Extracts from SCOIL MHUIRE ANSEO Glenroe NS

With the kind permission of the author
Nioclas O' Duinnin


The parish of Glenroe/Ballyorgan is at the most southerly point of the Diocese of Limerick.  In the south west of the parish, Ahaphuca Bridge is the dividing line between the Dioceses of Limerick (Glenrue); Cloyne (the parish of Kildorrery) and Cashel & Emly (Ballylanders).  The parish is in the barony of Coshlea (Cois Slaibhe- i.e. near themountains- the Galtees & Ballyhoura).

The old name for the parish was Darragh Mochua. It is mentioned as such in 1201 in the Black Book oF Limerick. In 1418 it is called Darmocho in the Calendar of Patent Rolls of Ireland. In 1506 in Inquisition papers it is referred to as Daramacha. It is mentioned as Dermacow in a 1615 commission report into the state of the Protestant Church in Ireland when a Samuel Powe was stated to be the resident vicar of Dermacow.

The parish today includes the parish of Kilflyn, which is known today as Ballyorgan.  According to Begley, the old parish of Darragh included Farrihy, Kildorrery andMullahy. All three of these named places are in the county of Cork and in the present Diocese of Cloyne.

The inclusion of Kildorrery and Farrihy, which are in the Diocese of Cloyne, in the former parish of Darragh, has very ancient historical reasons.  Briefly, when Ireland became a Christian country in the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the early Irish church was organized on monastic rather than on episcopal grounds.  An abbot controlled his monastic territory and it was monks in local monasteries that looked after the needs of the people.  The continental episcopal system of bishops in charge of dioceses with the people being served by priests in parishes was very slow to take root in Ireland.
Rome however wanted the organization of the Celtic church to change in Ireland to the continental system.  The episcopal system was an effective way of administratively keeping the Celtic church in Ireland under papal authority. A synod was called to create the new dioceses. The official division of Ireland into dioceses at the Synod of Rathbreassil in 1111 AD resulted in St Molaige's former monastic lands being split up.  Darragh up to then had been part of the large territory under the influence of the 7th century saint St.Molaige.

Ruins of church at Darragh


St. Molaige's territories included Kildorrery, Farrihy and Mullahy.  Now Darragh was removed from its former associated areas and place in the newly created Diocese of Limerick.
Most of the rest of St. Molaige's monastic lands lay in the Dioceses of Cloyne today as a result of the boundary changes in the 12th century.  The old Celtic monastic church style church, ruled by an abbot, was replaced by a new diocesan system where the faithful were placed under the rule of a bishop.  This change was to bring the Irish Celtic church into line with the mainland continental church. The new diocesan boundaries often paid scant regard for the former Celtic monastic divisions.  In fact the reorganizing was designed to wipe away the old Celtic monastic system.  Darragh suffered as a result and was cut off from its former associated territories and placed in the Diocese of Limerick as stated and that is where it remains to this day.  Darragh had its own little monastery founded by St Mochua, hence the original name of Darragh Mochua or in Irish Dairtheach Mochua-meaning the wooden oak house of St Mochua. 

Obviously St Mochua'S little monastic foundation was made from oak timbers which have since rotted away leaving no trace unlike the more lasting stone structure left at the superior foundation of St.Molagga nearby.  St Mochua's foundation at Darragh was a daughter house (or satellite) of St Molaige's. Celtic monastic foundations were very small at that time and were deliberately kept that way.  Once the number of monks allowed in a monastic settlement was exceeded a new foundation was authorized and the surplus numbers set up the new foundation elsewhere thereby spreading that monastery's influence out to cover a wider area.
During the Golden Age of Irish monasticism people from the surrounding areas were educated in the schools and scriptoria of these local monasteries.  The people of our area had access to many local monasteries such as StMolaige's and St.Mochua's up until Norman times when new monastic orders were introduced which gradually eliminated the old Celtic and Gaelic type foundations of St Molaige and St Mochua.
In our area the new orders established a footing when they took the Abbey situated in the townland of the same name, replacing an early Celtic monastic foundation in the same location. That original Celtic monastery was founded in the 7th or 8th century, shortly after St. Molaige's time. It was again based on the Gaelic type of monastery so despised by the Normans after their arrival in 1169. The Normans soon replaced the early Celtic monastery at Abbey with a new foreign type monastery or abbey. The new monastery was termed thereafter as Mainistir na nGall (the abbey of the foreigners) by the local Irish and that's the name for Abbey in Irish to this day. In the 1660s we find it mentioned as Abbeyballinegawle. The new continental type monasteries, introduced by the Normans, were mainly run by such orders as the Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans and Augustinians.


At Abbey the conquering Roches gave the Celtic monastic site to the Dominican order in the 14th century.  However as the Normans became as Gaelic as the Gaels themselves so too did the rural monasteries and gradually the Gaelic Irish flocked to them for spiritual sustenance. The Dominicans remained there for nearly 300 years at Abbey. It was suppressed during the Reformation in the mid 1500s.

The last prior was Donough Dorg in in 1558. Over the years the Abbey became a centre of devotion and people used to travel from miles around to come to mass at the Abbey. The people of Darragh-Glenrue benefited greatly from this monastery in the middle ages and not alone was it to serve as their parish church but the Breithre Dubha (Black Friars as they were called because of their black dress) served the local community by providing educational facilities to those who sought it. It was there that Glenrue children were educated right through the middle ages until its suppression in the mid 1500s.  For a period in 1551/2 the Abbey was taken over by the Carmelites or White Friars who tried to defy Henry 8th suppression orders. However their reign was very short lived as Peyton in 1586 refers to the total destruction of Abbey when he wrote: The residence of the Braherduff, alias the Black Friars in Ballinegaul.the town and lands of Ballinegaul and the said house of fryers doe all lie in waste.

Abbey Graveyard ivy covered with ruins of monastery in background

Penal Laws Period

After that Catholic education was suppressed as the Penal Era was ushered in.  Darragh- Glenrue was not to emerge from under that cloud of oppression until Emancipation in 1829 when finally the cloud was blown away and Catholics were allowed to be educated openly again.  During that 300 year period (1536-1829) any education provided to Catholics was through attendance at hedge schools.

After the Battle of the Boyne and the Treaty of Limerick, a whole  new series of laws were passed against the Catholic clergy. The first of these was the Banishmen tAct of King William 3rd in 1697, in which it was decreed that all popish archbishops, bishops, vicars-general, deans, Jesuits, monks friars and other popish clergy and all papists exercising ecclesiastical authority, should depart from this kingdom before the 1st of May 1698.  This law had an underlying political motive.  The Penal Laws were officially termed Laws in Ireland for the Suppression of Popery.

Fr. Darby Buckley appointment
The `Freeman's Journal, 1824


The Government kept tabs on the diocesan clergy by the RegistrationAct of 1704 in the reign of QueenAnne. Under this Act, every popish priest in the country on the 24th of June 1704 had to be registered with the government.  He also had to find two securities of 50 each that he would be of good behaviour, and that he would not leave the county in which he was registered. No parish priest was allowed to have a curate, and registration was compulsory under pain of banishment. Under this act 1089 priests in Ireland were registered. So it was at that time that we again find records for Darragh-Glenrue coming to light again. Before that it was total darkness since poor old Fr Donough Dog in in 1558 in Abbey.  Fr David Fyne PP was registered in 1704 for Darragh-Glenrue. Fr. David was registered for Darragh's traditional associated parishes as well, namely: Farrihy, Kildorrery and Mullahy.  He was ordained in 1676 at Bazas, France, by the Bishop of the place.  He resided at Kilcroughebeg (Kilcruaig Beg), near the bounds of Co. Cork. Just like we have still today Darragh Mor and Darragh Beag, likewise in the old days Kilcruig was divided in to sections as well.Many other such placenames have disappeared with the passage of time and decline in population.

However, the barn chapel used in Darragh, in the late 1700s and early 1800s, to celebrate mass was not in the church ruin that exists today in the cemetery, but was in fact another barn chapel situated nearby locally known as Victory Hall, just up the side road past Daly's Pub today and which belonged to theWalsh family up until recently.  Even when the new church was built in Glenrue in the 1830s, the priests residential house remained below in Darragh near the old church site at Victory Hall. Rev. Darby Buckleys (1824-65) resided down at Victory Hall. It became residence later of the Walsh family of Ballinacourty.

Completion of Glenroe
 church  announced
in the Freeman's Journal


Subsequently, the parish priests of Glenrue resided at Darraghmore House following the departure of the Bevan family in the mid 1800メs.  Members of that family were both soldiers and engineers. The family was originally employed as bridge construction engineers around the Oliver estate. The real home of the Bevan is in Camus near Bruff.  The Lee family of Ballyshane purchased Darragh House from the Bevans and rented it to the parish priests of Glenrue until such time as the new parochial was built in 1898.  Since then the priests of the parish have resided in the present parochial house near the new church.

Darragh then, or more properly Darrach Mochua An Ghleanna Rua, i.e. Darragh-Glenrue means THE OAK FILLED RED GLEN OF SAINT CHUA. The Red Glen derived its origin seemingly from the red sandstone of the surrounding Ballyhoura Hills. Other local traditional lore claims that it was the red hue of the withering leaves of the primeval oak forest in the autumn that contributed to its nomenclature.  In the townland of Darraghmore we find the location of St. Mochua's well. It is called Tobar Mochua. This well was enclosed in rough stone work in a grove of beech trees on the hillside. A pattern was held at the well onAugust 31st, St.Mochua's feast day, until around 1820.  The water from this well was said to cure many illnesses.  According to legend, when clothes were washed in the well, it moved 400 yards from its original location near the churchyard in Darragh to its present location.  Legend says that those who were to be cured were said to see a trout in the well. A man once caught the trout thinking it was an ordinary fish and then attempted to cook it, failed in his efforts and returned the trout to the well!


Darragh becomes Glenroe

When the new church was built in Glenroe at Spittle Cross the popular emphasis shifted to the second part of the full parish name simply for geographical reasons. It was only after the church was built at Spittle Cross in the 1830メs that the name Glenrue became popular as the parish name.  Prior to that, the popular name, for over a thousand years, was Darragh as it was the centre of worship for the local population. Darragh fell into decline during the Penal Times when Catholic worship was forbidden and especially when the new Protestant Ascendancy (represented here by the Oliver family) saw Darragh as a prime location to build in the 1730s a  Great House to be called ムDarraghmore House to lease to their professional tenants.  That resulted in the clearing out of the Catholic peasantry from around the Great House for security reasons and the building of a barracks there as well. The Vallance family was the first family to reside at ムDarraghmore House. All a very unwelcome invasion on the native population who were dispersed away from Darragh itself and its environs.
Emancipation and the end of the Penal Laws allowed the then parish priest of Darragh, Fr Diarmuid (Darby) Buckley, who was appointed in 1824 to Glenrue, to build the present Catholic Church still thankfully in use today.  The Church was begun in 1832 and completed in 1834. The site was purchased from the Walsh family who owned most of the surrounding land.  There were three branches of the family in Glenrue at the time and they were all related.  The previous small barn chapel at Ballinacourty was to be shortly afterwards occupied by the Walsh family.  There was, however a dispute prior to the building of the new church in Glenrue in 1832.  There were three ムcampsメ in the parish. Each camp put forward its own point of view.


Emancipation having been achieved, new churches were naturally to be built to replace the old barn type edifices in Ballyorgan and Darragh. Each side of the parish sought to have a church built in its own area. 
Ballyorgan parishioners naturally wanted their church in Ballyorgan.  Glenrue parishioners wished their edifice to be, where it later was built, at Spittle Cross. Others wished that one central church would be built someplace midway between the two ends of the parish. The population of Darragh in 1831 was 9 Protestants and 1847 Catholics (total 1856 people) and rising. In 1834 the population was still just 9 Protestants but the Catholic population had risen to 1924 souls (total 1933) in the Glenrue end of the parish.
The population of Kilflynn (Ballyorgan) in 1831 was 160 Protestants and 1402 Catholics (total 1562) With the population so great and increasing all the time, Fr. Jeremiah (Darby) Buckley PP, felt that the most appropriate solution was for two chapels to be built in each location.  He needed a new building much more urgently in Glenroe than in Ballyorgan where the barn chapel was in better condition.  Building commenced at once at the end of 1831 in Glenrue, however, it was to be the 1857 before Ballyorgan replaced it barn type chapel with a new building.

 The word chapel not church was used for Catholic places of worship up at that time. The Protestant Church was the established church not the Catholic Church. Catholics, as second class citizens, could only aspire to having a ムchapelメ in which to worship up until 1869.  When Fr Buckley decided to build Glenrue Church he succeeded in doing so for the sum of £750.  He also wisely added to the church, what we now call the Hall, but which he constructed for the purpose of having a proper school in the Glenrue end of the parish. This school building was added on immediately after the building of the church. It was completed in 1836. Fr Buckey intended the new school building to replace the hedge schools then in full swing in the parish.

The Landlord and the PP


Glenroe and Darragh Hedge Schools

There were two main hedge schools in operation in Glenrue at the time. Down in Darragh was William Maineham (also written as Wm.Monahan in the records- I feel, however, it should be perhaps written as Moynihan). He had a hedge school, we could call it a Pay School, where he charged a small fee and had 25 males and 15 females in attendance in the early 1830s. That was a total of 40 pupils but it varied with the seasons. The records show that he had up to 70 pupils in summer and a mere 30 on average in winter. That fact alone indicates the nature of the school and its hedge status.  William Maineham taught reading, writing and arithmetic. 

Up at Spittle Cross, Glenrue, in the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry and Report of 1826-7 we find Matthew Brazil having a hedge school, similar to Wm.Maineham's in Darragh.  The next nearest was outside the parish, in Kilgarriff, when David Glavin was the hedge school master teaching 51 pupils.

The site of Brazil's house and hedge school are now part of the church grounds. Matthew, the last hedge school teacher, was the father of the Fenian.  Patrick Brazil who, in 1867, helped to organised the escape of another great Fenian, the future PP of Glenrue, Fr Robert Ambrose (1850-1926) - further details may be found in the book The Fenian PP of Glenrue on Fr Ambrose. Matt's son, Patrick, became a sworn member of the Fenian movement and dedicated his life to the cause of Irish freedom. He was to die at the young age of 57 in February 1891 following his release from prison where he had been tortured and maltreated most inhumanely.  Henever recovered on his release. The cold and misery he experienced while in prison resulted in his health deteriorating to such an extent that he died shortly after his release.  A family member, Eliza Brazil was in fact to become the first principal of the newly established Female Girls' School in Glenrue in 1856.

Fr Buckley PP was anxious to try and accommodate his local hedge school teachers in the new school that he had built onto the church at Spittle Cross. That was not very easy to achieve, except for the hedge school pupils of Matthew Brazil.  Matt's hedge school was right in front of the new school in his cabin.  The Darragh Hedge School of Wm.Maineham continued for some time more as parents seemed reluctant to send children up the extra few miles when they had a local hedge school nearby.

Glenroe National School, built in 1836 had 224 students enrolled in 1847.  Today it serves as a parish hall and community centre.


Glenroe National School

About 20 boys and twenty girls attended Fr Buckley's new indoor hedge school when he opened it in 1836. It was a number of years later before he was able to succeed in getting the Board of Education to recognise it. Fr Darby Buckley made his application for connection to the Board of Education and eventually on the 2 December 1841 his school was taken in connection by the Board.  That at once led to a surge in numbers attending.

In 1841 he had 150 children on the books attending the school. That was a very great jump from the 40 that he had averaged between 1836 and 1841 when it was literally a hedge school under cover.  The reason for the big jump in numbers was due to the fact that the teachers were now paid by the manager (i.e. the Parish Priest) with the aid of a grant from the Commissioners of Education who now would inspect the school regularly to see that it was being run efficiently and properly.

The school nearly doubled in number over the next seven years, from 150 pupils in 1841 to 224 in 1847. The average daily attendance however was much lower at 143 pupils. Bearing that in mind, it was still a massive number of children in that small school building (now the parish hall) every day.

This was the school then in which Patrick Weston Joyce was to be employed in 1845 for a period. The first principal however was a Padraic O Ceallaigh or Mr.Patrick Kelly. Irish was not recognised and any teacher employed had to use an English version of his or her name irrespective of his or her mother tongue. Padraic was appointed in 1841 on the opening of the school.  He had taught previous to Glenrue in Mitchelstown.  Padraig lived in Garryarthur where his brother David farmed.  Sadly Padraig resigned on 1st March 1845.  He was dead within three month (1st June 1845) at the young age of 29 years.  Patrick Kelly was a member of a Kelly family a branch of which also farmed in Spittle.  Their farm in Spittle is in the possession of Lyons family today.  

Current National School in Glenroe. 

Built in 1936


The Joyce Brothers Tenure at Glenroe N.S.

Patrick Kelly's death was to provide Fr Buckley with an opportunity to appoint another very promising young local young man, named Patrick W.Joyce, in 1845. Patrick Weston Joyce's father was a shoemaker by trade and he lived for a period in Keale, Glenrue and this was where Patrick was reputedly born.  (A more detailed article on the Joyce Brothers is to be found elsewhere in the book).

Mary Rea, was appointed (Ray was used in some documents). Her job was to teach sewing and knitting to the girls but she also helped P.W. Joyce in other ways, functioning much like a classroom assistant would today. An application was made to the Board of Education seeking grant aid to pay her salary on her appointment. That aid was granted in December 1848.

Robert Dwyer Joyce(1830-1883) was also appointed to Glenrue NS in 1848. He was the younger brother of Patrick Weston Joyce (1827-1914). All three worked together in that one roomed school.

Fr Buckley states that on 28 December 1848 there were 120 males and 102 female on the roll. That again shows that the school population had climbed in a few months, reaching a new height of 222 pupils. P.W Joyce was on a salary of £25 a year or just a little over £2 a month. It was then paid quarterly. So Patrick would have received £6 per quarter.  What a tremendous honour it is for us all in Glenrue today, to think that our little humble school, which still stands by our church's gable, had for a period within its walls two of Ireland's most renowned scholars.  Men, whose scholarly works will guarantee them an everlasting place of honour in the hearts and minds of Irishmen and women, not just for our present few generations, but for all time.

The scholarly works of the Joyce Brothers will never by their nature become dated. PW Joyce was a linguist, a historian, a geographer and a musician. His works reveal an unbelievably detailed knowledge of early Irish culture. His brother Robert was equally gifted. He first became a national teacher and then went on later to become a medical doctor.  Despite his love of science, his love of literature always burned brightly within him.  He was later to be appointed as Professor of English Literature in the Catholic University in Dublin (later UCD).

Robert was a Fenian sympathiser and when the Fenian Rising failed in 1867 he decided to go America. He simply could not live in a country that was so oppressed . Alas! He was to die prematurely in 1883.  Knowing that his end was near he returned home to Ireland to die at home.


Patrick Weston Joyce(above) and Robert Dwyer Joyce (below)



Commenting on Fr Buckley in his book English as we speak it in Ireland Patrick W. Joyce said: Many and many a time I heard exhortations from that altar, some-times in English, sometimes in Irish, by the Reverend Darby Buckley, the parish priest of Glenroe (of which Ballyorgan formed a part), delivered with such earnestness and power, as to produce extraordinary effects on the congregation. You saw men and women in tears everywhere around you, and at the few words of unstudied peroration, they flung themselves on their knees in a passionate burst of piety and sorrow. Ah! God be with Father Darby Buckley! A small man, full of fire and energy; somewhat overbearing and rather severe in judging of small transgressions; but all the same a great and saintly parish priest!

Fr Buckley was, indeed, a very difficult man to deal with. He was 90 a law unto himself and even the Bishop of Limerick, Dr. John Ryan (1784-1857), found difficulty in dealing with and controlling him throughout his lifetime. Fr Buckley spent 41 years as a priest in Glenrue (1824-65). He had been a curate in Bruff before his arrival Glenrue.

The bishop in 1844 wished Fr Buckley to retire because of his advancing years. However Fr Buckley refused to retire for him. To avoid public scandal, in those difficult times, the Bishop allowed Fr Buckley to live on in the parish for another 21 years. During that time other priests were appointed as administrators. The administrators were appointed to run parish. In that way, the bishop left Fr Buckley with his dignity and even allowed him to remain as titular parish priest.
However, all that was dependent on the condition that Fr Buckley would leave all matters pertaining to the parish in the hands of the new administrator. It was a compromise agreement, struck by both parties, but one to which Fr Buckley never intended to adhere. Fr Buckley's uncle, another Fr Darby Buckley (d.1807) was Vicar General of the Diocese of Limerick in his day so Fr Buckley probably felt that he deserved more respect as a result.
The new administrators soon discovered to their consternation that Fr Buckley was constantly interfering with their administrative duties. Fr.Daniel Kennedy was first appointed in 1844 as administrator.  He should
in fact have been in charge of appointing the principal in 1845 in Glenrue School but it was Fr Buckley that took over. Fr Kennedy was a quiet man who disliked controversy and he effectively left Fr Buckley rule the roost
for the next four years.  Perhaps, from our point of view it was a good thing that Fr Buckley held the reins or Patrick W.Joyce and Robert Dwyer Joyce might never have been appointed to Glenrue. Fr Buckley was very much always in favour of local candidates.

Fr Buckley made life so difficult, for incoming administrators that the next administrator, Fr Timothy Corkery, appointed in 1849 asked to be removed from Glenrue in 1853 owing to Fr Buckley's continual interference with his decision making in those difficult years after the Great Famine. In fact Fr. Corkery felt so intimidated by Fr Buckley that he retired from active ministry completely.
Fr Buckley because he was so long in the parish (since 1824), the people felt a loyalty to him. The result was that he had the power to cause division in the parish by his actions. The reason for Fr Buckley, having
such a loyal following amongst some of the parishioners was because they still saw him as the real parish priest and insisted that he should be consulted in all matters relating to the parish. They continually asked Fr
Buckley to perform marriages and baptisms for their family members, often ignoring the administrator altogether.

Personally, I feel that many parishioners did not fully understand the significance of the parish being under an administrator. That was a very new and technical term for most. For the majority, the parish priest was the parish priest, and that was that. He had been with them before Emancipation. He had led them during Penal times out into the newly emancipated Ireland. He had built the first Catholic Church in the parish since the Reformation. He spoke both Gaelic and English fluently and had a respect for both cultures. He did not despise the Gaelic tongue, as some of his Maynooth trained successors did, especially those priests who believed that using the English language was the only way forward.

After Fr Buckley's time the mass sermons were with few exceptions in English. Naturally then many of the old parishioners, who lamented the passing of the old ways, stood by Fr Buckley. However, Fr.Buckley wasn't going to live forever and change was to sadly come whether he or his parishioners liked it or not.




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