Our parish is partly situated in the barony of Dunkellin but mostly in Loughrea. Isserkelly was also a parish called Pobal Mac Hubert. The Ardrahan parish east of Castledaly was also added to Kilchreest. Dr. Fahy assures us of these facts in his book. It is clear that Isserkelly and Killinan were once separate parishes within the diocese of Kilmacduagh.
At the start of the Great Famine Castledaly was still in the parish of Ardrahan. A lot of our parish is on the Slieve Aughty hills, which are behind our school. Today they are about 200 houses in Kilchreest. Kilchreest is of course part of the ancient diocese of Kilmacduagh east of the diocese of Clonfert.
As one travels along the mountains roads one cannot but be affected by a deep and abiding sense of the past. Here and there are scattered ruins of whole villages and isolated houses and the abandoned schools remind us of the many families who worked their small holding and cut their turf on the many bogs in the villages between the mountains. Alas the landscape is changing as the forestry department plants and drain. How many people in Sydney, Philadelphia, and London and elsewhere can trace their roots to these isolated mountains valleys! On the North Slope of Roxboro Mountains the Rhododendrons in full bloom in June are a beautiful sight. Deer were once plentiful on these mountains but are now almost extinct.
Castledaly Church, with The Daly Tomb
Castledaly Church, with The Daly Tomb
The Dalys were originally transplanted from their lands in Co. Westmeath to Dalysgrove during the Cromwellian plantation. They were a Catholic family. Peter Daly son of Dermot Daly bought Corbally from the Blakes around the 1820s. The Dalys replaced Corbally castle with the magnificent new residence and planted the hill slopes with trees. We can not fix the
exact date when Corbally came to be known as Castledaly. The Dalys were in possession of the land until the 1940s.
Castledaly house had 52 windows. There was a large orchard at the back of the house. A gatehouse stood at the entrance.
Many great families lived in Ballyshea. Paddy Murphy was a great storyteller and historian and he could trace family histories back for generations. He died a young man.
Jack Riordan was another great character. He’s been dead for about 30 years. He was fond of porter and he walked to Kilchreest three times in the one day. He was an expert on all jobs on the farm. He believed that whenever you met a young lad you should give him a clout because if he wasn’t going into mischief he was coming out of it. Riordans are supposed to have buried a barrel of poitín in a neighbour’s field.
Augusta Gregory was born in Roxborough House in the year of 1852. Augusta was the daughter of Dudley Persse. She was one of 16 children. As a child she was quiet and shy. The biggest influence on her young life was Mary Sheridan her nanny. She was a Catholic. Augusta spent much of her life looking after her wild brothers. She often went on shooting expeditions with her brothers in Chevy –Chasa .Her sister Elizabeth married Shaw-Taylor of Castle-Taylor.She was a Proselytiser. Augusta‘s brother Frank was very close to her.
He married a Catholic. When Augusta was 27 her eldest brother Richard fell ill Mrs Persse took him to the south of France. She also took Augusta to help with the nursing. It was here that she met her future husband. When Augusta was 28 and Sir William was 63, they married, and they went to live in Coole. In 1881 her only child Robert was born. 1892 Sir William died at the age of 75. Augusta was the 40 and spent the next 40 years a widow. Robert Gregory became a RAF pilot and was shot down over Italy. He left 3 children Anne, Catherine and Richard. Two still survive. She lies in the New Cemetery in Galway.
Roxboro House Today
The Mac Hubert Burkes were the landowners from the 13th to the 17th century. Towards the end of the 17th century Roxborough came into the possession of the Persses. Dean Dudley built the mansion at Créig a’ Roíste and changed the name of the place to Roxborough. The house was white walled, with high-pitched Gables, red blinds in the windows, green-painted window boxes full of flowers. The entrance gate has always been referred to as the ‘The Grand Gate.’ It was large and cold and rats were a constant nuisance. The yard is now in ruins but we can still see the cow-houses, the dairy, the stables, and the kennels, the forge, he carpenter’s shed and the coach-house. The bell-arch can still be seen also. The orchard extended to 3 acres and was surrounded by walls 10 feet high to prevent theft and to protect the trees. Fruit trees were plentiful and their paths were lined with Gooseberry and Strawberry bushes. Flowers and vegtables grew together. A wall and a small gateway divided the orchard. We can still the hen house. Dudley Persse had a sawmill erected on the river and he cut much of the heavy timber. There was a Dam here and the pillars still survive. The river had been artificially widened to form a lake before the house. Now the Headds own the yard and some of the land.
Cromwell, The Kilchreest Connection.
All though Cromwell never set foot in Kilchreest, he has two local associations. The bell on the old church was removed and hidden as a precaution during the Cromwellian campaign. It was never found and it is supposed to be hidden down in the Callows.
The first Persse came to Ireland with Cromwell and as a reward got a large amount of land at Roxborough. The first of whom there is written record of, is Dudley Persse, who was in a Anglican orders and rose to be Dean of the diocese of Kilmacduagh, acquiring from [ironically enough] the two English Kings with Roman Catholic sympathies, Charles II and James II, [extending].
From Kilchreest to the Whitehouse;
Castledaly House today
If you ever visited the Whitehouse you might take a stroll through the garden and you might see some gooseberry bush that came William Perrse of Roxboro. William Perrse and George Washington were good friends. They used to write letters to each other and some of the letters still survive in Boston. They never met in person they only wrote letters to each other. When William Perrse send over the gooseberry bush he told George Washington to put some dunk under them to make them grow better. George Washington sent back a stuffed turkey to William Perrse. The Perrse had a summerhouse in New Quay and they called it Mount Vernon after the summerhouse of George Washington. Later on the Perrse sold it to the Gregorys of Coole. When Lady Gregory lived in Coole she became very fond of Mount Vernon. George Washington never visited Ireland.
Anthony Daly came from Closdoken. He was a strong man and leader of the “Ribbon men”. In 1820, Daly was accused of shooting at James Hardiman Burke of Saint Clearns. At his trail in Galway, Daly said that it was easily known that he was innocent because although he only had one eye, if he had fired he wouldn’t have missed him! Never the less he was sentenced to be hanged on Hill Seafinn Cave two miles from Kilchreest. He was brought from Galway jail on a horse and cart seated on his own coffin. A large crowd came to his hanging. Raftery, the famous poet was there and composed a poem. Daly’s last request was a long jump. Today there is a monument on the hill and a verse of the poem is inscribed on it.
Parish Priests of Castledaly. 1855-1887
1855 –56 Fr. Martimer Brennan who was a native of Killimor.
1859-64 Fr. Edward Coleman.
1864-66 Fr. A Hanrahan.
1866-67 Fr. John Forde (Junior)
1868-73 Fr. John Kemmy. He was involved in the Trench V Nolan election controversy.
1873-76 Fr. T. B. Considine. He was also involved in the Trench V Nolan controversy. The clergy advised the people to vote for Nolan as he was favourably disposed towards Catholics. The controversy was very bitter at one stage. In 1876 Fr Considine became parish priest of Ardrahan. 1876-83 Fr. Patrick Geraghty. He erected the belfry on the church and also the fine painted roof. He later became parish priest in Kilthomas.
1883-85 Fr Thomas Burke.
1885-87 Fr Francis Cassidy.
1887 Fr Cassidy became parish priest in succession to Fr Michael Burke. He built the present parochial house.
John Wesley started the methodist movement in England. His ideas influenced many people and today there are millions of medodists throughout the world. At first he belonged to the established church but he broke away and attracted a large following. During his lifetime he covered a ¼ of a million miles preaching & teaching.
Wesley visited Ireland many times and came to Kilchreest on his last three visits.
1785 On his first visit he found ” A large number of the plain people to whom I preached in the yard.”
1787 This time the audience was so large that he had “To stand in the open air though the wind was high & cold. One young man found the sermon funny at first but quickly changed his tune.”
1789 At the age of 86 John Wesley preached for the last time to a large crowd in Kilchreest. On one of his visits William Persse in Roxboro entertained him.
Farming long ago:
Every farmer had a common cart, which was very useful. It had cart creels and covers for wheels. Quinns of Athenry made the carts. For going to mass or visiting they might have a trap or sidecar. Two horses pulled the plough. Harrowing was done with a common harrow and later with a spring harrow. Seed was shaken by hand and often covered by a bush. Some farmers had seed barrows. Drills were opened with a double plough. The scuffler was used to weed drills and to cover potatoes. A horse – drawn digger, dug the potatoes.
Kilchreest in 1798
In 1799 27 men from south Galway were trialed for being members of the United Irish men. Most of them were from Adrahan. Though some were from Kilchreest.
At the turn of the century there were as many weavers as houses in Kilchreest. Families spun and wove their own clothes. After the 1798 Rebellion there was a great distrust of the Catholics by the Protestants landowners.
It was at this time that a colony was formed on the Peresse estate of about 20 protestant families imported from the north of Ireland. According to tradition there were evictions in the locality around this time also. The Protestant families proved to be trouble some and the experiment was not repeated.