The village of Killeedy is about four miles south of the town of Newcastlewest.
Originally Killeedy was called Cluain Chreadháil which means "the meadow with a good depth of soil". The parish of Killeedy is closely associated with the life and work of St Ita. It was renamed Cill Íde, meaning the Church of Ita after the saint. St Ita founded her monastery here in 546.
Killeedy was destroyed by invading Norsemen in 845. It was attacked again in 1302.
In 1704 the parish of Killeedy was known as Killeedy and Killagholehane.
Fr Thady Daly was the parish priest. Tournafulla also formed part of this
parish. Following Fr Daly's death, the exact date of which is unknown, Killagholehane
separated from Killeedy, and joined with the parish of Dromcollogher. Killeedy
parish was further divided in 1838 following the death of Fr Edmund O'Halloran
P.P. when Tournafulla became a separate parish.
As you travel the road from Newcastlewest to Killeedy, Glenquin castle can be seen on the left hand side of the road. The name Glenquin comes from the Irish 'Gleann Choim', which means "The Glen of the Shelter". It is thought that the O'Hallinans built the castle in 1462. The O'Hallinans were later defeated by the O'Briens, who then captured the castle. However, the O'Briens, in turn, lost the castle to the Geraldines. It is believed that the Geraldines founded the present structure. At present, the building is in fine general repair due to quite recent restoration work that was carried out there.
After the Desmond rebellion Walter Raleigh captured and dismantled the castle. In 1587 it was granted to Hungerford. It changed hands once again in 1591 when Sir William Courtenay gained possession of it. In 1595 Captain Collum occupied Glenquin. The Earl of Devon's agent, Mr. Furling, restored the castle in 1840 and further work was done in the 1980's. Glenquin Castle was chosen as the rallying point for most of West Limerick for the 1916 rising. To commemorate this event, a plaque was erected in 1966 at the castle, which is now under the care of the Office of Public Works.
There is also another castle in the parish, Killeedy castle,
that was under the ownership of the earls of Desmond. The Courtney family
later received this castle, when they arrived from England. At present, all
that remains of the castle is a tower.
There are two churches in use in Killeedy parish at present, the first at Raheenagh, and the second at Ashford.
The present church in Raheenagh was planned by W. Fogarty and built by P. Scanlan from Bruff and building commenced in October 1863. This single nave church is situated along the main road.
In the main porch of the church in Raheenagh there is a plaque that states that Bishop Newman and Fr Patrick O'Dea PP rededicated the church on October 17th 1976. The architects of the church were McMahon; McMahon & Hickey of Limerick and the builders were West Riverside Building Co. of Askeaton.
Inside the main door there is a statue of St Joseph on the right and a statue of Mary on the left. Over the main door of the church there is a stained glass window of St Ita. This window, pictured above, was erected in memory of Michael McAuliffe, Gorteen and his parents.
In the left transept there is a statue of St Anthony, the baptismal font and a statue of the Sacred Heart. A large crucifix stands behind these three items. To the left of the altar there is a statue of St Ita. Mrs Ned Cremin and Sean of Ballintubber donated the altar crucifix.
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
Fr Martin O'Donnell
PP from 1979 until 1986
PP of Killeedy for 33 years
Died April 19th 1906
Ashford church was built in 1835. Four years later, the roof of the church in Ashford was blown off in "the night of the big wind" on January 6th 1839. The church is situated on the R515 in the village of Ashford.
There is a statue of St Joseph in the porch of the church. Inside the church on the left there is a statue of St Anthony. Behind the altar on the left there is a statue of St Ita while on the right there is a statue of Mary. There is a picture of Jesus over the altar.
To the left of the altar there is a stained glass window depicting
flowers to the memory of Catherine L. Collins and on the right there is a
similar stained glass window to the memory of David O'Connor. There is a painting
of the Sacred Heart in the wooden bridge of the church.
Buried within the church is:
Fr Timothy O'Kelly
PP from 1887 until 1895
Died 30th January 1895
St Ita built the first church in Killeedy in 546. This church was a monastery for both monks and nuns. As was the case with many of the monasteries in Ireland, Norsemen frequently raided the monastery. In 845 the Vikings burned Killeedy. A church was built on the monastic site after 845. However, Killeedy was raided again in 857 and 916.
Also within the parish there was a church at Killila Bridge. The church is about 2 ½ miles from Ashford on the road to the village of Broadford on the right hand side of the road. The site of the church is now covered by a grove of trees.
According to local man Timmy Sheehan, this church was believed to be St Ita's first church in the area. The stones of the walls of the church are still there according to Mr Sheehan. When Timmy was a young boy he remembers that they were warned not to play there. People were buried here during famine times.
There is also a story told that the owner of the land tried to plough the land once. However as he turned each sod of earth, the sod instantly fell back into the ground. On noticing this, the farmer left the field in a hurry and planted the area with trees and erected a wire fence around the site.
Westropp mentions a church called Killilagh in the parish of Killeedy, which he says is now forgotten. Westropp also mentions a site called Dromcathmeath, may have been in the same parish as Killilagh church ruin in Killeedy. However, he does not specify whether this site was the site of a church or a burial ground.
According to Westropp, there was a thatched church in good condition in 1615 but by 1655, only the ruins of the building remained. The church in Killeedy was used as a place of Protestant worship until around 1800. The church together with the glebe house was destroyed by the Rockites in 1822. The Rockites were an Agrarian revolt group similar to the Whiteboys. Following this, the nave was dismantled and the stones were used as markers for graves.
There was once a church in Kilcoora but it no longer exists.
The site is believed to have been on the northern bank of the Darrery River.
This church may have also been known as Kilconroe.
The graveyard at Killeedy is in the grounds of the church ruins of St Ita. The oldest headstone that we found was in memory of William Connellan who died on the 1st August 1781 at the age of 36. The headstone is facing the opposite direction to the rest of the headstones in the graveyard.
There is a tomb at the back of the church ruin but the writing
is faded and it was impossible to decipher for whom the tomb was built. There
are four priests buried in the graveyard; One in the church ruin, one unmarked,
one in memory of Fr Winters, a native of the parish, and one at the back of
the church ruin in memory of Fr Kenny.
St Ita's Well is in the graveyard in Killeedy. The well is 18 inches in diameter and 3 feet in depth. When we visited it, the well was dry, but there is water in the well at different times of the year. The rounds are made on January 15th and the well is believed to cure smallpox. Flowers often surround the well. Legend has it that St Ita asked for a drink here and was given lukewarm water. She threw this water on the ground and a well sprung up. It is said that you cannot boil the water.
Danaher mentions a well in the townland of Ballyshane called
Banavaun well. Banbhán was a man's name but there is no tradition of
this name in the area. Danaher was known to be a saint but his feastday is
forgotten. The water from the well was believed to cure lameness and blindness.
There is a mass rock overlooking the village of Ashford. A spectacular view of the surrounding countryside can be seen from the Mass Rock, and to the north, the Shannon is visible. This mass rock served the people of the area during the restriction of the penal laws. In the 1960s Muintir na Tire cleaned up the area and a shrine was erected at the mass rock. In 1979, to commemorate the Pope's visit, a cross was erected on the roadside, just above the entrance to the mass rock.
The entrance to the mass rock is down a steep decline from the road. A plaque was erected to commemorate the memory of the "priests and people who at the risk of their lives offered Holy Mass here". A priest who had a price on his head, Fr Tadhg O'Sullivan was captured here in 1716. It is unclear whether he was killed or escaped.
In the early 1840s, a man by the name of Johnny "Gabharainn Reo" was on his way home late one night when he saw a glow of light. He saw a lady with golden hair sitting on a rock with her back to him. She looked at Johnny with a piercing stare. In his panic, Johnny ran home fearing for his life from his encounter with the "White Lady of the Rock".
At one side of the altar there is believed to be a special
tree that retains its leaves. It is also claimed that anyone who tampers with
the tree will regret it. Recently the tree had to be partially cut down due
to safety reasons.
There was also a Mass Path in the area called Cobbs Road that was used in the past for people to walk to mass. It is now part of the walk that winds through the Mullaghareirk Mountains, which travels from Glenquin to Broadford.
Across the road from the mass Rock there is a monument, which
bears the inscription 'In commemoration of the visit of Pope John Paul II,
September 29th to October 1st 1979'.
St Ita, the patron saint of Killeedy, was born before 484AD in County Waterford, in the Tramore area. Her father was Cennfoelad or Confhaola and her mother was Necta. Cennfoelad was descended from Felim the lawgiver.
Ita's name was originally Dorothea or Deirdre. She was a member of the Déisí tribe. Ita refused her father's wish that she should marry a local chieftain, as she believed that she had a calling from God and wanted to become a nun.
To convince her father to change his mind, she fasted for three days and three nights. On the third night, God gave out to her father in his sleep. The next morning, Cennfoelad agreed that Ita could do as she wished. At the age of sixteen, Ita set off on her journey.
Bishop (St.) Declan of Ardmore conferred the veil on her. Legend has it that Ita was lead to Killeedy by three heavenly lights. The first was at the top of the Galtee mountains, the second on the Mullaghareirk mountains and the third at Cluain Creadhail, which is nowadays Killeedy. Her sister Fiona also went to Killeedy with her and became a member of the community. Ita was welcomed to Killeedy by the local chieftain of the Ui Conaill Gabhra tribe. The chieftain wanted to give Ita a large trait of land but she only wanted a few acres as a garden for her community.
Ita and her community spent their time praying, teaching the young and caring for the sick, the poor and the elderly. The community also had a dairy farm at Boolaveeda near Mountcollins, which was run by St Ita. The many stories about St Ita show her great kindness. One of the stories told claims that St Ita allowed an insect to suck her blood, as people believed that the insect was feeding on human flesh in the graveyard. The insect grew to the size of a suckling pig. It is claimed that Ita brought her brother in law back to life after he was killed in battle. It is also written that St Ita cured a blind man.
St Ita is sometimes called "the white sun of the women of Munster" or the "Brigid of Munster". She was also known as the "Foster Mother of the Saints of Ireland". Ita was a mother figure to some of Ireland's early saints. St Brendan was in Killeedy for five years under the care of St Ita in the monastery at Killeedy from the time when he was a year old. Only two of names of the abbots of the monastery are recorded. They were Cathasach, who died around 810 or 815, and Finnachta, who died in 833.
There is a shrine within the ruins of the church, which is
believed to mark the site Ita's grave. The tradition is that visitors to Ita's
grave cover it with flowers. St Carthage's Church in Lismore in her native
county pays tribute to Ita in the form of a stained glass window. Colgan recorded
her life. She died in 569 (Begley states it is 570) on January 15th which
is her feast day. On this date, her life and work is remembered in Killeedy.
Devotion to St Ita has continued to the present day and the saint has made
Killeedy a place of worship down through the years.
|English Name||Irish Name||Meaning|
|Ballagh||An Bealach||The way|
|Ballintober East||Baile an Tobair||The town of the well|
|Ballintober South||as above|
|Ballintober West||as above|
|Ballyduhig||Baile Uí Dhúthaigh||The town of Ó Dúthaigh|
|Ballykenny||Baile Uí Chionaoith||The town of Ó Cionaoith|
|Ballylanigan||Baile Uí Fhlannagáin||The town of Ó Flannagáin|
|Ballyowen||Baile Eoghain||The town of Eoghan|
|Cantogher||Ceann Tóchair||Head of the causeway|
|Cloncon||Cluain Cana||The meadow of Cana|
|Cloonsherick||Cluain Séaraic||The meadow of Séaraic|
|Dromdeveen||An Drom Díomhaoin||The idle ridge|
|Dromore||An Drom Mór||The big ridge|
|Glenduff||An Gleann Dubh||The black glen|
|Glenquin||Gleann an Choim||The glen of the shelter|
|Glenquin South||as above|
|Gorteen||An Goirtín||The small field|
|Gortnaclohy||Gort na Cloiche||The field of the stone structure|
|(Now commonly called Ashford)|
|Hernsbrook||Cluain Péacháin||The meadow of Péachán|
|Kilcoorha||Cill Chonrach||The church of Conrí|
|Killeedy||Cill Íde||The church of Íde|
|Killeedy North||as above|
|Killeedy South||as above|
|Mauricetown||Baile Mhuirisín||The town of Muirisín|
|Moanroebeg||An Mhóin Rua||The red bogland|
|Raheenagh||Ráithíneach||Place of the small raths|
|Tooreennagreana||Tuairín na Gréine||The small animal enclosure of the sun|
|1704 -?||Thady Daly|
|? – C.1745||James Barry|
|1745 - 1765||Maurice Shaughnessy c.|
|1765 - 1773||Denis Cronin D.D.|
|1773 -?||Martin Connor|
|? - 1812||Michael Scanlon|
|1812 - 1817||Thomas Hanlon|
|1817 – 1836||Edmund O’Halloran|
|1837||Edmund O’Halloran||Richard Listen|
|1838||Edmund O'Halloran||James Ambrose|
|1839||James Holahan||Thomas Ambrose|
|1840||John Holohan||Thomas Ambrose|
|1841||Thomas McCoy||Richard Shanahan|
|1848||Henry Fitzgibbon||Patrick Lee|
|1849||Henry Fitzgibbon||William Toumey|
|1850||Henry Fitzgibbon||William Toumey|
|1855||R. Scott||Marcus Cleary|
|1856||R. Scott||Marcus Cleary|
|1857||R. Scott||Marcus Cleary|
|1858||R. Scott||Michael Cleary|
|1859||R. Scott||John Reeves|
|1860||R. Scott||John Reeves|
|1861||R. Scott||John Mulcahy|
|1862||R. Scott||John Mulcahy|
|1863||R. Scott||John Mulcahy|
|1864||Denis Meany||John Walsh|
|1865||Denis Meany||Joseph Ryan|
|1866||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1867||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1868||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1869||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1870||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1871||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1872||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1873||Denis Meany||William Downs|
|1874||Ed. Costello||William Downs|
|1875||Ed. Costello||J. Greene D.D.|
|1876||Ed. Costello||William Mulcahy|
|1877||Ed. Costello||William Mulcahy|
|1878||Ed. Costello||John Ryan|
|1879||Ed. Costello||Daniel Crotty|
|1880||Ed. Costello||Michael Mulcahy|
|1881||Ed. Costello||Michael Mulcahy|
|1882||Ed. Costello||Laurence Curtin|
|1883||Ed. Costello||Laurence Curtin|
|1884||John Fitzgerald||Laurence Curtin|
|1885||John Fitzgerald||Laurence Curtin|
|1886||John Fitzgerald||Laurence Curtin|
|1887||John Fitzgerald||Laurence Curtin|
|1888||Timothy Kelly||Laurence Curtin|
|1889||Timothy Kelly||Bernard Mahony|
|1890||Timothy Kelly||John Connolly|
|1891||Timothy Kelly||Michael Mulcahy|
|1892||Timothy Kelly||Michael Mulcahy|
|1893||Timothy Kelly||Michael Mulcahy|
|1894||Timothy Kelly||Michael Mulcahy|
|1895||Timothy Kelly||Michael Mulcahy|
|1896||Edmond Russell||Michael Mulcahy|
|1897||Edmond Russell||Robert Ambrose|
|1898||Edmond Russell||George Culhane|
|1899||Edmond Russell||George Culhane|
|1900||Edmond Russell||George Culhane|
|1901||Edmond Russell||George Culhane|
|1902||Edmond Russell||George Culhane|
|1903||Michael Mulcahy||George Culhane|
|1904||Michael Mulcahy||George Culhane|
|1905||John O’Donnell||James Carroll|
|1906||John O’Donnell||James Carroll|
|1907||John O’Donnell||Michael Hayes|
|1908||John O’Donnell||James Carroll|
|1909||Jeremiah Murphy||James Carroll|
|1910||Jeremiah Murphy||James Carroll|
|1911||Jeremiah Murphy||James Carroll|
|1912||Jeremiah Murphy||John J. Lane|
|1913||William Fenton||John J. Lane|
|1914||William Fenton||John J. Lane|
|1915||William Fenton||John J. Lane|
|1916||William Fenton||John J. Lane|
|1917||William Fenton||John J. Lane|
|1918||William Fenton||Edward Punch|
|1919||William Fenton||Edward Punch|
|1920||William Fenton||Edward Punch|
|1921||William Fenton||Edward Punch|
|1922||William Fenton||Patrick Coleman|
|1923||William Fenton||Patrick Coleman|
|1924||William Fenton||Pádraig Ua Colmáin|
|1925||James Liston||P. Finn|
|1926||James Liston||P. Finn|
|1927||James Liston||Joseph Leonard|
|1928||James Liston||Joseph Leonard|
|1929||James Liston||Joseph Leonard|
|1930||James Liston||James Bluett|
|1931||James Liston||Michael Doody|
|1932||James Liston||Patrick Murphy|
|1933||James Liston||Patrick Murphy|
|1934||James Liston||Patrick Murphy|
|1935||Patrick Carroll||Patrick Murphy|
|1936||Patrick Carroll||Patrick Murphy|
|1937||Patrick Carroll||Patrick Murphy|
|1938||Patrick Carroll||Patrick Murphy|
|1939||Patrick Carroll||Gerard Enright|
|1940||Patrick Carroll||Gerard Enright|
|1941||Patrick Carroll||John Casey D.D.|
|1942||Patrick Carroll||John Casey D.D.|
|1943||Patrick Carroll||John Casey D.D.|
|1944||Patrick Carroll||Michael Frawley|
|1945||Cornelius O’Sullivan||Michael Frawley|
|1946||Cornelius O’Sullivan||Michael Frawley|
|1947||Cornelius O’Sullivan||Michael Frawley|
|1948||Cornelius O’Sullivan||Michael Frawley|
|1949||Cornelius O’Sullivan||Michael Frawley|
|1950||Cornelius O’Sullivan||James Cagney|
|1951||Cornelius O’Sullivan||James Cagney|
|1952||Cornelius O’Sullivan||James Cagney|
|1953||Cornelius O’Sullivan||James Cagney|
|1954||Philip Enright||John Irwin|
|1955||Philip Enright||John Irwin|
|1956||Philip Enright||John Irwin|
|1957||Philip Enright||John Irwin|
|1958||Philip Enright||John Irwin|
|1959||Philip Enright||John Irwin|
|1960||Philip Enright||Thomas P. Burke|
|1961||Philip Enright||Thomas P. Burke|
|1962||Philip Enright||Thomas P. Burke|
|1963||Philip Enright||Thomas P. Burke|
|1964||Philip Enright||Thomas P. Burke|
|1965||Philip Enright||Thomas P. Burke|
|1966||John Halpin||Thomas P. Burke|
|1967||John Halpin||Thomas P. Burke|
|1968||John Halpin||Thomas P. Burke|
|1969||John Halpin||Thomas P. Burke|
|1970||John Halpin||Thomas P. Burke|
|1971||John Halpin||Thomas P. Burke|
|1972||John Halpin||Thomas P. Burke|
|1973||John Halpin||Joseph Griffin|
|1974||Patrick O’Dea||Joseph Griffin|
|1975||Patrick O’Dea||Joseph Griffin|
|1976||Patrick O’Dea||Joseph Griffin|
|1977||Patrick O’Dea||Joseph Griffin|
|1978||Patrick O’Dea||Joseph Griffin|
|1979||Patrick O’Dea||Joseph Griffin|
|1980||Martin O’Donnell||Joseph Griffin|
|1981||Martin O’Donnell||Joseph Griffin|
|1982||Martin O’Donnell||Joseph Griffin|
|1983||Martin O’Donnell||Joseph Griffin|
|1984||Martin O’Donnell||William Doolan|
|1985||Martin O’Donnell||William Doolan|
|1986||Martin O’Donnell||William Doolan|
|1987||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||William Doolan|
|1988||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||William Doolan|
|1989||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||William Doolan|
|1990||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||William Doolan|
|1991||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||William Doolan|
|1992||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||William Doolan|
|1993||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||William Doolan|
|1994||Michael J. Neville (Adm.)||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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