Parish of Ballyfin
Source: Rev M Comerford "Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin" Vol. 3 (1886)
PREVIOUS to 1828, the district now constituting the parish of Ballyfin formed a portion of the parish of Clonenagh. In June of the above-named year, the Right Rev. Dr. Doyle erected Ballyfin into a separate cure. The present chapel is the third that has stood on the same site. In a Return made in 1731 (See Vol. I, p. 268), it is stated that there were then two Mass-houses in the parish of Clonenagh, both built subsequent to the accession of George 1st, 1714; of these one was at Ballyfin. In another Return made in 1765, by Robert Henry, Hearth-money Collector (see Appendix), three Mass-houses are said to have been then in the parish of Clonenagh. The original chapel was replaced by another in 1774, as we learn from an inscribed slab which now forms portion of a stile leading into the burial-ground. The following is the inscription: -" I.H.S. Haec domus re-edificata a R. D. Lauris Colleton, B.T., Ano Dmni 1774. Vocatur Aula Spiritus Sancti." The structure bearing this high-sounding title was an humble cruciform, thatched chapel. Archdeacon Colleton, here referred to, died in 1788, and is interred at Clonenagh. (See Chapter on Mountrath.)
The Rev. Christopher Doyle, who was appointed Curate
here in 1818, and subsequently Administrator in 1823, built the present
parish chapel. It appears to have been proposed to erect it on another
site, which however could not be effected in consequence of an objection
on the part of the landlord. The following is his reply to Dr. Doyle on
the subject: -" Mr. Wellesley Pole presents his compliments to the
R. Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, and in reply to his communication
respecting the chapel at Ballyfin, begs to observe that it stands on Mr.
Wellesley Pole's Estate rent free, and that the Priest has also a few
acres of land for which he does not pay rent. It has always been Mr. Wellesley
Pole's practice to give every possible indulgence to his R. Catholic Tenants,
and he has never
Within the chapel a mural tablet has been placed to the memory of a priest who was a native of this parish: -" This monument has been erected by Matthew Lalor of Clonagown, in memory of his uncle, the Rev. James Lalor, who departed this life, March the 27th, 1826, aged 26 years." This priest, to whom Dr. Doyle refers in complimentary terms (see Vol. II, p. 246), had been appointed curate of Ballinakill in October, 1825.
A fine massive chalice in use in this chapel bears two inscriptions; one, requesting prayers for the Lady Brigid, Vis-Countess Dillon Clanrickard, and for Rev. Dr. Edmund O'Reilly, with the date, 1749. The second inscription records that Elizabeth Delany, mother of Dr. Delany, Bishop of the Diocese, purchased this chalice, and made a gift of it to the Chapel of Ballyfin, in 1795 :-" Ora pro Ilustrissa D.D. Brigida V.-Com. Dillon Cln Rickd. et pro Edmundo O'Reilly, S.T.D. 1749. Hunc Calicem emit Elizabetha Delany, mater Rdmi. D.D. Delany, Epi Kilds donoque dedit Capellae de Ballyfin, 1795." The Lady Brigid, to whom the above inscription refers, was daughter of John de Burgh, 9th Earl of Clanrickarde; she married Richard, 9th Viscount Dillon in 1720. -(De Brett's Peerage.)
Ballyfin was originally part of the demesne lands of the O'Mores, chieftains of Leix. In the reign of Elizabeth this estate was granted to Patrick Crosbie in reward for his services against the O'Mores; but his great-grandson, Sir John Crosbie, Bart., having espoused the cause of Charles I., he was attainted by the Parliament, and the said attainder never having been removed, the king on the restoration became entitled to his great estate, of which Ballyfin was granted to Piriam Pole, brother of Sir John, and second son of Sir William Pole, of Shute, in Devonshire. His son, William Pole, pulled down the castle which had been erected by the Crosbies, and built a modern house on the site, which was destroyed by fire, and rebuilt by his son, and forms the north wing of the present edifice. He married Anne, daughter of Henry Colley, of the noble family of Mornington. He died in October, 1704, and was succeeded by Periam, his eldest son, who died unmarried on the 24th of April, 1748, and was succeeded by his brother, William, who, the same year, married Lady Sarah Moore, daughter of Edward, 5th Earl of Drogheda, and was, soon after, made a member of the Privy Council, and Governor of the Queen's County. He much improved Ballyfin, planting woods, sinking the lake, and adding to the house. Dying in 1781, without issue, he left the estate to a distant cousin, the Hon. William Wesley or Wellesley, younger son of the Earl of Mornington, who assumed the name of Pole. The family of the present owner, Sir Charles Coote, acquired it by purchase. Most of the furniture of the saloon and ball-room was made for George IV when Prince of Wales.-(Anth. Hib. July, 1794; Gazetteer of Ireland.)
*The grant from the Cromwellian Commissioners was thus confirmed by the Act of Settlement, 18 Cha. II., "Peryam Pole, of Dublin, esq.-The town and lands of Eyrye. Ballyfynne, alias Baliytinne, and Camaloand, 1, 198a. 1r. 28p. (1941a. and 33p. stat.) prof. 2056a. 2r. 32p; unprof. £24 5s. 3¾d. bar Maryborough, Queen's Co. Inchy, and Rathvadocke, part of the same, I96a. (317a. 1r. 38p. stat.), prof. 45a. 3r. l6p, unprof. £3 19s. 4d. bar Stradbally, same Co. Acragar, 259a. 3r. 24p. (420a. 3r. 24p. stat.), prof. 43a. 1r. 24p, unprof. £5 5s. 2¾d.; bar Portnahinch, same county.-Total rent, £33 9s. 11d. Date, 27 June, 18th year (cert. 19 May, 1666).
This name is derived from Bo-cluain, "the cow
pasture:" cluain, strictly means a fertile spot surrounded, or nearly
so, by bog. -(Joyce.)
SUCCESSION OF PASTORS
JAMES DWIGAN aged 50, is named in Registry of 1704 as P.P. of the united parishes of Clonenagh and Clonaheen- which included Ballyfin. In Dean Skelton's list of priests in the diocese of Leighlin, in 1733 (see Vol. I, p. 274), a name is given of one, belonging to Ballyfin, which at first could not be deciphered. It is that of a Father Horoghan, who lies interred at Clonenagh, and whose grave is marked with the following inscription: -
It is more probable that this priest was only an assistant to Fathers Corcoran and Lalor, P.P.s of Clonenagh. On Clonenagh becoming a mensal parish, in 1788, it was governed by a succession of Administrators. It, however, appears that, from 1805 to 1811, a Father Doyle had the distinct administration of the district of Ballyfin. This priest lies interred at Tullow, where a tablet to his memory bears the following inscription: -
REV. THOMAS DOWLING had charge of this district from the death of Father Doyle until 1818, when he was appointed Curate of Stradbally; he became P.P. of St. Mullin's in 1824.
REV. CHRISTOPHER DOYLE was resident Curate at Ballyfin from 1818 until 1823, when on this being formed into a separate and mensal parish, he became Administrator. He received the appointment of P.P. of Borris in 1836, and was succeeded by
REV. THOMAS NOLAN. In July, 1838, Father Nolan was appointed P.P. of Abbeyleix.
REV. JOHN WHELAN succeeded; he became P.P. of Clonegal 1842, when
REV. JOHN MOONEY was appointed Administrator. He became P.P. of Rosenallis in 1847, and had for successor
REV. DANIEL NOLAN. Father Nolan, from being Administrator, was appointed by Dr. Haly Parish Priest of Ballyfin. In 1858 he was translated to Leighlin, and was succeeded by
REV. WILLIAM COMERFORD. On the death of Father Comerford, July 6th, 1884, he was succeeded by
The REV. HUGH McCONAGRTY, the present P.P.
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