Carlow Wins National Heritage Week Award

6th February 2020

The Heritage Council’s Heritage Week 2019 Awards took place today and Carlow County Museum, Myshall Muintir na Tíre and the Myshall Community Centre won “Le Cheile san Eorap Award” for the event: “St Columbanus and the Making of Europe”. Continue reading

Echternach ‘Hopping Procession’

Tuesday 11th June sees the annual UNESCO World Heritage Status ‘hopping procession’ taking place in Echternach, Luxembourg, in honour of St. Willibrord, their Patron Saint. Over 10,000 people will participate in the procession where they will hop from one foot to the other and they are known as “those who pray with their feet”.


Pilgrims ‘hopping’ in Echternach.

Willibrord, an Anglo-Saxon from Northumbria, England, spent twelve years at Rath Melsigi, Milford, County Carlow, being formed as a missionary monk. He is one of the most important Saints in Europe. In AD 690, Willibrord led a very successful mission to Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where his impact is evident to this day.

Continue reading

Recently Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland visited the holy wells at Cranavane near Kildavin, Co. Carlow. Here is their blog:

Carnavane/Crann a Bhán (white tree) holy well, is located near the village of Kildavin in Co Carlow a short distance from the Wexford/Carlow border. The well has no patron but it was likely at one time dedicated to St Finian who was born at nearby Myshall. A stone beside the lower holy well is said […]

via Cranavane Holy Well Co Carlow — Pilgrimage In Medieval Ireland

As The Bell Tolled – The Story of The St. Columbanus Commemorative Bell In Co. Carlow

Brigid Fox, Myshall Columbanus Commemoration Committee

November 2015

This year, 2015, marks the 1,400th anniversary of St Columbanus, an Irish missionary of huge importance across many European countries. His journey began here in County Carlow, Ireland in the place of his birth in c543AD in ‘the shadow of Mount Leinster’. As part of a year long commemoration both in Ireland and abroad a new bell was commissioned and it travelled to many places associated with him. In this blog Brigid Fox Secretary of the Myshall Columbanus Commemoration Committee outlines the journey the bell undertook in County Carlow.

Two people holding a bell between them

Brigid Fox and James Whelan receiving the bell

On Wednesday evening March 18th 2015 Myshall Columbanus Commemoration Committee members Brigid Fox and James Whelan received the bell from Garda Comerford at New Ross Garda Station, Co. Wexford.

From New Ross the pair travelled to Duiske Abbey Graiguenamanagh, which translates as Place of the Monks, where the bell was received by Fr. Byrne P.P. Graiguenamanagh who was accompanied by Fr. Declan Foley, P.P. Bagenalstown, Fr. Pierce Murphy, Retired P.P. Bagenalstown, Fr. Edward Aughney, P.P. St. Mullins and Fr. Tomás O’Byrne P.P. Myshall & Clonegal parishes.  A Penitential Service took place in Duiske Abbey for sixty six Confirmation Candidates and their parents.  The pupils were encouraged to ring the bell when they had received the sacrament.

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On Thursday March 19th the Bell was received at St. Brendan’s Church Drummond, in the parish of St. Mullins, for Mass at 9.20 a.m. which was celebrated by Fr. Edward Aughney and attended by twelve people from the parish.  The bell was rung at the consecration during the Mass.  Afterwards the bell was brought by Brigid Fox, a native of St. Mullins, to the ancient monastic site of St. Moling in St. Mullins where it was placed on the Penal Altar that is situated in the cemetery. Here in this hallowed, tranquil and picturesque spot with its riverside surroundings the intercession of St. Moling was sought for the bell and all who will encounter it on its journey by Fr. Aughney.  The 1400th anniversary of the birth of St. Moling took place last year 2014. St. Moling is attributed with performing many miracles, and curing many diseases. The Book of Moling is held in Trinity College.  St. Moling freed the area of Ossory from paying a tax in cows, known as the Boroma tribute, to the High Kings of Ireland. The Holy Well at St Mullins has been a place of pilgrimage since medieval times, and St Moling’s Well is still venerated for its powers of healing. Moling became Bishop of Ferns, and died in 697AD and is buried at St. Mullins.

Four men standing behind a wall with the monastic site of St Moling in the background

The ancient monastic site of St. Moling in St. Mullins

In the afternoon of March 19th the bell was brought by James Whelan to St. Patrick’s College, Carlow where it was received by the president Fr. Caomhín O’Neill.  This college is one of Ireland’s oldest educational institutions and was a former seminary.  Between 1793 and 1993  it is estimated that 3132 priests were ordained in Carlow. The bell remained on display in the college until 7.30p.m.

On Friday morning March 20th the Bell was brought by Fr. O’Byrne, P.P.  to the Primary Schools in Myshall and Drumphea where it was rung by the pupils and staff. At 1p.m. it was received by Fr. Martin Smith at Carlow Institute of Technology for Mass and was on display in the college afterwards until it was transferred to Carlow Museum where it was put on public display for a number of hours.


Six people from Carlow County Museum standing behind a table holding the St. Columbanus Commemorative Bell

The St. Columbanus Commemorative Bell in the museum

Four people standing behind a table, all holding The St. Columbanus Commemorative Bell in Carlow County Museum

Visitors to the Museum included Cllr Fergal Browne, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council and Dan McInerney, Acting Chief Executive who were photographed with the bell by photographers from the Carlow Nationalist and Carlow People along with the staff of the Museum and Carlow Office. Included in the photographs was Agnese Lillini, from Italy who was on work experience with Carlow Tourism. Other members of Carlow Museum Staff & volunteers were Curator Dermot Mulligan, John McDarby, Joanne Tuohy, Oran Fitzpatrick and Greg O’Neill. Brigid Fox represented the community of Myshall.

At 4.30p.m. it was brought next door to the Cathedral of the Assumption being received by Fr. Rory Nolan. A ‘Holy Hour’ took place in the Cathedral from 7 – 8p.m. when Mass in Polish commenced with again the bell being rung during the consecration. It returned to Myshall overnight. Also on Friday Brigid Fox was interviewed by local radio KCLR about St. Columbanus, the bell and the role of ‘Green Butterflies’ and ‘The Knights of Columbanus’ in its journey from Italy to Ireland.

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On Saturday March 21st the Bell was brought to the beautiful Adelaide Memorial Church of Christ the Redeemer in Myshall Village where it was received from Patsy McLean, Chairperson of Myshall Columbanus Commemoration Committee by the Minister Rev. Lester Scott, John Kelly and Bill Stacey –  members of the Church of Ireland Community.  Patsy McLean, Chairman of the Myshall Columbanus Commemoration Committee and Tommie Murphy were also present.

Kiloughternane A man dressed in black in front of a stone wall holding a bell

Kiloughternane (Church of Fortchern)


After this it travelled to Kiloughternane (Church of Fortchern) in the parish of Bagenalstown where it was received by Fr. Declan Foley P.P. Bagenalstown and Fr. Declan Thompson C.C. Bagenalstown who blessed the bell with water from the Holy Well of Kiloughternane. St. Fortchern was a contemporary of St. Patrick and travelled to this area from what is now Trim in Co. Meath.  He is important to the Columbanus Story as he is mentioned in his genealogy and also because he taught St. Finian, a native of Myshall who later went to Clonard in Co. Meath. A ruined oratory marks the spot where St. Columbanus may well have spent time as a youth.   The well is four feet wide and is enclosed by large blocks of chiselled granite and is in an enclosure. It was lost but re-discovered in 1880 and many cures were associated with it.  In a dry summer a mysterious mud encrusted object was found in the well which when

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cleaned turned out to be a chalice and paten. The chalice is made with silver deeply overlain with gold and has the following inscription:  ‘Joanes Lucas me fieri fecit cum licenta superiourm 1595  ‘Pray for him’  This Fr. Lucas was a Franciscan priest from Waterford .  It is highly probable that a priest, pursued by priest hunters in penal times, wanting to rid himself of incriminating evidence had wrapped the chalice and Paten in a surplice and deposited the bundle in the well.  It is kept in the Ecclesiastic Museum in Waterford. Two parishioners Jimmy and Noeleen Byrne cycled from Bagenalstown to Kiloughternane to view the bell.  It was rung several times at the oratory and the well.  On Sunday March 22nd by special request the bell returned to Kiloughternane and present on that occasion were Frank O’Connell (owner of site), Mary Quirke Mahon, Anna Spruhan, Olivia O’Shea, Paddy Foley, Jim, Mick and Donal Quirke and Ian Stanley.

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Continuing the story of St. Fortchern the Bell was brought to the town of Borris on Saturday afternoon where it was placed close to the Stained Glass window of St. Fortchern in the Church of the Sacred Heart where he is depicted as a craftsman.  Fortchern was  skilled in metal work and when he became a monk he devoted his talents to making sacred vessels, statues, crosses and bells and it was he who fashioned the famous image of the Madonna which was enshrined for centuries in the Monastic Chapel at Trim.   In Borris the bell was rung by three cyclists from Dublin who were on their way to visit Myshall: Matt O’Brien, Bill Morrissey and Paddy Mulhern.


Outdoor a bell is on the ground in front the holy well at Cranavane, Kildavin.

Holy well at Cranavane, Kildavin.

After this the Bell was taken to the parish of Clonegal and to the holy well at Cranavane, Kildavin.   This well is part of where tradition states a monastery was founded by St. Finian, the water of which is said to cure soreness of the eyes, pains and debility of the limbs and all body ailments.  At the well was built a shape of a coffin and funerals going to the old graveyard in nearby Barragh placed the coffins in the water of the coffin shape before burial.

Back to Myshall and Fr. O’Byrne brought the bell to St. Brigid’s Holy Well in the village of Myshall, and to the ancient church of St. Finian. St. Finian was born in the parish of Myshall  not later than A.D. 470.  When he grew up he was taken to Bishop Fortchern and was educated by him. He later went to Clonard, Co. Meath and he is remembered as a great teacher – in all 3,000 saints are reputed to have attended the school of Clonard. Saint Finnian died of a plague on the 12th December 548 A.D.

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Outdoor a Priest is holding a bell in the background their is a green field with a ruin castle in the middle

The bell at Rathnageeragh Castle


One of St. Finian’s early Churches was in Drumphea and ancient ruins of a church here was the next brief stop before continuing to Rathnageeragh Castle which is reputed to be a likely area in which Columbanus was born.


As the current owners of the land were not at home the Bell returned here on Sunday again where it was held and rung by James, Margaret, Breda and Anna Hogan who also displayed a copy of a possible genealogy of Columbanus – whose grandfather Guaire was a possible origin for ‘geeragh’ in Rathnageeragh.  Their neighbour and friend Tommy Spruhan joined the group to ring the bell.

On Saturday the Bell travelled from the ruined Rathnageeragh Castle here in the ‘Shadow of Mt. Leinster’ to the scenic spot known as ‘The Nine Stones’ at the foot of Mt. Leinster, rung many times – its sound echoing out over the wild landscape where once this Saint travelled.

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A priest inside of a Church holding a bell in his hand in the Church of St. Laserian in Drumphea

The bell in the Church of St. Laserian in Drumphea


At 8 p.m. it was placed inside the Church of St. Laserian in Drumphea for the Vigil Mass where it was placed in a prominent position in front of the altar surrounded by wild heather taken from the mountain that dominates the skyline and the congregation joined wholeheartedly into the celebration, many of whom took the opportunity to ring the bell at the end of the service. On the altar were the lantern that has been lit in the parish since December, a smaller lantern that is to accompany the bell on its journey from his birthplace here in the parish of Myshall to Bangor and hopefully to Bobbio, a piece of wild mountain heather and some soil from Mt. Leinster and a letter from the people of Myshall to the various groups who will come in contact with the Bell written in English, Irish, French and Italian.  Fr. O’Byrne read the English version to his congregation.  Con-celebrating this Mass with Fr. O’Byrne P.P. was former Parish Priest Fr. O’Shea who during his period of ministry in the parish always took the opportunity to mention St. Columbanus and emphasise his importance in Europe.


Big crowd, men women and children standing in front of a white church

Beautiful weather at the Church of the Holy Cross

St. Columbanus was certainly looking down on the area on Sunday morning March 22nd  as it was a beautiful sunny morning as the local community gathered for their Sunday morning Mass at 10a.m. celebrated by the P.P. Fr. O’Byrne.  Several references were made to the Saint during the mass and again the Bell was rung during the consecration and the letter to accompany the bell was read out once again.

Fr. O’Byrne dressed in a purple robe planting an oak tree in front of crowd

Fr. O’Byrne planting an oak tree

After Mass the crowd assembled outside this Church of the Holy Cross to be photographed and some processed through Tobar Bhríde to a spot located between the Church of Ireland Adelaide Memorial Church and the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross where an oak tree was planted by Fr. O’Byrne who dedicated his blessing to Saints Columbanus, Fortchern, Finian, Brigid and all the saints and families who passed on the faith down through the ages and to the all those present who continue to do the same.

So from Wednesday March 18th to Sunday March 22nd the Bell travelled to seven parishes in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, was received by at least ten Catholic Priests, & a Church of Ireland Minister, it visited Churches, oratories, monasteries, Holy Wells and even a ruined castle.  It was rung by individuals, small groups, whole congregations, and pupils and students of schools and colleges, it was taken from Myshall ‘Míseal’ ‘low plain’ to almost the peak of Mt. Leinster and graced all our lives on its sojourn in our area.  May the grace of God and Columbanus go with it as it continues on its journey and may the same grace also remain with us here in ‘The Shadow of Mt. Leinster’

Carlow Traveller Pride Event 2014 by Niall Morris, St. Catherine’s, Carlow.

The 2014 Carlow Traveller Pride event was organised by St. Catherine’s Community Services Centre and the Carlow Traveller Network (CTN) with the support of Carlow County Museum. Our aim was to showcase and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Travelling Community, their talents and history to both the Travelling and settled communities.

Video shows Navan Travellers Workshop members Michael McDonagh, guide and Tom McDonnell demonstrating the art of tinsmithing.

The event was held in St. Catherine’s, St. Joseph’s Road, Carlow town on the 17th of June 2014 and proved a great success with an estimated 400 plus people attending over the course of the day. The event was particularly popular with children from the Travelling and settled communities who were particularly interested in the barrel top wagons along with the stories of the people who lived and grew up in them as well as the demonstration of tinsmithing.

A group of children looking at three green barrel top wagons outdoor, with a clear blue sky on a sunny day

A view of some of the barrel top wagons on display.


Navan Travellers Workshop (NTW) brought their Traveller Living History Exhibition to Carlow for the event. This included a traditional Barrel top wagon, shelter tent, photographic exhibition, encampment, tin smith and storyteller. Local Traveller families also brought in their decorated barrel top wagons as well as handmade flat carts and sulkies. Michael McDonagh from NTW told the story of how Travellers slept – with no beds, washed – with no bathroom, cooked and ate – with no kitchen, stored things – with no fridge, earned a living – with no social welfare and bartered and traded without money. Tom McDonnell set up his workshop and gave demonstrations of tinsmithing throughout the day with newly made mugs and other items available to buy.


Tom McDonnell wearing stripped blue shirt wearing glasses tinsmithing with group of children around him

Tom McDonnell demonstrating the skill of tinsmithing to pupils from St Joseph’s National School.


The event also included a photographic exhibition of Traveller life from the 1940’s through to the 1970’s. The bulk of the photos are taken from a vast collection of photos taken by the American anthropologists, the Gmelch’s, who travelled with the Travelling community in the 1970’s. There was also:

• Performances of traditional Traveller songs
• A video on the Traveller language, the “Gammon”
• Samples of Traveller crafts including handmade copper pieces from a fireside set by the local master craftsman Paddy Donohoe
• A video on horses and their importance to Traveller men
• A display of poems by the local Travellers

A white table with several items on it including two photo frame, a pot of different coloured flowers and three copper items made by Paddy Donohue

A selection of copper wear made by Paddy Donohoe.


Carlow Traveller Pride Day provided a unique opportunity for members of the settled community and younger Travellers to ask questions and talk directly to other Travellers about their lives, history and culture. The event helps to break down barriers between people and foster greater understanding and value on Traveller culture as well as instilling more pride in the Travelling community.
The event was organised by St. Catherine’s Community Services and supported by Carlow County Museum, HSE Social Inclusion, TUSLA, Carlow Traveller Interagency Group, and the Department of Justice, Equality & Defence.

Outdoor photo in a car park of a tent and chairs and tables in front of the tent

Part of the Navan Travellers Workshop ‘Traveller Living History Exhibition’


This blog was written by Niall Morris, Director of Services at St. Catherine’s Community Services.
St. Catherine’s Community Services Centres’ Traveller programmes focus on achieving social change and justice for the Travelling community in Carlow and improving equality outcomes. Their programmes focus on community and personal development, family support and improving health outcomes for Travellers. They also support the Carlow Traveller Network, a developing representative body for the Travelling community in Carlow.

Carlow Cathedral pulpit: No. 85 on the Ireland in 100 objects trail


January 2014

Last year the wonderful publication ‘A History of Ireland in 100 Objects’ by Fintan O’Toole won the Best Irish Published Book of the Year in the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards. The book is based on the weekly series that was published in the Irish Times newspaper which featured a different object each week. The project was undertaken in association with the National Museum of Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy.

Carlow County Museum’s first floor exhibition gallery featuring the nineteenth century Pulpit and banner.

Carlow County Museum’s first floor exhibition gallery featuring the nineteenth century Pulpit and banner.

All of the objects are part of public collections both here in Ireland and abroad. We are delighted in Carlow County Museum that the magnificent 19th century hand carved pulpit from Carlow Cathedral has been included in the list. The pulpit was removed from the Cathedral in the mid 1990s as part of its major renovations. The pulpit is now on display on the first floor of Carlow County Museum, it is by far our largest object standing at approximately twenty feet. Pop in and have a look for yourself.

Last December Dr. Louise Nugent, Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland visited the Museum and has written a piece about the pulpit. We are delighted to share it with you. Thanks Pilgrimage in Medieval Ireland for writing this piece.

Pilgrimage In Medieval Ireland

I am  getting a copy of Fintan O Toole’s  A History of Ireland in 100 Objects as an Xmas present,  I cant wait.  The book like the title says  tells the history  of Ireland through 100 artefacts. The chosen objects take us through the history of people in Ireland over 7,000 years, from a simple fish trap of the earliest inhabitants of the island to the first mass-produced microprocessor.

Off the back of this book there is a historic trail which allows the visitor to go and see the objects at the museums they are housed at. Last week as I happened to be in Carlow for the launch of the Carlow Archaeological and Historical Society Journal Carloviana,  I  began the trail with object No 85 which is housed  at the Carlow County Museum.

The trail does not demand you to start with any one object  and it really allows…

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