Fr. Richard Barrett (1848–1920)

Grave of Fr Richard Barrett in Enniskeane

Fr Barrett’s mortal remains lay to the west side of the steps that lead up to the church where he served as parish priest from 1903 – 1910.

Diocesan records indicate that Fr. Barrett was born in Dunmanway parish. He was ordained in 1875.

After ordination he was appointed to teach at the diocesan seminary which was then located on top of St. Patrick’s Hill in Cork — before the later Farranferris building was developed. He served on the staff from 1876 – 02/1887. At the same time, he served as chaplain to several institutions in Cork.

He served for a year as Chaplain to the City & County Male Gaol and in 1888, he was appointed to St. Patrick’s Parish, Lower Glanmire Road, Cork, and served there until October 1903 when he returned to his native West Cork to serve as Parish Priest of Enniskeane.

His term as PP was relatively short because he retired in 1910 but continued to live in the parish until his death in June 1920.

A record of his funeral notes that the “chief mourners were John Barrett (brother) and Mrs Dinneen (sister)”.

The Skibbereen Eagle, Sat June 18th, 1920, p3.

The death of the Rev. Richard Barrett, P.P. (retired), Enniskeane, which occurred at St. Mary’s, Enniskeane, on Saturday, will be received with feelings of deepest sorrow. Born in the Pariah of Dunmanway 72 years ago, the earliest wish of his heart was to become a priest of God. After the usual preparatory course of classics in Clonnakilty, Bandon and Cork, he entered Maynooth, and in his collegiate career held an honoured and foremost place amongst the giants of his time, who regarded him as a man of first rank ability. 

Shortly after his ordination in 1875 the then Bishop of Cork (Dr. De-laney) appointed Father Barrett to the chair of classics in the old St. Finbarr’s Seminary. Here he laboured with no ordinary success for several years, and many distinguished students while reading under him covered themselves, their Alma Mater, and their well-loved professor with honours, hard won in the Intermediate and University examinations. The relations between .students and professor were of the most cordial character. Fr. Barrett systematically understood, favourably impressed and strongly attracted them all, and all confidently looked up to him as to a senior brother. As time advanced Fattier Barrett was promoted to the important curacy of St. Patrick’s, Cork, where for some dozen years he proved his zeal for souls and his great capacity for priestly work. His colleagues found in him a most amiable co-worker, “the poor had the Gospel preached to them,” and literally his left hand knew not of his right hand’s deeds. 

Some fifteen years ago Fr. Barrett was appointed P.P. of Enniskeane. Owing to his arduous work in the seminary and on the mission Father Barrett’s health was somewhat undetermined. Yet he would take no rest. He continued working until the cross of his life came—an unsuccessful operation for cataract, which left him completely blind. Considering that his “‘talent” for the care of souls “lodged with him useless” Father Barrett , resigned the pastorate of Enniskeane, and in long suffering, patiently borne, he took up his cross and followed His Master. 

All unconsciously to himself, Father Barrett was adorned with the greatest virtues of the Irish priesthood. His knowledge of the Sacred Scripture was profound, his expositions remarkably lucid, and his sound advice in all matters of moment showed his firm grasp of principles. His hospitality was provcrbial, his friends were legion, and “who loved him once loved on to the end.” His well-stored mind was to him a great resource in his affliction, but prayer was his chief reliance. In public affairs in the fight for Emancipation, he had an abiding interest, and took an active part. Lenders of public opinion held his advice in high esteem. Between him him and them, (and notably with one outstanding figure), a deathless friendship ensued. Father Barrett adhered to what he believed to be right and just, and by that only —

“A sower of infinite seed was he, a woodsman who hewed towards the light, 
Who dared to be traitor to Union when Union was traitor to Right.” 

In the new movement he was young as the youngest, and full of hope. His last illness came on unexpectedly, and was of short duration. During his illness he was consoled by the particular and unremitting attention of his friends, Rcv, Father O’Regan, C.C., and Dr. Fehilly, whose, care for him was constant and affectionate. Father Barret knew the call had come, and as a faithful soldier of Christ, with Christian fortitude he faced the end. His deathbed was,, like that described by St. Francis de Sales,  a deathbed of humility, confidence and charity, when he expired with an humble trust in God’s mercy.

The inscription on Fr Barrett’s headstone.

One parish since 1858

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’s 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


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:-


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.

Remembering Fr Thomas Haynes, Ahiohill priest of Famine times

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 to 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.

Note from an 1865 sermon in Skibbereen

Fr. Michael Bernard Buckley, who was a native of the South Parish, Cork, was curate in Enniskeane from 1859 to 1863. In November, 1865, he preached the sermon in Skibbereen Cathedral to mark the dedication of its new pipe organ.
This is an extract from his sermon:-

“Hence the holy Church, the administratrix of the rites of worship on earth, has ever called music to her aid in proclaiming the glories of God. Through every age the voices of her children have resounded in her temples, uttering hymns and canticles of praise to Him : and where wealth has enabled men to add pomp and splendour to the simplicity of worship, they have introduced into the temple instruments made to imitate the human voice, with which the voice may beautifully blend, and an additional charm be given to the efficacy of sacred song.”