Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Paddy Purcell Remembers!

(Courtesy of ''The Parish of KILLESHIN, Graiguecullen'. by P.MacSuibhne. 1972.)

Images of Killeshin Chapel and interior by W. Muldowney c2006

The first parish priest he remembers is Fr. Dan Byrne. He had the reputation of having laid a ghost in Carlow; someone who used to give light weight. Fr. George was a huge big man. He used to sleep over the vestry in Killeshin , along with the big drum of the Killeshin Brass Band. In warm weather he used to perspire. He used to teach catechism on the flat stones: also the serving of Mass to the servers including Paddy.

May Sunday was very prominent From above the chapel down to Fitzpatrick’s the road outside was covered with stands: they used to come on Saturday night from Tullow and everywhere. You’d get 8 oranges for a penny, also currant bats, 8 for a penny and Peggy’s Leg. If you had 4d you'd be hard set to carry away what you’d get. You paid a halfpenny going into Mass; a halfpenny is all you’d get.

The graveyard would not hold all the people that would be there. Paddy has a photo of the crowd, the men with hard hats, the ladies with bright colours. The chapel would not hold half of them. The celebration died out during the First War. Fr. Nicholas Cullen revived it.

Both Fr. Dan and Fr. George were very well liked. So also Fr. Hugh Cullen who used to advise the people not to be smoking. ‘‘Do you know what you are smoking?” he’d ask. Cigarettes were only coming in at that time. He was always a advising people what to do. He was very concerned about the poor. He gave land free to the Urban Council in 1913 to build houses, He wanted two-storey houses, as you could put up more of them. The Urban Council wanted only one-storey houses. He used to say to the council: ‘‘Put the roof’ on and let the people in’’.

Fr. Bolger was an army chaplain and came in uniform. Fr Dunny had charge of the parish until he came. Fr. Dunny lived at Somerton, the Parochial House. He was a great horseman. He was very sorry to leave Killeshin.

An English firm named Tinkers took down St. Anne’s Church. They lost a great deal of money on it, as they did not realise that the stones were dowelled. A young English lad, Leonard Selby, aged 17, got killed. Paddy brought him down to St. Mary’s Church on a hand-cart and made a lead coffin for him the following day, before he was brought to England.

Fr. Fogarty was very reserved, but was very sympathetic with anyone who would go to him. One of the priests said, in joke no doubt: “I’d earn more playing a tin-whistle on the street than what I’d get in Killeshin parish.”

The curate’s new house was built in Fr. Nick Cullen’s time. Paddy built it. Mr. Powell drew an elaborate doorway, but it was probably too costly. Fr. Cullen and Paddy brought the Killeshin players to Coon. In Africa Fr. Cullen used to sing “Glory O, glory O to the bold Fenian men,” for the Africans. He did a great deal of work on the graveyard. He took down all the trees and straightened the headstones.

Mulhall, solicitor, who worked for Sadleir and Keogh is buried inside the gate in Killeshin, next to John Hammond. Pat Symonds, a carpenter, unmarried who did two shop-fronts in Carlow, the shop next to Governeys’ and Resterick’s, is buried in Killeshin.

Mrs Mullins who lives beyond Bill Bolton is over 90; she remembers Fr. Pat Maher. Fr. James Maher was sent to Paulstown to reform the people there; they threatened to take his life. There were 600 pupils in the schools of Killeshin in 1824. Where did they fit? There were 903 in Carlow and 1200 in Rathvilly.

Fr. Arthur Murphy C.C. was very jolly and great at mixing with the people. Fr. O’Haire PP. was very saintly; he used to go to Holy Cross Church, Killeshin every day to pray. Years ago the whole parish, even drinkers, used to come down to do the Stations at 3pm on Sundays during the seven weeks of Lent. Then they’d go to Mayo and from that to Arles and do the Stations in the three places. Priest Deegan used to come from Arles to Killeshin. People from the three parishes used to do the same. Tom Toole who lived in Rossmore had words at will. All the priests used to enjoy him. The writing on the stations was hard to read. Priest Deegan asked Tom “What station is this?” “By the puffing you’re doing, you must be coming into Maganey” said Tom. Men, women and children would come to the Stations. But the First World War finished all that.
Then 1916. Miss Gorman and Miss Devine were Paddy’s two teachers. They were splendid, Miss Devine is buried near the vestry door. Paddy has a photo of the school, with its Gothic windows.

Note from Michael Brennan: Peggy's Leg was also known as Liverpool Toffee In America it would be called Candy. Source:


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