Cos. Tyrone, Donegal, Londonderry & Fermanagh Ireland Genealogy Research

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Material for a Religious History of the Parish of Kilskeery, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

Transcribed & Compiled by Rob Doragh

An article under this title in the Clogher Record, Vol, 1., No. 1., brought the story of the Parish as far as the Jacobean Confiscation of 1609.  It was in the January of that year that the “Project for the division and plantation of the escheated lands in six several counties (1) of Ulster” was issued; and by August, 1610, the lands were ready for occupation by the new colonists.  The largest division of land, corresponding somewhat to a barony, was styled a “Precinct,” which was divided into proportions of three sizes: the “great proportion,” containing 2,000 acres, the “middle” 1,500 acres, and the “small” 1,000 acres.  Only good arable land was counted in these calculations, the mountain, wood and bog being thrown into the lot; so that, in some case, the planter’s nominal 1,000, 1,500, or 2,000 acres was found afterwards to embrace as much as 10.000 acres.

Amongst the “proportions” into which the Precinct of Omey (Omagh) was divided was the “great proportion” of Brade.  The Brade lay along the western border of the barony adjoining Co. Fermanagh, principally in the Parish of Kilskeery, but partly in the Parish of Dromore, and included the “Church lands of Magherylagha, Kilskeery and Dreigh.”  In addition to its 2,000 acres of arable lands, the Brade contained, especially on its western side, great patches of forest and moorland which have since been reclaimed.  In the scheme of allotment to undertakers, the Brade, together with several other “proportions” in the barony of Omagh, became the prize of Sir Mervyn Tuchet, Knight, afterwards second Earl of Castlehaven. (2)

Castlehaven was condemned for certain high crimes, and executed on Tower Hill in 1631.  Meantime, he appears to have disposed of his “proportions” in Co. Tyrone, including the Brade, to his cousin-Germane, Sir Henry Mervyn of Hampshire, “Admiral of the Narrow Seas.” [perhaps the seas between England and France/Netherlands]  Sir Henry, on 29th August, 1626, passed the entire property to his son, Captain James Mervyn.  The latter, on 1st July, 1630, obtained a re-grant of the property to himself, his assigns and heirs forever: To be held in free and common socage. (3)  The Brade was created the Manor of Stowy, with the usual manorial rights: a fair on the 3rd May, and a market every Tuesday, at Trelicke

One of the conditions imposed upon the planters by the Letters Patent by which they held their estates, was that they should not, under pain of forfeiture, sub-let to the “mere Irish” or to any person who would not within twelve months take the Oath of Supremacy.  In other words, they were forbidden to have any Catholics upon their estates, except on the barren tracts of mountain set apart for the natives.  This regulation seems to have been systematically violated from the beginning by the undertakers.  This explains why Captain James Mervyn found it necessary to obtain a new patent for the property which he had inherited from his father, Sir Henry.  The surrender by undertakers of the first patents, and the acceptance of new ones on such conditions as the King was pleased to impose, became binding at the commencement of the reign of Charles I.  Under the new conditions the undertakers were permitted to sub-let the fourth part of each “proportion” to the “mere Irish.”

Castlehaven had already, on 1st May 1614, let his lands extensively to Irish tenants.  Their names include O’Donnelly, McCann, McCawell, O’Neale and McGillsenan; and all of these, to the number of seventeen, had each a number of sub-tenants.  Nor was Captain James Mervyn averse to “mere Irish” tenants, as appears from the Report of the Inquisition taken at Newtown, May 29th, 1632 (4).  Contrary to the conditions of his patent of 1630, and under penalty of forfeiture of his estates, he had sub-let five balliboes (about 300 acres) to native Irish tenants, over and above the fourth part permitted by law.  The names of the tenants in question were: Hugh O’Flanagan, Tirlagh O’Donnelly, Tirlagh McCloskie, Bryen O’Neale, Laughlin O’Reilie and Art boy McGlosky.

This apparent liberality towards the displaced Irish was not, however, peculiar to the Mervyn undertakers.  The fact is that the “mere Irish” were indispensable to the new landlords, if the latter were to make good on their new-found estates.  The law had become impossible of enforcement, and the Crown connived at its violation.  The Irish proved better workers than the English or Scotch; they were prepared to pay higher rents, and were willing to become “hewers of wood and drawers of water”, rather than be removed from their native districts.  Moreover, the fourth part allotted to them was “unprofitable” land, oftentimes situated a long distance from their original homesteads, and they spurned to accept of it.  The servitors in particular “greatly preferred” the natives as tenants, because they could much more easily “rule and order them than the cannie Scot and the growling Sassanach.” (5)

That the people of this Parish clung to the soil, and what was still better, clung to the ancient Faith, we have good proof.  A glance at the “Hearth Money Rolls” (vide Clogher Record, Vol 1., No 1) for the Parish shows that the majority of the householders in the year 1666 were Catholic.  A century later, the relative strength of Catholic and Protestant in the Parish was reckoned by Tennison Groves as follows:-



                                        NUMBER OF FAMILIES

                                Protestants,   Papists,   Priests   

Kilskeery …      …       280               276           --

Magheracross   …      216                 79      

                                  496               355           One

After Confiscation and Plantation came the centuries-long night of the Penal Code.  “I must do it justice,” wrote Edmund Burke of the Penal Code.  “It was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.  It was a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, and as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people and the debasement in them of human nature itself as ever proceeded from the ingenuity of man.”  Deputy Oliver St. John, who came to Ireland in 1619 with full power to wipe out every trace of the Catholic religion, boasted that in a few years he would not leave a papist in Ireland.  But in a few years, as Burke said later, “Ireland was full of penalties and full of papists.”

With the Plantation of Ulster in 1610, all parish churches became forfeit to the Crown and aliens and apostates were presented with the proceeds of church plunder.  The broad and fertile acres surrounding the old Church-centres at Kilskeery and Magheracross passed into the hands of the Protestant Bishop and Rectors, whom Sir John Davies, the Attorney-General for Ireland, describes as “mere idols and ciphers, and such as cannot read, many of whom be serving men and some horseboys.”  The Catholics, dispossessed of their ancestral lands and homesteads, were forced to flee and find shelter among the hills of Coa, or in the fastnesses of Brochar mountain.  Deprived of their church, they were henceforward constrained to worship God under the azure vault of the great temple His Divine Hand had fashioned.  Their priest, with a price upon his head, had followed them to the mountains, and in the early morning offered up the Holy Mass, with no incense other than the mist upon the hills, with no music but the wind among the bracken and no lights save the stars that shone down upon a stricken land.

A well-founded local tradition connects the border townland of Glen (Parish of Tempo), and the adjoining district of Coa, with the memory of Mass-shelters.  This tradition would appear to find strong corroboration in the following State Paper:-

Examination of Shane McPhelimy O’Donnelly, taken before me, Sir Toby Caulfield, Knight (22 Oct., 1613).

Shane McPhelimy O’Donnelly saith that about the end of May last, upon the Sunday, he was at Mass at the glen in Bryan Maguire’s country, between the county of Fermanagh and Tyrone, where Tirlagh MacCrudden, a friar there, lately come from beyond the seas, said the Mass, and was preaching the most part of the same day; and in his sermon he declared that he was sent from the Pope, to persuade that they should never alter their religion, but take the Pope to be their true head, and rather go into rebellion than to change their religion; and that the English service proceeded from the seducement of the devil.” (6)

There is no difficulty in identifying “Bryan Maguire’s country.”  Bryan was a younger brother of Cuconnaght Maguire, the last of the ruling chieftains of Fermanagh, who went into exile with the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell and died shortly afterwards at GenoaBryan’s estate of 2,500 acres, allotted to him under the Plantation scheme, lay north of Tempo: “between Fermanagh and Tyrone,” for it included the townlands of Glen and Brochar, which border Tyrone.  (Vide Plantation in Ulster, Hill.)


A popular local tradition, based no doubt on the derivation of the names, associates Badoney (both Domnaig, Sunday hut) and Effernan (aifrionn, Mass?), two townlands in the Parish, with Mass-shelters.  Local tradition is not always trustworthy, and this would seem to be a case in point.  The derivations may be correct, but the fact is that the same townland-names appear under the forms “Bodony” and “Neferhauna” in the grant of the Brade to Sir Mervyn Tuchet, dated 1610. There is a persistent local tradition, however, that Mass was celebrated in the open air somewhere near Magheracross, and that the priest and his flock were guarded by a local Protestant with loaded gun.  His name, Musgrove, is held in benediction by the older generation of Catholics in Kilskeery, and some of his relatives are still resident in the Parish.

                                                      *          *          *

Records of the clergy who ministered here in the seventeenth century there are none and in the century following there are many gaps in the list. Not that there were not always priests to be found in every parish who were ready to risk their lives for their flocks and to celebrate Mass whenever possible.  But the keeping or possession of parochial records, even if such were feasible, would obviously be very unwise in times when the country was swarming with Government spies and priest-hunters.  Nevertheless, it is remarkable to find Dr. Patrick Tyrrell, Bishop of Clogher (1676-1686), insisting that such records (7) be kept, and that, at a time when the Penal Laws were in full blast.  Perhaps such records, if kept, disappeared, or were lost, during the subsequent period of forty years when (except for a brief interval of four years) Clogher had no Bishop.


In the absence of parochial records, perhaps the difficulties under which Dr. Tyrrell exercised his episcopal functions may serve to illustrate the hardships endured by the priests of the time.  Dr. Tyrrell was co-temporary with Blessed Oliver Plunket and was, with the exception of the Primate, the only Bishop in Ulster at the time.  From the official documents of the period we learn of the extraordinary efforts that were made to capture him, but without avail.  He was obliged to live in hiding in the glens of Monaghan and, when he performed his episcopal functions, to travel in disguise.  In 1679 Ormond wrote Sir Hans Hamilton that “it would be an extraordinary service to the King and of great advantage to me that Oliver Plunket, the titular Primate, and Tyrrell, the titular Bishop of Clogher, might be apprehended.” Sir Hans, in reply, stated that he would do his utmost but that he was not sufficiently familiar with Tyrrell’s “absconding places.”  The Primate was arrested in Dublin on December 6th, 1679, but Dr. Tyrrell contrived successfully to evade his pursuers.  Towards the end of 1680, one of Ormond’s spies suggested that Dr. Tyrrell be offered a “safe conduct” and protection for a month if he came to Dublin and betray the so-called “Popish Plot”; but the Bishop was only too well aware of the value of the Deputy’s promise and declined the invitation.  In his letters, Dr. Tyrrell adopted various aliases Scurlog, and later Stapleton – which proved veritable enigmas to his pursuers.


The records amassed by the executive Government through its officials and spies, covering, as they did, the movements of every person in the country suspected of being a priest, contained, no doubt, materials for fairly complete lists of the priests of every parish in Ulster; but they were, unfortunately, all destroyed by fire in Dublin’s Record Office, in 1711.


The measures adopted by the Government of Queen Anne for the extermination of the priesthood, as a means to the destruction of the Catholic Faith in the country, have resulted in the preservation of the names of many priests whose very existence would otherwise have passed into oblivion.  The Registration Act of 1703 (8) provided that all parish priests then in Ireland should register at the local Sessions giving their names and place of abode, etc.  The temporary respite afforded by this Act resulted in one thousand and eighty-nine priests registering for the entire country, and the lists are now of great historical value.


The motive of the Act of 1703 was revealed in 1709 when a further Act was passed commanding all registered priests to foreswear their faith by taking the Oath of Abjuration (9), in default of which dire penalties were to be imposed.  The refusal of the priests to subscribe to this infamous declaration was a signal for the renewal in all its fury of the Penal Code.  From 1710 until the middle of the century the clergy, Secular and Regular alike, were obliged to live as pariahs in their own land, and we only get occasional glimpses of them in the State correspondence of the time.





  1. The six counties were: Tyrone, Colraine (Derry), Donnegall, Fermanagh, Ardmagh, and CavanDown and Antrim had already been partially occupied by Scots.  Co. Monaghan, on the execution of Hugh Roe McMahon, towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth I., had been apportioned to about eight of the principal chieftains.  (Irish History from Contemporary sources; Maxwell.)


  1. Grant to Sir Mervyn Tuchet, Knight.  The great proportion of Brade, containing lands of Glassdrom, Derrylinny, and Tollyvolly, one balliboe each; Laghirish, Lesnahaunen, Kyneyn, Dirrivickanan, Shranecor, Eadanmagehy, Mollaghmine, Corgromady, Cornetry, Cynoge, Rossnarin, Bodony, Cavanmarrane, Derreleag, Monegare, Annagh, Derrrinagle, Gravon, Glaswollagh, Derredoghill, Donalarge, Trelick, Dromnagough, Carabony, Ballyard, Eadenegonen, Keile-lknock, Laghederge, Ughtavow, Vehagh, Onan, Glangine, Rahanagh, Minegare, and Neferhauna, 1/3 balliboe each: Shraghloughart, Timory, Aghnhowe, Lisnamraher, Negullavolly, Dromskiny, Aghavella, Cornaleghy, Lettergesse, Coronally, Esker, Lettery, and Aghadare, one balliboe each: Gargrome, one and ½ balliboe; and Gortcow, one balliboe: total, 2,000 acres.  Rent, 10 L [pounds] 13s. [shillings] 4d. [pence] English.  Created the Manor of Stowy, with 600 acres in demesne, power to create tenures, and to hold a court baron.  To hold forever, as of the Castle of Dublin, in common socage.  12 March, 8th [year of the reign] (1610-11).  [balliboe -  a Tyrone measure of about 80 Irish acres –]


(3)  The tenure known as “socage” (from the French soc, a ploughshare), was considered the most favourable tenure, being a leasehold with a fixed rent.  It was distinguished from the feudal tenure of Knight’s service, which implied the obligation of military service to the Crown.  The escheated lands in Ulster were granted to undertakers, only by “socage” tenure.


(4)  Public Record Office, Dublin


(5)  Plantation in Ulster, Hill


(6)  J. Lodge, Desiderata Curiosa Hibernica (1772), I.


(7)  Sub poena suspensionis ad libitum Ordinarii infligendae teneantur Parochi tres libros, vel unum bipartitum, habere, ut inscribant nomina Baptizandorum, eorum parentum et patrinorum, diem, annum, et locum Baptismi, item Confirmatorum et Defunctorum, necnon numerum familiarum aliarumque personarum in suis respective parochits degentium. _ SpicilegiumOsssoriense, vol., II., p.109.


(8) 2. Anne, C.7. This Act was later improved upon, to the effect that no parish priest should maintain a curate or assistant.  As only parish priests were free to register, the object of the Government was to ensure that according as they died out their parishes would remain vacant, for no successors would be recognised by law.


( 9) 8; Anne, C.3.






Cineadh O’Kelly, Bishop and Erenach, died 809 A.D. (A.F.M.)


Rory O’Cassidy, Archdeacon of Clogher, confirmed in the Vicarage of Kilskeery by the Primate, Octavian de Palatio, 1502 A.D. (Register of Armagh).  Died 1541 A.D. (A.U.). Compiler of the Register of Clogher.


Hugh McQuaid, Parson and Vicar of Cuilmain (Magheraculmoney) and Parson, Vicar and Erenach of Kilskeery.  Died 1536. (A.U.)


The Rev. Bryan O’Kerulan registered in July, 1704, at the Sessions in Omagh, as Parish Priest of Kilskeery.  He was then 45 years of age, and resided at Grannan.  He was ordained in 1688 at Kilkenny, by Dr. James Phelan, Bishop of Ossory (Public Record Office, Belfast).  Of Fr. O’Kerulan’s missionary activities we have no record, nor do we know when or where he died; but the fact that he resided at Grannan, the Eastern extremity of the Parish, at the foot of Brochar mountain, is not without significance.  Where did he celebrate Sunday Mass?  Only the people of the Grannan district may guess.


Fr. O’Kerulan’s cotemporary Rector in Kilskeery was one Nicholas Browne, and paradoxical though it may seem, Mr. Browne was teaching the Bible through the medium of Irish at a time when the Catholic Pastor probably lived in hiding.  Browne had attained a commendable proficiency in the native language, and not only taught the Bible in Irish, but also used the Prayer Book in Irish at services, and was “remarkably successful.”  He also translated into Irish the first part of Thomas a KempisImitation of Christ.”  Of Browne, a Catholic priest said: “His Church had stolen the prayers of the Church of Rome,” to which a parishioner answered: “If that be so they have stolen the best, as thieves generally do.” (a)

The Report of the Sheriff of Tyrone in 1731, shows that there was then one priest in the Parish and that he had two altars, or Mass-gardens.  He added: “One Fryer, who calls himself Corry, frequently preaches here,” (Public Record Office, Dublin).  This Friar Corry resided in Coa, where his memory is still preserved in local tradition.  He was succeeded in Coa by another Franciscan Friar, the Rev. James Maguire, who remained in charge of the area until his death, on 3rd September, 1760.  His grave is in Pubble Cemetery (Parish of Tempo), and is marked by an inscribed stone erected by his brother, Roger Maguire.


Coa, a Chapel of Ease in the present Parish of Derryvullen, has had a chequered history, and adown the ages seems to have been the unwanted Cinderella of the neighbouring parishes.  A hilly district lying mid-way between Trillick and Enniskillen, Coa belonged to the class of land described at the Plantation as “unprofitable” and relegated to the “mere Irish”.  Originally it formed part of the pre-Plantation Parish of Derryvullen.  During the seventeenth century, and the greater part of the eighteenth, it was united with Pubble under the charge of a resident priest, generally a Friar.  Friar Tyrlough McCrudden (vide supra) is the first priest we find referred to as being in charge of this union.  During Friar Corry’s time, Coa would appear to have been united to Kilskeery, for Coa was the locus of the second altar referred to in the Sheriff’s Report of 1731.  On the death of Friar James Maguire in 1760, Coa came under the jurisdiction of the Parish Priest of Kilskeery and so remained for a period of 68 years.  On the death of the Rev. Francis McMahon, P.P. Kilskeery, in 1828, Coa was united once again to the Parish of Derryvullen.


The Rev. Eugenius Connolly, Pastor de Kilskeery, Clogherensis, appears as on of the signatories in the “Statement of the clergy of the dioceses of Kilmore and Clogher in favour of Francis Maguire, O.F.M., 6th September, 1753.” (Dun Mhuire, Miscellaneous papers, Arch. Hib. Vol. XVI.).


The next pastor of the Parish of whom we have record was a Fr. Goodman, who was in charge of the Parish in 1770.  How long he survived that date we cannot say.


Fr. Goodman was succeeded by a Fr. Devine, who died here in November 1810.  An Obituary notice of him in the Erne Packet, Nov. 28th, 1810, reads:- “Died at his house last week, the Rev. Mr. Devine, Parish Priest of Magheracross, a clergyman of the most strict piety, and correct deportment; through life esteemed and beloved by his acquaintances and friends, and now universally regretted.”


The Rev. Francis McMahon, C.C. Donacavey (Fintona), succeeded.  He was a native of Ballytrain, Co. Monaghan. He was inducted here by the Rev. Patrick Bellew, P.P. Donacavey, early in December 1810.  During his pastorate he secured from Col. Mervyn Archdale, the local landlord, a site for a Church in the townland of Stranagomer.  This Church, built by Fr. McMahon, 1820-1821, and dedicated under the patronage of St. Macarten, is, so far as we know, the first Church to be built in the Parish from the time of the Plantation.  The location is fairly central for the Parish; but the situation in the bottom of what was until recently an almost unapproachable ravine, subject to periodic floods, is a monument to the bigotry under which the Catholics of this Parish have been crushed even to our own day.  The popular name “Magheralough” (Machaire Locha, plain of the lake), is probably due to the proximity of the picturesque lake, with crannog, situate in the adjacent townland, Magheralough.


During the years that preceded the passing of Catholic Emancipation, the fairs and markets of this neighbourhood were the scenes of constantly recurring conflict between Catholics and Protestants, owing to the bitter hostility of the Orange faction to any relaxation of the Penal Laws against Catholics.  A serious party riot, attended with considerable bloodshed, occurred in Trillick, on the 14th May, 1821.  A detachment of the 91st regiment, then stationed in the town, had to be called out to quell it.  Fr. McMahon, on every available opportunity, used his influence with his flock to withdraw them from these faction fights.  So successful was he that in June, 1824, when the party spirit was at its worst, we find “the perfectly peaceful state of Kilskeery” attributed to “his prudent and praiseworthy efforts.”


He was called to his reward on the 10th December, 1828, at the early age of 48 years.  His remains are interred in St. Macarten’s Church, where a mural tablet with the following inscription commemorates him:-


This Monument is erected to the Memory of the

Rev. Francis McMahon

Pastor of Kilskeery and Co (a),

during 21 years.  He was a talented

scholar, warm friend, an ex-

emplary Christian, and an attentive

Pastor.  This Chapel, now his

tomb, built by him in 1821, is

one of the many proofs left behind

him of his zeal for religion.

He died, regretted by all who

knew him, Dec. 10th, 1828, in the

48th year of his age.

May his soul rest in peace.


The Rev. Henry McPhillips, who succeeded Fr. McMahon after a lengthened interval, was a native of Tonagh in Aghabog parish, Co. Monaghan.  He had been a curate in Carrickmacross parish for four or five years previous to his appointment here.  The delay in his appointment seems to have arisen from the fact that his fellow curate in Carrickmacross, the Rev. James Mac Meel, was offered and had accepted this Parish, and, soon afterwards resigned it.  That he actually accepted the Parish is clear from contemporary records.  It is equally clear that he was still curate in Carrickmacross in 1830.  We have found no records of Father McPhillip’s pastorate, nor do we know the date of his death.  He had a brother, Hugh, in the sacred ministry, who was drowned at the Kesh, in the townland of Davagh, parish of Killeevan, on the 19th February, 1837, in the 32nd year of his age.


The Rev. Thomas Traynor, P.P., Aghabog, was promoted to this Parish in November, 1842.  He completed his preparation for the priesthood in Maynooth College, which he entered on the 25th August, 1825.  He was ordained in 1829, and his first curacy was in the parish of Clogher.  An attack of paralysis in the year 1847 totally incapacitated him for parochial work.  His last entry in the parochial registers is dated 15th September, 1847.


Fr. Traynor was known to the parishioners as the “Sagart Mor,” and was much sought after for a cure of the “Evil.”  On leaving Aghabog he brought with him the Aghabog Register (liber bipartitus) of Baptisms and Marriages (August, 1840 - April, 1842), which he continued to use as Register for this Parish.  The book served the purposes of Kilskeery Parish until the year 1862, when the records met on either side of a leaf and a new Register was opened.


Fr. Traynor died here on the 30th April, 1864, and his remains, were interred in the Parish Church, where a mural tablet has the legend:-


Be you then       the Son of

also ready            Man will  

for at what              come.

                                                 hour you             

                                                  think not.          Luk. XII, 40.

Rev. Thomas Traynor

Pastor of Kilskeery for 21 years,

Died April 30, 1864,

Aged 66 years.


On Fr. Traynor’s death the parishioners petitioned the Bishop to appoint as his successor the Rev. James Shiels, C.C. who had discharged all the duties of this laborious Parish for 17 years.  The Rev. John Grey Porter (b), Protestant Rector of Kilskeery, wrote a strong letter to the Bishop urging Fr. Shiels’ fitness for the pastoral charge of the Parish.  Needless to say, Dr. McNally was not influenced by either appeal.  Fr. Shiels was otherwise provided for in the first week of June, 1864, when he was appointed P.P. of Donagh Park.  From there he was promoted, in 1878, to his native parish of Tydavnet, where he died, November 1st. 1883.


The Rev. Patrick J. McMahon, C.C., Aghnamullen East, was appointed Parish Priest on the 1st June, 1864.  He was born at Laragh, in the Parish of Aghnamullen East, where he was appointed C.C., after his ordination.  He received his early classical education from a Mr. Dwyer of Laragh, and was spoken of as one of the greatest preachers of his time.  He completed his preparation for the priesthood in Maynooth College, where he entered the class of Humanities, on the 25th August, 1840.  After six years spent as Parish Priest of Kilskeery, he was, in 1870, promoted Parish Priest of Aghnamullen West.  In 1880, he was appointed Parish Priest of Donaghmoyne, where he died on the 13th August, 1888.  Shortly after his appointment to Donaghmoyne, Fr. McMahon was appointed a Canon of the Diocesan Chapter, of which he became Precentor a short time before his death.


The Rev. Patrick Clifford, P.P., Ematris, succeeded in 1870.  He had been C.C., Monaghan (1855-1861), and Adm., Monaghan (1861-1864), previous to his appointment as P.P. of Ematris.  During his six years in Ematris he built the beautiful Church of the Immaculate Conception – the first Church in the Diocese designed by the eminent architect, William Hague.  On his arrival in Kilskeery, he found a virgin soil as far as parochial buildings were concerned, and soon set about applying the knowledge born of experience.  During his time here he built four Primary Schools - Kilskeery I., Golan, Grannan and Roscor – and the fine Parochial House, “Millbank,” which, however, he left saddled with a heavy debt.  On Sunday 17th March, 1877, Most Rev. Dr Donnelly, Bishop of Clogher, preached a charity sermon to raise funds for the Parochial House.  The proceeds amounted to £427.  Canon Clifford himself, at the invitation of his successor in Kilskeery, Fr. Bartley, preached a charity sermon in aid of the Parochial House, on the 20th September, 1885.  His Lordship, Dr. Donnelly, and Canon Clifford contributed £10 each.


It was in the year 1880, while Parish Priest of Kilskeery, that Fr. Clifford was honoured in being promoted a member of the Diocesan Chapter.  A zealous churchman and man of affairs, genial and hospitable to a fault and ready in repartee, Canon Clifford was one of the best known and most influential priests of his time.  Having spent 13 years in this Parish, he removed to Inismacsaint, and thence, in 1887, to Donacavey, where he died July, 12th, 1894.  A native of the Ardaghey district of Monaghan Parish, his relatives include a grand-nephew in the sacred ministry, the Very Rev. A. G. Connolly, President of St. Macarten’s College, Monaghan.


The Rev. John Bartley, P.P., Tehallen (1880-1883), succeeded.  He was a native of Carrickmacross, and made his ecclesiastical studies in the Diocesan Seminary and Maynooth College, where he matriculated on the 15th November, 1860.  He was curate in his native parish from 1870 until 1880.  During that time, he and his fellow curate, the Rev. James Hughes, were very active in the Land League and early Parnellite struggles, and both achieved considerable distinction as platform orators.  Fr. Bartley was uncle to Joseph and Mary Anne O’Hagan, Carrickmacross, Dr. O’Hagan, Dundalk, and Mrs Daniel McNello, Iniskeen – a well-known and highly estimable Catholic family.  He died in the Parochial House, “Millbank,” on the 27th October, 1889, and was laid to rest in St. Macarten’s Church.  No monument marks his tomb therein, but his memory is preserved by a small mural tablet inscribed in these terms:-


This Communion Rail

was donated by

Miss Mary A. O’Hagan,

of Carrickmacross

To the memory of

Rev. John Bartley, P.P.,

of this parish 1883-1889.

Pray for them.


The Rev. James Canon McQuaid, P.P., Donaghmoyne, succeeded.  A native of Donagh parish, he had been P.P. in Derryvullen (1868-1876) and Cleenish (1876-1888), previous to his appointment to Donaghmoyne.  His brief pastorate of fifteen months in the last named parish seems to have been unhappy, due to the attitude of the more advanced element of the Land League campaign of the time.  In Kilskeery, the older generation speak of him as a kindly, attentive, holy priest.  In 1892, he resigned this Parish to accept Devenish East, where he died on the 1st July, 1906.  It was in the year 1880 that Canon McQuaid was advanced to membership of the Cathedral Chapter, of which, in 1895 he became Treasurer.


The Rev. Philip McGinnity, C.C., Enniskillen, was appointed Parish Priest in 1892.  He was a native of Muckno parish, and a student of the Diocesan Seminary and St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he was ordained in the summer of 1879.  He served as curate in Aghalurcher, Inismacsaint and Enniskillen, prior to his appointment as Parish Priest of Kilskeery.  During his pastorate, which extended over a period of fourteen years, he built Trillick I. Primary School, renovated the Parish Residence, and effected many improvements to the Church and Schools of the Parish.  By zealous attention to his spiritual duties, and by frequent missions, he left the Parish a model of virtue, fervour and piety on his transfer to Drummully in 1906.


The Rev. Edward Maguire, who succeeded Fr. McGinnity, was born in Roslea parish, in the townland of Bunlogher, - a circumstance that accounts for his distinctive title, “BunMaguire.  A student of St. Macarten’s Seminary and Maynooth College, he was raised to the priesthood by Dr. Donnelly, in his private chapel, on the 27th December, 1882.  He served on the mission in the parishes of Derryvullen, Donacavey, Aghnamullen East, Errigal Truagh, Tehallen and here, before his appointment as Parish Priest.  He died rather suddenly on the 14th June, 1906.


The Rev. Matthew Maguire, Adm., Tempo, succeeded.  A native of Aghavea parish, he made his ecclesiastical studies in St. Macarten’s Seminary and in Maynooth College.  He was ordained to the priesthood in the year 1885.  Prior to his appointment to the pastoral charge of Kilskeery he had served as curate in the parishes of Monaghan, Magheracloone and Dromore.


A zealous and devoted priest, an ardent advocate of the Gaelic revival and an enthusiastic supporter of every movement for the betterment of the lot of the poor, he worked with tireless energy and boundless enthusiasm, but unfortunately with little system or order, for the spiritual and temporal advancement of the people entrusted to his care.  After a few days’ illness following an operation, he died in a Dublin hospital on the 13th March, 1927.  His remains were brought home to Kilskeery and interred, midst most poignant manifestations of his people’s grief, in the grounds attached to the Parish Church.  The monument erected to his memory is in the form of a Celtic Cross and is inscribed:


To the Revered Memory

of a Beloved Pastor,

Rev. Matthew Maguire,

Parish Priest of Kilskeery,

1906 – 1927.

Died 13th March, 1927.

Requiescat in Pace

“Whose memory is in benediction.” Ecclus.


The memory of “Father Matt” as he is called, was further perpetuated in the Parish hen, on Easter Sunday, 17th April, 1949, the “Father Matt Memorial Hall” was opened in Trillick Gaelic Park by the Right Rev. Mgr. Gannon, P.P., V.G., Enniskillen.  This spacious and artistic hall was dedicated by “St Macarten’s Gaelic Football Club, Trillick, and the people of the Parish, to the memory of a great, illustrious and beloved priest, patriot and Gael.”


The Rev. Francis McManus succeeded on the 2nd April, 1927.  He was a native of the parish of Aghalurcher, and he made his studies for the priesthood in the Diocesan Seminary and in Maynooth College.  He was ordained a priest in Maynooth College

In June, 1903.  He served as curate in the parishes of Tullycorbet, Enniskillen (1910-1922) and Carrickmacross (1922-1927).  During his pastorate he effected many important improvements to the ecclesiastical property of the Parish, the most notable as well as the most necessary of which was the remodelling, the enlargement and the complete renovation of the Parish Church.  He died after a brief illness at “Millbank,” on the 29th March, 1939.  The monument to his memory in the New Cemetery, which he himself laid out, is inscribed:


Pray for

The Happy Repose

of the soul of

Rev. Fr. McManus,

For 12 years Parish Priest

of this Parish.

Who departed this life

29th March, 1939.



The Rev. John F. Timoney was appointed Parish Priest of Kilskeery in succession to Fr. McManus, on the 15th April, 1939.  He was a native of Devenish West and was educated at St. Macarten’s Seminary and Maynooth College, where he was ordained priest.  He served as curate in Muckno (1911-1917), Donacavey (1917-1928) and Inismacsaint (1928-1939) before coming to Kilskeery.  As result of an injury received while ball-playing at Maynooth, he developed acute arthritis as a young priest, so that even before his appointment to this Parish he suffered greatly.  Despite the living martyrdom of his pastorate, he evinced a zeal and interest in God’s work that was truly admirable.


In 1943 he supplied along felt want when he purchased a residence for the curates of the Parish in the townland of Cordromedy, and convenient to the town.  Totally incapacitated for parochial work in the final year of his pastorate, he died on 29th October, 1949.  His remains are interred beside those of his predecessor in the New Cemetery, where his monument stands inscribed:


Pray for the happy repose

of the soul


Very Rev. John F. Timoney

For 10 years Parish Priest

of this Parish.

Who departed this life

On the 29th October, 1949,

Aged 67 years.



Rev. Bernard O’Daly, a native of Killany parish, Co. Louth, succeeded on 29th November, 1949.


*     *     *




Rev. William Gleeson     …   …   1837-1840

Rev. James McDonnell  …   …           -1847

Rev. James Sheil           …   …   1847-1864

Rev. John Cassidy         …   …   1864-1871

Rev. James Meegan      …   …   1871-1873

Rev. Michael Duffy         …   …   1873-1876

Rev. Michael McCarthy  …   …   1876-1877

Rev. Cormac Smollen    …   …   1877-1879

Rev. Eugene Gerrity      …   …   1879-1885


Fr. Gerrity was a native of the Co. Meath.  He had been a curate in many parishes in the Diocese.  He retired from missionary work and lived in a little cottage on the lake shore at Latton, Aghnamullen West parish.  He died at Drumcondra, Co. Meath.


Rev. John Dillon            …   …   1885-1886

Rev. James Smyth        …   …   1886-1890


There is in use in the Parish a large silver pyx inscribed:


“Living Rosary, Kilskeery, 1887,

James Smyth, C.C.


Rev. Patrick Keown       …   …   1890-1894

Rev. Luke Bogue           …   …   1894-1899

Rev. James J. Mohan    …   …   1899-1900

Rev. Bernard Maguire   …   … 1900-1903

Rev. John McKenna      …   …   1903-1904

Rev. Edward Maguire    …   …   1904-1906

Rev. Michael Donnelly   …   …   April-July 1906

Rev. James McNulty     …   …   1906-1907

Rev. Edward Mohan      …   …   1907-1909


Fr. Mohan was a native of Drumully parish.  He was educated at St. Macarten’s Seminary and at Maynooth College, where he was ordained priest, 1901.  He died at the residence of his father on 1st April, 1909.


Rev. Peter Farnan         …   …   1909-1911

Rev. Patrick J. Sreenan …   …   1911-1915

Rev. James McManus   …   …   1915-1922

Rev. Henry O’Hanlon     …   …   1922-1928

Rev. Patrick Cullinan     …   …   1928-1931

Rev. Thomas Finnegan …   …   1932-1933

Rev. Patrick Flanagan   …   …   1933-1938

Rev. Michael J. Donnelly … …   1938-1940

Rev. Terence Kirke        …   …   1940-1946

Rev. William J. Carty      …   …  1946-1952

         Do.           Adm. 24th September 1949-

                                    29th November 1949

Rev. Edward Slevin       …   …   1948-1949

Rev. James McMahon   …   …   1952- 





(a) Leslie, Clogher Clergy and Parishes, 67.

(b)  He was the purchaser of “Clogher Park,” after it was vacated by the Protestant Bishops of Clogher, in 1870.