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Diocesan Heritage Project
Ardpatrick Parish

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Bishop Murphy's Park | Famous People | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

Ardpatrick is situated in the Southeast of the diocese, six miles south of Kilmallock on R512, the road to Kildorrery in the county of Cork. Ardpatrick is in the barony of Costlea. The village is on the eastern slope of the hill of Ardpatrick, and on the summit of that hill stand the remains of the monastery of Ardpatrick. The current population of the parish is approximately 550.

The name Ardpatrick is from the Irish 'Ard Phádraig' meaning the Height or Hill of Patrick. The ancient name of the hill was 'Tulach na Feinne' which means the hill of the Fianna. According to local tradition, the ruins on top of the hill of Ardpatrick are those of a monastery founded by St Patrick himself. The monastery of Ardpatrick was ruled by abbots drawn from the Déisí, the ruling Sept of An Déis Bheag, the territory in which the monastery was situated.

The parish of Ardpatrick was previously called Ballingaddy. Only recently did the parish revert to the name of Ardpatrick. The name Ballingaddy comes from Baile an Ghadaihe, the Town of the Thief. The thief was an Gadaihe Dubh Ua Dubháin, the Black Thief of O Duane.

Ardpatrick was once part of the ancient parish of Kilquane, but has been a parish in its own right since ancient times, although it was joined with Kilfinane during penal times. In 1704 John Rahilly was registered as parish priest of Kilfinane and Ardpatrick. In 1861 Ardpatrick was separated from Kilfinane, and was formed as a separate parish. Rev. Thomas McIneiry CC, Newcastle, was its first parish priest.

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries Ardpatrick monastery was at its peak, being second in importance only to Armagh. Armagh had founded a league of ecclesiastical centres, whose foundation was traditionally ascribed to St Patrick, called Paruchia Patricii. Ardpatrick became the chief centre of the Paruchia Patricii in Munster. On top of Ardpatrick hill, the ruins can still be seen of a church, which probably dates from the eleventh or twelfth century.

The remains can also be seen of what was presumably a residential building. Outside the walls of the churchyard, the stump of a tower can be seen. It was originally a round tower and later converted to a bell tower. The bell tower was possibly older than the church, though most of it had collapsed in a storm in 1824.

Five silver bells are said to have belonged to the monastery. Of these, three were found in the ruins of the tower and were carried away by excavators. Traces of a Holy Well are also to be seen outside the walls. On the 17th of March and on the 15th of August there is a pilgrimage to the hill. Mass is held on the hilltop on the last Sunday in August.

The slug of St Patrick's Cow's Horn, Leaba Rian Bó Phádraig, is an ancient entrenched roadway near the church. Locals claim that the stones at the entrance to the hill of Ardpatrick are the remains of what was once a road from Armagh to Ardpatrick. The Abbot of Armagh used this road to travel to Ardpatrick to collect his dues. During his time as Primate of Armagh, Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiadh commemorated this tradition by travelling to Ardpatrick where he met with Bishop Newman of Limerick in 1980.

The area surrounding Ardpatrick is steeped in legend and myth. A townland in Ardpatrick is called Glenosheen. The name is derived from Gleann Oisín, meaning the Glen of Oisín. According to legend, it was in this area that Oisín fell from his horse on his return from Tír na nÓg, and was transformed instantly into an old man.

The highest peak of the Ballyhouras is called Seefin, meaning Suí Finn, Fionn's seat, in reference to Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Ardpatrick hill was called Turlough na Fianna before the arrival of St Patrick.

In the mid eighteenth century, the local landlord Captain Oliver of Castleoliver, had a small colony of Palatines settled in Glenosheen. There are still a couple of Palatine families living in Glenosheen today.

Lord Colthurst of Blarney gave the land for the parochial house in 1888 to Canon Canty, on condition that rent of £2 per year was paid, £1 to be paid in March and the second £1 to be paid in September.

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The present church in Ardpatrick was built in 1835. It is located in the village, on the eastern slope of the hill of Ardpatrick. The Trench family of Castle Oliver gave the site. Fr James Carroll P.P renovated the church in 1928/29.

Inside the church there are two pictures by Jack Hanley hung on the walls. These pictures, one of St Patrick, the other of the baptism of Our Lord, were painted especially for the church.

The bell in the church grounds dates from 1856, and was donated by J. Murphy of Dublin. Also in the church grounds stands a statue of St Patrick, the patron saint of the parish.

Buried within the church is:

V. Rev. Fr John Kelly
Pastor 1890-1891

Buried in the church grounds are:

James Flynn, P.P. (native of Bohernagore)
Motherwell Diocese
Died April 11th, 1985
Aged 49.

Patrick O'Brien (native of the parish)
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Durbanville, South Africa
Died 6th July 1981,
Aged 73.

Mortimar McCoy, P.P.
P.P., 1919-1927
Died September 30th 1927
Aged 76.

The ruined church at Ardpatrick dates from the eleventh or twelfth century. The first church on this site may have dated from as early as the fifth century, but no trace of this church now remains. Torlogh O'Connor plundered the church at Ardpatrick in 1127AD and Ceallach, the Archbishop of Armagh died here in 1129AD. The round tower that stood on this site had fallen before 1827, probably in a storm in 1824. All that remains now is the stump of the round tower.

Westropp mentions some other sites where churches were situated in the past. These churches were at Mortlestown, Dungaddy, and Sunville. All of these churches were part of the parish of Particles before. Westropp also mentions a church at Kildonayn, which was located between the church at Dungaddy and Ardpatrick.

In his book "Ardpatrick" Fr John Fleming also mentions that there were churches called Ardmacwelan, Laurencetown, Saichaihaill, Dunyirish and Kill St Ann. No ruins remain of any of these churches nowadays.

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Ardpatrick graveyard is located on top of the hill of Ardpatrick. It surrounds the ruins of the old church. This is the only graveyard in the parish, and is still in use to the present day. From the graveyard it is possible to see for miles into the surrounding countryside.

The oldest headstone that we found in the graveyard was in memory of Edward Fitzgibbon who died on the 6th of May 1772, aged 42. Other headstones in the graveyard appeared to be much older, but unfortunately these were illegible. In his book 'Ardpatrick', Fr John Fleming states that the oldest headstone in this graveyard dates from 1763, and is in memory of John Leo, who died on June 27th of that year aged 27.

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Holy Wells

St Patrick's Well lies a short distance to the South West of the ruins of the church on top of Ardpatrick hill. It was once 40 feet deep, faced with stone, and had steps leading to it. Little trace of it now remains, however. According to legend, cattle are said to have been cured by its water. People seeking cures for lameness, rickets and rheumatism also used it. Tradition claimed that any pilgrim who was unable to see his reflection in its water would die within the year.

Another well, called St Anne's well, was reputedly in the parish of Ardpatrick, located in the fields across from the parochial house. The exact location of the well is uncertain, but as a result of information we received from Fr Browne we believe we found the site of the well. The well is believed to cure eye ailments and a pattern was held on July 26th, the feast of St. Anne. No devotions are currently held here.

According to Danaher, there were two wells in the townland of Mortlestown, called Toberatea and Tobereen, which were reputedly Holy Wells. However, Danaher questions the authenticity of these wells.

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Bishop Murphy's Park

Bishop Henry Murphy, the Bishop of Limerick from 1958-1973, was a native of the parish of Ardpatrick. He was born in Ballinafina on the 19th of May 1912. He was ordained in Maynooth on the 21st of June 1936, and became Bishop on the 31st of August 1958. Bishop Murphy died on the 8th of October 1973. The local community together with the help of a FÁS scheme dedicated a shrine to Our Lady of the Rosary on August 15th 1989. The shrine is located in a small park in honour of Bishop Murphy.

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Famous People

St Patrick

St Patrick is the patron saint of Ardpatrick, and indeed the area derives its name from the saint. It is believed that St Patrick founded a church on the hill of Ardpatrick in the 5th century and a monastery was built on the hill in the following century.

A story in the late 9th century work Bethu Phátric, The Tripartite Life of St Patrick, tells us that when Patrick sought a site for the church on Ardpatrick, Derbhall, the local leader, opposed him. He told him that he would believe only if St Patrick removed part of the mountain wall to the south so that he could see Loch Long in the land of Fir Muí Féinne. St Patrick prayed and the mountain melted forming a gap, Bealach Leáite, the Pass of the Melting.


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English Name Irish Name Meaning
Ardpatrick Ard Pádraig The high place of Pádraig
Ballinafina Baile na Fianna The town of the Fianna
Ballyvoodane Baile Uí Bhuadáin The town of Ó Buadáin
Baunatlea Bán an tSléibhe The lea-ground of the mountain
Baunmore An Bán Mór The big tract of lea-ground
Bohernagore Bóthar na gCorr Meaning uncertain
Castleoliver Cloch an Otfaígh The stone structure of An tOtfaíoch
Coombs Na Cúim The mountain hollows
Glenanair East Gleann an Áir The glen of the slaughter
Glenanair West as above  
Glenosheen Gleann Oisín The glen of Oisín
Graicue An Ghráig The hamlet
Fanningstown Baile an Fhainínigh The town of An Fainíneach
Moanmore An Mhóin Mhór The big bogland
Mortlestown Baile an Mhoirtéalaigh The town of An Moirtéalach
Moneen An Móinín The small bogland
Mount Russell Garraí an Phúca The garden of the Púca
Raheenroe An Ráithín Rua The red small rath
Sunville Lower Baile an Ghrianaigh The town of An Grianach
Sunville Upper as above  
Toor An Tuar The animal enclosure


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List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate
1862 Thomas McIneiry  
1863 Thomas McIneiry  
1864 Thomas McIneiry  
1865 Thomas McIneiry  
1866 Thomas McIneiry  
1867 Thomas McIneiry  
1868 Thomas McIneiry  
1869 Thomas McIneiry  
1870 Thomas McIneiry  
1871 Thomas McIneiry  
1872 Michael Ryan  
1873 Michael Ryan Michael Donor
1874 William Connery Michael Donor
1875 William Connery Michael Donor
1876 William Connery Michael Donor
1877 William Connery Michael Donor
1878 William Connery Stephen Danaher
1879 William Connery Patrick O’Donnell
1880 John Carrick Patrick O’Donnell
1881 John Carrick Patrick O’Donnell
1882 John Carrick Michael O'Donnell
1883 John Carrick Patrick O’Donnell
1884 John Carrick  
1885 John Carrick M. O’Donnell
1886 Michael Canty M. O’Donnell
1887 Michael Canty  
1888 Michael Canty  
1889 Michael Canty  
1890 John Kelly John Reeves
1891 John Kelly John Reeves
1892 John Sheahan John Reeves
1893 John Sheahan  
1894 John Sheahan  
1895 John Sheahan  
1896 John Sheahan  
1897 John Sheahan  
1898 John Sheahan  
1899 John Sheahan  
1900 John Sheahan  
1901 John Sheahan William Fenton
1902 Thomas Galvin  
1903 Thomas Galvin  
1904 Thomas Galvin  
1905 Thomas Galvin  
1906 Thomas Galvin  
1907 Thomas Galvin  
1908 Thomas Galvin  
1909 Thomas Galvin  
1910 Thomas Galvin  
1911 Thomas Galvin  
1912 Thomas Galvin  
1913 Thomas Galvin Patrick Conway
1914 Thomas Galvin Patrick Conway
1915 Thomas Galvin Patrick Conway
1916 Thomas Galvin Patrick Conway
1917 Thomas Galvin Patrick Conway
1918 Thomas Galvin Patrick Conway
1919 Thomas Galvin Patrick Conway
1920 Mortimer McCoy  
1921 Mortimer McCoy  
1922 Mortimer McCoy Michael Quinlan
1923 Mortimer McCoy Ed. Condon
1924 Mortimer McCoy Ed. Condon
1925 Mortimer McCoy John Ryan
1926 Mortimer McCoy John Ryan
1927 Mortimer McCoy James Kelly
1928 John Kelly  
1929 James Carroll  
1930 James Carroll  
1931 James Carroll  
1932 James Carroll  
1933 James Carroll  
1934 James Carroll Michael Breen
1935 James Carroll W. McDonnell
1936 James Carroll  
1937 James Carroll  
1938 James Carroll  
1939 James Carroll  
1940 James Carroll  
1941 James Carroll  
1942 James Carroll  
1943 James Carroll  
1944 James Carroll M. O’Ceallaigh
1945 James Carroll David Houlihan
1946 James Carroll David Houlihan
1947 James Carroll David Houlihan
1948 James Carroll David Houlihan
1949 James Carroll David Houlihan
1950 James Carroll David Houlihan
1951 James Carroll David Houlihan
1952 James Carroll David Houlihan
1953 James Carroll David Houlihan
1954 James Carroll David Houlihan
1955 Michael McCarthy  
1956 Michael McCarthy  
1957 Michael McCarthy  
1958 Michael McCarthy  
1959 Michael McCarthy  
1960 Michael McCarthy  
1961 Michael McCarthy  
1962 Michael McCarthy  
1963 Michael McCarthy  
1964 Michael McCarthy  
1965 Patrick O’Regan  
1966 Patrick O’Regan  
1967 Patrick O’Regan  
1968 Patrick O’Regan  
1969 Patrick O’Regan  
1970 Patrick O’Regan  
1971 Patrick O’Regan  
1972 Patrick O’Regan  
1973 Patrick O’Regan  
1974 Ed. Houlihan  
1975 Ed. Houlihan  
1976 Ed. Houlihan  
1977 Ed. Houlihan  
1978 Ed. Houlihan  
1979 Ed. Houlihan  
1980 Timothy Greene  
1981 Timothy Greene  
1982 Timothy Greene  
1983 Timothy Greene  
1984 Timothy Greene  
1985 Timothy Greene  
1986 Timothy Greene  
1987 Joseph Kennedy  
1988 Joseph Kennedy  
1989 Joseph Kennedy  
1990 Joseph Kennedy  
1991 Joseph Kennedy  
1992 Joseph Kennedy  
1993 Joseph Kennedy  
1994 Joseph Kennedy  
1995 Joseph Kennedy  
1996 Joseph Kennedy  
1997 Joseph Kennedy  
1998 Joseph Kennedy  
1999 David Browne  
2000 David Browne  
2001 David Browne  
2002 David Browne  
2003 David Browne  
2004 David Browne  
2005 David Browne  
2006 Muiris O'Connor (Adm.) David Browne
2007 David Browne  


The list of Priests from 1704 to 1836 is compiled from information gained in Begley's History of the Diocese of Limerick Vol. III page 598. The remaining years are compiled from the Catholic Directories. Information contained in a directory of any given year refers to what happened the previous year. For example if a priest is recorded in the 1954 directory as being in a particular parish, this would mean that he was actually there in 1953.

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Bishop Murphy's Park | Famous People | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

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