By Jim McCarthy
In the year 1481 William Roche, Bishop of Cloyne, visited Churchtown and demand the rent of Kilgrogan from Dominus James, son of Nicholas Barry. The Roman Catholic Parish of Churchtown is united to that of Liscarroll. In 1680 the Parish Priest of Churchtown and Liscarroll was Rev Daniel Daly and he lived at Lackaroe, near Lisgriffin.
In 1714 Maurice Browne was Parish Priest. In 1730 the PP of Churchtown and Liscarroll was Rev John O’Brien who was born in the Parish of Mitchelstown. He was a noted Gaelic poet. He was a dark complexioned man and was affactionately known as “An Sagart Dubh”. He died in 1750 and was buried in Carrigdowane Cemetry near Rockmills, Kildorerry. One Sunday recently I stood at his grave.
Rev William Joyce was PP from 1750 to 1761 when he was transferred to Ballyhea. Edward Dwyer was PP from 1761 until 1763. Rev Maurice Hallahan was appointed PP in Churchtown in 1763. He died in 1767 and was buried in Kilbrin. Rev Denis McAulliffe OFM was PP from 1767 until his death in 1775. Rev Pierce Mansfield was Churchtown from 1775 to 1798. He is buried in the grounds of St James Church, Mallow. Rev William Norris was PP from 1798 until his death in 1812.
In 1812 Rev Daniel O’Brien was appointed Parish Priest. He died in 1838 and was buried in Kilgrogan Cemetery one mile North of the village on the banks of the Awbeg. Rev David O’Leary was appointed PP in 1838. He was Adm Buttevant in 1820 Mourneabbey 1829-38.
Fr O’Leary built the present Parish Church in Churchtown in 1839. He died on March 25, 1859 and was buried inside St Mary’s Church, Buttevant, where can be seen a marble mural to his memory. He lived in the village in the house which in my schooldays was the curate’s house. The last curate to reside there was Rev Jim Savage, late PP Castletownroche.
In 1859 Rev William Tuomy came to Churchtown as PP. He was Adm Fermoy since 1857. Fr Tuomy built the present Parish Church in Liscarroll. He died on August 12, 1872 and is buried inside Churchtown Church.
Rev Charlie McCarthy was Parish Priest of Churchtown from 1872 until 1878. From 1846 to 1848 he was curate at Mitchelstown. In June 1848 Fr McCarthy was appointed PP Aghina. In 1867 he was appointed to the parish of Castlemagner where he remained until coming to Churchtown as PP in 1872. Until that time the Parish Priest’s of Churchtown had no permanent residence until the family of Fr McCarthy purchased a house and some land near Granard, midway between Churchtown and Liscarroll which they presented to the Parish Priest.
Fr McCarthy was very proud of his home and always referred to it as “My Castle”. Until this day the place is known as Castle McCarthy. Rev Charles McCarthy died on April 10, 1878 and was buried inside Liscarroll Church. Rev James Barry was PP Churchtown from 1878 to 1891. Rev Timothy O’Keeffe was PP 1891 to 1901. Rev Eugene
O’Connell was PP from July 1901 until September 1902 when he became PP Kanturk.
Fr Peter McSweeney came to Churchtown as Parish Priest in October 1902. He was a native of Ballyvourney and was educated at Colman’s College, Fermoy and Castlenock College, Dublin. He was ordained at the Irish College, Paris in 1871. Fr McSweeney spent his early years on the Mission in Belfast in the Diocese of Down and Connor. Around the year 1878 he was recalled to his native Diocese of Cloyne and appointed Curate at Glantane. Fr McSweeney later served as Curate at Rathcormac, Fermoy and Macroom. Fr McSweeney died on February 28, 1925 at the grand old age of 82 years and was buried in the churchgrounds at Churchtown.
Rev Daniel Foley was appointed Parish Priest of Churchtown and Liscarroll in March 1925. He was born at Coolcoum, in the Parish of Ballyhea, just acouple of miles down the road from Churchtown Village. He was ordained at Maynooth College on August 12, 1880. Fr Foley ministered in the Parishes of Midleton, Cloyne and Killeagh before coming to Churchtown as PP in 1925.
Rev Daniel Foley was first cousin to Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne, Australia and Bishop Daniel Foley of Ballarat, Australia. During the years when I was attending the old school in Churchtown Fr Foley called regularly when we all had to sing for him. He was a fine singer himself and he always sang a song or two for us pupils. His favourite song was “The Bonny Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond”. Rev Daniel Foley died in March 27, 1945 and was buried in the grounds of Liscarroll Church.