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Diocesan Heritage Project
Tournafulla Parish


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

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

The three counties of Limerick, Cork and Kerry converge at a point in the parish of Tournafulla/Mountcollins. A plaque has been placed at the river to mark this point. Within a few miles of the parish are the villages of Rockchapel, Co. Cork, and Brosna, Co. Kerry.

Tournafulla/Mountcollins parish was formed in 1838 from part of the parish of Killeedy. Until 1586, Mountcollins had been part of the parish of Monagea. The present day population of the parish is about 1,500 people.

The Irish for Tournafulla is Tuar na Fola that translates as the "Animal Enclosure of the Blood". This is in reference to a battle where blood was spilled. Tournafulla is surrounded by hills to the north and the Mullaghareirk Mountains to the south. Woods covered most of Tournafulla until the 17th century.

Mountcollins was formerly called Knockroedermot. The area used to be called the "Munster Coalfield". A large tract of land was reclaimed here in the middle of the nineteenth century. There are hills to the north and south-east and the land is mainly boggy. In the past, there was little more than a road in Mountcollins and people used to say, "I'm going to the road" in reference to it. During the famine in Mountcollins, a number of new roads were laid as part of the relief works that began nationwide in an effort to alleviate the immense poverty that existed at the time.

Mountcollins got its present name from Fr Luke Collins. Fr Collins served as priest to both Abbeyfeale and Mountcollins from the 1730s until his death in 1775. Fr Collins first said mass in a building on a hill called 'the Mount', which is the site of the present day church. Hence the name Mountcollins.

The O'Coileans ruled Southwest Limerick from the fourth to the thirteenth century. The area was called the Tuath of Corca Oíche, after the clan. The Gaelic lords of the Corca Oíche took the name Ó Macasa that became anglicised as Mackessy. To the east of Corca Oíche lay the lands of the Ó Coileáin called Claonghlais. The name Ó Coileáin was anglicised as Collins.

There used to be a presbytery in Ballycoman where the two priests of the parish lived. The building is still standing and is now owned by the O'Sullivan family. In the 1930s the house was sold off together with the adjoining farm.

The parish records were originally kept in this Old Presbytery. However, when the new parochial house in Tournafulla was built the transfer of the records did not go quite as planned. During this process some of the records were lost. The oldest set of records date back to April 1st 1867.
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The construction of the present day church in Tournafulla began in 1855. However a shortage of funds meant that the roof was not completed until 1859. On receiving a loan from the earl of Devon, the church was roofed. Fr Richard Shanahan said the first mass in the new church on February 1st1859. Shortly after this mass, Fr Shanahan died and was buried in the site of the old church in Tournafulla. Outside the church on the right there is a grotto to Mary. Tournafulla village grew up around the church.

Over the door of the church in Tournafulla there is a small stained glass window of St Patrick who the church is dedicated to. There is a picture of St Bernadette on the left-hand side of the nave of the church. Behind the high altar in the church there is a stained glass window that depicts (from left to right) St Anthony, the Crucifixion of Jesus and St Patrick. To the left of the altar there is a statue to the Virgin Mary while on the right of the altar there is a statue to the Sacred Heart.

Buried within the church is:
Fr P. Corkery
Parish Priest 1869-88
Died 1890

Buried in the grounds of the church are:

Fr John McCarthy
Born 1904
Parish Priest
Died on October 4th 1979.

Fr Richard Shanahan
Parish Priest 1849-59
Died 1859

The church in Mountcollins is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. It was built in 1859 and the building was extended during 1954/5. The church in Mountcollins is close to the Kerry border and indeed some of the churchgoers here are from Co. Kerry. The church bell was installed in 1992 in memory of Mrs Johanna Bell, who was a benefactress of the parish. In the porch of the church there is a water font that was erected by Mountcollins D. S. in 1945.

There are stained glass windows on the left side of the church of St Pius X, St Joseph and Blessed Oliver Plunkett. On the right hand side of the church there are stained glass windows to St Anne, St Cecilia and St Maria Goretti. Over the gallery there are stained glass windows of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart. Various donors presented the stained glass windows to the church.

There is an altar to St Theresa of Liseux on the left of the nave. To the left of the main altar there is a statue to Mary and to the right of the main altar, there is a statue to the Sacred Heart.

Buried in the grounds of the church is:

Daniel F. Murphy
C.C. 1949-1959
P.P. 1979-1990

The previous church in Tournafulla was built in 1814. Although no trace of the church remains, the site can be entered by gate from a point just beyond the parochial house. This church had a thatched roof and was built with ash and stones. This church was part of the old village of Tournafulla. However, following the Great Flood of 1839 by the river Allaughan, the village moved to a higher location. The walk to the old church site is over marshy ground along a path that once served as a mass path. There were two mass paths, one for each end of the parish. These paths can still be walked in parts. The old church was called "the Chapel of the Mountain of the Curse". Westropp referred to this church as Monte Maledictions.

On the site of the church, there is a plain headstone set on stone. This headstone marks the original burial place of Fr Shanahan. In 1994, his body was exhumed and reburied in the new cemetery behind Tournafulla church. The people of the parish erected a headstone to his memory over the new gravesite.
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There are two graveyards presently in use in the parish of Tournafulla/Mountcollins. Each of the two graveyards is situated beside one of the two churches.

The present day cemetery in Tournafulla opened in 1962. Prior to 1962, most of the people in Tournafulla were buried in one of three places: Templeglantine, Monagea or Abbeyfeale. There are two priests buried in the new cemetery, Fr Shanahan and Fr John McCarthy. A grotto has been erected directly behind the site of Fr Shanahan's grave.

The graveyard in Mountcollins is older than its compatriot in Tournafulla. The oldest headstone that we came across was in memory of Eaneas D. Lane from Knockulcare, who died in June 1875.

There is also an old graveyard in the parish. This graveyard is situated below the site of the old church in Tournafulla. However, there are no headstones to mark the graves here, only stone markers. The field in which this graveyard is located is called the "White Field" and is owned by Dinny Brown.
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Holy Wells
Tobar an Chrainn well is in Mountcollins on the lands of Mr William Leahy. In the past, rounds were made at the well. Nowadays the well is covered over by briars and there are no devotions made there.

According to Danaher, Tobar a' Chrainn well was a small well in a grove of whitethorn, dedicated to St Ita. Small religious objects were left here as offerings, rags were left on the bushes and little crosses of rushes or wild iris blades were dropped into the well. A little girl reputedly took water from the well in ignorance and tried to boil it. However, the water would not boil and a little fish was seen in it, so the water and the fish were returned to the well.
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As stated earlier, there is a grotto behind Fr Shanahan's grave in Tournafulla graveyard. There is a second grotto in the parish, in Mountcollins. The grotto is dedicated to Mary.
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Famous People

St Ita
According to legend, St Ita once cursed Tournafulla. Her community had a dairy farm at Seconglass near Mountcollins. One evening, while Ita was on her way to the farm, the people of Tournafulla set their dogs on her donkeys. The donkeys ran away and when St Ita caught up with them, one of the donkeys was lame. She went on to the river Iskule, which is now known as the Skule. St Ita ascertained the donkey's lameness to be attributable to a thorn in its hoof. She removed the thorn and turned the point downwards. She planted it near her convent and it is supposed to have grown into a thorn bush on which all the thorns grow down.

It is alleged that her footprint, as well as that of the donkey, was left on some of the rocks located at the river. The donkeys' tracks are on the rocks close to where the Iskule and Allaughan rivers meet in Upper Tournafulla. It is said that if one is sick, placing ones feet in the imprints in the rocks will heal the particular ailment.

Tadhg "Gaelach" O'Suilleabhain
The poet Tadhg "Gaelach" O'Suilleabhain was born in Tournafulla in 1715. Most of his well-known poems were of a religious nature and he wrote these poems while he was living in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Tadhg also lived in East Cork for a while. From about 1760 on, his life changed and he became a pilgrim and looked for penance for his sins. It was at this time that Tadhg began to write his religious poems. He died in Waterford Cathedral in 1795 and is buried in Ballylaneen cemetery. After his death, the first edition of his poetry was published in Limerick.
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English Name Irish Name Meaning
Acres Na hAcraí  
Caherlevoy Cathair Leathmhaoil Partially derelict stone fort
Clenglass North An Chlaonghlais The bent, diverted stream
Clenglass South as above  
Glengort South Gleann an Ghoirt The glen of the field
Glengort North as above  
Glenmore East An Gleann Mór The big glen
Glenmore West as above  
Gortnaskehy Gort na Sceiche The field of the hawthorns
Killaculleen Cill an Choillín The church of the small wood
Knockcoolkeare Cnoc Cúile Caor Hill of the corner of the berries
Knocknadiha Cnoc na Daibhche The hill of the tub
Mauricetown Baile Mhuirisín The town of Muirisín
Mountcollins Cnoc Uí Choileáin The hill of Ó Coileáin
Reanagiliee Ré na nGiollaí The level ground of the youths
Seeconglas Suí Conghlais The seat of Conghlas
Tooreennagreana Tuairín na Gréine The small animal enclosure of the sun
Tournafulla Lower Tuar na Fola The animal enclosure of the blood
Tournafulla Upper as above  

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List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1840 Michael McMahon  
1841 Michael McMahon  
1842 Thomas O’Carroll  
1843 Thomas O’Carroll James McNamara
1844 Thomas O’Carroll James Hogan
1845 Thomas O’Carroll James Hogan
1846 Thomas O’Carroll James Hogan
1847 Thomas O’Carroll James Hogan
1848 Thomas O’Carroll James Hogan
1849 Thomas O’Carroll James Hogan
1850 Thomas O’Carroll James Hogan
1851 R. Shanahan John Hogan
1852 R. Shanahan John Hogan
1853 R. Shanahan John Hogan
1854 R. Shanahan John Hogan
1855 R. Shanahan John Hogan
1856 R. Shanahan John Hogan
1857 R. Shanahan Michael Walsh
1858 R. Shanahan Michael Walsh
1859 R. Shanahan Michael Walsh
1860 Tim Corkery Michael Walsh
1861 Tim Corkery John Kenny
1862 Tim Corkery C. P. Kenny
1863 Tim Corkery M. Cregan
1864 Tim Corkery Michael Irwin
1865 Tim Corkery Patrick Carroll
1866 Tim Corkery Charles McDonnell
1867 Tim Corkery John Kelly
1868 Pat Corkery L. Power
1869 Pat Corkery Daniel Ryan
1870 Pat Corkery Daniel Ryan
1871 Pat Corkery Daniel Ryan
1872 Pat Corkery Michael Byrne
1873 Pat Corkery Robert Kirby
1874 Pat Corkery Robert Kirby
1875 Pat Corkery John Hurley
1876 Pat Corkery John Hurley
1877 Pat Corkery John Hurley
1878 Pat Corkery Pat O’Donnell
1879 Pat Corkery John Conway
1880 Pat Corkery John Conway
1881 Pat Corkery Michael McNamara
1882 Pat Corkery Daniel Crotty
1883 Pat Corkery Daniel Crotty
1884 Pat Corkery Jeremiah Murphy
1885 Pat Corkery Jeremiah Murphy
1886 Pat Corkery James O’Shea
1887 Pat Corkery James O’Shea
    Michael Byrne (Adm.)
1888 Pat Corkery James O’Shea
    Michael Byrne (Adm.)
1889 Michael Byrne (Adm.) James O’Shea
1890 Michael Byrne (Adm.) Bernard O’Mahony
1891 Michael Byrne (Adm.) James Carroll
1892 Michael Byrne (Adm.) James Carroll
1893 Michael Byrne James Carroll
1894 Michael Byrne John Begley
1895 Michael Byrne John Begley
1896 Michael Byrne John Begley
1897 Michael Byrne John Begley
1898 Michael Byrne John Begley
1899 Michael Byrne John Conway
1900 Michael Byrne John Conway
1901 Michael Byrne John Conway
1902 John Reeves John Conway
1903 John Reeves John Conway
1904 John Reeves John Conway
1905 John Reeves Ed. Fitzgerald
1906 John Reeves Ed. Fitzgerald
1907 John Reeves Ed. Fitzgerald
1908 John Reeves Michael Hayes
1909 John Reeves John Conway
1910 John Reeves John Conway
1911 John Reeves John Conway
1912 John Reeves John Conway
1913 John Reeves John Conway
1914 John Reeves John Conway
1915 John Reeves John Conway
1916 John Reeves John Conway
    Maurice Fitzpatrick
1917 John Reeves John Conway
    Maurice Fitzpatrick
1918 John Reeves John Conway
    Maurice Fitzpatrick
1919 John Reeves John Conway
    Maurice Fitzpatrick
1920 Patrick Hartigan Michael Toomey
1921 Patrick Hartigan Michael Ryan
1922 Patrick Hartigan Michael Ryan
1923 Patrick Hartigan Michael Quinn
1924 Patrick Hartigan Michael Quinn
1925 Patrick Hartigan T. O’Sullivan
1926 Patrick Hartigan T. O’Sullivan
1927 Patrick Hartigan Philip Enright
1928 Patrick Hartigan Ed. McCarthy
1929 Patrick Hartigan Ed. McCarthy
1930 Patrick V. Higgins J. Leonard
1931 Patrick V. Higgins Thomas Cussen
1932 Patrick V. Higgins Thomas Cussen
1933 Patrick V. Higgins Thomas Cussen
1934 Patrick V. Higgins Thomas Cussen
1935 Patrick V. Higgins Thomas Cussen
1936 Patrick V. Higgins Thomas Cussen
1937 Patrick Ruddle David Rea
1938 Patrick Ruddle David Rea
1939 Patrick Ruddle David Rea
1940 Patrick Ruddle David Rea
1941 Patrick Ruddle David Rea
1942 Patrick Ruddle David Crowley
1943 Patrick Ruddle David Crowley
1944 Patrick Ruddle Dermot McCarthy
1945 Patrick Ruddle Dermot McCarthy
1946 Patrick Ruddle Dermot McCarthy
1947 Charles Moriarty John Browne
1948 Charles Moriarty John Fitzgibbon
1949 Charles Moriarty John Fitzgibbon
1950 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1951 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1952 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1953 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1954 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1955 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1956 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1957 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1958 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1959 Joseph Leonard Daniel Murphy
1960 Joseph Leonard Eamonn Dillane
1961 Joseph Leonard Eamonn Dillane
1962 Joseph Leonard Eamonn Dillane
1963 Joseph Leonard Eamonn Dillane
1964 John McCarthy Eamonn Dillane
1965 John McCarthy Eamonn Dillane
1966 John McCarthy Thomas Coughlan
1967 John McCarthy Thomas Coughlan
1968 John McCarthy Thomas Coughlan
1969 John McCarthy Thomas Coughlan
1970 John McCarthy Thomas Coughlan
1971 John McCarthy Thomas Coughlan
1972 John McCarthy Daniel Lane
1973 John McCarthy Daniel Lane
1974 John McCarthy Daniel Lane
1975 John McCarthy Thomas Carroll
1976 John McCarthy Thomas Carroll
1977 John McCarthy Thomas Carroll
1978 John McCarthy Thomas Carroll
1979 John McCarthy Thomas Carroll
1980 Daniel Murphy Patrick McMahon
1981 Daniel Murphy Patrick McMahon
1982 Daniel Murphy Patrick McMahon
1983 Daniel Murphy Patrick McMahon
1984 Daniel Murphy Patrick McMahon
1985 Daniel Murphy Patrick McMahon
1986 Daniel Murphy Michael Walsh
1987 Daniel Murphy Michael Walsh
1988 Daniel Murphy Michael Walsh
1989 Daniel Murphy Michael Walsh
1990 Daniel Murphy Michael Walsh
1991 Liam Kelly Michael Walsh
1992 Liam Kelly Michael Walsh
1993 Liam Kelly Michael Walsh
1994 Liam Kelly Michael Walsh
1995 Liam Kelly Michael Walsh
1996 Liam Kelly Michael Walsh
1997 Liam Kelly Michael Walsh
1998 William O’Gorman Michael Walsh
1999 William O’Gorman Michael Walsh
2000 William O’Gorman Michael Walsh
2001 William O’Gorman Michael Walsh
2002 William O’Gorman Michael Walsh
2003 William O’Gorman  
2004 William O’Gorman  
2005 William O’Gorman  
2006 William O’Gorman  
2007 William O’Gorman  

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.

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

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