Castleisland Church and People by Fr Kieran O’Shea

Michael O’Donohoe made a study of Castleisland Church and People, a book (now rare) written by Fr Kieran O’Shea in 1981 (reprinted 1982).  Michael’s study resulted in a handwritten index to the work, transcribed below, of great use to those conducting research into the town of Castleisland and vicinity.


The Master’s useful index to Fr O’Shea’s book, transcribed below


The book also contains a number of appendices, one of which contains a list of people from Castleisland who served in the church at home and abroad.  The 11-page list, subdivided into ‘Brothers’, ‘Priests’ and ‘Sisters’, illustrates how far afield Castleislanders travelled in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries:

John Brosnan from Knockanebawn professed for Sioux Falls
Maurice Brosnan from Tullig professed in 1923 for Melbourne
Redmond Burke from Castleisland professed in 1925 for Seattle
Daniel Casey from Carker professed 1925 for Port Louis
Eddie O’Connor from Drumulton professed 1923 for Dakota
Ned Roche from Curranes professed c1920 for Hobart
Maurice Woulfe from Knockeen professed 1937 for Buffalo

It also illustrates the variety of religious orders:

Peter Flynn from Killegane professed in 1928 for Helpers of the Holy Souls
Sara McSweeney from Castleisland, professed in 1911 for the Little Company of Mary
Alberic Walsh from Kilmurry professed c1898 for the Sisters of Nazareth
Nora Quilter from Counguilla professed in 1889 for the Marianite of the Holy Cross

Absent from this list is Madame Patricia from Ballymolire, Castleisland, professed on her death bed for the Ladies of Mary, Tavistock Road, Croydon:


One of the best-loved of the teaching staff of sisters, Madame Patricia, passed away at the young age of 25.  She was regarded as a most clever teacher, having ‘passed the ordeal of several severe examinations with great credit’.  She had been ailing for some time but continued working.  She ailed suddenly, and received the last rites on 31 September 1898.  It was her desire to make her perpetual vows before dying but a dispensation of five years had not expired.  However, the Bishop of Southwark granted a dispensation and Rev Father M’Kenna received her vows, the profession cross, the ring and crown of roses.  Two hours later she passed away.  ‘The coffin was covered with floral souvenirs of love and regard from the pupils of the school, the boarders, Doctors Rosser and Vincent, and other friends.1


Castleisland: The church spire, a dominating feature of Ireland’s towns and villages


Among Fr O’Shea’s other publications, The Diocese of Kerry formerly Ardfert Working in the Fields of God provides for a useful historical sketch of the 53 parishes of the Diocese of Kerry, namely, Killarney (Episcopal See of the Diocese of Kerry), Abbeydorney, Adrigole, Allihies, Annascaul, Ardfert, Ballinskelligs, Ballybunion, Ballydesmond, Ballydonoghue, Ballyheigue, Ballyferriter, Ballylongford, Ballymacelligott, Beaufort, Boherbue, Brosna, Caherciveen, Caherdaniel, Castlegregory, Castleisland, Castlemaine, Castletownbere, Causeway, Dingle, Dromtariffe, Duagh, Eyeries, Firies, Fossa, Glenbeigh, Glenflesk, Glengarriff (Bonane), Kenmare, Kilcummin, Kilgarvan, Killeentierna, Killorglin, Knocknagoshel, Listowel, Lixnaw, Millstreet, Milltown, Moyvane, Rathmore, Sneem, Spa (Fenit), Tarbert, Tralee St John’s, Tralee Our Lady and St Brendan’s, Tuosist, Valentia, Waterville.2


The history of the diocese is traced back to pre-Patrician times and on to the times of St Brendan, who tradition allows was baptised by Bishop Erc (or Ert), the reputed first Bishop of Ardfert.3


A copy of The Diocese of Kerry formerly Ardfert Working in the Fields of God, which was launched by Bishop Murphy in the Dromhall Hotel, Killarney on Monday 24 October 2005, is held in the collection.4


Castleisland Church and People (index)

Archer, Rev Forster, Charter insp 1804 p53

Ardnagragh Castle p11

Asquith Home Rule Bill 3 1912 p42

Assizes transferred to Tralee p19

Aud scuttled off Cork 1916 p33

Atlantic passage 1878 p23

Back cover letter to Constable 1231 p7

Bacon £2 per cent cut in 1878 p23

Bad harvests 1870s p25

Bakers 1846- 1886- p23

Ballincuslane Castle p11

Ballymacadam House p60

Ballyplimoth Castle p11

Baltinglass (Sir Thomas Roper 1609-40) p14

Bank (Redmond Roche Committee 1878, schools, railway) p45

Baptisms p18

Barracks pp16-21

Bateman John p39

Beef p23

Biggar Joseph MP p25

Bishop Daniel McCarthy p24

Bishop Wm Sherwood Meath p11

Blennerhasset John proprietor 1733 p16

Brandon Lord p53

Brass and reed band p24

Bridewell and courthouse p21

Bridge JC Playdell 1774 p17

Brosnan C M p60

Browne Mrs Kathleen librarian p6

Buachailt na Calach p19

Butter Market p23

Browne Archdeacon John PP 1936-54 p52

Cahill Katie Librarian p60

Callaghan Dan p27-8

Captain Moonlight Bob Finn p27

Carnegie Library p60

Carter and Davelle Tralee Inn 1579 p12

Casement Roger p33

Casey Archdeacon p61

Casey Timothy p18

Castlegregory p13

Castleisland Castle pp9-18

Castleisland Railway p23

Castleisland v Coole GAA p29

Castlemayne Castle p12

Catholics in 1686 p16

Causeway Church p17-19

Census p15

Charter School pp17 & 53-54

Churches p38

Church of St Nicholas p38

Church Building Committee p45

Chutes Tullig House p61

Circus pp24-27 & 18

Civil War p34

Clifford D W p30

Collins Michael p34

Confessions Stations p18

Constables p64

Convent p40

Coole v Castleisland p29

Cordal Church p51

Costello Lieut Col Con p3

Cotterill hanged drawn and quartered p11

Countess of Desmond p12

County of Kerry p14

Crosbie pp16 & 61

Crown Hotel p27

Crown Jewels Sir Art Vicars p61

Cullinane J remodelled Market House 1914 p61

Curtin Lee p32

Daly Charles PP 1704 p49

Daly Peter p18

Dancing p36

Davells p12

Davies Wm RIC p34

Davitt Michael p25

De Brun Margaret p6

De Brun Padraig p6

De Morrisco Geoffrey p9

Desmond south of Maine p9

Desmond Survey p13

Dispensary Market House p61

Dominican Abbey Tralee p11

Dominican Church Dublin p11

Drogheda James/Thomas p11

Dun an Oir p12

Duff Laurence PP p52

Dease p41

Electricity 1929 p34

Ellis Andrew p15

English occupiers p14

Evictions p27

Ewes Rev Thomas p42

Fairfield Major p61

Fairs p16

Famine p22

Favourite Castle of the Island p12

Feiritear Piares p15

Fever pp5 & 22 & 24

Fever hospital pp22 & 60 I 61

Fife and drum band p31

Finn Bob pp27 & 26 & 32

First Dail p33

First rector St Nicholas (Ewes) p42

Fitzgerald John p16

Fitzgerald Fr Maurice pp18-19 & 50 & 39

Fitzhenry Meiler p9

Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald James p12

Fitznicholas Sir Maurice p10

Fitzpatrick Sir Jerh p33

Fitzthomas John p9

Fitzthomas Maurice p10

Flynn Jack p34

Forster’s Coercion Bill p27

Forty eggs p16

Freeman’s Journal ambush report 1921 p34

Front cover Castleisland 1726 p7

Funeral mass 1780s p18

GAA Michael Cusack p28

GAA inaugural meeting p30

Gaelic League Castleisland p30

Galvin John p6

Gearoid Iarla 4th earl p11

General Election 1918 p33

Gerald 16th Earl p11

Gladstone’s Home Rulle Bill p28

Glebe Kilbannivane p61

Glounaneenta p13

Glountane eviction p27

Godfrey John F p23

Government enquiry housing p21

Grand Juries p31

Greaney John p31

Grey Dun an Oir p12

Griffin David J p33

Griffin T p30

Griffith Richard p20

Griffiths description of Castleisland p20

Gun O’Mahony Pierce Kilmurry House 1907 p61

Harold Richard p45

Hartnetts Kilmurry House p61

Hartnett Mother Joseph Sandville pp40-41

Headley Lord p31

Herbert pp 13, 14, 38, 15, 16, 27

Herlihy Michael PP p52

Holloways Pills p23

Holmes George p19

Home Rule Bill Asquith p32

Horse racing Ballyplimouth p24

Huggins David p64

Hussey Denis p31

Hussey Sam Railway Director p23

Hyde Douglas p30

Inns p17

Inspectors Charter School p53

Irish Volunteers p32

Irwin Archdeacon p51

James 7th Earl p11

Kearney T p30

Kelliher Jeremiah p31

Kelly Daniel cut off Earl’s head p13

Kenny Patrick Balymacadam p27

Kerry Exe County p14

Kilbannivane Church medieval p42

Kilcusnan Castle tower house p11

Killananama Church p42

Killorglin bridge gallow p18

Kilmurry Castle tower house p11

Kilmurry church p42

Kilmurry House p61

King John p9

Knight H M p30

Lakes of Killarney George Holmes p19

Land League Davitt p25

Land League Castleisland p27

Leahy Patrick p45

Letters to France & Scotland 1344 p10

Linen p17

Local Government Act 1898 p31

London Scottish Regiment p33

Lord Ed Fitzgerald p31

Lord Headley p31

Lords Headley and Ventry p23

Lough Gur Limerick p12

Lovett Joe p53

Lyne Gerard p6

MacConnor Maurice p49

MacIntosh Archibald p61

Maginn John p53

Mahony James p53

Mallone John PP p50

Manor of the Island p13

Map of Castleisland town 1845 p22

Marescall Earl of Pembroke p9

Markets p16

Market House pp16-19, 29, 36 61

Marriages 1780s p18

Married priets removed c1608 p38

Mass Rocks Knockatee & Kilmurry p42

May morning racehorse p24

McCarthy Cornelius PP p49

McCarthy Florence p15

McElligott MP p32

McEllistrim Tom p33

McSweeney D p31

McSweeney J p30

Meredith Richard p17

Monument p34

Moriarty Sergeant p31

Mount Eagle p61

Mud cabins p21

Murphy Fr Arthur CC ps27 & 45

Murphy Humphrey Kerry No 2 p33

Music pp 31, 34-6

National Museum p6

Nationalist Movement p25

New Mansion for Lord Herbert p16

Nolan Martin p45

Nolan Tadhg p19

Nuns meals for children p254Nolan Dr Wm p45

Oatmeal p23

O Carron p49

O Criobhain Breandan p6

O’Connell John PP p51

O’Connor Arthur MP p27

O’Connor Brian Scartaglin pp60 & 33

O’Connor Brosnan Timothy p27

O’Connor Brosnan Terence son of above p27

O’Connor Eugene p45

O’Connor J Cordal p33

O’Connor J K p31

O’Connor Johnny Kerry No 2 p33

O’Connor refuge to 1st Earl p11

O’Connor Riada p30

O’Connor Sean Killarney cover p6

O’Connor W H p32

O’Crowley J F p34

O’Daly Charles p49

O’Dalaigh Conchui p13

O’Dalaigh Donall Dominic OP p13

O’Keeffe Patrick p34

O’Leary eviction p27

O’Leary Jeremiah PP p50

O’Leary John PP p51

O’Mahony Dan p33

Ormond attacks Desmond p13

O’Shanahan Jeremiah PP p50

O’Sullivan A M pp30, 31, 33

Palatinate of Desmond p10

Parish Priests 1421-1972  pp49-52

Parnell President of Land League p25

Parsonage p17

Patterson p24

Pearse Padraig p33

Pelham Sir Wm p12

Pembroke Michael p45

Pleydell J C p17

Poff & Barrett p28

Population pp15, 16, 22

Potatoes p23

Pound Road Houses p32

Prendiville Den and Jack pp33-34

Proprietors pp16-17

Protestant Church pp16-19

Public Record Office London p6

Quinlan John p31

Quinlan T M p30

Railway station p23

Rathkeale Castleisland Rd p20

Redmond John p32

Regan John p61

Reward for Earl p12

Reidy Beanough jockey killed p24

Reidy D J pp30-33

Reidy Maurice J p45

Reidy Michael p33

Relief Association p25

Riordan Pat p31

Roads and footpaths pp17, 20, 34

Roche Redmond p45

Roche Redmond Jerh p45

Roche John p60

Roper Sir Thomas p14

Rosney Peter p64

Sale of liquor on Sunday Act 1873 p28

Sanders Papal legate p12

Savage James p18

Scartaglin Church pp43-44

Schools pp53-56

Seignory of Castleisland p13

Session house p17

Severe winter 1670-1 p15

Shanahan Dick p6

Shanahan Richard E pp28 & 32

Shanahan Jack p34

Shanahan Dick p34

Shanid Abu p1

Slabach Richard pp pp37 & 49

Slawne of turf p16

Solohead Ambush p33

Smith Charles in Castleisland p17

Sister Virgilius p6

Steak p23

Steam loco p23

Sugrue Denis PP p50

Tarrant Pat p6

Telegraph p45

Teuton p9

Tower of London p12

Town House Geo Holmes p19

Town houses p16

Town Tenants Association p32

Traitor Earl declared 1574 p12

Trant Patrick p16

Treaty p34

Troops quartered in Castleisland 1680s p16

Troy Constable IRA agent p33

Twiss John p31

Twiss Martin p53

Ua Conchubhair Daithi PP p52

Ufford p11

Ulster Rising p15

Ulster Volunteer Force p32

Uprisings p20

Ventry eviction Glountane p27

Vicars Sir Arthur p61

Visitors to Castleisland pp17, 19, 20

Volunteers p32

Weaver Murphy pp35-6

Weighbridge p67

White Daniel p64

Whiteboys p18

Winter migration to England & Newfoundland p19

Workhouse p62

Wren M pp30, 28, 32

Wyndham Land Act pp31-2



1 Kerry Sentinel, 19 October 1898.  Madame Patricia was the daughter of Patrick Andrew O’Sullivan, Ballymolire, Castleisland.  Her brother was solicitor John O’Sullivan, who was admitted a solicitor in July 1896. Patrick Andrew O’Sullivan of Ballymolire was one of five O’Sullivan children, viz, Robert Andrew of Shanagurt (who married Ellen Prenderville and had ten children, one of whom, Rev Patrick Robert O’Sullivan, edited for one year The Dial, a student publication of St Mary’s Academy & College, Kansas, launched in 1890), Jeremiah Andrew of Castleisland (who married Hannah Lynch and had eight children) and Mary and Ellen.  Genealogical material relating to the Castleisland O’Sullivans in IE MOD/C4.

2 Hardback, 160 page, full colour illustrated history published in 2005. Introduced by Fr Declan O’Connor, PP; foreword by William Murphy, Bishop of Kerry.  Also includes a short introduction by Fr Kieran O’Shea, Editor, who advises that the Diocese of Ardfert was officially changed to the Diocese of Kerry in 1952 ‘though it was common in popular usage long before then’.  Copy held in collection, IE MOD/A8.

3 ‘The Episcopal See in Kerry, heretofore Kerrigia which was the country of St Brendan to whose memory it was dedicated. Brendan studied under Bishop Ert and afterward went into Connaught to St Jarlath under whom he studied divinity.  Omnipotent God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the title of a long prayer [unpub ms] ascribed to St Brendan’ (ref: Notes on some early Bishops of Kerry (11th to 14th centuries) from Antiquities and History of Ireland by Sir James Ware (translated into English by Sir William Domvile and Robert Ware and published in 1705).  Bishops noted in this work include Dermot mac Mel Brenan who died at Ardfert in 1075; Magraté ó Eredain or I Ronan died in 1099; Mel Brendan o Ronan died 10th Kal October 1161 and was buried at Ardfert.  Mac Ronan, called Bishop of Kerry, was present at the Synod of Cenanuse held under Cardinal Papron in 1152.  ‘I cannot but think that Mac Ronan and he were one and the same.’; Gilla Mac Aiblan ó Hanmada died in 1166; Donald o Conarchy, called Bishop Jarmuan, or of West Munster, died in 1193; David o Duibditrib succeeded, also called Bishop Jarmuan and died in 1207; John, an English Benedictine, consecrated about the year 1215 and was deprived by James, Penitentiary to Pope Honorius III and Legat in Ireland in 1221.  He lived afterwards in the Abby of St Alban’s in England till October 1245 on the 2d of the Ides of October, he died ‘having lived at St Alban’s from the time that he was deprived but retaining still the Dignity of Hertfert about 30 Years by Special Command of the Pope.’; Gilbert succeeded who had the Royal Assent 7th of May 1225 and was consecrated the same year.  He resigned in 1237; Brendan obtained the Royal Assent 17th of November 1237 and sate 15 years; Christian of the Order of Predicants designed Bishop of Ardfert was confirmed by Henry III 25th February 1252.  He sate not long for upon his death it seems the king granted Licence of Election 20th August 1256; Philip succeeded, who died in 1263; John, Archdeacon of Ardfert, succeeded who was restored to the Temporals 27 February 1264.  He died in May 1285 and was buried at Ardfert in the Cathedral of St Brendan; Nicholas, before the end of the year Nicholas succeeded who sate not long for he died about the middle of March 1287; Nicholas, a Cistercian Monk, afterward Abbot of Odorney or Kyrieleyson, was consecrated in the County of Kerry in 1288 and died very old, about the beginning of the year 1336 having sate about 48 years.  In the records he is called Bishop of Kerry; Alan o Hathern or Cathera was consecrated in 1336 and died the 2 December 1347.  While he sate, namely, in 1341, Pope Benedict XII gave this See to Edmond de Carmarthen of the Order of Predicants as if vacant by the death of Alan but he being still alive, the donation was void; John de Valle provided by Pope Clement VI was restored to the Temporals 10 March 1348 and died in 1372, having sate above 23 years; Cornelius o Tigernach, a Minorite, provided by Pope Gregory XI in 1372 died in 1379 in the 7th year of his Consecration; William Bull, Dean of Cork, was provided by the Pope and after Fealty sworn to the King, was restored to the Temporals 14th of February 1379.  Died circa 1404.

The same publication contains notes on some abbeys in Kerry including the Friery of Aghamore (Derrynane), of the Order of Augustin Canons; Friery of Ardfert or Ardait, the Fitzmaurice, ancestors of the Baron of Kerry, founded a convent there of the Order of Minors.  They deduce their original from Raymond le Gross; Friery of Balli-ne-Scelig (Ballinskelligs), of the Order of Augustin Canons.  In one of the Isles of Scelig (some miles distant from hence) was an ancient Abby dedicated to St Michael the Arch-Angel, which is mentioned by Girald Cambrensis.  Of the first found, I can say nothing, the Annals of the Abby of Inissale say that Flan Mac-Cellach, Abbot of Scelich, died in the year 885; but the Abby was afterward removed to a more commodious place, near the part of Balli-ne-Scelig; Friery of Inisfallen or Inisfathlen in Logh-Lean (Innisfallen), founded by St Finian, sir-named Leprous, after the middle of the 6th century.  Of whom see John Colgan in his Acts of the Irish Saints, the 16th of March.   The island abounds with the arbute tree, the fruit whereof is commonly called by the inhabitants the Cane Apple, but in Latin Unedo, because it is so unhealthful, that one is sufficient to be eaten at one time.  So Hadrian Junius; Irrialagh, near Logh-Lean.  Friery of the H. Trinity (Muckross), founded by Minorits, by Donald son of Thady Mac-Carty in the year 1440 and repaired by him in 1468, the year of his death; Killagh, Priory of St Mary (Killagha, Milltown), of the Order of Regular Canons, founded by Geofry de Mariscis, under King John.  It stands near the River Mang; Friery of Lislaghtin (Lislaughtin), John O’Conner founded a Convent of Minorits there, in the year 1478.  The place has its name from St Lactin, who died in the year 622; Odorney or Kirie-leyson, Daughter of Magio Abby (Abbeydorney), this abby had its beginning in the year 1154 and here was buried Christian, that famous Bishop of Lismore in the year 1186 who retired hither when, some time before his death, he resigned his See; Rathtoy, Abby of St Peter and St Paul (Rattoo), it was first an hospital dedicated to St John Baptist, built by Frier William, and confirmed by Meiler, son of Meiler, in the Reign of King John.  Afterwards an Abby of Regular Canons; Friery of Traley (Tralee), John, son of Thomas Giraldine, founded a Convent of the Order of Predicants there, in the year 1243.  In the Church of this Convent he and his son Maurice, slain by Mac-Carty, were buried in the year 1261.