Fr Tom Fogarty P.P., blessing the plaque which outlines the history of Ballymoreen since 1291
Annual Mass: Pat Bracken addresses attendees at the graveyard Mass at the cemetery and church ruins
“As we gather here this evening in Ballymoreen church and graveyard to remember our loved ones, we do so at a time when there is a renewed interest in Pilgrim Paths and the sites of pilgrimage which our ancestors walked to many centuries ago and which people do again today for a wide variety of reasons. Holycross Abbey was undoubtedly a site of pilgrimage, as was also Kilcooley Abbey. These monasteries collectively give a sense of how important our ancestors viewed their Christianity, something which we also demonstrate by our presence here this evening. Locally we are in the midst of monasticism with Mochoemog - St Kevin - of Liathmore; the monastic settlement at Derrynaflan, and also at Daire Mar, near Longfordpass. There was also an early church settlement at Turtulla, called Killastregan. Tradition also has it that there was a church site, now lost, around Drumboe/ Curraheen, called Kildarmody in an area known as Tinnakelly - a name which will be found on one of the headstones here in the graveyard.
Ballymoreen church ruin and graveyard is fairly typical of many such church and graveyard sites dotted around the country. The late Archbishop Morris noted in his account of church sites in the diocese of Cashel and Emly that it was also called Villa Amorri and Villa Amorici in papal taxations which were levied on the church in the 13th and 14th centuries. We think also of Galboola, just a short distance away from here; the old church and graveyard in Moycarkey; a similar one in Two-Mile-Borris, while in Littleton we have St Mary's Church and graveyard, now into its third century as a place of worship, the spire of which we can clearly see from this graveyard. In Littleton also is the church of Our Lady and St Kevin and its adjoining cemetery. These are all sacred places in which people have come, and continue to do so, to pray and remember their loved ones, demonstrating that the wider community is one which has been long associated with Christianity.
As you can all see, at the centre of the graveyard is the ruin of a pre-Reformation church, mentioned in a papal taxation at the end of the 13th century. The graveyard contains the mortal remains of Catholic and Church of Ireland members of our community and people from further afield. Many of the older headstones are now very illegible. However some of the headstones were recorded at the end of the 19th century by John Butler of Ballyhudda. The oldest memorial identified here is that for John Russell, Ballydavid, who died on October 1, 1727 - 292 years ago. From 1727 to the present day there is some record, whether on a grave memorial, in the newspaper or the parish register for the names of over 550 people who have been interred here. There are many more interred here, especially from before 1900, for whom there is no record, but we too remember all of them here today.
The roadway linking Dublin to Cork, which runs to the east of the graveyard was constructed some time around 1739. Like the modern motorways of today, it too had tolls, which were called turnpikes, and we all know where the turnpike is locally. Similarly to our left is the road leading to Pouldine and further afield. There is an oral tradition that this road cut through the north side of the graveyard, hence the straight wall which would not have been a feature of a typical medieval church site. The field inside the hedgerow was never ploughed on account of this.
In remembering all those interred here I have just picked one memorial, it stands in the church interior. It was erected to the memory a six-year old boy, Robert Atkinson, from Co. Cork, who died on May 10, 1776. We know nothing of who he was or that part of Cork where he came from. Did he have family relations in the community or did something happen to him on the roadway as he travelled to or from his home in Cork? It is likely that we will never know. But here in Ballymoreen his memory lives on for eternity, as does the memory of all those buried here and those buried in the other graveyards in the parish.
All the memorials here in Ballymoreen have been photographed and transcribed, except for the more recent memorials and names added to some headstones. A copy of these has been uploaded to the Tipperary Studies website. Family relations and friends will be able to scroll through the pages at home or download a copy to your own computer.”
Pictured below left to right: Michael Kinane, Frank Roche, Pat Bracken, Fr George Bourke, Mary Ryan, Thomas Bracken, Matt Purcell, Cecil Melbourne, Liam O'Donoghue, Fr Tom Fogarty, Imelda Williams, Marty Graham, John Costello, Billy Sweeney. Missing from photograph are Joe Graham and Dick Pyne
The above talk was given by Pat Bracken at the annual Mass in Ballymoreen graveyard on Wednesday, July 19, 2019. An historical wall plaque was blessed by Fr Tom Fogarty P.P. and unveiled by Cecil Melbourne representing the local Church of Ireland community and by Matt Purcell on behalf of the Ballymoreen Graveyard Committee who include: Margaret Bannon, Imelda Williams, Breeda Kinane, Billy Sweeney, Michael Kinane, Joe Graham, Marty Graham, Thomas Bracken, Richard Pyne, Frank Roche and John Costello.
Since the clean up of the interior of the church in 2012 Mass has been celebrated on a yearly basis within the walls of the original church which is now in ruins. Thanks to Pat Bracken, Liam O'Donoghue and Fr George Bourke A.P., who researched the historical detail of the plaque and to James Slattery who designed and cut the stone.