Source : Ardagh & ClonmacnoisFootprints of Mel and Ciaran.

In the parish traditionally called Kiltoghert, Carrick is short for the County town of the region. Carrick (Carraig, a rock) is really a misnomer if we accept the current Cora/caradh Droma Ruisc (Weir of the Hill of the Marsh). Kiltoghert until well into the 18th century included Murhaun or Drumshambo. Even as it stands today Kiltoghert is territorially the largest parish in Ardagh diocese.

Prior to 1800 and the Act of Union four members were returned to Parliament, 2 from Carrick, 2 from the Borough of Jamestown. This walled town and castle was built by Sir Charles Coote at a strategic point on the Shannon in 1621 and named after the Stuart King James at the time of the Leitrim Plantation. About 20 years later a Franciscan friary was established. It was short lived but its lay brothers took charge of a school founded at a cost of £600 by Francis O’Beirne, which Bishop MacNamee describes as the oldest school then in the diocese.

The four churches of this parish were built within a span of about 15 years. St Mary of the Assumption, Carrick 1879, St Joseph’s Leitrim 1886, Sacred Heart, Jamestown 1887 and St Patrick’s, Gowel in 1892. Jamestown was a renovation job on a church built by a local landlord 1843 and closed for 21 years. The tower of Carrick was a later addition built with the strong support of Bishop Joseph Hoare who had been parish priest her 1887-95.

What an amazing achievement; the energy that must have been around, the leadership given, the sacrifices made and the pride and confidence it must have engendered in the Catholic community of the day. Just think of the capital investment a similar project would require today.

Canon Thomas Fitzgerald of Cartrongeragh, Longford, was selected to be the priest to see to it that Carrick would have a fine new church. He was a bit of a specialist when it came to church building. He had already St Mary’s Newtownforbes to his credit. He had already St Mary’s Newtownforbes to his credit. Started in 1873 the work was nearing completion when on 19 January 1875 disaster struck. A storm, the like of which was not heard of since the Night of the Big Wind, virtually wrecked the building. Like Sisyphus he resumed his task and, undeterred by any superstition about dates, he had it ready to be solemnly dedicated by the new bishop, Bartholomew Woodlock, on 19 October 1879.

By comparison with the modern era Kiltoghert’s earlier history seems so so. It was the Magh Nisi part of Muintir Eoluis where the Mag Ranall versus Mulvey rivalry was played out. In 1492 when Columbus was rigging out the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, O’Rourke had nothing better to occupy him that burn the church in Kiltoghert and sixteen souls perished in the flames. Kiltoghert was sometimes one of the seven parish churches that made up the rectory of Muintir Eoluis.

MacNamee writes of the priests of Carrick in glowing terms. Dr Dawson, a Granard man, was by bishop O’Higgins’ side in the stormy times of the Tithe War and Catholic Emancipation, and was put forward for bishop on two occasions. Dean Monahan who wrote the first history of the Diocese, was in charge of seven parishes in his time, but lasted only one year in Carrick; John McKeon who attended an execution in Carrick Jail in 1817 and many more besides.

  Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim - Telephone : 071 96 20118