The parish of Ballyagran/Colmanswell has had a number of different names over the years. In ancient times the parish formed part of the parish of Corcomohide, which also included the present day parishes of Drumcollogher and Kilmeedy. The parish of Corcomohide was divided up in 1719.
The parish was originally called Castletown MacEnery until Captain George Conyers bought the land of the MacEnerys in 1703. The MacEnerys were the ruling family of Corcomohide and had their seat of power in Castletown. It wasn't until the early 19th century that the parish became Ballyagran.
Colmanswell was part of the parish of Bruree from 1704 until 1859 when it became a separate parish until it joined with Ballyagran in 1892. There is no actual townland of Colmanswell and so the church is situated in the townland of Gortroe.
Ballyagran is about 1 mile from the Cork border and about 8 miles south west of the village of Bruree. In fact the townland of Rusheen is in Co. Cork, although in the parish of Ballyagran and the Diocese of Limerick. The village of Ballyagran grew up around the church and thus is called a chapel village. The church of Colmanswell is located 5 miles south west of Bruree. Interestingly, there are actually two separate townlands of the same name in this parish, each called Gortroe, one in the Northwest corner, and the other in the South East.
Ballyagran can be translated as Béal Atha Grean, which
means 'the fordmouth of the Gravel' while Colmanswell can be translated as
Tobar Cholmain. The old Irish name for Colmanswell was Cluain Comhartha, which
means 'the meadow of the sign'. The population of the parish is around 1,100.
The present church in Colmanswell dates from 1969 when the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Henry Murphy and Fr John White P.P. on February 23rd. The bell tower was erected in Christmas 1996. In the grounds of the church there is a statue to the Virgin Mary in memory of Fr Patrick Murphy C.C.
The statue to the left of the altar is in honour of Mary while there is a statue to St. Peter on the right of the altar. The stained glass window at the porch of the church commemorates the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven.
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
Patrick Murphy C.C.
Died January 25 1950, aged 55
James J. Gilligan
Diocese of Middlesbrough 1951-1977
C.C. Ballyagran/Colmanswell 1986-1990
Died April 26 1990
The church in Ballyagran is dedicated to St. Michael and was built in the early 1800s. The church was renovated in 1837 and rebuilt in 1964 when John White was parish priest. Begley also says that Fr William Toomey is buried in Ballyagran church but a headstone in Dunaman graveyard said that he is buried there.
In the left transept of the church there is an altar to the Virgin Mary and a statue to St. Patrick. In the right transept of the church there is a statue of St Joseph and an altar to the Sacred Heart.
Inside the main door of the church, on the left, there is a statue of the Pieta to the memory of Sister M. Kevin Keane of the Convent of Mercy, Charleville. Sister Keane died on August 24 1910 and her sister erected the statue.
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
Died March 2 1989
Died November 4 1985, aged 82
(A native of the parish)
Died March 25 1974
Parish Priest & Curate in the parish for 40 years
Died May 4 1955, aged 85
Died November 21 1918
Sean McCarthy P.P.
Died 28 April 1983, aged 54
The previous church in Colmanswell was built under the leadership of Fr James Ryan P.P. The plaque on the wall of the church gives the year 1837 but the name P. Ryan P.P. Nearly all of the church is still standing. Begley states that Fr Flanagan, the first parish priest of Ballyagran, is buried in the old church in Colmanswell. This church ruin is across the road from the present church in Colmanswell. The bell tower is also standing beside the ruin.
An older church ruin is in the graveyard in Colmanswell, near the well of St. Colman. Westropp states that it was here that "the coarb and shrine of St. Patrick were taken by the 'Danes' 845" from Farannán who was the then abbot of Armagh.
The church was dedicated to St. Colman on November 24th 1410. This date would mean the church is dedicated to Colman of Cloyne and not Colman of Kilmacduagh from Galway. The ruin dates from around 1420 and there was another church here from around 1000. It may also have been the site of a monastery under St. Colman.
The church ruin in Castletown was once the parish church of the old parish of Corcomohide. It is believed that the first church was built here around 1200. The original church was destroyed in the war of 1302 and the replacement church was dedicated to the Purification in 1410. Westropp measured the ruin as 120 feet by 26 feet 9 inches with the walls measuring 14 feet in height and 3 ½ feet thick. Within the church is a vault to the Hartes of Coolruss.
According to Westropp, there was a site in Cappanihane, however
he does not specify if there was a church or a burial ground on the site.
The graveyard in Castletown is large and the church ruin is located at its centre. The graveyard is kept in good repair and the oldest headstone that we came across was to the memory of Cornelius Ryan who died on September 15th 1737, at the age of 34. Mass has been said in the graveyard in the recent past.
There is also a large graveyard in Colmanswell and recently a new section has been opened to the existing graveyard. The ruins of St. Colman's church are in the far end of the graveyard. The oldest headstone that we found in the graveyard was to the memory of Richard Horhey who died on May 28 1798, aged 38. We had difficulty reading the surname on the headstone, but we believe it read as Horhey. There is a headstone to the Fitzgibbon family that bears the inscription that they are 'buried here since 1748'.
Westropp also mentions an infant's burial ground in Killacolla,
also known as Killehalla.
Lady's well is in the townland of Castletown. The well has a statue to Our Lady and is surrounded by a wall with steps leading down into the well. The feastday of the well is August 15th and each year a mass is held at the well, and is attended by a large crowd. Well-worn paths in the grass around the well mark the site of the rounds of the well. Near the well are the ruins of MacEnery castle. According to legend the well moved when clothes were washed in it.
St Colman's well is in the townland of Gortroe. This well is just a short walk from the church in Colmanswell. The grounds around the well are extensive and feature a wooden bridge that leads into the well. This work at the well was completed in 1996 and in April 1999, the Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, planted a Millennium tree here. The well is now covered over and there is a large statue of St. Colman above it.
The feastday at the well is celebrated on October 29th. There is some confusion as to which St. Colman is honoured in the parish. The feastday celebrated at the well is that of St Colman of Kilmacduagh. However, the parish is on the borders of the Diocese of Cloyne, and so, many believe that St Colman of Cloyne is actually the patron saint of the well. In addition to this the church itself is dedicated to St Colman of Cloyne.
The well is known for curing eye complaints. President de Valera came to pray at the well on several occasions, and carried away curative waters with him. There are two interesting stories that Danaher mentions in his "Holy Wells of Co. Limerick" regarding this well. A man who was cured left his crutches at the well but came back and took the crutches to try to sell them. The man was then struck lame again. The second story tells of a man who worked on pattern day who found that the money he had earned vanished from his pocket as he passed the well. People doing rounds at the well used to scratch a cross with a stone on the tombstone of Fr Rodger Coffee, P.P. of Bruree 1780-1802.
There is also another well in the parish. The well is called St Gobnait's well but it was also known as St Debora/Deriola's well. St. Gobnait was a saint who came from Ballyvourney in Co. Cork. Danaher said that rounds were made and a pattern was held on February 11th until around 1870. The well has now dried up but the site is still known. According to the parish priest, St Gobnait's well is situated to the North of Ballyagran in a high field to the left of the road to Castletown. It is believed that St. Gobnait lived here and legend claimed that a white stag could sometimes be seen at the well.
At the start of the last century, three brothers dominated the athletic scene in Ireland. Con, Paddy and Tim Leahy were from Cregane. They competed in the Long Jump, the High Jump and the Triple Jump. Paddy Leahy holds the World Record for the High Jump in 1898. Con won the Olympic Gold Medal for the High Jump in Athens in the Intercalated Games of 1906. However, the IOC considers medals won at these games unofficial.
A former Bishop of the Diocese of Limerick was a native of
the parish. David Keane was educated at St. Colman's College Fermoy, St. Munchin's
College Limerick, and Maynooth College. He later became a Professor in St.
Munchin's and after a period of time in Jersey, in the diocese of Plymouth
he returned to the college where he became the President in 1909. In 1920
he was appointed as Canon and P.P. of Glin. Three years later he succeeded
Denis Hallinan as Bishop of the Diocese, a position that he held until his
death in 1945.
|English Name||Irish Name||Meaning|
|Ballyagran||Béal Átha Grean||Fordmouth of the gravel|
|Ballybane||An Baile Bán||The white town|
|Ballysalla||An Baile Salach||The dirty town|
|Caherclogh||Cathair Chloch||The stone fort of the stones|
|Cappanihane||Ceapach an Fhiacháin||The tillage plot of the small raven|
|Cappananty||Ceapach na Neanta||The tillage plot of the nettles|
|Castletown||Baile an Chaisleáin||The town of the castle|
|Cloonee||Cluain Í||Meadow of the yew|
|Coolagowan||Cúil an Ghabhann||The corner of the smith|
|Creggane||An Creagán||The rocky place|
|Croghteen||An Croichtín||The small croft|
|Drewscourt East||Muileann Driú||The mill of Driú|
|Drewscourt West||as above|
|Fort East||An Daingean|
|Fort Middle||as above|
|Fort West||as above|
|Foxhall East||Currach an Mhadra||The wet land of the dog|
|Foxhall West||as above|
|Gortroe (Castletown)||An Gort Rua||The red field|
|Gortroe (Charleville)||as above|
|Graigue||An Ghráig||The hamlet|
|Incha||An Inse||The wet meadow|
|Killacolla (Barker)||Coill an Chalaidh||The wood of the landing place|
|Rossbane||An Ros Bán||The white high place|
|Rossmore||An Ros Mór||The big high place|
|1704 - 1719||Dr. England|
|1737 – ?||James Scanlon|
|? – 1799||James Mortel|
|1799 - 1807||Maurice Walsh|
|1807 – 1836||Michael Kiely|
|1837||James Kiely||James McMahon|
|1838||James Kiely||James McMahon|
|1839||James Kiely||James McMahon|
|1840||James Kiely||James McMahon|
|1841||James Kiely||James McMahon|
|1849||James O’Flanagan||James O’Donahoe|
|1852||Luke Hanrahan||Edward Costello|
|1857||Luke Hanrahan||John Hogan|
|1858||Luke Hanrahan||John Hogan|
|1859||Luke Hanrahan||John Hogan|
|1867||William Tuomy||M. Canty|
|1868||William Tuomy||J. Kelly|
|1869||William Tuomy||William Casey|
|1870||William Tuomy||Edmond Tracy|
|1871||William Tuomy||Edward Russell|
|1872||William Tuomy||John Ryan|
|1873||William Tuomy||John Ryan|
|1874||John Reeves||Daniel Crotty|
|1875||John Reeves||Patrick Condon|
|1876||John Reeves||Patrick Condon|
|1877||John Reeves||Michael Mulcahy|
|1878||M. Fitzgerald||Martin Slattery|
|1879||M. Fitzgerald||Martin Slattery|
|1880||M. Fitzgerald||Martin Slattery|
|1881||M. Fitzgerald||John Conway|
|1882||M. Fitzgerald||Robert Ambrose|
|1883||M. Fitzgerald||Robert Ambrose|
|1884||M. Fitzgerald||Patrick McNamara|
|1885||M. Fitzgerald||Patrick Kenrick|
|1886||M. Fitzgerald||Patrick Kenrick|
|1887||M. Fitzgerald||Patrick Kenrick|
|1888||M. Fitzgerald||Patrick Kenrick|
|1889||M. Fitzgerald||Patrick Kenrick|
|1892||Robert Kirby||Robert Fitzgerald|
|1893||Joined with Colmanswell*|
|Robert Kirby||Daniel Crotty|
|1894||Robert Kirby||Daniel Crotty|
|1895||Robert Kirby||Daniel Crotty|
|1896||Robert Kirby||Daniel Crotty|
|1897||Patrick Hurley||Daniel Crotty|
|1898||Patrick Hurley||Daniel Crotty|
|1899||Patrick Hurley||Daniel Crotty|
|1900||Patrick Hurley||Daniel Crotty|
|1901||Patrick Hurley||Daniel Crotty|
|1902||Patrick Hurley||Daniel Crotty|
|1903||Patrick Hurley||Denis O’Keeffe|
|1904||Patrick Hurley||Denis O’Keeffe|
|1905||Patrick Hurley||Denis O’Keeffe|
|1906||Patrick Hurley||David Hanly|
|1907||Patrick Hurley||David Hanly|
|1908||Patrick Hurley||David Hanly|
|1909||Patrick Hurley||David Hanly|
|1910||Patrick Hurley||David Hanly|
|1911||Patrick Hurley||Michael O’Carroll|
|1912||Patrick Hurley||Michael O’Carroll|
|1913||Patrick Hurley||Michael O’Carroll|
|1914||Patrick Hurley||Michael O’Carroll|
|1915||Patrick Hurley||Michael O’Carroll|
|1916||Patrick Hurley||Michael O’Carroll|
|1917||Patrick Hurley||Michael O’Carroll|
|1918||Patrick Hurley||Patrick McNamara|
|1919||Patrick Hurley||Patrick McNamara|
|1920||John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1921||John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1922||John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1923||John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1924||John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1925||John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1926||John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1927||Canon John Reeves||Patrick McNamara|
|1928||Patrick McNamara||William Boyce|
|1929||Patrick McNamara||William Boyce|
|1930||Patrick McNamara||William Boyce|
|1931||Patrick McNamara||Ed. Punch|
|1932||Patrick McNamara||Ed. Punch|
|1933||Patrick McNamara||Ed. Punch|
|1934||Patrick McNamara||Ed. Punch|
|1935||Patrick McNamara||Ed. Punch|
|1936||Patrick McNamara||Ed. Punch|
|1937||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Lyons|
|1938||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Lyons|
|1939||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Lyons|
|1940||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Lyons|
|1941||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Lyons|
|1942||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Lyons|
|1943||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1944||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1945||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1946||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1947||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1948||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1949||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1950||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1951||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1952||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1953||Patrick McNamara||Patrick Murphy|
|1954||Patrick McNamara||Charles O’Neill|
|1955||Patrick McNamara||Charles O’Neill|
|1956||John White||Charles O’Neill|
|1957||John White||Charles O’Neill|
|1958||John White||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1959||John White||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1960||John White||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1961||John White||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1962||John White||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1963||John White||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1964||John White||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1965||John White||John Ryan|
|1966||John White||John Ryan|
|1967||John White||John Ryan|
|1968||John White||John Ryan|
|1969||John White||John Ryan|
|1970||John White||John Ryan|
|1971||John White||John Ryan|
|1972||John White||John Ryan|
|1973||John White||John Ryan|
|1977||Thomas O’Donnell||Thomas Scanlon|
|1978||Thomas O’Donnell||Thomas Scanlon|
|1979||Thomas O’Donnell||Thomas Scanlon|
|1980||Thomas O’Donnell||Thomas Scanlon|
|1981||Thomas O’Donnell||Thomas Scanlon|
|1982||Thomas O’Donnell||Thomas Scanlon|
|1983||Thomas O’Donnell||Thomas Scanlon|
|1984||John Burke||Thomas Scanlon|
|1985||John Burke||Thomas Scanlon|
|1986||John Burke||Thomas Scanlon|
|1987||John Burke||James Gilligan|
|1988||John Burke||James Gilligan|
|1989||John Burke||James Gilligan|
|1990||Denis Browne||James Gilligan|
|1991||Denis Browne||James Gilligan|
|1992||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|1993||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|1994||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|1995||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|1996||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|1997||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|1998||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|1999||Denis Browne||Charles O’Neill|
|2000||Denis Browne||Charles O'Neill|
|2001||Denis Browne||Charles O'Neill|
|2002||Denis Browne||Charles O'Neill|
|2003||Denis Browne||Charles O'Neill|
|2004||Denis Canon Browne||Charles O'Neill|
|2005||Joseph Shire||Charles O'Neill|
|2006||Joseph Shire||Charles O'Neill|
|2007||Joseph Shire||Charles O'Neill|
* Colmanswell was a separate parish from 1861 until 1893 when it was joined with Ballygran. The following table contains a list of the priests of Colmanswell parish during those years:
|1890||Daniel Curtin||D. Shanahan (Adm.)|
|1893||Joined with Ballygran|
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.
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