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Rosenallis Parish

Source: Rev. M Comerford Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin Vol. 2

The present ecclesiastical district known as the parish of Rosenallis is composed of the old parish of Rosenallis proper, with a portion of that of Rearymore.

The ancient parish of Rosenallis forms the S.E. portion of Hy-Regan, now the Barony of Tinnehinch. It is bounded on the N. and N.W. by the parish of Rearymore; E., by the parish of Castlebrack; S., by the parishes of Ardea and Clonenagh; and S.W. by the parish of Offerilan. Rossanallis, now corruptly pronounced Rosenallis, seems to be the church called Ros Finghlaise, by ecclesiastical writers. This name signifies the wood of the Finglas, or clear stream, an appellation which would be applicable enough to the townland in which the original parish church stood. This parish was dedicated to St. Brigid of Kildare, as we learn from Colgan, in his chapter de Ecclesiis et locis S. Brigidae in Hibernia dicatis, - amongst which he inserts this church, - "Templum S. Brigidae in vico de Rosfinnglas in Hyriegain" and in the List of Churches supplied by Dr. Rosse MacGeoghegan, Bishop of Kildare to Colgan, it is set down as "Ecclesia parochialis Stae Brigidae de Rossanollis." A further confirmation of this is the fact, that a Holy Well in the village of Rosenallis bears the name of this Saint. No portion of the old structure is now in existence, its place being occupied by the new Protestant Church. An ancient Round Tower stood opposite the door of the church. It was described to Dr. O'Donovan, in 1838, by an old man, who often saw and examined it as "a narrow steeple of rough masonry, not so high or well built as the steeple of Timahoe." It was pulled down some years before that date by the protestant minister. Sir Charles Coote, who saw and examined this tower, did not believe it to be one of the ancient Round Towers about which the antiquarians of the last century have written so much.

"The Quakers," he writes, "have a large burial-place well enclosed, near the village (Rosenallis), and on the rise of the hill, which is all a vast rock, stands a very neat and handsome Protestant Church, and the walls of a round tower are contiguous to it, but not one-third as high as these circular towers seen through the kingdom, nor evidently was it built for the like purpose. The walls of wind-mill stand at some distance from the village, and bear strong resemblance to the tower just described, but the former has no entrance." Miss Beaufort, in her Essay, &c., quotes the Parochial Surveys in support of a statement that Rosenallis is supposed to derive its name from Rossa Failgea, son of Cathoir Mor, monarch of Ireland in the second century; but Dr. Petrie (Round Towers, pp. 40-41,) shows that there are no grounds for this assertion.

This ancient parish forms the central portion of the territory of Hy-Regan. It is bounded on the N. by the King's County; E. and S.E., by the parishes of Castlebrack and Rosenallis; S. by the parish of Offerilan, in Ossory; and W., by the parish of Kilmanman. There were two places of the name in Leinster. We are not told what this Reary was, but it is more than probable it was a fort or residence of a Chief. The old natives of the parish say that there was formerly a rath on the top of the hill at Rearymore. The name Reary, (more being added to distinguish this townland from Rearybeg,) seems to have been first applied to a fort and afterwards to a little church erected near it by St. Fionan, which was finally applied to the parish belonging to that church. The ruins of the old church of Rearymore are still to be seen in the townland of that name,of which portions of the N. and W. walls are standing, and, near them, Holy Wells springing from rocks with white-thorn bushes growing near, in this parish is situated the townland of Tinnehinch, which contains the ruins of the principal castle of Hy-Regan, from which that territory received its baronial name. The present ruins of the castle are very trifling, but it was certainly, when perfect, a castle of considerable importance and extent. In the account of the division in four parts of the lands and chiefries in suite between Tadie Doyne, (O'Dunn) and Charles Doyne, this castle and appurtenances are mentioned, as belonging to the second division, in words which give us a clear idea of the importance of the building. "The castle of Tenahinsie, the hall, the chambers at the end of the hall, the stonewall of an hall which joineth to the castle, the kitchen, the brew-house, the back-house, the stable, the porters lodgings and all the houses within the Bawen; the two gardens, the four orchards, the park and the meddow on the south syde of the castle, the myll and all the houses on th' easte syde of the river of the Barrow in the towne and fields of Tenahinsie, in the territory of Iregari in the Queen's County."

In the Annals of the Four Masters are found the following references to this locality.

"A.M. 3549. The twentieth year of the reign of Eithrial, son of Irial Faidh, son of Eremon, when he fell by Conmhael, son of Emer, in the battle of Raeire." (Identified as Rearymore by O'Donovan.)
"A.D. 1547. At this time the forces of the Lord Justice were (engaged in) erecting a fortification in Leix around Badhun Riaganach, where he left warriors to oppose O'Conor and O'More." On this passage O'Donovan (Ord. Surv. Papers,) writes: "This Badhun-Riaganach is the Bawn Regan of the old map of Leax and Ophaly on which it is shown near the source of the river Barrow. It can be no other than the castle of Tinnahinch. The Four Masters are wrong in placing it in Leix, for it certainly was in Ophaly."
"A.D. 1555. The Lord Justice of Ireland mustered an army to march into Munster. O'Brien mustered another army to oppose him, and marched into Hy-Regan,to meet the Lord Justice. They (however) made peace with each other; the Irish, from the Barrow to the Shannon, on the part of O'Brien; and the English of Munster on the part of the Lord Justice."
It is said that there are 22 priests interred at Reary; a record of their names and other particulars is known to have existed in the district about 60 years ago, but it cannot now be discovered. The following monumental inscriptions are to be seen there: -

"Here lieth the body of the Rev. Father Keadaugh Dunn, who departed, the 6th of July, 1714, and was Priest in the Barony of Tenehinch, 40 years."
"Here lie the Remains of the Rev. M. Valentine Dunne, Rector of Rosenallis and the annext parishes, and Chancellor of Kildare. Aged 78 years, and 43 years P.P. of ye said 17 D.
Departed, May the 22nd, 1780."
"Here lieth the body of the Rev. John Kinin, who departed this life the 10th May, 1734."
"To the memory of the Rev. Thaddeus Dunne, P.P. of O'Regan. Descended of an ancient family in this Parish, devoted to virtue and to piety from his earliest years, he was admitted to the sacred ministry in the prime of life. Having completed his studies in the College of Lombards in Paris, he returned to Ireland and, after some years spent in the faithful discharge of his duties, was appointed Pastor of his native parish, over which he presided for six and twenty years. The simplicity of his manners, the piety of his demeanour, and unremitting attention to the wants and interests of his flock, obtained for him the respect of all classes of people, and secured to him the confidence and affection of those committed to his charge. He died greatly regretted, after a short illness, on the 6th day of April, in the year of our Lord, 1828; of his age, the 60th. R.I.P."
The present fine parish church of Rosenallis was erected some 20 years ago, on a site bestowed for that purpose by the late Mr. Piggott, of Cappard, who also generously contributed £200 towards the work. The following inscriptions are copied from monuments placed in this church: -
"In memory of Rev. John Byrne, P.P. of Rosenallis, who departed this life January 20th, 1847, aged 57 years. Requiescat in pace."
"Of your charity pray for the soul of the Rev. Richard Coffey, P.P. of Rosenallis, who died 10th of May, AD 1877, in the 55th year of his age. On whose soul sweet Jesus have mercy."
"Underneath lie the mortal remains of the Rev. Andrew Hipwell, of Wrinn, who died the 18th day of March, 1864, in the 40th year of his age, eleven of which he devoted, with great piety, zeal, and efficiency, to the sacred duties of his ministry. His life from childhood was spent in the service of his God, in the well-founded hope of an eternal reward. May he rest in peace."
"Erected by Mrs. Dunne, of Rathangan, to the memory of her beloved brother, Rev. James Fleming, who departed this life on April 12th, 1872, aged 64 years. Requiescat in pace."

Rosenallis having been united to Clonaslee until the year 1793, the succession to that date has been already given in the chapter on Clonaslee. On the translation of Rev. Patrick Dunne, to Kilcock, in 1793, Rosenallis became a distinct parish, over which FATHER HOSEY was appointed Parish Priest; he died in 1802, and was succeeded by REV. JAMES CONRAN. Very soon after his appointment, Father Conran, with the consent of the Bishop, arranged an exchange of Parishes with the P.P. of Ballon, Co. Carlow, - REV. THADY DUNNE, previously of Ballon, succeeding to the Parish of Rosenallis. In 1811, Father Dunne received the pastoral charge of Clonaslee in addition to Rosenallis. He died April 6th, 1828, and was interred at Reary. On the death of Father Dunne the parishes of Rosenallis and Clonaslee were again separated. REV. JOHN BYRNE was appointed P.P. of Rosenallis. He died in 1847, and was buried at Rosenallis. REV. JOHN MOONEY succeeded. Father Mooney had been originally a Dominican. He died in April, 1876. Rev. RICHARD COFFEY succeeded; he died May 10th, 1877, and had for successor the present Pastor, The REV. MARTIN F. MAHER