The town of Kilfinane is situated about 5 miles from the town of Kilmallock on the R517, the road from Kilmallock to Mitchelstown. Kilfinane is in the barony of Coshlea and it is said to be the highest town in Limerick. The present population of the parish is around 1,100.
The parish was the head of the union of the parishes of Kilfinane, Particles and Ardpatrick. The modern day parish of Kilfinane was formed in 1861 when Ardpatrick became a separate parish. In Begley's "History of the Diocese of Limerick" Ballingaddy was named as part of the parish of Kilfinane. However, today it forms part of the parish of Kilmallock.
Kilfinane is translated as Cill Fhionáin, which means the church of St Fionáin. St Fionáin founded his church here in around the 7th century but no one knows where the site of this church is now. It is believed that St Fionáin was Fionáin of Dromhoura, whose feastday is on February 13th or December 8th.
The local market was held on Tuesdays and fairs were held on May 19th, August 9th and October 25th.
Kilfinane is home to the noteworthy moat of Kilfinane. The moat measures 34 feet high and 54 feet in diameter at the base and 20 feet at the top. The view from the top of the moat gives a good view of the surrounding countryside. Opinions differ as to whether the moat was used as living quarters or as a ceremonial mound for the crowning of Kings. It may have been used as a guarding post for the Fermoym, which in former times was a place of great importance. Kilfinane was one of the royal seats of the Kings of Cashel. It is claimed that Brian Boru repaired and strengthened the great fort of Kilfinane.
Gabriel Rosenstock, a native of the parish, wrote the following
poem on the Moat in Kilfinane.
I think I understand, Even back then it would outlive us.
That it was more ancient, more permanent than the sweet clash of hurleys.
There were things around us when we were growing up,
That blessed us with sweetness and terror, a Holy Well - do they still visit it?
A Protestant Church choirs were heard in the graveyard in
the dead of night.
Did the Moat mute mysterious echo of the forgotten historical pageant.
You had a view from the top of the fertile plains of Limerick
A flighty cloud over a wooded hill.
A miserable old greyhound sunning himself in front of the
And at night the stars looking down on the moat as though their orphan
It was our own Tara, if the truth be told.
The deep heart of the universe.
A small group of Palatines came to the area around the 1760s. The local landlord of the area Charles Silver Oliver brought these settlers, who had originally come to Ireland from Germany, here. The Palatines helped the locals defeat an attack from the Defenders in 1793.
The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley visited Kilfinane on six occasions during his ministry between 1765 and 1789. Wesley preached in the Market House to the local Palatines in Ballyriggan. He was dismayed on his first visit to the Palatines when he discovered that their lives had descended into "drunkenness, cursing and swearing". Wesley converted the Palatines to Methodism.
In 1897 Kilfinane won the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
for Limerick. In those days, the county champions represented the county in
the All Ireland Championship.
The present church in Kilfinane was built during the tenure of Fr Patrick Lee as parish priest in Kilfinane from 1877 until his death in 1892. The church is dedicated to St Andrew.
At the back of the church on the right there is a plaque in memory of Fr Maurice Fitzgibbon, who is buried in the grounds of the church. Inside the door of the church on the left, there is a holy water font, donated by Mary T. Hurley. The people of the parish donated the Stations of the Cross.
Inside the church, on the left-hand side, there is a plaque and stained glass window to Fr Patrick Lee who died on July 23rd 1892. He is buried on the right hand side of the church, in front of the altar. On the right-hand side, there is another stained glass window and a plaque to the memory of Fr Lee. The people of the parish and friends of Fr Lee donated these.
To the left of the altar there is small altar to the Sacred Heart. This altar and the stained glass window behind it are dedicated to a former parish priest of Kilfinane, Fr Maurice Fitzgibbon. On the right hand side of the altar there is a small altar to the Good Mother Mary. The ladies of the parish erected this altar.
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
John B. Kelly C.C.
Died December 8 1935, aged 33
James Carroll P.P.
Died April 14 1934, aged 62
Parish Priest of Kilfinane & Ardpatrick
Died December 1 1858, aged 66
John U. Carr P.P.
Died January 16 1945, aged 78
Parish Priest 1945 - 1955
President St. Munchin's College, 1934 - 1944
Michael R. Power
Died July 1 1962, aged 78
A native of the parish
Died October 24 1844, aged 95
James B. Tobin
Died November 20 1968
John H. O'Keefe
Priest in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida
Died July 6 1960, aged 65
Canon John Carrick
Parish Priest 1892 - 1915
Died April 19 1915, aged 76
Canon Michael Doody
Parish Priest 1971 - 1979
Canon Patrick O'Dea
Parish Priest 1979 - 1990
Patrick (Patsy) Casey
The present primary school in Kilfinane is on the site of the previous church in the parish. That church was built in Kilfinane in 1835 by Fr Sheehy, at a cost of £1,000 according to Patrick J. Connor's "Exploring Limerick's Past".
There is a large church ruin in the graveyard across from the present day church. This church was rebuilt in 1760. The ruin itself is covered in bushes. This church once served as a Church of Ireland church.
According to Westropp's "Survey of the Ancient Churches in the County of Limerick" the ruins of a church in Laurencetown appeared on maps of 1840.
The graveyard in Kilfinane is located across the road from the parish church. The graveyard is divided into three different sections. The oldest headstone that we found was from 1808 and was erected by Thomas Sheedy in memory of his father Cornelius and his brother John, who died on January 14th, aged 42. We believe that the date refers only to John's death. However, the script on the headstone was difficult to read.
As the graveyard dates from at least 1760 (judging by the
church ruins located there), there are probably older headstones in the graveyard.
Unfortunately, due to the passage of time, the writing on some of these headstones
In Kilfinane there are two wells in close proximity in the townland of Thomastown. Both wells are situated within the one field. The first is Toberreendoney or Sunday's Well. This well is said to be the old site of Lady's Well, the other well in the field. Danaher claims that Sunday's Well is a souterrain and sometimes holds water. There is no tradition of any devotions at this well.
Lady's Well is about 50 yards further on from Sunday's Well. A statue was erected at this well in 1999 and the bushes are decorated with rags that were left as offerings. The statue, however, is located deep within the bushes and briars that surround the well, and is difficult to see. According to legend, a blind man was cured at the well and the water is the well will not boil. Local tradition says that a traveller woman washed a baby in the well causing it to move to its present site. In 1999 a congregation lead by Fr O'Connor walked from the church in Kilfinane to Lady's Well.
There was also a well in the townland of Kilfinane called
St. Finnane's Well but the exact site of this well is unknown.
There are two shrines in the parish. The Marian Shrine was erected in the Marian Year of 1954. This shrine is located at Mill Hill.
The statue to the Sacred Heart is in the Main Street in Kilfinane.
Local man Patrick "Staker" Wallis was a small farmer who joined the United Irishmen and subscribed to the movement's objectives that all Irishmen should be free. Wallis's views began to annoy the local landlord Captain Charles Oliver, who believed that his life was under threat from the middle-aged farmer. Oliver decided to capture Wallis who tried, unsuccessfully, to evade arrest. Despite repeated torturing from Oliver, Wallis never informed on his friends in the United Irishmen. A few days later he was hanged and beheaded. His head was set on a spike above the market house in the square. A monument stands in the Main Street to commemorate his life and death.
St Finnian resided in a small hut beside the River Lubagh
at the time of St Patrick's conversion of Ireland. His hut was located close
to Tobernane, a little spring. The area was known as Fobar Fionán.
St Finnian led a monastic life in this area, praying and meditating daily.
Residents in the nearby village became curious as to the purpose of his visit
to the area. They observed his actions, and heard his prayers and psalms.
Eventually they became converted to his way of thinking. When St Finnian left
the area, the local people built a house of worship in his honour, and named
it Cill Finnian, the church of Finnian. With the passing of time the surrounding
area became known as Kilfinane.
|English Name||Irish Name||Meaning|
|Ballinanima (Brew)||Baile an Anama||Town of the soul|
|Ballinamina (D’Arcy)||as above|
|Ballinamina (Massy)||as above|
|Ballincrana||Baile an Chranaigh||The town of An Cranach|
|Ballinlyna Lower||Baile an Laighnigh||The town of An Laighneach|
|Ballinlyna Upper||as above|
|Ballygeane||Baile Uí Ghéibheannaigh||The town of Ó Géibheannaigh|
|Ballyriggin||Baile Roigin||The town of Roigin|
|Ballyroe Lower||Baile Róigh||The town of An Róch|
|Ballyroe Upper||as above|
|Bosnetstown||Baile an Bhoscnóidigh||The town of An Boscnóideach|
|Garrynlease||Garraí an Léisigh||The garden of An Léiseach|
|Killeen||An Cillín||The small church|
|Laurencetown North||Baile an Labhrásaigh||The town of An Labhrásach|
|Laurencetown South||as above|
|Moorestown||Baile an Mhóraigh||The town of An Mórach|
|1704 - 1720||John Rahilly|
|? - ?||Timothy Hayes|
|? - 1775||Matthew O’Hea|
|c.1764 - 1787||Paul Slattery|
|? - 1789||John Glesson|
|? – 1798||Edmund O’Donnell|
|1798 – 1836||John Sheehy|
|1837||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1838||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1839||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1840||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1841||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1842||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1843||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1844||John Sheehy||John Bourke|
|1845||James O’Moore||Patrick Ryan|
|1846||James O’Moore||Patrick Ryan|
|1847||James O’Moore||Patrick Ryan|
|1848||James O’Moore||Patrick Ryan|
|1849||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Patrick Ryan|
|1850||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Garret O’Sullivan|
|1851||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Garret O’Sullivan|
|1852||Maurice Fitzgibbon||James Lee|
|1853||Maurice Fitzgibbon||James Lee|
|1854||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Patrick Lee|
|1855||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Patrick Lee|
|1856||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Patrick Lee|
|1857||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Patrick Lee|
|1858||Maurice Fitzgibbon||Patrick Lee|
|1859||Richard B. O’Brien D.D.||Patrick Lee|
|1860||Richard B. O’Brien D.D.||Patrick Lee|
|1861||Richard B. O’Brien D.D.||Patrick Lee|
|1862||John Halpin||M. Fitzgerald|
|1863||John Halpin||M. Fitzgerald|
|1864||John Halpin||M. Fitzgerald|
|1865||John Halpin||M. Fitzgerald|
|1866||John Halpin||E. O’Donohoe|
|1867||John Halpin||E. O’Donohoe|
|1868||John Halpin||E. O'Donohoe|
|1869||John Halpin||E. O’Donohoe|
|1870||John Halpin||Denis McCarthy|
|1871||John Halpin||Denis McCarthy|
|1872||John Halpin||C. P. Kenny|
|1873||John Halpin||C. P. Kenny|
|1874||John Halpin||James Glesson|
|1875||John Halpin||James Glesson|
|1876||John Halpin||Michael Canty|
|1877||John Halpin||Michael Canty|
|1878||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1879||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1880||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1881||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1882||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1883||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1884||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1885||Patrick Lee||Michael Canty|
|1886||Patrick Lee||Patrick Lee|
|1887||Patrick Lee||Patrick Lee|
|1888||Patrick Lee||Patrick Lee|
|1889||Patrick Lee||Patrick Lee|
|1890||Patrick Lee||Patrick Lee|
|1891||Patrick Lee||Patrick Lee|
|1892||Patrick Lee||Patrick Lee|
|1893||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1894||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1895||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1896||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1897||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1898||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1899||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1900||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1901||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1902||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1903||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1904||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1905||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1906||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1907||John Carrick||Patrick Lee|
|1908||John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1909||John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1910||John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1911||John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1912||John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1913||Canon John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1914||Canon John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1915||Canon John Carrick||C. Mangan|
|1916||John Lee||C. Mangan|
|1917||John Lee||C. Mangan|
|1918||John Lee||C. Mangan|
|1919||John Lee||C. Mangan|
|1920||John Lee||C. Mangan|
|1921||John Lee||Patrick V. Higgins|
|1922||John Lee||Patrick V. Higgins|
|1923||John Lee||Patrick V. Higgins|
|1924||John Lee||Patrick V. Higgins|
|1925||Canon John Lee||D. Riordan|
|1926||Canon John Lee||D. Riordan|
|1927||James Carroll||D. Riordan|
|1928||James Carroll||D. Riordan|
|1929||James Carroll||D. Riordan|
|1930||James Carroll||Patrick Lynch|
|1931||James Carroll||Patrick Lynch|
|1932||James Carroll||Patrick Lynch|
|1933||James Carroll||Patrick Lynch|
|1934||James Carroll||Patrick Lynch|
|1935||John Carr||Patrick Lynch|
|1936||John Carr||Patrick Lynch|
|1937||John Carr||Thomas Cussen|
|1938||John Carr||Thomas Cussen|
|1939||John Carr||Thomas Cussen|
|1940||John Carr||Thomas Cussen|
|1941||John Carr||Thomas Cussen|
|1942||John Carr||Michael Tynan|
|1943||John Carr||Michael Tynan|
|1944||John Carr||David Crowley|
|1945||John Carr||David Crowley|
|1946||John Dolan||David Crowley|
|1947||John Dolan||Joseph Shinnors|
|1948||John Dolan||Joseph Shinnors|
|1949||John Dolan||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1950||John Dolan||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1951||John Dolan||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1952||John Dolan||Thomas O’Donnell|
|1953||John Dolan||Patrick Fitzgerald|
|1954||John Dolan||Patrick Fitzgerald|
|1955||John Dolan||Patrick Fitzgerald|
|1956||William O’Grady||Patrick Howard|
|1957||William O’Grady||Patrick Howard|
|1958||William O’Grady||Patrick Howard|
|1959||William O’Grady||Patrick Howard|
|1960||William O’Grady||Joseph Moran|
|1961||William O’Grady||Joseph Moran|
|1962||William O’Grady||Joseph Moran|
|1963||William O’Grady||Joseph Moran|
|1964||William O’Grady||Joseph Moran|
|1965||Michael McCarthy||Joseph Moran|
|1966||Michael McCarthy||Eamonn Dillane|
|1967||Michael McCarthy||Eamonn Dillane|
|1968||Michael McCarthy||Eamonn Dillane|
|1969||Michael McCarthy||Eamonn Dillane|
|1970||Michael McCarthy||Eamonn Dillane|
|1971||Michael McCarthy||Eamonn Dillane|
|1972||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1973||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1974||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1975||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1976||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1977||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1978||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1979||Michael Doody||Thomas Coughlan|
|1980||Patrick O’Dea||Thomas Coughlan|
|1981||Patrick O’Dea||Thomas Coughlan|
|1982||Patrick O’Dea||Thomas Coughlan|
|1983||Patrick O’Dea||Thomas Coughlan|
|1984||Patrick O’Dea||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1985||Patrick O’Dea||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1986||Patrick O’Dea||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1987||Canon Patrick O’Dea||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1988||Canon Patrick O’Dea||Patrick O'Sullivan|
|1989||Canon Patrick O’Dea||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1990||Canon Patrick O’Dea||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1991||John Condon||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1992||David Browne||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1993||David Browne||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1994||David Browne||Patrick O’Sullivan|
|1995||David Browne||William Doolan|
|1996||David Browne||William Doolan|
|1997||David Browne||William Doolan|
|1998||David Browne||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.
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