary, - (Morrin’s Pat. Rolls;)- and also in a Commission, 1° Elizabeth, which, as it includes the names of several persons connected with this county and locality, is here inserted in full:-
    "Commission to Gerald, Earl of Kildare; Roland Eustace, Viscount Baltinglass; Thomas (Leverous) Bishop of Kildare; Sir John Allen; Sir Maurice FitzThomas; Francis Cosby, of Even, (Monasterevan) Sheriff of Kildare; Thomas Allen, of Kilheele (Kill), Clerk of the Hanaper; Henry Cowley, of Carbry, one of the Captains ; Richard Aylmer, of Lyons; John Sutton, of Tipper; Nicholas Wogan, of Rathcoffie; James Eustace, of Clongoweswood ; John Eustace, of Castle-Marten; John Eustace, of Newland; Nicholas Eustace, of Cradokeston; Gerald Sutton, of Connal; Gerald FitzMorish, of Allen; Maurice FitzJames, of Osbertiston; James Flatisbury, of Johnston; Robert FitzGerald of Ponchersgrange; Thomas Longe of Castlewaring; Alexander Eustace, of Kilrush; Thomas FitzEdmond, of Ballisagh.; Oliver Wogan, of Downings; Redmond Oge, of Rathangan; Walter Berminghame, of Donfert; John Berminghame, of Carrig; Richard Eustace, of Tullaghgory; -----Baron of Rebane; Gerald, Baron of Corrihill; John Donkerly, Portrieve, of the town of Naas; Thomas Philip, of Clane; Richard Eustace, of Blackrath; Edward Wesseley, of Crokeston; Richard Barron, of Tirrelston; John Barnewall, of Killgowne; William Weldon, vicar of Cloncurry; Edward Eustace, of Timollinbeg; and Richard Wale, of Frompoleston; to muster the inhabitants of the County of Kildare, and the crosses and marches thereof ; to cause them to be assessed and arrayed, according to the quantity of their goods and chattels, -to horses and arms of light cavalry, horsemen and footmen; -to take the array of all men in every barony and hundred, in the manner and form contained in the proclamation annexed ; and to remit the examination when taken to the Lord Justice." (Morrin, Pat. Rolls, 412)
    The Patron of the ecclesiastical district of Cloncurry,- according to the parochial Registers, which date back to 1773, - is St. Lambert, - Parochia Sti. Lamberti de Cloncurry." Whether this be St. Lambert, Bishop of Maestrict, who suffered martyrdom in 709, and whose feast occurs on the 17th Sept., or one of our Irish saints, in a Latinized form of his name, which is more likely, it is difficult to determine.
    In Cloncurry townland the socket of a stone cross is still to be seen. It had an inscription in raised Roman capitals, of which only the word Amen remains. In the adjoining townland of Kilbrock there is a holy well, dedicated to St. Brigid.
(i.e., "the small farmer’s town"),or Sculloguestown, is another of the ancient parochial districts now included in the union of Kilcock. The site of the old parish church is within the demesne of Hortland, so called from Hort, sometime Protestant Bishop of Kildare, who, having purchased property here, set about building himself a mansion, and for that purpose made use of the materials of the old church. This house is but seldom occupied, and but for short periods; a fatality, which is ascribed to the profanity just referred to, and which fully explains the total disappearance of the old church. The place, however, is still used for interments, and, in the graveyard, an ancient baptismal font is seen, and hard-by, an ancient mound of considerable proportions. The fine Gothic chapel-of-ease at Newtown, is situated in the parish of Sculloguestown. It was erected by the Rev.William Tracey, P.P., at a cost of £3.000. The Very Rev. Dr. Murphy was first interred in the graveyard of Newtown, but his remains were afterwards removed to the new church. Over his grave a mural monument has been erected bearing the following inscription:- "Juxta hoc marmor jacet Adm. Rev..dus Arthur Murphy, hujus Parochiae Pastor et Dioeces. Dar et Leighl. Vic. Gen. Gregi dilectus et Fratrum commendatione sedisque Apostolicae electu dignissimus qui ad Episcopatus celsitudenem eveheretur quam tamen humilis reliquit. Omnibus carus ut testatur ejus reliquiis superpositus lapis quoque in Ecclesiam istam translatae fuerunt die xxxi. Kal. Dec. Anno Rep. Sal. MDCCCXXXIX. Vivente adhuc in Benedictione memoria ejus. Req. in Pace. Amen."
    The patronal feast of the parish of Sculloguestown is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, as appears from the parochial register, in which it is styled, Parochia Natae Virginis de Sculloguestown."
    A slab placed over the front door of Newtown church bears the following inscription: -"Pray for Rev. William Treacy, who faithfully served God in this Parish during 32 years; - 8 years as Curate, 24 as Parish Priest. To whose ready and unsparing liberality, and still more unsparing exertions the Parish is mainly indebted for the erection of this Church. May the Lord have mercy on his soul. Amen.
    In the Return of the State of Popery made in 1731, it is stated that " Kilcock hath a Mass-house built before the reign of his late majesty King George (1st);"and that "Cloncurry hath a Mass-house as old as Kilcock."
(Cluain-seann-both, i.e., "the meadow of the old tent or hut"); this parish may have derived its name from the hermit’s cell of one of the saints who made it their abode. St. Garbhan, brother of St. Kevin of Glendalough, was culted here on the 14th of May. In the Life of St. Kevin it is related that at one time he was inclined to wander about as a pilgrim, but St. Garbhan (probably of Clonshanbo) prevented him by observing that "it was not by flying, birds hatched their eggs."
    The patron saint of this district is St. German; the parochial register has "Parochia Sti. Germani de Clonshanbo;" and in Bishop MacGeoghegan’s list of parish churches, compiled about 1640, we find Ecclesia Sti. Germani de Cluenseannbo set down. Which of the saints of that name was patron here it is not easy to determine. St. Patrick having preached the Gospel in this locality, gives probability to the supposition, that St. German, Bishop of Auxerre, the great spiritual guide under whose direction our National Saint prepared himself for the future Apostleship of Ireland, some say, for 14 years, others, for so many as 30 years, - is meant. Another opinion is that St. German, nephew of St. Patrick, who helped him in his missionary labours, and was afterwards the first Bishop of the Isle of Man, was the saint honoured at Clonshanbo. There is yet another theory on this subject. In the Life of St. Ciaran of Saighar, mention is made of a holy hermit named Geaman, or Gemman, who is called German by Colgan, and is identical with a bard of that name "who lived in Leinster, near the confines of Meath." It is related that St. Columba, after receiving the Holy Order of Deaconship in the monastery of St. Finian of Mohill, set out for Leinster, and became a pupil of this Gemman, then advanced in years, and after passing some time with him, he entered the monastic school of Clonard (Loca. Patr., p.298). Between these three the choice seems to lie. The second-name is honoured in the Martyrology of Tallaght, at the 30th of July: German MacGuill. A greater even than St. German was here; St. Patrick sanctified this locality by his presence and his apostolic labours. The author of the Loca Patriciana, tracing our saint’s progress from Meath to Leinster, remarks that he appears to have followed the Boyne from Bective across the ford of Ath-ui-Lilcach to Ard-Braccan,…. thence to Trim, and southwards towards Leinster, on the confines of which was the church of Cill Duma Glyn, where he left his nephew, Mogenoc, the brother of Braccan, of Ardbraccan. This place is now represented by Kil Glyn, in the parish of Balfeaghan, near Kilcock, between which and Cloncurry he crossed over to Leinster. The Book of Armagh thus details his progress:-"Et perexit ad fines Lageniensium, ad Druim Ur- chaille, et point ibi domum martyrum, quae sic vocatur, quae sita est super viam magnam in valle, et est hic petra Patricii in via." Clonshanbo lies between these places.
("lower church, or wood") in the district of Kilcock, lying in the direct way between Kilglyn and Cloncurry, is the site of an ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Patrick, as we learn from Dr. Ross MacGeoghegan’s list: Capella Sti. Patritii de Killieghterhyery. In this townland there is a holy well, dedicated to St. Patrick; many pilgrims frequented it up to the beginning of the present century; it is situated within the graveyard, and hence its water is not used.
    In the townland of Grange, about two miles from Kilcock, there is a disused burial-ground, which was heretofore the site of a church, as is evident from its name, Cruitheen-na-Thompull, "the humpy-hill of the church." This, no doubt, is the Capella de Grangamore of Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list. There are traces of graves, though no interments have taken place within the memory of those now living; the outline of a small building can also be traced amongst the graves.
    The State Papers record an Indictment (in Latin), dated May, 1538, against Peter FitzGerald, late of the Great Grange, near Cloncurry, Maurice Bacagh FitzGerald, Edmond Ashbold of Maynooth, servant of Lord Leonard Grey, and James FitzGerald of Ballysonnan, for instigating Kedagh O’More of Stradbally, Shane M’Coyn of Kildare, and Neale Lalor of Disart, Gent., to steal cows and horses from the Earl of Ormond and Alexander FitzTurlough of the Great Grange. By this indictment it appears that Stephen-ap-Harry, of Rathangan, Gent., a Welsh captain in command of certain of the Royal troops, actually received ten cows of the said Kedagh for comfort and favour.
    On the road-side, in this neighbourhood, is to be seen one of those capped stones, supposed to have been connected with the religious rites of the Druids; the cap has fallen off and lies on the ground; on one face of the stone is a grotesque figure carved, with outstretched arms and spread fingers.
    At a bend in a private road leading to the residence of Mr. Colgan of Clonsast, a spot is pointed out where, it is said, Mass used to be offered in penal times.
    Of the rampart which formerly formed the boundary and protection of the Pale, about two furlongs remain, in the parish of Kilcock; it is again met with in the adjoining parish of Clane.
    The Registry of 1704, gives the names of no less than three Pastors in connexion with the present Parish of Kilcock, viz.:-
    1. LAURANCE WALSH, residing at Graigpottle, (this is in the parish of Clane), aged 52, Parish Priest of Kilcock, Barrine (Balrahin, this is part of parish of Clane,) and Cloncurry; ordained, 10th August, 1680, at Kilkenny, by Dr. James Phelan; sureties, John Wogan, of Rathcoffy, Gent., and Simon MacEvey of Graigesallagh, farmer.
    2. WILLIAM BALFE, residing at Scullogstown, aged 29, Parish Priest of Scullogstown, ordained, June 27th, 1698, at Cork, by Dr. John Sleyne, Bishop of Cork; sureties, Simon MacEvey of Graigesallagh, farmer, and Peter Welsh of Donecomfort, farmer.
    3. PATRICK FAGAN, aged 29, Parish Priest of Clonshanboe, residing at Clonshanboe, ordained, 1698, at Cork, by the same Bishop; sureties, John Hallian, of Leixlip, farmer, and John Doran of Gilltown, farmer.
    The probability is that Father Walsh, the first named, was the Pastor, and that the other were his assistants.
    The next Parish Priest of whom we find mention made was named MURPHY. The Report made in NOV. 1731 , (see Vol. I., p. 263), says : - "One Murphy is lately come here (Kilcock), and officiates as Parish Priest. I suppose his Christian name is Luke, but could not be certainly informed. There is another who goes by the name Father Waldrum Kelly, who lives at Mr. Reddy’s, but whether he officiates publicly or privately I cannot tell." And, in Cloncurry, it states:-" Cloncurry is served by Andrew Egan, a Popish Priest. There is another, called John Cormick, who says private Masses in their families."
    A Parliamentary Return, dated 10th April, 1766, states that in the union of Kilcock there are two Popish Priest, but their names are not given.
    From the Parish Register, which dates back to 1771, we learn that JOHN MC KENNA was then Parish Priest, and his curate was JOHN DORAN. Father McKenna must have ceased to be Pastor of Kilcock between January 28th, 1776, and April 14th same year; at the former date the last entry in the Register by Father McKenna appears, and at the latter date the first by succeeding Pastor is found.
    RICHARD O’REILLY was the next P.P. His memoir (see Vol. I., P.275), states that he was born in 1746, that he was a native of the Diocese of Kildare, and was educated at Propaganda. He was ordained in 1770, and was appointed P.P. of Kilcock in 1776,and subsequently Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. In 1781, he was consecrated Coadjutor Bishop to Dr. Keeffe, the ceremony taking place in the Parish Chapel of Kilcock. Dr. Carpenter, Archbishop of Dublin, was the consecrating Prelate, assisted by Drs. Troy of Ossory and Plunkett of Meath. After his consecration, Dr. O’Reilly still continued to discharge the duties of Pastor of Kilcock until, in 1782, he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, to which See he succeeded, and where he died, January 31st, 1818. His Biography describes Dr. O’Reilly as a member of an old and respectable family, and as possessed of an independent fortune. It is strange that nothing certain regarding the particular family to which Dr. O’Reilly belonged can be discovered. It however appears very probable that he was son, or at least a near relative, to R. O’Reilly, Esq., of Kildangan Castle, Monasterevan. The latter was certainly settled at Kildangan previous to the birth of Dr. O’Reilly, in 1746. Dr. O’Reilly’s last entry in the Kilcock Register is dated March 1782.
    DANIEL KEEFE succeeded. His entries in Register go back to June, 1782; he had two assistants, viz.:-Nicholas Flood, afterwards P.P. of Newbridge, and John Cregan. Father Keefe’s handwriting disappears from the Register in December, 1786, about which time he appears to have died.
    DR PATRICK DUNNE, afterwards V.G., was next P.P. He died, 6th March, 1796, and lies interred at Kilcock.
    REV. JAMES DEMPSEY was the successor to Dr. Dunne; he died, February 28th, 1801, and appears to have been buried in the same grave with his immediate predecessor; they are commemorated on the same tomb.
    DR. ARTHUR MURPHY, who was also V.G., next had charge of this Parish. On the death of the Bishop, Dr. Delany, 9th July, 1814, Dr, Murphy was elected Vicar-Capitular, and on the occasion of naming a successor to the See the clergy unanimously selected Dr. Murphy for that position. His appointment as Bishop was made by Propaganda, September 19th, 1814, and received the approval of the Pope on the 29th of the same month. He, however, persistently declined the proffered dignity, and continued P.P. of Kilcock up to the period if his death, which took place on the 9th of July, 1816. Dr. Murphy was great-uncle to the present illustrious Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Moran.
    THE REV. JOHN DUNNE succeeded; he was translated to the Parish of Portarlington in 1822. The inscription on his tomb at Killinard in that parish, where he is interred, states that he was ordained in 1806, was 26 years a priest, and 16 Dean of Kildare; was P.P. of Kilcock, and subsequently of Killinard and Emo, and died, August 14th, 1832, aged 53 years.
    REV. FRANCIS HALY was named successor to the vacant parish, over which he continued to preside until, on the death of Bishop Nolan, 1837, he was chosen by the clergy, dignissimus, and his selection as Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin was made by Propaganda on the 28th December, 1837, the approval of the Sovereign Pontiff being given on the same day. A sketch of the Life of this Prelate may be seen, in Vol. I.,p.140. He died at Carlow on Sunday, 19th August, 1855, and is interred in the Cathedral.
    It will be in place, here, to notice a grave misstatement made, regarding Dr. Haly, by Lord Cloncurry, in his Personal Recollections. The following is the passage:-
    "The cause of quarrel," his lordship states, (that is, between the Catholics and the Kildare-place Society,) "was the determination of the Society to force the reading of the Bible, without note or comment, in all the schools under their control, as the condition upon which assistance for their support would be afforded. I confess," he states, "I did not at first anticipated that any objection could be made to this condition; and I was strengthened in this belief by the circumstance, that some priests in my neighbourhood did comply with it, and received aid from the Society. This was done, I believe, through a sincere desire to procure the means of education for the people; and one reverend gentleman, who is now a Bishop, and to whose school I subscribed, did actually get the Bible read daily in the schoolroom by the permission of his diocesan (the celebrated Doctor Doyle), at the same time taking the precaution of rendering his submission to the rule of the Society innocuous to the consciences of his flock, by performing the obnoxious operation in the absence of the scholars. I am in no degree inclined," his lordships adds, "to justify pious frauds; but in this case there certainly was a good motive and end." – pp.375,376.
    Having directed the attention of the Very Rev. Dr. Geoghegan to this passage, the writer has been favoured with the following explanation, dated, Kilcock, December 23rd, 1883:- "I recollect perfectly well that, soon after the publication of the ‘Personal Recollections,’Dr. Haly came here on a visit. Whilst here, he read a copy of an admirable letter which he had addressed to Lord Cloncurry, in indignant denial that when he was P.P. of Kilcock, the Bible was ever read to empty benches in Newtown, or any other school in the Parish. I read Cloncurry’s reply, which the Bishop had also with him, and which was a cold apology for the grossly scandalous misstatement, with a promise to correct it in the next Edition of the Work, which, however, has not been published. I thought at the time, that Lord Cloncurry was let too passively out of the cleft."
    Lord Cloncurry, in his Work, explains the circumstances and motives which influenced his father to adopt Protestantism:-
    "Lord Cloncurry’s father, early in life, having been disgusted with Ireland, sought in France for the freedom which, either in reality or through fancy, Ireland did not afford. ‘He was not long, however,’" his lordship tells us, " ‘in finding out that they did not order things much better in France than in Ireland;’ and that, although nominally equal to his neighbours in religious caste, the Church made invidious distinctions in the distribution of her honours among the faithful. ‘My father,’ he adds ‘probably having previously experienced more substantial annoyances, was finally so nettled at the partiality shown by the cure in administering the honours of the censer to a neighbouring seigneur, whom he thought to have no right to be fumigated before himself, that he sold his estate, and returned to Ireland, where he conformed to Protestantism, and became thereby qualified to hold a territorial stake in the country.’"- Pp.18,19.
    REV. WILLIAM TREACY, who had been curate of Kilcock at the time when Dr. Haly was promoted to the Episcopate, succeeded him as pastor of the parish. After a zealous and successful pastorship, Father Tracey died on the 25th of May, 1862, and lies interred in the new Church of Kilcock, which he had founded.
    THE VERY REV. THOMAS GEOGHEGAN, who had served in the parish as Curate for a long period, returned as Pastor, on the death of Father Treacy. Doctor Geoghegan recived the appointment of Vicar-General of the United Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, on the death of the Very Rev. Dr. Kane in 1883.
 (1) The cave of St. Ninian at Physgill, was explored in June, 1884, for the Ayrshire and Wigtownshire Archaeological Association, under the superintendence of Sir Herbert Maxwell, M.P., and Mr. Cochran-Patrick, M.P., Secretary of Association of Antiquaries of Scotland. The result of their investigations is given in an interesting article, entitled Cave-Chapels, in Chambers Journal, August 16th, 1884.

Compiled edited by Mario Corrigan; typed by Brid and Maria; edited and checked by Niamh McCabe

A history of the Roman Catholic Parish of Kilcock by Rev. Comerford.

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