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Bulgaden-Martinstown Parish

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

Brief Parish History & Geographical Location

The village of Bulgaden is about 3 miles from Kilmallock off the R515. The parish is called Bulgaden/Martinstown but in old editions of the Catholic Directory the parish was known as Bulgaden and Ballinvana. Today the parish is made up of parts of the old parishes of Ballinvana (which was also called Athaneasy) and Kilmallock. Ballinvana has also been called Kilbreedy Major and Fantstown over the years in various sources.

Across the road from Martinstown church, there is a cross to Patrick Staker Wallis, a small farmer and member of the United Irishmen who was killed in 1798 for resisting the power of the landlord.

The present population of the parish is around 700.

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There are two churches in use in the parish today. Bulgaden church was built around 1860 and is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. This church is unusual in that the back of the church is facing onto the road. Fr McNamara explained to us that this is because in the last century the old road passed by the front of the church. The new road ran by the back of the church. The large stained glass window behind the altar is dedicated to the memory of Fr O'Clery. On the right of the church there is a plaque to the memory of Bishop D. J. Hennessy of the Diocese of Dubuque in Iowa.

Buried within the church are:
Marcus O'Clery P.P.
Of Bulgaden & Ballinvana
Died 8 December 1886, aged 74

James Walsh P.P.
Parish Priest for 39 years
Died December 24 1858, aged 77

Buried in the grounds of the church are:
James Lyons
P.P. 1958-1966
Died December 16 1966

Canon O'Connell
Died October 13 1961

Patrick J. Coleman
P.P. 1949-1958
Died January 12 1958

Rev. Matthew Lynch
Uxbridge, Middlesex
A native of Stephenstown
Died September 4 1944

Patrick V. Higgins
P.P. 1936
Died December 10 1936, aged 59

Canon George Culhane
P.P. 1923-1934
Died March 24 1934

Canon Michael Leahy
Died April 9 1949

Canon George Quain
P.P. 1906-1923
Died April 21 1923, aged 76

Maurice Fitzpatrick
P.P. 1938-1940
Died May 13 1940, aged 51

Jacob McCoy
P.P. 1886-1906
Headstone is in Latin

At the back of the church there is a cross that commemorates a mission given by the Oblate Fathers in May 1883.

The other church in the parish is at Martinstown, which is also dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The plaque over the church door dates the church as 1834. The church was built under the leadership of Jacob Walsh and was opened by Bishop Ryan. The church was renovated a number of years ago when the gallery was removed.

Mr and Mrs James McCormack from Ballinvana donated the Stations of the Cross in 1939. There is also a plaque asking people to pray for Padraig Mac Flanncada and Liam Ó Slatarra, who died in the War of Independence. Another plaque was given by the Oblate Fathers in 1891. The stained glass windows at the back of the church were given by Fr Mark Crowley P.P. of Middlesborough, Yorkshire in 1991. His parents were natives of the parish.

Buried in the church:
Richard Nunan
P.P. 1858-1862
Died May 17 1862, aged 46

Westropp mentions a number of church ruins in the parish at Emlygrennan, Kilbreedy Major and Athneasy graveyards as well as at Fantstown and Adamstown. However, there are no longer any discernible ruins at any of these except for Kilbreedy. The church at Emlygrennan was preceded by a church to St Malo that was destroyed in the war of the 1640s.

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The burial ground in the churchyard has recently been expanded to include the land at the front of the church. Throughout the parish there are a number of graveyards.

The graveyard in Kilbreedy East is well maintained by a local committee and mass is said there once a year. The graveyard is in the same location as the church ruin in Kilbreedy. There is a tomb to John Clifford C.C. who died on December 31st 1846 at the age of 26. The oldest headstone that we came across was from 1748 and is in memory of James McGuirc who died on August 7th in that year aged 72 years.

The graveyard in Emlygrennan is also situated in the grounds of a church ruin, near St. Molua's well. The oldest headstone that we discovered was in memory of John O'Grady who was from Martinstown and died on April 26th 1838. Some of the headstones were indecipherable due to erosion.

Athnassey (or Athanacy as it was spelt at the entrance) graveyard is near the border that divides the dioceses of Limerick and Cashel & Emly. Trees and a wall enclose the graveyard. The oldest headstone that we found dated from June 1st 1790 and was erected to the memory of Patrick Casey by his wife Catherine.

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Holy Wells

The only Holy Wells in the parish that we came across was St Molua's Well. St Molua was a Limerick saint, said to have died in 623AD. In the earliest traditions the well is supposed to be over the grave of the pagan warrior Lugaid. But Molua, Mo Lua, My Lua, is in fact a pet form of the name Lugaid.

According to Danaher, this well was, at the time of writing, in the parish of Emlygrennan. It is situated in the townland of Balline and is about 200 yards east of the church ruins in Emlygrennan. The old name for this area was the Red Bog and the land is still quite wet and boggy. To visit the well you have to walk through two fields from the roadside.

The feastday of St Molua is on the 3rd and 4th of August and in the past a large pattern was held in the area. The rounds were made at both the well and the churchyard. Three visits were usually made on different days and at each visit six rounds were made at the well and three rounds in the graveyard. Water was drunk after the completion of each round. Rags were left at the well as offerings.

According to legend the well moved when clothes were washed in it. It is also believed that the water will not boil and that those who are to be cured of their ailments see a trout in the well. Another story claims that heavenly music was heard at the well, and also that a woman who took water from the well for misuse saw a human hand in the well. It is claimed that the water from the well can cure sore eyes, skin disease and ague (a fever).

Danaher also mentions three other wells that are in the parish. In the old parish of Kilbreedy Major there was a well in the townland of Fantstown called Lady's well. This well was near the ruin of Fantstown church and a pattern used to be held on the 15th of August. The site of this well is now lost. One night, on his way home from the well, Fr Mulqueen, P.P., of the parish was shot and killed by the Whiteboys in November 1819 when he intervened in a row between the Whiteboys and a farmer by the name of Clifford. His successor James Walsh abolished the tradition of the pattern.

Also in the old parish of Kilbreedy Major, Danaher tells us that there was a well in Kilbreedy east called Toberbreedy. This well was reputed to be behind the church ruin in Kilbreedy but we could find no trace of it.

There was also a Holy Well in the old parish of Athneasy, in the townland of Ballinvana, called Lady's well. This well was done up in the mid-1950s when a statue was erected at the well. The pattern was usually held on the 25th of March and it was claimed that the water from the well could cure sore eyes.

Danaher also gives details of three Holy Wells that he rates as 'doubtful'. In Ballinvreena, there was a well called Tobar Cinn Mhóir, which was mentioned in the siege of Knocklong. There were also wells in the parish of Emlygrennan (now part of the parish of Bulgaden/Martinstown) in the townlands of Balline and Cush, called Boragh well and Tubermalaragh (Molara's well) respectively.

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English Name Irish Name Meaning
Adamstown Baile Adaim The town of Adam
Athaneasy Áth na nDéise The ford of Na Déise
Ballincurra Baile an Churraigh The town of the wet land
Balline Baile Fhaghain The town of Faghan
Ballinvana Baile an Mhághúnaigh The town of An Mághúnach
Ballinvreena Baile an Bhrianaigh The town of An Brianach
Ballycullane Baile Uí Chathláin The town of Ó Cathlain
Ballygrennan Baile Uí Dhroighneáin The town of Ó Droighneáin
Bawnagh Bánach Meaning uncertain
Bishopsfield Páirc an Easpaig The field of the Bishop
Bulgaden Builgidín Meaning uncertain
Bulgaden Eady Builgidín Éide Meaning uncertain
Cush An Chois The foot
Darranstown Baile an Dioróntaigh The town of An Dioróntach
Emlygrennan Imleach Dhraighnín Marginal land of the small blackthorn
Fantstown Baile an Fhóntaigh The town of An Fóntach
Gibbonstown Baile Ghiobúin The town of Giobún
Gormanstown (Grady) Baile Uí Ghormáin The town of Ó Gormáin
Gormanstown (Philips) as above  
Kilbreedy Major Cill Bhríde The church of Brid
Kilbreedy East as above  
Kilbreedy West as above  
Kilmurry Cill Mhuire The church of Mary Magdalene
Magherareagh An Machaire Riabhach The streaked plain
Martinstown Baile Mháirtín The town of Máirtín
Stephenstown Baile Stiofáin The town of Stiofán
Stookeens Na Stuaicíní Meaning uncertain
Teermore Tír Mhór Big district
Tullyleak Tulaigh Leac Hillock of flagstones

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List of Priests

Year Parish Priest Curate(s)
1704 - ? Murtagh Moriarty  
1704 - 1714 Matthew O’Hea  
? - ? John Hayes  
1759 - 1769 James Lynch  
1769 - 1791 Darby Buckley  
1791 - 1799 William McKnight  
1799 - 1808 George De Lacy  
1808 - 1816 Thomas Cleary  
1816 - 1819 John Mulquiny  
1819 – 1836 James Walsh  
1837 James Walsh Daniel Hayes
1838 James Walsh Daniel Hayes
1839 James Walsh Daniel Hayes
1840 James Walsh Richard Nunan
1841 James Walsh Thomas Cook
1842 James Walsh Richard Scott
1843 James Walsh Marcus Cleary
1844 James Walsh Marcus Cleary
1845 James Walsh James Enright
1846 James Walsh James Enright
1847 James Walsh E. Bermingham
1848 James Walsh James Roche
1849 James Walsh James Roche
1850 James Walsh James Roche
1851 James Walsh James Roche
1852 James Walsh William O’Donnell
1853 James Walsh William O’Donnell
1854 James Walsh William O’Donnell
1855 James Walsh David Quaid
1856 James Walsh David Quaid
1857 James Walsh David Quaid
1858 James Walsh David Quaid
1859 James Walsh John Walsh
1860 Richard Nunan David Quaid
1861 Richard Nunan David Quaid
1862 Richard Nunan David Quaid
1863 Marcus Cleary David Quaid
1864 Marcus Cleary David Quaid
1865 Marcus Cleary David Quaid
1866 Marcus Cleary David Quaid
1867 Marcus Cleary Denis McCarthy
1868 Marcus O'Cleary Denis McCarthy
1869 Marcus Cleary Denis McCarthy
1870 Marcus Cleary E. O’Donohoe
1871 Marcus Cleary E. O’Donohoe
1872 Marcus Cleary E. O’Donohoe
1873 Marcus Cleary E. O’Donohoe
1874 Marcus Cleary Michael Canty
1875 Marcus Cleary Michael Canty
1876 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1877 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1878 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1879 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1880 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1881 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1882 Marcus Cleary Pat O'Donnell
1883 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1884 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1885 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1886 Marcus Cleary John Fitzgerald
1887   John Fitzgerald
1888 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1889 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1890 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1891 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1892 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1893 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1894 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1895 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1896 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1897 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1898 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1899 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1900 James McCoy W. Fitzgerald
1901 James McCoy C. Mangan
1902 James McCoy C. Mangan
1903 James McCoy C. Mangan
1904 James McCoy C. Mangan
1905 James McCoy C. Mangan
    John Molony
1906 James McCoy C. Mangan
    John Molony
1907   C. Mangan
    John Molony
1908 George Quain Michael O’Carroll
1909 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1910 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1911 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1912 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1913 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1914 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1915 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1916 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1917 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1918 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1919 George Quain Stephen Culhane
1920 Canon George Quain Patrick Casey
1921 Canon George Quain Michael Leahy
1922 Canon George Leahy Michael Leahy
1923 Canon George Leahy Michael Leahy
    Charles Moriarty
1924 George Culhane Michael Leahy
    Charles Moriarty
1925 George Culhane P. Ua Colmain B.D.
1926 George Culhane P. Ua Colmain B.D.
1927 George Culhane P. Ua Colmain B.D.
1928 George Culhane James Kelly
1929 Canon George Culhane E. Condon
1930 Canon George Culhane E. Condon
1931 Canon George Culhane William O’Grady
1932 Canon George Culhane William O’Grady
1933 Canon George Culhane Michael Minahan
1934 Canon George Culhane Michael Minahan
1935 James Wall Michael Minahan
1936 James Wall Michael Minahan
1937   Michael Minahan
1938 William P. Harty Michael Minahan
1939 M. Fitzpatrick Michael Minahan
1940 M. Fitzpatrick Joseph Leonard
1941 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1942 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1943 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1944 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1945 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1946 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1947 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1948 Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1949 Canon Michael Leahy Joseph Leonard
1950 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1951 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1952 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1953 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1954 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1955 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1956 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1957 Patrick J. Coleman Michael Frawley
1958 Patrick J. Coleman Charles O’Neill
1959 Patrick J. Coleman Charles O’Neill
1960 James Lyons Charles O’Neill
1961 James Lyons Charles O’Neill
1962 James Lyons Patrick Howard
1963 James Lyons Patrick Howard
1964 James Lyons Patrick Howard
1965 James Lyons Patrick Howard
1966 James Lyons Patrick Howard
1967   Patrick Howard
1968 Miceal Ó Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1969 Miceal Ó Ceallaigh Patrick Howard
1970 Miceal Ó Ceallaigh David Mulcahy
1971 Miceal Ó Ceallaigh David Mulcahy
1972 Michael Kennedy David Mulcahy
1973 Michael Kennedy David Mulcahy
1974 Michael Kennedy David Mulcahy
1975 Michael Kennedy David Mulcahy
1976 Michael Kennedy David Mulcahy
1977 Michael Kennedy David Mulcahy
1978 Patrick Kelly David Mulcahy
1979 Patrick Kelly David Mulcahy
1980 Patrick Kelly David Mulcahy
1981 Patrick Kelly David Mulcahy
1982 Patrick Kelly David Mulcahy
1983 Patrick Kelly David Mulcahy
1984 Patrick Kelly Timothy O’Leary
1985 Patrick Kelly Timothy O’Leary
1986 Patrick Kelly Timothy O’Leary
1987 Patrick Kelly Timothy O’Leary
1988 John Ryan Timothy O'Leary
1989 John Ryan Timothy O’Leary
1990 John Ryan Timothy O’Leary
1991 John Ryan Timothy O’Leary
1992 John Ryan Timothy O’Leary
1993 Gerard McNamara Timothy O’Leary
1994 Gerard McNamara Timothy O’Leary
1995 Gerard McNamara Timothy O’Leary
1996 Gerard McNamara Michael Daly
1997 Gerard McNamara Michael Daly
1998 Gerard McNamara  
1999 Gerard McNamara  
2000 Gerard McNamara  
2001 Gerard McNamara  
2002 Gerard McNamara  
2003 Gerard McNamara  
2004 Gerard McNamara  
2005 Gerard McNamara  
2006 Gerard McNamara  
2007 Gerard McNamara  


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 | Townlands | Priests of the Parish

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