One parish for 160 years

The year 1858 was a milestone year for this faith community. It was the first year that the area now known as Enniskeane and Desertserges was joined as one parish with one parish priest.

In that year, Fr Domhnal Ó Súileabháin, a great Irish scholar who was born at the edge of the Warrenscourt Estate near Kilmurry, died as Parish Priest of Kinneigh. He would be the last priest to have that title. He was buried beside the chapel where he had said Mass and administered the sacraments – where Shamrock Cottage was built as a presbytery in Enniskeane.

An tAthair Ó Súileabháin had arrived here from Bandon in 1845 and was to serve in the difficult Famine years. His dedication to the people in his care in those years is reflected in the fact that 14 years after his death, his remains were exhumed and reinterred under the altar of the new church in Enniskeane when it was dedicated in 1872. A plaque near Our Lady’s Shrine records his burial place. He died 160 years ago this year.

The dedication of his contemporary in Desertserges during the Famine, Fr Timothy O’Donovan PP, is similarly recorded on a plaque in Ahiohill church. At the time of Fr. Ó Súileabháin death, instead of appointing a new PP to Kinneigh /Enniskeane, Bishop Delany changed the appointment of the then Parish Priest of Desertserges Fr Denis O’Donoghue and appointed him to be the first Parish Priest of Enniskeane and Desertserges. He had been in Desertserges as PP since 1856 and was a native of Bandon. He ministered here until his death in 1867.

Plaque in Ahiohill Church to Fr O’Donovan

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Fr Maurice Roche PP (Ahiohill Church founder)

When Maynooth College opened its door to student priests in 1795, Maurice Roche and John Allen were the first Cork students to enrol in the Maynooth, Co. Kildare, college. They were ordained priests of Cork diocese in 1800.

Maurice Roche’s first appointment was as curate in Watergrasshill Parish on the north-east corner of the diocese. A while later he transferred to one of the Bandon churches where he served as curate until 1817 when he was appointed Parish Priest of the nearby parish of Desertserges.

During his time in Ahiohill, the present Church of the Assumption of Our Lady was erected and it was dedicated for worship in 1832 – just a few years after Catholic Emancipation.

Fr Roche served in the parish until his death on April 11th, 1839. He was buried just beside the southern wall of the church whose building he had supervised.

His burial place was marked with a raised limestone slab which was engraved witht he following inscription:-

IHS

Beneath This Stone Are Deposited The Remains Of The Rev Maurice Roche

22 Years PP of Desertserges, He Died April 11 Ad1839

Requiescat in Pacem

As the writing was almost illegible by 2016 and the grave was in disrepair, a new limestone slab with the same engraving was commissioned from Pat O’Sullivan and Sons of Clonakilty. It will ensure that Fr Roche’s memory ir preserved for another few generations to come.

Grave of Fr Maurice Roche at Ahiohill church

Grave of Fr Maurice Roche at Ahiohill church

Grave of Fr Maurice Roche at Ahiohill church

Grave of Fr Maurice Roche at Ahiohill church yard before its preservation in 2017. Fr Roche was one of the First two Cork students in the new Maynooth college in 1795. He served as PP of Desertserges from 1817 to 1839.

Remember and revere

The Bible tells us that its “a holy and wholesome thought” to pray for the dead. It’s also an important part of our Christian and Irish tradition that we honour and respect the burial places of people who have died. And this includes the graves of people who no longer have relatives among us.

Recently, the burial place of of one of one of the priests who served the Parish of Desertserges during the Great Hunger has been restored.

Fr. Thomas M. Haynes was ordained the priesthood at Bayeux, France, and came to this parish from Lower Glanmire – which would correspond to all of the present day Glanmire Parish. Local legend maintains that Fr. Haynes died soon after an exorcism  – expelling an evil spirit from a terrible woman – ”Maire  Gaedhlach”, who lived locally. In fact, he died at the height of the Famine on 6/6/1847.

The Cork Examiner of June 14th carried the following report:- “On Sunday, 6th inst., of fever caught in the faithful discharge of his arduous ministerial duties, Rev. T. Haynes, P.P., Deserserges, near Bandon, beloved and respected by all who had the pleasure of his aquaintance. He lived the poor man’s friend and died the faithful devoted priest of the Altar to which he was so long and worthly attached.”

Until recently, his gravestone looked like this:-

Grave of Fr Thomas Haynes before restoration. The inscription reads (but in Latin) “Here lies Reverend Thomas M Haynes. Rest in Peace. AD 1847.”

The original limestone headstone has been preserved but carefully cleaned and restored by Charles O’Sullivan, Clonakilty. It is 170 years since Fr Haynes died. New kerbs and chips have also been laid.

May Fr Haynes and all who have gone before us rest in eternal peace.

Founded on faith in Mary

The parish church of Enniskeane and Desertserges was the dream of Father Daniel Coveney who was parish priest in the parish from 1867 until his death in 1877. Fr Coveney grew up in Tracton Abbey Parish and studied for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome. He was ordained there in 1839 so he returned to serve in Ireland as a priest in what was to be the most difficult time in Irish history — the Great Famine was about to unfold its devastation on the land and its people.

When Fr. Coveney came to Enniskeane, the people went to Mass in a chapel which stood just north of Enniskeane on the right of the road going up to Gurteenroe. This chapel was probably built in the late 1700s and was by then in disrepair. Fr Coveney persuaded the then Duke of Devonshire to donate land for the new church. He donated 17 acres which were intended to accommodate the church, a presbytery, stable, and grazing for the priest’s horse. The Duke also contributed a generous donation of £250 towards the cost of the building.

Fr Coveney entrusted the design of the church to Richard Evans of Cork. Evan had just completed building a church for Crosshaven parish (near Fr. Coveney’s native parish). History doesn’t record who the builders were but, in all probability, it was built under the oversight of Evan by local labour. The stone was drawn by horse and cart from a “nearby quarry”.

On Sunday, May 7th, 1871, the foundation stone of the new church was laid and blessed by Bishop of Cork, Dr William Delany. This stone is on the external wall of the church — behind the altar.

Foundation stone of Enniskeane Church

The inscription on the stone is in Latin and it echoes two aspects of Fr Coveney’s life. His experience in Rome and his devotion to Our Lady. It reads: (more…)

Ah, that’s brass!

It’s good to give thanks! That’s not original because the bible and the Christian tradition are peppered with this motif. But we don’t always heed it.

A few days ago I collected from a craftsman in Cork city a Missal Stand belong to our parish which I had left in to be repaired several months ago – indicating that there was no hurry with it. [A missal stand is used to support the missal on the altar, ie the book which contains all the prayers for each Mass.] It is a good few years since it was used. It had been put to one side because it was damaged as a result of a bad fall which snapped off the ledge that supports the book.

It was repaired by what is now the only form in Cork working with brass. Murphy & Quinlan is based off Douglas Street in the heart of the South Parish and John and Barry have kept alive a craft which was once practised by up to four firms in Cork. John is lamenting the fact that when they retire, it will probably mean the end of this great skill in Cork.

But back to our missal stand. John did a lovely job of cleaning it, polishing it, replacing the ledge for the missal and then lacquering it – making look as new. He commented, in passing, that it must be very hold. I asked him if he thought the beautiful shapes and engraving were cut out of the brass plates. He said, no, the main part was hot moulded — probably in the 1800s when they had no electric tools — and then the ornamentation was engraved on the other side by hand.

This gave me a renewed appreciation of the beautiful workmanship that created this stand, the time it took to make it, and the spirit in the hearts of the people who made it, commissioned it, polished it down through the years and all the people who prayed near it — as well as all my former colleague priests who have offered Mass beside it.

The engraved face of the Missal Stand at Enniskeane Church

I used it at Mass in Enniskeane Church again today. I also prayed a prayer of thanks for all the people who have helped maintain and adorn our churches through the ages in praise of God. I also gave thanks for the gift of the craftspeople who help us to see that God is beauty.

The reverse of the missal stand