History

Clara consists of two main areas – Clara and Castlewarren with each area having its own church – the Church of St Colman in Clara and the Church of St Scuithin in Castlewarrewn.

The celebration of Mass in Clara parish can be traced back to the penal times, before the middle of the 18th century, where there is evidence of Mass being celebrated in Mr Patrick Moore’s land in Rathgarvan.  There was no evidence of any chapel and it is presumed that the location for Mass was an open-air Mass-station. 

Soon after 1732, a chapel was built in the pit, beside the Dublin road, at the entrance gate of the avenue leading down to the present parish church. It was known, from its situation, as the ” Chapel of Pitt”. Tradition says that it was totally wrecked by a band of soldiers or yeomen after they had too freely regaled themselves in the adjoining public house.

The site occupied by the present parish church was next chosen for the erection of a church.

 This, too, it is said, suffered at the hands of the yeomen in March 1771.  The next church was also built on the same site about the end of the 18th Century.  The current church was erected on the site of its two immediate predecessors in 1870.

The adjoining cemetery dates back to 1910 and the first known person to be buried here was Ned Holohan of Clashwilliam around 1921-22.

St. Colman is the patron Saint of the townland of Church Clara. There is a well in a field on O’Keeffe’s farm about 50 yards from the road and just opposite the place which is called “The Monument”.
This well was known in days gone by as “St. Colman’s Well” and over a century ago, it was visited by people seeking cures.  A pattern used to be held at this well annually on the Feast of St. Colman.
Now it is just an ordinary spring well, famous for its clear, pure water.

In the Penal Days, Mass was said at the Rock in Rathcash, Clara in a field in Mr Byrne’s Farm. People from this side of the Parish attended Mass by stealth and the priest hid in the houses of the neighbours. 

The first Chapel of Castlewarren was built about 1800. It was replaced by the present chapel, erected on the same site about 1830.

The patron Saint of Castlewarren Church is St Scuithin.  He is also known as Scolan, Scothin or Scuitin who was a medieval Irish saint with strong Welsh connections. Sometime in the 6th century, Scuthin left Ireland to pursue a life of cenobitic monasticism at Tyddewi in Wales founded by St David, whom at a later date he is reported to have saved from poisoning. 

According to the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, St. Scuithin, having attained advanced ascetic virtues, returned to Ireland around the year 540 to live the life of a hermit monk, building himself an austere and isolated cell. This cell was located at Freynestown. This habitat would become known in Irish as tigh scuithin.

Parish Priests who served in Clara

Rev John Salmon, PP, 1854-1854

Rev John Lyng, PP, 1854-1859

Rev James F Ryan, PP, 1859-1886

Red Edward Walsh, PP, 1886- 1905

Rev John Cahill, Adm, 1905-1928

Rev Philip Comerford, PP, 1928-1942

Rev Michael Guilfoyle, PP, 1942-1962

Rev Edward Wall, PP, 1962-1967

Rev Cornelius Sherin, PP, 1967-1975

Canon Richard Nolan, PP, 1975-1995

Rev Jim Murphy, PP, 1995-2004

Rev Larry O’Keeffe, PP, 2004-2018

Rev Willie Purcell, PP, 2019- present day

Curate Priests who served in Clara

Rev John Carroll, CC,  1862-1867

Rev Patrick Meaney, CC,  1867-1875

Rev Edward Walsh, CC, 1875-1886

Rev William Delaney, CC, 1891-1897

Rev Thomas Freaney, CC, 1897-1911

Rev William Costigan, CC, 1911-1916

Rev Thomas Brophy, CC, 1916-1932

Rev Joseph Murphy, CC, 1923-1925

Rev Patrick Healy, CC, 1925-1928

Rev Thomas Moore, CC, 1932-1940

Rev Patrick Nugent, CC, 1940-1946

Rev James Murphy, CC, 1946-1957

Rev Patrick Holden, CC,  1957-1964

Rev Dominic O’Hanlon, CC, 1964-1968

Rev John Byrne, St John’s and Templemartin