The Evolution of the Parish of Millstreet

Evolution of the Parish of Millstreet

Diocesan Structure

The division of the country into 28 dioceses was a development of the 1st half of the 12th century. Begun at the Synod of Rath Breasail in 1111, it was slightly modified and finalised at the Synod of Kells 1152.

The Diocese of Ardfert (with the Episcopal seat in the Cathedral there) was divided into 6 deaneries. Parishes in the eastern part of the Diocese were included in the Deanery of Aghadoe. These included parishes such as Dromtariffe, Kilmeen (Boherbue), Cullen, Nohoval etc which are recorded in the Papal Taxation document of 1302-06. A few of the names are undecipherable and may have included Kilmeedy, but this cannot be verified.

17 years later the Normans arrived and county boundaries owe their origin to the Norman organisation of territory. Cork’s boundaries were defined about 1206, and Kerry was unified into one county (Kerry and Desmond combined) about 30 years later.

People often ask why 4 parishes in North West Cork are in the Diocese of Kerry. The explanation is to be found in the fact that diocesan boundaries preceded county boundaries.

Present day civil parishes more or less coincide with the medieval parish boundaries. But Catholic parishes of today have very much changed boundaries, e.g. Cullen is now part of the parish of Millstreet and part of it in Boherbue and Dromtariffe. In medieval times it was a separate parish on its own.

The Parish of Millstreet

The parish has changed name and location of its church at least 3 times since its medieval origins. Originally it was called the parish of Kilmeedy, then Drishane and only became known as Millstreet during the first quarter of the 20th century. These changes can be deduced from Papal documents relating to the parish from the 2nd half of the 15th century. We know, from the McCarthy tomb inscription in Drishane graveyard,that the castle was built in 1450. It is very likely that the builder of the castle, Dermot son of Teige, donated money for the building of a church nearby. Scant remains of this building can be identified in the old part of the graveyard. A segment of the western gable survives close to the McCarthy tomb.

The earliest documentary evidence for the parish of Drishane is 1463. In the Papal Register for March 13th 1463 Pope Pius 11 mandated the Prior of St Mary’s Killagha and St Michael of the Rock (Ballinskelligs) together with the Dean of Antwerp to collate and assign to Matthew O Falvey who was treasurer of the Diocese of Ardfert, a certain parcel of land called de Kylmichun, within the bounds of the Parish of Dryssean (Drishane), without care of souls. Matthew had doubts about provision lately made to him by the authority of John Bishop of Ardfert and so appealed to the Pope. It was assigned to him, a secular clerk, as a perpetual benefice. It has a value not exceeding 1 mark sterling.  Then in 1473 Thady O Mulcahy was provided to the rectory or parcel called Kyllmichyn in the parish of Drissean when it became available due to the death of Matthew O Falvey. 

Note: In papal documents there are variations in spelling e.g. Drishane sometimes rendered as Drissean, sometimes Drisceayn or Drysceayn. Kylmichan and its variant spelling was an earlier name for Ballydaly.