Our address is Shanagolden, but our village is called Kilcolman. You see, the farm address was changed by Grandma McDonnell whom years ago decided that the post (mail) would arrive much earlier in the day if she had a Shanagolden address because their post office was larger and far better staffed. She went in, boldly stated her case and was granted her wish. She was in the habit of making her wishes come true. So ironically, Shanagolden is actually down the road about 5-6 miles, but will now always be considered our town mailing address. Nevertheless, our rural community is called Kilcolman. Kilcolman, Ardagh, County Limerick to be exact. Kilcolman is what is known as our “parish” and basically consists of 3 brambly corners where 3 narrow roads meet on top of a small hill. On each corner there are the following: 1. St. Colman’s Catholic church and Purcell’s general shop/letterbox. 2. Kilcolman National School, which is the elementary school that Geoffrey will attend, and the last stop 3. Kilcolman Graveyard.
St. Colman’s church was built in 1913. It is said that all of the material for the church was transported to Kilcolman by horse and cart. There are also church ruins in the cemetery dating back to 1253 which are likely that of an Augustinian Abbey. St. Colman’s is a quaint stone church in a small parish, but stands high on the hill and can be seen from quite a distance. Next door, Purcell’s shop is tiny and tidy—a place where you can pick up a tub of butter and a jar of instant coffee and eavesdrop on village gossip if you are so inclined. Kilcolman Graveyard, bestowed with Cypress trees and Celtic crosses is carefully maintained by a quiet gentleman who lives nearby. There is lore that there is a stone in the cemetery which can cure headaches. I have yet to try it. The Kilcolman National School is the only somewhat modern structure on the three corners. Still, it was built in accordance with planning laws that say all structures must abide by typical Irish countryside design meaning it fits cozily into the pretty parish picture.
Richard’s brother D and wife R’s house is called “The Old Presbytery” and is formerly the home of all the parish priests and visiting clergy. The house dates back to 1862 and still has a wing which was once a small chapel. Nowadays, the Parish priest lives just down the road in a small bungalow. Father Mullane (Mill-Ann) is a smiley, handsome 40-something fella with high cheekbones and a twinkle in his eye. His hair is silver, but prematurely so. He has a brand new VW which he drives fast and just always, always seems frantically busy. You’ll always see him gardening or renovating the house in some way, there has even been talk that he has been recruiting help to replace the massive stained glass windows in the church with new ones. To think! Each Wednesday morning when I bring G to Montessori we see Father Mullane frantically speeding to church at about 940am. Mass is at 930. That always makes me chuckle. In fact, the whole ride to G’s Montessori makes me chuckle because it still seems so surreal to me. We leave our gate and turn right, we are surrounded by green lush countryside dotted with cows, sheep and horses and in less than 2 minutes we arrive in Kilcolman where we meet the church, cemetery, store and school. Indeed, the picture perfect parish.