History of the parish

Brief History of Ballyadams Parish

Ballyadams Parish consists of the townlands of Wolfhill, Luggacurran and bordered by the towns of Stradbally and Athy. A little further on down the road are Portlaoise and Carlow. Ballyadams in Irish means ‘Baile Adaidh’ or the town of Adam, as in The Four Masters. Nobody knows who Adam is.

There has always been a believing community in this area for ages back. In the immediate vicinity of nearby Clopook is a place called ‘The Mass Field’. This is where the faithful used to assemble for the celebrations of the ‘Divine mysteries’ in penal times. There were old monastic ruins in Rathaspick – (The Bishop’s Fort).

The Church in Ballyadams dates back to the 19th century at least. Among the first recorded Pastors in the area was Father Kedagh Moore, 1680-1709. He resided in Corbally. Another early Pastor was Father John Brady, 1704, onwards approx. A short while after these came Father Gerard Byrne, around 1720, Parish Priest of Stradbally, Timahoe, Ballyadams, Doonane. He died in Luggacurren on the 24th July 1724, aged 57. They then follow, in almost unbroken succession, all down through the following centuries until the present day. Such as Reverend James Byrne, Parish Priest of his native Luggacurren, Ballyadams and Wolfhill. He died on the 7th February 1816. Father Waldron, Father Hugh Doyle, Father William Prendergast, Father Lawrence Fleming, Father Jimmy Doyle, Father Gerard Breen and Father Dan Dunne, are of present or recent memory.

More recent times

A school was opened in 1810 in Ballyadams, with up to one hundred pupils, by Mr. John Hart who was Principal. It taught the ‘Three R’s and Book-Keeping’.

Luggacurren, which includes the old parish areas of Clopook and Teclom (Corbally), is part of the Slievemargy mountain range and had its present Church built in 1823 approx on a site given by Lord Landsdowne. The Curates residence followed some years later on a site also given by Lord Landsdowne as a reward to Father Cummins for establishing peace in the area following attacks by the Whiteboys and some agrarian strife.

A school was opened in Luggacurren by a Mr. James Farrell in 1822 and it was well attended. In the 1830’s it is estimated that there were over 3,000 Roman Catholics in this area – now there are some hundreds.

The Reverend Edward Fenlon had Wolfhill Church built around 1870. He died in 1874 and is buried in Ballyadams. It took around seven years to build, working during summer months only. Generous donations were made by some local families, e.g. the roof by the Grace family.

In recent years refurbishment and repair was carried out on all three Churches.

After all the years and changes, the Parish looks to the future with the achievement and hope of the past in its heart.