DROMINA “Village of Tradition”
Dromina “Drom Aidhine” “The Fair Little Ridge”
Dromina is in the parish of Shandrum which, in 1831, had a population of 4,627. In 1837, according to the topographer Samuel Lewis, the land was mostly in pasture and there were several large dairy farms; limestone was quarried for agricultural purposes and part of the Red Bog is within the limits of the parish. Little is known about this medieval monastic site, which probably later became the parish church of Shandrum. A village, which once stood there, had over 30 houses and a population of 400 people.
Dromina (Killabraher) graveyard has been digitally surveyed and is viewable if you follow this link: Dromina (Killabraher) Historic Graves, click here
Rev. Charles Smith in his history of Cork published in 1750, said that Killabraher was ˜a ruined monastery but of what order is uncertain. However, the placename Kilabraher translates as ˜Church of the Brothers”. This clearly alludes to friars of a Franciscan church which seems to have existed there between 1251 and about 1650, when, it is said, the place was famous for its butter making. The church might have survived the arrival of Cromwells army into the area in 1650, had it not been for an over enthusiastic monk. Apparently, the soldiers had passed along the road near to the church without noticing it. Thinking that danger had gone, a monk rang the church bell in celebration. The soldiers, it seems, had not gone far enough to hear the bell, which attracted them to the site of the church, which they razed to the ground. The monks were slaughtered one on the nearby road where, some believe, the bloodstain can still be seen.
The adjoining graveyard has several interesting headstones, including a memorial to the ancestors of Archbishop Thomas Croke of Cashel. One of these, Thomas Croke, was a travelling hedgeschool master who operated a school at Killabraher. Also of interest in the graveyard are the carvings on many headstones including, for example, the memorial to Bride Nunan, which has two angels and a Greek urn. Some of the headstones in Killabraher date to the 18th century.
By the middle of the 17th century, the Penal Laws had forced Catholicism underground and Catholic priests were hunted down and executed for treason because they remained faithful to Rome and not the King. Near Killabraher, there lived a notorious tyrant and priest-hunter named Seanin Boles a Gaelic Irish term of endearment for a boy but of derision and contempt when applied to an adult. Seanin took particular pleasure in tracking down priests and handing them over to the authorities. On one occasion, he cut off the ears of a tailor from Dromina who had took a short-cut through the priest-hunters land. Another time, he hanged a man after he stole some flax. When Seanin himself died, he was buried in a tomb at Killabraher, which was used in the 1860s by the Fenians as a hiding place for arms
BAGHAL ESA WELL
According to folklore, in the fifth century, Saint Patrick visited Bogal Esa on his journey to Kerry and the holy well at this place is believed to mark the spot where his staff (crozier) touched the ground.
The holy well was held with great reverence in olden times by the people of this area. Pilgrims visited the well to do the rounds (prayers) and many believed that its water had miraculous powers. The custom of visitation to the well, usually on Good Friday, died out in the 20th century.
The church at Shandrum, which dates to the early medieval period, was taken over by the Established Church of Ireland after the reformation in the 16th century. Only a fragment of its ruin has survived. A later church, at Newtown, was built by Fr Mansfield, the parish priest, in 1787. According to tradition, Fr Mansfield tossed a sledgehammer over its roof to celebrate the completion of the church. Its erection at this time was unusual, as the Catholic Church was still subject to the Penal Laws until Emancipation came in 1829.
South and north transepts were added to Dromina Church in 1886 to make it a cruciform edifice. A bell-cote was also added in 1886, prior to which the church-bell was hung from a tree in the churchyard. This church was demolised in the 1930s and replaced, in 1936, by the present church, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul.
The Red Bog lies west of Dromina and gives the locality one of its most significant natural heritage sites. The original bogland was much greater in area in ancient times than it is at present. A map of 1750, shows that it once extended to Kilbolane, near Milford. Farthingsmill Marsh, which formed a significant part of the bogland, was drained many years ago when the Deel River, from Aughrim to Milford, was deepened and widened at a cost of £5,000 then a considerable sum.
Turf-cutting was an important industry on the bog which provided seasonal employment for hundreds of people. Hardly a day of the year went by without a cartload of turf being transported for sale in shops in local towns and villages.
6th CLASS ESSAYS
A unique collection of stories written by the children of 6th Class in Dromina National School, between 1979 and 1995, has been published. As its editor, Miranda Brennan explained in the foreword, Wandering among these stories, some of us felt these are great scéals recorded with all the excitement of a childs view on a changing rural world, and that they should be aired in the daylight of a wider audience and not grow old in a dark cupboard.
Daniel O’Connell “The Liberator” sometimes stayed with the Goold family at Aughrim House during his visits to the area when he worked tirelessly and successfully for Catholic Emancipation in the 1820’s.
A century later, during the War of Independence (1919-1921) the house was head quarters for the local Irish Republican Army company. In 1921, Jack Regan of Freemount, Commandant Patrick OBrien and his brother, Donal, from Liscarroll, were on the run and, with other Republicans, were hiding in the house, when it was surrounded by the Black and Tans. O’Brien shot his way out and escaped, but two others were not so fortunate. Jack Regan and Donal O’Brien were captured after wounds inflicted by the enemy’s rifle-fire prevented their escape. They were taken to Cork Jail, tried by Military Courts Martial, and sentenced to death. The executions were delayed until their injuries eased.
A commemorative sculpture has been erected by the people of Dromina to honour the sacrifices made by local people curing the War of Independence.