Parish of Ballinakill
Source: Rev M Comerford "Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin" Vol. 3 (1886)
The town of Ballinakill, which gives its name to the Parish, a name derived from Baile-na-coile, i.e. "the town of the wood," so called from the extensive woods which formerly existed here, is situated in the ancient parochial district of Disert-Gallen. It is a place of some antiquity, but was not made a market town till the year 1606, when a grant of a market and fair was made to Sir T. Coatch, proprietor of the Manor of Gallen. In 1612 a charter of incorporation was granted by King James I., and various other privileges were bestowed, to foster the plantation made here by Sir T. Ridgway, Bart. Under the charter of James I. the corporation consisted of a sovereign, twelve burgesses, and an unlimited number of freemen, and returned two Members to the Irish Parliament. Lord Drogheda carried the whole corporation in his pocket, used it for the sole purpose of opening the doors of Parliament to his nominees, and received the whole of the £15,000 of compensation money which was voted at the Union for the loss of its franchise. All the burgesses, and most of the freemen were non-resident, and even the sovereign was generally non-resident; this mockery of a Corporation of course ceased to exist the instant its Parliamentary franchise was destroyed.-(Lewis Top. Dict.; Gaz. Ireland; Gale's Corporate System.)
An Inquisition, made 30th April, 1633, finds that Thomas, late Earl of Londonderry, to have been seized in fee of the manors, towns, and lands of Gallenridgewaie alias Ballynekill, Killneshane, Killcronan, Killrush alias Kilbruskye, Boleynebane, Knockardagurra, Graignehewne, Bolybegg, Disertgallen,. Lisscolman, Graignesmuttan, Rossacashell, Cloghog, Moyad, Ballykeshlan alias Ballykesslan, Graig, Ballyvenas, Tullyore alias Tullymore alias Clontigno, Lissboigne alias Lissbigne, Monclere and Dooghill, all which contain 1 large mansion, 100 messuages, 1 dovecote, 2 water-mills, 1 fulling-mill, 1 iron-mill, and 1,421 acres of land of the small measure, in the barony of Cullenagh; and a court leet and court baronial to be held within the manor aforesaid, and 3 fairs and 2 markets to be held within the town of Galenridgeway, &c. The attempt to name the place after Ridgeway, Lord Londonderry, was a failure.
The castle, which was built by Ridgeway, and of which there are still some remains, was besieged and taken by the Confederate Catholics in 1641. The following passage, referring to the Siege, occurs in The Irish Confederation and War, 1642-3," edited by Mr. Gilbert: -"Ballinekilly was a colony of English planted there by Sir (Thomas) Ridgeway, whoe was Vice-Treasurer in Ireland in the reign of King James, and by him made Earle of Londonderry. It is seated among woods, in a place soe watered with springs as afforded the Earle convenience to make many fish ponds neare the Castle hee built there; which hee likewise fortified with a strong wall, and that with turrets and flanckers; besides that the towne since it had been planted was well inhabited, the iron mill there kept many lustie men at worke; and all these, together with such of the English as were tennants of the mannor, or in their neighbourhood, when first the unbridled multitude, casting off all obedience to the Government, began to pillage the Protestants, repaired thither and added to the strength of the place many new workes, filling them with water which the ground naturally afforded them in great plenty; so there being noe want of provision of all kinds, the place might have well been judged impregnable against an army that without ordnance came to besiege it.
However the Lord Mountgarrett might be excused in not haveing given his consent to the battaile of Rosse, yet not only his advise, but his earnest desire concurred to the siege of Ballinekilly, for the interest of his estate, which neared uppon it, and the quiet of the tennants, who were much infested by the daily incursions of the garrison; and the General was the more willing to try his fortune, and not to be deterred by the improbability of success, and he was sure the forces under his command could suffer no want, how long soever he might be forced to sit before the place, by reason of the power of the Lord Mountgarrett had iti the County Kilkenny, whence the army was to be supplied. Wherefore, having summoned the Castle, after some smart sallies made in several quarters, he sat before it with that animosity of both sides, that the besieged flung out into the camp the heads of some of the besiegers whom they had killed, and the besiegers staked up in the like manner some of the heads of the besieged in the sight of the Castle. But we must leave the General here advancing but slowly to the enterprise, until we convey his means from Spain to compass his design.
"We have formerly mentioned that the Supreame Councill made it part of their first care to employ agents in foreign parts, to implore such assistance as they persuaded themselves Catholicke Princes would liberally contribute to maintain the common cause. Of these thus designed, Father James Talbot, of St. Augustine's, was appointed for Spain, and a commission sent by him, wherein he was jointly intrusted, with Father Luke Wadding, Professor of Divinity in Salamanca, to agitate the affairs of the Confederate Catholickes in that Court. Upon this application, to which care was given, and which therefore was, beyond several other solicitations in the behalf of provinces and persons then likewise on foot, preferred, because it seemed to be made by the body of the nation, 20,000 crowns were had, and those, according to the instructions given to Father Talbot, were for the most part disposed in arms and ammunition in 2 iron guns of 24 pounds a-piece, and an iron mortar-piece; and by a strange conjuncture of accidents, the ordnance which was to be instrumental in the taking of Ballinekilly, was, upon no such design, shipped in Spain the same day the siege was laid to it. When advertisement was brought to the Councell of the arrival of the ship at Dungarvan, wherein Father Talbot came with these provisions, they sent Dr. Gerald Fennel, one of the Councell, and Mr. Geffry Baron thither to take care of so precious a commodity as her lading then was, and to see it safely conveyed to Waterford, from whence the gun and mortar-piece, with all their necessaries which were brought along so unexpectedly to beat down part of the Castle, and that a bomb falling directly on the top of the roof, broke it and the planks, partitions and beams, two lofts under it, to the loss of some of the besieged, and terror of all, and that advertisement was brought them how Colonel Crafford, who was advanced as far as Monasterevan with a strong party to relieve them, was there defeated by the Earl of Castlehaven, whom the General sent with some forces to stop his passage; and that the Earle in his way to Monasterevan, had cut off Captain Hetherington's troop, and killed himself, they conceived it fit to call for quarter, and having capitulated to be allowed 3 score muskets, and a convoy to Dublin, they gave up the place, leaving their magazines stored with provisions of all sorts, and the country freed from their excursions."
When Cromwell's troops overran the island, this castle was attacked by them; the garrison offered a stout resistance, but being cannonaded from the Warren Hill, adjoining Heywood demesne, they were compelled to surrender. The Cromwellians left here a considerable garrison.
In Heywood demesne, the site is pointed out of the humble thatched chapel that preceded the present parish church. The adjoining lake is designated as the Mass Lough, no doubt from its vicinity to the chapel, and perhaps from the Holy Sacrifice having been celebrated in penal times in the place before a chapel existed. The following anecdote is handed down in connection with this place: -In the pastorate of Dr. Cahill, a Friar, named M'Gillicuddy, used to come from Kenmare, County Kerry, each Easter time, to help in hearing confessions. Dr. Cahill, by way of compensation, presented him on each occasion with a pair of riding boots. It happened at one time that a quarrel got up between these holy men, in consequence of which the Friar left when the work had been only gone half through; the story goes that Dr. Cahill sent after him one boot of the intended pair.
The territory of Gallen or Disart-Gallen, extended from near Abbeyleix to the boundary of Slewmargy. It comprised the entire of the rectory so named, in the barony of Cullenagh, for the extent of which, in 1607, see Erck's Ecclesiastical Register, p. 131. Its present boundaries seem to be still the same. - (O'Donovan.)
The ruins of the former parochial church of Dysart Gallen still remain. We find them thus described by the Rev. John O'Hanlon, "Lives of Irish Saints," Vol. I., p. 40. After referring to the beauty of the locality, the writer says: "The old ecclesiastical building here has been divided into nave and choir. . . . The choir is utterly ruinous, as indeed it is described to have been so far back as 1615, as we find from the Liber Regalis Visitationis' of that date. The foundations shew it to have been about 20 feet in length by 14 in width. The nave walls are in much better preservation. These measure 40 feet in length by 20 in breadth. The walls are over three feet in thickness. A great part of the side walls are removed, but in two of them doorways may yet be traced. Two windows are also visible. The western gable is still very perfect, but it is terminated by a tottering belfry. A large window likewise pierced it. A gable wall surmounted the beautifully pointed stone arch near the choir. The walls of this church seem to have been well cemented. They are built of grit and limestone materials. The base of an old cross is to be seen built into a wall on the adjacent roadside. This has been probably removed from its former place in connection with the church. St. Manchan (i.e., "the little monk,") surnamed the Wise, of Disert-mic-Cuilinn, in Leoghis of Leinster, now Dysart-Gallen, lived here in the seventh century. His death took place in 648, according to the "Four Masters," or according to the Annals of Ulster, in 651. His feast is set down in the martyrology of Tallaght, as occurring on the 2nd of January, "Manchani Sapiens;" and in the Mart. Donegal, at same day:
An Inquisition dated 17 June, 9th of Elizabeth, shows Caroll McTeig to have been Vicar of Gallen. "Rory O'More's father had from Caroll McTeig, Vicar of Gallen, Graig in Gallen for 20 Kyne."
On a hill adjoining Dysart Gallen, called Knockardagur, stood a castle, of which scarcely any portion now remains. In the list of "Proclaimed traitors and rebels, 1641-2," we find the name of Barnaby Dempsy, of Knockardegur, in the Queen's County. He was of the Clanmalier family, and no doubt, resided in this fortress.
From an Inquisition taken at Maryborough, 30th April, 1633, it appears that Thomas, (Ridgeway) late Earl of Londonderry, by indenture bearing date 16th Feb., 1628, granted to Barnaby Dempsye of Knockardagurra, the town and land of Knockardagurra, Bolybegge, Gragenehowne, Rossecashell, Graignesmuttan and Doughill and certain lands in le Graige, premises in Moyad called le Knockmill with 1½ acres and 1 house, a parcel of land called Knockballyviccas, parcel of premises in Ballyvinas, and 40 acres of land lying adjacent to the town of Ballyviccas, all of which contain 750 acres of the small measure, for a period of 51 years.
The chapel-of-ease of the parish of Ballinakill, one of the handsomest country chapels in the county, is placed at Knockardagur.
This name, which is derived, according to Colgan, from Cluain-Caein, i.e. secessus amaenus sive delectabilis, "the beautiful lawn or meadow,"-is the title of an ancient parochial district, the church of which still exists in ruins. It is of apparently great antiquity, and is divided into two portions that would represent nave and chancel, except that there is a solid wall separating them apparently as old as the rest of the buildings and only pierced by a window high up. Dimensions: nave 45 feet by 22 feet; chancel (if it may be called so), 25 feet by 18 feet. Colgan speaks of St. Fintan having been born in Clonkeen of Leix; if so, then this place may lay claim to the honour of having given birth to one of our greatest Irish Saints.
The following particulars are given by Archdall in
Monast. Rib, in reference to Cluainchaoin (Clonkeen).
The Feilure of Aengus, at 6th Oct., mentions "The. Lucell, Abbot of Cluain ;" to which the Gloss in Leabhar Brac adds:
Is another place of antiquarian interest in this neighbourhood There exist only the merest vestiges of its ancient church, but sufficient to show that its dimensions were 45 feet by 20 feet. Many saints of this name are given in the Irish calendars; after which of these the place now referred to is named, is not known. The ruin is surrounded by an ancient burial-ground, and amongst its denizens are some ecclesiastics Over one grave is a stone with the following inscription: "Here lies the body of the Rev. Denis Conran, parish-priest of Ballinakil, who departed this life 6th October, 1794, aged 76 years. The charity, pious zeal, and exemplary conduct that distinguished his life and gained him universal esteem, render his death sincerely lamented by all his acquaintance, particularly by his parishioners. Also the body of the Rev. John Barron, who departed this life the 10th of April, [ ], in the 31st year of his age. May their souls rest in peace-Amen." Father Barron was an Ossory priest, a native of the adjoining parish of Ballyragget. Two other priests, who officiated in this parish, De Leyne and O'Shea, are thought to be also interred here. In return of 1766 (see Appendix) an assistant priest named Dillon is given; this probably is the De Leyne herr referred to. An Inquisition taken at Maryborough on the 7th September, 1607, shows that the Rectories of Kilcronan, Disert-Gallen, and Clonkeen, with many others in the Queen's County, belonged to the Augustinian Priory of Great Connall, County Kildare.
SUCCESSION OF PASTORS
CONNAL MOORE appears in the Registry of Popish Parish-Priests, made in 1704, as P.P. of Tullore, Disert Galen, and Clonkeen. He was ordained in 1666, at Dublin, by Dr. P. Plunkett, Bishop of Meath; resided at Iron Mills, in the Barony of Cullenagh, was then aged 59, and his two sureties were Henry Toole, of Logacurrin, gent., and John Russell, of Castlewood, in said county, gent. To the decrees of a provincial Synod, held at Dublin on the 1st of August, 1688, we find the name of Connal Moore attached as Vicar-General and deputy of the Chapter of Leighlin (see vol. I, p 257). This priest was of the princely family of O'More; tradition has it that he was nearly related to Sarsfield, which is more than probable, as Sarsfield's mother was Anna, the daughter of Rory O'More. When this priest died is not known, but that it occurred previous to 1731 is ascertained from the return made to the House of Lords in that year, in which the Popish Priest is stated to be
WILLIAM KEATING This Priest, no doubt, is the same who is buried at Aries, and upon whose tomb is the following inscription: "Here lieth the body of the Rev. William Keating, who departed this life November 12th, 1755, aged 74 years. Requiescat in peace." The next in succession was
GARRETT KEATING as we learn from the official return made in April, 1766, in which the name of that Priest is given as Popish Priest of this parish. The precise date of his death has not been ascertained, nor where he lies interred, but probably he, too, is buried at Aries, of which parish he and his predecessor appear to have been natives.
The Rev. DENIS CONRAN succeeded. He died in 1794, as his epitaph at St. Cronan's testifies.
The Rev. WILLIAM CAHILL, D.D., was the succeeding Parish-Priest. He discharged the duties of Parish-Priest for twenty-one years, and dying in 1816,
The Rev. ROGER MOLONY succeeded, having been translated from Carbury. This pastor died in 1824, upon whose demise the new parish of Abbeyleix was formed.
The Rev. JAMES DELANY was appointed to the now distinct parish of Ballinakill. He survived until August 22nd, 1874, when he was succeeded by
The Rev. ANDREW DEMPSEY, the present worthy pastor.
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