Roman Catholic Parishes, 1836: Introduction

According to ‘A Complete Catholic Registry, Directory and Almanack.’ (1836), there were 27 Dioceses in Ireland and approximately 3000 Priests: 960-970 Parish Priests, 1500 Curates and 500 ‘Regular Clergy’. (See Queries). These lists can be useful to those who search in a number of ways:

To show the name of a parish at a particular time
To possibly identify when the records for a parish began or were combined with those of another parish
To identify name variations (place and surname)
To identify a locality for a parish
To identify possible locations for a particular surname in a county

These tables list the names of Parish Priests, Curates, Parishes and the nearest Post Town in 1836. While the spellings in the original may be taken to be those of that time or the manner in which the person who wrote the lists spelled the name phonetically, it also can be taken that there may have been typographical errors in the original.

The placenames as presented in 1836 have been checked as follows: The parish listing was compared to that found in ‘Thom’s Directory of Ireland for the year 1931’. Where a parish name was found to be similar to one listed in 1836, it is given as a ‘Suggestion’ for the original as written in 1836. The county in which the Post Town was located as per the ‘General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland. Based on the Census of Ireland for the Year 1851’ or the listing of ‘Fair Towns in each county of Ireland in 1834’ is the county listed This does not mean that the parish was actually in that county or solely in that county. It does however given some location for that parish. All parishes would have had a maximum area which they covered, if we can take it that a parish was located close to a particular town, then we can take it that while we do not know the actual area covered by the parish, we can in a way, take the town as the central point and from there work our way out, perhaps identifying graveyards or churches in the area and so making our search area smaller.

In some instances, a placename was found to occur in a number of counties or more than one county, which was associated with that Diocese, as townland or town names. In these cases, the location of the Post Town was taken to be that of the placename which indicated a town. When there was no ‘town’ of that name listed in the 1851 index or as a Fair Town, then it was taken that the Post Town was in the main county asociated with that Diocese.

As has been stated, the boundaries of any Diocese could spread from one county to another and those of any parish could also cross county boundaries. While most Roman Catholic Diocseses have a main county associated with them (or more than one), they also include portions of others. A parish might be found to lie mainly in one county and a portion of it in another. There is no listing of counties included with each Diocese in the 1836 directory, while Thom’s Directory for 1931 gives such a listing. I have listed these counties at the end of each page, in some instances there is no mention of the county name or any place name which is listed as being part of that county on the parish tables.

One thing which people do not realise is that the religious parish was not a fixed entity, that is to say that the parishes which existed in 1836 may not have existed in later years and may not be parishes today. The parish or the size of a parish all depended on a number of factors, the first being the size of the population, the second and I guess the most important being whether the Diocese had enough Priests. The size of a parish depended on the Bishop, his management of the area that he was in charge of, so, if the number of people in one parish increased and the number of people in the next door parish decreased, then the Bishop would assign townlands from the larger parish to the smaller parish. The parishes which are not listed in the 1931 directory are marked with **

In some cases Roman Catholic parish names are abbreviated in the 1836 ‘Complete Catholic Registry and Almanack’ so I have compared the names of Roman Catholic parishes listed in ‘Thom’s Directory of Ireland, 1931’ and made suggestions as to the probable full Roman Catholic parish name in 1836. in some cases, where no similar R.C. parish name is found in the 1931 directory I have suggested names from the 1851 Townlands Directory of Ireland.

The first table gives the name of the Parish Priest or P.P., the name of each curate (c.C.) in his parish, and the name of the Roman Catholic Parish. The second table lists the name of the Roman Catholic Parish, the name of the closest ‘post town’ and the name of the county that the closest ‘post town’ is in so long as there is not a town of that name in more than one of the counties associated with this Archdiocese