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Sunday, 14 July 2024
College Hill




College Hill - house and annex

Though there are three churches in Rathkenny parish, there was a fourth chapel annexed to the parochial house at College Hill. This chapel had seating for fifty people, had its own baptismal font, Stations of the Cross wall images, and a beautiful altar and tabernacle. Parish baptisms and marriages were celebrated here as in the other churches of the parish. The Blessed Sacrament was reserved. The first Mass of Christmas morning was always celebrated at midnight and is remembered with great affection by neighbours and others who came to pray.

In 1990 Fr. Hugh Clyne P. P. died. After
his funeral Mass in the Church of St. Louis & St. Mary, the cortege moved to the cemetery at Grangegeeth. It was Father's expressed wish to be buried there. His final resting place is in the centre of the graveyard and marked by a suitably inscribed head stone. A chapter in the history of Rathkenny parish closed with the passing of Fr. Clyne. He was the last priest to reside in this parochial house.

College Hill presbytery has an interesting history. Somewhere on this property lived Fr. Joseph Plunkett, who died in 1760.After his death the property seems to have reverted to his relative, Lord Fingal. In 1795 Fr O'Hanlon succeeded to the parish and obtained from Lord Fingal the farm of fourteen acres. He built the parochial house. When Fr O'Hanlon died in 1823 there was a sum of £300 due to his nephew. The house was sold for £500 to the Bradley family and after the debt was paid the balance was given over to parochial purposes.

Fr. O'Hanlon's immediate successors lived at Harmonstown. One of the first acts of Fr. Dunne, who became parish priest in 1862, was to repurchase the house.

In the year 1895 Fr. Gallagher erected a spacious oratory, annexed to College Hill parochial house.

In 1963 a decision to renovate the premises was taken. During the period of renovation the priests and their housekeeper lived at the residence of Raymond and Ann Cogan at Shalvanstown. They returned on Christmas Eve when work on the parochial house was completed. Refurbishment of the oratory was completed in 1964 and was reopened on the first Sunday of Lent that year.

Within a year of Fr. Clyne's death in February 1990 College Hill presbytery and land was put up for public auction. The proceeds enabled Fr. Stanley, appointed parish priest in 1988 on the retirement of Fr. Clyne from active ministry, to have a new parochial house built. This house, incorporating a parish meeting room, was built in the spring of 1991 on land adjacent to the recently built parish church at Rathkenny. The building contractor was local man William Gore and the architect was Turlough McKevitt M.R.I.I. from Drogheda. The land for this new parochial house was donated by the Macken Family, the same family that had earlier given the site for the new parish church of St.Louis & St Mary.

The baptismal font from College Hill is now in the refurbished church of St. Mary, Collinstown, Co. Westmeath. The altar and its furnishings were transferred to the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Muff, in the parish of Kingscourt, Co. Cavan.

With the move from College Hill presbytery to the new parochial house at Rathkenny, and with the staffing of the parish reduced from two priests to one, a new chapter in the life of Rathkenny parish opened up.