Diocese of Limerick | Heritage Project | Index | Search | Help

Diocesan Heritage Project

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Shrine | Bicentenial Plaque | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

The village of Croagh is situated on the N20, roughly midway between Adare and Rathkeale. The population of the parish is around of 1,100.

The Irish for Croagh is Cruach, which means 'a rounded hill'. In the past Croagh was called Mayncroo. By 1109, Croagh had an abbey and two castles. After the defeat of James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, Lewis says that James stayed one night at Amigan castle, which is now in ruins. According to Begley, in 1678, the then bishop of the diocese, Dr. James Dowley ordained priests from the famous school in Croagh.

Kilfinny is from the Irish Cill na Fionaí or Cill Finche, which means "the church of the wood". However, it is more commonly translated as "the church of St. Finneach". There were two women saints called St. Finneach. One founded a church in Knocktopher in Co. Kilkenny and the other came from what is now Co. Down. To confuse the issue further, the patron saint of Kilfinny is St. Ciarán. This St. Ciarán is from Clonmacnois and his feastday is on September 9th.

Back to Top


The original church in Kilfinny was built in 1790. When it was first built the roof was thatched and the church has been rebuilt three times since 1790. It is dedicated to St Kieran.

As you enter the church, the doors contain stained glass windows of St Ciarán on the right and St Finneach on the left. This is a large church with a high ceiling. To the left of the altar there is a statue to the Sacred Heart and on the right, there is a statue to Blessed Virgin.

Over the altar, which is wooden, there is a depiction of the crucifixion that includes the Irish phrase "I líontaibh dé go gcastar sinn" which means, "May we be caught up in the net of the Lord". Painted on the wall behind the altar are shoals of fish swimming into the tabernacle.

The church in Croagh was built in 1830, and is dedicated to St John the Baptist. On the left wall of the nave of the church, there is a wooden carving, which depicts the baptism of Jesus by John. There is a statue of Our Lady in the grounds of the church.

To the left of the altar there is a statue of the Sacred Heart. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary on the right. The stained glass window behind the altar depicts the Blessed Virgin, the Sacred Heart and John the Baptist. The stained glass window in the porch depicts John the Baptist baptising Jesus. On the floor in front of the altar, there is a crest of the Lamb of God.

Buried in the grounds of the church are:

Canon John Kennedy
P. P. 1962-1985
Died March 28 1985

William J. Mulcahy
P. P. 1892-1927
Died December 7 1927

Canon Timothy Murphy
P. P. 1929-1961
Died December 22 1961

There are church ruins in Kilfinny in the townland of Ballynakill. Westropp measured the church ruins, which consists of a nave and choir as 40 feet by 18 feet and 15 feet by 14 feet. The walls are 12 feet by 3 feet and in 1810 the choir was rebuilt and used as a burial place for the Pigott family. The ruins are now surrounded by a graveyard.

There is a church ruin in Croagh in the townland of Adamswood. This church was a collegiate church but prior to that, this was the site of an Augustinian abbey. According to a plaque on the abbey wall, this abbey was used as a seminary for a number of centuries. The abbey was founded around the 10th century and was used by a religious order called the Augustinians Canons. The chancel was still in use when Westropp visited the site in the early 20th century. The church was cruciform in shape and had been used as a Protestant church from the 18th century until the 1830s.

Begley mentions a chapel in Lismuck (now called Lisnamuck) but neither Begley nor Westropp give any details or site of this chapel.

Back to Top


There is a new graveyard at the back of the church in Croagh.

The old graveyard in Croagh is in the grounds of the abbey. The oldest headstone that we found was from 1802 and it was in memory of Denis Smith who died on January 1st of that year at the age of 28.

In the graveyard in Ballynakill, the oldest headstone that we found was to Michael Foley who died on April 23rd 1794, aged 26. However inside the church ruin we found a headstone that was broken in a number of pieces. This headstone was in memory to Anne Pigott who died May 28th 1683. It appeared that this headstone was originally on a pedestal near the wall of the church.

Back to Top

Holy Wells
According to Danaher, there are three wells in the parish. In the Croagh division of the parish there are two wells. In the townland of Ballinvira the well is called Toberreendoney. This well is in a field and is just besides a stream. In the past visits were made before sunrise on Sundays. The well was famous for the cure of sore eyes and is said to be connected in some way with St Ita. According to local tradition, a woman was cured of blindness at the well.

The other Holy Well in Croagh is in the townland of Ballymacave and is called St James' Well. The feastday of the well was the 25th of July and crowds came to the well at dawn on the eve of the feastday.

The well is believed to have been on the bank of a stream but has disappeared due to the water from the well being incorporated into to a drainage scheme. Rags were hung on nearby bushes. The water cured St James' Evil, which Danaher tells us is scrofula, if applied by someone called James between sunset and sunrise. Scrofula is the development of glandular swellings and consumption, which is also called the king's evil.

The well in the Kilfinny part of the parish is in Ballynakill townland and is called St Ciarán's well. This well is besides the church ruin in Ballynakill. The well has steps leading down to the water level.

The rounds were mainly made on September 9th, the feast of St. Ciarán. The rounds took place partly in the graveyard and partly around the well. The water is believed to cure sore eyes and St. Ciarán's footprints are said to be visible on one of the stones at the well.

Back to Top

In the Marian Year 1988, the Costello family erected a shrine to the Virgin Mary. This shrine is near the abbey in Croagh, facing towards the N20.

Back to Top

Bicentenial Plaque
This plaque was unveiled on 9th September 1990, the feast of St Ciaran to commemorate the bicentenary of Kilfinny church.

Back to Top


English Name Irish Name Meaning
Adamswood Coill Adaim The wood of Adam
Amogambeg Áth Mhongáin Beag The ford of Mongán
Amogammore as above  
Ardnapreaghaun Ard na bPréachán The high place of the crows
Ballincurra Baile an Churraigh The town of the wet land
Ballinvira Baile an Mheidhrigh The town of An Meidhreach
Ballycannon Baile Uí Chanainn The town of Ó Canann
Ballyfoleen North Baile Phóilín The town of Póilín
Ballyfoleen South as above  
Ballyea Baile Uí Aodha The town of Ó hAodha
Ballylin Baile Uí Fhloinn The town of Ó Floinn
Ballymacave Baile Mhic Ádhaimh The town of Mac Ádhaimh
Ballymackeamore Baile Mac Aodha Mhóir The town of big Mac Aodha
Ballynakill Baile na Cille The town of the church
Ballynagool Baile na gCúil The town of the corners
Ballynaguila Bealach na Gaibhle The way of the fork
Clogh East An Chloch The stone structure
Clogh West as above  
Cloonoul Cluain Abhall Meadow of the apple trees
Commons An Coimín  
Croagh Cróch Meaning uncertain
Fihidy Na Fichidí The twenties
Gortfadda An Gort Fada The long field
Gortreagh An Gort Riabhach The streaked field
Kilfinny Cill na Fíonaí The church of the wood
Killea Cill Liath Grey place
Kiltenan North Cill tSeanáin The church of Seanán
Kiltenan South as above  
Knockdromin Cnoc Dromann Hill of the ridge
Lisnamuck Lios na Muice The enclosure of the pig
Milltown Baile an Mhuilinn The town of the mill
Newpark An Pháirc Nua  
Old Court An tSeanachúirt The old court
Raheen An Ráithín The small rath


Back to Top

List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1704 -? William Huonhy  
? -? Ambrose O’Connor  
? - 1757 George Browne  
1757 - 1772 Sylvester Mulcair  
1772 - 1806 Michael Kiely  
1806 – 1848 Maurice Hogan  
1837 Maurice Hogan Patrick Benson
1838 Maurice Hogan Patrick Benson
1839 Maurice Hogan Patrick Benson
1840 Maurice Hogan Patrick Benson
1841 Maurice Hogan Patrick Benson
1842 Maurice Hogan Patrick Benson
1843 Maurice Hogan Patrick Benson
1844 Maurice Hogan James McMahon
1845 Maurice Hogan  
1846 Maurice Hogan Timothy Corkery
1847 Maurice Hogan Timothy Corkery
1848 Maurice Hogan Timothy Corkery
1849 John Meehan James McCarthy
1850 John Meehan Thomas Walsh
1851 John Meehan Thomas Walsh
1852 John Meehan  
1853 John Meehan  
1854 John Meehan John O’Neil
1855 John Meehan John O’Neil
1856 John Meehan John O’Neil
1857 John Meehan John O’Neil
1858 John Meehan James Moran
1859 John Meehan James Moran
1860 John Meehan John Fitzgibbon
1861 John Meehan John Reeves
1862 John Meehan John Reeves
1863 John Meehan C. McCarthy
1864 John Meehan Thomas Duggan
1865 John Meehan Daniel Ryan
1866 John Meehan ? Clifford
1867 John Meehan Thomas Benson
1868 John Meehan Eugene Sheehy
1869 John Meehan Eugene Sheehy
1870 John Meehan Stephen Danaher
1871 John Meehan Stephen Danaher
1872 John Meehan Stephen Danaher
1873 John Meehan Stephen Danaher
1874 John Meehan Stephen Danaher
1875 John Meehan Timothy Kelly
1876 John Meehan Timothy Kelly
1877 John Meehan John Hallinan
1878 John Meehan John Hallinan
1879 John Meehan John Hallinan
1880 John Meehan John Hallinan
1881 John Meehan John Hallinan
1882 John Meehan John Hallinan
1883 John Meehan John Hallinan
1884 Patrick Carroll Daniel Crotty
1885 Patrick Carroll Daniel Crotty
1886 Patrick Carroll Daniel Crotty
1887 Patrick Carroll Daniel Crotty
1888 Stephen Danaher Daniel Crotty
1889 Stephen Danaher  
1890 Stephen Danaher  
1891 Stephen Danaher  
1892 Stephen Danaher  
1893 William Mulcahy  
1894 William Mulcahy  
1895 William Mulcahy  
1896 William Mulcahy  
1897 William Mulcahy  
1898 William Mulcahy John Conway
1899 William Mulcahy Martin Carroll
1900 William Mulcahy Patrick Carroll
1901 William Mulcahy Patrick Carroll
1902 William Mulcahy Patrick Carroll
1903 William Mulcahy Patrick Carroll
1904 William Mulcahy Patrick Carroll
1905 William Mulcahy John Conway
1906 William Mulcahy John Conway
1907 William Mulcahy John Conway
1908 William Mulcahy John Conway
1909 William Mulcahy Michael Leahy
1910 William Mulcahy Michael Leahy
1911 William Mulcahy Michael Leahy
1912 William Mulcahy Michael Leahy
1913 William Mulcahy Michael Leahy
1914 William Mulcahy Michael Leahy
1915 William Mulcahy Patrick Ryan
1916 William Mulcahy Patrick Ryan
1917 William Mulcahy Patrick Ryan
1918 William Mulcahy Patrick Ryan
1919 William Mulcahy Patrick Ryan
1920 William Mulcahy Patrick Ryan
1921 William Mulcahy Thomas Mortell
1922 William Mulcahy Thomas Mortell
1923 William Mulcahy H. O’Connor
1924 William Mulcahy H. O’Connor
1925 William Mulcahy W. Boyce
1926 William Mulcahy W. Boyce
1927 William Mulcahy W. Boyce
1928   W. Boyce
1929 Timothy Murphy William O’Grady
1930 Timothy Murphy William O’Grady
1931 Timothy Murphy Michael Minahan
1932 Timothy Murphy Michael Minahan
1933 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1934 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1935 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1936 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1937 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1938 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1939 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1940 Timothy Murphy James O’Byrne
1941 Timothy Murphy Gerard Enright
1942 Timothy Murphy Gerard Enright
1943 Timothy Murphy Gerard Enright
1944 Timothy Murphy Gerard Enright
1945 Timothy Murphy Gerard Enright
1946 Timothy Murphy Gerard Enright
1947 Timothy Murphy Patrick O’Dea
1948 Timothy Murphy Patrick O’Dea
1949 Canon Timothy Murphy Patrick O’Dea
1950 Canon Timothy Murphy John Fitzgibbon
1951 Canon Timothy Murphy John Fitzgibbon
1952 Canon Timothy Murphy John Fitzgibbon
1953 Canon Timothy Murphy Thomas O’Donnell
1954 Canon Timothy Murphy Thomas O’Donnell
1955 Canon Timothy Murphy Thomas O’Donnell
1956 Canon Timothy Murphy Thomas O’Donnell
1957 Canon Timothy Murphy Thomas O’Donnell
1958 Canon Timothy Murphy John McCarthy
1959 Canon Timothy Murphy John McCarthy
1960 Canon Timothy Murphy John McCarthy
1961 Canon Timothy Murphy John McCarthy
1962   John McCarthy
1963 John O’Kennedy John McCarthy
1964 John O’Kennedy T. O’Donnell
1965 John O’Kennedy  
1966 John O’Kennedy  
1967 John O’Kennedy  
1968 John O’Kennedy  
1969 John O’Kennedy  
1970 John O’Kennedy  
1971 John O’Kennedy  
1972 John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1973 John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1974 John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1975 John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1976 John O'Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1977 John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1978 John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1979 John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1980 Canon John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1981 Canon John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1982 Canon John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1983 Canon John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1984 Canon John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1985 Canon John O’Kennedy Gerard McNamara
1986 Liam Kelly  
1987 Liam Kelly  
1988 Liam Kelly  
1989 Liam Kelly  
1990 Liam Kelly  
1991 David Kennedy  
1992 David Kennedy  
1993 David Kennedy  
1994 David Kennedy  
1995 David Kennedy  
1996 Anthony Mulvihill  
1997 Anthony Mulvihill  
1998 Anthony Mulvihill   
1999 Anthony Mulvihill  
2000 Anthony Mulvihill  
2001 Anthony Mulvihill  
2002 Anthony Mulvihill  
2003 Anthony Mulvihill  
2004 Anthony Mulvihill  
2005 Anthony Mulvihill  
2006 Anthony Mulvihill  
2007 Anthony Mulvihill  



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 | Shrine | Bicentenial Plaque | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Croagh-Kilfinny Parish Home | Back to Top

Diocese of Limerick | Heritage Project | Index | Search | Help

Website by Lúnasa Design