NEWBRIDGE, PARISH OF – Comerford’s Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin

by mariocorrigan on April 27, 2007


THIS Parish comprises the parochial districts of Old Connall, Great Connall, Killishee, Carnalway, Ballymanny, Morristown-Biller, and some small portions of Pollardstown and Ladytown.


        This name is derived from Congbhail, “a habitation” Literally it signifies comprehending or including, and as applied to a habitation, would mean, the whole of the premises included in the establishment. (Joyce.) The earliest ecclesiastical reference we find made to this locality is in connection with St. Conlaeth, first Bishop of Kildare, who, previous to his appointment as founder of that See, dwelt here as a Recluse. (See Vol. I. p. 2.)  He is styled artificer to St. Brigid, and was a skilled worker in the precious metals.  This neighbourhood had been noted for this art even in Pagan times.  The annals of Ireland at the year A.M.3657, record, “It was by Tigearnmas that gold was first smelted in Ireland, in Foithre-Airther-Liffé;”which passage is thus given in the Annals of Clonmacnoise:- “Tigernmas was the first who caused standing cuppes to be made and refining gould and silver, and procured his goldsmith named Ugden, who dwelt near the Liffey, to make gould and silver pinnes,” &c.  Conlaeth relinquished his hermit’s cell at Old Connall on his consecration, which took place about the year 490. At Old Connall, – the Seanchonail of Dr. Geoghegan’s list,- the site of the old parochial church exists, and is now used as a burial-ground ; no portions of the old church remain, though the foundations may still be traced; some walls now standing are comparatively modern.  The following Epitaphs mark the graves of priests buried at Old Connall: – “This stone was erected by Thomas Staunton.  Here lyes ye Body of ye Rev. Thady Staunton, P.P. of Great Connall and V.G. of ye Dioces of Kildare, who departed this life ye 2nd of February, 1762, aged 69 years.”  “Here lyeth the Body of the Revd. Charles McDermott, P.P. of Connall, who departed this life the 22nd day of February, 1777, in the 48th year of his age.  Requiescat in pace.” The tradition is that this priest was drowned whilst attempting to cross the Liffey at Athgarvan, there being no bridge there at the time.  Two other priests named Daly and O’Shaughnessy, also are interred here; whether they were secular priests or Dominicans has not been ascertained.  A very extensive and remarkable Sepulchral Mound is to be seen hard-by; the name of the chieftain or hero, in whose honour it was raised, is not known. 



An Augustinian Priory was founded here in 1202, under the Invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. David, by Myler FitzHenry, whose father was natural son of King Henry I.  FitzHenry came to with the first Anglo-Norman adventurers, young and in high esteem for his personal bravery and warlike exploits.  He filled this House with Regular Canons from the Monastery of Lanthony in Monmouthshire, and, dying in the year 1220, was interred in the Chapter-house of this Priory with this epitaph, –

 “Conduntur tumulo Myleri nobilis ossa.

               Indomitus domitor totius gentis Hiberniae.” 

Of which the following very inelegant translation has been given:-

            “Intombed are the bones of him they Noble Meler call,

                  Who was the tamelesse tamer of the Irish nation all.” (Hanmer.)

A.D. 1203. Faelan MacFaelan, Lord of Hy Faelain, died in the Monastery of Connall. (Four Masters.)  The territory of Hy Faelain , as appears from the Irish Calendars and other documents, formerly include Naas, and the Churches of Clane, Laraghbrine, Donoughmore, Cloncurry, and Feighcullen.  It looks strange that the chief of Hy Faelain should die in this Monastery the year after its erection.  It is probable that, after being subdued, he consented to become a monk in the great Monastery erected in his territory by the English conqueror.  (O’Donovan)

A.D. 1205, September 10th.  King John confirms grant made by Meyler FitzHenry, in frankalmoign, to the abbey of Connall and to the Canons of Lanthony there, of the townlands of Tachenohea, Bithelan, Oluvartheda, Lisnerguith, Athcargr, Kellingan (Kildangan), Mullinkerly, and Baletarsna, with all their appurtenances; three carucates of land at Connall, viz-the moiety of Balibochel, which he had in exchange from Roger Gernun; and on the other side of the water, a carucate which Stephen Carpenter had possessed, with a carucate in the vale of Dublin; Kilpool, with its appurtenances, and eight mease (nets) of herring rent; five burgages in Dungarvan; four carucates at Karebri (Carbury?); at Atornorohor the town on Rathet, with five carucates; in Kerry, ten carucates; and the churches and ecclesiastical benefices of all his lands in Ireland, however procured; and whenever any of the said churches and benefices should become vacant, they were then to be converted to the use of the Prior and convent; the tithe of all his rent, whether paid in money or otherwise; the chapelry of his court, a tenth of the household expenditure of him or his wife, in bread, drink, kitchen and chamber; and a tenth of his rents, and of all perquisities of his lands; and a tenth of all his mills and fisheries, wool, flax, hay, gardens, yards, and increase of animals, etc., as is witnessed by the Charter of Meyler aforesaid.  Witnesses, John Archbishop of Dublin, William, Bishop of Glendalough, David, Bishop of Waterford, Godfrey Fitz-Peter, Earl of Essex, Earl Alberic, Saier de Quincy.  Bristol . (Charter, 7 John, No. 7. Cal. St. Papers, Sweetman I. No. 273.)  Meyler also built the church and town of Ardnorchur (now called Horselesp, Co. Westmeath. See Lewis’s Top. Dict.), and granted both to this priory after the decease of Eliderus le Waleys, who was to possess all profits and emoluments arising from the same during his life, he paying to the convent yearly- pounds of wax; the prior of this house did certainly enjoy the same till the 4th or 5th year of King Henry III., when Matilda de Lacy recovered by law the advowson of the Church of Ardnorchur. – (King, p. 224.)  1250, Sept. 1st.  As the King has doubts regarding the plaint before R. de Shardalawe and his associates, justices in Eyre in , between Matilda de Lacy, plaintiff, and the Prior of Connall, deforciant, touching the advowson of Ardnorchur, the King appoints to the parties a day before himself on the morrow of Michaelmas.  (Close R.Hen. III., St. Papers, Sweetman, Vol, I. No. 3082.)    

A.D. 1209.  Henry was Prior. (King, p. 170)

A.D. 1212. William, Prior of Connall, was witness to a grant made by Richard of Castlemartin, to the Church of the Holy Trinity, Dublin . (Reg. Christ’s Ch. Dub.)

A.D.  1220 William Mareschal granted a Charter to this Priory and died the same year. (King. P. 224.)

The Prior of this house had a prolonged dispute with Richard Fleming, Bishop of Leighlin, for sundry lands and tithes situated in Leix, belonging to that See.  The suit terminated in a compromise, by which the bishop resigned the lands and tithes to the prior, receiving, instead, an annual pension of 12 marks, payable to him and his successors in Leighlin.  This decision was made previous to 1226, as Bishop Fleming died in that year. – For Rectories, etc., in Leix, belonging to the priory of Great Collall, see Inquisition taken at Maryborough, 7 Sept., 1607, infra.

A.D.1250, April 12th. Mandate to John FitzGeoffrey, justiciary of , to allow the Prior of Connall and the other executors of the will of Geoffrey de Turville, late Bishop of Ossory, to have administration of his chattels, debts due to the King to be first levied thereout. (Pat. Roll, Sweetman, Vol. I., No. 3120.)

A.D.1252. Thomas, Prior of Connall was chosen by the Chapter, on the 22nd April, Bishop of Leighlin.  He died 25th April, 1275.

A.D. 1281. Roger de Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, and Philip le Bocland, his seneschal of the County of Carlow , did, about this time, distrain the Prior’s cattle at Caniho, viz.-77 sheep, amounting in value to 100 shillings, for not attending the suit and service of the said Earl.  The Prior defended himself, and made answer, that he owed no such suit or service, the said manor being granted to his priory by William, Earl of Pembroke, in free and pure alms. (King, p. 224.)

A.D. 1340.  William was Prior.  He sued Walter Christophre, in order to compel him to make up his accounts for such time as he had been bailiff to him in Ballycolryn, in the County of Kildare . ( Id. )

A.D. 1380.  This priory was included in the number of Religious housed into which, by the Act of Richard II., it was forbidden to admit any mere Irishmen to Profession.  In 1324, Dean Butler writes, Edward II. complained to the Pope that the Irish refused to admit Englishmen into their Monasteries, (Rymer, Vol. 2. p.554.)  And in 1337, Edward III. says, that his father had ordered that no Irishman should be admitted into any English Monastery, but had afterwards revoked the order, and he now orders that all loyal Irish be admitted in the same way as Englishmen,  (Rymer  2. 964).  In the famous Parliament of Kilkenny, in 1366, the exclusion of Irishmen from English Monasteries was again enacted; and in 1380 the following Writ was sent, inter alios to the Abbots of Baltinglass and Dowysk (Graignamanagh), and the Priors of Connall, etc., “that whereas, in a Parliament of Edward III., held in Kilkenny on the Thursday after Ash-Wednesday, in the 40th year of his reign, a Statute was made, which was confirmed in the last Parliament, held at Dublin, that no Irishman nor any enemy of the King should be admitted into any religious  house amongst the English within the land of Ireland, but that those of the English nation should be admitted; the King orders the aforesaid Statute to be observed in all particulars.  (Nov. 24., Rot. Cl. 4 Richd. II., 116.) 

A.D. 1395. A Patent Roll, 26th of May, 18th year of Richd. II., mentions Robert Greves as “Prior Beatae Mariae de Conale.”

A.D. 1406. This yeere the Prior of Connall, in the Plaine of Kildare, fought valiantly and vanquished 200 of the Irish that were well armed, slaying some of them and chasing others; and the Pryor had not with him but 20 Englishmen – and thus God assisteth those that put their trust in Him.” (Marleborough’s Chronicle.)

A.D. 1412. Richard, the Prior, died on the Monday next after the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, and on the Thursday following, Philip Stoyll was elected in his room, who continued Prior till the year 1418.  (King ; Ware,)

A.D. 1447. In the summer and autumn of this year there raged a great plague of which the prior of Connla died ….. Some say that 700 priests died of this plague.  (Four Masters.)  Duald Mac Firbis gives this passage thus:- “Greate ffamine in the spring of this yeare throughout all , so that men were then wont to eate all manner of herbs for the most part.  A great plague in summer, harvest, and winter, of which died the prior of Connla.

A.D. 1454. Nicholas was prior (See Address to Richard, Duke of York, from the chief persons in the county of Kildare ).

A.D. 1455. The king granted to the prior a power to acquire lands to the yearly value of £10; and the Parliament passed an Act empowering all those to whom such lands belonged, to alienate them to the Prior of Connall.  (King.)

A.D. 1458.  An enrolment of 36th year of the reign of Henry VI. (c.14), describes this priory as entirely wasted by the Irish enemy, and grants to the Prior the rectory and village of Morestown and Ladytown.

A.D.1461.  In a Patient Roll, dated 20th of May, 1st year of Edward IV., Nicholas, Prior of Connall, is named of the Privy Council:  “Rex constituit Nicholaum, Priorem domus B. Mariae de Connall, unum de Consilio Regis in Hibernia.”

A,D. 1476-7.  A decree of 15th and 16th of the same reign (c. 16), styles the priory of Connall, “one of the principal keys of the county of Kildare,” and sets forth that several grants of the late abbot to various of the Irishry had impoverished the priory; these, “considering the good, true heart of Esmond, the new Prior,” are accordingly made void, with the proviso that that act was “not to prejudice any man of the English nation.”

A.D. 1486.  Nicholas was Prior; he was amongst those who took part with Lambert Simnel.  He received the royal pardon for this in 1488.  (Ware,)

A.D.1519.  Walter Wellesley was prior about this time, when the king endeavoured unsuccessfully to have him promoted to the See of Limerick.  In 1520, he was recommended by the Earl of Surrey for the See of Cork, but the appointment did not take place.  In 1529, he was promoted to the See of Kildare, still retaining, by dispensation, his priory, which he continued to hold up to the period of his death.  He was, sometime Master of the Rolls.  In 1531, he paid 6s. 8d. proxies to the Archbishop of Dublin for the appropriate church of Bithel . (Harris’s Col.) The Act of Parliament of 1537, which confiscated the abbeys of the Pale, did not touch Connall.  The Prior, then Bishop, warded off the blow, by a petition which his chaplain delivered to the Duke of Norfolk, on the part of Stephens, one of the grooms of the king’s bed-chamber, praying that the Priory of Connall should not be suppressed, as it was united to the Bishopric of Kildare. (Han. Cal. i., 26.)  The Prior of this House ranked as a Spiritual Peer, but was seldom summoned.

On the receipt of the Order for suppressing all the monasteries and abbeys in Ireland, the Lord Deputy and Council petitioned the king to have a certain six houses, of which Connall was one, exempted-“For in these houses,” the petition sets forth, “commonly and other such like, in default of common inns, which are not in this island, the King’s Deputy and all other his Grace’s council and officers, also Irishmen and others resorting to the King’s Deputy in their quarters, are and have been most commonly lodged at the cost of the said Houses.  Also young men and children and others, male and female, both gentlemen’s children and others, are brought up in virtue and learning, and in the English tongue and behaviour, to the great charges of the said Houses.”  (State Papers, iii., p. 130.) (1)

            Dr. Wellesley died in 1539, and was buried in his own priory, where his monument is still partially preserved, being built into the wall which encloses the present  burial-ground.  It formed an altar-tomb, having the figure of a bishop, with mitre, pastoral-staff, etc., in low relief, and around the sides the following inscription in black-letter: “Hic jacet frater Walterus Wellesley, quondam Episcopus Darensis, hujus Domus Commendatarius, cujus animae propitietur Deus.  Qui obiit Anno Domini M.D. …..”  Other sculptured portions of this tomb have been also set in the same wall with a view to their preservation; they represent the Crucifixion with the B. Virgin and St. John on either side; the Ecce Homo; St. Peter bearing the keys; and a mitred ecclesiastic, probably St. Augustine .

             This House was surrendered by Robert Wesley, the last Prior, on the 23rd of April, 1541, “voluntarily and with the consent of the Community,” as the phrase ran.  When the surrender was voluntary, the Prior and Religious could make terms and get pensions.  If the surrender were forced, no terms would be given.  As a consequence of this manner of procedure, almost all the surrenders were voluntary.  The following yearly pensions were granted on this occasion to the Religious of this house: 40s. to Walter Blake, “late Parson of the Convent of Connall;” 40s. to Hugh Doyne; 26s.8d. to Philip Blake; 26s.8d. to Patrick Rocheford; 20s. to Patrick Newell; Patrick More; and 20s. to Nicholas Doyne; all issuing out of the church of Carbre ; and a yearly pension of £13.6s.8d. to Robert Welesley, issuing out of the churches of Ratherne, Killim, and Carbre.  (Patent Rolls, 31,32 Henry VIII.)

            Ormonde to Cromwell, Oct. 19th, 1539:-“The Bishop of Kildare having the Priory of Connall in commendam, is dead, for which Priory a kinsman of mine and an assured friend, Thomas Eustace of Kilcullen, maketh suit for a son of his.”  (State Papers.)

            This Priory, with all its possessions, was granted to Edward Randolph, and, in reversion, to Sir Edward Butler.  These possessions were very numerous and extended into different counties.  An inquisition taken at Nass, 24, Nov., 37th of Elizabeth, finds 2 gardens in Naas and 7 acres of land near le Mawdelens, otherwise called Magdalens, to be portions of the possession of the late religious house if Connall, in the County Kildare.  Another, made at Kilmainham, 20th Dec., 1606, sets forth that the late queen Elizabeth on the 20th of May, in the 10th year of her reign, granted to Edmond Butler, the site of the late monastery or house of the B.V.Mary of Connall, and all messuages, lands, etc., in Connall, Ballymone, Clonyngs, Lowiston, Old-Connall, Washeston, Oldtown, Kildaree, Rosberie, Skavelston, Moreton, Richardston, Ballisax, Kilcullen, Grangeclare, Robertston, Ardkill, and Collenston, in the County Kildare; the churches, rectories, chapels, and tithes of Rosebery, Skarleston, and Moreton, Richardston, Cornelscourt, Ratheines, Kimaige, Connal, Ladiston, Louthston, Harberteston, Dowdingston, Carnalway, Kildingan, Lackagh, Bala, Dubeston in parish of Kilhelam, Fecullen, Old-Connall, Barreston, Morceston Biler, Kilrine, and Carbery in the said County, and all dwellings, lands, tithes, etc., belonging to the said rectories, churches, or  chapels; the rectory or church of Ballymosghill, otherwise Ballymorkyer, with its lands, tithes, etc., within the County Meath; the rectory of Lesbome and all its appurtenances in the Co. Tipperary; the manor and possessions of Timocho otherwise called Farrin-prior, and all its appurtenances in the town and lands if Timocho, Rathardone, Ballineclew, Rathenbarrowe, Garriglass in Esker, Parkefoss, Iniverne, Balligormell, Inneskerelin, Makin, Mone, Clonememrock, Ballyeg, Ballyrogh, Rathyan, Garryglass, Gallintlew, Ballynesery, Ballycorrock, Ballyclere, Isker and barony of Corkippagh in Queen’s County; the churches, rectories, chapels, and tithes of Clonenagh, Clonehein, Galin, Clonehenny, Rioughvane, Burgess, Timocho, otherwise Timochoo, Corclone, Moyhenny, Diserteimis, Disertgallin, Clonedough, Killtill, Killcolmanbaine, Burrex, Clonehad, Clonekin, Stradbally, Ballitullon, Aghtobrett, Boghlone in said county and all their appurtenances, all which are parcell of the possessions of the said late monastery of Connall, to be held by the aforesaid Edmd. Butler from the termination of the previous demise to Edward Randolph for a term of 61 years, etc.

            It would appear that this Priory was first leased to Edward, or Gerald Sutton; in Randolph ’s lease, in 1551, it is stated that the Priory was then in lease to Edward Sutton. (Morrin, I., p 255.)   Randolph, who succeeded to the tenancy of the priory, applied for the fee-farm of the lands, but his application was unsuccessful.  In 1565 Sir Edmund Butler got the lease in reversion for 61 years, referred to above.  He sold all his rights to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the Rolls and one of Burghly’s creatures, and he, having surrendered them to the crown, got a re-grant of them, 22nd Elizab., to continue during his interest therein.  (Morrin, II., p. 28.)  A parcel of the possessions of this Priory was granted, 39th Elizab., to George Isham.  (Id. II., p. 411.)  In modern times it passed into the possession of Thomas Eyre Powell, in whose family it still continues.

            Another Inquisition, made at Maryborough, 7th Sept., 1607, records that “John Wesley, late prior of the priory of Connall in the Co. Kildare (was seized) of fee in right of said priory, of the rectory of Disertenes, and of all churches, tiethes etc., thereto belonging (which said rectory extendeth into two thirde partes of all the tiethes and alterages issueing out of the severall townes and lands of Disert, Gra (         ) Rahineduff, the old mille, Ballinegorbane, Rahineneuske, Loughticoge, Loughdruddnie, Munneygrave, and Coolekregh, and of the presentacion of a vicar to the church of Disertenes aforesaid; the rectorie of Kilteal (which said rectorie extendeth itselfe unto the two third partes of all the tiethes and altarages issueing out of the several towns and villages of Kilteale, Carricknaparke, Ballicarroll,)  and also of the presentacion of a vickar to the church of Kilteale; the rectorie of (          ) which said rectorie extendeth into the two third partes of (              )and of the presentacion of a vickar, etc., as above; the rectorie of Noughwall, alis Stradbally, together with all churches, etc., to the said rectorie belonginge, and of the presentacion of a vickar in and to the said church of (               ) to whiche vickare belongeth the other third parte of all the tiethes aforesaid ; and also of the rectory of Gallen alias Disert-gallen, together with all churches to the said rectory belonging (which said rectory extendeth into the two third partes of all the tiethes, etc., issuinge out of the severall townes of Ballanekilly, Kilcronan, Kilnashane, Ralishe, Clogheoge, Killrush, Ballahancarr, Castlemoat,  Grage, Athanacrosse, Gragnahone, Gragnasmuttan, Moyarde, Knockorocroughan, Doghill, Bouleybegg, Leaseoconnan, Bonlanabane and Ballanageragh, together with all other the hamlets to the same belonginge; and also of the presentacion of a vickar to the church of Gallen, alias Disert-gallen aforesaid, to which vickar belongeth the other third parte of all the tiethes aforesaid and ther belongeth to the rectory of Gallen aforesaid 5 great ackers of land, whereof the vickar hath a third party; the rectory of Aghatobret, together with all churches, chappells, etc., to the same belonging, and of the presentacion of a vickar to the  church of Aghatobret, to whome belongeth the third parte of all the tiethes of the said parsonage; the rectory of Clonkine together with  all churches, chappells, etc., to the same belonging, and also the presentacion of a vickare to the church of Clonkine, to whom belongeth the third parte of all the tiethes of the said  parsonage; the rectory of Ballycullane, together with all churches, chappells, etc., to the same belonging, and also the presentacion of a vickar to the church of Ballycullane, to whom belongeth the third part of the tiethes of the said parsonage; the rectory of Kilcolmanbane, together with all churches, chapels, etc., to the same belonging, and alseo the presentacion of a vickar to the church of Kilcolmanbane aforesaid, to whom belongeth the third parte of the tiethes of the said parsonage ; all of which severall recories above written, were appropriate to the prior and convent of the said Priory of Connall.”

On Wednesday next after the feast of St. Catherine V., 5TH of Edwd. VI., the prior of Connall was found seized of the following lands in Queen’s County:-

In Tymeguo, alias Tymecho,, 30 past., an. Val. Besides reprises, 26s.8d.
In Ballenecloe,                       35””      10                 “               “       “         “ 30s.
In Balleyntley,                        30 ””     20                  “              “       “         “ 30s.
In Raynebarron,                     55 ””     10                 “               “       “         “ 40s.
In Garyglasse & Eskreparke, 70 ””      20                “               “       “         “  40s.
In Fosse,                               20 ””      10                “               “       “        “   10s.
In Ballinefere                         60 ””      20                “                “      “        “    40s.
In Ballehawke,                      60 ””      10                “                   “     “        “ 40s.
In Biellaclarara,
alias Bealaclare,                    95 ““      40                “                 “     “        53s.4d.
In Kryvorgan (Cremorgan? 120 ““      20                “                         “             £5.
InYnnonie,                          100 “ “     20                “              “      “       £3 6s.8d.
In Ballygormello,                   40 ““      20                “              “      “               30s.
In Yniskir Clynemekeno, alias Iskir Cleynykede, 40 arable, 10 pasture,            30s.

            And the following rectories in this county were appropriated to the Prior: Clonenagh, annals value £44; Tymocho, £30; Moyanna, £13 6s.8d; Dysert Enos, £35; Galyn, £30; Clonhere, alias Clonehene, £28; Riwoghvane, alias Nowghevale, (Stradbally) with the chapel of Corclave, alias Corclose, (Coreclone?)£20; Cloneykn, £9; Kilcolmanbane, £20; Burges, alias Burres, £10;and Kiltele, £5. (Chief Rem.)

            Inquisition, 27th Queen Elizabeth, finds, that the prior had an annual rent of 10s. arising from the lands and tenements which were held in fee by Edmond Goulding, late of Harberteston, viz., a castle, 6 messuages, 6 gardens, 120 acres of arable land, 4 of meadow, 100 of pasture and moor, and a great warren in Herberteston annual value, £8; also 60 acres of arable land in Knocksellet, annual value, 60s.; 7 gardens in Dowdingeston, annual value,3s.6d.; and an annual chief rent of 2s. out of the ancient town of Killussie, all held from the crown.  (Chief Rem.) 
            Inquitition, 3rd July, 32 Elizab., finds, that 2 acres of land, of the great measure (i.e.,30 of small measure) in this county, called Ballydabegg, annual value, 4s., were parcel of the possessions of this priory.  (Id.) 
            Little Morrestown in this County (Kildare) containing 12 acres, of the yearly value of 2s. Irish money, parcel of possessions of this abbey, were found, 14th Nov., 19th Elizab., to have been concealed. (Id) 
            Grant from the King James I., May 18th , 1603, to John Simberbe, or St. Barbe, Gent., of the rectory of Cloydagh in the Dollough, extending into the towns, etc., of Cloughrenan, Ballinabrenagh, Ballytrolly, Garranore, Ballybrin, Stradnefusboke, Clogheristick, and Cloughna, in the County of Carlow;  being parcel of the possessions of the priory of the B.V.Mary of Connall, Kildare County ; rent, £4 6s.8d., Irish.  To hold for 21years (with other grants) in consideration of his good and faithful service.
            Archdall, writing in 1787, thus describes the state of the ruins: -“The priory is now so much gone to decay, that scarcely any description can be given of its ruins; one part, supposed to be the nave and choir, but between which no distinct separation can be made, measures about two hundred feet in length, by twenty five; two Gothic windows have alone resisted the ravages of time; there are some pillars with curious capitals, and a few remains of stalls.  On an adjoining hill is a small square house with pediment fronts, seemingly a turret belonging to this priory.”  Nearly the entire of the ruins thus described, were thrown down and the materials used in the erection of the military barracks at Newbridge, at the commencement of the century.  The castle of the Sarsfields, which stood at Roseberry, in this parish, was also demolished on the same occasion.  A Holy Well in an adjoining field bears the name of St. Augustine’s Well, which name it derives, probably not from the patrician Saint so called, but from the Great Doctor, and Bishop of Hippo, to whom the Fathers who occupied this monastery trace their origin.
             Father A. Geoghegan, who figured so conspicuously in the affairs of the Catholic Confederation, in the years 1651-2, received the titles of Prior of Connall and Prothonotary Apostolic, and, subsequently, Vicar-General of Meath.  He is referred to in the Aphorismical Discovery, Vol III., p.138, and in Mr. Gilbert’s Preface to the same.  He had made his studies, and subsequently taught with great credit at the Sorbonne, and late in 1650, was selected, on the recommendation of Rinuccini and Massari, by the Congregation de Propaganda Fide to represent them in Ireland, and furnished with instructions from Rome, to be imparted solely to the Irish bishops.  He was also directed to keep the members of the Congregation informed on the state of affairs in Ireland.  Clanricarde, we are told by the Aphorismical writer, publicly declared Geoghegan guilty of treason, and desired the Archbishop of Tuam to degrade him.  The proceedings were, however, abandoned as, on investigation, the Archbishop was convinced of his innocence.
            At the Religeen, the old church site and burial-ground in which the Protestant church now stands, is to be seen a recumbent effigy of a bishop with mitre, pastoral staff, etc.  It bears no inscription, nor does there appear to be any tradition as to the prelate whose tomb it adorned.  If a guess may be ventured, perhaps it marked the resting-place of Thomas, Bishop of Leighlin, 1252-75, who, having been, before his elevation, Prior of Connall, may, like his successor, Dr. Wellesley, have been buried with his brethren.  The effigy does not occupy its original position, which, probably, was in the church of the priory.  The side of the present tomb bears a floriated cross, and evidently was a distinct monument.


            This place takes its name from St. Patrick’s nephew, Saint Auxilus, and was called Cill-Auxille, or Church of Auxilius; this was softened into Ceal-ussi, thence into Killossy, and finally into Killashee.  St Auxilius, son of Restitutus the Lombard, and Liemania, sister of St. Patrick, was with St. Patrick at Ebmoria, or Ivrea, in Lomardy, when Augustine and Benedict came there on their way to Rome with the intelligence of the death of Palladius in North Britain, and of his want of success in Ireland.  St. Patrick went to a chief Bishop, Amator, in the same locality, a man of great sanctity.  By him Patrick was consecrated   Bishop and Auxilius ordained priest.  (Book of Armagh, fol. 2, a, b.) The Trias Thaum. states that this consecration and ordination took place in presence of the Emperor Theodosius and Pope Celestine.  On the occasion of the conversion of Dulang, King of North Leinster, Auxilius was consecrated Bishop, and placed over a church near Naas, called from him Cill Ausaille, Ecclesia Auxilii in Magh Liffé.  Ussher (Vol. XI. ,p.384) has the following:   “Et ordinavit (Patricius) ibi unum de descipulis ejus nomine Auxilium, virum sanctum et pium, Episcopum;  et dimisit eum in Provincia Lageniensium.  Qui Auxilius, post multa miracula in sui civitate, quae dicitur Ceallusali, in planitie Lageniensium, sanctam finivit vitam suam.”  The Four Masters record that, “A.D.454, St. Usaille, Bishop of Cell-Usaille in Liffe, (died) on the 27th of August;” whilst the Annals of Ulster assign the year 460 as the date of his death, in which Dr O’Donovan holds they are correct.  The day on which the feast of this Saint was celebrated is also uncertain; the above passage places it at August 27th, with which the entry in the Martyrology of Donegal agrees: “27th August, Usaille, son of Ua Baird, Bishop of Cill-Usaille, in Leinster;” whilst the Mart. Tallaght has two entries- “March 19th, Auxilinus,” and “Sept. 16th, Auxilus,” both of which are supposed to refer to this Saint.  There are extant Acts of a Synod celebrated by SS. Patrick, Auxilius, and Isserninus, concerning which, see O’Curry, Lecture XVIII.;  Dr. Moran’s Dissertations on early Irish Church, p.120; Lanigan, Vol. I., p. 331.
            A.D. 827.  Maeldobharchon, Abbot of Cill-Uasaille, died. (Four Masters.)
            A.D. 870. Loingseach, son of Faeillen, Abbot of Cill-Ausaille, died (Id.)
            A.D. 1035. Cill-Usaille and Claenedh were plundered by the foreigners; but the son of Donnchadh, son of Domhnall, overtook them and made a bloody slaughter of them. (Id.)
            A Round Tower, arising from a square base, to which a chancel and transept were attached, still stands at Killossy.  It probably does not date back further than the 12th century.  A view of it is given in Grose, Vol.II., Pl. 27.  Ledwich, in the letter-press, remarks: “There is a castle and house at Kilussy; the latter the seat of Robert Graydon, Esq. The castle is a square battlemented tower, of great strength, and is fitted up and used as offices for servants.  Directly behind the house, on a rising ground, is Kilussy church; there are a number of caves contiguous, a strong proof of the antiquity of the fabric.”  The writer of a Paper in Transactions R.I.A., anno 1787, states that this castle was erected by Maurice FitzGerald, temp.  Henry II. On the west end of the church, under a rising ground, are a number of subterraneous caves, artificial, with pediment roofs, and communicating with each other.  One of them, near the church, had sides composed of stone and covered with flat stones, in which were found part of a quern and bones of fowls.  These caves were the granaries of the ancient inhabitants, in which they deposited their corn and provisions, and into which they retreated in times of danger.  Those at Kilossy seem to have belonged to the ancient monastery, and are within its enclosure.  A well, hard-by, is reputed holy, and bears the name of Saint Patrick’s well.
            Amongst the persons of note in the county of Kildare at the close of the sixteenth century, is Belling of Kilussy. (Carew Calendar.)


            The present Protestant church is supposed to occupy the site of the former parochial church.  The writer is unable to say if there be any traces of the old edifice still remaining, or any noteworthy monument in the graveyard, as, though accompanied by the Parish Priest, he was discourteously refused admittance by the official in charge.


            This was formerly a Parliamentary Borough.  It was for many years the site of a strong castle, portions of which still remain.  It was the residence of the family of Eustace, who took from it the title of Baron.  It was captured by Hewson, in 1650.  The estate of Harristown descended to Mr. Chetwode, the maternal grandson of Sir Maurice Eustace, Speaker of the House of Commons in the reign of Charles I., and was sold by him to the 1st Duke of Leinster, and again sold, by the 2nd Duke, to John Latouche, the ancestor of the present proprietor.  Near the village is one of those taper, upright stones with conical heads, supposed to have been connected with Druidical rites.  Harristown was incorporated by Charter, 23rd Charles II. The Borough limits comprehended 100 acres, and its Corporation was supposed to consist of a sovereign, burgesses, and Freemen of Harristown, and John Latouche, Esq,” were awarded £15,000 compensation for disfranchisement, the whole of which – the Corporation being a myth – was received by Mr. Latouche.


             The site of this parochial Church – marked as Ballymoristanvillar, in Dr. MacGeoghegan’s list – is occupied by a graveyard, still in use; but of the church there is hardly a trace.  Two ancient stone vessels remain, one of which was a baptismal font, the other being probably a sacrarium.


            “Capella de Ballemanny.”  There is absolutely nothing to be recorded of this parochial district; even the site of the church which must have formerly stood here, cannot be identified.


             This is noted in Dr.MacGeoghegan’s list, as the site of a parochial church (Vol.I., p.258).  At the present time only a few feet of one of the side walls remain, in a burial-ground still in use.  Father Shearman (Loca Patr. Gen. Tab. 10p.180) surmises that the name of this place may be derived from St. Garbhan (Ath- Garbhan, i.e., “the Ford of Garbhan”), nephew of St. Finnan of Clonard, and kinsman of St. Kevin of Glendalough.  This Saint, whose feast was assigned to May 14th, was identified also with Clonshambo, as already stated in Paper on Kilcock.  A small fort in ruins stands at Walshestown, regarding which nothing appears to be known.
            At Swordllestown, in this parish, there is a disused graveyard called “the Religeen.”


            (i.e.  “the church of the round hillock”) in Lewistown, was the site of an ancient church, of small dimensions; of this there are now no traces, though up to recent times the foundations are said to have been in existence.


            The walls of a small church are found here, presenting no features calling for description.  A great tree has grown up within the walls, and has done much havoc to them.  There appears to be no history attached to the place.


            DR. LEVEROUS was Pastor of Connall prior to his consecration and was permitted to retain that Benefice,  (See Consistorial Act, Vol. I.p.24.)

            JAMES EUSTACE appears in the Registry of 1704, as residing at Old Connall, aged 50, ordained at Dublin by Dr. Forstall, in 1681, P.P. of Connall, Killeshey, Ladystown, and Morristown-Biller; his securities were Maurice Eustace of Lipstown, Gent., and Phelim Fox of Newtown, Gent.

             THADY STAUNTON, V.G. is the next P.P. on record; according to the inscription which marks his grave at Old Connall, he died on the 2nd of February, 1762, aged 69.

            CHARLES MCDERMOT succeeded; he was drowned at the ford at Athgarvan, when returning from attending a dying person, on the 22nd of February, 1777, in the 48th year of his age. 

            The name of the priest who discharged the duties of Pastor during the succeeding seven years has not been ascertained; probably it was one of the two priests, Daly and Shaughnessy, said to be interred at Old Connall, or it may have been that the Dominican Fathers, then resident at Newbridge, had the temporary charge of the parish.

            NICHOLAS FLOOD was appointed PP. in 1786, he lies interred at Great Connall, where the following inscription appears on his tomb;-“Sacred to the memory of Nicholas Flood, Parish Priest of Newbridge for 33 years.  He closed a  life of good works, respected and beloved by all his parishioners.  Died, the 28th of May, 1817, aged 68 years.  May he rest in peace.”

            THOMAS NOLAN succeeded, and governed the parish for 20 years, dying in 1837.  An effort was made by Mr. More O’Ferrall to obtain the appointment for his friend, the Rev. Eugene O’Reilly.  The following is the reply of the Bishop, Dr. Nolan, to Dr. Flanagan, V.G., the P.P. of BalynA, in reference to the subject:-“June 16th, 1837.  My dear Mr. Flanagan,…..I feel much indebted to Mr. O’Farrell for the delicacy which prevented him from making an application to me which would necessarily be the occasion to me of no small embarrassment.  It is the source of sincere pleasure to me to find the merits of Mr. O’Reilly so highly and so justly appreciated by such a man as Mr. O’Ferrall.  There is certainly no lay gentleman of my acquaintance whose opinions on every subject I so much respect, or to whose suggestion I would so willingly attend as Mr. O’Ferrall, and were it compatible with the principles by which I hope to be ever directed in the discharge of my official duties (particularly a duty of the important nature of the one referred to) to allow myself to be actuated by personal influence, there would be no personal motive more powerful with me than his recommendation.  You know, however, that in making an appointment to a Parish, I must set aside all such motives, and that I never can pay a compliment to mortal in such a case.  I have to take into consideration the claims, merits, and services of others besides Mr. O’Reilly, and to attend to the general interests of Religion and the Diocese in the arrangement soon to be made.  There was no necessity of reminding me of Mr. O’Reilly’s merits, I could not overlook them, and if he shall be preferred to others on this occasion, it will be on account of the pre-eminence of his own deserts, or an account of the general good.  I do not intend to make any appointment for Newbridge until after the Retreat, when I shall have more leisure to make the necessary inquiries and to consider what may be most just to the aspirants, and most conducive to the interests of the Parish and to the government of the diocese…..I remain, my dear Sir, very truly yours,
                                                                                                                E. Nolan.

            The charge of the Parish of Newbridge was assigned, not to Father O’Reilly, but to
REV. TIMOTHY KAVANAGH, who was translated  thither from St. Mullin’s, and in less than four months from the date of the foregoing edifying letter, the good Bishop had gone to the reward of the just and faithful Pastor.  Father Kavanagh died 25th September, 1872.  Owing to delicacy and the infirmities incident to old age, he resigned the charge of the parish two years previously, when, in compliance with his earnest wish, his former curate, the

            REV. MARTIN NOWLAN was appointed, and still, happily, presides over the parish.  Father Kavanagh was interred in the church of St. Conlieth, which was built during his incumbency, and the following epitaph appears on an elegant mural tablet erected to his memory: -“ Beneath are deposited the mortal remains of Rev. Timothy Kavanagh.  Died, 25th Sept., 1872.  For thirty-five years P.P. of Newbridge, where his memory is endeared to his flock, to whose welfare he was ever devoted. –  May he rest in peace.”  

(1) Other and higher motives than the above could have been justly urged against the suppression of the Religious Houses.  These are well set forth by D’Alton in his Memoirs of the Archbishops of Dublin, p. 185, et seq.

{compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; edited by Niamh McCabe; typed by Maria and Breid]

A history and description of Newbridge Roman Catholic Parish by Rev. Comerford.

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