Croom is almost in the exact centre of County Limerick, nine miles west of Limerick City on the N20. It is located mainly in the barony of Coshma, with part of the parish in Pubblebrien. Croom is situated on the river Maigue, and was a place of importance from an early date, although the town itself did not develop until the building of the castle. The population of the parish is approximately 2000.
The Irish for Croom is Crom or Cromadh, meaning 'bend', 'curved' or 'strong'. The town of Croom was established with the building of Croom castle by Dermot O'Donovan in 1210AD. A significant segment of the original castle still stands. The town was walled in 1310. Prior to 1641 the area around Croom was known as Ballingaddy parish, comprising the townlands of Croom and Toureen.
According to Lewis, the parish of Croom was the head of the RC district comprising the parishes of Croom, Anhid, Dunaman, Carrigran and Dysart. Anhid parish now forms part of the modern day parish of Croom, although part of the old parish is now in Banogue. In 1861, on the death of Laurence Hartnett, P.P., Banogue was set up as a separate parish from Croom.
Croom Mill was built in 1788. The Earl of Kildare built the original mill in 1340. In 1740 Henry Lyons came to Croom and bought it. He proceeded to demolish the old mill and to build the present one. The wheel was powered with water from the river Maigue. The mill closed in 1927, although the mill wheel continued to operate until the early 1940s.
Tory Hill is a well-known landmark in the parish of Croom. It is claimed that an upper terrace on the hill, which appears to be artificial, was in fact a fortress, and may indeed have been 'Temair Luachra' which was the royal establishment of North Munster. A gold lunula or collar, which dates from 2000 to 500BC, was found there in 1852. It is now in the National Museum.
The name Tory Hill only dates to the 18th century. Two derivations are given for the name. The first, Tóraidhe, may be defined as 'a tory, a robber or a highwayman', and in that sense, the hill may have taken its name from the tories or raparees who took refuge there in the 17th and 18th centuries, and who used it as a base to attack and rob people. The second, more widely accepted derivation is Cnoc Drom Asail, which means 'the hill of the ass's back'.
Fr Laurence Hartnett probably built the church of St Mary of the Assumption between the years 1814 and 1821. There is some dispute about this though, as some maintain that the church was in fact first built in 1808. Confusion is caused by the fact that there were two Fr Laurence Hartnetts as Parish Priests of Croom, the first being the uncle of the second.
According to oral tradition, a Mr Croker of Croom Castle gave the site for St Mary's. The church was originally rectangular in shape, with a thatched roof and flagged floor. Two wings were later added, giving the church its present day T-shape.
In the 1850's the church was lengthened, and a new slated roof was put on. The sacristy was built in 1898. During a reconstruction of the church between 1929 and 1932, the walls were raised ten feet all around and buttressed outside. A new roof was laid, and the flagstone floor was overlaid with pitch pine boards. At this time, the Lyons family had their own gallery.
In 1969 the altar and sanctuary were renovated, and the floors
were done up. More recently the stonework on the outside of the church was
exposed, and the church itself was painted. The exposed stonework gives an
indication of the original height of the thatch before the new roof was laid.
A plaque just inside the side door, on the right, is dedicated to Henry Lyons, who died in 1885 aged 57. The plaque asks that people pray for him and his family. Inside the side door on the left is a plaque to Lawrence Hartnett, Parish Priest, who is buried in the church.
Stained glass windows in the church include windows of St Anthony, St Bridget, St Patrick, St Theresa, and the Holy family. Parishioners donated the windows. There is another plaque to the Lyons family on the stairs of the right gallery, which dedicated the stained glass window of the Archangel Michael to them. The window by the left gallery is to Gabriel.
Buried within the church are:
Parish Priest of Croom and Ballybanogue
Died August 27th 1861
Fr John Quinlan
Parish Priest for 31 years
Died May 19th 1892
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
Fr Austin Hartigan
Died 16th July 1916
Parish Priest for 3 years and 8 months
Died 25th December 1907
Parish Priest for 27 years
Died 24th August 1936
Aged 80 years
Parish Priest, Croom
Died 1st October 1965
Canon Jacob Wall
Parish Priest 1936-1950
Died 31st January 1950
Canon David Martin
Died 14th June 1961
Canon David Rea
Parish Priest 1974-1983
Died 13th August 1983
The Church of Ireland church now stands where there was originally a Medieval Church. Nothing now remains, however, of the church ruin.
Before Croom became the parish church in 1711, the parish
church had been at Anhid. Only one wall remains of Anhid church now, however,
located in the centre of Anhid graveyard. The old water font was removed from
this church in 1969. The name Anhid comes from Anait, meaning the chief church
in a monastery.
In Westropp's Ancient Churches in Co. Limerick, he mentions a chapel at Dromassell or Tory Hill. There is no longer any trace of this chapel. He also states that there was a chapel at Caherass, but says that this chapel was closed after its desecration by the suicide in it of its chaplain. The church ruin in Dunaman is still in existence; however, it is no longer in the parish of Croom, but in Adare parish. There were also churches at Dunkip, and Dollas, but again no ruins remain.
Westropp also lists Keilbeinighte, which he says was situated between Killeenoghty and Croom, and may in fact have been Corrabul. However, the exact location of the site is now unknown.
According to Westropp, there was a church called Ballyhowregainn
at Carrigeen. Today the ruins of Dysert Aenghusa
are in this townland. These ruins include a church ruin and the remains of
a round tower. See Dysert Aenghusa.
Reilig Mhuire was opened in 1962 by Canon Martin. The graveyard cost about £1250. It was first used in April 1961.
Anhid graveyard is located just outside the town of Croom. This graveyard was cleaned by a local committee last year, and is currently in very good condition. One gable wall remains of the old church. The two rivers, the Maigue and the Commogue join up behind the graveyard, making this a very scenic location.
The oldest headstone that we found here was to Fr John Cantillon, who was buried in Anhid church in 1723. We also found a headstone in memory of Daniel Kennedy, Parish Priest, St Munchin's, who died 15th September 1878. There are three tombs on the left-hand side of the graveyard, and one on the right.
Both Catholics and Protestants were buried in the Protestant graveyard, which is located in the grounds of the Church of Ireland church, across the road from the parish church.
Before piped water came to Croom in the 1940's, Our Lady's Well in the townland of Skagh, was the main source of domestic water to the town. Nobody ever remembers the well to have gone dry even under drought conditions.
A legend said that the well was originally sited between two large rocks, known as Our Lord's rock and the Devil's rock, but because of the abusive act of a soldier the well moved to where it is now. These rocks are said to bear the marks of Our Lady's hands, although another local legend claims they are the handprints of a giant. These rocks are used as mass rocks on pattern day.
The well was also supposed to have moved across the river when clothes were washed in it but the prayers of a holy priest brought it back. Another story tells of a man who caught a trout that lived in the well, who died in a lunatic asylum.
Every 15th August, the local custom was to surround the well with flowers and statues, and people made their rounds, which consisted of reciting the rosary while walking slowly around the well. Nowadays, people walk from the well, around the two large rocks, and back around the well, while saying five decades of the rosary. They also drink water from the well on each round.
Danaher recorded a Holy Well in the townland of Anhid East,
south of the Anhid church ruin, called Toberregan. This well, locally known
as Egan's well, was a trickle of water on the riverbank. The water was supposed
to cure headaches. No devotions are held here nowadays.
According to parish records, there was an altar stone in Croom, which dated from penal times. This altar stone bore an ogham inscription. It was given by Canon Wall to the National Museum.
Dysert Aenghusa is the earliest known Christian site in the area of Croom, dating from approximately 800AD. The ruins of a church and of a round tower are now all that remains. There was a graveyard here until about 100 years ago, although no trace of it now remains. A 19th century landowner used the headstones as slabs to cover drains. A local story told about the man says that he built new sheds on his farm soon after, and "Luke Christy went broke over the sheds". Some say his financial failure was punishment for disturbing the graveyard.
According to Barrow's The Round Towers of Ireland, Luke Christy excavated the interior of the tower in 1849. He also fitted floors and ladders and a lead roof. The roof was replaced in 1881-2 when the Office of Public Works carried out repairs. The ruin is now under the protection of the OPW and is well preserved. Mass was said here last year.
Aengus was born around 750AD. He joined the monastery of Clonenagh, near Portlaoise, and was ordained a priest around 775AD. At this time the Céilí Dé (Companions or servants of God) were a kind of order of hermits. Aengus became one of the Céilí De, and so sought out a lonely place to set up his dísert or hermitage. He came to Croom around 780AD and set up his hermitage at what is now known as Dísert Aenghusa in the townland of Carrigeen in Croom. There, Aenghus founded a church before moving on after a stay of just two years.
There is much confusion as to the dates on which the church and tower were built. Some would date the church from the 9th or 10th centuries, while others would date it as late as the 15th or 16th centuries, and say that the later ruin incorporates the first building into its framework. The tower has been dated as early as the tenth century, and as late as 1200AD. The church was used as a parish church until 1418. By 1610 Dísert belonged to the Protestant church.
A mass path in this area leads from Dysert Aenghusa to Croom.
Croom is associated with poets and poetry, and the Irish poet Seán Ó Tuama lived in, and is buried in Croom. In the mid-eighteenth century Croom was a meeting place for Gaelic poets. Croom is also credited with being the place of origination of the form of poetry known as a 'Limerick'.
|English Name||Irish Name||Meaning|
|Anhid East||Aithnid||Meaning uncertain|
|Anhid West||as above|
|Attyflin||Áit tí Flainn||The house-site of Flann|
|Ballyfookoon||Baile Phúcúin||The town of Púcún|
|Ballygeale||Baile an Ghéill||The town of the hostage|
|Ballygrennan||Baile Uí Dhroighneáin||The town of Ó Donnchú|
|Ballylusky||An Baile Loiscthe||The burnt town|
|Ballynahown||Baile na hAbhann||The town of the river|
|Ballyouragan||Baile Uí Anragáin||The town of Ó hAnragáin|
|Caherass||Cathair Easa||Stone fort of the waterfall|
|Carrigeen||An Carraigín||The small rock|
|Carrow||An Cheathrú||The quarterland|
|Coologe||An Chúlóg||The small corner|
|Corrabul||Baile an Charbaid||The town of the boulder|
|Dollas||An Doladh||Meaning uncertain|
|Dollas Lower||as above|
|Dollas Upper||as above|
|Dunnaman||Dún na mBeann||The fort of the points|
|Fanningstown||Baile an Fhainínigh||The town of An Fainíneach|
|Garranroe||An Garrán Rua||The red grove|
|Honeypound||Póna Honaí||The animal pound of honey|
|Laskiltagh||Lios Coillteach||Wooded enclosure|
|Maghera||An Machaire Riabhach||The streaked plain|
|Rathbranagh||Ráth Bhreathnach||Rath of the Breathnaigh|
|Skagh||An Sceach||The hawthorn|
|Toryhill||Cnoc Droma Asail||The hill of the ridge of Asal|
|Toureen||An Tuairín||The small animal enclosure|
|1704 - 1723||John Cantillon|
|1723 - ?||Edmund Higgins|
|? - 1758||William Leo|
|1758 - 1766||Joseph Egan|
|1766 - 1770||Geoffery Keating|
|1770 - 1781||Darby Nunan|
|1781 – 1814||Laurence Hartnett|
|1814 – 1836||Laurence Hartnett|
|1837||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1838||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1839||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1840||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1841||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1842||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1843||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1844||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1845||Laurence Hartnett||James O’Shea|
|1846||Laurence Hartnett||James O’Shea|
|1847||Laurence Hartnett||John Meehan|
|1848||Laurence Hartnett||John Meehan|
|1849||Laurence Hartnett||James Enright|
|1850||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1851||Laurence Hartnett||Timothy Corkery|
|1852||Laurence Hartnett||James O’Shea|
|1853||Laurence Hartnett||James O’Shea|
|1854||Laurence Hartnett||James O’Shea|
|1855||Laurence Hartnett||James O’Shea|
|1856||Laurence Hartnett||John Hayes|
|1857||Laurence Hartnett||John Hayes|
|1858||Laurence Hartnett||John Hayes|
|1859||Laurence Hartnett||John Hayes|
|1860||Laurence Hartnett||John Hayes|
|1861||Laurence Hartnett||John Hayes|
|1862||John Quinlan||James Roche|
|1863||John Quinlan||John Conway|
|1864||John Quinlan||Philip Cleary|
|1865||John Quinlan||Thomas Nolan|
|1866||John Quinlan||R. Bridgeman|
|1867||John Quinlan||R. Bridgeman|
|1868||John Quinlan||Thomas Head|
|1869||John Quinlan||Thomas Head|
|1870||John Quinlan||Thomas Head|
|1871||John Quinlan||James O’Shea|
|1872||John Quinlan||George Quaid|
|1873||John Quinlan||George Quaid|
|1874||John Quinlan||George Quaid|
|1875||John Quinlan||John Sheehan|
|1876||John Quinlan||John Sheehan|
|1877||John Quinlan||John Sheehan|
|1878||John Quinlan||John Sheehan|
|1879||John Quinlan||John Sheehan|
|1880||John Quinlan||Edmond Tracey|
|1881||John Quinlan||John Quinlan|
|1882||John Quinlan||John Quinlan|
|1883||John Quinlan||John Quinlan|
|1884||John Quinlan||John Quinlan|
|1885||John Quinlan||John Quinlan|
|1886||John Quinlan||John Quinlan|
|1887||John Quinlan||John Quinlan|
|1888||John Quinlan||John Conway|
|1889||John Quinlan||John Conway|
|1890||John Quinlan||John Conway|
|1891||John Quinlan||John Conway|
|1892||John Quinlan||John Conway|
|1893||James O’Shea||Patrick Carroll|
|1894||James O’Shea||Patrick Carroll|
|1895||James O’Shea||Patrick Carroll|
|1896||James O’Shea||Patrick Carroll|
|1897||James O’Shea||Patrick Carroll|
|1898||James O’Shea||Patrick Carroll|
|1899||James O’Shea||Patrick Carroll|
|1900||James O’Shea||William Dwane|
|1901||James O’Shea||William Dwane|
|1902||James O’Shea||William Dwane|
|1903||James O’Shea||William Dwane|
|1904||James O’Shea||William Dwane|
|1905||Timothy Lee||William Dwane|
|1906||Timothy Lee||James Foley|
|1907||Timothy Lee||James Foley|
|1908||Timothy Lee||James Foley|
|1909||Timothy Curtin||James Foley|
|1910||Timothy Curtin||Charles McCarthy|
|1911||Timothy Curtin||Charles McCarthy|
|1912||Timothy Curtin||Charles McCarthy|
|1913||Timothy Curtin||Charles McCarthy|
|1914||Timothy Curtin||Charles McCarthy|
|1915||Timothy Curtin||Charles McCarthy|
|1916||Timothy Curtin||Charles McCarthy|
|1917||Timothy Curtin||Patrick Coleman|
|1918||Timothy Curtin||Patrick Coleman|
|1919||Timothy Curtin||Patrick Coleman|
|1920||Timothy Curtin||Stephen O’Dea|
|1921||Timothy Curtin||Stephen O’Dea|
|1922||Timothy Curtin||John Moloney|
|1923||Timothy Curtin||D. Fitzgerald|
|1924||Timothy Curtin||D. Fitzgerald|
|1925||Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1926||Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1927||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1928||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1929||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1930||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1931||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1932||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1933||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1934||Canon Timothy Curtin||D. O’Donnell|
|1935||Canon Timothy Curtin||T. O’Sullivan|
|1936||Canon Timothy Curtin||T. O’Sullivan|
|1937||James Wall||T. O’Sullivan|
|1938||James Wall||T. O’Sullivan|
|1939||James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1940||James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1941||James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1942||Canon James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1943||Canon James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1944||Canon James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1945||Canon James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1946||Canon James Wall||Michael Doody|
|1947||Canon James Wall||Thomas Kirby|
|1948||Canon James Wall||Thomas Kirby|
|1949||Canon James Wall||Thomas Kirby|
|1950||Canon James Wall||Thomas Kirby|
|1951||Canon Daniel Martin||Thomas Kirby|
|1952||Canon Daniel Martin||Thomas Kirby|
|1953||Canon Daniel Martin||Thomas Kirby|
|1954||Canon Daniel Martin||Thomas Kirby|
|1955||Canon Daniel Martin||Thomas Kirby|
|1956||Canon Daniel Martin||Thomas Kirby|
|1957||Canon Daniel Martin||Thomas Kirby|
|1958||Canon Daniel Martin||Patrick Fitzgerald|
|1959||Canon Daniel Martin||Patrick Fitzgerald|
|1960||Canon Daniel Martin||Patrick Fitzgerald|
|1961||Canon Daniel Martin||Patrick Fitzgerald|
|1962||John Brassill||Dermot McCarthy|
|1963||John Brassill||Dermot McCarthy|
|1964||John Brassill||Sean McCarthy|
|1965||John Brassill||Sean McCarthy|
|1966||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1967||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1968||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1969||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1970||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1971||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1972||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1973||Michael Tynan||Sean McCarthy|
|1974||Canon Michael Tynan||William Walsh|
|1975||David Rea||William Walsh|
|1976||David Rea||William Walsh|
|1977||David Rea||William Walsh|
|1978||David Rea||William Walsh|
|1979||David Rea||William Walsh|
|1980||David Rea||William Walsh|
|1981||David Rea||William Walsh|
|1982||Canon David Rea||William Walsh|
|1983||Canon David Rea||William Walsh|
|1984||Mgr. Liam Boyle||William Aherne|
|1985||Mgr. Liam Boyle||William Aherne|
|1986||Mgr. Liam Boyle||Sean Long|
|1987||Mgr. Liam Boyle||Sean Long|
|1988||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1989||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1990||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1991||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1992||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1993||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1994||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1995||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1996||Anthony Elliott||Sean Long|
|1997||Anthony Elliott||David Costello|
|1998||Anthony Elliott||David Costello|
|1999||Joseph Kennedy||David Costello|
|2000||Joseph Kennedy||David Costello|
|2001||Joseph Kennedy||David Costello|
|2002||Joseph Kennedy||David Costello|
|2003||Joseph Kennedy||David Costello|
|2005||Joseph Kennedy||Eamonn O'Brien|
|2006||Joseph Kennedy||Eamonn O'Brien|
|2007||Joseph Kennedy||Eamonn O'Brien|
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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