Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Bishop Michael Comerford
1889 - 1895

Michael Comerford (1830-1895)

Original photograph held by the Delany Archive: Code: P2/39.

Michael Comerford was born in Carlow Town in 1830. His family lived in Brown Street, close to the entrance to the College. He attended the local academy in 1848 entered St. Patrick’s College for his seminary education. He concluded his studies in 1855 but his ordination was not until May 1856, owing to the death of Bishop Francis Haly. He was ordained by the newly consecrated Dr. James Walshe.

His appointments as curate were as follows: Kill (1856-57); Maryborough (1857-1861); Arles (1861-62); Naas (1862-1863); Monasterevan (1863-1878). He became Parish Priest of Monasterevan in 1878.

He was named Coadjutor Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin in 1888. His consecration in the Cathedral took place on 1 January 1889. He resided in Braganza in Carlow but continued to be Parish Priest of Monasterevan until his death, having Fr. James Hughes there as Administrator. Bishop Comerford’s sudden death was on 19 August 1895.

He was outlived by the aged Bishop James Lynch, whom he had been appointed to succeed. He published a large amount of material during his life: several devotional books and pamphlets, a number of scholarly articles in historical journals and the three-volume work Collections relating to the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin between 1883 and 1886, for which he is chiefly remembered.

While Parish Priest of Monasterevan, Dr. Comerford had the parish Church of St. Peter and Paul completed, erected parochial residences and the Christian Brothers’ School. He had the Cathedral embellished and refurbished during his years as Coadjutor Bishop.



On Monday last the Most Rev. Dr. Comerford, Coadjutor Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, performed the ceremony of blessing a new bell for Carlow-Graigue Church. His Lordship, who was in full canonicals, was assisted by the Rev. Daniel Byrne PP, Carlow-Graigue; Rev. Dr. Burke, President Carlow College; Rev. John Byrne CC, Carlow; Rev. Patrick Gorry CC and Rev. J. Farrell CC, Carlow-Graigue. The ceremony, which was very imposing, attracted a large gathering of parishioners and others to the church and, being of rare occurrence, was witnessed with much interest and reverence by the assemblage.

The bell bears the following inscription:

“Dedicated to St. Fiech (SIC) - Daniel Byrne, PP. Carlow-Graigue “. The maker’s name follows - “Byrne’s Fountain Head Bell Foundary, James’ Street, Dublin“.

It arrived from Dublin on Monday morning in charge of Mr Frank F. Byrne who had it placed in position on the following day when it was tested.

The funds to purchase the bell were, to a large extent, realised by our own talented local Amateur Theatrical Company. We understand it is the committee’s intention to hand over a balance as a nucleus to the projected bell fund of Killeshin Church. With such a “God Speed” as this generous gift, the Killeshin people should soon be able to place a large bell in their church tower. Few are aware that the present Killeshin bell bears a date as far back as 1641. It is, of course, now a miserable sounding thing to have in a tower, which, we believe, is capable of holding a bell of two tons weight.

This article appeared in Fiacc's Folk 1997/98

From: ''The Parish of KILLESHIN, Graiguecullen'. by P.MacSuibhne. 1972.

Dr. Michael Comerford (1831-1895), coadjutor bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, diocesan historian whom we often quote in these pages was born at Tullow St., Carlow and baptized in the Dean Staunton parish church 28 April 1831 — no parents and no sponsors given.

His family moved to Brown Street where probably the future bishop was reared. Of him our present Bishop, Dr. Lennon, wrote in the Carlovian of 1950: "Michael Comerford, Carlow College student 1848-51 and 1852-56. Ordained 13 May 1856. Consecrated bishop 1 January 1889. Died 19 August 1895." He was an uncle of the late Mrs J. D. McCarthy, nee Dunne, of the Laurels, and a first cousin of Andy Rooney who lived in this parish. (See pp 37. 121.) He had been curate in five parishes before he became C.C. Monasterevan. In 1878 he became P.P. there.

A two-page sketch of his life in '98 in Carlow refers to the outstanding work he did in Monasterevan and to the books he wrote. In that sketch it is stated in error that he was born in Brown St. His enduring work is his Collections Relating to Kildare and Leighlin in three volumes written 1883-6. Truly he touched nothing that he did not adorn. The great stained glass window in the sanctuary of the Cathedral is his gift to tjhe Cathedral where he was baptised, received his first Communion, was confirmed, ordained priest and consecrated bishop. The fine Flemish pulpit in the Cathedral was erected to his memo the bright sun of Glenn Uisean.

(Previously published in ''The Parish of KILLESHIN, Graiguecullen'. by P.MacSuibhne. 1972.)

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