History of Allen Parish

The History of Allen Parish

By Maurice Musgrave

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The Hill of Allen, as seen from the spire of the Church of the Holy Trinity. (The Parish Community Hall is in the foreground)

  1. The History of Allen Parish (this page)...
  2. Ownership of Land read more...
  3. Penal Laws read more...

The Parish of Allen comprising the old parochial divisions of Kilmeague, Rathernan, Feighcullen and Pollardstown is a scattered rural parish stretching from the Curragh Edge in the South to Blackwood in the north and from Robertstown in the east to near Derrinturn in the west. The parish takes its name from the Hill of Allen and indeed from the Bog of Allen.

The district of Allen was a place of note in the remote pre-Christian past and its chief topographical feature, the Hill of Allen, situated in the centre of the present parish, was the site of the summer camp of Fionn MacCumhail and na Fianna. A small mound called Suidh Fin or Fin’s Chair occupied the highest point on the Hill of Allen.

This area, possibly due to its inaccessibility and its isolation, had a very large number of early Christian settlements.

The parish of Allen has one of the oldest Christian graveyards in Ireland in Crosspatrick, which according to Comerford’s history of the diocese, dates back to the time of St Patrick himself.

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Crosspatrick graveyard - one of the oldest Christian graveyards in Ireland

Kilmeague: ‘The Church of St Maedhoc or Mogue.’ It is not certain to which saint of that name the old church of this place is dedicated.

Feighcullen: ‘Cullen’s Wood.’ This was the site of an ancient church that existed up to the end of the 18th century. “The rude Baptismal Trough used in this Church in primitive Christian times is now preserved in Allen” (Comerford). A stone trough does exist and it is in Allen, but research currently being conducted by Mr. Niall Meagher, Naas, has not yet established if this, indeed, is the original baptismal trough from Feighcullen.

Pollardstown: Ruins of a church, 34 feet in length and 26 feet in breadth still remain.

Rathbride: A small church was built in Rathbride in 1603, but following sectarian strife, it was razed to the ground in 1605. The holy well in Rathbride, known in ancient times as ‘The Black Well’ or ‘St Bridget’s Well’ is now known as ‘Fr. Moore’s Well’. Fr. Moore died on 12th March 1826, aged 47.

Grangeclare: This name is included in a list of churches drawn up in 1640 by Dr. Ross McGeoghegan, then Bishop of Kildare.

Rathernan: A small portion of the old church is still visible. It is believed that the walls of this church and also the walls of ‘St Patrick’s Church’ in Crosspatrick were pulled down to supply building materials for the village of Kilmeague.

Milltown: The present Church at Milltown was erected in 1817 by Rev. John Lawler PP. A portion of the east gable of an older chapel of the Penal times still stands near the modern church. An even older church at Milltown or Ballymuillen is mentioned again in Dr. McGeoghegan’s list of churches.

Killcora: The site of a small church and burial ground in Derrymullen is also mentioned in Dr. McGeoghegan’s list.

Allenwood: The Tin Chapel in Allenwood was opened in April 1890 and school classes were held in this chapel from 1890-1929. The present church in Allenwood was built by Very Rev. Edward Byrne and opened in 1954.

Ballyteague: In the townland of Ballyteague, in the centre of the bog, is the spot called ‘The Priest's Corner’, where Mass was celebrated in Penal times.

  1. The History of Allen Parish (this page)...
  2. Ownership of Land read more...
  3. Penal Laws read more...