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Monaleen Parish

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

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

The parish of Monaleen was created in June 1971. The parish was formerly part of the St Patrick's parish. The dioceses of Limerick, Killaloe and Cashel & Emly meet in the townland of Scart.

Monaleen is from the Irish Móin a' Lín, which means 'the bog of the flax'. Large amounts of flax were grown in the area in the eighteenth century but by 1820, this industry had begun to decline.

During the tenure of Dr. Daniel Kearney as Bishop of Limerick from 1760-1778, the Bishop's Palace was situated just before the Railway Bridge as you enter Limerick from the Ballysimon Road. The population of the parish is around 10,000 but it is expanding rapidly due to its proximity to Limerick City.


The church in Monaleen is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. It was built in 1873 on land given by William Nunan. The architect of this large stone church was Mr Goldie. The builder was Mr Kavanagh. Fr Meehan was parish priest at the time of its building. The church has a high timber ceiling.

In the porch of the church, there is a stained glass window on the right to St Anne and St Joachim. At the back of the church, there is a plaque to the memory of Fr Timothy Peter Leonard who was a member of the Missionary Society of St Columban. Fr Leonard, who was from Ballysimon, died on July 17th 1929 while he was on missionary duty in China.

Near this plaque on the left of the church, there is a stained glass window to Mary Magdalene. The stained glass windows in the middle of the church are to the memory of James Morrison. Opposite these, on the right, are stained glass windows to Mary and Joseph. These are to the memory of John Moynihan.

In the middle of the church on the right, there is a wooden carving of Jesus Christ forgiving Mary Magdalene. The stained glass window on the right at the top of the church shows two different depictions of the Bread of Life, and the adjoining inscription asks us to pray for Helena Fitzgerald. The stained glass windows opposite this show the Crown of Thorns and an Urn. The inscription on the window asks people to pray for the Fitzgerald family.

At the back of the altar there are four different depictions on the stained glass windows. They are (from left to right) St Joseph, Jesus Christ, St Patrick and St Thomas. The window of St Thomas is to the memory of Thomas Purcell. The stonework behind the altar is exposed.

The old church altar lies on the ground to the right outside the present church. On the left of the church there is a statue to Mary and Mary Magdalene.

The previous church in Monaleen was on the site of the first school in Monaleen. The church was on the Old Schoolhouse Road. The remains of the building were knocked in 1987.

The old Mary Magdelene church was beside the graveyard in Kilmurry.

There was a parish church in Derrygalvin. Some ruins were visible in 1840 in the graveyard on the Ballysimon road. There are no signs of any church ruins nowadays. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin in the 16th century. The parish of Derrygalvin was merged with Kilmurry parish in 1792.

There was also a church in Killonan. The church was named after Lonan, who was a disciple of St Patrick. The church was near the railway station of the same name. Lewis states that the ruins of this church were visible in 1837.

The church in Ballyclough is referred to in some books as Crewally. This church was part of the old parish of Knocknagall. The whereabouts of this church are now forgotten.

Westropp mentions churches in Killovenoge and Kilbane. Killovenoge church was north from Derrygalvin church. We found no information on either of these churches.



There is a graveyard in Ballysimon that is in use at present. The graveyard is in good condition and the oldest headstone that we found was from 1800. It was to the memory of John Sheehy who died on March 1st of that year, aged 78. Many of the older headstones are illegible. A lot of people from Monaleen are buried in Kilmurry graveyard.

Westropp mentions cillíns at Killonan and Kilbane for the burial of strangers and children. The kyle in Kilbane is near Mary Magdalene's well.

The kyle in Killonan is about ½ mile from the road. The earliest reference in the records to the kyle is from 1601. The kyle is overgrown with weeds and grass but there are plans to clean up the grounds. Only five headstones are visible and there was a burial here in 1991.


Holy Wells

The only Holy Well in the parish is in the townland of Kilbane. According to Gerard Healy's The Hidden Excitement of Monaleen & Milford St Mary Magdalene's well is in a grove of whitethorn that has a statue of the saint over the well. Flowers, rags and candles were left at the well as offerings. Despite making several attempts to locate this well, we were unable to find a well with a statue over it. We did, however, find out that the well is on the lands of Liam Hickey in Kilbane. The accompanying photo is what we believe to be the site of the well in July 2001.

Healy also states that the feastday on July 22nd was usually a big day for rounds at the well until the 1960s when devotions started to wane. The well is now rarely visited and has become neglected. The statue of St Mary Magdalene is now overgrown by weeds.

According to Healy local farmers were making hay in the field using crude forks made of ash. The farmers stuck them in the field before they went home to eat. On returning to the field, one fork had become an ash tree, with a well at its base.

The well dried up during the Newcastle Races due to the events that took place at this event and to replenish the well, people would sprinkle holy water on the well and the water would return.

It is claimed that the water in the well cures stomach complaints. Locals believe that there were burials near the well but there is no visible trace of any graves.

There is a well in Ballysimon Dickson that is locally called St. Simon's Well and All Saints Well. This well was located 40 yards north of Ballysimon graveyard. Danaher described the well as being 'lined with dry stone with a small whitethorn bush'. It was believed to cure sore eyes and bad stomach.

The well must be visited in silence and left in silence. The well is known for curing eye ailments. The well was trampled by cattle and no traditions or devotions take place at the well nowadays.


Famous People

In the equestrian world during the late 1920s and the 1930s, Ireland had one of the best showjumping teams in the world. Part of this team was Monaleen man Major Gerard O'Dwyer and his horse Limerick Lace.

Before his army career, Gerard was a member of the IRA and took part in the raid that resulted in the burning of the RIC barracks in Kilmallock. After this event, he had to go on the run. O'Dwyer took the side of Michael Collins in the Civil War. He joined the Irish Army Equitation School after he had been offered a position there.

During his time in the Equitation School, Captain O'Dwyer won 8 Nations Cups in a row and 6 Aga Khan Cups at the Dublin Horse Show from 1926 to 1936. In 1934, O'Dwyer became a Major.



English Name Irish Name Meaning
Annacotty Áth an Choite The ford of the small boat
Ballysimon Commons Coimín Béal Átha Síomoin Meaning uncertain
Ballysimon (Dickson) Béal Átha Síomoin The fordmouth of Síomon
Ballysimon (Staunton) as above  
Ballyclogh Baile na Cloiche The town of the stone structure
Coolyhenan Cúil Uí Sheighneáin The corner of Ó Seighneáin
Garryglass An Garraí Glas The green garden
Keyanna Caothanna Swamps
Kilbane An Chill Bhán The white church
Killonan Cill Lonáin The church of Lonán
Knockananty Cnocán na Neanta The hillock of the nettles
Newcastle An Caisleán Nua The new castle
Newtown An Baile Nua The new town
Peafield Gort na Pise  
Rivers Cluain Cliabh Meadow of the creels
Scart An Scairt The thicket
Shanbally An Seanbhaile Mór The big old town
Towlerton Tamhlachtain A burial place



List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1972 Joseph O’Beirne .
1973 Joseph O’Beirne .
1974 Joseph O’Beirne .
1975 Joseph O’Beirne .
1976 Joseph O’Beirne Joseph Dempsey
1977 Joseph O’Beirne Joseph Dempsey
1978 Joseph O’Beirne Joseph Dempsey
1979 Joseph O’Beirne John Leonard
1980 David McNamee John Leonard
1981 David McNamee John Leonard
1982 David McNamee John Leonard
1983 David McNamee John Leonard
1984 David McNamee Patrick Bowen
1985 David McNamee Patrick Bowen
1986 David McNamee Patrick Bowen
1987 David McNamee Patrick Bowen
1988 David McNamee Antóin O'Tuathaigh
1989 David McNamee Antóin O’Tuathaigh
1990 Terence O’Brien Antóin O’Tuathaigh
1991 Terence O’Brien Antóin O’Tuathaigh
1992 Terence O’Brien Antóin O’Tuathaigh
1993 Terence O’Brien Antóin O’Tuathaigh
1994 Terence O’Brien Antóin O’Tuathaigh
    Thomas Harty
1995 Terence O’Brien Antóin O’Tuathaigh
    Thomas Harty
1996 Terence O’Brien John Duggan
1997 Terence O’Brien John Fitzgerald
1998 Terence O’Brien John Fitzgerald
1999 Terence O’Brien Thomas Mullahy
2000 Terence O’Brien Thomas Mullahy
2001 Terence O’Brien Sean Harmon
2002 Terence O’Brien Sean Harmon
2003 Daniel Neenan Sean Harmon
2004 Daniel Neenan Sean Harmon
2005 Daniel Neenan Sean Harmon
2006 Mgr. Daniel Neenan Sean Harmon
2007 Mgr. Daniel Neenan  


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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