The rise of St Thomas’

Former Kilchreest National School Principal Gerry Daly reflects on leading personalities from the parish down through the decades and the makings of the St Thomas’ hurling team

KILCHREEST and Peterswell are adjacent rural parishes in South Galway, situated in the ancient diocese of Kilmacduagh. You cannot buy a pint of milk anywhere in either parish in 2024. Until recently you could not buy a pint of porter in Kilchreest either, as the local pub (The Village Inn) was closed for a number of years, but it has recently reopened as a successful bar/restaurant.

There are people still living locally who can remember church services being celebrated by the local rector in Killinan Protestant Church, which served the area covered by the modern parishes of Kilchreest, Peterswell and Craughwell, before it closed circa 1937. Today this church and its congregation are practically forgotten.

Sunday Mass in both churches in Kilchreest parish was the norm throughout the 20th century. Today, one weekend Mass on alternate Saturdays in each church is still happily celebrated by Fr. Joe Roche, who also has responsibility for the parishes of Peterswell and Ardrahan. How times have changed!

In the early 19th century the Methodist community also had a place of worship and a school in Kilchreest.

Nobody living today remembers the RIC Barracks, the Pound or the Bleaching Green in Kilchreest Town but the sites can still be pointed out.

Kilchreest Town had a population of 426 in 1841 – today it can be counted in single digits. All the older generation remember Dr. Dyar attending the Dispensary at 12 noon each Wednesday – this service has long been withdrawn.

The village was at the heart of the parish in the early 20th century – even after Gloster’s hotel was destroyed by fire in 1900, there were still two pubs trading.

An attempt was made during the 1940’s to revive the fairs for which Kilchreest had once been famous when Rafteirí composed his famous poem about Kilchreest fair circa 1830.

In the middle years of the 20th century both Kilchreest ICA and Peterswell ICA were vibrant groups hosting talks, educational courses, outings and dances.

Pictured: WHERE IT ALL BEGUN: The Kilchreest N.S. hurling team 11-a-side Primary School champions of 2004. Back row, left to right: Stephen Murray, Seán Skehill, Cian Kelly, Cathal Burke, Patrick Skehill, Michael Gleese, Darragh Burke, Patrick Connors, Brian Howley, Oisín Fahy. Front row: Colm Brady, Gary Moylan, Gerald Kelly, Jason Burke, Anthony Kelly, Colin Fallon, Timothy Forde, Niall Brady.

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