MOCOLLOP CHURCH AND CEMETERY
In early 1999 I contacted the Parish Priest of nearby Ballyduff Upper in Co Waterford, Rev Kevin Mulcahy, and asked if he knew anything about the history of the Mocollop Church and cemetery. He certainly did. Fr Mulcahy wrote:
"I began to say an annual Mass in Mocollop cemetery 11 years ago. We have a couple of people who clean the cemetery every year. I thought we ought to have Mass there once a year. Great crowds come out for it. One local person cleared out the Church - removing a tree, bushes, briars and weeds - we discovered a lovely tiled floor ...".
Here is a photo of that tiled floor, previously hidden under overgrowth:
Father Mulcahy also forwarded some notes about Mocollop, prepared by the Diocesan Historian:
"Mocollop (plain of the steer). Site of a very ancient Church which, since Norman times was dedicated it seems to St. Michael the Archangel. A famous Holy well in the parish dedicated to St. Michael but the pattern has ceased for a long time.
Presumably Mocollop Church had an early Irish Saint to whom it was dedicated but I cannot find who he or she was. The great interest of Mocollop since the 15th century is the castle which was an important stronghold of the Desmonds (Fitzgeralds or Geraldines) whose sphere of influence went from Dromana right over to mid Kerry.
Presumably many of the Desmond chieftains were buried near the old Church. It is certain that James, 7th Earl of Desmond lived in Mocollop for some time and died there in 1462.
For many centuries prior to 1866 Mocollop was annexed to Lismore but am sure that burials took place in the old cemetery.
In 1844 the Church of Ireland broke from Lismore and established the Protestant parish or curacy of Mocollop. In setting up the Protestant parish the boundaries are described as follows: bounded on the north by the parish of Shanrahan, on the south by the Bride river, on the east by the glen of Glencairne, and on the west by the parish of Kilworth; that is to say the townlands following: "Mocollop, Ballylavane, Ballyduff, Ballyduff Ultra, Boolishill, Clonbeg, Garrisnagowl, Waterpark, Shane, Shanebeg, Barrycloyne, Ballynaroon, Coolnagordy."
The Protestant Church was completed and dedicated on 10th October 1820, the title being St. Mary's. There was certainly a curate there in the 1920's (or 1820's?).
All through its history Catholics and Protestants were buried there without any discrimination. The McGraths whose magnificent tomb is still preserved in the Protestant Church Lismore were from Mocollop: they were at one stage custodians of Mocollop Castle for the Desmonds. I have no account of prominent burials in the cemetery but I am sure there were many, especially connected with the Desmonds."
According to an article in Decies, quoted earlier, the ancient Church referred to above was beside the site of the present Church (and see a further reference to the old Church in the text of an article reproduced on another webpage at this site). It is more likely, however, that the burial ground has existed at or near the same location. Indeed, when you approach the cemetery from the road it is obvious that it is a self-contained, raised, area. Here is a photo of the Church and cemetery from the distance and another of the entrance gate.
I have heard separate confirmation of the historian's statement that "All through its history Catholics and Protestants were buried there without any discrimination". In 1935 a local identity in the Araglen area, known as "The Caist" (Tomas O Rioghardain), then aged 79 years, was interviewed as part of a folk lore project. He remembered the Strangmans and stated that when they moved from Waterford to Araglen in Co Cork they were all Protestants but converted to Catholicism. They were all buried at Mocollop, Protestants and Catholics, "tri na cheile" - all in together.
Here is an excerpt from a map of the area, showing the Church (centre) in relation to the castle (bottom). It is a little blurred. The school no longer exists but there are now some houses in the vicinity of that location. The parallel lines in the lower left- hand corner with a dotted line between them represent the Blackwater River. Ballyduff is several miles to the right along the road that runs past the "school". Other locations surrounding Mocollop, moving in a clockwise direction from the left of the image, are: Inchinleama West, Raspberry Hill, Inchinleama East, Carrigane, Snagbee, Ballynoe West, Lyre West, Ballinlevane West, Scartnacrodha, Clonbe, Ballynerroon East, Ballynerroon West.
MAP No 2
Here is another map of the wider area which John Paul Bradford located. It is from a map of Munster c.1572 possibly drawn by Robert Lythe. Lismore is where the river turns to the left.
More on the Church and cemetery.
Back to main Mocollop webpage.
Enquiries about this site: Denis Strangman email@example.com