A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR PARISH
Parish of Ballycallan, Diocese of Ossory
This parish is situated west of Kilkenny and extends from the Two-Mile Bridge on the Kilcreene road to within one mile of Callan. It consists of a union of the ancient parishes of Ballycallan, Kilmanagh, and Killaloe. Its greatest length is about nine miles, and it is said to resemble a figure of 8. It is bounded by the following parishes in this and the adjoining Diocese of Cashel, namely – St. Patrick’s, St. Canice’s, Ballinamara, or Freshford, Tullaroan, Ballingarry, Callan and Danesfort. The Parish of Mullinahone comes within a few perches of it, but does not join it. The Munster river divides it from the Parish of Ballingarry for about two-and-a-half miles of its length.
There are three Catholic churches in the parish: - Ballycallan, Kilmanagh, and Killaloe; five graveyards, or cemeteries: - Ballycallan, St. Michael’s Church, Kyle, Kilmanagh, and Killaloe. There are also a modern Protestant church in Kilmanagh dedicated to St. Aiden.
Ballycallan The extent and boundaries of the townland of Ballycallan are much disputed. On the Ordinance Survey of 1841 there appears a townland of that name which contains the graveyard and adjacent grounds. It is stated by some that the place called Balevan or Belevan, near Ballyfrunk was the site of the principal hamlet of Ballycallan. This would appear to receive some confirmation from the circumstance that in an inquisition made at Thomastown on the 4th June 1623, it is stated that John Grace of Courtstown held the townland of Dowrath from the Count of Desmond as of his manor of Ballycallan. Desmond’s manorial residence must have been the most important locality in Ballycallan. But, after the Cromwellian settlement, when the Evans supplanted the Desmonds, the mansion-place of the latter became the Balevan or town of the Evans, just as the name Clonmoran was changed into Castleblunden, after that property had been conferred on the first member of the Blunden family at the same period.
Saint Bridget, or Brigid of Kildare is the patroness of the Parish of Ballycallan. Her festival is observed on the 1st of February. St. Bridget's Church is located at Gorteen and was built in famine times 1847/48 by the peopel of the parish. It is a fine and handsome church, able to accommodate 300 people. It is in use today for Masses and other sacraments.
Kilmanagh forms a portion of the present parish of Ballycallan. The word Kilmanagh is derived from two Irish words namely: - “cill”, a church, and “manach”, monks, and signifies “the church of the monks”. It was thus called from a great monastery which formally flourished in this place.
There are two patron saints - St. Edan or Enda, whose feast is assigned to the 31st of December, and St. Natalis or Naal, in Irish Nailé (Nawley). His festival is set down in the Martyrology of Tallaght on the 31st of July. A pattern of blessing graves in St. Aidan's Cemetery takes place on, or around this date.
St. Edan's Church was built in 1793 and was a quaint country church, popular for devotions in the parish. It was extensively renovated in 1915. With the arrival of the present church, built in 1973, St. Edan's was razed to the ground, a sad end for such a fine church. The only item to remain from the old church are two stained glass windows fitted into the southern wall of the present Kilmanagh church.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace is the title of the present church in Kilmanagh. Built in 1973, it is circular-shaped and built to accommodate the the 'new' liturgy of the Mass introduced by Vatican 2. It is centrally located in the village of Kilmanagh and is used today for Mass and other devotions. You can see a picture of this, and the other churches in our gallery page.
Killaloe The word Killaloe, in Irish Kill-da-lua, signifies the cell or church of Lua, the patron saint. He is called Molua by the people of the locality and by the Irish generally. The syllable mo (my) is often prefixed to the names of Irish saints as a term of endearment or reverence, so that Molua means ‘my Lua.’
The present handsome and commodious church was built in the year 1859, on the site of its venerable predecessor. The foundation stone was laid on the 1st of August in that year, and so quickly was the church erected, that Mass was offered up in it on the following Christmas Day. The sanctuary was decorated during the administration of the Rev. J. Purcell, P.P. and on Sunday, 4th of August 1872.
(Extracts of the above taken from Fr. James Holahan's book, published in 1875 and republished in 2020)