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Killeedy Parish

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Mass Rock | Famous People | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

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
Died 1986
Aged 70

Michael Mulcahy
PP of Killeedy for 33 years
Died April 19th 1906
Aged 57

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
Aged 55

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.


Holy Wells

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.


Mass Rock

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'.



Famous People

St Ita

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
Camas Camas Winding feature
Cantogher Ceann Tóchair Head of the causeway
Cloncon Cluain Cana The meadow of Cana
Cloonsherick Cluain Séaraic The meadow of Séaraic
Darrery Dairbhre Oaktrees
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
Moanroemore as above  
Raheenagh Ráithíneach Place of the small raths
Tooreennagreana Tuairín na Gréine The small animal enclosure of the sun



List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
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
    Oliver Frost
1839 James Holahan Thomas Ambrose
    Patrick Darcy
1840 John Holohan Thomas Ambrose
1841 Thomas McCoy Richard Shanahan
1842 Henry Fitzgibbon  
1843 Henry Fitzgibbon  
1844 Henry Fitzgibbon  
1845 Henry Fitzgibbon  
1846 Henry Fitzgibbon  
1847 Henry Fitzgibbon  
1848 Henry Fitzgibbon Patrick Lee
1849 Henry Fitzgibbon William Toumey
1850 Henry Fitzgibbon William Toumey
1851 R. Scott  
1852 R. Scott  
1853 R. Scott  
1854 R. Scott  
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
    Patrick McNamara
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
1995 Patrick Bowen  
1996 Patrick Bowen  
1997 Patrick Bowen  
1998 Patrick Bowen  
1999 Patrick Bowen  
2000 Patrick Bowen  
2001 Patrick Bowen  
2002 Patrick Bowen  

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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