28 Aug 2000.
© Rory Murphy 2000.

Kilmyshall, now the curacy of the Parish of Bunclody, was once a more important region than Bunclody, which gave the R.C. parish its name since 1825. In the early church, all this area was under the influence of St. Colman’s Templeshanbo; his territory including the present Kilrush parish. Kill-maig-iseal, the old rendering of Kilmyshall could translate as "the middle Church in the Plain", the plain being the area between the Mount Leinster and Slieve Buidhe and the church being the middle of three, viz. Templeshanbo, Kilmyshall and Kilrush. This "middle church" was situate in the Old Cemetery just off Ryland Hill, the road leading from Clohamon –where there was a stone causeway crossing of the river Slaney- to Kilmyshall Village and on to Templeshanbo the ancient residence of St. Colman. Bunclody did not come into prominence until James Barry purchased the town and attached estate, from the Annesley family, circa 1719, and changed the name to Newtownbarry.

Kilmyshall was firmly rooted in the MacMurrough-Kavanagh territory. The Clan had castles at Clonmullen, Carrigduff, Clohamon and Ryland, encircling the Church at Kilmyshall. When Donald Kavanagh of Clonmullen, (affectionately known as Donal Spáinneach from having spent some years in Spain) died in 1632, his will had decreed that he be buried with his ancestors in Kilmyshall. The Kavanagh gravestone in Kilmyshall does not bear his name or that of his granddaughter, "Eileen Aroon" who was also interred there. It does however have the name of his great-granddaughter, Eleanor Booth wife of Lieut. Booth of Clonegal who was buried there in 1717. Why were the names of the others not inscribed there? The obvious answer is that the practice of inscribing gravestones did not begin in Ireland until about 1700, those who departed before that time were not commemorated in that fashion. Occasionally, some lines were recorded over burials places before that date, but this was the rare exception rather than the rule.

For much of the time in medieval days, Kilmyshall was the residence of the Parish Priest and thus a pivotal point of the huge parish of Templeshanbo. In Bishop Sweetman’s "Visitation Book" is a note of he having administered the Sacrament of Confirmation in 1753 "in the old chapel of Bouley Philip".


This showed that the church had been moved from its site in the Old Cemetery to Ballyphilip (or the Crosses, as it was better known locally) by that time. Before a parish re-alignment in 1825, the parish of Templeshanbo consisted of some 21,000 acres and had seven R.C. church areas within its territory, viz. Ballindaggin; Kiltealy; Caim; Marshalstown; Castledockrill; Kilmyshall and Bunclody. In that year, the former three were detached from the rest to form the parish of Ballindaggin. In 1925, Marshals-town and Castledockril were made into the parish of Marshalstown while Kilmyshall and Bunclody were constituted into the parish of Bunclody.

Going back a few centuries, in 1567 Thomas Stukley, an Englishman, was made Seneschal of Wexford. He was granted the Constable-ship of the castles of Carlow, Leighlin, Ferns and Clohamon plus a lease of the "Castle, town & manor of Enniscorthy, the Abbey of Downe and the manor of Clohamon". The Kavanaghs knew Stukley as a man of little principle and it galled them to see him lord it over the Kavanagh lands and occupy the castles that they had built. Donal attacked Clohamon Castle on 20 June 1579 and made it uninhabitable for evermore. This stronghold was close to the old Church in Kilmeashall.

In 1580, Thomas Masterson, the then Seneschal of Wexford, attacked Clonmullen and killed forty of the Kavanaghs and their retainers. Most were killed, not in battle but were captured and ignominiously hanged, drawn and quartered as their families looked on. Donal escaped the carnage and his reprisal was swift and furious. With a retinue of 200 men he ranged the country far and wide spoiling the persons and the property of the settlers, seizing their horses and cattle and leaving mass destruction in his wake. He raided the settlers as far away as Sigginstown in the southeast of the county and New Ross in the southwest. Masterson in a document attributed forty nine such raids to Donal over a three year period.

The Kavanagh’s continued to hold sway and in 1634, Sir William Brereton, a much travelled English chronicler, records visiting with Sir Morgan Kavanagh and his Lady in their castle at Clonmullen. It was not until the Cromwellian invasion of 1649 that the Kavanaghs were driven from the area "and beyond the nine stones", their power ultimately broken.