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by Peter Fahy

The school that I went to is where the Joe Cooley Hall now stands.  It was a church before it became a school.   That was the time before the present church was built in the 1830’s. 

Peterswell was called St. Peters Well and it had the status of being only a village near Coilmore in the parish of Kilthomas.  It was noted for a miracle, which came about in the 19th century. A landlord whose name I do not know had a good spring well in his field down a bit behind the school. During the summer time the wells dried up and the people depended on the landlord’s well, but he allowed cattle to drink from it. The local people were in a bad way for good water and they told the parish priest, whom I think was Fr. O’Connor, to talk to the landlord. Three times he asked him to fence around the well and he got no heed.   One day the landlord’s well dried up and a spring well appeared where it is now.  When I was young, an old man told me he remembered people praying at the well shortly afterwards.  The parish was thereafter known as Peterswell. 

Mr. John Donnellan did a survey of Ireland in 1837 and he mentioned St. Peters Well in the parish of Kilthomas.  He also mentioned Caislean na Callaigh Dubh  in Dunally where O’Fahy had a castle in the 17th Century. 

When I left school in 1945 there were six of us in the class.  Miss Patsy Collins who went to America.  She was a first cousin of Kieran Collins, the famous musician, RIP.  Cattley Burke who worked in Dublin.  Liam Power who was a Parish Priest.   Tom Healy, RIP, who was a farmer in Rahealy.  Josie Larkin who became a bus inspector in England, and myself, Peter Fahy who had many jobs and after my retirement wrote poetry, songs, recitations and history.

Now some of the boys and girls who have come after me in age and whom I remember are Fr. Michael Larkin, a priest in Florida.  His brother, Fr. Frank, P.P. in Kinvara.  Paddy Joe Larkin, RIP, farmer.  Paul Healy, Rahealy.  Noel Burke, RIP, worked in England.  Eddie Kennedy, Limepark, Frank Helly, Sean Bradley, Mary Bradley and Michael Power, Lisadoyle, brother of Liam.  Paddy, Josie and Johnny Power.  Emily Farrell who married in Castledaly.  May Mulcair, RIP, Brigid Burke, Paddy Burke.  Michael Coleman, his brother Paddy and sister Marion, some of the Kelly family, Ballynabrackey.  Some of the Deely family, Gorteenanuiska.   Some of the Callagy family.  John James Healy RIP, Ballynabuckey and Michael O’Donnell, RIP. 

In the 17th Century there was a church in the graveyard of the present cemetery.  That was the time the Fahys had a castle in Dunally and their territory extended to Cregorostra, now known as Roxborough.  The Fahy’s domain  was from Cloone to Cregorostra and up to the Derrybrien river.  One Sunday  Fed of the Hill came from the Castle of Dunally to mass in the church of Kilthomas.  They even carried swords to Mass.  When they came out from Mass they were surrounded by a mob from Clanrickard led by a man called DeBurgo.  He demanded money from Fahy as he said he was taking over the land.  He had the name of being a great sword fighter and a lot of Fahys’ friends came running when they saw what was going on.  Fahy said the land was his and he was not going to give money or anything .  So Deburgo challenged him to a duel, as he said it would stop an all out fight.  He didn’t  know that the Fahys had spent sometime in France, where  they learned sword-fighting skills.  Fed of the Hill killed Deburgo and kept his land.  They are supposed to be the last clan in Ireland to surrender to British Rule.  Cromwell gave Cappard to the Galbraiths and Roxboro to Persse.The Galbraith family was from Scotland and the last one of them treated his tenants badly.

Some of the Peterswell people are said to have fought with Brian Boru in Clontarf  in the 7th Century. Before that time, King Guaire who lived in Gort Castle and also Dun Guaire in Kinvara was King of Connacht and gave his name to Knockoura (King Guaires hill-Cnoc Guaire).  This is the point at which he began his deer hunt.  The Deer are still found  in the wooded Aughty Mountains. 

Peterswell Parish  extends from Coxtown to Derrywee.  A story is told about St. Patrick who  travelled by horseback from Lissadoyle in Peterswell  to Derrybrien. In Derrybrien the horse got sick so he asked a woman for a bucket of warm water with a small handful of flour to give to the horse.  She said she had no flour but she would scrape the losset to get a little.  A losset is a wooden affair for making cakes.  He gave his Blessing to the people of Peterswell and Derrybrien.