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Ballyagran-Colmanswell Name

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

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

The parish of Ballyagran/Colmanswell has had a number of different names over the years. In ancient times the parish formed part of the parish of Corcomohide, which also included the present day parishes of Drumcollogher and Kilmeedy. The parish of Corcomohide was divided up in 1719.

The parish was originally called Castletown MacEnery until Captain George Conyers bought the land of the MacEnerys in 1703. The MacEnerys were the ruling family of Corcomohide and had their seat of power in Castletown. It wasn't until the early 19th century that the parish became Ballyagran.

Colmanswell was part of the parish of Bruree from 1704 until 1859 when it became a separate parish until it joined with Ballyagran in 1892. There is no actual townland of Colmanswell and so the church is situated in the townland of Gortroe.

Ballyagran is about 1 mile from the Cork border and about 8 miles south west of the village of Bruree. In fact the townland of Rusheen is in Co. Cork, although in the parish of Ballyagran and the Diocese of Limerick. The village of Ballyagran grew up around the church and thus is called a chapel village. The church of Colmanswell is located 5 miles south west of Bruree. Interestingly, there are actually two separate townlands of the same name in this parish, each called Gortroe, one in the Northwest corner, and the other in the South East.

Ballyagran can be translated as Béal Atha Grean, which means 'the fordmouth of the Gravel' while Colmanswell can be translated as Tobar Cholmain. The old Irish name for Colmanswell was Cluain Comhartha, which means 'the meadow of the sign'. The population of the parish is around 1,100.

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The present church in Colmanswell dates from 1969 when the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Henry Murphy and Fr John White P.P. on February 23rd. The bell tower was erected in Christmas 1996. In the grounds of the church there is a statue to the Virgin Mary in memory of Fr Patrick Murphy C.C.

The statue to the left of the altar is in honour of Mary while there is a statue to St. Peter on the right of the altar. The stained glass window at the porch of the church commemorates the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven.

Buried in the grounds of the church are:

Patrick Murphy C.C.
Died January 25 1950, aged 55

James J. Gilligan
Diocese of Middlesbrough 1951-1977
C.C. Ballyagran/Colmanswell 1986-1990
Died April 26 1990

The church in Ballyagran is dedicated to St. Michael and was built in the early 1800s. The church was renovated in 1837 and rebuilt in 1964 when John White was parish priest. Begley also says that Fr William Toomey is buried in Ballyagran church but a headstone in Dunaman graveyard said that he is buried there.

In the left transept of the church there is an altar to the Virgin Mary and a statue to St. Patrick. In the right transept of the church there is a statue of St Joseph and an altar to the Sacred Heart.

Inside the main door of the church, on the left, there is a statue of the Pieta to the memory of Sister M. Kevin Keane of the Convent of Mercy, Charleville. Sister Keane died on August 24 1910 and her sister erected the statue.

Buried in the grounds of the church are:
John Burke
P.P. 1983-1989
Died March 2 1989

Michael Brassil
Died November 4 1985, aged 82
(A native of the parish)

John White
P.P. 1955-1974
Died March 25 1974

Patrick McNamara
Parish Priest & Curate in the parish for 40 years
Died May 4 1955, aged 85

Patrick Hurley
P.P. 1896-1918
Died November 21 1918

Sean McCarthy P.P.
Died 28 April 1983, aged 54

The previous church in Colmanswell was built under the leadership of Fr James Ryan P.P. The plaque on the wall of the church gives the year 1837 but the name P. Ryan P.P. Nearly all of the church is still standing. Begley states that Fr Flanagan, the first parish priest of Ballyagran, is buried in the old church in Colmanswell. This church ruin is across the road from the present church in Colmanswell. The bell tower is also standing beside the ruin.

An older church ruin is in the graveyard in Colmanswell, near the well of St. Colman. Westropp states that it was here that "the coarb and shrine of St. Patrick were taken by the 'Danes' 845" from Farannán who was the then abbot of Armagh.

The church was dedicated to St. Colman on November 24th 1410. This date would mean the church is dedicated to Colman of Cloyne and not Colman of Kilmacduagh from Galway. The ruin dates from around 1420 and there was another church here from around 1000. It may also have been the site of a monastery under St. Colman.

The church ruin in Castletown was once the parish church of the old parish of Corcomohide. It is believed that the first church was built here around 1200. The original church was destroyed in the war of 1302 and the replacement church was dedicated to the Purification in 1410. Westropp measured the ruin as 120 feet by 26 feet 9 inches with the walls measuring 14 feet in height and 3 ½ feet thick. Within the church is a vault to the Hartes of Coolruss.

According to Westropp, there was a site in Cappanihane, however he does not specify if there was a church or a burial ground on the site.

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The graveyard in Castletown is large and the church ruin is located at its centre. The graveyard is kept in good repair and the oldest headstone that we came across was to the memory of Cornelius Ryan who died on September 15th 1737, at the age of 34. Mass has been said in the graveyard in the recent past.

There is also a large graveyard in Colmanswell and recently a new section has been opened to the existing graveyard. The ruins of St. Colman's church are in the far end of the graveyard. The oldest headstone that we found in the graveyard was to the memory of Richard Horhey who died on May 28 1798, aged 38. We had difficulty reading the surname on the headstone, but we believe it read as Horhey. There is a headstone to the Fitzgibbon family that bears the inscription that they are 'buried here since 1748'.

Westropp also mentions an infant's burial ground in Killacolla, also known as Killehalla.

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Holy Wells

Lady's well is in the townland of Castletown. The well has a statue to Our Lady and is surrounded by a wall with steps leading down into the well. The feastday of the well is August 15th and each year a mass is held at the well, and is attended by a large crowd. Well-worn paths in the grass around the well mark the site of the rounds of the well. Near the well are the ruins of MacEnery castle. According to legend the well moved when clothes were washed in it.

St Colman's well is in the townland of Gortroe. This well is just a short walk from the church in Colmanswell. The grounds around the well are extensive and feature a wooden bridge that leads into the well. This work at the well was completed in 1996 and in April 1999, the Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, planted a Millennium tree here. The well is now covered over and there is a large statue of St. Colman above it.

The feastday at the well is celebrated on October 29th. There is some confusion as to which St. Colman is honoured in the parish. The feastday celebrated at the well is that of St Colman of Kilmacduagh. However, the parish is on the borders of the Diocese of Cloyne, and so, many believe that St Colman of Cloyne is actually the patron saint of the well. In addition to this the church itself is dedicated to St Colman of Cloyne.

The well is known for curing eye complaints. President de Valera came to pray at the well on several occasions, and carried away curative waters with him. There are two interesting stories that Danaher mentions in his "Holy Wells of Co. Limerick" regarding this well. A man who was cured left his crutches at the well but came back and took the crutches to try to sell them. The man was then struck lame again. The second story tells of a man who worked on pattern day who found that the money he had earned vanished from his pocket as he passed the well. People doing rounds at the well used to scratch a cross with a stone on the tombstone of Fr Rodger Coffee, P.P. of Bruree 1780-1802.

There is also another well in the parish. The well is called St Gobnait's well but it was also known as St Debora/Deriola's well. St. Gobnait was a saint who came from Ballyvourney in Co. Cork. Danaher said that rounds were made and a pattern was held on February 11th until around 1870. The well has now dried up but the site is still known. According to the parish priest, St Gobnait's well is situated to the North of Ballyagran in a high field to the left of the road to Castletown. It is believed that St. Gobnait lived here and legend claimed that a white stag could sometimes be seen at the well.

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Famous People

At the start of the last century, three brothers dominated the athletic scene in Ireland. Con, Paddy and Tim Leahy were from Cregane. They competed in the Long Jump, the High Jump and the Triple Jump. Paddy Leahy holds the World Record for the High Jump in 1898. Con won the Olympic Gold Medal for the High Jump in Athens in the Intercalated Games of 1906. However, the IOC considers medals won at these games unofficial.

A former Bishop of the Diocese of Limerick was a native of the parish. David Keane was educated at St. Colman's College Fermoy, St. Munchin's College Limerick, and Maynooth College. He later became a Professor in St. Munchin's and after a period of time in Jersey, in the diocese of Plymouth he returned to the college where he became the President in 1909. In 1920 he was appointed as Canon and P.P. of Glin. Three years later he succeeded Denis Hallinan as Bishop of the Diocese, a position that he held until his death in 1945.

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English Name Irish Name Meaning
Ballyagran Béal Átha Grean Fordmouth of the gravel
Ballybane An Baile Bán The white town
Ballysalla An Baile Salach The dirty town
Caherclogh Cathair Chloch The stone fort of the stones
Cappanihane Ceapach an Fhiacháin The tillage plot of the small raven
Cappananty Ceapach na Neanta The tillage plot of the nettles
Castletown Baile an Chaisleáin The town of the castle
Cloonee Cluain Í Meadow of the yew
Coolagowan Cúil an Ghabhann The corner of the smith
Creggane An Creagán The rocky place
Croghteen An Croichtín The small croft
Dreenaan Draighnéan Small blackthorn
Drewscourt East Muileann Driú The mill of Driú
Drewscourt West as above  
Fort East An Daingean  
Fort Middle as above  
Fort West as above  
Foxhall East Currach an Mhadra The wet land of the dog
Foxhall West as above  
Gortroe (Castletown) An Gort Rua The red field
Gortroe (Charleville) as above  
Graigue An Ghráig The hamlet
Incha An Inse The wet meadow
Killacolla (Barker) Coill an Chalaidh The wood of the landing place
Rossbane An Ros Bán The white high place
Rossmore An Ros Mór The big high place


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List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1704 - 1719 Dr. England  
1737 – ? James Scanlon  
? – 1799 James Mortel  
1799 - 1807 Maurice Walsh  
1807 – 1836 Michael Kiely  
1837 James Kiely James McMahon
1838 James Kiely James McMahon
1839 James Kiely James McMahon
1840 James Kiely James McMahon
1841 James Kiely James McMahon
1842 James O’Flanagan  
1843 James O’Flanagan  
1844 James O’Flanagan  
1845 James O’Flanagan  
1846 James O’Flanagan  
1847 James O’Flanagan  
1848 James O’Flanagan  
1849 James O’Flanagan James O’Donahoe
1850 James O’Flanagan  
1851 Luke Hanrahan  
1852 Luke Hanrahan Edward Costello
1853 Luke Hanrahan  
1854 Luke Hanrahan  
1855 Luke Hanrahan  
1856 Luke Hanrahan  
1857 Luke Hanrahan John Hogan
1858 Luke Hanrahan John Hogan
1859 Luke Hanrahan John Hogan
1860 Luke Hanrahan  
1861 Luke Hanrahan  
1862 Luke Hanrahan  
1863 James Hogan  
1864 James Hogan  
1865 James Hogan  
1866 William Tuomy  
1867 William Tuomy M. Canty
1868 William Tuomy J. Kelly
1869 William Tuomy William Casey
1870 William Tuomy Edmond Tracy
1871 William Tuomy Edward Russell
1872 William Tuomy John Ryan
1873 William Tuomy John Ryan
1874 John Reeves Daniel Crotty
1875 John Reeves Patrick Condon
1876 John Reeves Patrick Condon
1877 John Reeves Michael Mulcahy
1878 M. Fitzgerald Martin Slattery
1879 M. Fitzgerald Martin Slattery
1880 M. Fitzgerald Martin Slattery
1881 M. Fitzgerald John Conway
1882 M. Fitzgerald Robert Ambrose
1883 M. Fitzgerald Robert Ambrose
1884 M. Fitzgerald Patrick McNamara
1885 M. Fitzgerald Patrick Kenrick
1886 M. Fitzgerald Patrick Kenrick
1887 M. Fitzgerald Patrick Kenrick
1888 M. Fitzgerald Patrick Kenrick
1889 M. Fitzgerald Patrick Kenrick
1890 George Quain  
1891 Robert Kirby  
1892 Robert Kirby Robert Fitzgerald
1893 Joined with Colmanswell*  
  Robert Kirby Daniel Crotty
1894 Robert Kirby Daniel Crotty
1895 Robert Kirby Daniel Crotty
1896 Robert Kirby Daniel Crotty
1897 Patrick Hurley Daniel Crotty
1898 Patrick Hurley Daniel Crotty
1899 Patrick Hurley Daniel Crotty
1900 Patrick Hurley Daniel Crotty
1901 Patrick Hurley Daniel Crotty
1902 Patrick Hurley Daniel Crotty
1903 Patrick Hurley Denis O’Keeffe
1904 Patrick Hurley Denis O’Keeffe
1905 Patrick Hurley Denis O’Keeffe
1906 Patrick Hurley David Hanly
1907 Patrick Hurley David Hanly
1908 Patrick Hurley David Hanly
1909 Patrick Hurley David Hanly
1910 Patrick Hurley David Hanly
1911 Patrick Hurley Michael O’Carroll
1912 Patrick Hurley Michael O’Carroll
1913 Patrick Hurley Michael O’Carroll
1914 Patrick Hurley Michael O’Carroll
1915 Patrick Hurley Michael O’Carroll
1916 Patrick Hurley Michael O’Carroll
1917 Patrick Hurley Michael O’Carroll
1918 Patrick Hurley Patrick McNamara
1919 Patrick Hurley Patrick McNamara
1920 John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1921 John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1922 John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1923 John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1924 John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1925 John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1926 John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1927 Canon John Reeves Patrick McNamara
1928 Patrick McNamara William Boyce
1929 Patrick McNamara William Boyce
1930 Patrick McNamara William Boyce
1931 Patrick McNamara Ed. Punch
1932 Patrick McNamara Ed. Punch
1933 Patrick McNamara Ed. Punch
1934 Patrick McNamara Ed. Punch
1935 Patrick McNamara Ed. Punch
1936 Patrick McNamara Ed. Punch
1937 Patrick McNamara Patrick Lyons
1938 Patrick McNamara Patrick Lyons
1939 Patrick McNamara Patrick Lyons
1940 Patrick McNamara Patrick Lyons
1941 Patrick McNamara Patrick Lyons
1942 Patrick McNamara Patrick Lyons
1943 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1944 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1945 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1946 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1947 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1948 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1949 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1950 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1951 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
1952 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
    Charles O’Neill
1953 Patrick McNamara Patrick Murphy
    Charles O’Neill
1954 Patrick McNamara Charles O’Neill
1955 Patrick McNamara Charles O’Neill
1956 John White Charles O’Neill
1957 John White Charles O’Neill
1958 John White Thomas O’Donnell
1959 John White Thomas O’Donnell
1960 John White Thomas O’Donnell
1961 John White Thomas O’Donnell
1962 John White Thomas O’Donnell
1963 John White Thomas O’Donnell
1964 John White Thomas O’Donnell
1965 John White John Ryan
1966 John White John Ryan
1967 John White John Ryan
1968 John White John Ryan
1969 John White John Ryan
1970 John White John Ryan
1971 John White John Ryan
1972 John White John Ryan
1973 John White John Ryan
1974 Thomas O’Donnell  
1975 Thomas O’Donnell  
1976 Thomas O'Donnell  
1977 Thomas O’Donnell Thomas Scanlon
1978 Thomas O’Donnell Thomas Scanlon
1979 Thomas O’Donnell Thomas Scanlon
1980 Thomas O’Donnell Thomas Scanlon
1981 Thomas O’Donnell Thomas Scanlon
1982 Thomas O’Donnell Thomas Scanlon
1983 Thomas O’Donnell Thomas Scanlon
1984 John Burke Thomas Scanlon
1985 John Burke Thomas Scanlon
1986 John Burke Thomas Scanlon
1987 John Burke James Gilligan
1988 John Burke James Gilligan
1989 John Burke James Gilligan
1990 Denis Browne James Gilligan
1991 Denis Browne James Gilligan
1992 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
1993 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
1994 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
1995 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
1996 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
1997 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
1998 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
1999 Denis Browne Charles O’Neill
2000 Denis Browne Charles O'Neill
2001 Denis Browne Charles O'Neill
2002 Denis Browne Charles O'Neill
2003 Denis Browne Charles O'Neill
2004 Denis Canon Browne Charles O'Neill
2005 Joseph Shire Charles O'Neill
2006 Joseph Shire Charles O'Neill
2007 Joseph Shire Charles O'Neill

* Colmanswell was a separate parish from 1861 until 1893 when it was joined with Ballygran. The following table contains a list of the priests of Colmanswell parish during those years:

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1861 E. Bermingham  
1862 E. Bermingham  
1863 E. Bermingham  
1864 E. Bermingham  
1865 E. Bermingham  
1866 Michael Ryan  
1867 Michael Ryan  
1868 Michael Ryan  
1869 Michael Ryan  
1870 Michael Ryan  
1871 Michael Ryan  
1872 John Reeves  
1873 John Reeves  
1874 Timothy Halpin  
1875 Timothy Halpin  
1876 Timothy Halpin  
1877 Timothy Halpin  
1878 Patrick Carroll  
1879 Patrick Carroll  
1880 Patrick Carroll  
1881 Patrick Carroll  
1882 Patrick Carroll  
1883 Patrick Carroll  
1884 John Glesson  
1885 John Glesson  
1886 Stephen Danaher  
1887 Stephen Danaher  
1888 Daniel Curtin  
1889 Daniel Curtin  
1890 Daniel Curtin D. Shanahan (Adm.)
1891 Daniel Daly  
1892 Daniel Daly  
1893 Joined with Ballygran  


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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