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Cappagh Parish

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

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.

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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
Parish Priest
Died 23rd January 1862
Aged 67

Fr Robert Somers
Parish Priest
Died 20th June 1877
Aged 48

Buried in the grounds of the church are:

Fr David Barry
Parish Priest
Died 10th January 1937
Aged 58

Fr Patrick Woulfe
Parish Priest 1926-1933

Fr William Boyce
Parish Priest
Died 31st August 1953
Aged 57

Fr P. Fitzgerald
Parish Priest 1969-1978
Died 8th June
Aged 60

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 and briars.

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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.

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Holy Wells

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.

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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
Derry Doire Oakwood
Doohyle Beg Dúchoill Black wood
Doohyle More as above  
Feeagh Fíobhach Wooded place
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


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List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
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  
1842 Charles McDonnell  
1843 Charles McDonnell  
1844 Charles McDonnell  
1845 Charles McDonnell  
1846 Charles McDonnell  
1847 Charles McDonnell  
1848 Richard Mulcahy  
1849 Richard Mulcahy  
1850 Richard Mulcahy  
*The parish changed from Nantenan to Cappagh
1851 Richard Mulcahy  
1852 Richard Mulcahy  
1853 Richard Mulcahy  
1854 Richard Mulcahy  
1855 Richard Mulcahy  
1856 Richard Mulcahy  
1857 Richard Mulcahy  
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
1872 John Conway  
1873 John Conway  
1874 John Conway  
1875 John Conway  
1876 John Conway  
1877 John Conway  
1878 Denis McCarthy  
1879 Denis McCarthy  
1880 Denis McCarthy  
1881 Denis McCarthy  
1882 Denis McCarthy  
1883 Denis McCarthy  
1884 Denis McCarthy  
1885 Denis McCarthy  
1886 Denis McCarthy  
1887 James Molony  
1888 James Molony  
1889 James Molony  
1890 James Molony  
1891 James Molony  
1892 James Molony  
1893 John Hallinan  
1894 John Hallinan  
1895 John Hallinan  
1896 John Hallinan  
1897 John Hallinan  
1898 John Hallinan  
1899 John Hallinan  
1900 John Hallinan  
1901 John Hallinan  
1902 John Hallinan  
1903 John Hallinan  
1904 Timothy Curtin  
1905 Timothy Curtin  
1906 Timothy Curtin  
1907 Timothy Curtin  
1908 Timothy Curtin  
1909 Timothy Reidy  
1910 Timothy Reidy  
1911 Timothy Reidy  
1912 Timothy Reidy  
1913 Timothy Reidy  
1914 Timothy Reidy  
1915 Timothy Reidy  
1916 Canon John Begley  
1917 Canon John Begley  
1918 Jeremiah O’Shea  
1919 Jeremiah O’Shea  
1920 Jeremiah O’Shea  
1921 Jeremiah O’Shea  
1922 Jeremiah O’Shea  
1923 Jeremiah O’Shea  
1924 Jeremiah O’Shea  
1925 Cornelius Mangan  
1926 Cornelius Mangan  
1927 Patrick Woulfe  
1928 Patrick Woulfe  
1929 Patrick Woulfe  
1930 Patrick Woulfe  
1931 Patrick Woulfe  
1932 Patrick Woulfe  
1933 Patrick Woulfe  
1934 David Barry  
1935 David Barry  
1936 David Barry  
1937 David Barry  
1938 R. Dunworth  
1939 R. Dunworth  
1940 R. Dunworth  
1941 R. Dunworth  
1942 R. Dunworth  
1943 R. Dunworth  
1944 R. Dunworth  
1945 R. Dunworth  
1946 Denis O’Donnell  
1947 Denis O’Donnell  
1948 Denis O’Donnell  
1949 William Boyce  
1950 William Boyce  
1951 William Boyce  
1952 William Boyce  
1953 William Boyce  
1954 Edmund McCarthy  
1955 Edmund McCarthy  
1956 Edmund McCarthy  
1957 Edmund McCarthy  
1958 Edmund McCarthy  
1959 Edmund McCarthy  
1960 Edmund McCarthy  
1961 Edmund McCarthy  
1962 Edmund McCarthy  
1963 Edmund McCarthy  
1964 Michael Kelly  
1965 Michael Kelly  
1966 Michael Kelly  
1967 Cappagh is not mentioned in this year’s Catholic Directory
1968 David Crowley  
1969 David Crowley  
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  
1995 Michael Noonan  
1996 Michael Noonan  
1997 Michael Noonan  
1998 Michael Noonan  
1999 Patrick J. O’Donnell  
2000 Frank Duhig  
2001 Frank Duhig  
2002 Frank Duhig  
2003 Frank Duhig  
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.

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

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