The Parish Church in Doonane, as the sign says, was founded in 1712, making it the second oldest Church in the Diocese (after Rathcoffey in the Parish of Clane). St. Abban's, together with the Chapel of Ease at Mayo, represent the best examples of a very typical style of Church in the Diocese - T-shaped with three galleries, a shallow Sanctuary with lancets squeezed into the side walls, and a sacristy behind that forms the rest of the cruciform footprint. They also retain the earlier style of dark wooden Altars and rails that has almost everywhere been replaced by marble or by modern re-orderings. The plasterwork is also worth noting.
Dr. Comerford, in the Third Series of his Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, give the following short entry for the Parish of Doonane:
"The name of this parish is derived from Dun-an, "the little fort." Dun was anciently, and still is, frequently applied to the great forts, with a high central mound, flat at top, and surrounded by several - very usually three - earthen curcumvallations; these fortified duns, so many of which remain all over the country, were the residences of the kings and chiefs; they are constantly mentioned as such in the Irish authorities... the diminutive in an is not common, but it gives name to some places, such as... Doonane in Queen's County. - (Joyce.)
"Dr. Doyle describes this parish as consisting of a portion of the Abbacy of St. Abban, and of the parish of Rathaspick. Its formation into a distinct cure appears to be an arrangement of comparatively recent date. It is not referred to by name in the Registry of 1704, in the Returns of 1731 and 1766, or in Dean Skelton's list of parishes. The ancient parish of Rathaspick, as has been already stated, extended into not only this and the adjoining modern parish of Ballyadams, but also into that of Clough, in the diocese of Ossory..."
"Killgorey. This is the Cill-gabhra with which one, if not more than one, of our earliest Irish Saints was identified. The Martyrologies of Donegal and Tallaght, at June 24th, have 'Lon of Cill Gabhra.' In the List of the Bishops of Kildare, as given in the Red Book of the Earl of Kildare, two bishops are named as having preceded St. Conlaeth in that See, the first of whom was called Lony. As Cill Gabhra was in the immediate vicinity of Sletty, the learned author of Loca Patriciana considers that Lon or Lonius may be identified with Lonan, the son of Dubhtach the Druid, who, like his brother, was associated for a time with their cousin St. Fiacc. He thus would be one of the Four true Druids supposed to be referred to in the famous Bilingual Inscription at Killeen Cormac - (See Loca Patr. Pt. IV.) Again, at September the 3rd, the Mart. of Donegal records St. Lonn or Loman Coisfin, i.e. of the white leg, of Cill Gaghra, Mairghe. There is a curious story related of his refusal to lend his books to St. Columba; this is referred to in the scholium in the Martyrology: "It is said that the book-satchels of Erinn and the Gospels, and the Lesson Books of the students fell from their racks on the night of Lon-Garadh's death, so that no person should understand them as Longaradh used to understand them. A very ancient vellum book states that Lon-garadh, in his habits and life, was like to Augustine, who was very wise." The Feilire of Aengus, at 3rd Sept., has: "Longarad, a delightful sun." Upon which the gloss in the Leaghar Breac comments: i.e. in Sleib Mairghe, or in Mag Tuathat in Offaly. Longarad the Whitelegged, in Mag Tuathat in the north of Ossory, i.e. in Ui-Foirchellain, i.e. in Mag Garad in Disart Garad especially, and in Cell Gabra in Sliab Mairge in Les Longarad. Whitelegged, i.e. a great white hair through his legs. Or bright-white were his legs.
A sage of learning, and history, and jurisprudence, and poetry was he. To Comumbcille chanced to come as a guest, and he hid his books from Columb, and Columbcille left his curse on Longarad's books, to wit: "May that," quoth he, "as to which thou has shown niggardliness be of no profit after thee." And this was fulfilled. For the books still remain, and no man reads them. Now when Longarad was dead, men of lore say this, that the book-satchels of Ireland fell down on that night. Or it is the satchels wherein were books of every science in the cell where Columbcille was, that fell down then, and Columbcille and every one in the house marvel, and all are silent at the noisy shaking of the books. "So then," said Columbcille, "Lon-garad in Ossory," quoth he, "a sage in every science, has now died." "May it be long till that comes true," quoth Baithin. "Unfaith on the man in thy place," says Columbcille, et dixit Columbcille:
"Dead is Lon
Of Cell-garad - great the evil!
To Erin with her many homesteads
It is ruin of learning and schools.
Died hat Lon
In Cell Garad - great the evil!
It is ruin of the learning and schools
Of Erin's island over her border."
As St. Columbcille was not born till the year 520, the year after the death of St. Conlaeth, this story of the meeting between St. Lonn of Cill-gabhra and St. Columbcille would militate against the supposition of the former having preceded St. Conlaeth in the See of Kildare. It may, however, have been, - and the fact of different days being assigned to them in the Calendar of Donegal tends to prove it, - that there were two Saints Lonn connected wtih killgorey. An ancient grave-yard, still extensively used, occupies the probable site of St. Lony's cell and oratory, the latter, no doubt, replaced in subsequent times by a public church. The trunk of a venerable tree remains, from an aperture in which, six feet from the ground, people still living state that they recollect to have seen water flow in a copious stream. Every available portion of the withered trunk is decorated with ex voto rags. The Saint's Well is immediately outside the burial-ground. A Patron used to be held here on the 24th of June; very old natives tell of crowds of people flocking to it, and of fields of tents set up for their accommodation. As has so frequently been the case, abuses resulting from these assemblages, caused the Patron to be discontinued; but even still, the well is resorted to by pilgrims, especially on festivals of the Blessed Virgin."
"Within the Chapel of Doonane two marble tablets have been raised to the memory of two former pastors of the parish. The following are the inscriptions:- 'Beneath are deposited the mortal remains of the Rev. Eugene Kelly, who laboured well in the sacred ministry for 44 years, during the last 31 of which he was the vigilant and zealous pastor of Doonane and Mayo. Having by word and example taught his flock the blessedness of walking blamelessly in the way of the Lord, this good priest, upon Easter Sunday, 1859, closed his earthly career in the precious peace procured by the bright hope which sustains the faithful Christian. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.-Apoc. xiv."
"+ Here lie the remains of Rev. James Kavanagh, P.P., who departed this life January 6th, 1876, aged 67 years. In your charity pray for the repose of his soul."
"Succession of Pastors. This district appears to have been formed into a separate parish towards the close of the last century. Gerald Byrne, P.P. of Stradbally from 1709 to 1724, had in charge, at the same time, Ballyadams and Doonane.
Rev. Patrick Wall was P.P. during the last quarter of the century; he lies interred at Arles, in the same grave with his brother, the Rev. James Wall, who died on the 27th of April, 1771, aged 49. The Right Rev. Francis Haly, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, and himself, a native of the parish of Doonane, was nephew to these priests. On the death of Fr. Wall. On the death of Fr. Wall, in 1815, Rev. Thomas Tyrrell was appointed; he was translated to Tinryland in 1823.
Rev. Cornelius Dowling succeeded; in 1826 he became P.P. of Stradbally, and had for his successor, Rev. Eugene Kelly; he dying in 1859, was succeeded by Rev. James Kavanagh, on whose death, which took place in 1876, Rev. Patrick Donohoe, the present Parish Priest, was appointed."
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