Priests On Our Lady’s Island

1715-1740Rev. William Lambert
He was descended from the Linsgtown branch of the Lamberts. He was esteemed as a saint and died in 1753, aged 64 years. He was interred at Duncormick, where there is a fine monument to his memory.
1740-1763Rev. James Nicholas French
He was curate in the parish from 1725 until he became parish priest in 1740. He was buried in Our Lady’s Island in the old graveyard.
1763-1806Rev. Mun Stafford
During his pastorate the small mud-walled thatched chapel was built in the village. Thirty years later an additional wing was built. He died in December 1804, aged 84 years and was buried in Our Lady’s Island cemetery. A slab with his epitaph was erected in the porch of the church.
1807-1838Rev. Francis Scallan
During his time there was a chapel at Faythe, Tacumshane. The customary pilgrimage to the island was discontinued in 1831. He was 81 when he died.
1838-1860Rev. Patrick Walsh
He was born in Ballyknocken near Our Lady’s Island. He was educated in Carlow College and ordained in 1811. He spent a few years in New Ross and was transferred to Our Lady’s Island in 1818. In 1838 he became the Parish Priest. He died in 1860, aged 76.
1860-1868Rev. James Walsh
He was a brother of Fr Patrick Walsh. He received his early education in Fortune’s Latin School, Ballyfane in Our Lady’s Island parish. He studied in Carlow College and was ordained in 1819. He served in Ferns, Newtownbarry (now Bunclody) – where he became parish priest – and New Ross. On the death of his brother he was transferred to Our Lady’s Island. He was responsible for building the present church in the Island parish. He died after a short illness in 1868.
1868-1896Rev. Thomas Roche
He was born in Wexford town. Two of his brothers were priests and four of his sisters were nuns. His brother Fr James Roche was the founder of the twin churches in Wexford. He studied in Maynooth College and was ordained in 1845. He served in Enniscorthy and became parish priest of Our Lady’s Island in 1868 and later became the Archdeacon of the Diocese. He was a preacher of striking power and ability and was a noted historian. He died in 1896, aged 77 years.
1897-1907Rev. William Whitty
He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his parents being natives of Kilrane, some miles from Our Lady’s Island. He was brought back to Ireland when he was five and studied in Kilrane National School, St. Peter’s College and Maynooth College. He was ordained in 1871. He served in the House of Missions, Enniscorthy, until he was appointed to Our Lady’s Island. During his first year in the parish he revived the ancient pilgrimage. He was also responsible for the erection of the altar and the statue of the Assumption at the point of the island in commemoration of the Jubilee Year 1900. In 1907 he was transferred to Newtownbarry (Bunclody). He died unexpectedly in 1914.
1907-1916Rev. Patrick Doyle
He was born in Enniscorthy and studied in St Peter’s College and Maynooth College where he was ordained in 1882. After some years on the staff of St. Peter’s College, he served in Tacumshane, Blackwater, Wexford (Administrator), before he was appointed to Our Lady’s Island. He was later transferred to Sutton’s parish and died in 1919.
1916-1928Rev. Robert Fitzhenry
He was born in Taghmon and educated in St. Peter’s College and Maynooth College, where he was ordained in 1893. He served in Murrintown, Rathgarogue, and Enniscorthy before Our Lady’s Island. He was a brilliant writer and orator. He was also a keen historian, being the first editor of the historical magazine, The Past. He died in 1928, aged 69.

Fr Sylvester Cullen, Our Lady's Island, 1928 - 1941

Rev. Sylvester Cullen
He was born near Blackwater, studied in St Peter’s College and the Irish College in Paris, and was ordained in 1901. He served in many parts of the diocese before taking up his post in Our Lady’s Island. He carried out improvements to the church and church grounds, and also established the new cemetery overlooking the Island. He died in 1941, aged 65 years. He was a playwright of standing, being the author of several works. He was also a talented pianist.

Opening of the new cemetery at the Cross of Shad in 1931

1941-1942Rev. John Sinnott
He was a native of Kilmuckridge. He studied in St Peter’s College and the Irish College in Paris and was ordained in 1910. He served in Oulart, Templetown and Wexford before becoming the parish priest of Our Lady’s Island. After a year he was transferred to Blackwater and died there in 1964, aged 81 years.
1942-1960Rev. Edward Creane
He was also a native of Kilmuckridge. He studied in St Peter’s College and Maynooth College, where he was ordained in 1910, with five other Ferns priests. He served for thirty-three years in Kilmore Quay until 1942, when he became the parish priest of Our Lady’s Island. He was transferred to Rathangan in 1960 and died there in 1963.
1960-1966Rev. Patrick Hutchinson
He belonged to a sea-faring family in Wexford town. He studied in Wexford and Maynooth and was ordained in 1926. He served in Glynn, Templeudigan, Caim and Our Lady’s Island. Later, he was transferred to the parish of Bree. He died in 1966.
1966-1974Rev. James Nolan
He was a native of Wexford town and was ordained at Maynooth in 1932. He served in Tacumshane, New Ross, Castledockrell, St. Leonard’s before Our Lady’s Island. He did tremendous work for the annual pilgrimage and he was to a large degree responsible for making it nationally famous. With the Bishop he negotiated the purchase of the Island, so that it would remain a place of pilgrimage. He died after a short illness in 1974.

Rev. Robert Staples
He was also a native of Wexford town. He was ordained in St. Peter’s College in 1949 and served for many years in the House of Missions in Enniscorthy and later as Spiritual Director in St. Peter’s College, both for the school and the seminary. He was appointed parish priest of Our Lady’s Island in 1975. During his time the outdoor altar at the Norman castle was built. Mass was now offered during group pilgrimages. He published a booklet on the Island – Our Lady’s Island Rosary Pilgrimage. He retired in 1989 and died in 2003.

Rev. Thomas Eustace
He came from Foulksmills and was ordained in St. Peter’s College in 1960. He served in Ferns, Wexford, Enniscorthy, Our Lady’s Island and back again to Ferns. He was responsible for building the new Community Centre at the Island and major repairs on the church
1995 – 2006

Rev. Thomas McGrath
He is a native of Duncannon. He studied in Mount Mellaray (both school and seminary), St Peter’s Seminary where he was ordained in 1967. He entered the House of Missions and remained there until 1977, when he was appointed Spiritual Director in St. Peter’s College. In 1985 he returned to the House of Missions and in 1987 went to Galbally. He was appointed parish priest of the Island in 1995 and served in the Island until 2006 when he was transferred to Newbawn.
2006 – 2007

Fr Colm Murphy, Our Lady's Island, 2006 - 2007

Rev. Colm C. Murphy

A native of Kilrane, Fr. Colm was born in 1952, son pf P.N. and Maureen (nee Cullen). He was educated at Kilrane NS, 1957-65, Good Counsel College, New Ross, 1965-70 and St. Peter’s College Seminary 1970-76. He was ordained at St. Patrick’s Church, Rosslare Harbour on 28th November 1976.

After ordination Fr. Colm was attached to the House of Missions, Enniscorthy, 1977-87, St. Senan’s Parish, 1987-89, St. Peter’s College, 1989-94, C.C., Clonard, 1994-99 and C.C., Ballycanew, 1999-05. He was appointed Administrator of Our Lady’s Island on 16th September 2005. In Sept. 2007 he embarked for further studies in the Graduate Theological Unit, Berkeley, California.

2007 – 2016

Fr. Brendan Nolan, Our Lady's Island

Rev. Brendan Nolan

A native of Wexford town, Fr. Brendan was born in 1953, son of Nicholas and Brigid Nolan, nee Murphy. He was educated at: St. John of God School, The Faythe, Wexford, CBS Primary / Secondary School, Wexford, St. Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill, London, St. Peter’s Seminary, Wexford, Post Graduate Biblical Studies, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

After ordination he served as curate at Horeswood and Chaplain / Teacher, Ramsgrange Community: School 1980 – 1985, Curate New Ross: 1985-1995, Curate Rosslare: 1995 – 2007 and appointed Parish Priest of Our Lady’s Island Sept. 2007.

2016 – Present

Rev. Jim Cogley

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Priests born in the Parish

Bishop Nicholas French (1604-1678) – born in Ballytory, Tacumshane. After studying in Louvain, he was appointed PP of Wexford. He became Bishop of Ferns in 1645. With the fall of Wexford to the Cromwellians on 11th October 1649 he was forced into hiding. He eventually escaped to the continent, first to France and thence to Spain. He was assistant bishop to the Archbishop of Santiago (1652-66), to Archbishop of Paris (1666-68) and the Bishop of Ghent (1668-1678).


Rev. Patrick (1784-1860) and brother James Walsh (1792-1868) – born in Ballyknocken. See above.


Rev. Patrick Murphy (1786-1867) – Cousinstown. Served in Enniscorthy and became PP Glynn.


Rev. Thomas Hore (1796-1864) – Coldblow. He brought several thousand emigrants to New Orleans during the famine years.


Bishop Thomas Furlong (1800-1875) – Mayglass. He was taught by James Fortune in the hedge school. After his ordination in 1826 he served on the staff of Maynooth College until he was appointed as Bishp of Ferns in 1857. He established many religious houses in the diocese – the House of Missions, Loreto Convent, Convent of Mercy (Enniscorthy), St John of God Convent, the Convent of St Louis in Ramsgrange, and the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Wexford. He also saw the building of the “twin churches” in Wexford town.


Rev. Edmund Doyle (1821-1893) – Our Lady’s Island. He became PP Ballymurn.


Rev. John Lambert Furlong (1836-1907) and brother Rev. Patrick (1844-1914) – Ballygarra. John served in Tacumshane (where he built the presbytery), Enniscorthy, (where he built the spire on theCathedral), PP at Ballygarrett and Gorey .Patrick became PP of Taghmon He was a spirited nationalist and a close friend of John Redmond MP.


Rev. Thomas Murphy (1839-1922) – Carne. Ministered in Wales.


Bishop James Browne (1842-1917) – Bigbarn, Mayglass. He served in St Peter’s College, Barntown, Wexford town and PP of Piercestown. In 1884 he became the Bishop of Ferns. During the Great War he allowed a community of Benedictine monks, who left Belgium when it was invaded to establish a priory in Edermine House. Dom Columba Marmion, who was beatified in 2000, was prior there.


Rev. John Druhan (1845-1926) – Our Lady’s Island. He served in many parishes, but was dogged by ill-health and retired to his home in 1918.


Rev. Thomas Hore (1845-1899) – Coldblow. Was appointed PP of Oylegate in 1892.


Rev. John E Doyle (1847-1924) – Broadway. He was appointed PP of Glynn in 1896 and transferred to Ferns in 1901 and appointed Archdeacon in 1914.


Rev. Patrick Wall (1847-1906) – Ballyfane. He was educated in the hedge school beside his home where his teacher was Mr Fortune. He served in may parishes and died in Ballykelly.


Rev. James Furlong (b.1850) – Carne. Redemptorist.


Rev. Nicholas Lambert (1854-1895) – Ballycushlane. He served in England, Clongeen, Ballyfad, Courtnacuddy, and died as CC in Rathgarogue.


Rev. John Busher (1858-1930) – Ballyhit. He spent thirty-one years in Tinahely and retired due to ill-health. He spent the remainder of his life as chaplain to the Benedictine Nuns at Loftus Hall.


Rev. John Rowe (1867-1936) – Barnawheel. He spent twenty-three years in Kilmore and became PP of Oylegate in 1916.


Rev. Richard Barry Doyle (1871-1933) – Airdownes. He claimed a relationship with Commodore John Barry and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He ministered in US, Ferns Diocese, England, chaplain to British forces (1916). He was honoured by the Pope, Kings of Greece and Belgium, the Sultan of Turkey.


Dr William Fortune (1830-c1910) – Glaglig. He lectured at All Hallows College, Dublin and was appointed President there.


Rev. Gregory Pettit (1874-1940) – Rathmore. Appointed PP of Ballyoughter in 1928.


Rev. James Doyle ( -1970) – Broadway. Secretary to Archbishop Mitty of San Francisco.


Rev. Muredeach Keating (c1900-1976) – Yoletown. PP Craanford.


Rev. Nicholas Power (1930- )- Reedstown. Retired as PP Duncannon 1997.


Rev. Seán Devereux ( 1964 – ) – Ballymacane. Served in Wexford, The Gambia.