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Coolcappa-Kilcolman Parish

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | St Colman's Stone | Famous People | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

Coolcappa parish is the longest parish in the Diocese of Limerick; it stretches from Cappagh in the east to Athea in the west. The two churches in the parish are situated in Kilcolman (sometimes spelt as "Kilcoleman") and Coolcappa. Kilcolman is situated on the R521 from Ardagh to Shanagolden. In some old manuscripts, it was referred to as Kilcoleman Inferior.

Part of the present day parish used to be called Nantenan. The parish was also called Kilbroderan, which consisted of both Coolcappa and Kilcolman. According to Begley, the parish of Coolcappa was made up of parts of the pre-Reformation parishes of Rathronane, Clounagh, Kilscannell, Kilbradran, Kilcolman and Dunmoylan. The population of the parish is about 1,100.

The name Coolcappa is derived from the Irish Cúil Cheapach meaning the 'corner of the tillage plots'. Kilcolman is derived from Cill Cholmáin which means 'the church of Colman'.

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The church in Coolcappa is dedicated to St Kyran and was built in 1970. On the foundation stone, the saint's name is spelt as St Kieran although the correct spelling of the parish saint's name is Kyran. Bishop Henry Murphy, along with Fr. William O'Connell P.P laid the foundation stone on the 28th of June 1970. The architects were P. J. Sheahan & Associates and E. Murphy & Sons were the builders.

There are stained glass windows of St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi on the right hand side of the church, while on the left hand side of the church there are windows to the Sacred Heart and St. Peter. There are two stained glass windows at the door of the church including a depiction of St Kyran.

To the left of the altar there is a statue to the Virgin Mary and on the right of the altar there is a statue to the Sacred Heart. The statue in the church grounds is believed to be either St Kyran or St Patrick.

In June 1985, five priests were reburied in the grounds of the new church in Coolcappa. The priests had originally been buried in the old church in Coolcappa.

Buried in the grounds of the church:

Darby McEgan P.P.
Died 12th September 1838
Aged 55 years

Michael McMahon P.P.
Died 10th June 1877
Aged 80 years

Michael Connery P.P.
Died 26th June 1883
Aged 55 years

Michael Potter
Died 7th June 1885
Aged 42 years
(Nephew to Fr. McMahon)

M. J. Toomey C.C.
Died 30th May 1926
Aged 37 years

The church in Kilcolman was built under the leadership of Fr Jeremiah Murphy P.P. Bishop O'Dwyer laid the foundation stone on August 10th 1913. According to the inscription on the foundation stone, the builder was John Ryan & Sons and the architect was Brian Sheehy.

Kilcolman church is dedicated to St Colman. St. Colman was from Shanbotha, which is situated at the foot of Mount Leinster.

All of the material for the church was brought by train to Ardagh and then transported to Kilcolman by horse and cart.

As you enter the church, there are two stained glass windows that depict St. Ita and St. Colman. The water font in the church dates from 1746 and the inscription bears Maurice Rahilly's name.

To the right of the main altar in the church, there is an altar and statue to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. There is also a statue to the Little Flower. To the left of the main altar, there is a statue and altar to the Sacred Heart. There is also a statue to St. Theresa. The stained glass window behind the main altar in the church was given by the ladies of parish. The window is divided into three sections that depict (from left to right) the Little Flower, Sacred Heart and Mary.

Buried in the grounds of the church are:

John Casey P.P.
Died January 24 1966

Michael Kelly P.P.
Died September 5 1988, aged 82

Canon John K. Fitzgerald P.P.
November 7 1912, aged 78

William O'Connell P.P.
Died March 26 1971

Fr Darby Egan built the church in Kilcolman in 1827 that stood on the site of the present church. The wooden altar from this church is in the sacristy of the present day church.

There are also church ruins in Kilcolman graveyard across the road from the present day church. This church is first mentioned in records as being from 1253 when the monks and abbots of Athassel Abbey in Tipperary repaired it. The abbey housed an order of Augustinian monks. The church was destroyed in a war of 1641. A plaque was erected in November 1999 to commemorate the priests and monks who served the area during the years from the early 13th century to 1641.

Prior to 1970, the church in Coolcappa was situated near the present day site. The church was built in 1834 under the leadership of Darby Egan. Thomas Bateman of Alta Villa laid the foundation stone on April 8th 1834. Bateman contributed a large sum of money to the building of the church along with the marble altar that was in the former church. When the new church in Coolcappa was built in 1970, the old church was demolished, and no trace of it now remains.

There was also a church at Dunmoylan but all that remains of this church is the south wall. Some stones that were once part of the building lie around the site. Westropp measured the foundations of the church as 42 feet by 18 feet. The church belonged to the monastery of St. Catherine near Shanagolden. Begley states that in the past the grounds were used as a burial ground. The ruins of Dunmoylan castle are across the road from this ruin.

There is a church ruin in Kilbroderan (today it is spelt as Kilbradran) that is at the foot of the hill. What remains of the church in Kilbradran is still in good condition. The church ruin is believed to date from the 17th century. Westropp believed that the church was dedicated to St. Brandon, however, Begley said that the church was dedicated to St. Brendan. The churches in Kilbradran and Kilcolman are believed to have been built around 1250. Both churches were under the control of the Augustinians monks of Athassell Abbey in Tipperary.

As stated earlier, Clonagh was once a parish in its own right and the small church ruin is located near St. Kyran's well. The church ruin is situated in Clonagh graveyard.

There was also a church in Moyreen and in his "History of the Diocese of Limerick" Begley wrote about of a tradition of a chapel in Rathreaghmore. No trace remains today of either of these churches.

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Coolcappa cemetery is located beside the church in Coolcappa and was opened around the same time that the present church was built.

The graveyard in Kilbradran is situated at the roadside and the church ruin is also on the site. The oldest headstone that we found in the graveyard at Kilbradran was in memory of Thomas Madigan who died on the 15th of September 1788, at the age of 24. We also came across a headstone that was dedicated to Fr Patrick Murray who was parish priest in Ardagh and died on October 11th 1811. The graveyard is well maintained and mass is said here on the first Sunday in July.

Part of the grounds of the old Kilcolman church is now used as a graveyard and some of the headstones date back to before the nineteenth century. The oldest headstone that we came across was from February 1st 1767 in memory of Jeremiah Shea. Mass is held in the graveyard each November for the souls of the dead. The graveyard in Kilcolman was recently extended with the addition of a new section.

There is also a graveyard in Clonagh. This graveyard is situated in the grounds of the church ruin in Clonagh. The graveyard was cleaned up last summer. The oldest headstone that we came across was in memory of Daniel Culhane who died on May 20th 1785 aged 70.

Westropp also mentions a burial ground or a Kyle in Gortadroma. However, no trace remains of this graveyard.

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Holy Wells

There is a Holy Well in Clonagh that is about halfway between the road and Clonagh graveyard. St. Kyran's well is a small spring that is enclosed by some rough stone. There was a statue over the well but this has been taken down. The pattern was held on September 9th and is to be revived this year. In his work "Holy Wells in Co. Limerick" Danaher stated that the rounds were still made in 1955. Small offerings were also left at the well but we found no evidence of any offerings when we visited the well. The water is believed to cure eye ailments.

O'Donovan (from 1840) tells us that the poorer members of the district used to do the stations here. Legends about the well are many and varied. The well moved when clothes were washed in it. A woman who was praying at the well was interrupted by a man who later died. There is reputedly an underground passage that leads from the well to the graveyard.

In Kilcolman there is a well called Tobercolman or Tubberchullemaun. A slab at the well states "St. Coleman's Well, enclosed 15th August 1868". The well is on the lands of John Lane. The McCoy family put a roof over the well in 1868 when their daughter was cured after been seriously ill. There is also a wall around the well. Rounds are seldom made and consisted of rounds of the well and Kilcolman graveyard, which is about 400 yards south of the well. A pattern used to be held on the 29th of October to mark the end of the harvest season. The water can cure many diseases. Also a woman who was taking water for profane use saw a human hand in the well.

It is said that the well moved when it was cursed. According to folklore, the well has moved three times. The first time the well was in the cemetery besides the old church in Kilcolman. There was a bad winter and it had snowed heavily. Someone died and was buried by mistake near the well. Things started to appear and it moved. The second occasion the well was in a field in Ardagh. Two old ladies used to get water from the well and an argument broke out over the well. One of the women washed clothes in the well and it moved to its present location. No devotions have taken place at the well for about 30 years.

Danaher also mentions a number of other wells that are within the parish boundaries. There was a well at Ballylan called Tobersive but the well has disappeared and no tradition survives.

Another well in the parish is called Toberreendoney or "the well of the king of the Sabbath". This well is in the townland of Gortadroma but there was no pattern or feastday at the well. The well is believed to be near Dunmoylan church.

In the townland of Lissatotan, which was part of the old parish of Kilbradran, there is a well called St. Colman's well. Local people also refer to the well as St Coley's well. The water has a slightly unpleasant taste and stains the stones yellow. The water should be drunk early in the morning and it is claims that it can cure stomach disorders. No devotions take place here now.


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St Colman's Stone
There is a stone in the graveyard at Kilcolman that it is claimed can cure headaches.
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Famous People
Bishop Denis Hallinan

Bishop Hallinan was a native of the parish from the townland of Graigue. He trained for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome and was ordained in 1874. His first appointment was as a curate in Newcastlewest until 1886 when he was transferred to St. Michael's in the city. On the death of Daniel Fitzgerald of St. Mary's in 1896, he went there. In 1898 Denis Hallinan returned to Newcastlewest as parish priest until his appointment as bishop in 1918.


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English Name Irish Name Meaning
Ardlaman Ard Lomáin The high place of Loman
Ballinena Baile an Aonaigh The town of the assembly
Ballinvulla Baile an Mhuilinn The town of the mill
Ballyane Baile Uí Éidhin The town of Ó hÉidhin
Ballydoorlis Béal Átha Durlais Fordmouth of the oaken enclosure
Ballyegny Baile Éignigh The town of Éigneach
Ballyegna More as above  
Ballykenry Baile an Chaonraígh The town of An Caonraíoch
Ballykealy Baile Uí Chadhla The town of Ó Cadhla
Ballylin Baile Uí Fhloinn The town of Ó Floinn
Ballyloughnaan Baile Uí Locháin The town of Ó Lachnáin
Ballymackesy Baile Uí Mhacasa The town of Ó Macasa
Ballyneety Baile an Fhaoitigh The town of An Faoiteach
Ballyvoghan Baile Uí Bhuacháin The town of Ó Baucháin
Bauraneag Barr an Fhiaigh The high ground of the hunting
Cahernagh Ceatharnach Meaning uncertain
Carrons Na Cairne The heaps
Clonagh Cluain Each Meadow of the steeds
Coolcappa Cúil Cheapach Corner of the tillage plots
Cooltomin Cúil Toimín The corner of Toimín
Coolybrown Cúil an Bhrúnaigh The corner of An Brúnach
Corbally An Corrbhaile The noticeable town
Creeves An Chraobh The tree
Deelish Duílis Black enclosure
Dooncaha Dún Catha Fort of the battle
Dunmoylan Dún Maolín The fort of Maoilín
Glendiheen Gleann Daibhchín Glen of the small vat
Gortnadromin Gort na Dromann The field of the ridge
Gortroe An Gort Rua The red field
Grouselodge Lóiste na gCearc Fraoigh Meaning uncertain
Kerrikyle Ceithre Choill Four woods
Kilcolman Cill Cholmáin The church of Colmán
Kilquane Cill Chuáin The church of Cuán
Kilscannell Cill Scannail The church of Scannal
Knockbweeheen Cnoc Baoithín The hill of Baoithín
Lisbane An Lios Bán The white enclosure
Lisgordan Lios Cordáin The enclosure of Cordán
Lissatotan Lios an Tóiteáin The enclosure of the conflagration
Moneymohill Muine Maothail Thicket of the soft ground
Moyreen Maigh Roighean The plain of Roighin
Park An Pháirc The field
Rathgoonan Ráth Ó gCuanáin The rath of Uí Chuanáin
Rathnagore Ráth na gCorr The rath of the herons
Rathreagh Beg An Ráth Riabhach Bheag The small streaked rath
Riddlestown Baile an Ridéalaigh The town of An Ridéalach


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List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1704 -? Murtough Rahelly  
? -1737 Maurice Rahilly  
1737-? Patrick Myer  
? - 1763 Ed. Guiry  
1763 - 1786 William Neilan  
1786 - 1816 Richard Hartnett  
1816 - 1817 James Corbett  
1817 - 1835 Darby Egan  
1835 – 1837 Michael O’Halloran  
1837 Michael O’Halloran Michael McMahon
1838 Michael O'Halloran Michael McMahon
1839 Michael O'Halloran J. Cregan
    C. O'Donoghue
1840 Michael O’Halloran J. Cregan
    C. O’Donoghue
1841 Michael O’Halloran James O’Donnell
1842 Michael McMahon James O’Donnell
1843 Michael McMahon James O’Donnell
1844 Michael McMahon James O’Donnell
1845 Michael McMahon James O’Donnell
1846 Michael McMahon Richard Liston
1847 Michael McMahon Denis Madigan
1848 Michael McMahon Denis Madigan
1849 Michael McMahon Denis Madigan
1850 Michael McMahon Denis Madigan
1851 Michael McMahon James Hogan
1852 Michael McMahon James Hogan
1853 Michael McMahon James Hogan
1854 Michael McMahon David Quaid
1855 Michael McMahon William O’Donnell
1856 Michael McMahon Philip Cleary
1857 Michael McMahon Philip Cleary
1858 Michael McMahon Philip Cleary
1859 Michael McMahon Philip Cleary
1860 Michael McMahon James Corbett
1861 Michael McMahon James Corbett
1862 Michael McMahon John Walsh
1863 Michael McMahon John Walsh
1864 Michael McMahon J. L. Roche
1865 Michael McMahon J. L. Roche
1866 Michael McMahon Michael Irwin
1867 Michael McMahon Michael Irwin
1868 Michael McMahon Michael Irwin
1869 Michael McMahon Michael Irwin
    Laurence Curtin
1870 Michael McMahon Michael Irwin
    Laurence Curtin
1871 Michael McMahon Martin Slattery
    Denis Shanahan
1872 Michael McMahon Martin Slattery
    Denis Shanahan
1873 Michael McMahon Martin Slattery
    John Fitzgerald
1874 Michael McMahon John Fitzgerald
    Michael Potter
1875 Michael McMahon John Fitzgerald
    Michael Potter
1876 Michael McMahon Michael Potter
    J. Greene D.D.
1877 Michael McMahon Michael Potter
    J. Greene D.D.
1878 Michael Connery J. Greene D.D.
1879 Michael Connery J. Greene D.D.
1880 Michael Connery J. Greene D.D.
1881 Michael Connery J. Greene D.D.
1882 Michael Connery J. Greene D.D.
1883 David Quinn Solomon Frost
1884 David Quinn Solomon Frost
1885 David Quinn Solomon Frost
1886 David Quinn Solomon Frost
1887 David Quinn Solomon Frost
1888 William Downes Solomon Frost
1889 James Glesson Solomon Frost
1890 James Glesson Ger O’Connor
1891 James Glesson John Begley
1892 James Glesson John Begley
1893 James Glesson John Begley
1894 James Glesson James Carroll
1895 James Glesson Jeremiah O’Gorman
1896 James Glesson Jeremiah O’Gorman
1897 James Glesson Jeremiah O’Gorman
1898 James Glesson Jeremiah O’Gorman
1899 James Glesson Jeremiah O’Gorman
1900 James Glesson Jeremiah O’Gorman
1901 James Glesson Patrick Kenrick
1902 James Glesson Daniel Brosnahan
1903 James Glesson Daniel Brosnahan
1904 James Glesson Daniel Brosnahan
1905 James Glesson Daniel Brosnahan
1906 James Glesson Daniel Brosnahan
1907 James Glesson Daniel Brosnahan
1908 James Glesson Ed. Fitzgerald
1909 James Glesson Ed. Fitzgerald
1910 James Glesson Ed. Fitzgerald
1911 James Glesson Ed. Fitzgerald
1912 James Glesson John Carr
1913 Jeremiah Murphy John Carr
1914 Jeremiah Murphy John Carr
1915 Jeremiah Murphy John Carr
1916 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1917 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1918 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1919 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1920 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1921 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1922 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1923 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1924 Jeremiah Murphy Michael O’Brien
1925 J. K. Fitzgerald Michael O’Brien
1926 J. K. Fitzgerald Michael O’Brien
1927 J. K. Fitzgerald Michael O’Brien
1928 J. K. Fitzgerald Michael O’Brien
1929 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1930 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1931 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1932 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1933 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1934 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1935 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1936 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1937 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1938 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1939 J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1940 Canon J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1941 Canon J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1942 Canon J. K. Fitzgerald Patrick Finn
1943 Thomas Cussen  
1944 David Fitzgerald Thomas Cussen
1945 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1946 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1947 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1948 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1949 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1950 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1951 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1952 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1953 David Fitzgerald William O’Connell
1954 Patrick Lynch William O’Connell
1955 Patrick Lynch William O’Connell
1956 Patrick Lynch William O’Connell
1957 Patrick Lynch William O’Connell
1958 Patrick Lynch William O’Connell
1959 Patrick Lynch William O’Connell
1960 James Kelly John Burke
1961 James Kelly John Burke
1962 James Kelly John Burke
1963 James Kelly Patrick J. Guiry
1964 James Kelly Patrick J. Guiry
1965 John Casey D.D. Samuel Winters
1966 Samuel Winters  
1967 William O’Connell Samuel Winters
1968 William O’Connell Philip Quinlan
1969 William O’Connell Philip Quinlan
1970 William O’Connell Patrick Howard
1971 William O’Connell Patrick Howard
1972 Michael O’Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1973 Michael O’Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1974 Michael O’Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1975 Michael O’Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1976 Michael O'Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1977 Michael O’Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1978 Michael O’Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1979 Michael O’Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1980 Michael O’Ceallaigh Michael Lane
1981 Joseph Shinnors Michael Lane
1982 Joseph Shinnors Michael Lane
1983 Joseph Shinnors Michael Lane
1984 Joseph Shinnors Michael Lane
1985 Joseph Shinnors Michael Lane
1986 Joseph Shinnors Michael Lane
1987 Joseph Shinnors Terence Loughran
1988 Joseph Shinnors Terence Loughran
1989 Joseph Shinnors Terence Loughran
1990 Martin Madigan Sean Murphy
1991 Martin Madigan Sean Murphy
1992 Martin Madigan Sean Murphy
1993 Martin Madigan Sean Murphy
1994 Martin Madigan Sean Murphy
1995 Martin Madigan Sean Murphy
1996 Martin Madigan Sean Murphy
1997 Martin Madigan Anthony Kelleher
1998 Martin Madigan  
1999 Martin Madigan  
2000 John Duggan Michael Daly
2001 John Duggan Michael Daly
2002 John Duggan Michael Daly
2003 William Doolan Michael Daly
2004 William Doolan  
2005 William Doolan  
2006 William Doolan  
2007 William Doolan  


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 | St Colman's Stone | Famous People | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

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