KILLMALLOCK ABBEY – Saint Saviour
KILLMALLOCK ABBEY – Saint Saviour
CHARMS AGAINST SORROW
A charm whereunto grief must yield—
The Charm of Michael with the Shield.
Charms before which all sorrows fail—
The Palm-branch of Christ and Brigit’s Veil.
The charm Christ set for Himself, when the Godhead within Him darkened;
And when He cried from the Cross that His Father no longer hearkened.
When you are bound down by the Cross and night is blackest before you,
A charm that shall lift off sorrow’s weight and to joyful hope restore you.
A charm to be said at sunrise when your hands your heart are crushing,
When the eyes are red with weeping and the madness of grief outrushing.
A charm with not even a whisper to spare,
But only the silent prayer.
THE FRIARS OF KILMALLOCK
(fr. John O’Heyne, O.P.)
In the same County of Limerick there is a walled city, situated in a fertile locality, which is called Killocia by Ware and others who write in Latin. A beautiful abbey was founded here in 1291 by the illustrious Fitzgerald, earl of Desmond, the ruins of which, still in existence at the present time, show the former magnificence of the structure. This house was nobly endowed by this lord and possessed very beautiful and fertile land in the neighbourhood. It abounded also in more precious goods, namely, in embers distinguished for sanctity and learning, of whom
The first that occurs to my mind is: —
The illustrious JAMES O’HURLEY, a man of remarkable piety and learning who studied in Spain and after his return was often prior, once provincial and afterwards bishop of Emly. His immediate successor was Terence Albert O’Brien, about whom we have spoken above.
Two of our fathers were killed by the Protestants under Cromwell, in this convent of Kilmallock. I do not know their names, but I have been informed of the act by one who was prior there for six years.
Brother WILLIAM O’GORMAN, a lay brother, getting up onto the bell-tower, defended himself with courage against his aggressors, until the Catholics came to his assistance, this brother afterwards went to Spain and remained for I long time in the great convent of Valladolid. He was I skilful tailor, so he obtained the favour of being received there at once. In a short time he became a greater favourite, when it was discovered that he had the gift, given him by God, of curing various diseases by the touch of his hand. In particular, he infallibly mired tumours, so that those suffering from them came to Madrid to this brother from all the neighbouring places. On being transferred thence, he acted as sacristan in the convent of our Blessed Lady of Atocha. Afterwards he was procurator-general for the Irish province in the Court of Madrid where he died in universal esteem. I heard at Madrid that his power of healing tumours was merely a natural gift, owing to the fact that he was the seventh male child in succession, nor having been born between nor any still-birth having taken place. However this may be he was a good religious, serving God and his Order faithfully.
Father HENRY BURGATT, of the same community, a man of great genius though of small stature, studied at Burgos in Spain where the older brethren remember him well, for they often said in my presence (I was living there as a cleric for one year) that they had never known I young man of greater talent. His gifts showed themselves in Ireland, where he expounded the truths of the Gospel for many years with such learning, and elegance, that learned men marvelled how so small a man could be the possessor and eloquent exponent of so much knowledge. He distinguished himself not only by knowledge of spiritual things but by a most exemplary life, believing that an apostle should be not merely a light but a burning light and should preserve the salt of good works. This eminent man was well versed in dogmatic theology, canon law and controversy; strengthened by the study of the ancients, he was able to crush the enemies of religion in argument and converted many of them to the faith, the more learned among them fearing to meet him in controversy lest they should be confounded.
Hearing that the ever-memorable King James, already a declared Catholic, had been crowned, he was very glad, and when some of the gentry on a certain occasion remarked with sadness that his Majesty had no child, Father Burgatt replied that he would have two children by the same queen. On being questioned if there would be a son, he answered that there would be one son at least. This conversation took place fully four years before the birth of our present king, James HI., and so the event having proved the words of this eminent man, it seems to me that he uttered a prophecy. Sometimes his room was seen brilliantly lighted by night, all the rest of the house being clothed in darkness. He was consulted as an oracle by all persons in difficulty and doubt.
As I have already said, he converted many persons of quality to the faith; amongst others was the high-sheriff of the county of Limerick, called [Sir Simon] Purdon.
Sought after by the Protestants in 1681, when Hell seemed to have conspired against all the Catholics of these unhappy kingdoms, he was praying in his rosary on one occasion and became invisible to those who were seeking for him in the same room, though plainly seen by all the Catholics who were standing about, and thus by the aid of Jesus Christ he escaped their hands. After tranquillity had ensued, the fierce persecution having partly subsided, it was affirmed under oath to the persecutors that he had been actually praying on his knees in the house of Purdon the convert, in the very room in which search was being made for him; the searchers on their part swore that they did not see him at all. This story is no invention of mine; I got all my information of the fathers of this convent, from Father PETER KENNA who for six years ruled the convent of Kilmallock as a good and vigilant prior, and he affirms that he heard all this from the Catholics who were present in the room where Father Burgatt was praying. This venerable priest departed this life, fortified by the last sacraments, in Purdon’s house and was buried in the Franciscan abbey of Askeaton. If peace should ever return, his brethren of Kilmallock hope to transfer the remains to his own convent.
Father DONOGH MAGRATH, a famous preacher, flourished in the same convent about 1641, as well as the two distinguished religious, Father Thomas Gibbon and Father Thomas Racoly (Rahilly?).
Fathers CHRISTOPHER BURGATT and FELIX BURGATT, brothers by birth and in religion, and cousins of the above-mentioned father, were men who were very observant of their rule and exemplary in every respect.
Father GERALD GIBBON studied in Spain and being made subprior on his return, was such a good manager, that alone he provided all necessaries in abundance for the support of fifteen religious. This beloved man, meeting the enemy by chance in County Kerry, was killed in the neighbourhood of Listowel, in 1691.
Before 1641, a great preacher flourished there called WOODS, and also a Father DOMINIC MEADE, prior of the convent, who was a distinguished man.
FATHER BAGGOTT also, lector of philosophy and moral theology. The Father Kenna we spoke of clothed seven in the habit there, of whom two died in France, and one, called Father JOHN MAGLANE, has been confined in Limerick prison for ten years, for converting a Protestant to the faith; another, FATHER O’HEYNE, who studied in Spain and also in Rome in the college of the Minerva, is, as I have heard, a good religious and a man of uncommon talent.
Pause, reader, and take note of this shocking event.’’
In 1602, that instrument of hell, the pseudo-queen of England, Elizabeth, passed a law of suppression against all monks in Ireland and ordered the confiscation of all their goods. The Benedictine, Cistercian and other monks sent a petition to Elizabeth to give them a safe conduct out of the kingdom. She willingly agreed, commanding them to gather together on a certain island, called Inis Cárthaigh in Irish and Scattery Island in English, which is about fourteen leagues from Limerick. Assembled on this island from all parts of the kingdom were forty monks, two fathers of our own under the name of Cistercians, going as agents to the Catholic powers on behalf of this afflicted country, and seven also of our novices from the convents of Limerick and Kilmallock. A large man-of-war was sent to take them all away, but when on board and launched out on to the high seas; they were all thrown into the ocean by the secret orders of that diabolical woman. As soon as the captain and the sailors and soldiers belonging to that ship returned, she threw them all into prison and degraded everyone of the officers, in order that the people should believe her innocent of this infamous deed. But at the same time she let them know that nothing would be done to them in punishment of the crime, and she even rewarded the men whom she had ostensibly imprisoned, with a part of the goods of the abbeys, belonging to those whom their sacrilegious hands had drowned; and some of their wicked posterity are still living in Ireland. Oh more than horrible crime!
In County Limerick is a cell of the Dominicans of Kilmallock, situated in a place which is called Ballinagall, that is, the town or burgh of the English. Since 1650 none of our brethren have lived there, a defect which must be remedied at a future date, if the Lord should be pleased to restore us.
(fr. Ambrose Coleman, O.P.)
Founded in 1291, in spite of violent opposition from the bishop of Limerick, as the following official documents show: —
1291, Oct. 3. "The King’s writ to Wm. de Vesci, Justiciary of Ireland. The King (Edw. Ill) had been informed by the Dominican friars of Ireland, that having by grant of the King, so far as he could grant, and by protection of the sheriff of Limerick, entered a piece of land in the villa (town) of Kilmallock, given to them by a burgess of that villa to dwell in, they were ejected therefrom and their house destroyed by the clerks and servants of the bishop of Limerick, chief lord of that villa, and by his orders. The King therefore commanded the Justiciary to inquire, by the oath of twelve men of that villa and its neighbourhood, by whom and by whose authority the friars had been expelled, whether the land owes any rent of service to the lord of the fee and whether the residence of the friars there would tend to the prejudice of the King, or the lord of the fee, or any other person. The Justiciary shall certify the inquisition to the King, under his seal and the seals of those by whom it shall have been taken, together with the writ.
The inquisition was taken at Cashel, on Monday, Dec. 31, 1291, and twelve burgesses were sworn, Who upon their oath say that the friars had by grant of the King, so far as he could grant, purchased in Kilmallock of John Bluet, senior, burgess of that villa, a piece of land; that having remained in seisin of it for seven weeks, they were, by order of Gerald, bishop of Limerick, ejected therefrom, and their houses levelled by Raymond the dean, Robert Blund the archdeacon, Simon Fitz John, canon of Limerick, Thomas Ketyng, Walter de Caherhussoc, Walter de la Roche, chaplain, William Leynach, chaplain, Gregory, chaplain, Roger Young, chaplain, Walter Cook, seneschal of the bishop of Limerick, John Dullard, John Caher, Geoffrey de Caher, Richard le Blund, cousins of the archdeacon aforesaid, Alan Gyllefides, Raymond le Crouter, cousin of the dean aforesaid, Henry Bagg le boscher, and Geoffrey the doctor. They further say that this piece of land owes no rent or service to the bishop, as lord of the see and that the residence there of the friars would not tend to the prejudice of the King, the lord of the fee, or any other person
Judging from the above, there was evidently no one who could claim the position of founder, and the annalists are silent on the point. Up to the time of the dissolution in the sixteenth century, there is absolutely no record of the abbey, except that, in 1340, a provincial chapter was held here.
1541. Lease to James, earl of Desmond, of the monastery of Friars Preachers at Kilmallock.
1569-70. Lease of Kilmallock abbey, etc , with water-mill and other appurtenances, to the sovereign and commonalty of Kilmallock
1594, April 24. Grant made to Nicholas Miagh, sovereign, and to the brethren and commonalty of this town, of the Dominican friary of Kilmallock, with a church, etc., and three small gardens within the precincts of the same; eleven acres of land in Kilmallock and a water-mill, part of the possessions of this monastery; to hold the same forever, in free soccage and not in capites at the annual rent of fifty-three shillings and eight pence, Irish money.
A relic of the residence in Kilmallock, by members of the Order, in the seventeenth century, is a chalice in use at present in St. Saviour’s, Limerick, on which is inscribed: — Dam C. et yoanna Butler uxor ejus fieri fecit pro conventu Killocensi Ord. Prced. Prion Pre. Henrico Burgatt. Orate pro Mauritio Gibbon, filio Comitis Albi. Requiescat in pace. 1639.
In the beginning of the eighteenth century, Father John Glinn, of Kilmallock, spent seven years in prison, in Limerick, for returning home after banishment.
In 1756, there were three fathers in Kilmallock and one of them was a parish priest in 1767. The last obit in connection with Kilmallock is that of Father Edward Mac Carthy, in i860.
THE STORY OF THE DROWNING OF THE MONKS
This event, as recorded by the author more than a century after its supposed occurrence, is most improbable. Such a thing could not happen at that time without some reference being made to it in the State Papers. Yet there is not the slightest clue to it to be found among them. Besides, how could the martyrdom of so many religious escape the knowledge of Rothe and other Catholic historians of the persecution, who wrote in the early part of the seventeenth century. The author quotes no authority and speaks merely from hearsay, which is not very reliable after a century.