As we know, it was St. Patrick that brought Christianity to pagan Ireland in the year 432 A.D. It is evident from the surviving fragments of information, that church organisation took off on a diocesan and episcopal nature. By about the year 600, the monastic institute had overtaken the episcopate completely.
A reform party “The Romans”, emerged in Ireland in the 7th and 8th century. This party sought to bring Irish usages into line with the rest of Europe. The church became completely monastic during this reform, and these Irish monasteries provided Britain and Europe with many great missionaries and scholars. Derrynaflan is a perfect example of this type of monastery in our parish.
These monasteries gave refuge to many a scholar during the time of the Norman invasion in Ireland, and this Norman invasion was the main reason for the set-back in the reform of the monastic church. Both Irish and Norman tried to exclude one another from ecclesiastical offices, and the religious orders. Also, they were often divided on racial issues.
The first half of the 12th century had seen the organisation of the Civil Parishes. In our area, these Civil Parishes were as follows – Killenaule, Graystown, Cooleagh, St. Johnstown, Magorban and Crohane. The establishment of this parochial network meant a more secure pastoral care for the entire population, but also a more strict system of tithe collection. One tenth of the residents annual income was required for the upkeep of the parish.
The earliest churches in Ireland are recorded as being run by the laity. The local priests as they were called had no system of tithe collection and very little provisions were made for them. A change was soon made. The Anglo-Normans arrived in 1170 and brought with them the system of parochial organisation.
Parishes were formed in Tipperary in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. The establishment of this parochial network meant a more secure pastoral care for the entire population, and, also, a more strict system of tithe collection.
The first effective pastoral mission which took place was led by priests trained in the Catholic countries of the continent. Bishops were appointed and by 1625, there were no vacancies and it was now possible to re-establish the parochial network. The monastic orders which had been wiped out in the 16th century by the Norman invasion were not established until the 19th century. Only the friars survived, and by 1615, could begin to restore their community life. The Catholic people of Ireland remained loyal to their church, but this loyalty often cost them their lives, especially during the Penal times when Catholics were excluded from political power and the ownership of property. It was intended to make them poor and keep them poor. It was during this time, around 1730’s, that the ‘Mass House’ came into effect. These were secret places were masses were held. It was not until the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 that Catholics were once again a recognized race in the community. Catholics had now the task of re-construction after three centuries of mere existence. Religious orders began to grow in numbers.
– The History & Folklore of Killenaule/Moyglass 1990