Rev. Fr. Matthew J. Barrett (1812-1871)  

of Finnor, Croghan, Co Roscommon (P.P. Ballinameen & Croghan) 

Rev. MATTHEW JAMES Barrett was born in 1812 in the parish of Croghan (then Killummod). His grandparents, Matthew Barrett (1749-1815) and Brigid Grelish, were extensive graziers who settled in the parish in the late 18th century, and introduced the Barrett name here.  His father John Barrett, Esq. (1790-1844) of Finnor was a well-to-do and respectable gentleman farmer who moved in the same circles as the Dillons of Ballaghdereen. His mother, Mary Hanly (1791-1856) was very likely a Hanly of Smith Hill, Elphin. Matthew J. was the eldest of 12 children, who went on to be reputable clergymen, land agents, gentlemen farmers, merchants, magistrates and political leaders at local level.


Young Matthew was born just after Catholic Emancipation. (Prime Minister Pitt funded the establishment of St. Patrick’s seminary in Maynooth in 1795). The local hedge school in Finnor went on to become “Finner National School” in 1831.   On 25 August, 1835, Matthew entered St Patrick’s Seminary, Maynooth (age 23) and was ordained on 6 May 1841. There is no local info available for him for 3 years following his ordination.  


Famine Report

In 1844, his father, John, died and as he was the eldest son, he was appointed to Croghan parish and given permission to live at home until after his mother died. Throughout the Great Famine, he was a curate in Croghan. An extension was built for him at the back of Finner House. He said mass for locals of Finner in the upstairs of the granary attached to his home. He wrote a chilling report on the condition of his parishoners during the famine. [see Chronicles]


Building Churches

By 1856 he had fund-raised and supervised the building of St Michael’s Church, Drumlion (aka Drumercool). In 1857, Rev. Matt Barrett had 8 acres in neighbouring Carrowmore. In 1859, he was Parish Priest for Ballinameen and Croghan and  began to search for new site for Breedogue Church, Kilnamanagh.



He died age 58, after a prolonged illness, on 27 August 1871  in Carrowreagh, and was buried in a grave of his choice (immediately before his own confessional box) in the modest church of Ballinameen graveyard.

GRO  27-Aug-1871  

Rev Matthew J Barrett age 58, Parish priest, died in Carrowreagh (Informant Rev John Gately,  Athlone) nephew

He left effects of under £500 to his brother Michael Barrett Esq, of Finner, “Farmer”. His sister, Bridget Barrett (1820 - 1899) who married Patrick Gately (1813-1896) and raised their family at Carrownrinny (aka Renny) just south of Tulsk, Co Roscommon, inherited Fr. Matt's chalice and missal by way of her son Rev Fr. John Gately. These heirlooms have been cherished by her descendants to this day, in the U.S. 

See:  ISBN:9780955382307

"St. Michael's Church - Drumlion - Co. Roscommon, 1856-2006 : church, people and landscape" by John Keenehan.


Additional Information
Date of Birth 1st Jan 1812 (circa)
Date of Death 27th Aug 1871
Associated Building (s) Finnor House St Brigid's RC Church, BREEDOGE St. Michael's Church, Drumlion St. Michael's Church, Croghan  
Father (First Name/s and Surname) John Barrett, Esq. (1790-1844) of Finnor, Croghan, Co Roscommon
Occupation Parish Priest Ballinameen
Names of Siblings Martin Barrett Esq.(1814-57) Prison North, Balla, Co Mayo, grazier Patrick Barrett Esq (1814-78) Carrick on Shannon, merchant Michael Barrett Esq. (1818-87) Finnor, farmer & bailiff Stephen Barrett Esq. (1828-1900) Meelick, Barony Constable
Names of Siblings John Barrett (1821-) Lisnolan, Balla, Co Mayo, farmer (close friend of Michael Davitt) Thomas Barrett (1814–78) Drumsna, publican (President of the Carrick Land League and chairman of Carrick on Shannon branch of the Irish National League 1882).
Names of Siblings Bridget Gately (1820-1899) Carrownrinny (aka Renny), Tulsk Moira McLoughlin, Carrowreagh Hse., Claremorris, Co Mayo Anne McDonough, Frenchpark Catherine Gallagher, Dublin
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