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St Michael's Church, KillSt Michael's Church, Kill

The historian Fr. John Brady writing about the chapel in the mid-1930s stated that an old man who died a few years ago remembered it being slated and within memory it had a clay floor and lacked seats.[11]   Another man, James Cassins who was born in 1853/54 and lived at Cherryvalley, Rathmolyon is recorded as saying that Fr. Ennis put a new roof on the chapel in 1853.[12] 

 

The historian Dean Cogan stated that Fr. John Masterson, who was parish priest from 1857 until 1878 had beautified his chapels.[13]  Although Fr. Masterson was alive and ministering in Kill when Dean Cogan was publishing his research in 1867, no information is recorded regarding the work done by Fr. Masterson on the chapel.  It is unlikely, however, that he carried out any substantial renovations, as local information would lead to the belief that Kill Chapel remained as a mud wall barn until at least 1883.  A number of local recollections bear this out.  Patrick Brady who was born in 1860 (and was the grandfather of Paddy Brady who currently resides at Rathflesk) used tell the story of how when he was a young boy, he and other children used to put their feet in the naturally developed indentations in the clay floor of the chapel.  Also, it is known that the Harnan family came to Rathmolyon in 1878 and Jimmy Harnan (who died in May 2004) recalled hearing his grandmother Ann say, that at the age of twenty-five when she came to the area, Kill Chapel was just the women’s end.

 

During his ten-year term as parish priest from 1878 to 1888, it is known that Fr. Hugh Behan, P.P. renovated the chapel.[14]   It is likely that it was at this time that the enlarged re-construction took place.  It is said that a local man, Walter Keeffe who was born in 1841 (he was the grandfather of the late Watty Keeffe, Rathmolyon) and was a carpenter by trade, was approached by the parish priest regarding extending the chapel.  It is believed that the expansion was to incorporate the small barn into a larger T-shaped building, with the barn forming part of one of the transepts in the enlarged chapel.  Walter was asked to work on the extension and was also asked for the names of men with skills who were available for work in the parish.  It is believed that Tracey and Ennis men from the locality worked on the building.  Whilst Walter also carried out work on the building, it was two brothers whose names are not available, who put up the wooden ceiling.  This was tongued and grooved pitch pine, with a carved wooden coving, which was stencilled with a green and gold design.  The extended and renovated chapel was dedicated to St. Michael and accommodated approximately three hundred people.

 

The Fowler Estate (Rahinston) supplied a sawmill for the cutting of the timber on site.  The Murray family of Tanderagee Estate contributed towards the cost of the work, as also did the Duc de Stacpoole.  His involvement helps to date the extension.  As the Duc did not marry into the MacEvoy family at Tobertynan until 1883, it is unlikely that he would have been residing in the area before then and subsequently improbable that he would have made a contribution to the church fund prior to that.  As it is said locally that the contribution from the Duc bought most of the timber required, it is most likely that the work on extending the chapel did not commence until, at the earliest, 1883.

 

Some years later, John Dunne, Enfield and formerly of Cloneycurry, died on June 21, 1894 and in his will, bequeathed £100 for the erection of a marble altar in the chapel.[15]  Another member of the Dunne family, Denis from the Hill, Cloneycurry, died in 1909 and left £50 towards the erection of a new bell at the chapel.[16] 

 

In 1931, Alphonsus Johnston, a painter and decorator from Tullamore renovated the exterior of the chapel and decorated the interior.[17]   During the course of the work, a door and a window were discovered in a mud wall in part of the building.  The door had clearly the appearance of being an entrance door to a farmyard barn and this discovery gave further proof of the original use of the building.  In 1940, a new boiler for heating the chapel was installed and in 1955, it was decided to carry out some necessary repairs in order to maintain the chapel in reasonable condition until a new church was built.[18]  

 

A clear description of the chapel is recalled by many people.  The exterior walls of the chapel were dashed with lime and small gravel and were supported by cut-stone buttresses.  On the roof, there were terracotta ridge tiles and also a cote, which housed a statue of the Blessed Virgin.  The chapel bell, which was suspended from an iron frame, was situated at the rear of the chapel, near the stables and boiler house.  In 1917, it was moved to the front of the newly opened cemetery across the road from the chapel.  A spear-pointed iron railing, mounted on a low wall and two matching full-sized gates formed the boundary between the chapel and the public roadway.