Cappagh, or Cappa, is a parish in the Shanid Division of the barony of Lower Connello. In the RC divisions it forms part of the union or district of Stonehall and Cappagh. Cappagh was part of the old tuath of Nantenan, in the territory of Uí Fidgeinte, from the 4th century onwards. Stonehall used to be in the parish of Cappagh. Cappagh derives its name from An Ceapach, meaning 'the tillage plot'.
Dermod MacEinery built the original Cappagh castle in the reign of King John. However, this castle no longer remains. Cappagh house is believed to be one of the oldest residences in Ireland. The noted Limerick historian Canon John Begley was parish priest in Cappagh from 1915 to 1917.
In 1840 Fr Foley, who had retired for a time from his parish of Stonehall now returned and for the more efficient working of the district Stonehall was separated from Nantenan or Cappagh since the new chapel was in that part of the parish.
The church in Cappagh was built in 1839 by Fr Halpin, to replace the previous church, which had been destroyed in a storm. The church was reconstructed in 1986, and officially reopened on 15th February 1987. The foundation stone is located at the side of the church. The previous church in Cappagh was blown down on the 'Night of the Big Wind' on the 6th of January in 1839, and no trace of it now remains. Lewis described it as a large plain thatched edifice. This church had been built on Cappagh Hill to replace the mass house in Ballymorrisheen. When this church was destroyed in the storm Fr Jeremiah Halpin acquired the present site, on which he built the new church in 1839.
The inscription over the front door reads:
Hanc Capellam Sto Jacobo
Apostolo dedicatum fieri
Fecit Rev J Halpin PP
Joanne Ryan DD Episcopo
Anno Domini 1839
A plaque on the wall, to the left as you enter the church,
lists all of the donors to the church.
Rev. R. Somers, P.P, donated the church altar and chancel. P & J Hayes donated the Altar rails. The baptistery was donated by Kennedy James Hayes.
The window in the porch depicts St James. The window behind the altar is divided into three sections, which depict St William, the Sacred Heart, and St Michael. This window was donated by the White family in memory of William White who died in the Boer War on March 12th 1901. The White family coat of arms is depicted on this window. This coat of arms reads A Deo Fortuna et Honor. The front window was donated by Mary A McDonnell, and Emily White donated the Chancel window.
Senator Michael O'Dea donated the stained glass windows on either side of the nave. The window on the right is in memory of his only son Bernard, who died on December 8th 1916. This window depicts St Bernard of Clairvaux, to whom Mary appeared on a number of occasions. This window also depicts a Cistercian monastery as well as writer's tools, common symbols of St Bernard. The window on the left is in memory of Michael O'Dea's mother, Lucy, who died on the 25th June 1902. This window depicts St Lucy. St Lucy was martyred by Diocletian, a 4th century Roman Emperor. St Lucy is mentioned in the List of Saints remembered in the Eucharistic Prayer No. 1. A dish containing two eyes, often used as a symbol of this saint, is also depicted on this stained glass window. We would like to thank Fr Frank Duhig, PP, for additional information provided on these windows.
The side altar, on the right hand side, is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. An inscription at the base of the statue reads I am the Immaculate Conception. This statue was donated by Mrs White of Nantenan, 1877. To the left is an altar to St Joseph, donated by Thomas and Margaret Hayes, Callow, 1883, who also donated the Stations.
Buried within the church are:
Fr Richard Mulcahy
Died 23rd January 1862
Fr Robert Somers
Died 20th June 1877
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
Fr David Barry
Died 10th January 1937
Fr Patrick Woulfe
Parish Priest 1926-1933
Fr William Boyce
Died 31st August 1953
Fr P. Fitzgerald
Parish Priest 1969-1978
Died 8th June
Extensive church ruins remain in Cappagh graveyard. All four
walls of the ruin are standing, and the window frames are intact. Locals believe
that this ruin may have once been an abbey. It is possible that this is ruin
of Kilmacluana church, although it is more likely to have been a parish church.
According to Westropp, Kilmacluana church was a small plain Gothic building,
first recorded in 1201. It was destroyed by war in 1302, and in 1541, the
Knight of Glin granted it to the friars of Askeaton. It contains a large east
window with two pointed lights and a round headed splay. The doorway is in
the south wall of the church. In his book "Cappagh - A Sense of History",
Frank Whelan said that this was the oldest church in Cappagh.
Mass is sometimes said in the oratory, located on Nora Hawkes property. The previous owner, Martin Haverty, built the oratory in 1854, with permission from the Bishop, to commemorate the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady being made into an article of faith. To the right hand side of the oratory is a cross, also erected by Martin Haverty in 1854.
John Hogan, a sculptor, made the trial cast of the Dead
Christ, which is in the altar of the oratory. The full size version of
this sculpture is in St Theresa's church, off Grafton Street in Dublin.
Nantenan church was located in Ardgoul townland. This Church of Ireland church was built on the site of the old medieval church. It was in use until 20 years ago. According to Westropp there was a church here in 1500. This church dates from the early 19th century.
A mass house was used in the parish during penal times. Almost
nothing remains of this now, however, the one remaining wall is virtually
indistinguishable from the boundary wall of the field. It is covered by ivy
Cappagh graveyard is still in use today. Extensive church ruins are situated within the graveyard. The oldest headstone that we came across in this graveyard was in memory of John White, who died September 22nd 1779, aged 77.
The graveyard surrounding Nantenan church contains the graves of both Protestants and Catholics. Headstones of note in the graveyard were in memory of the Rev. Thomas Royce (possibly Boyce - the inscription on the headstone was quite worn), who died in 1747, aged 43, and also a headstone dating from July 10th 1777, in memory of John Welesh, aged 22 years.
St James' Well is still visited to this day, on the feastday of St James. Rounds are made at the well, which is located in the townland of Ardgoul. A cross was erected over the well in May 1982. The cross has a little shamrock in the centre. According to a plaque on the well, it was covered by Matt Flood in 1750. The well is supposed to have dated back to before the time of St Patrick. Local tradition has it that it dates to Pagan times. Originally dedicated to a holy man, a follower of St Patrick, it is believed that the Norse were responsible for rededicating the well to St James. In the past the field beside the church was used for holding fairs.
If your wish was to be granted you would see a large trout in the well. The well moved when vegetables were washed in it. The landlord filled in the well and the well appeared in a new place and the water from the well will not boil.
|English Name||Irish Name||Meaning|
|Ardgoulbeg||Ard Ghabhla||The high place of the fork|
|Ardgoul North||as above|
|Ardgoul South||as above|
|Ardtomin||Ard Toimín||The high place of Toimín|
|Ballintreddia||Baile an Traitéadaigh||The town of An Traitéadach|
|Ballinvirick||Baile an Bhiaric||The town of An Biarac|
|Ballyadam||Baile Adaim||The town of Adam|
|Ballybaun||An Baile Bán||The white town|
|Ballyhibbin||Baile Thibín||The town of Tibín|
|Ballyhomock||Baile Thómaic||The town of Tómac|
|Ballymorrisheen||Baile Mhuirisín||The town of Muirisín|
|Ballyvockoge||Baile Mhacóg||Meaning uncertain|
|Boolaglass||An Bhuaile Ghlas||The green booley|
|Bullaun||An Ballán||The small patch|
|Callow||Calbhach||Place of ridges|
|Cappagh||An Cheapach||The tillage plot|
|Curraheen North||An Curraichín||The small tract of wet land|
|Curraheen South||as above|
|Deanstown||Baile an Deagánaigh||The town of the dean|
|Doohyle Beg||Dúchoill||Black wood|
|Doohyle More||as above|
|Gorteennamrock||Goirtín na mBroc||The small field of the badgers|
|Graigeen||Gráigín||A small hamlet|
|Graigues||Na Grága||The hamlets|
|Kilbehy||Coill Bheithe||Wood of birch|
|Loughaun||An Lochán||The small lake|
|Lurraga||An Lorga||The shin|
|Nantinan||Neantanán||Place of nettles|
|Scart||An Scairt||The thicket|
|Stoneville||Fearann Rí||Meaning uncertain|
|1704 - 1713||Dominic White|
|? - 1737||Patrick Meer|
|1737 - ?||William Cronin|
|? - 1757||Sylvester Mulcair|
|1757 - 1758||John Sinan|
|1758 - ?||James Dundon|
|? -?||Martin O’Connor|
|? - 1806||Richard Copps|
|1806 - 1825||Patrick Halpin|
|1825 - 1827||Thomas Coll|
|1827 - 1835||Timothy Foley|
|1835 - 1837||Robert Bourke|
|1837 - 1841||Jeremiah Halpin|
*The parish changed from Nantenan to Cappagh
|1858||Richard Mulcahy||Denis McCarthy|
|1859||Richard Mulcahy||Denis McCarthy|
|1860||Richard Mulcahy||Denis McCarthy|
|1861||Richard Mulcahy||Denis McCarthy|
|1862||Richard Mulcahy||Denis McCarthy|
|1863||Robert Somers||James McCoy|
|1864||Robert Somers||Patrick Carroll|
|1865||Robert Somers||Michael Irwin|
|1866||Robert Somers||? Prendergast|
|1867||Robert Somers||Joseph Keating|
|1868||Robert Somers||Joseph Keating|
|1869||Robert Somers||Joseph Keating|
|1870||Robert Somers||James Potter|
|1871||Robert Somers||Eugene Sheehy|
|1916||Canon John Begley|
|1917||Canon John Begley|
|1967||Cappagh is not mentioned in this year’s Catholic Directory|
|1970||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1971||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1972||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1973||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1974||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1975||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1976||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1977||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1978||Patrick Fitzgerald D.C.L.|
|1979||John Irwin (Adm.)|
|1980||John Irwin (Adm.)|
|1981||John Irwin (Adm.)|
|1982||John Irwin (Adm.)|
|1983||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1984||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1985||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1986||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1987||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1988||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1989||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1990||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1991||Peadar de Burca (Adm.)|
|1992||Peadar de Burca|
|1993||Peadar de Burca|
|1994||Peadar de Burca|
|1999||Patrick J. O’Donnell|
|2004||Timothy Curtin (Adm.)|
|2005||Timothy Curtin (Adm.)|
|2006||Timothy Curtin (Adm.)|
|2007||Timothy Curtin (Adm.)|
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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