Mullinavat, prior to 1842, formed one parochial parish with Kilmacow. In the middle of the 18th century, Mullinavat consisted of but a few houses. In 1801, the number of houses was 35, with 158 inhabitants. The erection of a church here in 1805 had a decided influence on the general improvement of the village, which in 1841 had 110 inhabited houses. In 1871, the population of Mullinavat was 531. In Irish Mullinavat is pronounced 'Muilleann an Bhata' which means 'The Mill of the Stick'. Tradition has it that the name was derived from an ancient mill which could only be approached by means of a rough stick over the Glendonnel River, where the bridge on the main road is now, beside the Garda Barracks. Mullinavat originally was comprised of the civil parishes of Kilbecan, Kilahy, and Rossinan. The parish Church of Kilbecan was in use up to 1830. It was then used as a protestant church. It was dedicated to St. Becan, Bishop and confessor whose feast day is set down as May 27th.
The parish of Killahy was mentioned at the time of the suppression of the religious houses in 1540. The parish church of Killahy was about 33 ft. long, and 19 ½ ft. wide. It was dedicated to the exaltation of the Holy Cross, (Sept. 14th). About two or three hundred yards to the SouthEast, in the townsland of Red Acres, there was a holy well known as the 'Well of the Holy Cross'. It was frequented for devotional purposes until about 1850, when it was destroyed by its owner.
The parish of Rossinan was also mentioned at the suppression of the religious houses. The original Irish name 'Rois Seanain' meaning 'The point or Wood of St. Synan or Senanus'. Whether this saint in identical with his namesake, the patron of the adjoining parish of Kilmacow is unknown. The parish church of St. Synan was situated in Rossinan, close to the left bank of the Blackwater River. No trace of the church now remains as the railway line from Waterford to Kilkenny was constructed over it around 1850. The graveyard met the same fate, as the road from Waterford to Mullinavat runs through the centre of it.
In 1946, the townslands of Clonassey, Listrolin and Rochestown, which formed a detached portion of the parish of Rathkeiran, were detached from Mooncoin and annexed to Mullinavat. The ancient church of this district stood in Listrolin, in the laneway leading over the Assy River to Ballinacoaley. Around the year 1850, the remains of the old church and graveyard were uprooted and tilled.
Tory Hill, rising to a height of 966 ft. above sea level, is said to have derived its name from a famous outlaw named Edmund Den, who flourished in this locality around the year 1700. There is a pattern held each year on Tory Hill on the 2nd Sunday of July. This is locally called 'Tory Hill Sunday' and 'Frocchans Sunday'. It never as a religious celebration, but merely consisted of the people of the neighbourhood gathering to pick the wild berries called 'Frocchans'. In the Holy Year of 1950 a large cross was erected on the summit of the hill, and since then the rosary had been said by the people who gather beneath the cross.
The first chapel built in the Mullinavat district since the reformation, stood in the townsland of Deerpark. It was called the 'Chapel of Scart" as it was situated close to the townsland of Scart. Its site is on the West Side of the Waterford road, near the Blackwater River. It is handed down that whenever the river became so swollen as to be impassable, the people at the Clonassey and Ballyda side used to assemble on Sunday mornings on the western bank, opposite the chapel. They would kneel and pray while the people on the other side had mass within the chapel walls. This chapel was in use for a long period and was abandoned in 1772. The next Chapel called 'The Chapel of Park', stood at the village of Park. It was closed in 1805, having been used as the district chapel for '33 years, the term of our lords life on earth'. The present chapel of Mullinavat was built in 1805, during the pastoral term of rev. Marum p.p., of Kilmacow. It stands in the townsland of Garrandarragh (oak grove). It was renovated in 1960. The first chapel in Bigwood was in use from about 1787 to 1824. Another chapel was built in 1842 by the contributions of the people of neighbouring townslands in the parishes of Mullinavat, Kilmacow, Glenmore,and Slieverue. This chapel was in use until 1966 when the present church was erected during the Patsoral term of Very Rev. Canon D. Hughes.
Kilbeacon Church, Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny - © Copyright Kieran Campbell
In a walled enclosure in the townland of Garrandullagh, the O.S. six-inch map shows a building marked 'Kilbeacon Church'. The church has been demolished, with only some foundations visible at ground level near the gate when this photograph taken. In the distance, behind the yew tree, Tory Hill rises through the mist.
Stood where Simon Dwyer now lives and was occupied by John Mac Walter Walsh, a poet of considerable merit. He was known as 'Tatter Jack Walsh', Tatter meaning father or head of the clan. Unfortunately only one of his poems survives, but the name of the best- known Walsh dance tune is still 'Tatter Jack Walsh'. In his old age, his property was confiscated, and he betook himself to friends in Lismatigue. He is believed to have lived on the moat where R. Dalton now lives. There he died in 1660 and was buried in Kilbeacon cemetery.
Stood in the second field from the road under John Murphy's house. The remains of the foundation are to e seen in what is still known as 'The Castle Field'. Its last occupant was Robert Walsh M.P., for Co. Kilkenny in the parliament of 1689. He was slain at the siege of limerick in 1691.
Above History courtesy of authors of the book Mullinavat GAA 1884-1984.
GAA CLUB HISTORY
Mullinavat Football Club was formed in 1887, the first year of official Gaelic Athletic Association. championships. Gaelic football was the dominant sport in the parish until around 1913 when a hurling team from Mullinavat entered the Junior championship for the first time. The present pitch was bought in 1953 for Â£590. Fr. Joseph Gallavan C.C. was the driving force behind the purchase and development of the field.
The appointment as parish priest in 1983 of the legendary Kilkenny coach Monsignor Tommy Maher was of crucial importance to the development of hurling in Mullinavat. Fr. Tommy as he is better known needs no introduction to followers of hurling. A past pupil of St Kieran's College, he was a member of the Kilkenny team beaten by Tipperary in the 1945 All-Ireland Hurling Final. He won a County Championship medal with Thomastown in 1946. In the mid-1950s he became coach to the Kilkenny team and quickly made his presence felt as Kilkenny, in 1957 ended the County Wexford dominance in Leinster. During his term as coach, which was a new concept then, Kilkenny captured seven All-Irelands. In 1983 he was appointed Parish Priest of Mullinavat and immediately became involved in the local hurling scene. It came as no surprise to anybody that, in 1984, Mullinavat won the Junior Championship, and in 1985, won the Special Junior B Championship. A couple of years later, he retired completely from the game but his interest has never waned and he is currently the Club President.
In 1989 Mullinavat won the Intermediate Championship when trained by Jim Walsh. Jim was a prominent hurler on the Mullinavat team for many years and played for the County minor team in 1966. He won an intermediate All-Ireland medal in 1972. The team reached the semi-final of the senior championship in 1993 but were relegated to the intermediate grade in 1994. In 1997 they reached the semi-final of this grade and in 1998 they contested the junior football final. In 1998 Fr. Tommy Maher retired as parish priest and was replaced by another famous hurling coach, Fr. Liam Barron, who has guided the Kilkenny minor teams to many victories in recent times. The victory of the minor team in 1998 was the springboard for further championship success in the following years. In 1999 the Club won The Intermediate Football League, the Special Junior B Hurling league, the Roinn B under-21 Championship and reached the final of the Intermediate Hurling Championship. In 2000 the Intermediate football championship was won and in 2001 the Club won the Intermediate Hurling championship. After a brief two years in the top flight the club was relegated back to Intermediate ranks, but senior status was regained in 2006 after an emphatic victory in the Intermediate Championship. The club was relegated to Intermediate the following year but reached the Intermediate final again in 2010 only to lose out by a point to Dicksboro. In 2011 they won Minor-B championship.
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