Priests and Ministers Remembered in West Waterford

The Rev. Morgan Crofton

The Church of Ireland Minister of Dungarvan. In July, 1847 a local observer wrote: “I cannot pass over in silence the praiseworthy manner in which the Rev. Morgan Crofton has exerted himself, since the commencement of this awful calamity, in clothing the naked and visiting the sick. I am well aware [that] his private charities to reduced housekeepers far exceeds his public acts of benevolence – too much praise cannot be given to this clergyman for the pains he has taken to relieve a famine stricken people.”

Fr. Michael P. O’Connor

Fr. O’Connor was Parish Priest of Kilgobnet. A commentator, writing in October, 1846, notes: “Every day, regardless of the inclemency of the weather, he worked harder, both in town and parish and now has the satisfaction of having got employment for a large portion of his people.”

Fr. Garret Prendergast

Fr. Prendergast was appointed Parish priest of Ardmore in 1846. It was reported of him that: “The people are full of joy and begging every blessing for him and his two active assistants, the Rev. Messrs O’Donnell and O’Connor.”

Fr. P. Fogarty

Fr. Fogarty was a curate in Dungarvan until, in March, 1838, he became Parish Priest of Lismore. He was involved with the establishment of Mount Melleray Abbey (near Cappoquin). He is particularly remembered for his work during the famine period in Lismore and West Waterford.

Rev. James Alcock

The Church of Ireland Minister of Ring, near Dungarvan. He is remembered for his work in helping the fishermen of Ring (with the Society of Friends) during the famine.

Rev. William Wakeham

The Church of Ireland Minister of Kinsalebeg. In 1848 he died of fever contracted while working among the famine stricken people of his parish.

Fr. Patrick Toomey

Fr. Toomey was a member of the Augustinian Order. He was appointed Prior at Dungarvan in 1835 and again in 1855. It is said that during the Famine he would wait at the back gate of the Workhouse until the carts carrying the dead came out. He would then check to ensure they really were dead (during the Famine burying the living on the grounds that “they were dying anyway” was not infrequent). Then he would bless them with water from a holy well nearby. Today this well is known as the ‘Friar’s Well’ in memory of Fr. Toomey.

Compiled from information supplied by Mr. John Kiely, Dungarvan, and from the book, 'Desperate Haven, the Poor Law, Famine and Aftermath in the Dungarvan Union'. : William Fraher and others, Dungarvan Museum Society, 1996.
Presented to the Wales Famine Forum by Father Power, Parish Priest, Dungarvan, now retired.

Published in The Green Dragon No 4, Autumn 1997