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The diocese of Meath : ancient and modern (Volume 2) online

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" In memoria eterna erit Justus."

For some time after the arrest of Father Barnwall, this
parish had no regular pastor. The flock, however, were
not neglected, for priests were sent amongst them by the
Bishop to administer the sacraments and attend to the
wants of the people.

The Rev. Christopher Chevers succeeded (see Pastors of
Kilbeg). After a few years he was translated elsewhere.

Rev. Thomas Brady sucseded. This pastor died some
time before 1770, and was buried in the church-yard of
Ardbraccan, where a large flag-stone marks his resting-
place. At all interments, the coffin is placed on this stone
previous to burial.

The Rev. John Martin succeeded, and was translated to
Athboy in 1776.

The Rev. Patrick Smith succeeded, and was translated to
Dunboyne in December, 1782.

The Rev. Peter O'Reilly succeeded. This pastor was
translated to Kells on the 7th of August, 1795.

Very Rev. Michael Branagan succeeded. This eminent
man was born in the parish of Slane,* studied in the Irish
College of Paris, where he was ordained, officiated as
curate in Monknewtown fora short time, and in 1779 was
removed to Ardbraccan. In December, 1782, Rev. Patrick
Smith, pastor of Ardbraccan, was translated to Dunboyne,
and was succeeded by Rev. Peter O'Reilly who usually
resided with Dr. Plunket in Navan. Father Branagan
administered the parish for Rev. Mr. O'Reilly, and, after

* He was born about half a mile from Slane . His parents had a farm
alongside the Drogheda road-


the appointment of the latter to Kells, in August, 17!)- 1 ),
the administrator was appointed p;i.->t<>r. Tin- penal la\vs
had been rigorously enforced in this district in c
quence of the proximity of the Protestant Bishoj of
Heath, and the bigotry of many of the neighbouring
gentry ;* and hence religion remained in a backward state,
the chapels were wretched thatched hovels, and the people
were correspondently ignorant. The first chapel e;
in Cortown in the penal day stood, as we have remarked,
in the hollow beneath the old church of Rathl>ovue.
Father Barn well, during the occasional relaxations of the
penal code, usually officiated in this lowly temple. The
second erection took place about the middle of the last
century, and stood beneath the old grave- yard and the
present public road. The present chapel of Cortown*f*
was erected by Father Branagan on the townland of
Betaghstown, which succeeding pastors have repaired and
ornamented. In the Ardbraccan district, Father Branagan
erected the present chapel, which has been much improved
by his successors. Schools were also erected by him in

* One of these was an inveterate enemy of Father Branagan, and, when
this fellow died, a local bard satirized him thus :

" If heaven be pleased when sinners cease to sin,
If hell be pleased when simiers enter in,
If man be pleased when parting with a knave,
Then all are pleased, for G is in his grave."

t There is a tomb in the diapel to the memory of Kev. John Kelly,
who was a native of this place-, and an ulumnus of Navan and Maynootk.
He was a good musician, an excellent preacher, and a zealous priest. He
died of a malignant fever caught in the discharge of his duties, and was
buried here :

" To the memory of

The Rev. John Kelly,

this monument is Hv.-teit by

his friends and re hit i
After having d uithzeal

and : '!}'

th" duties of a kithi'ul clergyman

in various parishes ! ilie di'

IK- died at Kinnegad

on the I'M day <,;' February, 1843,

in tl : . . . .f his age,

and the 1 1th of his ministry.

May his soul r . Amen."


the populous parts of his extensive parishes, and a paro-
chial residence ;* so that every provision was made, con-
sistent with the times, for promoting religion and for
advancing the spiritual and temporal welfare of his flock.

The unfortunate Dr. O'Beirne, late Protestant Bishop
of Meath, was in college with Father Branagan, and, dur-
ing his residence in Ardbraccan, paid the pastor every
respect, and was a liberal benefactor. Father Branagan
went with reluctance to the episcopal palace, out of obe-
dience, it is said, to Dr, Plunket, who, to the last moment,
had hopes of Dr. O'Beirne's conversion,

With Dean Moore/f" the Protestant Rector, he was on
very intimate terms. The Dean used frequently to visit
him, and the pesantry tell many anecdotes illustrative of
the friendship that existed between them. Many are of
opinion that the Dean died a Catholic, that Father Brana-
gan attended him, and put the holy oils on him, previous
to his departure, and that hence he wished to be interred
alongside of him. Whether this be true or not, it is quite
useless now to investigate ; but it is certain that his close
intimacy with the Dean, without the sacrifice of any prin-
ciple, counteracted a thousand evil influences, and was
instrumental, in those days, in obtaining concessions and
favors for his humble flock.

Father Branagan was unquestionably a profound theo-
logian, a scholar of vast and varied information, and had
a felicitous mode of communicating it. He was Vicar-
Forane and Master of Conference, and was held in great
respect by clergy and laity. As a controversialist he was
pithy and pointed every word ad rem, and he brought

* This house was built at a place called, in consequence of the superiority
of the roads, " the Bohermien, " or " the even road." In course of a lew years
the parish began to be called by this absurd name, because the parish- priest
lived here. The proper title is Ardbraccan. Surely in Catholic Ireland
our priests are not officiating " in partibus infidcUum . "

f In those days many Catholic children attended the Protestant Schools
of Ardbraccan. The Dean visited regularly, examined in Dr. Plunket's
Catechism, and usually gave premiums. In fine weather he was accus-
tomed to bring the Catholics out to the church-yard and interrogate them,
sitting on a tombstone. There was one chapter he invariably omitted
" The Marks of the True Church."



much learning and res<-areh to the aivna of debate. His
pamplilets,* published in 18:23, in reply to 0. Tisdall, Esq.,
of Clmrlesi'ort, prove him to have been a scholar of very
extensive reading and extremely happy in style, phrase-
ology, and arrangement of argument. He Mas a very
accomplished preacher in Irish and English, and usually
explained the gospel of the day, first in the vernacular and
subsequently in English, to such as had not understood
him. His personal appearance was commanding and
dignified ; he dressed with great neatness, his habits were
gentlemanly, and he was uniformly friendly and courteous
to his brethren in the ministry. He was venerated by
his flock "f" for his zeal and many virtues, and his memory
will be held in benediction for many years to come. He
died at a very advanced age, on the 5th of January,
1833, and was buried, after due honor and celebration, in
the church -yard of Ardbraccan. Over his remains a
monument has been raised with the following inscription:

" Here lyeth the remains of
the Rev. Michael Branagan,

54 years Parish Priest

of Ardbraccan and Cortown,

who departed this life

January 5th, 1833,

Aged 87 years.
Kequiescat in pace. Amen."

Alongside of Father Branagan's moument is another to
the memory of Dean Moore, with the following :

" Rev. Richard Moore,

Dean of Emly,

and Rector of this parish,

departed this life on the 31st day of

March, 1818, in the 67th year or his age."

The Rev. Joseph Kennedy, Pastor of Dunboyne, trans-
lated to Ardbraccan on the 6th of January, 1833. (See

* There are '-everal in my jMi.sscs.sion.

t He left a legacy for charitable purposes in the parish.


vol. i., p. 198). He died on the 7th of May, 1842, and was
buried in the chapel of Boyerstown, where a marble slab
commemorates him thus :

" To the memory of

The Rev. Joseph Kennedy, P.P.

of the united parishes of Bohermien,

Cortown, and Boyerstown, who

departed this life May the 7th, 1842,

in the 48th year of his age,

and the 25th of his ministry.

He was Pastor of those parishes

for 10 years, and through his zealous

exertions this chapel was erected.

Requiescat in pace. Amen."

The Rev. Richard Ennis was appointed pastor on the
2nd of June, 1842, and, in a short time, was translated to

Rev. Patrick Magan was translated from Duiiderry to
Ardbraccan, and Rev. Terence O'Reilly was appointed
Pastor of Cortown. Rev. Mr. Magan was translated to
Cortown in March 1843, and thence, in July 1845, to
Multifarnam. Rev. Patrick Kiernan succeeded him as
Pastor of Cortown, and was translated thence to Dundeny.

Rev. Terence O'Reilly was born in the parish of Delvin,
studied in Navan and Maynooth, and was ordained about
1823 ; after officiating as curate in Rathmolyon, Ard-
braccan, Kilskyre, and other places, he was appointed
Pastor of Cortown in 1842, was translated to Ardbraccan
on the 10th of March, 1843, and after the translation* of
Rev. Mr. Kiernan to Dunderry, succeeded as Pastor of
Ardbraccan and Cortown. He died, much regretted, on
the 16th of November, 1856, and was buried in the
chapel of Bohermien, where a monument commemorates
him thus :

The Very Rev. Canon O'Reilly, Pastor of St. Vincent's, Liverpool, mid
his brother, Rev. Gerald O'Reilly, Pastor of St. Mary's, "\V
born at liallybeg- House, Union of Cortown. Both ;n i.slied

priests, and rellect credit on the diocese in which they were bora.



" This monument was erected

by the beloved Parishioners of

Bohermien, Cortown,

and Boyerstown,

to the memory of their late Pastor,

The Rev. Terence O'Reilly,

who for 12 years ministered

to their spiritual wants.

He died deeply regretted,

the 16th of November, 1856,

in the 56th year of his age,

and 33rd of his sacred ministry.

Requiescat in pace. Amen."

The Rev. Michael Geoghegan, present pastor, was bora
in the Union of Clara, studied in Navan and Maynooth,
and was ordained in 1838 ; he officiated as curate in
Rahin, Dunboyne, Emper, and for many years in KelLs,
wKence he was appointed to the pastoral charge of Ard-
braccan and Cortown, on the 22nd of October, 1856.
He has ornamented the chapels of Bohermien, Cortown,
and. Boyerstown, and built handsome and commodious
schools in each of his parishes.

2. Carolanstown, or Kilbeg.

This union comprises the ancient parochial divisions of
Staholmock, Robertstown, Emlagh and Kilbeg; all of
which are situated in the Barony of Lower Kells.

StaJiolmock. There was a religious house here called
Teach Mocholmog, in which the shrine of St. Mocholmog
was preserved. The old church measures fifty-six feet
four inches by eighteen feet, and is still in a very fair state
of preservation. Here rests the Very Rev. Christopher
Chevers.P.P. of the parish and Vicar-General of the diocese.

Robertstown. This church was dedicated to St. Bridget.
The walls have been torn down. The root measures forty-
six i<-et by twenty- two. There is an old tombs tone* here
with the following inscription :

* There is another flat stone with the following : " This monument was
erected for Francis Plunket of Ard (A-mghe), wko (lewisi-d tin:
March, in the year 1688. Catherine Piunket, his wife, who erected this
. . . (erased) . . . on whose soul . . . (erased.)"


" Here lyeth the corpse
of Alexander Barn wall, sometyms

of Robertstown, who
deceased the 7th of November, 1596.

Alison Netterville, his wife,
caused the monument to be made Anno 1618.

Orate pro animabus.

Ys. monument renewed by

Rogr. McMahn.,

for his posterity.

Respice finem."

There is a portion of a stone cross at the entrance to
the church-yard, the inscription on which is now illegible.

Emlagh* There was anciently a monastery here, dedi-
cated to St. Beccan, (see vol. i., 136).

Kilbeg. This old church measures forty-seven feet by
nineteen ; the walls have been torn down.

Holy Wells., There is a holy well in Carolanstown dedi-
cated to St. Patrick, and another called " Blessed Well," on
the lands of Ardemagh.

Chapels. There was a mudwall thatched chapel, during
the penal days, on the townland of Kilbeg, and another on
the townland of John's Rath, near the Castle of Dra-
kerath. The shells of the present chapels of Kilbeg and
Staholmock were erected by Rev. Mr. McDermott, and
completed by Father Kelsh.


In 1690 Dr. Robert Cusack was presented to the Rec-
tories and Vicarage of Robertstown and Kilmainham-

Same year Rev. John Drake was presented to the
rectories of Staholmock and Drakestown.

In 1704 Rev. John Drake was registered as " Popish
Priest of Staholmog, Kilbeg, Robertstown, and Emlagh."
He was ordained at Emlagh in 1678, by Dr. Oliver Plun-

* See note 1, at the end of this parochial history ; also Diocese of
Meath, vol. i., p. 136.


\rchl tishop of Armagh, lived at Drakerath the year
of the Re . ;ind was then forty-ei^lit years of age.

The year of his death, place of interment, and name
of successor are now unknown. Very Rev. Christopher
Chevers afterwards succeeded. This eminent priest wgs
born in the neighbourhood of Kilbeg, about the close of
the 17th century ; he was descended by his father from
the illustrious house of Macetown, many members of
which were dispersed after the confiscations of Cromwell ;
his mother was sister to-the Rev. Patrick Duuan, the
venerated pastor of Monknewtown and Dowth. After
receiving ordination he was sent, as was then the custom,
to complete his studies on the Continent, and, under the
disguise of a merchant's clerk, succeeded in baffling the
watchful emissaries employed by Government for pursu-
ing and arresting Irish ecclesiastics. He tells us in his
poem,* which he wrote soon after his arrival, of his narrow
escape from V , who strongly suspected the object

of his mission, and of many perils with which hi- v<
was accompanied. How long he remained in France, or
what year he returned, cannot now be ascertained, but
at all events he officiated for a time as curate in the
union of Grangegeith and discharged parochial duty in
Ardbraccan, < 3, Monknewtown, and finally in

Kilbeg. He assisted his uncle, the Rev. Patrick Dunan,
as administrator in Dowth ; and tradition still preserves
how, when the venerable old Priest was infirm and blind,
the nephew would lead him by the hand on a Sunday
morning to the little mudwall thatched village chapel,
and, after celebration, lead him hack to his humble home.
Father (Jhevers was translated to Kilbeg about 1707,
became Vicar-General of the diocese, and took a pro-
minent part in all the ecclesiastical movements of the day.
Tin- name by which he was familiarly known un
the p.-oplc was "Thai - mor " to distinguish him

fr.iin the Rev. Laurence his cousin, who for

several years unite under him, and who s

irpose publishing this Poem iu the Appendix to Volume III.


sequently became pastor of Grangegeitli. Father Chris-
topher was a very polished scholar, and his society was
much courted by the Protestant gentry of his day. He
is said to have been an eminent preacher, and a man of
deep and varied information. He composed poems and
songs on a variety of subjects, in the Irish, English, Latin,
and French languages. He died at an advanced age, on the
28th of December, 1785, and was buried in the church-
yard of Staholmock, where neither tombstone nor head-
stone marks his resting-place.

Rev. George M'Dermott succeeded, and was translated
to Oldcastle at the close of 1806.

Rev. Michael Callan succeeded, and was translated to
Frankford on the 17th of June, 1807.

Rev. Walter Drake was appointed pastor on the day of
the translation of his predecessor, and remained only a few
years here.

Rev. Mathew Kelsh was appointed pastor in 1810, and
was translated to Kilberry in the Summer of 1813.

Rev. Laurence Ward succeeded. This pastor had
officiated as curate, successively, in the parishes of Fore
and St. Mary's, Drogheda. He died on the 12th of Sep-
tember, 1852, and was buried in the chapel of Staholmock.

Rev. James Dillon succeeded. This worthy pastor was
born in the parish of Trim, studied in Navan, and com-
pleted his course in the Irish College of Paris, where he
was ordained in 1834. He officiated as curate in the
parishes of Mount-Nugent and Athboy, where his memory
is still and shall long be revered. He died on the 1st of
August, 1858, and was interred, deeply and sincerely
regretted by all who knew him, in the chapel of Kilbeg,
where a marble slab commemorates him thus :

" Of your charity

pray for the soul of

The Rev. James Dillon, P.P.,

whose remains lie interred within

these sacred wails.

He departed this life the 1st August, 1858,
in the 50th year of his age, the 24th of


his sacred ministry, and the Gth of

his incumbency as

Pastor of these parishes,

esteemed by all who knew him, on account

of his many Christian and

Priestly virtues. He died universally

regretted, especially by his own family,

who, in their sorrow, have reserved to

themselves the consolation of erecting

this tribute to his memory.

Requiescat in pace. Amen."

The Rev. Simon Duignan, present pastor, was born in
the union of Kilcloon, studied in Navan and Maynooth,
and was ordained in 1837. After having officiated as
curate in the parishes of Skryne, Dunboyne, Longwood,
Rathmolyon and Ratoath, he was appointed to the spiri-
tual charge of Kilbeg, in September, 1858.

NOTE 1. In the Martyrology of Donegal, the festival of St. Becan, son
of Cula, at Imlech-Fiaich, in Fcra-Cul-Breagh, is marked at April the 5th.
The following notice is given of him :

"He was of the race of Eoghan Mor, son of Oilioll Oluim. When
Colum-Cille and the King of Erinn, Diarmait, son of Fergus Cerrbheoil,
after the killing of Bresal, his son, came to where Becan was, they found
him erecting a fort, and a wet cloak about him, and he praying ; concern-
ing which was said :

' flaking a wall praying,
Kneeling, pure prayer,
His tears (lowing without unwillingness,
Were the virtues of Becan without fault.
Hand on a stone, hand lifted up,
Knee bent to set a rock,
Eye shedding tears, other lamentation,
And month praying. '

" Becan looked aside, and he' saw Diarmaid. ' Into the earth, thou
murderer,' said he, and he sunk into the earth to his knees. ' Under my
protection he has come to thee,' said Colum-Cille, ' to resuscitate his son,
for him.' Becan resuscitated Bresal, the King's son, from the dead
' On the great festival of the son of Cula,
Of Becan with the victory of austerity,
The first baptism of Patrick
Which he jiertoniied in Erin.' "

St. Becan was the patron saint of Emlagh. (See vol. i. Diocese of Afeath,
p. 136).
The Martyrology of Donegal remarks, at the 23rd of December :


" In the Termann of Cenannas, in Meath, as the Oidheadh Breasail (the
Massacre of Breasal, a tale so called) states (he was killed by) Diarmait, his
father, and he was resuscitated by Becan. "

3. Oarnaross.

This union comprises parishes of Loghan and Dulane,*
the former of which is situated partly in the barony of
Castlerahan, County Cavan, but chiefly in that of Upper
Kells ; the latter is situated in the barony of Upper Kells,
County Meath.

Loghan. The old church has been torn down and up-
rooted. There was a holy well here dedicated to St.
Anne. The ruins of the abbey-church of Castle-Kieran
are situated in the parish of Loghan. (See vol. i. pp. 124,
125). Convenient to the termon-cross, on the south-side,
there is a green grave, marking the resting-place of a
priest, name now unknown, on which, at interments, the
coffin is deposited, while the JDe Profundis is being en-

Dulane. This old church presents every appearance of
antiquity. The chancel has been torn down. The nave
measures thirty feet by twenty-one. There is a plain
doorway on the west end, surmounted by an immense
block of stone ; another entrance on the south side seems
to have been more modern. The baptismal font lies to
the north of the church. It is a large stone with sides
inclining, about three feet in height, and measures inter-
nally one foot ten inches by ten inches. Here stood the
ancient abbey of Tuilen, or Tulan, founded by St. Cair-
nigh in the sixth century. The grey walls of the vene-
rable sanctuary, in the last stage of desolation, encompassed
by a rich and beautiful country, cannot fail to speak to the
heart of the pilgrim, and remind him of the once happy
days of Ireland.

* The parishes of Loghan, Castle-Kieran, and Dulane were once separate
and distinct. Latterly the union has been called the parish of Carnaross.
Dulane was under the patronage of St. Cairneck, and Castle-Kiernan under
that of St. Kieran.



In 1704, Rev. Hugh Brady was registered at KelLs as
"Popish Priest of Dulane and Loghan." He was ord;
at Ardpatrick, County Louth, in 1678, by Dr. Oliver
Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh, lived at Dulane the year
of the Registration, and was then fifty-two years of age.
The year of his death is now unknown, but it is said he
was buried in Dulane.

Rev. Father Callaghan succeeded. This pastor suffered
much from the priest-catchers of Kells, who closely
watched him and frequently pursued him. On one occa-
sion for performing a mixed marriage, contrary to the
penal statute, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He
was advised to surrender himself to a Mr. Woodward, a
Protestant in this neighbourhood, did so, was bailed by
Woodward, and through his influence escaped the penalty.
Father Callaghan died about the middle of the last cen-
tury, and was buried in the church-yard of Dulane.

Rev. Christopher Chevers succeeded, and was trans-
lated elsewhere.

Rev. Patrick Carolan succeeded. This pastor rests
under a tomb erected by himself in the grave-yard of
Dulane. (See vol. i., p. 134.) After his death, Carnaross
was united to Kilbeg, under the supervision of Very Rev.
Christopher Chevers.

The Rev. John Clarke succeeded, in December, 1785,
and was translated to Trim on the 6th of May, 1706.

Rev. John Gorman succeeded. This pastor is said to
have been born at Leixlip, County Dublin. For several
years previous to his death he was paralyzed, and unable
to discharge any duty. Rev. Thady Grehan, a Frain-iscau
friar, had charge of the parish from the 10th of July,
1 7!)!>. Father Gorman died on the 6th of February, 1811,
and was buried in the grave-yard of Dulane.

Rev. Thady Grehan was appointed pastor on the 7th of
February, 1811, died in is^ii, and was buried in the
grave-yard of Du!

Rev. John Sheridan succeeded. Present pastor was


"born in the union of Oldcastle, and is brother to the late
Rev. James Sheridan, Pastor of Blacklyon. He was or-
dained in 1812, and officiated as curate in Kells and Clon-
mellon previous to his appointment as parish priest of

The Rev. William Louth was born in the parish of
Rathkenny, studied in fNavan, next in the College of
Picpus, Paris, and was ordained in the Loretto Convent,
Navan, in 1839. After having officiated as curate in
Kells, Skryne, Drumcondra, Slane, Lobinstown, Johnstown,
and other places, he was appointed to Carnaross, in 1859,
and has been for the last few years administrator.

NOTE. Castlekieran was founded by St. Ciaran, or Kieran, at a place
called Bcalach-duin, "the Pass or Road of the Fort," and was called
Disert-Kieran, and subsequently Anglicized Ister-Kiaran, and Castlekieran.
(See vol. i., pp. 124, 125.) The holy founder of this monastery wrote a
life of St. Patrick, and his death is entered in the Annals of the Four
Masters at the 14th of June, Anno Domino 770. For upwards of 1,000
years his festival has been kept in this parish on the 14th of June, and the
parish chapel is still placed under his patronage.

2. Dulane, or Tuilen, was founded by St. Cearnach, in the end of the
fifth, or beginning of the sixth century. (See Diocese of Meath, pp. 133,
134.) This eminent man was born of the royal race of Orgial. He was
maternal grandson of Loarn, the first Irish chief of Scotland, and was first
cousin to Murchertach, monarch of Ireland. He was a bishop, and was
abbot of Dulane and of Drumleena, on the western shores of Lough Foyle.
He was not only a holy man, but a celebrated scholar, and he was one of

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