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Glenroe-Ballyorgan Parish

History | Churches | Graveyards | Holy Wells | Abbey | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

The parish of Glenroe/Ballyorgan is the most southerly point of the diocese. In the south west of the parish the Ahaphuca Bridge is the dividing line between the dioceses of Limerick, Cloyne (the parish of Kiloderry) and Cashel & Emly (Ballylanders). Ahaphuca means 'the ford of the Hobgoblin'. The parish is in the barony of Coshlea and the village of Glenroe is about 4 miles southeast of the town of Kilfinane on the R517, the Limerick-Mitchelstown road.

The old name of the parish was Darragh. The parish used to include the parish of Kilflyn, which is known today as Ballyorgan. According to Begley, the old parish of Darragh included Farrihy, Kildorrery and Mullahy. All three of these places are in the county of Cork and in the present diocese of Cloyne.

The Red Chair crossroads marks the border with County Cork. This crossroads is the site of the murder of Mahon, King of Munster in 976. Mahon had been on a visit to Bruree when he was captured and killed by his rivals. He was succeeded by his younger brother Brian Boru, who later went on to become the High King of Ireland and died at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

The area is also connected with many of the legends of the Fianna. The Ballahoura Mountains were the hunting grounds where the Fianna used to hunt the Liath na dTrí mBeann "the grey one of the three antlers". According to legend St Patrick visited the area about 460 and that he was shown around the region by one of the warriors of the Fianna, Caoilte.

The Ballahoura Mountains include Kilcruaig Mountain, which stands at 1,323 feet, and the Galtee Mountains, which dominate the surrounding countryside. The Palatines came to this area to settle and helped in the development of the area during the 18th century. The population of the parish is currently around 750.


The present church in Glenroe was built in 1830-2 during Fr Darby Buckley's term as parish priest. Before this church was built, people used to go to mass in Abbey and prior to that again mass was held in Darragh. However, the church used was not the church ruin that exists in Darragh today, but was in fact another church situated nearby. The present church in Glenroe was renovated about 10 years ago and was reopened in 1990 by Bishop Jeremiah Newman and Fr Michael Lane P.P.

Inside the church there is a plaque to the memory of Richard Power, who was parish priest from 1865 until his death on December 12th, 1877. The parishioners together with a few of his clerical friends erected this plaque. There is also a plaque in memory of Liam Cranuic who died November 18th, 1917.

Fr Lee, a native of the parish, donated the altar in the 1920s. A number of the church seats were donated by parishioners in memory of their deceased relations or dedicated to certain saints. When the church was renovated, a new entrance was opened, and now a holy water font marks the old entrance to the church. Joanna and Helena Moore donated this font.

Buried in the church grounds are:

John Conway
Parish Priest 1926 - 1931
Died August 30 1931
Aged 58

Christopher Halpin
Parish Priest 1932 - 1937
Died March 18 1937
Aged 59

Robert Ambrose
Parish Priest 1905 - 1926
Died April 8 1926

Michael O'Reilly (a native of the parish)
Parish Priest, Farnmouth, Cornwall
Died August 31 1936
Aged 69

Canon Andrew O'Keeffe
Died July 22 1990

Canon Michael McSweeney
Died November 20 1990, aged 78

The church in Ballyorgan was built in 1857. The parish priest at the time, Darby Buckley wanted to build the church on a piece of land owned by Lady Ashton who lived in Foynes. Fr Buckley rode from Ballyorgan to Foynes to get permission to build the church. His quest was not in vain.

The cross in the grounds of the church is the spire from on top of the church, which was taken down due to safety reasons. Inside the church there is a plaque to Michael Gallagher from Houndscourt who donated the high altar, the communion rails (which have now been removed) and the chancel floor in memory of his brother Thomas and his sister Mary.

Daniel Nunan, who was a priest in Los Angeles, gave the stained glass window on the left of the altar. His cousin, Bishop Daniel Mullins, who was a Bishop in Wales, donated the stained glass window on the right hand side of the altar.

The church ruin in Darragh consists of a nave and choir and is situated in the far corner of Darragh graveyard. An inscription over the ruin reads "Frederick Bevan 1839"and the wall at the entrance to the grounds also bears an inscription, which says that the wall was built in 1829 by Bevan. The Bevans were the local landlords and their seat was at Darragh House.

Fr Lane told us that this might have been the site of a convent. It is believed that an order of nuns stayed here before moving to Youghal, Co. Cork. In the farthest corner of the grounds, it seems that there may have been other buildings on this site previously. A wall that runs along parallel from the church ruin makes this evident.

The grounds are well maintained. There is a graveyard on the site as well.

Westropp mentions a church in Kilflyn. A Church of Ireland now stands on the site. He also lists Manister na nGall or Keale, which was in the old parish of Kilflin, founded by Roche in the fourteenth century for the Dominicans.



At Darragh, the oldest headstone that we found was in memory of John Moynihan who died on March 27th, 1778. However, according to the book "God's Acre", which gives details on all the graveyards in the parish, the oldest headstone in the graveyard is in memory to Patrick Clifford who died on May 3rd 1741, aged 38.

Abbey graveyard is located in the townland of Abbey. It is well maintained, and new paths have recently been laid throughout the graveyard. The ruins of a church are situated within the grounds of the graveyard. According to "God's Acre" the oldest headstone in the graveyard at Abbey dates from 1772. This headstone is in the memory of Hanora Corbett who died February 9th, 1772, aged 72.

The oldest headstone in the graveyard beside the church at Glenroe is in memory to Fr James Walsh C.C. of Newcastlewest. Fr Walsh died on February 6th 1851 at the age of 28. This graveyard was extended in 1960.


Holy Wells

Danaher's "Holy Wells of County Limerick" mentions three Holy Wells in the parish. Only one well remains, however, Toberbreedia at Ballintobber. The only trace of this well is a hole in the ground. The well was usually visited on February 1st but rounds were rarely made. The well is locally called Chincough Well and was said to cure whooping cough in children. Patients seeking cures could drink water taken from the well, or could go to the well and drink there. Moss was sometimes taken from the well and boiled in milk. The patient would drink the milk in order to be cured.

There are two legends surrounding the well. It is said that a fowler washed his dog in the well and caused it to move. One of the most interesting legends about any of the wells in the diocese occurs at Ballintobber. A phantom bull is supposed to guard a treasure buried at the well. What this treasure is or whether anyone has ever looked for it, we do not know.

The locations of the other two wells in the parish are now unknown. In the old parish of Kilflyn, there was a well in the townland of Ballydonohoe called Toberpatrick. This well was in a small grove of trees but devotions have long since ceased at this site.
In the townland of Darraghmore there was a well called Tobar Mo-chua. This well was enclosed in rough stone work in a grove of beech trees on the hillside. A pattern was held at the well on August 31st, St. Mochua's feastday, until around 1820. Westropp, however, claims that the feastday is on August 3rd.

The water from this well was said to cure many illnesses. According to legend, when clothes were washed in the well, it moved 400 yards from its original location near the churchyard in Darragh to its present location. Those who were to be cured were said to see a trout in the well. A man once caught the trout thinking it was an ordinary fish and then attempted to cook it but failed in his efforts. He returned the trout to the well.



The Abbey is situated in the townland of the same name. It is believed that a monastery was founded here in the 7th or 8th century. By the 14th century the Dominican order had established a house here. It was suppressed during the Reformation. The last prior was Donough O'Dorgan in 1558. Over the years the Abbey became a centre of devotion and people used to travel from miles around to come to mass at the Abbey.

The ruin of the abbey still stands but there were probably more buildings at the time when the abbey was abandoned. Paths have now been laid throughout the graveyard. A pathway has also been laid from the road, which enables people to walk into the ruin.



English Name Irish Name Meaning
Abbey An Mhainistir The monastery
Ballincourty Baile na Cúirte The town of the court
Ballintober Baile an Tobair The town of the well
Ballydonohoe Baile Uí Dhonnchú The town of Ó Donnchú
Ballyfeerode Baile an Phiaróidigh The town of An Piaróideach
Ballyorgan Baile Uí Argaín The town of Ó hArgáin
Ballyshane Baile Sheáin The town of Seán
Clovers Na Cleobhair  
Coolavehy Cúil a Bheithe The corner of the birch
Coolfree Cúil Fhraoigh The corner of the heather
Darragh An Dairtheach The oaken house
Darraghbeg as above  
Darraghmore as above  
Garryarthur Garraí Artúra The garden of Arthur
Houndscourt Cúirt na gCon  
Keale An Caol The narrow feature
Kilcruaig Coill Chruóige Wood of hardness
Kilflin Cill Fhloinn The church of Floinn
Ruppulagh Roplach Meaning uncertain
Spittle An Spidéal The hospital
Tulla Tulaigh Hillock



List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1704 - ? David Fyne  
? - 1769 John Shinnick  
? - ? James Walsh  
1806 - 1807 Michael Kiely  
1807 - 1810 John Dillane  
1810 - 1824 M. Moore  
1824 - 1836 Darby Buckley  
1837 Jeremiah (Darby) Buckley Thomas Shanahan
1838 Darby Buckley Thomas Shanahan
1839 Darby Buckley Richard Shanahan
1840 Darby Buckley Thomas Cooke
1841 Darby Buckley James O’Sullivan
1842 Darby Buckley Eugene Birmingham
1843 Darby Buckley Eugene Birmingham
1844 Darby Buckley Eugene Birmingham
1845 Darby Buckley Daniel Kennedy
1846 Darby Buckley Daniel Kennedy
1847 Darby Buckley Daniel Kennedy
1848 Darby Buckley Daniel Kennedy
1849 Darby Buckley Daniel Kennedy
1850 Darby Buckley Daniel Kennedy
1851 Darby Buckley T. Corkery
1852 Darby Buckley T. Corkery
1853 Darby Buckley T. Corkery
1854 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1855 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1856 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1857 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1858 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1859 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1860 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1861 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1862 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1863 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1864 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1865 Darby Buckley P. Meehan D.D.
1866 Richard Power Edward Flynn
1867 Richard Power Edward Flynn
1868 Richard Power Charles McDonnell
1869 Richard Power Charles McDonnell
1870 Richard Power J. Shanahan
1871 Richard Power Laurence Curtin
1872 Richard Power Laurence Curtin
1873 Richard Power Laurence Curtin
1874 Richard Power Denis Curtin
1875 Richard Power Denis Curtin
1876 Richard Power Denis Curtin
1877 Richard Power Edward Russell
1878 Timothy Halpin Edmond Tracey
1879 John Kelly Edmond Tracey
1880 John Kelly Daniel Crotty
1881 John Kelly Daniel Crotty
1882 John Kelly Daniel Daly
1883 John Kelly Daniel Daly
1884 John Kelly Daniel Daly
1885 John Kelly John Conway
1886 John Kelly John Conway
1887 John Kelly John Conway
1888 John Kelly Michael Mulcahy
1889 John Kelly John O’Connor
1890 John Ryan John O’Connor
1891 John Ryan John O’Connor
1892 John Ryan John O’Connor
1893 John Ryan D. Curtin
1894 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1895 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1896 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1897 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1898 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1899 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1900 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1901 John Ryan Daniel Curtin
1902 John Quinlan Daniel Curtin
1903 John Quinlan Daniel Curtin
1904 John Quinlan Daniel Curtin
1905 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1906 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1907 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1908 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1909 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1910 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1911 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1912 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1913 Robert Ambrose Daniel Curtin
1914 Robert Ambrose Michael O’Brien
1915 Robert Ambrose Michael O’Brien
1916 Robert Ambrose Denis J. Fitzpatrick
1917 Robert Ambrose Denis J. Fitzpatrick
1918 Robert Ambrose William P. Harty
1919 Robert Ambrose John J. Lane
1920 Robert Ambrose John J. Lane
1921 Robert Ambrose Patrick Coleman
1922 Robert Ambrose Ed. Hartnett
1923 Robert Ambrose Ed. Hartnett
1924 Robert Ambrose Ed. Hartnett
1925 Robert Ambrose D. O’Callaghan
1926 Robert Ambrose D. O’Callaghan
1927 John Conway John White
1928 John Conway John White
1929 John Conway Patrick Dunne
1930 John Conway John Wilmot
1931 John Conway John Wilmot
    Patrick Murphy
1932 Christopher Halpin John Wilmot
1933 Christopher Halpin John Wilmot
1934 Christopher Halpin John O’Kennedy
1935 Christopher Halpin John O’Kennedy
1936 Christopher Halpin John O’Kennedy
1937 Christopher Halpin John O’Kennedy
1938 P. J. Coleman John O’Kennedy
1939 P. J. Coleman Timothy Lyons
1940 P. J. Coleman Timothy Lyons
1941 P. J. Coleman Patrick O’Regan
1942 P. J. Coleman Patrick O’Regan
1943 P. J. Coleman Patrick O’Regan
1944 P. J. Coleman Patrick O’Dea
1945 P. J. Coleman Patrick O’Dea
1946 P. J. Coleman Patrick O’Dea
1947 P. J. Coleman Dermot McCarthy
1948 P. J. Coleman Dermot McCarthy
1949 P. J. Coleman Patrick Lyons
1950 John Carroll Patrick Lyons
1951 John Carroll Patrick Lyons
1952 John Carroll Patrick Houlihan
1953 John Carroll Patrick Houlihan
1954 John Carroll David Browne
1955 John Carroll David Browne
1956 John Carroll David Browne
1957 John Carroll David Browne
1958 John Carroll David Browne
1959 John Carroll David Browne
1960 John Carroll David Browne
1961 John Carroll Anthony Elliot
1962 John Carroll Anthony Elliot
1963 John Carroll Anthony Elliot
1964 William O’Connell Ronald Costello
1965 William O’Connell Donal Madigan
1966 William O’Connell  
1967 Maurice Crowley  
1968 Maurice Crowley  
1969 Maurice Crowley  
1970 Maurice Crowley  
1971 Maurice Crowley  
1972 Maurice Crowley  
1973 Maurice Crowley  
1974 Maurice Crowley  
1975 Maurice Crowley  
1976 Maurice Crowley Thomas Coughlan
1977 Timothy Greene  
1978 Timothy Greene  
1979 Timothy Greene  
1980 Charles O’Neill  
1981 Charles O’Neill  
1982 Charles O’Neill  
1983 Charles O’Neill  
1984 Charles O’Neill  
1985 Charles O’Neill  
1986 Charles O’Neill  
1987 Michael Lane  
1988 Michael Lane Patrick O'Sullivan
1989 Michael Lane  
1990 Michael Lane  
1991 Michael Lane Patrick O’Sullivan
1992 Michael Lane Patrick O’Sullivan
1993 Michael Lane Patrick O’Sullivan
1994 Michael Lane Patrick O’Sullivan
1995 Michael Lane William Doolan
1996 Michael Lane William Doolan
1997 Michael Lane William Doolan
1998 Michael Lane William Doolan
1999 Michael Lane  
2000 Michael Lane  
2001 Michael Lane  
2002 Michael Lane  

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 | Abbey | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

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