Lawrencetown & Kiltormer

Parish Priest: Fr. Christy O’Byrne
Tel: (090) 968 5613
Mobile: (086) 344 9345

The parish of Lawrencetown and Kiltormer has two Holy Wells, Tobar Mhuire in Ballymore in Lawrencetown and Saint Patrick's Well near the new cemetery in Kiltormer. When the churches were being built, they were dedicated to these two saints, so Lawrencetown church (pictured right) is Saint Mary's and Kiltormer church (below right) is Saint Patrick's.

This parish consists of the people from the two villages of Lawrencetown and Kiltormer and the surrounding area. Lawrencetown has a very active Community Enterprise Company and they have their own prize-winning website where you will find the Parish Newsletters for the past twelve months. Kiltormer gives its name to the local GAA club (which also includes the neighbouring parish of Clontuskert) and the Kiltormer hurling team has produced many top-class players and won many trophies down the years.

  Lawrencetown Kiltormer
 Patron of Church  Our Lady  St. Patrick
 Saturday Evening  -  8.00pm
 Sunday  11.30am  -
 Weekdays  Wednesday: 9.00am Monday, Friday 7.00pm  Tuesday 7.00pm Thursday 6.00pm First Friday 8.00pm
 Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament  Monday, 6.00 - 7.00pm  Thursday, 5.00 - 6.00 pm

From Address: To:

The name of the parish, according to the Catholic Directory is ‘Lawrencetown and Kiltormer (Kiltormer and Oghill)’. The name ‘Lawrencetown’ comes from the Lawrence family who lived in the area in the eighteenth century. Walter Lawrence first erected the village about 1700. It was enlarged by Rear Admiral Peter Lawrence in 1750 and rebuilt by Col. Walter Lawrence in 1765, to promote the linen industry in the West of Ireland. Near the town are the ruins of the castle of O’Hill from which it formerly took the name of Ohill (Ochill, Oghill, Ohillmore). The Irish name of the area is Baile Mór Síol Anmchadha. John O’Donovan in his “Tribes and Customs of Hy Many” translates Síol Anmchadha as “the descendants of Ambrose”, i.e. Ambrose O’Madden, a local Chieftain. The name in full would therefore translate as “the big town of the descendants of Ambrose”. Síol Anmchadha referred to a much larger area than just Lawrencetown in the past. It entailed what is now known as Longford Barony. (JD)

It is thought that the name “Kiltormer” in Irish means “the church of the big bush”. It is said to have originated from the townland of “Kill” where according to legend, the people once tried to build a church secretly in medieval times. The local people used to gather each evening and started the church building operations. Each morning they were dismayed and shocked to discover that their work was levelled to the ground. However they continued to build for a few evenings but the destruction continued. So three or four men decided to watch it one night and everything was quite normal until about 1.00 a.m. At that time a big black bull came rushing across the fields and ran straight for the building and demolished it with his horns. The people followed the bull with all kinds of weapons but he mysteriously disappeared into the ground. This particular phenomenon frightened the people and they gave up the work as they looked on the bull as a four-legged demon. Finally the church was erected in the village centre. (TML)

Early History
Tradition says that both St. Patrick and St. Bridget passed through the Síol Anmchadha and Cinéal Feihin territories on their specific missions. There are two wells in the district known as St. Patrick’s Well and St. Bridget’s well. It is said that St. Patrick was on his way to meet the King of Connacht on conversion business and it is likely that St. Bridget had her own little conversion business to see to. (TML)

It is thought that Christianity was introduced in both Kiltormer and Lawrencetown in the sixth and seventh centuries. Tradition also has it that St. Feichin and St. Brendan were the first to spread the Christian faith in the area and the Clonfert monks and the Augustinians from Clontuskert contributed to the early mission work, which finally came under the Diocesan control of the Bishops. According to local lore small Mass houses were built in both Lawrencetown and Kiltormer but they gradually became outdated. (TML)

In the townland of Oghil Beg are some traces of the ruins of the medieval Convent of St. Mary, a foundation which may have been in existence in the early Christian period. All we know is that it came under the jurisdiction of the convent of Kilcreevanty, near Tuam, before the year 1223, together with St. Mary’s Clonfert and a number of other houses in Connacht. The nuns were then Canonesses Regular of St. Augustine of the Arrosian Congregation. Their rules and observances had been introduced by St. Malachy who visited Arrouaise in 1139, and later established houses of the order in Ireland. They continued at Oghil until the Reformation, when Kilcreevanty with its possessions were surrendered to the Crown, to be later granted to the earl of Clanrickard. It remained part of the Clanrickard estate until the last (20th) century, an isolated area within O’Kelly territory. (PKE)

The progress of Catholicism continued without interruption up to the sixteenth century when the suppression of religion began to show itself. This continued unabated under the penal system up to the Emancipation Act of 1829 which gave Catholics freedom to practise religious services. (TML)

Initials in italics at the end of the above paragraphs are acknowledgements of items copied from published works:
(TML) - The Parish of Lawrencetown and Kiltormer by Tadhg Mac Lochlainn
(PKE) - Past & Present... Lawrencetown Community Hall by V. Rev. Dr. P.K. Egan
(JD) - Past & Present... Lawrencetown Community Hall and/or Echoes by John Downey

The Famine
The following tables give the numbers of baptisms and marriages in the parish in the 30 years from 1834 to 1863. Baptisms showed a slow but steady decline from 1834 to 1848. Then in the three years 1848–1851 the numbers dropped by over 60%. Marriages were around 20 per annum up to 1846 and they dropped to 5 in 1850. This information is shown graphically in the chart below.

 Year 1834 1835 1836 1837 1838 1839 1840 1841 1842 1843
 Baptisms 102 112 138 97 99 104 102 89 85 80
 Marriages 14 24 32 16 21 22 22 16 14 22


 Year 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 1853
 Baptisms 66 75 75 62 73 46 42 28 34 34
 Marriages 25 20 19 12 9 9 5 10 4 5


 Year 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861 1862 1863
 Baptisms 35 31 37 36 49 25 30 25 23 29
 Marriages 11 7 10 15 6 9 9 14 9 7

lawrencetown and kiltormer graphic

The Baptismal and marriage registers of the parish date back to 1834. From these it is possible to glean information about the names of the priests who served in the parish since that time. At the start of the Marriage register is written ‘A list of marriages commenced by me the 9th February 1834, Revd. P Galvin’. The priest’s name is not given with the baptism or marriage records until July 29, 1842, when baptismal records are signed by James Usher PP whose signature appears until November 9, 1854. The name of Richard Rafterty RCC appears between September 17, 1854 and June 3, 1855. James Cavanagh (probably PP) celebrated baptisms in the parish between June 10, 1855 and November 13, 1858. Thomas Coen’s name appears between January 18 and June 29, 1859. Baptismal records are unsigned from this to September 9, 1879 and D. Coghlan CC signed the records from this date to June 6, 1880. A plaque in the church says that Fr. Melvin was parish priest for 14 years until his death in 1894. The next signature is that of Thomas Bowes who was in the parish from December 19, 1893 to June 21, 1913. Parish priests last century were: Fr. P.J. Nagle (1924–1946), Fr. E. Hughes (1946–1964), Fr. M. O’Connor (April–September 1964), Fr. M.J. Walsh (1964–1990), Fr. C. O’Byrne (1990– ). Curates in the last century were: Fr. T. Melvin (1904–1905), Fr. M. Fulham (1905–1908), Fr. D. McHugh (1908), Fr. P.J. Mulkern (1909–1913), Fr. P.J. Leahy (1913), Fr. P.J. Nagle (1913–1915), Fr. H. Brennan (1915–1921). There was no curate between 1921 and 1942. Then the following were curates: Fr. J. Conniffe (1942–1943), Fr. P.J. Cuffe (1943–1946), Fr. P.J. Dunning (1946–1950), Fr. M.L. O’Meara (1950–1959), Fr. J. Solon (1959–1966), Fr. H. Flynn (1966–1973), Fr. T. Keyes (1973–1974), Fr. S. Slattery (1974–1981), Fr. V. Twohig (1981–1983), Fr. B. Costelloe (1983–1985), Fr. B. Kennedy (1985–1991), Fr. S. Neylon (1991–1996), Fr. H. Briody (1996–2004).

Additional Info

You can read our weekly Parish Newsletter for:

• April 23rd, 2017 PDF file icon

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