Colonel James Grove White: Kilbrin Parish

Sheet 23, 6 inch O.S. Sheet 164, 1 inch O.S.

Kilbrin is the Irish for "St. Bran’s Church" (O’Donovan).

Also see Canon J .F. Lynch’s remarks. (These "Notes" I., 256).

Kilbrin probably belonged to the Sept of the O’Callaghan, for the Book of Dist. and Survey gives:-

Island and Gortenbagh (Kilbrin Parish). The property of Donogh O’Callaghan, an Irish Papist, consisted of 343a. 2r. 16p. It was granted on forfeiture after the rebellion of 1641-2 to Dame Eliz. Fenton” (P.R.O. Irld.).

Lewis (pub. 1837) states :—"Kilbrin, a parish in the barony of Duhallow, 2½ miles (S. by W.) from Liscarroll on the river Allua, and on the new road from Liscarroll to Mallow; containing 4292 inhabitants. It comprised 12,302 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act, and valued at £9276 per annum. The land considerably varies in quality, and a large portion consists of hilly pasture. Limestone is found in the south of the parish, and burnt for manure; the state of agriculture is gradually improving. A fair is held at Ballyheene on October 2nd for general farming stock. Two roads have been made through this parish within a few years and have tended greatly to the improvement of the district; one from Drumcolloher through Liscarroll, to the mail road near Mallow, and the other from Newcastle to Castle Cor in this parish where it meets the former road. The seats are Castle Cor, the ancient family mansion of J. Deane Freeman, Esq., situated in a richly wooded demesne, which is particularly remarkable for its fine oaks ; Ballyheene, the deserted mansion of the Thornhill family; Ballygrady, the neat cottage residence of J. Purcell, Esq., and Marybrook, of E. Reardon, Esq. (under Kilbrin, Vol. II., p. 56).

The Field Book of 1840 informs us that Kilbrin is a large parish, nearly all arable, rest rough pasture, rocks, and a piece of bog. It contains about 40 Danish fort sites, an old abbey, one holy well, site of an old castle, part of the townland of Kanturk, a mound, fox covert, a small Protestant church in a graveyard. It is in ruins. One old church and graveyard, one R.C. chapel. About nine gentlemen’s houses, and eight demesnes, an old cave, several wells, portions of rivers and streams, limestone quarries and lime kilns.

Tubber Eamon. - In the townland of Knockballymartin, the name of a well which has got its name from the builder, Edward Freeman, Esq., over which he got the words, "Tubber Eamon" inscribed (or Edward’s Well) from the circumstance of his own name being Edward.

Kylerue Graveyard. - a Danish fort, lately made a graveyard for strangers.

River View House.. - John Philpot, Esq., name of a house lately built. Not in good repair in consequence of the proprietor not living in it.

Corbally House. - A good thatched house, with fir plantations around it. Patrick Shine, Esq., occupant.

Corbally Cottage. - A neat thatched cottage with some wood around it, the resident of Mr. Denis O’Connor.

Springfield Cottage. - At western boundary of the townland of Drummin, Alex, Terinane, Esq., proprietor. The name of a gentleman’s house without a demesne. A good large house.

Ballymacpierce Cottage. - Rev. Corn. Scully, P.P., occupant. A good house have a demesne attached.

Kilbrin. - Name of a poor hamlet.

The Black Well. - A good spring well in Mr. Shine’s lawn, Corbally House.

Knockaunawinna. - “Hillock of the brake or briery,” name of a mound or knock. An eminence in townland of Lackaleigh. `

Sheehan’s Mill. - On townland of Greenaun. A small thatched oat meal mill and tuck mill, nearly a ruin.

Lougheel House. - A good house and residence of Charles O’Daly, Esq.

Chieftain’s Ford (Rathmaher). - On the boundary of Lachleigh in Kilbrin and Rathmaher in Castlemagner, about 20 chains S.E. of Rathmaher House. A ford so called from a chieftain of the Irish army, who was killed here on his retreat from the battle of Knocknanuss, by a man named “Samuells". Some of the latter’s offspring are still inhabitants convenient to this plant (Ord. Sur. Off`., Dub.).

The larger houses will be treated under separate articles.

Castle Cor is the post office in the parish of Kilbrin. In 1889 the population of the parish was 1,675.

Mr. Patrick Herlihy, National schoolmaster at Ballygrady, informs me that during the tithe war, circa 1830-38, the people of the Kilbrin district resisted more actively the attempts at the tithe collection than those of the surrounding districts, and a detachment of soldiers were stationed here until peace reigned again. They were under the command of Sir Hugh Gough, who subsequently distinguished himself in India. They were camped in a field adjoining the village, which,ever since, has been called the “camp field".

The old people claim that the ceremony of “burying the tithes” (compare the modern burning in effigy) begun at Kilbrin.

According to the Directory of Noted Places in Ireland, Robert Crofts, Esq., resided at Kilbrin in 1814 (p. 228).

Dr. George Bolster, R. N., J. P., adds:-

Mr. Robert Crofts resided at Clonribbon, Kilbrin. He was a younger son of Crofts of Velvetstown. He married a Miss Nash of Ballyheen (B.L. G.), and had issue one son and two daughters. The son was the late Dr. Crofts of Cork. The elder daughter married J. Purcel of Ballygrady, and Eliza, the younger, married Richard Bolster of Summerville, Mall (see Bolster Pedigree under Curraghbower).


1291. "Ecca de Kylbryn IImr. unde decia IIs. VIIId.” — “Capella Rogi Calin XXs. unde decia IIs.” (Tax P. Nic.) Brady, II. 245).

The Rectory and tithes of Kilbrine was granted to Sir John Jephson, Kt., 12th Dec., 10 James I. (P.R.O., Irld.).

The Rev. William Sheehan was P.P. in 1704 (see these "notes,” I. 139).

An abstract of the "state of Popery in the Diocese of Cloyne,” 6 Nov., 1731, shows Kilbrin, one new Mass-house, one Popish priest, with two Coadjutors, no Fryary, no Nunnery, no Popish School (“Journal" for 1893, p. 50).

Lewis (pub. 1837) gives: - In the R.C. Divisions this parish is the head of a union or district, which also comprises the parishes of Ballyclough, Drumdowney and Kilmaclenan; the principal chapel, at the cross of Kilbrin, is a large and handsome slated building of recent erection, lighted with pointed windows; there is also a chapel at Ballyclough. A school is supported by Major Freeman, who allows £20 per annum and a house and garden for the master, in this and in two private schools, about 70 children are educated (II. 56, under Kilbrin).

Mathew Horgan, writing in 1839, states: - “It was on the 12th June I happened to pass through the fine demesne of Castlecor, near which I passed by the old cemetery of Kilbrin, which was walled on the south side, and an earthen fence protected it on the north. There were a great many headstones with inscriptions facing the east, and some vestiges of the ancient building as yet existing, and, for the time it appeared to be built, was rather extensive, which was about the beginning of the 15th century. The walls were three and a half feet thick, and about ten feet high, but the ground was much raised about it from the long accumulation of earth and bones. One side door remains as yet perfect, the jambs are well carved, and the arch equilateral, protected or relieved by a counter one. The entire graveyard is overspread with wrought stones, probably taken from this ruin, so that it appeared to be long since a place of some note, and took its name from the founder, who was called O’Byrne.” (Joumal for 1897, p. 81).

Kilmaco Church. - The site of this church is on the Townland of Curraheen, about 250 yards south of Tubberkilmaco Holy Well.

The Field Book of 1840 records: - Kylerue Graveyard. - a Danish Fort lately made a graveyard for strangers.

Tubberkilmaco Holy Well, "well of the church of Mochua.” - A Holy Well in townland of Curraheen. A good ancient well with a few trees around it. It is said to cure many diseases.

The Kyle, "the church or burial place." - An ancient graveyard not used now. In townland of Ballyheen Middle (Ord. Sur. Off, Dub.).

I visited Kilbrin Graveyard in 1905, and the only remains of the old church that I could see was a masonry backing to a tombstone, bearing the following inscriptions-

Erected by Mary and Johanna O’Keeff`e of (?Keilluterah), in memory of their beloved husbands, Mich. O’Keeffe, who died Decr. 25, 1843, aged 61 yrs., and Coms. O’Keeffe, died May 17, 1836, aged 74 years, also Margt. O’Keeffe daughter to said Mary and Michl., dept. this life Jany. 15, 1827, aged 18 years.”

(There is some more writing underground.)

On an upright stone next to above I read: - “Here lies ye body of Darby Savage of Knockalohert, who dies Xber ye 26th, 1784, aged 30 years.”

This churchyard is still used as a burial place. It has apparently been enlarged. I again visited this graveyard in company of Mr. James Buckley (Chairman Irish Text Society) and Mr. Patrick Herlihy, National Schoolmaster of Ballygrady. We noticed a carved female head inserted in the wall to the right of the gate entrance to the graveyard. According to local tradition it was removed from a monastery in the vicinity. Rounds are paid here, and small stones are placed over the figure.

The following is the inscription on Dr. Rowland Kerby’s tombstone:-


"Here lies ye body of ye Revd. Doctr. Rowland Kerby, who departed this life the 8th day of April, 1764.

Aged 61 years.

I am informed that Dr. Kerby was a Franciscan Friar and came from Wexford. He was probably a tutor at the Freemans of Castle Cor. He is said to have converted one of the young Freemans to Roman Catholicism, who lived a daily life with the Friar, and although he long survived his priest-friend,tradition has it, that he was buried immediately behind the Doctor’s grave. Dr. Kerby’s tombstone faces the opposite way to the other tombstones, being a priest he faces his flock.

On a tombstone we deciphered:-

"Here lies the body of Danl. Sheehane of Clash, who deceased April ye 10th, 1726, who begs mercy of ye Almighty and intreats ye prayers of all good Christians. Also the body of his wife, Ioan Sheehan, deceased Aprl. ye 10th, 1730, aged 60 years. Dane Sheehan of Glouncomaune renewed and regifted his tomb and ground in memy of his ...ily, may their souls rest in peace. Amen. July ye 10th 1838.”

The following inscriptions on tombstones in Kilbrin graveyard were kindly copied for me by a friend in 1908:-

"The burying place of the family of ye Revd. Ty. Wm. Roche, July 17th, 1742.


The Rev. Mauc. Hallahan erects this stone over his burial place intending to rest amongst his people.

May he and They rest in eternal peace. Amen".

It seems he was Parish Priest of the Parish. Though he intended to be buried amongst his own flock, we know not for certain, that Kilbrin graveyard is the “place of his resurrection," a phrase the Irish saints were in the habit of using, with regard to the place of their death. The date of his death is not given, probably he expected that would be added after his demise.

Half a mile south of Kilbrin, in the townland of Currough, in farm of Daniel Nugent, J .P., was a white thorn tree which fell about 1887, Sceach na Graig is the name of the field. Mass was said in Penal times under this tree, and while it stood it was held in extreme veneration. No person passed it without touching his hat.

According to local tradition, the old burial place was at Ballyhast. In ancient times a man was conveying the remains of his child on a foggy morning to Ballyhast churchyard. He lost his way and deposited the corpse by mistake at Kilbrin, which was afterwards used as a burial ground.

Kilbrin Church was dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

In the townland of Knockballymartin is a field about 25 yards south of the road, which bears the name of "Martin’s field,” after a jester to the Freeman Family. According to tradition, a large rock in the field was thrown there by Finn Mac Coul from the Mushera Mountain, near Millstreet.

As previously mentioned, Kilbrin was joined to Ballyclough Parish, and information will be found garding the former parish under Ballyclough Parish (R.C.), Vol. I., p. 139, of these “Notes”.

Mr. James Byrne, J .P., Wallstown Castle, adds: - In the Catholic Church at Kilbrin, there are tablets to the memory of the Rev. Thaddeus Leader, P.P., and Father Scully, C.C. The latter took a leading part in the anti-tithe agitation.

Translated from Pipe Roll of Cloyne, by Caulfield’s Ed.

Commenced A.D. 1364. Referring to some Jurors-

These jurors say that David Myagh, son of Philip holds Kilbryne, Killoyne, and Kyllinery; which Kylbryne is held of HL the Bishop of Clone, by service of 40 pence yearly; and Thomas Kyrry holds Kylcornan from the same Bishop by service of 40 pence. And they say that Richard de Myd, senior, and his predecessors paid the said lord Bishop yearly out of Kylbryn 16 3 /4 pence.

P . 26 Kylbryne, which Richard son of Thomas de Med and Philip son of de Med, contains iiii. (xx.) iiii. acres and a half paying...“


Brady gives the following roll of clergy, etc., of Kilbrin Parish. He also gives their family history in most cases. I have omitted this.

1591. Dermicius Sehully (?Scully) is Vicar. Rectoria de Kilbrin spectat Prior Bothon (Buttevant).

1615. Peter Betesworth is Vicar and Emanuel Phaire is Curate. Vale. 4 Impropriator, Johes Jephson, miles.

1616. Patrick Coyne, V.

1693. Edward Sayers, 1694, Kilbrin, als. Roger Calvi, val.10 pounds.

1730. Peter Bunworth, A.M.

1735. William Lewis, A.M.

1742. Robert Brereton, A.M. 1762, Brereton, non—resident, yearly income, £200.

1764. Charles Bunworth, A.M.

1773. Thomas Hewitson. 1774, value £10O per an. Church in ruins. Pat. the Bp. Glebe, 4r. Plant. Proxy 9s. Taxed in the King’s books, £1 ster. John Longfield, Esq., Imp. 1782. Francis L Clement, A.M. In 1782, Aug. 9, Edward Syng appears to have been instituted to V. Kilbrin, but he probably resigned immediately, as in 1787, Aug. 30, Francis Clement is instituted to Kilbrin V. per cess. ejusden Clement and to V. Liscarroll, per cess. Of Jeremiah King. 1785, Protestant pop. of Kilbrin, 22; of Rogeri Calvi, o.

1789. Ap. 8. An order in Counsil changes the site of the parish church of Kilbrin.

1802. The new church of Kilbrin was consecrated.

1805. The old parish register begins. 13 protestant families in Kilbrin and Cooliney.

1809. Sackville Robert Hamilton.

1828. Nicholas Wrixon. The new parish register begins.

1834. Prot. pop. of Kilbrin, 53.

1837. Kilbrin union with cure consisting of Kilbrin and Liscarroll. Kilbrin vicarage, 4 and a half miles long, by three and a half broad. The union contains 18,300 a. Gross pop. 6,338. One curate employed at a stipend of £75 per an. Composition for the vicarial tithes of Kilbrin par., £420. 8a. or. 15 3/4 p. of glebe let for £10. No glebe house. One church, situated in Kilbrin parish, capable of accommodating 130 persons, built about the year 1790.

1860. N. Wrixon, V. William Stewart, Curate. Church in order. No glebe house. Incumbent resides at Ballygiblin, within half a mile of the parish, and the curate resides also within the same distance of the boundary. No school. Prot. pop., 45. Rent charge of Kilbrin, £315. (II., 245). Cole (pub. 1903) adds:- Kilbrin and Liscarroll. These parishes were united from remote times.

1869. Edward George Jones. The church pop. is about 30. There is no glebe house or land. Rev. E.G. Jones resigned and retired in 1899, and the parishes of Kilbrin and Liscarroll were then added to Castlemagner (p. 216). Rev. E.G. Jones resided at Cecilstown Lodge near the village of Cecilstown. His widow and family still live there. Cole gives the family history of the last Vicar.

In 1694, the Vicaria de Kilbrin als. Rogeri Calvi. formed one of the parishes of the union, consisting of Castlemagner, Ballyclough, Subolter, Kilmaclenyn, Roskeen, sitque ecclia de Castelmagner p’alis. In the Diocese of Cloyne (Brady, I., XXXVII.).

Townsend (pub. 1819) states that a new church was built at Kilbrin in 1794 (Addenda, p. 154).

Lewis (pub. 1837) gives: - The rectory is impropriate in Col. Longfield, and the vicarage forms part of the union of Liscarroll. The church, situated at Ballygrady, on the border of the parish, is a plain building with a square tower surmounted by a small spire; it was erected in 1788. There are no remains of the ancient church, but its extensive burial-ground is still used (II., 56, under Kilbrin).

The Field Book of 1840 states: - Ballygrady Church. Name of a small Protestant Church in the townland of Lougheel.

Kilbrin church. - The name of a Portestant Church in ruins, of which only a small portion of one of its walls now remain, and to which is attached a graveyard (Ord. Sur. Off, Dub.).

It appears by a pamphlet issued in 1879, that the Church of Kilbrin and its burial ground was vested in the Representative Body of the Church of Ireland. The Parochial Records, which consist of two volumes, are in the custody of the Rector of Castlemagner.

Baptisms, 1805 to 1875.

Marriages, 1805 to 1845.

Burials, 1805 to 1875.

(Corrected to 1st May, 1896 at P.R.O., Irld.)

There is an altar tomb in Kilbrin (or Ballygrady) churchyard belonging to the “Purcel Family of Altamira." It is the only one there.

The following tablets are in the church:-

"Erected by Edward Deane Freeman, Esq., to the memory of his affectionate brother, Lieut. Mathew Deane Freeman, late of Her Majesty’s 80th Regt., who died off the Cape of Good Hope, Augt. 13Th, 1846, from the effects of a wound received in action at Ferozebad, on the night of the 21st Deer., 1845. Aged 23 years. Also to his brother Richard Deane Freeman, R.N., who died on board H.M.S. Iris, 13th day of June, 1843. Aged 18 years. "

In memory of William Norton Barry, Esq. Born July 9th, 1814. Died January 23rd, 1871. This tablet is erected by his widow and son" (scriptural verses).

The church was repaired about 1900, at the expense of £20. The Communion Plate consists of a Chalice and Paten. The cup is of silver, and bears the following inscription, above which is a coat of arms, with a bishop’s mitre:- “Gulielmus Bennet, Episcopus Clonensis Ecclesiae de Kilbrin in usem mensae sacre D D D A.D. 1809.” The silver Paten bears the same inscription.

The coat of arms is probably those of the See of Cloyne, with those of the Family of Bennet, viz.: - on the dexter side, azure, between three crosses pateé, fitched at the foot, argent, a mitre of the second on the sinister side, gules, between three demi lions rampant, argent, a bezant. No motto. A mitre for crest.

In 1908, the Church Plate was in the custody of Mrs. O’Connor - a Protestant - living near the church of Kilbrin.

Extract from the "Pipe Roll of Cloyne”, Caulfield’s Edition:-

Qui jurati dicunt quod David Myagh filius Philippi tenet Kylbryne, Killoyne, et Kyllinery: quae Kylbryne tenetur de domino Episcopo Clone, per servitum Hd. per annum: et Thomas Kyrry tenet Kylcornan ab eodem Episcopo per servitium XLd.

Et dicunt quod Ricardus de Myd senior et antecessores sui solverunt dicto domino Episcopo annuatim de Kylbryn XVI.d. ob. quad (p. 16).

Kylbryne quam tenent Richardus filius Thomae de Med et Philippus filius Johannis de Med continet [III. (XX) IIII. acras terrae et dimidiam reddendo... (p. 26).

The Rectory of Kilbrin (with others) was granted to Sir John Jephson, Knt., Privy Councillor (Pat. 8, Jac. I. A.D. 1610).


Colonel James Grove White

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