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Monagea Parish

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

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

The village of Monagea is situated on the N21, the road from Limerick to Tralee, three miles from Newcastlewest. Monagea has had a long and interesting past. According to Tim Mulcahy, a hoard of Vikings swords was found in the area.

In 1394, Monagay, as it was then called, was under the control of the Archbishop of Cashel. The parish of Monagea has been reduced in size over the years, with parts of the old parish being incorporated into Templeglantine parish in 1864 and into the parish of Newcastlewest in 1833.

According to Art Ó Maolfabhail, Monagea is from the Irish Móin Achaidh Ghae, which means 'the bogland of the field of the spear'. However, it is generally agreed that Monagea is derived from the Irish Moín a Ghédh, which means 'The Bog of the Goose'. Locally the area is called Templenamona.


The present day church in Monagea was built in 1839. The church is dedicated to the Lady of the Visitation. A short tree-lined avenue leads up to the church. It is believed that some of the trees in the avenue were planted about the time that the new church was built, after the Big Wind of January 6th 1839.

Prior to its completion, this church was damaged on the Night of the Big Wind. The church was in the process of being built at the time, and it is claimed that the roof was knocked during this storm. However, according to the foundation stone building commenced on the 2nd of July 1839. Therefore, it is possible that the story about the Night of the Big Wind is inaccurate.

The church is built from stone that was brought from the nearby quarry of Ard na Sligna, which is in the parish of Templeglantine. The cut stone is at the front of church while the rumble stone can be seen where the foundation stone is placed in the wall. The roof in the church is very high.

There are four plaques on the back wall of the church. One plaque commemorates the death of Donal Sheahan from Ballintubbrid, who was killed in action in 1916 on his way to meet Roger Casement at Banna Strand. Another plaque tells us that the priests and people of the parish erected the altar to the memory of John Donovan P.P., who died on July 24th 1860. There is also a plaque to the Sheehy family from Ballintubbrid, who were from the parish of Raheenagh. They were either landowners or land agents in west Limerick. They have a tomb in the graveyard in Monagea. There is also a plaque to Fr John Clifford P.P. who died on August 1st 1880, aged 59. Fr Clifford is buried in the church.

In the church there is a statue to St Joseph on the left of the church. Behind the altar there is a statue of the Sacred Heart on the left and a statue of Mary on the right.

There are two fine stained glass windows of St Patrick & St Brigid, with a small window of Jesus above them, at the back of the church, in memory of Catherine and John Hanley. They were given to the church by the self-styled "Baron of Broadway", John J. Hanley. The Baron Hanley was a native of the parish who went to America and found his fame and fortune in the USA. Harry Clarke, who was employed by Fr Ryan, the parish priest at that time, designed the windows. Clarke also designed the windows in the Honan Chapel in UCC.

In the grounds of the church, there is a cross to the Mission that was given by the Redemptorists in June 1944.

There is a post-box to the right of the entrance to the church grounds. This post-box dates back to the time when the postal service was run by the Royal Mail and bears the symbol of the crown. Today the box has been painted green. Fr James O'Shea built a large parochial house in the mid-1860s for the two parishes of Monagea and Templeglantine. After the splitting of the parish in 1864, Fr John Walsh built a parochial house in Templeglantine with the assistance of the local landlord.

Buried within the church are:

Fr John Clifford
Parish Priest
Died 1st August 1880
Aged 59

Two other priests were reputedly buried in the church. It was claimed that Fr John Donovan was buried in the church but no remains were found when Fr. Costello excavated the alleged site of the burials.

Buried in the grounds are:
Canon C. Mulhane
Dean of Warrington
A native of the parish

Daniel Curtin
Died on 11th November 1913
Aged 75

Patrick Ryan
Parish Priest
Died on May 5th 1942

The oldest church ruin in the parish is called "Teampull na hIngine Baoit" after the Dalcassian saint, St Baoith. The ruin is situated in Strand. Westropp claims that Lewis was incorrect in calling the church "The Church of the Devout Daughter". He also lists a church called Killocally, which he says may in fact have been the church in Strand. In 1839 the north and east walls fell in the "Night Of the Big Wind". The ruins are now over grown but the remaining walls are in good condition. There are two windows in the south wall as well as what appears to be a door or large window. Fr Irwin believes that this site may have been an abbey when it was first built. Locals claim that there was a tunnel connecting the church in Strand to the castle at Glenquin. However, there is no proof as to the existence of this tunnel.

According to Begley, there was a church in Rathcahill, which was mentioned in the records in 1302, and which was burned in 1306. The site of this church was across from Lady's Well. All that remains of this church is a pier that was probably part of the entrance to the church. Begley concludes that after the fire of 1306, the church was rebuilt in the townland of Monagea, in the parish of Rathcahill. During the penal era, the church returned to Rathcahill. About the beginning of the nineteenth century, the church was again removed to Monagea. The parish was renamed Monagea. The ruin of this church can now be seen in the graveyard at Monagea.



The graveyard in Monagea is situated in the village, across from the National School. This graveyard is in the grounds of Rathcahill church ruin. The oldest headstone that we came across dated from the 7th of March 1805. It was erected to the memory of Mauritius Fitzgibbon. The inscription on the headstone, while difficult to read, is poetic and gives the impression that the deceased was a man of education and possibly some wealth.

There are two tombs in the graveyards. One of the tombs is to the memory of Edward J. Sheehy and Helena Clancy Sheehy. Both were from Cherry Grove and the tomb dates back to 1884. The dates are given in roman numerals. We could not find an inscription on the second tomb.

Also buried in the graveyard is Liam Hough, captain of the Limerick side that won All Ireland Hurling Finals in 1918. He also played in the finals of 1921 and 1923.


Holy Wells

Danaher mentions four wells in the parish of Monagea. However, two of these wells are nowadays in the parish of Templeglantine, and one is in the parish of Newcastlewest. The only remaining well in the parish of Monagea is in the townland of Rathcahill East.

This well is called Lady's Well and is on the roadside across from the site of the 14th century church in Rathcahill. Three statues have been erected at the well, and it has been surrounded by a wall. The railing around the well was built in the 1930s. Workers on the FAS scheme maintain the well. In the past a large willow tree grew near the well and rags were tied to the tree as offerings. It is claimed that the water can cure sore eyes.

The feast day at the well is the 15th of August. Behind the well there is an area of ground, where three rounds of the well are done in a clockwise direction while saying the Rosary. The water in the well is crystal clear. Legend has it that the well moved when it was cursed. Another legend tells of a woman who took water from the well to boil and she found a fish in the water. It is claimed that St Brigid visited the well when she was on her way to Killeedy to see St Ita.

Danaher also mentions a second well at Mountplummer called St Broney's Well but nothing is known about the well, its location, or its patron saint.

According to local tradition, there was another Holy Well in the townland of Ballyshane. This well is called after St Banbhan, who was from the same race as St Ita. The well is on the land of Eamonn Cregan. No devotions have taken place in a number of years and no one visits the well today.

However a local man told us that he remembers rosary beads were left at the well when he was as a child. The water was believed to cure a number of ailments. The well is situated in boggy land. The water is clean. St Banbhan's feastday was on May 1st or 9th.


Mass Rock

Monagea mass rock is in the townland of Glenmore and is known locally as Clash an Aifreann. Mass is usually held here on the 15th of August.

The mass rock is in a grove of trees and an altar was erected at the site. The original mass rock was just below the altar and over looks a stream the flows along the valley. Mass was said at the site in 1999 when an oak tree was planted.

Before you reach the mass rock, a large Holy Cross dominates the hillside. This cross was erected in the Holy Year of 1950 to commemorate their ancestors who suffered for their faith in Penal days.

A chalice was found approximately a ½ mile from the mass rock in Clais an Aifrinn in the townland of Strand. Local people believe that a priest buried the chalice in a hurry when he was escaping from a raid by British soldiers during mass at the mass rock.



Famous People

The area is renowned for the ash trees that grow in the area. This could be one of the reasons why so many All-Ireland hurlers have come from West Limerick. Natives of Monagea parish who have won All-Ireland medals in hurling include Liam Hough and Ned Cregan, father of the present County Hurling Manager, Eamon Cregan. At the turn of the century, Larry Sheahan achieved a rare feat by winning All-Ireland Football medals with two different counties. In 1896 he won the title with his native Limerick and ten years later he again tasted victory with Dublin.

John Begley was also from this parish. Begley was a priest in the diocese and was an Archdeacon in the parish of Bruff when he died in 1941. He wrote a three-volume history of the Diocese of Limerick that was published over a period of thirty years. Local historian Tim Mulcahy told us that Begley was put through school by his brother James. James Begley was an ace marksman and due to his success in shooting game, he could afford to fund his brother's education.

In 1905, a horse named Kirkland won the Aintree Grand National. Fr Edmund Clifford, who was parish priest from 1892 until his retirement in 1919, bred Kirkland. Kirkland won in Kilmallock at the age of four and was owned at this stage by a Mr T. A. Hartigan. Hartigan then sold the horse onto a Liverpool manufacturer Frank Bibby.

Kirkland was well fancied by the general public at Aintree as he had earlier won the Grand Sefton chase (run over the National course) and had finished fourth in 1903 and second in 1904 in the two previous running of the National. Kirkland was trained by Mr. E. Thomas and ridden by Frank 'Tich' Mason. He won by three lengths from Napper Tandy at the odds of 6/1.

It is sometimes argued that Kirkland was a Templeglantine horse. However, Kirkland was born in 1896, while Fr. Clifford was parish priest in Monagea.

Another local who achieved fame (or infamy in this case) was "Terrible" Tommy O'Connor, who shot his way out of Chicago jail in 1910.

The leader of the local division of the Whiteboys was Captain Rock, a Fitzmaurice. A faction group called the Rockites emerged from this organisation. A Mulcahy led them at one stage. Like the Whiteboys, their objective was to grab land from farmers. This usually happened for one of two reasons; a dispute with another local farmer, or simply wanting their lands.



English Name Irish Name Meaning
Arranagh Aránach Meaning uncertain
Ballintubbrid Baile na Tiobradie The town of the well
Ballinvallig Baile an Bhealaigh The town of the way
Ballycluvane Baile Uí Chlúmháin The town of Ó Clúmháin
Ballyconway Baile Uí Chonnmhaigh The town of Ó Connmhaigh
Ballygeel Baile an Gheimhil The town of the fetter
Ballylinane Baile Uí Leannáin The town of Ó Leannáin
Ballymurragh East Baile Uí Mhurchú The town of Ó Murchú
Ballynahown Baile na hAbhann The town of the river
Ballyquirk Baile Uí Choirc The town of Ó Coirc
Ballyshane Baile Sheáin The town of Seán
Camas Camas Winding feature
Cloonyscrehane Cluain an Screatháin The meadow of the shallow sod
Crean An Crián The clayey place
Gardenfield Goirtín an Gharraí The small field of the garden
Garryduff An Garraí Dubh The black garden
Glebe An Ghléib  
Glendarragh Gleann Darach Glen of oaktrees
Glenmore An Gleann Mór The big glen
Glenquin Gleann an Choim The glen of the shelter
Gorteenreynard Goirtín Raghnairt The small field of Raghnart
Lissurland Lios Urlann Enclosure of the weapon-handles
Rathcahill East Ráth Chathail Thior The rath of Cathal
Shangarry An Seangharraí The old garden
Strand An Trá  
Teermena Tír Mhaonaigh The land of Maonach
Treanboy An Trian Buí The yellow third



List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1643 - ? Philip Riedy  
1704 - ? Thomas Quinlan  
? - 1745 John Begley  
1745 - 1754 Mensal parish  
1756 - 1775 John Hartnett  
1775 - 1817 James Ambrose  
1817 - 1824 James Rochford  
1824 - 1833 James Cleary  
1833 – 1836 John Donovan  
1837 John O’Donovan Patrick Scanlan
1838 John O’Donovan Patrick Scanlan
1839 John O’Donovan Patrick Scanlan
1840 John O’Donovan James Hogan
1841 John O’Donovan C. O’Donoghoe
1842 John O’Donovan C. O’Donoghoe
1843 John O’Donovan C. O’Donoghoe
1844 John O’Donovan C. O’Donoghoe
1845 John O’Donovan James Quaid
1846 John O’Donovan James Quaid
1847 John O’Donovan John Hogan
1848 John O’Donovan John Hogan
1849 John O’Donovan John Hogan
1850 John O’Donovan John Hogan
1851 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1852 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1853 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1854 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1855 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1856 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1857 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1858 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1859 John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1860 Changed its name from Rathcahill to Monagea
  John O’Donovan Denis Madigan
1861 James O’Shea Michael Connery
1862 James O’Shea John Quaid
    John O’Neil
1863 James O’Shea ? Fitzgerald
    Jeremiah Halpin
1864 James O’Shea Thomas Nolan
    Charles McDonald
1865 John Clifford ? Clifford
1866 John Clifford Thomas Head
1867 John Clifford John Mulcahy
1868 John Clifford John Mulcahy
1869 John Clifford John Mulcahy
1870 John Clifford  
1871 John Clifford  
1872 John Clifford  
1873 John Clifford Thomas Graham
1874 John Clifford Thomas Graham
1875 John Clifford Denis Sheehy
1876 John Clifford C. Kenny
1877 John Clifford Patrick Condon
1878 John Clifford Michael McCarthy
1879 John Clifford Thomas Madden
1880 John Clifford Thomas Madden
1881 Arthur Sheedy Thomas Madden
1882 Arthur Sheedy James Cregan
1883 Arthur Sheedy James Cregan
1884 Arthur Sheedy James Cregan
1885 Arthur Sheedy James Cregan
1886 Arthur Sheedy James Cregan
1887 Arthur Sheedy John Curtin
1888 John Carrick  
1889 John Carrick E. O’Leary
1890 John Carrick William Fenton
1891 John Carrick M. Murphy
1892 John Carrick Patrick Carroll
1893 Edmund Clifford J. O’Shea
1894 Edmund Clifford Patrick Hartigan
1895 Edmund Clifford James Carroll
1896 Edmund Clifford James Carroll
1897 Edmund Clifford  
1898 Edmund Clifford D. Bresnahan
1899 Edmund Clifford D. Bresnahan
1900 Edmund Clifford D. Bresnahan
1901 Edmund Clifford James Carroll
1902 Edmund Clifford James Carroll
1903 Edmund Clifford James Carroll
1904 Edmund Clifford James Carroll
1905 Edmund Clifford James Carroll
1906 Edmund Clifford Patrick McNamara
1907 Edmund Clifford Patrick McNamara
1908 Edmund Clifford Michael Leahy
1909 Edmund Clifford J. Lane
1910 Edmund Clifford John J. Kelly
1911 Edmund Clifford David Hanly
1912 Edmund Clifford David Hanly
1913 Edmund Clifford Michael Hayes
1914 Edmund Clifford Michael Hayes
1915 Edmund Clifford Patrick Coleman
1916 Edmund Clifford Patrick Coleman
1917 Edmund Clifford Michael Tracy
1918 Edmund Clifford Patrick Ruddle
1919 Edmund Clifford Patrick Ruddle
1920 David Hanly Patrick Ruddle
1921 David Hanly C. O’Sullivan
1922 David Hanly C. O’Sullivan
1923 David Hanly C. O’Sullivan
1924   C. O’Sullivan
1925 Patrick Ryan  
1926 Patrick Ryan M. Carroll
1927 Patrick Ryan M. Carroll
1928 Patrick Ryan  
1929 Patrick Ryan  
1930 Patrick Ryan James O’Byrne
1931 Patrick Ryan James O’Byrne
1932 Patrick Ryan James O’Byrne
1933 Patrick Ryan William Creed
1934 Patrick Ryan William Creed
1935 Patrick Ryan Michael Connolly
1936 Patrick Ryan Michael Connolly
1937 Patrick Ryan Michael Connolly
1938 Patrick Ryan William O’Connell
1939 Patrick Ryan Patrick Murphy
1940 Patrick Ryan Patrick Murphy
1941 Patrick Ryan Patrick Murphy
1942 Patrick Ryan Patrick Murphy
1943 Patrick Lyons  
1944 Patrick Lyons  
1945 Patrick Lyons  
1946 Patrick Lyons  
1947 Patrick Lyons John Fitzgibbon
1948 Patrick Lyons  
1949 Patrick Lyons  
1950 Patrick Lyons  
1951 Patrick Lyons  
1952 Patrick Lyons  
1953 Patrick Lyons  
1954 Patrick Lyons  
1955 Patrick Lyons  
1956 Patrick Lyons  
1957 Daniel Costello  
1958 Daniel Costello  
1959 Daniel Costello  
1960 Daniel Costello  
1961 Daniel Costello  
1962 Daniel Costello  
1963 Daniel Costello  
1964 Daniel Costello  
1965 John Connors  
1966 John Connors  
1967 John Connors  
1968 John Connors  
1969 John Connors  
1970 John Connors  
1971 John Connors  
1972 John Connors  
1973 John Connors  
1974 John Burke  
1975 John Burke  
1976 John Burke  
1977 John Burke  
1978 John Burke  
1979 John Burke  
1980 John Burke  
1981 John Burke  
1982 John Burke  
1983 John Burke  
1984 Patrick Howard  
1985 Patrick Howard  
1986 Patrick Howard  
1987 Patrick Howard  
1988 Patrick Howard  
1989 Patrick Howard  
1990 Patrick Howard  
1991 Patrick Howard  
1992 Patrick Howard  
1993 Patrick Howard  
1994 Patrick Howard  
1995 Patrick Howard  
1996 Patrick Howard  
1997 Patrick Howard  
1998 John Irwin  
1999 John Irwin  
2000 John Irwin  
2001 John Irwin  
2002 To Be Announced  
2003 Patrick Costelloe (Adm. Pro Tem)  
2004 Patrick Costelloe (Adm. Pro Tem)  
2005 Patrick Costelloe (Adm. Pro Tem)  
2006 Patrick Costelloe (Adm. Pro Tem)  
2007 Patrick Costelloe (Adm. Pro Tem)  


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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