Bruree, a place steeped in history, was one of the seats for the kings of Munster from ancient times until around the end of the 12th century. The King of Cashel used to send gifts to the King of Bruree. These gifts varied from animals to slaves. According to O'Halloran Bruree was also the place where Irish bards met twice a year until 1746.
There are a number of ring-forts located in the Bruree area, the best-known being Lissoleem ring fort. King Ailill Olom is believed to have lived here in the second century. Ailill's nickname was Ollum which means "bare ear" as he lost one of his ears in a fight with the goddess Áine. It is said that Áine bit off his ear!
Over the years, Bruree has been seat of power for the Dalcassians, the Uí Fidgeinte, the O'Briens and the Anglo-Normans. In 1242 Bruree was seized from John de Marisco and his wife Mabel, who was the grandchild of Richard de Burgh. It was returned to them when it was discovered that it was part of Mabel's marriage portion.
One Norman family settled in the area. The de Lacys became landowners in Bruree around 1290 and fought with the Irish against the English in various wars and battles in the 16th and 17th centuries. Despite all the kings that lived in Bruree it is fair to say that the most famous son of Bruree is the former Taoiseach and President Eamon De Valera.
Bruree in Irish is Brúigh Rígh or Brú Rí , which translated means 'the seat of the Kings' or 'the abode of Kings'. The ancient name of Bruree was Dún Eochair Máighe, which means 'the stronghold on the brink of the Maigue'. The river Maigue flows through the village as it makes its way to the sea.
Rockhill is situated on the N20 that runs from Limerick to Cork while the village of Bruree is on the R518. Rockhill became the parish name because in the 1840s Fr James Ryan built a new church and parochial house in Rockhill.
Up to 1859, Colmanswell was part of the parish of Bruree but
it is now part of the neighbouring parish of Ballyagran/Colmanswell.
The church in Rockhill was built in 1842 by Fr James Ryan P.P. and was renovated in 1950/51 by Fr Denis Kelly P.P. The church is built on a hill and from the church there is a stunning view of the surrounding countryside. Prior to the building of the church in 1842 in Rockhill, there was a church on the same site from the 1810s.
The altar in the church is to the memory of James Dunworth, Mrs. Dunworth and their children. On the left of the altar there are two statues, to St Brigid and the Sacred Heart. Statues to St Joseph and the Virgin Mary are to the right of the altar. The church has a high ceiling.
Two local men, Gerry Hynes and Pat Lyons told us that prior to the renovation of the church in 1950/51, the priests were buried under the church floor. The plaques were covered over when the new floor was laid and there is no longer any indication of which priests are buried in the church.
Buried within the church is:
James Ryan P.P.
Died January 6 1859
Buried in the grounds of the church are:
Canon Joseph Moran
Died August 6 1986
Canon James Kelly
Died April 27 1976
P.P. for 9 months
Died October 3 1964, aged 60
Died August 10 1921, aged 62
Canon John Breen
Died January 10 1941, aged 83
Canon Denis Kelly
Died January 31 1964, aged 77
The church in Bruree was built in 1925 during Fr John Breen's term as parish priest. It was officially opened on April 26th of that year and is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The church was built using limestone that was brought from nearby Tankardstown in Kilmallock.
The foundation stone is to the left of the main door of the church. The inscription on the stone states that the builder was Jeremiah J. Coffey from Midleton in Cork and the architect was a Mr. Hynes from Cork. The stone was laid on December 8th 1922.
Inside the church, there are two transepts and a high wooden ceiling. To the right of the altar are a statue to St. Joseph and the infant and an altar to the Virgin Mary. In the left transept of the church there is an altar to the Sacred Heart. There are also two stained glass windows that were donated by Ed. Fitzgibbon to the memory of his wife Nano and his Aunt Margaret.
A small section of the altar rails still remains in the church. Miss Mary Dunworth donated the altar rails. Nearby, in the left transept of the church, there is a Mission Cross that was donated by Nano and Katie Byrnes from Bruree in August 1929. The cross was given in memory of their parents and sisters.
Mr. & Mrs. Carroll from Fort East erected the altar. Behind the main altar there is a large stained glass window that is divided in three sections. The window depicts (from left to right) the Virgin Mary, the Sacred Heart and St Joseph. These windows were donated by (from left) Catherine Carroll in memory of her husband John, and Brigid Lyons in memory of her husband Cornelius and Brigid Cahill in memory of her husband Michael.
Above these, there is a round stained glass window that was given by J. J. Byrnes in memory of his wife and his son in 1926. The window shows the figures of St. Patrick and St. Brigid. Llew Conway gave the round stained glass window above the door of the church in memory of his mother Norah Byrnes Conway.
Before 1925, the church in Bruree was called St. Munchin's
and was built in 1842. This church, situated beside John Moloney's Bar, is
still standing and is now under the ownership of Shannon Development. The
church was used as a dancehall for a number of years. The old holy water font
from this church is now in the De Valera Museum and Bruree Heritage Centre.
According to local historian Jerry Hynes, the old holy water font was found in the old churchyard. It is presumed to have belonged to the old church of St Munchin, which stood in the churchyard. The church was dedicated to St Mainchín, or Munchin, in 1410, and would have been in use as Bruree parish church in the 1400s and 1500s, up at least to the time of the Reformation. Nothing remained of this church in 1840 when the ordinance survey was done. Mr Hynes says that the stones of the ruin were probably used in the building of the nearby Protestant church in 1812. This church has not been used for services for a number of years.
The well-known local historian Mannix Joyce told us of two facts that substantiate the claim that St Munchin's church existed on this site. In a record of road repairs from 1812 the phrase 'to the church gates in Bruree' is used. On remeasuring the distance Mannix found that the measurements brought him to within a few feet of the location of the church gates of St Munchin's church. This leads him to believe that the old church site was on or near the present church site. There also was a tailor made altar cloth dated from 1829. If there was not a church in Bruree prior to 1842, there must have been a mass house in the parish.
There is a church ruin in Howardstown that was supposedly built by the Knights Templars in 1287. This church was formerly called Cooleen or Teampaill Mhuire. Only one wall remains of this ruin. The ground around the church is uneven, with noticeable rises and dips. A local man Pat Lyons told us that the settlement around the church used to cover an area of around 2-3 acres so this may explain the unevenness of the surrounding ground.
According to Mannix Joyce, the church in Howardstown may have been a chapel of ease to the church in Bruree. This piece of information came from the Protestant Minister Lewis Prytherch in 1704.
Westropp mentions a church in Kilbreedy Minor, which is in
the parish. This church was recorded as dedicated to St Brigid on February
1st 1410. Westropp said that the nave and choir were 30 ½ feet by 20
feet 9 inches and 23 feet by 20 feet 9 inches. No ruins remain.
The new graveyard in Bruree is in the townland of Garrouse and was opened in 1981.
The remains of a castle are to be found in the graveyard at Ballynoe. Lewis claims that the Knights Templars built this castle in the 12th century but there is no other record to support his claim.
A pathway divides the graveyard in Ballynoe. Catholics are buried on the right of the path and Protestants on the left of the path. The oldest headstone that we found was to James Shea who died on March 14th 1786 at the age of 22. However, from the book "Bruree" by Mannix Joyce in 1972, a detailed list of all the headstones in the graveyard is given. According to this list the oldest headstone in the graveyard is to the memory of Mary Shanahan, who died on February 9th, 1771.
We also found the remains of a headstone that had a skull and crossbones on it. As the headstone was broken, we do not know to whom the headstone is. There was a tomb to the Lyons family in the graveyard as well. The graveyard is kept in good condition.
In Howardstown, there are a small number of graves. One headstone of interest is to Robert O'Donnell. O'Donnell was a native of the parish and was a member of the RAF in World War II. It is believed that while flying a mission over Germany, he was shot down. His body was never recovered but his wife erected a headstone to his memory in his home parish.
Unbaptised children were buried at both Kilbreedy and Killacolla
in the past. According to the local historian, Jerry Hynes, the site of Kilbreedy
graveyard is located near the north-west corner of a large pasture field about
one mile west of the main Cork-Limerick road, and 2 ½ miles west of
Bruree. The field, locally known as 'Church Field', is in the townland of
Kilbreedy. It is probable that there was once a church dedicated to St Brigid
in this townland. The site was later used as a Children's graveyard. This
site is shown as a circle of dots in the 1840 edition of the Ordinance Survey
Map. All that remains now is a mound 2 feet high and measuring approximately
36 feet north-south and 18 feet east-west. There is a slight depression on
the outside all around.
Danaher describes a well in Bruree called St. Munchin's well. This well has now dried up but the site is still there, marked by a number of boulders. The feastday of the well was January 2nd and the day was a parish holiday. According to Danaher the water cured bad stomachs and sore eyes. The legend behind the well is that St Munchin caused the well to spring up when he was refused a drink.
At the back of Rockhill church there is a wooded area. This area was planted in recent years. Somewhere within this area is a Mass rock where Mass was said in Penal times. Fr Daniel McNamara was the parish priest of the area and refused to take the Oath of Abjuration. He was barred from saying Mass in public so he said Mass at safe houses and Mass rocks. In 1713, he was captured while saying Mass but it is unclear what happened to Fr McNamara after his arrest.
Eamon de Valera was born in America in 1882 and after the death of his father Vivion de Valera in 1885, he returned to the home of his mother Catherine Coll in Bruree. Young Eamon went to primary school in the building where the De Valera Museum is now housed. At the age of fourteen, de Valera went to the Christian Brothers school in Charleville where he won a scholarship to Blackrock College in Dublin. He received a BA degree from the Royal University of Ireland and also studied at Trinity College for a short period of time.
De Valera was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, after which he was imprisoned. He was elected as a Member of Parliament for Clare in 1917. The following year he was elected the President of the Irish Republic. In 1926 he formed the Fianna Fail party. During his long life in politics, De Valera was both President and Taoiseach of the country. In 1937 he wrote a new constitution for the country. De Valera was also twice the President of the Council of the League of Nations.
Eamon de Valera made numerous visits back to the place where he grew up and on October 8th 1972, President de Valera opened the Museum named after him. This Museum now also incorporates the Bruree Heritage Centre and President Mary Robinson officially opened the Museum in 1997.
De Valera died on August 29 1975 at the age of 92. Eamon de Valera's cottage has now been taken over by the State as a national monument and attracts a large number of visitors.
During de Valera's youth, he was an altar server for Fr Eugene Sheehy. Fr Sheehy was known as the "Land League Priest" and spent some time in prison due to his stance on the issue. He was also involved in the foundation of the GAA.
Bruree House was the home of John Gubbins who won the Epsom
Derby with two horses. In 1897 Galteemore won the race along with the 2,000
Guineas and St. Leger in the same year. Ardpatrick won the 1902 running of
the Derby to repeat the feat of Galteemore for his owner.
|English Name||Irish Name||Meaning|
|Ballinoran||Baile an Fhuaráin||The town of the spring|
|Ballinwillin||Baile an Mhuilinn||The town of the mill|
|Ballyclogh Lower||Baile na Cloiche||The town of the stone structure|
|Ballyclogh Upper||as above|
|Ballyfookoon||Baile Phúcúin||The town of Púcún|
|Ballyhinnaught||Baile Shneachta||Meaning uncertain|
|Ballynoe||An Baile Nua||The new town|
|Ballyteige Lower||Baile Uí Thaidhg||The town of Ó Taidhg|
|Ballyteige Upper||as above|
|Bruree||Brú Rí||The abode of kings|
|Cappanafaraha||Ceapach na Fairche||The tillage plot of the territory|
|Clashgortmore||Clais an Ghoirt Mhór||The trench of the big field|
|Cooleen||An Cúilín||The small corner|
|Coolreagh||An Chúil Riabhach||The streaked corner|
|Derraulin||Doire Álainn||Beautiful oakwood|
|Dromacummer East||Drom an Chomair||The ridge of the confluence|
|Dromacummer West||as above|
|Forty Acres||Daichead Acra|
|Garrane||An Garrán||The grove|
|Garryfine||Garraí Paghan||The garden of Paghan|
|Harding Grove||Stiall||Stripe of land|
|Howardstown North||Baile Shiuird||The town of Siurd|
|Howardstown South||as above|
|Kilbreedy||Cill Bhríde||The church of Bríd|
|Killacolla||Coill an Chollaigh||The wood of the boar|
|Knockannacreeva||Cnocán na Craoibhe||The hillock of the tree|
|Knockaunavoddig||Cnocán an Bhodaigh||The hillock of the low-bred person|
|Knockfenora||Cnoc Fionnúrach||The hill of Fionnúir|
|Knockmore||An Cnoc Mór||The big hill|
|Lackanagrour||Leaca na gCreabhar||The hill side of the woodcocks|
|Lotteragh Lower||An Latrach||The rough scrubby ground|
|Lotteragh Upper||as above|
|Mounteagle||Cnoc an Iolair||The hill of the eagle|
|1704 - ?||Donal MacNamara|
|? - ?||Patrick Stanton|
|? - 1762||James Barry|
|1762 - ?||David Browne|
|? - 1802||Roger Coffee|
|1802 - 1817||Daniel O’Sullivan|
|1817 - 1825||Philip Sheahan|
|1825 - 1825||Edmund Connery|
|1825 – 1836||James Ryan|
|1837||James Ryan||Richard Mulcahy|
|1838||James Ryan||Richard Mulcahy|
|1839||James Ryan||Richard Mulcahy|
|1840||James Ryan||Richard Mulcahy|
|1841||James Ryan||Eugene Bermingham|
|1842||James Ryan||Patrick Scanlan|
|1843||James Ryan||Patrick Scanlan|
|1844||James Ryan||Richard Shanahan|
|1845||James Ryan||James Fitzgerald|
|1846||James Ryan||James Fitzgerald|
|1847||James Ryan||James Fitzgerald|
|1848||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1849||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1850||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1851||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1852||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1853||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1854||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1855||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1856||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1857||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1858||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1859||James Ryan||Denis Meaney|
|1860||William Bourke||Denis Meaney|
|1861||Denis Cregan||Denis Meaney|
|1862||Denis Cregan||Denis Meaney|
|1863||Denis Cregan||Denis Meaney|
|1864||Denis Cregan||John O’Sullivan|
|1865||Denis Cregan||John O’Sullivan|
|1866||Eugene Bermingham||Charles McNamara|
|1867||Eugene Bermingham||Charles McNamara|
|1868||Eugene Bermingham||Charles McNamara|
|1869||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1870||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1871||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1872||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1873||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1874||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1875||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1876||Eugene Bermingham||David Quinn|
|1877||Eugene Bermingham||William Downs|
|1878||Eugene Bermingham||William Downs|
|1879||James Enraght||William Downs|
|1880||James Enraght||William Downs|
|1881||James Enraght||John Costello|
|1882||James Enraght||John Costello|
|1883||James Enraght||John Costello|
|1884||James Enraght||John Costello|
|1885||James Enraght||Eugene Sheehy (Adm.)|
|1886||James Enraght||Eugene Sheehy (Adm.)|
|1887||Eugene Sheehy||Thomas Madden|
|1888||Eugene Sheehy||Thomas Madden|
|1889||Eugene Sheehy||John Tierney|
|1890||Eugene Sheehy||John Tierney|
|1891||Eugene Sheehy||John Tierney|
|1892||Eugene Sheehy||John Connolly|
|1893||Eugene Sheehy||John Connolly|
|1894||Eugene Sheehy||John Connolly|
|1895||Eugene Sheehy||John Connolly|
|1896||Eugene Sheehy||John Connolly|
|1897||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|1898||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|1899||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|1900||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|1901||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|1902||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|1903||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|John Breen (Adm.)|
|1904||Eugene Sheehy||James Liston|
|John Breen (Adm.)|
|1905||Eugene Sheehy||William O’Shea|
|1906||Eugene Sheehy||William O’Shea|
|1907||Eugene Sheehy||William O’Shea|
|1908||Eugene Sheehy||Gerald O’Connor (Adm.)|
|Patrick V. Higgins|
|1909||Gerald O’Connor||Patrick V. Higgins|
|1910||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1911||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1912||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1913||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1914||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1915||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1916||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1917||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1918||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1919||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1920||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1921||Gerald O’Connor||Timothy Murphy|
|1922||John Breen||Timothy Murphy|
|1923||John Breen||Michael Ryan|
|1924||John Breen||Michael Ryan|
|1925||John Breen||Michael Ryan|
|1926||Canon John Breen||Michael Ryan|
|1927||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1928||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1929||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1930||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1931||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1932||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1933||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1934||Canon John Breen||Martin O’Grady|
|1935||Canon John Breen||Denis O’Donnell|
|1936||Canon John Breen||Denis O’Donnell|
|1937||Canon John Breen||Denis O’Donnell|
|1938||Canon John Breen||Denis O’Donnell|
|1939||Canon John Breen||Denis O’Donnell|
|1940||Canon John Breen||Denis O’Donnell|
|1941||Canon John Breen||Denis O’Donnell|
|1942||Denis Kelly||Denis O’Donnell|
|1943||Denis Kelly||Denis O’Donnell|
|1944||Denis Kelly||Denis O’Donnell|
|1945||Denis Kelly||Denis O’Donnell|
|1946||Denis Kelly||P. G. Ryan|
|1947||Denis Kelly||P. G. Ryan|
|1948||Denis Kelly||P. G. Ryan|
|1949||Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1950||Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1951||Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1952||Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1953||Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1954||Canon Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1955||Canon Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1956||Canon Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1957||Canon Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1958||Canon Denis Kelly||James Lyons|
|1959||Canon Denis Kelly||Patrick Kelly|
|1960||Canon Denis Kelly||Patrick Kelly|
|1961||Canon Denis Kelly||Patrick Kelly|
|1962||Canon Denis Kelly||Patrick Kelly|
|1963||Canon Denis Kelly||Patrick Kelly|
|1964||Edmond McCarthy||Patrick Kelly|
|1965||James Kelly||Patrick Kelly|
|1966||James Kelly||Patrick Kelly|
|1967||James Kelly||Michael Irwin|
|1968||James Kelly||Michael Irwin|
|1969||James Kelly||Michael Irwin|
|1970||James Kelly||Anthony O’Keeffe|
|1971||James Kelly||Anthony O’Keeffe|
|1972||James Kelly||Anthony O’Keeffe|
|1973||Canon James Kelly||Anthony O’Keeffe|
|1974||Canon James Kelly||Anthony O’Keeffe|
|1975||Canon James Kelly||Anthony O’Keeffe|
|1976||Canon James Kelly||Anthony O'Keeffe|
|1977||Joseph Moran||Denis Browne|
|1978||Joseph Moran||Denis Browne|
|1979||Joseph Moran||Denis Browne|
|1980||Joseph Moran||Denis Browne|
|1981||Joseph Moran||Denis Browne|
|1982||Joseph Moran||Denis Browne|
|1983||Joseph Moran||Denis Browne|
|1984||Joseph Moran||David Kennedy|
|1985||Joseph Moran||David Kennedy|
|1986||Canon Joseph Moran||David Kennedy|
|1987||Timothy Greene||David Kennedy|
|1988||Timothy Greene||David Kennedy|
|1989||Timothy Greene||David Kennedy|
|1990||Timothy Greene||David Kennedy|
|1991||Timothy Greene||Anthony Kelleher|
|1992||Timothy Greene||Anthony Kelleher|
|1993||Timothy Greene||Anthony Kelleher|
|1994||Canon Timothy Greene||Anthony Kelleher|
|1995||Canon Timothy Greene||Anthony Kelleher|
|1996||Canon Timothy Greene||John Keating|
|1997||Canon Timothy Greene||John Keating|
|1998||Canon Timothy Greene||John Keating|
|1999||John Fitzgerald||Archdeacon Timothy Greene|
|2000||John Fitzgerald||Archdeacon Timothy Greene|
|2001||John Fitzgerald||Archdeacon Timothy Greene|
|2002||John Fitzgerald||Archdeacon Timothy Greene|
|2003||John Fitzgerald||Archdeacon Timothy Greene|
|Terence Loughran (Pro. Tem.)|
|Michael Cussen Adm.|
|2004||John Fitzgerald||Patrick Hogan, Adm.|
|Terence Loughran (Pro. Tem.)|
|2005||John Fitzgerald||Patrick Hogan, Adm.|
|Terence Loughran (Pro. Tem.)|
|2006||John Fitzgerald||Desmond McAuliffe, Adm.|
|Terence Loughran (Pro. Tem.)|
|2007||John Fitzgerald||Desmond McAuliffe, Adm.|
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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